ANY LAWFUL IMPEDIMENT
Warren Paul Glover
– the groom
Mary – the bride
Assorted wedding guests
Ambulance crew and orderly
Interior. Church – TOM and MARY’s WEDDING day
and MARY stand at the front of the church, facing the VICAR
who has her back to the altar. Sunlight streams through the
stained glass windows, falling primarily on the vicar and
vicar, a heavy-set woman, is nervous as this is the first
wedding she has presided over and she is desperate that
nothing goes wrong. She is perspiring heavily.
is sweating heavily also. His eyes are closed as realisation
dawns that his hangover has just started to kick in. He
sways on his heels and wrings his hands as the pain
penetrates his brain.
opens his eyes and casts an anxious look at the vicar, a
look that says ‘please just get the ceremony over with so I
can have another drink and start to feel better’.
vicar regards Tom curiously. She leans forward slightly and
sniffs her nose in Tom’s direction. She wrinkles her nose in
Tom’s eyes flit to the church’s vaulted ceiling as he starts
to lose his concentration and his mind begins to wander.
Sweat streams down Tom’s temple and down his cheek. Tom
loosens his tie, gasping for air.
swallows back some vomit with a start. He casts a panicked
glance at Mary.
Mary is looking straight ahead at the stain glass windows, a
picture of concentration.
turns his attention to the vicar and cocks his head,
wondering if the vicar is a lesbian, and whether he’s
looking at the future first lesbian Archbishop of
Mary has a deep sense of foreboding and is impatient to get
past the ‘I Do’ part of the ceremony so she can relax. The
knuckles on one hand are white due to the strain of gripping
her bouquet too tightly. With her other hand she’s crossing
her fingers that the next few minutes go smoothly. She can
feel that she’s almost home and dry.
Behind them, the congregation sits quietly, expectant. A sea
of silent faces.
anyone knows of any lawful impediment why this man, Tom…
HUGE SNORE erupts from UNCLE ERIC, a fat, balding,
beetroot-red faced man who has fallen asleep in the second
row of the Bride’s side of the church. There is a release of
tension as everyone LAUGHS, waking Uncle Eric up with a
falls back asleep. The vicar, Tom and Mary all smile
conspiratorially at each other: the vicar’s is a relieved,
reassured smile; Mary’s a determined smile; Tom’s a weak
…Why this man, Tom…
Outside, but carrying through to the church, is a SOUND OF
TYRES ON GRAVEL, a SCREECH OF BRAKES, and DOORS SLAMMING
(OS). Several members of the congregation are looking around
in bewilderment. One or two are smiling to themselves. Tom’s
BEST MAN looks at Tom with a very worried expression. Tom
stares blankly back. TOM’S MUM, in the front row, rolls her
eyes. MARY’S MUM sees this and glowers at Tom’s mum. Tom’s
mum assumes a haughty expression and looks away.
(almost giving up)
door of the church CLATTERS (OS) as it is flung open.
RUNNING FOOTSTEPS (OS) echo on the mosaic floor. Heads are
turning to see what the interruption is about. The vicar
looks aghast; her mouth wide-open, sweat streaming down her
face. Tom is fidgeting, trying not to look.
baby CRIES and is hurriedly SHUSHED by its mother. Mary is
looking straight ahead, her eyes fixed on the stain glass
windows. Her shoulders are heaving up and down as she tries
to keep a lid on her feelings. A huge shadow of a cloud
passes by the stain glass windows, killing the incoming sun
rays. Mary bites her lip and squeezes her eyes shut as she
guesses what’s coming. A man (DAVE), his suit
through running and his shirt tails hanging out, skids to a
halt as he reaches the half-way point to the altar. He
passes a hand over his face, smoothing back hair that has
fallen out of place.
(yelling) Stop the wedding!
collective GASP goes up from the congregation. Silence
reigns for a moment, which feels like an eternity. The faces
of the congregation are frozen in stunned surprise. Mary’s
mum begins to stand but is dragged back down by her husband.
Tom’s mum closes her eyes and crosses herself as she shakes
her head from side-to-side.
beg your pardon young man.
Stop the wedding. She’s engaged to my brother. She can’t
Dave points to Tom, who’s too stunned to speak. Tom looks
deathly pale. Mary slowly opens her eyes. She’s biting her
bottom lip and turning crimson as she turns around to face
Dave and the whole church.
There are various MURMURS from the congregation. Some heads
are nodding, some heads shaking. Some people are WHISPERING
LOUDLY - ‘IT’S BIG DAVE!’
(trying to keep her cool)
Yes, I mean no! I was engaged to his brother, but I’m not
collective SIGH escapes the congregation. Female members of
the congregation start to visibly relax, nervous smiles
offering reassurance to each other.
Stevie doesn’t know that. He still loves you, and you still
Stevie’s in a fucking coma!
vicar crosses herself.
This is a House of God…
Mary cringes. She looks sheepishly at the vicar.
(looking at the whole congregation, as if pleading with them
Stevie’s been in a coma for seven years. He’s a vegetable!
A collective GASP escapes the congregation. Heads are
turning around and staring.
(looking at Dave)
It’s time to move on. I’m with Tom now.
Mary looks at Tom, offers him a reassuring smile and holds
out her hand to him. It hangs in mid-air. Tom looks as if he
is in a trance.
Mary wiggles her fingers, desperately trying to make contact
with Tom. Tom belatedly realises Mary’s hand is waiting for
his and takes it. He smiles at her lovingly but Mary isn’t
looking at him now. Mary is staring at Dave.
We’ll see about that. Stevie’s awake!
excitable GASP rises from the congregation and POCKETS OF
CONVERSATION break out amongst the pews. Dave turns towards
the back of the church and gestures at someone, urging them
to come forward. An AMBULANCE CREW and an accompanying
ORDERLY wheel STEVIE down the aisle. Stevie is prostrate on
a wheeled stretcher, a saline drip dangling above him,
swinging around. As soon as the congregation sees Stevie
there is a hushed SILENCE. A look of triumph appears on
Dave’s face. Tom’s mum rolls her eyes. Tom’s dad stares at
his shoes. Mary’s mum crosses herself and fingers her beaded
necklace. Her lips are moving, like she’s saying prayers.
Tom looks stunned. The vicar’s mouth has fallen open, her
eyes wide with confusion. The colour has drained from Mary’s
cheeks. Mary’s hand moves involuntarily to her mouth.
Stevie has been wheeled to the front of the church and
parked before Tom and Mary.
(looking at first Mary, and then Tom)
Lord moves in mysterious ways. Welcome to the House of God,
Stevie blinks one eye.
Both Mary and Tom glare at the vicar. The vicar silently
mouths ‘SORRY’ to Mary and Tom. Dave’s look of triumph has
turned into a sneer.
on! Tell him you don’t love him now you heartless bitch!
Please, everyone, this is a House of God…
Mary recovers her poise.
(looking at Stevie)
Sorry Stevie. I couldn’t wait for you forever. And Tom’s a
Stevie blinks once.
looks at Mary and smiles wistfully.
wouldn’t like him one bit, but I love him. I’m sorry.
tear falls from Stevie’s eye and slowly traces its way down
his cheek. The vicar’s face contorts into tears. She
That’s so sad.
Mary glares at the vicar.
What’s sad is
that Dave would use his poor brother as a pawn in his sick
(swallowing back her tears) Well, I hardly think…
Tom has a
look of determination on his face. It looks as though the
real Tom has joined the wedding for the first time. He
suddenly finds his voice.
C’mon mate. Take your brother out of here. We’re all happy
he’s out of his coma but this isn’t the time or the place.
(turns her anger on Tom.)
Don’t be nice
to him, Tom.
He looks to the vicar, hopefully.
it’s your wedding and you’re rightly upset…
Upset? I’ll show you all how upset I am!
With a flourish Mary pulls her wedding dress down off her
left shoulder to reveal finger-shaped bruises. She offers
her exposed shoulder to the congregation, moving her body to
ensure everyone can see.
(with suppressed anger)
This man here… (She
gestures derisively at Dave.)
…this concerned brother, tried to have it on with me last
night. These bruises are thanks to him.
congregation erupts into a HUBBUB. Tom stares at Mary,
Dave turns ashen. He starts to open his mouth to protest but
is cut off my Mary.
That family are all the same: possessive! It wouldn’t
surprise me if Stevie had faked his coma just so he could
have someone wait on him hand-and-foot all this time.
vicar tries unsuccessfully to interrupt Mary.
Dave makes a violent lunge towards Mary, knocking his
brother’s saline drip out of his arm.
ambulance crew and the orderly are set scrambling in a panic
as the saline drip swings wildly.
Tom, now sobered up thanks to the events disrupting his
wedding day, is alert to the danger and crash-tackles Mary
out of harm’s way.
Mary and Tom fly through the air.
Mary’s bouquet is sent spinning skywards.
Mary and Tom come crashing back to earth and land in a
collapsed heap on the mosaic floor of the church, a tangle
of pavlova wedding dress and crumpled morning suit.
has lost a shoe. Mary’s gartered leg sticks out from the
tangle, like a monolith pointing heavenwards.
vicar rolls her eyes heavenwards and nonchalantly sticks out
a hand to catch the falling bouquet.
Forgive me Lord, for we know not what we do.
vicar punches Dave flat out cold. Shaking her sore fist from
side-to-side and wincing a little with pain, she turns to
address the ambulance crew and orderly.
the Chuckle Brothers out of here. I have a wedding to
conduct, and we can’t wait any longer.
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