Consuming Passions: Synopsis

Cast: 2 male / 2 female
Running time: 1 hour (30 minutes per act) - not including interval.
Availability: Consuming Passions is available for both professional and amateur production.
Acting Edition: Samuel French.

Brochure copy by Alan Ayckbourn for the 2016 season


Melanie (40s)
Cora (30s) *
Freddy (Late 20s)
Aggi (A happy waiter)
Dinka (A sullen waiter)
Cedric (A businessman)
Edmund (A smart waiter)
Police Sergeant †
Female PC *

* /
/ played by the same actor
Melanie believes she has foreseen the future. But has she really? Or is it all in her mind?
True or false, she has seen events which threaten the life of a man she secretly loves, and whose life is in terrible danger.
What can she possibly do or say to prevent such things happening and who on earth will even believe her?


Act 1 (Premonitions): Melanie is in a restaurant apparently waiting for her husband to turn up for a meeting - the surly waiter noting he did not appear when she visited previously. Already unimpressed by the service, she is shocked when a different waiter seats another woman at the table. Despite all her efforts, Melanie is unable to attract the woman's attention and believes she is being ignored on purpose by both the woman and her happy waiter. Shortly afterwards, the woman's lover, Freddy arrives for a clandestine meeting with the woman, Cora. Melanie is now extremely frustrated as the lovers apparently completely ignore her whilst her insistence that she be moved is ignored by the surly waiter who does not understand what Melanie's issue is as he cannot see anyone else. He also confirms that there is another waiter at the restaurant, but that it is his day off and he is due back the following day, Tuesday.

Resigned to the fact she is stuck on the table and being ignored, Melanie listens to the couple with increasing shock as they discuss a plot to throw Cora's husband off a cliff on his wedding anniversary the following week. More perplexing is the fact that the couple talk as though it is Tuesday when Melanie notes it is a Monday. When Freddy has doubts about the murder, despite Cora's manipulations, she leaves him and Melanie is gratified at the turn of events as, shedding all pretence of disguise, Melanie recognises Cora as the wife of her former employer, Cedric, who it is implied Melanie is in love with; she believes Cora entrapped Cedric following the death of his first wife. Freddy's resolve dissolves though and he calls Cora, promising he will carry out the murder much to Melanie's horror, compounded by the fact that her hand passes through Freddy as she tries to stop him. As Freddy leaves, Melanie starts to scream to the restaurant demanding people pay attention to her. As she attempts to explain that Cedric is going to be murdered next Tuesday, she is strong-armed out of the restaurant by the surly waiter, who believes her to be mad.

Act 2 (Repercussions): It is the night of Cedric's wedding anniversary and, alone, he waits in a restaurant for the guests at a small celebration meal. Melanie fools the waiter into believing she is Cedric's PA and has come to Cedric to warn him of the danger to his life that night. She tells her extraordinary story to which Cedric listens despite the unbelievable nature of it all. After she has finished, Cedric notes how this isn't the first time Melanie has had 'hallucinations' - such as her imaginary husband - and that it eventually cost her the job of being his PA years earlier and that she's not well. Cora arrives and discovers Melanie, whom has been been given a restraining order stopping contact between Cora and Cedric following some unpleasant correspondence. Melanie attacks Cora and is forcibly ejected from the restaurant. Cora checks that Cedric is alright before they embark on dinner, Cora letting slip that her fitness trainer is called Freddy.

Melanie is taken to a cell at a police station where she is told by a male PC that her lawyer will be visiting her soon and she is in serious trouble. When he goes to make a cup of coffee, a female PC appears and brings Cedric in. He shows a great deal more affection to Melanie and seems shaken, given that Cora has been arrested and she may well be charged with his attempted murder. Apparently, the plan Melanie overheard took place but Freddy fell off the cliff in the darkness. Cedric tells Melanie that all will be alright and that he has arranged for her to be released. He leaves her and the original PC returns with a cup of tea, Melanie notes how she will be leaving soon anyway, to which the PC assures she will not be and that the only female PC in the station won't be back at work until tomorrow. Melanie, realising the implication of this, is left alone saying: "Oh God, it's happening to me again… It's all happening to me again."

Note: For an explanation of the plot twists, please visit the FAQs page.

Article by Simon Murgatroyd. Copyright: Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.