a thriller by John Muggleton
90 min/no intermission
4 characters (2 m, 2 f)
mature content, strong language
Playwrights Guild of Canada
The Gladstone August 2017
Old friends Robert, Samira and David are the only three left of the original gang. Robert’s wife, famed mystery novelist Tara Waters, disappeared five years ago, though Robert insists she’s still alive. Paul, also a writer, died last year shortly after reuniting with his estranged daughter Eve.
Tonight, Eve has asked to meet the three friends for the first time, stating that she has something important to deliver. At first genial, the tone of the evening quickly turns awkward and then eerie, as Eve becomes increasingly strange and sinister. A fledgling writer herself, and super-fan of Tara Waters, she insists on telling a ghost story of her own. Hers is a tale of a man haunted by childhood mistakes, peppered with details which make Robert markedly uneasy. Suddenly, Eve’s story is interrupted by a phone call. It’s Paul’s daughter, Eve, calling to apologize for being unable to attend tonight’s gathering.
As the evening unravels, the imposter targets each of the friends with knowledge of their darkest secrets, creating more mistrust and quarrelling with each turn. Just when chaos begins to erupt, she abruptly and casually states that she must take her leave. The friends watch in stunned silence as she heads for the door, turns back and delivers one final line: a definitive reference to the practical jokes the group used to play on Paul. Robert, Samira and David’s shock turns to laughter and relief as they realize that the entire evening was a posthumous revenge, a final practical joke from their clever friend.
Robert opens a letter Eve had claimed was proof of a murder, to discover it is in fact information which clears his conscience. Since childhood, he has tortured himself needlessly.
Overcome with emotion, and woozy from glass after glass of wine, Robert begins to reminisce about his wife. David cautions him to stop, but he can’t. Words pour out of him, detailing how and why he killed Tara, covered it up with David’s help, and the rage that still haunts him. Samira shakes in terror as the two men turn towards her, realizing she can’t leave the house with this knowledge.
Suddenly there is a banging at the door, and red and blue lights stream through the windows. Robert screams.
Set from the 2017 Gladstone production, set design Geoff Gruson, lighting David Magladry.
Publicity shots of the August 2017 production of Burn at the Gladstone. Directed by Venetia Lawless.
John has been an actor, director and playwright for over over 25 years. Recent acting credits include David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross (Best Production 2015 Capital Critics Awards), Speed-The-Plow (Outstanding Male Actor nomination Prix Rideau Awards, Best Actor Nomination Capital Critics Circle Awards), and The Extremely Short New Play Festival. John was commissioned by Parks Canada in 2004 to write and direct a series of plays celebrating Canadian history and folklore: Spirits Rising, Shadows of the Fort, The Islands, Ghosts of the Rideau and Sir John, were performed across Eastern Ontario over an eight year period. For television, John was a writer on Showcase’s Mann to Mann, directed by Derek Diorio (Hard Rock Medicine, House of Luc) and featured Patrick McKenna. A member of ACTRA, The Canadian Actors Equity Association and the Playwrights Guild of Canada, John is a the co-founder of the Ottawa Acting Company and a recipient of the Audrey Ashley Award for longstanding dedication to the Ottawa theatre community.