If I were You
By James Douglas
· The chapter ‘If I Were You’ written by Douglas James is a one act play that has mystery, suspense, wit and humour.
· It is an interesting and humorous story in which an Intruder intends to kill Gerrard and impersonate him to escape the law but the tables are turned on him as he is trapped due to Gerrard’s cool attitude and presence of mind.
· ‘If I Were You’ is the story of Charles Vincent Gerrard a cultured man associated to the drama world. He is not very social, lives in a lonely cottage in the wilds of Essex, gives his orders on the phone and doesn’t meet many people at his place.
· The play brings out that intelligence and presence of mind can help us come out of even the trickiest of situations.
· The play opens with Gerrard answering a phone call and he promises to deliver the props for rehearsal. He is busy packing the props when an Intruder carrying a revolver in his hand enters. Intruder wants to know about Gerrard as he looks similar to Gerrard in his body built, plans to murder Gerrard and thereafter take his identity. So he asks certain questions and wants them to be answered correctly by him. It is the clever Gerrard who has the last laugh when he fools the Intruder into believing that he, too, is running from the police. He manages to divert his attention and lock him into his cupboard.
Summary / Synopsis
· The play opens with Gerrard answering a phone call which is from a client to whom he promises to deliver the props for rehearsal. He is busy packing the props when a flashily dressed Intruder carrying a revolver in his hand enters the room and warns Gerrard not to move and act smart. Intruder wants to know about Gerrard so he asks certain questions and wants them to be answered correctly by him.
· The Intruder, who looks similar to Gerrard in his body built, plans to murder Gerrard and thereafter take his identity. He is a robber who specialises in the theft of jewels and plans to use Gerrard’s house and car for his schemes. By assuming his identity, he can evade the police and lead a peaceful life. The cops are after him day and night as he has killed one of the cops.
· He has noticed Gerrard’s manner of speech and has taken care to adopt a resemblance to him in looks and behaviour, too.
· Gerrard tells him that in most melodramas villains are foolish enough to delay their killing but the Intruder is not so foolish. When the Intruder was about to shoot Gerrard, he warned him to be careful and not to kill him because he was also a criminal and a murderer. In case, he killed Gerrard he was sure to be hanged. They would hang him if not as himself then as Gerrard.
· It is the clever Gerrard who has the last laugh when he fools the Intruder into believing that he, too, is running from the police and is about to flee because unfortunately, one of his men has been caught with the evidences. He tells that he is expecting trouble that night. That is why he is ready to run away with his disguise outfit ready such as overcoat, false moustaches, etc. He offered him to run with him in his car to a safer place.
· He adds that he has posted a man on the road to call him the moment he sees the police. As the telephone bell rings, Gerrard tells the Intruder that it is the call from his informer. He takes his bag and open the door. The intruder tries to peep out of door to check what is outside. Just then, Gerrard pushes him inside the door of the cupboard knocking the revolver out of his hand. It was the door of his cupboard, not the door of his house or garage.
· The Intruder rattles the door and shouts to let him out of the door. Gerrard answers a phone call, apologising that he wouldn’t be able to deliver stage props in time for rehearsal. At the same time he requests the caller to send the sergeant to his place to arrest the intruder. Gerrard decides to use it as the plot for his next play.
The chapter clearly highlights the message that we should keep our calm and use our presence of mind which would help us come out of the gravest problems or difficulties the way Gerrard has done. The story teaches us not to lose hope, calmness and composite nature even in adverse times.