Ever Rolling Stream by Rachel Cochrane
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.
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,
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
Ben is oblivious, intent on his playstation. Judith exhales.
No reaction from Ben. Judith sighs. She picks up the hoody and places
it on a chair.
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?
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
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!
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?
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.
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
(JUDITH pouring tea into cups &handing them to people seated as she
SYBIL: Marjory Brookes, she lives in that cottage down Cherryburn
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
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: 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
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
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
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
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
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]