Best Served Cold

Written by:

Emily Adams

Cast Size:
6

Roles For:

  • Men: 4
  • Women: 2

Genre:

Dark Comedy

Themes:

Competition
Cooperation

Length:

35 min.

Year Written:

2022

Synopsis:

Four acting students; Sophie, Dan, Shane, and Francesca, must perform a murder mystery dinner for their final performance; in competition for a paid internship with Shakespeare In The Park. This proves to be a difficult task, as the event takes places at a lake house in the middle of nowhere, and Sophie has a life-threatening food allergy. On top of this, their bitter retired puppeteer of a professor; Douglas Underhill, has miscast the students into roles that highlight their weaknesses. The performance goes horribly awry when Dan forgets the fake poison his character needs to “assassinate” Shane, and Francesca attempts to make Sophie have an allergic reaction, so that she’ll be unable to perform and out of the running. This play requires a minimum of five actors, but more could be added for the roles that are spoken off-stage.

Characters:

DOUGLAS UNDERHILL: A reluctant and questionably competent acting professor; aged in his 50’s or early 60’s, who really wanted to be an actor, but had only minimal success as a puppeteer. DOUGLAS struggles to balance his career with his marriage and family life, and carries some deep-seated regrets about how his life has turned out.

FRANCESCA: A student in DOUGLAS’ Acting IV class; FRANCESCA is a solid actor, and also a very talented soprano, but is somewhat plain, and not fashion-savvy. For this reason, she often gets overlooked for roles. FRANCESCA is of Italian descent, but could be played by an actor of any nationality, with the implication that her family is Italian. FRANCESCA is cast as the Fashion Model in the murder mystery story.

SOPHIE: Another student in DOUGLAS’ Acting IV class, and girlfriend of DAN. SOPHIE is an excellent actor, but struggles with singing, which is a sore point with her. She is very pretty and stylish, and is very much a “people pleaser/team player” type, which has given her some unfair advantages. SOPHIE is rather prone to illness, and severely allergic to milk. She wears a Medic Alert tag, and carries an Epi-Pen in a stylish clutch purse. SOPHIE is cast as the Soprano in the murder mystery story.

SHANE: Another student in DOUGLAS’ Acting IV class. SHANE is often underestimated, and because of this, his character in the murder mystery story has been chosen as the “murder victim,” which he resents a great deal. SHANE is very skilled in dance; especially ballet. However, he struggles with poor body image and an unhealthy relationship with food; largely due to his dance training. SHANE is cast as the Chef in the murder mystery story.

DAN: Another student in DOUGLAS’ Acting IV class, and boyfriend of SOPHIE. Unlike SHANE, DAN is not a good dancer, because he is clumsy due to his astigmatism that requires him to wear thick glasses. However, unlike SHANE, DAN is very good at cooking. DAN is also unaware of anything that is going on among the other STUDENTS during the dinner, and simply follows the script as written. DAN is cast as the DANCER in the murder mystery story.

SUSAN UNDERHILL: DOUGLAS’ wife; aged in her 50’s or early 60’s. Despite being kind, affable, and well-liked by everyone she meets, SUSAN often feels neglected by DOUGLAS, as he puts in long hours at the university; struggling to keep up with the workload, and resentful of the role she must play as a “faculty wife.” Doesn’t appear. Voiced from offstage.

911 OPERATOR: Adult, any gender. Doesn’t appear. Voiced from offstage*
*Since this is a small part that doesn’t justify being cast separately, it could be pre-recorded, or done by a stage hand reading from a script, since they won’t be visible. Alternatively, it could be done by the actor playing DOUGLAS or FRANCESCA, if the dining table is under blackout while DAN is on the phone with 911, and SHANE is attempting to wrestle the phone away from DAN.

PRISON WARDEN: Adult, any gender. Doesn’t appear. This role is voiced from offstage, and could be played by any of the actors besides the actor playing FRANCESCA.

PRISONER: Adult, any gender. Doesn’t appear. This role is voiced from offstage, and could be played by any of the actors besides the actor playing FRANCESCA.

Resources:

People can access the script by e-mailing the playwright at emily_adams84@yahoo.ca