The Boarding House
a play in one act
adapted from James Joyce’s “The Dubliners”
by David Klein
About the Play: A one-act play, The Boarding House is a dramatic adaptation of the story by James Joyce. Mrs. Mooney, the owner of a boarding house of questionable reputation, uses the wiles of her daughter Polly and the power of the Church to snare one of her more respectable boarders as her potential son-in-law.
Mrs. Mooney: A woman in her mid fifties.
Mary A maid from the country, eighteen years old.
Polly Mrs. Mooney's nineteen year old daughter.
Bob Doran: A boarder in Mrs. Mooney's house. He is about thirty-five years old.
The Place: Ireland
The Time: The late 1900's
The Scene: The setting is a front parlor, furnished with a couch, some over-stuffed chairs, and a table or two. Against the back wall is a window covered with white lace curtains. Beside the window is a long pier-glass, The setting should be light and airy with an atmosphere of pristine purity.
From the Play:
Polly: (to Mr. Doran) What are we going to do?
Doran: What am I going to do. How can I find a way out of this mess?
Polly: But I thought you loved me. You said you loved me, and you know I love you. You know how much I care for you. I fell asleep waiting for you to come home last night. I saved a piece of cake for you and . . .
Doran: (Impatiently.) Stop babbling, Polly. I never promised you anything. I've never lied to you, have I?
Polly: But you've said you loved me. If I ‘d known you'd take on like this, I would've never . . .
Doran: Started the affair. You were the one who trapped me. Remember, you knocked on my door one night and . . .
Polly: I only asked you to relight my candle after a gust had blown it out.
Doran: You were half naked!
Polly: It was bath night and I wore a flannel robe . . .
Doran: . . . that flew open and then. .
Polly: . . . then we kissed and kissed and I lost all self-control for love of you. I didn't plan to fall in love and . . .
Doran: (Throwing up his arms.) This is what it led to-- scenes and hysteria. I should have known better than to have an affair with a nineteen year old girl. I should have been more discreet. I should have--
Polly: (Crying.) What’s going to happen to us? Mother wants to see you. What will you tell her?
Doran: Don't worry, Polly. Your mother is no match for me.
(From the hallway, Mrs. Mooney can be heard coughing repeatedly. She then enters.)
Mrs. Mooney: I think you both have had ample time to take care of business.
Polly: But, mother, Bob won't . . .
Mrs. Mooney: Mr. Doran will do what is proper after I have a chat with him. Now, Polly, leave us alone for a few minutes and then I’ll call for you.
(Still crying, and casting woeful glances at Doran. Polly exits, reluctantly.)
Mrs. Mooney: Let's not waste time, Mr. Doran, and get down to business You owe me an apology and you owe Polly...
Doran: I don’t owe anyone an apology. Whatever happened was not my fault.
Mrs. Mooney: Are you blaming Polly? Why, no one in his right mind would believe that.
Doran: What I am saying is the truth, like it or not. I didn’t make the first move. She started things up .
Mrs. Mooney: And you think you can go off without making reparations?
Doran: Is it money you're after? How much do you want to hush up the affair? Twenty-five pounds?
Mrs. Mooney: (Indignantly.) Twenty-five pounds?
Doran: Well, then, fifty?
Mrs. Mooney: (Laughing.) Fifty?
Doran: Then, seventy-five pounds. Seventy-five pounds is the highest I'll go.
Mrs. Mooney: Some mothers, I've heard, would accept such paltry sums.
Doran: (Reluctantly.) Then, one hundred pounds. Take it, or leave it.
Mrs. Mooney: (Looking outraged.) Have you lost all sense of decency to think that I would barter for my child?
Child? You call her a child?
Mrs. Mooney: Yes, a child, an innocent child.
Doran: I'd call her a seductress.
Mrs. Mooney: (Becoming exasperated.) Let's be honest and stop this charade. A man of your experience would find it easy to take advantage of a young girl. Anyone can see that you're a man of this world who has tasted its pleasures, and that you're old enough to know better than to prey on a . . .
Doran: A clever temptress. She enticed me over and over again--as if it had all been planned out.