One in the Eye

1-act comedy for five actors (3M, 2F with doubling) Running time: Approx 50 minutes

Or the exploits of Horatio Nelson's less famous brother, Maurice – and his efforts to keep Emma Hamilton from spilling the beans...


Horatio Nelson was arguably the greatest hero that Great Britain has ever seen. Throughout the world his name is revered, his exploits remembered with awe.
What is not so well known is that Horatio had a brother called Maurice...
Maurice (as you may have gathered) was not nearly as famous as Horatio. The closest he got to the sea was the Navy Department where he worked. He was in fact a civil servant.
‘One In The Eye’ follows a week in the life of Maurice. The story opens with the news that brother Horatio has sunk most of the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile. Shortly after hearing this news the Navy Department’s quietness and solitude is interrupted by one Emma Hamilton — a ‘friend’ of Horatio’s.
She announces, much to Maurice’s chagrin, that she is to throw a ball in London to celebrate the victory; and everyone is coming – even the King.
Maurice, on reaching home, is told by his wife Sarah that there is a letter for him. His sister-in-law is coming up to London for the season.
His sister-in-law is of course Fanny Nelson. While on the coach from Bath, all the talk is of a great ball being held to celebrate her husband’s great victory. Fanny, quite rightly, is insistent that she should go.
Maurice’s dilemma is how to keep the wife and the mistress apart. Easily solved when you think about it. All that has to be done is persuade Fanny to go to the ball for no more than a couple of hours. Then, in order to keep Emma diverted, one of Maurice’s colleagues has to be dressed up (under protest) as King George III.
That way, while Emma is treated to a private audience with the (bogus) King for two hours, Maurice will be able to look after Fanny. By the time that Emma reappears and finds she has been duped, Fanny will have gone.

Characters in order of appearance

Maurice: Brother of Horatio Nelson, dry and rather cynical; but then he lives in the shadow of his rather more famous brother, so it’s only to be expected.

Briggs: Maurice’s colleague at the Navy Department. A bit of a Jack-the-lad.

Emma: Lady Hamilton, by name. Larger than life by nature. Reputed to be a good friend of Horatio’s.

Streetvendor: A dodgy street trader.

Sarah: Maurice’s blind wife, a quiet unassuming girl.

Innkeeper: Probably the streetvendor’s brother.

Fanny: Lady Nelson: Horatio’s wife. Has good taste and upbringing, quite different to Emma.

King George: King George the Third. Given to bouts of insanity – like most of us.

Suggested doubling up:

Narrator / King George / Innkeeper / Streetvendor
Sarah / Fanny
Nurse / Emma

For a free downloadable perusal script click here: Stagescripts

For more details about this and other Derek Webb plays, email:

This article was updated on 26 November 2021