Dead In Devon


SKU e-book Category

175 in stock


By Zekria Ibrahimi

ISBN: 978-1-84991-779-7
Published: 2012
Pages: 62
Key Themes: Mental Health, Schizophrenia, Play, Script


This is a play, or playlet, about the gulf between city and country. It is set around 2001, on a Devon moor, in late afternoon, during a fox – hunt, before the ban. Sir Edward and Lady Elizabeth are upper class caricatures, for whom fox- hunting has become indeed everything. The fox symbolizes the left- wing ideas that they would want to seize and slaughter. Sir Edward cannot stop gulping down brandy from his flask, though he tries to hide his rampant dipsomania from his wife- a cold Anglican woman who, seated on her pew of awful self- righteousness, is disdainful of the lower orders. The two depart, after a chat about putting down the abominable lefties, with a tally- ho. Then the farm worker plods on- stage, who delivers a monologue concerning the necessity to obey authority. Nothing should be allowed, he feels, to disturb blood and aristocracy. He detests all radical townies. He is the archetypal deferential peasant, alas. There next arrive, once he has slouched off, Aziz and Zekria. They are left- wing Pakistanis from a northern conurbation, Grimeton, and they are part of an extremist group, the Socialist Alliance, that wants to sabotage fox- hunting. Just as Sir Edward and Lady Elizabeth represent what is uncomfortably reactionary, Zekria and Aziz symbolize what is uneasily radical. Edward/ Elizabeth and Aziz/ Zekria are two opposite political poles. Aziz and Zekria are in a state of incessant non- agreement. Zekria is the dull philosophizing sort of Marxist, who prefers to avoid direct action against the class system, and seeks merely to talk about being a left- winger. Aziz is violent, is loudly demanding revolution, and has an unsafe personality that verges on the venomous. The two are laying with pellets a false trail for the hounds. Aziz decides, to Zekria’ s horror, to put some of these pellets by a ditch and hole, into which the hounds might then dive to their death. The two Marxists hide as Sir Edward and Lady Elizabeth turn up. Aziz particularly is not pleased by the patrician prejudice that they overhear. What happens consequently is that the drunk Sir Edward follows the misled hounds over the edge into the fatal ditch where he perishes. Lady Elizabeth with her riding crop kills the terrified Zekria in revenge, while Aziz has run off. In a final monologue, the gloomy farm- worker decries urban radicalism and prefers morose rural reaction. For anything free, anything liberated, will soon be … dead in Devon …

About the Author

Zekria Ibrahimi (born in 1959) is defined by his schizophrenia. It first hit him long ago, in his late teens. He is fifty three years old now, grey and frail, almost a pensioner, with all the aches and injuries of age, incontinent and impotent, lame and with constant tinnitus, and he does not always want to remember how, as an adolescent in the late 1970’s, he suddenly became afraid of everything surrounding him, and, worst of all, of himself. He would run around the countryside and knock at the doors of strangers because he feared the apocalypse was pursuing him … He would pick up rubbish outside in alleys and streets and hoard it in his not very palatial lodgings … He was always wandering away from home, searching for … what would never be found again … the straight route, the level way … He was a tramp, freezing during the nights in public toilets where he had various unsavoury insects as company on the cold concrete …

There were years of pain when his schizophrenia became almost his only companion- albeit a sadistic one, punishing him even as he hugged it. Perhaps, to echo both R. D. Laing and Emily Dickinson, it is the entire globe, it is general society, that is truly insane. Schizophrenics simply burrow all too deeply under the surface. They reach the very core of the savage reality in us all. Most varnish over the anarchic truth within through the superficial sham paraded as ‘civilization’. Schizophrenics prefer to be uncomfortably honest barbarians.

Eventually, after much psychotic shouting on Hammersmith Broadway, the hapless Zekria was confined at the Charing Cross unit in the West London Mental Health Trust. Following the unsafe unstable freedom of his schizophrenia, came the restrictions of Section 3. He would not have survived without the multi- racial compassion of the individual doctors and nurses in Charing Cross. Yet the overall SYSTEM remains an ogre of rules and restraints, and the INSTITUTION of psychiatry can be as cold and vicious as in the days of lobotomy and insulin shock.

Now he is elderly, but still he muses about being locked up, drugged up, about how, with schizophrenia, the treatment can be worse than the disease…

Book Extract

Hunt the trade unionists, the demonstrators, the whole left- wing gang, Elizabeth! (He sticks
out his chin with a cretin’s pride) For England, we must kill the Reds! (He waves round his
riding crop) Smash the socialists!

(With cruel approval, she claps her gloved hands) How you seem so noble, when you lament
the way that false urban liberalism has sought to undermine our jewel of a countryside!

And you appear a gem, too. Bessie, dearie, you seem to glimmer in the dusk. You look like
something from a Rajah’s treasure chest. (Edward has become semi- drunk) Kiss me,
Elizabeth! I plead!

(An imperious shriek) No! Sex was banned from our marriage after the third child! I have
turned to the Anglican Christ, which forbids all intimacy. According to the Gospels, sex should
be the enemy. Sex has a venomous vigour reminiscent of revolution. It militates against any
conservative calm. It makes us all subject to a pathetic demeaning passion. It relegates us to
the gutter alongside sodden beasts. It destroys dignity!


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