Go to SEASON 1 (2019/20)

At First I Was Afraid… (I Was Petrified!)


by Douglas Maxwell

Age Range: 11 – 14
Cast size: There are 19 named speaking parts in the play. Many of the smaller parts can be “doubled up”, so the same actors could play a few roles. For bigger groups there is a narration which is designed to be read aloud, like a storyteller. However, the narration is also disposable – meaning that if you have a smaller group you could cut them completely and treat them as stage directions.

Cleo was a star at Primary. It was all classroom triumphs, applauding assemblies and happy pals watching Descendants together on Friday night.

But moving up to high school has been tough. She’s split from her friends and is lagging behind. As life gets tougher her concerns turn to full-on anxiety and soon she’s really struggling.

As a way to cope she starts to write down her worries in an old Descendants diary, but everything she writes seems to be coming true – no matter how wild or unbelievable.

Could it be that the Worry Book is…magic? Nah, that’s daft. And cheesy. And babyish. And yet…

So to test it Cleo writes down the biggest, most incredible worry she can think of: “I’m worried that the World Will Just Stop”.

That was March 23rd, 2020. The day Lockdown began.

This is a fast-paced comedy drama with loads of bright characters, big set pieces, twists and turns and a huge sing-a-long happy ending…oh, and a mad bit with a Fairy Godperson.

At First I Was Afraid… Extract

About the Artist

Douglas Maxwell has been one of Scotland’s top playwrights since his debut in 2000. His work includes I Can Go Anywhere at The Traverse, Edinburgh, Charlie Sonata at The Royal Lyceum Edinburgh, The Whip Hand for The Traverse/Birmingham Rep, Yer Granny (a version of Roberto Cossa’s La Nona) for the National Theatre of Scotland and Fever Dream: Southside for The Citizens, Glasgow.

His online lockdown work includes Beautiful Boy for Pitlochry Festival Theatre, The Assumption for Solar Bear/Royal Conservatoire Scotland and Fatbaws for the National Theatre of Scotland/BBC. Fatbaws, directed by and starring Peter Mullan, has been seen by a million people and was subsequently screened on BBC Scotland and iPlayer.

His many other plays include Decky Does a Bronco, Mancub, Promises Promises (staged in New York as The Promise) and A Respectable Widow Takes to Vulgarity.

His plays have been performed in translation in Germany, Norway, Hong Kong, New York, Chicago, Holland, Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, Wales, Japan, France, Belgium and South Korea, where his debut play Our Bad Magnet ran for over ten years.

His plays are published by Oberon books. His first collection of work focuses on his writing for younger audiences. As well as Decky Does a Bronco and Mancub that volume also contains Too Fast, The Mother Ship and Helmet.

His upcoming work includes the musical Orphans, written with Roddy Hart and Tommy Riley for the National Theatre of Scotland, which is set to open in The SECC Armadillo in Spring 2022.

Douglas lives on the Southside of Glasgow with his wife and two daughters.