The First and the Last


Writers: John Galsworthy


Show Information

Based on the Play/Book/Film
The First and the Last (1917 short story)
Number of Acts
First Produced
Drama, Romance
Multiple Settings
Time & Place
London, 1900s
Cast Size
Ideal for
College/University, Community Theatre, Professional Theatre, Regional Theatre, Small Cast
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes adult, young adult characters


The First and the Last is based on John Galsworthy’s 1917 short story of the same name. The life and family name of King’s Counsel lawyer, Keith Darrant, is respected and admired throughout London. However, his world is thrown into jeopardy when his younger brother, Larry, bursts in with shocking news. Larry has been involved with a young, Polish woman, Wanda, whom he loves passionately. In an unexpected twist of events, he and Wanda were surprised one night by the arrival of her estranged husband. In self-defense, Larry killed her violent husband, and the couple disposed of the body under a nearby archway. With the murder featured in all the newspapers, and his professional respectability under threat, Keith knows that Larry depends on him to sort the matter out.

Advising his brother to lie low at Wanda’s home, Keith ascertains the known facts surrounding the murder and whether Larry is implicated at all. When he realizes that nothing links his brother to the man’s death, Keith advises Larry to stay quiet, as another man is convicted in his place. However, the strain of the guilt is too much for Larry. He wants to forget about it and leave the country with Wanda, but his conscience forbids him. Finally, he and his devoted Wanda take their own lives together. Discovering the bodies, Keith makes the uncomfortable choice to close the door on the dead couple, rather than report it to the police and become involved in a scandal.

Lead Characters

The First and the Last guide sections