Ever Rolling Stream by Rachel Cochrane


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This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author’s PRIOR consent


      This stage play is set in the fictional village of Stockswell.

      However, the names of the fallen (except Charles Kilvington-North),
      the information uncovered about them and the theft of the plaque are
      all true and inspired Rachel Cochrane to write ‘Ever Rolling Stream’.

      ACT ONE SCENE 1

      PRESENT TIME VILLAGE WAR MEMORIAL - DAY

      Curtains open.  In front of the tabs, an outdoor Remembrance service
      around Stockswell village war memorial which is symbolised by a
      portable wooden cross.  The service is conducted by vicar GEORGE
      (40-60s) attended by JUDITH (40s), SYBIL (70-80s), PAT (50-60s) (ALL
      in coats with a poppy attached) and OFFICER (ARMY, MALE age flexible)
      who is holding a poppy wreath.  ALL stand around a memorial cross.
      The few people who are present struggle to sing the final 2 verses of
      ‘O God Our Help in Ages Past’, over the noise of traffic.

      ALL:  Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
      bears all its sons away;
      they fly, forgotten, as a dream
      dies at the opening day.

      O God, our help in ages past,
      our hope for years to come,
      be thou our guide while troubles last,
      and our eternal home!

      GEORGE: They shall not grow old,
      As we that are left grow old.
      Age shall not weary them
      Nor the years condemn
      At the going down of the Sun
      And in the morning
      We will remember them

      ALL:        We will remember them

      OFFICER places poppy wreath the base of the cross and salutes.

      ALL bow their heads for a 2 minute silence

      During the silence EVELYN (40-50s) enters stage left dressed in
      Edwardian clothes, she looks upon the service and those standing with
      heads bowed.  EVELYN walks across the stage, carrying a University
      scarf, she shakes her head & weeping, buries her face into the scarf
      then exits stage right.

      Offstage a recording of ‘The Last Post’ plays

      GEORGE picks up the wreath of poppies, hangs it on the cross and helps
      the OFFICER to carry the memorial cross off stage followed by all
      other attendees at service.

      CLOSE CURTAINS


      ACT ONE SCENE 2
      PRESENT TIME LIVING ROOM – DAY

      Curtains open to reveal living room which will be used for both
      present day and Edwardian flash backs

      Centre dining table with 2 chairs downstage of table and one at stage
      right and stage left of table.  Downstage left is a desk angled
      towards audience with a chair behind it facing audience.  On the desk
      is a laptop. Downstage right a small tea table with 2 easy chairs
      either side facing audience.  On the upstage wall is set of drawers/
      dresser with a vase.  Inside the drawers are string, scissors, pen,
      paper, envelopes.

      One door (centre) leads to hallway and stairs.  A second door, (stage
      left) leads to the kitchen.  The style of furniture is such that it
      would not be out of place in either an Edwardian or modern home.

      BEN (17) sits at the desk playing a noisy violent game on the laptop
      with a games console. (sound effects of war noises or noises can be
      made by Ben).  School bag on the floor (centre stage) with files and
      books spilling out, box of cereal, bowl and carton of juice on the
      dining table.  Hoody on floor.

      JUDITH enters as dressed in scene 1.  She shakes her head at the
      noise, takes the poppy pinned to her coat and places it in a vase on
      the dresser. She takes off her coat takes it into the hallway, returns
      without it, looks over to BEN and shakes her head.  She looks around
      at the mess, moves forward towards BEN, trips over the school bag,
      puts the books back in it, picks the bag up & puts it on a dining room
      chair.

      JUDITH: Ben!

      Ben is oblivious, intent on his playstation.  Judith exhales.

      JUDITH: Ben!

      No reaction from Ben.  Judith sighs. She picks up the hoody and places
      it on a chair.

      JUDITH:      Ben!

      Judith folds the laptop screen down.

      BEN:  Muuuum! What the hell do you think you’re doing – I nearly
      got to level 5 then.  It’s taken me ages.

      JUDITH: Never mind about level 5 – what about your ‘A’ levels?
      (picking up the files from the small tea table). You promised Mr Dixon
      that assignment would be finished by the end of the week.  I bet you
      haven’t even started it.

      BEN:  Well, I’m going to!

      JUDITH: Yes – but when?

      BEN:  Later – that’s when.

      JUDITH: But Ben, you don’t seem to realise-

      BEN leaps up with games console still in his hand

      BEN:  Look, I said I’ll do it OK

      JUDITH: Yes but when are you going to do it-

      BEN:  Look, just get off my back will ya!

      BEN checks mobile and heads for exit hallway

      JUDITH: Where are you going?

      BEN:  Out.

      JUDITH: Out? Out where?

      BEN:  Just out, that’s all.

      JUDITH:  And how long are you going to be?

      BEN:  Not long

      JUDITH: You said that last time, then you rolled back in at two in the
      morning.

      JUDITH: Well you can’t go out like that - you’ll need this (hands
      him hoody), it’s freezing out there.  And aren’t you going to
      have something to eat first?

      BEN:  Haven’t got time. David’s picking me up at half 12

      JUDITH: Oh no, Ben, I’ve told you before – you are not going out
      on the back of that bike. The speed David Foster drives at, you’ll
      end up in a wheelchair or worse.

      BEN:  Oh, give it a rest will ya!

      JUDITH: You’ll get yourself killed.  People think it will never
      happen to them but it does.  And if you come off the bike that hoody
      get torn to shreds and so will you.  You need your proper jacket on.

      BEN:  (checking mobile) It’ll be alright!

      JUDITH:      Ben!

      BEN:  Honestly!

      BEN throws hoody to JUDITH.

      BEN starts to exit hallway

      JUDITH: And what about your homework

      BEN:  (exiting hallway) It doesn’t matter

      JUDITH: (calling after him) What do you mean it doesn’t matter?
      Ben? Ben!

      JUDITH (calling after BEN and throwing hoody on floor in
      exasperation) Oh I wish you’d grow up!

      JUDITH puts box of cereal into dresser cupboard, picks up orange juice
      & bowl & EXITS KITCHEN.  She returns, picks up hoody, holds it up,
      folds it carefully, picks up school bag and EXITS HALLWAY with them,
      shaking her head.

      ACT ONE SCENE 3
      LIVING ROOM 1914 - DAY

      EVELYN enters hallway carrying her needlework & sits on an easy chair
      stage right & stitches. JENNY (16-17) the maid brings in a tray of tea
      things with 2 napkins & sets it on the small tea table in front of
      EVELYN.  JENNY pours a cup of tea and hands it to EVELYN with a napkin
      which EVELYN spreads across her knee.

      CHARLES (19) enters in sports gear (cricket/tennis) and pecks EVELYN
      on the cheek.  JENNY pours a second cup of tea & hands it to him
      shyly, hands shaking.  EVELYN looks on disapprovingly, coughs at the
      intimacy of the 2 young people.

      JENNY catches EVELYN’S eye, remembers herself, gives a small curtsey
      and exits centre. CHARLES sits in easy chair left. JENNY exits,
      smiling at CHARLES as she goes.

      CURTAINS


      ACT ONE
      SCENE 4 PRESENT DAY LIVING ROOM - DAY

      A murmur of conversation as SYBIL, PAT and GEORGE (wearing dog collar
      and jacket) sit around the dining table talking.  On the table are
      their notebooks and pens.  PAT has a pile of papers with the lists of
      men’s names to be distributed later.  PAT and SYBIL have handbags at
      the side of their chairs containing their diaries.  GEORGE has a diary
      in his jacket pocket.  There is an empty space at the table with a
      notebook, pen, diary for JUDITH

      PAT:  Did you get any response from your notice in the village shop?

      GEORGE: I’m afraid not.  As usual it seems to be the same band of
      faithful stalwarts from St Peter’s.

      SYBIL:  And talking of faithful stalwarts, I hear Marjory Brookes was
      rushed into hospital yesterday.

      PAT:        Really?  She only came out last month.

      GEORGE: I went to see her yesterday & gave her communion – she’s
      in ward 9.  I’m sure she’d welcome a visitor.

      SYBIL:  I’ll pop by with the church flowers next Monday.

      JUDITH enters from kitchen with tray with teapot, cups & biscuits

      PAT:        What was it this time?

      SYBIL:  Another stroke apparently.

      JUDITH: (placing tray on drawers and serving tea from there) Who’s
      that?

      (JUDITH pouring tea into cups & handing them to people seated as she
      listens & talks)

      SYBIL:  Marjory Brookes, she lives in that cottage down Cherryburn
      Lane-

      JUDITH: Do help yourselves to milk & sugar (hands biscuits round)

      SYBIL:  – It’s a dead end now since they built the bypass.

      JUDITH: Ah yes, I know who you mean – used to organise a door to
      door every year for the hospice.

      PAT:  That’s the one.  The postman found her on the garden path.
      Goodness knows how long she’s been there – what with Bernard
      passing away last year & her daughter living down south.

      SYBIL:  That’s the thing these days – everyone’s family moves
      away.  Poor Marjory, she used to be so active in the village Light
      Opera Society - we had enough people to run one in those days.  What a
      beautiful soprano she was & so graceful when she moved across the
      stage.

      JUDITH: Such a shame.

      JUDITH sits at the dining table.  ALL murmur amongst themselves.
      GEORGE coughs for attention

      GEORGE: Shall we start?  I think we are all here now – it doesn’t
      look like anyone else is coming

      JUDITH: Yes, please do.

      GEORGE: First of all I’d like to thank Judith for allowing us to
      meet in her house.

      JUDITH: Well it really wasn’t worth heating the church hall for so
      few of us.

      Murmurs of thanks from ALL

      Door bell rings. JUDITH rises & exits hallway to answer & returns with
      ALAN (40-50s).

      ALAN:  Hello, hope I’m not too late –

      GEORGE: No, not at all, you’re very welcome.

      JUDITH: Please have a seat

      ALAN sits as JUDITH exits to kitchen.  ALAN takes a notebook and pen
      from his jacket pocket and places them on the table

      ALAN:  I saw your notice in the village shop.  I thought I’d like to
      help.  I’m Alan – Alan Jennings.

      JUDITH returns from the kitchen with a cup

      JUDITH: Would you like a cup of tea, Alan?

      ALAN:  Yes please - that would be lovely – a splash of milk, no sugar
      please.

      JUDITH pours tea as Sybil speaks:

      PAT:  I’ve heard they’re selling up you know – the village shop.
      Not enough trade apparently.

      SYBIL:  This village is dying on its feet.

      GEORGE: Now then, we must keep faith and live in hope for the
      regeneration of our community.

      SYBIL:  Well, when I was a girl I can remember this village had a post
      office - that was run by old Mr Walton when he retired from the
      smithy.  Then there was Greener’s the butchers (their son married
      Kitty Browning you know) and the Laidlaw family ran the greengrocers.
      And we even had our own garage & petrol station.  Mind you – I think
      the bypass did for that.

      GEORGE: Let me introduce you to everyone.  I’m Reverend George
      Green, Vicar at St Saviour’s, this is Sybil Parker our Church
      Secretary, Pat Hirst our Treasurer & Judith Webster-

      SYBIL:  -A busy working Mum who still finds time to help out in all
      sorts of ways

      JUDITH hands ALAN a cup of tea

      ALAN:  Yes, I think we’ve met; we were in the same class together at
      school.

      JUDITH: Alan Jennings, yes of course I remember you.  You moved away
      didn’t you – after university?’

      ALAN:  That’s right - teaching.  I’ve just taken up a new post at
      Ridgeway High - Head of Sixth Form and I also teach history.

      JUDITH: My son Ben goes there.

      SYBIL:  Was your family one of the farming Jennings or did you come
      from the big house on the Harperley Road?

      ALAN:  Well, I’m not quite sure.  My father was a solicitor if that
      helps-

      GEORGE: -Shall we get started?

      JUDITH sits at the dining table

      GEORGE: As you know, 2 weeks ago, the bronze plaque bearing the names
      of all the fallen soldiers of World War One was stolen from Stockswell
      village war memorial.

      It was unceremoniously prized off & thrown into the back of a van
      which sped off in the direction of Ashgate Bridge.

      SYBIL:  Downright evil, I know what I’d like to do with them-

      GEORGE looks at SYBIL

      SYBIL:  Sorry Vicar but it is!

      PAT:  Do you think we’ll ever get it back?

      ALAN:  -I should think the plaque’s long gone.  Probably melted down
      by now – the value’s in the scrap metal you see.

      JUDITH: That’s terrible!

      GEORGE: I’m sure the Police are doing their best-

      SYBIL:  -And what would they do if they caught them – probably 2
      weeks’ community service or some other ridiculous notion.  It makes
      my blood boil.

      PAT:  It’s not just the monetary value of course – it’s what the
      plaque represents-

      SYBIL:  -those poor men and boys that went from this village to serve
      their country.  They paid the ultimate sacrifice.

      GEORGE: Yes, but only 2 to 3 generations later, it’s frightening to
      think we’ve actually forgotten who they were and the part they
      played in our community.

      JUDITH: Can anyone actually remember any of the names that were on the
      memorial.  I’m afraid I can’t. It makes you think - I wonder if
      anyone will remember us in 100 years’ time?

      Offstage loud pop music starts

      GEORGE: (loudly above music) So let’s turn this unfortunate
      occurrence into an opportunity.  An opportunity to visit these names
      afresh, find out as much about them as we can.

      JUDITH: (loudly above music) Yes, I suppose we owe it to them – not
      to be forgotten.  Not just to be a name.

      ALAN:  (loudly above music) But does anyone have a list of the names?
      One that we can work on?

      GEORGE: (loudly above music) Pat has already made a start – she’s
      had a wealth of experience tracing her family tree back to goodness
      knows when-

      PAT:  (loudly above music) -1653-

      GEORGE: (loudly above music) -so I thought she would be the ideal
      person to guide us through this.

      PAT:  (loudly above music) I’ve already been up to the County Records
      Office.  Fortunately, they still had the minutes of the post World War
      One Parish Council meetings in their archives.

      JUDITH sighs & rises from the table

      JUDITH: Excuse me please (makes to hallway exit and shouts through
      door over music) Ben! Ben! Will you turn that down please.

      Music stops. JUDITH returns to her seat.

      JUDITH: Really sorry about that.

 

[end of extract]



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