In God’s Clothing

A 15 Minute Stage Play.

By

Deano Parsons ©. 2021.

Cast of Characters:

Bob:    Bob is forty years of age.  He presents as middle-class.  His attire is smart casual.  He is eloquent, well-mannered and of a pleasant and friendly demeanour.  Bob is troubled.  Having learnt at age eighteen that he is adopted, he has struggled to find out more about his family background, particularly about his mother.  His quest takes him to a small English country village.

Ginny: Ginny is fifty-four years of age.  She plays a central role in the village community.  She is the Reverend of the small Anglican village Church and she commands the respect of her community through her tireless efforts to play a central role.  Ginny is kind, on the surface but she reveals a need for affirmation in much of what she says.  Her need for God’s love and forgiveness and her need for validation create for an underlying tension when Bob steps into the Church for some private thinking time.  Bob soon discovers how Ginny can move between kindness and her own inner demons.

Play Genre:     Tragedy.

Stage:              This short play requires the stage to be a split-stage.  One half of the stage       representing the main congregation area and the other half of the stage set as the back-room parlour, where the Reverend sees visitors.

Props:

See pages 3 and 6 where props are detailed. 

ACT 1 of 1: Ten Minute Play.                Title:  Divine Intervention by Dean Parsons.

SCENE 1.

(CURTAINS RAISE.  SPLIT STAGE ‘A’ IS SET AS AN ENGLISH VILLAGE CHURCH; ANGLICAN.  THE STAGE IS BRIGHTLY LIT.  IT IS DAYTIME.  SPLIT STAGE ‘B’ IS SET AS THE REVEREND’S PRIVATE PARLOUR). 

SPLIT STAGE ‘A’: 

(THERE ARE STAINED GLASS WINDOWS DEPICTED.  TO THE LEFT OF THE STAGE WE FIND THE CHURCH DOORWAY, FROM INSIDE.  THEN THERE ARE ROWS OF PEWS UNDER THE STAINED- GLASS WINDOWS AND, TO THE RIGHT END OF THE STAGE, THE CHURCH ALTER.  THE CHURCH HAS TABLES WITH FLOWERS BY THE DOORWAY.  SEATED IN THE THIRD ROW FROM THE BACK, OUR PROTAGONIST; BOB, SITS IN QUIET CONTEMPLATION; DRESSED IN SMART-CASUAL CLOTHES AND LOOKING DOWN AS IF IN DEEP THOUGHT OR PRAYER.  FROM A ROOM BEHIND THE ALTER, WHICH CANNOT BE SEEN IN THIS SCENE, ENTERS GINNY).

GINNY: (STANDING NEXT TO BOB, SPEAKING SOFTLY, KINDLY AND WITH A SMILE).  Hello.  I noticed you sitting here for a while.  I’m Reverend Drover, but please call me Ginny.  I don’t think I’ve seen you before.  Are you new to the village?  Oh, forgive me, I really ought to leave you alone.  I just felt like being friendly.  (SPEAKING SLIGHTLY FASTER AND WITH AN APOLOGETIC TONE). I didn’t mean to interrupt your quiet thinking time.  I just wanted to say that if you need to talk, well, I’m here and I’m available if you do need a chat.

BOB:    (BOB AND GINNY’S FACES ARE BOTH VISIBLE TO THE AUDIENCE).  Hi Reverend.  That’s kind of you.  I’m Bob.  No, I’m not from here.  I’m from London.  I’m just here visiting the area while I have a few days off work.  I’m not one for attending Church services but I do like to visit a Church and just sit and think.  I’ve always felt somehow at home just sitting in Church.  I do value my private thinking time, though.

GINNY: I know that feeling of home, well here.  So, are you visiting family?  It’s quite a contrast to hectic London life here.  You would, of course, be most welcome to attend my next service.  You may be surprised how uplifting and welcoming our little congregation is. (GINNY’S TONE BECOMES SLIGHTLY SELF-IMPORTANT, AS IF BRAGGING).  People are always saying what a good service I deliver.  I’m just doing my bit for God, you see.  Well, I’m not trying to recruit you in or anything (GINNY CHUCKLES).  Sorry, I really ought to leave you in peace.

BOB:    Oh, no, it’s okay.  You are very kind.  I’m not sure about attending a service.  I’m not really devout or anything.  I think this is enough for me, just being able to sit here.  It really is a beautiful little Church and the whole village is so pretty; such a contrast to the city.  In answer to your question, yes, I’m here to visit family.  My mother, in fact.

GINNY: (GINNY RESUMES HER KIND, GENTLE TONE) Oh how nice, dear.  I’m sure your mother will be so pleased that you’ve come to spend time with her.  May I ask, who is your mother?  I know most people in the village, apart from a couple of new people that have moved in from London.  (GINNY’S TONE BECOMES A LITTLE HARSHER).  No offence, but Londoners don’t seem to be very keen on getting involved in village life.  Certainly not in the Church, that is.  Such a shame.  (GINNY’S TONE SOFTENS AGAIN).  Oh, listen to me, asking you more questions when you are trying to sit quietly! I really must tottle along with a few things while you sit and commune in peace.  If you would like to talk, Mrs. Merrybee from Plum Cottage brought me some of her beautiful cherry madeira cake in this morning.  She gives me cake every week as a thank you for my good work here at the Church.  It would be no trouble to go and pop the kettle on, if you’d like to join me for a cup of tea?

BOB:    Actually, if you don’t mind, I would like to have that chat.  You might be able to help me, regarding my mother?  (BOB TAKES ON A MORE NEGATIVE TONE).  It’s not a nice story, though.  You might not like where I come from.  It won’t fit with the lovely values you represent.  She had a troubled history.

GINNY: (GINNY’S TONE SEEMS SOMEHOW OUT OF CONTEXT, AS SHE BEGINS WITH AN OVERLY SWEET TONE OF VOICE).  Ah, that’s more like it.  Everything can be resolved over a cup of tea, my Gran used to say.  In the house of God, a cup of tea really is a divine intervention.  We don’t let darkness win, in this house.  God is always on my side.  Come this way.

(THE LIGHTS FADE AS BOB AND GINNY START TO MAKE THEIR WAY TOWARDS THE ALTER END OF THE CHURCH, WHERE THERE IS AN ENTRANCE TO A PARLOUR.  CURTAINS DROP).

SCENE 2.

SPLIT STAGE B:

(THE SCENE IS THAT OF A COUNTRY PARLOUR.  A WINDOW, NET CURTAINS AND GINGHAM CURTAIN SURROUNDS.  A SMALL ROOM.  A DOOR TO THE LEFT, LEADING TO THE ALTER AREA OF THE MAIN CHURCH.  A TABLE WITH SIX CHAIRS, FOR WELCOMING REGULAR GUESTS FOR TEA.  A LACE TABLECLOTH.  THE TABLE, SET WITH COASTERS AND PLACEMATS, WITH CONDIMENTS, WITH A CUP AND SAUCER FOR GINNY AND BOB, WITH A MILK JUG AND SUGAR BOWL, WITH A PLATE WITH A CAKE ON IT AND A CAKE KNIFE.  WITH A CAKE PLATE EACH AND A SERVIETTE, EACH.  A SIDEBOARD IN THE ROOM, ADORNED WITH PHOTOS OF GINNY AND OF CATS.  A VASE OF FRESHLY CUT FLOWERS AND A RADIO.  A PILE OF NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES AT ONE END OF THE SIDEBOARD.  A SLIGHTLY TOO LARGE PHOTO OF GINNY IN HER ‘DOG-COLLAR’ IN PRIDE OF PLACE.  GINNY AND BOB ARE SEATED AT THE TABLE, AT AN ANGLE TO EACH OTHER BUT WITH FACES VISIBLE TO THE AUDIENCE).

GINNY: (IN GENTLE AND KIND TONE OF VOICE.  BOB AND GINNY POUR TEA AND SLICE CAKE).  There you are, dear.  I’ll let you pour your own milk.  I have to say that I like a nice strong cup of tea.  Now, here is a slice of Mrs. Merrybee’s wonderful cherry madeira cake.  It’s one of her best.  In fact, Bob, Mrs. Merrybee is such a regular winner at W.I. cake baking competitions.  She’s a bit of a cake baking legend around here.  (GINNY’S TONE INCREASES IN PITCH).  Only the best cakes, for me.  You see how I am blessed by God’s kindness.

BOB:    (WITH AN AWKWARD TONE AND A HESITATION AT THE LAST COMMENT). Er – thank you.  You really didn’t need to go to this amount of trouble for me.

GINNY: Oh honestly, it really is no trouble at all.  (GINNY’S TONE BECOMES A LITTLE LOUDER AND SELF-RIGHTEOUS).  Besides, I love cake and I would be eating this on my own, anyway.  I need the sugar to keep me going, due to being so busy keeping this community in good order.  (GINNY PAUSES AND THEN ADOPTS A MORE SERIOUS TONE).  Right, onto the more serious matters.  I can tell that you have something on your mind and you mentioned that it is about your mother.  Is that right?

BOB:    Yes, it is.  (BOB’S TONE BECOMES MORE PAINED).  I’m sorry.  I wasn’t really making much sense.  You see, it’s all pretty complicated.

GINNY: (GINNY, SIGNALLING INCREDULITY IN HER VOICE).  Complicated?  Goodness, I wonder what it can be?  I don’t know of anything complicated in the village!  We are just simple Godly folk here.

BOB:    Well, it’s really (PICKS UP AND TAKES A BIT OF THE CAKE)….oh, wow, this is very good cake….sorry.  It’s just that it’s not quite as straight forward as it sounded; that I’m here visiting my mother.  You see, (PAUSE) she doesn’t know that I am here.

GINNY: So, you are making a surprise visit?  (GINNY PICKS UP SPEED OF SPEECH).  I didn’t ask you whether you are here with a wife or family of your own?  I want to ask if you are planning a surprise party, or something, but the expression on your face is far too serious. (PAUSE AND SLOWER SPEECH, SHOWING THOUGHT AND DROPS TONE) You remind me of someone…I can’t quite place it but there’s a certain expression you have… (GINNY SPEEDS UP HERE) Sorry, I’m off again!  I must let you continue.

BOB:    (IN SERIOUS TONE) You see, Ginny, I’ve been working on my family tree.  You know, everyone’s doing that these days.  For me, it’s been different.  (PAUSE) Difficult, in fact.  I didn’t have enough information.  I thought I had hit a wall, long ago, and that I’d never be able to trace my biological family to a place, but I made a breakthrough and I finally learnt something about my family background.

GINNY: (WITH KINDNESS AND JOY) Bob, that’s wonderful.  Goodness, it really can be hard to trace your ancestors.  Is that what you are here to reveal to your mother?  My, she will be so interested.  (SPEAKING IN A MORE CONCEITED TONE).  I’ve seen the tv shows where famous people get to trace their family trees.  It’s always fascinating.  It lifts me up, on down days.  That’s God’s way of showing me that I deserve a rest.

BOB:    I’m hoping that my mother will be interested, though really I doubt she will be. (BOB MOVES TO A DARKER, MORE NEGATIVE TONE).   I think, you see, that she’s not the sort to even care.  You see, I have never met her.  I was adopted.  I grew up thinking that my adoptive parents were my birth parents and it was only when I turned eighteen that they revealed to me the truth.

GINNY: Adopted?  Oh, Bob!  So, your mother….she lives in the village?  Who is she?

BOB:    All I know is her date of birth, her name and recently I learnt that she was born in this village.  I don’t even know whether she is still here.  (PAUSE).  There was apparently a scandal.  She really could be anywhere and I’m probably just chasing a ghost from the past. (SOUNDING DEFEATED) I’m not sure I should even bother.

GINNY: I know most people in the village, Bob.  Tell me your mother’s name, dear.  I may know her but, if not, I may know of her family.  Most people from here are related to people in many of the surrounding villages; going back a long time.  (WITH A TONE OF INCREDULITY) Somehow, we’ll be able to find something out about her, I’m sure, though I know of no scandal.

BOB:    Her name.  Well, her name at birth was Mary Virginia Wilding.

(SMASH.  GINNY DROPS HER MUG OF TEA AND IT SHATTERS, LOUDLY.  GINNY MAKES A LOUD GASPING NOISE AND THEN A PAINFUL MOAN.  THE LIGHTS FADE AND THE CURTAINS FALL).    

Scene 3.

SPLIT STAGE ‘A’:

(CURTAINS RISE.  BACK IN THE MAIN CONGREGATION AREA OF THE CHURCH.  GINNY STANDS IN FRONT OF THE ALTER, GESTICULATING AS SHE SPEAKS WHILE BOB STANDS IN THE AISLE BETWEEN BOTH ROWS OF PEWS.  GINNY IS SHAKING AND BOB HAS HIS RIGHT HAND TO HIS HEAD.  BOTH ARE TEARFUL).

BOB:    (LOTS OF AD-LIBBED BODY LANGUAGE EMPHASISNG PAIN, DISTRESS AND CONFUSION).  But….but….how?  How can it be?  I found out that she was just fourteen and that she’d had the baby…me!  It caused a terrible scandal.  It was…out of wedlock and that, that….well her name is Mary and she was arrested for carrying drugs!  This makes no sense!

GINNY: (ALWAYS LOUDER AND MOVING BETWEEN SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS, FEAR AND DEFENSE, AS THE ACTOR SEES FIT, WHILE GESTICULATING QUITE WILDLY AT TIMES AND OFTEN TOWARDS THE ALTER/GOD).  It’s true.  Oh, good Lord forgive me, it’s true!  My name is Mary Virginia!  You see? Virginia….Ginny for short!  Oh, dear God!  (SOUNDING MORE RATIONAL FOR THIS NEXT PART, WITH BODY LANGUAGE TO MATCH).  Forgive me, Bob.  Please…forgive me!  I was just fourteen years old.  It was so long ago that I’d almost forgot.  Like I imagined it to be part of some dream.  A dream from another life.  I had to disconnect from any sense that it had even been real, for the pain of having my baby….you….taken away was just too unbearable.  (GINNY RETURNS TO A MORE IRRATIONAL STATE).  God’s judgement was too unbearable.  I thought I would die from the anguish it caused me.  And my parents…my parents were so, so ashamed of me.  They sent me away for years…because of you!  You should never have existed.

BOB:    (BOB, AT TIMES YELLING AND IN COMPLETE DISTRESS, WITH DRAMATIC BODY LANGUAGE INCREASING).  STOP!  This is insane.  I’m in a Church talking to a Reverend and…and…it’s YOU!  What kind of madness is this?  (SOUNDING PITIFUL AND WITH A SENSE OF INCREDULITY AND THEN ANGER)  I liked you.  You’ve been so nice to me!  You represent GOD!  How can you be that selfish little teenager who took drugs and slept around?  That teenager who got pregnant and gave up her baby boy like he….I…was a piece of rubbish?

GINNY: (GINNY RETURNS TO A MORE RATIONAL RESPONSE BUT IN A PLEADING STYLE) I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! I was young.  I had fallen in with a bad crowd.  My dad was drinking and being at home was hell.  Mum and dad were always fighting…I just had to stay out.  I couldn’t bear it!  I was confused.  (GINNY RETURNS TO AMPLIFIED BODY LANGUAGE, IRRATIONAL TONES AND EXASPERATION).  Look, I made…I made mistakes.  God gave me his punishment.  You!  I lost everything!  I had to leave before the villagers found out, but they found out anyway!  It’s taken me all these years to get back here!  Why have you come here?  Why?! (GINNY RAISIES HER HANDS TO HER FACE AND SINKS INTO THEM).

BOB:    (BOB, A MIXTURE OF HURT AND FEROCIOUS HOSTILITY) That’s what I am?  A mistake?!  That’s the best you have to offer?  I was a mistake?  A punishment?

GINNY: (GINNY SOUNDING ALMOST HYSTERICAL AND PLEADING).  No…that’s not what I meant!  I’ve felt so guilty, all these years.  I gave my life to God, so I could be forgiven.  I need God to forgive me.  Bob, you’ve got to let me explain…please…

BOB:    (BOB, ANGER TURNING TO COLDNESS AND DESPAIR).  NO….you said I was a mistake…and you are only serving God so you get to feel better!  You are using even God, just so that you can stop feeling guilty!  Get away from me, what type of person are you?  I’m leaving.  (EXITS)

(BOB RUNS OUT OF THE CHURCH DOORWAY, AS GINNY CRIES OUT FOR HIM.  SHE STANDS IN FRONT ON THE ALTER WITH HER ARMS OUTSTRETCHED TO GOD AS SHE CRIES AND MOANS LOUDLY.  SUDDENLY, THE SCREECH OF CAR TYRES ARE HEARD FROM OUTSIDE AND A LOUD THUD, FOLLOWED BY THE SHOCKED CRY OF A FEW VILLAGERS ALSO OUTSIDE.  GINNY STOPS FOR A MOMENT IN SILENCE.  TURNING TOWARDS THE AUDIENCE, SHE LETS OUT A TERRIBLE WAIL AND YELLS OUT BOB’S NAME AS SHE FALLS TO THE FLOOR AT THE FOOT OF THE ALTER.  SHE BLACKS OUT.  THE LIGHTS GO DOWN.  THE CURTAINS FALL).

End.

“If you perform this play, please be sure to reference me as Writer. Thanks. I would also love to hear from you about how the performance went, in the comments box below. Best wishes and ‘break a leg. “- Deano Parsons.

© Deano Parsons. 2021.

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