The Wakeby Donn Byrne
Format of Original Source: Short Story
Recommended Adaptation Length: 90 Minutes
Candidate for Adaptation? Promising
She was nineteen when he married her; he was sixty-three. Because he had over two hundred acres of land and many head of milch and grazing cattle and a huge house that rambled like a barrack, her father had given her to him; and young Kennedy, who had been her father’s steward for years, and had been saving to buy a house for her, was thrown over like a bale of mildewed hay.
Kennedy had made several violent scenes. Michael James remembered the morning of the wedding. Kennedy waylaid the bridal-party coming out of the church. He was drunk. “Mark me,” he had said, very quietly for a drunken man–“mark me. If anything ever happens to that girl at your side, Michael James, I’ll murder you. I’ll murder you in cold blood. Do you understand?”
The elderly farmer Michael James sits at the wake of his much younger bride. As mourners come and go, her remembers how his wife’s ex-boyfriend threatened his life if anything should happen to her. While contemplating his brief marriage and his relationship to his wife, Michael James awaits the arrival of her ex-boyfriend, wondering if he will come to kill him. Most of “The Wake” occurs in the mind of the elderly farmer. There is some suspense as to whether the story will end violently, but it would need to be expanded quite a bit to be musicalized. Promising title, if you’re able to make the past tense sections happen in PRESENT TENSE, not in flashback. That said, there are some fairly interesting ideas about love and marriage which could be explored in a musical, probably of a single act.
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