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Peter Pantelyne, Esq

    by Stephen Bean


     

Winner - BEST ORIGINAL PLAY
All England Theatre Festival
(North East Heats) 2007

A one act reduction is possible for this title. See the script for details.

Synopsis

Comedy Play Script: 'Peter Pantelyne, Esq' by Stephen BeanPeter Pantelyne is an anti-heroic reincarnation of Pierre Patelin, the down at heels lawyer in a medieval French farce. As with the original, this modern adaptation is plot driven and retains it’s central theme of morality and getting ones just desserts.

Initially we see Peter as an idle waster, content to live his life on the sofa and sponging off the state. However, a serious domestic emergency occurs; the television has exploded, and Gloria, Peter’s long suffering wife, wants a new one! Okay, Pete is cleaning windows next week (hopefully the benefit agency won’t find out), they can get one then. No! Gloria wants one now! It takes an argument, a thorough beating with a rolled up newspaper, tears and that age old way to a mans heart to goad Pete into action. So, the problem is: new telly needed, but no money to buy it.

Pete’s dislike of physical effort is more than made up for in his ability as a trickster. He is a student of the human condition. He knows what makes the world go round: desire, lust and greed. So,armed with a little knowledge, he sets off to see a wretched pawnbroker, Frank Balls, who is known to have about every vice known to man! The scene shifts to the pawnbrokers where we find Mr Balls accepting the last of a blackmail payment from a disgraced judge. Frank has some incriminating photographs of the judge entering a gay brothel. But, the low life pawnbroker double crosses on the deal and keeps the snaps. It might be useful having a tame judge on the end of a string. Exit one angry judge. Pete arrives outside Franks shop. Here he meets Jenny, a young single mother who has just been propositioned by Frank. Pete is more determined than ever to turn Frank over. He enters the shop and a battle of wits commences. Pete throws out bait and every time the weak willed pawnbroker takes it. The upshot is that Pete leaves with a telly (without paying for it) and Frank will go round to the Pantelyne house later to collect payment in the form of two rare autographs. Frank collects them, together with the promise of a threesome with him and Gloria!

Pete arrives home with the hot telly. He quickly garbles the plan to a shocked Gloria, who barely has time to reply when the pawnbroker arrives to collect his ‘payment’. Frank is somewhat confused when an upset Gloria tells him that it can’t have been Pete in his shop. Poor Pete has been laid on the sofa for three days solid, suffering from the most awful DT's. Good old Gloria sticks to her story in the face of Frank getting madder and madder. He is about to get really nasty when Pete erupts into an hallucinogenic frenzy and starts chasing Frank round the room with a carving knife. Frank escapes (without his telly) but with his manhood still attached.

In the second half of the play we meet Cooksey, a dim and disgruntled motor mechanic who has just been sacked by Frank (who also owns a dodgy back street garage) In a fit of pique Cooksey has nicked a car from the garage and has sold it. The problem is Frank knows Cooksey stole his car and sets up a kangaroo court with his tame judge as mediator. In desperation Cooksey asks Pete to be his ‘lawyer’. Pete’s not too sure; the telly episode will be fresh in Frank's mind. Eventually Cooksey offers enough money and Pete agrees to do it. A very disguised Pete meets Cooksey in the back room of the ‘Pig and Whistle’ pub, where he gives the confused Cooksey his instructions - the only noise he is to make, when questioned, is "Bruuum! Bruuum!". Pete will do the rest.

Frank and the judge arrive and Pete starts leading them down the garden path and is doing very well until Gloria arrives and blows Pete’s cover. The furious Frank goes for Pete and a violent fight breaks out. The whole scene sinks into pandemonium. Who will crawl out the other side? Will Cooksey get away with it? Will Pete ever be released from that deadly head lock? Will the tables be turned on the despicable pawnbroker? The play contains a chase, a fight scene and some (optional) nudity.


Characters

(4m, 2f)

Gloria Pantelyne : 30-50; Peter’s long suffering wife; gives the impression that she is at her wits end with Pete’s attitude to life; shares her husband’s free spirit and love of the un-conventional
Peter Pantelyne : 30-50; gives the impression of an idle waster, but is a lover of the chase; exists on the edge of the law; sees his scams as a legitimate way of making a living; larger than life person; exudes the dramatic cut and thrust of medieval / restoration comedy
Frank Balls : 30-50; must show the physical signs of an un-healthy lifestyle; a trickster but a totally different kettle of fish to Peter; represents the modern gods of lust, consumerism and excess; is without any saving graces
William Judge - 40-60; the mild mannered product of a higher class than the other characters; polite, well spoken and exudes a confidence as befits his position as a Judge
Jenny Smith - 20-30; a pleasant, attractive and slim young mother
Darren Cook ('Cooksey') - mid 20's; a born victim; a fresh faced young man with a child like dependence on others; little experience of the outside world but at heart is a manipulator; not as daft as he appears.

     

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