Rural Nightmare

by  Grace Rudolph

Short Play, Drama  /  3m, 4f

Rita and Martin buy an old house in the country and arrive one weekend to find it has been savagely vandalized.

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Rural Nightmare

by  Grace Rudolph

License Estimator

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    3m, 4f
  • Duration


    60 minutes (1 hour)
  • SubGenre


  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult

Additional Info

A young couple and their two small children move to a rural town to escape the violence and pollution of the city. While working to restore their antique home they hire a neighbor to watch the children. She tells them something's buried beneath the hearth. They unearth a small coffin but, it's empty. One night they hear shuffling and scratching in the attic. The next morning, in a crawl space, they make a frightening discovery. Perhaps their neighbors are more terrifying than their discovery in the attic. The horror of this play is that the Inhabitant is different. He doesn't kill anyone. He doesn't attack anyone. His only crime was being born "different." This spine tingling one-act brings to mind, - "...things that go bump in the night."
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Performing Groups

  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre


  • No Special Cautions

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $45 per performance



  • Time Period: Contemporary, Present Day
  • Duration: 60 minutes (1 hour)
  • Setting: A nearly empty living room in an old house. Packing crates and cartons are scattered around the room along with stacks of books and a rolled up rug. All the signs of people moving in. Against the back wall is a fireplace.
  • Additional Features: No intermission
  • Features / Contains: Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes


  • Musical Style: N/A (Not a musical)
  • Vocal Demands: N/A (Not a musical)


3m, 4f
MARTIN - the husband, a tweedy type.
RITA - the wife, has or has had a good career. 
LESLEY - Rita's sister, also successful in her career. 
EVE - a real estate agent. 
SHIRLEY - a neighbor, knows all the gossip and know where the skeletons are buried. 
GEORGE - Shirley's husband. 
THE INHABITANT - a shaggy, filthy, dishevelled man.
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Cast Attributes

  • Non-Traditional casting

Casting Notes

Two small children are mentioned in the play, but they are never seen. Martin, Rita, and Lesley are all in their early 30s. Eve, Shirley, and George are in their 50s. The Inhabitant can be an adult of any age.



Grace Rudolph

Grace Gannon Rudolph studied theatre and worked in summer stock. She has directed community theatre and cable network productions, founded a radio theatre, and taught courses in playwriting for adults and children. After raising six rowdy, wonderful children she returned to college and received her bac ...

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Rural Nightmare first appeared as a short story in the Boston Globe. The author was comissioned by Baker's Plays to rework the story into a one-act play.

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