Marreu and the Chocolate Policeman
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Marreu and the Chocolate Policeman

Detective Comedy; machinations, mayhem and muddle in 1930s England country house.

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Marreu and the Chocolate Policeman

Detective Comedy; machinations, mayhem and muddle in 1930s England country house.


Author:    Rob Farrow

Synopsis:

    Marreau and the Chocolate Policeman is best described as a detective comedy. There is a complex and mysterious case to be solved, but there are constant humorous diversions which serve to both lighten and complicate the story.
    Marreau, the famous continental private detective – precisely where in Europe he is from is open to conjecture – along with his secretary, Gwendolyn and friend Simpson are staying at the country estate of Lady Eustace. They have been invited there for a weekend shoot which has passed off without incident. Just after midnight, a shot rings out and we are soon informed that Lady Eustace is lying dead in the gun-room.
    Marreau, assisted by Gwendolyn, and hampered by the well-meaning Simpson, attempt to discover who has murdered her – if indeed she was murdered. It quickly transpires that virtually everyone had a motive for killing her. One individual in particular seems a likely suspect, until he himself is the next victim, meeting his end in a most unusual manner! False clues and dark secrets abound as the case unfolds as much by luck as by judgment. In a stunning denouement all is revealed and Marreau proudly exclaims his brilliance.

Marreu and the Chocolate Policeman

Marreau

and 

the

Chocolate Policeman

A detective comedy by Robert Farrow in two acts.  (c) R.Farrow 1990/91 All rights reserved.

    

The original Marreau adventure.  4th Edition.

G-rating edition (very minor alterations)

FIRST PERFORMANCE : MARSWORTH Village Hall : Marsworth, Tring, Herts. : 24th April 1991

Deposited with the British Library, Manuscripts department : Playscript No. 6318

MARREAU AND THE CHOCOLATE POLICEMAN

 Copyright 1990/91 

by Rob Farrow

All Rights Reserved

CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that MARREAU AND THE CHOCOLATE POLICEMAN is subject to a royalty.  It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, the British Commonwealth, including Canada, and all other countries of the Copyright Union.  All rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, and the rights of translation into foreign language are strictly reserved. 

The amateur live stage performance rights to MARREAU AND THE CHOCOLATE POLICEMAN are controlled exclusively by Drama Source and royalty arrangements and licenses must be secured well in advance of presentation.  PLEASE NOTE that amateur royalty fees are set upon application in accordance with your producing circumstances.  When applying for a royalty quotation and license please give us the number of performances intended and dates of production.  Royalties are payable one week before the opening performance of the play to Drama Source Co., 1588 E. 361 N., St. Anthony, Idaho 83445, unless other arrangements are made. 

Royalty of the required amount must be paid whether the play is presented for charity or gain, and whether or not admission is charged.  For all other rights than those stipulated above, apply to Drama Source Company, 1588 E. 361 N. St. Anthony, Idaho 83445.

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Dramatis Personae

Marreau            The famous continental detective

Gwendolyn          His secretary

Simpson            His friend

Bertie            Eldest son of Lady Eustace

Edward            Second son of Lady Eustace

Isabel            Edward’s wife

Lady Jane          Daughter of Lady Eustace

Major Trubolt      Cousin of the Eustaces & family friend

Angela            His wife

Dr. Protheroe      The family doctor

Cummings          The Butler

Mrs. Farley        The Cook

Vincent            The Valet

Daisy              The Maid

Sgt. Farmer        A country policeman

Time Setting: 

Set in the 1930’s in an English country house.

Stage Layout

  Single set, parlor style setting. 


Marreau and the Chocolate Policeman

 

Act I  Scene 1                                         

{A room in a country house, period sometime between 1920 and 1940.  The famous continental detective – Marreau – is sitting reading his paper.  His friend, Simpson, is idly peering through the window.  His secretary, Gwendolyn Bayne, is going through some letters at the table.  There is also a sofa, clock and general furnishings.  Marreau speaks with an appalling French accent.  There are a few moments of silence, broken occasionally by the rustle of Marreau’s paper.}

Simpson:  Dashed strange, don’t you think?

Marreau:  {lifting head from newspaper} What? What are you talking about now, Simpson?

Simpson:  Lemmings.

Marreau:  Lemmings?

Simpson:  Yes.  The way they jump off cliffs for no apparent reason.  Dashed weird, don’t you think?

Marreau:  It is a mite peculiar, I’ll give you that.

Simpson:  I suppose they have got a reason. Trying to fly or something, I should imagine.

Gwendolyn: {with heavy sarcasm} Probably been talking to you, more like.

Simpson:  What? Oh yes I see – very witty. 

Gwendolyn:  Urm.

Simpson:  You wouldn’t be much good as a lemming, would you, Marreau?

Marreau:  I’m sorry, I do not catch your slide.

Simpson:  Catch my what?

Gwendolyn:  I think he means drift. He doesn’t catch your drift.

Marreau:  Indeed – thank-you, my dear. I do not catch your drift.

Simpson:  Well I mean, not much call for a private investigator, if everyone commits suicide anyway.  I mean, murdering a lemming would be sort-of doing it a favour really. Saving it some time. Not having to run all that way to the cliff.

Marreau:  Quite. However, if I were a lemming I think I would probably be more suited to Social Work – or a doctor perhaps – specialising in broken bones.

Gwendolyn:  Good grief  – I’ve heard some pretty idiotic conversations before. But “”What I’d do if I were a lemming”” has got to take first prize. Anyway, Marreau, I was somewhat surprised at your taking up Lady Eustace’s invitation for a shooting weekend. Especially as you can’t shoot.

Marreau:  Marreau is an excellent shot.

Gwendolyn:  If I were a pheasant I’d have to agree. I’d much rather have you shooting at me than – for example – someone who keeps his eyes open when he shoots!

Marreau:  You are well aware, my dear, that I disapprove of murder. And to me the – how you say – bagging of defenceless galliformes falls into that category. I miss on purpose.

{A SHOT IS HEARD OFFSTAGE}

Marreau:  What was that?

Simpson:   Sounded like a shot to me.

Marreau:  That was what was known as a rhetorical question.

Simpson:   Still sounded like a shot to me.

Gwendolyn:  He meant that he knew it was a – Oh, what’s the point!

Marreau:  Precisely. Of course it was a shot, and from the report, I would say that it was a twelve-bore shotgun, using Eley Alphamax cartridges, fired from a Grembling’s over & under mach 37 B.

Simpson:   Gosh, Marreau! How can you be so precise?

Marreau:   Experience, pure experience. And intelligence, of course. Self-denial of common comforts. The selfless study of man’s methods of killing. A knowledge of shotguns since 1842. The ability to differentiate the smell of 196 types of gunpowder, and the memorising of the report volumes of the worlds 835 most popular sporting guns.

Simpson:   Wow!

Gwendolyn:  Don’t you think we ought to go and see who’s shot what?

Simpson:   Oh, probably just a late pheasant.

Gwendolyn:  Very late, I’d say. It has gone midnight.

Simpson:   Crikey, the chap must have pretty keen eyesight!

Gwendolyn:  Have you got a brain?

Marreau:  Enough of this banter. Marreau will investigate.

{Cummings, the Butler enters – distraught}

Cummings:  The most dreadful thing – the most dreadful, dreadful thing.

Marreau:  Out with it, Cummings.

Cummings:  Lady Eustace – she’s been accidentally shot!

Marreau:  Shot!

Gwendolyn:  What?

Simpson:   Not ….?

Cummings:  With her revolver.

Marreu and Simpson:    Revolver!

Gwendolyn:  Better make it 836 popular guns Marreau.

Marreau:  Hmph. Is she dead?

Cummings:  Yes – very.

Gwendolyn:  {waspishly} I wasn’t aware there were degrees of death! Sure she isn’t just slightly dead?

Cummings:  Oh no! She’s very dead indeed.

Marreau:  How did it happen?

Cummings:  Well she appears to have been cleaning her revolver, when she accidentally shot herself – up the nose.

Gwendolyn:  Up the nose?

Cummings:  Yes it would seem that the bullet went straight up her left nostril.  Not a pretty sight!

Gwendolyn:  Yuk. 

      {Simpson is sick behind the aspidistra}

Marreau:  Marreau will investigate. I will go and view the body.

Cummings:  No need, they’re dragging her in here now.

Marreau:  No! No!! NO!!! Do not move the body –  

{Marreau dashes offstage, followed by Cummings.  There is a short pause.}

Gwendolyn:  Oh stop being sick, Simpson.

Simpson:   Sorry Gwend. but I’ve this terribly weak – 

{Simpson dives behind aspidistra again.  Marreau re-enters, accompanied by Dr. Protheroe, Major Trubolt, with his wife Angela, and Isabel, who is sobbing buckets.}

Major Trubolt:  Ghastly business.

Dr. Protheroe:  Ghastly.

Angela:  Not at all nice.

Isabel:  {Sob}

Angela:  Pull yourself together, Isabel! 

{Angela slaps Isabel across her face.  Isabel cries even louder.  Simpson dives behind aspidistra again.   Another batch of people enter – Cummings with the cook, Mrs. Farley who is comforting the sobbing maid, Daisy, followed by Vincent the Valet.   After them come Bertie, Edward, and Lady Jane.  All characters cluster around Marreau}

Marreau:  Out! Out!! OUT!!! Marreau cannot investigate when the place is full of people. I need room to exercise my little red cells.

{All those who have just entered leave, except Marreau, Simpson & Gwendolyn.}

Simpson:   Grey, Marreau.

Marreau:  What?

Simpson:   Little grey cells, not red.

Marreau:  Simpson, when you have seen as many brains as I have, you will agree that the little cells are definitely red.

Simpson:   But ….

Gwendolyn:  Don’t bother Simpson.  You should know by now that Monsieur Marreau is always right.  Well, Marreau – who killed her, then?

Marreau:  Killed? Oh you are suggesting that Lady Eustace’s death was not an accident.

Gwendolyn:  Come on, Marreau. You know that Lady Eustace is – was the President of the British Grouse Slayers Association, and abhorred all handguns, considering the shotgun to be the only decent weapon with which to despatch our fellow creatures. Why on earth should she be cleaning a revolver?

Simpson:   Perhaps she was cleaning it for a friend.

Gwendolyn:  Yes, Simpson. Very likely.

Marreau:  Indeed, my dear Gwendolyn. You have followed my train of thought precisely.  Lady Eustace was murdered – by somebody who owns – A REVOLVER!

Gwendolyn:  Brilliant, Marreau.  I don’t know how you do it.

Marreau:   Experience my dear Gwendolyn. Simply experience. That and……

Gwendolyn:  Yes, you’ve told us all that once already.

Simpson:   Oh let him go on. I think he’s dashed clever.

Gwendolyn:  You would. Well how about it, Marreau? Who d’you reckon did it?

Marreau:   Marreau does not jump to conclusions. She may have been cleaning it for a friend.

Simpson:   I said that!

Gwendolyn:  I give up! Look – let’s examine the facts, Lady Eustace is shot at very close range with a revolver – a weapon she despises, and yet appears to have been cleaning.  The Butler is not at all surprised to find her in possession of said revolv…

Marreau:   {Cutting in} That is it! Of course! The Butler did it!

Gwendolyn:  Hold on, Marreau. Don’t you think we’d better ask him a few questions first?

Marreau:   Yes, I will soon get him to admit that he is the murderer. The man has not yet been born who can outwit Hemlock Marreau.

Gwendolyn:  {under her breath} Man, possibly not – Woman ……

Marreau:   Simpson, go and fetch the rascal.

{Simpson exits}

Gwendolyn:  I hope you’ll be tactful.

Marreau:   Marreau is the embodiment of tact. Discretion is my watchword.

{Simpson re-enters with Cummings}

Cummings:  How can I help you, sir.

Marreau:   You are perhaps not aware that I am Marreau…

Simpson:   The great French detective.

Gwendolyn:  Belgian.

Marreau:   Luxembourg, actually.

Cummings:  Yes sir, I have followed your cases with interest.

Marreau:   You are no doubt aware then, that I always find the guilty party, no matter how cleverly they attempt to cover their tracks.

Cummings:  {nervously} Yes Sir.

Marreau:   Why did you kill Lady Eustace?

Gwendolyn:  {under her breath} Very tactful!

Cummings:  What?!  I didn’t!

Marreau:   Yes you did. No point denying it. You shot her. Take him away Simpson.

{Simpson moves to grab Cummings}

Cummings:  But I was nowhere near her when she was shot.

Marreau:   {Sing-song voice} Don’t believe you! 

{Simpson tries to drag the struggling Cummings offstage.}

Gwendolyn:  Hold on Marreau.  Simpson put him down.  Could I ask a few questions?

Marreau:   By all means – but it’s pointless. He’s as guilty as….. 

{Simpson releases Cummings.}

Gwendolyn:  Cummings, will you please explain what you were doing when Lady Eustace was shot?

Cummings:  I was in the kitchen helping Mrs. Farley shell the peas…..

Marreau:   Very likely.

Cummings:  When all of a sudden we heard this shot. Mrs. Farley said, “”What was that?””, and I said, “”Sounded like a shot to me””, and then she said something about a rhetorical question, and said I’d better go and see what was going on.

Gwendolyn:  Is it usual for you and Mrs. Farley to shell peas together at midnight?

Cummings:  Er –  well not usual, exactly, but we thought it would save some time in the morning.

Gwendolyn:  I see. What did you do next?

Cummings:  Well I dashed upstairs, and saw Daisy who was looking a bit dazed, and asked her if she’d heard the shot. She said she thought it had come from the gunroom.

Simpson:   Good place for a shot to come from! What! Ha ha!

Gwendolyn:  Shut up Simpson.  Carry on Cummings.

Cummings:  So I ran to the gunroom and there was Lady Eustace looking not at all well.

Gwendolyn:  Not well?

Cummings:  Well – dead really. Protheroe was examining her. She’d been shot with her revolver. 

Gwendolyn:  {with emphasis} HER revolver?

Cummings:  Yes. Why?

Gwendolyn:  It is a well-known fact that Lady Eustace considered revolvers to be the work of the Devil. Well? Can you explain?

Cummings:  Ah! Yes, I’d forgotten that – dash it!

Marreau:   So – I have found the flaw in your alibi.

Gwendolyn:  You’d forgotten it. How long have you worked for Lady Eustace?

Cummings:  Forty-two years.  I know it sounds a bit unlikely  for me to forget, but it was the heat of the moment. I just jumped to the wrong conclusion. What with all that gun cleaning equipment round her, and her holding the gun. I just put two and two together.

Gwendolyn:  So what do you think now?

Cummings:  I suppose someone shot her.

Marreau:   And that someone was you!

Cummings:  No. Mrs. Farley will back me up.

Gwendolyn:  We will question Mrs. Farley later. Meanwhile you mustn’t speak to her, or anyone else, about this matter. Go and do something in the Billiard Room. Go with him, Simpson, and then go and get Mrs. Farley.

{Simpson and Cummings exit}

Marreau:   Open and shut case, really. No doubt about it.

Gwendolyn:  Oh, yes? Who did it then?

Marreau:   Well, Cummings, of course. Shelling peas indeed! You don’t honestly think that they’d be shelling peas in the middle of night – do you?

Gwendolyn:  Of course they weren’t.

Marreau:   So he was shooting her.

Gwendolyn:  {laughs} Lady Eustace? Not a chance.

Marreau:   But…

{Simpson re-enters with Mrs. Farley}

Gwendolyn:  Ah, Mrs. Farley.  Do sit down.

Marreau:   I am Hemlock Marreau

Mrs. Farley:  The great Belgian detective?

Gwendolyn:  Luxembourg.

Marreau:   French, actually.

Gwendolyn:  What were you doing when you heard the shot?

Mrs. Farley:  I was preparing carrots with Mr. Cummings.

Marreau:   {going somewhat crazy} Aha, now it is carrots. First it was peas, now it’s carrots, next it’ll be turnips, and we’ll probably finish off with a couple of aubergines. Have you any other surprise vegetables which you intend to spring on us? Eh. Come-on.  You cannot fool Marreau. Were you preparing any other vegetables for our delectation tomorrow?

Mrs. Farley:  {quaveringly} Yes sir.

Marreau:   Aha now we’re getting to it. Well?

Mrs. Farley:  Marrow.

Marreau:   Yes! What? Come on – don’t hide anything it’s not worth it. What was this secretive vegetable….

Mrs. Farley:  Marrow, that was the other vegetable.

Marreau:   {loosing all control} WHAT WAS!!

Gwendolyn:  Calm down Hemlock, the other vegetable was Marrow, you know long thick green thing. Rather nice stuffed with mincemeat, or served in cubes in an onion sauce.

Marreau:   Ah. Sacre Bleu. Your stupid English Language. Fancy naming a vegetable after a great detective. Huh!

Simpson:   I think the vegetable came first, Marreau.

Gwendolyn:  Are you married, Mrs. Farley? 

Mrs. Farley:  I’m a widow.

Gwendolyn:  And Mr. Cummings, is he married?

Mrs. Farley:  No.

Gwendolyn:  So there’s no reason to hide the fact that you two are having an affair.

Mrs. Farley:  No, but.. Oh, I didn’t. Oh, I shouldn’t have… 

Marreau:   But you did. So you are covering for Cummings with this imbecile story about the peas.

Mrs. Farley:  Peas?       

Gwendolyn:  Carrots.

Mrs. Farley:  Oh, did he say peas? I told him to say carrots. 

Marreau:   Well if that is not an admission of guilt I don’t know what is. So you killed Lady Eustace, and have persuaded your lover, Cummings, to say he was shelling carrots with you – at midnight.

Mrs. Farley:  No. Kill Lady Eustace, when our livelihoods depended on the old bag staying alive as long as possible!

Simpson:   “The old bag””? I say, that’s not a very nice way to talk about the deceased.

Gwendolyn:  Why do you say that your livelihoods depended on her staying alive?

Mrs. Farley:  Well, young Bertie stands to inherit the estate, and he has never liked either Clarence or myself.

Marreau:   Clarence?

Mrs. Farley:  Mr. Cummings. No, he’s never liked us ever since we washed his mouth out  with soap and water for calling Mr. Cummings an old  …..

Gwendolyn:  {Cuts in} I see. So in fact, neither of you had any motive for killing Lady Eustace, and in fact stood to lose by her death. 

Marreau:   So why did you make up the preposterous story about the peas?

Gwendolyn:  I’ll explain that to you later, Marreau. Mrs. Farley, did anyone, in your opinion, hold a grudge against her ladyship? Did anyone have a motive for killing her?

Mrs. Farley:  I’d say they did.

Marreau:   Who? Come-on! None of this loyalty-to-the-family business. Who had reason enough to – how you say – bump her off.

Mrs. Farley:  All of them.

Marreu and Simpson:  What?

Mrs. Farley:  Oh yes. They all hated the old bag, but didn’t dare cross her in case they got missed out of the will. But she just kept on hangin’ on. The amount of times she avoided being blasted – accidentally like – when out on the shoots was legendary. Dr. Protheroe used to call her “”The old cat”” coz she’d got so many lives.

Marreau:   Ah, but there is someone who is above suspicion – Dr. Protheroe. He couldn’t stand to gain from the will – and had saved her life on a couple of occasions, or so I believe.

Mrs. Farley:  Only coz she ‘ad to. Would ‘ave looked a bit fishy if she’d died of  buckshot wounds to the bum – not usually fatal, you know! No, she had something on ‘im as well. Don’t know what it was, but she’d got summat on ‘im.

Marreau:   What about the others? Surely they didn’t all have motives?

Mrs. Farley:  Ev’ryone of ’em. Even little Jimmy.

Simpson:   Little Jimmy? But he’s only thirteen. What possible motive could a thirteen-year-old boy have for killing his grandmother?

Mrs. Farley:  She strangled his pet hamster for one thing.

Gwendolyn:  Oh, poor little Jimmy.

Marreau:   Poor little ‘amster! Why did she do that?

Mrs. Farley:  Coz. ‘is exercise wheel was making too much noise. And she used ‘is rabbit for target practice.

Marreau:   The monster. I am beginning to feel some sympathy for the murderer, especially if it was little Jimmy.

Gwendolyn:  Yes, but as it is highly unlikely that little Jimmy did in fact do the murder – especially as he’s in Switzerland at the moment.  I think it might be more useful to find out the more likely candidates.

Mrs. Farley:  {happy to drop everybody in it} Well as I said; Bertie stands to inherit the estate. Edward his younger brother will get MacTallach Castle in Scotland, Lady Jane will be free to marry her mystery lover…

Simpson:   Hold on a moment. Who is this mystery lover?

Mrs. Farley:  Well, if I knew that it wouldn’t be a mystery.  {to Gwendolyn} Is he a bit thick?

Gwendolyn:  A lot, actually. Carry on, Mrs. Farley.

Mrs. Farley:  Major Trubolt, her nephew, will probably get a good bit of money, which considering his gambling debts, could come in very useful. 

Simpson:   I say, I was in the army with Trubolt. The most upright upstanding character I’ve ever met. I never knew him to gamble, and he certainly wouldn’t kill anyone – well, not without giving them a sporting chance to get him first. 

Gwendolyn:  How on earth did you get on in the army with your iffy stomach?

Simpson:   I used to carry a lot of bicarb.

Marreau:   We are straying from the subject. The little red cells are working overtime.  Do not clutter my brain with inconsequentialities, or I  am liable to start thinking that bicarbonate of soda plays a crucial role in this murder.

Gwendolyn:  You’re right Marreau. We are wasting time.  Somebody in this house murdered Lady Eustace, and … by the way, the police are taking their time getting here.

Simpson:   Police?

Gwendolyn:  Yes, you know, tall men with pointy hats and dark blue suits.

Simpson: 

Marreu and the Chocolate Policeman

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