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What Is Susan's Secret?
A fresh and unique play in which the characters can be played by 3-7 men,
and 3-7 women, for a total cast of 6-11, or any number inbetween!
The plot of this play is really the story of several days in the lives of Michael and Susan, and the characters they meet...
These characters vary from the world's most boring man, (his wife says he's had charisma by-pass surgery) to a young couple on their honeymoon already planning divorce, a clergyman in black leather, and 'Boot Camp Bertha', Michael's Army drill sergeant sister. These distinctive characters (plus others) all provide the ingredients for two hours of mayhem and hilarity. Audiences will especially fall in love with the loving, yet somewhat puzzling relationship between the two main characters, Michael and Susan.
It all begins at "The Cider Mill Inn"
It is an old, rustic and somewhat run down country inn owned and operated by an endearing elderly couple, Michael and Susan Edwards. At first, they appear to be bordering on senility. We quicly learn however, that they are very clever con artists, preying on their unsuspecting guests, by advertising huge discounts to various tradesmen. Using an elaborate check-in form, with duplicated copies, guests are, in fact, signing a work contract, requiring them to perform various tasks and improvements at the inn. Over the course of three weekends, plumbers, tile layers carpenters and electricians are recruited to do work they never expected.
The First Con (Of Several)
LARRY. (Picks up the bags and moves towars room 5) I'm looking forward to a nice dinner tonight and sleeping late
JEAN. Me too.
SUSAN. You won't be sleeping too late, I hope. You need to be finished with your work by twelve noon.
LARRY. (Stops dead in his tracks and turns D.S,) Work?
SUSAN. Yes, you've agreed to install our new toilet.
LARRY. I have done no such thing
SUSAN. Well, technically you haven't, but your wife signed the contract on your behalf.
SUSAN. Yes, It's all in paragraphs five, six and seven.
LARRY. (Takes the check-in-form copy out of JEAN'S hands and looks at it.) Jean, what did you sign?
JEAN. Just the check in form.
LARRY. This is a work contract.
JEAN. Well, nobody ever reads the small print.
LARRY. Well, I'm just not going to do it.
SUSAN. I see, then you need to read paragraph eight.
LARRY. (Frowns and looks at Susan.) Why don't you just tell me what's in paragraph eight.
SUSAN. If you don't do the work agreed to in paragraphs five, six, and seven, then we charge you on your credit card for a
whole week at full rates. (She is busy with a hand held calculator.), and that would total one thousand, seven
hundred, and forty-two dollars. *(Insert an amount that makes sense for your area.)
JEAN. That's ouitrageous. You can't get away with that.
SUSAN. I'm afraid we can. You signed and authorized us to debit your card. The lawyers charged us a fortune. This
contract is very legal and very binding.
LARRY. (Turns to Jean) What have you got us into?
JEAN. Well, it's not that bad, I mean, you're a plumber after all. You've installed hundreds of toilets. It won't take that
much time. Besides we're staying here practically free, and we get dinner. All in all, I think I've done a pretty good
A "Normal" conversation between Michael and Susan
Although they may be con artisists, they are also eccentric and loveable. Throughout the play, Michael, with an overactive imagination wanders off into worlds of fantasy causing interesting interactions with the guests, while Susan confuses past and present, and can never remember Michael's name.
SUSAN. Michael, it's almost four o'clock and we have two couples checking in today. Don't you pretend to be asleep. I
need you to help get this place ready.
MICHAEL. (Eyes still closed.) Watch the left flank. They're coming up from the river.
SUSAN. (Crosses left.) Oh Lordy! It's Saturday and he's at the Alamo with Davy Crockett again. (Gently takes his hands
in hers.) When you're finished dealing with the Mexicans dear, I need you to help me here, at The Cider Mill Inn.
MICHAEL. Right Davy, I've got'em in my sights. Pow! (Opens his eyes and looks at Susan.) GLadys, what are you doing at
SUSAN. I'm not Gladys. Gladys was your mother. I'm Susan, your wife.
MICHAEL. No, no. Gladys was married to Robert.
SUSAN. That's right, Robert.
MICHAEL. So, I'm married to Gladys.
SUSAN. No dear, you're married to me, Susan.
MICHAEL. No, no, Susan is married to Michael, and you just called me Robert, so I'm married to Gladys.
SUSAN. That would be impossible. You can't be married to your mother.
MICHAEL. Then why did you call me Robert?
SUSAN. I didn't call you Robert.
MICHAEL. Yes, you did.
SUSAN. You can't remember what I called you, you can't remember anything. You can't even remember what you had for
MICHAEL. I can so.
SUSAN. Alright then, what did you have for breakfast?
MICHAEL. (Thinks for a second.) Oatmeal.
SUSAN. You hate oatmeal. You haven't had oatmeal for twenty years.
MICHAEL. I didn't say it was today's breakfast.
And a little bit later......
MICHAEL. (Enters with a hop, skip, and a jump, carrying the menu followed by Susan. He sits in the rocking chair waving
the menu around.) I've really outdone myself with tonight's menu this time. I should be a master chef by now.
SUSAN. (Follows to the rocking chair and stands.) Michael, you've never cooked anything in your entire life.
MICHAEL. Yes, I have.
MICHAEL. I cooked up this idea to have a fake menu so no one would stay for dinner, didn't I?
SUSAN. Yes dear, I guess you did. (Kisses him on the forehead.) You always did have a creative bent Marcus.
MICHAEL. I'm not Marcus, Marcus was your first husband. I'm Michael.
SUSAN. Marcus wasn't my first husband, Mitchell was. Mitchell could never have thought up this idea, but Marcus
SUSAN. Absolutely, Marcus was definitely creative.
MICHAEL. (Pauses.) Who was Marcus?
SUSAN. Marcus who?
MICHAEL. You know, the creative one.
SUSAN. Oh him. He was my old boyfriend, I left him for Mitchell.
MICHAEL. You left me for Mitchell.
SUSAN. I didn't leave you Michael, I left Marcus.
MICHAEL. Why did you leave Marcus?
SUSAN. Because I met my husband.
MICHAEL. But I'm you husband.
SUSAN. I know that dear, and I would never leave you.
MICHAEL. But you called me Marcus.
SUSAN. Why would I do that?
MICHAEL. You must admit dear you have been know to mix up names once in awhile.
SUSAN. I admit no such thing. You just get me a little confused.
MICHAEL. Talking about being confused, do you remember that time when we were on that cruise ship and could't find
SUSAN. I've never been on a cruise ship. I get seasick.
MICHAEL. I distinctly remember wandering around looking for our cabin when a nice young man in a red baseball cap
told us we were on the wrong deck.
SUSAN. That was in a hotel in Denver.
MICHAEL. The cruise ship went to Denver?
SUSAN. How could a cruise ship get to Denver?
MICHAEL. I don't know, but I distinctly remember being on a cruise ship.
SUSAN. That must have been with your first wife, Martha.
MICHAEL. No, no Martha would never go on a cruise ship, she got seasick.
SUSAN. Michael dear, that's me. I'm the one who gets seasick.
MICHAEL. So I went on a cruise ship with Martha to Denver?
SUSAN. I'm sure you went somewhere on a cruise ship with Martha, but I can assure you it was not to Denver. You're
just a little confused right now dear.
MICHAEL. That's the pot calling the kettle black.
SUSAN. Am I the pot or the kettle?
To complete the con, meals provided for their "working" guests are to say the least....unususal.
CIDER MLL INN....DAILY SPECIALS
Freshly baked owl in an onion broth
SQUIRREL TAIL TIDBITS
Delicate bites of squirrel in a cream sauce.
RACK OF RACCOON
Four to six based on the size of the racoon.
BREAST OF CROW
Flavored with rosemary.
JELLIED FROG SPAWN
Enjoy the poor man's caviar for dessert.
COMPLIMENTS OF THE CIDER MILL INN
SO...WHAT IS SUSAN'S SECRET?
On this subject the authors remain silent, preferring instead to let the audience decide on the truth, which of course, in a Parker production, is only revealed in the final moments of the play.
Fresh catch of the day!
*Authors' Notes: The play is written for three - seven females, and three - seven males. The characters of Michael and Susan are constant and appear in all three scenes. There are two other couples in each scene, one generally young (Say twenty - thirty) and the other older, (Perhaps fifty - sixty). So the cast could be any number between six and fourteen, depending on casting availability and how much doubling the director wants. If doubling, attention should be given to the characters so there is enough difference in dress and manner, and even perhaps accents, to change appearances as much as possible for the audience.
MICHAEL (Age 70 +) He and his wife, Susan, are the owners of a somewhat run down country inn. There are times when he appears to be totally 'with it,' but often wanders off into worlds of fantasy. One day he might be at 'The Alamo' with Davy Crocket, and the next with George Washington at 'Valley Forge.' He is often confused about names, dates, placet etc., but is however, a very endearing character with whom audiences should empathize. He is always kind, gentle, and loving towards Susan, and in the end, almost turns this play into a love story. (Very elderly, somewhat infirm, and might best be described as "An old man with a twinkle in his eye)
SUSAN (Age 70+) Spry and active, she appears to run The Cider Mill Inn, and is the driving force behind the 'con jobs' she and Michael pull on their unsuspecting guests. She consistently forgets Michael's name, and engages him in hilarious conversations in which she and Michael are rarely 'on the same page.' Her attitude toward Michael, and the love and rapport they clearly share is central to the core of the plot. Whether her secret is, in fact, revealed at the end of the play is something about which the authors remain silent, preferring to let the audience be the judge. (Hard working, efficient, competent, gentle and caring to Michael)
JEAN (Age 35-55) While Jean is an interfering 'busybody,' her heart is in the right place. When she intervenes in the marital problems of Bobby and Jenny, it is out of genuine concern for them. She totally dominates her mild mannered husband Larry, and we are left with the impression she dominates everything and everyone around her. Things have to be done "Her Way." (Forceful, purposeful, single-minded)
LARRY (Age 40-60) A miled mannered, easy-going sort of guy, who has learned, over the years, to just go along with Jean and not make any waves. Hoever, when Jean gets herself into a situation from which she cannot escape, he does not attempt to extricate her, but rather, in a kindly sort of way, sits back and seems to enjoy a laugh at ther expense. Perhaps, in his life with Jean, there have been too few opportunities to do this. (Long-suffering, hard-working, a devilish sense of humor)
BOBBY (Age 25-30) A pleasant young man, who gets caught up in the emotional ups and downs of his new bride, Jenny. He acquiesces, perhaps a little too easily, to the fact that he has been conned by Michael and Susan, but that is probably his nature. Clearly very much in love with Jenny, he is willing to apologize when he has no idea what it is he is supposed to have done. (Clean cut, hard-working, easy-going)
JENNY (Age 25-30) Young and pretty, but perhaps not too bright. She works herself into an emotional upheaval for the most trivial of reasons. Anyone, other than her gentle, easy-going husband, would probably feel like smacking her. To be kind, she is very young and on her honeymoon, and who knows what is going on in her mind. (Immature, naive, but in the end showing a good sense of humor)
BILL (Age 40-60) Bill is a suave, sophisticated man about town. He is a reviewer for a publication, Country Inns of America, visiting The Cider Mill Inn incognito. While married, he has arranged a weekend tryst with his girlfriend Julie He discovers that Michael and Susan are simply con artists and is prepared to expose them, but ethics are not his strong suit, and he compromises his priniciples to keep his affair secret. (A polished, well-dressed, educated adulterer)
JEFFREY (Age 25-30) If there was an award for "The Most Boring Man on the Planet," Jeffrey would win hands down. When his long suffering wife, Penny, says he's had charisma bypass surgery, we could easily believe her. He goes on and on about the stupidest subjects imaginable, blissfully unaware that he is driving everyone around him crazy.He is so boring that audiences almost like him. (Sincere, lives in his own world)
PENNY (Age 20-30) Penny seems to be driven to drink by her boring husband Jeffrey. She must never appear to be drunk or her sparkling wit and terrific sense of humor will be lost. A little tipsy, most of the time, she brings lightheartedness and laughter into the scenes with Jeffrey, to counterbalance his boring personality. (Pretty, clearly enjoys life, funny, flighty, giggly)
JULIE (Age 35-45) Julie has a libido that never lets up. She leaves the audience in no doubt as to why she is at the inn for the week-end. She is, however, sophisticated not cheap or tawdry. (Beautiful, sensuous, single-minded)
KELLY (Age 20-30) Kelly is clearly the dominant one in her relationship with Paul. She has concoted the scheme for Paul to pose as his brother Patrick so they can get the tradesmen's discount. She next comes up with the idea for him to then become her girlfriend "Pauline." She is a schemer who never gives up, constantly creating explanations for the most improbable circumstances. (Clever, manipulative, quick-thinking)
PAUL (Age 25-30) Paul is clearly under the influence of his girlfriend Kelly. She seems to be able to persuade him to do almost anything. Much against his better judgement, she has him weave a tapestry of lies and deceit. He never really gets "with the program" as he alternates between the characters of Paul, his brother Patrick, and Kelly's girlfriend Pauline. (Not very forceful, but eager to please Kelly)
MURRAY (Age 40-60) Murray is a very unusual clergyman. He almost belongs in the "Hippie" generation. He arrives on a Harley, wearing black leather, and uses expressions like 'rock on.' He is nevertheless, a genuine pastor with concern and kindness for those around him, and shows great understanding and compassion, for 'Pauline' whom he believes (thanks to Kelly's manipulations) is a painfully shy claustrophobic. (Kind, sincere, adventuresome)
BERTHA (Age 40-45) Michael's sister is referred to by him as "Boot Camp Bertha." A retired army officer, she certainly lives up to that name. She is a strong comedic character, who seems to dominate the stage whenever she appears. However, prompted by Murray, she finally shows a gentler, more humand side to her nature. (Loud, domineering, aggressive)
WHAT IS SUSAN'S SECRET....In the NEWS
Susan has a secret, and if you want to know what it is, be prepared to sit through two hours of entertainment and continuous laughs before you find out."
The Brampton Guardian, Canada
"The Parker's play is a farce in the tradition of Moliere; looney plots and counter plots cross and collide. A production of Neil Simon's "I Ought to be in Movies", preceded this one, and the Parkers are certainly on Simon's level of wit and delight. Watching this play, you never know how difficult farce is to do well, because you're in stiches. A naughty but hillariously nice evening."
There are these fun, crazy things going on all the time.
You're in for an evening of laughs. Hillarity is promised.
The Arvida Festial Playhouse, Colorado
"You will not stop laughing in this show. It is funny from beginning to end."
"It is full great one-liners that jus keep you in stiches."
"When I read the play I couldn't stop laughing. The elderly couple in the play are just a hoot." (Sheila Lee)
"Perfect comedic timing that keeps the audience in fits of laughter."
River City Players, Lexington,MO
"Susan’s Secret an engaging tale."
"Through three acts, the duo interacted with a wealth of interesting characters – from an undercover hotel critic engaging in a weekend affair to a leather-bound priest straight out of Hell’s Angels, the cast of characters never ceased to be interesting and add a unique flavour to the pace of the tale."
East Central Alberta Review, Alberta Canada