Natalya foreword



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BA, Ebba's handicapped sister enters, wearing the mushroom hat.

MICHELENE

Take it off, what are you doing? (She snatches the hat from BA, making her stagger.) I left it in the hatbox in the hall, you'd think it was safe enough there! (EBBA enters.) She's been at my hat!
EBBA

Oh it's gorgeous. Sorry. Ba...(BA smiles.) I've put you in the back room. Jack and I'll go in the attic, I don't want you going up that ladder.
BA

I oh iy. (I don't mind.)
EBBA

No darling.
BA

I oh or roo. (I want your room.)
MICHELENE

I honestly don't think it's wise, the way you...well, she's your sister. Don't! (As BA picks up her large swatches.) They have to go back to Nina's in a reasonable state.
BA

(Frightened) I'm a people person.
CAROLLE seems disturbed by all this. She hovers uncertainly, sits by BA on the sofa, dithers, offers her a cigarette.
MICHELENE

Oh Pl-ease!
CAROLLE

They are low tar.

EBBA crosses firmly with a cigarette lighter. BA lights up with difficulty, puffs proudly.
CAROLLE

Sorry, I...I mean I never smoke myself, these are my analyst's.
BA has noticed NATALYA, curled up, apart. She inspects her, is fascinated by her red shoes. NATALYA takes them off. BA puts them on.

EBBA

Oh sorry...didn't know you were here. Natalya ...Michelene Whelan. Michelene's with my publisher.
NATALYA

This one marries your brother? (She inspects MICHELENE coolly.)
EBBA

Natalya's visiting, from Moscow.
MICHELENE

Really? Social or business?
NATALYA

I cannot answer. (MICHELENE is baffled.)
MICHELENE

(To EBBA) I'm going berserk. Nothing distressed as I asked, curtain poles with fat ends instead of thin ones - I had a nightmare last night that Emile was putting up wallpaper - figured, embossed wallpaper! I'm supposed to be lunching with the Duchess - our patron - If she shows, and If this is still wearable - (glaring at her hat).
NATALYA

Hah.
MICHELENE

I'm sorry, I didn't get your name -
NATALYA

I am the Princess Natalya Ivanovna Dubetskoy.
MICHELENE

Oh. How do you do?
NATALYA

Don't curtsey, we are here informally. To see your Queen. (EBBA chokes on her Evian water.) Please be seated. Tell me of this residence you repaint, it is where...Scotland

...Norfolk? Not Ireland, I hope - is for hyippies.
MICHELENE

Surrey.
EBBA

Home counties.
MICHELENE

My fiancé needs to be near the Imperial College, in London. He is an eminent scientist.



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