Autorin: Elizabeth Unger
The Letter - a play by W. Somerset Maugham
As the curtain opens we see the sitting-room of the Crosbies’ house on a
plantation in the Malay Peninsula in the 1920’s. A shot is fired and
Geoffrey Hammond staggers onto the veranda. Leslie Crosbie fires three more
shots at Hammond, killing him. Leslie sends one of her Chinese servants to
fetch the Assistant District Officer and get a message through to her
husband, Robert, in Singapore, telling him of the “terrible accident”. When
he arrives, Leslie tells him that Hammond tried to rape her and that’s why
she shot him. In the finest detail, Leslie tells how Hammond arrived at
their house, made himself a drink, watched her work on her lace and started
complimenting her and flirting with her, claiming to be in love with her.
She reminds the Assistant District Officer that she and her husband have
known Hammond for over seven years, having taken care of him through his
She continues to describe the scene of the attempted rape and how, in
self-defence, she used her husband’s gun to stop Hammond. The ADO, Withers,
is terribly impressed with Leslie’s calm nerves and her ability to answer
each question put to her by himself and Joyce, a lawyer.
Robert Crosbie tells his wife of his undying love for her. She begs him not
to believe anything people may say against her. “Of course not. What
should they say?” “How can I tell? People are so unkind. They might easily
say that he would never have made advances to me if I hadn’t led him on.”
Leslie is taken to Singapore, charged with murder and put into prison
awaiting trial. Her husband suffers terribly with worry. He is shocked to
hear that Hammond had been living with a Chinese woman for the past 8
months. Robert says that if he had known, he never would have allowed him to
visit in his home.
Leslie’s Chinese lawyer tells Joyce that a letter, written by Leslie to
Hammond on the day of his death, has come to his attention. This startles
Joyce as Leslie had said that she had had no communication with Hammond for
several weeks before his death. In this letter Leslie tells Hammond that
Robert will be away on that evening and she begs him to come and visit her.
When confronted with the text of the letter, Leslie denies having written
it, claiming it can only be a forgery. She later admits having written and
claims she asked him to come because she was planning a surprise for her
husband’s birthday. Later she admits that she and Hammond had been lovers
and he had left her for the Chinese woman. Joyce promises to try to buy the
letter from the Chinese woman.
Leslie comes through the trial well, is acquitted and comes home. Her
husband tells her that he has come to hate the plantation and wants to take
up an offer of a new plantation in Sumatra. Joyce has to admit that he used
ten thousand dollars of Crosbie’s money to buy the letter. Robert demands to
see the letter and, due to this, Leslie has to admit that Hammond had been
her lover for years. She claims that she didn’t want to love him, but she
couldn’t help herself. Her husband is devastated.
The play takes a jump into the past, to the evening that Hammond came to see
Leslie. She begs him not to leave her, swearing that she'll tell everyone
about his Chinese woman if he does.
Once again, we are in the present, and Leslie promises Joyce that she will
spend the rest of her life trying to make it up to her husband although she
is still in love with the man she murdered.
For Services Rendered - a play by W. Somerset Maugham
The name of this play, For Services Rendered, concerns the military services
rendered to the British Commonwealth during the first world war. All the
characters have been directly or indirectly affected by the war and their
lives will never be the same again. This social study portrays the
disappointments and bitterness of the members of the Ardsley family and
their friends. The only exception seems to the father, Leonard, a country
solicitor who was too old to have been drafted and still believes in
patriotism and honour. His wife, Charlotte, who is dying of cancer and
refuses treatment, is only partially aware of the pain being suffering by
those around her.
Her eldest daughter, Ethel, married Howard Bartlett, a local tenant-farmer
who was socially far beneath her. Howard’s glory days were during the war
when he was “an officer and a gentleman”. Wearing a uniform and being a hero
let him gave any girls he wanted and though he has been married to Ethel for
over 15 years, he still dreams of the good old days. Ethel tries not to
admit it, but Howard, his drinking and his farmer’s life is a terrible
disappointment to her but she “made her bed and she’ll have to lie in it”.
Sidney, the Ardsley’s oldest son, had also been an officer in the war. While
many of his friends and fellow soldiers died, he has been blinded in battle.
He spends his time knitting, playing piquet and chess and wondering if being
killed in battle hadn’t been bitter than being blinded.
His sister, Eva, now over 35, is devoting her life to her brother because
her fiancé was killed in the war. But her discontent is easy to see and she
sets all her hopes in Collie Stralton, around her age and a former commander
in the Royal Navy. He is one of many officers who was no longer needed after
the war and has been let go with 1000 pounds “for services rendered”. He has
invested this in a garage and workshop but has no real training and no sense
of business. Collie is not only bankrupt, he is arrested for writing bad
checks. Eva offers him her money in exchange for marriage. Collie, however,
commits suicide which pushes Eva over the edge into insanity.
Lois, the youngest daughter, 26, still hopes to find a man who’ll love and
marry her. The only men who want her are her brother-in-law, Howard, and
Wilfred Cedar, a much older and married man. He claims to be in love with
Lois, gives her presents, and convinces her to run off with him, in exactly
the same way as he had done with his second wife, Gwen, who he is leaving
now. He is a wealthy man who could easily have helped Collie with his
financial difficulties, thus saving his life, but he didn’t.
The play ends with Eva’s insanity, Mrs. Ardsley’s approaching death, Lois’
imminent departure and Mr. Ardsley going on about how ”very nice it is to
have a cup of tea by one’s own fireside and surrounded by one’s family. If
you come to think of it none of us have anything very much to worry about.
This old England of ours isn’t done yet and I for one believe in it and all
it stands for.” Eva, in her insanity, sings “God save our gracious King!”
while the others look in horror-struck surprise.
“Home and Beauty” is a farce which takes place in 1918. Victoria was
happily married to William who tragically fell in the War. After one year
of appropriate mourning, during which she gave birth to William’s son, she
married Frederick. He had been William’s best friend and is, like William,
a Major. Victoria and Frederick have recently had a baby.
At the beginning of the play Victoria’s biggest problems are the lack of
coal which means she can only have a fire in the children’s room and her
bedroom and the fact that the cook has left. While having a manicure,
Victoria explains that she adored her first husband but that she’s just as
fond of her second one. “Of course, I should never survive it if anything
happened to my present husband, but if anything did - touch wood, you know I
couldn’t help myself, I’d just have to marry again, and I know I’d love my
third husband just as much as I loved the other two!”
While recovering from the strain of the manicure Victoria receives a visit
from Mr. Leicester Paton, a ship builder who is able to wangle almost
anything one wants. She flirts with him outrageously.
Soon after, Frederick comes home, announcing that William, Victoria’s first
husband, will be arriving in a few minutes. And then the chaos is complete.
It seems that William had mistakenly been declared dead. He had, in fact,
been wounded and taken by German soldiers. No one can bear to tell him that
Victoria and Frederick are not only married but have a child as well. The
rest of Act I and Act II are full of misunderstandings and confusion about
which of the two men will step aside or “do the honourable thing”. Both of
them come to the conclusion that being married to Victoria, as lovely as she
is, is not such a wonderful thing.
In Act III Victoria comes up with the solution to this problem by announcing
that she plans to divorce both of them and marry Paton, who is far wealthier
and can take much better care of her. Neither of her husbands are very
distressed by this turn of events but it must be handled well.
Victoria’s solicitor, Mr. A.B. Raham, arrives to go through the necessary
steps for divorce. In the end adultery is the only grounds for divorce
which would be fast enough. Mr. Raham employs Miss Monmorency, a woman of
about 55, as “the other woman” and she suggest her friends, Mrs. Onslow
Jervis, a clergyman’s widow, as the other “other woman”.
The arrangements are completed and husbands one and two bid their farewells
as Victoria asks both of them to return the various presents she had given
them as she’ll be needing them for husband number three.