Drowning On Dry Land: Synopsis

Cast: 4 male / 3 female (and two non-speaking female children)
Running time (approximate): 2 hours - not including the interval.
Availability: Drowning Own Dry Land is available for both professional and amateur production.
Acting edition: Published by Samuel French.


Charlie Conrad (A Celebrity, mid 30s)
Linzi Ellison (His wife, 33)
Jason Ratcliffe (His manager, 50s)
Hugo de Préscourt (A barrister, 40s)
Gale Gilchrist (A TV journalist, mid 20s)
Marsha Bates (A children's entertainer, 30s)
Simeon Diggs (Her lawyer, 40s)
Laura (A girl of 10; non-speaking)
Katie (A girl of 8; non-speaking)
Charlie Conrad is the current celebrity of the moment and a party is being held for his son in the grounds of his home. In the shadow of an architectural folly, Marsha, a clown, is being briefed by Charlie’s wife, Linzi - once also famous. Cracks in the couple’s relationship are already obvious: she misses her fame and is irate that Charlie is missing the party for an interview with rising TV journalist Gale Gilchrist.

Charlie arrives and meets Marsha, who is dressed as 'Mr Chortles' the clown and is utterly dumbstruck at meeting her 'hero'. Gale arrives late and enters the folly, discovering it gives the impression of climbing to the top, but it is an illusion and the exit is a just a few feet away; no-one has ever been to the tower-top. Charlie’s agent Jason joins them for the interview and Charlie reveals he is only famous because he fails at everything. Gale suggests Charlie is failing on purpose, but he genuinely believes he is ‘useless’. Misreading the signs and unaware she is a lesbian, Charles makes an unsuccessful pass at Gale, who leaves when Charlie enters the folly.

Charlie exits the folly and meets ‘Mr Chortles’, opening his heart and questioning his success. Marsha, overcome by excitement at meeting Charlie, asks for an autograph - on her thigh. He agrees and as he tries to sign her thigh, she attempts to kiss him. Not quite believing his luck and with Marsha's excitement at fever pitch, Charlie and Marsha wrestle to remove her comedy bloomers, ending up in a compromising position just as Linzi enters, followed by Gale and Jason; who all witness the scene. Marsha flees into the folly, leaving Charlie holding her bloomers. Marsha re-enters from the other folly entrance, utterly confused. She sees everyone staring at her and flees back into the folly….

Two weeks later, Charlie is plummeting down the celebrity ladder and Marsha - despite initiating the incident - is pressing sexual intimidation and indecent assault charges. Charlie’s lawyer, Hugo, has arranged a meeting with Marsha and her lawyer, Simeon. It quickly turns into an interrogation during which Marsha is humiliated by Hugo, culminating in her tearing off her clothes and declaring she’s a woman. Satisfied, they won’t go to court, Hugo promises to arrange a settlement, before telling Charlie that Linzi has begun divorce proceedings.

Several months later and Charlie’s 15 minutes of fame are over. He has sold the house and Linzi has left him and found success on TV again. Jason is shocked that Charlie has agreed to do an interview with Gale, now a newspaper journalist having also fallen from grace due to substance abuse. Marsha meanwhile has now stepped into Charlie’s celebrity shoes and Jason announces he’s retiring to write a book. He leaves as a bitter and disillusioned Gale sets up a photograph. Linzi appears and reveals Marsha will be on her show next week.

Alone, Charlie takes a final walk into the folly. And emerges at the top of the tower; delighted and proclaiming “I did it!”

Article by Simon Murgatroyd. Copyright: Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.