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Flatspin

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FlatSpin
by Alan Ayckbourne

Great Hall Players
February 2011

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Synopsis (from Wikipedia)

At the beginning of the play, Annette Sefton-Wilcox introduces Rosie Seymour to one of several flats she is minding for a few days. This flat belongs to a Joanna Rupelford, who never seems to be at home (to the point where the labels are still on the pans). In the conversation, it is disclosed that Rosie is an actress with little success behind her (her only role so far being a rabbit in a miserable touring children’s production), and no boyfriend, and that she is openly desperate for both. Her one hope is that she is down to the last two for a big role as Jane Eyre, but just after Annette leaves, Rosie receives a call from her agent tell her the part went to the other girl.

Before Rosie can despair too long, Sam Berryman calls, introducing himself as a neighbour. After a few misunderstandings (including mistaking Rosie for a lesbian when Rosie says “it was between me and another girl”), Sam leaves, and comes back in again to start afresh. After further confusions, he goes out and comes back in again, and this time introduces himself, tells Rosie that she is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, and asks to take her out for dinner. Rosie, having already warmed to his magic tricks and stories of visiting sick children in hospital, accepts immediately. The only problem is that Sam assumes that Rosie is Joanna Rupelford.

In the second scene, Rosie waits for Sam to come and cook dinner in her flat. Rosie tries on Joanna Rupelford’s dresses. And the spanner in the works is that a woman keeps trying to contact Joanna, first by phone, and then in person. Rosie hurries her away, and the date itself works extremely well – so well, in fact, that Sam’s hands-on demonstration with Rosie of how to roll gnocchi ends up with them kissing on the work surface. Realising the cookery will never be completed, Rosie goes to the bedroom. But before Sam joins her, he makes a telephone call. Whoever he calls clearly insists Sam leave the flat, and leave now. Rosie is left on her own, thinking she has been left in the lurch yet again (albeit before sex and not after, which usually seems to be the case for her).

Act Two follows immediately from the end of Act One. Rosie is suddenly confronted by two black-clad figures, Maurice Whickett and Tracy Taylor, the latter of whom is furious with her. When Sam returns, it is clear he knows these two strangers. It soon transpires that the three of them were all part of a sting: Joanna Rupelford does not actually exist, the flat has been set up for six months, there are cameras all over the flat (including the bedroom, which is some consolation to Rosie for earlier), and the operation to entrap a drugs courier is due to take place that night. Maurice is angry with Sam, who evidently does this sort of thing all the time, for disrupting the plan.

The problem now is that Tracy was going to impersonate Joanna, but Edna Stricken – the woman who Rosie hurried away earlier – now believes that Rosie is Joanna, spoiling Tracy’s big chance (an analogy to Rosie losing her big chance as Jane Eyre). The only chance of success now is if Rosie continues impersonating Joanna. Sam persuades Rosie, against her better judgement, to do so.

In the final scene, Rosie is waiting in the flat ready. She has been reassured that she will be watched on camera, and help will come if there’s any trouble. She is in the company of Tommy Angel, an ex-SAS bodyguard who makes wildly optimistic passes at Rosie, such as suggesting that many people find this sort of danger arousing. Tommy then asks Rosie to hit him on the head to show how tough he is. Rosie does so, and Tommy instantly falls unconscious, out of view. Seconds later, Edna calls at the door. Rosie plays the part of Joanna well, and hands over the case of money from a hidden compartment in a table as soon as she sees the drugs. Unfortunately, when Edna inspects the briefcase, it is full of cut newspaper instead of money. Even though Rosie knows nothing about it, Edna tries to punish Rosie by spraying acid in her eyes. After a struggle, Edna catches her and is about to do the deed when Tracy comes in and brutally incapacitates her.

With the reason for the late arrival of help explained (the surveillance team got bored and watched the football instead), and Edna removed, Maurice has mixed reactions about the outcome – he got the suspect and the drugs, but he does not relish the prospect of explaining the missing money. He, Tracy and Tommy leave, and then Sam retrieves the real briefcase full of money from the extra secret compartment in the table that Maurice didn’t know about. He promises Rosie a tomorrow richer in every way, and they disappear into the shower. Then Maurice and Tracy return and take the money, with Tracy giving Maurice a kiss. They depart, with Maurice quietly wishing Rosie the luck she’ll need.

 

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