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William Olden, a California billionaire has died. He leaves his entire estate including the winery, (where the action of the play takes place), to his daughter Constance. There are however three notable exceptions: He has left his twenty million dollar yacht to a Miss Josephine Sykes, his priceless art work to a Miss Renee LaFleur and his antique car collection to a Miss Marjorie Merivale. Constance, accompanied by her lawyer, Roy Vance, arrives at the mansion. They are greeted by Clifton, the butler, and an eccentric housekeeper, Agnes. She is as deaf as a post and moves about as fast as one while she wanders the mansion, looking for her pet rat, Oscar. Constance and Roy have two objectives in mind; firstly, to find out who these three women are, and secondly, by threatening to contest the will, persuade them to settle for lesser amounts of money.
CONNIE. Would you mind if I asked you a couple of questions about my father’s er - er -
CLIFTON. Domestic arrangements, madam?
CONNIE. Well, yes.
CLIFTON. I suppose not.
CONNIE. Just exactly which one was Josephine?
CLIFTON. She was Mr. Olden’s favorite from what I like to call his English Period, madam.
CONNIE. English Period?
CLIFTON. A reasonably brief one, madam. One that drew to a close about six months ago.
CONNIE. I see. And Miss Merivale?
CLIFTON. Prior to his English Period, madam. She was from what I like to call his California Girl, or his Tall Period.
CONNIE. I didn’t know my father liked tall women.
CLIFTON. I’m not sure he ever saw her upright, madam!
CONNIE. Oh dear. Now I’m almost afraid to ask about Miss LaFleur.
CLIFTON. Ah, the beautiful Miss Renee. - Er - his French Period, madam.
CONNIE. French Period?
CLIFTON. About three years prior to his Tall Period, madam.
Renee LaFleur has telephoned Clifton, to say that she is now ready to actively pursue a new love in her life, i.e. Clifton, who is horrified at the prospect. He hires a professional actress, Susie Legere, to play the role of his wife so Renee will be discouraged. Unknown to Clifton, Constance and her lawyer arrange for the three women mentioned in the will to join them at the California mansion This proves somewhat difficult for Clifton, whom we later discover, has had affairs with both Josephine and Marjorie.
Miss Josephine Sykes – The Yacht
VANCE. Ms. Sykes, my fax to you told you that Mr. Olden passed away a couple of weeks ago. What it did not tell
you was that the reason we asked you come here today, was because he left you something in his will.
CONNIE. You seem surprised.
JO. Well, actually I am. You know it’s over six months since Bill and I ... parted company.
VANCE. He left you the yacht.
JO. Good heavens. How absolutely spiffing. He always said he would. He named it after me you know.
CONNIE. But your name is Josephine, and the yacht is called “The Big O.” (Josephine smiles knowingly at her.) Oh, I
Miss Renee LaFleur – The Paintings
VANCE. Miss Olden, this is Miss Renee LaFleur, Mr. Olden’s daughter Constance.
VANCE. I was just telling Miss LaFleur that we would like to talk to her about your father’s will.
RENEE. Ah, your father. Monsieur William. What a man! You know he had the most gorgeous eyes.
CONNIE. Yes but –
RENEE. Mais oui – he had that too!
Miss Marjorie Merivale – The Cars
MARJORIE. So, you gonna tell me why I’m here?
VANCE. At the moment that’s a kind of moot point. We asked you to come here because Mr. Olden left you his
entire antique car collection in his will, worth, as I’m sure you know, several million dollars, but we can’t
MARJORIE. I beg your pardon.
VANCE. It’s not here.
MARJORIE. He left me all those cars?
CONNIE. You didn’t know?
MARJORIE. I had no idea. I mean he always used to kind of joke about it, and say he would leave them to me, but I
never took him seriously.
CONNIE. Well he did.
MARJORIE. You know what he used to say? He said classic beauty like the cars deserved to be owned by a classic
beauty like me, but it was kind of, like a joke.
(It’s a rotten job, but someone has to do it.)
Alas, poor Clifton!
-Renee, is not discouraged at all by the presence of Clifton’s “wife”, and pursues him relentlessly.
-Josephine arrives eager to renew her affair with Clifton.
-Marjorie arrives absolutely determined to renew her affair with Clifton.
THE DEFECTIVE DETECTIVE
Enter William Davis Jr., a private detective hired by Roy Vance. We quickly discover that he studied under Mrs. Malaprop!
“ I have been hired by Mr.Vance to invigorate certain suspicious circumstances concerning the last
will and testicles of Mr. William Olden.”
“You’re not off the hook Mr. Clifton. Your little centrifuge with the housekeeper has been discovered.”
“ I seem to have a small confusion on my head.”
“ I’m usually a very deficient detective.”
“ My information comes from extremely continental sources.”
“ I need you to keep this secret method of overhearing other peoples confirmations in the strictest
“ I can assure you miss, that my inventions were highly honorable, and that I merely perspired to
inverberate the other personage responsible for embezzling certain artichokes from this constabulary.”
THE BIMBO CORPORATION
Davis discovers the yacht, the car collection, and the artwork are missing. All are now mysteriously owned by THE BIMBO CORPORATION, registered in the Caicos Islands. But who owns the BIMBO CORPORATION?
Somewhere along the way, ususally about halfway through Act II, the audience realizes that the roles of the three women are being played by the same actress. (Incidently a role to die for.)
When the play ends....Who's in bed with the butler?
AGNES (Age 60+) The late Mr.William Olden's housekeeper, she is as deaf as a post and moves about as fast as one! Steadfastly refusing to switch on her hearing aid, she wanders in and out of the action, usually oblivious to the complexities of the plot going on around her. She lives in her own world and spends a great deal of her time looking for her pet rat "Oscar," who seems to be the center of her life. (Likeable, funny, perhaps a little self-centered)
CLIFTON (Age 40-60) The late Mr. William Olden's butler, and the pivotal character of the play, is a very complex personality. He is not intended to be 'pigeonholed' by the audience, who should always be left wondering what facet of his character will be revealed next. He starts out as the loyal servant and appears to by 'Mr. Nice Guy,' then as the plot progresses, we see him in turn as the schemer, the scoundrel, the opportunistic embezzler and then, either the naive lover, or the romantic playboy. (Maybe both!) He is nevertheless an endearing personality with a quick, dry wit and a great sense of humor. Audiences take great delight in seeing him finally 'tamed' by Susie Legere at the very end of the play. (Suave, clever, a likeable rougue)
SUSIE LEGERE (Age 30-40) The actress hired by Clifton to pretend to be his wife in order to protect him from the amorous advances of Renee LaFleur. She throuws herself into the role with enthusiasm, but quickly discovers all is not what it seems to be. A very determined lady with definite ideas on marriage and morality, she nevertheless allies herself with Clifton, even though she slowly becomes awared of his dubious character. When not leaping on and off furniture to avoid 'Oscar', she is at the heart of many of the visual comedic sequences. In the latter stages of the play, it is Susie who seizes control and brings order out of chaos. (Bright, perky, quick-witted and resourceful)
CONSTANCE OLDEN (Age 40-50) Mr. Olden's only child, she has been persuaded by her attorney to contest her father's will. She is somewhat dour and taciturn and would appear to be 'all business.' As the total incompetence of her attorney Roy Vance and his sidekick WIlliam Davis Jr. becomes apparent, we see a softer side of her culminating in a hilarious surprise move in her final scene. (Severe, dowdy, businesslike, yet finally kind and tender)
ROY VANCE (Any age) Miss Constance's attorney is a 'thoroughly nasty piece of work.' For him, the law is all about making money and not at all about justice. His frustrations mount as he comes to realize he is up against masterful planners in Clifton and his co-conspirators. Becoming ever more desperate to locate the missing assets of the estate, he seems to lose his sense of reality and becomes rather a tragic figure as he, in turn, makes his final exit. (Scheming, untrustworthy, greedy and malicious)
WILLIAM DAVIS JR. (Any age, but agile) The private detective hired by Roy Vance to investigate the disappearance of certain assets from the estate of the late Mr. Olden. He is one of life's total incompetents who misinterprets every piece of information he receives. He is hit by doors, he is knocked out by a suit of armor, in fact he is repeatedly rendered unconscious while managing to follow all clues down the totally wrong path. He always leaps (sometimes literally) to the wrong conclusion and, if all this wasn't enough, he clearly spent his entire education studying under Mrs. Malaprop! He is a truly comedic character and such an idiot that audiences cannot help but love him.(Sympathetic, funny, extreme, a natural clown)
*RENEE LaFLEUR (Age 30-45) A voluptuous French beauty who spends the entire play in amorous pursuit of Clifton. She will not be denied and uses all her feminine wiles to this end. She comes close to seducing him on several occasions. She will not take no for an answer and continues her passionate quest no matter what the obstacles. It is only as a result of the determined efforts of Susie that she does not succeed. (Sexy, seductive, determined to the very end)
*JOSEPHINE SYKES (Age 30-45) The second of the three bimbos, she is very English in manner, bearing and accent. She appears at first to be a little 'prim and proper', but softens as we see her in her relationship with Clifton. She shows great strength of character when she does not allow herself to be intimidated by Constance and Vance. We feel she has genuine feelings for Clifton and she portrays a sense of sadness when she is finally obliged to reject him. (Pretty, sophisticated, well-educated and articulate)
*MARJORIE MERIVALE (Age 30-45) The quintessential California girl. She takes her affairs with Mr. Olden and Clifton very much in stride. She has a practical, perhaps materialistic, approach to life. As Susie schemes to break up Marjorie's affair with Clifton, we get the feeling that she gives up a little too easily and we are left with the impression that perhaps she was really only in it for the money after all. (Beautiful, athletic, outgoing and calculating)
*The play has been carefully written to enable the roles of the three "bimbos" to be played by one, two or three individual actresses.
WHO’S IN BED WITH THE BUTLER…IN THE NEWS
“Once plates were cleared, coffee poured, and strawberry shortcake served, it was house lights down and stage lights up for what has become the Early Bird Dinner Theatre’s signature offering – a Michael Parker farce. “Who’s In Bed With the Butler?” has a myriad of misunderstandings and innuendo creating continual laughter.”
Tampa Bay Newspapers online addition / Tampa Bay, Florida
“Thumbs up to the cast and crew of “Who’s In Bed With the Butler?” Whoever comes to see the play needs to bring a lot of Kleenex for tears of laughter.”
The Winchester Press / Ontario, Canada
“A frothy evening of community theatre with an impressive array of comedy techniques.”
The Sacramento News and Review / Sacramento, California
“Get ready to giggle. An elderly deaf housekeeper, her pet rat, and a bumbling detective add to the hilarity, stealing the show with their hijinks.”
Hemet- San Jacinto Press Enterprise, / Hemet, California
“Fasten your seat belts. It’s time to experience another hilarious bedroom farce by noted
playwright and actor, Michael Parker.”
“Jam packed with all of the mischievous essentials, and slightly naughty ingredients that
guarantee audiences a rollicking good time.”
Entertainment Roundup / Hemet, California
“ The audience will need to pay close attention to the innuendos, one-liners and jokes.”
“The play is enhanced by excellent physical comedy.”
“A performance standard that will be hard to match.”
The Daily Democrat / Woodland, California
“First class all the way. A great production.”
Little Theatre of New Smyrna Beach / Florida
“It’s just mad-capped hilarity, but the audience is in for some titillating secrets as well.”
The Valley Chronicle / California