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“I Give You My Word”

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Jones, Mark A. P. (Australian playwright, screenwriter, 1962-____), “I Give You My Word,”

a 30-minute social commentary drama in English, set in a hospital ward, 3:00, Saturday afternoon, May 14, 2003,

2m2f; • © 2003 by Mark A. P. Jones; • in Mark A. P. Jones’ I Give You My Word (Endeavour Hills, Victoria, Australia: The Author, 2003) ; • script/rights available from Mark A. P. Jones. • Cited by Mark A. P. Jones via ftp July 23, 2004; Jones says,

§ Dramatis Personae Frank (m), late 60s, married to Helen for fifty years; Justin (m), late 20s, Frank and Helen's son, car salesman; Josephine (f), mid 30s, Frank and Helen's daughter, aspiring partner in a small law firm; Helen (f voiceover), late 60's, married to Frank, now confined to hospital bed with the last stages of picks disease, a rare form of dementia.

§ Synopsis “Helen has spent the past twelve months in a hospital ward suffering from the final stages of Pick's disease, whereby she is now unable to communicate with those around her and death would appear inevitable. Frank believes that Helen is in pain despite what the doctors have told him. The discovery of a note written many years before, a pledge to protect his wife in the event of terminal illness, leads Frank down the controversial path of euthanasia. Justin arrives unannounced and overhears Frank’s plan with one of the doctors to end Helen’s suffering. Josephine arrives a short time later, also unannounced, and Justin confronts her with the grim news. Josephine confronts Frank about his intentions, informing him that to do so would most likely land him in prison. Frank breaks down and agrees not to follow through. Believing that they have successfully averted Frank's plan, Justin and Josephine leave the hospital. With the children gone, Frank feebly attempts to carry out his original promise, but Josephine returns for the bag she left behind and discovers him. Seeing that she can't trust him alone with Helen, Josephine sends Frank away. Fearing that Frank will inevitably make another attempt and likely land himself in prison, Josephine takes control of the situation by taking Helen’s life herself.

§ Comment “The minimalist set requires no scene changes and few props. Helen cannot communicate to her family; the audience accesses her thoughts by voiceover. This gives the subject matter a unique dynamic. • This play has seen two productions in Australia. In one, Helen was only a voiceover, and in the other, Helen sat on a stool to one side of the action. Hence, creative directors have flexibility regarding this role. The play was short-listed for the Glen Eira Literary Awards in 2003 and came third in the Camberwell Theatre Company's Playwright competition in 2003. The Camberwell Theatre Company performed the play in December, 2003, and in November, 2003, as part of the 'Pulse' short play season at Dancehouse. • Mark Jones began serious playwriting in 2002 and writes children's fiction and screenplays.”

§ Themes commitment, death, dementia, euthanasia, family, father-daughter relationship, love, life support, moral ambiguity, Pick’s disease, sibling relationship, terminal illness.

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Page mounted July 25, 2004, and updated November 7, 2004, June 27, 2005, and updated August 1, 2005, by the Webmaster.

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