Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present Synopsis

Cast: 4 (2m / 2f)
Running time (approximate):
2 hours 10 minutes not including interval.
Availability: Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present is currently not available for production.
Acting Edition:
Published by Samuel French.

Act 1, Scene 1


Meg (his wife)
Adrian (his son)
Grace (Adrian's fiancee) *
Faith (Adrian's wife) *
Charity (a call girl) *
Hope (his sister's friend) *

* played by the same actor
It is Micky's 80th birthday and he is at home with his wife, Meg, waiting for their 55 year old son, Adrian, to arrive with his fiancee, Grace. As Micky and Meg chat, they reveal that Adrian - an assistant head book-keeper at a department store - has apparently had a string of failed relationships and Micky seems doubtful that Grace, whom Adrian met at a church coffee morning and is a practising Christian, will break the cycle. He also feels Grace should be warned about Adrian's - as he perceives them - unusual predilections. Despite Meg's dismissal, he has a theory that Adrian is a sexual Jekyll and Hyde - or a sexual 'Superman' - and behind his mild-mannered exterior, there is a monster waiting to leap out. This theory, which Meg warns him not repeat to Grace, is backed up in Micky's mind by events at Meg's 60th birthday, Adrian's 30th birthday and goes back to the 18th birthday of his never seen daughter, Sonia, and an incident in a cupboard.
Adrian arrives with Grace - a rather nervous woman given to laughing to hide her anxiety in conversation and company, who although happy is obviously frustrated that the relationship is moving very slowly. Adrian reveals to Micky he believes Grace to be 'the one', although Micky is not convinced particularly after the failure of Adrian's first marriage. When Adrian realises he has not put a parking disc in the car, he heads out and Micky - against Meg's advice - warns an increasingly open-eyed Grace of his theory about Adrian.
Adrian returns having been talking to Councillor Hope Packham, whom Adrian knew as a teenager, and Micky is caught short and has to be taken out by Meg. As Adrian chats to Grace, she looks at him through fresh eyes before eventually leaping on top of him, demanding Superman come out of his phone box. A confused Adrian tries to extricate himself but she launches herself at him, bringing the tea table crashing down with all the party food and they become entangled on the floor with Grace on top of him, kissing him frantically. Inevitably, Micky and Meg return with the birthday cake, astonished to see the sight before them with Micky exclaiming: 'He's out again, love!'

Act 1, Scene 2
It is fifteen years earlier and Meg's 60th birthday for which Micky has organised a surprise party at the Swan Hotel. Adrian and Micky are waiting in a private side room for Meg and Adrian's wife, Faith, to appear. As the men chat, it is alluded to that Adrian and Faith's marriage is undergoing difficulties barely two-and-a-half years since they married. Meg and Faith arrive and Meg is almost overcome by the shock of seeing everyone at the surprise party. Micky and her enter the party leaving Faith and Adrian.
Faith is revealed to be a fragile woman, prone to depression and barely coping with her life, parenthood and her relationship. She wants them both to visit a counsellor to which Adrian objects - and is shocked when Faith says she feels the problems started on the wedding night. Adrian argues this wasn't entirely his fault as he felt Faith's previous husband and father of her children was still very much present in her mind. Meg reveals she wants them to seek help and that she is exhausted.
Throughout this, Meg and Micky become increasingly drunk and Micky is caught dancing with Adrian's Uncle Hal's new girlfriend. Meg starts a fight and is pulled into the side room by Micky and Adrian. Faith quietly leaves and Meg warns Adrian that it's not going to be easy to live with Faith, but Adrian says he will give it a go.

Act 2, Scene 1
It is now 25 years since the first scene and Adrian is celebrating his 30th birthday party, alone in his flat. His only card and present from his gran who has sent him a game of Animal Snap - as she has done ever since he was a child. Settling down for a quiet day, Adrian is disturbed by the doorbell and the arrival of Charity - a gift from his Uncle Hal. She has brought both a bottle of expensive vodka and two hours paid with herself. Adrian is initially appalled that his uncle has sent a prostitute for his birthday, but eventually persuades Charity to stay for a drink and a chat. During the course of which it transpires that the only time Adrian has had sex was at his sister's 18th birthday party in a cupboard.
With nothing left to talk about, Adrian challenges Charity to a game of Animal Snap. Despite being teetotal, Adrian agrees to try the vodka and both become very drunk very quickly during the increasingly bizarre game leading to Charity to suggest strip snap. As a drunk Adrian falls for her charms and the suggestion of finding a cupboard, the doorbell rings again.
Adrian hides Charity in the bedroom and find Meg and Micky making a surprise visit to celebrate his birthday. But they are mystified when Micky bores the drunk Adrian to sleep with his story of the drive over and Meg discovers a fur coat and empty vodka bottle in the kitchen. At which point, Charity appears, pulls off Adrian's jumper and takes her coat back. An astonished Micky and upset Meg are told by Charity that she has had 'more fun. more pleasure, more sheer bloody satisfaction' with Adrian than her past 35 men. She leaves Meg wondering how Adrian could do this and Micky proudly looking on at his sleeping son.

Act 2, Scene 2
Thirty-eight years from the first scene and Adrian is 16 and his sister, Sonia, is celebrating her 18th birthday. Adrian is trying to do his calculus homework as he aspires to be an astro-physicist. His father is trying to cajole him down to the party, which Adrian impatiently agrees to do once his homework is finished. Micky leaves and the source of Adrian's impatience is revealed when Sonia's best friend, Hope, emerges from the cupboard. She has apparently wandered into the room looking for the toilet and then hid in the cupboard. Adrian is desperate for her to leave, but the shy, nervous girl reveals she has actually deliberately sought Adrian out as part of a bet with his sister to have sex with him. Hope is not only the last virgin in her class but has had a crush on Adrian for years. A shocked Adrian reveals his sister is not very nice and she is setting up Hope for a fall. An upset Hope leads Adrian to suggest a plan for them to pretend they have had sex in his cupboard with both agreeing they will never break the lie. They seal the deal with a kiss and Hope leans out of the window the announce to Sonia and her friends she has won the bet and had sex with Adrian. She leaves and Adrian professes he doubts he will ever understand women as he hears cheering outside and his name being called outside. He goes to the window and embarrassed acknowledges the adulation, building it into a crescendo of adoration in his mind.
And so a legend begins as the play ends….

Stephen Joseph Theatre summer 2019 Brochure copy
It’s Micky’s 80th birthday and he and his wife Meg are awaiting the arrival of their son, Adrian, and his new (and latest!) fiancée, Grace.

Adrian has, according to his parents, a certain reputation regarding women and they feel meek, mild-mannered Grace should surely be warned of this. But are things really as they appear? Be prepared, as birthday follows birthday, to be amazed as the truth is finally revealed about Adrian, the suburban closet Lothario!

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