This is a full-length comedy for a director with access to a large cast.
The parts range from minor to substantial for both male and female actors.
Staging: thrust stage
Sound: music and train effect
Setting: Home Counties in the 1930s
A collision of genres: the ‘cops and robbers’ chase film; the restrained bitterness that engulfs an English village community during its annual drama festival.
His gangland boss does not believe that Billy Rich bungled the collection of the protection money. He thinks Billy pocketed it and now he wants his cash. Judging his moment, Billy escapes from the deserted railway station, where the gang was holding him, by jumping onto a passing train. The only other traveller is a drama-festival adjudicator on her way to a competition. With the gang in pursuit, Billy hatches the only plan he can think of. Briefly left alone in their carriage, Billy steals clothing from the adjudicator’s suitcase and arrives at the festival disguised as her. As the tension of the approaching festival mounts, Billy struggles to fend off the festival entrants’ clumsy and increasingly desperate attempts to bribe him in order that they might win. Meanwhile the police and the gang, now using their own participation in the same competition as cover, close in on him.
At the end, Billy awards the festival prize to his gangster boss whose performance out-shines all of the others. His ‘debt’ now paid, Billy removes his disguise to the shock of the town’s entrants. He then publicly declares his love for the festival organiser’s daughter who has already uncovered his true identity and, in the confusion, makes his escape with her to a new and more honest life. The town is left listening to a reading of the telegram from the disorientated but now thoroughly determined festival adjudicator whose arrival is imminent.
Ages unless indicated
Billy Rich (20s/30s)
Mrs Buff-Orpington, the adjudicator (60s/70s)
Lady Chalfont St-Giles (70s/80s)
Home, her driver (30s/50s)
Court, her butler (50s/70s)
Mr Cruise (played by a woman) (40s/60s)
The Gang: Wide age range
Other gang members
The Police: Wide age range
The Festival entrants. Wide age range
Cordelia Macbeeth (early 20s)
Emma Macbeeth (mid 20s)