Sisters in a Domestic

After Anton Chekhov

Inside Mabel’s house. A sitting room with a two bar electric heater, with a door leading to a large dining room. It is midday; outside it is raining. In the dining room beyond the table is being laid for lunch and Barry sits reading the paper. Mabel is in a blue dress, the official dress of mad poetesses She is continually editing poems ready for next year’s TS Eliot awards.  Her sister Doreen is visiting from Wales. She has no need for poems but is trying to understand their value, preferring the short story or a walk to Lidl. 

MABEL: Father died exactly a year ago, on this very same day, on the fifth of May, on your name day, Doreen. It was very cold, and rain was falling, like it is now.  You were lying in a faint, as if you were dead. But look, a year has gone by and we can remember it lightly, you are already wearing white, and your face is full of brightness…

DOREEN: Why do you insist on remembering it! Poets (TUT).

(Through the door in the dining room, Barry appears near the table.)

MABEL: Today is raining too, we can’t even have the windows open - but the birch trees are still not in leaf. Barry has taken over the Poem Society, already everything is in flower, everything is flooded with Rain. Good God! This morning I woke up and bubbled up inside my heart … this year I will win the TS Eliot prize, I am sure.

DOREEN: Isn’t that for ‘The Men’? Heavens they need it. Even if we don’t.

MABEL: Its absolutely not true. Sarah, dear Sarah won this year. What a powerful poetess. She’s like a Lioness, I am thinking in rhyme today sister.

DOREEN: Well don’t, it's nonsense. Not even a good rhyme, just an 'ess' sound. 

(Mabel, deep in thought over her idea of winning the TS Eliot award, starts to whistle a tune.)

DOREEN: Don't whistle Mabel. How could you! Deranged!


I continually have headaches from all the poetry churning out in this place, and the thoughts I have are those of an ageing old woman, who will never write one. Not one. And really and truly, while I have been working in the Coop, I feel as if every day my youth and my strength have been oozing away drop by drop. The only thing that grows and strengthens is one single dream ….

MABEL. To work in Lidl?

DOREEN. No! To be new editor of Domestic Cherry. I want what you had. Power! To reject poetry, or learn to love it? 

(Barry laughs. Mabel gasps)

MABEL: Oh bother! You hate poems so much, at any rate the only difficulty is with poor Roy. He is after the role. I have the Eliots to concentrate on, no time for cherries Doreen.

DOREEN: I can work on it the whole summer, every year. Forget the Eliots. Try the People's Friend, that's where the real poems live. 

(Mabel softly whistles a tune.)

MABEL: With God's help it will all work out. (Looking out of the window.) What crappy weather today. I don't know why everything is so bright inside me. 

DOREEN: Today you are all radiant, you are looking unusually beautiful. And even Barry is beautiful. Roy would be handsome but it’s just not possible. He has grown rather stout, and that doesn't suit him. 

MABEL: Today, I am free. Domestic Cherry is all yours sister.  Everything is fine, everything as God wishes, but it seems to me, that if I were to win the Eliot it would be much better.

BARRY: Leave it to me, we’ll make you a winner.


MABEL: I would love that.

DOREEN:You talk such rubbish, it's annoying to listen to you. 

MABEL: Well, of course, we'll be delighted for you to be new editor. But how will you overcome poems?

DOREEN: At the most, I can read forty, or forty-five in a year. As long as they are not too long. 

MABEL: You talk like a sort of half-wit, speaking all manner of high-blown phrases. I should have given it to you long ago. Perfect.  

BARRY: (Coming from the dining room into the sitting room towards DOREEN.) With one hand I can lift up fifty pounds, but with two I can lift one hundred and fifty, perhaps even two hundred. From that I can conclude that two men are stronger than one not by twice as much, but three times, even more … Domestic Cherry is yours. Take it, make it strong Dor, make it dangle.

DOREEN: For loss of hair... two scruples of naphthalene in half a bottle of surgical spirit... dissolve it and use the mixture every day... (Writes in a notebook.) Yes my dear fellow, we'll make a note of it. (To Barry.) So, let me explain to you, you get the cork pushed into the bottle, or whatever, have a glass tube running through the cork... Then you take a small pinch of completely ordinary poems … Domestic Cherry 5 is on its way. 

The Rise of Roy

after Hitler: The Rise of Evil (2003) Movie Script

MABEL: Have you heard how Roy's gone Ukip?

BARRY: Does Ursula know?

MABEL: She locked him out of her bedroom. For going Ukip, he quoted something about Aids victims and immigrants and you know how Ursula reacts to that sort of a thing. Since the dog.

BARRY: When I was a boy, I heard the story...I heard the story of the Holy Grail...and how it could only be found by one who was pure of heart. Roy will never find the Holy Grail.

MABEL: Indeed, we have a history of Nationalism in this country. Especially when we fall on hard times. Our economy collapsing. But it's not poverty or weakness that's our's indifference.

BARRY: Is anyone listening? That's the problem nowadays, isn't it?

MABEL: No-one cares.

BARRY: No wonder we face extinction.

MABEL: Pride... pride is a weapon.

BARRY: A sword to be used against our enemies.But don't be deceived. They are strong.
Stronger than we are. And it's not Swindon or Chippenham I'm talking about.

MABEL: Our enemies... live among us.

BARRY: It's the Ukips and the Tories.

MABEL: Communists? Bankers?

BARRY: Roy would say foreign invaders who come to our country to destroy us and take over our lives! Swindonian democracy has given birth to dozens of political factions.But none is growing more rapidly than those Ukips whose fiery speaker... what's his name...Nigel...something...sits in the pub ...preaches against the influence of foreign invaders. Who alone are responsible for the moral decadence that now riddles our society.

MABEL: Roy says they call themselves English! but have always been unwelcome, unwanted, and they are everywhere. He says he is just being honest and has the guts to speak the truth.

BARRY: (In Roy's voice) Invading our government, stripping us of our savings, raping our families and our heritage.(Laughing)

MABEL: Isn't that the Tories?

Enter Roy.

MABEL: Oh, it's good to see you.

 ROY: I've just come from the pub with Nigel.

BARRY: Shame on you. Here's Mabel, she was raised in Chippenham, but don't worry, she's bred from good Swindon stock... Her family's from Wootton Bassett.

 MABEL: I apologise for the mess. I'll have it clean by morning.

ROY: They've asked me if I'd like to join. The Ukips. I haven't... accepted yet.

BARRY: You should we be concerned about them. That's all you need to know. It's club life of the lowest form, Roy.

ROY: But I like the underlying politics.  "The Nationalist agenda must include elimination of the unwanted" he said over a beer, easy enough. You disagree?

BARRY: Oh yes! (In anger, shaking his fist) Just drive them out. Deport them if necessary.

ROY: Can you imagine a world without them?

BARRY: How pure!

MABEL: How holy!

ROY: Do you think...there are any blacks in Wootton Bassett yet?

MABEL: Oh, they wouldn't dare.

ROY: I might move there.

MABEL: (Throws her paddle agitator at Roy, hitting him between the eyes) Oops. Idiots are men like you with nothing to say! ... Shut up!

ROY: (Rubbing his head) When are you women going to learn that extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures?

MABEL: (Picks up her paddle agitator and raises it into the air) I'm prouder of this than of any Iron Cross (throws it again at Roy)

What do you think has happened to Barry?

After Oscar Wilde

"Civilisation is not by any means an easy thing to attain to. There are only two ways by which man can reach it. One is by being cultured, the other by being corrupt."

URSULA: The poets are still discussing poor Barry's disappearance.

MABEL: I should have thought they'd have got tired of that by now.

URSULA: Poets! Tired! It's the poetry of the tired and the tired writing poems -

MABEL: May dear Ursula, they have only been talking about it for the last two weeks. Since he stormed out after his big performance - he could have been famous, he could have had it all!

URSULA: It's an odd thing, but everyone who disappears is said to be seen in The Harvey.

MABEL: It's a delightful pub, and possesses all the attractions of the Hard Rock Cafe.

URSULA: What do you think has happened to Barry?

MABEL: I have not the slightest idea! If Barry chooses to hide himself, it is no business of mine.

URSULA: If he is dead, I don't want to think about him. Death terrifies me - that's it.

MABEL: Death and vulgarity are the best two things one can look forward to in Swindon.

URSULA: Let's take a sherry together up at The Harvey. You can read your latest poem.

MABEL: OK. I shall get my coat (sighs) Poor Barry, I was very fond of him.

URSULA: This house is so lonely without him. Of course he is merely a habit, a bad habit. But then one regrets the loss of one's worst habits. Perhaps one regrets them the most.

MABEL: Ursula, has it occurred to you that Barry may have been murdered?

URSULA: Barry is very popular and always wears Hi-Viz. He'd be difficult to murder. Why should he have been murdered? He was not clever enough to have enemies.


URSULA: Roy doesn't count. He is really dull and not up to any murdering.

MABEL: He writes poems, he could also murder. He told me years ago, that he had a wild adoration for you, that you were the dominant motive of his poems.

URSULA: I am fond of Roy. But he is not clever, or civilised.

MABEL: I know there are dreadful places in Swindon, and Barry was the sort of person to go to them.

URSULA: Crime belongs exclusively to the lower orders. I don't blame them, but Roy is above that.

MABEL: I don't think Barry would have done much more good work any how. His poems were going off a bit.

URSULA: When you and he ceased to be great friends. He ceased to be a great poet. It's a habit bores have.

MABEL: Oh Barry was never boring,

"Like the painting of a sorrow,
A face without a heart"

URSULA: Yes, that is what it was like! (laughing) How grave you are. Don't be so serious.

Domestic Cherry 4

For overseas postage please see HERE





Domestic Cherry's top ten cakes to dominate the sweet bread-like treat landscape over the next ten years. You can find all of these cakes at 

Angel Cake: Mr Kipling
Battenburg: Lyons
Bakewell Slice: Mr Kipling
Carrot Cake: Marks and Spencer's 
Jamaica Ginger Cake: McVities
French Fancies: Mr Kipling
Viennese Whirls: Mr Kipling
Chocolate Mini Rolls: Cadburys
Banana Lunch Box Loaves: Soreen
Lemon Layer Slices: Mr Kipling

A Woman Can Cross Dress: The end of Mabel and the beinning of Barry

See Part 1 HERE

"It’s something useless, sudden, violent; something that costs a life; red, blue, purple; a spirit; a splash; like those hyacinths (she was passing a fine bed of them); free from taint, dependence, soilure of humanity or care for one’s kind; something rash, ridiculous... ecstasy..." Virginia Woolf

Summary of part one: Mabel asks Barry for a kiss. Barry refuses. Mabel won't take 'No' for an answer (she's the editor of the greatest Int. poetry magazine: Domestic Cherry). Barry still refuses, poetry is poetry, there are no queens. Mabel faints. Barry slaps Mabel and leaves her to pick up some skips. Mabel pretends to be Cynthia and orders a skip. Barry delivers the skip to Cynthia's house. Mabel chases Barry. Barry is run down by a truck. Barry is dead.

Part 2:

Mabel takes the hi-viz jerkin off Barry’s dead body and runs to Ursula’s house. She collapses on Ursula’s front porch, clutching Barry’s jerkin. Ursula finds Mabel and tucks her into bed. Time makes a crinkly shape in the sky, and a strange noise.

100 years later

She stretched herself. She rose. She stood upright in complete nakedness before us, and while the trumpets peeled Truth! Truth! Truth! we have no choice left but to confess − she was a man. She was Mr. Barry Dicks.

To be continued:

The launch of Domestic Cherry 4 with performance artist Diane Torr on Sunday 5th October, 2014. Meet Mabel as Barry. A Drag King Poetry Night with Mabel Watson, Clare Shaw and Myfanwy Fox! Music from the wonderful Faye Rogers. for tickets, residential weekend, and festival passes. Don Share of Poetry Magazine will be with us for the entire festival.  

The end of Barry, the beginning of Mabel (Or Venus and Adonis in Swindon)

After Shakespeare (Venus and Adonis)

BARRY: I wish the sun would come out. It's looking rather purple out there. Makes me weep!

MABEL: You are late for collecting the skips today. I've already done three loads of washing.

BARRY: Why always compare us Mabel? I'll go when I'm ready. It was a late one up at the Harvey and those poets kept coming.

MABEL: I went home at 9pm Barry. You are so much better than myself, and I began to have unnecessary feelings for you during your recital of 'The Visible Man'. I wondered about you giving me a kiss!

BARRY: (Palms sweating) Now Mabel! Don't start this kissing thing again. I'm working ... and Ursula will object.

MABEL: Here! Come and sit ... I'll smother you with kisses. (Pulling Barry by the sweaty palm towards her)

BARRY: You are a lusty horse woman! Go and sit on your twin tub and think of Dickens!

MABEL: Oh you are a dull boy today Barry (Takes Barry under her arm, paddle agitator in the other). Come on, I'll be quick.

          Mabel pushes Barry to the ground, strokes his cheek and purses her lips for kissing.

BARRY: (Pouting and frowning) You know the worst thing about this Mabel? The worst thing is that paddle agitator in my ribs.

MABEL: (Disappointed. Lips sulking) Why chide me like this Barry? (Crying)

BARRY: Ok Love. Come on. Let's kiss. (Offers up his lips)

               As Mabel brings her lips to Barry. Barry takes his teeth out and grins.

MABEL: All I want is a bit of kissing. Why can't you oblige me just this once? Don't be coy. Touch my lips with those tough lips of yours. Look in my eye-balls, there your visibility lies.

BARRY: Look, no more of this love! The paddle agitator does break my ribs. I must remove.

MABEL: Your truck has more lust in it. You have taken my heart Barry.

BARRY: Now, this melancholic malcontent won't be helping anyone. And I need to be working, so let it drop Mabel. I've missed the bus now and it's your fault, keeping me with all your weird love stuff. I don't recognise you.

           A war of looks is exchanged between them

MABEL: Why not stay then Barry? I'll make some tea.

BARRY: I know your kind of tea.

MABEL: Just imagine us naked in the bed - whiter than white! I don't know why you can't take advantage of this tea and lust I offer you.

BARRY: I just want to get to work Mabel, pick up a few skips, have a rummage. That's my love. You hurt my head with your whingeing; let us part, and leave this idle theme, this bootless chat: ope the door and let me get the bus.

MABEL: I have done my load , now it's press'd. How your looks and words kill me Barry (Mabel collapses in her lust and rejection)

Barry slaps Mabel's cheeks to revive her, believing she is dead. He wrings her nose, he strikes her on the cheeks, he bends her fingers, holds her pulses hard, he chafes her lips; a thousand ways he seeks to mend the hurt that his unkindness marr'd: he kisses her; and she, by her good will, will never rise, so he will kiss her still.

         Suddenly she wakes and Barry and Mabel enjoy some loving.

          Some hours later.

BARRY: Now I really must go. I have a skip to collect at 1pm and you have kept me far too long.

MABEL: And tomorrow? Tell me, Barry love, shall we meet to-morrow? Say, shall we? shall we?

BARRY: No; to-morrow I intends to collect more skips with certain of my friends.

MABEL: Those skips! I know you take Ursula with you (Going a sudden pale, trembles, throws her arms around his neck: sinks down, still hanging by his neck. Barry falls down upon Mabel's belly. Mabel covers him in more kisses)

BARRY: Now now! Let me go. You are crushing me.

MABEL: Oh do stay the night instead Barry. The skips can wait!

BARRY: I am going off you Mabel. I like you worse and worse. No, lady, no; my heart longs not to groan,
but soundly sleeps, while now it sleeps alone. (Exit Barry breaking out of Mabel's embrace)

          Mabel's tedious woeful ditty:

          How love makes young men thrall and old men dote;
          How love is wise in folly, foolish-witty:
          Her heavy anthem still concludes in woe,
          And still the choir of echoes answer so.

Mabel takes a bus to Cynthia's house and uses her phone with a fake voice, the plastic mouth of it against her sore pale lips. She calls Barry, orders a skip, in a fake voice, to Cynthia's address, scowling. The world's poor people looking on from the street as Mabel stands and waits for Barry's skip.

MABEL: (Screaming in the street) Hard-favour'd tyrant, ugly, meagre, lean, hateful divorce of love,
grim-grinning ghost, earth's worm.

As the skip arrives with Barry at the wheel, he sees Mabel and flees from the truck into an on- coming car and is severely wounded.

MABEL: (Running towards the death scene) Alas, poor world, what treasure hast thou lost!

          With this, she falleth in the place she stood,
          And stains her face with his congealed blood.


You can enjoy the Lucky Fin production of Venus and Adonis at the Swindon Festival of Poetry on Sunday 5th October at 6pm. See HERE for full details.