Taking Steps: Synopsis

Cast: 4 male / 2 female
Running time (approximate): 2 hours - not including the interval
Acting edition: Published by Samuel French

Taking Steps is set on a three floor building, with the attic, master bedroom and living room superimposed on one another.

Act 1
At The Pines, a reputedly haunted house and former brothel, Elizabeth is planning on leaving her husband Roland. She has called on her brother, Mark, to comfort Roland when he finds her farewell note. However Mark, a man whose monotone sends people to sleep, is preoccupied with the fact his fiancée, who jilted him at the altar, has been picked up by the police, apparently for soliciting. He leaves The Pines to pick Kitty up.

Roland is hoping to buy The Pines from a local builder, Bainbridge, and Tristram, a none-too-bright and extremely nervous solicitor, arrives to complete the sale. Roland, a man who has made his fortunes in buckets and is not averse to a spot of social drinking, arrives home drunk. He meets Tristram and, joined by Bainbridge, they tour the house. Mark returns with Kitty and seeing Elizabeth’s note is still unread, presumes Roland hasn’t arrived back home. Kitty, neurotic and painfully shy, is left to sleep in the spare room in the attic, while Mark takes Elizabeth to the railway station.

The tour finished, Roland finally reads Elizabeth’s note and breaks down. Bainbridge and Tristram manage to get him to the master bedroom where Roland implores Tristram to stay the night rather than leave him ‘alone’ in the house. Tristram agrees and settles down in the master bedroom while Roland goes to sleeps in the attic. Kitty, interrupted writing a suicide note, hides in a cupboard and is trapped when Roland moves the bed across the door.

Elizabeth, meanwhile, has decided against her course of action and returns home, going to bed with, she presumes, Roland. She proceeds to seduce him – not realizing she is in bed with a terrified Tristram, who has heard about the ghost and believes he is being seduced by Scarlet Lucy (who, so the legend goes, will then kill him at daybreak after the seduction).

Act 2
Dawn breaks and Tristram is fearful for his life, believing he will die when the sun touches the bed. Hearing someone in the lounge, he raps Morse code on the bedroom floor trying not to wake ‘Scarlet Lucy’. His call is answered by Mark, who discovers Tristram sleeping with his sister. He asks Tristram to step outside, who desperately tries to explain the situation saying Roland slept upstairs. Mark counters by saying Kitty is upstairs only to discover Roland apparently unconscious next to some sleeping pills and the suicide note.

The pair manage to get Roland downstairs and, believing he has overdosed, Mark and Elizabeth try to keep Roland awake. Mark’s voice sends both Elizabeth and Roland to sleep though and he leaves them snoozing alongside the suicide note and sleeping pills. Tristram, meanwhile, discovers Kitty and a mutual attraction through their non-communication. They fall asleep and are discovered by Mark, who again asks Tristram outside to sort matters out. Kitty instead ventures out, having found her voice and tells Mark that Tristram has asked her to leave with him.

Bainbridge turns up, unrecognizable in biking leathers, and thinks Elizabeth and Roland have committed suicide. Elizabeth wakes, mistakes Bainbridge for a burglar and subdues him. Eventually all is resolved as Roland comes round and identifies Bainbridge and completes the sale. Mark confronts Kitty for a final time and manages to bore himself to sleep. Roland celebrates the purchase while Kitty leaves followed by Tristram. Elizabeth stands on the doorstep, another note in her hand, dithering.

Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.