The Girl Next Door: Synopsis

Cast: 2 male / 2 female
Running time (approximate):
2 hours - not including the interval.
Availability: The Girl Next Door is not available for production.
Acting Edition:
The Girl Next Door has not been published.

Act 1, Scene 1

Characters

Rob (Robert) Hathaway (60, an actor)
Alex Hathaway (62, his sister, a Government financial advisor)
Alf Tindle (26, a soldier)
Lily Tindle (24, his wife)
It is the 5 August 2020 and the country is in the midst of the first lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rob Hathaway, a twice-divorced, out-of-work actor - is stuck in his terraced home in Canonbury, London, along with his sister, Alex - a civil servant for the Treasury. Rob was once a television mainstay in the popular period TV drama
NFS [National Fire Service] as firefighter George 'Tiger' Jennings.

He is still bitter about his exit from the show - largely his own fault - and is depressed his fan mail seems to be only from older fans, notably one who insists in writing on pink paper.

His lockdown boredom is interrupted when he spots a young woman hanging her washing out in the garden next door, when the owners of the house are supposed to be isolating elsewhere. The woman is anachronistically dressed in 1940s clothes and is as bewildered by who Rob is and why he's in her neighbour's garden as he is by her. Whilst trying to impress Lily by noting he was in
NFS, she mistakes him for being an actual firefighter..

Rob steps into Lily's garden and is confused to find a vegetable garden and Anderson air-raid shelter rather than the lawn that should be there. Inside, his confusion increases when he finds a '40s kitchen which also doesn't appear to have a door. Lily insists there is and steps through and Rob sees her vanish through a wall before re-appearing. Completely confused, he asks what the date is.

She responds 5 August. 1942.

Rob's reaction makes Lily believe he is suffering from shock from his work. Over a cup of tea, he reveals his life-story and how his past two marriages failed and pretends that he's a nephew of Lily's next door neighbours. Lily talks about her life and reveals her husband, Alfie, is a Tank Commander fighting in the war and that both her children have been evacuated to the countryside.

The conversation is interrupted by an air-raid siren and Rob, in a complete panic, is dragged into the Anderson shelter by Lily.

Act 1, Scene 2
That evening, Rob is back in his house telling Alex of what has happened - who doesn't believe him given his flights of fantasy. Rob though has researched what Lily has told him and it's all true and that, alarmingly, Alfie was killed in action at El Alamein in 1942.

Alex is unconvinced and believes Rob has a stalker such as the one, years earlier, who blew the lid on his affairs on set. Rob is left doubting his sanity until Lily re-appears in the garden.

Unfortunately, Lily has also done some checking and knows Rob is not her neighbour's nephew. He admits he's been lying and tries to explain what he thinks is happening - largely drawn from working on
Doctor Who. He tells her that he is from 78 years in the future and persuades her to step through to his garden. She finds herself in 2020 and convinced and confused, they return to Lily's kitchen with Rob taking back a bottle of Cognac.

Over the course of the bottle, it is obvious that Rob is attracted to Lily and they talk about their lives. Lily reveals Alfie is due for leave soon, but realises Rob knows what is going to happen. Eventually, he admits he knows Alfie has been killed in action. She collapses and as Rob tries to comfort her, Alfie walks in. Lily faints as Alfie advances on Rob….

Act 2, Scene 1
The following afternoon and Rob and Alfie are playing football in the sunshine of 2020 whilst Alex and Lily are washing up whilst it pours down in 1942.

Alfie had punched Rob, but in the aftermath, Lily and Rob have convinced him it was a misunderstanding without revealing the truth of 'when' Rob has come from.

Alex and Lily talk about Alfie and his symptoms of PTSD whilst Alex tries to impress upon Lily what Rob is like, also revealing that she is a gay, married woman. They are both confused by the fact Alfie is still alive and Lily chalks it up to just another thing she has to cope with, leading Alex to hug her.

In Rob's garden, Alfie reasons the bombing has caused the different weather systems on either side of the fence. He talks about his life and love for Lily - with a little too much detail for Rob's comfort - but also how difficult it is to cope with all he has seen. He doesn't believe he will survive the war and makes Rob promise he'll look after Lily in such an event.

After Lily and Alfie leave, Rob tells Alex about the conversation and a frustrated Alex realises he is falling in love with Lily. She points out Lily is a happily married woman with children who is 36 years younger than him. They are interrupted by a call and Alex tells Rob there may be a problem. There were two battles of El Alamein during 1942 and the second ended on 11 November. Rob realises he has to tell Lily this despite the grim choice that Alfie either dies in action or would probaly be shot for desertion.

Rob heads over to Lily's garden, which is in pitch blackness due to the blackout. He sees no sign of her and the air-raid siren sounds again. He dives into the Anderson shelteras the house is bombed. He goes back and finds the house destroyed with no sign of either Lily or Alfie.

Act 2, Scene 2
The following morning and 'Lily's garden' is now an immaculate lawn next to a modern kitchen.

Rob and Alex agree that the 'portal' between 2020 and 1942 has gone and all is as it should be. Rob's research has revealed Alfie was killed in action in September 1942, but he can find nothing about Lily.

On the table is a hand-delivered envelope lays on Rob's kitchen table which Ron refuses to open believing it is pointless fan mail. Alex opens it and a note explains the sender's late mother insisted the attached letter in a pink envelope be delivered on this day.

Rob recognises the pink envelope and writing as his 'older' fan and refuses to open it. Frustrated by Rob's petulance, Alex opens it. It is signed by Lily. They both realise this letter - and all the pink fan letters - were written by Lily, who died at 94 and whose daughter delivered this final letter. Lily even worked near Rob in his early acting days but, ironically, being 42 years older, Rob never noticed her.

Alex leaves Rob to silently and tearfully read Lily's final letter to him.

Synopsis by Simon Murgatroyd and copyright of Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.