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Plays by Alan Richardson


The plot quickly gets entangled in twists, turns and a catalogue of comic misunderstandings, so the best place to begin is the opening of the play.

(When the curtains open, we find CORPORAL GEORDIE KERR engaged in the task of packing his officer's trunk. He takes a few books and papers from the writing desk, deposits them in the trunk, then exits to the bedroom. Moments later he reappears carrying an officer's sword in its scabbard. As he gives the sword a quick polish, ANNE PROVAN comes in from the main entrance)

GEORDIE  Guid mornin tae ye, Miss Anne.

(ANNE gazes in dismay at the trunk and the sword, gives a cry and rushes tearfully out)

GEORDIE  Nice bletherin tae ye. (to himself) Preserve us! The sooner we're awa frae here, the better,

(As he resumes his task with more urgency, BETH comes rushing in)

BETH  Geordie, it's no true? (she sees what he is doing) It is! Yer officer cannae leave noo.

GEORDIE  The ensign's finally made up his mind and orders is orders.

BETH  Miss Anne's awa tae her room greetin her een oot. She'll be ten times waur efter he's gone for ever.

GEORDIE I daursay, but there's nae persaudin him, Beth. He says it's the "honourable" thing tae dae.

BETH  Brek Miss Anne's hert?

GEORDIE  Pit yerself in his position. Whit's the yase o' lovin a lassie whae's faither would never approve?

BETH  Whae's faither doesnae ken tae stert wi'.

GEORDIE  Exactly. We didnae dae oor coortin ahint his back for fear o' bein fund oot.

BETH  Servants are yin maitter, discoverin that yer ainly dochter is daft on an ensign is anither. The shock would gie him apoplexy.

GEORDIE  Whit's wrang wi' an ensign? It's a damn-sicht better than a corporal.

BETH  But no nearly guid eneuch in the Bailie's opinion. He's ayeweys wanted the best for his lassie. Ye cannae fault him for that.

GEORDIE  No. But I still cannae believe in the twa months the ensign's been a guest in this hoose, yer maister never yince suspectit the obvious.

BETH  The Bailie's been sae taegled in the election for provost, he wouldnae hae noticed if they smooched ablow his neb. He cannae see further than the prize o' the provost's chain roond his neck. Why dae ye think he wis first tae offer lodgins for officers efter the fire at the barracks?

GEORDIE  A Bailie's duty? Chairity?

BETH  Neither. Political ambeetion. And look whit happened. The toon clerk got a colonel. Bailie Semple got a brigadier. Bailie Grant got a major. The maister ends up wi' an ensign.

GEORDIE  Whit wis he wantin, a field marshal?

BETH  That would hae served him fine. Or at a pinch, a general. Onythin for prestige. For votes. Jist imagine whit wey a scandal involvin his dochter would skaith his chances.

GEORDIE  Nae wonder Miss Anne wis feart tae tell him. (he returns to packing the trunk) And noo he'll never ken.

BETH  No if the ensign's determined tae gang awa.

GEORDIE  Ye ken whit he's like. A' yon stravaigin aboot wi' the regimental colours has his heid birlin wi' daft nonsense like honour and gentlemanly conduct. He feels he's abused Bailie Provan's hospitality.

BETH  Some "abuse". Fa'in in love wi his dochter.

GEORDIE  And that he's unworthy o' her love.

BETH  The sumph! Whaur is he, onywey?

GEORDIE  He said he wis takin a last dauner roond the harbour. Here.… I hope he hasnae lowped aff the end o' the pier!

(They both hasten to the window)

BETH  Na, he hasnae ended it a' yet. Here he's comin up the road.

GEORDIE  And he's got yon determined look on his face. I'd better feenish his trunk. It's back tae the barracks for me. I'll miss this hoose.

BETH  Jist the hoose?

GEORDIE  And it's maid.

BETH  Och, Geordie, must ye gang tae?

GEORDIE  Whaur an officer gangs, his servant follows.

BETH  Could ye no resign?

GEORDIE  Beth! Corporals cannae "resign" frae the airmy. No unless they're servant tae on officer whae resigns his commission....here....are ye thinkin whit I'm thinkin?

BETH  If the ensign did mairry Miss Anne....

GEORDIE  Oor problems are solved. A' we need tae dae is promote the ensign tae field marshal and mak shair yer maister becomes Provost.

BETH  As simple as that?

The Bailie's Stratagem sample