House and Garden

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A: Alan Ayckbourn Pf: 1999, Scarborough Pb: 2000 G: Two linked coms., each in 2 acts S: (1) Living room of English country house; (2) Garden of same, 1990s C: 7m, 7f, extras(1)House. Trish Platt, an attractive woman in her forties, has invited a French film star Lucille Cadeau to open their village fête. Trish treats her husband Teddy as though he were invisible because of his affair with a married neighbour Joanna Mace. Teddy seeks the advice of their doctor Giles Mace, who has no idea that his wife and Teddy are seeing each other. Teddy, who manages a large printing firm, is thinking of following his father into politics and standing as MP. He has invited the celebrated novelist Gavin Ryng-Mayne, a friend of the prime minister, to lunch, and does not want Trish's moods to spoil things. Joanna reveals her affair to Giles, who seeks support from Trish. Trish tells Giles that her own marriage has been dead for many years. Gavin arrives and offers Teddy the constituency candidacy, hoping that he will be able to head up a committee investigating immoral behaviour amongst MPs. Trish, Giles, Joanna, and Sally all ignore Teddy. Lucille finally arrives, and everyone, including the Platts' daughter Sally, chatters away in French to her, while Teddy feels more and more excluded. After lunch, Gavin charms Sally, and Lucille and Teddy get drunk together. The fête is called off because of a downpour. Gavin and Sally continue to flirt, until Gavin tells her of his sexual fantasy, driving Sally from the room. Jake confronts Gavin for upsetting Sally. Teddy and Lucille stagger in from the rain, soaked through and missing items of clothing. Gavin leaves, withdrawing the offer of putting Teddy's name forward as party candidate. Trish announces that she is leaving Teddy. Jake finally succeeds in telling Sally that he loves her. Sally bursts into tears. (2)Garden. The events of this part run exactly contemporaneously with those of the first. At the bottom of the garden Joanna secretly meets Teddy, who has come to tell her that he wishes to end their affair. Trish comes into the garden to cut some roses and finds the distraught Joanna wanting to confess. Trish is very abrupt with her, and insists that she must tell Giles. Joanna confesses her affair to Giles, who goes off in distress. Barry and his wife Lindy begin to erect tents and enclosures for the fête. Jake sympathizes with his father over his mother's affair, but Giles is very forgiving and looks forward to his Morris dancing. Barry and Linda find Joanna hiding in the bushes and are worried because she is to supervise the maypole dance. They communicate their concerns to Giles. Joanna has become convinced that Giles has been substituted by a dangerous clone called Harold and then fears that Jake too has been ‘replaced’. Despite the downpour, Lucille and Teddy play hoop-la and paddle in the fountain. Although they cannot comprehend a word each other is saying, they reach a genuine understanding, and disappear into the tent together, which collapses on them. Joanna suddenly appears and begins attacking Teddy violently, while Lucille attempts to defend him. Lindy begs a lift off Gavin, in order to get away from Barry. Lucille is taken off to her clinic where she is to dry out, and Teddy is left on his own.Ayckbourn parades his usual sequence of desperate marital relationships, including a total mental breakdown by Joanna, which nevertheless remains funny. The particular twist of these two plays is that they are meant to be played simultaneously in two neighbouring venues, with the actors and their characters moving from play to play, in a manner employed by Fornés in Act 2 of Fefu and Her Friends, and which is an extension of the parallel action explored in Ayckbourn's Norman Conquests.


Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

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