Play directory : The Darling Buds of May

Welcome to The Mandy Network Plays Directory.

The information below is intended to give you a brief guide to the show and highlight some of the other The Mandy Network members who have also been involved in this show.

  • Author
    Herbert Ernest Bates
  • Written
    1954
  • Setting
    idyllic rural 1950s Kent
  • Overview
    The Darling Buds of May tells the story of the Larkin
    family, which includes Ma and Pop Larkin and six happy
    – and always hungry – children. The Larkins lead a
    quiet, peaceful life in the country, surrounded by cows,
    pigs, horses and chickens, and they don’t have a care in
    the world – until the day they come home and find a
    man waiting to speak to Pop about something very, very
    important!

    Chapter 1: The story starts with the Larkin family riding
    in their lorry back to their ‘perfick’ (perfect) home in the
    countryside. When they get home, they find Mr Charlton,
    a man from the tax office, waiting for them. He tries to get
    Pop to fill in a tax form, but instead of doing his job, he
    ends up falling in love with Ma and Pop’s eldest daughter,
    Mariette, who takes him on a walk.

    Chapter 2: Mariette and Ma and Pop finally persuade
    Mr Charlton to stay and play cards. He agrees, but he
    finds the game too hard to understand. Every time he
    tries to talk to Pop about the tax form, he is distracted
    by Mariette, who has put on special perfume to entice
    him even further. Finally, Pop gets Mr Charlton to drink
    several cocktails, so he is drunk when he goes to bed. The
    chapter ends with Ma telling Pop that Mr Charlton ‘just
    needs a bit more time’.

    Chapter 3: Mr Charlton awakes feeling very ill. He
    tries to leave again, but his departure is halted by Pop’s
    insistence that he drink a ‘Larkin Special’, and Mariette’s
    invitation to go for a walk down by the water. Standing
    in the sunny yard with Mariette, he is surprised to realize
    that he feels ‘perfick’. The next day, Pop surprises everyone
    by buying a Rolls Royce. The Larkins’ neighbour, the
    Brigadier, arrives for lunch, and Pop agrees to lend him the
    use of his field for a gymkhana. After lunch, Mr Charlton
    and Mariette go for a long walk together.

    Chapter 4: The Larkins convince Mr Charlton to take
    a week of leave from his office and join them in picking
    strawberries. He struggles in the fields for a while before
    Pop introduces him to the man in charge of counting the
    strawberries as they come in. The man ends up giving
    the task to Mr Charlton, who is happier sitting in a tent
    and working with numbers instead of with his hands. He
    meets a girl, Pauline Jackson, who starts to get friendly
    with him. At the end of the chapter, Mariette and Pauline
    fight over Mr Charlton.

    Chapter 5: Pop gets a doctor to check on Mr Charlton to
    see if he can get him a couple of weeks’ sick leave, and the
    doctor advises him to take another week or two away from
    the office to rest his back. Meanwhile, the Larkins are
    visited by a neighbour, Miss Pilchester, who is organizing
    the gymkhana. She gets drunk and goes for a drive with
    Pop. At Miss Pilchester’s house, Pop kisses her and then returns home, where he tells Ma about it. They laugh
    about Miss Pilchester’s dark, dirty home, and drink a beer
    together.

    Chapter 6: It is the day of the gymkhana, an annual
    event in the region. The Larkins and Miss Pilchester
    work together to plan the event, and eventually it gets
    underway. At noon, Pop offers to buy an old mansion
    from a local man named Sir George Bluff-Gore. Then he
    gets Miss Pilchester to agree to take part in the donkey
    race by promising to kiss her at the cocktail party.

    Chapter 7: The gymkhana is a great success. Afterwards,
    everyone goes to the Larkins’ house for the cocktail
    party. Pop starts giving people his new cocktail – the ‘My
    Darling’. He meets with Sir George’s wife, who tells him
    that she will help to change her husband’s mind about
    selling Pop their house. Then Pop meets Angela Snow,
    who asks him to plan the gymkhana for her village later in
    the summer. Pop starts setting off fireworks, and everyone
    joins in, and then Mr Charlton asks him if he can marry
    Mariette. Pop says ‘yes’, and then shares the news with
    everyone at the party. More big news comes after the party
    when Ma tells Pop that they are going to have another
    baby. When Pop asks Mr Charlton if he plans to go back
    to work, Mr Charlton decides to stay on at the Larkins’
    home. At the end of the story – as at the beginning
    – everything is truly ‘perfick’!