Cynthia and Elise – an extract from Noël Coward’s unpublished play ‘Semi-Monde’
A bar on the Rue Gilon.
ELISE: What do you want, dear?
CYNTHIA: I don’t care.
ELISE: Stingers are delicious.
ELISE: Yes, very potent – crème de menthe and brandy.
CYNTHIA: We shall be under the table.
ELISE: Never mind; we ought to celebrate really.
CYNTHIA: Darling. (She squeezes ELISE’s hand under the table.)
ELISE: Two Stingers.
WAITER: Bien, madame.
He goes off.
ELISE: Does Inez know – d’you think?
CYNTHIA: I can’t help it if she does.
ELISE: But does she?
CYNTHIA: She suspects.
ELISE: I shouldn’t think that was anything new.
CYNTHIA: You’re right – it isn’t.
ELISE: I can’t imagine how you’ve stood it for so long.
CYNTHIA: Neither can I – now.
ELISE: Will she make a scene?
CYNTHIA: I expect so.
ELISE: You don’t seem to mind much.
CYNTHIA: I’m used to them.
ELISE: Poor Inez.
CYNTHIA: It serves her right really – she’s always so untrusting.
ELISE: (laughing) Darling – that’s funny!
CYNTHIA: (laughing too) Yes, I suppose it is rather.
ELISE: I feel a bit guilty.
ELISE: It was my fault in the first place.
CYNTHIA: No, it wasn’t. I saw you before you ever saw me.
CYNTHIA: Phillipe’s about two years ago – dining with a red-haired woman.
ELISE: Nadia Balaishieff.
CYNTHIA: Where is she now?
ELISE: New York, I think. I really don’t know.
CYNTHIA: Tell me, Elise – are you as utterly ruthless as you pretend to be?
ELISE: I don’t pretend ever.
CYNTHIA: I’m glad.
ELISE: It’s funny you remembering me all that time – life’s made up of circles, isn’t it?
ELISE: Are you going to tell Inez?
CYNTHIA: Yes, I suppose so.
CYNTHIA: I don’t know.
CYNTHIA: She’s bound to know – very soon indeed.
ELISE: Why don’t you get it over at once?
CYNTHIA: The opportunity will occur of its own accord.
ELISE: That’s rather cowardly of you.
CYNTHIA: She’s got to go to Dresden next month anyhow.
ELISE: Will you come to me then?
ELISE: Next month – it’s a long way ahead.
The WAITER appears with their cocktails.
CYNTHIA: (sipping her drink) – This is delicious.
ELISE: They’re awfully easy to make.
INEZ enters wrapped in furs and looking extremely sullen – she sees them and approaches the table.
(affably) Good morning, Inez.
INEZ: (ignoring her to CYNTHIA) I want to speak to you.
ELISE: (half rising) Shall I go?
CYNTHIA: Certainly not – stay where you are.
INEZ: I should like you to go, please.
CYNTHIA: Don’t be a fool, Inez.
ELISE: This is very embarrassing.
INEZ: I’m surprised that you find it so – it’s a situation you must be well accustomed to.
ELISE: I shouldn’t raise your voice quite so much if I were you.
INEZ: Mind your own business.
INEZ: You’ve lied to me.
CYNTHIA: You’re behaving fantastically.
INEZ: Will you go back to the flat sometime during the afternoon and pack your things.
CYNTHIA: (rising, furiously) How dare you!
ELISE: (pulling her down) Ssh, Cynthia.
INEZ: (softly) I hate you – I hate you – I hate you! She walks out.
CYNTHIA: (after a pause – shuddering) How horrible!
ELISE: Are you going after her?
ELISE: Good! (She finishes her drink.)
CYNTHIA: How dare she talk to me like that – how dare she! (She breaks into tears.)
ELISE: Cynthia – for heaven’s sake – don’t be an idiot. (She presses her arm.)
CYNTHIA: Don’t touch me.
From Act One, Scene Three. ©Estate of the late Noël Coward.