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According To Claudia

    by Phil Mansell

Black Comedy Play Script: 'According To Claudia' by Phil Mansell


The play is about the secrets and surprises that emerge when a family gathers to celebrate the 80th birthday of Michael, a crusty Oxford don, who lives in the faded grandeur of the family home with his unmarried eldest daughter, Belle, and his cranky sister, Charlotte, who spends her days studying astrology and painting portraits of dogs. Belle is continually keeping the peace as Michael and Charlotte bicker like children.

One of the reasons Michael is unhappy is that he feels let down by all his four offspring, with the possible exception of Belle. He refuses to have any contact with his only son, Sebastian, because he is gay and has moved to America to become a plastic surgeon. Middle sister Claudia is a bitchy alcoholic in the throes of her third divorce. Youngest daughter Lucy was the one Michael had the highest hopes for but he thinks she threw away a brilliant career in psychology when she married a small-time crook called Micky and went to live in Spain.

On the weekend of Michael’s 80th birthday Claudia turns up, somewhat tipsy with a highly successful crime writer called David in tow and announces that they are to be married. This news surprises David as much as everyone else. Youngest sister Lucy turns up unexpectedly and is immediately sick. The first half ends with a mysterious man who crashes in, waving a gun around and mumbling incoherently before collapsing on the settee.

It turns out to be Lucy’s husband Micky, a diabetic, who has travelled separately to avoid old enemies in the underworld. Micky charms Aunt Charlotte when he admires her paintings of dogs and offers to buy them for a pet hotel he is opening in Spain. Whilst Claudia continues to drink and be nasty to everyone – especially when Lucy reveals she is pregnant and , David strikes up a warm friendship with Belle. Michael is not happy that Micky has turned up and the two have a heated argument. When Micky reveals his terrible childhood and his love of books he wins the old man over.

The birthday lunch is a success until a drunken Claudia has a stand-up row with her father about Sebastian. Afterwards, realising that she is losing David to Belle she threatens her with Micky’s gun. When he tries to disarm her she fires at him and he pretends to be shot, knowing the gun is loaded with blanks. As she sobers up afterwards, Claudia tells Charlotte that she drinks so much because she has had three miscarriages. Charlotte confides that when she was young she had a baby and the family forced her to give it up for adoption.

Lucy and Micky give Michael air tickets to Spain and insist he go back with them. After due deliberation he agrees but only if everyone helps him to pack. They also invite David and Belle who are now together. The play ends with Belle singing to Claudia who is sleeping if off on the settee.


110 mins approx


(3m, 4f)

  • Belle - the eldest sister
  • Claudia - the middle sister
  • Lucy - the youngest sister
  • Michael - their father, a retired Oxford don, about to celebrate his 80th birthday
  • Charlotte - his younger spinster sister
  • David - Claudia’s partner, a writer
  • Micky - Lucy’s husband, a former villain now a successful entrepreneur

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