The Secret Hen House Theatre
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Since the death of her mother, Hannah’s family life has been somewhat chaotic. Her father is absorbed by running their dilapidated farm, and the four children are increasingly left to their own devices. These include “farming” each room of the house, looking after an enormous pet sheep called Jasper, and writing and directing plays in a disused hen house. But when the farm is threatened with demolition, Hannah determines to save it and realize her dreams at the same time….
the gate open. “Look at the state of me,” she said. “Have you got something to wipe this mud off, Han?” “Right, you lazy lot!” shouted Dad down the stairs. “Look sharp!” Oh, no, thought Hannah. If she got caught up in Dad’s pig chase, she’d be gone all afternoon and they’d never get the play done. She threw Lottie a threadbare towel from the draining board, then grabbed Jo’s arm and pulled her outside, around the corner of the house. The guinea pig scrabbled across Jo’s jumper. “Hey, careful
you’ve finished, send it to me and I’ll feed it to the pigs. Or I would, if I wasn’t afraid they’d choke on it.” Dad turned his back and strode into the yard. The man was scarlet now. He followed Dad out. The children followed him, a few metres behind. “You can say what you like, Mr Roberts, but the bottom line is that if this quarter’s rent isn’t in my hands by Midsummer’s Day, you won’t have a home or a farm.” Hannah drew in her breath as though somebody had slapped her. Dad whipped round,
with them when he realised they had saved his cows. Lottie was still talking but Hannah had to lay her worries to rest. “Are you really sure this guy is honest? I mean, what if he gives us five hundred pounds for them and then he sells them for fifty thousand?” Lottie sighed. “Hannah, my mum’s known him for years. She’s bought and sold loads of stuff with him. She said his valuations are spot on.” “You didn’t tell her anything?” “Of course I didn’t. I just had to pretend to be really
tipped Hannah over the edge. Everyone had sent lilies when her mother died. For weeks, the house had been full of that smell. Lottie hugged her until the sobs turned into gulps. “Are you OK now?” Hannah wiped her eyes with her sleeves. “I can’t go back in there.” “We’ve got to. We have to sell the candlesticks, don’t we? Imagine, we could walk out of here with a cheque for fifty thousand pounds! Look, I’ll go in and ask them to take the lilies away. I’ll get them to spray some air freshener
– great driving sheets of it that soaked straight through Hannah’s coat and chilled her to the bone. She kept her head down and her shoulders hunched around her ears. Lottie squeezed her arm. “I’m really sorry, Han. What a shame.” Hannah trudged on. She couldn’t speak. “They really do look like antiques,” said Lottie. Hannah drew in her breath. Sotheby’s! She had sent off photographs of cheap 1950s candlesticks to be valued by the Sotheby’s silver department. And she had thought things