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INTRODUCTION TO MAYNARD’S END
I began writing Maynard’s End during the early stages of the pandemic. It started as an idea to write radio material suitable for use in publicising a production of The Killing of Sister George, which is based on a character’s role in a fictional radio serial not unlike The Archers.
When that production was cancelled during the first Covid summer I decided to keep writing material and to make it something original but along similar lines. To keep it light I decided to make some of the characters on the whole nicer and funnier than they might otherwise be, but I hope not unrealistically so, mainly so that actors would enjoy reading them. It was a zoom thing at first, when the pandemic was raging and it gradually evolved into the script as it is today. My thanks to all those who took part in the early readings.
It’s a simple play. It’s not meant to be taken seriously, just a bit of fun. A right load of escapist nonsense really. It’s still evolving and no doubt will evolve further, as we adapt the play to the NA auditorium.
The play is set in 1968 or thereabouts. It’s important to note that all the adults have been through the second world war and those events are not much further in their past than the millennium is to us. Generally, these are people more likely to count their blessings than bemoan their problems, or worry about things they cannot change.
THE MAIN SPEAKING PARTS:
Dorothy Meridy: late 50s retired district nurse. Dorothy lives on the village green and keeps rabbits. Inquisitive, outgoing, helpful, tolerant. A good egg. Best friends with Mrs Mac. An accident makes her question her mortality as she has always considered herself indestructible.
Maigret McTeagle (AKA Mrs Mac): 50/60s Scottish widow, very humourous, possibly a trifle judgemental, but good hearted. A lively eccentric busy bee. Runs the village sweetshop. Best friend of Dorothy. Loves a hard-boiled Private Dick. Crime novel.
Anne Shelmerston: 30s-40s runs local W.I. like a prisoner of war camp. Stridently uptight, censorious, condemnatory. Will also play Geraldine, local theatre manager,who is quite different and lovely.
Virginia: late 30s/early 40s County health scientist, rides a motorbike. Very jolly, inquisitive, easy-going. Quick on the uptake. Takes to Maynard’s End like a local on her first visit to the place.
Billy: aged 11-13 son of prominent local farmer. Well liked and trusted to run various errands on his bike which he cherishes and which he is gradually converting from Gent’s-type bicycle into 10 gear racer with his pocket money, the odd half-crown and various postal orders.
Sir Harold Maynard: 60s Lord of the Manor. A relic of the feudal system. Bit of an old buffer, but nice enough. Has a great regard for the old ways of looking after the land and how it was run before the various Inclosures acts put an end to that in most places.
Ginger: late 40s to early 50s, landlord of The Dog and Partridge on the village green. Good friend to Dorothy and Ernie. In an unhappy marriage and being deceived by his wife but doesn’t realise , would rather not think about it. Inclined to be easy-going and thoughtful.
Ernie Lauderdale: 40s local police sergeant. Lives on village green. Is in a discreet, arm’s length, no-strings, on and off semi-relationship with Penny. Comes across as slightly gauche but this is an act. He is very well-informed and comfortable in his own skin. Adores Penny but wonders if marriage to a policeman would be in line with her expectations.
Penny Swift: late 30s- early 40s. Staff nurse in Yartley District Hospital. Very efficient, clever, funny. Been happy to be in a fairly casual relationship with Ernie until now but she would like to see more of him.
Vicar: 40s -60s fairly standard, broadly respected, self-effacing, bit mysterious.That a man of his talents ( talents so-far known only to himself) should end up in this backwater…….will also play Inspector Parks
Old Seth: 80s crusty local poacher, an intriguing character, part of large extended family all called Seth. Speaks ancient local dialect sometimes indecipherable even to himself. His breathing sounds like an accordion. Wears such distinctive apparel that he is instantly recognisable.
The next three will be played by the same actor-
Amhurst Maynard: 40s an utter cad of the worst kind. Least said the better.
Constable Newton: 20s -30s Local bobby, Ernie’s sidekick. On his way to being Sergeant some day. Bit of a card.
Pottle: 60’s Local Asst. Chief Constable, old friend of Sir Harold. Ernie’s Boss. Small part, might be cut. Grand, a bit dotty.
It should be possible to video the scenes with these two :-
Fyfe Robertson 60s 1960s eccentric television personality , reporter and presenter. Wears a trademark deerstalker and Harris tweed. Eccentric and smokes a pipe.
Director very camp, any age, directs Fyfe telecine piece to camera (can be a voiceover).
Non-speaking roles – pub customers, various W.I. Ladies, 2 heavies.