Dangerous Curiosities

by Anita Sullivan
Dangerous Curiosities actor portrait


'Dangerous Curiosities' comprises of three short plays based on the supernatural stories of M.R. James. These are 'The Whistle' (based on 'Whistle and I'll Come to you, My Lad), 'The Experiment' and 'The Maze' (based on 'Mr. Humphrey's Inheritance'). All three tales explore sinister nature of everyday objects and settings, and the terror of the unknown and uncontrollable.

The plays were produced by Eastern Angles and toured East Anglia in winter 1998 under the title 'A Warning to the Curious'. Directed by Ben Harrison. Designed by Fred Meller.

Duration: three linked 40 minute plays.


MR James academic page: http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~pardos/GS.html

Links to James stories: http://www.litgothic.com/Authors/mrjames.html



[Eleanor, Oliver and Nairn are in Nairn's office. Eleanor has just broken down in tears and there is a long silence.]

NAIRN -I am not in the least put out by this myself, Mrs Karswell, let me assure you. Take all the time you need to compose yourself. Obviously I think no less of you for your outburst. Far from it. This sober office has seen all extremes of human emotion from even the most respectable of people... I am so sorry Mrs. Karswell. I understand your distress. I am sure there is nothing to fear in the will, Mrs. Karswell. If tomorrow would be more suitable...


NAIRN -Then perhaps you would like to take a walk and...

ELEANOR -I have recovered.

NAIRN -Shall I have the maid to bring you...

OLIVER -My mother would like the will to be read now.

NAIRN -Of course. The Last Will and Testament of Nathaniel James Karswell, signed... do you confirm this signature as belonging to the deceased?


NAIRN -...and witnessed by Doctor William Fowler, of Old College Cambridge, dated May this year. So you know this Dr. Fowler?


NAIRN -"I Nathaniel James Karswell..."

[There is a deep sigh. Eleanor shudders.]

OLIVER -Please skip the legal terminology. A summary will suffice.

NAIRN -Certainly sir.

[Pause while Nairn skims the will. They wait. Eleanor takes Oliver's hand and holds it tightly.]

NAIRN -Yes... unusual, but legally straightforward. He has bequeathed all his wealth to you, Mr Oliver Karswell, under the strict instruction that you do not live at the house. This along with its contents is bequeathed to Mrs Eleanor Karswell, his wife, with a retainer for maintenance. There are some small effects of minor material value destined for other individuals...but in short, the wealth, property and estate fall entirely to yourselves.

OLIVER -It is as we hoped.

NAIRN -Although nothing could replace the man you have lost...


NAIRN -This must be of some small comfort. As I expected the deceased has specified here his preference for funeral provision... if Mrs Karswell is recovered...

ELEANOR -Yes. Continue...

NAIN -Very good.

[Skim reading the paper he draws a sharp breath.]

OLIVER -What is it?

NAIRN -This is most irregular... I knew Karswell was a man of science, rather than of God, but this...

ELEANOR -Read my husband's will Mr. Nairn. I wish to hear his last request.

NAIRN-Very well. He insists there should be no religious service or burial ceremony of any sort...

OLIVER -As we expected.

NAIRN -He requests to be buried within two days of death...

OLIVER -That would have to be tonight...

NAIRN -In open ground. On his own land. Without a coffin, naked...

OLIVER -Good God...

NAIRN -And with his eyes sewn open.


A true demonstration of the power of live theatre… a strong script is transformed into a spectacular piece of drama. Essex County Standard 20/11/98 Eddie Howes

It is easy to enter into their blackly sinister world… frightens the daylights out of the audience... a gripping evening. Evening Star 25/11/98 Carol Carver


Dangerous Curiosities

Janet Jeffries as Eleanor Karswell

Dangrous Curiosities cast


Dangerous curiosities poster


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