A little bit of drama

Here are two samples of my dramatic work, Bowling at the Death and Shakespeare Must Die!, written for the radio and stage respectively. You never know, you might find them amusing.

Bowling at the Death is a play for the radio rather than the stage, and it based around the great game of cricket. The protagonist is a batsman denied his first century by what he considered a wild miscarriage of justice at the hands of the umpire. The ‘outrageous’ LBW decision to which he he falls victim unleashes years of pent-up jealousy and fury, with murderous results.

Shakespeare Must Die! is a response to the slew of conspiracy theories surrounding the authorship of William Shakespeare’s plays. The most common idea is that the plays were truly written by Christopher Marlowe, who subsequently faked his own death in order to escape censure at the hands of the authorities for his many and various sins, and that Shakespeare was a cloak. The play takes as its premise that Shakespeare is in fact being employed by a shady cabal to write political works under the name Christopher Marlowe. An altercation in a public house leads to a fundamental shift in the playwright’s firmament.

Bowling at the Death

Andrea Miller: widow of ex-marine Tony who died after being run over by a DUKW amphibious vehicle.

Hermione Mountford-Jones: widow of food critic Oliver, who died following a meal at the Fat Duck.

Charlie Watts: the play’s hero/anti-hero.

 

  SCENE 9. IN THE PAVILION. TEA IS BEING PREPARED
ANDREA: Take these out to the players, darling.
  HANDS THE CHILD A TRAY OF DRINKS
CHILD: Yes, auntie.
ANDREA: And be careful!
HERMIONE: So no. Sonia didn’t want to come, Andrea.
ANDREA: Did she say why not?
HERMIONE: Well, she bleated a little about work and this and that but we know the real reason, don’t we?
ANDREA: Oh come on, Hermione, surely Charlie’s got over her dalliance with Jeremy by now?
HERMIONE: Dalliance? I doubt he can get the image out of his mind.
ANDREA: And you think your paté is going to help?
HERMIONE: (LAPSING INTO A FRENCH ACCENT) Well, it is le sacrilege to serve duck liver without a soupcon of l’orange, non, Andrea?
ANDREA: If you say so, Hermione. (EATS SOMETHING) These spring rolls are amazing. Wherever did you get them?
HERMIONE: Ah, I found the most darling man, just darling! Makes just the most marvellous canapés, they’re simply delish.
ANDREA: Duck liver paté, crispy duck spring rolls … do I sense a theme?
HERMIONE: I’m sure I don’t know what you mean, my dear.
ANDREA: Oh my … you are so mischievous.
HERMIONE: I like to think so.
ANDREA: Scotch duck eggs.
HERMIONE: You know our philosophy, Andrea: traditional cricket teas, but with even more class.
ANDREA: Oliver would be proud.
HERMIONE: He’d be jealous. Poor Oliver. Still, at least he died with his bow tie on.
ANDREA: I’m surprised you haven’t got some Bombay duck out here (PAUSE) oh, Hermione, tell me you haven’t …
HERMIONE: As if I would be so cruel, so thoughtless, so crass …
ANDREA: What do you think Charlie would do?
HERMIONE: Charlie? He’ll turn it into a joke as is his wont, play the working-class boy made good card with his usual aplomb and then brood.
ANDREA: Charlie’s no brooder … pass the hoi sin.
HERMIONE: Ah, he fooled you with his little assisted-place boy lost act too? It wasn’t that Sonia had her little dalliance with Swinton-Smythe, nor that they were at it hammer and tongs when Charlie was in the field, and Jeremy was supposedly away on business or injured so he couldn’t play. It wasn’t even the thought of either of them with an orange in their mouth and a pair of stockings over their head.
ANDREA: Really? I’m not sure Tony would have been so accommodating.
HERMIONE: Well, Tony was cut from a different cloth entirely.
ANDREA: Oh yes …
HERMIONE: And it wasn’t the fact that Sonia needed to look elsewhere to get the, well, to get that bit of unapologetic manliness we all need every so often.
ANDREA: Oh yes (DISTRACTEDLY) … so, what was it?
HERMIONE: For Charlie there was no greater betrayal than her choosing a Tory as a lover.
ANDREA: So Jeremy … Jeremy must have really hurt.
HERMIONE: Just imagine his face when he found out his lovely left-wing wife was being tupped by a Tory MP.
ANDREA: And one he’s known since, well, ever.
HERMIONE: And obviously spent time with in the changing room.
ANDREA: Oh my, indeed … Jeremy was an impressive beast. What have we here? Pulled pork and Iberico morcilla pies?
HERMIONE: The thought of her pulling …
ANDREA: Hermione! Enough. And how about you?
HERMIONE: Me? Before probate comes through?
ANDREA: It was a year before I got that urge again.
HERMIONE: Oh, the urge! I thought you meant dating … I’ve been tending to my urges for several years … there’s the gardener, the …
ANDREA: Hermione, some of us are trying to prepare tea.
  A CHEER FROM THE FIELD
HERMIONE: Oh bugger. They’ve restarted … I’d better get back to the book.
ANDREA: Yes, you go. I’m fully in command here. Unless there are any more surprises waiting for me?
HERMIONE: Well, the fairy cakes are personalised …
ANDREA: Behave …
  AS HERMIONE LEAVES THE PAVILION, TMS FADES UP
CHILD: Can I have a fairy cake, auntie?
ANDREA: Of course you can, darling.
CHILD: What does ‘lippy twat’ mean, auntie?
ANDREA: Did someone call you a lippy twat, darling?
CHILD: Uncle Charlie.
ANDREA: And what did you say to him?
CHILD: What is a Bombay Duck, anyway?
ANDREA: Oh, you didn’t … well done, darling. Take two.

 

 

Shakespeare Must Die!

Ben Jonson, Queen Elizabeth, Lady Herbert, John Donne, Francis Bacon.

  PROLOGUE: LONDON, 1593.

UPSTAIRS AT A TAVERN ON THE SOUTH BANK OF THE THAMES. THE ROOM IS DARK, SMOKY,  WOOD-PANELLED. AROUND A HEAVY OAK TABLE SIT SEVERAL FIGURES, ALL WEARING HOODED CAPES. TWO PLACES REMAIN UNOCCUPIED.  A YOUNG MAN BURSTS IN, SHUTS THE DOOR: BREATHLESS, HE REMOVES HIS CAP.

JONSON: Pray forgive the lateness of my arrival.
VOICE: Make it not a habit, Master Jonson. [PAUSES] And where, perchance, is master Shakespeare?
JONSON: Ah. [STRAIGHTENS HIMSELF] Milords. There is a problem with Will.
VOICE: There’s always a problem with Will. What is it this time?
  THE VOICE RAISES ITS HEAD. REMOVED ITS HOOD. THE QUEEN IS REVEALED BENEATH.
ELIZABETH: Gentlemen. Ladies. I declare this meeting open.
  THE FIGURES ALL FOLLOW SUIT. FRANCIS BACON. JOHN DONNE. LADY HERBERT.
LADY HERBERT: Well?
JONSON: Pardon me milady, but he’s dead. Stabbed. In the eye. Fairly popped out, his eyeball, it did ….
DONNE: Mary, mother of God.
LADY HERBERT: That’s enough Ben, Jack …
ELIZABETH: Who, Ben, who?
JONSON Er, it was me, M’am. I killed him. It just happened. I was passing this tavern in Deptford, and I heard a roaring within. It was Will, three sheets to the wind. Roaring, he was. “I am not what I am” he shouted, “I am Kit Marlowe.” Some vagabond was remonstrating with him. He was shouting about how Marlowe was twice the writer of this upstart crow, Shakspear. Will threw his tankard at the fellow, who came at him with a dagger.
  (BACON TAKES NOTES)

I rushed to separate them, and beat his assailant about the head, and he dropped his dagger. Will picked it up and stabbed him. “Why the devil came you between us?” he said, as he bled there on the floor. Will then looked at me, wild-eyed. “You tell’em, Ben, you tell ’em it’s all so much stuff and nonsense.”  I told him to hold his tongue. That it would come to nothing. “Nothing comes of nothing”, he shouted, and lunged at me with the bloody blade. I bent his arm away from me, the dagger pierced his eye, and as it came out, the eyeball followed.

ELIZABETH: A bloody business.
LADY HERBERT: Witnesses to identify you?
JONSON: One dead, the others drunk, though the innkeeper.
LADY HERBERT: We must send some men. Collect the body. Soothe the way with the innkeeper.
BACON: Whose body?
ELIZABETH: Why, Will’s of course!
JONSON: I am Kit Marlowe.
LADY HERBERT: He’s right. They think he’s Kit. Poor Kit!
ELIZABETH: But Kit is a cypher.
BACON: Not any more. He’s dead.
ELIZABETH: And Will? What’s to become of Will? How will we communicate with the people? He wrote all this stuff. Useful, was our Will.
BACON: True, but the world is becoming more dangerous. Kit would have been arrested soon.
JONSON: That would have proved quite the feat …
LADY HERBERT: And Shakspear?
BACON: Well, if he and Kit died on the same day … I have an idea.
ELIZABETH: Go on, Francis.
BACON: Will’s pretty much unknown here in the city – by reputation, yes, but not by sight. We kill Kit. Have an inquest, make out that he was an intelligencer, an atheist, a sodomite, even … then his work will be over with, but survive.
LADY HERBERT: And what of Will?
BACON: Well, we carry on Will’s work. He was good, but not that good. We can do better.
ELIZABETH: With Will as a name.
BACON: Indeed. We continue the plan, but make the plays a little more useful to us. More subtill. maybe some lighter moments? Will was good, but he was a little, well, earnest … Allow me to call on Burbage. I have a plan.

 

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