Originally written in the 1970s but resonating with relevance today, this lively tragi-comedy by an award winning Irish playwright reveals what it is to be old and vulnerable, frail but feisty.
In a dreary, seaside care-home in 1970s Ireland, Eve and Francis's spirited friendship has made life worth living. Threatened with separation by their selfish families, Eve and Francis take matters into their own hands, with dramatic consequences
Publisher: Chiswick Books
The stage is dark. Light up slowly on MISS EVANS.
She stands front right. She is wiping a small hole in
the condensation on the window so as to peer out. She
supports herself with her other hand on her walker. She
carries a handbag that is looped on the rail of her walker.
The lights now rise on the whole stage to show MR
MULCAHY in his chair left front and EVA who sits at the
chess table reading her book. She is in a wheelchair.
She peers out through the little space she had
cleared in the window.
It’s so cold.
Silence. She begins to turn very slowly with her
walker. She stops to consider.
Maybe today I could get to the fire before her?
She completes her turn.
I would like to sit by the fire.
Pause. She shuffles. She can only move very,
A real fire is so nice.
MR MULCAHY is hunched in a chair wrapped
in a rug. He stares out the window towards the
sea, pays no attention to anything going on
around him. You might wonder if he is conscious
of where he is. He lives in his thoughts. MAURA
and TESSIE are arranging cups and saucers on
the trolley with a clatter.
Clatter of cups.
It’s cold today.
TESSIE and MAURA are arranging cups and
saucers on the trolley. They pour tea and take
it to the old people who wait in various parts
of the room. TESSIE takes a cup of tea to MR
How are you today Mr Mulcahy?
She expects no answer. He accepts the tea
without looking at her. He does not look at
her or answer. He holds the cup on his knees
but does not drink from it. TESSIE returns to
the trolley. Spot on TESSIE and Maura at the
MAURA is regarding her nails. She sighs.
Jesus, it’s always the same.
MAURA is regarding her stockings.
Always the same bloody thing.
MAURA is regarding her shoes.
I’m going, I’m getting out of this bloody dump.
MAURA is back to her nails again.
Do you like the colour of my nails?
Holding her hands at arm’s length. TESSIE
doesn’t bother to look.
It’s not so bad…
I’m fed up. I’m handing in my notice.
You keep saying that.
She wiggles an ankle.
But you never do it.
I’m pissed off with old people…
Do you think my ankles have swelled?
Paying no attention.
This time is different. Mick’s after offering me
What! Mick at the shop? I wouldn’t work for
that old feller.
Stops looking at her ankles.
They say that they swell, at this time of the
month. Before ‘your friend’ you know? Mick’s
an old bastard.
It’d be more gas than this dump.
He’d never stamp your cards.
He would mine. He fancies me.
Janey mac, he fancies everyone. He’s the one
they say forgot he had a fag in his mouth when
he tried to kiss Mary Byrne after a dance. And
he’s ancient. About forty.
Oh you can talk. I think you fancy some of the
old crabs in here.
No I don’t. I just like them. They’re like old
babies. Mr Butler’s gorgeous.
I think he’s mad. Wait till I tell you what he was
doing the other morning. There, in the garden,
going like the clatters in that wheelchair of his,
round and round the gold fish pond. And that
one, Mrs Murphy, egging him on and counting
the rounds he’d done. They’re soft in the head if
you ask me.
They have great craic together.
And he’s as pleased as punch that he’d done
Told me I should get myself out of here. What
did I want to be stuck with the likes of them?
Go off and see the world, he says. What’s a nice
girl like you doing in a place like this, he says.
He can say that again. And he says he’ll give
me something. Some old picture he has up in his
room. Says it’s worth a few bob.
Would you believe that?
Anyway, I’m going out with Patsy.
A bit jealous and surprised.
Janey, you’d better watch it. He was going out
with Rose Callaghan and she’s just gone to
England in a hurry.
You know what. Everybody’s saying in the
They’re always saying something in the village.
Silence. MAURA is pushing the cuticle back on
You know what.
Matron told me to wear a bra.
Oh, she’s just jealous. If she let hers out they’d
drop to her knees.
Ah stop it Tess. She’s not so bad.
MAURA is now looking at the nails on her other
Janey it’s always the same bloody thing.
Holding out her hand to admire the nail polish.
Do you like the colour?
Pays no attention.
Ah it’s not so bad.
Lights up to include MR MULCAHY and EVA
who sit at the chess table.
Whining. He fidgets with his rug. Now trying to
tuck it in. Now un-tucking it. Still gazes out the
Enter MATRON. She crosses to the front and
makes some adjustment to the curtain or
How are we Miss Evans?
She does not wait for an answer.
Mr Mulcahy I see you’re fine… fine…
MR MULCAHY takes no notice. She goes up
stage and smiles and nods at the occupants.
Straightens a cushion that does not need
She is looking at MRS EVA MURPHY.
Dreadful day… Just dreadful.
Turns to the trolley and inspects it with an eagle
Now girls, have you everything? Get more
scones Tessie. You need more scones. Right.
MATRON exits. TESSIE and MAURA exchange
glances. TESSIE exits to get more scones.
The old bat.
The two girls continue to serve tea.
Grumbling. Whining. Complaining.
It’s cold today.
He shuffles his knees together. Takes a sip of
Rotten tea. Ghastly.
She never could make a good cup of tea.
An idiot woman, my dear sister. She’d insist
on making tea by the drawing-room fire. Insist.
With all her little gadgets. Patty in the kitchen
could make a great cup. A grand cup. That
wasn’t good enough. Oh no, no. My sister said
servants just don’t understand about tea. She
had to do it herself. With her la-di-da tea kettle
She’d ring the bell
‘You can bring up the tea things now Patty’,
she’d say. Such a stupid fuss to make a bad cup
of tea. God almighty. Made a bloody ceremony
out of it.
All women are whores.
Maybe I will sit by the TV.
Perhaps it would be better to sit by the TV?
It’s not so far to the chair by the TV.
She shuffles towards the TV.
I would like to get to the fire before her. A fire
is so nice. Nice to sit by the fire.
No it’s much nearer to the chair by the TV.
He has put down his cup and slowly rubs his
knees. . . Sings. To the tune of ‘Any Old Iron’ .
Any old bones
Any old bones
That’s what I’ve got, old bones. Old rag and
bone man… Aching and aching. My own
background music. A golden aching oldie.
Sings to ‘where did you get that hat?’.
Where did you get that ache?
Where did you get that pain?..
But I’d prefer the fire. I’d much prefer to sit by
the fire. That would be nice.
Everyone feels better by the fire.
She was there. She was there in the background.
Whispering. Her with her china tea.
‘The servants just don’t appreciate the subtleties
so, I have to do it all myself.’
Her dear little sensitive sighs. Her talking and
talking, she never stopped talking. Changing
everything with her fiddly white fingers. Pling.
Changing everything, interfering so I couldn’t
manage. Couldn’t do anything, couldn’t go
anywhere, couldn’t go…
Comes back to reality. His fingers have been
twisting and twining the mohair rug.
But I’m not going anywhere. I’m sitting in this
chair, a rug of mohair around my knees.
He peers over at his knees.
He almost laughs.
Don’t seem mine, so cold and a long way away.
Did she give me this rug? Just like her to choose
mohair. Long fussy stuff. Interfering.
‘Dickey, Dickey, the horses were on the lawn
last night. They make those dreadful holes with
their hooves. I’ve asked you again and again to
see to the fences. It’s not much to ask. It’s only
a small thing to ask. You could see to that at
least… surely you could manage that… a little
thing like that?’
Matron thinks I’m managing very well with
this walker. ‘You’re managing very well Miss
Evans,’ she says. ‘Very well.’
I could never get away. She’d always find me
Even as a child she knew. Knew all my special
Except once. Once in the trees. She never found
me there. I beat her that time. Up in the chestnut