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A Short Play By Lesley Carson

Characters


SPENCER- Lover of dearly departed Natalia, early thirties

EUSTACE- Wealthy husband of Natalia, sixty-seven

HEATHER BURKSHIRE- Aunt of Natalia, chubby

SHIRLEY- Heather's daughter

ROBERT- Old friend of EUSTACE'S, chubby, obviously rich

SECRETARY


SETTING

A getaway mansion in the woods. Main hall set in centre stage, with lavish decorations. A door allowing entry to the 'party' is at the right side of the room. Stage left a small bathroom and stage right a study. As the play progresses, the party gets increasingly more busy. This can be achieved, save thirty or so cast members, with chaotic lighting and by playing a recorded loop of a party with its volume adjusted in accordance to speech and silence.

NOTE: Shirley and secretary can be played by the same actor.

SCENE: I

Office

EUSTACE: You are cordially invited. . .

(Pause)

So very everyday'Scrap it!

SECRETARY: You are cordially, perhaps?

EUSTACE: The whole thing, axe it all!

(Pause)

Let's try this: (Clears throat) Your presence is requested for the two year anniversary of Natalia Smithe, nee Burkshires' death, uh, passing on?

(Pause)

SECRETARY: Mr. Smithe, if you don't mind me saying so, that sounds so terribly macabre. How about memorial service?

EUSTACE: How very right, my dear. For that's what it is, in a way. (Clears throat) Your presence is requested to attend the two year memorial service of Natalia Smithe, nee Burkshire.

(Pause)

This is a private event in where her legacy will be divulged' divided, yes, divided is the word' among those who she held most dear. In the event of her tragic and sudden aneurism that led to her parting.

(Pause)

a proper will was not constructed'

SECRETARY: Hold on here, sir, this seems to be giving to much away yet it's still reads a bit cloudy.

EUSTACE: Shall we clear the air a tad then? Come to party for dead woman. Big goodie bags. No guests. Crystal?

(Pause)

Why don't I leave the goddamned invitation writing up to you then!!

SCENE: II

SPENCER enters main hall, places invitation on table and signs guestbook. SPENCER looks around nervously until he locks eyes with EUSTACE. Crowd hushes, EUSTACE smiles and nods at SPENCER, who tentatively waves then darts over to a chair. SPENCER closes his eyes and takes a deep breath through his nose, smelling the air. As his eyes are closed HEATHER comes very close to him. On his second breath SPENCER gets a big whiff of perfume and coughs it out.

HEATHER: Oh, why I'm sorry, I didn't see you there, dearie.

SPENCER: Not a problem, mam.

HEATHER: Oh, please, call me Heather, I'm Natalias' Aunt. How might you know our dear departed Niece? An old college chum, perhaps?

SPENCER: Yeah, it's been a long time since I've seen her.

HEATHER: You can say that for everyone. (laughs)

SPENCER: Such a tragedy at such a young age.

HEATHER: I't good to hear some sentiment, all I can hear about this room is greed.

SPENCER: I did not know what to expect here.

HEATHER: I would have assumed Eustace would've informed you considering your situation.

SPENCER: What situation?

HEATHER: Please don't consider me presumptuous. . . It's just that this room is filled with such wealth and you yourself'

SPENCER: Oh that! (Whispers and grins) You're right, I am on the poorer side.

HEATHER: And Eustace never talked to you?

SPENCER: I hardly know the man.

HEATHER: How curious. Most everyone here is chummy' or has been throughout the past two years' with Eustace. Yet you must know Natalia quite well' now that's commendable for such a charming young man' where again did you say you knew her from?

SPENCER: I, uh. . .

Enter SHIRLEY by way of sneaking up behind her mother.

SHIRLEY: Mumsy love!!

HEATHER spins around very surprised. With her back turned SPENCER escapes and goes to the bathroom. We see him washing his face and looking in the mirror, sitting on the toilet seat and pacing as HEATHER and SHIRLEY talk.

HEATHER: Ooh, Shirley, I'm so glad you could make it!

SHIRLEY: Glad I was invited, don't you mean?

HEATHER: Don't be silly, girl, you were a shoe in. Now let me introduce you to'(looks around where SPENCER was standing) He was standing right here. I didn't even get his name.

(Pause)

But I think it was him.

SHIRLEY: HIM, him?

HEATHER: In fact, I'm sure of it.

SHIRLEY: I didn't even see him. How can you be sure?

HEATHER: His nervousness, his attire. That and he admitted to being poor.

SHIRLEY: Sounds like a match, he was poor. Nat used to brag about nursing him back to health from his meager life.

HEATHER: Might you recognize him. If anyone in the family had met him it would've been you. You and Natalia were so close.

SHIRLEY: You know how secretive Nat was. We're lucky we even heard the juicy stories. She totally had a separate life for him.

(Pause)

In this house.

HEATHER: Is that ever juicy!

(Pause)

I still can't see him. Maybe he's left.

SHIRLEY: So damn like that deceptive Eustace, taunting that poor man.

HEATHER: He would not have skipped out on his inheritance.

SHIRLEY: Probably just toying with him for fun, bringing him to the height of discomfort and then sending him away belittled with a Ming vase.

The hubbub of the crowd drowns them out. SPENCER enters main hall and bumps into ROBERT with drink in hand.

ROBERT: Now who might you be, young scallywag? I seem to see many familiar faces here. In fact all of them familiar, save your own. Distant, newly found relative from Timbuktu?

SPENCER: Um, no.

ROBERT: One of her long lost pals, perhaps?

SPENCER (glancing around nervously): Sure, yeah.

ROBERT: Oooh, a long lost lover.

SPENCER: God, no, uh. . . I barely knew the woman.

ROBERT: Well then, what business have you here? (hissing) You couldn't be a friend of Eustace's. You don't look the part. Besides, if you were, I would know you well.

SPENCER (backing away): I'm sorry, but I haven't a clue why I'm here myself.

ROBERT: Please pardon me. I've gone a little heavy on the Manhattans here. So very rude of me to be so territorial.

(throat clearing uncomfortable silence, SPENCER makes a move to get away when ROBERT grapples an arm around his shoulder)

Now, I'm sorry. I'm sure you're a decent fellow. Tell me which painting you prefer, the Rembrandt, the Monee, that forrest owl over there? Let me make things up to you.

SPENCER: Really, it's quite alright.

ROBERT: I've got some pull around here. If you've a preference, I could get one sent your way.

SPENCER: You know what? (un-grappels himself) I came here for what I thought was a memorial service, not to join a sick parade of teetotalers groveling over a dead woman's riches!

ROBERT: How dare you say such words against our beloved Natalia!

SPENCER: For God's sake you trumped up little whale, it was not her that I said any words against!

ROBERT: You forget something, little vermin. You, yourself are here as well. Just like the rest of us'for what?!?

SPENCER: Certainly not to grab at Oriental rugs and crystal glasses.

ROBERT: I bet you didn't get an invitation. Cheat. Imposter. I see right through your modest fašade. I double bet that you didn't even know Natalia, you've said nothing valid about her.

SPENCER: Valid? Valid! All I hear in this room is (in a mocking tone): 'I threw such a birthday party for Natty' 'she was so wonderful, will he give away her gowns' 'I was her'

ROBERT: You've come to invade us. Common, trashy, seethy, riff-raff. I know what what you are. (grabs SPENCERS' collar and hisses) You're not supposed to be here, not even for pity's sake!




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