A Severed Head is a play in three acts, the first two of which contain seven scenes each; the shorter third act contains four scenes. The play opens in late December in Georgie Hands’s untidy bed-sitting-room near Covent Garden and moves back and forth between there, the sitting room of the Lynch-Gibbons’ house in Hereford Square, and Palmer Anderson’s house in Chester Square. The play is about the passionate entanglements between the Lynch-Gibbon family and Palmer and his half sister Honor Klein. Georgie is involved with both families.
Georgie’s room is a candlelit nest where Georgie and Martin lie half-entwined in front of the fire. The dialogue begins with Georgie’s anxious questions about Martin’s wife, and her fear of being dropped if Antonia discovers the affair. The relationship between Martin and Georgie is much more important to her than it is to him.
The second scene occurs in Martin’s elegant, lavishly decorated home after he leaves Georgie. Antonia returns from a visit with Palmer Anderson, her therapist, and announces that she is desperately in love with him and wants her freedom. Martin, incredulous, tries to talk her out of it, then lets her lead him to Palmer’s house. Palmer tries to convince Martin that he and Antonia will continue to care for Martin in a loving way.
Martin’s sister, Rosemary, and his brother, Alexander, visit him at home to try to cheer him. Martin writes to Georgie about his marital problems, imploring her to be patient. The next day Martin and Honor converse, and Honor berates Martin for giving in so readily to Palmer and Antonia’s demands....
(The entire section is 671 words.)