Production dates: 19 – 14 February 2018


A young wife, her older husband and her lover meet an exiled German professor at a remote inn in
North Yorkshire. His probing questions reveal that they are unhappy and confused. Somehow it
seems that these three have played out their scene many times before, always ending in suicide,
bitterness and poverty. The professor warns them that they must now finally break the pattern.
This is one of Priestley’s famous sequence of ‘time-plays’ – part intriguing mystery and part meditation
on the themes of time, fate and the freedom to make choices. The play is set in the 1930s and the
playing style is naturalistic.


Sam Shipley – late 50s/60s. Landlord of the Black Bull. Yorkshire accent. Jovial and easy-going,
he’s content with his life and a popular landlord, with a quiet sense of humour.
It’s a relatively small part, but requires an actor with character and presence that the audience will
warm to.

Sally Pratt – 30s. Yorkshire accent. Sam’s daughter and a young widow. Sally is really the one who
runs the inn. She is pleasant and professional towards the guests, but with an attitude of no-nonsense
Deep down, however, she has a resentful sadness at the loss of her late husband, feeling that life
(and ‘Time’) have destroyed the happiness she once hoped for. She lives not for her own future but
for that of her young son and to support her father.
Hers is a middling sized part, but involves the challenge of showing her emotional depth and gaining
the sympathy of the audience.


Dr Gortler – about 60. A German professor of physics and mathematics, he is now an exile from the
new Nazi regime of his native country, living in England in relative poverty.
He is the ‘mysterious stranger’ who is the catalyst of all that happens. He is an unsettling figure to the
others, asking penetrative questions of his fellow guests and seeming to know more about than they
can account for. (There are some parallels here with the figure of Inspector Goole from Priestley’s
much more famous An Inspector Calls.) A figure of great presence and authority, who must intrigue
the audience.

Oliver Farrant – 30s. RP accent. The young Head Master of a local boarding school, Farrant is
staying at the inn while recuperating from overwork. He is very relaxed and likeable in the company of
the landlord and his daughter, but seems a little pompous and on edge to the new guests who arrive,
especially when he tries to combat his growing attraction to young Mrs Ormund.
The Ormunds are a rich middle class couple whose marriage is under some strain. There is some
scope in accent here: either RP or ‘educated’ Yorkshire would be appropriate.

Janet Ormund – 20s. She is younger than her husband, whom she respects and cares for but is
increasingly aware that she’s no longer able to love him. She’s lively and attractive, but is now uneasy
and unhappy. A sensitive person, from the moment she arrives in the vicinity of the Black Bull she has
the feeling that things are strangely familiar.

Walter Ormund – 40s. A rich industrialist, he is a driven, unhappy and obsessive man, with a strong
sense of his responsibilities to his business and to all those who depend on it for their livelihoods. He
is a good man who uses his obsession with work to keep at bay his underlying feelings that life is
really cruel and meaningless. He has never really recovered from the horrors of his experiences in the
Great War. He comes to understand that the choice he must now make will profoundly affect the lives of all the
other characters.

Further information available from: secretary@billinghamplayers.co.uk