Neighbours from Hell

By Erina Caradus

Summary

Mrs. Duffy, a bird lover, has created a bird sanctuary in her yard. She is Mary and Graham’s neighbour from hell and they become obsessed with trying to stop her.  But as the drama unfolds we are left wondering, which neighbours are the neighbours from hell?!

Characters

Graham, a middle-aged man who likes taking issue
Mary, his pathetic, complaining wife
Nancy, a friend, breezy, with plenty of personality but little sensitivity

Script

(Graham is sitting on the couch writing a letter in an agitated fashion. Mary is standing with binoculars looking out the large window into the neighbour’s section. )

Mary:  I don’t believe it!

Graham: (interested and indignant) What’s old Duffy up to now?

Mary:  I haven’t seen one of those in years…What on earth? I don’t believe it!

Graham: For heaven’s sake, stop saying you don’t believe it and tell me what’s going on?! (Grabbing the binoculars)  I don’t believe it!

Mary:   (straining to see as well) What the heck does she want an old wringer for?  I’ll bet it doesn’t even go!

Graham: She’s putting it in the front yard.

Mary:  (indignantly) She’s not!

Graham: Yep! Right next to the old bath she hauled out last month, in front of that pile of old packing cases. The old bag. I bet it’s for her filthy old birds again.

Mary:  (getting emotional) It’s too much, Graham. It’s been going on too long.   I can’t take this any more. Shut those curtains. I can’t bear the sight of her mess any more. I never want to see another pigeon in my life. (Sits down on couch)

Graham: (still looking out window) Just who does she think she is? Three old baths full of water for her wretched pigeons to splash in, 12 old packing cases for the brutes to nest in. Goodness knows what’s the wringer for…? I don’t believe it…she’s putting birdseed in it!  Right! That’s it! (Closing curtain of large window) I’ve had enough. This has got to stop!

Mary:  But how, Graham? We tried to get her on the disposal of rubbish bylaw, but the council supported her right to have ‘all that’ (gestures hopelessly) in her yard. They saw no problem in her setting up a safe area for pigeons and other bird life. No problem! They don’t have to live next to the mess.

Graham: (while Mary speaks, Graham has been angrily looking through phone book) Well, it’s not going to stop there, I can tell you. (Dialing on phone) I’m getting back to the SPCA. That bloke should have been to inspect it all by now….Hello…yes, can I speak to (looking at card) Kenneth Johns…. Mr. Johns? This is Graham Bentworth, no 9 Cherry Ave….yes, that’s the one…I’m ringing up about those wretched birds. Have you sent someone round yet? …You have….you did….great…(angry and shouting, can’t believe what he his hearing) she is…they are? I don’t believe it! You mean you liked what she was doing?….No, you bet I’m not…(slams down phone)

Mary:  Oh, Graham, what did he say?

Graham: It’s insane! He actually said they admired…admired  the old lady, can you believe it? They’re making out she’s some kind of saint! (Starts pacing the floor running hands through hair) There’s got to be a way…there’s got to be a way… I’ve got it. Noise control! The noise those blinkin’ birds make first thing on a Saturday morning has got to be illegal.

Mary: Oh, it’s no good, Graham. I tried them this morning. The man at the council said the bylaw only applied to caged birds and since hers were free there was nothing they could do. (Sobbing) Oh, I wish we’d never moved to this awful house. I wish we’d stayed in that dark little cottage with the noisy student flat next door. Anything would be better than this! I can’t even enjoy the view…

(The doorbell rings. Graham opens door, off stage and walks in as talking)

Graham:  (in an unwelcoming tone) Oh, hello, Nancy…yeah, we’re both home… (Nancy breezes in) …come in…

Nancy: (enthusiastically approaching couch) Mary, my dear. (Hands her a parcel) A little house warming something. (Looking round) I just love your new house. How long have you been here now?

Mary: (still tearful) Four months… and it’s been such a mistake

Nancy: Mistake?! But you must get all the sun (looks around dark room) and…(pulls back curtain)  What a view!

Graham: (looking in opposite direction out window) Disgusting, isn’t it?

Nancy: (looking surprised) I beg your pardon? (Looking out window) All those hills. Why you can even see a bit of the harbour!

Mary: (to Graham) Oh, she’s just being nice. (Gets up as she speaks) (Pointing into neighbour’s yard) Isn’t that the most disgusting mess you’ve ever seen?
 
(Graham opens present and discovers an ornamental china bird. In disgust he puts it on the table)

Nancy: Oh, I see what you mean! But how quaint! There’s birds everywhere and …Oh! Is that wood pigeons I see?

Graham: (groaning) By the hundreds…

Nancy: Oh, that’s super! A bird haven! (Mary and Graham gasp) Who’s the neighbour?

Mary: A Mrs. Duffy.

Nancy: Duffy? Oh, how lucky you are! The bird lady herself. I’ve heard about her. She’s practically famous. I met her once at the library, lovely old thing. (Mary looks shattered, Graham paces angrily behind the couch)

Mary: Lovely old thing? Huh! Just look what her precious birds do to my windows. Just look!

Nancy: Oh, bird poop, that’s nothing to worry about, Mary, it’ll wash off no trouble. Isn’t their birdsong just magical?

Mary: (turning on her) I can’t believe it, Nancy. I’ve always thought you were my friend. Here we’ve been going through absolute hell since we moved in, and you don’t even seem to care…

Nancy: (sounding concerned) I’m sorry, Mary, I didn’t know. What’s the problem?

Mary: (exploding) Problem?! That’s the problem! (Pointing out window) Noise, mess and bird droppings everywhere, even on my washing. I’m not sleeping at nights with the worry of it all (sobbing uncontrollably) You’re a hard-hearted woman, Nancy Coleman.  (Graham is doing his best to comfort Mary)

Nancy: (as Graham glares threateningly at her) I’m sorry, Graham. I think I’d best be going. I’ve come at a bad time. I’ll find my own way out.
 
Graham: Well, all I can say is, when you’re suffering, you sure find out who your true friends are! Good riddance to her, I say.

Mary: Oh, Graham, I feel sick…you know my heart’s not strong. I can’t take much more of this. (As Graham speaks, Mary discovers the ornament and shudders)

Graham: Don’t you worry, Mary. We’ll get the better of that Duffy woman yet. She hasn’t seen the last of Graham Bentworth.
(Shaking his fist out the window and speaking in angry clipped tone) We’ll see you in court, Duffy! We’ll fight till every last feather is gone. I’m going to win this one, if it’s the last thing I do!

.............................................

© Erena Caradus (Dunedin City Baptist) 2001
All rights reserved
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold 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. Our drama group can be contacted at the following address: Caradii@xtra.co.nz