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It’s a sad day in the Hodgson household as Joan holds the wake for her father after dedicating her life to nursing him. The play begins in her front room where Joan is supported by her friends from the local drama group. Peter, who has recently qualified as a life coach, Ruth, who has managed to hold down her role as Brown Owl despite her fear of squirrels, the confident Anita who’s recently hospitalised husband has a male complaint and Belinda, the best prompt they have ever had. Joan is also supported by her rogue nephew, Malcolm, which makes up for the suspicious absence of her elderly neighbour, Mrs Mallard. The play unfolds bit by bit to expose the secrets and lies of the characters, culminating in Joan’s realisation that life might never be the same again.
Joan – Late50s/early 60s. A gentle woman who has nursed her father for years before his death. Has a heart of gold but is put upon by others, especially her unseen sister Maureen. Aunt to Malcolm, who exploits her kindness, and thinks she is friends to all of the other characters. However, most either feel sorry for her, or in Anita’s case, look down upon her.
Belinda – Mid to late 70s. Spends most of the play muttering incoherently and lacks mobility. Sees a lot but is unable to communicate it due to her age and fondness for a drink.
Ruth – Late 40s/early 50s. Married to Edward. Although she is obviously dominated by her husband, and suffers from panic attacks, she still possesses an innocent enthusiasm for life. Under the surface perhaps feels hard done by with her lot but is always courteous and will go out of her way to avoid conflict.
Anita – Late 40s/early 50s. Has had numerous marriages and clearly thinks she’s still got ‘it’ despite her physical appearance hinting otherwise and her current husband’s impotence. Feels superior to all of the other characters. It is suggested that Anita and Ruth’s husband, Edward are ‘close’. Makes outrageous cutting remarks to others, especially Ruth and Joan, but as they are always said with such conviction and a sneering smile, she manages to avoid conflict.
Peter – Late 20s/early 30s. Outrageously camp character who is always telling stories about his illnesses that seem to appear when he is with his ‘friend’ Benedict. He is popular with the other characters who accept his homosexuality without ever explicitly mentioning it. Becomes quite obsessed with Malcolm.
Malcolm – Late 20s/early 30s. Joan’s nephew who is always up to a scam. Recently had a tag removed and an appearance on Jeremy Kyle. Is able to manipulate others for his own financial gain. Not an evil villain, more of a rogue.
Police Officer – Any age. Visits Joan’s house with some startling news.
Edward – Late 40s/early 50s. Married to Ruth and having an affair with Anita. Has a military bearing even though he has never actually served. Very direct and likes to take control of situations. Thinks of himself as an upstanding member of the community. Very dismissive of Ruth.
Kelly – Late 20s/early 30s. Joan’s cleaner. Has 4 children by different men. Common as muck and clearly a poor mother although she doesn’t realise it. Is unaware of how others see her and always available for an inappropriate comment.
Donald – Late 40s/early 50s. Married to Anita. Spends the majority of the play in hospital due to a ‘mans’ complaint.