The Play's The Thing




“So remind me again – this was meant to be a rehearsal for you, right?”


“Yes, and I’m so sorry it’s turned out like this, I really am”




“Auntie Belinda, Auntie Belinda – you’ll never guess what’s happened!!”


Rose ran up to her aunt, who was seated at the café table.  She was a student at the local drama college, and Belinda was one of her strongest supporters in this.  So much so that she allowed Rose to live in her house while she was studying, so that Rose could save on the cost of renting a room.


“Sit down, Rose, and tell me what has happened,” Belinda said, waving the waitress over and asking for two more coffees.


“I’ve got the lead role in the next student production!!  My name at the top of the cast list, everything.”


“Rose, that is fantastic!!  What is the play?”


“It’s not a play – it’s a musical, and I have a few solo numbers to learn.  Do you think you can help me learn them at the piano?”


“Of course I can – you only have to ask.”  Belinda was a music teacher, and she sometimes took in young people for lessons at home.


“There is something else I need to ask your help with, but I don’t want to discuss it here.  When will you be home tonight?”


Belinda looked at her watch.  “Not until late, I’m afraid – I have a meeting after school.  Are you free tomorrow morning?”


“OK – we’ll talk then.  See you later, auntie!”



The next morning, Rose was sat at the kitchen table eating her breakfast when Belinda came down.


“So – what was it you wanted to talk to me about yesterday?” Belinda asked as she made herself a mug of coffee.


Rose blushed.  “It is a little embarrassing.  I’m not even sure you’ll want to help in this way when I tell you.”


Belinda sat down opposite her niece. “Go on – I’m listening.”


“Well, this musical is called Urinetown.  Have you heard of it?”


“I remember reading about it – why?”


“Well, I’ll be playing a character called Hope, who is held hostage for a good part of the musical – and apparently I have to be tied to a chair for most of that time.”


Belinda put her mug down.  “Tied to a chair?  You mean, actually physically restrained?  That’s a bit unusual, isn’t it?”


“Yes, but it is vital to the plot.  The thing is, Auntie, I’ve never been tied up before – and I don’t know if I’m going to like it.”


Rose took a drink of her own coffee.  “Auntie – I was wondering if you could help me to find out what it is like to be tied up.”


“Oh – and how do you think I can do that?”


“I don’t have anything to do this morning – could you help me by tying my hands and feet and leaving me in the front room?  I could watch the television, and you could go off to do the shopping you were talking about.  You used to be a guider, so I presume you do know how to tie knots….”


Belinda sat for a few moments, lost in thought.  There had been a few occasions in her younger days when she had found herself in one or two tight situations, but she never thought she would be asked to do it to someone else.  Eventually, she stirred herself.


“All right – I did promise I would support you in your studies, and this sounds like part of that study.  Look, how about we get ourselves cleaned up and dressed, and in about – oh, an hour, meet me in the front room.  I’ll see what I can find to help us in the meantime.”




Later that morning, Rose was sitting in the front room of the house when Belinda came in carrying some lengths of rope.  Rose was wearing a brown sweater with a denim jacket over it, denim jeans and sneakers.


“Is that how you’ll be dressed on the stage?” her aunt asked.


“No,” Rose replied, “but as it’s the first time I’ll have experienced this I want to have some sort of protection around me.”


Belinda looked at her niece, wondering if this was going to be alright.  She was wearing a gingham-style dress with a white t-shirt underneath, and wondered how she would feel if what she was about to do was done to her.


“So, you want to go ahead with this?”


“Yes, I do.”


“Very well then – I want you to be as comfortable as possible, so I’m going to tie your hands together in front of you.  You’ll also be able to see what it looks like.”


Rose nodded, and put her hands out in front of her, wrists together.  Belinda took a length of rope, found the middle and looped the rope around her niece’s wrists.  A few minutes later, she was tying the knot off between her wrists, and Rose tried to move her wrists around.


“How does it feel?”


“Tight – and not as uncomfortable as I expected.  Now, can you tie my ankles the same way?  I don’t want to be able to move easily.”


Belinda took a second length of rope, and tied Rose’s ankles together in the same way as her wrists were bound – some loops around both, then the rope was used to cinch the loops and prevent Rose from moving her ankles apart.


“Right – are you sure you want to stay like this?” Belinda asked as she stood up.


“Yes,” Rose replied, “can you put the television on for me?”


Belinda turned on the television set, and then picked up her handbag and keys.  “I’m heading into town now, and I should be back for lunch.  Try not to hurt yourself while I’m gone.”


Rose waved her bound hands at her aunt.  “See you later.”  She watched her aunt leave the room, and then heard the front door close behind her.  The sound of her footsteps on the path faded into the distance, and Rose sat back to make herself as comfortable as possible.



Rose woke up with a start.  At first, she wondered why she couldn’t move her hands, and then she remembered the fact that she was tied up.


“I must have dozed off for a few seconds,” she thought to herself.  She could hear noises coming from the kitchen, and figured that Aunt Belinda must be back from her shopping.  “Aunt Belinda, could you bring me a drink please?” she called out.


The noises stopped, and Rose heard some whispered conversation.  Footsteps came down the hallway, and she started to smile when the room door opened.


She stopped smiling when she realised that it wasn’t her aunt in the kitchen.  Two men stood in the doorway, one about five foot six and the other a good six inches taller.  Both were dressed identically, in dark jumpers and jeans and black leather jackets.  As Rose realised with a pang of terror, both were also wearing gloves and black balaclava masks, and the taller one was pointing a gun at her.


“Please – forgive us for surprising you, but we did not think there was anyone at home.  May I ask you your name?”


“Rose,” she replied quietly with her eyes fixed on the gun, “who are you?”


“You may call me Mister Tall,” the man with the gun replied, “and my friend here is Mister Small.  Forgive me for asking, but why are you sitting there like that?”


Rose realised the precarious position she was in, so she decided honesty may be the best policy.  “My aunt did this – I have a part in a play that involves me being tied up, and I asked her to let me feel what it is like.”


“I see,” Mister Tall replied.  “Mister Small – perhaps you could fetch Rose a drink of water while I have a little chat with her?”


The smaller man nodded, and went back in the direction of the kitchen,


“Now, Rose, as you may have gathered we are not here to examine your acting abilities,” Mister Tall said as he came over and sat next to the terrified girl.  “Rather, we are here to see what jewellery and other things we can steal from this house.  We had thought it was empty, but – well, obviously we were mistaken.  The question now is, what are we going to do with you?”


Mister Small returned with a glass of water, which he handed to Rose.  She took it in her bound hands and had a drink.  “What do you mean, do with me?  I’ll be good, I won’t do anything you tell me not to do….”


“Thank you, Rose, that will be a great help, but I think we may need to take a little more care of you.  Mister Small – would you mind watching Rose for a few minutes while I have a look around?”


The smaller man sat down while his colleague left the room.


“So – what play do you have a part in?”




“Oh yes – I’ve seen that.  Very funny, if a little difficult to follow at times.  Are you plating the female lead?”


Rose nodded.


“I can see why you wanted to try this then.”


Mister Tall chose that moment to come back in.  “Forgive me, Rose, but I believe I hear your aunt coming back.  Please do not say a word when she comes in the door.”


The sound of a key in the door reached Rose’s ears, and then her aunt calling out “Rose – I’m home.  I’ll be with you in a minute.”


Belinda came into the room.  “Now, Rose, I think we can – oh no, no no………”  She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the two men in the room with her niece. 


“Rose – are you all right, have they hurt you?”


“Your niece is just fine,” Mister Tall said as he pointed the gun at Belinda, “and if you both want to stay fine, you will do as we say.  Do you understand?”


Belinda nodded.


“We know your niece’s name is Rose – what can we call you?”




“Well, Belinda, if you would kindly sit down in this chair,” Mister Tall said a she pulled over a chair from the dining table, “my friend Mister Small will be able to make you more comfortable.”


Belinda placed her handbag next to Rose on the couch, and sat down.


“Please, let your hands drop to the side of the chair,” Mister Small asked, and Belinda let her hands hang there.


“Now,” Mister Tall said as his colleague began to secure Belinda’s wrists to the back of the chair with silver tape, “Where do you keep your jewellery?”


Belinda looked at him with contempt.  “Upstairs in the larger bedroom – the boxes are on the dressing table.”


“Thank you.  Mister Small, please carry on.”


As Mister tall left the room, Belinda felt her other wrist been taped to the back of the chair, then watched as the smaller invader used more tape to secure her upper body to the back of the chair.  She looked over at Rose.


“So remind me again – this was meant to be a rehearsal for you, right?”


“Yes, and I’m so sorry it’s turned out like this, I really am”


“It’s not your fault – how were we to know this would be the day someone decided to rob us?”


Mister Small came round to the front of Belinda.  “Please place your ankles against the front legs of the chair” he asked, and Belinda felt she had to do as he said.


“What’s going to happen now?” Rose asked.


“I have no idea – but just keep calm whatever happens.”  As Belinda said this, Mister Small took the tape and began to secure her lap and legs to the chair seat.


“There – I think that should keep you comfortable in the meantime.” Mister Small said as he stood up.  “Would you like a drink of water?”


“Yes, thank you,” Belinda replied.


“Well, let me take care of one thing and then I’ll fetch it for you,” he said, and going to where Rose was sitting he retrieved a mobile phone from Belinda’s handbag.


“Sorry, my dear, but I always look for that little trick.”  With that, Mister Small turned off the phone, removed the battery and headed to the kitchen.


Belinda shrugged.  “Well – it was worth a try,” she said.


Mister Small returned with a glass of water, which he held as Belinda took a drink.  Mister Tall also joined them as she finished drinking.


“Well, Ladies, we will be on our way shortly, but I first need to make sure we can have some time to make our escape.  Mister Small, would you help me with Rose please?”


Belinda could only look on helplessly as the two masked men went over to her niece, and used more tape to secure her arms to her side and her legs above and below her knees.


“My compliments on the way you tied her wrists and ankles,” Mister Tall said over his shoulder to Belinda, “It saved us a little bit of work.”


The two men then helped Rose to lie on her side, and placed a cushion under her head so that she was more comfortable.


“Now, my dear ladies, I am afraid it will be necessary to make sure you cannot raise the alarm verbally.  Do not worry – we will alert the authorities to your predicament later today, but for now you will have to endure some silence.  Mister Small – if you would do the honours?”


The smaller man took some handkerchiefs from his pocket, and going first to Belinda he stuffed a couple of them into her mouth before placing two strips of the silver duct tape over her mouth.


Heading next to Rose, he paused to say “Good luck with the play, Rose” before similarly gagging the young lady.


“Now, may I commend to you the art of silence and thought, and offer my most fervent hope that we never meet again.  The Gentlemen Robbers bid you adieu.”


As Mister Tall said this, the two men took the glasses of water with them as they left.  Both Rose and Belinda heard the sound of running water, and realised to their amazement that they had washed them before they left.  It was a couple of hours later before the police arrived and freed them from their bindings.


Later that night, Rose and Belinda were sitting talking.


“I never meant for you to experience that – it must have been terrifying” Belinda said.


“It was – and at the same time I found it hard to be angry.  They seemed so nice and polite even when threatening us!”


“Yes, I could see that.  So, has it put you off the play?”


“Oh no – I know I can cope with the stage acting now.  Mind you, I do have one question.”


“Oh – what’s that?”


“If they came to see it, do you think I’d recognise them?”