Tony’s Chums is adapted from a book by May Wynne. Young Tony is being looked after by his aunt and uncle in a large house in Devon. He tells the story of his adventure the year previous. He was very lonely and longed desperately for playmates. When he accidently breaks a small figurine, he runs away to Alsbury Wood. There he makes friends with some children who are on holiday in the area and they have an adventure. One of the children is kidnapped and ends up in the care of an elderly doctor before returning home. This classic tale is a charming play for children!
Graham Knapman is a published poet. He has been writing for several years and has a keen interest in history. He has had a rehearsed reading of a play about Vaslav Nijinksky and his work has been performed at scratch nights in London. Tony’s Chums is his first adaptation of a children’s book.
Excerpt from the play:
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Ginger, the terrier.
SETTING: The gallery of Lavington Hall, North Devonshire
TIME: A Summer morning in 1912
(TONY is a grey-eyed little lad. He is looking out of the window. GINGER, his Irish terrier is by his side.)
Look at the woodland, the river, and the moor. Beyond that is the blue, boundless sea.
This time last year I was lonely. I wanted a playmate. Another boy. A girl. I didn’t mind.
We were alone with these paintings of the dead and gone. Sir Anthony Lavington. He wasn’t that much older than me when he died in battle two centuries ago.
My mother’s dead. And father’s abroad.
It was how we came to be playing together.
Do you remember?
And I broke the Dresden figurine.
(GINGER lies on the floor with his fore paws over his head.)
I hid the pieces and we went off to Alsbury Wood.
(Ginger looks up mournfully at his master.)
Alsbury Wood was wonderful. There was a babbling brook. We stood in the dappled shade and you heard laughter.
(Enter PAM, ALEC, and DERRICK downstage.)
(PAM is bending over to look in the brook. She steps onto a large stone in the brook.)
What are you doing?
There’s something strange in the water.
It will be a fish.
It isn’t a fish. I’ll try and catch it. (PAM loses her balance and squeals.)
You goose! (DERRICK goes to pull her out of the water.) Just look at you.
I’m alright. All I am saying is that it wasn’t a fish. It was a worm.
Worms are in the soil.
It could have been an eel.
It could have been an eel. It’s like a big worm, but it lives in water.
That’s what I must have seen.
They are quite common.
They sell them in fishmongers.
That’s right. Who are you anyway?
My name is Tony Lavington. (TONY holds out his hand in greeting.)
Pam. His sister.
Alec, their brother.
And this is Ginger, my dog.
You must be staying up at the farm.
We’re there for the Summer.
Only this is a poor start.
I didn’t mean to fall in.
You had better come up to the Hall. Mrs. Bentham will dry your clothes for you.
It’s that big old house amongst the trees.
I live there with my uncle and aunt. You can stay for tea.