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Witch One Dunnit

A Murder Mystery Play

This play is designed to be performed by at least 4 actors. 2 of


the actors will play dual rolls i.e. the Laird also plays the Butler,
The Gardener also plays the Maid.

The scene setting will take place during the course of the dinner
with the murder and guest interaction parts happening after.

The basic plot is as follows:

The Laird Robert Shaw has a 14 year old daughter Kirsty. His
wife (Kirsty’s mother) died several years ago and the two have
lived alone. Recently, however, The Laird has remarried a much
younger woman, Cassandra, whom Kirsty does not like.

Kirsty is a very unpleasant girl and throughout the course of the


evening she is to be discovered to be cruel to the maid, to be
the cause of the Butler’s wife being unjustly jailed for theft, to be
the bane of the gardener’s life with her selfish exploits and to be
guilty of sharing in gossip and blackmailing various people.

Upon her death the following motives are to be played out by


the characters:

The Laird : was his daughter really a witch? Would he kill her
just to save his family the shame?

Cassandra : is Kirsty blackmailing her about something? Could


she be making her life so unpleasant that she would resort to
murder?

The Butler : Kirsty has had him separated from his wife – would
he murder her in revenge?

The Gardener : he has a history of mental instability – could


Kirsty’s cruelty have pushed him over the edge?

The Maid : forever the brunt of Kirsty’s cruelty – but was there
some darker motive lurking behind? Was Kirsty about to accuse
her of witchcraft?

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Evidence will be discovered throughout the course of the
evening:

Cassandra will ‘accidentally’ leave a blackmail note torn up


among the audience. She will have used the back of it to write
an unrelated note and have left it on each table. It is up to the
tables to look at the other side of the note, to realise it is a
puzzle and to join the pieces together. Once combined they will
indicate that someone is blackmailing someone else – but they
need to guess who it could be. We would hope that the fact that
it is Cassandra using the paper they will realise that she is the
victim. The sender will be identified as Kirsty by using the same
paper as is found among her book later to be discovered.

The blackmail book shows that Kirsty was gathering evidence


against various people. Perhaps she has some of her father’s
zeal for witch hunting? Perhaps she is just a nasty piece of
work…. The book will contain scraps of spells she has
discovered (or perhaps planted on innocent victims?), scraps of
paper matching those used in the blackmail note above and the
remains of a scroll she has taken from her father’s collection
detailing some of the incidents that occurred in Cassandra’s
household when she was a child. It is this last piece that she
was using against Cassandra to get her to leave the household
and so return her to her position as future lady of the estate.

A doll will be produced that it is suggested has been used for


bewitching purposes. It will be presented as belonging to the
maid however she will deny it. It is infact a protection doll that
witches may make of themselves to keep close by to protect
themselves from harm from others. It is hoped that the audience
will tie it to Cassandra by the same material being used for the
doll as is in a ribbon in Cassandra’s hair.

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The eventual outcome will show Cassandra as the murderer. Her
motive was to rid herself of Kirsty who was blackmailing her
using the evidence showing that as a child she was accused of
witchcraft and only escaped when her family home (including
her family and any evidence collected against her) was
destroyed in a fire. Her new life here may be one of innocence,
or it may be to take the Laird for every penny he has, the
actress can decide as she makes her final bid for freedom……

The following are character profiles to give background and


basic details about each person.

Character Profile: Kirsty Shaw (Victim)

Self righteous, spoilt brat with no regards for anybody she


considers beneath her.

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KS’s opinion of the other characters: -

Butler/Cook Lazy
Gardner Psychopathic
Katie Incompetent
Robert Easily fooled
Cassandra Evil Gold Digging Harlot

Comments to be made to the audience when walking the


room:

“Look at them, is it not disgusting? She is half his age; my


father is such a fool.” etc

Information that must be disclosed:

KS’s main role is to act as host for the evening and help the
audience. He is guilty of all things that the maid, the butler and
the gardener accuse her of.

Information only to be given if asked:

She was collecting ‘interesting’ information on various people of


the household and surrounding villages, however she cannot
remember any of the details now.

Costume: Big dress and white death shroud.

Character Profile: Cassandra Shaw (Murderer)

Cassandra is the Laird’s second wife and she is much younger


than him. Supposedly a lady from a great estate, but her real
past is a mystery.

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As the Murderer, Cassandra is the only character who is allowed
to lie. When asked she must say she loves Robert and Kirsty
was a sweet girl etc.

CS’s opinion of the other characters: -

Butler / Cook Just a servant, neither good nor bad


Gardner Cleary unstable, but has never troubled her
Katie Just another servant
Robert Wonderfully Rich, superbly old man! (Loves him?)
Kirsty “sweet young girl, who had a hard
upbringing”

Comments to be made to the audience when walking the


room:

“Thank you for coming, hope you are enjoying your meal” “Have
you seen these?” pointing to table cards “I made them, Robert
says I have such lovely penmanship.”

Is to offer to display her ‘craft’ at each table individually using a


torn off piece of paper from a larger piece. These scraps, when
put back together, will form the blackmail note ‘I know your
secret, you have been getting away with it for too long. Meet me
tonight on the second landing and I will let you know the cost of
my continued discretion.’

Information that must be disclosed:

CS believes it was one of the servants who killed Kirsty, most


probably the “little witch”.

During the 1st panel, when KC enters, CS is to accuse her of


being a witch.

Once KC lets slip that KS was investigating her past, CS is to


change the subject back to witchcraft. CS must tell how she
witnessed KC cursing Kirsty on the landing of the servant’s
staircase “May the devil hurl your soul into the bottomless Pit”
etc.

Upon the discovery of the bewitching’ doll CS will declare that


this shows the maid is a witch.

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CS was always surprised at how badly Kirsty treated the
servants, especially as some of them “prepare & serve her
food”. However, she could never say anything, as it would have
upset RS.

Information only to be given if asked:

Any questions about her past have to be greeted with agitated


denials and subject changing.

If asked about the wine glass incident “Well I am the lady of the
house, why should I not be served first?” (Sound indignant)

She is from a noble house down south and after her parents died
she sold the family estate and moved up to Scotland to get away
from all the bad memories. Her parents died in a fire.

She met RS at the local church when she first moved to the area
about a year ago.

RS is a “strong man with a weak heart and I couldn’t bear to be


without him, that’s why I insisted the Dr give him something.”

CS is also to advise she does give Robert Belladonna to help


calm him down when he has “one of his episodes”.

Costume: Big dress, with cap/bonnet

Character Profile: Robert Shaw (Laird)

The Laird’s first wife (Kirsty’s mother) died after a mysterious


illness. He recently remarried to Cassandra, a woman clearly his
junior. He is heavily involved in the pursuit of witches and is
takes a role in the trial of those found locally who are tried and

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executed. Other than the pursuit of witches, which is a major roll
in his life, he dotes on his daughter.

RS’s opinion of the other characters: -

Butler / Cook reliable enough but beneath him


Gardner A very passionate man, who clearly love his job
Katie Simple little housemaid who always disobeys
Kirsty
Cassandra The best thing in his life since Kirsty was born!
Kirsty The kindest, prettiest and most wonderful
girl ever!

Comments to be made to the audience when walking the


room:

Comment on the witch burning taking place outside. Mention


‘dark times’ etc.

Information that must be disclosed:

He is unaware that Kirsty was in anyway unpleasant to anybody.


As far as he was concerned the whole household, including
Cassandra, adored her!

He was aware of there being witches in other households


however he would have been very aware had there been any in
his and would have dealt with them accordingly.

Information only to be given if asked:

Kirsty’s mother died following a short and very mysterious


illness.

RS met CS at the local church when she first moved to the area.

CS got the Dr to give him Digitalis for his heart condition. “She
was quite insistent about it, my little Cassandra does love me
so.” Looks at her with soppy expression and strokes her cheek.

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“I also take Belladonna, for my nerves.”

RS suffers from “attacks of the nerves” quite a lot due to the


nature of his work.

Kirsty’s horse died because it stood on fox traps in the garden


and had to be shot. He is aware that the gardener laid the traps
however has done nothing to stop him. Is this because of the
gardener’s problems with his nerves?

Costume: Frockcoat, frilly shirt, black trousers and hat

Character Profile: Butler / Cook

Used to be a faithful servant until Kirsty framed his wife for


stealing. To pay for the “crimes” he has to work at half pay until
the debt is repaid. Only then will his wife be let out of the
workhouse.

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Opinion of the other characters: -

Robert Shaw Senile old man who takes Kirsty’s word as gospel
Gardner Lunatic, who was clearly obsessed with Kirsty
Katie Hardworking, clearly abused by Kirsty, a bit
simple
Cassandra not much although suspects is not all she seems
Kirsty Appalling child with no obvious virtues

Comments to be made to the audience when walking the


room:

B - “I apologise for the distraction, please enjoy your meals” etc


“That silly little girl is always making a spectacle of herself” etc

C - “Are you enjoying the meal?” – make specific comments as


though has made the meal herself.

Information that must be disclosed:

He found a doll which he thinks may be for evil purposes. He


does not know who it belongs to and found it in the hallway of
the house so it could have been anyones.

Information only to be given if asked:

If asked who he thinks the murder is to say “I cannot think who


would do such a thing” mean while nodding his head towards
the gardener and making big eyes!

There is rat poison & arsenic in the kitchen.

The master often has attacks of the nerves and the gardener
grows belladonna in the garden for this. The local Dr distils it for
him.

He and his wife arrived at Barrgarren in 1674 and are both from
France.

He knows Kirsty stole the missing silver candlesticks, because


saw her throwing them into the estate’s pond. He told the Laird

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but he was outraged by the suggestion his daughter would do
such a thing and then promptly forgot it!

B - The reason he insisted passing the wine glass to Kirsty first,


was a matter of protocol. Cassandra is not yet mistress of the
house and therefore should not be served first. A lady of noble
birth should have remembered this.

C – reason for rushing out of kitchen to take food was because


that plate had carrots on which she knows Cassandra cannot eat
– so wanted to swap over for Kirsty’s plate.

Costume: Wig, moustache, black tailcoat, white frilly shirt &


black trousers / Apron, mop hat, dress

Character Profile: Katie Campbell (scapegoat)

Young girl, early teens, newly arrived from the Highlands to work
as a housemaid. She does all the household chores, cleaning,
cooking, mending, milking etc.

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KC’s opinion of the other characters: -

Robert Shaw Terrified of him/another beating


Gardner Is misunderstood – they share a love of plants
Butler Wishes he’d defend her but otherwise nice
enough
Cassandra Only kind & understanding when Robert is
present
Kirsty Katie lives in fear & torment of Kirsty

Comments to be made to the audience when walking the


room:

“I have to do everything around here and it is never enough!”


etc. To comment on the beating she has just received from the
Laird.

Information that must be disclosed:

After CS accuses her of witchcraft KC is to let slip that she has


seen KS giving the Laird drinks laced with a mystery fluid she
keeps in her pouch. CS will then reiterate the witch accusation
and the whole story must then unfold.

KC is to deny the doll is hers as she wouldn’t know what to do


with such a filthy thing.

KC is to continually repeat she is not a witch and the CS & KS are


always picking on her, “They won’t be happy until I am burned
at the stake!”

Information only to be given if asked:

“I think the murder is CS, after all she is so keen to implicate


everyone else”.

She gets on well with the gardener as he lets her help in the
garden tending his herbs. The only reason she ran out when she
saw him coming was to try to stop him confronting the laird as
he always gets upset.

She used to grow and use flowers for cures when she was at
home.

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There is rat poison & arsenic in the kitchen.

KC overheard the Gardener talking to him self about planting


Ragwort in the garden to “sort the spoilt brat out”. KC does not
know what Ragwort is.

The Laird often has violent & verbal outbursts, which nobody
talks about. They only say his nerves are effecting him etc.

Costume: maid’s apron & cap

Character Profile: Gardener (Nutcase)

Clearly unstable mad march hare (play to humorous effect)


complete and utter psycho who is obsessed with Kirsty. He feels
she is his nemesis.

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G’s opinion of the other characters: -

Robert Shaw Stern and controlling, has control over house but
not his daughter
Katie Lovely girl always helps out in garden
Butler Cowardly
Cassandra Only kind & understanding when Robert is
present
Kirsty EVIL!

Comments to be made to the audience when walking the


room:

“Have you seen the Laird? I need to talk to him urgently about
that 4 legged devil that roams across the garden!!!” etc

Information that must be disclosed:

How Kirsty always let her horse trample on and eat all his
Petunias!!

CS is only sweet and understanding when the Laird is present.

He has a patch of garden all his own which he uses to grow


plants & vegetables on behalf of customers.

Information only to be given if asked:

“I believe Kirsty killed herself, in hopes of framing me! She was


that EVIL!!!”

“They were always accusing that wee girl of cursing the


mistress, but Kirsty was the spawn of the DEVIL!!! No one could
curse her!”

The poisons in the garden are foxgloves & belladonna, which he


grows for the local Doctor.

He also grows Ragwort, which is poisonous to horses. “I only


planted it to stop that stupid beast from eating my flower beds!”

He takes belladonna himself to calm his nerves.

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He gets on well with Katy as she helps him in the garden and
helps him with his medicinal plants.

The reason he placed fox traps was because, like many great
households they have their own chickens, it was just unfortunate
the several of Kirsty’s horses happened to step on them!

He was previously incarcerated in a lunatic asylum. He always


worried that Kirsty would find out and make the Laird sack him.
The Laird knew he had been in the asylum but he always did as
Kirsty asked. His wife died in 1664 and he became so
“distraught I had to go away and rest for a while”.

KS & CS were always gossiping with the Dr’s wife.

Costume: big ginger beard, plant pot hat, Wellington boots &
huge woolly jumper (with holes etc)

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Scene One – character introduction

The characters are introduced to the audience during the meal,


providing ongoing but low key entertainment. Should be enough
to give general taster of evening and lay out main character
traits, without being too obtrusive on the meal.

General lay out is Cassandra, Kirsty and the Laird at the table
eating with the rest of the guests. To begin the evening (and this
can be done at anytime during the first course however MUST be
done before anything else is disclosed) the Laird can begin with
a toast – asking everyone to raise a glass however they do not
have to stand. This would be along the lines of ‘thank you
everyone for coming along tonight to help us celebrate the
anniversary of our marriage….especially on a night like this
when no fewer than 4 witches are being burned in the cathedral
square…with thanks that we are being rid of such evil and
wishing us success in the discovery of future evils that they may
be brought to justice etc etc etc…..’

The meal continues.

During the course of the meal the friction between Cassandra


and Kirsty should be made known. The Laird dotes on both and
does not seem to notice their animosity. He does, however, pay
keen attention to everything else that goes on and can even
cast glaring glances at anyone in the party who appears to be
having too much fun.

During the first course:

Cassandra leaves declaring that she is too warm. The Laird goes
out with her. Kirsty circulates the room.

Cassandra returns and comes over to Kirsty who huffs back to


the table. Cassandra circulates the room.

The maid enters with glasses, she is flustered by Kirsty and runs
out, dropping the glasses.

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The butler is summoned by the bell and comes in to see the
mess. Upon seeing it he calls for the maid who comes in to clear
up. He then returns with new glasses and the switch between
the glasses occurs.

Butler then circulates the room.

Bell rings off stage, Butler leaves and Laird returns. Laird is out
of breath and flushed. Cassandra pours a drop from her bottle
into his glass (when his back is turned if possible) and he drinks
the glass.

(Alt is that maid clears the glasses on her own before running
out, the cook then comes in with plates of food for the table then
circulates the room.)

Maid comes back into the room, has been crying, circulates the
room telling everyone how she was badly beaten by the Laird.

Maid mutters something about the gardener then runs out as if


in fright.

Gardener comes in and has conversation with Laird about the


flowers. Threatens murder etc etc. Laird sends him away but
instead he circulates the room complaining.

Last one to do the room is the laird, apologising for the


disturbances. The three original characters then return to the
table to continue their meal.

Scene Two – the murder

During the last part of the meal (or coffee if served) the
conversation / argument between the two females gets louder
and louder. The Laird is distracted and begins to summon the
butler loudly with the bell. Cassandra shouts for the maid. Kirsty
laughs at them loudly, becoming more and more hysterical until
it becomes obvious she is choking/screaming in agony. Only then
does she get attention by her family (could they possibly be up
on their feet moving about at this stage so have to run
dramatically back to help her?)

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The bell summons the maid but not the butler. When asked
where he is the maid says she saw him running in the opposite
direction.

Cassandra and the maid help Kirsty from the room but she is
clearly fading. Once out of sight a final death scream can be
heard.

The maid returns to the room agitated but still in control.


Apologises for the disturbance and confirms that Kirsty is dead.
Says that the master and lady of the house will return in a
moment, if everyone can get themselves composed and
prepared for what looks to be a long night (basically a cue for
the guests to get a drink and give the staff chance to clear the
tables).

The host (Kirsty) then appears. Confirms has been murdered /


poisoned and that the audience have to discover who buy and
why.

Scene Three – first panel

The Laird / Cassandra and the maid appear as the first panel.
Questions are invited. Information to be disclosed at this stage
is:

*The cursing of Kirsty by the maid


*That Cassandra is the Laird’s second wife and not Kirsty’s
mother. Cassandra’s background and meeting of the Laird can
be disclosed.
*The Laird should beef up his witch finding skills but stress that
there would be no witches in his home and hint that the shame
would drive him to personally destroy the perpetrator.
*the liquid Cassandra gave the laird is digitalis for his heart. The
Laird infact knew it was administered to him. The doctor gave
them bottle. The doctor was also Kirsty’s & Cassandra’s doctor.

The maid says that she can hear a bell ringing for her and runs
off. She returns with a note which Kirsty reads to the guests. It is
from the doctor confirming that she has been poisoned with
digitalis. Cassandra swoons, the Laird leaps up and says that he
will have a word with the doctor and leaves.

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The Butler returns and states that he has been sent by the Laird
to check on Cassandra. Kirsty says that he should stay, and can
the maid go fetch the gardener.

The maid leaves and the gardener returns.

Scene Four – second panel

Gardener / Butler and Cassandra (or possibly the introduction of


a cook previously not seen – or maybe the doctor just to add
some variety as Cassandra doesn’t really need to be in the
scene?)

Information to be disclosed:

*the history of the Butler and Kirsty. The Butler discloses the
doll.
 why the gardener so dislikes Kirsty
 That the butler and gardener both have access to poisons
(as does the doctor if he is used)

The doctor hears that he is being summoned and leaves, at


which point Cassandra rejoins the group. She is shocked and
hands over the blackmail book. She says is proof of Kirsty’s
involvement in the black arts and suggests one of her coven
killed her? Or possibly worse?

Scene Five – audience deliberation

During this time the cast may circulate the room and answer any
basic questions where it is simple clarification of previously
disclosed facts. If any further information is to be disclosed the
person asking should be directed to pose their question at the
final panel, or else the characters should get together to answer
the question to the whole room.

Scene Six – further information?

A further piece of evidence? Or perhaps just drawing the


audience’s attention to the existing evidence?

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Scene Seven – another panel / audience deliberation

Following the information just disclosed the audience should get


a chance for further deliberation or to ask any final questions. If
a final panel looks to be beneficial (or worth setting up) this
should be done i.e. do not bother to go to that length if the
audience are already showing signs of drifting off!

Scene Eight – and the murderer is……

The audience should be invited to hand in their completed


answer sheets (see attached). Kirsty should take a few moments
to check if anyone has got the answers right.

Build up could go along the lines of ‘there are some interesting


motives here however…’ or even invite the teams to stand up
and give their answers if looks like that will work (obviously in
the case the winning team should be kept back til last).

The recap should point out the main pieces of evidence,


establish where the main characters were at the moment of the
murder, and remind the audience what each characters motive
would be.

Finishing ‘however I can declare to you right now that the


murderer was…..’ and give VERY brief outline of why, how and
when the murder was committed.

Queue sharp exit from room of murderer followed by


congratulations from host and a wish goodnight.

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Table : (team name)

We believe Kirsty was killed by:

Because:

And the evidence to prove this is:

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I know your secret, you have been
getting away with it for too long.
Meet me tonight on the second
landing and I will let you know the
cost of my continued discretion

Time Line

03/09/1684 Current Date

14/03/1684 Butler’s wife jailed

02/02/1684 Katie Campbell hired


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08/07/1683 Cassandra moves up to Scotland

02/04/1683 Great Fire

13/03/1676 Laird’s first wife dies

06/05/1674 Butler & Wife Arrive

30/06/1673 witch Incident

06/06/1666 Kirsty Born

04/05/1666 Gardener returns to work

03/09/1664 Gardener in Asylum

27/08/1684 Gardener’s wife dies

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