Composers and their stage works 

The Chalk Garden

Enid Bagnold

Comic Thriller - 3 Acts

M2 (elderly) F7 (16, 40s, middle-age, elderly). A living-room.

The chalk garden which totally defeats Mrs St Maugham's attempts to cultivate it is symbolic of her failure with her daughter and her granddaughter. Then Miss Madrigal, a hired companion, takes charge. 'We eavesdrop on a group of thoroughbred minds, expressing themselves in speech of an exquisite candour, building ornamental bridges of metaphor, tiptoeing across frail causeways of simile, and vaulting over gorges impassable to the rational soul.' Kenneth Tynan, Observer


Eccentric Mrs St Maugham has engaged the enigmatic Miss Madrigal to be governess to her granddaughter at her country manor house in Sussex in the 1950s. The house has a garden with a difficult chalky soil. Equally difficult to manage is the girl, a precocious liar who fabricates salacious stories about her childhood.
The household is mystified by the congenial Miss Madrigal who is later revealed as a murderess who has served fifteen years in prison. She sees a lot of herself in the disruptive girl and finally persuades her to give up fantasising and return to her mother, whom she despises.

Now alone, Mrs St. Maugham asks the governess to stay on with her, and although still curious about her crime, she accepts her offer to help make the chalk garden flourish.

  • Miss Madrigal
  • Maitland
  • Second applicant
  • Laurel
  • Thin applicant
  • Mrs St Maugham
  • Nurse
  • Olivia
  • The Judge

ISBN 0 573 01064 1