Joking Apart: Synopsis

Cast: 4 male / 4 female
Running time (approximate): 2 hours - not including the interval.
Availability: Joking Apart is available for both professional and amateur production.
Acting edition: Published by Samuel French.


Richard (A successful businessman)
Anthea (His wife)
Hugh (A vicar; Richard's next door neighbour)
Louise (Hugh's wife)
Sven (Richard's business partner)
Olive (Sven's wife)
Brian (Employee of Richard)
Debbie (Richard's daughter)
Melody / Mandy / Mo (Brian's girlfriends)

Note: Melody, Mandy, Mo & Debbie are all played by the same actor.
Joking Apart is set in Richard and Anthea’s garden over twelve years (ideally 1966 to 1978) on bonfire night, a summer tennis party, boxing day and their daughter Debbie’s 18th birthday.

Richard and Anthea are a perfect unmarried couple, to whom everything comes very easily and whose genuine generosity, success and sensitivity seem to reflect badly on those around them.

Over twelve years we see Richard’s business partner Sven and his wife, Olive, become increasingly depressed at the ease of Richard’s success, despite Sven working so hard he eventually has a heart attack which drives him to deep bitterness at the unfairness of life.

Brian, an employee, has a constant string of ever younger girlfriends, all of whom are substitutes for Anthea, whom he has been obsessed with since he gave her shelter after the break up of her first marriage.

Finally, there are the new neighbours, the vicar Hugh and his wife Louise. After Richard tears down the garden fence to make a larger communal garden for Hugh, the vicar misinterprets some interest in him from Anthea as a sign of love and he becomes possessed by the belief he is married to the wrong woman. His declaration of his love for Anthea leaves her genuinely confounded and helps drive Louise, combined with her inability to raise or communicate with her son, into manic depression and Hugh into a crisis of faith.

All are left poorer people by their relationship with Richard and Anthea, who are unaware that anything is wrong in their perfect world.

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