Wallis – A Certain Person
A Play with Music
Set between 1931 and 1936 the play focuses on the love affair between the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) and Wallis Simpson that led to the biggest constitutional crisis in modern royal history.
Just how did Mrs Simpson, a divorced American, capture and keep the heart of the playboy prince? What secrets lay beneath the scandal that rocked British Society and threatened to bring down Stanley Baldwin’s Government?
Written by Jennifer Selway
Original Music by Simon Slater
Commissioned, devised and originally directed by John Plews
Cast comprises: 5 males & 4 females
Act 1: 55 mins / Act 2: 75 mins (plus an interval)
CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE AND SCENES OF A SEXUAL NATURE – NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN UNDER 12
Wallis is set between January 1931 and December 1936 at various locations including Wallis and Ernest Simpson’s flat at Bryanston Court, Marylebone; Thelma Furness’ country residence in Burrough Court, Leicestershire; a small bed-sit in Bayswater; The Palm Court tea-rooms at The Ritz; Fort Belvedere in Windsor Great Park and 10 Downing Street.
As the play opens we meet Raymond Crabbe (a valet) and Pearl Jones (a maid). These are the only two fictional characters. They comment on the royal goings on throughout the play and Raymond sings and plays the piano in the style of Noel Coward. Pearl and Raymond lay the table for a dinner party that introduces, to the audience, the Prince of Wales, his current girlfriend, Lady Thelma Furness, Mr & Mrs Simpson, Lady Cunard and Edward (Fruity) Metcalf. There follows, over a five year period, the relationship that develops between Wallis and the Prince. The Royal scandal involves Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin who looks to his wife for advice in dealing with an unprecedented Royal scandal. The play concludes with the famous abdication speech as Edward VIII gives up the throne for the woman he loves.
WALLIS - CAST BREAKDOWN
All ages refer to Act 1 Scene 1. The play begins in 1931 and ends in 1936.
Pearl: Maid to the Lady Furness. Chirpy cockney (father is a dock worker), new in the job but bright and confident.
Pearl is a fictional character.
Playing age: 19-20
Raymond: Valet to the Prince of Wales. Slightly camp (it is 1931). Must be able to sing and play the piano in the style of Noel
Raymond is a fictional character.
Playing age: 25-30
Wallis Simpson: “That” woman who stole the heart of the Prince of Wales and nearly brought down the British Monarchy. She has angular (almost masculine) features, tall and thin. There is a huge amount of information about Wallis on numerous websites.
Playing age: 34
Thelma (Lady) Furness:
As our play opens she is the current mistress of the Prince of Wales, young but knows exactly what she’s doing. American (but born in Switzerland) her second husband was Marmaduke Furness and after being supplanted by Wallis she had an affair with Prince Aly Khan. Her twin sister was Gloria Vanderbilt.
Playing age: 26
Ernest Simpson: American born but naturalised British – a shipping executive who married Wallis in 1928. Served in the First World War and eventually married Mary Kirk who had been a bridesmaid at his marriage to Wallis.
Playing age: 34
Edward (Fruity) Metcalf:
Confidant and equerry to the Prince of Wales. Served in the British Indian Army where he impressed the Prince with his knowledge and ability to organise. Was a trusted member of the Prince of Wales’ staff and Best Man at his wedding to Wallis after the abdication. His ‘after-hours’ tastes were rumoured to be bi-sexual.
Playing age: 43
Lady Emerald Cunard:
American born, London based society hostess and friend of Wallis. She was born Maud Burke but married shipping heir Sir Buche Cunard in 1895.
Playing age: 58
David, Prince of Wales:
Eldest son of George V and Queen Mary, he served in the British Army in WW1. In the 1920s he became a ‘celebrity prince’, escorting various married women to social events, much to the disgust of his mother and father. He was a genuine playboy and there is (like Wallis) a huge amount of information about him on websites. Although for a short time (in 1936) he became Edward VIII he was known in social circles as David.
Playing age: 36
Conservative Prime Minister between June 1935 and May 1937. This was his third term as Prime Minister and
he is recognised as being one of the leading politicians of the inter-war years. The abdication was one of his many challenges, he said he would have preferred it if Wallis had been a “respectable whore” and did his best to persuade the King not to abdicate – he failed and had to deal with the royal crisis that enveloped the country. Playing age: 63 in 1935 (doesn’t appear until Act 2)
Lucy Baldwin: To be played by the actress playing Lady Cunard in Act 1. Born in London, raised in Sussex she was very active in maternity health throughout her life. She married Stanley Baldwin in 1892 and helped him considerably during his years as Prime Minister.
Playing age: 61 in 1935
WALLIS - STAGE SET
Wallis and Ernest Simpson’s flat at Bryanston Court, Marylebone; Thelma Furness’ country residence in Burrough Court, Leicestershire; a small bed-sit in Bayswater; The Palm Court tea-rooms at The Ritz; Fort Belvedere in Windsor Great Park and 10 Downing Street.
In the original production a revolve was used to help the multi-location requirement..
WORDING FOR THE PROGRAMME
The action takes place between 1931 and 1936
WALLIS ORIGINAL SONGS
1) They Just Adore Her
2) Butt Me
4) A Love You Don’t Want
The above songs are played and sung from the piano by Raymond the valet .
Music by Simon Slater
Lyrics by Jennifer Selway
RECORDED MUSIC / SOUND FX
Background 1930’s jazz for scene changes
1) 1930’s telephone ring
2) 1930’s French telephone ring
4) Radio announcement
5) BBC 1930’s style microphone for live abdication speech