Monday, April 5, 2010

The Mad Tea-Party

A parody freely adapted from chapter 3 of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865).

(Scene: Alice finds the Hatter and March Hare with Dormouse asleep between them. They sit crowded together near one corner of a very long table set for tea.)

Hare & Hatter: No room! No room!

Alice (sits at the end): There’s plenty of room.

Hare: Have some wine.

Alice (looks around): I don’t see any wine.

Hare: There isn’t any.

Alice: Then it wasn’t very civil of you to offer it

Hare: It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited.

Alice: Is this your table? It’s laid for a great many more than three.

Hatter: You foreigners always move in.

Alice: What? I’ve never been out of Oxfordshire.

Dormouse (in his sleep): Talk English!

Alice: Exactly so.

Hatter (looks at his watch): What day is it?

Alice: 15 July 1862. Everyone knows that.

Hatter: Wrong! (to Hare): I told you butter would ruin the works of this watch.

Hare (dips watch in tea): I used the best butter.

Alice (looks at watch). It tells the day of the month and not what o’clock it is.

Hatter: Why should it? Does your watch tell the time of day?

Alice: If I had a watch.

Hatter: Just the same as mine.

Alice (politely): I don’t quite understand you.

(Hare pours hot tea on Dormouse’s nose.)

Dormouse (asleep): My remark, too.

Hatter: There’s too much change anyway. We need to go back to the way things were and meant to be.

Alice: As they were when?

Hare: They keep trying to change the Constitution.

Alice: What Constitution?

Hatter: Our rights! Don’t you know?

Alice (recalling school lessons): Certainly. Magna Carta, 1215; the Bill of Rights, 1685. Which time do you want?

Hare: I only wish it were a matter for wishing.

Alice (persisting): But, which?

Hatter: We would keep it 1685 as long as we liked.

Alice: Is that the way you manage time?

Hatter: Not I. It was last March that the Hare went mad.

Hare: He started it, singing in front of the Queen.

‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star!
When you here have gone too far!’

You know the song perhaps?

Alice: I’ve heard something like that.

Hatter: It goes on –

‘Up above the world you fly,
While the tax hits ev’ry guy.’

Dormouse (still sleeping, joins in):

‘Twinkle, twinkle, twinkle ...’

Hatter: I’d hardly finished the first verse, when the Queen bawled, ‘He’s murdering the time! Off with his head.’

Alice: So savage? I can’t imagine the Queen saying that!

Hare: So every since, it’s been 1685 at 6 o’clock.

Alice: So that’s why so many tea things are out here.

Hatter: That’s it. It’s always tea-time, and we’ve no time to wash the things between whiles and whens.

Alice: So you move around as things are used up. What happens when you come to the beginning again?

Hare: Suppose we change the subject. Tell a story.

Alice: I’m afraid I don’t know one.

Hare & Hatter: Then Dormouse shall! Wake up!

Dormouse (drowsily): I’m awake. I am awake. (clears throat) Once there were three sisters who lived at the bottom of a treacle well.

Hatter: I want a clean cup. Everyone move on one place.

Alice (looks at the place she would take where the Hare has upset the milk jug into his plate): Mr. Hatter, you are the only one to get any advantage out of this move.

Dormouse (drifts off again; mumbles): From the well they learned to draw everything beginning with an “M,” ... muchness ...

Alice: I don’t think -- .

Hatter: Then you shouldn’t talk.

Alice (in disgust, walks off): I’ll never go there again. It was the most foolish tea party I ever was at.

(Hare & Hatter try to put Dormouse into the teapot as the curtain falls.)
© Copyright 2010 by Roger Sween.

For a review of Alice's adventures in Wonderland, see Read in 10.

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