The Angel in the House Script

Cast List:

Josephine Hunt: early twenties; avid reader and aspiring writer.

Charlotte Hunt: mid twenties; suffragette, opinionated.

Sir Hunt: Charlotte and Josephine’s father.

Lady Hunt: Charlotte’s and Josephine’s mother.

Clarissa: Serving maid, friend to Josephine, affectionate and kind.

Sophie: Charlotte’s friend, loans her a room, warm and humorous.

Mr Price: Sir Hunt’s colleague, wishes to marry Josephine.

Butler: The Hunt’s butler. Courteous.

Servant: Delivers Lady Hunt’s letter.

A large crowd of suffragettes/feminists: outside Parliament protests.

Newspaper photographer

Group of jeering bystanders: outside Parliament protests.

Small crowd of women/suffragettes: populate Sophie’s flat.

Londoners: populate the streets of London.

 

FADE IN:

EXT. LONDON. OUTSIDE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT. EARLY 20th CENTURY.

Loud scene of chanting women, wearing early 20th Century clothing, waving banners with suffragette slogans and green, purple and white ‘Votes for Women’ sashes. Women chaining themselves to railings, police yelling and pushing women back from railings. Bystanders jeering and booing the women. Calls of ‘shame, shame’ etc.

Cut to a young woman of 24 (CHARLOTTE) chanting, holding up a banner and a photographer taking her photo then running off.

EXT. NIGHT. UPMARKET LONDON STREET.

JOSEPHINE looks out of a top window, weeping and watching her sister in the scene below. Charlotte is being pushed out of a door by her parents (SIR HUNT AND LADY HUNT), thrown out on the street with bags, weeping and distraught. SIR HUNT throws a newspaper out with the photo of Charlotte in newspaper with the headline ‘Militant Suffragettes Strike Again’. She argues with her parents (inaudible), they shut the door in her face.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN:

EXT. NIGHT. LONDON STREET IN CLERKENWELL. A ‘VILLAGE’ GREEN WITH A PUB, SHOPS WITH FLATS ABOVE THEM.

Charlotte enters the door of a flat, where she is received by a woman. They embrace, and the woman takes her bags. The door shuts.

INT. NIGHT. INSIDE CLERKENWELL FLAT.

Charlotte is in bed, the room is dark, but we can see the glint of her eyes. The door is slightly ajar and we can see beyond to the room, where a group of women sit around a table sewing Suffragette sashes and laughing. Charlotte is crying, but the sound is masked by the laughing and chat of the women.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN:

INT. JOSEPHINE’S BEDROOM. DAWN. CURTAINS HALF OPEN.

Josephine is asleep in bed. A notebook is open on the bedcovers. Footsteps approach the door. Quiet knocking. CLARISSA is outside the door, with a water jug and towels.

CLARISSA

Miss?

Your Mother wishes you to be ready for her in an hour.

Miss Josephine? Are you decent?

Clarissa opens the door slowly. It scrapes against the carpet. Clarissa puts the jug and towels on the dressing table and walks across to the curtains and draws them back. The curtains scrape against the iron rail. Josephine’s breathing is disturbed, and she opens her eyes. She notices the notebook and stuffs it underneath the pillow. She sits up. Her hair is messy and she tries to smooth it down. Clarissa curtsies in the direction of the bed.

CLARISSA

Is there anything you need, miss? (She averts her eyes towards the floor).

(Josephine throws back the bedcovers.)

JOSEPHINE

No, Clarissa, that will be all.

Will I meet my Mother in the breakfast room?

(She tries to smooth down her hair again, and her hands shake slightly).

CLARISSA

No, miss.

She said she will be here to lace you up.

Miss…

(She bites her lip and looks down at the carpet.)

JOSEPHINE

Yes?

What is it?

(She tries to reach the floor from the high bed, shifting one leg down at a time, without riding her nightdress up.)

CLARISSA

If you wish, I can lace you up.

(She smiles at Josephine.)

(Josephine reaches the ground. She looks at Clarissa sharply.)

JOSEPHINE

I am…not sure if Lady Hunt would approve of being deprived of her daily sermonising. (She smiles mischievously and spreads her hands) Of course, we could just say that I was…that I could not wait.

(She smiles at Clarissa).

Clarissa curtsies, hiding a smile. She leaves the room, shutting the door behind her. Josephine hurriedly locks the door and walks over to the bed, taking the notebook out from underneath the pillow. She walks over to her desk and unlocks a compartment and takes out a bottle of ink and a pen. She opens the notebook and finishes the unfinished sentence on the open page: ‘She found her way through the dark…the light of the moon on her face.’ Josephine shakes her head and crosses out the line. She hears a noise and her hand knocks over the inkwell. She catches it before it spills everywhere. She packs up the notebook, ink and pen and locks the drawer, and rushes over to wash herself. Clarissa approaches the door. She tries to open the door, but it is locked. Josephine rushes over to the door. She has an ink mark on her petticoat, but doesn’t notice it.

CLARISSA

Miss? Is everything well?

(She frowns, trying the door again.)

(Josephine unlocks the door, sighing with relief. She peers around the door, then opens it to let in Clarissa.)

CLARISSA

We best hurry, miss. I do not know how much longer Lady Hunt will be. I have heard that there is a gentleman meeting your father this morning, and Lady Hunt has been talking of Miss Charlotte.

(She walks over to the bureau to take out the corset.)

JOSEPHINE

Charlotte? Has something happened to my sister?

(There is a tremor in her hand, and she shakes it out. She frowns, worried.)

(Clarissa walks over to Josephine and ties the corset around her waist. Clarissa notices the ink spot on Josephine’s petticoat and is startled, but hides her reaction.)

CLARISSA

You best not worry, miss. Lady Hunt has been reading the news again.

(She begins tight-lacing Josephine into the corset.)

(Josephine shuts her eyes tight, grimacing as the corset is pulled tighter. She becomes slightly breathless.)

JOSEPHINE

Stop…that’s enough.

(breathless, shallow gasps.)

Loud knocking commences across the hall. Both women flinch, Josephine glances towards the door. Clarissa snatches a dress and flings it over Josephine. More fumbling and lacing. Josephine puts on her boots and holds them out to Clarissa, since she is unable to bend down with the corset done up.

JOSEPHINE

Hurry. Is there enough time to loosen the stays? (breathless.)

(She darts a look towards the door then back to Clarissa).

Loud authoritative knock on the door. Clarissa and Josephine straighten their backs. Lady Hunt is at the door. She has a twitch at the side of her mouth and a rigid back.

LADY HUNT

Josephine, I have been informed that you are already laced up. Be mindful of Mr Fordyce’s foremost lessons as we have a gentleman caller this afternoon. Your father and I expect you to be in your very best behaviour. (Shrill voice.) What are we to do? She has been in the news again this very morning. The front page!

(Pause. She calms herself.)

It is highly unnatural the way these…harpies carry on. We depend upon you more than ever. Be ready to meet the gentleman at approximately forty minutes past the hour.

Lady Hunt turns and walks off quickly, her dress swishing behind her. Clarissa leaves the room, pulling a face after Lady Hunt, and Josephine stares at the door. She walks over to the window and looks out onto the street, where the newspaper is lying, dirty and sodden.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN:

MR PRICE is entering Sir Hunt’s study, led by the BUTLER. The Butler leaves and Mr Price nods at Sir Hunt. Sir Hunt lights up a pipe and gestures for Mr Price to sit down. He produces a daguerreotype of Josephine and passes it to Mr Price. Mr Price glances at the image and nods, raising an eyebrow.

MR PRICE

Sir…

(Pause.)

I will take nothing less than exemplar behaviour.

(He clears his throat)

I do trust that I will get what I ask for. Obeisance is at the top of my list. After your deep family shame of…I have heard, all things (beat) a suffragette (he spits out word), I must know of what sort of stock I will receive. It will not do to have my reputation sullied by disgusting behaviour.

(Mr Price stares stonily at Sir Hunt. Sir Hunt smiles.)

(Josephine is walking down the staircase. She is distracted by the sound of the voices of the two men in the study. Curious, she draws closer and listens.)

SIR HUNT

I can assure you that your interests will be protected. (Pause) Indeed, you can expect nothing less than complete obeisance and the finest compliant nature there ever was. Indeed…(he trails off.) Our training has resulted in the very best behaviour, and, dear sir, I am cheered that you may be able to mould it further. (He smiles and exhales smoke. The smoke momentarily obscures his face.) The lacing has provided favourable results, and my wife is confident that you will be able to display a fine figure to society.

(His eyes stray to the daguerreotype. Distracted, he notices a concealed photo of Charlotte jutting out of a drawer and takes a sharp intake of breath.)

MR PRICE

Indeed. The lacing will be an asset. (He smirks) I have heard of dress reform for young ladies, which I am against. (His eyes flick to the daguerreotype) All women are the property of men. As such, their bodies must be controlled in order to achieve maximum control of their temperaments.

(He raises an eyebrow at Sir Hunt, who is staring at the photo of Charlotte with his eyes narrowed. Sir Hunt lets out a puff of smoke.)

Josephine’s mouth drops open and she backs away from the study door. Covering her mouth, she rushes into the breakfast room, where Lady Hunt is sipping at a cup of tea. Lady Hunt raises her eyebrows. Josephine sits in silence, her eyes downcast. Lady Hunt smiles at Josephine.

LADY HUNT

You are very well behaved this morning, dear. Please do try to sit up straight. (She sighs) I believe that is your father and Mr Price. He has shown particular interest in meeting you this morning. (She smiles) Upon my word, it is an honour. He is an exemplar young man, and…he would do very well. I only want the best for my daughters…(she sucks in a breath)..my daughter.

Josephine stares at Lady Hunt. Lady Hunt takes a sip of tea, smiling.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN:

INT. DAY. CLERKENWELL FLAT.

Charlotte is sitting in the living room of the flat, sewing a banner. She is deep in thought. A group of women at the table with her laugh and chat. SOPHIE brings Charlotte a cup of tea and smiles at her. Charlotte thanks her and she takes a grateful sip.

SOPHIE

Charlie, you could not have known the press would put you on the front page. I am sure that if we had known, we would not have put you on the front line. (She sighs and squeezes Charlotte’s hand).

CHARLOTTE

I was honoured being on the front line. No, it is not that. I am just…concerned. My sister…you see, I overheard my parents, and what they expect of her. She is one of those people who need to make their own mind up…(sighs) but I sometimes fear that she is too easily persuaded.

SOPHIE

Do you think…(Pause.) I know it is presumptuous of me…but do you think she is happy where she is? (She bites her lips.)

(Charlotte smiles and takes a sip of tea. She puts her sewing down.)

CHARLOTTE

You know, I have always wondered that same thing. Jo is one of those people who live in their own world. When she was a child, she used to spend her spare time in the library, reading and writing. (She smiles then frowns.) Yet she was easily moulded to the whims of our parents. My mother is my father’s shadow, a parrot….even though I did feel some warmth from her. Occasionally. I feel wicked for speaking of other women that way. It is not her fault. (She smiles a watery smile).

(Sophie gives Charlotte a hug, and Charlotte laughs. Sophie grins and butters some toast, handing a slice to Charlotte.)

CHARLOTTE

You must think I am such a neurotic! (she laughs again) Do you know, it feels wonderful to be able to speak my own mind. (She bites into some toast).

SOPHIE

Oh yes, and not have to wear a corset!

(They both laugh.)

FADE OUT.

FADE IN:

INT. THE HUNT’S LIVING ROOM. LATE MORNING.

Josephine is smiling to herself, reading a book. She laughs and Lady Hunt shushes her, with raised eyebrows. Lady Hunt is writing a letter. Sir Hunt enters, with Mr Price behind him. Josephine is startled and hastily hides the book behind her, behind a cushion. She sits up straighter. Lady Hunt beams, and stands up. Josephine doesn’t stand up. Sir Hunt walks over to her and looks down at her – he seems to loom.

SIR HUNT

(Sternly) Josephine, this good gentleman is Mr Price. We have been undertaking some most…satisfactory business this morning, and he was most…eager to meet you.

(He gestures to Mr Price, smiling a slow satisfied smile)

(Mr Price steps forward, and Josephine stands up, holding out her hand)

(Mr Price looks Josephine over slowly, without meeting her eyes. He doesn’t take her offered hand and avoids her eyes. He remains expressionless.)

MR PRICE

Miss Hunt. We finally meet. I trust I find you well this morning.

(He bows and walks off to sit down next to Sir Hunt.)

(Pause.)

Josephine sits down, subdued. Lady Hunt rings for tea. Sir Hunt and Mr Price talk inaudibly. Mr Price glances at Josephine. Josephine looks up and meets his eyes, but he looks away quickly. Josephine continues to look at the two men. Mr Price knows she is looking – his face is turned at a half angle towards her as he talks to Mr Hunt. Josephine fidgets and looks towards the door.

MR HUNT

My dear sir, do you know what a novelty it is to have another man in the house? Why, I am overrun by women. They are nothing for conversation. It is generally quite tiresome here in the evenings.

(He glances towards Lady Hunt, who is pretending not to listen.)

MR PRICE

Indeed, I prefer the company of men in the evenings. Women are the best ornaments in company, but compared to the intelligence and knowledge of men, their company is tiresome indeed. (He clears his throat and looks towards a bookshelf) I see you have the new novels.

MR HUNT

Oh, pay no mind to those. It is customary that I order the latest novels every month. Nobody reads them (he flicks a quick dark glance at Josephine) but I pride myself on keeping a good collection.

MR PRICE

I am quite relieved! The latest proliferation of writing by women (his eyebrows shoot up and his voice lowers) is a scandal! What can they have to write about? Nothing worth a whole novel, I am sure. Quite unnatural. (He flicks his hand and laughs).

(Mr Price and Mr Hunt laugh. Josephine stares at the floor and sits in her seat rigidly.)

There is a loud crash as Clarissa almost falls into the room carrying the tea tray. She is bright red and apologises over and over. Mr Price and Mr Hunt exchange meaningful looks. Josephine stares at Clarissa with a worried frown.

MR HUNT

Please excuse this embarrassing display (to Mr Price). (To Clarissa) What is the meaning of this?

Clarissa mumbles apologies and sets the tea tray on the table. She begins pouring tea. The men resume conversation. Clarissa glances at Josephine, who stares in silence at the two men. She is drawn and pale. Clarissa frowns and stops pouring. She stops herself and continues serving the tea. Josephine fidgets. Lady Hunt glares at Clarissa. Lady Hunt smiles benignly at Mr Price. Mr Price ignores her. Lady Hunt continues with her letter. Clarissa gives everyone a cup of tea. She gives Josephine a cup of tea and smiles at her warmly. Josephine thanks her with a weak smile.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN:

INT AND EXT AS FOLLOWS:

MONTAGE:

Lady Hunt gives a servant a letter in the hall.

THE SERVANT leaves the house with the letter.

The servant is outside the Clerkenwell flat.

Sophie takes the letter at the door.

Charlotte reading the letter, crying.

Charlotte writing a letter.

Lady Hunt leaving the house in a carriage.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN:

INT. JOSEPHINE’S ROOM. LATE AFTERNOON.

Josephine is sitting is silence at her desk. Her eyes stray to the window and then to the clock. She walks over to the window and looks out. The newspaper is now a mess of pulp on the pavement. She closes the curtains and locks the door, and takes out a suitcase, and begins packing hurriedly. She pauses and unlocks the desk to take out the notebook, pens and inks. She rips out a page from the notebook and sits down to write a letter.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN:

INT. TEA ROOM. LATE AFTERNOON.

Lady Hunt is ushered into a private room. She sits at the table, fidgeting. Charlotte enters. They both look at each other in silence. Charlotte’s face is tense and her eyes are watery. Lady Hunt holds out a hand. Charlotte looks at it and then back at Lady Hunt’s face. She bursts into tears and embraces Lady Hunt.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN:

INT. EVENING. THE HUNT’S HOUSE.

Lady Hunt is walking quickly through the rooms at the top of the house. She is breathless and red in the face. Her hair is in disarray. She opens and closes doors in quick succession, looking in each thoroughly. She reaches Josephine’s room and bursts in. She runs over to the curtains and throws them open, and notices the mess in the room, a look of horror on her face. A corset is discarded on the floor. Her eyes flick to the desk where she notices the letter. An inkwell is knocked on its side, dripping ink onto the floor. She rushes over and tears the letter open. She collapses into the chair, getting ink on her hands and dress. She begins to sob, quietly at first but then violently.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN:

INT. EVENING. THE HUNT’S LIVING ROOM.

Sir Hunt is shouting at Lady Hunt. He is becoming increasingly violent. He knocks over a vase and then grabs a poker, smashing the bookshelf and the table. He drops the poker and turns to his wife. Lady Hunt cowers and backs away.

SIR HUNT

This is your entire fault! How dare you let this happen! Your loose ways and uncontrolled behaviour (he smirks) Mr Price is right…all women are worthless harpies, their heads full of fluff and inconsequential rubbish. (He stills and stares at Lady Hunt).

LADY HUNT

(She blinks and swallows). Rupert, please…(she chokes back a sob).

SIR HUNT

Yes dear? (he smirks and steps forward one step.) What is it? Well?

(He laughs)

LADY HUNT

Rupert…(she looks up into his face)…please. I have done nothing wrong.

SIR HUNT

Nothing wrong? You stupid woman. (he advances further forward and comes an arms width away from Lady Hunt.) Remember who you are talking to. Nothing gets past the head of the house. I have been watching you. A husband has supreme right over his property…

(He laughs)

Lady Hunt sobs and looks at the floor. Sir Hunt laughs. His arm shoots out and he grabs her wrist. She screams and he flings her to the floor. He advances.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN:

INT. NIGHT. CARRIAGE.

Josephine is watching the scenery race by in a carriage. The streets of London go by, lamp lit streets and crowds of Londoners outside pubs, laughter and noise. She holds the notebook in her hands and flicks through it. The carriage stops and Josephine peers out. She has arrived at Clerkenwell.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN:

INT. DAY. CLERKENWELL FLAT.

MONTAGE:

Josephine, Charlotte and Sophie talking in the flat over cups of tea.

Josephine writing in the living room of the flat whilst Charlotte sews the banner.

Charlotte and Josephine laughing with other women in the flat.

Charlotte showing Josephine the letter from Lady Hunt.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN:

INT. LADY HUNT’S ROOM. MORNING.

Clarissa enters the room and draws back the curtains. She approaches the bed with breakfast. Lady Hunt is in bed. She has a bruise on the side of her face and is weak and pale. Clarissa helps her sit up, and helps her eat breakfast.

LADY HUNT

You are very kind. Is there…(Pause.)…any news?

CLARISSA

All is well. I have heard from Miss Josephine. She arrived safely and Miss Charlotte was overjoyed to see her. (She helps Lady Hunt drink a cup of tea.)

LADY HUNT

I am glad. My daughters deserve nothing less. (She smiles a painful smile at Clarissa).

(Clarissa squeezes Lady Hunt’s hand.)

FADE OUT.

FADE IN:

INT. DAY. CLERKENWELL FLAT.

Josephine is writing in her notebook in the living room. Sophie and Charlotte are getting ready to leave for a protest.

CHARLOTTE

(To Josephine) Are you sure you do not want to come? My first time was difficult but it gets better. (She smiles) Sometimes it feels as though it was years ago.

JOSEPHINE

I will come along eventually. I am afraid of being seen by our father or (shudders) Mr Price. I hope you do not think that this means I do not believe in what you are doing. I have never been so…inspired. (she smiles)

Charlotte and Sophie laugh and put on their coats. They leave and Josephine carries on writing, surrounded by books.

EXT. DAY. OUTSIDE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT.

Crowd of women marching and protesting outside Houses of Parliament. Charlotte and Sophie are marching with the banner they have been working on. It reads: ‘Women Never Shall Be Slaves.’

FADE OUT.

(Estimated Performance Time: 15 minutes.)