ASCOT EVE

By Allen Lyne

Every year Lord Lavender invites his racing connections and close family to dinner on the eve of the famous race meeting at Royal Ascot.  This year is no different.  Or is it?

Shorty Leggup, Lord Lavender’s jockey, who is due to ride the favourite, Trotsky, in the cup the following day, is found murdered in the rose garden.  The horse is also murdered!

Jeeves the Butler is accused of the murder, but is he really guilty?  Every person at dinner seems to have a motive and also to have the opportunity to have committed the foul deed.  And what of the horse, Trotsky?  Was he also murdered?

Who is responsible for the foul deed?  Is it the knife wielding Miss Emerald?  The pistol-packing Banker Brown?  Cosh carrying Baron Oxford Blue?  Did Lady Rose deliberately turn on the gas and forget to light the flame?  Or is it old Lord Lavender himself with his infamous blow pipe?  What part does Miss Lemon play in all of this?  Was it Jeeves the Butler after all?  There are many tortuous twists and turns in this hilarious plot as the murderer is finally cornered.

The play can be produced as dinner / theatre, or as a theatre piece.

CAST

LORD LAVENDER              HEAD OF THE HOUSE AND DRUNKEN SOT

LADY ROSE                          LADY OF THE HOUSE AND SCATTY TWIT

MISS AMBER                       DAUGHTER OF THE ABOVE. A BITCH

LARRY GOLD                       AN OBSCENELY WEALTHY AMERICAN

BANKER BROWN                LORD LAVENDER'S CROOKED BANKER

MRS EMERALD                   A FOUR TIMES WIDOWED CONNIVER

MISS LEMON                        A RETIRED SCHOOL TEACHER

BARON OXFORD BLUE     A PENNILESS NOBLEMAN

SHORTY LEGGUP               A JOCKEY

MAID MARION                      THE MAID.

JEEVES                                THE BUTLER

THE JOCKEY  ( SHORTY LEGGUP)   STAGGERS ACROSS THE STAGE AND DROPS TO

THE FLOOR.  MISS AMBER ENTERS, RIGHT READING A BOOK OR MAGAZINE. 

BANKER BROWN ENTERS, RIGHT WITH A GUN WITH A SILENCER.  BANKER BROWN

AIMS THE GUN AT THE OBLIVIOUS MISS AMBER.  AS HE FIRES, SHORTY

STAGGERS INTO THE PATH OF THE BULLET. MISS AMBER CONTINUES TO

PERAMBULATE LEFT.  SHE ABSENT-MINDEDLY STEPS OVER THE BODY ON THE

FLOOR AND EXITS STILL READING. LORD LAVENDER STAGGERS ON.  HE LIFTS AN

AFRICAN BLOWPIPE AND THERE IS A LOUD  "PHUT"  AS HE FIRES A DART AT

BANKER BROWN.  THE DART MISSES BANKER BROWN AND HITS SHORTY LEGGUP.

LORD LAVENDER LURCHES OFF AS SHORTY CLUTCHES HIS SHOULDER AND

SCREAMS.  BANKER BROWN EXITS.  LARRY GOLD ENTERS AND GARROTTES

SHORTY WHO FALLS TO THE FLOOR. LARRY GOES OFF.  LIGHTS DOWN ON THE

MAIN STAGE AREA AND UP ON SHORTY'S BEDROOM.  MOONLIGHT FILTERS

THROUGH THE FRENCH WINDOWS.  A DARK FIGURE SLIPS INTO THE ROOM AND

WE BRING UP THE LIGHTS TO THE POINT WHERE WE CAN JUST MAKE OUT THE

UNFORGETTABLE RIGHT PROFILE OF BARON OXFORD BLUE.  HIS WHITE CAPPED

TEETH REFLECT IN THE MOONLIGHT AS HE CREEPS UP ON THE DUMMY OF

SHORTY LEGGUP  A WIG BLOCK SITS ON A SHELF NEXT TO SHORTY.  BARON

OXFORD BLUE COSHES THE WIG BLOCK SAVAGELY AND EXITS THROUGH THE

FRENCH WINDOWS AS LADY ROSE TIPTOES IN FROM THE WARDROBE.  SHE

MOVES TO THE GAS HEATER AND THERE IS A QUIET HISS OF ESCAPING GAS AS

SHE TURNS ON THE TAPS.  SHE EXITS AS LORD LAVENDER LURCHES THROUGH

THE OTHER DOOR.  HE REELS DRUNKENLY AROUND THE ROOM, DEPOSITS A

WHISKY DECANTER ON THE DESK AND REELS OUT AGAIN.  THE LIGHTS FADE ON

SHORTY'S BEDROOM.  LIGHTS UP ON THE MAIN STAGE AREA.  OXFORD BLUE

ENTERS, RIGHT.  MRS. EMERALD ENTERS BEHIND HIM.  SHE CARRIES AN

EXTREMELY LARGE KNIFE.  SHE ATTEMPTS TO STAB OXFORD BLUE AND ONCE

AGAIN SHORTY STAGGERS TO HIS FEET JUST IN TIME TO RECEIVE THE KNIFE. 

OXFORD BLUE EXITS OBLIVIOUS TO WHAT HAS HAPPENED AND MRS EMERALD

FLEES OFF STAGE.  MISS AMBER ENTERS WITH A SWORD AND RUNS SHORTY

THROUGH AND EXITS.  THE LIGHTS ONCE AGAIN FADE ON THE MAIN STAGE

AREA.  THEY COME UP ON THE BUTLER, JEEVES.

                             JEEVES SPEAKS IN A COCKNEY ACCENT WHEN ADDRESSING THE AUDIENCE.  HE SWITCHES TO AN

                             UPPER CLASS ENGLISH ACCENT WHEN ADDRESSING THE GENTRY.

Jeeves                        Ah tell you what, it's a crook old rap, guv'nor.  Stitched me up good and proper they 'ave.  Reckon I'm the one what's responsible for the demise of the champion jockey Shorty LeggupYou seen what's been going on.  I didn't have nothing to do wiv it.  "Ere's a bloke doin 'is 'onest best to make an 'onest quid as an 'onest butler and what 'appens?  What 'appens I asks you.  I gets fair stitched up by the bleedin toffs.  This lump of a copper bursts into the room and says  "Allo allo allo.  I'm arresting  you for the murder of the champion jockey Shorty Leggup."  I ask you, did I have any reason to see Shorty laid out and cold?  No sirs and madams.  I throws myself upon your mercy.  You bein of sound mind and good judgement like.  There was plenty 'ere who had very good reason to do in poor old Shorty, but I weren't one of them.  Not bleeding likely.  I know who killed Shorty Leggup.  Let me show you what happened.  It all started the night before Royal Ascot.  His nibs, Lord Lavender, (Lights come up on the main stage area where the guests are now present for the dinner party.  They are frozen in position)   that's him up there with the red face, he always puts on a posh dinner like the night before the race and invites all his cronies and the jockey what's to ride his horse the next day.  I've always got me eye to the keyhole and I knows where the bodies are buried, so to speak....

                             JEEVES MAKES THE TRANSITION BETWEEN THE SPACE HE IS IN AND THE DINNER PARTY

Jeeves                        Now look at Lord Lavender here.  He's a drunk and a womaniser and he couldn't lie straight in bed, he couldn't.  But on the surface he's a generous host and sets a good table, but he's got it in for someone in this room, you mark my words.  This is his Lordships' daughter, Miss Amber.  She's a fair little tearaway is our Miss Amber and quite a handful for her parents, Lord Lavender and lady Rose.  And then there's Banker Brown, or Bonker Brown as young Miss Amber calls him.  Banker Brown, now, he's Lord lavender's investment adviser and controls all the wealth.  Banker Brown has embezzled nearly all of his Lordship's cash.  He's also having it off with our handsome young friend here, Baron Oxford Blue.  Now Oxford's trying to marry Miss Amber for her money and her position in society.  Oxford was born noble and poor and  craves the respectability marriage into this family would bring him.  Brownie here wants Oxford to run away to Majorca with him, that's why he's embezzled the dough.  Banker Brown would like to see Miss Amber dead, I know that much.  He needn't worry.  Miss Amber won't have a bar of Oxford Blue no matter what happens.  She's more interested in this bloke here.  Larry Gold the Chicago millionaire.  Larry has come over to Blighty to try to convince Lord Lavender to sell the famous racehorse Trotsky to him.  Trotsky was to have started in the main race tomorrow ridden by the lately deceased Shorty Leggup.  Lord Lavender would never consider selling Trotsky, not only because he likes the prestige of owning the greatest race horse the world has ever seen, bar Phar Lap of course, But also because he's cracker jack mates with Shorty Leggup and Shorty can't conceive of Trotsky ever being ridden by anyone but him.  And what of the ladies here at this dinner party, eh?  What of the ladies indeed.  Lady Rose has her reasons for wanting to see Shorty Leggup dead as you'll see in a little while when I show you.  Mrs. Emerald here is pretty keen on Banker Brown and reckons she can straighten him out.  All he needs is the love of a good woman and he'll see the error of his ways and stop bonking Oxford Blue.  She's a bit of a right old tart is our Mrs. Emerald.  Been married four times to wealthy men and they all died in mysterious circumstances.  Mrs Emerald wants to see Oxford Blue dead and what about Miss Lemon here?  What about our sweet retired schoolmarm.  Who does she want to see dead and why?  Eh?  We'll find that out a bit later too.  Suffice it to say that no one in the room is what they seem to be on the surface.  Everyone has motive to murder someone.  Except me of course.  I'm the only innocent party here and the law is stitching me up on the understanding that it's the butler what always does it.  In this case it wasn't the butler at all.  Let's get rid of these cuffs and go back in time to the dinner party earlier this evening and I'll show you who done it....

                             THE DINNER PARTY SUDDENLY ANIMATES WITH EVERYONE TALKING AT ONCE.  OVER ALL THE NOISE, WE HEAR THE BULL LIKE ROAR OF LORD LAVENDER.

Lavender                    Another large whisky!  Jeeves... Jeeves... Confound it.  Where is that damned butler?

Jeeves                        (Is filling Lavender's glass)   Behind you, sir.

Lavender                    Well why aren't you in front of me where I can see you?.

Lady Rose                 Go to Mr Leggup's room and inform him that dinner is served and that we await his presence in the dining room.

Jeeves                        Yes, my Lady.

Lavender                    And be quick about it.

Jeeves                        Yes my Lord.  (he exits.)

Miss Amber               Oh, god, daddy.  These Ascot eve dinner parties are such a bore.  Why do we have to put up with them year after year

Lady Rose                 Don't speak to your father like that in front of the guests, Amber dear.

Miss Amber               Oh fiddle faddle mummy.  Every year daddy invites the same boring lot of people and we have to sit and dine with them.  Peasants.

Lady Rose                 Don't speak to the guests like that in front of your father, dear.

Lord Lavender           Another large whisky.

Oxford Blue                I say, Miss Amber, that little number you're wearing looks awfully super.

Amber                        Fag!

Lady Rose                 Amber!

Amber                        Well he is a fag.  Banker Brown is bonking him.

Banker Brown            That's a lie.

Lady Rose                 Amber!  Apologise this instant.

Amber                        I apologise, Banker Brown...(To Lady Rose)    Oxford Blue is bonking Banker Brown.

Banker Brown            I don't know why I come here year after year to be insulted by you, Miss Amber.

Amber                        You come because daddy has pots of money and because he pays you heaps to manage his investments.

Oxford Blue                She's a little spitfire, isn't she?

Amber                        And you're a fag.

Lord Lavender           Another large whisky.

Mrs. Emerald             Now, now, Banker Brown darling.  You mustn’t get yourself all upset.  Come over here and sit on mumsy's knee and  tell her all about it.  Did nasty wasty Miss Amber upset diddums, hmmmm?  Never you mind come and tell me all about it.

                             BANKER BROWN SITS ON MRS. EMERALD'S LAP AND PUTS HIS HEAD BETWEEN HER BREASTS.

Mrs. Emerald             There's a good boy.

Miss Amber               Gawd, it's enough to make you ill.

Mrs Emerald              They're all just boys really.  Aren't they?

Larry                           Say, Lord lavender, sell that goddamn horse, Trotsky to me.

Lady Rose                 Oh, Mr. Gold.  You know my husband means no when he says no.

Larry                           Hell, that's the greatest living horse.  Maybe the greatest horse in the history of racing and I want it.  Here's a blank cheque, Lavender.

Lady Rose                 Lord Lavender!

Larry                           Lord, shmord.  A blank cheque.  As many noughts as you want to fill in.

Lord Lavender           Another large whisky.

Lady Rose                 Money means nothing to us, Mister Gold.  We have so much of it.

Larry                           Not as much as me, Hot Damn, I want that horse.  As many noughts as you want, Lavender.  Think about it.

Mrs. Emerald             Do you really have that much money?

Larry                           Hell, I'm the richest man in the world, honey.  I could buy and sell this goddamn country and this sucker won't sell me a horse.

Mrs. Emerald             (Drops Banker Brown)   Come and sit on my lap and tell me about it.

Larry                           I don't need to be suckled right now.   (He indicates Banker Brown)   That guy is a fag.

                             BANKER BROWN CLIMBS BACK ONTO MRS. EMERALD'S LAP AND ONCE MORE PUTS HIS HEAD BETWEEN HER BREASTS.

Oxford Blue                Oh, I say.  Don't be beastly to poor Brownie.

Larry                           Browneye?    (To Banker Brown)   How can you do that?  You call yourself a man?

Oxford Blue                Oh, you horrid, unfeeling cretin.  You take that back.

Larry                           You want to do something about it, Nancy boy, you step outside.

Oxford Blue                Beast.

Larry                           How about it, Lavender.  Sell me that nag Trotsky and I'll set him for the Kentucky Derby next year.  He's the greatest thing on four hoofs.

Lord Lavender           Another large whisky.

Lady Rose                 Now, now, Mister Gold  You know my husband will never consider selling Trotsky as long as Shorty Leggup is still around to ride him.  Why, I believe Shorty would die if he couldn't ride that horse and... (seductively)   he rides so well!

Larry                           I'd kill to get my hands on that nag!

                             JEEVES APPEARS AT THE GALLOP.

Jeeves                        Sir!  Sir....

Lord Lavender           Another large whisky.

Jeeves                        Something dreadful has happened.

Lord Lavender           ANOTHER LARGE WHISKY.

Lady Rose                 Oh, Jeeves, get him his whisky before you tell him what's happened.  He'll only get upset otherwise.

                             JEEVES POURS LORD LAVENDER A FULL GLASS OF WHISKY FROM THE DECANTER.

Jeeves                        It's Mister Leggup, sir.

Lady Rose                 What about Mister Leggup, Jeeves.

Jeeves                        I went to his room as instructed by your Ladyship and upon arriving at the room....

Larry                           Get on with it for god's sake.

Oxford Blue                Beast!

Miss Amber               Fag!

Banker Brown            Bitch!

Jeeves                        Well, sir, madam, assembled guests, when I arrived at Mr. Leggup's room, nobody was there.

Larry                           And that's your big announcement, huh.  You arrived at Shorty Leggup's room and he wasn't there.

Jeeves                        Oh, there's more to it than that, sir.  Much more.

Larry                           Then spit it out, man.  Get to the goddamn point.

Jeeves                        I looked around the house, sir, thinking that Mister Leggup might be in the smoking room or perhaps on one of the verandahs taking the early evening air....

Larry                           Yes, yes, yes.

Jeeves                        To cut a long story short my Lord and Lady, sirs and madams, I eventually found Mister Leggup in the rose garden.

Larry                           Then get him in here.  We're already half an hour late for dinner and my stomach feels like my throat's been cut.

Oxford Blue                Pity your stomach isn't correct.

Larry                           Fag!

Banker Brown            Cretin.

Lord lavender            Another large whisky!

                             JEEVES FILLS THE GLASS LAVENDER HAS RAISED ABOVE HIS HEAD FROM THE DECANTER AS HE GOES ON SPEAKING.

Jeeves                        Indeed I wish I could get Mister Leggup to come in for dinner, sir.  But I'm afraid that is not possible.

Larry                           Why?  Why can't this goddamn jockey just come into the dining room like the rest of us.

Jeeves                        Shorty Leggup is... Well I'm afraid he's... You see he's...

Larry                           What?  For god's sake...What?

                                    MUSIC FX

Jeeves                        Dead, sir.

          LIGHTNING & THUNDER FX.

          LADY ROSE SCREAMS AND FAINTS.

Miss Amber               How thrilling.

Mrs. Emerald             Murder!  Murder most foul..

Jeeves                        Oh, I didn't say he was murdered, Madam, just that he is dead.

Mrs. Emerald             Oh, but I mean it's obvious, I mean if he was found in the garden....

Larry                           He probably died of an overdose of pansies.

Oxford Blue                Beast.

Banker Brown            Cretin.

Larry                           Fags.

Lord Lavender           Another large whisky!

                             JEEVES ONCE MORE DOES THE HONOURS.

Jeeves                        But you are right, madam.  Shorty Leggup, ace jockey, has indeed been....

                                    MUSIC FX

Jeeves                        ....murdered.

Banker Brown            Who the Dickens is going to ride Trotsky tomorrow?  I've got ten thousand pounds of your... err... my money on him.

Miss Amber               I say, a murder in our very own home.  Daddy,  how exciting.

Lady Rose                 Send for the constabulary.

Jeeves                        I took the liberty of telephoning for them as soon as I discovered the body, your Ladyship.

Miss Lemon               Well I for one feel quite sure I know who the murderer is.

Larry Gold                  Yeah?

Miss Lemon               Certainly!  In cases like these it's always the butler.

                             THUNDER & LIGHTNING FX.  THE DINNER PARTY BURSTS INTO WAFFLE THEN FREEZES IN POSITION AS JEEVES COMES DOWN TO ADDRESS THE AUDIENCE.

Jeeves                        There it was.  The first mention that I might be the guilty party.  My mind was racing.  How to answer this unfounded allegation.  I cursed Agatha Christie and decided on a neat reply.

                             THE DINNER PARTY RE-ANIMATES.  EVERYONE IS TALKING AT ONCE

WHO IS THE GUILTY PARTY?  Will they hang Jeeves by default?  After all, we all know the butler is always guilty, or is he.

Get in touch if you'd like to read more of this very funny play; first produced in the Grand Ballroom of the Adelaide Hyatt Hotel for the Adelaide Casino for their High Rollers and for their clubs thereafter.

(08) 8 327 4142

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