The Ready Room

A Play of Archangels in Two Acts by Mike McMillan


The four archangels watch the events of human (Biblical) history unfold from their 'Ready Room', and from time to time are called to play a part. But they struggle to understand the fullness of the plan of God.


Gabriel, the messenger
Raphael, the record
Michael, the defender
Uriel, the avenger
Voice of the Dispatcher
Voice of the Virgin Mary
Voice of God the Father
Voice of Christ

The Characters

Although angels don't have an "age" as such, Gabriel is the "youngest" in his way of thinking and approach to life. He is enthusiastic, naïve, and occasionally petulant. He likes Raphael, who treats him with the most respect, more than he does the other archangels. He respects Michael and is as close to being afraid of Uriel as an angel can be. His attribute is a trumpet. He is terribly sympathetic to humans without understanding them at all.

Raphael has the greatest identification for, and understanding of, humans (and indeed his fellow archangels). He is a quiet, somewhat scholarly type, but wise and compassionate. He takes Gabriel seriously and has his devotion as a result; but he takes all of them seriously. He is the only other one who understands Uriel's viewpoint. He is curious and rather puzzled about humanity, but has more insight than the others. His attribute is a book.

Michael is a warrior, but a "career soldier" rather than a militarist. He is straightforward and blunt, but rather fond of Gabriel; doesn't really understand Raphael's scholarship or like Uriel's coldness. He takes his defence of Israel seriously as a job to be done well, but is aware of their faults. His attribute is a spear.

Uriel is also a warrior, but takes it very seriously. He takes everything very seriously and is entirely without a sense of humour. He is cold, hard, and in fact as close to cruel as an unfallen angel can be. While the others call each other Gabby, Rafe and Mike, he calls them by their full names (pronouncing "Michael" with three syllables and the Hebrew "ch"), and they call him by his. He doesn't understand and doesn't like humans, but will follow orders without question (and thinks the others should too). His attribute is a (flaming) sword.

The Dispatcher's voice is heralded by three rising notes, like a PA system at an airport. She also uses full names and is efficient, crisp and impersonal.

Mary's voice is that of a very ordinary teenager. She shouldn't sound at all pious or stuffy, but like a real young woman confronted with an astonishing challenge, which she bravely accepts.

The archangels usually use circumlocutions to refer to God, but on the rare occasions when they refer to him directly, it is always as "He" (with the capital and italics clearly audible). The Devil is usually referred to as "that other one", particularly by Michael, who despises him.

Angelic time is different from earthly time, and weeks or even years can pass in Raphael's mirror in a few moments if nothing significant is happening, while quite rapid events can take up a great length of time if they're important.


The Setting

The Ready Room contains a table, at which Raphael sits in a folding chair, with his book. He also has a mirror on a stand (pointed away from the audience) which shows him and the others what is happening on Earth. The others also have folding chairs, which are initially against the wall but which they move around as required, sometimes to the table to watch the mirror, other times back to the wall.

There could be a dart board or something of the kind on the wall as well, but otherwise the setting is fairly sparse and military. There is one door.



Act I

Scene 1 - Creation and the Fall


Enter the four Archangels, "hyped" by having just witnessed Creation. Raphael is carrying his attribute, a large book.

Gabriel That was amazing! Did you see the nebulas?

Michael I liked the trees, myself..

Uriel The mountains were impressive too. What did you like, Raphael?

 Gabriel Yes, Rafe, what was your favourite?

 Raphael puts down his book on the table and pulls a folding chair up to it.

Raphael Well, I have to admit to being biased - I've been given the job of looking after the humans.

 He sits down in the chair and opens the book to the first page.

 Uriel But weren't they a bit of - well, an afterthought? An extra?

 He strides over to the wall stage right, where there is a chair, and sits down stiffly.

 Gabriel Yes, they were made last. Uriel's right.

 He wanders to the back of the stage, where there is a chair, and slumps into it.

 Michael Funny creatures, too. Can't see the point in them, really.

 Raphael I think you'll find they're quite important, actually, Mike. As for being made last - think of it another way. They're the crown of Creation.

 Uriel Hah!

 Gabriel Crown of creation?

 Michael But what about us?

 Raphael I think you'll find that a lot of our purpose centres around them. There's a high plan that I didn't understand; what I was told was - well, incredible really. I must have misunderstood.

 Gabriel Why, what was it?

 Raphael I must have it wrong. I won't even try to pass it on to you, Gabby, because I'd give you the wrong idea. But trust me, they're important.

 Uriel Hmph.

 Michael Oh well, if you say so, Rafe...

 Raphael I don't say so.

Uriel Oh, well then, that's different.

Gabriel But I don't understand.

 Raphael Nor do I, Gabby, nor do I. But I imagine we'll come to understand in time.

 Gabriel Well - if you say so, Rafe.

 Raphael I do.

 Michael So what does your job involve?

 He draws the fourth chair up to the table and sits beside Raphael.

 Raphael I've been given this mirror. It shows me the events I need to know about, and I record them in the book; and if I'm instructed to do so, I intervene.

 Gabriel gets up and wanders over to look over Raphael's shoulder at the mirror. Uriel remains aloof.

 Michael Intervene?

 Raphael So I'm told. I get the impression that sometimes one of you will be sent to do something.

 Gabriel Look! The mirror!

 Michael Isn't that....

 Gabriel Shh! Pause. Sorry, Mike. Rafe - what's happening?

 Raphael It's the humans - they've been instructed not to eat the fruit.

 Michael Then why's he interfering?

 Gabriel Perhaps it's a test.

 Uriel Test? What test? Why would anyone not obey instructions?

 Michael Uriel...

 Gabriel Look! They're... they're actually eating it. But they can't do that! Raphael, do something.

 Raphael I can't, Gabby. I haven't had any orders, and I'm forbidden to interfere without orders.

 Gabriel But... but...

 Raphael That's the way it has to be, I'm afraid. I don't understand the plan, even after it was explained to me. If I interfered at the wrong time, I could prevent something that's supposed to happen.

 Gabriel But that can't be right! Surely when they're disobeying...

 Raphael You think I should disobey too?

 Gabriel Well no, of course not, but....

 He falls miserably and confusedly silent, looking away.

 Michael (who has been watching the mirror) Look! Look who's...

 Raphael Gabby...

 Gabriel glances at the mirror, and the three bow their heads and ceremonially put their hands over their eyes.

 Gabriel Are - are they going to be destroyed?

 Uriel They deserve it, surely.

 Michael Shush, Uriel. I don't know, Gabby. If they're important in the plan....

 Gabriel Maybe... maybe He'll make new ones. 

Raphael Maybe. (Risking a glance at the mirror.) No, look - they've been given animal-skin coverings to replace those leafy ones they made. Now why...

 Uriel They should have been destroyed.

 Gabriel Yes, why should the animals die instead? I don't understand. The leafy ones were all right, weren't they? And the tree would grow new leaves; it wasn't like it cost anything.

 Raphael Perhaps that's the point.

 Uriel I would have destroyed them.

 Michael No doubt you would.

 Raphael Are you questioning, Uriel? Do you understand the Plan?

 Uriel disdains to answer.

 Dispatch Archangel Uriel. Archangel Uriel, report for orders.

 Uriel Ah. They're going to be destroyed after all.

 He gets up and goes out. The others look at each other.

 Gabriel Are... are they really going to be destroyed, Rafe?

 Raphael I don't know, Gabby. It wasn't in the Plan - I understood that much. And surely the Plan can't go wrong.

 Michael It looks like it has, though. But we're only archangels. We don't understand...

 Gabriel Look! There's Uriel.

 Michael He's been given a sword.

 Gabriel Oh, I can't watch.

 Raphael It's all right. He's driving them out of the Garden, but he's not touching them. I think it's all part of the Plan after all.

 Lights go down as the three archangels continue to watch the mirror.


Scene 2 - The Abrahamic Annunciation and Destruction of Sodom

 Uriel is discovered back in his seat stage right, polishing his sword. Raphael is at his table, with the book turned to slightly later but still early pages, and Gabriel and Michael are seated at the rear and left of the stage, respectively.

 Uriel Who is this Abraham character, anyway? I'll tell you. Exactly nobody. A nobody from Ur in
Chaldea, who wanders around with his goats...

 Raphael Sheep, Uriel. The fuzzy ones are sheep.

 Uriel Sheep, goats, what does it matter? He wanders around with his - hairy herbivorous animals, doing nothing of any importance...

 Raphael Come on, Uriel, you had the Plan explained to you when you received your attribute. (Points to the sword.) Surely you remember that Abraham's important?

 Uriel I've told you more than once, Raphael. I couldn't make head nor tail of that Plan, and I don't expect you can either. But yes, I do seem to remember something...

 Raphael His children and Sarah's are important.

 Uriel What children? They don't have any children. He's a hundred years old, and his wife's not much younger, and though I'm not the expert on humans that you are, I do know what damages them, and time is one of the things.

 Gabriel You would know something like that.

 Uriel (Matter-of-fact and dismissive) It's my job, Gabriel, I'm the Avenger. And what I'm saying is that humans their age don't have children. They just don't.

 Raphael Maybe that's the point.

Uriel You know what annoys me about you, Raphael? Every time someone - and it's usually me, I might say - raises a logical objection, you say "Maybe that's the point."

Gabriel Leave Rafe alone.

 Michael Gabby's right, Uriel. Rafe knows more than any of us.

 Uriel (Is about to respond when the tones sound to announce the voice of the Dispatcher)

 Dispatch Archangels Gabriel and Michael. Archangels Gabriel and Michael, report for orders.

 Michael Come on, Gabby. Looks like we're going to Earth at last.

 Gabriel Great! Maybe we'll get our attributes.

 They exit together.

 Raphael Come on, Uriel, let's watch the mirror.

 Uriel I'm not interested.

 Raphael Suit yourself. (Gasps, and covers his eyes.)

 Uriel What?

 Raphael Look.

 Uriel stands, obviously in no hurry, and walks to where he can see the mirror; then comes to attention, with his hand over his eyes.

 Uriel I take it back. Abraham must be important.

 Raphael Very important. He doesn't often go down...

 Uriel No. Not in person. Did... when you were told the Plan, there was that part about... going down - as one of them? No, I must have it wrong...

 Raphael I took it the same way, but you're right - not as one of them.

 Uriel We must have misunderstood.

 Raphael Clearly. As Mike says, we're only archangels. (Glances at the mirror again.) It's all right - He's gone now.

 Uriel (no longer bothering to hide his interest) What are the others doing?

 Raphael They're walking towards that city - what's it called - Sodom.

 Uriel Doesn't Abraham's nephew live there?

 Raphael Lot, yes. Look, there he is. He's inviting them to spend the night at his house.

 Uriel I should think they'll accept.

 Raphael No, they're trying to decline. They must be under orders. He's insisting, though.

 Uriel It's not the sort of city where you spend the night in the square, as I recall.

 Raphael No, I can't understand why it's been tolerated so long, especially so close to Abraham.

 Uriel Why his nephew would want to live there...

 Raphael It and Gomorrah are very rich cities. Humans think that's important.

 Uriel Rich? People are starving on the streets.

 Raphael That's another characteristic of rich cities, my friend. Look, they're going with him after all.

 They sit and watch for a short while in silence.

 Uriel Why are all those men assembling outside Lot's house?

 Raphael They know there are strangers in there, and strangers are fair prey in Sodom.

 Uriel Well, Lot's kept some standards, anyway. He's trying to bargain with them.

 Raphael He sees his guests as sacred - which they are, of course.

 Uriel Hah! Just in time. Did you see that? Michael pulled him in and shut the door just as they were about to rush it. And what have they done to the crowd?

 Raphael They've struck them blind. They don't know where the door is.

 Uriel That's a neat trick. I didn't think Gabriel had it in him.

 Raphael Lot can't stay there now. They'll kill him - eventually - and everyone who belongs with him.

 Uriel Michael and Gabriel know it. They're talking him into leaving.

 Raphael He's a rich man there. He won't be easy to convince.

 Uriel He's convinced, all right. It's the sons-in-law who aren't accepting it.

 Raphael Fools.

 Uriel (Coldly) They'll die with the rest.

 They watch for a short while longer.

 Raphael Dawn. He's hesitating, the idiot!

 Uriel He's bargaining again. Doesn't want to get too far away - he thinks he can still retrieve something of his wealth.

 Raphael They're letting him go to that little town over there. Oh!

 Uriel What? I missed it.

 Raphael His wife looked back.

 Uriel That's the end of her.

 Raphael Yes, poor woman. She just couldn't leave in spirit, and that's what counts, after all.

 Uriel Here come Michael and Gabriel back.

 Enter Michael and Gabriel.

 Michael We're back, boys.

 Gabriel Have you been watching in the mirror?

 Raphael Yes, we saw it all. What was it like?

 Gabriel It was - different from what I expected. But imagine - getting to go with Him.

 Uriel Did you get your attributes?

 Gabriel What? Oh, no, we didn't - but it doesn't matter.

 Michael We got the Plan explained to us, too - not that I followed it.

 Gabriel Nor me.

 Uriel What happened with Abraham? We - uh - weren't watching that part.

 Gabriel It was amazing! It seems Sarah's going to have a child. And that child will be the foundation of a great nation, and they will be a model of what is right and just in he world.

 Michael And then He sent us to Sodom. To see if it was as bad as it was said to be.

 Gabriel But Abraham argued - actually argued! He bargained as if - as if he was buying a donkey.

 Michael He bargained for Sodom to be spared if there were enough righteous people there.

 Gabriel And he got down to ten.

 Michael But of course apart from Lot and his family - and they only just squeaked in, I can tell you -

 Gabriel There wasn't anyone. Not anyone, in the whole city, who even dared to go against the grain of it.

 Michael The grain, yes, that's the point. A very wealthy city, Sodom. Arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned about helping the poor and needy - like us poor weary travellers, for instance. They would have abused us and probably killed us.

 Gabriel But even the poor were wicked. They would have joined in the abuse with the others.

 Michael An evil city. I don't take any particular pleasure in death, even of those who deserve it, but I think the world's a better place without Sodom and Gomorrah.

 Uriel And how long will that last?

 Gabriel What do you mean?

 Uriel Remember the Flood? How long did it take for things to be as bad as before?

 Michael Are you arguing that destroying things doesn't make any difference, Uriel? That's not like you.

 Uriel (crossly) I'm not saying that at all, Michael. If anything, I'm saying that the destruction never goes far enough.

 Raphael You're right.

 Gabriel Rafe, I'm surprised.

 Raphael No, he is right, Gabby, but not in the way he means. Until these things are destroyed in human hearts, we won't see an end of evil.

 Uriel Hah! And when will that be?

 Raphael It's in the Plan, Uriel. It's in the Plan.

 Lights down.


Scene 3 - The Test of Abraham

 The characters are discovered much as at the beginning of Scene 2.

 Raphael (watching mirror) I don't believe it.

 Gabriel What? (Comes over.)

 Raphael Abraham's just been ordered to sacrifice Isaac.

 Michael That can't be right. You must be mistaken.

 Raphael No, I know what I heard. Look, he's setting out now with the boy.

 Michael But he's the son of the Promise. He's part of the Plan.

 Raphael I know. But now he's carrying some wood, and they're headed for Mount Moriah. His father's got a knife and a firepot.

 Gabriel He's actually going to do it?

 Michael Surely not.

 Raphael Listen - the boy just asked where the lamb was for the sacrifice. His father hasn't told him the full story.

 Uriel What did the man say to that?

Raphael He told him that God would provide the lamb.

Michael He's a man of faith.

 Gabriel What do you think will happen?

 Michael It'll be stopped. It has to be stopped.

 Raphael They've reached the mountain.

 Gabriel He's tying the boy up and putting him on the wood!

 Michael I'm going to stop it.

 Raphael You can't, Mike.

 Uriel That's right, Michael. You have no orders. (He wanders casually over to watch the mirror from behind the others.)

 Michael But - but it can't be right!

 Gabriel He's right, Rafe.

 Raphael So is Uriel.

 Michael What am I going to do?

 Dispatch Archangel Michael. Archangel Michael, report for orders.

 Exit Michael, hurriedly. Uriel has to step back suddenly to let him past and looks miffed.

 Gabriel Just in time!

 Uriel Are you sure? He's lifting the knife.

 Raphael Be quiet, Uriel. There's Mike now. He's pointing out the ram caught by the horns in the thicket. He's stopped him harming the boy.

 Gabriel God did provide the lamb! But what was the point of it all, Rafe?

 Raphael I'm not sure. It seems very elaborate just as a test of faith. Perhaps it has something to do with the greater Plan.

 Lights down.



Scene 4 - Joseph in Egypt

 The characters are discovered much as at the beginning of Scenes 2 and 3.

 Uriel Well, Raphael, anything much happening in that mirror of yours?

 Raphael Not much, I'm afraid. Since we all appeared to Jacob at Bethel, and you and he wrestled, there hasn't been much action. He's just hung around, herding - hairy herbivores, and training his children to do the same.

 Gabriel Which of the children is the important one?

 Raphael It's not time for the really important one yet, Gabby. But I seem to remember young Joseph is quite significant.

 Michael The dreamer?

 Raphael That's him. Look, there he is.

 Gabriel and Michael pull their chairs up on either side of Raphael to watch the mirror. Uriel, ostentatiously in no hurry, walks around behind them and stands, arms folded.

 Gabriel What are his brothers doing? They can't do that! He's important, and they're going to kill him.

Raphael We can't interfere, Gabby. Look, Reuben's convinced them not to.

 Gabriel But he's going away, and Joseph's stuck in a pit. Can't we...

 Raphael No, Gabby. Hush.

 Michael Who are these?

 Raphael They're traders, by the looks - Midianites, if I'm any judge.

 Gabriel They're selling him! How can they sell him?

 Raphael At least he won't be harmed.

 Gabriel What do you mean? They beat slaves, don't they?

 Raphael Mainly the manual labourers, and he's too delicate to be one of those. He's just a boy. They'll probably make him a house-servant, and it's not a bad life, if you've got a good master. Pause. There, you see? They've sold him to the captain of Pharaoh's guard. He's a fair-minded man. That wife of his is poison, though. (Pause.) You see, the boy's doing well. His master trusts him.

 Michael He was always a bit of a spoiled brat at home. Son of the favourite wife, and all that.

 Gabriel And he never really got a chance to take responsibility. All those elder brothers...

 Raphael See, it's turning out for the best. I told you, Gabby.

 Gabriel Yes, Rafe, you were right, as usual.

 Uriel What was that you said about the wife? Look, she's trying to seduce him!

 Gabriel Run, Joseph!

 Uriel He seems to have heard you, Gabriel. But running away is not usually something that's encouraged in slaves, even trusted slaves.

 Gabriel Look at her! She's telling - what are they called, Rafe?

 Raphael Lies.

 Gabriel I can never get used to that. The truth just is. How can you talk about it as if it wasn't?

 Michael Too philosophical for me. Ah, poor lad. They've thrown him in prison. Didn't turn out so well after all, Rafe.

 Raphael Don't be too quick, Mike. The story's not over yet, you know.

 Michael He doesn't know that, though. Poor fellow.

 They watch silently for a while.

 Raphael Look, the same thing's happening again. I tell you, this young man is destined to rise. First his master entrusts everything to him; and now, when he's in prison, the prison warden does the same.

 Gabriel He's even being given charge of those other prisoners. Look, now he's interpreting their dreams.

 Michael That dreaming's coming in useful after all. Strange.

 Gabriel And the interpretation's coming true. One's being executed, and the other released. Surely he'll have Joseph released too, out of gratitude.

 Raphael Yes, that would be justice.

 Gabriel Well, come on, cupbearer. Tell your master about the man in the prison.

 Uriel He's not listening, Gabriel.

 Gabriel Don't make fun.

 Raphael No, I've often thought, Gabby, that you have a special gift of speaking - perhaps you can even be heard across the worlds.

 Gabriel Really? What do you think I...

 Michael Shh! Look.

 Gabriel Now Pharaoh's dreaming. Come on, cupbearer! Here's your chance to make amends.

 Raphael He's doing it.

 Michael Unbelievable.

 Gabriel Now he's rising in influence all over again! You were right, Rafe.

 Raphael I wonder what he'll do now?

 Michael Well, there's the famine to deal with. The one Pharaoh's dream predicted just now.

 Raphael That's true, there is. Well, the dream also promised seven good years, and Joseph's just the man to manage collecting up the grain.


 Uriel There's the famine.

 Raphael It's affecting Israel and his family too.

 Gabriel And now he's sending his sons to Egypt! Is it the Plan, Rafe?

 Raphael It must be. Look, he's pretending not to recognise them, and they don't recognise him. I wonder if he'll take revenge.

 Uriel That would be right.

 Gabriel No it wouldn't. Look, they've got a guilty conscience. They've remembered how badly they treated their brother when he talked about imprisoning one of them.

 Raphael I wonder if he'll go through with it?

 Michael It looks like he is. There they go, off to get their youngest brother to prove they're genuine. Their father won't take that lying down. Benjamin's his favourite wife's son too, and he's lost Joseph; he won't let Benjamin go down.

 Raphael He isn't, either.

 Michael He's going to get hungry again, though. (Pause.) Told you.

 Raphael They're going back again. Judah's had to promise to take full responsibility for Benjamin, though.

 Gabriel Joseph's still not letting on. He's playing a game with them.

 Uriel Now he's tricked them - planted a cup in Benjamin's sack, so he can make him out to be a thief. He's going to take his revenge.

 Gabriel Surely not.

 Uriel That's what he's saying, Gabriel. Benjamin has to stay as his slave.

 Raphael But Judah's keeping the promise he made to his father so they could get permission to go! He's pleading with him, wanting to stay instead of Benjamin.

 Michael A bit of a change from the Judah who sold his brother for silver.

 Raphael Yes, there seem to be two sides to him. Right now, for his father's sake he's taking the place of the man who's been found guilty.

 Gabriel And Joseph's broken down. He can't stand it any longer.

 Raphael He's sending for his father.

 Michael and Gabriel high-five each other over Raphael's head.

 Raphael Off they all go to Egypt.

 Uriel But isn't the land where they are part of the Plan?

 Raphael Yes, though that was one of the parts I had difficulty following. I think they must go back there later on.

 Lights down.


Scene 5 - The Exodus


The characters are discovered back in the positions they were in at the start of Scenes 2, 3 and 4. Michael has his attribute, a spear, and is polishing it.

 Michael Any action in that mirror, Rafe?

 Raphael It just gets worse and worse, Mike. The new Pharaoh doesn't know about Joseph, and he's oppressing the people of Israel.

 Michael He can't do that.

 Raphael He is doing that. He's put them to hard labour. He's afraid of them because they're so numerous.

 Michael He should be afraid of them for more reasons than that.

 Uriel Humans!

 Gabriel Don't be contemptuous, Uriel. Remember the Plan; they're special.

 Uriel You don't understand the Plan any more than I do.

 Gabriel I know that much.

 Raphael Mike, look!

 Michael rushes over and bends down beside Raphael to look in the mirror, leaning on his spear.

 Michael Now that is too much. He's trying to destroy them - telling the midwives to kill the male children. What if one of them's the special one?

 Raphael He'll be protected. Look, the midwives are disobeying.

 Michael Good.

 Gabriel Rafe.

 Raphael Yes, Gabby?

 Gabriel Isn't it wrong to disobey?

 Raphael It's wrong for us, because the orders we're given are always right. But it might not be wrong for them.

 Gabriel Oh. I see. (He doesn't.)

 Raphael There, look! One of them's been found by Pharaoh's daughter, and she's decided to bring him up as her own.

 Gabriel I wonder if it's the special one?

 Raphael According to what I was told, when it's the special one, we'll know. This one's called Moses.

 Michael And he's right inside the enemy camp.

 Gabriel You sound like Uriel.

 Uriel And what's wrong with how I sound?

 Michael You don't understand, Gabby. This is Israel. When I was given this attribute and told to be their protector, I... Good for you, Moses!

 Gabriel (coming to see) What's he doing?

 Michael He's killed an Egyptian who was harassing an Israelite.

 Raphael That'll cause trouble.

 Michael No, it won't. Now he's interceding between two Israelites who are fighting. They'll make him their leader, you watch.

 Raphael Guess again, Mike. They're afraid he'll kill them the way he killed the Egyptian - they know what Egyptian justice is like, and the Egyptians raised him.

 Michael I can't believe it! He's fleeing. Out into the desert, to raise flocks.

 Uriel It always seems to come back to flocks. I don't understand it.

 Raphael Being a shepherd must be character-building. Oops - look out. (Covers his eyes.)

 Michael Oh.

 Michael and Gabriel cover their eyes.

 Uriel What's... what's He doing?

 Raphael Talking to Moses. In a burning bush, in the desert.

 Michael He's sending him back. He'll set his people free!

 Gabriel He sounds a bit reluctant.

 Michael He'll be fine.

 Raphael You can look now.

 Michael OK, Moses. Back to Egypt, and a quick prophecy before Pharaoh, and then back to the Promised Land, rejoicing. Simple.

 Raphael I think you're a bit optimistic, Mike. Pharaoh isn't sold on the idea.

 Michael What, he - the tyrant! He's made their workload more!

 Raphael And the Israelites aren't any too pleased with Moses over it.

 Gabriel And now Moses is wimping out. Moaning and crying - didn't forty years in the desert teach him anything?

 Michael Go easy, Gabby. One miraculous sign, and Pharaoh will come round, you'll see.

 Raphael Ah - Mike...

 Michael I don't believe it. He turned his staff into a snake, the sacred royal creature, and Pharaoh hardened his heart. He doesn't even respect his own gods, let alone...

 Raphael And now he's put a plague of blood on the sacred Nile, and still Pharaoh won't listen.

 Gabriel And a plague of frogs.

 Michael And turned the dust into gnats. What does it take to convince this man?

 Hearing of the plagues, Uriel walks over to watch, and stands behind Raphael, arms folded.

 Gabriel Even when he puts flies everywhere except where the Israelites are, the message doesn't get through. Pharaoh! Let them go!

 Michael He's not listening to Moses, and he won't listen to you, Gabby. Sorry.

 Raphael Now he's killed the livestock, except for the ones that belong to the Israelites.

 Michael And put boils on the people.

 Gabriel And ruined their crops with hail. What does it take to make some people listen?

 Raphael If I were an Egyptian, I'd want to see the last of the Israelites. Look, he's agreed.

 Michael No, he was only pretending to get the hail to go away. Look, locusts are finishing off the rest of the crops.

 Raphael This time he's given in.

 Gabriel No - he's gone back on his word again! How can he do that?

 Michael Now the darkness - he's blotted out the face of the sun, who Pharaoh's supposed to represent. He's shown that he serves a greater power than any of the gods of Egypt.

 Raphael And Pharaoh's agreed to let them go.

 Michael But they have to take their flocks and herds.

 Raphael He won't agree to that - he's changed his mind again! And now he's threatening Moses.

 Michael Moses won't stand for that.

 Dispatch Archangel Uriel, Archangel Uriel, report for orders.

 Uriel Now it's getting serious.

 Exit Uriel.

 Raphael What do you think will happen now?

 Gabriel I don't know, but if Uriel's involved, it will be terrible.

 Michael He's only doing his job, Gabby.

 Gabriel I know, Mike. I know.

 They watch the mirror silently for a while.

 Raphael I don't believe it!

 Gabriel All the firstborn? All of them killed?

 Raphael Everyone who didn't have the blood of the lamb over them. I wonder why that particular symbol?

 Michael Never mind that. Pharaoh's given in! That was the ultimate invasion, the ultimate proof.

 Enter Uriel.

 Raphael They're on their way back out of Egypt. Much more numerous and much richer than they came.

 Michael They'll be grateful to Moses for that - and to Him.

 Uriel I wouldn't be so sure of that.

 Gabriel Oh, don't be so negative, Uriel.

 Uriel Look in the glass if you don't believe me.

 Raphael Don't they understand anything about the Plan? Not even as much as we do?

 Dispatch Archangel Michael, Archangel Michael. Report for orders.

 Exit Michael. Dim lights.


Scene 6 - The Time of the Judges

 The characters are discovered back in the positions they were in at the start of Scenes 2, 3, 4 and 5, except for Michael.

Enter Michael, with his spear. He flings it into a corner and himself into his chair. He is obviously tired and frustrated.

 Michael Moan, moan, moan! Complain, complain, complain! Still, at least they're established in the land at last now.

 Uriel I thought you were the defender of Israel, Michael.

 Michael It gets difficult sometimes, Uriel. It gets very difficult. They're an ungrateful crew.

 Gabriel Still, as you say, they're established in the Promised Land now. Even if they haven't got rid of all the false gods the way they were supposed to.

 Raphael No, I can see that being trouble. Who's going to lead them now that Moses and Joshua have died?

 Michael I believe it's going to be more or less whoever turns up, for a while anyway.

 Uriel What was that business with Moses' body, Michael?

 Michael What? Oh, that. I was under orders to bring the body here, so of course I set out to do that. And along came that - other fellow, and had the effrontery to dispute with me.

 Uriel What did you tell him?

 Michael I told him I had orders, of course.

 Gabriel And what did he say?

 Michael He told me orders didn't matter.

 The archangels are profoundly shocked.

 Gabriel Didn't matter? Are you sure that's what he said?

 Michael (sharply) Of course I'm sure. (Gabriel looks wounded.)
Sorry, Gabby. I didn't mean to snap. But it makes me angry to think about it.

 Gabriel That's all right, Mike.

 Uriel So what did you say to him?

 Michael Well, I was too shocked to say anything. And then he said that he was stronger than me, and he'd just take the body and there was nothing I could do about it.

 Raphael What did you do?

 Michael Well, I showed him he was wrong.

 Gabriel You certainly did! I've never seen anything so... I mean, you did very well, Mike.

 Michael Thanks, Gabby. I imagine he'll lie low for a while after that.

 Raphael I wouldn't be so sure. Look.

 They cluster round and watch the mirror with expressions of shock and disgust.

 Michael They're back worshipping at the high places again already.

 Raphael After you warned them so strongly, too, Gabby.

 Gabriel That was in Joshua's day, though. They've fallen apart since then. Fighting among themselves...

 Uriel They need a strong leader to bring them together.

 Michael Well, there's one man who it won't be - Gideon the Abiezrite. Look at him, threshing wheat in a winepress for fear of the invaders out of Midian. A cowardly Israelite. I'm ashamed.

 Raphael Look!

 They cover their eyes. The mirror glows. When the glow goes away, they look again.

 Michael I take it back. Meeting with - Him has transformed him.

 Raphael It often does.

 Gabriel He's tearing down the altar to the shameful one and cutting down that foul pole beside it.

 They watch briefly in silence.

 Michael Oops.

 Uriel That didn't last long.

 Raphael He's demanding more signs that he should be the leader.

 Gabriel He had a sign. A sign very few men get.

 Raphael He wants another one.

 Uriel He has an army. What more does he want?

 Raphael He wants to be certain. The humans always want to be certain.

 Michael Look, he's being taught a lesson. He doesn't need that great army at all. He's being told to send them away.

 They watch briefly.

 Uriel Victory!

 Gabriel Victory with only three hundred men.

 Raphael He's taking plunder, asserting himself against his fellow Israelites, killing enemy kings with his own sword - he'll become a king if he doesn't watch out.

 Gabriel It's not time for kings yet, is it?

 Raphael Not quite yet. Look! Now he's made an ephod out of the captured gold, and they're worshipping it.

 Gabriel That's disgusting.

 Raphael It's better than the altar and the pole, but not by much.

 Michael They'll be back to the altar and the pole before you know it. (They watch briefly.) See?

 Gabriel How did you know?

 Michael I've got to know these people. They're born wanderers. Wandering after their flocks, fine; but wandering after idols?

 Uriel Disgusting. Why they aren't all destroyed...

 Raphael They still have a place in the Plan.

 Uriel They're not making much progress with it. Look at them, fighting among themselves. Even their leaders are not much better than the rest.

 Raphael They don't make progress with the Plan, Uriel. That's managed from - closer to here.

 Uriel Well, all I can say is...

 Dispatch Archangel Gabriel. Archangel Gabriel, report for orders.

 Gabriel Here I go, fellows.

 Raphael Go blessed, Gabby.

 Exit Gabriel.

 Raphael Look - he's announcing another birth.

 Michael Surely not the Special One already?

 Raphael No, not yet. Not for a long time. This is another leader.

 Enter Gabriel, with his attribute, a trumpet.

 Gabriel Well, I enjoyed that. I like announcing births, ever since that one with Sarah. And look! My attribute, at last!

 Raphael Congratulations, Gabby!

 Uriel I'm afraid this one isn't much better than the others, though. Look at him.

 Gabriel Ah, Samson! What do you need a Philistine wife for?

 Raphael This feels like it might be part of the Plan.

 Uriel The dedicated leader, the special consecrated Nazirite, going after a foreign woman is part of the plan?

 Raphael Don't ask me how. It just seems like the sort of thing that leads to.... Look, I was right! It's become a cause of war between Samson and the Philistines. Their power over Israel will be reduced.

 Uriel Neat.

 Gabriel Look at him now, though.

 Michael Has the man no discernment? That Delilah is obviously a bad lot.

 Raphael Not to him, Mike. They can't see much when they're in love.

Gabriel What's that?

 Uriel Oh, it's one of those human weaknesses.

 Raphael I wouldn't dismiss it quite so lightly, Uriel. Look! Same thing again.

 Gabriel What? I wasn't watching.

 Raphael He was captured through betrayal and suffered terribly. But when his enemies brought him out to mock him he broke their temple down and destroyed them.

 Gabriel But he died too.

 Raphael Yes. He did. But it was in the fulfilment of the Plan.

 Lights down.


 Scene 7 - David's Census

 The characters are discovered back in their usual start-of-scene positions.

 Uriel How's the great King of Israel doing, Raphael?

 Raphael He's fine. Not a foot out of line since Bathsheba.

 Michael Got all his sinning over with in one go, perhaps. Sloth - not going off to war with his men. Covetousness, envy, gluttony and lust - wanting his neighbour's wife, when he already had several of his own. Anger - murdering the woman's unfortunate husband, who was more upright than David and wouldn't even sleep with his own wife, let alone anyone else's, when his mates were on campaign.

 Gabriel I didn't understand that part.

 Raphael If Uriah had slept with Bathsheba when he was back on leave, David could have claimed the child she was carrying was her husband's. But because he didn't, David had him killed instead.

 Gabriel Oh, I see. That was cruel.

Michael It was. But he paid for it. Look at all the trouble he's had in his family since.

 Raphael Amnon raping his half-sister and being murdered by his half-brother Absalom...

 Uriel Absalom leading a rebellion and then getting murdered by his cousin Joab...

 Michael Who's committed a few other murders for good measure. Yes, it's been a mixed reign.

 Gabriel Better than the reign of Saul.

 Michael True.

 Raphael And so far, David has avoided the kind of pride which brought Saul down. He's a man after God's own heart.

 Uriel Just a matter of time. You know these humans.

 Raphael I know them quite well. They are my special care. Oh.

 Gabriel What?

 Raphael David's ordered a census of the fighting men.

 Michael So? He wants to know how big an army he can field.

 Raphael That dark one goaded him into it.

 Michael That's different.

 Michael and Gabriel come over to the mirror.

 Uriel Pride captures him at last. I told you so.

 Raphael You did, Uriel. That's right.

 Gabriel He's realised his mistake.

 Michael He's going to have to pay for it, though. What a choice he's been given.

 Uriel What choice?

 Michael Three years of famine; three months of defeat by his enemies; or three days of plague.

 Gabriel He won't choose famine, that's too cruel.

 Uriel And he'll never choose defeat by his enemies. He's a fighting man, whatever his faults.

 Michael You're right. He's chosen the plague. Says he'd rather fall into His merciful hands than into the hands of men.

 Dispatch Archangel Uriel. Archangel Uriel, report for orders.

 Uriel Some action at last. (Exit, with his sword.)

 Michael It's one thing to be keen on your work. But I think Uriel takes it to an extreme.

 Gabriel Look! David's been allowed to see him.

 Raphael He's praying for it to stop.

 Michael My poor Israelites! Is that Mount Moriah he's stopped at?

 Raphael Yes, the same place that there was mercy shown to Abraham and Isaac, where he sacrificed the lamb instead.

 Gabriel He's buying the land for a temple. Wasn't that in the Plan?

 Raphael Yes, a temple for the Name, to present sacrifices and offerings. He won't be allowed to build it, though. He's a man of blood.

 Enter Uriel.

 Uriel Mission accomplished. (They all ignore him, and he shrugs and sits back in his place and cleans his sword.)

 Raphael I think we're about to see the next part of the Plan begin. The Temple part.

 Gabriel Don't they get exiled again?

 Michael Yes, and pardoned again.

 Gabriel (excited) And then...

Michael The Special One.

 Gabriel I can't wait.

 Raphael Wait, Gabby. Wait for the time of fulfilment of the Plan.

 Lights down. Interval.


Act II

Scene 1 - The Annunciation

 The archangels are in their usual start-of-scene positions, bored.

 Gabriel Anything at all?

 Raphael Nothing important.

 Michael No more prophets?

 Raphael No real ones. Lots of Zealots trying to encourage political rebellion. Lots of serious Pharisees trying to achieve righteousness by observing more laws than Moses ever gave. Lots of Sadducees sticking only to Moses and not giving the Prophets any credit. Lots of ordinary Israelites waiting for salvation, for some kind of help. But no prophets.

 Gabriel It's been four hundred years. That's a dozen generations or more who've never heard a prophet.

 Michael It's not been uneventful for Israel.

 Gabriel No, but since the return from Exile and the rebuilding of the Temple it's mostly been political stuff - one conquest after another. There's not been much progress on the Plan.

 Raphael It'll happen when it happens, Gabby.

 Gabriel I know. But it's hard waiting.

 Michael For Israel as well as for us.

 They sit in silence for a while.

 Dispatch Archangel Gabriel. Archangel Gabriel, report for orders.

 Gabriel At last! (Starts to rush out without his trumpet.)

 Raphael Gabby!

 Michael Don't forget your attribute! (Hands it to him.)

 Gabriel Thanks. (Exit.)

 Michael and, more slowly, Uriel move to where they can see the mirror.

 Uriel No events leading up to this one. What's happening?

 Raphael Gabby's in the Temple. He's talking to a priest.

 Enter Gabriel.

 Gabriel Well! Of all the nerve! He was no Abraham. More like Gideon. And him a priest, as well.

 Michael Announcing births again, Gabby?

 Gabriel Yes. This is another prophet! At last!

 Raphael Sit down and tell us slowly. We didn't follow it all in the mirror.

 Gabriel Well, I was sent to a priest called Zechariah, whose turn it was to burn incense in the Temple. My message was that his wife, who was barren, was going to have a son - a prophet, who would prepare the way - Rafe! He's going to prepare the way for - the special one!

 Michael At last!

 Uriel So what happened with the priest?

 Gabriel He didn't believe me.

 Raphael He didn't believe you?

 Gabriel He flat-out didn't believe me.

 Michael What did you say?

 Gabriel Well, I said, "I am Gabriel. I'm allowed to stand in the presence of God, and I've been sent to you with this message. And now as a sign you will be unable to speak until my words are fulfilled and you acknowledge their truth."

 Uriel Gabriel! I didn't know you had it in you.

 Gabriel (with dignity) As Angel of Communication, I have certain powers over human senses, which I'm allowed to use at my discretion. Remember how I blinded the men of Sodom? But that's neither here nor there. Look in the mirror, Rafe. What's going on?

 Dispatch Archangel Gabriel. Archangel Gabriel, report for orders.

 Gabriel Again? So quickly? (Flustered, goes to leave without his trumpet again.)

 Raphael and Michael Gabby!

 Gabriel Thanks. (Grins, grabs trumpet, rushes out.)

 Raphael Could this be it?

 Uriel Looks like he's going to some quite ordinary peasant girl to me.

 Raphael Looks can be deceptive in things like this, Uriel.

 Michael Turn up the sound. I want to hear this one.

 Gabriel (from mirror) Greetings, highly-favoured one! The Lord is with you.

 Mary (from mirror) What - what do you mean? Who are you?

 Gabriel Don't be afraid, Mary. You're favoured by God. You are going to have a son, who you must call Jesus. He will be great, and they will call him the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him his father David's throne, and he will reign over Israel forever. His kingdom will have no end.

 Mary How will that happen? I - I've not been with a man.

 Gabriel The Holy Spirit will be on you, and the power of the Most High will be a shadow over you. So the holy one will be born and called the Son of God. Even your cousin Elizabeth is going to have a child in her old age. They said she was barren, but she's six months pregnant. Nothing is impossible for God.

 Mary I'm the Lord's servant. Let it happen to me as you've said.

 Archangels, including Uriel (rather stiffly), rejoice. Enter Gabriel, who joins in.

 Gabriel At last!

 Michael At last. The special one!

 Gabriel What a remarkable young woman, to accept what I was telling her like that. It was a lot harder to swallow than what I told the priest, as well.

 Raphael Look! The forerunner is born.

 Gabriel And his father has accepted the name John for him. I'd better release him from his silence.

 Raphael He's praising God.

 Gabriel And so he should.

 Michael Don't be so stuffy, Gabby. You sound like...

 Gabriel Sorry.

 Uriel Sound like what?

 Raphael Look! Look!

 Gabriel What?

 Raphael The special one himself! He's about to be born in Bethlehem, in the town of David!

 Dispatch Archangel Gabriel. Archangel Gabriel, report for orders.

 Michael Take your trumpet this time.

Gabriel Yes. Thanks. (Rushes out.)

 Raphael He's talking to some shepherds. Hairy herbivore herders again.

 Dispatch All angels. All angels, report for orders.

 Michael At the double! Come on!

 Exeunt alles. Lights stay up. After a few moments, the archangels (including Gabriel) all return, rejoicing.

 Gabriel So what does that mean, anyway, that phrase we say?

 Raphael What phrase?

 Gabriel "Don't be afraid."

 Michael I think it's some kind of greeting.

 Uriel No, it's a human thing - fear. I have to know about it for my work.

 Raphael Never mind that now. The Special One is here! The Plan is about to be fulfilled!

 Michael At least it should go smoothly from now on.

 Lights down.


 Scene 2 - The Baptism and Temptation in the Wilderness

 The archangels are in their usual start-of-scene positions.

 Gabriel Nothing much so far.

 Raphael No, I'm surprised he's waiting so long. Things are as bad as they've been for a while, and he doesn't seem to be doing anything.

 Michael And John's just living out in the wilderness, eating locusts and wild honey.

 Uriel What good's that going to do anyone?

 Raphael I'm sure it's part of the Plan.

 Uriel I don't remember it being in there.

 Raphael We weren't told all the details.

 Uriel Even so....

 Raphael Wait a moment, there goes John. He's started preaching.

 Uriel About time. Repentance and judgement?

 Raphael Yes, as it happens. And he's baptising people who repent.

 Gabriel Baptising? But they only do that to Gentiles who join the faith.

 Raphael Nevertheless, that's what he's doing.

 Michael What about - uh - the other one?

 Raphael Still working in Nazareth as a carpenter. Under deep disguise.

 Uriel Very deep.

 Raphael No - there he is. He's going to see his cousin John.

 Gabriel Probably going to join him in preaching or something. (He wanders over to watch.)

 Raphael No, he's going down to be baptised.

 Michael Him? But isn't he the special one? What does he need to be baptised for?

 Raphael That's what John's saying. But he's talked him into it. He's very persuasive.

 Michael strides over to watch the mirror too.

 Michael Look!

 Raphael That's the Holy Spirit of God. Descending on him in the form of a dove.

 Gabriel What does it mean?

 Father (Very loud, booming voice) This is my son, whom I love. I am well pleased with him.

 The angels are awed.

 Gabriel What an announcement!

 Michael Everyone in heaven and earth must have heard it. They can't ignore that.

 Raphael Some of them are saying it thundered.

 Gabriel That's ridiculous.

 Uriel Humans are ridiculous.

 Raphael I'm afraid Uriel's right. Magnificent, debased, fascinating, frustrating, the crown of creation - and ridiculous.

 Michael Now what's he doing?

 Raphael He's going out into the desert.

 They watch in silence for a while.

 Gabriel I, ah, can't help noticing....

 Raphael What have you noticed, Gabby?

 Gabriel Don't they usually, ah, eat? Several times a day? It's just that he's been out there for weeks now, and...

 Raphael It's called fasting, Gabby. Remember, Moses did it when he went up the mountain. For a similar time to this, in fact.

 Gabriel Oh, I couldn't bear to watch all that. I don't really remember the details of it.

 Michael There's that - other one again. What's he doing there?

 Raphael He's trying to convince him to turn the stones into bread.

 Gabriel Can he do that?

 Raphael Of course he can. The point is, should he?

 Gabriel Why shouldn't he, if he's hungry? Hunger's natural, isn't it? It's not wrong.

 Raphael He's quoting from the Book. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God."

 Gabriel What does that mean?

 Raphael It means that he is to concentrate on doing God's will and not worry about his hunger.

 Michael If only those first two had taken that attitude and not taken the fruit when that - that other one tempted them.

 Raphael He would only have tried again. Look. He's taken him to the highest point of the Temple and is quoting the Book himself, saying if he casts himself down, angels will bear him up.

 Gabriel Well, we will.

 Raphael But it's not right - there, he's answered him. "Do not put the Lord your God to the test."

 Gabriel I don't understand.

 Raphael Trusting in God when difficulties come by themselves is one thing, Gabby. But doing deliberately stupid things to see if God will get you out of them is another.

 Gabriel Oh. I see.

 Michael He's not giving up. The louse.

 Raphael This time he's playing his big card. All the kingdoms of the world, in exchange for worship. He's already made that offer to the rest of mankind, and been accepted.

 Michael I wish I could go down there and....

 Raphael Hush, Mike. He's refused him again, and he's gone away.

 Michael (grimly) He'll be back.

 Raphael I'm sure the Plan takes that into account.

 Lights down.


Scene 3 - Palm Sunday

 The archangels, even Uriel, are clustered around the mirror.

 Michael I'm worried, Rafe. He's been taking a lot of risks.

 Gabriel He's certainly very unpopular with the Pharisees.

 Raphael I'm more worried about how popular he is with other groups. You know how strong feeling is for a military Messiah. I'm afraid that this time he'll yield to temptation - and we all know that isn't in the Plan.

 Uriel Even David yielded to pride in the end. And this is a descendant of David.

 Raphael Not just that, Uriel. More than that.

 Uriel Well, certainly, specially anointed....

 Raphael That too. But I think he's even more.

Gabriel He calls himself the Son of Man. But when I went to his mother, I prophesied that he would be called the Son of God. What did that mean, Rafe?

 Raphael I'm not sure. I'm only just getting inklings. But he forgave sins, do you remember that?

 Michael I remember the Pharisees' reaction. They still want to stone him. I'm afraid they might succeed.

 Gabriel The people wouldn't let them, I think. And the Romans would probably intervene.

 Raphael I wouldn't be so sure. They don't often intervene in local disputes unless it threatens their interests.

 Uriel So what are you saying, Raphael? Who is this human?

 Raphael Something a little more than human, Uriel. Something a lot more than human, in fact. Made a little lower than us, for a while, but I think I recognise....

 Gabriel Look! The crowds are cheering him.

 Michael He's sending his followers to get him a beast to ride through the crowd. Is he going to ride in on a warhorse and proclaim the Kingdom?

 Raphael No, it's a donkey. The beast of the king who comes in peace. Oh, clever, clever. He's riding in as King, but not a king who's going to overthrow the Romans by force. The sign's there for everyone to read it.

 Uriel They haven't proved too bright so far. Even his close followers don't understand what he's up to.

 Gabriel Well, do you?

 Uriel disdains to answer.

 Raphael Palm branches and cloaks on the ground - the people love him. I think it's going to be all right.

 Gabriel What about the Romans, though? What about the Pharisees and the priests?

 Michael Yes, he's still in a dangerous position, Rafe.

 Raphael It'll be all right. You'll see. Establishing the Kingdom is part of the Plan.

 Lights down.


Scene 4 - Gethsemane

 The archangels are still clustered around the mirror.

 Gabriel I don't understand. I don't understand.

 Uriel You never understand.

 Gabriel Well, do you?

 Uriel You know I don't take much interest in these creatures. But it seems clear enough. He's had the meal with his followers. One of them's gone out to get something, and he'll meet up with them later on that hill with the olive trees, the garden where they often go.

 Raphael There are undercurrents, though, Uriel. What about the words he said about betrayal, just before Judas went out?

 Uriel Perhaps he won't be able to get whatever it is. Perhaps it's important.

 Raphael I think it's important, all right. But it looks as if he's got it. Look.

 Michael Aren't those some of the chief priests' guard?

 Gabriel Why would he be bringing them?

 Michael And he's not paying over money. He's being given some. What's happening?

 Raphael Betrayal. Look at him. He's praying. Praying that he'll be spared the trial that's coming.

 Michael He never did that in the desert, when he was facing - that other one.

 Raphael No; he prayed that he would be able to get through it, but not that it wouldn't happen. I have a bad feeling about this.

 Gabriel I want to go down to him. Look at him.

 Raphael Not without orders, Gabby.

 Gabriel (miserably) I know.

 Michael I think I see it.

 Raphael What?

 Michael Judas. Judah. It's the same name - it's just changed a bit over time. Remember the original Judah? He sold his brother for silver.

 Raphael And ended up offering himself up for his other brother. You think that will happen again?

 Michael Bound to. He'll give himself up to redeem him, you wait and see.

 Gabriel And Abraham.

 Michael What about him, Gabby?

 Gabriel Remember? "God will provide the lamb, my son." It's another test. But I wish I could go down.

 Dispatch Archangel Gabriel. Archangel Gabriel, report for orders.

 Gabriel Ah! (Snatches up his trumpet and exits.)

 Michael Good old Gabby. He's very soft-hearted.

 Raphael Yes. But this is a time for strong hearts, even if they're soft. I'm not so confident as you, now. As I remember, the Plan isn't that straightforward.

 Lights down.


Scene 5 - The Trials

 The archangels are still clustered around the mirror.

 Gabriel This has all happened before.

 Raphael How do you mean?

 Gabriel Remember when Moses was rejected as a leader?

 Michael But he's not producing signs and wonders. He's not even saying very much.

 Raphael Romans aren't as impressed with signs as Egyptians.

 Michael What have the Romans got to do with it? He's being tried by the High Priest.

 Raphael High priests are even less impressed by signs - at least, these modern ones are. And the High Priest doesn't have authority to execute anyone.

 Gabriel Execute? But they can't do that.

 Raphael They can try.

 Uriel They'll have us to face if they do.

 Raphael Weren't you listening in the garden when they came for him? He could call on us if he wants; but he won't.

 Michael Why not? We're his armies, aren't we?

 Uriel His armies? We're God's armies.

 Raphael I think that may be the point....

 Gabriel Look! The high priest hasn't been able to get anything out of him, so they're taking him to the Romans.

 Raphael This won't be pretty. Romans don't like the Jews much. If one's given to them, they'll take full advantage.

 Uriel A moment ago, you were implying that he's a little more than just another Jew...

 Raphael Yes. But the Romans don't know that, and wouldn't believe if they were told it.

 Gabriel Just what are you saying, Rafe? Oh, look at that.

 Raphael I told you it wouldn't be pretty.

 Gabriel I can't watch. (Turns away, visibly upset.)

Michael If only we could intervene.

 Raphael If only. But we have no orders. It must be part of the Plan.

 Lights down.


 Scene 6 - Golgotha

 The angels are still around the mirror. Gabriel is casting occasional reluctant glances at it; Uriel is stone-faced as always; Raphael's forehead is wrinkled in concern; Michael is angry and frustrated.

 Michael If only we could help! It's intolerable.

 Raphael It's a good deal worse for him, Mike.

 Michael You know what I mean.

 Raphael Remember Joseph, and how that turned out.

 Michael Joseph got put in prison - where he was well treated and gained the trust of the jailer. He didn't have to carry a cross up a hill.

 Gabriel God will provide the lamb. Surely he will. It's even on the same hill where that happened.

 Uriel Well, it won't be Judas. Look there.

 Raphael He's hanged himself.

 Gabriel If he wanted to die, why didn't he give himself up in Jesus' place, like Judah did for Benjamin?

 Michael He doesn't have Judah's courage. Or love to motivate him, like Judah did. Love for his father.

 Uriel If you ask me, it'll be more like Samson. He'll die, and take the rest with him.

 Gabriel Must you be so bloodthirsty, Uriel?

 Uriel Thirst has nothing to do with it. I just know how these things go.

 Raphael I think there might be more to it than that.... Ugh.

Michael Nails in the hands. And these Romans call themselves soldiers. That's not soldierly.

 Gabriel turns away and hides his face.

 Raphael It's not too late yet.

 Uriel Sometimes it takes them several days to die like this.

 Michael Thank you for that comforting thought.

 They watch for a short time in silence.

 Raphael The sky's gone dark.

Gabriel It's like the end of the world. Has it all gone wrong, Rafe?

 Raphael I don't see how it can have. But at the same time, I don't see how it can't have.... It looks bad, Gabby. Very bad.

 Michael gets up and begins to pace, carrying his spear. He weighs it in his hands as if longing to use it. Uriel draws his sword, pulls out a whetstone and sharpens the blade.

Gabriel Stop that! Sorry, Uriel, but the noise gets on my nerves.

 Uriel shrugs and puts the whetstone away, gets out a polishing cloth instead and polishes the sword.

 Raphael It must be soon now. It must.

 Christ (thunderously) It is finished!

 Clap of thunder and huge tearing sound.

 Uriel The temple curtain's gone. I expected the whole thing to go.

 Gabriel How can you take it so calmly? He's... he's....

 Raphael He's dead. The Plan....

 Gabriel I don't understand.

 Lights down, slowly.


Scene 7 - The Garden Tomb

 The angels are sitting around in their separate places, in various attitudes of dejection. Raphael stirs.

 Raphael The women are going to go to the tomb to pay their respects.

 Gabriel We can't even do that.

 Dispatch Archangel Gabriel. Archangel Gabriel, report for orders.

 The angels exchange startled glances.

Gabriel Now what?

 Raphael You'd better go and find out, Gabby.

 Exit Gabriel.

 Raphael Mike! Uri! Come and look at this!

 Uriel What did you call me?

 Raphael Oh, come on!

Michael It's him.

 Uriel He's risen.

 Raphael He is risen indeed. Look at the grin on Gabby's face as he's rolling back the stone.

 Uriel The Romans are terrified. Imagine, terrified of Gabriel.

 Raphael Here come the women. They'll get the best surprise of their lives.

 Michael Always had a way with words, that Gabby. "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen."

 Raphael Risen.

Uriel I don't understand.

 Raphael This is it, Uriel. This is the fulfilment of the Plan.

 Lights down.


© Mike McMillan 1998

All rights reserved
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged.
In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed.

He may be contacted at: