Edricus Springs His Clever Trap
As Act IV begins, Ironside – the King one, not the DA-in-the-wheelchair one – is handed the fawning letter from Edricus the Sleazebag. In the letter, Eddie professes to have completely turned away from his former naughtiness and joined Team Ironside good and proper. Ironside finishes the letter and favors us with a sexist snort: “Edmund is not a lunatic, so like a woman to be won with words.”
But he suddenly spies somebody lurking in the shadows who looks familiar. Focus over to Sleazebag, who thinks New Boss looks peeved, this may not have been a great idea. Ironside gives him the “C’mere” wave and pulls the mask off his face, revealing Eddie the Sleaze hisownself.
Edricus says he came in disguise to check out how Ironside felt about him – if he was cool, then to change sides; if not then he’d run off to Spain – maybe a bucket list vacation spot – to pray for Ironside and contemplate his naughtiness. And then off himself (okay, scratch the bucket list).
Generic Messenger suddenly interrupts this joyous reunion with news that The Danes Are Revolting!! Or attacking, to be more precise. And it’s Not Going Well for Us.
Ironside decides to blame Edricus for all this. But Edricus – a smooth talking devil if nuthin else – explains that he actually came to warn Ironside, he just didn’t quite make it in time, but he can still spill all Cnut’s secrets, we’re talkin’ the Really Good Stuff here.
When Aylward shows considerably more sense than Ironside and gently suggests that perhaps he should be just a wee bit suspicious of Edricus’ motives, Ironside tells him to hush up and mind his own beeswax. Ironside and Edricus withdraw to a corner, whisper, whisper, whisper, and then Ironside announces that if all this stuff you’ve told me but not been gracious enough to share with our audience is true, you’re pardoned and not only that – I’m puttin’ you in command of the whole dern army!
Edricus graciously thanks Ironside before, in an aside to the audience, reminding everyone that he’s gonna make a fool of Ironside at the first opportunity.
Speakin’ of which, did you ever wonder why, when characters started “Aside-ing” in Shakespeare, one of the other folks on the stage didn’t pipe up and say, “Hang on, mate – who’re you talkin’ to??” They did it all the time in Aristophanes.
But I digress.