A Comic Stage Play by Vince Poynter
This is the first part of a stage play, a comedy set in a solicitor's office.
A family is invited to the reading of the will of a deceased relative who died leaving a substantial income.
The will is read and certain requirements are requested to be made.
Firstly, a large chest is brought out which contains many fancy dress costumes which the potential beneficiaries must wear in order to lighten proceedings.
Secondly, a set of buzzers, lights and scoreboards are produced and a quiz is set up to award points on a pounds for points basis.
The intention is to find out just how far people will go for money?
Will they ultimately kill each other for greed?
Solicitor: Randford, a pompous middle aged serious man. Thoughtful and calm.
Solicitor's Assistant: Trisha, a lazy first year trainee, intelligent but without common sense. Excitable but clumsy.
Wife: Wendy White, a hypochondraic (with reason) in her late 30's. Fussy and bitter.
Adopted Son: Griff White, a rebel without a cause. Just 20. Scruffy and greedy.
Secretary: Sonia Black, an attractive, mid-thirties woman. Single, principled and intelligent.
Dead man's friend: Reg Franke, a mid-forties loudmouth who thinks he is funny. Conceals a secret past.
Strange Woman: Anna Daiken, a middle-aged, silent, poetic stranger. Dressed in black to match her character.
Sister: Caryl Sand, a practical and down to earth divorcee.
Dead man: Jack White, died at 40.
The scene is a Solicitor's office in England, present day. It is a mid sized room of classic design, tastefully decorated and furnished. No wall area is left blank so where there are no full height bookshelves the imperial wall covering is hardly noticed behind the original oil masters hanging from the wooden picture rail. The room is dominated by the Solicitor's solid leather topped desk and overbearing leather chair. The desk is tidy, almost unused with an immaculate blotter. A telephone, brass lamp and brass calendar/pen holder are all deliberately laid out. In front of the desk are two simple low backed chairs. Behind this magnificent desk is a matching mahogany hat and coat stand, which with the ferociously posed full-sized stuffed upright brown bear frame the large bay area window cosseted with heavy velvet drawn curtains. The curtains conceal a generous padded matching seating area designed to discourage sitting on the low cast iron radiators behind the hat stand and bear.
A secondary desk is in the corner with a chair either side. This simple arrangement is for a secretary with computer, telephone, filing trays, pot plant and penholder. Many pens and pencils are stuffed into the holder. The filing tray is half full of papers. A jumper lays across the back of the chair. Opposite this desk is a grand leather well used two-seater Chesterfield in front of an ornate fireplace. Simple brass and porcelain ornaments adorn the mantelpiece. A small round, empty mahogany coffee table sits in front of the Chesterfield.
Entrance to the room is from one side behind the Chesterfield through imposing double sized solid wooden doors with chunky brass furniture and a heavy wood surround. On the opposite side is a simpler wooden single door with surround. Both doors are closed and the scene opens in darkness. It is silent.
Offstage a Grandfather clock strikes the Westminster Chimes followed by eight rings. On the eighth chime exactly the double doors swing open in unison and the Solicitor, Randford, enters. Backlit from the corridor behind he stands in the doorway and shakes off his wet umbrella. Without shutting the doors behind he strides over to his desk and fumbles to switch on the desk lamp.
The light reveals this balding, portly, pompous, routine man wearing an immaculate subtly pin-striped three piece suit and perfectly white shirt. His shoes are shiny black brogues and equally as in keeping as his matching tie and pocket handkerchief. Along with his umbrella he carries a neat copy of The Times, the classic sized, broadsheet version. He is finished in an open large brown overcoat and matching hat. This man is around 45 although his gravitas makes him seem older. He exudes experience, remaining calm in all situations and never hurried. He is both thoughtful and punctual with constant references to his Grandfather clock against the "fourth wall" which he compares to his own chained pocket watch whenever it chimes. He approaches the hat stand and places his umbrella carefully in the base. He removes his hat and hangs it on the hook after brushing it clean. He then removes his coat and brushes it off with one hand whilst holding it with the other, then hangs it carefully on the peg. A brush down of himself follows, a quick tie straightening and he crosses to close the door, with both halves being shut simultaneously. He brushes himself once more as if routine and turns to switch on the light.
Trisha enters hurriedly as the light comes on full. She is a clumsy teenager wearing under her sodden long opened sheepskin coat faded patched ripped jeans and a large baggy jumper bearing the words "Save Rhinos". Underneath is a white blouse but this is as noticeable as the smart short black skirt she carries in the supermarket plastic bag. She is the epitome of modern youth, lazy but excitable, educated but lacking common sense and pretty but understated. The glossy magazine she carries and the personal headphones she wears round her wet hair are her only thoughts as she violently swings open the nearest door knocking Randford face down behind the Chesterfield.
Trisha (Out of breath, entering) "Sorry I'm late Mr. Randford but I..." (she thinks he may not be there) "Mr. Randford... Mr. Randford..." (no response) "Oh good."
She hurries across the room and through the opposite door leaving both doors open wide. Randford appears from behind the Chesterfield and slowly rises to his feet. He brushes himself down and straightens his hair and tie. He moves to the double door and closes it, then walks over to the other door and looks through before shutting it. He turns and bends to get a brush from a low drawer in his desk that he uses to brush his suit down from top to bottom. As he strokes his trouser legs, bending to reach, Trisha enters suddenly and again knocks him over, this time behind his desk. Trisha has removed her coat, thrown on her skirt and is trying to do up the zip as she enters, throwing her magazine on her desk. Her stereo headphones hang limp round her neck, the player in her hands.
Trisha "Mr. Randford... Oh he's late."
She hasn't noticed her employer and sits at her desk in the corner. She pulls the headphones into place and starts to read her magazine, placing the player on the desk. The door swings shut with a gentle clunk to reveal Randford looking angry but contained, now stood. He again meticulously brushes himself off.
Randford (Contained) "Good morning Trisha."
There is no reply as Trisha is engrossed in her magazine and listening to her stereo.
Randford (Louder) "Good morning Trisha."
There is still no response so Randford steps forward and coughs twice. This has no effect either so he reaches out to press the stop button on her machine. She reacts jumpily.
Trisha "Urgh... Oh, Mr. Randford." (She pulls off her earphones and stuffs them and the magazine into her drawer) "You're here."
Randford "Yes. Funny that. I work here you see. Unlike some people I could mention. What are you saving them for?"
Trisha "Sorry Mr. Randford. What?"
Randford "The Rhinos. For what reason are you saving them."
Trisha "Oh, my jumper. Oh, the black rhino..."
Randford (Interrupting) "Trisha."
Trisha (Pulling off her jumper) "Sorry Mr. Randford. I'll make the coffee."
As she talks and removes the sweater she stands as if to leave. Randford steps back to avoid the flailing arms.
Randford "No time for coffee, not yet. Today is an important day. It is Wednesday the sixth and you know what that means don't you."
Trisha (Cheekily) "Thursday the seventh tomorrow Mr. Randford."
Randford "Trisha, may I point out that you are here to assist me in these six heaven sent weeks which our Government has kindly sent us. To assist me. In work. Not as a Butlins Redcoat but as a Solicitor's Assistant, with the general idea that you learn how adults conduct themselves whilst away from children. So please learn to keep control of your built in desire to attempt humour. I suggest that you file it untidily away with your glossy Beano magazine and Gutter Blaster in the drawer."
Trisha "Ghetto Blaster, Mr. Randford."
Randford "I know what I said dear." (He sits down in his chair) "Wednesday the sixth. Five days since last Friday. A Friday in which you may recall that we had a visit from a pale looking woman dressed in black. This may have struck a chord with you because despite being dressed entirely in black she introduced herself as Mrs. White. She had had some bad news."
Trisha "Was she the one who wanted a divorce on account of her husband's week in Portugal with the Sailor from Portsmouth?" (She sits, her jumper on her lap)
Randford "No. No. If you can recall she came to notify me of her husband's untimely death."
Trisha "Why untimely?"
Randford (Rising) "Three reasons. Firstly, he was forty. Now that may seem like old to you but please take it from me that at forty a man is still in the prime of his youth. A sudden death we are advised, but painless." (He moves around his desk) "Secondly, his business was on the brink of breaking into Europe and without him the deal was not likely to go through. And thirdly, I lent him fifty pence for the parking meter when he saw me three weeks ago."
Trisha "So why is today so important?"
Randford (Sitting opposite Trisha) "Because today is exactly five days since his death. And his will, which he lodged with me, because people do that sort of thing with Solicitors, stated simply that exactly five days after his death, his wife, or whoever, should bring to this office his old oak chest that contains his last will and testament requests. To be unlocked by this key..." (He produces the key from his waistcoat pocket) "...in the presence of certain people he has named in a letter at precisely o-eight thirty hours." (He checks his watch and the clock) "Which is why you made those telephone calls for me on Monday cancelling today's appointments."
Trisha "Oh yes that reminds me. I forgot to tell you that that man with the Greek accent, Mr. Davros, called back."
Randford "Davis. Mr. Davis and he's from Winchester."
Trisha "Him, yes. He said he was a bit annoyed with the change and mentioned something about inserting a skewer in you from below and you being the biggest kebab in Hampshire." (She is trying to find the message in her tray) "Well that's what I think he meant"
The main door opens and a strange black clad woman enters. Anna is without expression and moves slowly. She wears a long black cape with the hood up. Under the cape is a simple long black dress. She carries nothing except the rain on her cape. Her accented voice is classy, deliberate and intense.
Anna (At door) "Mr. Randford?"
Randford (Rising to greet her) "Good morning. And you are?" (He extends a handshake)
Anna does not respond to his welcome handshake and proceeds straight to the Chesterfield where she sits.
Randford (Arriving at her side) "I am awfully sorry madam but I cannot take visitors today. I have an important meeting."
Anna (With a steel cold look) "I am here for your meeting."
Randford "I am so sorry but it is invited guests only today."
Anna "I am Anna"
She turns away and stares distantly into nothing.
Randford "Ah. You are Anna." (He is at a loss so looks at Trisha) "Anna." (He points at Anna)
Randford "Anna... Oh Anna. A. Daiken. The list. You must be Mrs. A. Daiken."
Anna (Fizzing) "Ms."
Randford "Sorry I was mistaken."
Anna (Turning, annoyed) "No that is me. I am Ms. Daiken."
Randford (Again holding out his hand) "Randford." (No response, he withdraws his hand) "Could I offer you a coffee?" (Still no response) "I said would you like a coffee?"
Anna (Looking intently at Randford, she speaks poignantly) "A Brazilian dream, the coffee bean. The making of Empires and Land. For all that you see, I would rather have tea. Darjeeling, Ceylon or Assam." (Randford is open mouthed, Anna turns to Trisha) "And make it two sugars young lady."
Randford (Turning) "Trisha. And I'll have a strong black coffee, please. I think I might need it."
Trisha "Alright, Mr. Randford. Coming up."
Trisha leaves the room. Randford pulls up one of the low backed chairs to sit near Anna.
Randford "I am awfully sorry about your loss, Ms. Daiken."
Anna "Anna. Please call me Anna."
Randford "Yes. Anna."
Anna "Death. It affects us all. And each of us experiences a different response. Does the eagle miss his mate? Do the dolphins cry? Can a tiger mourn? When another dies?"
Randford "How poignant. You must have really cared for Jack."
Randford "Jack White."
Anna "Oh, yes. Jack. Jack White. No, not really we weren't very close you see. We go back, that's all."
Randford "Are you local?"
Anna "Everyone is local to somewhere. To which point of reference do you mean?"
Randford "Well, I mean here I suppose. Are you from around here?"
Anna "Perception, scale and time, Randford. Perception is based on common points of reference. Local to you may not seem like local to a small child whose experiences only extend as far as his mother's home. And if two small ants were both living in this room at either end, they may never meet and therefore not consider themselves local to each other. A matter of scale. And then there is time. If two people both lived in the same house they would be local unless they lived in different times."
Randford "Time. Yes." (He checks his watch and clock)
...To be continued...
Isn't it just a pain when they end just like that!
No this isn't the shortest play in the entire history of truncated staging, it is just simply incomplete.
Has it given you a taste though? Do you want me to pen the next exciting installment? Then I shall, as soon as I get around to it. There are many draws on my time so if you want to get to the nub of this venture send me a message.
The more interest it receives the better chance of completion. It's in your hands.
Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.059 19 Jan 2018
First Published: Version 1.02 in Mar 2004
The image is of a Jaguar XJ8 wheel and was added in Version m5.059 19 Jan 2018. It frankly has no relevance whatever. Or does it? Nope, nothing at all, just decoration.