Don’t Rock the Boat

Published by Warner Chappell
Not a farce, but a light comedy with realistic characters and topical relevances, combined with much laughter. It has already received several productions in the U.K. and around Europe.

The idyllic rural waters of the river Thames get decidedly choppy when a brash, self made property developer with ulterior motives invites a local planning chairman, his wife and teenage daughter to holiday with his own family on board his houseboat, The Bunty. The two families clash in every possible way – background, lifestyle, domestic habits, business ethics, and sexual proclivities. The picturesque Bunty almost sinks beneath the waves in the turmoil of argument, incompatibility, business shenanigans and rampant libidos that surface over the weekend, and the encounter explores many modern business, political and domestic issues.


  • ARTHUR BULLHEAD (Middle-aged Businessman)
  • MARY BULLHEAD (His Wife)
  • SHIRLEY BULLHEAD (Their Daughter, 17)
  • JOHN COOMBES (Middle-aged Solicitor)
  • CAROL COOMBES (His Wife)
  • WENDY COOMBES (Their Daughter, 17)

The scene is a converted barge, ‘The Bunty’ moored on a quiet stretch of the Thames somewhere in Berkshire. The boat is spacious and immaculate, having been expensively if rather flashily converted to make a holiday home. Only the front two thirds can be seen, in cut-away section, viewed as from mid-stream with the river bank behind it. There is a small fore-deck with a gangplank to the bank beyond the boat,ladder up onto the main roof-deck where are scattered a couple of sun mattresses or loungers, and steps down to the main saloon. This is centre-stage, comfortably, if too cosily furnished, with chintzy soft furnishings, and much brass, teak and nautical embellishments about the place. It is lit by circular brass port-holes looking out onto the bank. A collapsible dining table is up-stage, surrounded on two sides by built-in cushioned seating. All this converts into a double bunk when required. Next to this, a small galley, with sink, cooker, fridge, etc is built in, beside which is an upstage bulkhead door to a passage-way leading to the rest of the boat. There are a couple of easy chairs downstage, and various boating magazines and books on sailing are in evidence around the place.

The small ‘guest cabin’ is stage-right, next door to the saloon, with up-stage door to the passage-way. It has a double bunk, and downstage door leading to off-stage en-suite toilet and shower room.