Our next production – Synopsis & Characters

Gweek Players 6-9th November 2019.

 

“If this were played upon a stage now I could condemn it as Improbable Fiction”

 

This is one of Ayckbourn’s lesser known plays which was premiered in 2005. It is a one of his lighter comedies which is a satire on literary styles .

Synopsis-brief

Act 1. Arnold’s house just before Christmas

Meeting of Pendon writers circle at Arnold’s house. Arnold, the chair, lives with elderly bedridden mother (unseen) During meeting local girl Ilsa sits with mother and serves tea for the writers whom she considers to be intellectuals.

The six members of the group may have a mutual interest but they are not compatible. Arnold is organised “confirmed bachelor”, Jess is a straight talking farmer, Clem is nerdy, Grace is nervous, Vivvi vivacious and Brevis is blustering. Each has little respect for the others abilities.

They each represent a different genre of writing i.e. crime fiction, historical romance, science fiction, musical librettos, technical writing and children’s fiction. All have “writer’s block” are creatively stalled and artistically deluded! They are reluctant to share ideas or fears. These colourful personalities clash, criticise and sometimes encourage each other as they describe the progress that they haven’t made. Arnold suggests that they collaborate on writing something that will unblock their creativity-but this is rejected.

As the group disbands several individually share their fears with Arnold who is quite despondent at their unwillingness to work together. Ilsa goes to the kitchen to wash up and a clap of thunder, a crash and scream emerges. The lighting changes and the members of the group re-appear in Arnold’s lounge-dressed in Victorian dress whilst Ilsa , carrying a candle, wields a knife…

 

Act 2-Arnold’s house

 

Act 2 creates the stories which could have developed if the group had collaborated. Ilsa, and each member of the group, becomes a character in each of the three main stories. There is a Victorian historical romance/melodrama, a 1930s crime fiction and a contemporary science fiction story of alien abduction. References also occur to children’s fiction, musicals and instruction manuals. It is mayhem as stories change and twists occur.

Throughout these only Arnold remains in character. He is puzzled, bemused or intrigued by the changes occurring in his house. He is drawn into each scenario by the other characters who have cast him into a role although he is initially unaware of this. He becomes increasingly involved in the action. All stories refer to his never seen mother-but sometimes she is his wife or sister!

Each story ends conclusively if not happily, and Arnold’s house reverts to its usual post meeting calm . The play ends as Arnold informs his mother that it was “a quiet evening really…nothing unusual”

Characters

A two act play which has 7 characters; 4 female, 3 male.

Ages; In the script the female characters are 18, 30s, 40s and 40s. There is flexibility with these ages and aging upwards is possible.

Male characters; 30s, 40s and 60s. Again possible to increase or decrease ages .

All characters have significant roles.

 

Female

1 Ilsa. 18 years of age-local girl, medium role. Also plays Ilsa ward of Arnold in Victorian section-Large role, Ilsa housemaid in 1930s section-medium role and Doblin the Goblin-brief role but so significant!

 

2 Jess 40s , farmer , large role. Also Miss Norris-large role. Connie the cook-small role, Elaine-v small role (3 words) Squirrel (no words)

 

3 Grace-40s housewife. Large role. Mrs Boon- very small role. Mavis Green-large role, Rhona Reed-medium role

 

4 Vivvi-30s. Journalist. Large role. Mrs Dimchurch-small role, Fiona Longstaff –large role, Solo Pederson-few words but medium role

 

Male

Arnold. 40s.Shop assistant. Always on stage . Remains as himself in Act 2 although other characters cast him into roles to fit their stories.

 

Clem 30s. Council worker. Large role. Dudley Carstairs-medium role, Jim Rash-large role, Zap-small role

 

Brevis 60s. Retired headmaster. Large role. Dr Goodpiece Large role, Run Carter, small role-11 words, Rex von Ecks-large role

 

For any queries email the Director, Margaret Ray at mm.ray@sky.com