John Finnemore's Double Acts
1. A Flock of Tigers
Set on a train in 1934, Edmund is alone in a train compartment before Dolorosa enters to disturb the peace, wanting to start a conversation. Edmund being much more reserved attempts to prevent her rambling by telling her he is tired, but unfortunately he still has to tell her his journey to visit his son who attends a boarding school. Dolorosa’s continued probing finds that Edmund is unable to use his imagination having never been taught as a child and struggles to bond with his son Anthony. Dolorosa tries to get him to improve his pretending skills by imagining sheep in a field. Moving on, the field becomes full of tigers as Edmund struggles, while Dolorosa presses on with her wild tales. Eventually Edmund gets into the swing of things and manages to concoct a fantastical tale, with Dolorosa convincing him that he will now be able to enjoy his time with his son more readily. As they arrive into Oxford, Dolorosa tells him that she is a psychoanalyst and will be giving a talk that evening with which the events on the train will be central.
In the managers office of Willard & Son Bath Suppliers, manager Adele is obstinate towards new underline Kerry. Kerry is left confused while trying to find out what her new job entails, but is left to feel very much a subordinate. Over the weeks, Adele continues to be difficult, with things coming to a head when Kerry requests Adele submit some sales figures for their senior manager who responds by quoting Sun Tzu and the Art of War. Adele goes on to show Kerry an appraisal she has written for ‘Useless Joel’ which is less than favourable. This causes problems the following day when Joel trashes Adele’s office and resigns having seen the appraisal, taking company sales data with him to a competitor. Several months pass and Kerry has been promoted to Liaison Manager which leads to Adele becoming increasingly hostile. More sales leads go missing, which Adele soon readily admits to, but manages to mess up when trying to pin the blame on someone else. Kerry takes the advantage by revealing she has been scheming to rise through the company ranks and has been ‘wearing a wire’ and recording her and Adele’s conversations.
Recently divorced Joel has been fired from his job at the bath company, and returns home to find his house being burgled by older gentleman Henry. Stunned at a middle-class man stealing his belongings, he is delayed from calling the police as Henry reveals a number of details about how he came to choose Joel’s house including living opposite a cafe, being alone, and having a full-time job. Joel still attempts to call the police, but Henry again tries to persuade him not to saying it will take lots of Joel’s time up, and they may discover the contents of a box hidden in his drawers. Henry goes on to talk about his life working in insurance, before transferring his skills to burglary and him being a widower who needed a hobby before slipping a detail which reveals previous lies. About to ring for help, Joel soon realises he has been painted into a corner by Henry, as the police may find it suspicious that it took so long for Joel to call them. Henry has calculated a plan which puts Joel in a corner, before punching himself on the nose. Bargaining with Joel, Henry takes the suitcase and leaves with Joel realising he wasn’t a particularly nice man.
4. The Goliath Window
Set in 1820 in St Anne’s church in the village of Mayton Chennett, Mark has removed his clothes in preparation for his modelling for a stained glass window of David and Goliath. Luke convinces Mark to get dressed again as he does not need him naked to complete the work, and Mark wishes to simply get on with the modelling. Questioning where Luke’s apparatus is, Luke states he is only producing the drawing and not actually completing the staining process at this time. Mark soon launches into a tale about his lost arm while onboard a ship. Beginning the drawing, Luke attempts to progress while Mark struggles to maintain his posture. Stopping for a drink, Luke tells about how he became talented at drawing and joined the church. Luke makes reference to them being brothers, however Mark becomes angrier as he does not wish to discuss the situation. Getting back to the modelling, Luke suggests drawing Mark as David next however Mark does not want to be represented as the smaller man. Mark accidentally lets slip he was kicked out of the family through shame for becoming a sailor, though he did send letters which were never received by Luke. As the relationship improves, Luke considers them reconciled and shows where the stained glass window will go before beginning to smash the church windows.
5. English for Pony-Lovers
In a guest house in a German town, Elke waits for Lorna who is late to give her an English lesson. The conversation starts with confusion, before Lorna orders a Rum and Coke and attempts to have Elke pay for her dinner. Lorna also reveals her prices which are particularly high. As the lesson begins, Lorna’s lack of English-language knowledge soon becomes apparent. Elke also questions some phrases from fan-fiction about My Little Pony, written by her daughter Claudia, in which the horses are lesbian. She also talks about their relationship which is distant with Elke resorting to reading the fan-fiction on the internet and communicating with her own daughter through an altar-ego. As the pair are talking, Lorna reveals she is actually eighteen and has lied about her age repeatedly. Her story is that she was to take a gap year to Malawi, but ended up in Germany having failed her university application and not wanting to return home after not being able to face going to Malawi. Stating her plan is to wait until she was due to return, head to a tanning shop, and then use the story to get into university next year. Elke says that using her real story as that of a migrant worker would be better, and would make her stand out compared to other applicants. Elke also vows to stop using her altar-ego.
6. Hot Desk
At the reception of an office of Willard & Son Bath Suppliers, a security guard waits for the receptionist to arrive. When she does, the two exchange pleasantries before he leaves. The two make small talk on each shift change, and get to know each other through these small exchanges of dialogue. The security guard gets to know her as Sarah when her name is actually Griselda, but she is still unsure of his and feels uncomfortable about asking as well as correcting him. She enacts a plan to find out his name via other means, and discovers it is Barnaby. Barnaby begins to try to work up the courage to ask her out during their small switch-overs, though Sarah also misses her chances to reciprocate. She gets him a birthday present and discovers his first name is Mike, and Barnaby is his surname. Griselda also reveals her real name as the two try to come to terms with the new names. The relationship between the pair fluctuates up and down, before they get into an argument about not having gone on a date despite both wanting to. As the argument continues, they progress to asking each other out as Mike reveals he has made a present for her.
1. The Queen’s Speech
Queen Victoria receives a visitor, Maybel, the wife of Alfred Nesbit who can not make an appointment with the queen due to being unwell. She has brought a machine with her which can record spoken word for reproduction on wax cylinders. Maybel goes on to showcase the machine which Queen Victoria compares to a baby elephant. With the queen initially unimpressed, Maybel plays a recording of the prime minister at a faster speed, causing his voice to become high-pitched, which makes the queen laugh. She still objects however to her voice being recorded. Maybel eventually reveals that she is the inventor of the machine and not her husband, at which point Victoria relents, after some continued massaging of her ego. Victoria goes on to record some Hindustani, which she is learning, and suggests the machine would aid her. When Victoria suggests that she will accept the machine as a gift, the pair argue about the circumstances of constructing more in exchange for destroying the recording. The queen eventually records some nonsensical words, though Maybel destroys the wax cylinder as per the agreement. Heading out, Maybel reveals she is actually a widow which leaves the queen speechless after hearing Maybel's dead husbands voice, at which point she agrees to a recording of her voice.
2. The Mercy Dash
Sue, a talktative elderly lady, parks in Wimborne on her way to the shops. Malcolm approaches her to ask for money to allow him to travel to Winchester to visit a family member in hospital. Asking for £14, Sue contemplates before offering £40 as £14 wouldn't be enough. She also offers her name and address so the money can be returned. She checks on her phone and discovers that a rail replacement bus is operating to Winchester, and offers £80 for a taxi instead. Heading to the cash machine in the car with Malcolm, Sue instead decides to drive Malcolm to Winchester herself. Malcolm initially protests, but they soon begin talking with Sue querying certain aspects of his tale which involves his daughter being injured in a fall from a horse. Heading through the back roads as Sue can't drive on the motorway, they have to contend with a ford though Malcolm helps her through it. Continuing on, he also manages to persuade her to give the motorway a chance as the pair begin to bond. Sue drops Malcolm at the hospital, and questions how he will get back to Wimborne. She admits that she knew his story was suspect, and that she went along with it for fun.
3. Rebel Alliance
At a wedding reception, Eileen and Lizzie are seated at a rear table next to the toilets. The marriage is between Jo and Tess, with Eileen being Tess' mother. Lizzie begins to settling in to drink copious amounts of wine and revealing she is former partner of Jo's. Jo's mother, Yvonne, does not approve of Lizzie attending the wedding as the two have never got along. Lizzie questions why Eileen has been seated at the back, and suggests that Yvonne is the cause. Suggesting that they form a "rebel alliance", she discovers that Eileen has been forced to do a reading selected by Yvonne rather than be able to give a speech. Dinner arrives, and fish is served, despite Eileen not liking fish, also due to Yvonne. Lizzie convinces Eileen to write a speech, and in which discovers she is married to Dennis who wouldn't attend because he didn't agree with a lesbian marriage, which was part of a family argument. As Eileen prepares to give her speech, Lizzie rips it up and tells her it should come from her heart. Eileen however falters, resulting in Lizzie jumping up and stepping in for her. However, as Lizzie also struggles for words, Eileen steps up and admits to everyone her husband was wrong.
4. Penguin Diplomacy
Just after the second world war, an official of the British empire named George Bunning arrives on a small island chain in the south Atlantic. He begins hammering a pole into the ground, when a man named Søndergaard asks him about his visit to Denmark. Søndergaard reveals he is a Danish official who is in charge of the larger island and also studies the birds who live there. The men end up in a back-and-forth about ownership of two islands, but begin to bond over chess and penguins. Subsequent visits have the two negotiating the claim of the island in a more lax manner, with both swapping gifts including a chess set made from rock from the smallest island. When Bunning brings a letter to Søndergaard stating that the British have ceded their claim to the island, Søndergaard works out that the tactic is a ruse, and refuses to sign. Bunning reveals that he had a chess set gift evaluated which turned out to be made of phosphorite, and the British are planning to start a mining operation on the smaller island. However, to do so would cede the claim on the largest island leaving both lands back in limbo.
5. Here’s What We Do
Old school friend, Pidge returns to Gavin's house from Leeds University to ask him whether he will go to Cambridge with him. After Gavin suggests that looking after his nan's spider plant takes priority, the two take the plant on the bus with them to Clare College. Pidge explains that they are participating in a scavenger hunt which requires them to retrieve a specific dog collar, though he later admits he sent it to a girl from the university and regrets it. Resorting to climbing over a gate, the pair look for the mail pigeon holes. Managing to find the package, the pair retreat to the pub but forget the plant. Breaking back into the building, the pair get locked in and have to jump out of a window, but get spotted. Pidge jumps into the river, while Gavin talks to the professor who lets him go after he makes up a plausible story. With their mission a success, Pidge admits he put the dog collar back in the pigeon hole.
6. The Wroxton Box
It is 1962 at Wroxton station signal box, signal master Percy is awaiting his clerk Alec who is late. When Alec arrives, he finds that Percy has dyed his moustache, to which Percy insists he will not be mocked. As the day begins, Percy performs his job with absolute professionalism, while Alec contrasts with having a little fun where possible including playing jokes on Percy. In a lull, Percy reads out poems he has written. He also mentions he has a trip to Oxford coming up to read some poems, though Alec suspects it is a prank by other railway workers. Percy questions whether his poems are any good, and Alec has to admit that they are bad even though he enjoys them. Percy decides to reveal his joke that he was pulling his leg and that he wasn't going to read any poems, and that his moustache was also part of the scheme.