A Simple Heart

A Simple Heart

A Stage Play by Jennimy Cricket
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Based loosely on the short story by Gustave Flaubert.

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Section 1

Audience come in to Felicité sitting on a stool centre stage, surrounded by 4 frames forming a box. looking blankly out at the audience, unable to see or hear them. The three narrators are sitting in a semicircle round her, cross-legged on the floor. They have a sheet of paper spread out in front of them with the story board of the play on it and are discussing loudly how to present it. “No no, that bit should go there, then we can go straight into this scene” sort of thing. Etc. Sense of narrators ganging up on Felicité.

When the lights go down, the narrators appear to come to a decision.

N1: Happy?

N2: Happy.

Both look at N3.

N3: More or less...

N2: Good enough for me.

N1: Shall we start then?

N2: Yeah, let’s do it.

They get up and move to three positions around Felicité removing a frame each. All four should be in a line. N1 waves the lights down. They all go into neutral and look down as lights on stage go down except light on Felicité whose light is cold and clinical. Whispers fill the room (on my iPod.) Over top of these the 3 narrators whisper things like “Not left the house in3 years some say.” “Never says a word” “poor thing, all alone up there” “She’s one of those snobs if you ask me.”

This goes on for a few moments then narrators are suddenly lit up in 3 box lights of their own doing exaggerated movement sequences of various LIVELY jobs. Eg. Barmaid, politician, chef. They create a soundscape of life, very loud, lots of laughter and shouting. Complete contrast to Felicité’s box. After a few minutes of this lights go back to Felicité and whispers come back. Narrators don’t join in this time. They walk around Felicité in an inspective kind of way, only vaguely lit by the blue, clinical light. N2 claps and natural stage lighting comes on the narrators, Felicité carries on staring vacantly around the room.

N3: Welcome, watcher

To our short, segmented tale

N2: We shall begin with a woman, old

N1: Alone.

N3: Frail.

(On each word the narrator saying it grabs Felicité, should be levelled. Two on each side crouching, one behind on shoulders.)

N2: Blind.

N1: Deaf

N3: With a bad back and joints.

(On each of these the narrators cover her eyes, ears and yank her to her feet. Should be fairly rough, so it is obvious that they are ganging up on her. No respect for her feelings. Felicité looks terrified. Whimpering in a croaky way. She is)

N2: And no one to live for (they all let go suddenly and she stumbles but remains standing, bent over, exaggerated posture of severe old age. Tries to pick up her stick from the floor, can’t get low enough stumbles and is caught by N1 who pushes her back to standing and picks up the stick swinging it and continuing talking to the audience, ignoring her need of a stick.)

N1: So what on earth’s the point?

N3: (badly) She wasn’t always like this.

N2: (comes out of storytelling character for a second.)Well, if she was it would be weird.

Narrator 2 and 3 share a grin. N1 is unimpressed.

N1: Let us show you how others can close someone’s heart

Till it holds naught but fear.

N3: For no matter how she is now

How isolated, how mean,

She too has had her love story

N1: Let’s turn back time... and see.

(cheesy glittery sound plays)

 

Section 2

 

All narrators converge on Felicité who is standing, leaning with difficulty the object in the middle. In mechanical motions they straighten out her limbs, back till she is standing straight without difficulty. They all step back to admire their handiwork. These movements are not fast but are so precise that it appears quick. Then N2 steps to behind her and very slowly and with fluid motion (so contrast to previous) closes her eyes (biblical) and clicks at both her ears one at a time, Felicité turns her head towards each noise, obvious he has restored her hearing. They all step back. N1 lifts her chin slightly, she should appear young and confident. N1 and N2 go behind her and take up Mother and Father

postures as if in a photo. They all smile in exaggerated fashion and box lighting creates photo of family. N3 goes into audience and hands a mimed “camera” to one of the audience members. They should be confused.

N3: Hi, would you mind taking a photo? Just press here and it should take.

Audience member looks in utter bafflement at the invisible camera they have been “given”.

N3: Don’t drop it! No, no no. Just press here.

Audience member still looks confused, N3 sighs and takes back the “camera”.

N3: oh for Pete’s sake, I’ll do it shall I?

He holds up invisible camera and the lights flash as if a picture has been taken. N3 walks back onto stage and gestures at the now frozen picture.

N3: Felicité Cummingham.

 13 years old.

N2:  And an orphan. No father. (N2 steps out of photo. Mother’s smile withers, looks tired and depressed. Felicité wears a forced smile.)

 N1: Mother died at 4. (N2 comes out of picture. Felicité left standing alone and no longer confident, head down.)

N2: No plans left for Felicité

Her future was up to fate

Which dumped her on the door step (narrator pushes her to the floor)

Of the local farmer’s estate.

N1: She sought in him a father

A substitute for her parents

But all she found him out to be was... (glittery sound but cut short on N3’s line)

As he has said this N3 has assumed Farmer character, should be picture of violence.

N3: Tired, unreasonable...violent. (Last word should carry all the menace it describes)

N1 and 2 grab a frame and slam it down in-between Farmer and Felicité. It should make a loud sound or have a sound effect with it (1984 sound of blocks moving would be perfect) to initiate scene.

Farmer opens the “door” in the frame and looks down at Felicité getting to her feet outside. There is a tense pause as he looks her up and down.

Farmer: You must be Fizty.

Felicité: Um... Felicité.

Farmer: I don’t care. (he grunts and walks back into the house leaving the “door” open but with no indication that she should follow. She looks around nervously a bit then enters and quietly shuts the door behind her.)

Felicité: Um... Thank you so much for taking me in.

No response. Farmer is washing up in the sink. Describing the sound made i.e. pour pour scrub scrub rinse shake etc etc.

Felicité: (getting more and more uncomfortable) I’ll try and help out in any way I can, I really won’t be a bother. I promise you won’t even know I’m here.

Farmer turns around and looks her slowly up and down again. Then grunts.

Farmer: Go feed the pigs.

Felicité: (A little shocked but please that she can be helpful) Of course. Where do I get the swill from? And which way are the pigs? Your farm is so big I wouldn’t know which way to look.

Farmer: (turns around with exaggerated slowness then sudden eruption) Stop asking goddamn questions! I gave you one simple order and all you can do is stand there asking stupid questions, you ruddy posh kids are all alike! Look little missy, (coming up really close in her face, she backs away, terrified) I didn’t ask for you, I don’t want you, and if you put one tiny little pampered toe out of line I will chuck you out before you can say swill bucket, am I clear?

Felicité nods, close to tears.

I said, am I clear?!

Felicité: Yes, sir. Of course, sir.

Farmer: (with slow menace) Now go, feed, the, ruddy, pigs.

Felicité:  (crying) Yes, sir, of course, sir.

She runs out the door and looks around bewildered, no idea of where to go, then bursts into fresh sobs and disappears around the object in the centre.

Farmer: (as she does this, mimicking tone) Yes sir, no sir, three bags full, sir. (laughs maliciously)

Lights fade on the “kitchen”.

N2: He’s gonna hit her.

N1: Don’t give it away!

(apologetically to the audience) This next scene is after a month and a day.

Felicité comes running back around the object. Her clothes should be in disrepair (possibly have her symbolic clothing be an apron that can be changed depending on situation?) She seems in a state of panic, malnourished, wide eyed, and working with furious speed to avoid confrontation with the farmer. She is currently kneeling on the ground and working the ground with her fingers.

Farmer: GIRL!

The farmer appears over the top of the object in the middle of standing on a platform behind Felicité, she looks up in terror, at the audience so we can see both reactions (dislocation).

Farmer: Why is my dinner not on the table?

Felicité looks up at the sun and blanches.

Felicité: Oh my god! Oh my god, oh my god it’s seven o’clock. (she scrambles to her feet) (To farmer but facing audience) I’m so sorry sir! I lost track of time!

Farmer: Be quiet you stupid girl.

Felicité keeps on spewing out apologies and excuses. Farmer lashes out from his pedestal, Felicité reacts as if been hit across the face and collapses. On the hit there is a loud, shocking noise. Freeze.

Narrators 1 and 2 come out from behind object and observe the scene clinically.

N1: (to audience) The first time he hit her

Wasn’t a surprise.

She’d been expecting it a long time

From the violence in his eyes.

N2: (appreciatively, crouching by Felicité) Nice right hook...

(looks up at N1, impressed) Got her right in the jaw.

N1 just looks at him. He shrugs.

What?

She certainly won’t make that mistake any more.

N1: (shakes head. Farmer gets down from pedestal and reverts to normal) The beatings, after that,

Became more frequent,

The other workers all knew

It wasn’t exactly a secret

N3: They all watched and winced

At Felicité’s regular cries

(as he says this N1 and N2 have assumed positions either side of Felicité and are doing sequences of farm work whilst Felicité cries pitifully in the centre)

Then turned and continued with their work

Or simply averted their eyes.

N1 and N2 look at each other as Felicité reacts as if having been kicked and screams briefly. They look at each other. N1 looks in concern at Felicité.

N2: None of our business.

N1 looks up and N2 and nods.

N1: None of our business.

They continue with their sequences of work. N3 assumes Farmer character and yanks Felicité up by the arm.

Farmer: For god’s sake stop crying girl! I know you stole from me! 6 silver pennies gone and I know who did it you ungrateful runt!

Marches her across the stage, her protestations mimed as Narrator speaks.

N1: Perhaps the lack of reaction’s

Why he got bored.

And finally did what he threatened

And chucked her out the door

They have reached the frame and the farmer promptly chucks her through it. She collapses to the ground.

Farmer: Get out of my house!

Felicité: Sir! I swear it wasn’t me! What could I want with 6 pennies? I don’t even go to town, I know I’m allowed!

Farmer: How dare you complain! I took you in out of the kindness of my heart you little b***h, and you’ve been nothing but trouble ever since! Don’t think I haven’t noticed the other things going missing around here. That chicken that miraculously disappeared just after you told me that you were hungry, not to mention that bottle of wine last week...

Felicité: (through tears) I would never have taken a chicken! I don’t even know how to prepare one! And you drank that wine sir! I remember pouring it for you!

Farmer: (obviously getting vindictive pleasure out of this) I don’t care. The fact is, you’ve finally overstepped the mark that you’ve been skipping along all these months. Get out. I never wish to see you again.

Slams door in her face. And goes back to wash up routine of the start, humming jovially.

Felicité: (banging fists against the door (mime)) but you can’t just leave me! I have nowhere to go and there’s a storm coming! Sir!

Collapses against the door and looks up at the sky, putting her hand out as if it has begun to rain. Breaks down and huddles on the floor.

 

Section 3

Felicité in crouched posture on floor. Door having slammed behind her. Narrator 1 come and crouches down next to her. She is frozen. Narrator 1 speaks to audience. Narrator 2 and 3 are standing facing audience but in neutral.

Narrator 1:

Poor Felicité.

All alone in the wet.

But this is a love story

Let us not forget

That we have more things to tell!

Of woe, and of grief...

But splatter of happiness

No matter how brief.

Narrator one stands and goes to stand with other narrators.

Narrator 1: (to narrator 2) But where to go from here eh?

Narrator 2: It certainly seems bleak...

As they speak they close in on Felicité as if inspecting her.

Narrator 1: What she needs is a pick me up...

Narrator 1 and 3 pick her up to her feet. She stands there in neutral.

Narrator 2: (through laughter) More a “push me down”

Claps Narrator 3 on shoulder and they laugh, Narrator one looks unimpressed, and looks at them disgustedly.

Narrator 1: ...so to speak.

Narrator 2 and 3 cough and straighten themselves under N1’s stern eye, then N1 looks back to the audience.

N2: (nervous tone, glancing warily at N1) But, er, enough of foolery.

N3: Yeah, ur, there’s a story to be told.

N2: So let’s bring on... Theodore (on the word Theodore he assumes the character of Theo, Brechtian, representational, very very very over exaggerated.)

(in Theo voice) And let the story unfold.

As he says this, N1 + N3 spin Felicité around and then go into a sequence of exaggerated movements eg. Drink. Down. Laugh. Ask to dance. Accept. Dance hold. Step, step. Split. Then repeat in different place on stage to create atmosphere of fair. Felicité is looking around as if overwhelmed.

 

Theo: Comb. Spit. Slick. Down. Comb. Spit. Slick. Down. (on each word, does exaggerated movement to go with it. Slick is as if slow motion then back to rhythm.) And Check. Check. Check.  Urgh. (also said by N1 + 3) Check. Check. Check. Oooo. (Also said by N1 + N3, on each check he looks at a different place on the stage, as if eyeing up girls. On the ooo he has noticed Felicité.)

All freeze except Theo who turns to N3 who becomes mirror, doing sound effects.

Theo: Comb. Spit. Slick. (very very slow motion.) Check. Wink. Mm

Both: (to audience) How you doing?

Narrator 1 and 3 are still frozen (N3 goes back to original position eg. Drinking.) Theo approaches Felicité.

Theo: May I have this dance?

Felicité looks awed. Theo freezes. F looks to audience.

F: Wooowwww (low, awed)

Slowly looks back.

Felicité: Um. Why of course.

He takes her hand. Freeze. Theo looks to the audience and gives a suggestive thumbs up and wink.

They begin to dance. N1 and 3 come out of fair characters and watch them.

N1: He treated her to cake,

to wine, and laughter

N3: And, figuring she knew

What he was after

Offered to walk her home.

Theo and F stop dancing for a moment for Theo to offer her his hand, she shakes her head, he picks her up.

Theo: Please I insist. Freeze.

N1: After all, he was drunk.

N3: He was handsome.

Theo: (to audience) How could she resist?

Soundscape of drunken laughter comes on. Theodore carries Felicité a few stumbling paces. She is laughing at his state.

He lays her down on the ground; we are seeing it from his point of view. She is not protesting or saying anything to deter it. She seems to invite it. He moves over her. Suddenly she screams and we are shown her real feelings. Soundscape switched off abruptly. Tableau of her being “raped”.

N3: Theo was shocked. (Theo stands guiltily, Felicité still in cowering posture on the floor.)

And being a gallant, brave young man,

He hastily zippered up his flies,

Theo: (exaggerated zipping up of trousers) Ziiip.

And bravely turned his tail and ran.

(Theo freezes in cartoon like pose of running. After a second comes out of pose and resumes N2 character. Felicité unfreezes and resumes picking herself up from the ground in realistic acting, brushing dirt off, whimpering a bit. The narrators speak behind her while she does this, ignoring her obvious distress.)

N2: (to other narrators) Not much of a love story really, is it?

N1: (bustling him to side of object in centre. (assuming there will be some sort of object, structure that we can use as various places, things etc. Like in Woyseck.) We haven’t even got to the good bit yet!

Get back in character!

N3: I’ll get her set. (Yanking Felicité up, brushing down her dress and dragging her round to back of object out of sight.)

N1: (to audience, wide sweeping gesture) and we welcome you to the second time this star-crossed pair met.

(N1 goes to where Theo is leaning against a cart (just the object) and becomes cowering tradesman. N2 (Theo) is still looking a bit bewildered. N1 hits him and he assumes Theo’s posture. Theo and tradesman create tableau of rich and poor, Theo leaning on tradesman, upright, not interested. Tradesman with hands in begging posture looking up pleadingly at Theo.)

Trades person: (absolutely desperate!! Crouched in a lower posture, complete contrast to Theo, comment on social class.) I’m sorry sir, but I simply can’t sell it to you for so little! Look, I’ve offered you a reasonable price, much cheaper than I would originally go!

Theo: No! No, I have named my price!

Tradesperson: (nearly crying) Please sir, I have a wife and children.

Theo: Well then you better take the money I’m so kindly offering hadn’t you!

(Theo winks to the audience. And stifles a laugh.)

After all, I could decide my money is better spent elsewhere...

(he does slow, exaggerated steps to walk off, looking behind him, obviously knowing what he is doing.)

Tradesperson: No, no! Fine. Fine... deal.

(Theo sniggers, sharing the joke with the audience.)

Theo: Good man! (Claps him on the shoulder. Then exaggeratedly gets a single coin out of his pocket and swings it in an arch in the air, eventually giving it to the man.)

Tradesperson leaves sobbing.

Felicité enters with letters to post. She stumbles a bit, drops one. Picks it up. As she bends over, Theo leans forward to watch then snaps back to upright as she straightens.

Theo goes through the movements of earlier (comb spit slick down) but without the words then approaches Felicité as she is struggling with her letters. She looks up and he is right there.

Theo: Good morning.

Felicité: Hi. (goes to walk past him.)

Theo: (slightly losing his representational character as he becomes more involved with Felicité. True feelings coming through) I’m... I’m sorry about last week. (Clears his throat, tries to regain character) You know, too much cider and all that.

Felicité: Quite. (goes to walk past him again.)

Theo: (naturalistic) No, I ‘m truly sorry, I don’t know what came over me.

She turns away again. He grabs her arm.

“Celtic dream” by Zero Project starts playing

Dance like routine starts, at first she rejects his advances, as dance goes on she gets less and less aggressive and at moments she seems to give in. Then goes as if to leave, he pulls her back. This happens a few times in various ways (dangerous game but less “sexual”) In the end they end up in embrace.

Music interrupted but sound of fanfare. On a higher level N3 appears as prime minister, pompous, exaggerated, spotlight on him, he points to the audience in imitation of posters of WW1. Felicité and Theo look up at point above the audience in embrace, looking scared. Dislocation, F and T actually watching N3 and react accordingly. Dislocated so we can see their reactions.

N3: Your country needs you! The Germans are attacking our homelands! We must defend our country! We cannot let our enemies find us weak and defenceless! Therefore, I decree that all men over the age of 18 and below the age of 35 are to be conscripted into the army! Do not let your country down!

Theo and Felicité look devastated and terrified, obviously this conscription includes Theo.

Theo: (hugs her) I’m not going. I refuse. I’ll go to London and see what I can do...(looks her right in the eye) Then we’ll get married. If you want to, of course...

Felicité: Oh my gosh... Yes, yes! Of course I want to! (he hugs her and spins her round, they run off stage together.)

Wedding bells are heard. N3 comes out and sits casually on top of the object.

N3: Theodore and his bride got married

On a beautiful August day.

(Theodore and N1 come out from behind object in wedding gear, N1 is as old widow, exaggerated, bent over old crone.)

Only problem was it wasn’t with Felicité

That he promised till his death to stay.

(N1 puckers her lips for a kiss in her old crone character, should be fairly disgusting, Theodore looks disgusted, then looks despairingly at the audience and reluctantly kisses her briefly on the cheek. Then drags her back behind the object.)

 (N1 + 2 comes back out, in narrator character)

N3: An old widow had approached him

N1: (suddenly goes into widow character for the line.) She had the contacts he required

N3: To keep him safe from war, and terror.

N2: But far from the woman he so desired.

Felicité enters with a mimed basket of bird feed.

Felicité: (as she scatters the seed) Scatter, scatter, scatter. (repeats and hums to herself intermittently)

N3 hands a letter and a post boy’s hat to N2 who promptly hands it to N1 who rolls his eyes and then going into character as a post boy.

Post boy: Ur... Felicité Cunningham?

Felicité: Yes?

Post boy: I have a letter for you from London.

Felicité: (really excited, knows it is from Theo) Oh fantastic! Thank you so much.

Post boy wanders of the “stage” and resumes Narrator character.

As Felicité reads her breathing gets faster and shallower as she goes into panic. She takes a big breath in, about to scream. At this point all three narrators who are lined up along the front slam their hands out in front of them as if hitting a glass wall. Felicité screams a SILENT scream. When she is collapsed on floor and has stopped “screaming” Narrators remove the “glass wall” and the audience can hear her sobbing.

 

Section 4

The narrators slowly walk behind the screen in the centre, leaving Felicité sobbing in a blue clinical light. Over the top of the screen are shown signs saying “evening” the “night” then “morning”. No one else on stage, complete isolation, even from narrators. During this transition Felicité’s sobs gradually get weaker till she is sitting cross-legged on the ground thinking when Morning comes around. (possible music?? Same as what they danced to?)

As normal light of daytime comes back she gets up, brushes herself off and composes herself. N1 as servant comes on and Felicité grabs her.

Felicité: You. Where are the masters today?

N1: (slightly shocked at her briskness) They’re taking breakfast in the great hall at the moment. Are you all right miss?

Felicité: Thank you. I’m fine.

She disappears around the object. N2 and 3 come out and all narrators assume upright, domineering postures on 3 raised blocks or on top of the structure in the middle. They are shovelling food into their faces, barely stopping for breath and generally being disgusting. Should be significantly higher than Felicité as she comes back round the object as if she has not stopped. She kneels at the front of the stage. Dislocation again shows class difference.

Master 1: (belches) Why do you disturb us child?

Master 2: Please hurry up; the sight of you is upsetting my breakfast.

Master 3: You’re not even allowed in the dining room.

Master 1 and 2: Quite!

All: Why are you here?

Felicité: Please sirs, ma’am, I’m here to turn in my resignation.

Master 1: Your resignation?!

Master 2: Do you not like it here then?!

Master 3: Have we not been kind to you?!

Master 1: We’ve been very kind to her.

Master 2: Even took her to that fair a few months back.

Master 3: We’ve been much kinder than expected.

All: Ungrateful child!

Felicité: No, no sirs, ma’am, please don’t misunderstand me! I am so very very grateful that you took me in! You have been beyond kind and I am eternally grateful, but I regret that a recent...a recent.. event has made it necessary for me to leave here.

Master 1: What event?

Master 2: Whatever do you mean?

Master 3: I didn’t know you people could have such events.

Master 1: Oh they can’t dear, not in the way we have them.

Master 2: Oh yes, theirs are much smaller.

Master 1: Much less significant.

Master 3: Oh,  well then...

All: ...whatever do you mean?

Felicité: I mean no offense but I have no wish to disclose the full reason for my departure... it is still too fresh you see... (obviously in great pain, Masters ignore completely)

Master 1: Oh. Well. If you’re going to be like that.

Master 2: Don’t be upset dear, have you truly got an interest in her life?

Master 1: Well, no.

Master 2: Well, then.

Master 3: Is there anymore bacon?

Master 2: Apparently not.

Master 1: Oh terribly sorry, I believe I had the last bit.

Master 3: No matter. COOK! MORE BACON!!

All look at Felicité who is still kneeling on the floor looking somewhat bewildered.

All: What are you still doing here?

Felicité: I... (she runs out of words...)

Master 1: Well off you go.

Master 3: Yes Shoo! We’re trying to get on with our breakfast here. Shoo!

Master 2: (reproachful but laughing at Felicité’s expense) Don’t!

They all laugh then continue to shovel food into their mouths whilst Felicité gets up and goes quietly through one of the 3 frames about the stage. When she is through N1, 2 and 3 all freeze in eating postures then hop down from the object and grab a frame each, moving them further in stage, making the space smaller again. Felicité goes to each of the frames in turn, knocking, silently asking for work, doing a sequence of moves to demonstrate different professions then going back out as if leaving each door as narrators speak

N1: She found a different profession

Wherever she went,

N2: Never staying long

N3: and never content

Narrators grab her to still her. They gesture and prod as they speak she irritably shrugs them off and flinches when they touch her, looking thoroughly pissed off.

N1: Her face, once light

N2: Now haggard and drawn

N3: Her once gentle voice

Now tainted with scorn.

N1: Her posture slightly bent

From endless manual labour

(bend her back slightly so she is hunched)

N2: And her heart, 3 times smaller (puts hand in front of her chest and squeezes as if squeezing her heart.)

Than it had ever been before.

N3: But we are not at the end of our story!

There’s one more person to meet

N1: So enter Madame Aubaine (assumes Mme. Aubaine’s character)

And her little son, Victor (grabs N3/N2’s hand (both have had one main character so choice) and pulls him to his knees)

N2/3: (Ruffling his hair) Awww sweeett.

(N3/2 gives him a dirty look  then proceeds to suck his thumb, becoming Victor’s character)

N2/3  walks to the frame centre stage and turns it and slams it down so it becomes doorway once more, then does a sweeping gesture as if welcoming the audience to the scene.

Felicité walks to the door with a slight hobble and all the characteristics that have just been place on her. A sound of a door bell is heard. Mme Aubaine has been sitting on a raised block, straight backed whilst Victor plays in a regimented sequence. Mme Aubaine is a very Brechtian character, posh to the extreme, straight walking, talking and all round very cartoon like and exaggerated. When the door bell rings she rhythmically looks up, to the door then...

Mme A: Oh, that must be the new governess.

Walks with even exaggerated slow steps to the door. And opens it.

Mme. A: You must be the new governess.

Felicité: (same diction as before but completely contrasting tone, more sombre and rigid.) Yes, Ma’am.

Mme. A: Well. Please come in.

Felicité enters and sees Victor, smiling slightly at the sight of him.

Felicité: Is this the child?

Mme. A: (no emotion though talking about her child) Oh. Yes. This is Victor.

(there is a tense pause in which it seems Mme Aubaine does not know what to say.)

Mme A: Well. Dinner is a 6 o’clock sharp.

She nods then returns to her raise platform and sits to read again.

Felicité looks around a bit, then approaches Victor who is still doing the playing routine.

He stops as she comes closer and looks at her in a trusting, innocent fashion.

Felicité: (stiff upper-class tone) Good Morning, Victor. I am to be your new governess.

Victor resumes playing sequence. Felicité stops still and looks down at him. There is a pause. Then she kneels down beside him. Lights contract on where they are sitting in a warm orange light to highlight the intimacy of the moment. (lights before should be clinical and wide)

Freeze. N3 comes out from object and leans over where Felicité and Victor are frozen.

N3: Ah, the power of innocence

On the old and sharp.

Victor didn’t even need to speak

To make a dent on her heart

And from hence forth (Felicité and victor move closer together and take up more intimate posture (MOTHER �" CHILD POSTURE!!!))

Though ignored by her mistress

She found in the child a brief reprieve

From her soul’s distress

Tableau unfreezes and Felicité mimes reading to Victor, arm round him etc.

Felicité: and what noise to lions make?

Victor roars. Should be fairly endearing.

Felicité wraps him up in her arms and cuddle him, kissing the top of his head.

Felicité: o, you are such a darling!

 Felicité: (hugs her and kisses her head) Of course they can be friends, you are such a darling.

Mme Aubaine: (has been watching from platform) Don’t fuss him so Felicité. (Felicité looks confused) Don’t kiss and hug her so much, for goodness sake he is a child not a teddy bear.

All freeze.

N3: Felicité was shocked!

All cast do a comical shocked face to the audience then resume original tableau.

For unaccustomed as she was

 To a maternal position

She saw care and love

As a necessary addition

Felicité and Victor un freeze and sit back to back though not touching. They act as if they were sitting next to each other, Felicité is teaching him maths. Mme A watching critically from on high.

Felicité: See it’s a times table. Look here, 3... times... 3 equals, that’s it follow it with your finger...

Victor: 9

Felicité: Exactly!

They continue but in mime.

N3: So though on the outside

She retained a certain separation.

She still fussed him and cuddled him

Whenever there was occasion.

While narrator speaking, Mme Aubaine walks out of “room” off platform, Felicité watches her go and then turns round to Victor, putting her arm round him and teaching him more personally. Mme Aubaine returns, Felicité resumes original position.

But in a house so contained

And with her love so devote

It was inevitable that, some day,

Madame Aubaine would find out.

Mme A: Felicité!!!

Felicité looks at victor, excuses herself and gives him an exercise to do then goes to below the platform. Mme A speaking down to her.

Felicité: Yes Madame?

Mme A: Do not think I haven’t noticed.

Felicité: Noticed what, Madame?

Mme A: Do not act innocent with me! I see what you’ve been doing. Fussing and cuddling and generally smothering that boy.

Felicité: I’m sorry ma’am but I just don’t see how else to bring up a child if you �"

Mme A: (interrupting her)No, go no further with your excuses, I can see what you are doing. I am not stupid you know. I have eyes. I know exactly what you aim to achieve.

Felicité looks utterly bewildered.

Felicité: I don’t know what you �"

Mme A: You are trying to steal Victor from me! You whisper things about me and turn him against me. (gathers herself comically) Well, no more. I have made arrangements for Victor to be sent to boarding school.

Felicité looks as if about to protest.

Oh don’t worry, you can work in the kitchens or something. You may have deceived me with Victor but I am not heartless enough to throw you out.

Felicité: But, ma’am, Victor is very young, he will not do well with long stretches apart from me, (quick correction) I mean from his home.

Mme A: (looking down at her) Well, then he’ll know who to thank wont he. This separation is your doing, and I shall make sure he knows such.

Mme A walks off the platform and behind the book flats.

Mme A: VICTOR!!

Felicité has reached Victor by this point and ruffles his hair dejectedly.

Felicité: You had better go sweetie.

Victor walks behind the book flats with a last lingering look at Felicité. N1 comes out from behind book flats. N2 freezes in look then. Felicité sets about clearing up Victor’s books and toys.

N2: And that was the last time she saw him.

Felicité: (not to the audience, to herself whilst picking up toys) It all happened so fast.

N1: But soon Victor’s toys and his laugh

Were but a thing of the past.

Felicité looks sadly down at the last thing she picks up, the maths book they were working on. Then picks it up and goes behind the barrier.

N3: She still wrote to him lots,

Heartbroken by his misery

N1: Which soon made him ill

N2: then swiftly made him history.

N1 looks at him disgustedly. N3 has got Felicité out from behind the book flats, N1 and 3 are getting her into position, N2 is checking the door way. Next out of character dialogue done in complete ignorance of Felicité.

N1: Why do you always have to be so callous.

N2: What? It’s true.

N1: Yes, but you didn’t have to say it like -

N3: Shall we get on with it?

N1 clears her throat looking slightly embarrassed.

N1: (prim and properly) Yes. Let’s.

Stiffly walks to platform and assumes Mme A character, reading.

Felicité scrubbing the floor. Both in freeze - Nice tableau of rich and poor.

N2 and N3 walk over to frame, pick it up

N3: one, two, three

and slam it down, as they do, lights change into scene lights and scene begins.

Felicité: Scrub scrub scrub.

Puts mimed sponge into mimed bucket, from behind book flats N2 drips water into a bucket to create sound effects.

N3 has gone into post boy character.

Door bell heard. Mme A and Felicité both look up, look around then place down respective jobs and go to answer the door, both end up on same level.

They look at each other, unsure of who should answer the door, then Mme A gestures grandly and sits on the edge of the platform.

Post boy: I ‘ave a le’er ‘ere for a Madame Aubaine an’ Felicité Cummingham.

Mme A: Madame Aubaine and Felicité Cummingham?

Felicité: One letter?

Post boy: Erm... yeah... here you go.

Makes a hasty retreat.

Felicité: Would you like to open it or should I?

Mme A: Oh you open it, I do so hate paper cuts. (sits down trying to look at ease.)

Felicité: Dear Mme Aubaine and Felicité Cummingham,

I am sorry to inform you that...

N2 and 3 have come out from behind the book flats and once again create the glass wall so that the scene is done in silence, possibly music over the top, same music as Theo and Felicité dance.

Felicité keeps on reading, falters, stops. Looks stricken at Mme Aubaine, who has stood with her hands over her mouth.

Mme A: (mimed speaking, if it doesn’t work then we’ll do it out loud) It is true?

Felicité: (reads it again then sobs) Yes I think so, why would they write it if it wasn’t.

Mme A: Oh my poor boy. This is your fault!

Felicité: What?

Mme A: You, you made me send him to boarding school!  If it wasn’t for you this would never have happened!

Felicité stands utterly still, stunned. Mme A. breaks down into sobs.

Mme A: Oh Felicité!

Falls Into Felicité’s absolutely shocked arms. Felicité freezes then awkwardly pats her on the back. Then breaks down. They freeze. Narrator 2 and 3 remove glass wall and walk around the image.

N2: It had never happened before.

Any contact large or small.

N3: But I guess only in grief

Does pride forsake us all

N2: But it couldn’t last. (Felicité and Mme A break apart, Mme A goes back to platform freeze head in hands, Felicité left standing alone, looking disturbed, scared and a little mental)

And when her sadness had weathered

She extricated herself from Felicité’s embrace

And left her more isolated than ever.

N1 comes out of Mme A character and all narrators surround her. Lights contract. Small tight space.

N1: And now, Felicité had lost everything

N2: And too old to start afresh

N3: her heart finally broke apart (cracking noise and Felicité clutches her chest in agony and falls onto the stool that one of the narrators has put back in its original position)

N1: And soon after, so did her flesh.

All narrators crowd in on her and bend her into a crumpled posture on the chair. Keeping restraining hands on her. A ticking sound that gets gradually slower comes over the speakers.

All Narrators look at the audience. Then get up as they speak and grab a frame and place it around her.

N2: Her body is shutting down

N3: Each beat of her heart a little slower than the last.

N1:  Old, alone, blind, deaf

N2: Any memory of love a vague blurry past

N3: And nobody cares.

N2: Why would they?

N1: Felicité Cummingham died alone, and unnoticed.

N3: And no one knows what day.

They have got into the line from the start. Lights come up on them and Felicité (separate lights) and they each do sequences of work. Felicité sways a bit, ticking sound is now so so slow. She gradually collapses to the floor, the ticking sound stops, the narrators keep going in their sequences for a bit. Then the lights go out.

Black out.

 

 

 

 

© 2010 Jennimy Cricket


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Added on October 29, 2010
Last Updated on October 29, 2010

Author

Jennimy Cricket
Jennimy Cricket

Dorset, United Kingdom



About
Heya, I'm a student from Dorset who loves writing fantasy! Hope you like my stories and you never know i may finish them someday! Other than that, I'm an aspring actress but am determined to publis.. more..

Writing
Bloodlines Bloodlines

A Stage Play by Jennimy Cricket