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Denitza Vlaeva



Frank McKenzie, 48
Judith McKenzie, 46, Frank's wife
Saul McKenzie, 21, their son
Natalie McKenzie, 15, their daughter
Kelly, 20, Saul's girlfriend
Maggie, Judith's younger sister


Scene One
Scene Two

Scene One
Scene Two
Scene Three
Scene Four

Scene One
Scene Two


The present. The action takes place within a couple of hours on a weekend evening. All of the scenes and acts follow immediately after each other and the action within them should follow without pauses or blackouts.


Forth-wall effect. The action takes place in the living room (situated far left), dining room (centre) and kitchen area (far right) of Frank and Judith's house. These should only be indicated by the furniture - and not by use of walls - and movement from one part of the stage to another does not involve walking through doors. Further indication of different parts of the apartment can be achieved by use of spotlights lighting a particular part of the set or the whole of it, respectively.




Living room, early evening (around 6.30 PM). Frank sitting in armchair, reading. Saul and Kelly sitting in couch next to him, watching television. Saul is talking on the phone. Bright spotlight on living room area, while rest of set remains in dim light.

Saul: No, don't be silly... No, of course I won't... Emily, I am NOT going to forget; I'm actually going to write it down now so that I REMEMBER and I'll give him a ring early in the morning... (whispering to Kelly) Pass me the pen, quick! No, you're sitting on it... (to phone) Yeah, got it all down. Happy now? Have a nice evening... Bye. (to Kelly and Frank) Sorry 'bout that... (exaggerating as Simon does it best) This woman has the incredible gift to spoil anybody's evening...

Kelly: Honey -

Frank: Saul... Why don't you just forget all about that just for tonight...? Would you like a cup of tea?

Saul: Sure... thanks.

Frank: Kelly?

Kelly: Yeah, why not! Cheers.

Frank: Judith! Can you get us a pot of tea, darling?

(Pause) So, Kelly... How was your parents' second honeymoon? Where was it again?

Kelly: The Canaries... They won a holiday on the Red Simmons Show. Very lucky, they were... They deserved it as well...

(Judith enters from stage left; carries a pot of tea).

Judith: Now isn't this quick? (to Frank) I knew it was almost time for your evening cup, Frank, so I prepared myself... (to Kelly) Do you take sugar with it, dear? (Kelly nods) I'll just leave the tray down here (puts tray on table) and I'll nip back to the kitchen for it... (handing Frank his cup) It's a bit hot... (her hand shakes)... careful now... (spills a tiny little bit of tea on Frank's trousers Frank jumps to his feet)! Sorry, darling! How clumsy of me...

Frank: (shouting violently) Yes, how clumsy of YOU!!! It's just a cup of tea, for goodness' sake! And YOU couldn't manage it!!!

Saul: I could possibly -

Judith (almost whispering, fussing around him): There's nothing to worry about, darling... It comes off... It's going to be OK...

(Pause, everyone is still; then Frank speaks up again)

Frank (looking around, regains himself; puts on a nervous smile): Of course... I'm sure it will be all right... I only... I just wanted some more milk, that's all... (smiles again)


Saul: Do you want me to -

Frank: No, it's all right son. You heard what your mother said - it comes off... (Judith walks out silently; Frank sits down, sighs) Now this is what has spoiled MY day (hands Saul his newspaper).

Saul (reads): "Millennium Dome Flop. Management fears loss of millions". Dad, I...

Frank (angrily): I knew this would happen... All this time, I... And all this money... Nuisance!!!

Saul (absent-mindedly): Yeah... Suppose it could be used to finish off all these hospitals they started building a couple of years ago - they're all screaming for money. I told you Kelly's mum's a nurse at St James, didn't I? (to Kelly) What was she saying again the other day?

Kelly: It's been eight months since the repair's been going on, or something...

Frank: Oh, hospitals, road repair, millennium domes, natural disasters... All these expenses just come and go... I'm telling you, all these are nice comfortable ways of circulating money so that no one knows whose hands it ends up in! (Pause) (facing Kelly and Saul) The church, however... So stable, so reliable, so much potential, so... (looking for words) such a secure investment... That's where that money should have gone... "The Millennium Dome"! - and the name, come to that! It's all so disrespectful, that old atheist in the kitchen is the only person I can think of who'd approve of it.



Meanwhile in the kitchen. Judith and Maggie finishing off cooking and talking mischievously while just about to start laying the table.

Judith: Just hold this for I minute, dear (handing her a pot), while I get the salt (taking salt from cupboard)... There we go... Now all we need to do is add a tiny little bit of dressing to the salad...

Maggie (mockingly): JUDDIE!!! But you KNOW he hates salt AND salad dressing...

Judith (blinking at her mischievously): I suppose... But you know I love them - and so does Saul; besides I've just finished his favourite gravy so that should do for tonight... There you go (hands Maggie gravy to carry over to the table)... and don't trip...not with it in your hands...

Maggie (laughing): If only you could speak like that all the time!!! He'd go red as if he were shouting at me!

Judith: Meg...

Maggie: Aha?

Judith: Promise you'll behave tonight...

Maggie (winking at her): Don't I always?

Judith (more firmly): I mean it. You know how Saul would feel about it. Besides, his girlfriend will be staying for dinner as well...

Maggie: Oh, you know I will. Now cut the crap and give me that bottle of red over there. I feel like having a glass before we start... (Judith hands bottle over; Maggie starts trying to open it as Judith watches closely; Maggie seems to be doing alright until she suddenly lets go of the bottle and some of the wine ruins her white blouse; devastated) Oh, what the.... Did you see that? I was doing it all properly... (Judith takes bottle away to table). Don't just stand there laughing - it's my new top!

Judith: Yeah, I saw you've been shopping again, you idiot. Don't seem to get enough of them new clothes, eh? (Maggie looks with the it's-non-of-your-business manner, but still feels guilty) Think you deserved that all right. Now go and see what you can do about it in the bathroom while I call the others. And when you come back... don't forget what I asked you... (Maggie exits left; Judith shouts) Dinner's ready!




The family busy themselves with laying the table. Judith and Maggie bring in the food, Saul and Kelly - the cutlery, and Frank sorts out the drinks. The action of the scene seems to be fast-forwarded; the characters go about their tasks with mechanical preciseness and in silence. The effect should be one creating a feel of haste and the hectic atmosphere contrasts the mood of the previous units. After the table is finally laid, all calm down and resume normal speed.

Maggie: Phew! So I guess we're finally ready!

Judith (with a worried expression): Not quite... (looking at her watch) Nat should have been home by now... Saul, dear, do you know where your sister spent the afternoon?

Saul: Hmmm... I'm not sure... was it?... I think...she mentioned she might be going to Sarah's house to do her art project or something...

Judith: Right, I must phone Sarah's mum immediately. Won't be a minute... (exits right)

Maggie: All these worries... She's a big girl and she can surely take care of herself. I bet 5 quid she'll be knocking on the door in a minute. Let's sit down and dig in now. I'm starving!

Frank: Grace...

Maggie: Oh, I don't mind! You go ahead and say it.

Frank (firmly): No one's eating in this house until grace has been said, and we cannot say grace unless we're all here.



Natalie walking down the "street" towards her house, talking on the phone to a friend.

Natalie: Hello? Oh, hi, Sarah! Yeah, I got'em... No, no, the other pair... the grey one... yeah... oh you gotta see'em, they're great! Of course they didn't see me!!! Would I be talking to you now if they had??? That's right... no, it's not scary at all... it's quite a lot of fun actually... gotta try it some time soon. What? Yeah, that too. 'Bout Ј4 I reckon... Well, at least YOUR dad isn't gonna freak out like mine... hates anything to do with piercing... Can't wait to see his face... Yeah it's just the one next to the off-license, you can have your tattoo done there as well... Yeah... Listen, I gotta go now, I'm quite close to the house, but I'll give you a ring some time tomorrow, all right?

See you. Oh, by the way, did I leave my wallet 'round yours, by any chance? Been looking for it everywhere... No? Oh well, nevermind... Speak to you later. Bye

Goes up the stairs and enters light upon set.



The family are sitting around table, waiting for Natalie. Frank reads newspaper, doesn't seem worried at all, while Judith does little things to keep herself occupied and keep her from thinking about Natalie, but her words reveal she cannot help it.

Maggie (snaps at Judith while she is polishing the wineglasses): Juddie, stop that please, it's really annoying! (more calmly) Just give her a little more time, she'll be home before you know it -

Judith: I don't understand... Sarah's mum... she said Natalie left at 5... so she's been out there for 2 hours now... It couldn't possibly take her that long!

Maggie: I bet it could. (Natalie comes in at the same moment) And you can't prove me wrong any more.

Slight pause (everybody staring at Natalie, apart from Frank, who is still reading his paper) after which Natalie quickly takes her bag and her jacket off and starts walking towards table.

Natalie: Sorry I'm late, mum... (monotonously) Hi, dad, how's your day been? I was at Sarah's house, had some work to -

Saul: Told you... Doing work doesn't exactly sound like my little sister (Natalie grimaces at Saul)... but you can always find her round Sarah's if she's missing...

Judith (impatient): Don't lie to me, young lady... What have you been up to?

Natalie: I told you - I was at Sarah's all day...

Judith: And after that?

Frank (putting paper down, facing them both; firmly): Leave her alone...

Judith (shouting): What do you mean leave her alone? She hasn't been home all day, she comes back after sunset, she's been missing for 2 hours / and she won't even give a valid explanation! Yes. Let's all leave her alone, why don't we?

Frank (more sinister, stressing every word): Leave her alone...

Judith (desperate): For my sake, will you PLEASE take interest in your daughter for once!!! Why do I always have to be the one waiting, worrying and end up screaming like mad? What would YOU suggest we did to her?

Awkward pause

Frank (controlling himself and calm): I would suggest we all calmed down and said grace, now that we're all together, shall we?

Pause, after which all gather around the table

Frank (solemnly but quietly): Merciful Father, we thank you for this food, this bread and ask you to forgive our sins. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Frank starts eating, stares at Natalie. Saul, Natalie and Judith eat slowly, Kelly picks at her food.

Maggie: We've got to be quick - the meal's already getting cold...

Judith (to Kelly): is everything all right dear? (Kelly nods) Any more wine? Perhaps peas?

Kelly: No thanks, I'll be all right.

Saul (hastily): Mum, she'll be all right, don't worry... Pass the bowl down please...

Frank: So, Natalie, I suppose you'd be more than happy to show your mother and me all the hard work you did today?

Natalie: What, now?

Frank (laughing at her): No, silly, of course not. (calm but threatening) What you COULD do now, however, is explain that little shiny thing on your ear. (pause, Natalie has stopped eating but doesn't respond). Well? Is it real? Is it real, I said???

Natalie: Yes...

Frank: I didn't hear what you said -

Judith: Frank -

Frank: IS IT REAL?


Frank (quietly): Nobody swears at this table...

Natalie: And I had it bloody done with that bloody money you bloody gave me!!!

Saul moves restlessly, while Kelly sits stunned

Frank (bursting): So that's where you were... And who did you go with? I wonder who you do all this rebellious stuff with... (to Judith) Do you know who she hangs around with these days? Wouldn't be surprised if that Sarah friend of hers was a -

Judith: Frank, honey, that's enough...

Frank (calmly): What's wrong NOW? I am only taking genuine interest in my daughter's life...

Kelly (very uncomfortable): If you will... I need the bathroom. I'll be back in a bit...

Saul (nervous): Am... I'll get some more wine from the kitchen and I'll be right back... (both exit right towards kitchen)

Judith (looking at them): Saul... Kelly... don't! I'm sorry... please! (points at Saul, Maggie and Kelly; sobbing) Look at them, for God's sake...




The action within this scene takes place in the kitchen and dining room respectively. The two arguments are not overlapping so that their messages are clear, but the lines are delivered immediately after one another.

Saul catches up with Kelly in the kitchen. Both look worried and confused.


Saul: Wait... Is there anything wrong?

Kelly: What do you mean? Oh, that...

Saul: Well?

Kelly (angrily): Nothing could possibly happen now, Saul! It's only been 2 months... Besides if anyone has to be worried, I suppose it should be me, don't you think?


Maggie: Guys, guys, this is ridiculous... I mean -

Judith: Not now Maggie...

Frank (to Maggie): Ridiculous? This? And what do you suggest we call that (points at Natalie)?

Natalie: Dad, please -

Saul (whispering): What the hell is that supposed to mean? Do I have to remind you it's MY baby as well!

Kelly: Suppose not... But I have to remind you not to ask stupid questions all the time.

Saul: What is it then? You haven't had a thing to eat all evening...

Kelly (bursting): Can't you see, Saul? It's been going on all evening and you've just been sitting there, as if... If an earring triggers him off like that, then I can't think what would happen when...

Judith (frightened): I'm sure there is an explanation for this... (pleading) Natalie, please...

Natalie (to Frank): What's the problem? It's only an earring...

Maggie: Of course there is an explanation! (to Frank) It's a hint... for you... to mind your own business! I mean... Come on, she's only fifteen!!!

Saul: I'm not listening to this...

Kelly: Saul, you can't ignore this forever!

Saul: I know what you're thinking and I could probably try to understand... But I know my father better than you ever will. That thing in there - it's nothing, and my sister and my mother know it. Natalie has never been an angel and it just drives him up the wall sometimes... Auntie hasn't been very helpful tonight either.

Frank (to Maggie): Get out...

Judith: Come on, Maggie...

Maggie (firm; determined she wants to have this argument with Frank only): The only person who's leaving this room now is Natalie...

Natalie: What?

Maggie (to Natalie): Did you hear what I said? Off you go! (to Judith) That goes for you too... You go numb every time he turns his eyes on you! She's your daughter too, you know...

Kelly: So you think it's that simple?

Saul (reassuringly): I KNOW it is. This evening's almost over... Let's go back in there and you make sure you have your roast, otherwise mother will be upset, you know the way she is... I'll drive you home around nine, all right?

Kelly: Yes... suppose you must have it your way, after all (Saul moves towards her)... No, don't. Just let me... just listen now... (tired of having the same conversation time and time again) It's the same story all over again. We were supposed to have gone out already, you remember? "Dinner only and then an evening together", that's what you said, wasn't it?

Saul (determined): Yes... yes, I know; just give me another -

Kelly: Don't bother... I'm going home in a minute. Let me just book the taxi...

Saul (firm): Enough of that now. I'm sorry about earlier. I should have... We're going in now and telling them straight away. (cheerfully) I'm all yours after that. Come on now, there's no need to delay...

Kelly (hesitant): No,... no need to delay... (to herself) Always smile, even when you're giving up... Never complain, never explain, never... (her voice is drowned in the noise coming from the dining room)




Argument in dining room continues as Saul and Kelly come back.

Frank: You're staying here, young lady...

Maggie: So you want her to hear what I have to say?

Natalie: You hear what auntie said?

Saul: Dad, Kelly and I... we've got something to -

Judith: Don't be clever with your dad now -

Frank (to Judith): You keep quiet... (to Natalie) And you are going to listen until I'm finished...

Saul: Dad, wait -

Frank: If this goes on for much longer one of those buddies of yours or whatever you call them is going to get you pregnant and I'm NOT going to be there to look after you this time -

Natalie: An earring doesn't mean I'm sleeping with every bloke I see! (Frank about to shout again)

Judith: Frank they are back now... please -

Saul: Dad, enough of this (as Frank turns around; silence)...

Saul: Now all of you... listen to this! It's been a hard day and we've all had enough, so Kelly and I decided it's time for the good news! (to Kelly, very excited) Go ahead, tell them... (to everybody) You're going to love this -

Kelly (not that excited): Saul and I... we... I'm pregnant.

Saul (at the lack of reaction from the family): Did you hear that? We are having a baby!!!


Maggie: You two...? Saul, dear, why didn't you tell me? I didn't realise you two were so... A baby!!! Oh, my sweet little boy!

You'll have to excuse this (goes over to Saul and Kelly, starts hugging and kissing them)... Congratulations, my darlings! (turns to the rest of the people in the room) Don't just sit there and stare at them! The time comes for everyone... Judith, come on over -

Frank (suddenly): Congratulations, son (goes over to Saul, less formal than usual, shakes his hand, gives him a tap on the shoulder)... (to Kelly) A boy...

Kelly: Excuse me?

Frank: That's what I want. A boy. And the name... Nicholas. Remember what I said (smiles at Kelly, gives her a hug).

Kelly (more calm than before, returns smile and relaxes): A boy be it then...

Judith (by this moment standing quietly, now rushing over to Saul, smiling on the brink of tears): My sweet little boy... Do you know what you've done? (hugging and kissing him) You'll make me a granny! How could you... (whispering) It's going to be all right, whatever happens, do you hear me? It will be fine... (turns to Kelly, still shaking with excitement) And as for you... (mockingly), you're also guilty as charged! (whispering to her, so that Frank can't hear) And don't worry about "Nicholas" - he forgets quite quickly, you know... (stepping aside, looking at her, then coming closer again) My own little daughter-in-law... (kisses her on the cheek, just once, hugging her)

Natalie (overcome the slight sense of shame and shock after the argument, and back to being her own confident self; solemnly, standing on a chair): Right, people, now listen to me... Kelly... my beloved big brother... (mockingly) Now that the lovey-dovey stuff's finished - and I hope you understand I cannot join my parents in rejoicing in that very manner - I, from this humble distance, would like to propose a toast for The Most Wicked Brother of the Year, his future wife and my little cousin... May you... live happily ever after!!!

Natalie drinks, everyone approaches the table quickly for some wine, when a phone ring interrupts; everyone freezes, only Saul goes on pouring some wine for Kelly.

Maggie (who is closest to the phone at that moment): I'll get this one. (to herself) Great timing!(goes off left out of spotlight to living-room area)

Saul (to Kelly): Told you there's nothing to worry about... Here (handing her a wineglass)... Gotta have some now! (points to her belly) Bet he'll turn out a great wine-lover...

Kelly: Bet she will... Honey, tell me something... When was it we mentioned we were getting married, because I think I missed that bit...

Maggie enters again

Maggie (to Frank): It's for you. Some police officer - McFerman, or something weird like that...

Everyone is quiet, looking at Maggie.



Frank goes to phone, left.

Judith: An officer did you say, Maggie?

Natalie: Mum, could I -

Maggie: Yeah, don't worry though - it didn't sound that important. I mean - you and Frankie are the most boring couple I know!

Natalie: Can I have a minute, please, mum, I need to...

Judith: Dear, not now... Just clear the table first, would you? We'll talk later... (Natalie makes a face)

Maggie: I'll help you, love.

Natalie starts clearing the table quietly. Maggie helps her. Kelly looking uncomfortable, makes a move towards the door.

Frank (to phone): Yes... A pair of trousers... Oh I see... But how... Oh, you found her wallet... Seen on the video? I see, officer...

Kelly (to Saul): I think I'd better leave, this seems to be a family matter.

Saul: Enough of this now! You're almost family anyway.

Judith (quickly): Yes, dear, stay; he is right.

Frank: ... She has a lot of explaining to do... Tommorow morning... yes nine will be fine... No, no problem at all... no, no thank you officer. Goodbye.

Frank walks back into the room. Silence.

Judith (hesitant): Well... what is it, darling? (he walks past her) Darling? (he walks past her; sits down at table)

Saul: Anything serious?

Judith (to Frank): It couldn't possibly be the car - I renewed the insurance... only last week! All the taxes have been -

Frank: At Sarah's, were we, Natalie?

Natalie: Well... yeah, I thought I already told you -

Frank (calm and reflective): You never actually think about it... You never consider it to be a problem until it punches you straight in the face... (to Judith; casual) Sweetheart, did you ever think we'd live to bring up a liar?


Judith (fearful): Frank, darling, what do you... (realising) What did the officer say?

Maggie: Come on, Frank, let it out! It can't possibly be that horrible -

Saul (hesitant): Is it... Natalie?

Natalie: Saul! Don't be ridiculous! What could I possibly -

Saul (quietly, to Frank): It is, isn't it?

Natalie (shouting at Saul): Stop it! Stop now -

Frank: The trousers -

Saul: What trousers?

Frank: Your wallet -

Judith (on the brink of tears, to Natalie): What have you been up to?

Natalie (pleading quietly): Mum... I didn't do it -

Frank: Shoplifting.


Kelly: Would you like me to leave?

Maggie: Natalie...

Kelly (makes a move towards door): I'll get my jacket -

Saul (stopping her, but still focused on his conversation with Frank): No, wait... just a second... Shoplifting? What... dad, I don't understand -

Natalie (realising she shouldn't wait any longer; very quickly): I can explain... We were all at the shop... It was a dare... We didn't think it was anything, really... It seemed so easy! My wallet... it must have... yes, it must have fallen out of my pocket... we were running...

Frank: A thief -

Natalie (shouting at him): I am NOT A THIEF - I didn't mean it, I swear... What do YOU care anyway, for Christ's sake?

Frank (stands up, approaches her and hits her): You little...

Maggie (to Frank): Don't you even dare think about it!

Frank: I don't need your thoughts control, thank you very much. Moreover, I've had enough of your voice for tonight and I believe so has Natalie here. STOP FILLING HER HEAD WITH THAT BLASPHEMOUS RUBBISH! I suggest that you leave before it's too late...

Maggie (calm and mocking, but serious): Frank, you know it's never too late for me. I need to make sure everything's all right before I go. It's really depressing when Juddie phones me every other night, telling me about the fights you've had, about the times she's cried (Frank looks at Judith, than back at Maggie)... And don't tell me you have no idea what I'm talking about because I KNOW!

Frank (after a slight pause, laughs at Maggie): Pathetic... (goes on to reach Natalie)

Judith (running towards him in despair, falling at his feet, begging; Frank stops to look down at her): Frank... Frankie, darling... not here, not now, not at all, please don't... She is only... she has been stupid, a very stupid little girl. Just give her time... some more time. It's our Natalie, remember? It will be all right... I promise... please -

Music starts at background - the opening ("O Fortuna") of Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana")

Frank (slowly helping her up; holds her in his arms; calm but sinister): Of course not, Judith! You didn't seriously think I would, did you? It's our Natalie! We'll save it for later...

Saul and Kelly have been arguing quietly in back ground.

Kelly (determined): I'm leaving now whether you like it or not. (Goes to get her coat. FRANK approaches her slowly)

Saul: No, don't. It's all right.

Frank walks over to Kelly, Saul puts arm around Kelly.

Frank (mocking but sinister): No, please... stay.

Saul: Dad, don't, just... let her go.

Frank (ignoring Saul; to Kelly): You don't have to worry about anything. (Pause)You won't be able to seduce ME!

Kelly: Pardon?

Frank: (to Saul) I only ask why did you have to bring her in here, son? After all she did to you!

Saul: Dad, I don't understand -

Frank (shouting at Kelly): A baby!!! He is only twenty-one!!! What were you thinking, wicked woman?

Saul: Dad, this is rediculous! It's my fault as much as it is hers -

Frank: I'll fix it all, son. Nothing to worry about -

Saul: I'm afraid you're going to have to sort this out some other time. Kelly has had enough for tonight. I'm taking her home. (taking her by the hand)

Kelly: Wait, Saul... It's all right. (to Frank) There is nothing to sort out and there's nothing to fix... Nothing but you. First of all it was Juddie, then Maggie, then Natalie... That's why I wanted to get out, go home. I'm sorry about that Saul, I really tried... to ignore and to forgive and to forget, but... I know I'm not family, however much the rest of you might object to that, and I haven't got the right to do this, but... I agree with Maggie. I had only spent half an hour in this house when I began suffocating. I admire you, Juddie, and I pity you for having the courage and unprecedently coping with the situation... Imposed views and orders from a pathetic self-righteous man, all taken in... Well done! Pause (to Frank) I don't understand how you can look in the mirror every morning, knowing you wife is petrified of you, you're daughter cries herself to sleep and you're son is so scared of your temper!!! Pause So tell me - who's going to be next? Who? (quietly, realising) Who?

Frank, who has so far been in Judith's arms as she has been trying to console him, turns around suddenly, grabs Kelly and drags her back stage. Judith slowly follows.. as she has "O Fortuna" has now reached its dramatic climax. Natalie keeps Saul back until Frank, Kelly and Judith are finally backstage. Maggie runs to phone in order to call the police but is prevented by Natalie who snatches phone from her hands and throws it away. Meanwhile, shadows show Frank stabbing Kelly with Judith helping him. Saul desperately bangs on door and shouts to his parents. By the end of the stabbing, the music has reached a deafening crescendo. After that, Frank and Judith quietly walk to front of stage. Saul runs backstage, crying over his girlfriend's body. Lights slowly go down on set.





© Denitza Vlaeva
© E-magazine LiterNet, 13.05.2000, № 5 (6)