2 characters. 1M, 1F; 6 pages in length. Approximately 5-10 minutes running time. A futuristic tale for teens with Charles Dickens written by Steven Lancefield.

The Greatest Of Expectations is futuristic play set inside an historical museum in England. An animatronic Dickens speaks to Katrina, a cleaning person, about his day. They discuss the differences between the Victorian era and their current day and she explains that books no longer exist. His literary works can all be downloaded to a person’s brain chip. As the conversation progresses, we find that, in the future, people may no longer be rich or poor but, lack meaningful personal relationships. This clever play is a wonderful addition to a lesson on Dickens or performed at your next holiday show!

Steven Lancefield has written several short and long stage plays, which have been performed at fringe theaters across the UK and abroad. His first full length play “Justice Towers” was performed at the Brook Theater in October 2012, and was published by Roister Doister Publishing in 2015. Steven’s short chiller “One Touch” was published as part of the “Dark Gathering” anthology in 2015, and was performed at the Santa Monica Theater in California and by Cast Iron Theater in Brighton in 2017. Steven also makes short films, and his low budget ghost story “Bohemian Spirit” has screened at over 20 film festivals worldwide, including the Zed Fest Film Festival in North Hollywood, where it won “Outstanding Screen Story” and “Audience Favorite”.

Excerpt from the play:

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Dickens
Katrina

(A dankly lit corner of a museum.)

(Dickens stands center stage, his head bowed, dressed in traditional Victorian attire. He is surrounded by a large see through perspex tube. He is incredibly still, as if frozen.)

(Katrina enters, whistling. She carries a small power cleaning spray. She walks up to Dickens and curtsies.)

(Katrina whistles as she sprays the perspex tube and wipes it clean. She takes a step back, admiring her handy work, before reaching around the display cabinet and pressing a button.)

(Dickens’ head moves to an upright position, and he opens his eyes. He turns to face Katrina, who continues to clean the floor.)

DICKENS
Good evening, madam.

KATRINA 
Good evening, Mr. Dickens.

DICKENS
And what an evening. So crisp and clear. The stars are so bright tonight, are they not?

KATRINA
Most probably, sir. If we were outdoors, and not in this museum, I‘d probably be inclined to agree. How has your day been?

DICKENS
It has been most agreeable. My housekeeper Georgina made a most delightful breakfast of poached eggs and devilled kidneys. After a short constitutional around town, I settled down with pen and ink to start apace on my new story, a ghost story, set at Christmas. Although my inclination may change, I presently see fit to name it “A Christmas Carol”…

KATRINA
Yes, yes, but what did you see on your walk, Mr. Dickens? Describe it to me.

DICKENS
Well, my dear, in the better parts of town there are gentlemen walking arm in arm with their lady friends, perhaps pausing by a chestnut seller for a winter treat. However, turning the corner towards Higham center, I was struck by the encroaching poverty. By the poor sheltered in doorways, clasping mugs of cheap gin. It sends a shiver through my spine to see the populace in such a state, especially the young. (PAUSE) May I enquire, madam, which district of England you originate from?

KATRINA
Camden.

DICKENS
Ah, Camden has delights all of its’ own, and not all are impoverished who live there.

KATRINA
It’s kind of changed, since your day, Mr. Dickens. I hate to break it to you, but I really must, it’s a good three hundred years since you walked the streets of the UK.

DICKENS
A highly amusing conceit, miss…?

KATRINA
Katrina. I’m Katrina, and you’re an animatronic automaton of Charles Dickens, brought to life by superior technology and plunked in the corner of this museum for the amusement and education of all and sundry.

DICKENS
Your words are strange and yet, somehow, I do not question them.

KATRINA
You always say that.

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