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The Third Act

    by Emma Wood

"Every word that comes out of her characters mouths is so believable and I sit there and think how they resemble people that I actually know."

"As a playwright I think that is Emma’s most important talent. Working with a script that is this good, as a director, I have realised that even the rehearsals have been a pleasure to watch."
Julie Black, Director


Comedic Drama Play Script: 'The Third Act' by Emma WoodSue’s daughter Lara is getting married. Sue, with support and comic relief from her friend Denise, is preparing elaborate wedding decorations, according to Lara’s strict instructions. An event that should bring joy is instead is creating enormous trepidation. Sue will be forced to face her husband of many decades, Bill, for the first time in a year since he left abruptly.

Lara, desperate to avoid unpleasantness at her wedding, clumsily engineers a meeting between her estranged parents, hoping to broker peace. But her plan backfires as Bill reveals that not only will he be bringing his new fiancée, Jessica – before the divorce has been discussed – but that she is pregnant. As Sue faces older age alone, he wearily faces fatherhood again.

Thrown by this news and the emotions it unravels, Sue forgets that her old friend Daniel is arriving from overseas for the wedding. When he comes, it becomes clear he hopes to resurrect a teenage passion they once shared. Flattered but utterly unprepared, Sue ends up spending the wedding night with him, only to find herself completely adrift in herself when they wake up the next day.

She unwittingly offends Daniel in her attempt to buy some thinking time, and then having already lashed out at Bill, and Lara, turns her brittleness on her friend Denise, who delivers some unwelcome home truths.

Realising she has been wallowing in bitterness for a year, Sue finally agrees to meet with Bill and discuss a divorce and the break-up of their long shared financial affairs. Talking for the first time in so long unleashes the grief they have each felt, but allows them to begin to look ahead to the third act of their lives, on very different paths.

A cameo appearance from Daniel’s elderly mother Mary helps Sue accept that she must face change, or continue to be mired in anger and regret. The play closes on her saying farewell to the home she raised Lara in, and taking a decisive step into a new future.


(2m, 5f)

  • Sue - mid 50's to early 60's, married to Bill, Lara’s Mum
  • Denise - mid 50's to early 60's, Sue’s best friend
  • Lara - mid to late 30's, Sue and Bill’s daughter
  • Daniel - mid 50's to early 60s, Sue’s ex-boyfriend and family friend
  • Bill - mid 50's to early 60s, estranged husband to Sue, engaged to Jessica
  • Jessica - 40's, Bill’s new partner
  • Mary - 80’s, Daniel’s elderly mother

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