ASCOT EVE

By Allen Lyne

© Allen Lyne 1993-2004

It is the Eve of the famous Royal Ascot race meeting.  Lord and Lady Lavender have invited their friends, family and associates to their traditional Ascot Eve dinner at the Manor House.

Trotsky, Lord Lavender’s famous horse, is favourite for the race tomorrow.  He is to be ridden by Lord Lavender’s senior jockey, Shorty Leggup.

Someone murders both Shorty and Trotsky.  Everyone at the dinner party has motive and everyone has opportunity to have committed the murder.

The laugh - a - minute plot unfolds, narrated in flashback, by the butler Jeeves.

CAST

LORD LAVENDER  HEAD OF THE HOUSE AND DRUNKEN SOT

LADY ROSE              LADY OF THE HOUSE AND SCATTY TWIT

MISS AMBER           DAUGHTER OF THE ABOVE. A BITCH

LARRY GOLD           AN OBSCENELY WEALTHY AMERICAN

BANKER BROWN    LORD LAVENDER'S CROOKED BANKER

MRS EMERALD       A FOUR TIMES WIDOWED CONNIVER

MISS LEMON            A RETIRED SCHOOL TEACHER

BARON BLUE           A PENNILESS NOBLEMAN

SHORTY LEGGUP   A JOCKEY

MAID MARION          ILLEGITIMATE DAUGHTER OF LORD LAVENDER AND MISS LEMON

JEEVES                    THE BUTLER

The first production of ASCOT EVE took place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Adelaide.  The play was written as a commissioned work and produced by the Adelaide Casino.

The set was divided into three with the dining room central, the library and Shorty’s bedroom left and right respectively.  The play is a theatre / restaurant piece and the action takes place between the three courses.

Each table had as a centrepiece a murder weapon.  Each seat at each table was colour coded to represent one character onstage.  The prize winner was the person sitting at the table with the correct murder weapon and seated in the seat with the correct colour.  The prize for the first production was two first class air fares to London with a week at a luxury hotel and two tickets to the Royal Enclosure at Ascot for the race weekend.

There are obviously many ways to produce the work and a prize at the end is an option.  An alternative ending is available on request from the author for companies wanting to produce ASCOT EVE without a prize option.


THE JOCKEY  ( SHORTY LEGGUP)   STAGGERS ACROSS THE STAGE CLUTCHING HIS THROAT AND DROPS TO THE FLOOR.  MISS AMBER ENTERS, RIGHT READING A BOOK, ‘HOW TO FENCE IN TEN EASY LESSONS’.  BANKER BROWN ENTERS, RIGHT WITH A GUN WITH A SILENCER.  BANKER BROWN AIMS THE GUN AT THE OBLIVIOUS MISS AMBER.  AS HE FIRES, SHORTY STAGGERS UP, INTO THE PATH OF THE BULLET.  MISS AMBER CONTINUES TO PERAMBULATE LEFT.  SHE ABSENT-MINDEDLY STEPS OVER THE BODY ON THE FLOOR AND EXITS STILL READINGLORD LAVENDER LURCHES DRUNKENLY ON.  HE LIFTS AN AFRICAN BLOWPIPE AND THERE IS A LOUD  "PHUT"  AS HE FIRES A DART AT BANKER BROWN.  THE DART MISSES BANKER BROWN AND HITS SHORTY LEGGUP.  LORD LAVENDER LURCHES OFF AS SHORTY CLUTCHES HIS SHOULDER AND SCREAMS.  BANKER BROWN EXITS.  LARRY GOLD ENTERS AND GARROTTES SHORTY WHO FALLS TO THE FLOOR. LARRY GOES OFF.  OXFORD BLUE ENTERS, RIGHT.  MRS. EMERALD ENTERS BEHIND HIM.  SHE CARRIES AN EXTREMELY LARGE KNIFE.  SHE ATTEMPTS TO STAB OXFORD BLUE AND ONCE AGAIN SHORTY STAGGERS TO HIS FEET JUST IN TIME TO RECEIVE THE KNIFE.  OXFORD BLUE EXITS OBLIVIOUS TO WHAT HAS HAPPENED AND MRS EMERALD FLEES OFF STAGE.  MISS AMBER ENTERS STILL READING THE BOOK ABOUT FENCING AND WITH A SWORD IN HER OUTSTRETCHED HAND. SHE RUNS SHORTY THROUGH WITHOUT NOTICING HIM AND EXITS.  LIGHTS DOWN ON THE MAIN STAGE AREA AND UP ON SHORTY'S BEDROOM.  MOONLIGHT FILTERS THROUGH THE FRENCH WINDOWS.  A DARK FIGURE SLIPS INTO THE ROOM AND WE BRING UP THE LIGHTS TO THE POINT WHERE WE CAN JUST MAKE OUT THE UNFORGETTABLE RIGHT PROFILE OF BARON OXFORD BLUE.  HIS WHITE, CAPPED TEETH REFLECT IN THE MOONLIGHT AS HE CREEPS UP ON THE DUMMY OF SHORTY LEGGUP  A WIG BLOCK SITS ON A SHELF NEXT TO SHORTY.  BARON OXFORD BLUE COSHES THE WIG BLOCK SAVAGELY AND EXITS THROUGH THE FRENCH WINDOWS AS LADY ROSE TIPTOES IN FROM THE WARDROBE.  SHE MOVES TO THE GAS HEATER AND THERE IS A QUIET HISS OF ESCAPING GAS AS SHE TURNS ON THE TAPS.  SHE EXITS AS LORD LAVENDER LURCHES THROUGH THE OTHER DOOR.  HE REELS DRUNKENLY AROUND THE ROOM, DEPOSITS A WHISKY DECANTER ON THE DESK AND REELS OUT AGAIN.  THE LIGHTS FADE ON SHORTY'S BEDROOM.  THEY COME UP ON THE LIBRARY WHERE WE FIND JEEVES, THE BUTLER, IN HANDCUFFS.

JEEVES SPEAKS IN A COCKNEY ACCENT WHEN ADDRESSING THE AUDIENCE.  HE SWITCHES TO AN UPPER CLASS ENGLISH ACCENT WHEN ADDRESSING THE GENTRY.

Jeeves

Ah tell you what, it's a crook old rap, guv'nor.  Stitched me up good and proper they 'ave.  Reckon I'm the one what's responsible for the demise of the champion jockey Shorty LeggupYou seen what's been going on.  I didn't have nothing to do wiv it.  "Ere's a bloke doin 'is 'onest best to make an 'onest quid as an 'onest butler and what 'appens?  What 'appens I asks you.  I gets fair stitched up by the bleedin toffs.  This lump of a copper bursts into the room and says  "Allo allo allo.  I'm arresting  you for the murder of the champion jockey Shorty Leggup."  I ask you, did I have any reason to see Shorty laid out and cold?  No sirs and madams.  I throws myself upon your mercy.  You bein of sound mind and good judgement like.  There was plenty 'ere who had very good reason to do in poor old Shorty, but I weren't one of them.  Not bleeding likely.  I know who killed Shorty Leggup.  Let me show you what happened.  It all started the night before Royal Ascot.  His nibs, Lord Lavender, (Lights come up on the main stage area where the guests are now present for the dinner party.  They are frozen in position)   that's him up there with the red face, he always puts on a posh dinner like the night before the race and invites all his cronies and the jockey what's to ride his horse the next day.  I've always got me eye to the keyhole and I knows where the bodies are buried, so to speak....

JEEVES MOVES FROM THE LIBRARY TO THE DINING ROOM.

Jeeves

Now look at Lord Lavender here.  He's a drunk and a womaniser and he couldn't lie straight in bed, he couldn't.  But on the surface he's a generous host and sets a good table, but he's got it in for someone in this room, you mark my words.  This is his Lordship’s daughter, Miss Amber.  She's a fair little tearaway is our Miss Amber and quite an handful for her parents, Lord Lavender and lady Rose.  And then there's Banker Brown, or Bonker Brown as young Miss Amber calls him.  Banker Brown, now, he's Lord lavender's investment adviser and controls all the wealth.  Banker Brown has embezzled nearly all of his Lordship's cash.  He's also having it off with our handsome young friend here, Baron Oxford Blue.  Now Oxford's trying to marry Miss Amber for her money and her position in society.  Oxford was born noble and poor and  craves the respectability marriage into this family would bring him.  Brownie here wants Oxford to run away to Majorca with him, that's why he's embezzled the dough.  Banker Brown would like to see Miss Amber dead, I know that much.  He needn't worry.  Miss Amber won't have a bar of Oxford Blue no matter what happens.  She's more interested in this bloke here.  Larry Gold the Chicago millionaire.  Larry has come over to Blighty to try to convince Lord Lavender to sell the famous racehorse Trotsky to him.  Trotsky was to have started in the main race tomorrow ridden by the lately deceased Shorty Leggup.  Lord Lavender would never consider selling Trotsky, not only because he likes the prestige of owning the greatest race horse the world has ever seen, bar Phar Lap of course, But also because he's cracker jack mates with Shorty Leggup and Shorty can't conceive of Trotsky ever being ridden by anyone but him.  And what of the ladies here at this dinner party, eh?  What of the ladies indeed.  Lady Rose has her reasons for wanting to see Shorty Leggup dead as you'll see in a little while when I show you.  Mrs. Emerald here is pretty keen on Banker Brown and reckons she can straighten him out.  All he needs is the love of a good woman and he'll see the error of his ways and stop bonking Oxford Blue.  She's a bit of a right old tart is our Mrs. Emerald.  Been married four times to wealthy men and they all died in mysterious circumstances.  Mrs Emerald wants to see Oxford Blue dead and what about Miss Lemon here?  What about our sweet retired schoolmarm?  Who does she want to see dead and why?  Eh?  We'll find that out a bit later too.  Suffice it to say that no-one in the room is what they seem to be on the surface.  Everyone has motive to murder someone.  Except me of course.  I'm the only innocent party here and the law is stitching me up on the understanding that it's the butler what always does it.  In this case it wasn't the butler at all.  Let's get rid of these cuffs and go back in time to the dinner party earlier this evening and I'll show you who done it....

THE DINNER PARTY SUDDENLY ANIMATES WITH EVERYONE TALKING AT ONCE.  OVER ALL THE NOISE WE HEAR THE BULL LIKE ROAR OF LORD LAVENDER.

Lavender

Another large whisky!  Jeeves... Jeeves... Confound it.  Where is that damned butler?

Jeeves

(Is filling Lavender's glass)   Behind you, sir.

Lavender

Well why aren't you in front of me where I can see you?

Lady Rose

Go to Mr Leggup's room and inform him that dinner is served and that we await his presence in the dining room.

Jeeves

Yes, my Lady.

Lavender

And be quick about it.

Jeeves

Yes my Lord.  (he exits.)

Miss Amber

Oh, god, daddy.  These Ascot eve dinner parties are such a bore.  Why do we have to put up with them year after year

Lady Rose

Don't speak to your father like that in front of the guests, Amber dear.

Miss Amber

Oh fiddle faddle mummy.  Every year daddy invites the same boring lot of people and we have to sit and dine with them.  Peasants.

Lady Rose

Don't speak to the guests like that in front of your father, dear.

Lord Lavender

Another large whisky.

Oxford Blue

I say, Miss Amber, that little number you're wearing looks awfully super.

Miss Amber

Fag!

Lady Rose

Amber!

Miss Amber

Well he is a fag.  Banker Brown is bonking him.

Banker Brown

That's a lie.

Lady Rose

Amber!  Apologise this instant.

Miss Amber

I apologise, Banker Brown...(To Lady Rose)    Oxford Blue is bonking Banker Brown.

Banker Brown

I don't know why I come here year after year to be insulted by you, Miss Amber.

Miss Amber

You come because daddy has pots of money and because he pays you heaps to manage his investments.

Oxford Blue

She's a little spitfire, isn't she?

Miss Amber

And you're a fag.

Lord Lavender

Another large whisky.

Mrs. Emerald

Now, now, Banker Brown darling.  You mustn’t get yourself all upset.  Come over here and sit on mumsy's knee and  tell her all about it.  Did nasty wasty Miss Amber upset diddums, hmmmm?  Never you mind come and tell me all about it.

BANKER BROWN SITS ON MRS. EMERALD'S LAP AND PUTS HIS HEAD BETWEEN HER BREASTS.

Mrs. Emerald

There's a good boy.

Miss Amber

Gawd, it's enough to make you ill.

Mrs Emerald

They're all just boys really.  Aren't they?

Larry

Say, Lord Lavender, sell that goddamn horse, Trotsky to me.

Lady Rose

Oh, Mr. Gold.  You know my husband means no when he says no.

Larry

Hell, that's the greatest living horse.  Maybe the greatest horse in the history of racing and I want it.  Here's a blank cheque, Lavender.

Lady Rose

Lord Lavender!

Larry

Lord, shmordA blank cheque.  As many noughts as you want to fill in.

Lord Lavender

Another large whisky.

Lady Rose

Money means nothing to us, Mister Gold.  We have so much of it.

Larry

Not as much as me, Hot Damn, I want that horse.  As many noughts as you want, Lavender.  Think about it.

Mrs. Emerald

Do you really have that much money?

Larry

Hell, I'm the richest man in the world, honey.  I could buy and sell this goddamn country and this sucker won't sell me a horse.

Mrs. Emerald

(Drops Banker Brown)   Come and sit on my lap and tell me about it.

Larry

I don't need to be suckled right now.   (He indicates Banker Brown)   That guy is a fag.

BANKER BROWN CLIMBS BACK ONTO MRS. EMERALD'S LAP AND ONCE MORE PUTS HIS HEAD BETWEEN HER BREASTS.

Oxford Blue

Oh, I say.  Don't be beastly to poor Brownie.

Larry

Browneye?    (To Banker Brown)   How can you do that?  You call yourself a man?

Oxford Blue

Oh, you horrid, unfeeling cretin.  You take that back.

Larry

You want to do something about it, Nancy boy, you step outside.

Oxford Blue

Beast.

Larry

How about it, Lavender.  Sell me that nag Trotsky and I'll set him for the Kentucky Derby next year.  He's the greatest thing on four hoofs.

Lord Lavender

Another large whisky.

Lady Rose

Now, now, Mister Gold  You know my husband will never consider selling Trotsky as long as Shorty Leggup is still around to ride him.  Why, I believe Shorty would die if he couldn't ride that horse and... (seductively)   he rides so well!

Larry

I'd kill to get my hands on that nag!

JEEVES APPEARS AT THE GALLOP.

Jeeves

Sir!  Sir....

Lord Lavender

Another large whisky.

Jeeves

Something dreadful has happened.

Lord Lavender

ANOTHER LARGE WHISKY.

Lady Rose

Oh, Jeeves, get him his whisky before you tell him what's happened.  He'll only get upset otherwise.

JEEVES POURS LORD LAVENDER A FULL GLASS OF WHISKY FROM THE DECANTER.

Jeeves

It's Mister Leggup, sir.

Lady Rose

What about Mister Leggup, Jeeves.

Jeeves

I went to his room as instructed by your Ladyship and upon arriving at the room....

Larry

Get on with it for god's sake.

Oxford Blue

Beast!

Miss Amber

Fag!

Banker Brown

Bitch!

Jeeves

Well, sir, madam, assembled guests, when I arrived at Mr. Leggup's room, nobody was there.

Larry

And that's your big announcement, huh.  You arrived at Shorty Leggup's room and he wasn't there.

Jeeves

Oh, there's more to it than that, sir.  Much more.

Larry

Then spit it out, man.  Get to the goddamn point.

Jeeves

I looked around the house, sir, thinking that Mister Leggup might be in the smoking room or perhaps on one of the verandahs taking the early evening air....

Larry

Yes, yes, yes.

Jeeves

To cut a long story short my Lord and Lady, sirs and madams, I eventually found Mister Leggup in the rose garden.

Larry

Then get him in here.  We're already half an hour late for dinner and my stomach feels like my throat's been cut.

Oxford Blue

Pity your stomach isn't correct.

Larry

Fag!

Banker Brown

Cretin.

Lord Lavender

Another large whisky!

JEEVES FILLS THE GLASS LAVENDER HAS RAISED ABOVE HIS HEAD FROM THE DECANTER AS HE GOES ON SPEAKING.

Jeeves

Indeed I wish I could get Mister Leggup to come in for dinner, sir.  But I'm afraid that is not possible.

Larry

Why?  Why can't this goddamn jockey just come into the dining room like the rest of us.

Jeeves

Shorty Leggup is... Well I'm afraid he's... You see he's...

Larry

What?  For god's sake...What?

MUSIC FX

Jeeves

Dead, sir.

LIGHTNING & THUNDER FX.

LADY ROSE SCREAMS AND FAINTS.

Miss Amber

How thrilling.

Mrs. Emerald

Murder!  Murder most foul.

Jeeves

Oh, I didn't say he was murdered, madam, just that he is dead.

 

SO WHO DONE DID IT AND HOW WILL YOU FIND OUT?

SIMPLE, SEND ME AN EMAIL TELLING ME YOU WANT TO PRODUCE THIS

DELICIOUSLY FUNNY SHOW AND I WILL SEND ALONG THE SCRIPT.

IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THEATRE RESTAURANT, BUT WORKS VERY WELL IF IT IS.