Charley's Aunt by Paul Thain from Brandon Thomas

ACT ONE

Oxford, 1892

Interior of Jack Chesney's spacious rooms, St. Olde's College

There’s a Door opening off, with passage backing, leading to outer door and Upstage a Door to the Bedroom

And a long Bay Window with a view of the Quad with a Window seat with four cushions and a magazine

Above the Fireplace stage-right there’s a looking-glass and low bookcases to the Right and Left

Stage-centre there’s a plump sofa and by the fireplace there is an armchair with white anti-macassar

Also stage-centre is a Table littered with books and two chairs with a sweater over the back of one of them

DSR is a Writing-table with a magazine

A Hat Stand sits in one corner and a plaster Bust of Plato peers from a pedestal in another corner

The walls are dressed with a Clock and prints and photographs of chorus girls

On a sideboard there’s a Tray with three tumblers, one square decanter half full of whisky, one glass jug of water on the sideboard, four champagne bottles, and an open bottle of claret

At rise we hear "The Eton Boating Song” as morning sunlight streams into the room

JACK CHESNEY sits at the writing-table, struggling to write a letter

Young and handsome, he wears a light-coloured lounge suit and college tie

He sighs and tears up his letter

JACK: Oh, it’s hopeless! Damn and blast! Why didn’t I speak to her at the dance? Come on, Jack, think. You’re in love with the loveliest girl in the world and all you have to do is tell her.

He composes himself, starts again

JACK: Dear Kitty ... too bland. My darling, Kitty … too strong. Mind you, faint heart and all that … No ... no, no, too risky …

He tears up paper, begins again

JACK: My Dear Miss Verdun ... Pathetic!

He tears it up

JACK: Balance … needs balance, not too much, not too little. (suddenly inspired) Hang it, why not? My dear Kitty ... My dear Kitty! Brilliant!

BRASSETT enters quietly

He’s a College manservant, middle-aged, wears dark trousers and short dark grey alpaca coat, white collar and dark tie

JACK: My dear Kitty, I did so enjoy our –

BRASSETT: Beg pardon, sir, but would you mind -?

JACK: I very much mind, Brassett. Can’t you see I'm busy?

BRASSETT: Yes, sir, but -

JACK: My entire future hangs by a thread. Now get out!

BRASSETT: Yes, sir, only –

JACK: Out!

BRASSETT: As you wish, sir.

BRASSETT leaves

CHARLES “CHARLEY” WYKEHAM enters, early twenties, good-looking, charming and shy

He wears white flannels, blazer and muffler, sporting a cheap watch in his breast pocket

JACK: My Dear Kitty, I did so enjoy ...

CHARLEY coughs

JACK throws down pen, jumps up

JACK: Brassett, I swear if you don't – oh, it's you. What is it, old chap?

CHARLEY: So sorry to interrupt, I didn’t realise -

Jack: No, no, perfectly fine. It's that damn fool Brassett, worrying me like Old Harry when I'm trying to write the most important letter in my life.

CHARLEY: You too?

JACK: What?

CHARLEY: I've also been trying to write a letter.

JACK: To whom?

CHARLEY: To an angel. Oh Jack, we met at the dance, I was in heaven, believe me, she’s the most adorable –

JACK: Yes, yes, I’m sure. And does this angel have a name?

CHARLEY: You promise to be kind?

JACK: Charley!

CHARLEY: Miss Spettigue.

JACK: What? Amy Spettique?

CHARLEY: You promised.

JACK: Well, well, well ... Amy Spettigue! How far have you got?

CHARLEY: Whatever do you mean?

JACK: Your letter.

CHARLEY: Well, I began splendidly, full of fire, but, you know, restrained. I didn't want to be too formal nor did I want to be too ... too -

JACK: Familiar?

CHARLEY: Precisely. So I just opened with My dear Amy.

JACK: And?

CHARLEY: Well, that’s where I got stuck. So here I am, hot of foot, seeking your advice.

CHARLEY sits at corner of Table

CHARLEY: You always know what to say.

JACK: Flattery will get you everywhere.

JACK sits at Writing-table, gets paper etc

CHARLEY: Nonsense, you’re a genius, Jack. I do believe you’ll be Prime Minister one day.

JACK: Given the current lot, anything’s possible. Now then, let me see. You are in love with Amy Spettigue, and you now … now want to know if there's any hope -

CHARLEY: Precisely. And soon, it has to be soon.

JACK: How so?

CHARLEY: They're all off to Scotland tomorrow.

JACK: What? All of them? Including Kitty?

CHARLEY: Old Spettique always takes them both. I say, are you all right?

JACK: No, I am not! There’s not a moment to lose ... "My Dear Kitty -

CHARLEY: … Kitty? Not Kitty – Amy!

JACK: Ah, yes. Yes of course.

He tears up paper, takes fresh sheet

JACK: "My dearest Amy ... Forgive me for addressing you thus, but I realise my love, my love for you -

CHARLEY: Steady on, Jack, rather strong.

JACK: Seize the day, old man. Now’s not the time to hold back.

CHARLEY: I agree but I fear there is an obstacle. You see I have an aunt.

JACK: What about her?

CHARLEY: Well if I’m to propose, I feel I ought to tell her first. You know, do the right thing.

JACK sighs, puts down his pen, rises and goes to fireplace

JACK: In which case we might as well wait till they all come back from Scotland.

CHARLEY: Beastly, isn’t it?

JACK: Nothing like an aunt to muddy the waters.

CHARLEY: Especially since I don’t even know her.

JACK: Don’t know her?

CHARLEY: We’ve never even met. When she learned I was an orphan she packed me off to Eton. Over the years we naturally corresponded but now my guardian says she wants to meet. This very day, in fact. Arriving by the early train and expecting to take lunch with me.

JACK: You mean you've never even seen her?

CHARLEY: Never. She went out to Brazil before I was born. Became a sort of secretary to a rich old chap called Dom Pedro d'Alvadorez.

JACK: Rich you say?

CHARLEY: Very. A millionaire. Now deceased, following a romantic deathbed marriage to my aunt.

JACK: So now she’s very rich?

CHARLEY: Stinking.

JACK: Charley, you have just given me a clinking good idea!

CHARLEY: I have? Jolly good, well write it down and I'll copy it out.

JACK: No, no, not for you. For me. Or rather for us both. You see, I'm in love with Kitty.

CHARLEY: What? You in love? Never in the world!

JACK: Captivated. Besotted. More than anything I ever took up before. Even cricket. In fact, I was writing to tell her so when you …

CHARLEY shakes JACK'S hand effusively

CHARLEY: My dear fellow, congratulations! What a turn up, eh? I’m so glad! So what's your clinking good idea?

JACK: Hang letter-writing! How about we give a luncheon party for your aunt - and invite them both.

CHARLEY: Brilliant! Didn’t I say you were a genius? Only problem, my rooms are rather small.

JACK: I'll lend you mine. Brassett’ll see to everything. Brassett! But first we have to invite the girls.

CHARLEY: But what about old Spettigue? He’s a strange old fish.

JACK: Blow old Spettigue! With your aunt, it’ll be perfectly respectable. Brassett!

CHARLEY: And you think they'll come?

JACK: Look at us! How can they resist? But first the invite - you write, I’ll dictate … My dear Miss Spettigue ... Brassett!

BRASSETT enters silently, stands behind JACK

JACK: Brassett! Where the devil -?

JACK turns - faces BRASSETT

JACK: Ah, there you are. Brassett, get someone to take a note to Mr Spettigue's. Poste-haste.

BRASSETT: (leaving) Yes, sir.

JACK: Now where was I? Ah yes, "My dear Miss Spettigue ...

CHARLEY: ... got that.

JACK: "Would you and Miss Verdun kindly do me the honour -"

CHARLEY: " ... do me the honour"

JACK: " ... to lunch with myself and Mr Chesney today ..."

CHARLEY: " …. Mr Chesney today ..."

JACK: I'll address the envelope.

CHARLEY: "I'll address the -"

JACK: Not that, you muff! " … at his rooms, St. Olde's College to meet my aunt -" What did you say her name was?

CHARLEY: Donna Lucia d'Alvadorez.

JACK: " ... my Aunt Donna ... Donna Lucia d’Alv- … d’alva -” Whatever you said. "An answer by speedy bearer will greatly oblige"

CHARLEY: "Yours sincerely, Charles Wykeham.”

CHARLEY blots letter

JACK: That should do it.

BRASSETT returns

BRASSETT: The messenger, sir.

JACK hands letter to BRASSETT

JACK: Give him that. And tell him to look sharp.

BRASSETT: Yes, sir.

BRASSETT quickly glances at address on envelope, smiles and exits

JACK returns to Writing-table, picks up half-torn letters, tears them up more

JACK: No more letters, there’s a blessing ...

JACK gives fragments to CHARLEY who puts them into paper basket

JACK: And your aunt … what a stroke of luck, eh? I'm beginning to be fond of the old girl already. Now. What next? Ah, yes. Brassett!

BRASSETT enters

BRASSETT: Yes, sir?

JACK: Lunch for five.

BRASSETT: How many, sir?

JACK: Five.

BRASSETT: Five?

JACK: Yes five, damn you!

BRASSETT chuckles

JACK: And what’s so funny?

BRASSETT: We’ve scarcely enough for one, sir. I fear our credit with the kitchen is entirely exhausted.

JACK: Oh. Is it now? Well you’d better get yourself off to Bunter's.

BRASSETT: I regret we are also barred from Bunter's. They refuse to deliver. Not even for ready money.

JACK: Damnable cheek!

BRASSETT: I could perhaps muster a cheese and pickle sandwich.

JACK: We need to impress, Bassett. A cheese and pickle sandwich will not do.

BRASSETT: (leaving) As you wish, sir.

JACK: Hang on. How are you off for tick, Charley?

CHARLEY: Sorry, old man, I'm strapped too.

JACK goes to CHARLEY, takes his watch and chain

CHARLEY: I say old man!

JACK: I’ll settle up when my next cheque arrives.

JACK gives watch and chain to BRASSETT

JACK: Do the best you can with that.

BRASSETT scrutinizing them critically

BRASSETT: I won’t get much for this, sir.

JACK: Try.

BRASSETT: And one o’clock is rather short notice, sir.

JACK: All the more reason to get moving. Go where you like and do what you have to, only I want lunch for five. At one. Precisely.

BRASSETT: Will there be wine, sir?

JACK: Champagne.

BRASSETT: Very little left, sir.

JACK: Nonsense! There should be at least half a dozen bottles!

BRASSETT: I think not, sir ... (getting bottles from sideboard) ... only four.

JACK: Four?

BRASSETT puts them on sideboard

JACK: Four! There were six!

CHARLEY: Not to worry, four’s quite enough.

JACK turns to BRASSETT, aggressively

JACK: I tell you there were six.

As he puts them on Table

BRASSETT: I think not, sir. As you can see - only four. Ah yes, and one of claret.

JACK: Hang the claret! It's been open a month. (aside to CHARLEY) I swear he's sneaked those other two bottles.

CHARLEY: My fellow's just the same.

BRASSETT smiles and exits

JACK: Isn’t it damnable how they take advantage?

CHARLEY: We need a plan, Jack.

JACK: … plan? Ah, yes. Simple ... while you and your aunt are exploring the chapel, Kitty and I can have our little talk.

CHARLEY: But what about me and Amy? What about our little talk? My Aunt will be horribly intrusive.

JACK: True. I hadn’t thought of that.

CHARLEY: She serves well as an excuse to get the girls here, but by herself she'll probably be an awful bore.

JACK: Yes. Yes, you’re right. it’s a brute of a nuisance.

CHARLEY: Why don’t we ask someone else?

BRASSETT re-enters, busies himself at the Sideboard.

CHARLEY: (whispers) What about Brassett? He's as artful as a corkscrew. Can't we turn him into a Don or something? You know, just for the day?

JACK: No, no, we need him to wait at table.

CHARLEY: There's always Freddy Peel.

JACK: God no, he's such a pompous pillock.

BRASSETT exits

JACK: By George, I've got it! Babbs!

CHARLEY: Babbs?

JACK: Fanny Babbs!

CHARLEY: Of course! Why didn't we think of him before?

JACK: He’s such a jolly chap, sure to amuse her. Brassett!

BRASSETT re-enters

BRASSETT: Yes, sir?

JACK: You are to go to Lord Fancourt Babberley's rooms immediately and instruct him to come here at once.

BRASSETT: (leaving) Yes, sir.

CHARLEY: Say it's very important.

BRASSETT: Yes, sir.

As BRASSETT leaves

JACK: And very immediate!

BRASSETT: (off) Yes, sir.

JACK crosses to Fireplace

JACK: Splendid! So while Babbs is playing gooseberry with your aunt, you and I can go a-wooing. Something the matter? Charley?

CHARLEY: Thing is, Jack, I’ve never been a-wooing.

JACK: What? Never?

CHARLEY: Not even sure I know how … how … how to woo.

JACK: You sound like an owl ... how-to-woo, how-to-woo ...

CHARLEY: Stop it! It’s not funny! It’s all very well for you -

JACK: Heaven’s sake, Charley. Flatter her. Tell her how pretty she’s looking, they all like that. Even when they’re not. Especially when they’re not.

CHARLEY: But what do I say?

JACK: Tell her … tell her you like her dress. Tell her she has peachy skin and sparkling eyes. Tell her … oh, I don’t know, don’t you know any jokes?

BRASSETT returns

BRASSETT: His lordship's compliments, sir, but he says he can't come.

JACK: What? Can’t come?

BRASSETT: He has a luncheon party.

JACK: Bugger!

CHARLEY: Oh dear.

BRASSETT: And could you perhaps lend him a few bottles of champagne?

JACK: Well of all the cheek! He can go fiddle!

CHARLEY: So what do we do now?

JACK: We’ll have to go and see him. He can't be allowed to spoil our plans in such a selfish manner. Brassett, put the champagne on ice and tidy up the room, it’s a right royal mess. Come on, Charley ...

CHARLEY and JACK leave

BRASSETT looks at his watch

BRASSETT: Dear, oh dear.

He opens the Window wider

BRASSETT: Always the way. Hurry, hurry, hurry … always in a hurry.

Pours himself a glass of claret

BRASSETT: Except when paying their bills.

Takes a swig, winces

We hear LORD FANCOURT

LORD FANCOURT: (OFF) Jack! Jack, I say, old man.

BRASSETT quickly leaves

LORD FANCOURT BABBERLY appears at the Window carrying a large Gladstone bag

He is smartly dressed wearing a coat over a light grey suit with waistcoat and black boots

He climbs in through the Window, calls out:

LORD FANCOURT: Hello? Jack! Jack!

He looks round the room, then quickly checks the Bedroom

LORD FANCOURT: Where the dickens are you?

As he returns

LORD FANCOURT: I was hoping to borrow some fizz.

As he goes to the Sideboard

LORD FANCOURT: Hm … Wonder where they keep it.

He sees the champagne on the Table

LORD FANCOURT: Ah, ha! The very thing!

He puts his bag on table, opens it, then takes an antimacassar from chair and uses it to wrap a bottle

LORD FANCOURT: Serves him right, shouldn't leave it about.

He puts wrapped bottle into his bag, takes another and wraps and puts it in the bag

LORD FANCOURT: Especially when he knows I'm so beastly hard up.

As he puts third bottle into his bag

LORD FANCOURT: I just hope they’re not too cross.

He wraps fourth bottle, puts it into his bag, closes it, goes to leave

LORD FANCOURT: Jolly good ... that's a bottle apiece.

JACK and CHARLEY enter - confront LORD FANCOURT at the door

JACK: There you are ...

They escort him back to the Table

JACK: We’ve been looking all over for you.

JACK takes bag from LORD FANCOURT, puts it on the Table

LORD FANCOURT: Have you indeed?

LORD FANCOURT snatches back the bag, makes for the Door

JACK: Sit.

LORD FANCOURT: Sorry, chaps, can’t stop, busy, busy, ta-ta for now!

CHARLEY & JACK stop him

JACK: Not so fast ...

They escort him back as before

JACK: I thought you wanted to see me?

LORD FANCOURT: Need some fizz, old boy.

JACK: Sorry, no can do.

LORD FANCOURT: Oh, dear, what a pity, dear, dear, never mind, must be off. Toodle-pip!

LORD FANCOURT feints to bolt again

CHARLEY and JACK miss him but they still manage to return hm and the bag to the Table

Stalemate

LORD FANCOURT grins

JACK: I looked you up last night, but you were out.

LORD FANCOURT: Playing cards with Freddy Peel.

JACK: Freddy Peel?

LORD FANCOURT: Bit of an idiot, I know …

JACK: … a bit of an idiot? If brains were dynamite he’d struggle to blow the wax from his ears!

LORD FANCOURT: Nevertheless, he’s a fine fellow. Won a hundred pounds from him. You should have seen his face!

JACK: Freddy Peel hasn't a sixpence!

LORD FANCOURT: What?

CHARLEY: Did he pay you?

LORD FANCOURT: Not yet, but he's going to when his grandmother dies.

JACK: More fool you - the old bird’s been dead for years!

LORD FANCOURT: What? Dead? Dead already? Isn’t that just beastly!

LORD FANCOURT picks up bag

LORD FANCOURT: Ah, well, such is life. Ta-ta, for now.

This time he attempts to bolt through the Window

But again he’s intercepted and again he and the bag are returned to the Table

JACK: Listen, Babbs, it’s your lucky day - we want you to stay for lunch.

LORD FANCOURT: Nothing would please me more chaps but I’m promised elsewhere.

CHARLEY: But you must.

LORD FANCOURT: Must?

JACK: Yes, must. Absolutely vital. Charley's aunt is going to pay a visit.

LORD FANCOURT: Charley’s aunt, eh? Let joy be unbounded! I can barely contain my indifference.

JACK: We need someone to charm her.

CHARLEY: It’s frightfully important.

JACK: And you can charm the knickers off a nun.

LORD FANCOURT: Only if she’s pretty. So who exactly is she?

JACK: I’ve told you - she’s Charley's Aunt.

LORD FANCOURT: Yes, I know that, but what's she like?

CHARLEY: We don't rightly know. I'm to see her today for the first time.

LORD FANCOURT: So what if she turns out to be an old crone?

CHARLEY: She's not a crone, she’s a widow.

JACK: A rich widow.

LORD FANCOURT: Is she now? And does she have a name?

JACK: Donna Lucia d’Alv – d’Alva …

CHARLEY: Donna Lucia d'Alvadorez.

LORD FANCOURT: My oh my, what mouthful! And rich, you say?

LORD FANCOURT: Let me think about it.

LORD FANCOURT seizes the bag again

LORD FANCOURT: No, I think not.

This time he bolts for the Door

Again, JACK and CHARLEY bring him back

JACK: It's no use, Babbs, your fate is sealed. You might even enjoy it. I’m sure Charley's aunt is a charming old lady.

LORD FANCOURT: Precisely! Old! A ghastly old crone! Look here, haven't you anything younger coming?

CHARLEY: As a matter of fact, we have – there are two other ladies.

LORD FANCOURT: Young?

JACK: Yes.

LORD FANCOURT: Pretty?

CHARLEY: Very.

LORD FANCOURT: That's more in my line. And how many did you say?

JACK: Two.

LORD FANCOURT: I see - one for each of you. And the old crone for me! Thank you very much. ‘Bye …

LORD FANCOURT bolts towards the Window with his bag

And is brought back as before

JACK: Please, Babbs, be a pal … this is an awfully serious affair.

CHARLEY: And we so desperately need your help as a friend.

JACK: A friend we can trust.

CHARLEY: Thing is, you see, we're in love.

LORD FANCOURT: In love? What? You and Jack?

JACK: No, no ... with the ladies.

LORD FANCOURT: Ah, I see. Awfully serious, you say? So have you proposed?

JACK: That's just it.

LORD FANCOURT: Ah, now I understand - you want me to propose for you?

JACK: No, no, we'll do that ourselves. But first we need them to come for lunch.

CHARLEY: Have a heart, Babbs. We’re both wretchedly in love and you don't seem to understand our feelings one tiny bit.

LORD FANCOURT: Oh, don't I? Don’t I indeed? Well, it just so happens I might rather be in love myself. Haven't you noticed how melancholic I've been of late? Always wanting to be alone, wandering the cloisters, listening to the birds.

JACK and CHARLEY laugh

LORD FANCOURT: It’s no joke, I tell you I've even become fond of poetry.

JACK: Well then, that seals it, you seem to have all the symptoms. So who’s the lucky girl?

They sit at the table

LORD FANCOURT: Oh, she’s … she’s … I’m sorry I can’t, I simply can’t. It’s just all too ... too painful.

JACK: (standing) As you wish.

LORD FANCOURT grabs his arm, obliging him to sit

LORD FANCOURT: But since you ask ... Do you remember when I was awfully ill last term and I took the yacht round the Med?

JACK: Vaguely.

LORD FANCOURT: Well we stopped off at Monte Carlo where I came across an English officer by the name of Delahay. Poor fellow was penniless. He'd beggared himself and his only child.

JACK: Bad luck at the tables, eh?

LORD FANCOURT: Precisely. But his daughter ... oh, my word, his daughter... an angel … the sweetest girl you ever saw. I was captivated in a moment.

CHARLEY: And?

LORD FANCOURT: And what?

CHARLEY: What happened next?

LORD FANCOURT: Her father died poor fellow.

CHARLEY: Died?

LORD FANCOURT: Tragic. But also fortuitous. I spent my days showering her with kindness and sympathy.

JACK: And then you made your move?

LORD FANCOURT: There lies the nub, Jack. I was finally ready to tell her how I felt, but before I had a chance, some old lady took charge of her and whisked her away, never to be seen again. And so, my dear friends, here you find me ... a wretched soul pining for -

We hear a knock offstage

BRASSETT enters with a Letter

JACK: At last!

He hands it to JACK and then goes to the Sideboard where he quietly arranges three tumblers, whisky decanter, and jug of water on a tray during following scene

JACK quickly opens the Letter, reads

JACK: They're coming!

They all look over each other's shoulders to read Letter

LORD FANCOURT snatches Letter from JACK

LORD FANCOURT: Kitty? Kitty who?

CHARLEY snatches it from LORD FANCOURT leaving him staring at the empty space between thumb and two first fingers

CHARLEY: How marvellous!

JACK: So you'll stay, Babbs?

LORD FANCOURT: Much as I’d like to, I really can’t. No, no – truly. I've something terribly important to do.

JACK: Like what?

LORD FANCOURT: Awfully important.

JACK: Well, what?

LORD FANCOURT: Don’t mock but I've been invited to play in some amateur theatricals.

JACK: Amateur theatricals?

LORD FANCOURT: I’m told I have talent.

JACK: Nonsense! Waste of time! Forget it!

LORD FANCOURT: But I've given my word. And I've never acted before in my life so I need to try on my things before the fellows arrive.

JACK: What things?

LORD FANCOURT: My costume.

JACK: You can try them on here. Where are they?

LORD FANCOURT: In my rooms, in a box under the bed, but -

JACK: Brassett, fetch them! Quick as you can!

LORD FANCOURT: No need, I’ll fetch them myself.

He grabs the bag, makes for the Window

JACK and CHARLEY intercepts him

They struggle for bag

JACK gets it and this time slams it down on the Table

LORD FANCOURT: Careful! Careful! My books! My precious books!

Distressed, LORD FANCOURT picks up the bag, shakes it to determine if any bottles are broken, running his hand to feel if any are leaking

Reassured, he puts bag on chair beside the Table

JACK: Time for a snifter.

JACK gets whisky, water and glasses on salver from sideboard, places them on the Table

JACK: There you go chaps.

Passing the decanter, they each pour themselves a whisky

JACK raises his glass

JACK: To the ladies …

ALL: The ladies!

BRASSETT returns with a large cardboard box with gilt edges

LORD FANCOURT takes box from BRASSETT

LORD FANCOURT: Thank you, Brassett.

BRASSETT leaves

JACK: Let's have a look then ...

LORD FANCOURT: Not now. I'll try them on after lunch while you're all in the garden.

JACK: You’ll be entertaining Charley’s aunt then. Go on, we could do with a laugh. You can change in my bedroom.

LORD FANCOURT: Oh, very well.

He lifts box on to his shoulder and leaves

JACK and CHARLEY exchange a worried look

JACK: Well at least he’s staying.

We hear KITTY and AMY, off

KITTY (Off) Oh yes, here we are, look, here's his name!

CHARLEY: Good lord, it’s them!

JACK rushes to the mirror, adjusts his hair

JACK: Bugger! They’re early and your aunt's not come yet.

CHARLEY joins JACK, tries to share the Mirror

CHARLEY: Dash it, what shall we do?

A knock at the Door

JACK: Brassett!

BRASSETT enters

JACK: We’ll just have to explain.

BRASSETT opens door, KITTY and AMY enter

JACK: Thank you, Brassett.

BRASSETT exits

JACK shakes hands with KITTY

JACK: Welcome …

Then with AMY

JACK: So kind of you to come.

AMY: So kind of you to ask.

JACK: I believe you and Mr Wykeham have already –

AMY: Indeed we have. At the dance.

JACK: Ah, yes.

CHARLEY and AMY shake hands

CHARLEY: Yes, yes, indeed, at the … at the dance.

KITTY: You seem somewhat agitated, Charley.

CHARLEY: Me? No, no, not at all.

KITTY: Are we too early?

CHARLEY: No, no! Not early.

KITTY: Only you didn't mention a time.

CHARLEY: Didn’t I? How silly of me.

JACK: Never mind, you’re here now. Please …

JACK leads them to the sofa where they sit

AMY: I do hope we’re not being an inconvenience.

JACK: Quite the contrary.

CHARLEY: We're delighted! Absolutely delighted. Aren’t we, Jack?

JACK goes to Fireplace

JACK: Yes, yes, indeed.

CHARLEY: We’ve been counting the minutes.

The Clock ticks

KITTY: And your aunt ...?

JACK: I’m sure she'll be here soon.

CHARLEY: Yes, soon. Very soon. Soon as she gets here she’ll be here.

AMY: She does sound fascinating. I can’t wait to meet her.

LORD FANCOURT enters, half dressed, shirt hanging, chest bare

JACK urgently waves him back

LORD FANCOURT quickly retreats to the Bedroom

AMY: So this is where you think and study, is it?

JACK: Oh yes, a lot of thinking.

CHARLEY: And studying. We do a lot of studying, don’t we, Jack?

JACK: Yes, we do.

CHARLEY: And thinking.

Another pause

KITTY: We’re off to Scotland tomorrow.

CHARLEY: Yes, we know. That’s why we were so desperate to see you.

AMY: Desperate?

CHARLEY: Well, not desperate. Keen. Eager. Eager to see you. See you both. Before you … before you leave. Leave for Scotland.

JACK: Yes, it would have been a terrible bore to have missed you.

CHARLEY: Yes, awful, an awful bore.

AMY: I confess I’m rather dreading it. Uncle Spettigue always takes us to the middle of nowhere and we hardly see a single soul.

KITTY: Yes, it can be so, so dreary.

CHARLEY: So why does he go?

AMY: He enjoys it.

CHARLEY: What, the dreariness?

AMY: Yes. It’s in his nature.

CHARLEY: How odd.

AMY: He is rather. A strange man. And such a stickler. It's lucky he’s away in town or I don't think we could have come.

JACK: Why ever not?

AMY: He’s terribly old-fashioned, awfully proper. Particularly about Kitty.

KITTY: Amy!

JACK: How so?

AMY: Why, Kitty’s an heiress and Spettigue’s her guardian.

JACK: An heiress?

AMY: Worth a fortune.

KITTY: Amy!

AMY: Didn’t you know?

JACK: No. No, I didn’t. I truly didn’t.

KITTY: It’s all stuff and nonsense. He just wants the best for me.

JACK: And who’s to say what is best?

AMY: We all know money marries money.

JACK: And what of love?

KITTY: Can’t one have both?

JACK: What if one had to choose?

KITTY: Then one would have to choose very carefully.

CHARLEY: I’d choose love. Always.

KITTY: Ah, but you’re a man.

JACK slumps, suddenly sad

The clock ticks

CHARLEY: Miss Spettigue …,

AMY: Please, do call me Amy …

CHARLEY: I did so enjoy our dance the other evening. Amy.

AMY: And so did I. Charley.

CHARLIE: And I did so like your dress.

AMY: Did you?

CHARLEY: The way it … the way it flowed.

AMY: Why, thank you, kind sir.

CHARLEY: And afterwards, in the garden, by the light of the moon, as long as I live I’ll never forget how pretty you looked, your sparkling skin and your peachy eyes …

AMY: … peachy eyes?

CHARLEY: Sparkling. Sparkling eyes. In the … in the moonlight.

After a pause:

KITTY: What time are we expecting your aunt?

JACK: Soon. Soon, I think.

KITTY: You think?

CHARLEY: She might have been delayed. You know, the train -

AMY: But that won’t do.

CHARLEY: Won’t it?

AMY: (standing) It won’t do at all. Without your aunt, we can’t possibly stay.

CHARLEY: Amy, please …

AMY: I’m sorry, Charley, but it wouldn’t be at all appropriate. Come along, Kitty, we must leave.

JACK: Yes, of course. Of course you must, only ….

AMY: Only what?

JACK: Can’t you … can’t you come back?

AMY: Come back?

JACK: Yes, come back. Come back in … in say half an hour. She’ll be here then.

KITTY: Are you sure?

JACK: Sure as I can be.

AMY: I suppose we could do some shopping and I do so want to meet her. What do you think, Kitty?

JACK: Say yes. Please say yes.

KITTY: Very well. If that’s what you’d like?

JACK: I’d like that very much.

KITTY: A half an hour it is then. Goodbye.

JACK: Goodbye.

CHARLEY has worked round to the Door, which he opens

AMY: (To JACK) Goodbye.

JACK: Goodbye.

KITTY (To CHARLEY) Goodbye.

CHARLEY: Goodbye.

AMY: Goodbye.

CHARLEY: Goodbye.

As they leave

CHARLEY: See you soon.

CHARLEY leans his back against the closed door, mutters

CHARLEY: Dash it, Jack, why did you - ?

JACK: Don’t worry, she’ll be here.

CHARELY: And if she isn’t?

LORD FANCOURT enters cautiously, still half-dressed

LORD FANCOURT: I say, Jack old chap, do you happen to have any hairpins?

BRASSETT enters, goes to Sideboard.

JACK: Why in God’s name would I have hairpins?

LORD FANCOURT: Might I send your man for some?

JACK: Very well, but what do you - ?

LORD FANCOURT: Don’t suppose you have a sixpence?

JACK: ‘Fraid not, old man, I’m strapped,

CHARLEY: Here you are.

LORD FANCOURT takes the sixpence, give it to BRASSETT

LORD FANCOURT: Off you go then.

BRASSETT: Very good, m’lord.

BRASSETT leaves

LORD FANCOURT: I say, Jack, were those the girls?

JACK: Yes, they were. But what the deuce made you jump out like that? They might have seen you!

LORD FANCOURT: I didn't know they were here, now did I? You said one o’clock. How was I supposed to - ?

A sudden Knock at the Outer Door

JACK: Surely, they’re not back already? You! Out!

LORD FANCOURT quickly exits to Bedroom

Another Knock

CHARLEY: I’ll get it.

CHARLEY rushes to the door, opens it

COLONEL SIR FRANCIS CHESNEY enters

He’s smart in appearance and cheery in manner, sports a small military moustache

He wears a lounge suit, bowler hat and carries gloves and Malacca walking-stick

SIR FRANCIS: Thank you, most kind. Jack, my boy!

JACK: Dad!

SIR FRANCIS: My dear boy!

They shake hands

JACK: Father, dear father, what brings you here?

SIR FRANCIS: Up from town, bit of business. Thought I’d drop in have a chat and bring your cheque.

He puts hat, stick and gloves on sideboard

JACK: Splendid!

SIR FRANCIS: Thought that’d put a smile on your face.

JACK: Thanks, dad, you really are a brick!

SIR FRANCIS: An over-baked brick, too much sun in India.

CHARLEY coughs

JACK: Oh, this is my dear friend, Charley.

They shake hands

SIR FRANCIS: How do you do?

CHARLEY: I’m very well, sir.

SIR FRANCIS looks out through the window

SIR FRANCIS: Ah yes … the dear old Quad. Still as beautiful as ever. The old alma mater's hardly changed a bit.

JACK: New toilets.

SIR FRANCIS: Really? How marvellous!

CHARLEY: When were you here, sir?

SIR FRANCIS: Oh, must be nearly forty years.

CHARLEY: Surely not, sir. You look far too young.

SIR FRANCIS sits at the Table, chuckles

SIR FRANCIS: My, my, he is a charmer.

JACK: He’s learning. He’s right, though - you look in fine fettle.

SIR FRANCIS: Don’t overdo it, boy. Now, let’s see ...

He takes out pocket-book containing a cheque and bundle of long bills pinned together, hands over cheque

SIR FRANCIS: There you are!

JACK: Thanks, Dad!

SIR FRANCIS: (holding up bills) Do try and cut back on the champers, would you? Now that I have come into the family title, I discover I’ve also come into the family debts.

JACK: Debts?

SIR FRANCIS: Yes. Debts. And far more than I expected, Considerably more. I fear for the next few years we will be comparatively poor.

JACK: Poor! How poor?

SIR FRANCIS: (standing) Don’t worry, it’s not all that bad - I have hopes of securing you a modest appointment.

JACK: You’ve what?

SIR FRANCIS goes to Fireplace

SIR FRANCIS: It’s early days yet so don’t go building your hopes -

JACK: But where?

SIR FRANCIS: Bengal.

JACK: Bengal?

BRASSETT enters

JACK: Bengal!

BRASSETT: Ben who, sir?

JACK turns, sees BRASSETT

JACK: What is it, Brassett?

BRASSETT holds up a tiny brown paper packet

BRASSETT: Hairpins, sir,

SIR FRANCIS: Hairpins? What the devil do you want - ?

BRASSETT: Shall I ….?

JACK: Yes, yes, he’s in the bedroom.

BRASSETT leaves for the Bedroom

SIR FRANCIS: A chap in the bedroom? In need of hairpins? What the devil - ?

JACK: I’ll explain later. I had no idea our family fortunes had become so perilous.

SIR FRANCIS: Not to worry. I still have my pension.

JACK: Your pension won’t win an heiress. Dash it, Dad, what’s the point of having a title if it isn’t worth anything?

SIR FRANCIS: We’ll manage.

JACK: Manage? Manage? I don’t want to manage!

SIR FRANCIS: Times are changing, Jack. I fear it’s the way of the world.

JACK: Listen, Dad, I have an idea.

SIR FRANCIS: My chum Charley here, he has an aunt.

SIR FRANCIS: That’s hardly unusual.

JACK: Listen! Her name is Donna … Donna Lucia … Dal ... Dal …

CHARLEY: Donna Lucia d'Alvadorez.

JACK: Yes, that. The thing is she’s coming here to lunch to-day. And she's a widow. A very wealthy widow …

SIR FRANCIS: I see.

JACK: She’s charming, sophisticated, well-travelled ...

SIR FRANCIS: Why, you young rascal, shame on you! How can you even consider –

JACK: Not me - you.

SIR FRANCIS: Me?

JACK: Yes, you.

SIR FRANCIS: Out of the question ...

JACK: You could at least meet her.

SIR FRANCIS: I promised your mother I’d never marry again.

JACK: Dad, I can’t afford to be poor.

SIR FRANCIS: It’s damnable, I know, but …

JACK: Please. Please, father …

SIR FRANCIS: Is she attractive?

JACK: A beauty, a real catch. Now, where are your things?

SIR FRANCIS: At the hotel, but -

JACK: No buts. Go and change. Spruce yourself up.

SIR FRANCIS: But I have appointments.

JACK: They can wait.

JACK gives SIR FRANCIS his hat, stick and gloves

JACK: Off you go. Oh, and put a flower in your buttonhole. Takes years off a man.

SIR FRANCIS: But Jack –

JACK: One o’clock, sharp. Quickly! There’s not a moment to lose.

JACK bustles him out

JACK closes the Door, sighs

BRASSETT enters with a Telegram on a silver platter

JACK: Now what?

BRASSET: Telegram for Mr Wykeham …

CHARLEY takes it, reads

JACK: Well? What is it? Charley? Charley, what - ?

CHARLEY gives him the telegram, slumps to the sofa

CHARLEY: She's not coming!

JACK: Not coming? But she must! She simply must! Go and wire another telegram.

CHARLEY: There's no time.

JACK: Bugger! Bugger, bugger, bugger!

CHARLEY: And the girls won't stay without a chaperone.

JACK looks out the Window

JACK: Damn and blast!

CHARLEY: Couldn't we ask the Proctor's wife, old Mrs -?

JACK: God no, she’d sit there and stare like an owl and turn us all to stone.

CHARLEY: I don’t see how we have much choice.

JACK: Damn, there they are!

CHARLEY: What?

JACK: They're coming!

CHARLEY: What now?

JACK: Yes!

We hear LORD FANCOURT …

LORD FANCOURT: (Off) I say, Jack!

CHARLEY: What on earth are we to do?

LORD FANCOURT: (Off) Jack, what do you think?

JACK turns upstage and goes to the bedroom Door

JACK: Coming!

LORD FANCOURT: (OFF) Jack!

JACK: What the deuce is it now?

He opens the bedroom door

Freezes, staggers back, amazed

CHARLEY goes to him

CHARLEY: What is it? Jack, what’s wrong?

LORD FANCOURT: (Off) I say, chaps, look here ….

CHARLEY: Jack, what the devil – ?

JACK and CHARLEY both stand transfixed, eventually …

CHARLEY: Oh, my good lord.

LORD FANCOURT enters, now dressed as an old lady

He wears a black satin dress, wig, cap, etc

LORD FANCOURT: How's this?

LORD FANCOURT promenades up and down, smiling benignly

[NOTE: LORD FANCOURT has never acted and has never worn women's clothes. He walks, talks and moves like a man ie no effeminate female impersonation business]

LORD FANCOURT: Well? What do you think?

JACK: What do I think? I think … I think you look splendid.

CHARLEY: Splendid?

JACK: Absolutely splendid!

There’s a sudden Knock at the Outer Door

CHARLEY: It’s the girls!

LORD FANCOURT: The girls? Out of my way!

He bolts towards the Bedroom but JACK stops him

LORD FANCOURT: Out of my way, damn you! I have to change!

JACK: No you don’t.

LORD FANCOURT: I can’t meet them looking like this!

JACK: Yes, you can.

LORD FANCOURT: How can I?

JACK: They won't stay if you do.

LORD FANCOURT: What? What do you mean?

JACK: Charley's aunt can't come.

LORD FANCOURT: So?

JACK: So you must be Charley's aunt.

LORD FANCOURT: Eh?

JACK: You are to be Charley’s aunt.

[End of Extract]

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