Choices by David Challenger
This Play is the copyright of the Author and may not be performed, copied or sold without the Author's prior consent
"CHOICES", is two one Act plays which can be staged either together or as two separate One-act plays
The same cast can be used for both plays.
A MATTER OF TIME
By David Challenger
CAST in order of appearance
RYAN A detective
BERYL A widow
LEE A female detective
DOREEN A widow and friend of Beryl
The play is set in the present. The stage is in darkness apart from
one bright light front centre stage over a table. There are two chairs
at either side of the table
Beryl enters from stage right and goes to front centre stage.
BERYL: My husband died from cancer a few years ago. Natural causes it
was. They didn't believe me. Horrible to me they were. They
questioned me for hours. Never once did they show me any sympathy,
apart from a cup of tea. I was treated disgracefully. This is my story
and you can judge for yourself. Would you have done the same?
The stage goes into blackout .When the light centre stage comes back
on Beryl is sat on one of the chairs to the left of the stage. She
looks nervous and fidgets with her handbag. Off stage we hear the
sound of approaching voices. The door to stage right opens and two
figures enter; one male and one female. They go over to the table and
sit on the chairs opposite Beryl. The man sits on the chair to FS. On
the table is a tape machine. The man puts a blank tape into the
machines and turns it on.
RYAN: The time is three thirty pm. For the benefit of the recorded
interview, those present are Mrs Morgan, Detective Inspector Ryan and
Detective Sergeant Lee. Mrs Morgan, may I remind you that you are
being questioned under caution and that you have requested to have no
legal representation. Please confirm that is that true.
BERYL: Yes that is true. Why would I need a solicitor? I've done
BERYL laughs nervously and leans over to speak into the recorder
This is just like they do it on TV isn't it?
RYAN: There is no need to speak directly into the tape recorder Mrs
Morgan; the microphone will pick up your voice automatically. (Pause)
You do realise why you are here Mrs Morgan?
BERYL: No I don't! And please don't keep calling me Mrs Morgan,
it sounds so informal? Call me Beryl, like my friends do.
RYAN: Mrs Morgan. We have brought you in to question you in relation
to the death of your husband, Mr Charles Morgan who we have reason to
believe died in mysterious circumstances. I must inform you that you
are under caution and anything you say and later rely on in court
BERYL interrupts him
BERYL: Are you trying to insinuate that I murdered Charlie? How
LEE: Mrs Morgan, I don't think you quite realise how serious this
matter is do you?
BERYL: I don't even know why I'm here. Isn't this is what they
call police harassment?
LEE: Mrs Morgan, I'd like to make it clear that you are being
interviewed as part of our investigation into the death of your
BERYL: He died of cancer, natural causes, why do you want to
investigate that? The doctor can vouch for what he died of. Have you
spoken to him?.
RYAN LEE: Mrs Morgan, at what time did your husband die exactly?
BERYL: At twenty five past five in the morning. I remember looking at
the clock; I knew it was only a matter of time, I'd been watching
the clock all night so I could remember the exact time that he went
peacefully to sleep. It might seem odd to you, but I wanted to know
the exact time he died so every year I could remember him at the exact
date and time he left me. When I looked down on him all of his pain
had gone and he looked like my husband again, not that living shell
he'd been for three months wracked with pain and wanting an end
Anyway, that's how I'll always remember him, laying there at
peace, all his suffering gone.
She pauses and Lee indicates for her to continue
I made Charlie a promise that I would be with him right until the
end and I kept my promise. It was what he would have expected.
RYAN: Tell me exactly what happened before he died.
BERYL: Nothing happened! He just closed his eyes and went to sleep.
RYAN: So you did absolutely nothing to him before he "closed his
eyes and went to sleep" as you have just described his death?
BERYL: Well I did squeeze his hand just to reassure him that I was
there, but that's not a crime is it?
LEE: No it isn't
BERYL starts to cry
BERYL: When I squeezed his hand he briefly opened his eyes and looked
at me with those smiling eyes and then he closed them and was gone. My
lovely Charliegone forever
Beryl opens her handbag, takes out a tissue and blows her nose.
I'm sorry, it's just that every time I think of him it makes me cry
LEE: Would you like a cup of tea Mrs Morgan?
Beryl pauses and reasserts herself
BERYL: No thank you, I'll be alright now.
RYAN: Was anyone else with you when he died?
BERYL: No it was just me and Charlie, just how he would have wanted
it; he wouldn't have wanted any fuss. Just to go quietly with dignity.
RYAN: After he died, did you call your doctor?
BERYL: There was no need to, I knew Charlie was dead. I checked his
pulse, like they do on TV, but I could tell he was dead. There was no
pain in his face anymore, he looked at peace. I gave him a kiss,
closed his eyes and went and made a cup of tea. The doctor couldn't
have done anything more for him than I did. It was only a matter of
time, we both knew that.
Anyway there's a notice in the surgery advising you to only call
the doctor out in case of emergency and it wasn't! Charlie was dead.
There was no emergency anymore.
RYAN: So when exactly did you call the doctor? After all you would
have needed him to confirm your husband's death and to issue a Death
BERYL: At nine o'clock the next morning, when the answer machine is
switched off at the surgery and you can speak to the receptionist,
instead of having to listen to all those silly options.
She laughs nervously
I get confused; I'm never quite sure when to press the right
Besides there isn't an option to tell them that your husband is
LEE: Why didn't you call the doctor immediately after he died?
After all it must have been very distressing for you being in the same
house with a dead body
BERYL reacts angrily at this remark
BERYL: He wasn't a dead body! He was my husband and I wanted a few
hours alone with him before they took him away.
RYAN: I believe that your husband was prescribed morphine for his
BERYL: Yes the doctor prescribed it. He was in intense pain from the
cancer and the morphine was his only relief.
RYAN: Did you administer the morphine to your husband?
BERYL: No, the nurses who came in every day to wash and change him
gave it to him. They put a little phial of into a catheter in his
wrist. They would take it out of one of the boxes at the side of his bed.
There was enough morphine in my house to have supplied all the drug
addicts in the town? Goodness knows why they left so much.
LEE: What happened when the nurses weren't there? Who gave him
BERYL: Charlie did, he had a little machine with a button on it on
the bed at his side. If he was in intense pain he could press the
button and increase the dosage into his catheter.
RYAN: Did you ever press the button for him Mrs Morgan?
BERYL: No! I didn't like to interfere with his medication; Charlie
knew when he needed it.
RYAN: Had you on any occasion tried to give him more morphine and
he'd told you not to interfere?
[End of Extract]
A One Act Play by David Challenger
The setting is present day. The stage is bare apart from an upturned
box centre stage and various items of rubbish strewn around. The stage
is in semi darkness apart from bright lighting directly above the box.
A man enters. He is unkempt in appearance denoting he is living on
the streets like a tramp. He enters from stage left and his movements
are slow and deliberate. He sits down on the box.
MAN: I'm trapped. trapped between telling the truth and
prison and the alternative? spending the rest of my life on the run
and living like this.
He pauses and looks down at himself in disgust
They think I killed my wife, but I didn't.
He pauses and smiles to himself
I just released her from that miserable existence which had become
She didn't even know who I was in the end it could have been
anybody putting that pillow over her face. She didn't even struggle.
I think she was glad to be rid of that shell that she'd become. She
was asleep in her bed when I left hershe looked like an angel
Like the day I married her.
He struggles to remain composed
I left the house straight after and haven't had any inclination to
live there since. Too many memories Now they'll be looking for
me. I've run out of money and no one to turn to no one in the
world cares what happens to me. Can you imagine that?
Without her I've got no future nothing to live for. If I get
killed tonight, who'll worry? I'll just be another
statisticanother old tramp off the road.
I got a beating the other night. Apparently I had sheltered in a
doorway that belonged to a couple of drug addicts. I had just dropped
off to sleep and the next thing they were kicking me. I got up,
grabbed my bag and ran as fast as I could. I spent the rest of the
night huddled up in some old allotments.
He feels at his ribs
My ribs still ache. I'm more careful now, I keep myself to
myself and sleep where I can, often in old industrial units. The only
interference I get is from rats. I've been woken a few times when
they bit me. Stilla few rat bites are better than taking abuse from
some drunken kids or druggies. I've been reduced to this all for an
act of kindness. I just thank God that it was her who got the damned
disease and not me. She just wouldn't have coped.
He smiles to himself
First it was her memory that went; she'd go to the shops and then
come home because she'd forgotten what she went for. Then she
started going out and getting lost and then when she started to lose
her dignity that was the worse part.
I had to remind her to go to the toilet. If I didn'twell you can
imagine. It was pitiful to see her reduced to this, my lovely wife, my
best mate, her lost mind trapped in a healthy body.
He pauses shaking his head
I remember when I first found out. I had been out playing bowls and
got home to find her in tears. At first I thought she'd been mugged
or something worse because she never cried, unless she was watching
something sad on TV or when her parents had died. She was always
laughing. It had to be something seriousand it was. I was
devastated and not prepared for it either, but who is? We sat and
cried together when she told me. I knew from that moment that life
would never be the same again.
The setting is a table and two chairs centre stage. A few other items
of furniture are around the stage including some photos and other
A man and a woman enter from stage right. They are casually dressed.
The woman appears to be infirm and is carefully led by the man. He
leads her to the chair at the table stage right and he goes and sits
in the chair opposite her.
MAN: Now, what would you like for tea tonight?
The woman doesn't answer but smiles.
How about your favourite? Fish and Chips all right?
The woman nods.
WOMAN: It's nice here in Blackpool isn't it?
The man tries to humour her
MAN: We're not in Blackpool, we're at home.
He points to a photo on the wall
Look it's our wedding photo, we're here at home
The woman stares ahead
We haven't been to Blackpool for ten years. Don't you remember?
We stayed in that nice Guest House, now what was it called? Something
to do with royalty as I rememberit just off the promenade we
stayed for a week it's a good job it wasn't a fortnight
He starts to laugh
It rained all bloody week, do you remember?
The woman turns and looks at him blankly
We spent that much time sat sheltering in the bus shelter eating fish
and chips that we couldn't eat our evening meals. The landlady got
quite upset and thought it was her cooking.
He laughs at the recollection. The woman forces a vacant smile.
WOMAN: Wasn't that when we walked down the promenade and you bought
me a stick of rock as a treat one night?
[end of extract]
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