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The Locked Room

    by Kathryn Attwood


     
Now playing : 'The Moonlight In His Eyes'  

Synopsis

The opening scene takes place in January 1965. Irene Trevarrick, a renowned stage actress from the pre-and post-war years is in a private London hospital suffering from cancer. From a conversation between her nurses it transpires that a newspaper article has just been published about her recent reunion with the baby she gave up for adoption some 40 years earlier. Irene herself does not feature in the opening scene but the audience get their first glimpse of Ivy Little who has been Irene’s paid companion for the past 14 years. Ivy is subdued and tells the nurses that she won’t be visiting for a few days as she is travelling to her native Cornwall to visit family.

The remainder of the first half takes place in 1951, in Irene’s theatre dressing room. She has recently opened in a new play – her first since being widowed. As well as Irene, the other major characters are introduced; among them Dennis Booth, Irene’s driver, and Arthur Harris, the theatre manager who has also been a friend of Irene’s for many years. Arthur is homosexual and he and troubled war veteran Dennis clash frequently. Ivy is reintroduced – she is 20 and has recently come to London from Cornwall. After being employed initially as a wardrobe assistant, she has been seconded to Irene as her personal dresser. Dennis teases and flirts with Ivy and causes her to blurt out a shocking secret she holds from Irene’s past. She takes Dennis into her confidence and - it turns out unhappily - her bed. But Dennis, beset by his own demons, is also conducting a secret affair with Irene. Against the background of both a successful West End theatre run and the preparations for Irene’s birthday surprise, the tensions between all the principal characters run higher and higher.

Events come to a shocking climax in Act 2. At the surprise party which takes place in Irene’s drawing room, an increasingly erratic and drunken Dennis threatens Arthur Harris before attempting suicide. The action then moves forward to 1965 and the remaining scenes take place in Irene’s hospital room. In a dramatic conclusion, the secret that Ivy has been nurturing for the past 14 years comes out into the open at last and the final lines of the play are a repeat of those in the opening scene, but now we understand the significance of Ivy's words and deeds.

The play has two short songs: one for Irene and another for Irene, Bobby and Arthur. Bobby plays the piano for both these, and if the actor playing Bobby is not a pianist, then to supplement the piano/vocal scores, a set of backing tracks is available.


Characters

(5m, 7f or 4m, 5f with doubling)

Principals (3m, 3f)
  Irene Trevarrick - a celebrated stage actress
  Ivy (Rose) Little - Irene’s dresser/companion
  Dennis Booth - Irene’s driver
  Arthur Harris - theatre manager and old friend of Irene
  Bobby Gardiner - a young actor
  Patsy Embling - a young actress

Support (2m, 4f or 1m, 2f with doubling)
  Mrs Warren - a wardrobe mistress (could double with Nurse 2)
  Mrs Curtis - Irene’s housekeeper (could double with Nurse 1)
  Lionel Pickering - Irene’s solicitor (could double with Norman)
  Norman - a night security guard
  Nurse 1 (Mary) - a senior nurse
  Nurse 2 - a junior nurse


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