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Body of Opinion A Murder Mystery CHARACTERS IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE INSPECTOR RAWLINS - Detective Inspector. RACHAEL CORDWELL - Detective Constable. SONIA MITCHELL - Widow, sharp tongued. MELANIE PARKER - Spinster, dreamy, panicky. PAMELA BLAKE - Ex head teacher, kind. AMANDA BOWGEN - Divorcee, man mad. ARCHIE SIMKINS - The Butcher, aggressive. TED MCDOWELL - Son of the murder victim, slow.

FORMAT The production takes the form of short scenarios containing either interviews or dialogue between characters. SCENE SL - Four chairs and a small table representing the Mrs Mitchell’s sitting room. SR - The outside of Archie Simkins’s Butchers Shop. CS - Any neutral location. Actors can move as per stage instructions, or remain on stage if preferred.

INTRODUCTION OF CHARACTERS Enter Detective Inspector Rawlins and PC Rachael Cordwell who take CS. INSP

Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to our Murder Mystery. Yesterday, the body of Mr William McDowell, one of the great and good in the village of Queen’s Down, was found hanging from a meat hook in the walk-in freezer of Mr Archie Simkins, the local butcher.

Copyright ©Patricia Gay 2012


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Needless to say, foul play is suspected, and I, Detective Inspector Rawlins of the Plodshire CID have come to carry out investigations, with the help of my able assistant, Detective Constable Rachael Cordwell. Say hallo, Rachael. RACHAEL

Evenin’ all.

INSP

But before we begin, let us meet the main suspects and see what they were doing in the week leading up to this murder. Let us first visit the house of Mrs Sonia Mitchell, where she and her friends, Miss Melanie Parker and Miss Pamela Blake are to be found hard at work at their quilting.

Exit Inspector and Rachael. OOOOOOOOOO Enter Sonia and Melanie who take up their seats SL. FX: Radio play.

‘So, Inspector, are you close to making an arrest for the murder of County Librarian Martha Snagsby?’ ‘Oh yes, Mr Blenkinsop. Very close indeed.’

FX: Announcer.

Well, what a cliffhanger this is proving to be. Please tune in next week for the final part of Murder at Marston Manor by A.B. Calthorpe. And for our next programme, Politicians’ Question Time, in which …..

FX: Radio turned off. SONIA

No thank you. We’ve no wish to listen to a load of men braying about how well they’re getting the country into a mess. Pass me my needle case, Melanie.

MELANIE

Here you are, Sonia. Oh wouldn’t it be exciting if we had a murder in this village.

SONIA

This is Queen’s Down, dear, not Midsomer. And I’m not sure we could take the strain. On the other hand, there’s quite a few people I’d like to see murdered; that slapper Amanda Bowgen, for a start.

MELANIE

Now, now, it’s Sunday. Best behaviour.

SONIA

All right, I’ll say it again tomorrow. Hurry up with that sherry, Pamela.

Enter Pamela who takes seat SL.

Copyright ©Patricia Gay 2012


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PAMELA

Here we are.

ALL

Cheers.

MELANIE

Sonia was just saying who she’d like to see murdered; Amanda Bowgen.

SONIA

Yes, she has earned herself a reputation, hasn’t she?

PAMELA

Oh do behave. The last thing the Queen’s Down Quilters want is to be known as a load of gossips.

MELANIE

They might call us a meddling coven with nothing else to do all day.

SONIA

Or tittle-tattlers.

PAMELA

With nobody safe from their vicious tongues.

SONIA

That’s definitely not us.

MELANIE

It is a juicy scandal, though.

SONIA

You mean about our Amanda and William McDowell?

MELANIE

Besotted with him, she is.

SONIA

What a disgrace, being told not to go within a mile of his property, otherwise he’d call the Police and have a restraining order put on her.

PAMELA

I feel sorry for her. She still thinks of excuses to see him.

SONIA

Thick-skinned floozy.

MELANIE

Sunday.

SONIA

Sorry.

MELANIE

I suppose since her husband left her, the frustration’s worse.

PAMELA

Maybe she’ll settle down and leave him alone.

MELANIE

Oh, that won’t be fun anymore.

SONIA

You never know, he might give in gracefully. Men never need much persuading.

Copyright ©Patricia Gay 2012


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MELANIE

Well, he must have needs.

SONIA

Oh yes, Melanie?

MELANIE

Well, men do, don’t they?

SONIA

Well, they know what they can do with their needs!

PAMELA

Oh Sonia.

SONIA

It’s all right for you, Pamela. You and Melanie never married. You don’t know what I had to put up with.

PAMELA

Yes, he was rather temperamental, wasn’t he?

SONIA

Temperamental! You don’t know the half of it.

MELANIE

So sad he died.

SONIA

Yes.

PAMELA

Rather suddenly.

SONIA

Yes.

Exit Sonia, Melanie and Pamela. OOOOOOOOOO Enter Inspector and Rachael. INSP

So, what do we have? A man-hater and her two spinster companions. Would any one of them have a motive for killing Mr William McDowell, I wonder.

RACHAEL

Quite a mystery, Sir.

INSP

You live in Newcombe Bay, don’t you Constable? Handy for the job.

RACHAEL

Yes, Sir.

INSP

Lucky Newcombe Bay.

RACHAEL

That’s very naughty, Sir.

Copyright ©Patricia Gay 2012


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INSP

Oh, all right . Let us now go to the butcher’s shop, the premises of Archie Simkins, in whose freezer the body will later be found.

Exit Inspector and Rachael. OOOOOOOOOO Enter Archie who takes position SR and Amanda who joins him. AMANDA

Good afternoon.

ARCHIE

Good afternoon, Amanda. What do you fancy?

AMANDA

Nothing that you’ve got, Archie Simkins.

ARCHIE

How is Mr McDowell this today?

AMANDA

Mr McDowell? How on earth would I know?

ARCHIE

Just thought I’d ask.

AMANDA

I really don’t keep tabs on what Mr McDowell is doing.

ARCHIE

Tripe.

AMANDA

Excuse me?

ARCHIE

I’ve got some tripe in.

AMANDA

Not to my taste.

ARCHIE

If you’re not getting what you want, Amanda, you’ve only to ask me.

AMANDA

No thank you.

ARCHIE

How about some of my special stuffing?

AMANDA

Are you trying to be funny?

FX of sawing. AMANDA

What’s that?

ARCHIE

It’s Ted McDowell putting up a fence for me.

AMANDA

What Simple Ted?

Copyright ©Patricia Gay 2012


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ARCHIE

There’s nothing wrong with Ted; he’s a good worker.

AMANDA

Yes, if you can get him to understand instructions.

ARCHIE

Well, he works okay for me and loads of other people in the village.

Enter Ted who joins Archie and Amanda. TED

Can I finish for the day, Archie?

ARCHIE

Of course you can, Ted.

TED

Sure you don’t mind?

ARCHIE

You’re self-employed, Ted. You can finish when you like.

TED

Yes, I suppose I can. Thank you Archie.

ARCHIE

That’s all right, Ted.

Exit Ted. AMANDA

Heaven help us all. I suppose every village has to have one.

ARCHIE

One what?

AMANDA

Idiot.

ARCHIE

You’re too hard on yourself, Amanda.

Exit Archie and Amanda. OOOOOOOOOOO Enter Inspector and Rachael who take CS. INSP

Well, there we have it. A man-hungry vixen, a red-blooded butcher and a lad who‘s a bit slow on the uptake. But now our murder has been committed and we must visit these good people again and conduct a round of preliminary interviews.

Copyright ©Patricia Gay 2012


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1st INTERVIEWS Enter Sonia who takes seat SL and is joined by the Inspector and Rachael. SONIA

Come in Inspector.

INSP

Thank you Mrs Mitchell. This is Detective Constable Rachael Cordwell, who will be assisting me during this investigation.

SONIA

Oh, a WPC, how nice.

RACHAEL

PC.

INSP

We’re all the same now. Men and women.

SONIA

How very odd. How do you arrest great big, mouthy, tattooed drunks?

RACHAEL

I kick their stilettos out from underneath them.

MELANIE

Oh no, I meant ….

RACHAEL

If it‘s a man, I use CS spray.

INSP

I believe you’re a widow, Mrs Blake?

SONIA

I certainly am.

INSP

And your husband died …..

SONIA

That’s why I’m a widow.

FX of drilling. INSP

Sounds like you’re having some work done?

SONIA

New guttering.

INSP

Local man?

SONIA

Yes, Ted McDowell. Turns his hand to all kinds of things.

INSP

McDowell. Any rela….

SONIA

Son.

Copyright ©Patricia Gay 2012


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INSP

Age?

SONIA

About twenty-five.

INSP

Make a note, Rachael. Must speak to him later.

RACHAEL

Yes, Sir.

SONIA

Well, it’s pretty obvious who did it.

INSP

Is it?

SONIA

Amanda Bowgen, of course.

INSP

Why of course?

SONIA

Unrequited love. Hell hath no fury.

INSP

Tell me more.

SONIA

Oh, it’s been going on for years. Quite the scandal. Plagued him with letters, phone calls, emails.

INSP

So what did her husband do?

SONIA

Found solace in another‘s arms.

INSP

A younger woman?

SONIA

No, Marcel at the Ladies’ Hairdressers.

Exit Inspector and Sonia. Rachael moves SR. OOOOOOOOOO Enter Archie who joins Rachael. ARCHIE

What was he doing in my walk-in freezer, anyway?

RACHAEL

Well, it wasn’t far to move him: his drive adjoins your rear premises.

ARCHIE

So he was carried?

RACHAEL

Possibly, or someone used a wheelbarrow.

Copyright ©Patricia Gay 2012


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ARCHIE

I suppose a couple of strong blokes did it?

RACHAEL

You’re strong, Mr Simkins. One strong bloke could have done it.

ARCHIE

But he would have been a dead weight.

RACHAEL

Did I say he was dead when he was moved?

ARCHIE

You mean he might have been alive?

RACHAEL

If he wasn’t dead, he would have been alive, wouldn’t he?

ARCHIE

But that means he would have frozen to death.

RACHAEL

At that temperature, I expect he would have.

ARCHIE

But, why would I have wanted to kill him?

RACHAEL

Did he owe you any money?

ARCHIE

A bit, but they all do, these well-off lot. I don’t go around killing any of them, though. If I went round killing everybody that owed me money, the area would be like when the Black Death came.

RACHAEL

I see your point.

ARCHIE

Well, how soon can I re-open my shop; my faggots are going off?

Exit Rachael and Archie. OOOOOOOOOO Enter Amanda and the Inspector who go CS. INSP

I understand you knew him intimately, Mrs Bowgen.

AMANDA

We were close, despite what other people say.

INSP

What do other people say?

AMANDA

That he warned me off, told me to stay away. But that’s not true.

INSP

So what was true?

AMANDA

He said we had to be careful, otherwise people would talk. He had his reputation to think of.

Copyright ©Patricia Gay 2012

Body Of Opinion  

Body Of Opinion

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