Summer 1995. Val and Lloyd are preparing for the imminent arrival of their new daughter-in-law’s parents for afternoon tea, and Val is desperate to make an impression. However, the temperature rises and so does her blood pressure as she struggles to cope with the searing heat, a husband who won’t put on a clean shirt, her inferior baking skills and an unwanted houseguest called Russell, an overbearing man she strongly suspects is the lover of her youngest son, Dominic.
When Cliff and Denise eventually appear, the inevitable strained conversations and uncomfortable silences follow. However, once the initial awkwardness has dissipated and the bucks fizz has started to flow, a real rapport between the two sets of parents is evident and before long a second social gathering has been organised. Unfortunately, the afternoon comes to an abrupt end when the hot weather brings on a funny turn in Denise and the visiting couple have to leave early.
Under the relentless sun of the next three weeks, a secret that has remained dormant for many years slowly comes to light and threatens to cause irrevocable damage to the seemingly ordinary people involved and change the lives of the two families forever.
Efficient, tactful and a stickler for hygiene, Gladwin is the best food taster in the business. But when his ostentatious boss drops down dead at the dining table, tongues start to wag in the kitchens. This delicious offering is a perfect serving of medieval mystery, mayhem and manners.
Gladwin, a medieval Baron’s food taster
He wears the attire of a typical medieval servant – a frock, belt, pant-socks, half-cloak and pointed snout boots.
He is a fastidious, particular man with a disdainful manner who is prone to gossip.
Characters: 3 female, 1 male Approximate running time: 40 minutes
Jeremy has lost his dog, a German Shepherd bitch called Brandy. It is the weekend and he is calling door to door in his local area in the hope of finding someone who has sighted the elusive canine. He decides to venture up the long, overgrown driveway of a property called Honeystone Nook, a pretty but rundown cottage on the edge of town. He is invited inside by a drab, awkward woman only to find he is soon a reluctant guest in the home of the eccentric Gribble family.
Estella (early 40s) Wistful, naïve and childish, the youngest daughter of Myrtle, Estella Gribble is a slight and bird-like spinster with unkempt hair and a rosy complexion. She wears poorly hand-knitted cardigans and jumpers over long dresses and carpet slippers on her feet. She enjoys looking after her house plants and her best friend is a Philodendron called Katie who she is often heard having conversations with. She has spent six years searching for the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle with a picture of a Flamenco Dancer on it and she refuses to start another until she has found the lost piece.
Mother (70s) Myrtle Gribble is a wild-eyed, disturbed woman with lank, greying hair and flushed face who wears a grubby night dress, dressing gown and Wellington boots. She is plump and needs the aid of a walking stick as she strains to stagger around on swollen joints. Although, her stature is strong and imposing, her mind is weak and deteriorating. For several years now, her verbal communication has been limited to vocabulary associated with meat products. Her world appears to revolve around food and she spends many hours in the garden or greenhouse waiting for her next meal.
Jeremy (late 20s – mid 30s) Jeremy Blanchard is a quiet, unassuming man who works in insurance. He is slim, wears glasses and prefers to wear jeans and t-shirts when he’s not at work. Generally introverted, but in the right company he can also be talkative and jovial with a dry sense of humour. He owns a small semi-detached house in town with his wife of three years, Alison. He enjoys DIY and plays squash every Tuesday with his workmate, Tony. At the weekend, he normally goes shopping with his wife on Saturday morning and watches sport on the television in the afternoon. Every other Sunday he goes to his parents for lunch.
Ernestine (mid – late 40s) Ernestine Gribble is the oldest daughter of Myrtle. She has piercing eyes, thin lips and a suspicious nature. She is unmarried like her sister but, unlike Estella, is prim and precise in the way she dresses. Forthright and dominant, she runs the household efficiently and keeps control with a sharp tongue and an acidic manner. She finds Estella irritating and is exasperated by her mother but she loves them both above all else and will always remain loyal to them. She is an accomplished cook and works as a dispenser at the local hospital.