Sephy’s House. The TV room.
SEPHY enters. She holds a TV remote. She introduces her mother and sister to us. There is an empty chair.
SEPHY (to audience). My parents’ country house. Seven bedrooms and five reception rooms for four people. What a waste. Four lonely peas rolling about in a cup. More a museum than a home – all cold floors and marble pillars and carved stonework. Mother: All she ever did was read glossy magazines and drink. Spend time in the gym or the pool and drink. Shop and drink. Every time Mother looked at me, I could feel her wishing that I was more like my scabby big sister, Minerva. I called her Minnie for short when I wanted to annoy her. I called her Minnie all the time. (She goes to the empty chair.) Dad? Dad had found someone else. Her name was Grace and after the next election he was going to make it officially known that he and Mum were no longer together. My family!
SEPHY flicks the TV on. The REPORTER enters.
REPORTER. Today, Ryan McGregor of Hugo Yard, Meadowview, was formally charged with Political Terrorism and seven counts of murder for the bombing outrage at the Dundale Shopping Centre. He has confessed to all charges. His family are said to be in hiding.
MINERVA. Blanker scumbag!
SEPHY flicks the TV off. The REPORTER exits.
SEPHY. Shut it, Minnie.
MINERVA. How many times do I have to tell you not to call me Minnie? My name is Minerva. M-I-N-E-R-V-A! MINERVA!
SEPHY. Yes, Minnie.
MINERVA. His whole Blanker family should swing, not just him.
JASMINE. Minerva, I won’t have language like that in this house, d’you hear? You don’t live in Meadowview.
MINERVA. Yes, Mother.
And to think we’ve had him here, in this very house. And Meggie actually used to be our nanny. If the press put two and two together, they’re going to have a field day – and Dad’s going to have kittens.
SEPHY. What do you mean?
MINERVA. Oh, Sephy, use your brain. If Ryan McGregor gets off, Dad will be accused of favouritism and protecting his own and all sorts, whether or not it has anything to do with him. And you haven’t helped things by being his son’s little lovebird.
SEPHY. Say what you like, I know those deaths weren’t down to Callum’s dad.
MINERVA. Nonsense. He’s confessed, hasn’t he?
SEPHY. Who knows what they did to get that confession out of him.
MINERVA. Get the message, dur-brain. He’s a terrorist, end of!
SEPHY. Shut it, Minnie.
MINERVA. Your boyfriend’s family are terrorists. Not a very good judge of character, are we?
SEPHY. Mother, they won’t really hang him, will they?
JASMINE. If they prove he intended to kill those people, yes.
SEPHY. But I know he didn’t, Mum. I know him. He’s not capable of it.
MINERVA. And Callum goes to our school. Dad’s going to get it in the neck for that as well.
SEPHY. Callum has absolutely nothing to do with this.
MINERVA. An apple never falls far from the tree.
SEPHY. What a pile of –
SEPHY. Even if Ryan McGregor is found guilty – which I don’t believe for one second – that doesn’t mean that Callum –
JASMINE. Oh, Persephone. Grow up. You’re fifteen now. It’s about time you stopped behaving like a child!
JASMINE goes out with her drink.
SEPHY. Who put a bee in her knickers?
MINERVA. You haven’t a clue about the real world, have you?
SEPHY. Congratulations. You sound just like Mother.
MINERVA goes to leave.
Take a hike, dog breath.
Don’t go, Minerva.
MINERVA stops. She turns to SEPHY.
SEPHY. Do you ever feel lonely?
MINERVA. Missing your Blanker boyfriend, are you?
SEPHY. Please, Minerva. Don’t be like that.
Pause. MINERVA sits down.
I wish Dad was here. He doesn’t give a damn about us.
MINERVA. That’s not true. Dad cares in his own way.
SEPHY. Just not as much as he cares about his political career.
MINERVA. It’s not easy for him, with Mum’s drinking.
SEPHY. Do you think he’ll ever come back?
MINERVA. Maybe if Mum changes. Gives up the booze.
SEPHY. Well, that’s that then.
What are we going to do?
MINERVA. What can we do?
SEPHY. The drinking’s getting worse.
MINERVA. She’s just smoothing over some of the rough edges.
SEPHY. Any smoother and she’s going to slip over and break her neck.
MINERVA. Sephy, if she doesn’t want to be helped then there’s nothing we can do.
SEPHY. I miss her. The person she used to be.
MINERVA. We all miss her, but this is the way things are. We just have to deal with it.
SEPHY (to audience). Maybe Minnie was right. Things are the way they are and one person would never make a difference to a ruddy thing.
Mr Stanhope’s Office.
CALLUM (to audience). Mum and I were shown into Mr Stanhope’s plush office. His secretary had told Mum it was ‘urgent’ and ‘about the case’, but Mum and I both had the same question – ‘What case?’ The last time we’d seen Mr Stanhope, which was only three days ago, he’s told us quite categorically that he couldn’t take Dad on.
MR STANHOPE. Mrs McGregor, Callum, please take a seat.
MEGGIE. You have some news? Are they going to let Ryan go?
MR STANHOPE. I’m afraid not. Your husband still insists that he’s guilty.
CALLUM. He’s not. He only confessed because the police threatened to imprison the lot of us. And he’s covering. Dad didn’t even plant that bomb. We know who did.
MR STANHOPE. I’ve been trying to get in touch with you at your home address, but there’s been no reply.
MEGGIE. We’re staying with my sister, Charlotte, on the other side of Meadowview.
MR STANHOPE. You’ve been get...