Peace and Goodwill

By John Fewings

Summary

A husband seeking peace and goodwill at Christmas becomes enraged with his wife and ends up committing domestic violence. Black humour.

Characters

Newsreader (voice only)
Doris
Albert (her husband)

Script

(Throughout the sketch the carol 'O little town of Bethlehem' may be heard softly in the background. Followed, if necessary by 'Away in a manger. This could be pre-recorded.)
(DORIS, plain and middle-aged, is watching TV with half an eye as she gets on with addressing  Christmas cards, (or wrapping presents, or knitting.) Throughout the sketch the NEWSREADER is reading the news in clipped fashion.  When he is turned off, the NEWSREADER should finish abruptly.  When he is turned on again, he should commence with the next item of news on the list. As the sketch reaches its conclusion the NEWSREADER may need to skip several news-items in order to finish on the appropriate item.)

NEWSREADER:
Earlier today the Palestinian Liberation Organisation claimed responsibility for- the kidnap of a diplomat from outside the Swedish embassy yesterday morning.  Fears for the safety of Olaf Lauder have been expressed by Israeli government officials.  It was reported at the weekend that Mr. Lauder had made overtures towards the warring factions in Palestine in an effort to secure a temporary peace during the Christmas period for the United Nations peace-keeping forces.
In the face of mounting anger at Tuesdayís Oxford Street bomb atrocity, the I.R.A. have acknowledged that the explosive device was placed by one of their members, but have disclaimed full responsibility for the killing of nine people (including three children).  A spokesman claimed that they had given strict  instructions that their New Year bombing campaign was not to commence until the January sales had begun.

Police marksmen who shot the Beverley market-place murderer are facing mounting criticism that their response was hasty and insensitive.  Having first set fire to the local Post Office, Shane Buckler roamed the streets of the quiet country town for almost an hour in an orgy of wanton killing.  Armed with a rifle and two shotguns, Buckler was responsible for the deaths of seventeen people (including two policemen) before his reign of terror was brought to an end.

Prisoners at Sparksworth Prison, who have been holding hostage three of the prison officers since last Thursday, today renewed their threats that they were prepared to kill their hostages unless their demands were met.  Three of the prisoners involved in last weekís riots,  who were being treated for injuries sustained in the violence, are holding a young nurse as a hostage at Saint Hildaís Hospital where they were being treated.

According to reliable sources in Kaluchistan, Soviet troops, who had been gathering on the borders for several days, have now taken control of all government and communication systems in the major cities.  There are reports that the recently elected Peopleís Council has been deposed and that Kirajan Matela, the popularly acclaimed Peopleís Chairman has been killed.

In South Africa, a spokesman for the extremist New Nationalist Party has defended the policy statement issued last week which sought to provoke rioting and civil unrest. The spokesman claimed that such measures were the only means remaining whereby true nationalists could express their frustration at the Governmentís half-hearted attempts to re-impose a complete and comprehensive system of apartheid. He further claimed that the rioting of the past few days was perfectly justified and that the killings, though regrettable, were a necessary means to an end.

In an official statement from the White House, the President today denied any United States involvement in the recent coup in Central America.  The coup was achieved after, three days of fighting in the streets of the capital city, which left over six hundred dead.  The Marxist head of state is believed to have escaped to Cuba.

 * * * ADD FURTHER NEWS ITEMS IF NECESSARY

ALBERT: (enters during the third news item.  He is middle aged and ordinary.)  Whatís this?
DORIS: (slightly disinterested.)  I dunno. The news or something. Iím just waiting for the film to come on.
ALBERT: (listens to the next item, tutting, then becomes more and more annoyed by what he hears.)  Shootingís too good for 'im! They should string 'em up!  Animals!
ALBERT: (turns to DORIS)  Are you listening  to this? Bombings, murders, attacks.  Itís supposed to be the season of Peace and Good Will, ainít it?  People donít Want to hear about all that kind of thing.  Turn it off.
DORIS: (sees no reason to get upset.)  I wasnít really listening. I was just waiting for the film.
ALBERT: (gets more irate.)  Donít argue, woman. Turn it, off!
DORIS: (is getting annoyed.) Give over. I only want to watch the film.  Itís got that Roger Whatsisname in it.
ALBERT: (goes over to turn off the set himself.)  There! Iím having none of that sort of stuff in my house over Christmas.  Why they put it on in the first place beats me.  People donít want to hear bout the troubles of the world. Not at Christmas.
DORIS: (turns the TV back on.)  No. They just want to watch the film.
ALBERT:  Except that the filmís not on. Itís all riots and bombs and killings. Whatever happened to Peace and Good Will?
ALBERT: (switches the set off.)
DORIS: (is getting very annoyed.)  Well, mineís rapidly running out. If you donít stop messing about with that television set Iím going to lose my temper.
DORIS: (switches the TV on.)
ALBERT: (excited and angry) See! See! Thatís what I mean. You watch the stuff - you get to be like it.  Donít you go threatening me, woman! (almost shouting) Itís the season of Peace and Good Will!
ALBERT: (switches the set off. The argument is becoming more and more  heated. DORIS is now losing her temper with ALBERTís stubborn attitude.  She pushes past ALBERT to turn the TV on again.)
ALBERT: (is now well and truly over the top.)  So! Push me around, would you? Canít get your own way, eh?  So you get violent!  Weíll see about that.
(ALBERT is now pushing DORIS with increasing violence.  DORIS is responding in kind.  The volume of their exchanges is increasing.)
ALBERT:  Iíll not have violence in my own home!
DORIS: Nobodyís telling me what I can watch on the telly!
ALBERT: (loudly)  Thereís enough violence. We need more Peace and Good Will!
DORIS: (equally loudly) We need the film!
ALBERT: (shouting) Peace and Good Will!
DORIS: (also shouting)  The film!
(In a violent outburst, ALBERT knocks DORIS to the floor.  A loud thud is heard as she hits her head. DORIS lies still. ALBERT is a little hesitant as he crouches over DORISís still body.  ALBERT realises what he has done.  DORIS? DORIS? Oh my!?

NEWSREADER: (delivers his final  news-item) Earlier this evening, police in  Hull arrested ALBERT Stansmore for the murder of his wife, DORIS.  Itís believed the couple, who had been married for nineteen years, had been involved in a trivial domestic argument.  As police led him away, Mr. Stansmore was heard to mutter, 'It was peace and good will.'
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© John Fewings
All rights reserved
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged. In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed. He may be contacted at: 50 Howdale Road, Sutton, Hull HU8 9JZ, United Kingdom. Email: fewings@fewings.karoo.co.uk