Murder Under the Big Top by Josh Nichols

This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent

STEVE: So SAM SMITH you were dead for a while. Amaaaaazing! I should be so lucky. And now, from the tropical region of some tropical area. We bring you a monster, a freak, a feral man raised in the wilderness of some tropical type area.

Half wild, half man, half beast… shield your eyes or feast with them if you dare on… THE CREATURE!

REGINALD enters running ape-like through the audience. He can interact with the audience as needed, possibly eating food items, scaring people, etc. Eventually he approaches the stage. Shortly after he arrives similar noises to those made by the creature are made offstage and then the door opens. JILLIAN stumbles in groaning. Eventually REGINALD stops growling and everyone is focused on JILLIAN who is revealed to be stabbed in the back. As the elaborate death unfolds the other characters enter from various entrances to observe, the lights are turned back on and eventually JILLIAN collapses. BRIDGET has some red clown makeup smeared around her mouth. MARV runs over to check on the body.

MARV: … Yea...she’s dead.

EVERYONE: GASP! (actually say the word “gasp”)

TALULA: (upset) What?!

SVEN: The body-type boss lady is how does one say crooked… croquet….crock pot.

STEVE: Croaked you idiot!

BRIDGET: How did this happen?!

STEVE: Hmmm… maybe the knife sticking out of her back could give you a hint!

MARV: Hey back off the lady!

TALULA: (upset) Oh no! This isn’t going to end well! (a half crying future sound)

REGINALD: (British accent) Poppycock! The show must go on!

SVEN: When did the scary man learned the words-ish?

STEVE: Are you kidding me? A woman just died! We can’t “go on.”

REGINALD: (this should be impossible to understand) Typical! Why you were hired I’ll never know.

DAISY: What?

REGINALD: (again, impossible to understand) Typical! Why you were hired I’ll never know.

All of the cast are shrugging, unable to understand. REGINALD removes his fake teeth and can now speak very clearly.

REGINALD: Typical! Why you were hired I’ll never know. If I were the master of the rings the show would always go on!

STEVE: Oh yea, you’d be great.

REGINALD: How dare you, swine! I am a thespian of the highest order! I have played Richard the Third, Hamlet, King Lear, Lord Farquaad… Rumpus Cat!

MARV takes off his wig and pulls out a gun.

MARV: Nobody move FBI!


REGINALD: Whaaaatttt?!

TALULA: I did not see that coming!

REGINALD: You were an FBI agent this whole time?!

MARV: (laughing) Are you kidding me?! I’m just screwing with you! The look on your faces!

TALULA: You idiot!

DAISY: (uses a southern accent for the remainder of the show) Nobody move ICE!!!

SVEN squeals.

MARV: Oh, shut up Daisy!

DAISY: No really! I’m with ICE! Sooo…. freeze...

SVEN: I am the frozen one, please don’t shut me! I’m not to go home!

STEVE: (laughs) Oh yea right. Agent Daisy, the big bad immigration agent! Cutest ICE agent I’ve ever seen.

DAISY: You think I’m cute. I mean...Nevermind! I’m not that kind of ICE agent. International... Circus... Enterprises.

Daisy takes off zip up to reveal an ICE shirt.

EVERYONE: GASP! (actually say the word “gasp”)

SVEN: Oh, thanks be to the stars and such.

DAISY: That’s right, they sent me here and I’ve been undercover for a long time documenting every code breach, red nose, and financial blunder. And now I get to add suicide to the long list of infractions.

BRIDGET: Suicide?

SVEN: I hadnotn’t known her name was Sue.

REGINALD: We have officially found the missing link.

STEVE: You think she stabbed herself in the back?

DAISY: (knowing it wasn’t suicide) If it wasn’t suicide… well.. how’d she die… huh? Huh?

TALULA: Um… I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say… murder (an “isn’t it obvious” future noise).

REGINALD: Some ICE agent you are.

DAISY: Okay fine! Yea she was likely murdered but if my bosses find out someone got murdered on my watch, I could lose my job. (starts pacing) Ooooh what am I going to do! I can’t leave here until I find out who did it so I at least have a chance.

BRIDGET: Don’t worry Daisy! Your problems are solved! You’re forgetting we have a world-famous psychic right here! Madame Talula tell her what happened and don’t leave out ANY details!

TALULA is silent. Everyone else is kind of smirking and giggling under their breath.

BRIDGET: What’s wrong? Are you weak from performing earlier?

TALULA is silent. Everyone else is having a harder time holding it together.

BRIDGET: TALULA aren’t you going to say something.

TALULA: Honey… You know I’m full of shit, right?


Everyone begins to laugh not being able to hold it anymore.

STEVE: I can’t believe you actually thought she was for real. (attempts a future noise)

SVEN: Like she could know future things and such! (attempts a future noise)

MARV: Okay, hey look, leave her alone okay!

BRIDGET: You mean… you can’t see the future… and you’re a fake? (getting angry) So when I asked you about a very real problem earlier and whether everything would be alright and you said “sure” (adds in her version of the future noise) you really had no idea? (raging) I’ll kill you!

BRIDGET does the best she can on her crutches to get to and “kill” TALULA. Eventually she tires out or someone stops her.

DAISY: Okay seriously we need to figure this thing out!

MARV: Wait, aren’t I supposed to be the clown here? You think we should help you after you lied to us and have been investigating us right under our noses?

DAISY: I was just doing my job. International Circus Enterprises only certifies the best of the best. The reports Ms. Ross… I mean Jillian submitted weren’t adding up. They sent me in to find out what was going on. I don’t know what she was doing but it wasn’t her job. There were discrepancies in animal inventory, dwindling numbers and all sorts of other stuff she was trying to sweep under the tent.

REGINALD: What a wonderful monologue, gripping really but are you almost to the part that matters to any of us?

DAISY: A woman died! Someone killed her! We don’t even know why they did it and frankly you could be next.


BRIDGET: How are we supposed to figure out who killed her? It could have been someone in the audience for all we know.

TALULA: Yea don’t think so… the audience sits in the audience and ol’ Voldemort was backstage with all of us before she wobbled out. If she was murdered it had to be one of us.


Everybody looks at him like he’s an idiot.

SVEN: Oh, are we not-in do-in that-in anymore?

DAISY: You are about as useless as a screen door on a submarine.

SVEN: Thankswelcome!

DAISY: Alright, enough. As the authority figure here…

MARV: Authority figure of what? Lions and tigers and corpses oh my?

REGINALD: Ooooh you are soooo bad!

DAISY: (trying to convince) I’m a real ICE agent people! With like, credentials and everything! Look, if you don’t cooperate here, you’ll never work in the industry again and I doubt your transferrable skills will add up to a hill of beans.

MARV: Speak for yourself.

REGINALD: You shrew! I was in a national car insurance commercial!

DAISY: Don’t get your knickers in a bunch! The headline here is that the only job you might be able to find is in the prison library as that’s where we’re all going if we can’t pinpoint who did this.

MARV: Let’s just listen to her and figure this thing out alright?

DAISY: Finally, someone is being an adult around here.

MARV does something silly, honks a horn or his nose or something clown-like.

TALULA: I may not know the future but I do know the present. She has a knife sticking out of her back. If we find out who the knife belongs to, we find the killer.

SVEN: Oh, it is mine fer sure.

TALULA: Wow… I’m good. Lock him up!

BRIDGET: Whoa! It’s his knife from our act but when I hurt my foot we couldn’t do any of our normal routines and so the knives were backstage for any one of us to use. All of us had access to them.

DAISY: She’s right. This isn’t going to be easy but we have to do it. Okay, first, let’s get the body out of here. Marv and Sven, go take her away.

MARV and SVEN approach the body trying to figure out how to remove it.

STEVE: I’m going to get a drink.

TALULA: I got a tall one for you right here.

TALULA walks provocatively towards him and STEVE evades her.

STEVE: On second thought I think I’ll help with the body.

TALULA exits. STEVE, MARV and SVEN work to comedically remove the body from the room (see staging notes). Eventually they exit with the body. BRIDGET is still in the room. REGINALD is composing himself, dabbing his brow, perhaps making a cup of tea out of nowhere, being a diva.

DAISY approaches BRIDGET noticing she has red smudges on her face.

DAISY: Oh my gosh BRIDGET! Is that blood on your face?!

BRIDGET: What?! Where?! (touching her face trying to figure out what she is talking about)

DAISY: You have red all over your mouth.

REGINALD: Good heavens, like some cannibal! If this night couldn’t get any worse!

BRIDGET: I’m not a cannibal!

REGINALD: Oh, I know that! But you just stirred a tragic memory. I remember it like it was years ago… the time I lost the role of a lifetime to play one Hannibal Lecter opposite dame Jodi Foster to some two-bit actor, some hack. (yelling to the sky) DAMN YOU TONY HOPKINS!

DAISY is wiping her face trying to clean it.

BRIDGET: (hiding something) Blood! Yes blood! I guess Sven must have split my lip during our very unpracticed routine. What a clumsy fool I am. I had better go get this cleaned up quick!

DAISY: Are you sure you’re okay?

BRIDGET: Yes! Fine! Blood! Got it!

BRIDGET exits. STEVE reenters carrying a bunch of random papers and he is writing on them. He is being followed by TALULA.

TALULA: What are you up to lover?

STEVE: Would you please leave me alone! Don’t you have anything better to do?! Any underwear to steal.

TALULA: Oooohhhh… you have a point. You aren’t in your room. Thanks deary!

TALULA exits.

STEVE: Oh come on! I was just… nevermind. Daisy! I need your help!

REGINALD: Excuse me Mr. Rude but Daisy and I were in the middle of something and you can’t just interrupt!

STEVE: I’m sorry, I can wait.

All are awkwardly silent for moment.

REGINALD: Nice chat Daisy dear. Toodles!

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