A stranger comes to the door
A midsummer evening dinner party, 5 players – 2 x 40-something married couples, Di and Pete (hosts), Fiona and Greg (friends) – a stranger
SFX – crockery and cutlery, background music
GREG That was a fabulous starter, Di and… interesting. I’ve never had borscht – always imagined it as runny mashed potato.
FIONA Don’t be so bloody rude, Greg.
GREG It wasn’t meant to be rude. I was saying that it exceeded my expectations.
PETE More beetroot and chilli than potato, I thought. Loved it, darling – very spicy.
DI Well, thank you all. I’m pleased you found it – interesting.
GREG Sorry, Di, my fault – no offence intended.
DI It’s OK, Greg. It’s one of Heston Blumenthal’s recipes and I’m sure they’re designed so that interest and complexity comes before taste.
FIONA Do you want a hand with those?
SFX - crockery and cutlery collected
DI No, no, I’ll be fine.
FIONA Is Di alright, Pete? She’s looking very pale.
PETE Yeah, I think she’s fine – just tired.
GREG It’s not like Di. She’s normally so bouncy and… you know… not so prickly.
PETE Well, she’s had a few problems at work and a busy week. I’m sure she’ll perk up after another glass of – what is this we’re drinking (BEAT) – Shiraz.
FIONA Should I go help out in the kitchen?
GREG No, I’m sure everything’s under control. (VOICE RAISED) You OK there, darling?
DI (DISTANCE) Yes. (BEAT) Won’t be long. (BEAT) Talk amongst yourselves for a few minutes.
(UP CLOSE AND MUTTERED) Runny, bloody mashed potato. And it wasn’t chilli, darling. It was horseradish.
SFX – doorbell
DI (VOICE RAISED) I’ll get it.
SFX – door opening
DI O, hello. Can I help you?
STRANGER Good evening. No, there’s nothing you can do, Diana Monica Kavanagh. Any assistance from the subject in question is frowned upon. Besides, I am perfectly capable. I hold a diploma in Quietus Extermini from the University of Styx.
DI (CONFUSED) Sticks… Quiet… (BEAT) My… my full name. Do I know you? (BEAT) And why the fancy dress? It’s not… Halloween is it?
STRANGER My apologies for the get up. I never know whether I should wear it. It’s rather too warm in this weather. However, some of my clients appreciate it – makes my job a little more… dramatic and authentic.
DI Clients? I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about. Who are you? (BEAT) You must be sweltering in that… Is it a monk’s outfit? And is that a real scythe?
PETE (DISTANCE) Who is it Di?
DI (VOICE RAISED) It’s nobody, don’t worry.
PETE (DISTANCE) Di – who’s there?
DI (MUTTERS) I’ve told you cloth ears. (VOICE RAISED) Nobody. I’ll be back soon.
STRANGER I regret, Diana Monica Kavanagh that you won’t be back soon – or ever. And, yes it is a real scythe. I sharpened and polished it, just for you. Took me quite a time, I tell you. (BEAT) Now, take my hand. This will be no worse than a visit to the dentist, Diana Monica Kavanagh.
DI Must you call me that? I hate that name?
STRANGER Which one?
DI Monica – it reminds me of (BEAT) school. They used to call me “Monica No-Knickers”. (BEAT) How strange, to remember that after all these years.
STRANGER I am obliged to use your full name. It’s in my job spec. And don’t worry about old memories resurfacing. You’ll find that happening quite a lot on our journey.
DI Journey! What on earth…
SFX – mobile phone ring
STRANGER Hand on a mo – must get this. (PAUSE) Yes. (BEAT) Are you sure (BEAT) Oh bugger - not again?
DI What is it?
STRANGER Sorry, wrong house, wrong name. It’s that bloody quill and parchment department again. Why can’t they use an iPad or a laptop for His sake? (BEAT) My humble apologies, Mrs No-Knickers, I must dash. Please forgive and forget this little interlude. It was an error at head office. Ta-ta.
SFX – muffled thud as Di faints and crumples on the floor
FIONA It’s awfully quiet out there, Pete. Should I go check on her?
PETE I’ll come with you.
SFX – chairs scraping the floor
PETE Bloody hell, Di, are you OK?
FIONA She’s fainted. Shall I call an…
PETE No – wait – she’s coming around.
SFX – groaning, heaving and pulling sounds
DI Oh, what happened? (BEAT) What an odd dream – a monk with an iPhone – and…
PETE (WHISPERED) Darling, you fainted. You fell and your dress was rucked up. It’s a good job Greg didn’t find you. You aren’t wearing any… you know. You Jezebel!