Murder à la Carte

or the importance of not being Ernest

To order scriptsSynopsisCast ListScenesExtract


Introduction

This Murder Mystery play should be perfomed as part of a 3-course meal.

Cast: Male 5, Female 3 – [or could be Male 4, Female 4]

A three-course meal plus coffee is served to both cast and audience. It is important to the plot that for the cast there are two choices of starter and two choices of main course. These are referred to in the script as A and B. You may make them what you will according to budget!

There should also be appropriate glasses for wine and water set out for the cast, a jug of water, and two identical bottles of wine.

© John Owen Smith 2003


Synopsis

Family members related to Hilda Golightly meet her Solicitor in a restaurant some weeks after her death, to discuss the terms of her Will.

The main part of the legacy, which is substantial, is to be left to the eldest child of Hilda surviving six months after her death, or if none survive at that date to be shared between Hilda's siblings. This has caused a dispute in the family.

As things stand, the legacy goes to Joan Golightly, the eldest daughter of Hilda, who is single and likely to remain so. If she were to die, it would pass to Vivian, daughter of Hilda, who is married to Les but they have no children yet. If both Joan and Vivian were to die, it would be split equally between Maud and Fran, siblings of Hilda.

Hilda had a third child, Ernest, younger than the others who disappeared abroad under a cloud years ago and has never been heard of since.

Maud and Fran feel aggrieved because they already lost out once (under their parents' wills the money went to the fist-born, Hilda), and now they are losing out again. Viv and Les feel aggrieved because Joan is getting the lot, and she doesn't need it. If Joan were to die within 6 months, Viv would inherit.

If both Joan and Viv were to die within 6 months, Maud and Fran think they would share it between them – but they don't know about Michel/Ernest …


Cast List . . .

Algernon Prentice, Solicitor
Maud Craft, widowed, sister of Hilda
Francis fforde (Fran), single, brother of Hilda [Note this can be played as a female part (Frances) if necessary]
Joan Golightly, single, elder daughter of Hilda
Vivian Jennings (Viv), married, younger daughter of Hilda
Leslie Jennings (Les), married to Vivian
Michel, the French waiter (actually Ernest Golightly, youngest child of Hilda)
Jack Pratt, Police inspector


List of Scenes . . .

Scene 1 – Foreplay
Scene 2 – First Intercourse
Scene 3 – Second Intercourse
Scene 4 – Third Intercourse
Scene 5 – Dénouement


Extract from Scene 1

Maud You'll have to forgive him, Mr Prentice. He can't help it.
Joan He can – he just doesn't try.
Les Would it be a good idea to get down to business?
Fran Spoken like a non-family member.
Viv He is family – he's married to me.
Joan (Aside) More fool him.
Maud Really Joan! Just because you never married
Joan You're not trying to imply I'm jealous, are you?
Prentice If I might try and bring this meeting to order
Fran We've already ordered.
Prentice Yes, very droll Mr fforde – but if I might be allowed to say a few words
Maud There's really no need – Fran and I miss out again. That's the situation, isn't it?
Joan What do you mean, 'again'?
Maud Like we did when our mother died.
Joan I don't know what you're talking about.
Maud Of course you do. Your mother inherited everything when our mother died – she was the eldest child, and Francis and I didn't get a penny. And now it's all being passed straight on to you. Isn't that so, Mr Prentice?
Prentice That is the case, I'm afraid. Mrs Golightly's will is one of primogeniture, and as such her eldest surviving child is the sole beneficiary. In other words, it all goes to Miss Golightly here.
Viv If she lives for a few more months.
Prentice I agree that technically she must survive six months beyond her mother's death, or the money would go to you, Mrs Jennings, as the younger daughter. However, as she seems to be in the pink of health we must assume that this would be an unlikely eventuality.


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