Sleep Now My Darling by Michael Dean

 
Jenny Lawson was an actress and her husband Gilbert is a film director. Now Jenny stays at home, in their nice house, but she wants more. She wants to live a little before she dies! Gilbert loves Jenny, but a wife must stay at home, he thinks. Suddenly something happens to Gilbert, and then he understands Jenny. But is it too late?

Michael Dean


JENNY MUST STAY AT HOME

It is a hot summer day. Jenny and Gilbert Lawson are having breakfast at a table in their garden. Gilbert is reading a book.
 
JENNY 
Gilbert, can I come with you? To America?
 
GILBERT (He is reading. Looking up) 
What?
 
JENNY 
Oh, Gilbert! Please listen to me! I said, 'Can I come to America too?'
 
GILBERT (Eating some bread) 
Mmmm. This is good bread. Did you make it?
 
JENNY 
Yes. Gilbert! I said, 'Can I come with you?'
 
GILBERT 
No, Jenny. You have work here. There's the house, the garden... (He begins to read his book again.)
 
JENNY 
I remember My New Friend. It was your best film. It was my best film, too! They were happy days.
 
GILBERT (He puts the book down, smiling.) 
Yes. I watched My New Friend again last week. It's the best Gilbert Lawson film. And you were good in it, my love! You're a good actress.
 
JENNY (Smiling) 
The film had a good director! Gilbert Lawson!
 
GILBERT 
Oh, thank you! But now I have this new film, so I must go to America for six weeks.
 
JENNY 
Gilbert, can I be in this film, too? I want to be an actress again.
 
GILBERT 
Perhaps next time. Would you like that? Perhaps you can be in the next film.
 
JENNY 
You said that before.
 
GILBERT 
Did I?.. Yes, this bread is very good.
 
JENNY 
Can we go to America together then? Not for a film. Just you and me. Perhaps next year?
 
GILBERT (He smiles at her.) 
Perhaps. 
 
JENNY (Smiling at him) 
Next year, then.
 
GILBERT 
Yes. Next year. Love, I must go now. I'm going to be late for the plane. I love you, Jenny.
 
JENNY (Unhappily) 
I love you, too, darling.

JENNY TALKS TO A FILM STUDENT

It is six weeks later. Jenny is having a coffee at the airport. She is waiting for Gilbert's plane. A young man, Henry, sees her. Henry has a big bag in his hand. 
 
HENRY 
Hello! Are you Jenny Lawson?
 
JENNY 
Yes.
 
HENRY 
I knew it! (A young waitress brings Jenny's coffee. She smiles at Henry.)
 
WAITRESS (To Jenny) 
Here you are. 
(To Henry) And do you want something?
 
JENNY (To the waitress) 
Thanks. 
 
JENNY (To Henry)
 Sorry, but do I know you?
 
HENRY (To the waitress) 
A coke for me please, and a sandwich.
 
WAITRESS (She smiles at Henry.)
 One coke, one sandwich. (She goes away.)
 
HENRY (To Jenny) 
Oh sorry - yes. I know your film, My New Friend. And I know Gilbert. Can I sit down?
 
JENNY (Smiling) 
You can't stand up and have a coke and a sandwich. Wait a minute. I know you. I know your face. But I can't remember - tell me, how do you know Gilbert? (Henry sits down at the table with Jenny.)
 
HENRY 
I'm learning about his work. I know all the Gilbert Lawson films. But forget about me. I want to talk about you. You aren't happy. I can see that.
 
JENNY (Angrily) 
What? You can't say that! (The waitress comes back with a coke and a sandwich.)
 
WAITRESS (She puts the things down and smiles at Henry.) 
A coke and a sandwich.
 
HENRY 
Thank you.
 
WAITRESS 
That's OK. The sandwiches are very good. I have them for lunch sometimes.
 
HENRY (Smiling and eating the sandwich) 
Yes, you're right. It's very good. Thank you.
 
WAITRESS 
That's OK. Goodbye then. (She goes.)
 
JENNY (Looking at her watch)
 I must go soon.
 
HENRY 
What do you do every day?
 
JENNY 
What? I don't know you. You can't ask
 
HENRY (Smiling) 
Jenny. Please. Tell me. What do you do every day? (Jenny begins to cry. Henry smiles, but nicely.)
 
JENNY (Crying, angry)
 OK. Here's your answer. I get up in the morning and then I do nothing. We have no children. A woman does the house for me. A man does the garden.
 
HENRY 
Do you have friends?
 
JENNY (Crying) 
Yes! No! I have coffee with people. I have dinner with people. We say things like, 'Nice weather for the time of year'. But we don't talk.
 
HENRY 
Yes. I understand. Now I'm going to tell you about me. I'm twenty. I go to America, sometimes. I have friends. I like films, so I make films. I'm happy. What about you?
 
JENNY (She stops crying.) 
I was happy when I was an actress.
 
HENRY 
There! There's your answer! Be an actress again. (Laura comes in. She sees Jenny.)
 
LAURA
Jenny Lawson!
 
JENNY 
Laura!
 
LAURA 
What are you doing here?
 
JENNY 
Waiting for Gilbert.
 
LAURA (Smiling at Henry) 
And who is this?
 
HENRY 
My name is Henry. I'm a film student.
 
JENNY 
Sit down, Laura, please.
 
LAURA 
No. I can't stop. My children are here. We are all going to America. All the family. I write books now, you know. What do you do?
 
JENNY 
Me? Nothing.
 
LAURA 
Have you got children?
 
JENNY 
No.
 
LAURA 
You look unhappy, Jenny. At school you were beautiful and good at everything. And now you are older, with no work and no children. Oh dear!
 
JENNY 
What? Laura! Why did you say that? (Laura goes. Jenny is very unhappy.)
 
HENRY 
I have to go now. (He picks up his bag.)
 
JENNY 
What's - what's that name on your bag? 
 
JENNY (Reading the name)
 Henry Gilbert Lawson. I know you now! Gilbert! You are Gilbert, when he was twenty years old. But - why are you here? Oh no! Aaaaggghhh! (Henry runs out.)

JENNY LEARNS ABOUT GILBERT

There are four people at the check-in, Woman 1, Woman 2, a man and Jenny's father. They are waiting. A British Airways man is looking at Father's plane ticket. Jenny runs in.
 
JENNY 
Excuse me! Oh, father! What are you doing here?
 
FATHER 
Jenny, smile. Be happy.
 
JENNY 
What?
 
WOMAN 1 (To Jenny) 
Hey! I was here before you.
 
MAN (To Jenny)
I was in front of you, too.
 
WOMAN 2 (To Jenny) 
Are you OK, love? (To Woman 1 and man) She's white in the face!
 
JENNY (To the British Airways man) 
Excuse me ...
 
BRITISH AIRWAYS MAN (Looking at tickets) 
Can you wait, please?
 
JENNY 
No! My name is Jenny Lawson ...
 
BRITISH AIRWAYS MAN 
Ah! Mrs Lawson! We phoned you at home. There was no answer. Mrs Lawson, I'm sorry, but Mr Lawson's plane crashed in the sea. He's dead.
 
JENNY 
Oh no!!!

JENNY UNDERSTANDS EVERYTHING

Jenny's father and mother and Jenny are all sitting at a table.
 
JENNY 
They all died. All the people on the plane.
 
MOTHER 
Oh Jenny!
 
FATHER 
Your mother and I are so sorry, my love.
 
JENNY 
Thank you. Why were you at the airport, father?
 
FATHER 
Me? I wasn't at the airport.
 
JENNY 
Yes, you were! You were at the British Airways check-in desk. You said 'Be happy.' Then you left.
 
FATHER 
No!
 
JENNY 
Wait a minute. (Telephoning) Hello, Laura? Laura, this is Jenny Lawson. We were at school together. Laura, I saw you at the airport, remember, and - oh!
 
MOTHER 
What is Laura saying? 
 
JENNY 
She said, 'I wasn't at the airport.' (Into the telephone) Laura, one question. Do you write books now? Yes. Thank you. (Putting the phone down, and speaking to her father and mother) She writes books.
 
MOTHER 
Is that important?
 
JENNY 
Yes. Laura wants to write books, so she writes books. And she's happy. At the airport, father said 'Be happy.' And Henry Gilbert Lawson said 'Be an actress again.'

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