Neill Shanahan
Saint Charles, IL


by Neill E. Shanahan



A Synopsis



Lighthouse Beach tells the story of Kristine, one of the nation’s earliest female neurosurgeons. She’s a prodigy and a pioneer, yet embattled as she seeks to navigate through the male dominated field and she faces difficult, even monumental personal choices in pursuing her career.


Kristine is buffeted over time by two romantic relationships, one with Michael, a neurosurgeon, hospital executive and her mentor, which developed during her residency at Northwestern Memorial, and the other with the romantic, and decidedly unscientific English teacher, Jeremy.  As she begins her career she is rocked by a significant conflict between its demands and opportunities and her responsibilities as the mother of  Claire.


The play, which spans the decades from the 1980’s to the present time, explores her pursuit of professional and personal perfection and her evolving relationships with Claire, Michael and Jeremy,


Themes of isolation, communication, identity, uncertainty and regret are examined through the eyes of each character. In particular, the relationship between Kristine and Claire, a prodigy in her own right, is explored both when Claire is a child and when as an adult she has embarked on her own successful musical and academic career.  In the end, Kristine comes face to face with the significant cost of her career decisions and the  estrangements she may never be able to overcome.


With doubling, as indicated, the play is staged with five actors.






Claire 32. Daughter of Jeremy and Kristine. Claire 10 Jeremy 32 & 42. High-school English teacher. Kristine 32, 42 & 64. Neurosurgeon Michael 45, 55, Neurosurgeon Waiter and Paramedic should be doubled with one or two of the above.
by Neill E. Shanahan

Lady Audley’s Secret




Lady Audley’s Secret is an stage adaptation of the 1862 “sensation” novel by the same name written by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.  The story  centers  on the bigamous heroine, Helen Maldon, who deserts her child, pushes husband number one down a well, deceives husband number two as to her true identity and sets fire to a hotel in which both her antagonist and blackmailer are staying.


The story opens with the marriage in 1857 of Lucy Graham, 19, beautiful and childlike,  to Sir Michael Audley, 58, a rich widower and baron. Lucy had been governess for the local doctor, but very little is known about her early years.  Months later, Sir Michael’s nephew, Robert Audley, a listless barrister, welcomes his old friend George Talboys back to England after three years of successfully prospecting for gold in Australia.


George is devastated when he reads in the newspaper that his wife, Helen, whom he had left when their financial situation became desperate, has died. Some time later, the two set off to visit Sir Michael at Audley Court, his country manor.


Lady Audley goes to great length to avoid meeting George, but when the two are shown a portrait of her, George appears greatly struck by it, though he does not say why. Shortly thereafter, George disappears. Unwilling to believe that George has simply left suddenly without notice, Robert begins to investigate the circumstances surrounding his disappearance.


Robert becomes suspicious that Lady Audley played a role in the disappearance and that she is not who she claims to be. As he steadily collects evidence that incriminates her, the two engage in an increasingly combative cat-and-mouse duel that culminates in the arson at the hotel and the demise of Lady Audley.


Lady Audley’s Secret is a story about gender and class and the efforts of a young woman desperate to escape abject poverty and achieve wealth and status. Madness is a key issue and the question of whether the female protagonist is insanely driven or a skilled strategist is central to the story. Likewise, the willingness of an aristocratic family to banish her to a foreign asylum under a thinly-veiled diagnosis to avoid the disgrace and publicity of a trial adds another dimension to the question.


The final resolution, which departs from the novel, explores the possibility of reconciliation and even authenticity despite all that transpired.


The play requires seven actors, including a child, Nearly all the actors play multiple roles as specified in the script’s introduction.



Characters (In Order of Appearance) Madame Taylor 24 The former Lady Audley. Monsieur Val 40 Medical Superintendent, Maison de’ Sante, Villebrumeuse, Belgium Sir Michael Audley 56 Aristocrat. Lord of Audley Court. Father of Alicia Audley Lucy Graham 20 Governess for Dr. Dawson. The former Helen Talboys (ne’ Maldon) Luke Marks 23 Farmhand. Castle Inn proprietor Phoebe Marks 22 Wife of Luke Marks. Maid to Lucy Graham and Lady Audley Robert Audley 28 London barrister. Sir Michael’s nephew George Talboys 28 Helen Talboy’s first husband. Lieutenant Maldon 55 Helen Maldon’s father Georgey Talboys 5 Son of George and Helen Talboys Alicia Audley 27 Sir Michael’s daughter Lady Audley 20 The former Lucy Graham. Wife of Sir Michael Audley Harcourt Talboys 55 Aristocrat. Lord of Grange Heath estate. Father of George and Clara Talboys Clara Talboys 25 Daughter of Harcourt Talboys and George’s sister Dr. Dawson 45 Sir Michael’s physician and friend Mrs. Vincent 40 Schoolmistress. Former employer of Lucy Graham Miss Tonks 25 Teacher in Mrs. Vincent’s school Mrs. Barkamb 40 Owner of North Cottages in Wildernsea, one of which was rented to Lieutenant Maldon Dr. Mosgrave 50 London physician specializing in mental disorders. Inmates Waiter Woman Servants (2) Boy Clerk Locksmith Bailiff Cast Assignments Actor One Lady Audley (20), Madame Taylor (24), Lucy Graham (19), Clara Talboys (25) Actor Two Robert Audley (28), Bailiff (40) Actor Three Sir Michael Audley (56), Lieutenant Maldon (55), Harcourt Talboys (55), Dr. Mosgrave (50) Actor Four Phoebe Marks (22), Woman (30), Miss Tonks (25), Waiter (30) Actor Five George Talboys (28), Monsieur Val(40), Dr. Dawson (45), Luke Marks (23), Clerk (30), Locksmith (40), Servants (40) Actor Six Alicia Audley (27), Mrs. Vincent (40), Mrs. Barkamb (40) Actor Seven (child) Georgey (5), Boy (about 8) Except for Actors One and Five, all actors serve as Inmates. It may be helpful to place all actors on stage throughout, entering from and exiting to the sidelines, who can quickly adjust stage effects.