Son of Das Boot

A submarine captain (James Bachman) wearing a captainish hat, and his first mate (Rory Ewins), stand onstage.
CaptainDamn it, Cripps, it's so damn quiet down here, so damn still... when's Jerry going to make his move?
CrippsWell, sir, we haven't actually left the harbour yet.
CaptainThen get us moving, damn it, man!
CrippsVery good, sir. START ENGINES!
Cripps then makes a very loud engine noise. The Captain mimes as if he's speaking ("Cripps, I can't hear myself speak; Cripps; Cripps!") and then yells (aloud, so people can hear) "SHUT THAT DAMNED ENGINE OFF!"
CaptainIt's no good, I can't hear myself say 'damn' with that thing going. We'll have to switch to manual. Get out the oars, Cripps.
CrippsWith respect, sir... we don't have oars...
CaptainDon't have oars? When I rowed for Trinity in '38 every boat had oars! What kind of vessel is this?
CrippsA submarine, sir. We're an underwater vessel.
CaptainThat's no excuse, damn it! Oars work underwater, I've damn well seen them! They go into the water, then pushpushpush the water back, and there you go: simple propulsion without fuss. Now get the men rowing at once.
CrippsI'm... afraid the men have forgotten their scarves, sir.
CaptainWhat's that?
CrippsTheir natty college scarves, sir. Can't possibly row without them.
CaptainRight! I want them all on deck doing fifty push-ups!
CrippsNot strictly possible, sir...
CaptainDamn. All right. Well I'm not having that damned noisy engine switched on again, it gives me a headache. We'll simply anchors aweigh and drift towards our destination.
CrippsBut sir...
CaptainNo buts, Cripps, damn you! Anchors aweigh! Drift!
CrippsVery well sir... ANCHORS AWEIGH AND DRIFT!
They stand there and look at each other for a couple of seconds. Fidgety. Cripps makes "Ping!" noises.
CaptainHow far have we gone, Cripps?
Cripps(Looks at instruments) About six yards sir. Perhaps you'd care to take a look through the periscope...
Cripps holds up a cardboard tube. Captain takes it and holds it like a telescope, aiming it in the direction of the audience.
CaptainYes, by God! Damned Jerry everywhere! Thousands of them! What's going on, Cripps?
Cripps quickly whips card over the end of the tube—picture facing into tube.
CaptainAh yes, that's more like it... We're near a port of some kind... hang on a minute.
CrippsWhat is it, sir?
CaptainThat's Trinity! My old college! We're in Cambridge!
Cripps whips off card and checks it, mutters "Bloody Hell", then whips it back in place.
CrippsUh, yes sir. Special orders just received. Cambridge invaded, drift upstream at once.
CaptainInvaded? So those fellows in the eights are Jerry?
CrippsMore likely to be Americans, sir.
CaptainOxford boys, eh? Right then! MAN THE TORPEDOS!... If that doesn't win us the Boat Race, nothing will!
CrippsTorpedoes armed, sir.
CaptainGood work, Cripps. Do what you must. I'm just popping outside for a breath of fresh air. (He heads towards the wings.)
CrippsBut sir...
Captain mimes opening a door. Someone off-stage throws a cup of water over him.
CaptainBit humid out there. Reminds me of Burma. I think I'll just go lie down for a minute.


First performed at the Cambridge Footlights ADC Smoker, May 1992.
This page: 8 February 2000; last modified 16 February 2001.

©1992, 2000 Rory Ewins