Rules For Living
By Sam Holcroft
A playful black comedy that explores the coping strategies everyone adopts in life.
Edith is a woman that plans everything with military precision, but her carefully laid plans for Christmas dinner are thrown into disarray when her son arrives partnered by a nervously upbeat actor, Carrie. Although with Carrie he has a secret passion for his sister-in-law, Sheena.
Sheena, a compulsive drinker, is unable to contain her anger at her cynical, underachieving husband, Adam, or her concern for their daughter, Emma.
Throughout the play each scene is introduced with a ‘rule’ (eg ‘Matthew must sit to tell a lie’, ‘Edith must clean to keep calm’). The characters adhere to these rules, even as they accumulate the rules (each rule, once it appears, applies throughout the rest of the play until the rules are modified by a conditional element, so that each rule is activated until a specific condition is met: ‘Matthew must sit and eat to tell a lie… until he gets a compliment’).
Eventually, as in all the best black comedies, the family gathering descends into chaos, as all the rules are discarded.