No Knowing: Synopsis

Cast: 2 male / 2 female
Running time: 70 minutes (not including interval).
Availability: No Knowing is available for both professional and amateur production.
Acting Edition: Samuel French

Part 1: Knowing Her


Arthur Throke (A retired council official, 65)
Elspeth Throke (His wife, 60)
Alison Throke-Davies (Their daughter, early 30s)
Nigel Throke (Their son, late 30s)
It is August, Arthur and Elspeth's 40th wedding anniversary and their children, Alison and Nigel, have thrown them a surprise party for family and friends. Elspeth gives the first speech noting how she now realises - thanks to her daughter - that the key to a successful marriage is being yourself and she thanks Arthur for not only being there but also, when she needed, giving her the space to be herself.

The action flashes back to the previous December, two weeks before Christmas, in Arthur and Elspeth's kitchen where they are finishing dinner. Arthur prepares to go out to his shed to his computer, where he spends much of his time - although Elspeth has no idea what he does on it. She, meanwhile, says she is going out to a local wine bar - Trudy's - with a neighbour, Janice. She goes to get changed when their son, Nigel, arrives for a private talk with Arthur, who presumes it is about Christmas presents; which he can't understand as he says he and Elspeth always want the same gift of vouchers. Nigel reveals though that Elspeth has been seen in public having an affair with Janice - kissing in a bus-stop and 'fiddling under the table' in Trudy's Wine Bar. Arthur refuses to believe this, saying he knows his wife 'inside out' and better than anyone else and would know if she were having an affair. Elspeth comes downstairs, looking quite glamorous for a drink at a bar and Nigel tries to push the issue before Arthur tells him to leave it. Nigel asks Elspeth hat she would like for Christmas and, unexpectedly to Arthur, she says what she would really like is a surprise rather than the vouchers she always gets. Nigel leaves and Elspeth senses something is wrong, but Arthur tersely says everything is fine. He goes out to the shed giving a long look at Elspeth before she phones someone on the phone, whom she mouths a kiss to.

Part 2: Knowing Him
We return to August and Arthur and Elspeth's 40th wedding anniversary with Arthur now giving his speech, noting how you never really know someone when you marry young. He believes marriage is a symbiosis to the advantage of both, being able to be there when needed as well as knowing when it is time to allow each other to breathe. He toasts Elspeth and their marriage.

The action returns to the previous December, one week before Christmas, in Arthur and Elspeth's kitchen where they are finishing dinner. Arthur announces he is going out to his shed to the computer just as their daughter, Alison, arrives for a private chat with Elspeth, who believes it is probably about Christmas presents. Arthur leaves for the shed and Alison reveals her Dad has been doing something technically illegal on the computer, which Elspeth initially refuses to believe. Arthur, it transpires, is using Nigel's 20 year old laptop, which Nigel forgot to wipe before he gave it to his Dad, to conduct an online affair. He has discovered all Nigel's old files including romantic teenage emails to Mandy Westwick and has been using them as a basis for an online relationship between two '17 year olds'. Unfortunately the other party, closer to 60 than 17, has sought out Nigel with the hope of taking the relationship further. Nigel, confronted by a woman, who knows so much about him but who knows nothing about her realises what has happened and breaks the news to the upset woman. Although Elspeth finds part of this funny, she does feel as though Arthur has been having an affair but that neither of them is entirely blameless; something which Alison cannot understand. Arthur returns and Alison leaves urging her mum to confront Arthur. She doesn't, but brings the conversation back round to Christmas presents and Arthur says he would like a change, if they can afford it, as Nigel's computer is too old and he wants a fresh one for a fresh start. Elspeth agrees with him and notes she too would like a change, vouchers still but for each other's time. A voucher that she can give to Arthur at any time to ask for an hour of his time. And that she will also give some to him, which he can use at any time with her. They both agree it is a good idea and Elspeth cashes in her first to suggest they go shopping together the next morning to buy a new computer and printer for Arthur. And possibly a bit of clothes shopping for herself.

Article by Simon Murgatroyd. Copyright: Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.
Stacks Image 12