Cards on the Table

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11 characters. Flexible casting. 12 pages in length. Approximately 10-15 minutes running time. An Agatha Christie murder mystery.

Cards On The Table is a theatrical adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel by the same title. Set in the summer of 1935, witty and wealthy individuals are invited to the London home of Mr. Shore. In the elegant drawing room, the guests soon become suspects when an engrossing game of bridge is interrupted by a shocking murder. Though everyone seems to have the motive and inclinations, it is up to a sly detective to figure out the real murderer, forcing them to put all their cards on the table.

The playwright wishes to remain anonymous, so there is no need to thank the playwright if you perform this play.

Excerpt from the play:

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Miss Anne Meredith-a shy, rather timid person almost afraid to put one foot in front of the other. However, when she’s cornered she may bite back

MRS. Lorrimer-a very graceful, intelligent woman and a genius bridge player. She is forthright yet always well mannered

MRS. Oliver-a rather magnificent looking lady with wild uncontrollable hair that she keeps brushing from her face. She is an eccentric

Miss Burgess-the Dr.’s fiancée and secretary. A little air-headed at times and often infuriates the Dr.

Miss Rhonda Dawes-a roommate of Anne’s. A rich girl, a little naive but charming and steadfast

Doris-the maid of Mr. Shore’s. Fussy and loud. She likes to know everything that is going on

Dr. Roberts-a charming and gregarious man with the perfect bedside manner

Major Despard-a dashing adventurer with an eye for the ladies, but he is not without thought. If he makes a move, it is considered

Mr. Shore (double up with Sergeant O’Conner)the victim

Superintendent Battle-an intelligent and witty man’s man who is determined and very fond of his bowler hat

Sergeant O’Connor-a bright young man, eager to get on in the force and hopeful to prove himself

Stephensa butler on hire for Mr. Shore’s large dinner party. He is worldly and authoritative and very good at his job. Doesn’t miss anything going on around him

A / indicates this line is interrupted by the following line.

Scene 1

The drawing room of Mr. Shore’s London house. An early evening just before dinner in the summer of 1935. It is an elegantly furnished room. When the curtain rises, guests stand drinking and chatting around the display cases. The host, Mr. Shore is asleep in his chair. A game of bridge has been going for some time. Throughout the scene, Doris weaves in and out. The Major is mock fencing with a fine dagger.

ROBERTS
Do you know, I had no idea there were so many different types.

MRS. LORRIMER
Oh, snuff boxes were very popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Dr. Roberts.

ANNE
Look at that one. Are those real diamonds, do you think?

DESPARD
Oh yes, they’re real, Miss Meredith. Let’s hope he is well insured for high-quality diamonds like that (looking over towards the host who is still sleeping).

MRS. LORRIMER
Hush – he might hear you. And put that dagger away, Major – it is a collector’s item.

ROBERTS
(not noticing and staring at the collection) A thief could easily pocket the lot…

MRS. LORRIMER
Really Dr. Roberts – shush!

MISS BURGESS
Let’s continue with the game of bridge.

DESPARD
Have no fear – I don’t think a herd of elephants could wake our ‘host’.

MISS BURGESS
Hardly hospitable to have fallen asleep.

(disapproving looks from the group as MRS. Oliver enters).

STEPHENS
(in a whisper) Mrs. Ariadne Oliver.

DESPARD
My dear Mrs. Oliver! We are delighted to see you. Even if our host seems to be ah…occupied…

MRS. OLIVER
Oh he has done that to me many times, more times than I can count. Anne dear…and Mrs. Lorrimer…deep in a game are we?

ROBERTS
You’re in good form I bet.

MRS. OLIVER
Well I’ve just finished a new book and it’s such a relief – I thought I had killed off Sven Hjerson, but he escaped at the last minute!

MRS. LORRIMER
Excuse me?!

DESPARD
May I present our resident and famous crime writer, Mrs. Ariadne Oliver.

RHONDA
Surely you don’t want to kill off Sven – he’s made you famous.

DESPARD
Even if he was a real person, Mrs. Oliver would devise a way of murdering him that would confound Scotland Yard and astonish the world.

MISS BURGESS
Are you capable of committing murder, Mrs. Oliver?

MRS. OLIVER
There isn’t a person living who wouldn’t commit murder under certain circumstances.

(a moment as everyone looks slightly uncomfortable. Superintendent Battle enters)

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