‘La Reine Claude’: a new play by Tom Murphy, Deirdre Kinahan, Sonya Kelly, Enda Walsh . . .
The Arc, a new project by ‘The Irish Times’ in association with Dublin Theatre Festival, has asked Tom Murphy to begin a play, then hand it on to fellow writers to continue
Setting the scene: Tom Murphy. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
The Irish Times, in association with Dublin Theatre Festival, has devised the Arc, a project that will see a group of playwrights contribute to a play, with each adding a few pages to what has gone before.
Tom Murphy has kicked things off with this opening scene for a play he has called La Reine Claude. Two of Murphy’s plays, Brigit and Bailegangaire, are currently at the Olympia Theatre, as part of the festival.
La Reine Claude will receive a rehearsed reading as part of the festival.
The other parts of the play will be published on irishtimes.com/culture throughout the festival, along with details of the public reading, which will take place on Sunday, October 12th. Tickets will be available from dublintheatrefestival.com.
‘LA REINE CLAUDE’
An apartment, high-class, paintings on the walls - alluded to, not necessarily seen. A trompe l’oeil on a wall. A table at which a young Woman (Paulina) is sitting in hat and top coat, decidedly purposeful.
Karolina, a young woman, a maid, is by a window, looking down onto the street, a cup of tea in her hand. She reacts
Karolina [In Polish] He’s here. He is parking his car. [Her upstage hand indicating a room] In there!
[The Woman (Paulina) exits to the room indicated. Karolina hurriedly exits to the kitchen to deposit her cup there and return with two bottles of red wine which she commences to uncork, in the middle of which she barks:
Karolina [in Polish] Shut the door!
[As the room door is shut, the front door is heard opening. Then:
A man’s voice Karolina!
Karolina Yes! Mr Mulcahy! [She has just finished uncorking the wine.
[Mulcahy comes in. Businessman’s suit, large briefcase. (Perhaps cliched pencil-line moustache to say that something about him is dodgy!)
Karolina Fresh coffee in the coffee machine in the kitchen, the red wine is opened, as you instructed, for three hours. Breathing.
Mulcahy Karolina. [Which means “thank you”] Did you collect my shirts?
Karolina Oh! No. I will – I am going to collect them now. [As she goes.] Mr Mulcahy. [She’s gone.]
[Mulcahy is at ease, pours a glass of wine, produces a painting from his briefcase, on plywood, sits looking at it propped on the table, taps out a number on his mobile phone.
[Meanwhile, the Woman (Paulina) has come out of the room and is regarding him. She removes her hat.
Mulcahy [Into the phone] Me, yeh . . . I picked up a Percy French today . . . No, he didn’t just write songs, a watercolourist – thousands of them – he’s going for five or six grand . . . I got him for . . . Hold on, I’ll call you back.
[He has sensed a presence in the room. He sees her.
Mulcahy What is this! . . . Who are you? . . . How did you get in here?
Woman My name is Paulina. You have something that belongs to me.
Mulcahy I have something . . ? I’m calling the police.
Paulina That would be unwise.
Mulcahy I have guests coming shortly.
Paulina Cancel them.
Mulcahy My maid will be back in a moment.
Paulina Your maid, Karolina, is my sister. You have something that belongs to me.