He, Haditcummin by Jo Smith
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ACT ONE: Scene One
The scene is the mansion of Lord and Lady Ownalott, present day.
It is a large stately home and is very well kept. Obviously designed
with expensive taste, everything matches and nothing looks out of
place. DSR is a large potted plant. Above the plant is a doorway
leading to the kitchen and conservatory. Above the doorway is a large
bookcase [with a secret door]. Above the bookcase is a staircase
leading upstairs (including snooker room). Along the back wall are
large double doors leading to the dining room, living room, library
and other various rooms. Next to the doorway is a drinks table with a
telephone and a few decanters on it. Above the table is a large,
wooden crucifix. To the left of the table is the front door. On the
USL wall, there are two large stained glass windows. Below the
windows is a large, old fireplace [with a secret door]. Sitting on the
wall directly above the fireplace is a painting concealing a safe.
There is a three seater-sofa in the centre of the stage with a coffee
table beside it. Either side of the sofa are armchairs.
As the curtain opens, Jemima Ownalott enters from the stairs. She is
wearing a nice but conservative outfit in a 1930s style. She checks
her hair self-consciously. She looks out of the window. She turns back
into the room and notices the throw cushions on the sofa. She adjusts
them and then returns to the window. She takes a deep breath and goes
back into the room. She pats the cushions again. Robert Ownalott
enters from the stairs. He is dressed in a 1930s suit and bow tie, the
latter of which he fiddles with constantly.
Robert: God, I hate ties. It takes me back to my days at the lab. Do I
have to wear one?
Jemima: Yes darling, you do.
Jemima: Because everyone else will be wearing one, that's why! This
party is a 1930's themed evening, Robert. Men wore them back then.
They actually made an effort.
Robert: It makes me feel so uncomfortable, Jemima! A man shouldn't
have to feel like this in his own home.
Jemima: Please stop whining. Once everyone arrives and you get a drink
inside you, you'll forget all about that stupid tie.
Robert: Ah, so you admit that it's stupid?!
Jemima gives him a "look" that he has seen many times before
Robert: (Calmly, trying a different tact) I can't breathe you know.
You're slowly choking your husband. On second thoughts, perhaps
that's what you want (He starts to pull at his tie)
Jemima: Don't exaggerate! (She gently smacks his hand to stop him
playing with the tie. She straightens it) It's fun to dress up now
and again. All you ever wear are those bloody silly golf jumpers and
I, for one, am sick of them.
Robert: I just don't understand why every party we throw has to be a
Jemima: Because they are fun and we've done them for years.
Robert: Fun?! I must have missed that one.
Jemima: Everybody else enjoys them.
Robert: Why can't we have a nice, normal party for once? Like
Jemima: Who in their right mind wants to be like everyone else?
Robert: I bloody well do!
Jemima sighs and goes to the window
Jemima: (After a pause) You did invite David and Ivona, didn't you?
Jemima: And the Reverend?
Robert: Yes! Will you please relax?
Jemima: Sorry, darling. You know what I'm like.
Robert: Yes, I'm afraid I do. Were you this nervous the day of our
Jemima: Of course I wasn't. I was excited. I was marrying the love
of my life.
Robert: Yes, my bank balance.
Jemima: And I've never looked back.
Haditcummin, the butler, enters from the kitchen. He is dressed very
smartly in a typical butler uniform
Jemima: Ah, Haditcummin. Is everything ready for tonight? No
Haditcummin: Everything is prepared, M'lady. Carrie has had her
Jemima: Wonderful. And the flowers?
Haditcummin: The flowers are all ready, M'lady. I took care of them
Robert: (Sarcastically) And the walls, Haditcummin? Are they straight?
Has the air been purified?!
Jemima: Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, Robert.
Robert: Yes, but it's the funniest.
There is a clap of thunder and the lights flicker
Jemima: (To the window) Oh dear, that storm sounds rather serious. I
do hope our guests get here safely.
Robert: With any luck, they'll all get stuck in a swamp. That way I
can take off this bloody choker!
Jemima: I sincerely hope you're going to snap out of this mood,
Robert. (Under her breath) Those damn horses
Robert: What are you wittering on about now, woman?
Jemima: If I've told you once, I've told you a hundred times. Stop
betting on the gee-gees. Every day you have to have some sort of bet.
If I didn't know better, I'd say you were developing a problem.
You never win and you always end up in a foul mood. It's no fun
living with you when you're like that, darling.
Robert: (Aside) Because every day is a Mardi-Gras with you, isn't
There is an awkward silence
Haditcummin: (Coughs to break the tension) Perhaps you would both care
for a drink?
Robert: (Quickly) Good idea. I'll have my usual.
Jemima: But it's not even eight! You're not going to get pickled
before our guests arrive, are you?
Robert: (Talking to Haditcummin but looking at Jemima) Make it a
Jemima: (Sweetly) No, thank you. At least one of us should be sober
Haditcummin: Very well.
Haditcummin exits to the kitchen. Robert sits on the sofa. Jemima
flinches as he has disrupted the cushions
Jemima: (Adjusting the cushions as Robert remains seated) I've just
straightened those cushions, Robert!
Robert: I do apologise. I thought the sofa was to be sat on, forgive
Jemima: You can sit on the sofa, but just don't disrupt the
Jemima goes to the window and looks out
Robert: (After a thought) You're seriously going to wear that,
Jemima: That is the intention, yes. Why?
Jemima: And what does that mean?
Robert: You do realise that you're 55, don't you?
Jemima: And do you realise that you can be a royal pain in the ar
Philip appears from the secret door in the bookcase
Jemima: Ah, Philip.
Jemima: What have we told you about using that door?
Philip: Er, not to?
Jemima: So why do you still do it?
Philip: Cos it's more fun than the stairs.
Robert: You'll wear out the hinges, you know.
Philip: They've lasted 200 years so far, dad.
Jemima: (Twirling) What do you think to the dress, Philip?
Philip: Yeah, it's nice.
Jemima: Just "nice"?
Philip: You look good mum.
Jemima: Your father thinks it's too young for me.
Philip: Nonsense. New bracelet?
Jemima: Yes, your father got it for me.
Robert: Did I?
Jemima: Technically. I found that bloody awful ruby and gold necklace
you were going to give me and I took it back and got this instead!
Ruby and gold, darling? You know I only wear diamonds!
Robert: (Nervous) Necklace?
Jemima: Yes, in your office drawer. I knew you hadn't forgotten our
Robert: (With a pretend laugh, he had forgotten) Of course I hadn't!
Etched on my brain that date! Just like prisoners of war remember
their ID numbers! (Changing the subject) Hadn't you go and change,
Philip? The guests will be here in a minute.
Philip: No. I'm wearing this.
Robert: Why does he get away with wearing that shirt and I'm forced
to slowly suffocate? Tonight was his idea, after all.
Jemima: Because he's 22.
Philip: And I can't be controlled, dad. You see, you're under the
thumb. I'm far too strong to let a woman control me.
Carrie, the maid, enters from the kitchen, carrying a large whiskey on
a tray. Philip immediately straightens up
Carrie: Your drink, M'lord.
Robert: Excellent. (He stands and takes a sip) Nectar!
Carrie: Anything for you M'lady?
Jemima: No thank you, Carrie.
Carrie: Master Philip?
Philip: (Flustered) No, no thanks. I'll have one later. Probably. If
it's not too much trouble. In fact, I'll probably just get it
myself. Don't worry.
Jemima: Don't be silly, Philip. That's what we pay her for! You
don't buy a dog and bark yourself!
Robert: Not that my wife is calling you a dog, Carrie.
Jemima: Oh dear…
Carrie: (With a smile) It's fine, M'lady.
Philip: I'll just have a beer then please. Thanks.
Carrie: Of course.
Carrie exits to the kitchen. Philip watches her leave. Once she has,
Robert starts laughing to himself
Philip: What's so funny?
Robert: You can't fool your old dad.
Philip: What do you mean?
Robert: (Mocking him) "I'm far too strong to let a woman control
Robert: You fancy the maid!
Philip: (Blushing. Standing and walking away from his father)
Whatever. Shut up.
Robert: You're turning maroon
Philip: It's warm in here
Robert: I'm positively ambient.
Jemima: Robert, stop embarrassing him! (To Philip) You know he's
only pulling your leg. (Pulling him down to sit next to her) But on a
serious note, you do realise that it is inappropriate to develop a
crush on Carrie.
Philip: I can't believe we're having this conversation…
Jemima: You're a smart boy, sweetheart, and of course we trust you
to do the right thing. As long as you remember that you deserve
someone more intellectual, someone better suited, someonewell,
Jemima: All I'm saying is you mustn't get any ideas. You're a
good-looking boy, you don't need to fall for the first girl who
gives you a little attention. Does he, Robert?
Robert: (Not really listening) What? No, no. Don't make the same
mistake as me!
Jemima: Ignore him. We won't let you marry the hired help.
Robert: Your mother is right, Philip. Don't go dipping your pen in
the office ink!
(He bursts out laughing and throws his head back. Jemima frowns and
Philip looks uncomfortable)
Philip: Nice dad. Really nice.
The doorbell rings
Jemima: (Jumping up, clapping) Someone's here! Someone's here! Up
you get you two, make a good impression!
Robert: (Standing to Philip) You wouldn't know this is supposed
to be fun, would you?
[end of extract]
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