A Doubtful Story
Today we have a guest post from my delightfully creative friend and fellow blogger, Christine Woolgar. She has put together a fantastic sketch about doubting women with a surprising twist at the end!
Without further ado, I introduce "A doubtful story". I'll let Christine set the stage.
This short sketch is intended to raise awareness, particularly in Christian circles, of how uncomfortable stories can be disbelieved and divide loyalties, even amongst friends.
The sketch is best presented with little explanation to the audience – so that the twist comes as a surprise. The set and clothing can be modern or timeless at the directors’ choice.
A woman in her 20s or 30s is present. She is dressed a little unconventionally, consistent with what might be culturally perceived as what a ‘promiscuous woman’ would wear. The effect could be achieved through clothing, or through her hair style, make-up and jewellery.
A man in his 30s enters. The woman looks up.
Man: (gently) I’ve never wanted to doubt your story.
Woman: (wearied) Then what are you doing here?
Man: You’re my friend. At least, I think of you as a friend. I thought I should hear you say what happened in your words.
Woman: What have you heard already?
Man: I heard… you were out with a group of friends.
Woman: I was out with the girls.
Man: I wasn’t going to put it like that.
Woman: It’s how everyone else tells it.
Man: You were out in the very early hours of Sunday morning.
Woman: I was breaking curfew.
Man: I didn’t say that.
Woman: It’s what you meant.
Man: (not defensive) I’m trying to be objective.
Woman: So you don’t blame me for being there?
Man: (again, not defensive) No. (pause) I blame myself for not being there.
Woman: (pause as she takes this in) Go on.
Man: There were… uh… unexpected circumstances beyond your control.
Woman: Beyond everyone’s control.
Man: The others returned home, but you chose to stay.
Woman: I get to do that as an adult.
Man: Yes, I know. But it meant you were on your own when it happened.
Woman: “When it happened”? You mean, when he came.
Man: (pause) I’ve never wanted to doubt your story. But you have to admit, it doesn’t seem likely.
Woman: I wouldn’t lie about something like this!
Man: I’m not saying you are.
Woman: Then why won’t you believe me?
Man: (trying not to escalate the conversation) The last few days have been difficult for all of us.
Woman: (confused) What’s that supposed to mean?
Man: His arrest came as a surprise to all of us. And we’re all trying to process how that reconciles with what we thought we knew about him. We’re all going through that.
Woman: Your point?
Man: I’m not going to blame you if this story is your way of coping.
Woman: Don’t patronise me!
Man: You want to believe this incident between the two of you happened, because that’s easier for you.
Woman: You want to doubt it happened. That’s easier for you.
Man: That doesn’t make me wrong!
Woman: Doesn’t make me wrong either!
Man: If I believe you, I risk being wrong about him.
Woman: But if you don’t believe me, you still risk being wrong about him.
Man: (calm) My closest and most trusted friend.
Woman: I never said believing me would be easy.
Man: Let’s suppose for a moment you’re right – and he could have been wherever he wanted to be that morning, as unlikely and impractical as the idea is – why would he come and find you? While you were on your own? It doesn’t seem like something he’d do.
Woman: You saw how he treated me! How he treated other women! You’re telling me he’d be too shy, too polite, too conservative, to go out of his way to be with one of us when we’re upset and vulnerable? You’re telling me he’d always rather be with you and the lads? The truth is you could never predict his behaviour.
Man: (snappish) What, and you could? (Woman glares at him.) Sorry. (Pause. Then, gentler) I’ve never wanted to doubt your story --
Woman: This wasn’t out of character.
Man: -- but there were no other witnesses.
Woman: That was his choice, not mine. Don’t say I’m responsible for it.
Man: Could it not have been someone else?
Man: It was dark.
Woman: He spoke to me. I know his voice when I hear it.
Man: Really? I thought you said you didn’t recognise him.
Woman: Oh for goodness’ sake!
Man: You can’t change your story and still expect people to believe you!
Woman: I was not expecting him to be there! No one was! But he called me by my name! My name.
Man: According to you. (beat) I’m sorry Mary, but your account isn’t enough.
Woman: If I’m telling the truth, my account won’t be the only one. Have you considered that? (pause; then she realises there’s something he’s not saying) What have you heard?
Man: It’s just gossip.
Woman: Another woman?
Man: Two men actually.
Woman: Two men? Together?
Man: They said they didn’t recognise him at first.
Woman: But you don’t believe them?
Man: I don’t know them! For all I know they were copying your story.
Woman: What? So they could be disbelieved by all their friends?
Man: (earnest but angry) I’ve never wanted to doubt your story!
Woman: But you’re doubting me, Thomas! You’re doubting him!
Man: How can you say that to me! I watched him die in agony! I wept while everyone who hates us stood there gloating, smiling at the sight of his body hanging on the cross. But even then I chose to believe his life had meaning. Even then I chose to believe that all was not lost. I never doubted. But I’ll be damned if I put my hope in some happy-ever-after, an empty tale told by those who can’t handle their grief.
Woman: So what’s your explanation then? How do you say his body disappeared from a guarded tomb?
Man: I don’t know.
Woman: With the grave linen left behind?
Man: I don’t know!
Woman: Will you believe he’s alive when you see him?
Man: Let me put my fingers into the holes in his hands; let me put my hand in his side. Then I’ll believe.
Christine Woolgar is a theological thinker. Living in the UK, she loves to delve deeply into scripture. She entered marriage with an alarming ignorance of consent, sexuality and equality, but also an amazing husband who helped her overcome all this. She now has a passion for shaping the church’s attitudes in these areas. You can find her and more of her writings on:
She's also penned a short sketch Love vs Abuse, comparing the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife with that of Ruth and Boaz, as well as a monologue from the point of view of Elizabeth writing to Mary shortly after the birth of John the Baptist. These sketches are her own creative work and they are copyright. She's not looking to make money out of them, but if you like them and want to use them please take the time to contact her.