One Family, Two Wars

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic
This play is set in two places a dugout in the British trench and a home in England. The Richards as been split apart. Geoff the farther and Eddie the eldest are fighting the Germans leaving Jane the second oldest and Dick the youngest at home. Each scene begins with the reading of a letter which adds really emontion to the play.

Submitted: March 24, 2011

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Submitted: March 24, 2011



Scene One
The split scene starts in a very basic house and in a dugout on the western front. Jane and Dick are sitting at the table in the house, having just received a letter from the front line. There are two empty chairs around the table and one in the corner. In the dugout, Geoff and Eddie are huddled around a desk, writing the letter. As the letter is written, it is read out loud for the audience to hear.
Geoff(While writing) 26th August 1914, somewhere in France.
Dear Jane and Richard,
Your older brother and I have arrived in France. The other boys are a good laugh and Eddie is getting along with them well. It seems quite quiet so far, more than I expected but I suppose it means we can get used to how things run before anything major happens. A lot of the more experienced officers tell us stories over a whisky at night. By the looks of it, the reserve trenches were shelled pretty heavily recently, and the soldiers are running around trying to fix it, shame we can’t do anything to help them. The cigarettes they give us are terrible, but luckily Eddie hasn’t started smoking yet…
(Geoff gets up and Eddie sits down)
Eddie(While writing) Hello home, Eddie here! The mud here is knee deep and our once clean uniforms have been caked in what seems like bloody tonnes of it. It gets everywhere, yes… everywhere… even… best not to mention that actually. There is no real place to sleep yet, but no need to worry, we shall manage… we will have to. But enough of depressing thoughts, we go down to the front line today, 26th August, so we shall write again later. Hang on… Dad for you…
Jane(Reading Dad’s letter) As Eddie said we are going down to the front line today. Looks like a jolly good trip. I, myself, am quite interested in going. Our King needs us, and we shall serve him loyally. I am already an officer and so is Eddie, its good taking charge in a place like this. Hope you are all doing well, and tell Richard that if he doesn’t behave himself a toy soldier will fall on him from the sky. Please keep Richard safe Jane, I know you have sibling disputes, but please, for mum’s sake.
Lots of love
EddieAnd Eddie XXX
Jane(Relieved) At least they’re safe, but they are already going off to the front line, so soon!
DickYeah, they’re off to kick the Boche’s
DickI wonder whether they have chocolate in the trenches. I wouldn’t have said it you know.
Jane(Rolling eyes) Why would it matter whether or not they have chocolate? They’re fighting, not having a feast!
Dick(In a matter of fact way) Well, Harry says they don’t do any fighting; he says they just have fun in France.
Jane(Under her breathe) If only!
DickWhat did you say?
JaneNothing, why don’t you go and play while I get dinner ready?
Dick(Accusingly) You muttered! Mrs Jones says we shouldn’t mutter, she says it’s not polite.
JaneDo I look like I care what your stupid Mrs Jones says?
Dick(In matter of fact way) That’s what I said to her when she told me off.
JaneYou said what?
DickI told her that I didn’t care about maths and that I was going off to fight with my Dad!
JaneBut you’re not going off to war, besides, you’re far too young to fight.
DickI am going to fight, I’ll trick them and just say I'm short.
Jane(Getting agitated) Why would you want to go off and fight, you’ve got all your friends at school and you’ve got me.
DickI'm going off to fight and that’s final.
Jane(Angry) No you’re not!
DickMum would have let me do what I want!
Jane(Lashing out) Well she isn’t here, is she. Neither is Dad or Eddie. They all have to go and fight those bloody Boche and leave (suddenly emotional) and leave me here all alone to look after you. I'm only 16 and already I feel like I have been a mother for god knows how many years! Most girls my age are meeting young men now, and I’m at home looking after you, my stupid younger brother. (Almost in tears by the end)
Dick(Upset) Why do you have to be angry at me for mentioning Mum? She was alive once you know.
JaneI know, I know. It’s just all the pressure of looking after you, me, the house, and the animals; and with Eddie and Dad gone, it’s a lot to do on your own when you’re the only person who can or will. (Gives Dick a hug) You see, the pressure must be big, I just hugged you. You of all people!
Dick(Pushing away in disgust) Erg. I don’t want your girly hugs, no matter how much pressure you’re under! I’m off to play with my toy soldiers, and then I’m off to fight with real ones!
(Dick Leaves)
Jane (Follows him muttering) Why me, why me. Honestly, a ten year old at home and a Dad and brother at war. What have I done?
Scene Two
The scene starts with the same split scene as scene one. Geoff and Eddie have just received a letter from home. They open in with tired hands and read slowly due to the dim light and their lack of rest. Despite this they are rather upbeat. Only Jane is present in the house and reads the letter aloud by candle light.
Jane Dear Father and Eddie,
How are you? How are the chaps out there with you? I hope you are giving the Boche a good bashing! It’s awful not having you two here, but at least we know that you are out there for a good cause and a good reason. Duty to King and Country and all that, we are so proud of you.
Geoff But I guess you don’t want to talk about the war, so I will fill you in on what has been happening at home. The village is fine, the atmosphere is the same as it was when you left; sad in a way but determinedly cheerful. But more men have gone to war. Andrew Jones has gone, he was in my class at school but they let him in anyway. Bill Cameron has also gone; the one they joked would become Prime Minister one day with all his manners and his quick wit; his mother cried all week. Jack, or John, Edwards, too he was the baker’s son. I guess he went because his father did. We don’t know whether or not you will meet any of them in France but if you do tell us please! But worst of all, the Mayor’s son Bobby Odam has gone too. Sally Phillips’ daughter Molly cried for days at that.
Jane But, you will be pleased to know, Eddie, that a certain Victoria Brown has been looking rather miserable lately. I do wonder why? I’m only teasing you; she said to say if we heard from you, Eddie, she really cares. Oh dear, I have probably said too much, have a jolly good time explaining that to Dad!
Dick Hallo! Dick now, Jane has gone out to do something, girly probably, in the garden. The animals are doing well although the old Ewe is looking like she is about to fall any time soon and the chickens are laying less eggs. Jane told me not to tell you that in case you got worried but I think you should know, they are your animals after all. Also one of the cows is looking heavily pregnant.
Anyway how is the war? What is it like? Harry says it’s all a big jolly and that no-one really dies. I really want to be out there, fighting alongside you! Take care, and don’t get hurt. Although Harry says you won’t.
Well cheerio and come home soon and safe!
With lots of love,
Jane Jane
Dick and Dick
GeoffWell that was a jolly good letter.
Eddie Rather Father. Sorry, I mean, Sir!
GeoffIt’s ok Eddie, you can call me Father. It sounds as if they are coping well at home.
Eddie Yes it does, doesn’t it? I wonder how the sheep are. Wait, look at this, they’ve included a bar of chocolate for us. Good old Dick!
Geoff Oh, wonder where they got that from, let’s have some. (Eddie opens chocolate and gives some to Geoff)
Eddie (Whilst chewing) Hmmmm, tastes like it were fresh made today.
Geoff So then, who’s this Victoria Brown and why would Jane mention her?
Eddie Did you hear about all those chaps who have been sent out here?
Geoff You changed the subject Eddie.
Eddie No I didn’t. What did you say?
Geoff Victoria Brown…?
Eddie Hmmm, no, never heard of her, is she in our village?
Geoff Jane seems to think you know her.
Eddie Oh, that Victoria Brown. She was in my class a few years ago.
Geoff Is that all you want to tell me?
Eddie I hate this bloody war?
Geoff Don’t worry, it will be over soon and you can see your Victoria Brown.
Eddie If you say so.
Geoff When will you be getting a letter from her?
EddieI’m off to see the boys, ta ta.(Eddie gets up and walks to the entrance of the dugout and stops in the doorway. Then he turns back to his father.) Oh and Vicky... (Eddie falls to the floor injured and screams in pain before fading into unconsciousness)
Geoff Somebody, help me. God help us.
Somebody… anybody…. Help us (Voice fades out)
(The last view is Geoff struggling over Eddie’s body and trying to move him away from the danger. The scene goes to the sound of guns and Geoff calling for help)
Scene Three
The split scene is the same to scene one and two. Jane is at the table in the house, and has just received a letter from the front line. Dick is off stage and unaware of the arrival of the letter. Only Geoff is in the dugout and is writing a letter.
Geoff (While writing) 6th September 1914, , somewhere in France.
Dear Home,
I am writing to say that Eddie has been injured.
Jane (Begins to cry) Oh God, oh God.
GeoffBy the time you receive this letter he will be well on his way home or may even be with you already. Don’t worry, he’ll be fine soon, he’s just on crutches; nothing serious but please do take care of him. He may not be too happy being sent home, so be careful too.
I am well; as well as can be for someone in this bloody war. It’s terrible here. War is terrible. I can’t keep it in anymore! The mud is horrible. The noise is horrible. The rats, the bugs, the smell is horrible! The food is bloody awful. We’re out of cigarettes and we’re low on ammo. I have seen people die and my clothes are covered in my friend’s blood. My son has been sent home with shrapnel in his leg. I have decided that I don’t like war; not one bloody bit!
Jane (Reading through sobs) But apart from my dislikes, how are you? Thanks for the chocolate, it brightened things up. Is Dick OK? Please don’t let him see this letter; he’ll think me a coward. I’m sorry for leaving you to deal with all this. Maybe Eddie coming back home isn’t such a bad thing; he can help a bit with the animals and the harder work.
Geoff Love from Dad.
Jane(Having read the letter aloud Jane is now crying quietly with her head in her hands and therefore does not notice the arrival of Dick)
Dick (Cautiously)Why are you crying?
Jane (Wiping her tears) Oh, it’s nothing. I’ll be fine. (She tries to hide the letter under a tray on the table)
Dick Is that from the front?
Jane Yes, yes it is.
Dick (Worried) What’s happened out there?
Jane (After hesitation) Its Eddie...
Dick What’s happened to him?
Jane He’s coming home.
Dick (Confused) Why?
Jane He’s... (Pause) He’s been hurt.
Dick (Excited) Well its great he’s coming home. I can show him my picture of him shooting a Boche through the head!
Jane (Pause) Dick, I, I don’t think he will want to talk much about the war and he probably won't be able to run around with you like he used to.
Dick (Clearly excited) Until he’s better of course!
Jane Well it may take a bit longer than that before he is ready to talk about it.
Dick Why? He hasn’t been doing much out there.
Jane (After a long pause) He will be very tired for quite some time. So don’t pester him too much, please.
Dick Ok
(The doorbell rings. Jane rises and instructs Dick to Stay here and wait. Jane leaves the stage and returns after a short pause with Eddie walking on crutches behind her)
Dick(Jumps up) EDDIE! (He runs and hugs Eddie)
Eddie (Sternly) Please, please. Be careful. I am injured you know.
Dick (Offended) Sorry Eddie.
(They all sit)
Eddie No, it’s my fault. I'm too used to the army.
Dick It’s okay. Do you want to see my picture of you shooting a Boche?
Jane Dick, I think you need to leave Eddie to rest for a bit. Why don’t you go and feed the animals, they’ll be getting hungry?
Jane (Nervously)Eddie...Eddie, are you alright?
Eddie (shortly) Yes thank you.
Jane (Nervously) Is there anything I can get you, anything I can do for you? Perhaps you would like a piece of chocolate, the type you always liked...
Eddie (Cutting Jane off)No thank you, I am fine.
Jane (Hurt) Okay Eddie. I...I need to go and feed the chickens.
When Eddie does not answer Jane leaves in silence while Eddie sits down and stares into nothingness.
Scene Four
Dick and Jane are sitting around the table drinking tea and eating bread. There is a chair empty that they all glance at every now and then. They are all quiet and worried, and no one speaks. They are all wondering about their father who they have not heard from for a while.
Dick (Pestering tone) Eddie, Eddie where is he? (Calling out) Eddie please come and play with me. The Boche have advanced 2 inches towards our lines.
Jane (Exasperated) No Dick, Eddie can’t play with you!
Dick Why not?
Eddie (Hobbling in) You can see why Richard (shows crutches) why don’t you play with your sister?
DickBut she’s just a girl; she doesn’t know anything about war! And since when do you call me Richard?
Eddie (Getting angry) Since now, and don’t say that about your sister!
JaneDick just go and play outside by yourself.
(The doorbell rings as Dick sits down on his chair in a mood and glowers at the floor. Jane gets up to go and see who is there whilst Eddie gently sits down on his chair and stares into space, absentmindedly twirling his crutches from one hand to another. Dick and Eddie hear the friendly exchanges of hellos and the rustling of paper being passed from one hand to another, and then the cheerio’s as the post man leaves. All of a sudden there is a sharp intake of breathe and a cry of No!)
Eddie Jane, Jane is everything all right?
DickWhat’s going on, why did she yell?
(The sound of sobbing comes from the hall out of sight as Jane enters the room tears sparkle on her cheeks and her hands are shaking from grief and sadness. She is holding an official looking piece of paper that awfully familiar to every person of this time.)
Eddie(Worried) Jane? (Eddie then sees the piece of paper and look of comprehension sets upon his face before quickly being replaced by a look of grief and anguish.)
JaneIt’s Dad,
(She stumbles on the last word and cannot say anymore. Dick has remained silent until this moment but suddenly says)
DickDad, what...what happened?
(Eddie holds out his hand for the piece of paper and silently Jane hands it over and stands beside Eddie.)
Eddie Officer Geoffrey Richards, 21st Regiment British Army. Date of Death, 9th September. Cause of death, mustard gas. (He stutters and cannot go on)
Jane Dad, gone too....Mum. (She looks to the chair that sits away in the corner of the room away from all of the others)
Dick (On the verge of tears) But...he can’t be...he just can’t be.
Eddie(In a flat and lifeless tone) He was doing his duty, he knew the risks.
(A few moments pass and all that is heard in the sound of breathing, the wind and a bird singing outside. Tears slide down Jane’s face silently and Eddie stares at nothing in particular. No-one speaks they just grieve. In unison their eyes look at the chair that is left unoccupied. Then suddenly,)
DickJane, I don’t want to go to war.
DickI’m sorry Jane. I don’t want to go to war, Harry was wrong. War isn’t a game, it’s nothing like rugger.
(Dick walks around to stand at Eddie’s other side.)
JaneYou’re right Dick. War is a terrible thing and it is only something humans could create.
DickEddie got hurt and now he barely talks, and Dads, Dads... dead.
Eddie (Looking blank and emotionless) He was doing his duty. (With that he gets up and hobbles out of the room)
(Dick stands to and looks around the room. He looks after his older brother and then looks as his sister pleadingly)
JaneGo, its fine. I’ll be alright.
(Dick runs out of the room after his brother.)
(Jane remains seated and fiddles with the silver locket that hangs around her neck. After a few moments she opens it. It contains pictures of her parents on their wedding day. She looks at the pictures for a long while and then closes the locket back up. She stands and slowly moves towards the chair that has remained unoccupied throughout the play, and hesitates as if what she is about to do is wrong. Slowly she lifts the chair and moves it so that it is next to the other chair that rests in the corner of the room and has not been touched for 10 years. This chair is her mothers, who died in childbirth when her younger brother was born. She had promised her mother, when she was only six years old herself, that she would keep her family safe and would be the mother that they were missing.
There is a sense of great grief and guilt as Jane grieves not only for her father but also for the mother she lost and has broken a promise to. The family that she had promised to take care of now has a 10 year old boy who is orphaned, an injured soldier who no longer says a word and will be crippled all his life and a father who has passed to where she can no longer reach him, like her mother did before him, and herself a 16 year old girl who has broken her promises.
A picture hangs above the chairs. There are two people in the picture; a young handsome man and a laughing woman, they are embracing and are laughing together. She touches the faces gently as if they were real, as if she is touching the faces of the people whom she most wants to see. She stands there for a minute looking at the picture of her father and mother and then at their chairs. She too then leaves the room.)

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