What is Susan's Secret?
by Michael Parker, Susan Parker
Full Length Play, Comedy / 3m, 3f
The Cider Mill Inn is an old, rustic and somewhat run down country inn owned and operated by an endearing elderly couple, Michael and Susan Edwards. At first they appear to be bordering on senility. We quickly learn however that they are very clever con artists, preying on their unsuspecting guests!
The Cider Mill Inn is an old, rustic and somewhat run down country inn owned and operated by an endearing elderly couple, Michael and Susan Edwards. At first they appear to be bordering on senility. We quickly learn however that they are very clever con artists, preying on their unsuspecting guests, by advertising huge discounts to various tradesmen. Using an elaborate check-in form with duplicate copies, guests are, in fact, signing a work contract, requiring them to perform various tasks and improvements at the inn. Over the course of three weekends, plumbers, tile layers, carpenters and electricians are recruited to do work they never expected.
This unique play offers theatres the opportunity for the other twelve characters (Besides Susan and Michael) to be played by either two males and two females, or twelve different actors, or any number in between. The characters vary from the world's most boring man, (his wife says he's had charisma bypass surgery), to a young couple on their honeymoon. Audiences will fall in love with each of these distinctive characters, but especially the loving relationship between the two main characters, Michael and Susan, so touching that this play might be called a love story, if it wasn't first and foremost a farce.
So, what is Susan's secret? On this subject the authors remain silent, preferring instead to let the audience decide on the truth, which of course, in a Parker play, is only revealed in the last few seconds of the show.
"Susan has a secret, and if you want to know what it is, be prepared to sit through two hours of entertainmnet and continuous laughs before you find out." - The Brampton Guardian, Canada
"The Parker's play is a farce in the tradition of Moliere; looney plots and counter plots cross and collide. A production of Neil Simon's "I Ought to be in Movies", preceded this one, and the Parkers are certainly on Simon's level of wit and delight. Watching this play, you never know how difficult farce is to do well, because you're in stiches. A naughty but hillariously nice evening." - Berkshirefinearts.com
- No Special Cautions
- Minimum Fee: $75 per performance
- Time Period: Contemporary, Present Day
- Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
The Cider Mill Inn. Somewhere USA.
- Additional Features: Physical Comedy
- Features / Contains: Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes
- Musical Style: N/A (Not a musical)
- Vocal Demands: N/A (Not a musical)
- Chorus Size: N/A (Not a musical)
MICHAEL – 70s+; There are times when he appears to be totally "with it," but often wanders off into worlds of fantasy. Very elderly, somewhat infirm, and might best be described as "An old man with a twinkle in his eye."
SUSAN – 70s+; hard working; efficient; competent; gentle and caring to Michael. Spry and active, she appears to run The Cider Mill Inn, and is the driving force behind the "con jobs" she and Michael pull on their unsuspecting guests. She consistently forgets Michael's name, and engages him in hilarious conversations in which she and Michael are rarely "on the same page." Her attitude toward Michael, and the love and rapport they clearly share is central to the core of the plot. Whether her secret is, in fact, revealed at the end of the play is something about which the authors remain silent, preferring to let the audience be the judge.
JEAN - 35-55; forceful; purposeful; single-minded. While Jean is an interfering "busybody," her heart is in the right place. When she intervenes in the marital problems of Bobby and Jenny, it is out of genuine concern for them. She totally dominates her mild mannered husband Larry, and we are left with the impression she dominates everything and everyone around her. Things have to be done "Her Way!"
LARRY - 40-60; long-suffering; hard-working; a devilish sense of humor. A mild mannered, easy-going sort of guy, who has learned, over the years, to just go along with Jean and not make any waves. However, when Jean gets herself into a situation from which she cannot escape, he does not attempt to extricate her, but rather, in a kindly sort of way, sits back and seems to enjoy a laugh at their expense. Perhaps, in his life with Jean, there have been too few opportunities to do this.
BOBBY - 25-30; clean cut; hard working; easy-going. A pleasant young man, who gets caught up in the emotional ups and downs of his new bride, Jenny. He acquiesces, perhaps a little too easily, to the fact that he has been conned by Michael and Susan, but that is probably his nature. Clearly very much in love with Jenny, he is willing to apologize when he has no idea what it is he is supposed to have done.
JENNY - 20-25; immature; naive, but in the end showing a good sense of humor. Young and pretty, but perhaps not too bright. She works herself into an emotional upheaval for the most trivial of reasons. Anyone, other than her gentle, easy-going husband, would probably feel like smacking her. To be kind, she is is very young and on her honeymoon, and who knows what is going on in her mind.
BILL - 40-60; Bill is a suave, sophisticated man about town. He is a reviewer for a publication. Country Inns of America, visiting The Cider Mill Inn incognito. While married, he has ararnged a weekend tryst with his girlfriend Julie. He discovers that Michael and Susan are simply con artists and is prepared to expose them, but ethics are not his strong suit, and he compromises his principles to keep his affair secret. A polished, well-dressed, educated adulterer.
JEFFREY - 25-30; sincere; lives in his own world. If there was an award for "The Most Boring Man on the Planet," Jeffrey would win hands down. When his long suffering wife, Penny, says he's had charisma bypass surgery, we could easily believe her. He goes on and on about the stupidest subjects imaginable, blissfully unaware that he is driving everyone around him crazy. He is so boring that audiences almost like him.
PENNY - 20-30; pretty; clearly enjoys life; funny; flighty; giggly. Penny seems to be driven to drink by her boring husband Jeffrey. She must never appear to be drunk or her sparkling wit and terrific sense of humor will be lost. A little tipsy, most of the time, she brings lightheartedness and laughter into the scenes with Jeffrey, to counterbalance his boring personality.
JULIE - 35-45; beautiful; sensuous; single-minded. Julie has a libido that never lets up. She leaves the audience in no doubt as to why she is at the inn for the weekend. She is, however, sophisticated, not cheap or tawdry.
KELLY - 20-30; clever, manipulative, quick-thinking. Kelly is clearly the dominant one in her relationship with Paul. She has concocted the scheme for Paul to pose as his brother Patrick so they can get the tradesman's discount. She next comes up with the idea for him to then become her girlfriend "Pauline." She is a schemer who never gives up, constantly creating explanations for the most improbable circumstances.
PAUL - 25-30; not very forceful; eager to please Kelly. Paul is clearly under the influence of his girl-friend Kelly. She seems to be able to persuade him to do almost anything. Much against his better judgement she has him weave a tapestry of lies and deceit. He never really gets "with the program" as he alternates between the characters of Paul, his brother Patrick, and Kelly's girlfriend Pauline.
MURRAY - 40-60; kind; sincere; adventuresome. Murray is a very unusual clergyman. He almost belongs in the "Hippie" generation. He arrives on a Harley wearing black leather, and using expressions like "rock on." He is, nevertheless, a genuine pastor with concern and kindness for those around him, and shows great understanding and compassion for "Pauline", whom he believes (thanks to Kelly's manipulations) is a painfully shy claustrophobic.
BERTHA - 40-50; loud; domineering; aggressive. Michael's sister is referred to by him as "Boot Camp Bertha." A retired army officer, she certainly lives up to that name. She is a strong comedic character, who seems to dominate the stage whenever she appears. However, prompted by Murray, she finally shows a gentler, more human side to her nature.
- Role(s) for Asian Actor(s)
- Role(s) for Black Actor(s)
- Role(s) for Latino Actor(s)
- Ensemble cast
- Non-Traditional casting
- Reduced casting (Doubling Possible)
- Drag performance
- Expandable casting
- Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
- Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)
- Parts for Senior Actors
The play is written for three-to-seven females and three-to-seven males. The characters of Michael and Susan are constant and appear in all three scenes. There are two other couples in each scene, one generally young and the other older. So the cast could be any number between 6 and 14, depending on casting availability and how much doubling the director wanted. If doubling, attention should be given to the characters so there is enough difference in dress and manner to change appearances as much as possible for the audience.
What Is Susan's Secret? was first produced by Rocky and Claudie Varcoe at Class Act Dinner Theatre in Whitby, Ontario, Canada on January 15, 2011.