ComedyCollective Writers Project
Ivan Shakespeare

A Square of One's Own
Written by Ivan Shakespeare

A half-hour radio sitcom produced by Liz Anstee
4 episode series broadcast on BBC Radio 4
May- June 1996

[CONTINUED]

Page 29

SCENE 7

LYTTON: Nor did we. No doubt each of us, rising daily to paint, write or theorise upon Charlattan’s sun-dappled lawns, yearned inwardly for the ascetic stone of Budsbury; but we bore Friendship’s burden stoically. None more than Clive, who entertained his exiled friend with inordinate diligence.

FX: BIRDSONG AND COUNTRY ATMOS (UNDER)

GRAMS: DRAUGHTSMAN’S CONTRACT THEME

FX: FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL

CLIVE: Believe me, Hans, when the history of civilisation is written – I don’t mean MY pamphlet now – our circle will be seen to have played an epochal part.

HANS: Ja, ja.

CLIVE: Budsbury shall be to the twentieth century what Florence was to the Renaissance.

HANS: Ja, ja.

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CLIVE: Avant garde in literature, art and philosophy. And, of course, personal behaviour.

HANS: Ja, ja.

CLIVE: Not for us prissy bourgeois conventions of so-called morality, timidity dressed up as principle.

HANS: Nein, that is no good. (YAWNS)

CLIVE: Tired, Hans?

HANS: Ja, ja, I am not so good sleeping.

CLIVE: Must be the air. Vanessa was dog tired this morning too. Not like me. Slept like a log.

HANS: Ja? You are not waking in the night at all?

CLIVE: No.

HANS: That is good. Look at those two little hillocks.

CLIVE: What? Ah yes. Classical reference, see? No? Symbolise the Pillars of Hercules according to Vita.

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HANS: Ja? I am thinking they are intended to represent a woman’s chests.

CLIVE: What? No,  don’t think so.

HANS: Ja, ja. And down there, the cave …

CLIVE: Entrance to Hades. So Vita says.

HANS: Hades, ja, is perhaps one way of putting it.

CLIVE: Hans, what on …? Bohemianism is one thing, but we DO draw the line at filth.

HANS: Ja, ja. Is unconscious maybe. Vita is not knowing much about art but is knowing what she likes.

FX: CRUNCHING ON GRAVEL RECEDES

GRAMS: DRAUGHTSMAN’S CONTRACT (OUT)

END OF SCENE 7

Page 32

SCENE 8

LYTTON: Virginia too found inspiration in the air of Charlattan – all, happily for Posterity, recorded on my phonograph.

FX: WINDING UP OF PHONOGRAPH

VIRGINIA: (CLEARS THROAT) Testing. The Journey In.  Part Two …

FX: KNOCK ON DOOR

VITA: (OFF) Virginia, are you there? Let me in ….

VIRGINIA: Oh God.

FX: OPENS DOOR

VITA: I thought I heard you talking, Virginia. To a woman.

VIRGINIA: I was.

VITA: What!?

VIRGINIA: To my muse.

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VITA: Oh darling Virginia, don’t tease – I thought you were avoiding me! That I’d offended you! I thought – oh, it’s too silly – I thought it was my garden.

VIRGINIA: What?

VITA: That you were jealous of it.

VIRGINIA: How?

VITA: With your window facing it … your constantly seeing such beauty … comparing it to your present barren … block … as I said, the whole idea is absurd.

VIRGINIA: It’s preposterous.

VITA: I HAVE offended you. I knew this would happen … so many creative temperaments under one roof, some explosion was inevitable. I’ve made you unhappy!

VIRGINIA: Don’t be ridiculous.

VITA: But you ARE unhappy.

VIRGINIA: Of course I am. It is my destiny as an artist.

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VITA: Not because of me? Thank God. Or do you WANT me to make you unhappier? Virginia, speak …

VIRGINIA: How DOES one get this thing to go?

FX: WINDING UP PHONOGRAPH

VITA: I don’t know. Oh I’m worrying about my own feelings, and you’ve so many troubles of your own …

FX: KNOCK ON DOOR. OPENED

HANS: Guten tag, I am coming to ask if you have any canvases I can be for paint using?

VITA: No, Hans. For we landscapists, the Earth is our …

HANS: Ja, ja, this is good ….

VITA: My curtains? They’re not canvas, they’re cotton.

HANS: Ach, canvas, cotton, what matter? I am seeing your garden and I am inspired! Vita, think of Art!

VITA: I’m thinking of Art, but that fabric cost twelve-and-sixpence a yard. From Selfridges. Go and see if there’s anything in the maid’s room to paint on.

Page 35

HANS: Very well. Virginia, is that phonograph trouble giving? Here,  allow me. (SCORNFULLY) Women!

FX: CLICK

HANS: See, press this lever and ….

VIRGINIA: (D) … the Journey In. The contours, hills and valleys of consciousnessness, terra incognito of the soul …

HANS: Maybe it is broken, is coming out nonsense …

FX: CLICK

HANS: Here, try that.

VIRGINIA: (D) … which every explorer must chart afresh … and throw the charts away, and start again each day ….

HANS: (CHUCKLING) They are telling me you are a writer, Virginia, but I am not knowing you are a satirist. Oh well, it works good now. Wiedersehn.

FX: DOOR CLOSES

VITA: Really.

END OF SCENE 8

Page 36

SCENE 9

LYTTON: Inevitably  though, given their shared background as practitioners of the visual arts, it was Vanessa with whom Hans established the closest rapport.

GRAMS: DRAUGHTSMAN’S CONTRACT

FX: BIRDSONG (UNDER)

VANESSA: How does that look?

HANS: Schon. Is Vanessa – of course is schon.

VANESSA: Oh Hans darling, you are sweet, SO poetical.

HANS: With such a muse, who would not be? If you would please to push out the left chest.

FX: FOOTSTEPS ON GRAVEL

CLIVE: Vanessa! What are you … you’ve got no clothes on!

VANESSA: Hello, Clive darling. I’m a muse

CLIVE: Hans! You’re naked too!

Page 37

HANS: Ja, ja. I am at one with my subject becoming.

CLIVE: Extraordinary. Never used to paint in the nude when you were executing that series of abattoirs.

VANESSA: You do sound irritable, darling. What do you want, anyway?

CLIVE: My shirt, have you seen it? Nearly dinnertime and …. What IS that he’s painting on?

VANESSA: An artist needs a canvas as champagne needs a glass.

CLIVE: But  ... it’s silk!

HANS: Ja, ja, is schon. Is a wonderful, incandescent quality of the light imparting, ja?

CLIVE: Oh.

FX: CLIVE FURIOUSLY TRAMPING AWAY OVER THE GRAVEL

VANESSA: Clive! Don’t be so petty.

HANS: Nein, he is a critic. He is to his opinion entitled.

Page 38

FX: FADE DOWN ON BIRDSONG

END OF SCENE 9

Page 39

SCENE 10

LYTTON: Thus did one such delightful episode succeed the next. The storm-clouds of war gathered above; yet amid the gloom, Charlattan blazed like a beacon, kindled with the tinder of companionship, sparked by the flint of genius on the stone of privation. As I observed to Vita, some days later at dinner.

FX: DINNER TABLE ATMOS (UNDER)

LYTTON: Vita, your maid’s departure shows you to be as consummate an artist in the kitchen as in the arboretum. Bravo.

VITA: Horrible girl. If she can betray me to go and work in a munitions factory, I’m well rid of her.

VIRGINIA: Girls of that class ooze meagreness of spirit like … ectoplasm. Their poverty of circumstance does not, as with us, spur nobility of soul.

FX: SOUNDS OF DISTANT GIGGLING AND THUMPING (UNDER)

LYTTON: Vanessa indisposed again, Clive?

CLIVE: Headache. Said she wants to lie down.

Page 40

LYTTON: Ah.

CLIVE: (THROUGH CLENCHED TEETH) I suggest we read our memoirs to each other. The long night of Prussian philistinism may be about to … to …

VITA: Fall over Europe. The Prussian bayonet may be … be …

CLIVE: …. At our throats …. But …

VITA: But …

CLIVE: Precisely.

FX: SOUNDS BECOME LOUDER

CLIVE: Conservatory then. Might get some peace and quiet for civilised conversation THERE.

FX: FOOTSTEPS ON PARQUET (UNDER)

CLIVE: We’ll bask in the dying rays of a glorious summer day … rather profound metaphor that, have to put it in my pamphlet ….

FX: CREAK OF OPENED DOOR

Page 41

COINS: Testing, testing … economic consequences of (PAUSE) the war … oh, Lytton! Everybody! Hello!

CLIVE: Hello Johnny, not disturbing you I hope, use the library if we are ….

COINS: Me? Oh alright. Maybe Lytton can come and help me work this thing, it’s beyond me.

CLIVE: Yes, go on Lytton ….

LYTTON: No need … it’s the work of an instant. There.

FX: WINDS UP MACHINE

VIRGINIA: (D) The Journey In, Journey In, Journey In ….

LYTTON: You have been inspired to fresh heights Virginia.

HANS: (D) … a writer Virginia, but I am not knowing you are a satirist ….

VIRGINIA: Puerile man … switch this thing off.

FX: THUMPS MACHINE

Page 42

HANS: (D) Vita, Vita, who can beat her, making her garden grow ….

VANESS: (D) Oh Hans darling, that’s so funny ….

CLIVE/VITA: Intolerable man!

CLIVE: But … a great artist. Let us not forget.

LYTTON: Then, what is greatness? In some ways, are not all of us great?

FX: FADE DOWN

END OF SCENE 10

Page 43

SCENE 11

LYTTON: I confess, I advanced this proposition in the manner of a devil’s advocate, to stimulate conversation. My companions no doubt realised this and responded in a similar spirit of irony, though I cannot say for certain, subsequent debate being abruptly curtailed.

FX: CRUNCHING OF FEET ON GRAVEL. KNOCK ON DOOR

VITA: Yes?

FX: OPENING DOOR

ROGER: Mrs. Sockville-Pest?

VITA: Who are you?

ROGER: Lieutenant Delamour. Acting Officer in command, Ninth Infantry Division …

VITA: A LIEUTENANT commanding a …? What is the world coming to? What do you want?

ROGER: Well, in a word, Madam … your house.

VITA: Charlattan?

Page 44

ROGER: Yes, Madam. I have a requisition order made out ….

COINS: Hold on … Lieutenant … what was that name again?

ROGER: Charlattan, sir.

COINS: No, your name. Delamour? Weren’t you at King’s? Went down 1912? Gentleman’s degree?

ROGER: Doctor Coins!

COINS: So, what have you been up to?

ROGER: Running a gold mine out in Southern Rhodesia, sir. My uncle’s, actually.

COINS: Gold, eh? Few bob in that I daresay?

ROGER: You’d be surprised, Doctor Coins. Making a profit from a gold mine is actually harder than you might think.

COINS: We live and learn, Delamour. Anyway, water under the bridge now, I suppose.

ROGER: Absolutely. When one’s needed, one can’t ignore the call, sir.

Page 45

COINS: No, I never thought you were the sort who could.

VITA: Excuse me … what did he say about a requisition order?

ROGER: We need your house, Ma’am. As a barracks.

VITA: A … monstrous! Not even an Officer’s Mess. Hobnailed boots everywhere, trampling over my hillocks, going into the caves of Hades I shouldn’t wonder ….

COINS: Vita, leave this to me. Delamour, an extra pip wouldn’t go amiss I imagine? (PAUSE) Promotion?

ROGER: I shall serve my country to the utmost of my ability regardless of such recognition as may come my way …

COINS: Yes, yes, that’s the stuff to tell the Recruitment Board. Look, let’s have a chat in the library. There’s a First Edition of ‘The Wealth of Nations’.

ROGER: I beg your pardon, sir?

COINS: Adam Smith. A book. Not to worry, there’s some decent ten year old Laphroig too ….

ROGER: That’s very civil of you sir.

Page 46

FX: NOISE OF HANS AND VANESSA

HANS: (OFF) Ja, ja, ja, ja, mein Gott ja ….

ROGER: Good grief Doctor Coins, what’s that?

COINS: It’s a long story ….

FX: FADE DOWN

END OF SCENE 11

Page 47

SCENE 12

LYTTON: As good intentions and happy consequences seldom coincide, rational people have long argued that the true evidence of the former is, indeed, the latter. Puritanical cries of ‘sophistry’ notwithstanding. In closing this chapter, I note only that our circle were rational people par excellence.

FX: PARTY ATMOS (UNDER)

CLIVE: My love is like a red, red rose, that’s newly bloomed in June/ My love is like a melodie ….

VANESSA: (SOBBING) Shut up. Oh Clive, how could you? Any of you? Betray him?

CLIVE: We tried to save him. Didn’t we?

OMNES: Yes.

VANESSA: To think of poor Hans in that internment camp ….

VITA: Never mind, it’ll all be over by Christmas they say.

COINS: 1918 at the latest.

Page 48

VANESSA: Hypocrites! International Brotherhood, Beauty, Truth and Goodness! Pah!

CLIVE: Vanessa, you’re being quite unreasonable. I barred that Army Officer’s way.

VANESSA: Until he said ‘excuse me.’

COINS: And that phonograph recording did look suspicious. All those coded messages.

VANESSA: I don’t remember Hans saying any of those things.

CLIVE: You weren’t with him ALL the time, darling, surely? Not that I’d mind, we’re sophisticated people ….

VANESSA: I’m going to bed. (FADING) Boohoohoohoo (ETC.)

FX: DOOR SLAMS

CLIVE: Poor girl. She must learn that Mawkishness is the true enemy of Art.

VITA: A few more days wandering about my landscapes should refresh her soul …. I have no objection. At least I’ve been spared platoons of infantrymen everywhere.

Page 49

CLIVE: Afterwards, I’ll take her on holiday, just the two of us, she’ll like that. Once the cheque arrives.

COINS: Cheque? In the readies, eh? What’s this?

CLIVE: I put a painting up for sale. (CHUCKLING) Quite ironic, Hans painted it here. Of Vanessa.

VITA: He found some materials then?

CLIVE: Yes. Old shirt of mine. All in the cause of Art. (PAUSE) Very fine picture. In the circumstances. Regarding which Sotheby’s are hinting at some notoriety value ….

LYTTON: (FADING) I know. Let’s have a soiree and play charades ….

END OF SCENE 12

Page 50

LYTTON: DEDICATIONS:

Of the many talented and illustrious people who have assisted in this creation, I am especially indebted to:

Mr Toby Longworth for his penetrating interpretation of the role of myself, Lytton Strychnine;

Miss Sally Grace for her unrivalled portrayal of Mrs. Virginia Woof.

Mr. Nick Hardy who sensitively adumbrated Johnny Maynard Coins.

Mr. Matthew Bell for special insights into the character of Clive Pill.

Miss Sarah Parkinson, indefatigable in the part of Mrs. Vanessa Pill.

Miss Joanna Brookes, whose depiction of Mrs. Vita Sockville-Pest was, simply, magnificent.

Mr. Jonathan Aris without whom the part of Hans Schwarzmeister would not have been played, and

Mr. Chris Emmett, who unselfishly acted as mouthpiece for those untalented, but sadly necessary, characters: the Scout, Postman, Butler, Newsboy, Gallery Factotum and Lieutenant Delamour.

I must also thank Mr. Ivan Shakespeare for his services as Amanuensis.

Finally, my undying gratitude goes to Miss Elizabeth Anstee, without whose Production skills the foregoing would simply not have been possible.

THE END

Caution: this play is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United Kingdom and all other countries of The Copyright Union, and is subject to royalty. Those interested in production rights are requested to apply for production rights to: The Ivan Shakespeare Estate: ivanshakespeare@beeb.net


EPISODE ONE (" THE GREAT WAR") OF THE FOUR-PART SITCOM

A SQUARE OF ONE’S OWN
Written by Ivan Shakespeare
First broadcast on BBC Radio 4
15 May 1996

All rights reserved by The Ivan Shakespeare Estate . For inquiries about Ivan's  work, please contact his widow Elspeth MacLean through the Writers Guild.


ComedyCollective Writers Project
Ivan Shakespeare