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The Road Hill House Murder

    by David Morrison



Synopsis

Drama Play Script: 'The Road Hill House Murder' by David Morrison

It is 1860 at Hill House in the village of Road, Wiltshire, and the body of Samuel Kent’s four-year-old son is found pushed down an outside privy. He has been stabbed, and his throat cut. But how did the assailant manage to enter a locked house to abduct him, and why?

No-one seems to have a motive, but many have something to hide. Could Samuel Kent, master of the house and serial adulterer have been involved in his own son’s death? If so, why? Local Police Superintendent Foley believes that the boy's nursemaid, Elizabeth Gough, was involved in the murder and she is initially arrested. She had responsibility for Francis Kent, he slept in her room, so it could be that she and a lover, possibly the child's father, had woken the child up during their night-time tryst and he had seen them in bed together. Had they killed him in order to silence him? Had they opened a window to make it look as if an intruder had gained access to the house and had killed the child?

Elizabeth is released though when the suspicions of Detective Inspector Jack Whicher of Scotland Yard move to the boy's 16-year-old half-sister, Constance. It transpires that she hates her father’s new wife (who years ago was her nursemaid) believing that she badly treated her mother by not resisting the amorous advances of her lecherous father. She admits to taking and killing little Francis in cold blood as a ruthless and premeditated act of revenge.

Constance is arrested but released without trial, owing to public opinion against the accusations of a working-class detective against a young lady of breeding. However, some years later she admits her guilt to a priest, the substance of which is relayed to the Scotland Yard detectives by the priest’s sister.

Based on true events that caused the scandal of the age, this play reveals the infidelities, jealousies and ruthlessness that existed within the secretive middle-class society of Victorian England

Characters

(8m, 5f, 1jnr-m)

  • Samuel Kent - the master of the house, previously married to Mary Ann
  • Mary Drewe Kent - Samuel’s wife, previously nursemaid to the children of Samuel and Mary Ann
  • Constance Kent - 16, the eldest daughter of Samuel and his first wife
  • William Kent - the younger brother of Constance, the son of Samuel and his first wife
  • Elizabeth Gough - the current family nursemaid
  • Sarah Cox - the housemaid
  • John Foley - the area Police Superintendent
  • Alfred Urch - the local ‘bobby’
  • John ‘Jack’ Whicher - a Detective-Inspector from Scotland Yard
  • Adolphus ‘Dolly’ Williamson - a Detective Sergeant from Scotland Yard
  • John Alloway - the odd-job man
  • James Holcombe - the gardener
  • Joshua Parsons - can be doubled with James Holcombe
  • Katharine Gream - can be doubled with Mary Kent
  • Henry Clark - voice offstage, or live character
  • Peter Edlin - voice offstage, or live character


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