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Funny Turns

    by David Hampshire

"I really loved the play. I recognised all the characters and it made me laugh and cry. Congratulations’’
(Derek Fowlds)

"A wonderful 5 star play"
(Gyles Brandreth)

"It’s moving and entertaining with great writing . It made me laugh and cry and it should be a major hit. See it!"
(Su Pollard)

See also, in 'Video Clips' above, a lovely Zoom reading of the play introduced by
Joanna Lumley, 
who said of 'Funny Turns': "it's a darling show!"

The Zoom reading stars Linda Thorson, Gary Wilmot, Andrew Wincott, Timothy Bentinck, Gay Soper, Georgia Riley, Crissy Mullen, Lewis Rae, David Forest and David Hampshire


Comedy Play Script: 'Funny Turns' by David Hampshire

Comedian Norman Tate is struggling for work and he passes his time rehearsing his (very average) act with Sally Chester, the love-struck daughter of his landlady, Alice; Sally is enamoured with another resident, song and dance man Charlie Prince. Sally informs Norman that their cuckoo clock was accidentally damaged by Norman’s ex-wife speciality act Nellie Price, which has deeply upset Alice. Norman tells Sally that (among several other men) Nellie is involved with Harold Chance, a local impresario. Sally tends to her war-wounded, bed-bound father Bernard.

Norman cautions Charlie not to lead Sally along as he is aware that Charlie plays for the ‘other team’. Alice forewarns Norman that Nellie is moving into the lodgings. Victor Llewellyn (a conjurer and Norman’s best pal) returns Norman’s fob watch to him (which Norman has sold to the local publican to pay his bar bill). Nellie moves in creating tension in the household. Charlie, who is employed by Harold Chance, discovers that Norman has been booked by Harold to support Bob West, a famous pianist. Harold unexpectedly calls for Nellie and Charlie betrays Norman by telling Harold Norman is professionally unreliable. Victor and Norman celebrate Norman’s booking and they get Bernard drunk in the process, much to the annoyance of Alice and Sally.

Well known actor and another ‘friend’ of Nellie’s, Laurence Mason, arrives seeking accommodation and it is apparent that Laurence and Alice know each other. Laurence reveals to Nellie that twenty years previously he and Alice had had a brief but intense relationship while Bernard was away at war. Laurence tells Nellie that another resident, pianist Arthur Merson, had once enjoyed success with a novelty song but his career had been destroyed by a management swindle.

Norman receives a telegram informing him that his engagement supporting Bob West has been cancelled. Charlie delightedly reveals that he has landed Norman’s booking. Alice and Laurence discuss their past and we learn that it was Laurence who gave Alice the cuckoo clock. Alice then reveals that Laurence is Sally’s father. Harold Chance confronts Charlie about his deception over Norman and he tears up Charlie’s contract prompting Charlie to quickly leave town, which upsets Sally. Laurence is highly emotional as he knows he won’t see Sally again and he departs on tour leaving Alice bereft.

Norman performs his act to himself during which he breaks down and is comforted by Alice. Norman admits to Alice that he’s always known he’s a bad comedian and that he’s had to accept he will never achieve his dreams of stardom. Norman asks Alice if he can continue lodging with her and Alice agrees. Sally appears with a cuckoo clock which Laurence has left her as a gift. Arthur tells Norman that Harold Chance has booked him to replace Charlie Prince and that a renewed career beckons. Norman agrees to help Arthur write material for his act. Arthur happily plays his novelty hit for Norman, Alice and Sally as the curtain falls. 


110 mins approx


Principals (5m, 3f, 1m/f)

  • Alice Chester - late 50's, a theatrical landlady
  • Sally Chester - early 20's, Alice’s daughter
  • Norman Tate - early 60's, a comedian
  • Charlie Prince - mid 20's, a song and dance man
  • Victor Llewellyn - early 60's, a verbose Welsh magician
  • Nellie Price - late 50's, a speciality act
  • Harold Chance - mid 60's, an impresario
  • Laurence Mason - late 50's, an actor
  • Arthur (or Martha) Merson - late 70's/early 80's, an eccentric pianist 

Support (1m)

  • Young Man - mid 20’s, this character walks on very briefly in Act 1, Scene 1

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