Party Night

1979.  Valerie is married to Keith, a successful pathologist. But when she persuades him to go to the Staff Christmas Ball she makes a discovery that rocks her world – with tragic results.

A dark drama, inspired by real events.


VALERIE:           I only wish I could see you doing it more often.  I’ve never actually seen you at work.

KEITH:                You can hardly pop into the lab, now, can you?

VALERIE:           No, but I could come to the Christmas Ball, couldn’t I?

KEITH:                What Christmas Ball?

VALERIE:           A little bird told me about one.

KEITH:                For a moment I thought you were being serious.

VALERIE:           I am.  It’s tomorrow.  In the Staff Social Club.  Doors open at eight.  They’ve got a jazz band – Harley and the Quins – and a sit down dinner at nine with dancing until two.  You see.  I know everything.

KEITH:                How?

VALERIE:           Uh-uh.  No information till you say we’re going.

KEITH:                But we’re not.

VALERIE:           Oh, yes we are.  Tomorrow night is Friday night and Friday night is Party Night.

KEITH:                I’m working late tomorrow. I’m covering for a colleague.

VALERIE:           If you were, you’d have told me by now.  It’s no good, Keith: we’re going and that’s final.

KEITH:                How will we get there?  I can’t drive.  Not if there’s going to be drinking.

VALERIE:           We’ll phone for a taxi.

KEITH:                That’s extravagant.

VALERIE:           Keith!  You are not going to deprive me of this.  We haven’t been out – not “out” out – in years.  I don’t understand why you’re so reluctant to go.  You always used to like parties.

KEITH:                That was years ago.

VALERIE:           Well, I still like them.  And I have got the tickets.

KEITH:                What?

VALERIE:           Two tickets.  You and me.  Eight pounds each.

KEITH:                Eight pounds??

VALERIE:           Cheap at the price.

KEITH:                I don’t understand.  How did you get them?  How did you know about it in the first place?

VALERIE:           Are we going?  I’m not telling till you say yes.

KEITH:                I don’t see how we can –

VALERIE:           Uh-uh.  Wrong answer.  Ten point penalty.  Over to the other side and no conferring.

KEITH:                Now you’re being childish.

VALERIE:           Are we going?

KEITH:                You can go.  You’ll enjoy it.

VALERIE:           So you did know about it!

KEITH:                And how did you know?

VALERIE:           I told you: a little bird told me.  Called Lucy.  She’s just joined my dance class.  Lucy Wainwright.  (Pause.  She looks at KEITH expectantly, but he does not react)  Wife of Peter Wainwright?  Don’t you know Peter Wainwright?  He works in your department.

KEITH:                Oh.  Oh, yes, of course.  I didn’t make the connection.

VALERIE:           Keith, we are talking about a staff ball at King’s College Hospital.  You work at King’s College Hospital in the Department of Pathology.  Peter Wainwright works at King’s College Hospital in the Department of Pathology.  How is the connection so difficult to spot?

KEITH:                I didn’t know you knew him.

VALERIE:           I don’t.  I know his wife, Lucy.  She told me about the Christmas Ball.  They can’t go, so she asked if I wanted their tickets.  And I said yes and we agreed a price.  It’s a bargain – they were ten pounds each.  I’ve got them somewhere.  (She looks in her handbag)  Here they are.  (She hands them to KEITH)

KEITH:                It’s not my scene.

VALERIE:           It’s not a disco party.  It’s black tie, there’s a sit-down meal and some dancing afterwards.  It sounds fun.

KEITH:                Black tie?  I can’t go.

VALERIE:           Why not?

KEITH:                My dinner jacket needs cleaning.  It’s still got that stain on the shoulder from Jennifer’s wedding.

VALERIE:           I’ll take it to the cleaner’s in the morning.  They can have it ready by the evening.

KEITH:                I won’t know anyone.

VALERIE:           It’s your workplace!  I’m the one who won’t know anyone.  This will be a chance for me finally to meet some of your friends.

KEITH:                I don’t like socialising with work colleagues.  You go.

VALERIE:           I am not going to a ball on my own.  Oh, come on, Keith.  Let’s live a little.

KEITH:                I thought you did that tonight.

VALERIE:           Oh, sorry: I didn’t realise.  My partying ration is over for the year, is it?  Reached my limit, have I?

KEITH:                Look, I don’t want to go.  OK?

VALERIE:           Oh, you are so infuriating.  What’s such a big deal anyway?  It’s just a glorified office party.