Whodunnit Mrs Christie, страница 1
WHODUNNIT MRS CHRISTIE?
By Robert Challis
If you are considering performing this play, for terms and conditions contact the author on [email protected]
WHODUNNIT MRS CHRISTIE?
A three Act, single set play by Robert Challis. First performed by the Strathalbyn Players Inc in June I990.
ACT I - Saturday afternoon. ACT II - Sunday Morning. ACT III - Monday Morning.
wealthy heiress, late sixties, ailing with weak heart. At first sight, everyone's idea of a nice old lady, but manipulative with a touch of spleen that is occasionally revealed.
Her faithful old Butler. Similar age.
Lady Bayfield's secretary. In her twenties, an attractive but plain speaking and cynical young lady.
In his twenties. An Australian spiv.
Lady Bayfield's nephew - an unpublished writer of murder mysteries, cynical. Aged around thirty.
Greg's wife. At times, withdrawn, but a determined woman of strong emotions.
Lady Bayfield's sister. Early sixties. A good hearted, not over intelligent woman, with a weakness for the bottle.
Agnes's husband. Early sixties, a retired detective from the fraud squad. At times bumptious, at others, cunning and sycophantic.
From the Oxford C.I.D. Somewhat supercilious, old school tie type. Nevertheless, a successful homicide detective.
The famous writer, aged 60, a good hearted woman with a sharp analytical mind.
An efficient but inexperienced lady Doctor In her twenties.
A young police officer.
I950. The living room of a well established and large country residence near Oxford. Although Lady Bayfield has lived here many years, rather than staid and conservative, the decoration conveys a slightly dotty feel.
When first performed, the set was as follows:
A large living room. Exits at the rear of stage left side flat and at the rear of stage right side flat. An alcove at the centre of the rear stage flat in which there is a sideboard/drinks cabinet. On top of this, several wine glasses and a drinks decanter. To stage left of the alcove, a painting hanging on the back flat. To stage right of the alcove, a telephone table and telephone against the back flat. On the stage right side flat towards front of stage, a bookcase with books. On the stage left side flat towards front of stage, a fireplace. Stage right, front of stage, an armchair. Just back and slightly closer to centre stage, a settee with a small coffee table in front of it. Stage left, a small table with two chairs.
Minor rearrangements of furniture and props were required between acts.
(Curtain opens. Janet on phone)
Janet: (Pause) Yes, that's right, Janet Drewer. Return tickets London to Paris. I'd like to cancel my booking. Yes. I have to collect my refund in person? Good. Thank you.
(She hurriedly hangs up as she hears people coming. Thomas and lady Bayfield enter, Thomas carrying her hat and coat. Janet hurries out past them as they enter stage left.)
Lady B: Rude girl. Now Thomas, I’LL be going just as soon as that taxi gets here.
Thomas: You're early. It'll mean a wait at the station.
Lady B: Better early then late.
Thomas: Can't I drive you there?
Lady B: No. I told you I want you here to greet the other guests. A taxi will be fine.
Thomas: Janet can meet the guests. It's only your nephew and his wife still to arrive.
Lady B: Janet! I wouldn't trust her. I wouldn't put it past her to make a scene.
Thomas: Oh, I don't think she'd do that.
Lady B: You don't know her the way I do. I've a good mind to let her go.
Thomas: You've been threatening that for months.
Lady B: There you are then. It must be high time to do it.
Thomas: But Madam...
Lady B: No buts. I don't want to discuss the matter any further. Help me on with my coat.
Thomas: (Helping her) Whom are you meeting at the station?
Lady B: That's my little surprise, Thomas, and believe me, it will be a surprise.
Thomas: That's what you've been saying all week.
Lady B: Then it must be true.
Thomas: What I don't understand, Madam, is if your guest is so special, why such a small gathering this weekend? Apart from Janet and myself, there's only your nephew and his wife, and your sister and her husband.
Lady B: Ah but this is going to be a special weekend. Greg and Agnes are the only family I can still count on, and I want this to be a family weekend. (Pathetically) They're all I've got, you know.
Thomas: But with only the seven of us, it doesn't make for much of a murder weekend. It cuts down the options.
Lady B: You'll be surprised, Thomas. This is going to be a murder mystery with a difference. You may as well know it. This is the last time I shall call a meeting of our little group.
Thomas: Madam, the last!
Lady B: Yes Thomas, the doctor has been telling me for a long time that my heart just can't stand up to the excitement any more. And now I've been given an ultimatum - give up on these murder weekends or my days are numbered.
Thomas: (Shocked) Surely not, Madam.
Lady B: And I'm afraid to say I'm inclined to believe it. One can sense it, you know. A weak ticker, struggling to get through the day. The tablets can only do so much. There's going to be a night before long when I go to sleep never to wake.
Thomas: You shouldn't be talking this way.
Lady B: One has to face facts, Thomas. I'm not afraid to die. I've had a long and interesting life - you can't ask for more. So this weekend is going to be my swansong. I'm determined to go out in a blaze of glory. And so I'll be ending the weekend with a reading of my new will.
Thomas: (Dismayed) Another one, Madam?
Lady B: Don't be dismayed, Thomas, you get a more than honourable mention in this one.
Thomas: But wouldn't it be better to keep it all to yourself? It can only cause bad feeling.
Lady B: I thought you'd be pleased. (she touches him on the shoulder) You didn't get a mention in the last one. But I've forgiven you for our little difference.
Thomas: (Drily) So kind of you, Madam. But do you have to make it all so public' Why not a fake will? That would serve just as well for the game.
Lady B: But it adds such a zing to the weekend. We have our pretend murder but - we've got a real life motive. So everyone knows the game we're playing could really happen, if anyone just had the courage.
Thomas: Courage! It's murder you're talking about.
Lady B: But to kill a human being, Thomas, even yourself, takes immense courage. I'm really not sure that there's a single one of us capable of it. We're a bunch of cowards.
Thomas: Cowardice in not all that prevents a man committing murder, Madam.
Lady B: Oh? Please enlighten me.
Thomas: There's decency, respect for law.
Lady B: (Delighted) Oh, Fiddlesticks.
Thomas: (Thoughtfully) You know, Madam, there have been times when I've been wondering if the real thrill of this game for you is in seeing how far you can push people - just what their limits are before they go over the edge.
Lady B: (Impishly) Oh don't be silly, Thomas. You're all family - the only family I have left. I regard you as part of my family, you know. And you all enjoy the game as much as I do - despi
Thomas. (Clearing his throat) I just think you're asking for trouble making your will public and then changing it. It'll test out the best of friendships. And there's no surer way of causing bad feeling within a family.
Lady B: Well, Thomas, I promise that this will be the last one, if it'll make you feel better.
Thomas: It does, Madam.
Lady B: (Cuttingly) Of course it does. You do very nicely in this one.
(Thomas glares. She pretends not to notice. Sound of car horn outside)
Now that's my taxi. I shouldn't be long if the train's on time. Tell everyone to assemble here at half past three to meet my special guest. She'll knock you for six, believe me.
(She exits left. Thomas goes to cabinet backstage and begins getting glasses out ready)
(More work on glasses. Janet enters left from inside the house.)
Janet: What is it Thomas?
Thomas: Is Mrs. Baxter here yet?
Janet: No, but she should be here in a few minutes. She can start on dinner straight away.
Thomas: Good. Could you see that there's some cooled water ready for Madam in the fridge, and water by her bedside.
Janet: Good idea. Do you have any rat poison I could drop in it?
(Janet exits right. Front door bell rings. Thomas exits to entrance hall left and re-enters with Dave. Dave immediately gets himself a drink. Thomas is very edgy)
Thomas: Use the servants' entrance, I've told you.