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Murder at Penny-Bottom Castle

Episode 1: The Shipwreck

Episode 1: The Shipwreck
PLEASE
LISTEN

With the help of writer John Fletcher, actors Bonnie Hurren, Barbara Kellerman and Christian Rodska, sound engineer Jonathan Lane and producers Tom Bennett and Shaun MacLoughlin to mentor and participate, the children of Monks Park School, Bristol, wrote and performed this episode.

With a little encouragement it is remarkable what these learning difficulties children can achieve.

SCENE 1 EXTERIOR ACOUSTIC. AT SEA
ANNOUNCER:
Mathew
SS Mathew
We present "Murder at Penny Bottom Castle".
Episode 1, "The Shipwreck".

(HEAVY SEAWASH. SEAGULLS. THE SAILING SHIP MATHEW IS UNDER FULL SAIL)
MASTER: It's a fine day at sea. Innit?
CREW 1: Aye, Master.
MASTER: Sailing down the Bristol Channel.
CREW 2: Yes.
CREW BECKY: Master.
MASTER: Aye, Crew Becky?
CREW BECKY: The school children, we're taking on this trip, have come on deck to see you.
MASTER:



CHILDREN:
compass
Shipwreck
Oh, aye. Yes. I see them.
(RAISING HIS VOICE) Well, hello there, children. I'm the Master of the Sailing ship, Mathew.

Hello
MASTER:
compass
Chart
(LAUGHS) Avaunt there and shiver me timbers!

(CHILDREN LAUGH)

Does any of you have any questions for me?
GIRL 1: In the old days did they have shipwrecks?
MASTER: Oh - ar.
BOY 1: I've seen lots of old wrecks.
GIRL 1: Where?
BOY 1: Up the Severn Estuary.
MASTER: That won't happen to us.
GIRL 2: Does the Mathew have lots of schools trips like ours?
CREW BECKY: No, not many. You're very lucky.
MASTER: Quite true, Becky. These days we have to keep within safe distance of land.
BOY 2: What was it like in the olden days?
GIRL 2: When the Mathew sailed to America?
MASTER:



CREW BECKY:
compass
Compass
Well, five hundred years ago they didn't have equipment like we have today. They didn't have charts to tell 'em where they were.

They steered by the stars. And they had these.
GIRL 1: What's that?
CREW BECKY: It's a compass.
BOY 1: It's got five points.
MASTER:



BOY 2:
compass
Pentagram
That's just decoration. I think it's Chinese. The Chinese invented compasses. They used 'em for navigation a hundred years before the Mathew.

What about Supernav?
CREW BECKY: (INTERRUPTING) It's a pentagram. It's got five tips to it.
GIRL 2: You can't count. It's only got four.
MASTER: Um. You're right. One must have fallen off.
BOY 1: The compass is sort of floating.
GIRL 1: It's bobbing up and down. It's scary
BOY 2: That's funny.
MASTER: What's that?
BOY 2: I'm feeling sort of dizzy.
SCENE 2



LADY PENNY:
castle
Castle with
Turrets
INTERIOR ACOUSTIC. INSIDE A TURRET AT PENNY BOTTOM CASTLE.

WE HEAR DISTANT SURF BREAKING ON ROCKS AND THE DISTANT TOLLING OF A BELL

(IMPATIENT) Lampwick, can you see anything?
LAMPWICK: I'm just .... (TINKERING WITH EQUIPMENT NOISES) .... just adjusting my mechanism, my Lady.
LADY PENNY: (IRRITATED) Do hurry up. I can sense they are out there, somewhere.
LAMPWICK:


LADY PENNY:

LAMPWICK:
compass
Telescope
Adjusting a multiverse, polyphonic, telescope machine is no easy matter, Lady Penny.

(SIGHS IMPATIENTLY)

Ah huh!
LADY PENNY:

LAMPWICK:
compass
Multiverse
What is it!? What is it!?

In the universe ninety three and a half, I can see this ship, this old fashioned ship, sailing down the Bristol Channel. There's all these children and their teacher on board.
LADY PENNY: But can you see her?
LAMPWICK:

LADY PENNY:
compass
Polyphonic
Yes m'lady. She's one of the children.

(EVIL SIGH OF RELIEF) Good! Start the storm machine Lampwick.

(MACHINE NOISE STARTS UP AND MIXES INTO:)
SCENE 3 EXTERIOR ACOUSTIC. THE WIND AND SEA INCREASE IN SOUND
BOY 1: The rain's getting up.
GIRL 1: I'm scared.

(THE WIND AND SEA INCREASE. THEY BECOME A STORM WITH LASHING RAIN)
BOY 2: And the waves are getting very big.
GIRL 2: Look! Look over there. There are some rocks.
GIRL 1: (VERY FRIGHTENED) We're going to be shipwrecked.
BOY 1: Don't think that.
BOY 2:
castle
Tolling
Bell
We're getting closer to the rocks. We're going to die.

(CRIES OF THE CHILDREN. THE WIND AND THE SEAS GET BIGGER STILL. CREAKING AND CRASH OF THE SHIP AGAINST THE ROCKS. WITH ELECTRONIC ECHO ADDED TO INCREASE THE DRAMATIC EFFECT. FADE)
SCENE 4 EXTERIOR ACOUSTIC. BRING UP SEAGULLS AND QUIETER SEA WASH.
A DISTANT BELL TOLLS.
TEACHER: Children, are you all here?
CHILDREN: Yes, Mr. Burt.
TEACHER: Come over here, please.

(FEET ON SHINGLE. SEGULLS)
BOY 1: I'm all wet.
BOY 2: Oh, shut up.
GIRL 1: It's so dark on this beach, I'm frightened.
BOY 1: I don't care about that, where's Porky?
BOY 3: I'm thirsty.
GIRL 3:

TEACHER:

BOY 1:
castle
Seaweed
I've got seaweed stuck in my ears

I know you can't see me very well, but I'm here.

I've got a torch. It's not very big though
BOY 2:



CHILDREN:
castle
Torch
Well get it out then. Hurry up.

(SIGH OF RELIEF AS THE LIGHT GOES ON)

There.
TEACHER: Now the thing is children, we've been in this shipwreck, and we seem to have ended up on this beach.
GIRL 1: Look up there on the cliff.
GIRL 2: What is it?
BOY 1: I saw a castle, a huge castle.

(WE STILL HEAR THE TOLLING OF A BELL)
TEACHER: Yes, children. I saw it too. Well, at least it will be somewhere safe to go.
GIRL 1: Looks scary to me.
TEACHER: Come along. Are we all here?
GIRL 2: I think so.
TEACHER: Then all follow me.
SCENE 5 INTERIOR ACOUSTIC. INSIDE TURRET AT PENNY BOTTOM CASTLE.
LADY PENNY: Are they coming, Lampwick?
LAMPWICK: Yes, m'lady.
LADY PENNY: Is she with them? And is she carrying the pentagram with her?
LAMPWICK:


LADY PENNY:



LAMPWICK:
castle
Cliff Path
I can't rightly tell my lady. They're all crowded together, as they make their way up the cliff path.

Right, they'll be arriving at the castle door. You go down and welcome them,very, very nicely. Be very nice to them. They must not suspect a thing.

(SOUNDING VERY SINISTER AS HE LEAVES) Oh, I can be very nice, m'lady.
SCENE 6 EXTERIOR ACOUSTIC. THE CLIFF PATH. THE TOLLING BELL IS CLOSER AND THE SEA WASH FARTHER OFF.
TEACHER: Right, children. It looks as though we are at the castle door.
JOHN: Mr. Burt.
TEACHER: Yes, John?
JOHN: I can't see Maria anywhere.
BOY 2: I can't find her anywhare too.
TEACHER: Right, she must be down on the beach. As soon as I get inside, I'll phone the coast guard to look for her.
DENHAM: Shall I knock?
TEACHER:




LAMPWICK:
castle
Castle
door
Yes, Denham.

(THUMP THUMP THUMP ON DOOR. THUMP THUMP AGAIN AND THE DOOR CREAKS OPEN.)

(VERY SINISTER VOICE) You rang?

(SHARP INTAKE OF BREATH FROM FRIGHTENED CHILDREN)

Oh, don't be scared, children, we're very, very nice. (LAUGHS) We were expecing you. Welcome to Penny-Bottom Castle. Please come in.
SCENE 7 INTERIOR ACOUSTIC. ECHOING DRIPPING NOISES. DOOR CREAKS CLOSED. ECHOING FOOTSTEPS)
BOY 2: I'm hungry. Is that a cheeseburger I smell
BOY 3: Oh, shut up. We're all hungry.
GIRL 2: Why's it called Penny Bottom Castle, when it's up a hill?
LAMPWICK: Oh, everything's upside down here, my darling.
TEACHER: I'm their teacher. Is there a phone I can use? I need to ring the Coastguards.
LAMPWICK: Please, follow me. You need to meet Lady Penny.
BOY 1: He looks like the leader of the Mafia
BOY 2: Only much older.
BOY 3: And uglier.
GIRL 1: Look at that picture. Ugh, the eyes just moved.
BOY 2: Is it me or has my hair gone? There's no refection.
BOY 3: this place is creepy.
GIRL 1: (WHISPERING) Do you think Lady Penny has a large bottom?
GIRL 2: I bet it's enormous
BOY 2: Shut up, you two.

(DOOR OPENS)
LADY PENNY: (WELCOMING) Ah, at last. You're here. We've been expecting you.
TEACHER: I need to use the phone. We've got a child missing.
LADY PENNY: A child missing? What's her name?
TEACHER: I think it's Maria, who's missing
LADY PENNY: Maria. (PAUSE) But of course. Take him to the closet, Lampwick.
LAMPWICK: Very well, Madam.
GIRL 1: The closet?
LADY PENNY: We keep the phone there. It's very peaceful. He'll not be disturbed.
LAMPWICK:
castle
Closet
(SOTTO VOCE) No, he'll not be disturbed there. Ever!
(MOVING AWAY FROM THE CHILDREN.)
(ALOUD) This way, Sir.

(DOOR OPENS)

Just step in here, Sir.
TEACHER: Thank you.

(DISAPPEARING CRY)
LADY PENNY: (APPROACHING) Lampwick?
LAMPWICK: Yes, m'lady?
LADY PENNY: Did you put the floor back in the closet?
LAMPWICK: No, Madam.
LADY PENNY: That was very careless of you, Lampwick.

(LAMPWICK LAUGHS QUIETLY)

Lampwick.
LAMPWICK: (HE CLEARS HIS THROAT) Yes, m'lady?
LADY PENNY: Go and tell the children to rest. Mr Burt, their teacher, has had to go into town to get the Coastguard. And tomorrow morning we'll go on the beach to look for Maria.

(FADE)
SCENE 8 EXTERIOR ACOUSTIC. BRING UP SEAGULLS AND QUIET SEA WASH THE NEXT MORNING.
BOY 1: It's funny Mr Burt hasn't got back from town yet.
BOY 2: Yeah, if the school knew we were here on a deserted beach, looking for a mssing child, they'd do their nut in.
GIRL 1: I know. I hope he's alright.
BOY 1: (CALLING) Maria! Maria! where are you?
GIRL 2: Can you hear us?
BOY 1: (CALLING) Maria!
BOY 2: Let's look for the remains of the ship.
BOY 3: You'd better not be hiding.

(BRING UP SEAWASH AND TAKE DOWN AGAIN TO TAKE US TO ANOTHER PART OF THE BEACH)
LADY PENNY: Have you found her?
LAMPWICK: Not yet, m'lady.
LADY PENNY: Hurry up. We must find her. And the pentagram, she's carrying, before all these horrible children.

(BRING UP SEAWASH AGAIN AND TAKE DOWN AGAIN TO TAKE US BACK TO THE CHILDREN)
LOLA: Where can Maria be?
BOY 1: Be brave, Lola. We'll find her.
GIRL 2: You know what Maria's like.
LOLA: she could be having a laugh
GIRL 1: She may be hiding.
BOY 2: Can we trust Lady Penny?
LOLA: I don't know.
GIRL 1: I don't like Lampwick. He's horrid.
BOY 2: I'm going to phone the coastguard.
GIRL 2: Oh my God, Look there. It's Maria.
BOY 1: She's lying so still. She can't be dead. She can't!
GIRL 2: (WITH SHAKY VOICE) This must be one of her practical jokes.
BOY 2: She's not moving. Look at her hand. Her fist is clenched. There's something in her hand.
BOY 1: What the hell's that?
GIRL 2: I think it's called a pentagram.
BOY 2: You know, like that strange thing the Captain had on his compass.
GIRL 1 : Look. This time two of the tips are missing
BOY 1: You shouldn't touch it. It's the Devil's work.
GIRL 2: (SARCASTIC) Sure. The Devil ! How do you know that?
BOY 1: I just know.
BOY 1: Look the middle is moving. It's gloopy like jelly.

(SINISTER ELECTRONIC SOUND EFFECTS)
GIRL 1:
castle
Shingle
(SOUNDING VERY STRANGE) Don't touch it. Don't touch ....

(SOUNDS EFFECTS INCREASE WITH CHILDREN'S CRIES OF "HELP" ECHOING INTO THE DISTANCE. THEN BRING UP NORMAL NOISE OF SEAWASH AND FOOTSTEPS CRUNCHING THROUGH THE SHINGLE)
LAMPWICK: My Lady.
LADY PENNY: Lampwick?
LAMPWICK: The children. They were on the beach and suddenly....
LADY PENNY: Yes?
LAMPWICK: Suddenly they vanished into thin air.
LADY PENNY: Aah! That means they must have found the pentagram and that means they must have found Maria. Lampwick.
LAMPWICK: Yes, my Lady?
LADY PENNY: We must get back to the castle. You must get out your multiverse, polyphonic telescope and discover, which new universe they've fallen into. I'm going too get that girl. I going to get her!

(FADE. THE END OF EPISODE 1.)

At the closing ceremony, in which the children were awarded STARS (Student talent Achievement Awards), it was immensely rewarding to experience the delight of the children and their families.  One girl, who had been very unconfident at the start, said it had been the best experience of her life.

Episode 2: "Heaven and Hell" at Brislington School, Bristol
Episode 3: "Train Ride to Hell" at Portway School, Bristol
Episode 4: "Attainment" at Henbury School, Bristol

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