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Five Plays by Charlotte McDermott

The Last Dance


A Change is as Good a a Rest

A Silver Mirror

Lights, Camera, Action

The Last Dance

Girls’ dormitory, the girls are getting ready.

Margie I can’t believe this is it girls.

Doris Is it really terrible that I am sad it’s all over?

Jean But you hated the factory.

Doris I did hate the factory laughs but now I am going to miss it, I am going to miss all of you.

Jean She’s gone soft.

Margie I am going to miss it, I don’t want to go home.

Doris Because of Freddie?

Margie Partly because of Freddie, but partly because I am nothing at home.

Doris What do you mean?

Margie Here, we were something weren’t we? Helping the war effort.

Jean Well, we helped to kill lots of young men.

Margie Oh Jean! You know what I mean.

Joyce enters

Joyce Has anyone seen my stockings?

Doris I think Elsie had them.

Joyce Where is she?

Doris She went back to the factory.

Joyce What to meet that lad from packing?

Doris I think so.

Joyce How am I going to get ready for the dance without my stockings?

Margie I’ll draw some for you.

Doris She did mine.

Joyce Let’s have a look Doris shows her. Not bad, go on then.

Margie Can I borrow your blue scarf Joyce?

Joyce I suppose so Margie.

Margie Shall we get Ken to play ‘Little Brown Jug’?

Joyce It’s our song Margie. Shall we? 

Girls start to dance.

Music starts to play and lights change. Girls are at the dance.

Jean I am not going back.

Doris What do you mean? How can you stay?

Jean Stan says I can have a job in accounts when the factory starts making cars again.

Doris That’s wonderful Jean. I wish I could stay.

Jean You should ask Stan.

Doris I can’t Jean, my mother needs me….I have to go back.

Jean She’s managed without you these past few months.

Doris I don’t think she’s managed very well.

Jean What do you mean?

Doris My Aunty Susan wrote to me, she forgets to take the twins to school and then when she does, she forgets to pick them up.

Jean She’s probably tired.

Doris I think it’s more than that.

Jean What do you mean?

Doris She’s not right in the head Jean….she never was really.

Jean I am sorry Doris.

Doris Will you ever go home?

Jean I am not sure really. I think my mother will be happier if I don’t.

Doris That’s awful, Jean.

Jean I don’t blame her for it.

Doris Well you should do, it’s terrible what they did.

Jean At least here I am nearer to him.

Doris What do you mean?

Jean The couple that adopted him came from round here. I feel it in my heart that I am close to my little Sammy. I think he knows it too.

Doris Will you try to find him?

Jean No, I don’t think so.

Lights fade on Jean and Doris come up on Margie and Joyce

Margie You will keep in touch won’t you Joyce?

Joyce Of course I will. You’re going to come and stay with me, aren’t you?

Marge I’d love that.

Joyce There’ll be other Freddies you know.

Marge I know there will.

Joyce Do you still feel sad?

Marge Can I tell you a secret?

Joyce Of course you can Margie, you can tell me anything.

Margie I am relieved.

Joyce Relieved? I thought you were heartbroken when he broke it off.

Margie I thought I was too, but then being here and away from everything I realised that I didn’t really want to marry him.

Joyce Margie!

Margie I think it was jut seeming him in that uniform made me say yes! They laugh

Joyce Oh well, you’re best out of it. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you Margie.

Girls stop dancing and face audience, lighting change.

Margie I think it was then that we heard it.

Joyce During ‘Little Brown Jug.’

Jean We thought there had been mistake that Mr Churchill had got it wrong.

Doris But then we realised.

Margie The explosion was from the factory.

Doris We’d managed to get through all that time without any accidents.

Joyce And then on our last day.

Margie At the last dance.

Doris We heard it and we looked at each other and shouted ‘Elsie!’

Jean It was like everything was happening in slow motion.

Doris We should have gone to look for her.

Margie We didn’t want to spoil her fun, it was her last night with that lad.

Doris What was his name?

Jean The lad from packing?

Elsie walks on 

Elsie His name was George.

Jean George! Of course it was.

Elsie He lost an arm that night.

Margie He did, poor lad.

Elsie He said at least he’d look like a soldier now.

Doris Did you ever see him again?

Elsie He wrote to me a few times, but no, I never saw him again.

Margie At least we kept in touch, didn’t we girls?

Doris Here’s to the ‘Little Brown Jug Club.’

All The Little Brown Jug Club!




Marge So shall we just go over your details Sam?

Sam Ok.

Marge You’re 6ft and dark.

Sam Well more like 5ft 10 and a bit greying.

Marge Women like to hear 6 ft, Sam, believe me.

Sam Even if it’s a lie.

Marge That’s an ugly word, Sam let’s not use ugly words.

Sam Sorry.

Marge So blue eyes, I’d say lovely blue eyes and we can put GSOH.

Sam Come again?

Marge Good sense of humour.

Sam Right…erm.

Marge Now come on, Sam, we all love a joke don’t we?

Sam I am not great at jokes.

Marge Go on, I bet you, tell me a joke.

Sam I don’t know any. Honestly, I don’t.

Marge Of course you do, everyone knows a joke. Now come on, Sam, tell me a bloody joke.

Sam A bear goes into a bar.

Marge Good, go on.

Sam (Nervously) He says to the bartender ‘Pint of beer and ……………….a packet of peanuts. And the bartender says ‘Why the big pause?’

Marge Right.

Sam Because a bear has big paws but it sounds like pause.

Marge I know, Sam, I get it. It’s very funny.

Sam You didn’t laugh. 

Marge Let’s talk about hobbies.

Sam Hobbies?

Marge Interests.

Sam I haven’t really got any.

Marge You must have everyone has.

Sam Have you?

Marge Yes, Sam, I do lots of them, but this isn’t about me, is it?

Sam I like football.

Marge Playing?

Sam No watching.

Marge You’ve never played.

Sam I was rubbish at school.

Marge Anything else?

Sam I can’t think of anything…. I used to collect stamps.

Marge Shall we put keen sportsman?

Sam Ok then.

Marge What are you looking for in a woman, Sam?

Sam I am not fussy.

Marge Who’s your ideal woman?

Sam I don’t know.

Marge Come on, man, you must fancy someone.

Sam Can’t think of anyone.

Marge When was your last relationship, Sam?

Sam I don’t have to put that, do I?

Marge Not if you don’t want to.

Sam Good.

Marge Was it very painful?

Sam What?

Marge Your last relationship.

Sam No.

Marge Glad to hear that. Was it you who ended it?

Sam No.

Marge So she ended it?

Sam No.

Marge So you’re still seeing her? Really, Sam I don’t think you should be here then.

Sam There wasn’t one.

Marge Wasn’t one?

Sam There never has been.

Marge You’ve never had a girlfriend?

Sam No.

Marge But you're 39.

Sam I know that.

Marge And not bad looking.

Sam Thanks.

Marge Well I mean, you’re not dead ugly.

Sam  We’ll put that shall we?

Marge Pardon?

Sam Quite ugly bloke, crap sense of humour and shit at sport.


A Change is as Good as Rest

Maggie’s kitchen

Sue A change is as good as a rest, mum.

Maggie What’s that supposed to mean?

Sue It means it will do you good – a little holiday.

Maggie I am all right here.

Sue I know, mum, but it’s a chance to go away.

Maggie Where is it again?

Sue Great Yarmouth. Remember I told you, in a little caravan.

Maggie Why is everything little?

Sue What?

Maggie Little holiday, little caravan, little Granny.

Sue (Mumbles) Well, I don’t think we could call you little. Anyway the kids are looking forward to you coming. 

Maggie Oh, they’re coming are they?

Sue Well I can hardly leave them on their own and Dave’s away with work. Right then, mum, I’ll pop round later get started with your packing.

Maggie I can do my own bloody packing.

Sue So, you will come then?

Maggie Of course I’ll bloody come, you haven’t given me much choice.

Sue It’s a lovely little site, mum. It’s got a swimming pool and a gym and we can get to the beach.

Maggie Is there a bar?

Sue I expect so…but with the kids…I hadn’t thought that we’d…

Maggie With bingo?

Sue I’ve no idea, mum. Right, I’ve got to get going. I’ll pop back later while Issy is at Beavers.

Maggie What the hell is Beavers?

Sue I’ve told you before, mum.

Maggie Isn’t it for boys?

Sue And girls.

Maggie What happened to Brownies? You loved Brownies.

Sue We wanted her to have a wider experience.

Maggie What?

Sue Not so…girly…more gender equal…I don’t know…well I do...but anyway I’ve got to go.

Maggie You made a lovely apron at Brownies

Sue Exactly!

Scene 2 On the bus

Maggie Town centre, please driver.

(Sits down) Over here, George. There’s a seat free.

George Maggie!

Maggie George! How are you?

George Not too bad. Just popping in to town for some bits for my holiday.

Maggie Oh nice. Where are you going?

George Just to Yarmouth with Dan and the kids.

Maggie Yarmouth?

George We always go. They’ve got a caravan. It makes a nice little change.

Maggie Well, fancy that. I am off to Yarmouth too.

George When are you going?

Maggie Saturday.

George So are we. Might see you there then, Maggie.

Maggie That would be nice.

Scene 3 Department Store

Sales asst. Can I help you with anything, Madam?

Maggie You can actually, (looks at name badge) Ellie. I am looking for a bikini.

Ellie (Trying to appear nonchalant)Right…ok…I’ll show you the swimwear section.

Maggie I am going on holiday.

Ellie That’s nice. Well, here is the swimwear section.

Maggie Ooh! There are a lot aren’t there….so may colours.

Ellie Well, have a lovely time.

Maggie You aren’t going are you? I was hoping you’d help me choose one.

Scene 3 Maggie’s kitchen

Sue That seems an awfully big case, mum, we’re only going for a week.

Maggie Well, I’ve got some new bits I wanted to take.

Sue (Looking into case) This all seems a bit much, mum. There seem to be a lot of outfits in there. Is this your leopard print bikini?

Maggie Where are the kids?

Sue Waiting in the car. Come on you can get in and I’ll put the stuff in the boot. Is this everything?

Maggie And those carrier bags over there.

Sue I don’t think we’re going to need all this wine, mum and anyway we could buy some when we’re there.

Maggie Who is that honking the horn?

Sue Probably Joe.

Maggie So are we okay to take them?

Sue It’s just that they’re very heavy.

Maggie The chardonnay was on special offer and I do like a Lidl chardonnay.

Sue I am sure they’ve got Lidl in Yarmouth, mum.

Maggie They’ve got an Aldi, George said.

Sue George?

Maggie You know George Lawson?

Sue That was married to Syliva.

Maggie That’s him.

Sue When did you see him?

Maggie A few days ago, on the bus.

Sue Oh…What was he doing on the bus?

Maggie Hadn’t we better get going?

Scene 4 In the caravan

Sue I absolutely knackered.

Maggie Are they asleep now?

Sue I hope so.

Maggie Pair of monkeys.

Sue Just because their dad’s not here.

Maggie They must be exhausted, all that running around on the beach.

Sue You’ve got your lipstick on.

Maggie That’s right.

Sue And that’s a new sparkly top.

Maggie It is.

Sue Are you going somewhere?

Maggie I am.

Sue Where are you going?

Maggie To the bingo.

Sue I can’t leave the kids on their own.

Maggie I am not asking you to

Sue Are you going on your own?

Maggie No

Sue For God’s sake, mum. Who are you going with?

Maggie George

Sue George Lawson?

Maggie He texted me.

Sue When?

Maggie While you were getting the fish and chips.

Sue Why didn’t you say?

Maggie I didn’t think

Sue I thought you looked a bit shifty, but then I thought perhaps you were struggling to breathe in that bikini.


Sue When are you going?

Maggie In 5 minutes.

Sue I thought we were going to watch that film.

Maggie We can watch it tomorrow. Don’t wait up.

Sue You’re not going to be late are you?

Maggie I might be. There’s a Rod Stewart tribute act on after the bingo.

Sue Mum!

Maggie Well you know what they say.

Sue What?

Maggie A change is as good as a rest.


A Silver Mirror

Polly It’s a beautiful mirror.

Mr Rawlings It’s what you can see in it that is beautiful.

Polly Mr Rawlings…

Mr Rawlings (Standing very close, Polly tries to back away.)

Polly Mr Rawlings I can’t possibly accept such a gift.

Mr Rawlings But Polly, I bought it for you.

Polly It must have cost a lot of money; it’s silver.

Mr Rawlings I like to give you nice things. 

Polly You should give it to your wife.

Mr Rawlings Why would I want to do that?

Polly People will wonder where I got such a gift.

Mr Rawlings They will wonder, but you won’t tell them, will you Polly? 

Rawlings holds Polly’s waist and then strokes her hair before he leaves the dressing room. Polly alone looks in the mirror and then hides it quickly as Esther enters.

Esther My feet are killing me; they’re covered in blisters.

Polly Are your tap shoes too tight?

Esther They’re two sizes too small for me.

Polly I am not in the last number, you can borrow mine.

Esther Are you sure? 

Polly Of course I am.

Esther You’re lucky having new ones. Did you save up? (Polly nods) I’ve been trying to but I have send money home to my Ma.

Polly I don’t mind sharing them.

Esther What about you, Polly? Do you have to send money home?

Polly I did do for the first few months but my mother just sends it back.

Esther Sends it back?

Polly My mother has disowned me.

Esther Disowned you? Why, what did you do?

Polly Become a dancer.

Esther   (Laughing and shaking head) What would she have you do?

Polly She’d rather I was living at home working in the hat factory with my sisters and waiting for some nice man to agree to marry me.

Esther Well, that’s probably what all our mothers want for us.

Polly I am nothing but a brazen hussy, bringing shame on all the family.

Esther Oh well, Poll, we’re all that! Zip up me dress would you? 

Esther begins to look for her thing and catches sight of mirror 

Esther What’s that?

Polly What?

Esther (Holds up mirror) It’s a beauty isn’t it?

Polly I suppose it is.

Esther Did he give it you?

Polly Yes.

Esther What just now?

Polly Yes.

Esther It looks expensive.

Polly I know.

Esther You know what he’ll be expecting now, don’t you?

Polly What do you mean?

Esther You know what I mean. Fellas like him don’t give you fancy silver mirrors and expect nowt for it.

Polly I didn’t want it.

Esther Did you tell him that?

Polly I tried to give it back.

Esther Wouldn’t he take it?

Polly No.

Esther Well he thinks he’s bought you now. Just make sure his wife doesn’t find out.  Remember what happened to Jeanie?

Polly He bought me the tap shoes as well.

Esther Bloody hell, Polly, he really likes you. You’ll be leading this show by next week.

Polly I hope not.

Dressing room door opens Mrs Rawlings enters.

Mrs Rawlings What are you two looking so guilty about?

Esther holds mirror behind her back.

Polly Nothing Mrs Rawlings, we’re just getting ready early tonight. Mr Rawlings wants us to run through the first number with the new girl but she’s not here yet.

Esther We were just saying we were wondering where she’d got to.

Mrs Rawlings What’s her name anyway?

Esther Betsy, I think.

Mrs Rawlings Right, well hurry up. I want you on stage in five minutes.

Polly Right you are, Mrs Rawlings.

Mrs Rawlings turns to leave then suddenly turns back.

Mrs Rawlings Have you got something behind your back, Esther?

Esther Mrs Rawlings?

Mrs Rawlings Let’s see it.

Slowly Esther reveals the mirror in her hand.

Mrs Rawlings takes it and looks at herself in the mirror, touches her face and then touches her hair. Then opens her hand and allows it to drop and smash on the floor.

Mrs Rawlings Clean this mess up.


Lights, Camera, Action

Marge (on telephone) Hello, Lights Camera Action, can I help you? Yes, sir we do have A Nikon Z6…… Its currently on offer at £2014, that’s an RRP of £2199, so you’d be saving £185….erm…let me check that for you (starts typing at computer).

Dean (walks in) Mum, I need your help.

Marge (Holding phone away from mouth, then mouths)Why aren’t you at school?

Dean Something’s happened.

Marge Is it bad? Oh sorry, sir, yes it does have the built in 5 axis vibration reduction.

Dean Sort of bad…well not really bad…but…you might think it’s bad.

Marge (Looks worried)  Sort of bad? It’s a lovely piece of equipment…we’re open until 6pm this evening …It will be me or my colleague Sean.

Dean (starts to look at mobile phone is anxious to go) Have you got any money?

Marge (Mouths) Why? 4 million pixels yes. That’s a lot of pixels for your money (Marge laughs uncomfortably) Very well, you pick your dog up from the vets and we’ll see you this afternoon. Cheerio.

Dean What’s wrong with his dog?

Marge I don’t know! What’s happened? 

Dean Can I tell you later? I need 20 quid. I can pay you back after I get paid.

Marge What for?

Dean Can I tell you that later as well?

Marge (starts to get out her purse, counts money. Dean takes it. Leaves.)

Sean You shouldn’t have given him the money.

Marge I thought you were stock taking.

Sean I was… I am, but I wondered if you fancy a coffee and a doughnut.

Marge You know I shouldn’t.

Sean Don’t make me have one on my own.

Marge I’ll have half.

Sean It’s probably drugs.

Marge What do you mean?

Sean It’s usually drugs, isn’t it, with most teenagers?

Marge But, Dean isn’t most teenagers.

Sean What do you mean?

Marge I mean he’s a good lad.

Sean But, he should be in school.

Marge Might be a study period….he’s going to university.

Sean Well, they’re often the worst kind…dropping E’s, smoking scram and all that.

Marge Scram? 

Sean Wacky Baccy to you oldies.

Marge Oh God! Is that what the money is for?

Sean It’s bound to be. He probably owes his dealer.

Marge Dealer?

Sean Only last week Guy was telling me…

Marge Is he your latest?

Sean Sort of.

Marge Sort of ? (phone rings) Hello, Lights Camera Action…hello?.... No one there!

Sean Might be the dealer.

Marge What? Why would they phone the shop?

Sean Collateral.

Marge What? What were you saying about Guy anyway?

Sean I went on a date with him but the problem is I haven’t completely finished with Dave.

Marge Why not?

Sean I haven’t had the heart to tell him. I just haven’t answered his calls. It’s fine. I’ll never have to see him again He doesn’t know where I live, which is just as well because he leant me 450 quid.

Marge Right. So what did Guy have to say anyway?

Sean He said the drugs problem in this town is the worst he’s ever known.

Marge How does he know?

Sean Used to be in the MET.

Marge Ok.

Sean He said he saw a load of kids at the swings last week…high as kites.

Marge How old were they?

Sean Still at primary School!

Marge No! 

Sean Yes! Oh my God! 

Marge What’s the matter? (Shop door jangles)

Sean It’s Dave!

Marge What are you doing? (Sean ducks behind the counter)

Sean What does it look like? I’m hiding!

Dave Hello, I called earlier about the Nikon Z6.

Marge Yes, of course, sir, let me show you the model.

Dean (comes in with a bouquet of flowers)

Marge Who are they for?

Dean They’re for you, mum!

Marge See Sean! And you said it was drugs!

Dave Sean?

Sean Sshh!

Dave Is someone behind that counter?

Marge Thank you, darling .. they’re lovely.

Dean Great! Is now a good time to tell you I’ve been suspended?