ELOPEMENT, 5 min play, for UCD Dramsoc

ELOPEMENT by Paul B McNulty

Sibella Cottle, now pregnant, is thrilled when Harry Lynch-Blosse elopes with her. But will his unresolved annulment shatter her dreams?

CHARACTERS
SIBELLA COTTLE (Sarah Burton, also Orlaith): An orphaned, 19 year-old red-haired beauty.
HARRY LYNCH-BLOSSE (Ryan Gillespie, also Donagh Ruane): A philandering 25 year-old heir to a baronetcy.
RECTOR GARROOD (Liam Galgey): Church of England, Belstead, Suffolk.
(Disembodied voices may play the butler and the chamber-maid.)

SETTING
Wednesday, 8th December 1773, drawing room of Belstead Hall, Suffolk, home of Elizabeth Barker, the late mother of Harry Lynch-Blosse, Balla, Co Mayo, and the home of her late uncle, Tobias Blosse.

Miss Constable (1787) by George Romney, 1734-1802. (Original portrait in Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon)

Sibella Cottle is assumed to be adequately represented by George Romney’s 1787 portrait of Miss Constable. (Original portrait in Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon.)

SIBELLA SITS ON A SOFA IN THE DRAWING ROOM OF BELSTEAD HALL. SHE WEARS A MODEST DRESS WITH HER HAIR TIED HIGH. HARRY ENTERS WEARING A JACKET, CRAVAT, WAISTCOAT, SWORD AND TIGHT BREECHES OVER WHITE STOCKINGS.

SIBELLA: Harry! Why are you wearing your sword?

HARRY: Because, Rector Garrood has agreed to marry us.

SIBELLA: Wondrous! That’s great news, Harry. (RISES.) It only seems like yesterday since I left a note for my parents.

HARRY: What did you say?

SIBELLA: I thanked them … from the bottom of my heart … for looking after me from infancy. I asked them to forgive me for my irresponsible behaviour / that

HARRY: Irresponsible behaviour?

SIBELLA: Sleeping with you, you big brute! (PACES.) They offered to settle me in Waterford during my confinement. I would have hated that! Instead, you offered to take me to Suffolk. I asked them not to be angry with me.

HARRY: What happened next?

SIBELLA: I rose at five that morning. I donned my winter shawl and shouldered my bag. I crept down the stairs and opened the back door. The guard dog wandered over. I stroked him to keep him quiet. He walked with me to the corn mill where I waited until I heard the sound of footsteps.

HARRY: And then … the dogs started barking … but we were on our way … by gig to Castlebar … by coach to Ballinasloe … and on to Dublin. Seven days later … we arrived exhausted at Belstead … after a stormy sea and bumpy coach-rides.

SIBELLA: I was so sick. I feared for the safety of our baby … but I think he’s all right.

HARRY: Thank God for that.

SIBELLA: What did Lady Lynch say when you announced your departure?

HARRY: She wondered if I might find it lonely. I said: “Grandmamma! How could I possibly be lonely in the house of my birth, the house in which I spent the first six years of my life?”

SIBELLA: Clever boy. (PAUSE.) So what did you do in Ipswich yesterday?

HARRY: I met the family solicitor. He gave me this affidavit. (LAYS IT ON THE TABLE.) I’m now free to marry. (BENDING DOWN ON ONE KNEE.) Sibella Cottle, I ask you again … will you do me the great honour? (PROFFERS AN ENGAGEMENT RING.) Will you marry me, my dear heart?

SIBELLA: Of course, I will marry you, my darling. (HUGS HIM.) This is the happiest day of my life. (ADMIRES THE RING ON HER FOURTH LEFT FINGER.) But how will Garrood react to my faith?

HARRY: Mixed marriages are now allowed in England, he said. (FROWNS.) But then he wondered … if you were one-and-twenty.

SIBELLA: Why?

HARRY: Because at nineteen, you need the written consent of your parents. I said a gentleman could never ask a lady her age. I insisted, however, that you had reached your majority.

SIBELLA: Clever again! I can swear to nineteen with a clear conscience … it suffices for a majority in certain cases. (PACES.) But how can we marry today? I have no wedding dress.

HARRY: You could wear my mother’s wedding / dress

SIBELLA: Oh how I would love my own creation … but your mother’s wedding dress will have to do … if, I can fit into it … in my condition.

A KNOCK ON THE DOOR SIGNALS THE ENTRANCE OF RECTOR GARROOD.

HARRY: You’re most welcome, Rector. Allow me to introduce Miss Cottle of Ashbrook House.

GARROOD: I’m delighted to meet you Miss Cottle.

SIBELLA: (CURTSIES.) Thank you for agreeing to marry us, Rector. As you know, I’m a Catholic, and have reached my majority.

GARROOD: You certainly have retained a remarkable youthfulness. It must be the fresh air of Ireland.

SIBELLA: Please excuse me, gentlemen … I must settle my hair.

AT THE APPOINTED HOUR, THE CHAMBER-MAID PLAYS A WEDDING MARCH ON THE PIANO OFFSTAGE. SIBELLA ENTERS, WEARING A LOW-CUT DRESS WITH HER HAIR BOBBING OVER HER SHOULDERS. CANDLES, FLOWERS AND INCENSE STICKS DECORATE THE ROOM.

HARRY: (HUMS THE WEDDING MARCH.) Sibella, my darling, you are a diamond of the first water. (ESCORTS HER TO STAND BEFORE GARROOD.)

GARROOD: (SMILES.) We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of Mr Harry Lynch-Blosse and Miss Sibella Cottle in holy matrimony. (GLANCES AT HARRY.) Mr Lynch-Blosse will you take Miss Sibella Cottle to be your lawful wedded wife? Will you love her, comfort her, honour and protect her for as long as … (FROWNS.) Is that a galloping horse, I hear?

OFFSTAGE: An urgent message for Mr Lynch-Blosse.

HARRY’S HAND TREMBLES WHILE OPENING THE LETTER. AFTER SCANNING IT, HE COLLAPSES INTO THE SOFA WITH THE LETTER DANGLING FROM HIS LEFT HAND.

GARROOD: Are you quite well, Mr Lynch-Blosse?

HARRY: (PASSES THE LETTER TO GARROOD.) I’m ever so sorry, Sibella.

SIBELLA: For heaven’s sake, what does it say?

GARROOD: (RECITES.) “ … Further to a request from my colleague in Ipswich … I regret to say that your application for an annulment of your first marriage remains unresolved. May I suggest that you postpone your wedding to Miss Cottle until we remove this encumbrance to your union?
Andrew Edmondson, Solicitor, Castlebar.”

SIBELLA: How could you do this to me, Harry? How could you be so stupid … so careless?

HARRY: Don’t worry my darling. Edmondson will soon sort it, I promise.

SIBELLA SINKS BACK INTO THE SOFA AND CRIES.

HARRY: Please accept my apologies, Rector Garrood. I was sure my annulment would have succeeded by now.

GARROOD: You must not worry. You will marry soon. Now, I should leave you in peace. (DEPARTS.)

HARRY: (DRAWS HIS SWORD.) Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah! (HOLDS IT ALOFT AND PLUNGES IT INTO THE SOFA BESIDE SIBELLA.)

END OF PLAY.

………………………………………………………………………………………………..
PROVENANCE
Participant in the UCD Dramsoc Mini Plays Festival (including minor amendments), Dramsoc Theatre at 7 p.m. on 14, 15 and 16 October, 2015 under the direction of Rosa Bowden, Auditor, UCD Dramsoc, Student Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland. Actors (indicated in italics) are members of UCD Dramsoc.

PROPS
1. Sofa and table.
2. Modest dress quickly convertible to a low-cut dress.
3. Harry’s jacket, cravat, waistcoat and tight breeches over white stockings.
4. Affidavit and Letter.
5. Engagement ring.
6. Candles, flowers and incense sticks.
7. Waistband, scabbard and sword.

SOUND
1. Sound of footsteps.
2. Dogs barking.
3. Wedding march (MENDELSSOHN Piano).
4. Sound of a galloping horse.

1776 Election to the Irish Parliament for Mayo

The election manifesto of Arthur Browne, Viscount Westport and James Cuffe MP of Ballinrobe was published in the Freeman’s Journal on six occasions from May 9 to May 21 for the May 23 election in Castlebar. The two candidates appeared irritated by having to endure an electoral contest having been nominated to represent Mayo by the gentlemen of the county on September 4, 1775.

To the Gentlemen, Clergy, and Freeholders of the County of Mayo.
Gentlemen, Having had the Honour to be called upon to stand joint Candidates to represent the County of Mayo in the next Parliament, by the unanimous voice of the Gentlemen of our County at the County Meeting, held at Castlebar on Monday the 4th September last, by Advertisement in the public Papers, the High Sheriff in the Chair, We thought that the Sense of that Meeting would show the Sentiments of the County, and prevent the unnecessary Trouble to Gentlemen removed from Castlebar of attending at the Election; but as we find that an Opposition is intended, we beg Leave to call upon you for the Honour of your Suffrages on that Occasion; and as the High Sheriff has fixed on Thursday the 23rd Day of this inst. May, at the County Courthouse in Castlebar, in said County, at eight o’Clock in the Forenoon of said Day, to proceed to the Election; and as it is probable (as two polls are by the late Law to go on together) the Election will not hold many Days, the early Appearances of our friends will lay a lasting Obligation on,
Gentlemen,
Your most obliged, and most obedient humble Servants,
WESTPORT, JAMES CUFF.
Castlebar May 7, 1776.

When the votes were counted over two days, Browne (709) and Cuffe (613) were re-elected despite opposition from George Fitzgerald Esq (245), and Charles Fitzgerald Esq (149) who were eliminated. The total votes cast for the four candidates were 1716 as recorded in Finn’s Leinster Journal and in the Freeman’s Journal, Sat 1 Jun 1776.

James Cuffe of Ballinrobe, elected Member of Parliament for Mayo in 1776.

James Cuffe of Ballinrobe, elected Member of Parliament for Mayo in 1776.

5 star review for “Spellbound by Sibella” by Paul B McNulty

I was pleased to receive a 5 star review for my historical novel, Spellbound by Sibella, from Jack Hudson on Amazon.com. It runs as follows:

Fascinating, scandalous….

The story of Sibella and Sir Harry is a fascinating one. The political implications, the intrigues, the pressure on the weak Sir Harry to marry an heiress and desert his true wife and children – great stuff. The gruesome witchcraft adds to the drama, and gives an insight into the lives of the common people. Indeed, a lot of the story’s interest lies in the sense it gives of fidelity to the society it depicts: it’s based on true events, even if one hopes it’s not all true.

Fascinating, scandalous, mostly authentic…

“Spellbound by Sibella” is the debut historical novel written by Paul B McNulty based on real events in late 18th century Ireland.

Mayor Noreen Heston launches “Spellbound by Sibella.”

Mayor Noreen Heston kindly agreed to launch my historical novel in Castlebar, Co Mayo where I grew up as a boy having been a past-pupil of both St Patrick’s National School and St Gerald’s College. Presiding over the launch were David and Kathryn Brennan of the Castle Book Shop on Wednesday, 20 November 2013.

Paul B McNulty, author of the historical novel “Spellbound by Sibella” is flanked by his wife, Treasa, on the left and by Mayor Noreen Heston, in the middle, who launched his book in the Castle Book Shop, Castlebar, Co Mayo on Wednesday, 20 November 2013.

 

Sibella Cottle and Miss Constable

Would you agree that Miss Constable by George Romney is a good representation of Sibella Cottle in my debut novel, Spellbound by Sibella asks paul.mcnulty@ucd.ie?

Miss Constable (1787) by George Romney, 1734-1802. (Original portrait in Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon)

Miss Constable (1787) by George Romney, 1734-1802.
(Original portrait in Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon)