Murder at the Manor

 Murder at the Manor

A Festive Murder Mystery in 1 Act

By Alan McManus

Murder at the Manor was first produced by my friends and family, at home in Paisley, on Mother’s Day, 2012. These several pages containing the play, Murder at the Manor, and list of publications may be distributed online or in print form, together but not separately. The play may be edited. No charge or voluntary donation may be requested for any copy or performance of this play – unless the whole sum is donated to the Dr Hadwen Trust (drhadwentrust.org)

COPYRIGHT Alan McManus 2012

Dramatis Personae

Miss Marple          Acute Observer                       Older lady

Olga Volgavitch    International Jewel Thief      Younger lady

Brigitte                   Movie Star                                Younger lady

Hank                       Film Producer                          Younger gentleman

Mrs Bantry            Lady of the Manor                   Middle-aged lady

Col Bantry             Lord of the Manor                   Middle-aged gentleman

Buttons                  Butler                                         Younger gentleman

Andrea                   Police Photographer               Younger lady

Inspector Japp     CID                                              Middle-aged gentleman

Revd Green           Vicar                                            Middle-aged gentleman

(roles may be doubled)

The action of the play takes place over 24 hours, in Bantry Manor.

Time: The Present

 

Scene 1 – Diningroom. Dawn.

Everyone (apart from Inspector Japp, Buttons and Andrea) sits round the table, at breakfast.

Buttons                (knocks on door, comes in) Excuse me, Sir.

Col Bantry            (surprised) Well speak up Buttons, my breakfast kippers are getting cold!

Buttons                (coughs) There’s some body in the Library, ma’am.

Mrs Bantry          (annoyed) Well bring them in, Buttons!

Buttons                (grimaces) Can’t, Ma’am. She’s been murdered.

Brigitte                 (screams) Murdered!

Hank                     (pats Brigitte’s hand) It’s fine, baby. I’ll handle it!

Miss Marple        (looks at Mrs Bantry) Perhaps, Dolly, we should call the police.

Mrs Bantry          (sighs) Oh, very well. Murder! At breakfast! With guests!

Revd Green          (hopefully) Is there any more tea?

Olga Volgavitch   (frozen in the act of getting more food) I vosss here all ze time, eatink ze kipper, niet?

Everyone looks at Olga Volgavitch, suspiciously.

 

Scene 2 – Lounge. That Morning.

Everyone is present, having tea. Miss Marple is knitting. Andrea snaps snaps, snappily.

Japp                        (stands at fireplace, hands behind back) The name of the deceased is…

Miss Marple         Inspector, I don’t think we should say the name of the body in the Library just yet, you know.

Japp                        Miss Marple, who is in charge of this investigation?

Miss Marple         You are, Inspector, naturally. I just wondered if you had considered the begonias.

Japp                       (shakes head, ignores Miss Marple) The name of the body in the Library is… (chokes, falls to ground)

Andrea                  (screams, snaps a snap of the Inspector) Someone do something!

Miss Marple        (looks up) Has he turned blue, dear? (Andrea nods) Well I expect it’s cyanide. He’ll have about three minutes.

Col Bantry           (looking round wildly) The police photographer’s right! Someone do something! He’s only got three minutes!

Buttons                (helpfully) I could boil him an egg?

Brigitte                (screams) Murdered!

Hank                    (pats Brigitte’s hand) It’s fine, baby. I’ll handle it!

Olga Volgavitch   Izz too late! Heez goose is cooked!

Brigitte                (stops screaming) Goose? I thought it was an egg!

Buttons               (to Mrs Bantry) What, eggactly, would you like me to do with this one, Ma’am?

Mrs Bantry         Oh shove it in the library with the other one. Honestly! What will we do now?

Revd Green        (clearing throat) We could always have more tea?

Hank                   There’s more tea in that pot.

Miss Marple      (looks up from her knitting) How do you know that, dear? Who was the last to touch that teapot?

Everyone looks at Hank, suspiciously.

 

Scene 3 – Diningroom. That afternoon.

Everyone (except for Inspector Japp, Andrea, and Buttons) is present.

Brigitte                 So we’re all trapped here in this haunted house with a maniac running round murdering people in their beds till the police get here!

Hank                     (pats Brigitte’s hand) It’s fine, baby. I’ll handle it!

Col Bantry           No one has ever been murdered in Bantry beds! That unknown woman who had the cheek to turn up uninvited and get murdered has nothing to do with any of us!

Miss Marple        Are you sure, Colonel? Are you forgetting that incident in India?

Mrs Bantry           Not Bombay Lil, Arthur, surely! I thought all that was in your dim and distant youth!

Olga Volgavitch   But Bombay Lil was hunged by ze mob in Zaint Peterzburg!

Miss Marple         Really? That was certainly the official story, but according to that nice Orthodox bishop down the road, she was rescued by her anarchist sister and died a sainted hermit in Siberia. And, according to Somerset House, you were that sister.

Hank                     (laughs) I’m not buying that! You haven’t had time to take do a roundtrip by train to London.

Miss Marple        No dear. But I did have time to check online.

Revd Green          Russians make great tea. They boil it up in a, whatssit…

Hank                    Samovar.

Everyone looks at Hank, suspiciously.

Hank                    Darn.

Brigitte                 (pats Hank’s hand) It’s fine, baby. I’ll handle it!

Miss Marple        (looks at Brigitte) The way you handled the begonias, my dear?

Everyone looks at Brigitte, suspiciously.

Buttons                 (knocks on door, comes in) Excuse me, Ma’am.

Mrs Bantry           Not more bodies, Buttons!

Buttons                 No, Ma’am. Not more. Less! It’s the Inspector’s body. It’s gone!

 

Scene 4 – Lounge. Early that evening.

Everyone (except for Inspector Japp) is present, having drinks.

Col Bantry            Well this is preposterous! One of us must have murdered both Bombay Lil and the Inspector and moved his body! And when I say ‘one of us’ I mean ‘one of you’! It’s definitely not either myself or Dolly!

Revd Green           The bridge across the river is down. We won’t get out of here till morning!

Hank                      And the telephone wires have been cut.

Miss Marple         Hank, dear, you really must get a mobile. How do you know the bridge across the river is down, vicar?

Olga Volgavitch   Because he vent out ziss mornink, early, before brekfasst.

Brigitte                 And how do you know that? Spying on people, eh?

Mrs Bantry           Actually I think she was stealing the silver. I was going to mention it but with all the murders I found I really didn’t care!

Olga Volgavitch   Ok, I giff eet bak. Da?

Mrs Bantry           Oh don’t worry. It was a wedding present and I never liked it. It’s all insured, naturally.

Buttons                Good. Now I don’t have to polish it.

Mrs Bantry          That will do, Buttons. Haven’t you got chores to do?

Andrea                  Chores! Silver! How can you, when my secret love the Inspector’s gone and been and got murdered and been and gone!

Miss Marple         (puts down knitting, slowly) Well. ‘The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things.’ Many things that people wanted to talk about but were afraid to air. There never was a body in the library, but now Dolly has found out who’s pinching her silver, and that Arthur’s past is really past. Brigitte and Hank know they can rely on each   other through thick and thin (as long as he gets a mobile). Olga realises that – apart from her dodgy accent and kleptomania – people are quite fond of her really. Buttons has discovered he’s a very good actor. The vicar now knows that he might be vegetarian but he’s a terrible old ham… and the Inspector…

Inspector Japp     (comes in the door) … has discovered that it’s in the midst of all the drama that you discover the constancy of love! (gives Andrea a wee peck on the cheek). And what better day to discover that, than today!

FINIS

 

Also by Alan McManus

FICTION

Plays

Mrs Atkins remembers

Redemption (Scots and English versions)

Novels

The Bruno Benedetti Mysteries

Tricks of the Mind

The Lovers

Shades of the Sun

Qismet

Tìr nam Bàn (forthcoming)

NON-FICTION

Ethnography

Dreaming Anarchy: a shut-eye view of a utopia

Inclusive Theology

Only Say the Word: Affirming Gay and Lesbian Love

Nutrition

Body-Logic: the little book that makes a BIG difference!

Philosophy of Education

Alchemy at the Chalkface: Pirsig, Pedagogy and the Metaphysics of Quality

Religious and Inclusive Education

Masculum et Feminam: ‘Time for Inclusive Education’ and the conservative Catholic

(All sold on various Amazon country sites, in print and Kindle formats. Most in other formats on Smashwords and distributers: Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Nook etc.)

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