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The Village Hall

four linked one act plays by

John Bartlett


The Village Hall by John Bartlett © John Bartlett 2003 & 2007. All Rights Reserved This script may not be copied or transcribed by any means electronic, optical or mechanical without the prior permission of the copyright owner or his agent. Photocopying this script without a suitable license is strictly prohibited. This play is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the author‟s imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. „The Village Hall‟ is fully protected under the international laws of copyright which are enacted in the UK as the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The right of John Bartlett to be identified as the author of the work has been asserted by them in accordance with the above Act. While every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this play, the publisher assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the material contained herein. Published by, and worldwide rights managed by : Stagescripts Ltd Lantern House, 84 Littlehaven Lane, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 4JB, UK Tel : +44 (0)700 581 0581 www.stagescripts.com sales@ stagescripts.com Publication History: August 2003 : First Edition January 2008 : Second Edition January 2011 : Third Edition

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SA-0061

(Rev D)


The Village Hall Synopsis That hallowed institution - the Village Hall, scene of unparalleled local country dramas is the setting for these three comedy plays. Each play stands up in its own right, but the trilogy could be played together as a single three act play. Each play features one or two main characters and their particular use of the Hall, a jumble sale, the amateur dramatics (US : community theatre) group, the local scout group's Gang Show and a wedding reception. The main roles in each of these are supported by other characters who are initially introduced as minor roles until they in turn are featured in subsequent plays (or acts). The Hall and the characters remain the central link and focus of the piece. The plays should be set in a typical village hall, somewhere in the South of England (Hampshire or Dorset for example) and although it is set in the 1990s, it would work equally well set in any time from the 1950's onwards with few modifications The characters should be colourful, eccentric and larger than life, all playing out their own personal agenda. They do not necessarily get on with each other, rather they tolerate village life for the good of the community.

Cast Mr (or Mrs) Wrankin - caretaker of the Hall. Officious, 'jobsworth' type. Vicar - 30's, new to the parish, eager to please everybody Mrs Meacher - middle aged, middle class twin-set and pearls type, prickly, doesn't suffer fools gladly Jane - 30-40. Single, has dated Gordon Phillips. A willing helper at village events Phyllis - 20-30. Single. A nurse living in the village. Another willing helper. Colin Rutter - 40-50. Director of the village AmDram group : 'The Treadeagle Players' Colonel Drinkwater - 60-80. Typical retired military man with a twinkle in his eye David Pike - 12-15. An assertive scout with a keen interest in girls Miss Kill - middle-aged spinster,' jolly hockey sticks' type, leader of the Girl Guides Mr Tumley - 70-90. a timid 'Private Godfrey' type Gordon Phillips - 35-45. The Scoutmaster Paramedics 1-2 - two paramedics with a wry sense of humour Captain Hearty-Oke - 50's. The revered ship's Master in the melodrama, a 'luvvie' Bartrum - 40's. The First Lieutenant and Jack's uncle, an 'over the top' actor.

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Jack - a young sailor. Keen, public-school type. (Could be played by a boy, man or woman)

Ruth - the Wardrobe mistress Mary - the Props mistress Sailors 1, 2 and 3 - Sailors with speaking parts. (Written to be played by women, but could equally be played by men)

Ghost - the voice (off) of Algernon, Bartrums dead brother. Appears very briefly as a vision. Dai Llewellyn - the lighting and sound technician, Welsh. Jimmy Paine - 12-15. A pimply youth in awe of his mother, Mrs Paine Scout - 12-15. Another David Pike Michael - the Scout Leader, Gordon's assistant/helper Mrs Paine - 30-40. Jimmyâ€&#x;s mother, protective, strong willed and speaks her mind Cheryl - 17-18. Attractive, tarty sort of girl, out for a good time, fickle Girls 1-5 (Julia, Tracy, Karen, Sheila and Janet) - 12-15. Girls in the Girl Guides group (one appears in a state of undress)

Inspector - 45-55. A policeman in plain clothes Various non-speaking roles are required as attendees at the jumble sale, additional sailors/pirates, scouts/guides and policemen.

Cast Breakdown In summary, the cast requirement is this :Sex Totals per Act / Play m Principals jm f jf m/f m Support jm f jf m/f VO Total Character Parts

The Jumble Sale

The Melodrama

Ging,Gang, Gooli

The Wedding Reception

4 4 3 1 1 -

4 2 4 1 1 2

2 2 2 1 1 1 -

5 2 5 1 -

Principals : Support :

8m, 2jm,7f, 1jf, 7m/f 2m, 1jm, 3-5jf

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5 (minimum 3) 1


Due to the complexity of character appearances within the four acts / plays the following table has been prepared in order to display their status as Principal or Support in each case. They are listed in a rough order of part size. In Detail :Character

Sex

The Jumble Sale

The Melodrama

Ging,Gang, Gooli

The Wedding Reception

Gordon Phillips Colin Vicar Colonel Drinkwater Michael Captain Hearty-Oke Bartrum Dai Llewellyn Inspector Mr Tumley Ghost David Pike Jimmy Paine Scout Jane Miss Kill Mrs Meacher Phyllis Mrs Paine Ruth Mary Cheryl Girls 1-5 (minimum 3) Mr/Mrs Wrankin Jack Paramedic 1-2 Sailors 1-3

m m m m m m m m m m m jm jm jm f f f f f f f jf jf m/f m/f m/f m/f

P P P P S S P P P P P P (x2) -

P P P P VO -

P P VO S P P S P P P P S (x5) -

P P P P P P P P P P P P P -

VO (& briefly appears) P P S P P (x3)

Key : m : male P : principal role

f : female S : support role

j : junior role m/f : either sex role VO : Voice Offstage

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ACT 1 The Jumble Sale The scene is set in a typical Village Hall. There is a small stage area, at present the stage curtains are drawn shut. Various trestle tables have been erected in preparation for the forthcoming jumble sale. The room should look partially organised with piles of clothes, bric-a-brac, shoes etc.

Mr Wrankin

All right! All right! Who let you lot in? It won‟t do you know, you‟ll have to leave. Doors don‟t open until two o‟clock! Go on, outside you go, queue up with everybody else. This isn‟t the January sales you know, there‟s no half price bargains here, none of your star buys, none of your cheap seconds going. Between you and me Jumble Sales aren‟t what they used to be, no, not by a long chalk, it‟s mostly a load of old rubbish these days. Car Boots, that‟s the trouble, it‟s all been ruined! Can‟t pick up the stuff like we used to, no, not like the old days. Then you could pick up a bargain or two, oh yes many a time I‟ve come in here for a quick gander, picked up all sorts of bargains I have … golf clubs, knick-knacks, genuine antiques, old 78‟s, oh yes … but what am I telling you lot for, go on clear out before I fetch the Vicar. (Pause) What, you won‟t go! They won‟t like it you know, the ladies I mean, their not used to it you see. They like to set up, get everything tidy, before the onslaught. They won‟t like you lot hovering about like a swarm of locusts! It will put them right off their stroke it will. So let‟s have everybody back outside. Form a nice orderly queue not inside, outside, that‟s the ticket. (Pause) Look, I‟m not telling you again! I have my reputation to think of, I mean, with you lot sat here where‟s my credibility gone? Eh? I ask you! (Pause) Oh very well have it your own way, but I‟m warning you they won‟t like it. Look, I„ll tell you what, if I pull these screens in front of you, then as long as you keep mum, they won‟t even know you‟re here! How‟s that? This should do the trick, all snug as a bug in a rug (He pulls two screens across the audience) Well I‟m off to the boiler room and if anyone asks you‟ve not seen me, is that clear? Good!

The Vicar enters holding a sheaf of papers and a hymn book. He is quite a young man, who wants to please everybody.

1


Vicar

Mrs Meacher Vicar Mrs Meacher Vicar Mrs Meacher Vicar Mrs Meacher Vicar Mrs Meacher Vicar Mrs Meacher Vicar

Dear me, whose left these here. Mr Wrankin! Mr Wrankin! That wretched man is never around when you want him! Oh bother, I suppose I‟ll have to move them myself. What is the point of employing a caretaker if he doesn‟t take any care! (He reveals the audience) Oh I say, you did give me a start, I didn‟t know you see, I almost had one of my turns, but what are you hiding behind these screens for anyway? We‟re not ready you know, for the jumble sale I mean, oh no, we still have several boxes to unpack pack. Which reminds me I still have the white elephant stall to organise and I‟ve forgotten the … but I transgress. Well now you are in here, I suppose you might as well stay, it‟s beginning to rain anyway. But don‟t blame me if you get a trifle bored. (Pause) We, er, we could sing a few hymns if you like, while we are waiting, under the circumstances, “Fight The Good Fight” might be appropriate. Jumble Sale … fight the good fight … No? Oh well, never mind, please yourselves. You all seem like such a jolly crowd, I thought I might drum up a little business for Sunday, I don‟t know if you would care to, er, no I don‟t suppose you would, but if you should change your minds, just poke your head round the door next Sunday, you‟ll all be more than welcome. (Off) Vicar! Vicar! Oh there you are! Now I‟ve … (Sees the audience) Why have you let them in so early? Well, I, er … You really are the limit! But I … This sort of thing never happened under the old Vicar. There was more respect in those days, much more respect! Well, er, yes … And another thing exactly who is responsible for all that greenery in the church? Well I suppose … Come along spit it out! Actually, I do believe it was my wife. Oh it was, was it, I might have known it, well tell her from me that … Now just a minute Mrs Meacher I really think …

2


Mrs Meacher Don‟t you Mrs Meacher me! I do the flowers in the church and I will not stand for any meddling, from your wife or any other persons wife! Is that quite clear? Vicar Perfectly Mrs Meacher, I quite understand. I‟ll, er, mention it to Claudia. Mrs Meacher And while we are on the subject of interference, who is responsible for pairing me up with this … this wretched woman (pointing at the list) for next week‟s whist drive? It‟s common knowledge I cannot abide being anywhere near her! Vicar I think that was, er, Claudia again, she thought she would shuffle the pack so to speak. Mrs Meacher Shuffle the pack! What are you drivelling on about? Vicar It was merely an allusion to whist, cards, shuffle, er, well, um … Mrs Meacher There you go again talking riddles! How you expect anybody to take your sermons seriously, heaven knows. At least we all knew where we were with the old Vicar, but now! Vicar So you keep reminding me. Mrs Meacher There is no need to be facetious, things cannot remain the same forever. You know I am the first one to admit that, but in the old days … well! Vicar Yes, quite so, quite so. I‟ll see to it that the old list is reinstated. We mustn‟t have change for changes sake, now must we Mrs Meacher. Mrs Meacher Absolutely! Well I must be off, there‟s still plenty to do, I haven‟t time to shilly-shally around with you all day. Vicar Yes of course, I expect I‟ll bump into you later. Mrs Meacher I beg your pardon! Vicar Oh no I didn‟t mean, er … I didn‟t mean literally bump into you I meant, er … bump into you. Mrs Meacher Bump into me! What are you talking about? Vicar I, er, um, nothing Mrs Meacher. Mrs Meacher Well really! Vicar Sorry. Mrs Meacher Sorry? Why are you sorry? You really are the most exasperating man I have ever met. What your wife saw in you I will never know! Good day to you! 3


Vicar TTFN. Mrs Meacher What on earth! Vicar Ta Ta For Now. (With the utmost contempt Mrs Meacher exits). Oh dear, I really must try to be more assertive. (To audience) Look, er, please don‟t take any notice of Mrs Meacher. I know she appears to be an old dragon, but her heart‟s in the right place. Colin Ah Vicar, I‟m glad I‟ve found you. (Seeing the audience) Oh, er, sorry … (The Vicar intimates he should come in). I was wondering if I could leave a box of props in the hall overnight, on the stage or something. We open next week and things are becoming a tincy-wincy bit desperate, well fractious really. Vicar I‟m sure they are Colin, but the show must go on as they say! Colin Oh yes and it will, I assure you, that is as long as Colonel Drinkwater learns his lines properly this year. Vicar Oh I‟m sure he will, I‟ve heard he usually comes up trumps. Colin Yes, but it was touch and go the last time! There were sets of words hidden all over the stage. It‟s so unprofessional and we do have a reputation to keep up you know. Vicar Oh yes, quite right, quite right. I, er, used to tread the boards a little myself, you know. Skip the old light fantastic, and between you and me, I wasn‟t at all bad. Colin Really, well you never know I might just … Vicar Oh, but I couldn‟t possibly do it now. Colin Don‟t be ridiculous, of course you could, once the theatre‟s in your blood. Look, I‟ve just had a thought, we‟re always looking for fresh talent, why don‟t you come along tomorrow night. No obligation, I‟ll show you the ropes and well who knows, we might have a budding Ivor Novello or Noel Coward hiding in our midst. Vicar Well, er … Colin Good, that‟s settles it then. Now I come to think of it, I still have a small walk-on to fill. Vicar Look here Colin, I‟m really not sure … Colin Oh, stuff and nonsense, you couldn‟t give us a hand up with this could you, (during the next few lines they lift the tea chest onto the stage) besides I can always tell on old pro when I see one! 4


Vicar Colin Vicar Colin Vicar Colin Vicar Colin

Well hardly! You‟ll steal the show. What sort of part is it? Oh nothing much, just a few lines here and there. Just a few? Look, trust me, you‟ll be perfect. Right that‟s settled then, tomorrow at eight! Look Colin … Don‟t worry, it will be good for the soul. The Treadeagle Players need you! Oh I nearly forgot, here, you‟ll need this.

He hands him a script and exits.

Vicar

(Reading) “The Captains Table or Black Bartrum‟s Revenge

- a melodrama in three acts”. Yes, and I think I know exactly who is on the menu. (Reading) “Act 1 Scene.1. It is a dark and gloomy night …”, oh dear, what on earth will Claudia say? (To audience as he begins to leave) Oh, by the way, if anybody asks, just say I let you all in. Exit Vicar.

Mr Wrankin

Oh, you lot still here! Who moved the screens? Well, on your own head be it! Anybody fancy a cup of tea? Well you can‟t, you‟re too early, it‟s not ready yet and it won‟t be for an hour or so. What‟s been going on then? Not much, I dare say. Well, I did warn you, didn‟t I! Oh, by the way, when the balloon goes up, take a tip from me, steer well clear of Mrs Fenton‟s rhubarb and blackberry jam, and under no circumstances have anything to do with Mrs Badges cupcakes. The poor old Colonel nearly broke a tooth last year. I expect he‟ll be along in a minute, muster the troops and that sort of thing. Funny old buffer, bit irritating at times. Saw service in the Far East, India and that sort of thing, left him … well you can make up your own minds. Look it‟s nice to talk to you but I really must get on, I have to organise the parking. If you‟re still here, I expect I‟ll see you all later, well you‟re not going anywhere are you?

Enter Jane and Phyllis

Jane Phyllis Jane

Mrs Meacher warned me that some clot (Phyllis pulls her sleeve) had already let you in. What is the matter Phyllis? (Very quietly) It was the Vicar, Jane! The what? 5


Phyllis Jane

Phyllis Jane Colonel Phyllis Colonel Jane Colonel Jane Colonel

Jane

Colonel

The Vicar! Exactly! I was right the first time. Well I would just like to say that I am not very happy about it, I‟m not very happy at all! (Phyllis pulls her sleeve once more). Now what? You shouldn‟t talk about the Vicar like that behind his back and especially not in front of all these people. Will you be quiet! Now where was I? Oh, yes … (Off) What! What! Stand by your beds! Oh no, here comes Colonel Blimp. Ah-ha, I heard there was a crisis! Not until you showed up! What‟s that you say? I said, you‟re a silly old duffer, and it‟s about time you were put out to grass, permanently! That‟s the way! Damn fine show, I like to see spirit in a girl! That‟s why we won the war you know, sense of humour carried us through. Oh yes, we wouldn‟t have got anywhere without a sense of humour. I dare say, you old goat! But in the meantime I‟ll have you know, we‟re managing very well without any interference from the likes of you, thank you very much! There you go again, once you‟re roused, there‟s no stopping you, is there?

He slaps her on the backside.

Jane Colonel

Phyllis Colonel Jane Colonel

Jane

How dare you! We had a goat for a mascot once. Shipped him out all the way from the Welsh Borders, magnificent beast! Yes, I can see him now … I‟m rather fond of goats. Ate him in the end of course. Now then, what we need is a plan of action! Preferably without you! (To audience) Now listen here, I‟m not sure how you all managed to get in, but there seems to have been a crossed wire or two. As I see it, correct me if I‟m wrong, the crux of the matter is this, you‟re in here and you should be out there? Bravo, the military mind at work! 6


Colonel Phyllis Colonel

Jane Colonel Jane Colonel

Jane Colonel Jane

Colonel Jane Phyllis Jane

Phyllis Jane

Well Phyllis, Jane, let‟s see if you‟re officer material, have you been able to spot the solution? Eh! Eh! Well, I, er … Well come along, come along, you‟ll have to do better than this, you would have been out- manoeuvred and out-flanked by now! Well, if I have my way, I‟ll have them all turfed out! No, no, no! Logistics my dear girl, logistics! OK General, what would you suggest? That‟s my girl! A good soldier always makes a reccy of his immediate surroundings. I happened to notice, piled up behind the door outside, a set of rope-railing thingy‟s. All you need to do is set them up here (indicating the front row of the audience) like so. You can put your little table up for the entrance lolly over here. There we are, problem solved, always a solution to the trained mind. Now off you go and fetch them in. Bloody nerve! Quite simple when you know how, just requires a little military intervention that‟s all. And some masculine brawn, do it yourself you pompous old walrus! Come along Phyllis, we have things of our own to do! (Unperturbed) That‟s what I like about the feminine mind, women are always practical to the last! (He exits) Right, you do „Bric-a-Brac‟ and I‟ll do „Nearly New‟. Oh can‟t I do „Nearly New‟ for a change, you always do „Nearly New‟. Certainly not! I know exactly what I am looking for! You wouldn‟t know cashmere from polyester, even if it was looking you right in the face! But it‟s not fair, you always get first pick! Oh stop winging and get on with it.

The Colonel enters with the rope-railings, and attempts to untangle them.

Phyllis

Oh very well, but promise me I can do „Nearly New‟ next year.

Enter Mrs Meacher.

7


Mrs Meacher Ah Colonel, I‟ve just had a word with Miss Kill, and she says that this year she would like you to do teas and cakes. What are you doing? Colonel Well my dear, I‟m attempting to untangle these, er, these rope thingy‟s, but I‟m not having a great deal of success at present. Now, if we were in India … Mrs Meacher India! Colonel Oh yes, wonderful chaps those Pukka Wallahs, their clever little brown fingers would have this lot sorted out in a Jiffy. Mrs Meacher Unfortunately Colonel, this is Basset-under-Stigwood, and the only Pukka Wallahs within a ten mile radius of here, own the local take-away, and I don‟t suppose for a minute they have the time or the inclination to mess around with rope thingy‟s, or any other thingy‟s for that matter! Colonel My dear lady … Mrs Meacher Look, leave that, go and get the crockery from the car. Mr Wrankin Here, what are you doing with that lot? Colonel I beg your pardon? Mr Wrankin These! (Waving the rope-railings under his nose) I‟ve been looking all over the place for these! I only left them for a minute and then you come along and nick „em from right under me nose, I ask you! Colonel Well they were just lying around and I thought … Mr Wrankin That‟s the trouble with your sort, you think too much! Colonel Now look here my man I … Mr Wrankin Excuse me Colonel, but I was the one who got up early to borrow them from the cricket pavilion, not you! I need „em for the parking don‟t I! Colonel Oh I see, terribly sorry old chap, I didn‟t realise. Mr Wrankin That‟s all right, but keep your hands to yourself next time. Cor! What a bleedin‟ mess, it‟ll take me ages to untangle this lot. Exit Mr Wrankin.

Colonel

Yes, well, perhaps I should go and fetch the cups.

Exit Colonel.

Mrs Meacher That‟s right Colonel, make yourself useful for once. Jane has been busy sorting out the jumble, she holds an item of clothing up against herself.

8


Jane Phyllis Jane Phyllis Mrs Meacher Phyllis Mrs Meacher Phyllis Jane Phyllis Jane Phyllis

What do you think of this Phyllis? Oooh! I don‟t know, it‟s a bit, well, it‟s … You don‟t think it‟s me then? Not exactly, it‟s a cross between Kylie Minogue and … Bette Midler! Mmm, I know what you mean. Oh now this is something, what about this? Now that‟s you, yes, that‟s really you. I like that, don‟t you think so Jane? Oh definitely! I rather fancy this (holding up a dress) what do you think? No, I think it makes you look, well frumpy. (Disappointed) Oh, I rather thought it made me look, well, you know …

Mrs Meacher and Jane glance at each other knowingly.

Jane Mrs Meacher Phyllis Mrs Meacher Jane

Frumpy! Frumpy! Well what about this then? Now you are talking, that‟s very, er … Chic!

Jane grabs a plastic flower and puts it between her teeth. Phyllis and Jane dance the tango. Mrs Meacher joins in with a pair of castanets which she has found on the bric-a-brac table. A boy scout enters holding a large black bin liner overflowing with old clothes etc.

„Ere missus, what do you want doing with this lot? Oh, er, put it over there dear. We were, er, just um … Just rehearsing for the play. There‟s a lot more stuff outside in the hall, the rest of the troop are bringing it all in now. Mrs Meacher That‟s very kind of you dear … Pike, isn‟t it? Pike That‟s right. Mrs Meacher Where on earth is all this stuff coming from? Pike Oh we‟re „avin a clear out, we‟ve „ad all this rubbish for ages. We don‟t do jumble sales no more see, no money in it, we just do sponsored snogs an‟ that sort of thing. Jane Charming! Pike Mrs Meacher Phyllis Jane Pike

9


Pike

Skip said the best thing to do was to off-load it on you lot, save us taking it down to the dump, that‟s what he said. Jane Well you can tell Gordon Phillips from me that we don‟t want his junk any more than he does! Mrs Meacher Young man, you can take it all back immediately, come along, right away! Pike Can‟t do that missus! Mrs Meacher What do you mean? Pike Possession is nine tenths of the law, and besides Mr Phillips said on no account was I to bring any of it back! He runs out.

Mrs Meacher Pike Mrs Meacher Jane

Come back here, come back at once! (Off) Bog off you silly old buzzard! Well really! You wait till I see that Gordon Phillips, I‟ll give him a piece of my mind! Phyllis I thought you already had! Well a piece of something anyway! Jane What exactly do you mean by that remark? Phyllis Don‟t you remember, after the last time he stood you up, you said you were going to have it out with him once and for all! Jane So what if I did! Phyllis You were going on and on about one night stands, and that you didn‟t see why you should be taken for a ride by the likes of him! Mrs Meacher Jane! Jane Look, we only went out for a little drink or two. I think he must have spiked my shandy. Mrs Meacher Spiked your shandy? Phyllis Shandy makes you randy! Jane Yes, you know, slipped me a Micky Finn. Phyllis That‟s not all he slipped you by all accounts! Jane The next thing I knew I was in the back of his car with my knickers round my ankles. I never did get them back. Mrs Meacher Well I think it‟s disgusting! A man like that should not be allowed anywhere near a scout group let alone a cub pack! If you want my advice, I would steer clear of his type. Well I suppose we had better sort this lot out. 10


There is a tremendous crash off stage followed by a stream of expletives.

Colonel

Ow! What blithering idiot left that there!

The three women look at each other.

All

The Colonel!

They immediately rush for the door. Mrs Meacher and Phyllis return shortly, supporting the Colonel.

Mrs Meacher Are you all right Colonel? Colonel No I am damn well not all right, I shall never be able to walk again! Phyllis Do you think you have broken anything? Colonel How the hell should I know! Phyllis Try putting your weight on it. Colonel Ow! Ow! (He attempts to stand). I can‟t! Enter Jane.

Phyllis Jane

I think you had better sit down it may well be broken. That‟s not all he‟s broken! There‟s not a single cup left, now what are we going to do! (She exits without waiting for an answer).

Colonel

You wait till I catch the little blighter who deliberately left a damned skate board right where somebody is likely to step on it. I‟ll wring his scrawny little neck when I catch hold of him! Ow! (Phyllis is attempting to straighten the Colonel‟s leg). What the deuce are you trying to do woman? Phyllis I am a nurse you know, now stop making such a fuss. Colonel Sadistic swine! Phyllis I am only trying to help! Colonel Help? You nearly twisted it off! Mrs Meacher (Calling off) Jane! Fetch the wheelchair from the cupboard so the Colonel can sit down. Colonel A wheelchair! Dash it all, I don‟t need a damned wheelchair, I‟m not a blasted invalid you know! Phyllis You will do as your told, now stop being so ridiculous! Jane enters with a wheelchair.

Jane Colonel Jane

Here you are Colonel, see if you can sit yourself down. That‟s the way, careful now. Careful! Of course I‟m being careful you stupid woman. Anymore of that and you can help yourself! 11


Phyllis Colonel Mrs Meacher Colonel

Does it hurt Colonel? Hurt! Of course it bloody well hurts! Right that‟s it, we shall have to get him to hospital. My dear lady there is really no need, I shall be right as rain in a moment. (He tries to stand) Ow! Ow! Phyllis We shall have to call an ambulance. Mrs Meacher How long is it before the onslaught. Jane Not long, doors open in about twenty minutes. Mr Wrankin enters.

Mr Wrankin Phyllis Mr Wrankin

Who the hell is responsible for all that mess out there? The Colonel had a little accident. I might have known it! As if I don‟t have enough to do! Well don‟t expect me to clear it up. (He exits) Mrs Meacher We wouldn‟t dream of it! Jane Bloody nerve! Mrs Meacher Right, Phyllis, you ring for an ambulance, while Jane and I clear up in the lobby. Exit Phyllis.

Colonel What about me? Mrs Meacher What about you? You‟ll be all right, besides there‟s nothing we can do for you anyway! Exit Jane and Mrs Meacher.

Colonel

Vicar Colonel

Charming! This reminds me of the time when I bought one during the last lot. I had just finished inspecting the latrines when, bang! The next thing I knew I was up to my ears in … (Entering quickly and interrupting) Hello, hello, hello! I hear you‟ve been in the wars Colonel. You could say that. Some idiot left a blasted skate board right in my path!

Enter Phyllis.

Phyllis Vicar Phyllis Vicar Phyllis

Oh hello Vicar, I‟ve sent for an ambulance, it‟s coming right away. Ah good, good, everything is in hand then is it? Yeah, I think so. Fine, do you think it is broken? It‟s difficult to say, they‟ll be able to tell that from the X-ray in the hospital. 12


Vicar Colonel Vicar Phyllis Colonel

Phyllis

Vicar Phyllis Vicar Phyllis Vicar Colonel Vicar Phyllis Vicar Phyllis Vicar

(Loudly) Does it hurt Colonel?

I‟m not deaf, Vicar, I‟ve only sprained my ankle, and as a matter of fact it hurts like bloody hell! He say‟s it hurts like bloody hell. I must admit it does seem to be blowing up like a balloon. Would you two mind not talking about me as if I was in another room, I do have feelings you know, it‟s very disconcerting. What are we going to do about the cups Vicar? There are hardly any left for the tea and cake stall, I don‟t know what we are going to do. Are there any in the cupboard? Not to speak of, that‟s why we hired in the first place. We‟ll have to pay a surcharge now of course. Well there is nothing we can do about it now, accidents do happen I suppose. We‟ll just have to use plastic cups. How terribly vexing. Now look here, it wasn‟t my fault you know! No, no, of course not Colonel, we are not blaming you, it‟s just if you had taken a little more care … Mmm, more care. Watched where you were going. Going, yes. Still, mustn‟t cry over spilt milk now, must we. No mustn‟t cry over spilt milk, no sense in that. But all the same … Mmmm.

The reflective moment is disturbed by the arrival of the ambulance.

Phyllis Colonel Vicar Phyllis

Ah they‟ve arrived. And about bloody time too! You‟ll be right as rain in no time. No time at all, you‟ll see.

The Paramedic crew arrive with first aid bags, wheelchair etc.

Paramedic 1

Colonel Paramedic 1

Right what seems to be the trouble? (They all talk at once, trying to explain their version of what happened). Right, I think I‟ve got the gist, you fell, alley-oop, arse over tit on a skateboard. Is that the picture? Well more or less. Right, I think we can see to it now sir, madam. 13


Vicar Paramedic 1

Well, er, if there is anything that you need … No, just leave it to us, we‟ll take it from here, won‟t we Sid. (change name to suit)

Paramedic 2 Vicar

Yeah, leave it all to us, we‟ll look after him. Well er …

They gently but firmly propel the Vicar and Phyllis through the door.

Paramedic 2 Paramedic 1 Paramedic 2 Colonel Paramedic 1 Colonel Paramedic 2 Paramedic 1 Paramedic 2 Colonel Paramedic 1 Colonel Paramedic 1 Colonel Paramedic 1 Paramedic 2 Paramedic 1 Colonel

Now then, been a trifle careless have we sir? Been a bit over zealous, not sure of our own capabilities? Think we‟re still a young man do we sir? Now look here, I‟m not sure I care for the tone of you voice! Trying to impress the ladies were we? Certainly not, I was … It won‟t do you know. A man of your age … Should know better. Now look here! That‟s all right sir, I don‟t suppose it‟s all that serious. What do you mean? Oh, nothing. Explain yourself at once man! Oh! I don‟t know about that sir, what do you think Sid? Well, goes against our ethics. Our code, you see. I don‟t care a damn for your blasted code or your damned ethics for that matter!

Paramedic 2 pulls the Colonel‟s head back and examines his eyes with a pencil torch.

Paramedic 2 Paramedic 1 Paramedic 2 Colonel Paramedic 1 Paramedic 2 Paramedic 1 Paramedic 2 Paramedic 1

No need to get all uppity, sir. Fractious. Don‟t upset yourself sir, a man in your condition. What do you mean, “a man in my condition”? There‟s no need to upset yourself ,sir, there‟s really no need to worry. Oh dear! (Peering briefly into the Colonels mouth) I‟m sure you‟ll be fine. Just as long as pneumonia … Pneumonia … Doesn‟t set in! 14


Paramedic 2 Colonel Paramedic 2 Paramedic 1 Paramedic 2 Paramedic 1 Paramedic 2 Paramedic 1 Paramedic 2 Colonel Paramedic 1 Paramedic 2 Paramedic 1

Paramedic 2

Set in. Pneumonia! But I‟ve only sprained my ankle! Of course you have. Maybe. I wouldn‟t worry yourself unnecessarily sir. Don‟t worry we‟ll take care of you sir. Yes you can trust us, sir. Oh yes, you can trust us. We know exactly what we are doing! Help! Somebody help! Let me out of here. I want my own doctor. Help! There‟s no need to carry on like that sir. We‟re here to help you. I don‟t suppose they‟ll amputate, do you Bill? No I shouldn‟t think so, not the whole leg anyway. (He wheels the protesting Colonel out). But you never know, do you! Gets them every time!

Exit Paramedic 2. Enter Mr Wrankin.

Mr Wrankin

„Ere, you lot enjoying this, should have sold you tickets!

Exit Mr Wrankin. Miss Kill, Mrs Meacher, Jane and Phyllis enter from another door with various bags precariously balanced on a trolley.

Come along, come along, we‟re really behind. Is that all of the bags that wretched Phillips man sent round? Jane Yes, I think so. Miss Kill Well tip them out, let‟s see what we‟ve got! Mrs Meacher This seems to be a bag of old newspapers. Miss Kill So is this. Jane And this seems to be a box of old bottles. Phyllis Well I‟ve got last weeks dirty football strip! Jane Gordon will need that next Saturday, what a pity! Mrs Meacher What did that horrid boy Pike say … ? All Possession is nine tenths of the law! Miss Kill Well if he wants it back, he‟ll have to pay! Right, put this lot in in my car, I‟ll drop it all into the re-cycling centre on the way home. (Mrs Meacher and Jane exit). Phyllis, you carry on sorting the rest out. (She surveys the scene) Right, I think we are nearly there. Oh, what‟s that on the stage, don‟t forget to Miss Kill

15


sort that out, we don‟t want anything left over now do we, not after last year! Exit Miss Kill. Enter Mr Tumley. Phyllis puts the bag of football kit behind a table, and efficiently distributes the contents of the various remaining bags on the appropriate tables. Finally she turns her attention to the prop box.

Phyllis

(Holding up some china) Oh that‟s pretty, we should get a lot

Miss Kill

for that. Right! Ladies and Gentlemen take your posts! Mr Tumley, I suggest you set up your cash desk here.

She indicates a collapsible slatted table and chair.

Mr Tumley Miss Kill Mr Tumley Miss Kill Mr Tumley Miss Kill Mr Tumley Miss Kill Mr Tumley Miss Kill Mr Tumley Miss Kill

What‟s that you say? Set up your cash box here. Cashmere socks? No I never wear them. Cash box! There‟s no need to shout, I‟m not deaf you know. Set everything up here. No, I always set up outside, in the hallway. I know you do but the Vicar has already let them all in! Let what in? (Exasperated) Look! Who let them in, I‟ll have to set up in here. (Sets up table etc.) Right! I think, bar the shouting, we are ready at last! No last minute panics? Last opportunity? Right, open the doors!

There is a frenetic rush of people from outside. They sweep in, like a tidal wave, knocking the table, chair and the unfortunate Mr Tumley for six. He is left bleating ineffectually from the floor.

Mr Tumley

You haven‟t paid! You haven‟t paid!

The crowd in the background, proceed to devour the “bargains” rapidly putting their purchases into various bags. Miss Kill and Mrs Meacher meet centre stage.

Miss Kill (Over the racket) Seems to be going rather well! Mrs Meacher It‟s Bedlam on „Nearly New‟! We could do with some help. Enter Gordon Phillips.

Miss Kill Gordon

Oh you‟ll be all right, by the look of it „Nearly New‟ has nearly gone! Hold everything! Stop!

The crowd momentarily stop talking and look up. The din then starts again.

Miss Kill Gordon

Can I be of assistance Mr Phillips? Where‟s my football strip? 16


Miss Kill Gordon Miss Kill Gordon Miss Kill Gordon Miss Kill Gordon Miss Kill

Your what? Sorry can‟t hear you over the din, you‟ll have to speak up! My kit! Your what? Kit! Oh your kit, why didn‟t you say so before, what does this kit look like of yours? Blue and white stripes, shorts, socks etc. My lads football strip, it was sent down accidentally. Ah yes, now I remember, possession is nine tenths of the law, I think that was the expression used. All right! All right! How much? Five? Ten? That will do nicely.

Miss Kill takes a twenty pound note out of the proffered wallet.

Gordon Miss Kill Gordon Miss Kill Gordon Miss Kill Gordon

Twenty pounds! Daylight, bloody, robbery All in a good cause Mr Phillips, all in a good cause. Well where is it you old Harpy! Temper! Temper! You‟ll find it over there in a black bin liner … (pointedly) next to Jane! Oh, well I, er, I think I‟ll pick it up tomorrow, it‟s all rather frantic at the moment. Please yourself. Yes, I think I‟ll collect it tomorrow if it‟s all the same to you.

Like a cloud of locusts, the crowd has stripped the Hall bare and all but a few have departed. The helpers are left dishevelled and worn out.

Miss Kill

Well girls, that‟s it for another year!

Blackout.

ACT 2 The Rehearsal (A Melodrama) On the Village Hall stage the curtains are now open, revealing a painted nautical theme depicting the deck of a typical sailing ship of the early Victorian era. At the front of the stage practical, but period looking, footlights have been added to give authenticity. Throughout the „play within a play‟ scenes, the local pub pianist has been co-opted to underpin the action. The scene begins with a lively hornpipe, danced by several members of the crew. Enter Captain Hearty-Oke.

17


Hearty-Oke Sailor 1 Hearty-Oke

Sailor 2

Avast there, me hearties, man the capstan, for we be weighing anchor at last! We baint be sailin‟ for old England, be we Captain? Aye! That we be me lad, that we be. For three years or more we been a-sailin‟ on the briny sea and now we can return home to our loved ones, our mothers and daughters and the girls we left behind. Three cheers for Cap‟n Hearty-Oke. Hip! Hip!

The crew cheer mightily. A solitary voice full of melancholy, sings the first few bars of “Home Sweet Home”. The crew, also full of melancholy join in.

Sailor 2 Hearty-Oke Sailor 3

“ „Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, Be it ever so humble, there‟s no place like home”. (Choked with emotion) Mother! Right me lads, dry your eyes for we be sailin‟ home! Look lively now, man the topsail, weigh the anchor. Aye Aye! Cap‟n.

The crew run to their respective posts as the Captain exits. A sea shanty is heard from offstage.

Bartram

Jack Bartram Jack

Curses and damnation! I‟ve been foiled by our orders, but all is not lost. Before we reach old England‟s shores an accident may befall my nephew Jack, the only son of my poor deceased brother! It‟s nearly two years ago since he died, and for two years I have kept the secret close to my heart. Poor simple Jack is unaware that his father has departed this life and he is heir to the Bartram millions. Unaware of the clause in the Will, unaware that if he does not come forward within the space of two years his right to inherit is forfeit and unaware the legacy passes to the only other living relative, unaware that within a matter of months all will be mine! Mine! Mine! Uncle, isn‟t it wonderful, we are going home at last! Jack, I‟ve told you before, you must not call me Uncle! I‟m sorry Sir, I am so excited I forgot myself. I can hardly contain my excitement, to be going home after all these years, to see my dear old Papa once more and shake his manly hand. To leave a boy and return a man! If only Mother were still alive to greet us, my wouldn‟t she be proud! To meet Polly, my childhood sweetheart, the girl I left behind. Oh, how I have longed to hold her close in my arms and kiss her lilywhite hand. 18


Bartram

Jack

Bartram

Jack

Aye Jack, all I have ever wanted is for you to be happy. I promised your father, all those years ago, that I would look after you through thick and thin, and God help me I have done my very level best. That you have Sir, I could not have wished for a finer Uncle. True to my fatherâ€&#x;s wish you have always been my mentor and my guide, through the bitter wastes of ice and snow, through the bleak and desolate doldrums where the sun beat down upon our naked backs and through the wildest storms the Southern Ocean could hurl at us, yes Uncle, you were always there to lift my broken body and raise my spirit and guide me through. Everything I have done, I have done for the love I bear for my dear brother Algernon, and for the love I bear you Jack. But now you must away, for duty calls. Step along lively now, if Captain Hearty-Oke catches you loitering, it will be the cat for you my boy! Aye Aye Sir!

He salutes and climbs the rigging.

Bartram

The boy suspects nothing, I thought for a while that he might have overheard my dastardly plan, but now I know I am safe in the knowledge that I, Black Bartram, still has the upper hand. Rest easy in your bed tonight Jack for it may prove to be your last!

Enter Captain Hearty-Oke.

Hearty-Oke Bartram Hearty-Oke

Is everything ship-shape number one? Aye Captain, the men are aloft waiting for orders. Then let us be on our way! Unfurl the sail me jolly jacks, for we be bound for England!

The crew cheer, the bottom edge of a sail is dropped into sight.

Bartram Sailor 1

Captain Hearty-Oke let us pray for a safe passage. Ahoy deck below! Wreckage on the starboard bow!

They train their telescopes on the raft, upstage right.

Hearty-Oke Bartram Hearty-Oke Bartram Hearty-Oke

Can you see anything number one? No Sir, wait ‌ over there Sir! Seems to be some kind of makeshift raft. Aye, yes I have it now. Look Sir, there is a man clinging to that barrel! Is he alive? 19


Bartram Hearty-Oke Sailor 2

Difficult to tell … wait … I think he‟s waving! Make ready to take on board a castaway as we pass. Aye Aye Sir!

Two sailors climb over the rail.

Bartram

Steady! Steady as she goes … steady … steady now. Castaway secured Sir!

After a great deal of commotion the Vicar appears over the edge of the ship. He is wearing a massive unkempt wig and a large ginger beard. Under his glasses he is wearing an eye patch and attached to his knee he has a wooden leg, which looks suspiciously like a section of newel post. He is carrying a sports bag. The overall impression is that of a pantomime version of Long John Silver.

Vicar Colin Vicar Colin Vicar Colin

Look here Colin, I really don‟t want to be a killjoy or anything … Hold everything! … but this is exceedingly awkward you know. Stop the clock! Is it absolutely necessary to have all this baggage, and what about this wooden leg? Look this is the dress you know! It‟s so unprofessional!

LX change. The „stage lights‟ go off and the „workers‟ come on.

Vicar Colin

Well it might be, but you‟re not the one crawling along on all fours with this lot on, are you! I‟m sorry Vicar, I really am. I‟m just a little fraught that‟s all. I do understand, with the Colonel spraining his leg, you‟ve been thrown in at the deep end and all that, but we really must get on! Wardrobe!

The cast sit around dejectedly, Captain Hearty-Oke reads a copy of „The Stage‟.

Ruth Colin Vicar Colin Mary Colin Mary Ruth

(Off) Yes, Mr Rutter, coming Mr Rutter

Why has the Vicar still got his glasses on? Well actually, I think I can answer that one Colin, you see I am as blind as a bat without them! Props! Yes Colin? We need a period eye-glass for the Vicar. Would you say that is Props Colin, or do you think it‟s Wardrobe? I don‟t think that‟s Wardrobe.

20


Colin Mary Colin

Vicar Colin

Mary Colin Mary Colin Mary Colin

Mary Colin Mary Colin Mary Colin Mary Colin Ruth Colin Ruth Colin Ruth Colin

Frankly ducky, I don‟t give a damn! One of you see to it, just sort it out will you. I only mentioned it because we are way over budget already Colin, and you know how … (Interrupting) Mary I don‟t care if we are over budget, I want a period eye-glass for the Vicar! I want it, the Vicar wants it … (Interrupting) Well, I, er … (Interrupting) … the Vicar deserves it, the production deserves it! I don‟t care who is responsible (shouting) just bloody well see to it will you! (Sulkily)Yes Colin. And another thing, why is he carrying that sports bag? Where is the period looking leather bag we had last week? I don‟t know Colin. What do you mean you don‟t know? We can‟t seem to find it. You can‟t find it! What is the matter with you people? I‟m surrounded, I‟m surrounded by incompetent imbeciles! If we had it last week, why haven‟t we got it now? I don‟t know Colin, the last time I remember seeing it, was when you packed it away in the tea chest. Well where is the damned tea chest now? We seem to have mislaid it. Mislaid it! How the devil can you mislay a tea chest? I don‟t know Colin. Stop saying you don‟t know! We can‟t seem to find the pirate swords either. Ruth, is that the best we can do for a wig? Well we did have another one but, er … Where is it then? In the tea chest with the swords. I just don‟t understand it! Have you searched back stage? Yes Colin. It‟s ridiculous I brought it in myself! Look I can‟t be doing with this, we‟ll sort it out later. Pick it up where we left off will you.

21


Hearty-Oke

Colin Hearty-Oke

Colin Hearty-Oke Colin

Hearty-Oke Colin Hearty-Oke Colin Hearty-Oke Colin Hearty-Oke Vicar

Colin

Dai

Colin

Colin, while we‟ve stopped, may I ask you something? I‟m not altogether clear what I should be doing in this section. I wonder if you could clarify my motivation. Listen luvvy, if you don‟t know your motivation by now you never bloody well will! Charming! Ask a little question and you get your head bitten off! It‟s not as if it‟s a minor point is it? I mean, if you can‟t ask a question, now and again, what is a Director for? Roger, shut up! May I remind you sweetie, we are not being paid for this you know. Look Roger, I‟m sorry if I hurt your feelings, but we really do need to move on. I am sure I do not need to remind you, of all people, that this is the dress rehearsal and with the best will in the world, time is of the essence and we really do not have the time for this! That‟s all right Colin, just as long as we have an understanding, that‟s all. Yes, yes of course we have, you know that. A little bit of civility goes a long way. Look I‟m sorry, I really am very, very sorry. Apology accepted, but don‟t you think we ought to get on, time is money, so they say. Thank you for reminding me! May I suggest we pick it up from the Vicar‟s entrance. Oh yes, whatever you say, but, er, I don‟t have to crawl along here again, do I Colin? Is it all right if we assume I‟m already on board? Yes! Yes! But can we please get on with it! Right, is everybody ready? Stand by everyone and … (The stage is suddenly plunged into darkness). Lights! Where‟s the lights? Put the bloody lights on! (The working lights come on). Not the fucking workers you stupid Welsh cretin! Put the stage lights on! (Offstage) Sorry Colin, I‟m not used to this new bloody board see. (The stage is once more plunged into darkness). Has anybody got a torch, I can‟t see a thing up here. (To audience) Look, I know you‟ve been waiting for your bit for some time, but it really doesn‟t help matters if you constantly snigger and chatter. Pike, what are you doing up 22


Dai Colin

there, leave the poor girl alone! I‟ll have her parents on my back in a minute! What‟s that you say? All right, all right on your own head be it, but don‟t blame me if it‟s twins. Now if I could possibly have your undivided attention just for a moment, thank you. I know you have all been hanging around, but you were warned. You just have to be professional about this, there will be plenty for you to do in Act Two, after the volcano erupts and the hurricane and tidal wave hits! So until then you will have to sit quietly, OK? (Offstage) Colin, I think we‟re ready to go. And about bloody time too! Standing by, and lights up!

On stage the cast take up their previous positions. The action resumes.

Hearty-Oke Bartram Hearty-Oke Bartram

Rum! Rum! Aye Captain, it is a rum do. Give the poor wretch a tot of rum you fool! Aye, aye Sir! You there, fetch the poor fellow some rum.

The sailors look blank.

Colin Sailor 3

Colin

Sailor 1 Sailor 2 Sailor 3 Sailor 1 Sailor 3 Sailor 2 Colin

Sailor 1 Sailor 3 Sailor 1

What‟s the friggin‟ matter now? We can‟t remember who is responsible to get the rum Colin, you changed it so much in rehearsal, we‟re not sure any more. Look it‟s really very, very simple, whoever is stage right of the Vicar fetches the rum! It really couldn‟t be any plainer! (They still do not move). Well fetch the rum and then we might be able to get on! Which is stage right again? Is it your right or our right? Do we go „up‟ to the footlights? No it‟s definitely up to the set. And „down‟ to the wall. No I‟m sure he said „down‟ to the front. How many times do I have to say this? Are you all imbecilic buffoons or something? You go up to the back wall and down towards the audience! Stage right is from your point of view and stage left is your left! It‟s really very, very simple. Oh I see. Now I get it. Why didn‟t you say so before? 23


Sailor 2 Sailor 1 Colin

Bartram

Well if you attended a few more rehearsals, like us, you would have known. There‟s no need to get sarky, Mary Sedgewick. Ladies please, may we get on with it! Eddie if you wouldn‟t mind picking it up from (looking at his script) … “fetch the poor fellow some rum”. Aye, aye Sir! You there, fetch the poor fellow some rum.

Two Sailors dash off either side, one stage right one stage left.

Hearty-Oke

Can he speak number one?

The Vicar gesticulates that he is obliged to whisper.

Bartram Hearty-Oke

He says he was marooned on a desert island. (He listens again). With nothing to eat but coconuts and shellfish. Poor devil!

The two Sailors return holding inappropriate containers, milk bottles etc.

Colin Mary Colin

Props! Make a note, we need a period rum bottle. We do have one, but it was packed away in the tea chest with the other stuff. OK, well let‟s not worry about it now, this is only the dress rehearsal after all! Carry on!

Both Sailors share the next line.

Sailor Hearty-Oke

Here be the rum Cap‟n. Right me bonny lad, this will warm the cockles of your heart.

He leans over to give him a drink. The Vicar instantly grabs hold of him whilst pointing a period pistol at Hearty-Oke‟s head.

Vicar Sailor Bartram Vicar Crew Vicar Crew Vicar

Stand back all of you! (Off) Ship off the larboard bow! Pirates! Aye, Pirates! (Aghast) Not … Captain Red Beard, at your service, the scourge of the Spanish Main. Not Captain Red Beard! We‟re all doomed! You lily-livered sons of sea dogs! I‟ll cut your gizzards from here to here … (Speaks now out of character) Er, excuse me Colin, but do I really have to say that line? I mean „lilylivered‟ and „gizzard‟, it‟s so, well, it‟s … I mean, I am the Vicar and well, I, er, I do have my position to think of. 24


Colin

Vicar Colin Vicar Colin Vicar

Vicar please! We really must get on! At this rate we‟ll be here until Doomsday! Oh very well, see me afterwards and we‟ll sort something out, OK? Certainly Colin, thank you for being so understanding. Not at all. I really do appreciate it. Yes I know you do, but if you wouldn‟t mind … Oh yes of course. (Now back in character) Ah-ha, avast there me hearties! Now who wants to walk the plank, and who wants to join the crew of the “Black Swan”?

Jack suddenly swings onto the stage, bowling the Vicar over.

Hearty-Oke

Oh well done Jack! Right me bonny lads, break out the cutlasses! Stand by to repel boarders! You there, take this rascal below and clap him in irons!

The Vicar is hauled off stage.

Bartram Hearty-Oke Bartram

Hearty-Oke

Captain, they are coming about! As your guns bear, fire at will! Aye, aye Sir! Steady men, steady, steady … Fire! (The roar of several cannon are heard off). Stand by your posts! For what we are about to receive … (The Pirates return fire. A section of the gunwale explodes). Stand by to repel boarders! England expects every man to do his duty!

A swarm of Pirates invade the deck. They are armed to the teeth with brooms, mops, dustpans etc. At first they beat the Sailors back stage left. The Sailors rally and beat the Pirates back stage right. The Pirates retaliate and force the Sailors off stage left, almost immediately they reappear, still fighting, on the other side of the stage. This action is repeated several times.

Bartram Hearty-Oke Bartram

At last I think we have them on the run Sir! Aye, death to all Pirates! Avast behind Captain!

A wounded Pirate inflicts a mortal wound upon Hearty-Oke with a dish mop. Bartram kills him with a broom.

Hearty-Oke

Ah! My end is in sight! No more will I sail the briny ocean, no more will I triumph over wind and wave, now my last battle is over, now the lights are growing dim, now my life blood is ebbing away and the yawning abyss opens before me! Farewell, farewell to you all for now I must die!

The crew form a tableaux around their fallen Captain.

25


Bartram

Jack

Bartram Jack Bartram Jack Bartram

Noble in life and noble in death. Through thick and thin, like an illustrious beacon, this noble man ploughed a victorious furrow. Always the watchword of honesty and truth. Now he has gone to his final resting place, never to see the light of day again. Now there is nothing more that we can do for him, except pray for his soul, grieve for his loss and honour his remains. Captain Hearty-Oke, we salute you. (They all solemnly salute). Take him men, with sorrow in your hearts, take him below. This is a sad and sorrowful day. England has lost a loyal and valiant servant, a trusted subject who served his country without personal regard to himself. Aye Jack, but if it had not been for your heroic action, we might all be feeding fish at the bottom of the ocean. I would give anything to bring him back, he was like a father to me. Sadly that is not possible Jack, Captain Hearty-Oke is now with the angels in the hallowed halls of heaven. Aye, but nonetheless, I will never, never forget him! (He exits) Such an admirable lad, there is not a blemish on his honourable soul. How can I possibly contemplate sending him to a watery grave. If only there was another way, but I am resolved the Bartram millions shall be mine! I was cheated once before, I will not be cheated again! If noble Jack must die, then so be it!

A Ghostly voice is heard off.

Ghost Bartram Ghost Bartram Ghost Bartram Ghost Bartram Ghost

George! George! What was that? George! No it cannot be! Algernon, the voice of my dead brother calling from beyond the grave! George! Damned are the souls of the sinners! No I shall not listen, it is merely the wind in the halliards! Be warned, be warned! Am I going mad? No! No! My mind is playing tricks upon me! Itâ€&#x;s not too late, George! George! Be warned!

26


Bartram

Jack

Bartram Jack Bartram

Jack Bartram Jack Bartram Jack Bartram Jack

No I am resolved, it is nothing more than the sound of the sea! I will not take heed, do you hear Algernon, I am resolved, resolved! Uncle what is the matter? I thought I heard you cry out with anguish in your heart! Put my mind at rest and sooth my fevered brow. Do not trouble yourself it is nothing. Tell me not so, you look as if you have seen a Ghost. A Ghost? What do you mean? Put such idle thoughts out of your mind, I do not believe in such apparitions. It was merely the wind in the rigging, nothing more. For the love I bear you Uncle, I will do as you say. Thank you Jack. The wind is freshening, I think we could be in for a storm. Aye, you are right Jack. The storm clouds are brewing, a black end to a black day! Jack, see to it that the hatches are battened down and the storm sails are rigged. Aye, aye Sir! All hands on deck, all hands on deck!

A number of sailors run from one side of the stage to the other.

Bartram Sailor

Reef the topsail! Helmsman steer Nor‟ by Nor‟ East! (Off) Aye, aye Sir! Nor‟ by Nor‟ East

A line of sailors appear, hauling on a thick rope. They sing a “Stamp and Go” sea shanty.

Jack Bartram Jack Bartram Jack

(Above the worsening wind) Are we going to run with the

storm Sir, or are you going to head her into the wind? (Aside) This sudden squall seems supernatural, how can it be? Surely it cannot be possible! Uncle we must head her into the wind otherwise we shall surely perish beneath the watery waves! Aye this storm is not of natures making. Helmsman belay that order. Bring her into the wind. Stand by to come about! Stand by to come around!

The storm continues to rage.

Sailor

Watch out deck below!

A section of sail, spar and rigging crashes onto the stage, knocking Jack to the floor.

Bartram

Ha! Ha! My hands have not been sullied by an act of murder! The elements have done the dirty deed for me! My 27


spirit is yet still free, the burden from my heart has been lifted! The sound of the wind increases. The voice of the Ghost is heard off.

Ghost Bartram Ghost

Bartram

George! George! No! No! Do not torment me thus! The boy still lives! The boy still lives! (Through the gauze behind the ship, the ghost of Algernon appears). Repent! Repent! Before it is too late, repent! Argh!

Bartram recoils at the Ghostly vision in abject horror.

Ghost

Bartram Ghost

I entrusted you George! I entrusted you to keep Jack safe! Release the bitter serpent from your breast! Greed is your motive and damnation is your prize! Algernon! Why? Why? I have been sent as a warning to bring you back from the brink of damnation and Hell! Remember your honour! Remember your family! Remember your promise, George! Remember! Remember! Remember!

The vision fades.

Bartram

Jack

Algernon my dearest brother, blood of my blood, heart of my heart! I was wrong, I freely admit it, please, please forgive me. You put your trust in me and I have failed you, but there is still time to make amends. I see it all now! Greed and avarice have seeped into my very soul like a creeping cancer! I have forgotten the example set by dear Mama and Papa. I have forsaken the pact we made as tender children. I have forgotten the mock battles and vanquished enemies, I have forgotten the warmth of our motherâ€&#x;s breast. How she must look sorrowfully down as she stands side by side with you and Papa in heaven. How I regret my actions and how I regret betraying the faith in which I was entrusted! Algernon, dear Algernon, I have forgotten the love we bore each other all those years ago. Oh bitter, bitter is my heart and yet Algernon dear heart, there is yet still time! I will not fail you, Jack shall live! (He pulls the rigging of Jack and holds him to his breast). Jack! Jack! This cannot be! Speak to me Jack, you must not, shall not die! (Beginning to come round) Uncle ‌ 28


Bartram

Jack Bartram

Jack Bartram

Jack

Bartram

Jack Bartram

Praise be to God, the good Lord has answered my prayers! I vow that from this day forward I will pledge myself to your service. Never again will I be tempted by the awesome power of evil. Jack, it pains me to tell you this, but I have done you a great disservice. How so Uncle, I do not understand. Envy and greed have been my downfall Jack, please, please try to forgive my wicked actions. In an unguarded moment, without realising the pit that I was embracing, I began to covet your wealth and position. Uncle please do not debase yourself so. Until the demise of my dear father I have no wealth or position! Jack you must prepare yourself for a shock. It is my unpleasant duty to inform you that my dear brother, your father passed away almost two years ago. Since that sorrowful day, for my own personal gain, I have kept the news from you, and for that, I truly repent. Now all becomes clear, I dared not tell you before, but my father has come to me in my dreams many times. At first I put it from me, but in recent months my dreams have become more and more vivid. In my heart of hearts I knew the worst, and yet refused to believe it. Once I knew the fate of your poor father, a cancer grew in my breast. Jack, I must tell you there is a clause in your Fatherâ€&#x;s Will, you must claim your rightful legacy within the space of two years otherwise your inheritance becomes forfeit and passes to me. I have been guilty of harbouring a desire to cheat you, at any cost, from what is rightfully yours. I have wilfully and unconditionally withheld this information from you Jack, and when I heard that we were to return to England, I have even been driven by my evil desire, to do you a mischief. Tell me it is not so! Aye Jack, I have contemplated murder! However when the storm hit and you were injured, I thought I had been spared from the actual deed itself. Jack please, please you must help me, please forgive my ungracious actions.

He falls to his knees grovelling.

Jack

Uncle, raise yourself. By the look of your tortured brow, you have suffered enough. It is not for me to judge, I forgive 29


Bartram

your actions wholeheartedly, Uncle give me your hand, for by this action our common ancestry is re-united and the blood of our blood is restored! Oh generous soul!

They embrace.

Jack

Bartram Jack

Now with the weight of responsibility upon my shoulders, I must leave all childish pleasures behind and assume my rightful place in the world. Dear Uncle, in honour of my father, by renouncing evil, you have shown me the true path to righteousness! Furthermore, in recognition of your steadfast resolution, lean on me, as I once did on you, and I vow, I will support and sustain your every need. Jack, I am truly chastised and humbled! I am not worthy, but with you to guide and help me, there is yet a glimmer of hope. Blood of my blood, heart of my heart! Shoulder to shoulder we‟ll stand! Lift up your head and gird your loins for we are the stuff that dreams are made of!

The curtain on the Village Hall stage slowly falls and almost immediately opens again. Colin walks forward clapping in a solitary resolute way.

Colin Hearty-Oke Sailor Hearty-Oke Sailor Bartram Colin

Bartram Colin Bartram Colin Jack Colin Jack

Not bad! We still need to lift the middle section, it‟s good but I need more of it. I think that scene was really quite touching. Gorgeously melodramatic and … Sentimental? Yes sentimental! I thought you were absolutely tremendous darling. Oh do you think so, you‟re too kind. Well I wouldn‟t put it quite as strong as that. Don‟t get me wrong, you were very good, but there‟s always room for improvement. Oh, of course darling, but I felt inspired tonight I really felt I had something. You were definitely on the right track. Do really think so? Oh yes, without a doubt. Er, Colin, I was wondering, well I was wondering what you thought of me, I mean, do you think I am OK? Mmm … I think you did very well, under the circumstances. What do you mean? 30


Colin

Well you are very young, and we took a big gamble casting you as Jack, I mean this being your first major role and everything. But taking all things into consideration I think you will probably be all right on the night, just learn your lines and miss the furniture.

Jack looks close to tears.

Sailor 1 Sailor 2 Jack Bartram Colin Bartram

Well I think she was brilliant! Inspired. Really, do you think so? Oh yes, don‟t take any notice of him you were wonderful darling. Well … I, er … I think we should all retire to the „Dog and Duck‟, we can discuss the semantics of the piece there. Bloody good idea!

They gather up their coats etc and gradually begin to leave.

Colin Mary Colin Mary Colin Vicar

Mary Vicar

Colin Mr Wrankin Colin Mr Wrankin

Colin

Mary

Mary luv, can I have a word in your shell-like. Certainly Colin. Now about these missing props. I‟m at my wits end, I just don‟t … Well, I just don‟t understand it. Ah, I think I can throw a little light on the missing items. I don‟t quite know how to put this but, er, everything missing was in that tea chest you brought down yesterday. Definitely, I packed them away myself. Well I have an awful feeling they may have found their way into our Jumble Sale, I‟m afraid they must have been sold. I distinctly remember that Pike boy making off with a bundle of swords. Oh my god! „Ere why are you lot still here, I should have locked up half an hour ago! Oh, we‟re terribly sorry. It‟s all right for you, while I‟m slaving away, clearing up and the like, you‟ll all be over the road in the „Dog and Duck‟! I‟ll be lucky to make last orders at this rate! Come along, hurry up everybody Mr Wrankin has to lock up. Mary luv, we have a crisis, what are we going to do about these props? Well I have a few ideas … 31


They exit talking.

Mr Wrankin

Oi! Just a minute, come back here! Who‟s been messing with my brushes and mops?

Blackout.

ACT 3 Ging Gang Gooli Enter Gordon Philips, the Scout Master. He speaks directly to the audience who have come to take part in a massed „Gang Show‟.

Gordon

Right, let‟s make a start shall we. First of all, I‟m glad to see you all here so early, the word has obviously got around, and from what I have seen so far, this joint collaboration with the district is going to be an extravaganza that really will put Basset Under Stigwood on the map. It‟s high time this town was shaken up a little and I‟m telling you now, this is just the beginning! Your response so far has been very encouraging, but we must keep up the momentum! Always remember that our mission is to bring the scout movement into the twentieth century! Do we want Dib Dib Dib‟s? No! Do we want Dob Dob Dob‟s? No! What do we want? We want recognition! We want power! We want respect! (If possible the actor should encourage the audience to respond). Jumble Sales and Bob-a-Job were all right in their day, but now is the time to progress and move on! From small acorns, mighty oak trees grow, and with careful planning we can become the leaders of tomorrow! For far too long the scouting movement has lain dormant within the community, but now the time is ripe and like the Phoenix, we will rise! But how are we going to achieve this, I hear you ask. Investment is the key, Capital Bonds, Stocks and Shares, Wall Street, The Nikkei Dow! The techno-speak of the future! Yes! Investment is the key! Investment is the future! I‟m investing in you! I‟m investing in people and tonight is the night, tonight is the beginning. To your places everybody, let us begin the countdown for our auspicious, inaugural launch!

32


Jimmy Gordon Jimmy Gordon

Jimmy Gordon Jimmy Michael Jimmy

My Mum says I‟ve got to be in by nine. We cannot, must not stand in the way of progress. You haven‟t met my Mum! Listen Jimmy, there are more important things afoot than your Mum! The scouting movement must crawl out of the dark ages and the slough of despondency! It‟s vital we step out of the closet and into the sunlight! But … Look, if we go overtime, I‟ll personally see to it that you are escorted home, how‟s that, satisfied? I suppose so … Perhaps you had better phone home, just to make sure. Good idea.

The scout produces a mobile phone from his back pocket.

Gordon Jimmy

Gordon

I must get one of those. Hello Mum … No … Listen. (He holds the phone away) Look, will you listen, Skip says I mustn‟t stand in the way and … (His mother verbally explodes on the other end of the line). No he didn‟t mean … No … Mum! … (Resigned). She says she wants to talk to you. Hello Mrs Paine … Oh yes, I quite agree … Er, um, I think we may, er, I think we may have got our wires crossed a little here … No, no, I quite understand … Yes … Yes, certainly.

He hands the phone back.

Jimmy

Gordon

Hello Mum … No, it wasn‟t like that … He‟s not that bad, and it really isn‟t true what they say you know! … Mum, will you listen. Skip says I might be a bit late tonight that‟s all and … Of course I‟ll be all right, besides it‟s important for the movement, he said something about coming out of the closet and escorting me home. (Another verbal tirade on the other end of the phone). She says she wants to talk to you again. I‟m terribly sorry about all this Mrs Paine … Yes I‟m sure you are … If you will just allow me … How dare you! I‟ll have you know I‟m a perfectly normal … Well you shouldn‟t listen to idle chatter … I beg your pardon, that‟s an outrageous suggestion … Oh, very well.

He hands the phone back again.

33


Jimmy

Gordon Jimmy

Oh Mum! Do I have to? (Very disgruntled) Oh, all right, but it‟s not fair. (He hangs up). She says I have to come home straight away. Look, er Jim, I … Oh, shutup, I don‟t want to be a poxy boy scout anymore anyway!

He throws his hat on the ground and runs out.

Gordon Jimmy Gordon Michael Gordon Michael Gordon Michael

Gordon Michael Gordon Michael Gordon Michael

Jim! I‟ll make it up to you. I‟ll speak to your mother, I‟ll … (Off) Up yours! Bloody hell! Now what am I going to do, if this gets out … I wouldn‟t worry skip, it‟s just a storm in a teacup. I‟m sure it‟ll all blow over. Do you think so? Yeah, of course it will. Oh well, I suppose there‟s no use worrying about it now. All the same … Look, I‟ll go and see her tomorrow if you like, see if I can sort it all out. I mean, once she‟s cooled down a bit, I‟m sure she‟ll see reason. Would you Michael. No probs, Gordon. I don‟t know what I would do without you. My pleasure. If there is anything I can do for you anytime, you will ask won‟t you. Sure.

There is an uncomfortable silence. Enter Miss Kill and her girls.

Miss Kill Gordon Miss Kill Gordon Miss Kill

Gordon Miss Kill

Good evening Gordon, now where would you like my girls? Ah good evening, Miss Kill. Oh please, I think we know each other well enough by now Gordon. Henrietta, please. Sorry, Henrietta. Well, the changing room is under the stage, my lads will soon make room for your lot. Oh no Gordon, oh no, that is quite unacceptable. I cannot have my young ladies changing in front of your um, well your, er pack, so to speak. Why ever not? Well it just wouldn‟t do. I mean we have parents to think of. 34


Gordon Miss Kill Gordon Miss Kill

Gordon

Miss Kill Gordon Miss Kill Michael Gordon Miss Kill

Michael Gordon Miss Kill Gordon Miss Kill Gordon

Miss Kill Julia Miss Kill Julia Miss Kill

Oh don‟t be ridiculous, this is 2003 (or the current year) you know. I am well aware of the year. Look, if we are ever going to revitalise the movement we must be progressive, we must look to the future. Yes I know all that Gordon. I really do believe in what you are trying to do, I am converted you know. But it‟s, well it‟s the girls, they‟re so, well, so young. Exactly, strike while the iron is hot. Besides Henrietta, times are changing and there is really nothing about the human body to be ashamed of. Oh no, of course not. Well then … Yes but … Why don‟t we Jerry rig a partition. Excellent suggestion, besides which, there really isn‟t anywhere else. What about up there, behind the curtain, we still have plenty of time before the show starts. My girls would be very happy to change on the stage. That would solve the problem Skip. Well done, sounds like a reasonable compromise to me. Right girls if you would all like to follow me. Gordon before we move off, I think it might be sensible to synchronise watches. Certainly, I have 18:57. Oh no, Gordon. I checked mine this morning it‟s 19:01, and I am never wrong. No, I don‟t suppose you are. 19:01 it is then. Right Henrietta, now the accommodation is sorted out, perhaps you would like to organise your girls. Certainly. Girls, girls, pay attention! Julia, what are you doing? I ain‟t doin‟ nuffink Miss. Nothing Julia, nothing … and I think you are. Ain‟t! Do I detect chewing gum? You all know the rules, how many times do I have to tell you. Is there anybody else with chewing gum, Janet? Karen? Tracy? 35


Tracy Miss Kill

I ain‟t doin‟ no „arm; can‟t see how it matters to you anyways! That is quite enough back chat from you, thank you very much. Now girls out with it, come along, come along.

The girls remove the gum.

Karen Julia Miss Kill Julia Tracy Miss Kill

Sheila Miss Kill Sheila Miss Kill Janet Miss Kill

Miss Kill, wot we goin‟ to do wiv it now; there ain‟t no bin! I swallowed mine! Julia! That is really disgusting. I always swallows it. So do I. Oh well, never mind now, the rest of you give it to me, I think I have some tissue somewhere. (Several of the girls line up to hand over the gum). Now come along, follow me. Sheila, please don‟t do that. But me knickers have got all twisted up Miss. Sheila this is really not the place to adjust your dress. Can‟t help it, besides I‟ve done it now. Up you go girls, onto the stage. Mr Phillips says you can all change up there. Why can‟t we change downstairs with everybody else, we did for the panto. Because I am responsible Janet, and as far as I am concerned I have a duty to your parents. Besides, Mr Phillips and I have discussed it, and our arrangement still stands, is that quite clear? (Janet is about to reply). Janet the topic is closed, I am not prepared to discuss it any further. Everyone on stage please. (The girls mount the stage, go through the curtains, scream and come running back extremely flustered). What on earth is the matter, let me through, let me through. (She fights her way to the stage amid loud, excited general chatter from the girls. She opens the curtains, then immediately withdraws her head). Mr Phillips what is the meaning of this!

Gordon Miss Kill

What do you mean? There appears to be a semi-naked couple copulating on stage! If this is your idea of progressiveness, Basset Under Stigwood is definitely not ready for it! Please have them removed at once, before my girls and I remove ourselves!

Gordon peers through the curtains.

Gordon

Pike! I might have known it! Come out here at once! 36


Pike

(From behind the curtains) That‟s a little difficult at the

moment Skip. The girls snigger.

Gordon Pike Gordon Pike

Miss Kill Pike Gordon Miss Kill

Gordon Miss Kill Michael

Look, I am sure there is a rational explanation for all this, (pointedly) isn‟t there Pike! Oh yes Skip, of course there is. Cheryl‟s my sister. Your sister! (Playing along) Oh, that sister, why didn‟t you say so before. We were just trying on the incontinence pants for a laugh, you know the ones we bought for the old peoples home. Cheryl was having a little difficulty getting them off again and I was giving her a hand. A likely story if ever I heard one. No it‟s true, honest. Actually, Henrietta he‟s quite right. Incontinence pants! Whatever next! I‟ve never heard such a preposterous story in all my life! Girls follow me, we will change under the stage. (The girls cheer). That is quite enough of that, follow me. But it‟s true, it‟s what „The Retreat‟ asked for, ten pairs of incontinence pants, various sizes. Mmm, well discretion is the better part of valour! Off you go girls, you know the way. I‟ll get the lads to organise a partition.

The girls follow the Scout Leader out.

Miss Kill

Gordon Miss Kill Gordon

Now Gordon this is your last chance, I don‟t know why I should believe you, or even forgive you, but just this once, much against my better judgment, I will. But if there is anything else, the slightest thing, the merest hint, I shall withdraw my girls from the show. Is that quite clear! Perfectly! Just as long as we understand one another. (She exits). Pike! I think you have some explaining to do! And who is this young woman anyway?

In a state of semi-undress, Pike and an attractive, but tarty young woman enter from behind the curtain. It is apparent that she is several years older than Pike.

Pike

This is Cheryl, my new girl friend. We met last night, down the Citrus Club. Skip, I would like you to meet Cheryl. This is the bloke I was telling you about Cheryl. 37


Cheryl Gordon Cheryl

Gordon Pike Cheryl Gordon Cheryl Pike Cheryl Pike Cheryl Pike Cheryl Pike Gordon Pike Cheryl Pike Cheryl Pike Cheryl Gordon

Cheryl Gordon Cheryl

Pleased to meet yah! How do you do. Dave‟s told me all about you. I hear you‟ve got a nice car, perhaps we could go out for a drink sometime. I like a spin now and again. I bet you do. (Begrudgingly) Well I suppose we could make up a threesome. Oh yes, that could be a lot of fun! I don‟t think he meant … I‟m not sure it matters what he thinks, do you Gordon? Hey Cheryl! Babe! I‟m the one, I‟m your salad on the side, I‟m your … Listen, Davey boy. I‟m not your Babe! So why don‟t you run a long and light a fire or something. But what about all those things you said last night. What about them? And what about this afternoon? You promised me that, well, that we could, well you know, do it all over again! Oh that was just pillow-talk honey. Besides it was like sleeping with a damp lettuce leaf, green with no substance! I thought it was wonderful! I can hardly believe I‟m listening to this! How long have you been in here, for goodness sake? (Wistfully) Oh, ages and ages! About five minutes before you showed up with the old bag and her flock of giggling school girls. That‟s a lie! Listen sweetie, it was almost all over before it started! That‟s not fair, you said you wouldn‟t tell anyone! Well never mind, you‟ll get over it. Come and see me again in a year or two. Look I don‟t want to interrupt anything, but could you keep your voices down. I don‟t want Miss Kill to get wind of any of this. I don‟t give a damn what she thinks! Well you might not, but I do. There‟s a lot at stake. Rubbish, besides how can you take any notice of her, she looks like an old bulldog chewing a wasp! Life is for living Gordon and I‟m hot, really hot! 38


Gordon Pike Gordon Pike Cheryl Gordon Cheryl Gordon Cheryl

Yes well, I … er, um, I can see that er, Cheryl. I hate you Gordon and you Cheryl! It‟s just not fair! Listen David … No I won‟t listen, you‟re a rotten bastard. (He stomps off). Arsehole! Well now I‟ve sampled the hors d‟oeuvre, I‟m ready for the main course. Cheryl, not in front of this lot, (Indicating the audience) I‟ll be chucked out of the movement for good! Oh don‟t mind them, they‟re just kids. Exactly, my point entirely. Kids, who have parents! Oh stop being so old fashioned Gordon, step into the nineties will you and get a load of this!

She grabs him in a passionate embrace.

Gordon

Bloody Hell!

They embrace again, this time falling backwards through the curtains. Enter Miss Kill, through the upstage pass door.

Miss Kill

Jane Miss Kill

Jane

Gordon Jane Gordon Jane Gordon Jane

Gordon

Gordon! Gordon! Where the devil are you? That wretched man is never around when you want him. (Enter Jane). Oh hello Jane, what are you doing here? Looking for Gordon Phillips! So am I. Those blasted boys of his, as I knew they would, are running amok! It just will not do, it will not do at all! Gordon! (She exits). Gordon! Gordon! (Calling) I want a word with you. (She discovers Gordon and Cheryl). Well I might have bloody well known it! How dare you do this to me, after all that you said! Jane! It‟s not what you think. No, don‟t speak, don‟t utter a fucking word, you bastard! How the hell I was taken in by you, I‟ll never know. Jane, please … You shit! You promised me! I know I promised, it‟s not as it seems. Look this isn‟t my fault. Please, you must believe me. Believe you, why should I bloody well believe you! I believe in my own eyes, that‟s what I bloody well believe in, you ungrateful toad! I was attacked! 39


Jane

Gordon Jane

Gordon Jane

Gordon Jane

Gordon Jane

Attacked! Pull the other one! What do you take me for? I should have learnt my lesson the other night, but no, muggins here keeps on coming back for more. Please Jane, let me just explain. Explain! What is there to explain, all I know is that I‟ve been taken for a ride, again! You must think I‟m a bloody, stupid little fool! Just an easy lay when there‟s nothing else better to screw, you bastard! It‟s not as it seems. While you‟ve been in here canoodling with that, that tart, I‟ve been out there in the rain, waiting for you for over an hour! Look I‟m sorry, I forgot, honestly, I really did, you must believe me Jane. Believe you! Why should I bloody well believe you, and besides I‟ve caught you with your trousers down, red handed! Well I‟m telling you Gordon bloody Phillips, this is the last time! D‟you hear, the last bloody time! Jane! Please, listen … Don‟t you Jane me, and where is the little trollop anyway? I want to give her a piece of my mind! (Having rearranged herself Cheryl appears. The two women stare at each other in disbelief). Cheryl!

Cheryl Gordon Cheryl Jane

Gordon Jane Gordon Jane Gordon Jane

Aunt Jane! Oh I see you two know each other then. Auntie Jane I didn‟t know, honest I didn‟t. You dirty little slut, and you, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Talk about cradle snatching, you‟re old enough to be her father! Now just a minute! I‟ll give you just a minute. (She slaps his face). That‟s for being such an unscrupulous calculating bastard! Jane you really didn‟t have to do that. Oh didn‟t I! No. Well this is for making me look a complete and utter fool!

She slaps his face again.

Cheryl Jane

Auntie, I … And you can bloody well stop calling me Auntie! 40


Cheryl Jane

Look, I‟m sorry but it‟s really all my fault. Oh is it? Do you honestly expect me to believe that? It takes two to tango you know.

A scantily clad Girl Guide enters from the pass door, hotly pursued by a half naked Boy Scout.

Scout

Oi! Come back here, I‟ve got a royal flush!

They run across the stage and exit.

Jane Gordon Jane Cheryl Jane

Gordon Jane

Well now I‟ve seen it all! Look Jane, I‟m sorry, but I just don‟t have time for this, it‟s not long before curtain up. Curtain up! I‟ll give you curtain up, you disgusting pig! I‟m going to call the police … The Police! That‟s what I‟m going to do. Corrupting minors is a serious offence, and by the time I‟ve finished with you, you‟ll wish you‟d never been born! Corrupting minors! What on earth do you mean? Oh don‟t act the innocent with me, Gordon Phillips, what was all that about then, eh?

She points to where the Girl Guide and Boy Scout made their exit.

Gordon Jane Gordon Jane

Oh, nothing to speak of, just a simple game of strip poker I should think. Strip poker! Yes, boys will be boys. It‟s nothing, just high jinks. The youth of today, it‟s …well, you know! No I don‟t know! Well I‟m not going to rest until the whole bloody community knows exactly what they are harbouring. A viper! A sexually deviant, viper!

Enter Mrs Paine.

Mrs Paine Gordon

Mrs Paine

My sentiments entirely! Mr Phillips, I have a bone to pick with you! Ah, yes … er, Mrs Paine, nice to meet you again. I‟m, er … I‟m, glad you have, er come down. I um, I was er, going to call round anyway. Now about that um, that er, phone call, I er … Yes, well much to my better judgment, I thought I would give you the benefit of the doubt and allow you to explain in person. 41


Jane Mrs Paine

Gordon

Mrs Paine Gordon

What phone call? But by all accounts, my worst fears have been realised. However, now I am here, I might as well hear your side of it. Well, I‟m waiting! Well, everything seems to have, er … well, got a little out of hand, you see, and unfortunately you seem to have got hold of the wrong end of the stick. I should say! It‟s not as it seems, it was just a terrible mistake, Jimmy caught the gist of what I was saying but he unfortunately misquoted me. What I said was …

The Girl Guide enters still being pursued by the Boy Scout.

Girl Guide Scout Gordon Mrs Paine

Jane Mrs Paine Jane Mrs Paine

Jane Mrs Paine Cheryl Mrs Paine Jane

Miss Kill! Help! Miss Kill! Tracy! (Or Julia, Karen, Sheila, or Janet). Come back, you promised! Look Mrs Paine, I assure you I can explain. I‟m sure you can, but not to me! I have seen and heard quite enough for one day, thank you very much! Mr Phillips, you will be hearing from the authorities in due course. I mean to take this to the top, to the very top Mr Phillips! So be warned! (She starts to leave). Wait for me Mrs Paine, I‟m leaving too! And not before time, I might add! The whole village must think I‟m stupid, a stupid little fool! I wouldn‟t go as far as that. A little naïve, perhaps. You see the trouble with people like him, is that they suck you in, they suck you in to their own sordid little world of debauchery before you can say knife! And don‟t I know it! Cheryl, are you coming? Sorry Gordon, I‟ve got to go, see you around sometime. Cheryl, really! You wait „till I tell your mother!

Enter Miss Kill.

Mrs Paine

Henrietta, a word of warning. Be very careful, very careful indeed! You have no idea what you are getting yourself into!

Mrs Paine and Jane sweep out.

42


Miss Kill

Gordon Miss Kill

Gordon

Ah Gordon, there you are, I have been looking for you everywhere. It‟s those boys of yours, they are running amok, something must be done immediately. Heaven knows what they are up to now … Really, running amok you say, I hadn‟t noticed. I don‟t care for the tone of your voice, this is no laughing matter Gordon. My girls are at an age when they are extremely impressionable. You don‟t say.

Enter the Scout Leader.

Michael Gordon Michael Gordon Michael Miss Kill Gordon

I say Skip, time is marching on you know, it‟s 19.54, there‟s only five minutes or so before curtain up. (Pointedly) Sorry, I‟ve been rather tied up, everything has been sorted out though, hasn‟t it? Oh yes, everything is fine now. Segregation is the key Michael, just as long as everything is under control. Oh yes, (winking) there are no worries on that score. I see you are coming round to my way of thinking Gordon. Oh yes, segregation Henrietta, segregation! Right if you two would like to take your places I think we are about ready to begin. Michael if you would like to call „Beginners‟! (Miss Kill and Michael exit „back stage‟. Gordon talks to the audience). Now what are you lot still doing here? Everybody back stage, quickly now! What‟s that? No you can‟t watch, besides you‟ve seen it all in rehearsal. Now listen up everybody. I don‟t need to tell you, I want absolute hush while the show is on and nobody is to peer through the curtains, nobody, is that clear! Right to your places everybody and remember, energy, energy, energy! We are on the brink, we are on the brink of great things! I know you won‟t let me down. Let‟s have a great show and remember, above all, enjoy yourselves!

He exits. NOTE : The three songs and the action that follows them to the end of the act/play can either performed as written by a group of scouts and guides, or the production can be arranged such that recorded versions of „Ging, Gang, Gooli‟ and „Crest Of A Wave‟ are played underneath the dialogue and SFX. Miss Kill, Gordon and Michael should extemporise for about 20-30 seconds before the SFX of the police car is heard.

43


The lights dim and the „Gang Show‟ begins. The curtains open to an empty stage, a football whistle is heard and a line of Scouts and Guides enter singing. The cast perform a traditional Gang Show with actions.

SONG : GING GANG GOOLI Ging gang, gooli gooli gooli gooli, watcha Ging gang goo, ging gang go Ging gang gooli gooli gooli gooli, watcha Ging gang goo, ging gang goo Heyla, heyla shayla, heyla heyla shayla, ho! Heyla, heyla shayla, heyla heyla shayla, ho! Shali walli shali walli shali walli shali wall Oompah , Oompah … Ging gang, gooli gooli gooli gooli, watcha Ging gang goo, ging gang go Ging gang gooli gooli gooli gooli, watcha Ging gang goo, ging gang goo SONG : RIDING ALONG ON A CREST OF A WAVE We‟re riding along on the crest of a wave And the sun is in the sky All our eyes on The distant horizon Look out for passers by. We‟ll do the hailing, When other ships are round us sailing. So we‟re riding along on the crest of a wave And the world is ours! Like a phalanx, a group of Guides and Scouts explode through the centre performing a Rap. The whole atmosphere is changed with loud background music, flashing lights, hand held microphones etc. The „song‟ is improvised and as such has no specific music other than „mouth music‟ emanating from the whole group. A basic drum beat would be a useful accompaniment though.

SONG : THE GUIDE/SCOUT RAP One, two, three! Check it Check it Check it out! 44


We‟re girl guides And we‟re the boy scouts We always do our best When we‟re put to the test Never put ourselves before no-one We think about the rest Always here to lend a helping hand Whenever you‟re in doubt Yeah, whenever you‟re in trouble We can help you work it out We‟re here to dominate Yeah we‟re always at the top Showing you This is how we do it We aint gonna stop So wave your hands in the air Like you just don‟t care And let me hear you say oh yeah, oh yeah! The background music becomes louder as the cast Rap Dance, doing their own thing in a grand finale. Above the singing, the sound of several police sirens are heard, cars screeching to a halt, doors slamming, followed by the sound of many feet running towards the building.

Inspector

Gordon Inspector Gordon

(Through a loud hailer, off) This is the police! Escape is

pointless! You are surrounded! Please form an orderly queue and leave the building with your hands up! (Shouting above the singing and general din) There‟s no need to panic! (Off) I repeat you are surrounded, please leave at once! There must be some kind of mistake that‟s all. Stay calm! Everybody, stay calm!

Enter Miss Kill and Michael.

Miss Kill Inspector

Stay calm, you must be kidding! (Off) This is your last warning!

Suddenly, from the lighting box area, there is a loud bang, the music and lights immediately go off and the stage is plunged into darkness. General cries of “What‟s going on?” etc.

Dai Gordon

(Offstage) I knew this would happen!

Ladies and Gentlemen, it seems we‟ve run into a slight technical hitch. 45


Dai Gordon Dai

(Offstage) Overload see, I told you Gordon, but you wouldn‟t

listen! Please don‟t panic, the performance will resume as soon as possible. In the mean time … (Offstage) You and your big ideas!

A group of policemen enter. The one in civilian clothes appears to be an Inspector. They all have powerful flashlights. The press are also in attendance.

Inspector

Gordon Inspector Gordon

There he is men! Grab him! (He shines a torch in Gordon‟s face). Gordon Phillips, consider your self under arrest, nicked! Nicked? Officer you‟ve got the wrong man! Anything you have to say will be taken down in evidence and may be used against you. Right men, take him away. But! But! (He is bundled out while the press take several flashlight pictures). I‟m innocent I tell you … Henrietta! Henrietta, do something!

The lights are suddenly restored.

Dai Miss Kill

(Offstage) There, that‟s got it!

Ladies and Gentlemen, unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, the show cannot continue. Reparations will of course be made upon application. But in the mean time I must ask you to vacate the building as soon as possible. Thank you for your cooperation.

Miss Kill and the cast begin to exit.

Michael Miss Kill Michael Miss Kill

I thought there was something fishy about him! I don‟t mind telling you I‟ve always had my doubts! Outsider, not born in the village you see. Yes, it was only a matter of time before he came to a sticky end.

The lights fade to black.

ACT 4 The Wedding Reception The curtains are open and the stage has been decorated for a wedding reception, with balloons, ribbons, swags of silver material and good luck charms. There are two doors either side of the stage, one leads to the kitchen facilities and the other to a storage room, a third entrance is either situated to one side of the auditorium floor in front of the audience or from behind, a short flight of steps connect the stage and

46


the auditorium It is evident from the decorated trestle tables, which have been covered in white table cloths, that the top table is situated on the stage itself. At present the top table is only partially laid up for the wedding feast, Mrs Carol Paine and Miss Henrietta Kill enter upstage, they are carrying the final touches; napkins, decorative ribbons etc., the two women continue decorating the table.

Mrs Paine Miss Kill Mrs Paine Miss Kill

Mrs Paine

If you ask me she must be barking mad! Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and … You don‟t have to say it Henrietta, besides which, you shouldn‟t tempt fate. It‟s merely a saying, however I am inclined to agree with you; one minute it was on, the next minute it was off and now finally it‟s on again. Which it certainly wouldn‟t be if she hadn‟t let him get on in the first place!

Both women laugh.

Miss Kill Mr Paine Miss Kill Mrs Paine Miss Kill Mrs Paine Miss Kill Mrs Paine

Miss Kill Mrs Paine Miss Kill Mrs Paine

You can‟t exactly say it‟s a marriage made in heaven now, can you? More like hell, they‟ve been at each other‟s throats for months. To be precise, ever since our „Flaming June Jumble Sale‟! Mmmm and there‟s been a flaming row ever since! Well at least it‟s kept the village amused. I should say so, who needs „EastEnders‟ with those two rowing for England. Perhaps we could sell the idea to the BBC! Tune in to the latest episode of „Basset-under-Stigwood‟, the real life rural hotspot that‟s guaranteed to knock „Emmerdale‟ into a cocked hat! Yes, the possibilities are endless, mind you Carol, it still rankles you know. What does? I would have given anything to see the look on Gordon‟s face if we‟d managed to sell his precious football strip. It would have served him right if you had, I still don‟t trust him you know, not after that business over the Jamboree Gang Show, and a bit of his own medicine would do him the world of good. (She puts the last serviette in place). There, well if nothing else, the hall looks a picture, even if I do say so myself.

47


Miss Kill

Mrs Paine Miss Kill Mrs Paine

Miss Kill Mrs Paine Miss Kill Mrs Paine Miss Kill

Mrs Paine

And not a moment too soon, time waits for no man. Come along, we still have to peel the boiled eggs, toss the salad and carve the fatted calf and there‟s also that delicious row of Pavlovas awaiting your finishing touch. Do you think we‟ve done enough ham sandwiches Henrietta or should we do a few more, just in case. Well I‟m sure they‟ll eat them if we do. Dai Llewellyn‟s cutting it a bit fine isn‟t he, if he doesn‟t watch out; he‟ll be setting up his wretched disco during the speeches. Not if he doesn‟t sort out the top table microphone first he won‟t! Testing, testing one two, one two, testing! Humph! Microphones, I don‟t hold with them myself, good old-fashioned voice projection, that‟s all you need. Well I think Michael might need one, he might be a little nervous, he is Best Man after all. (Indignantly) Best Man, that‟s a joke, he might be Gordon‟s right hand man with the scout pack but for all that, he‟s barely out of nappies and heaven knows what he‟s got planned for his speech! Dib, dib, dib!

Colonel Drinkwater enters from the auditorium.

Colonel Miss Kill Mrs Paine Colonel Miss Kill Colonel Miss Kill Colonel Miss Kill Colonel Mrs Paine Colonel

Ah! Morning ladies! Colonel, what do you want? You‟re not checking up on us I hope? No, no, damn fine show, by the look of things the catering corps couldn‟t have done any better. Do you think so? Oh yes, I remember the time when I was serving in Suez and we had a regimental …. Colonel, look I‟m very sorry but we are extremely busy and … Oh yes rather, rather! Well? Well what my dear? What do you want? What do I want? Ah yes now what do I want, brain isn‟t quite what it used to be you know, I‟m sure it‟ll come to me in a jiffy um … er … um … 48


Miss Kill

Mrs Paine Miss Kill Colonel Miss Kill Colonel

Miss Kill Colonel Miss Kill Colonel Miss Kill Colonel Mrs Paine Colonel Miss Kill Colonel Mrs Paine Colonel Miss Kill Colonel Mrs Paine Colonel

Miss Kill Colonel

Colonel, we really haven‟t time for all this at the moment, once the wedding is over they‟ll be back here like a plague of locusts! And if we‟re not ready it will spoil the day completely. As you should appreciate, a lot of strategy and planning goes into a bride‟s special day Colonel. That‟s it! (Impatiently) What is? Not so loud, I had one over the eight last night and I‟m feeling a somewhat jaded, don‟t you know, but by Jingo old girl, you‟ve jogged my memory all the same. (Dryly) Have I really. I wouldn‟t mind being in a tight spot with you my dear. How dare you. Oh no you misunderstand me, I didn‟t mean … I should think not! The wedding‟s off! What do you mean the weddings off? Unless we can find the groom, as I say, the weddings off. Well where is he? That‟s the trouble, nobody knows. But that‟s ridiculous. Maybe so, but you can‟t have a wedding without a groom now can you; funny thing but I never did like the fellow much. Has nobody seen him, what about the Best Man? surely Michael knows where he is? Quite probably, but he‟s gone missing as well. Really? Yes, the poor old bride‟s in a terrible temper; the course of true love never did run smooth, what! They‟ve already had to drive her round the duck pond twice, up to the manor house and back, past the old fire station and up and down the avenue five times and there‟s still no sign of him anywhere, I can‟t say I‟m surprised, no back bone these days, they should bring back National Service, that would sort the blighters out. Colonel this is an emergency, we must scour the village and find him. Rather, we must conduct a house to house search; I say this is just like old times. 49


Miss Kill Colonel

Mrs Paine Miss Kill Colonel

Mrs Paine Colonel

Miss Kill Colonel

Oh never mind all that, now where was the last time he was seen? By the state of him, last night in the Dog And Duck I shouldn‟t wonder, he just popped in for a pint or so with Michael before the execution so to speak! Execution? What are you blabbering on about? Stag night, don‟t you know. We were all in there, Jimmy the coal, Mike the ice, even Leg of Lamb Anne and a damn fine evening it was too; we even had a game of Cardinal Puff! Cardinal what? Puff! You should have been there. No matter how hard they tried they always got it a tincy-wincy bit wrong and well, that‟s how it goes sometimes, pity, but you know how it is, becoming a Cardinal can be quit elusive at times. What are you talking about you military ignoramus! Here‟s to Cardinal Puff for the first time (The Colonel mimes a glass and bangs it once on an imaginary table) Bang! (Then with his right forefinger he wipes the right hand side of his moustache, this is followed by the mirror image using his left) Here‟s to

Miss Kill Colonel

Miss Kill

Cardinal Puff for … Are you completely out of your mind, what are you doing? If you want to become a Cardinal there‟s a protocol to follow, a ritual don‟t you know! As I was saying, first of all you bang your glass on the table whilst saying the words… look just follow my lead and you‟ll be a Cardinal in no time. Don‟t be ridiculous!

Enter Mrs Meacher through the audience; she is holding a large over-sized centre table setting. Green fronds and long stemmed flowers protrude like a floral hedgehog, whilst clashing flowers cascade down the front of the bowl.

Mrs Meacher Mrs Paine Mrs Meacher Miss Kill Mrs Meacher

Miss Kill

Morning ladies, Colonel; what do you think? It‟s a catastrophe. I wouldn‟t go as far as all that. The whole thing is a disaster! I did have a little trouble with the lilies but I‟m quite proud of the way it‟s all turned out now, I rather like the slight Bohemian element with just a touch of modern contemporary, what do you think? No, no, no, Mrs Meacher … the Best Man and our emphatic, self indulgent, revolutionary groom have gone missing. 50


Mrs Meacher You don‟t say; who would have thought it? Mind you now you come to mention it, I‟m not surprised in the least. Miss Kill That‟s not what I meant. Mrs Meacher Oh! In that case I wouldn‟t worry about him, I‟m sure he‟ll turn up eventually. (Mrs Meacher puts the flowers in the centre of the top table). There, perfect. Mrs Paine You can‟t put that there. Mrs Meacher What do you mean, of course I can put it there, where else is it to go. Miss Kill I could tell you. Mrs Meacher Henrietta Kill there‟s no call for that sort of remark; I‟m surprised at you, besides I‟ve gone to a lot of trouble over this. Mrs Paine We haven‟t exactly been twiddling our thumbs; that place is reserved. Mrs Meacher Reserved, you can‟t reserve a position on the wedding table. Miss Kill Oh yes we can, that place is reserved for Pavlova! Mrs Meacher Pavlova, I can‟t see a Pavlova! Miss Kill It‟s reserved all the same. Mrs Meacher (Annoyed) Well it won‟t have the same effect, but what about over here? Mrs Meacher moves the floral centre piece to one side.

Mrs Paine Colonel Miss Kill Colonel

No, that spot is reserved for the wedding cake. Well if you‟ll excuse me ladies I‟d better er … Yes, you better had! Quite so.

The Colonel hastily exits down the steps and through the auditorium.

Mrs Meacher I was given an extremely explicit order from the happy couple … Mrs Paine What happy couple? Mrs Meacher To design and make a floral table decoration, to be placed centrally, centrally mind, on the top table and as requested I have fulfilled my obligation … one centrepiece table decoration! Mrs Paine You could put it on the other side I suppose, in front of the Best Man. Miss Kill I don‟t know what we are all arguing about, the whole thing is academic anyway.

51


There is a loud commotion off, enter Jane and Phyllis through the auditorium. Jane, slightly dishevelled, is dressed in all her wedding finery, it is evident she is heavily pregnant. Phyllis, rather concerned, is dressed as a „bridesmaid‟.

Jane Phyllis Jane Mrs Paine Jane Miss Kill Phyllis Jane Mrs Meacher Jane Mrs Meacher

I want a drink! Jane you shouldn‟t, not in your condition. I don‟t care. Come and sit yourself down. I don‟t want to sit down I want a drink! Sit! Your dad is still in the car, will he be OK out there? Right now I just want a drink, dad can look after himself. I‟m glad you‟re here, you can settle the dispute. Dispute, I‟ll give you dispute. As per your instruction, I‟ve made a central floral decoration, but these two are hell bent on ruining everything. Jane (Acidly) Are they, are they really? Mrs Paine We‟re doing no such thing! Mrs Meacher Of course you are, sabotage that‟s what it is, sabotage! Miss Kill Don‟t be ridiculous, sabotage indeed. Mrs Paine The Pavlova and the wedding cake have to go somewhere Mary. Jane It may have escaped your notice but right now I don‟t give a fig for table decorations or wedding cakes … and you can stick your rotten Pavlova right up your …. Mrs Paine Jane you‟re overwrought. Miss Kill Calm yourself. Jane Overwrought, that‟s the understatement of the century, where‟s my drink! Phyllis picks up a bottle and pours out a small drink.

Phyllis Jane Phyllis Jane

Here you are Jane, just a little one. At last! (Jane drinks it in one) Another! Jane you really mustn‟t … Shut-up, I need it!

Jane snatches the bottle.

Miss Kill Jane

Phyllis is right you really shouldn‟t be … Who asked you, I‟ll be the judge of what‟s right and what‟s wrong if you don‟t mind.

52


Miss Kill

Well on your own head be it, but don‟t say you haven‟t been warned.

Enter Mr Wrankin through the auditorium, he is holding a dustpan and brush, seizing her opportunity Jane proceeds to drink the whole bottle.

Mr Wrankin Miss Kill Mr Wrankin Miss Kill Mr Wrankin Miss Kill Mr Wrankin Miss Kill Mr Wrankin

Miss Kill

Mrs Paine Mr Wrankin

Jane Mr Wrankin Jane Phyllis Mr Wrankin

Miss Kill

Ah I want a word with you lot. Do you indeed. Yes I do, I‟ve got enough to do without repairing wilful damage. Wilful damage, what are you talking about? Don‟t play the innocent with me, you know very well what I‟m talking about. I‟m afraid I don‟t and furthermore I don‟t like the tone of your voice. Oh you don‟t, do you. Windows Miss Kill, windows! What are you talking about? When I locked up last night my hall had a full compliment of windows, but now one of you lot has been and smashed one of them to pieces, there‟s glass all over the place. Come on own up, who was it? I don‟t know what you are talking about; I don‟t know anything about broken windows and neither does Mrs Paine, do you Carol. I can‟t say I do. Well somebody has to pay! (To Jane) You and that megalomaniac husband of yours Gordon bloody Phillips are hiring the hall, so it will have to come out of your deposit. Oh go to hell! I beg your pardon? You heard! I‟m afraid the wedding hasn‟t actually taken place yet Mr Wrankin, there‟s been a slight problem. Slight problem, I should say so. Muggins here has to make sure the building is secure, but don‟t worry about me, you go ahead and have your little celebration, while I get in my car and drive all the way into town, seven and three quarter miles there and seven and three quarter miles back to fetch some more glass. I‟ll have you know I‟ve got far more better things to do on a Saturday afternoon than repair broken windows. I‟m quite sure you have Mr Wrankin but I assure you … 53


Mr Wrankin

Bloody vandals!

Mr Wrankin exits into the storage room upstage.

Mrs Meacher That man has to be the rudest person I know; I should have given him a piece of my mind. Miss Kill Have you enough to spare? Mrs Meacher What do you mean by that? Miss Kill Well I didn‟t notice you chirping in with anything practical to say, in fact, you didn‟t have anything to say at all. Mrs Meacher Now look here! Phyllis No, you look here, all of you … Jane, what have you done? Jane Drunk the bloody lot. Get me some more, I want some more. Mrs Paine I think you‟ve had quite enough. Jane So what if I have. you old harridan, what‟s it to you? Mrs Paine Well! Phyllis She‟s not normally like this. Jane Jilted! Left in the lurch in the stupid old church … oh, that rhymes. (Beat) . I feel sick. Miss Kill You‟ve only yourself to blame. Jane Shut-up fatty! There, I‟ve always wanted to say that! Miss Kill How dare you! Jane Ten ton Tessie that‟s what you are; old lady lardy-arse! Phyllis Jane! Don‟t take any notice of her. Miss Kill On this occasion, in view of her present condition, I will turn the other cheek. Jane convulses into fits of laughter.

Jane Phyllis Mrs Paine Jane Mrs Paine

(Singing) And the cheeks of her arse went chuff, chuff, chuff!

Jane, enough! Do you need a bowl dear? A bowl, what do I want a bowl for? (Beat). Quick get me a bowl, I‟m going to be sick. Hold on.

Mrs Paine exits into the kitchen area of the hall, upstage.

Mrs Meacher Jane Miss Kill Mrs Meacher Miss Kill Phyllis

Put your head between your legs. And kiss my arse goodbye. What good will that do? I don‟t know I was only trying to be helpful. Well it‟s not in the least! Hang on Jane, what are you doing? 54


Jane

Phyllis Jane

Trying to put my head between my legs, no I‟m afraid it‟s out of the question at the moment, Gordon‟s little bastard is in the way! (Horrified) Jane, that‟s no way to talk, you should be ashamed of yourself. Bollocks!

Mrs Paine returns with a washing up bowl.

Mrs Paine Miss Kill

Here we are dear. And not a moment too soon by the look of her.

Jane grabs the bowl and instantly „throws up‟.

That‟s the way bring it all up dear, better out than in! (Between vomiting) What would you know, I bet you haven‟t had it in for years! Mrs Meacher I think you might regret this in the morning. Jane Up yours! Mrs Paine Jane let‟s try not to be too personal shall we. Jane Up yours as well … up the lot of you! Phyllis Shall I make you a coffee, would that help? Jane I don‟t care; do what you like. Phyllis I‟ll make her a coffee. Mrs Paine Jane

Phyllis exits into the kitchen. From the storage room a sudden commotion is heard.

Mr Wrankin

(Off) I might have known it had something to do with you

two! Gordon

(Off) I don‟t know what you are talking about, (beat), oooh

my head. From the upstage storage area Mr Wrankin, Gordon Philips and Michael enter.

Michael Mr Wrankin Miss Kill

I think I do. Well don‟t think you‟ll get away without paying for the damage. Gordon! Quickly girls!

To prevent Gordon seeing Jane, Miss Kill, Mrs Meacher and Mrs Paine quickly form a human barrier around her.

Mrs Paine Gordon Michael Jane Gordon

What are you doing here, you should be in church! Oh no, what‟s the time? Eleven thirty nine, Skip; seems we‟re a mite overdue … come on we can still make it. (Pushing through the cordon) You rotten bastard! Jane! What are you doing here? 55


More to the point what are you doing here, I‟ve never been so humey … huleymate … mil … humili … Miss Kill Humiliated? Jane That‟s the word, in all my life! Gordon But Jane I can explain. Mrs Paine I bet you can. Mrs Meacher Don‟t you know its bad luck to see the bride before you‟re married! Gordon Is it? Jane Yes it bloody well is, take that you bastard! (With a Jane

formidable right hook she punches Gordon on the chin, knocking him straight out). Oh Gordon, I‟m sorry I didn‟t mean …

Mrs Paine Miss Kill

Serves him right; I would have done the same thing. Stand back and give him some air.

Enter the Vicar through the auditorium.

Vicar Jane Miss Kill Gordon Jane Gordon Mr Wrankin Miss Kill Mr Wrankin Miss Kill Mr Wrankin Miss Kill Mr Wrankin Miss Kill

The Colonel said I would find you … Oh! I think I‟ve killed him. Nonsense, he just needs some air that‟s all, now stand back everybody. (Beginning to come round) Bloody hell, where did you learn to punch like that, you‟ve broken my jaw! Oh Gordon, I‟m sorry. You‟re sorry! I‟m sorry, but you‟ll all have to leave. Don‟t be ridiculous, just mend the window, I‟ll deal with this. Now look here! No Mr Wrankin, as I said I will deal with this, you go and do what you are best at and leave me to do what I am best at. You haven‟t heard the last of this, breaking into private property is a serious matter. Yes, yes now off you go. Oh very well, but I‟ll have to fill out a form. Of course you do, whatever you think is best, that‟s it, go and fill out your wretched form.

Miss Kill propels Mr Wrankin to the auditorium steps.

Mr Wrankin Vicar

(To the Vicar) Get out of my way.

I‟m terribly sorry, I er … 56


Mr Wrankin exits through the auditorium.

Mrs Meacher Why don‟t you sit down? Gordon Thanks I will. Vicar I don‟t want to be the harbinger of bad news but if we are to proceed then we really must hurry, I‟ve got a funeral later on today you see and ... Jane Of course, I‟m happy, just so long as you still want to marry me Gordon, I mean it‟s not too late to change your … Gordon Don‟t be ridiculous, come here and give me a kiss. (Jane and Gordon embrace). Ow! Mrs Meacher Ah, how sweet! Gordon Look I really am sorry Jane, you see, last night things well, lets just say things got a bit out of hand and … Michael It wasn‟t his fault we just thought it would be fun to break in here and tie a few final knots before he actually tied the knot so to speak. Mrs Paine Tie a few knots? Gordon What he means is we stupidly broke in here because I always keep a bottle of whisky handy, just for emergencies you understand … Michael For when we go camping. Gordon And well, the rest is history. Vicar Look, excuse me I don‟t want to hurry you or anything, but some of your guests were already beginning to leave and … With a mug of coffee in hand Phyllis and Cheryl enter from the kitchen.

Phyllis Cheryl Jane Gordon Jane

Look who I‟ve found. Hello Gordon, Auntie Jane. You lying toad! No you don‟t understand, I haven‟t seen Cheryl for weeks. Liar! (Jane punches Gordon in the stomach and, as he doubles over, she gives him an uppercut. Gordon falls backwards and collapses in a heap). You little slut, and on the eve of my

Cheryl Jane Phyllis

wedding day as well! Auntie Jane what are you talking about; I just came in through the backdoor. A likely story, I wasn‟t born yesterday! It‟s true, she did, I was just making coffee and, like she says, she came in the backdoor. 57


Cheryl

I was in the church and as nothing much was going on, I snuck out to see if there was any booze going.

Jane runs to Gordon who is prostrate on the floor.

Jane Gordon Vicar Gordon Vicar Jane

Oh my darling have I hurt you? No, no I‟m getting used to it. Shall I call an ambulance? No need. Well in that case shall I go back to the church? Yes, and take Gordon and Michael with you, I‟ll be with you in a minute. Gordon I can‟t get married like this, what will people say? Mrs Paine I should imagine they‟ll probably have a field day! Mrs Meacher Nobody will forget this wedding in a hurry; it‟s already the stuff of legends. Miss Kill Go on with you. Gordon But… Miss Kill You might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. Gordon (Unsure) Well if you say so. Vicar Time waits for no man, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Jane What do you mean? Vicar Oh nothing, nothing at all, it‟s just that with your luck, well, heaven knows what‟s coming around the corner. Gordon In which case we better hurry, “Lead on Macduff”! The Vicar, Gordon and Michael exit through the auditorium.

Jane

Phyllis Jane Phyllis Jane

Right, well I suppose I had better get back in the car, Dad will be wondering what on earth is going on … the ducks and the duck pond await! Here, you better drink this. (She hands Jane the mug of coffee). Thanks Phyllis, I‟ll take it with me. What about your dress? Oh hang my dress!

Phyllis and Jane exit through the auditorium.

I can‟t help thinking, in view of the circumstances, Gordon‟s quote was somewhat inappropriate. Mrs Paine I agree. Mrs Meacher What quote? Miss Kill It‟s probably out of your league, dear. Miss Kill

58


Mrs Meacher What is? Miss Kill Oh never mind, come along Carol we‟ve got our work cut out, there‟s no time to shilly-shally about, there‟s still plenty to do. Mrs Paine There certainly is, we‟ve still got to shell the eggs for the salad and, (with a slight gasp) whoops you know what we‟ve forgotten to do, don‟t you? Miss Kill Surprise me. Mrs Paine We haven‟t put the urns on yet, they‟ll never boil in time! Miss Kill Of course they will, now don‟t panic, I saw an adaptor in the drawer so we can put them all on together at the same time. Ignoring Mrs Meacher, Miss Kill and Mrs Paine exit upstage to the kitchen, talking as they leave

Mrs Paine Is that wise, we don‟t want to overload the electrics. Miss Kill Poppycock! Mrs Meacher (In disgust) Well! Mrs Meacher peers upstage satisfied they have gone she moves her floral decoration to the centre of the table.

Mrs Meacher There, perfect! (She exits through the auditorium. Then, offstage). Oi, watch where you‟re going with that thing! Dai (Offstage) Sorry Mrs Meacher, I didn‟t see you! (He enters, pushing a mobile disco). Hello? Hello? Is there anybody about look you? Hello? Nobody here, well there‟s a thing … right, well I had better get on with it, now where shall I set up, obviously I can‟t go on the stage, so provided there‟s somewhere to plug it all in, I‟ll have to put it up over here in Dai‟s corner … perfect, right that will do, I can set my speakers up here, and I can run a cable from the lighting box to operate my disco lights … smashing. Dai climbs the stage steps and exits into the wings, Mrs Paine enters upstage.

Mrs Paine Miss Kill Mrs Paine

Hello, hello, is anybody there? (Shouting off) No there‟s nobody around. (Off) I‟m sure I heard somebody. No, there‟s nobody here but us chickens.

Mrs Paine exits back into the kitchen as Dai returns with a lead that he plugs into a console on the mobile disco, and flicking a switch the stage is momentarily bathed in aggressive disco lights.

Dai

Lovely, lovely, lovely … right, now for my speakers, I‟ll soon have this lot set up. 59


Dai hurriedly exits through the auditorium. The kitchen door opens and Miss Kill peers out.

Miss Kill Mrs Paine Miss Kill

I‟m sure something‟s going on. Come on, who is out there, out you come! Henrietta there‟s nobody out there, come and help me with these eggs. Oh very well.

Dai returns with a speaker on a stand, which he places upstage of the mobile disco.

Dai

Now for the other one.

Dai exits through the auditorium. A moment later the upstage door to the store room slowly begins to open. Pike peers out and stealthily enters, leaving the door slightly open. Pike‟s accomplice, Jimmy Paine, remains hidden in the store room,, as Pike creeps over to the kitchen door and listens furtively. Satisfied, he tiptoes back to the door and instantly dissolves into a fit of the giggles.

Pike Jimmy Pike Jimmy

(Whispering) Jim-ber … give it to me. (Whispering off) Shhh! Pike-man shut-up, or you‟ll give the

game away! Shut-up yourself Jim-bo … take the cap off and hand me the oil. Here you are.

An arm belonging to Jimmy Paine appears holding a bottle of vegetable oil. Pike takes it.

Pike Jimmy

Where shall I put it? I don‟t know, just dob it about a bit.

Haphazardly, but quite liberally Pike selects an area in front of the top table.

Pike

There that should do it.

Pike creeps back to the partially open door.

Jimmy Pike

Jimmy Pike Jimmy Pike Dai Jimmy

Have you done it? Course I have, Dumbo; now put the cap back on, (he passes the bottle back through the open door) and hand me the stink bombs. Hurry up (Jimmy hands Pike a small box) I‟m wetting myself in here and whatever you do, don‟t drop any. What do you take me for Chav-bonce! Shut-up and get on with it. You shut-up! (Off) Damn the bloody door‟s shut. Look out Pike, there‟s someone coming, quick hide. 60


As Pike quickly dives for cover under the table Dai enters carrying a second speaker which he positions on the other side of the mobile disco.

Dai

I‟m getting too old for all this lifting, what I need is a roadie! Now where‟s the lead, (Looking behind the disco) … here we are, (He puts the jack in the back of the down stage 1 speaker) … slip it in like, my old cock-a-doodle-do … (the other end he places in the jack behind the disco) … there that‟s the ticket, now the other one. (He quickly repeats the process with the other speaker.) There we are, almost ready for the old testing, testing, one two, one two, testing routine. Just put this in here … (He puts another cable attached to a table microphone into the disco, he flips various switches as if turning everything on, he then runs the cable out whilst climbing the stairs, avoiding the oil by going upstage of the table.) Lovely job, this is all going swimmingly. (Standing centrally using the microphone he announces.) One two, one two … (Now mischievously) I‟ve always wanted to say this, “I just want to

say I‟m the only gay in the village …” The kitchen door opens and Miss Kill enters.

Miss Kill Dai Miss Kill Dai Miss Kill Dai Miss Kill

(Disdainfully) Oh it‟s you, are you finally coming out of the

closet, Dai? I believe that‟s the right expression. No, just out of my van; now if you‟ll excuse me I‟ve got to get scratching with my records. I beg your pardon? (Knowingly) Technical term. Really, you surprise me. Oh yes I‟m a dab hand when it comes to scratching and tickling up my old woofers and tweeters. I don‟t know what you are talking about, but you can keep the noise down if you don‟t mind.

Miss Kill exits back into the kitchen.

Dai

Right you are, you old harridan.

Dai exits through the auditorium, again missing the oil. Pike and Jimmy enter.

Pike Jimmy Pike 1

That was a close shave, now (Holding up the stink bomb box) where shall I put these? Under a chair. Good idea.

The comma here could be removed to make the phrase rather more suggestive.

61


Holding the box of stink bombs Pike creeps over to the top table. Gingerly he removes one from the box, and , furtively looking round, he tips a chair on the end of the table forward., He places the stink bomb underneath one of the legs and carefully lowers the chair back into position. Turning his attention to the other end of the table, he does the same.

Pike Jimmy Pike Jimmy Pike Jimmy Pike

There‟s one left, what shall I do with it? I don‟t know. I‟ve got an idea … get ready to run. What are you going to do? Watch this. (He creeps over to the kitchen door). You wouldn‟t dare, mum‟s in there; she‟ll do her nut! That‟s the idea. (He opens the door and throws the stink bomb into the kitchen).

Pike

Run for it!

Pike and Jimmy exit through the door to the store room.

Jimmy Pike

(Off) Give me a leg up. (Off) Hurry up, you stupid wazzock, get your arse through

the window. Dai enters from the auditorium carrying his box of music, he quickly rummages around in the box and selects a CD/Record.

Miss Kill

(Off) What a revolting stench; one of those eggs in the salad

Mrs Paine

must be off. (Off) That‟s absolutely disgusting.

The kitchen door suddenly opens and Miss Kill and Mrs Paine hurriedly enter holding their noses, Dai ignores them preoccupied with his music.

Miss Kill Mrs Paine Miss Kill

You know we‟re going to have to rescue the Pavlovas otherwise they‟ll take on the smell. You‟re absolutely right! Well there‟s nothing for it, hold your nose Carol, here goes.

Mrs Paine and Miss Kill hold their noses and exit into the kitchen. They re-enter almost immediately, both carrying a Pavlova.

Mrs Paine Miss Kill Mrs Paine Miss Kill

I feel quite sick. Me too! I‟m going to have to sit down to get my breath back for a bit. I agree.

Furiously waving their hands in front of their noses Miss Kill and Mrs Paine cross to the front of the table where they slip and slide on the oil, whilst desperately trying keep control of the Pavlovas. Eventually they lose their balance, fall, and cover themselves with the meringue mixture. Picking themselves up they choose the two

62


booby-trapped chairs and sit down heavily, thereby crushing the glass phials, which in turn releases the foul odour. The two women react accordingly. If so desired, it is possible at this point to set off real stink bombs in the auditorium. During all this, Dai, oblivious to what is taking place switches on the energetic disco lights and almost too loudly, puts on „Silence is Goldenâ€&#x; by The Tremeloes. The auditorium doors open and the wedding party return. Whilst holding their noses at the stench, they stare in disbelief at the scene that greets them. Smoke begins to bellow out from the mobile disco, there is a loud bang and the wild disco lights go out, along with everything else. Blackout.

THE END

63


The Village Hall