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Theatre / The Winter Guest

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The Winter Guest is a 1995 play by Sharman MacDonald (mother of Keira Knightley) that deals with four different relationships over the course of one freezing cold day in a village on the east coast of Scotland. Frances, a photographer, is hiding away from the world after the death of her husband and is being pestered by her mother, Elspeth. Her son, Alex, skips school and spends the day trying to chat up Nita, who he's just met. Also dogging it are Sam and Tom, who hang out on the deserted beach for the day. They pass by Chloe and Lily, two elderly women who spend their days attending strangers' funerals.

In 1997, it was made into a film starring Emma Thompson as Frances and her mother Phyllida Law as Elspeth.

Provides examples of:

  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Although no one else is around to hear it besides Frances, Elspeth does recount a particularly embarrassing story of Frances participating in a junior beauty pageant while on holiday in Prestwick.
  • Cute Kitten: Sam and Tom find some abandoned ones and adopt them, becoming Kind Hearted Cat Lover s.
  • Danger: Thin Ice: The boys discuss walking out on the frozen sea, wondering whether it'll hold them, in kind of a metaphor for braving life's uncertainties (does growing up suck or doesn't it?). At the end, they do take the walk, with Tom talking gently to his kitten, whom he's named Fan, zipped securely in his jacket, promising they'll go back and have tea by the fire together.
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  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: It's never explicitly stated how Frances' husband died, although it's implied by Alex to have been cancer.
  • Education Mama: Sam's mum, who forced him to go to school when he had pneumonia.
  • Important Haircut: Elspeth doesn't approve of Frances' new Bifauxnen hair-do.
  • Scenery Porn: There are some gorgeous shots of the frozen sea in the film.
  • Snow Means Death: Played with - the frozen ocean is a symbol of Frances' emotional state following her husband's death.
  • Those Two Guys: Chloe and Lily.


Example of: