A Kind of Vesuvius

A sensitive treatment of the devastating effects of unemployment, both on individuals and their families.

One-act play for three middle-aged, middle-class men. David, Derek and Ian teeter on the brink of ‘a kind of Vesuvius’, each in his own way trying to cope with unemployment. Their attempts to preserve their everyday lives, warding off depression and the feelings of rejection, anger and aggression, range from the touching to moments of manic humour. Despite their positive intentions, they are forced to acknowledge the wisdom of Derek’s Auntie Maureen – ‘Life is a bugger sometimes, Derek, and it helps to have a little cry’.

Came first in the National Drama Festival Association’s British All Winners Festival. Published by Samuel French, 52 Fitzroy St, London W1P 6JR

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A Sea Change
Play for BBC radio, starred Jenny Funnell.

Marie, Peter and friends take a holiday cottage in Cornwall. A storm swells whilst they are sailing and Marie is lost overboard. She is rescued 180 years earlier, in early 19th century Cornwall, by a fisherman, Sam, who lives in the very same cottage with his mother.

The play sees Marie coming to terms with her new life whilst longing to return to the old – a strage reversal of time. Will she ever get back. Will she forget Peter and fall in love with Sam?

One act play for three women and 4 men and some original Cornish language. Available from Gillian

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Another Fine Mess
Stephen and Phil dream of being Stan and Ollie. But their cabaret act is as close as they can get and real life intrudes upon their dreams.

In the flat shared with Meg, Stephen’s girlfriend, the boys are preparing for their big break – a professional cabaret slot as Laurel and Hardy – but past relationships cause problems and a revelation from Phil throws everything into confusion. Will they make it to the show, or will the strain prove too great?

Their problems link with favourite Laurel and Hardy scenes which our characters re-enact and which throws light on the contrast between the charming innocence of Stan and Ollie and the hard reality of Stephen, Phil and Meg.

Through the course of the play we see many scenes recreated from Laurel and Hardy films including Thicker than Water, Blotto, and The Flying Deuces. Of course, from the film Way Out West, we have those favourite song and dance numbers, The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and Commence your Dancing.

Full length and one act play versions available from Gillian
Beata Beatrix
One-act play, published by Samuel French Ltd and winner of the 1994 National Drama Festival Association’s British All Winners Festival. On a guided tour of an art gallery, Beatrice notices a lone man, Jon, crying in front of a painting. She knows the tragic story behind the painting: the apinter;s wife killed herself because he was unfaithful, and in remorse he painted her in a heavenly repose. Beatrice offers help, and it transpires that, for Jon, whose wife died of leukaemia while he was with another woman, the painting tells his own story. His guilt makes life no longer worth living. Beatrice, though, has her own haunting secret and through their awkward attempts at understanding, the pair develop a rapport and improvise a touching scene between the painter and his model, to the amazement of startled tourists. Their salvation comes in the form of their new love … The Samuel French version has a cast of 7 See Destinies See Fabulous Face
Boniface and Me

Produced for Radio 4 by Catherine Bailey Ltd. Directed by Annie Castledine and staring Jude Akuwudike, Denton Chikura, Diane Findlay, Gracy Goldman, Denver Issac, Tonderai Munyevu and Harriet Walter.

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One-act play for 3 women. Following a motorcycle accident in which her boyfriend was killed, Cecily is brain-damaged. Her lone parent, Sheila, is struggling to cope whilst her aunt, Ellen, tries to distance herself from the situation. Ellen, elegant and married, comes to visit and gradually intense and complicated family relationships are revealed when Sheila confronts Ellen with her responsibilities. The problems of carers are sharply highlighted. ‘I love her, I love her, but I don’t know wht to do with her.’ We are shown flashbacks of Cecily before the accident, her lively personality contrasting cruelly with the wheelchair-bound reality. Fiery, forthright and honest, this moving play has three excellent roles for women. Available from Samuel French Ltd * Imagine Imogen is a full-length version of this play
Chaplin – The Return
Close to Croydon
One-act play for one man, one woman and two voices. Won Best New Play at Welwyn Drama Festival in 1995. Also won the 1995 George Taylor Memorial Award for new plays. Hugo, a PR consultant on his way to an important meeting, and Martha, a Museum Education Officer with a case full of liberty bodices, are trapped in an overturned railway carriage following a rail crash, waiting tensely to be rescued. A touching relationship begins to develop between them, as they amuse each other, annoy each other, tell stores, jokes and secrets, sing songs and play word games. Just as rescue seems likely, however, they are torn apart by tragedy. A funny, perceptive, tender and moving play. Published by Samuel French
Crooked Wood
Crooked Wood is a black comedy about a bunch of ruthless property developerswho find themselves faced with an elderly lady who refuses to move out from the last remaining house on their prime site. Andrew Veitch, the smooth-talking iron fist of Golden Future, cannot budge intrepid Miss Barwick whose conviction that Veitch has come to restore her rotting stairs and floorboards and mend the holes in the roof generates the soft-centered humour. Full-length play for 5 characters available from Gillian
David’s Birthday
One-act play for two women and three men.

In this poignant play, an ironic twist is given to the traditional eternal triangle. David, a mentally-handicapped young man, forms the catalyst between two couples – his sister Liz and her husband John, and between his other sister Maggie and her partner Paul. Both sisters bear conflicting emotions of love, hate, compassion and guilt toward David – highlighted in the flashback to childhood sequences. But even more provoking are the insights between David as a child and now full-grown and between the others and their adult characters.

Published by Samuel French

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Two one-act plays – The Wooden Pear and Beata Beatrix. First performed at the Old Red Lion in 1999. Two pivotal moments in the lives of four fascinating characters: moments when past actions come to weigh unbearably on the present moment and redefine an uncertain future. In ‘The Wooden Pear’, Madeleine is a woman whose life is cruelly shattered by a vicious attack. Now, ten years later, she must confront the perpetrator to exact a bizarre form of revenge, only to discover that in many ways Daniel is as much a victim as herself. Now, together they must find salvation from the past. In ‘Beata Beatrix, a chance encounter in an art gallery reveals a man tortured by a guilty past and a woman wracked with insecurity for the future, whose lives subtly mirror Rossetti’s famous painting. In two beautiful plays, award winning playwright Gillian Plowman explores themes of mutual dependency and personal redemption with poignant sensitivity, humour and tremendous human insight. A beautiful and thought-provoking evening’s drama. Produced at The Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington by Carpe Diem Productions starring Frankey Martyn as Beatrice and Madeleine and Chris Humphreys as Daniel and Jon. Script available from Gillian
Gracey and Me
Radio 4 play, first broadcast 5th November 2010

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Loveness and Me
A sequel to the much acclaimed Radio 4’s Boniface and Me, this play is based on a true story.

Nell Porter decides to see whether paying school fees for just one child, (Loveness Matakuro) in poverty-stricken rural Zimbabwe will make a difference.

Loveness dreams of playing netball for her country. She has been inspired by her crippled mother who tells her stories about how she used to play netball when she was younger, and how it was their love of sport that brought her and Loveness’s late father together. Loveness and her sister Rutendo form a village team, with their mother as coach, and are supported by headmaster, Godfrey Rubaya, who insists that if she wants to form a school team and play matches, all the girls will have to pay school fees and attend. This is the story of how Loveness realises her dream and, against unimaginable odds, takes her team to represent Zimbabwe in an International Tournament in Zambia.

Me and My Friend
Hilarious and heart-breaking at once, this play won Gillian the 1988 Verity Bargate Award and was seen at the Soho Poly in 1990 and Chichester Festival Theatre in 1992. The first act was produced at The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond in June 2002 together with A Kind of Alaska by Harold Pinter.

A black comedy, the play explores the relationship between two ‘odd’ couples thrown prematurely out of hospital care. In the downstairs flat are Oz, who has never recovered from his mother’s death, and Bunny, whose workaholism led to estrangement from his wife. Upstairs are Robin, a middle-class housewife who suffocated her own son, and Julia whose obsessive thoughts of men drew her into prostitution. In the first act we see the men conduct fantasy interviews for jobs they will never get, then in the second act, the women trying to make plans for a holiday. They all meet when Oz throws a disastrous party with the four desperately attempting the niceties of social intercourse.

‘Plowman’s writing is rich in affectionate humour’ The Times. ‘Plowman has written a remarkable play …’ Sunday Telegraph. ‘It is what good theatre should be …’ What’s On. The agent for this play is Sarah McNair ABR – Alan Brodie Representation Ltd ABR Paddock Suite The Courtyard 55 Charterhouse Street London EC1M 6HA tel: 020 7253 6226 fax: 020 7183 7999 e:; w:
One Last Adventure
A radio play read by eight actors, accompanied on the piano, performed to an intimate audience In the lockdown of 2020, Johnnie 96 and Rose 95 take us back to 1944 to the start of their relationship and the horrors of World War II. They share their memories and experiences and prepare for one last adventure.
Philip and Rowena
One-act play set in a hospice. Originally performed on BBC radio where it starred Leslie Philips and Renee Asherson. Very successfully performed as a one Act play in festivals. The play is for 3 men and 4 women and was first performed on Radio 4. Its first stage production was by Flat Four Players in festivals during 1997 and it was in the 24th NDFA British All Winners Final where it won the Adjudicator’s Award. The play is a journey of reconciliation and hope – a sensitive, poignant and intensely human exploration of a tragic, yet wonderful relationship. Philip and Rowena are terminally ill. Philip seeks a divorce from his bitter wife, Lilian. Rowena longs for the unity of her family. Together they find friendship, romance, consolation and an amazing capacity for fun. in their hospice, they share an imaginary holiday in Florence: wine, dine, visit the opera and even go on scooter rides before deciding to marry. An acceptance of death is coupled with an extraordinary devotion to life. Published by Samuel French Ltd
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Something Rich and Strange
Produced by BBC Pebble Mill, 1995.
Spindrift is a shorter version of the full-length play Storm, a mystery play about ghosts and the sea and the haunting consequences of secret relationships of the past. For one man and three women. Available form Gillian
Full length play for three women and one man. Is the beach house really haunted? The action is tight and a sinister air is developed with the use of very simple sets and effects. Shades of Daphne du Maurier …
Script available on ScriptCircle
The Janna Years
One-act play for three women and two men. Ruby’s bosarding house is home to an odd mix of characters: Abe, the middle-aged divorcee; Chas, the northerner forced to find work in the south; Fleur, housed there by her social worker and Holly, struggling to save enough to move out. When Abe’s daughter Janna fails to arrive for the weekend as planned, frustrations and emotions are revealed in a scene, the tension of which is only released by Ruby’s announcement that it is her birthday. The reason for Janna’s absence is finally revealed but not until relationships between the characters have subtly and irrevocably changed in the moving and well-observed play about five lonely people. Published by Samuel French
The Ox and Ass
A play for two men – 30’s and 50’s. Henry has just collected his father, Jeremy, from another spell in prison. Is he going to go straight this time? Copyright with author
The Primrose Path
One-act play for a man and two women. James has lost is job. Bridget cannot get pregnant. They are having difficlties addressing these issues when feisty tramp Primrose lands herself upon them and makes everything a darn site worse! Available from Gillian
The Purity Game
Formed part of the opening of Chichester’s Minerva Studio in 1989.
The Window Cleaner
Jill has served time in prison for killing her husband who abused her. Making a new start as a window cleaner, she disturbs Daryl who is in the process of stealing form the luxury flat whose windows she is cleaning. Daryl panics and holds Jill captive but she gets him talking about his life of crime, and the wife who left him taking with her his much-adored young daughter. In turn Jill relates her own tragic history of her husband?s death and how her baby, born in prison, was taken from her and adopted. It soon becomes evident that they have much in common and a final twist throws them together in an unlikely partnership that gives them both hope for the future.
The Wooden Pear
Madeleine is a woman whose life is cruelly shattered by a vicious attack. Now, ten years later, she must confront the perpetrator to exact a bizarre form of revenge, only to discover that in many ways Daniel is as much a victim as herself. Now, together they must find salvation from the past.

Together with Beata Beatrix, forms the full length production Destinies. See Destinies

Was produced as a BBC radio play starring Anna Massey

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There’s None so Blind
Written in 1997 for first performance in 1998 by Flat Four Players. A bind reflexoligist discovers that his wife is planning an affair at work – his reaction seems noble and caring but what are his actual motives?
One-act play. Performed at the King’s Head in 1992.
Touching Tomorrow
Dorcas looks after her middle aged brother Vincent, who has learning difficulties. She has brought home Gemma, a homeless girl who says she has been raped. Dorcas invites her to stay, despite the protests of her local reporter friend, Kate, but is Gemma telling the truth, is she fantasizing, or just an opportunist? It is Vincent who provides the possible way ahead for Gemma. A powerful one-act play which boldly tackles the subjects of homelessness, rape and disability with humour, honesty and warmth. Available form Samuel French and through Amazon on Gillian’s website Buy Scripts
Two Fat Men
Duncan and George feel far from comfortable attending a Weight Busters meeting, surrounded as they are by women. Waiting for the meeting to start, they meet an old flame of George’s, who bore him a child many years earlier. Duncan strikes up an affecting romance with a sign language teacher. Line dancing and snatches of Gilbert and Sullivan enhance the jolly mood of this touching comedy-drama. Availble from Samuel French and through Amazon on Gillian’s website Buy Scripts
Two Summers
One-act play.
Umjana Land
Gordon is a retired civil servant who devotes his time to writing romantic fiction under the name of Poppy Henshaw. His wife, Leah, s successful publisher, is not aware of his affair with Ursula, their next-door neighbour, until in an argument about a proposed bypass which will destroy the local downland, Ursula reveals the deceit. Meanwhile Gordon remembers Umjana Land, the childhood world he inhabited with his sister Agnes. When Agnes returns from Africa unexpectedly, they relive their surreal childhood dreams, and Gordon tells her of his desire to write something important. Ironically, Agnes has already written a Booker Prize nominated book about Umjana Land. Gordon is left strangely alone as his daughter Abigail, Leah, Ursula and Agnes find a common bond. From Samuel French and Amazon through Gillian’s website Buy Scripts

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