back to ACT 2

ACT 3, SCENE 1

MICHAEL GOOD'S FLAT

Michael Good's flat in a week or so later. The clock shows it's just gone eleven o'clock.

Roxy, wearing a longer skirt this time, comes out of the bedroom pulling a T-shirt over her head. Michael follows her. Both of them look absurdly pleased with themselves. They sit down on the sofa next to each other. During the following exchange they caress and occasionally kiss each other. It's clear that they have formed a close, loving relationship already.

MICHAEL: I'm sorry to push you out like this, Roxy, but some people are coming to see me. They should be here any minute.

ROXY:         Don't apologise Mickey. You did tell me I had to leave before eleven. I just got carried away. These early morning sessions really get me going. Charge me up for the rest of the day. I don't think I've ever felt so energized.

MICHAEL: I'm glad you're enjoying them. They're good for me too.

ROXY:         (laughing) I don't think enjoyment is the right word for what I experienced just now. Exhilaration would be a better word. I'm sorry about all the noise. I'm as bad as Antonia.

MICHAEL: I should have spent more time kissing you, to keep you quiet. (He kisses her to prove the point)

ROXY:         Well, you were kissing me at the time.

MICHAEL: Yes, but not your mouth. My mistake, (tracing the line of her lips) your mouth is very delectable.

ROXY:         I didn't think it was a mistake.

MICHAEL: Nor did I at the time. I just can't get enough of that particular part of the country.

ROXY:         So it seems.

MICHAEL: But next time I'll give your mouth the attention it deserves.

ROXY:         I look forward to that.

MICHAEL: And any other areas I may have neglected.

ROXY:         I thought you explored the rest of the landscape pretty thoroughly.

MICHAEL: I just love all those peaks and valleys. The undulations and curves.

ROXY:         You seem to have a thing about buds.

MICHAEL: You noticed that, did you? How very observant of you. Yes, I'm extraordinarily fond of buds. Soft, feminine things, buds. Such a sensual shape. I love running my fingers over them.

ROXY:         And not just your fingers. I never understood what 'nipping things in the bud' meant before. I always thought it sounded painful.

MICHAEL: And it wasn't?

ROXY:         No, heavenly, in fact. You're very good at nipping things in the bud.

MICHAEL: What about the tweaking? Did you like that too?

ROXY:         Oh yes, very stimulating. Mind you, although I like buds, I prefer shoots, especially the fast-growing ones.

MICHAEL: Really?

ROXY:         You know, the thrusting sort, that spring up over night.

MICHAEL: Tall, thin ones, then?

ROXY:         Oh no. The long ones tend to be much too flexible, too bendy. I prefer them to be thick and stiff. Something you can get a grip on.

MICHAEL: Yes, I felt you had a firm grasp of the fundamentals. You like getting to the root of things. I appreciated that.

ROXY:         I could tell. Hard, manly things, shoots. Such a sensual shape. I love running my fingers over them.

MICHAEL: (laughing) And not just your fingers. Mind you don't pull too hard and uproot something.

ROXY:         Not much chance of that. Seemed pretty rigid to me. I bet I could have tugged away all day and it would still have stayed firmly in place.

MICHAEL: (laughing) Don't be too sure.

Michael suddenly pulls away from Roxy.

Look, if we go on like this we'll be caught 'in flagrante delicto' by my visitors. You really are going to have to leave, you know.

ROXY:         You're right. I'm ready. (She stands up and then pauses for a moment) Mickey, can I ask you something?

MICHAEL: Sure, anything.

ROXY:         Where did you learn all these wonderful sexual techniques? I know you didn't read them in a book.

MICHAEL: How do you know?

ROXY:         (grinning) Because I've read the books. All of them. I told you, Research is my middle name.

MICHAEL: I'll only tell you if you promise not to tell anyone else.

ROXY:         I promise.

MICHAEL: Well, when I was starting out as an actor I was in a play with, well, I won't tell you her name, but she's famous, you've probably seen her in lots of films. Anyway, I guess she was in her early forties then. She, well, she taught me a lot. About acting, but also ...

ROXY:         I see. And how did she learn her secrets?

MICHAEL: (laughing) The same way, apparently. She was seduced by an older actor when she was starting out. She says these things have been passed down through the acting profession for years. Something to do with royal mistresses. Now look, you really do have to leave.

ROXY:         Yes, I will. Now where did I leave my bag?

Roxy goes back into the bedroom. At that moment there's a knock at the door. Michael hesitates, then goes over and opens it. Julia Reeves enters.

MICHAEL: Julia, thank you for coming. Where's Peter? I thought he was coming with you.

JULIA:         He bumped into an old friend just before we got here and told me to go on ahead. He said he won't be long.

ROXY:         (calling out from the bedroom) Found it. It got kicked it under the bed when we were undressing in such a hurry ...

Roxy trails off into silence as she comes back into the room and sees Julia.

JULIA:         Hallo, Roxy. (With a slight edge to her voice) What a nice surprise. Are you going to be in the play too?

ROXY:         Hallo, Julia. No, of course I'm not going to be in the play.

MICHAEL: Roxy was supposed to leave earlier, Julia. I've been giving her tutorials. Helping with her education.

JULIA:         Really, and what do you know about computer science, or whatever it is Roxy's doing at Cambridge?

MICHAEL: Almost nothing. I'm giving her practical advice, about something quite different.

ROXY:         Mickey started by explaining Bingo to me, Julia. Today's lesson was about the joys of buds and shoots.

JULIA:         Bingo? Buds and shoots? I don't I understand.

MICHAEL: Never mind, Julia. It's a private joke.

At that moment there's a knock at the door. Michael opens it. Peter Philbin enters.

MICHAEL: Oh, hallo Peter, you don't know Roxy, do you? This is Roxy, Lionel Mason's daughter. Roxy, this is Peter Philbin.

Roxy and Peter shake hands while they say hello to each other.

ROXY:         Ah, the famous dramatist. Hallo Peter.

PETER:       Good to meet you, Roxy. (Turning to Michael) So this is the Trixie? I can see why you thought I'd sent her. And why you gave in.

JULIA:         The 'Trixie'? What's a Trixie?

PETER:       You know that character I told you about, the one who forced herself into my play?

JULIA:         Yes.

PETER:       Well, she's called Trixie, and in the play she blackmails and seduces Michael's character.

JULIA:         (sounding puzzled) I still don't see....

PETER:       Well, Roxy went round and did that to Michael in real life just a week or so ago. He thought I'd sent her as a sort of test.

JULIA:         Roxy blackmailed and seduced you, Mickey?

MICHAEL: More or less. (Smiling broadly) The blackmail didn't work, but the seduction did.

JULIA:         So what sort of hold does Roxy have over you, Mickey?

MICHAEL: She listened in on her stepmother's private conversations.

JULIA:         Listened in? How?

ROXY:         I bugged her.

JULIA:         Bugged her?

ROXY:         Yes. With an electronic listening device. It was a research project.

PETER:       Research? What sort of research?

ROXY:         I suppose you'd call it "Advanced Pleasuring Techniques". How men can bring women to the heights of sexual ecstasy. Mickey's the focus of my research. He's an expert at it. I discovered that when I recorded him and Antonia making love.

JULIA:         Good heavens, Roxy, is this true? You've been recording Antonia's lovemaking? Have you been recording all her liaisons, or just her and Mickey?

ROXY:         Most of her conquests, I think. Those she brings home, anyway. But don't worry, I'm not interested in blackmail any more.

PETER:       So have you listened to me with Antonia too?

ROXY:         Well, yes. I'm afraid I have.

PETER:       Does that mean you want to research my pleasuring techniques too? They're quite advanced.

ROXY:         No, Peter. I'm satisfied with what Michael is teaching me. More than satisfied actually.

PETER:       (sounding disappointed) Oh. Well look, if you're forcing Michael to give away all his sexual secrets, I'd be very interested to know more. You're not planning to write a book are you? Perhaps we could collaborate?

ROXY:         No, Peter. Thanks for the offer, but my findings are going to stay private.

MICHAEL: Anyway she's not forcing me. I'm not under duress. I've just fallen under her spell.

JULIA:         Oh dear, Mickey. Out goes Antonia, and in comes her stepdaughter. Keeping it in the family, eh?

MICHAEL: It's not like that, Julia. We're having fun together.

ROXY:         Well, I certainly am.

JULIA:         And what about Antonia, Roxy? Does she know you bugged her?

ROXY:         No. I dread to think what she'd do if she found out.

Roxy starts moving to the front door.

Look, I must go and let you three talk about the play. That's what you came for isn't it?

PETER:       Yes, but this is much more interesting, Roxy. Isn't it Julia?

JULIA:         I'll say. Fascinating.

PETER:       Anyway, apart from Michael's recipes for keeping women satisfied, I'm very interested in how and why you do this bugging. I suspect there's material for a play there. Do you think we could meet up sometime and talk about it?

ROXY:         I'm not sure, Peter. I'll have to think about it. I'm sorry, I really must go.

MICHAEL: Let me see you out, Roxy.

Michael goes to the door and opens it for Roxy.

ROXY:         See you tomorrow, Mickey. Bye Peter, Bye Julia.

Roxy and Michael kiss (passionately), then Roxy leaves and Michael closes the front door.

MICHAEL: Look, why don't you both sit down? Let's forget about Roxy and talk about the play.

They all sit.

JULIA:         I don't know about you, Peter, but I'd much rather Mickey told us all about Roxy.

PETER:       Me too. And I want to know all about these pleasuring techniques of yours, Michael. I'm sure I'd find them useful.

MICHAEL: Look, as I said, we're both having fun. I admit she's quite a bit younger than me, but I didn't seduce her, it was the other way round.

JULIA:         I always thought Roxy was the quiet, studious type, Mickey. I find the idea that she managed to seduce someone like you really quite unbelievable.

MICHAEL: What do you mean, someone like me?

PETER:       I think she means that with all your experience and skill at seducing women, you'd be immune to feminine wiles. I, on the other hand, am not in the least surprised.

JULIA:         No? Why not?

PETER:       Because, as Michael knows, I've been suffering the same treatment - at the hands of one of my characters.

MICHAEL: Trixie, you mean. But that's quite different. Roxy may have demanded that I made love to her, tried to blackmail me, but the reason I gave in was not because she forced me to.

PETER:       No?

MICHAEL: No. She really did seduce me. By kissing me, actually. I've kissed a lot of women, but when Roxy kissed me, well I was completely bowled over!

PETER:       Seduced by a kiss. Wow!

MICHAEL: And we really do have fun together. I mean, my relationship with Antonia was very one way. I gave, she took. With Roxy, well, I think we're both getting something out of it.

JULIA:         You're playing with fire, Mickey. One or other of you might get hurt.

MICHAEL: Do you think so? I hope not. In any case, I don't feel I have any say in the matter. I'm bewitched.

JULIA:         Yes, but it's just lust, isn't it? On your part I mean.

MICHAEL: No, it isn't actually. OK, I admit that initially we spent almost all the time, well, at it. But now we spend much of the time together talking.

JULIA:         Yes, but talking about sex, I bet.

MICHAEL: Yes, but not just that. We talk about lots of things. She's incredibly bright and amazingly well read. She's actually got me interested in science, for goodness sake. And we read poetry to each other.

PETER:       Lucky you. I'd love to find someone to read poetry to.

JULIA:         (giving Peter a significant look and smiling) I like listening to poetry. Reading it too.

CURTAIN

ACT 3, SCENE 2

THE MASONS' HOUSE

Some days later at the Mason's house. Paul Groves, erstwhile gardener for Antonia, is standing in the breakfast room. Instead of his skimpy gardening clothes, he's wearing long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt. He looks to be in his mid-twenties. Antonia is staring at him, looking cross.

ANTONIA: Paul, are you really telling me you can't do any more gardening here?

PAUL:          I'm afraid so, Antonia. I'm committed to this play and we're having rehearsals almost every day now.

ANTONIA: But I thought we were getting on really well.

Antonia goes to Paul, puts her arms around his neck, pulling him gently towards her. She smiles.

I mean, you do like me, don't you?

She tries to kiss him but Paul dodges out of the way, unhooking her arms from round his neck.

PAUL:          Look Antonia. This isn't going to work. I know that you and Lionel, well you're not exactly a happy couple. I know what you want of me, but I just can't ...

ANTONIA: (no longer smiling) I see.

PAUL:          It's not that ..., well, I mean you're a very desirable woman, but I'm just not that kind of guy. And I really am going to have to give up gardening.

ANTONIA: Yes, well perhaps it's for the best. I mean, if you can't give me the attention my garden needs then I'll have to look for someone else.

PAUL:          There is someone I can recommend. Someone who would fit the bill.

ANTONIA: Is he as strong and capable as you are, Paul? I need someone who can devote himself to my garden, make sure everything is kept in good shape.

PAUL:          I'm sure the person I have in mind would satisfy you, Antonia. He'll be more than happy to give you the sort of personal attention you need. He knows quite a bit about gardening.

ANTONIA: (smiling again) Thank you, Paul. Perhaps you could ask him to give me a call. I'd like to interview him as soon as possible. I find it hard to relax if my garden doesn't get attended to regularly.

We hear the sound of the front door opening and closing. A few moments later Roxy appears.

ROXY:         Oh, hi Paul. Having fun at rehearsals? Mickey says they're going well.

PAUL:          Hi, Roxy. Yes, they are going well. I was just leaving.

ANTONIA: Mickey? You mean Mickey Good?

ROXY:         Yes, I just left him.

ANTONIA: What were you doing at Mickey's?

ROXY:         I'm not sure it's any of your business, but we were enjoying each other's company.

ANTONIA: What does that mean?

ROXY:         Well, in my case it meant two orgasms. He only had one, poor thing.

ANTONIA: Orgasms? You mean you've been having sex, with Michael Good?

ROXY:         That's the best time to have an orgasm, don't you think? When you're having sex with someone?

PAUL:          (looking increasingly embarrassed) Look, I really think I should be going.

ANTONIA: (glaring at Roxy) I think perhaps you should.

PAUL:          Goodbye Antonia. Goodbye Roxy.

ROXY:         I'll see you soon no doubt. Mickey and Peter are going to let me sit in on rehearsals next week.

PAUL:          Oh good. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. It's going to be a terrific play. I'll see myself out, Antonia. And I'll get my friend to give you a call very soon.

Antonia nods grimly at Paul as he leaves. Then she turns, glaring, to Roxy.

ANTONIA: This can't be true, Roxanne. Mickey is sleeping with you?

ROXY:         Well, we spend an awful lot of time in bed, but I don't think sleep has ever entered our minds, Antonia.

ANTONIA: Just wait till your father hears about this. He'll be furious.

ROXY:         He's not exactly in a position to lecture me, any more than you are. After all Mickey's not married. Neither am I. And I'm not pregnant either.

ANTONIA: We'll see. How long has this affair with Michael been going on?

ROXY:         Well, more or less since you stopped seeing him. I couldn't seduce him while you and he were still an item, but once you weren't, well, I jumped right in.

ANTONIA: You mean you've been planning this for some time? And you seduced him?

ROXY:         Yes. Ever since I realized that Mickey had this, this talent, I just knew I had to find out how good it was.

ANTONIA: Talent? What talent?

ROXY:         You know perfectly well, Antonia. I heard you coming.

ANTONIA: Heard me coming? I don't understand.

ROXY:         I'll spell it out. I heard you and Mickey making love.

ANTONIA: You what?

ROXY:         And your vocal appreciation of his love-making made it clear that it was something special. And so it is. Very special.

As Antonia stares at Roxy in disbelief, Lionel enters the room. He must have come in to the house just as Paul was leaving.

LIONEL:     What's very special, Roxy?

ANTONIA: Lionel, you won't believe this, but Michael Good has been screwing Roxy!

LIONEL:     (grinning) Good for Good!

ANTONIA: What?

LIONEL:     Shows he's got taste at last.

ANTONIA: (spluttering) You're not angry, Lionel? You don't mind that some actor has taken your daughter's virginity?

LIONEL:     (laughing) I'm pretty certain Roxy lost her virginity before she left school.

ROXY:         Dad!

LIONEL:     Come on, Roxy. You know that boyfriend of yours back then, Ricky something? Whenever he came round here he used to give me a supercilious look, the sort of look that said he'd been in your knickers. More than once.

ROXY:         (blushing) Dad, please.

LIONEL:     And I'm damn sure several of your boyfriends at Cambridge did the same. She's not a nun, Antonia.

ANTONIA: But Michael Good?

LIONEL:     What's wrong with Michael? I like him. He's thoughtful, considerate and intelligent. He's OK. Apart from his inexplicable interest in you, that is.

ANTONIA: But not long ago you wanted him to marry me.

LIONEL:     Well, yes. I feel bad about that. My motive was entirely financial, pure greed really. Nothing I'm proud of. But I didn't force him, he said it was what he wanted. Actually I'm glad he's found someone else.

ANTONIA: Glad? Why?

LIONEL:     Well, you're not a very nice person, are you Antonia? And sooner or later he'd have found that out. Better now than later.

While Antonia has been getting increasingly angry, Roxy has been gradually beginning to smile throughout this exchange.

ROXY:         I knew you'd be sensible about this, Dad.

LIONEL:     Well, I've noticed how much happier you've been these last few weeks. Michael's obviously good for you.

ROXY:         He is, yes. He's very good for me.

ANTONIA: (almost incandescent with rage) You two are saying all this to deliberately annoy me! I won't listen to anymore. I'm going out.

She stomps out of the breakfast room. A few seconds later the front door slams.

ROXY:         You seem happier lately too. Even though Antonia won't agree to a divorce.

LIONEL:     I am happier. Samantha's good for me.

From outside there's the sound of squealing tyres. Roxy and Lionel grin at each other.

ROXY:         I'm glad you've found someone, Dad. You deserve someone better than Antonia. You're a nice man. I never understood why Mum left you and went off to Spain with that idiot.

LIONEL:     Water under the bridge, Roxy. Anyway Antonia doesn't have to agree. I've decided I'm going to divorce her anyway. I'll pay whatever it takes.

Lionel smiles. It's a relaxed, genuine smile.

It's only money. It's not important. And I'm really looking forward to being a dad again. I just found out today that you're going to have a baby brother!

Roxy looks delighted. She throws her arms round Lionel and hugs him.

CURTAIN

ACT 3, SCENE 3

MICHAEL GOOD'S FLAT

Michael's flat later that day. Michael is on the phone.

MICHAEL: Yes, darling.

... Look, don't worry about it.

... She'll get over it.

... I'll see you soon.

... Yes, me too, darling. 'Bye.

He puts the phone down, smiling to himself. As he walks to the sofa to sit down, the intercom buzzes. He sighs, goes back to the door and presses the button.

MICHAEL: (in a resentful tone). Yes, who is it? ... Antonia? All right, come on up.

He sighs again, heavily. A few moments later there's a knock on the door. He opens it and Antonia walks in. She puts on a bright smile (though it looks a trifle forced).

ANTONIA: Hallo Mickey.

MICHAEL: Hello Antonia. This is a surprise. What can I do for you?

ANTONIA: Well, you can kiss me for a start.

She embraces him. Michael avoids her attempt at a direct kiss and pecks her on the cheek.

MICHAEL: You didn't come here just for that.

ANTONIA: Well, I've been having second thoughts about your proposal.

MICHAEL: You mean you're thinking of leaving Lionel?

ANTONIA: And marrying you. Yes, I am.

MICHAEL: This change of heart wouldn't have anything to do with Roxy would it?

ANTONIA: What do you mean? What has Roxanne got to do with us?

MICHAEL: She just phoned me, Antonia. So I know she told you about the two of us.

ANTONIA: Well, yes. She did say you'd been seeing each other.

MICHAEL: It's much more serious than that, Antonia.

ANTONIA: But surely you'd rather be with me?

MICHAEL: I'm sorry Antonia, but actually I wouldn't.

ANTONIA: You always said you loved me. Were you lying?

MICHAEL: I thought I was in love with you. But it turns out I wasn't. I was mistaken about my feelings.

ANTONIA: And I suppose now you think you're in love with Roxy?

MICHAEL: I do, yes.

ANTONIA: And what makes you think that won't turn out to be a mistake too?

MICHAEL: I'm not sure I can explain it to you, Antonia. I'm not sure you've experienced either emotion.

ANTONIA: What do you mean?

MICHAEL: Well, I'm pretty sure you were never besotted with me the way I was with you. Captivated by superficial glamour and blind to the real person underneath. And I'm certain you don't feel about anyone the way I feel about Roxy.

ANTONIA: And why are you so certain?

MICHAEL: Because you're so obsessed with yourself.

ANTONIA: That's a terrible thing to say, Mickey.

MICHAEL: It is, yes. But that doesn't mean it isn't true. Look in your heart, Antonia. Do you see anyone else in there but you?

ANTONIA: And when you look in your heart? Are you sure you don't see me there?

MICHAEL: Yes, I am sure. I see Roxy.

Antonia crumples onto the sofa and holds her head in her hands. She sobs.

MICHAEL: Look, Antonia. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be so brutal.

ANTONIA: (through her tears) Nobody loves me. You don't. Lionel doesn't. Peter doesn't. Even Paul doesn't. What am I going to do?

MICHAEL: You'll survive, Antonia. Men have always fallen head over heels for you.

ANTONIA: (brightening slightly) They have, haven't they? And perhaps if I'm a bit nicer to them they might stay that way.

MICHAEL: Exactly.

ANTONIA: And if I was nicer to you?

MICHAEL: It's too late for that, I'm afraid.

ANTONIA: Are you sure? Even if I was really nice to you? If I agreed to marry you?

MICHAEL: I'm certain, Antonia. I've found Roxy.

ANTONIA: Well, maybe. But has she found you? What makes you think she loves you the same way you love her?

MICHAEL: She may not. She's a free agent. But it doesn't make any difference to how I feel about her.

ANTONIA: But she's ten, well, nearly ten years younger than you. She's a student. She's only just taken her finals.

MICHAEL: I know. And she's been talking about going to the States to do some postgraduate study, then starting up a business there. And if she did that I might never see her again. But it still doesn't make any difference to how I feel.

ANTONIA: You're a hopeless romantic, Mickey.

MICHAEL: (smiling) No, I'm a hopeful romantic. And isn't that better than being a hopeless cynic?

ANTONIA: Perhaps.

MICHAEL: Look on the bright side, Antonia. You're still young and very attractive. You move in the right circles. You have friends in high places. You lead a glamorous life. And you're rich.

ANTONIA: You make my life sound much better than it feels.

MICHAEL: That's because it is.

ANTONIA: But I'm not a nice person, am I? Lionel told me that just an hour or so ago. I'm selfish and spiteful. And as you yourself just said, I'm obsessed with myself.

MICHAEL: But you can change. People do. Look at me. I was your willing slave not long ago. Now I'm not.

ANTONIA: I'm not sure I can change. I think perhaps I've always been like this.

MICHAEL: It's never too late, Antonia. You are who you want to be. You just have to want to be someone different.

ANTONIA: Since you seem to have all the answers, tell me. What should I do about Lionel?

MICHAEL: I think you should let him have his divorce. He's clearly besotted with Samantha. You don't love him. And he's offered you a handsome settlement.

ANTONIA: But then I'd be all on my own.

MICHAEL: That's an advantage.

ANTONIA: An advantage? Why?

MICHAEL: Because as long as you're married, only the wrong sort of men will want you.

ANTONIA: Men like you, you mean? You were one of the wrong sort of men?

MICHAEL: Exactly. I may have given you sexual satisfaction, but as you said yourself, what else did I offer you?

ANTONIA: And when I'm single?

MICHAEL: Then the right sort of men will come knocking.

ANTONIA: You think so?

MICHAEL: Yes. And they won't be drawn to you, as you were to me, by the thrill of an illicit liaison. And you won't be drawn to them for that reason either.

ANTONIA: But I'd be alone. Alone and lonely.

MICHAEL: Don't be silly, Antonia. You have more friends than anyone I know.

ANTONIA: You make it sound so easy.

MICHAEL: Roxy's influence. She's made me see life quite differently.

ANTONIA: Well, I'm not sure if I can cope with any more advice, Mickey. But you've been very helpful. And I'm glad you turned down my proposal. You're right. It wouldn't have worked. I was just jealous of Roxy.

Antonia gets up and kisses Michael on the cheek.

ANTONIA: Now I must be going. I need to talk to Lionel.

MICHAEL: Good luck.

Antonia quickly leaves. Michael shuts the door behind her.

MICHAEL: (smiling) Bloody Hell!

CURTAIN

ACT 3, SCENE 4

A REHEARSAL STUDIO SOMEWHERE

It's now several days later. We see an almost empty room, some sort of a rehearsal studio, with plain walls and very little furniture, just a desk and a few chairs at the back and a sofa in the centre. There are no windows, just a door at the left and another at the right.

Peter Philbin is sitting at the desk with his laptop open in front of him. Every so often he chuckles as he mutters the lines he is typing. Most of what he says is inaudible, but we do catch the occasional phrase.

PETER:       Charlie. What sort of man do you think I am?

Trixie. The sort who knows how to give a girl a good time, I hope.

Charlie. You don't think I'd take advantage of a young girl like you, do you?

Trixie. I bloody well hope so. ... I didn't put on my best underwear for nothing.

There's the sound of laughter from outside. The door on the left opens and Roxy enters, quickly followed by Michael, who chases her to the centre of the room. They stop facing each other, one in front of and the other behind the sofa, breathing heavily. Roxy is just finishing an ice cream.

MICHAEL: Just you wait, my girl. You deserve to be punished for that.

ROXY:         (giggling) Ah, so you think I'm your girl, do you? Not until you catch me, I'm not.

They circle the sofa opposite each other as Michael tries to catch Roxy.

PETER:       Settle down will you, you two. Can't you see I'm trying to write?

MICHAEL: Roxy's just eaten the last of my ice-cream, Peter. She stole it from me.

PETER:       You two get more idiotic every time I see you. You're regressing back to childhood.

Michael makes a sudden feint and manages to catch Roxy. He sweeps her off her feet and they embrace passionately.

When you're not feeling each other up, that is. Your behaviour in public leaves a lot to be desired. I dread to think what you get up to in private.

ROXY:         I think Uncle Peter is cross with us, Mickey.

PETER:       I am, yes. Just leave him alone for a bit, will you, Roxy? I need him to save his energy for the stage, not spend it all boffing you.

MICHAEL: Boffing? What sort of word is that? I don't boff you, do I Roxy?

ROXY:         I don't think so. What exactly is boffing, Peter?

PETER:       (sounding exasperated) You both know exactly what boffing means. You spend all your time doing it. Night and day as far as I can tell.

ROXY:         Is boffing like balling, banging and bonking? Or is it like screwing, shafting and shagging? They all sound rather macho, don't they? Even violent. Whereas what Mickey does, well it's vigorous certainly, but gentle, if you see what I mean. And Mickey doesn't so much do things to me as with me. I mean I don't feel like a sex object. More like a love partner.

MICHAEL: I do shtup occasionally, though.

ROXY:         Was that what we did on Wednesday?

MICHAEL: Yes. We both did quite a bit of shtupping on Wednesday. It's from the Yiddish verb 'to push'. You seemed to find it particularly enjoyable.

ROXY:         I did, yes.

PETER:       Look Roxy, whatever it is you get up to with Michael, you're wearing him out all the same. Wearing him down too, no doubt. All that shtupping. I bet his schlong isn't so long now. There's probably nothing left but a little stub.

ROXY:         (smirking) On the contrary. All this country exercise is bulking him up. It's building up his muscles.

MICHAEL: That's true, it is.

ROXY:         So you should be grateful, Peter. I'm keeping him in good shape. I don't want him getting soft and flabby, so I've been taking him in hand.

PETER:       You two just can't keep off the subject of sex, can you?

MICHAEL: (laughing as he moves to sit on the sofa) I'm sorry, Peter. We'll behave. Come here and sit next to me, Roxy. I forgive you for stealing my ice-cream.

Roxy does so. They cuddle up to each other.

PETER:       No sex in public, please. Listen, I hope Julia won't be long. She said she'd be here by two and it's gone quarter past.

MICHAEL: I'm sure she'll be here soon. How's the play going?

PETER:       Very well, now that Trixie has relaxed her grip.

MICHAEL: Trixie has finally relented?

PETER:       Yes. She's let me completely rewrite the second act. She's still got a substantial part, but not so dominating.

MICHAEL: Does she still seduce me?

PETER:       Wait and see.

MICHAEL: And the third act? How's that coming?

PETER:       Amazingly, it's almost finished. Trixie made a couple of suggestions that have turned out very well. The whole play has a certain inexorable logic to it now. Proper closure.

MICHAEL: It sounds as though you're on much better terms with her now.

PETER:       Oh yes. She's actually very astute.

ROXY:         And is she insisting on a credit? You know, 'a play by Peter Philbin and Trixie'?

PETER:       (laughing) No, but she has insisted on the title. I've got to call it 'Proposals'. She wants me to make sure that there's at least one in every scene.

ROXY:         A marriage proposal? In every scene? Surely not?

PETER:       No, no. But some sort of proposal or deal between the characters. It works quite well. I'd already put one in every scene I'd written, but hadn't noticed.

MICHAEL: So what were you going to call it? Before Trixie made her suggestion, I mean.

PETER:       Well, I had some provisional titles. "Rake's Progress" was one. "Either/Or" was another.

ROXY:         I prefer Trixie's suggestion.

MICHAEL: So do I. Much more positive.

At that moment Julia Reeves enters, looking positively radiant. Roxy and Michael wave to her. Smiling broadly, Julia walks over to Peter, who stands up and kisses her (and it's definitely not a chaste peck on the cheek).

PETER:       Darling, I'm glad you're here at last. These two have been driving me up the wall. Do you mind if we get right on with rehearsals?

JULIA:         Of course not. I'm sorry I'm late. I had to go and see to my lawyer.

PETER:       No problems, I hope.

JULIA:         Just more papers to sign. Don't worry. Everything's going smoothly. It's just that Robert's in a real hurry to get things sorted. I haven't kept you waiting too long?

PETER:       No, Paul and the others aren't due for half an hour anyway. While we're waiting for them, can we just try the first scene again? With you and Michael?

JULIA:         Yes. Of course.

PETER:       I wasn't happy with the way it went yesterday, Julia. This time could you look as though you want to be ravished? Yesterday you might have looked ravishing, but you acted as though you were bored.

JULIA:         Well today I definitely do want to be ravished, Peter. Not by Mickey, of course. I'd much rather you did it.

PETER:       (laughing) Later, darling, later. I know you've been desperate for sex ever since Robert left you, but can we get on with rehearsals this afternoon?

JULIA:         As long as you promise to roger me thoroughly again tonight, just like last night.

PETER:       I'll do all the rogering you want this evening, Julia. I promise. Can we get back to the play?

ROXY:         And while we're on the subject, I want to be rogered again tonight too, Mickey. Thoroughly rogered.

MICHAEL: It so happens that Roger is my middle name. Michael Roger Good. But I'm not sure I've got much Roger in me any more.

JULIA:         (giggling) I've heard of people taking the Mickey, but never taking the Roger.

MICHAEL: Well, Roxy's been doing both to me. It's roger in the morning, roger in the evening, roger in the night time too. And she takes the mickey all the bloody time.

ROXY:         (giggling) What are you complaining about? You always seem keen to hoist your Jolly Roger.

PETER:       (sounding exasperated again) Look, there's quite enough sexual innuendo in the play already, without three two ad-libbing even more. It's my play you're meant to be rehearsing. Now can we start again? From the top. Act one, Scene one.

There's a brief pause as Roxy and Peter go to the back of the room and sit down. Julia goes to the sofa and composes herself on it while Michael moves to stand beside her.

MICHAEL: (as a character called Charlie) Would you like a drink, Penelope?

JULIA:         (as a character called Penelope) Not right now, Charlie. I'd much rather you made love to me.

MICHAEL: I've been thinking, Penelope.

JULIA:         That's always a mistake, Charlie. Thinking's not your strong point, is it? And it is your strong point I need right now.

She leans back seductively on the sofa, looks up at him with a provocative glint in her eye and beckons him with her finger.

It's not your brain I want you to exercise, it's another organ altogether.

MICHAEL: Yes darling, of course ... but ...

He drops to his knees in front of her and puts one hand on her thigh.

... I want you to leave George and marry me.

JULIA:         Leave George, Charlie? Are you mad? And then marry you - why on earth should I do that?

FINAL CURTAIN

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