The play "If I Were You" was written by Douglas James. Gerrard is the protagonist of the play "If I Were You". The play begins with Gerrard on the phone. He was asking for a phone call from someone. He informed the person that he might be available at his cottage for some time, but they should not rely on it and should contact him within ten minutes. After that, he bade his goodbyes and hung up the phone. Gerrard then moved closer to the divan and began packing his belongings into a suitcase.
While Gerrard was busy packing his belongings, a man who was similar to Gerrard in physique entered his room quietly from the right side, causing an unexpected surprise in the play. The arrival of such a new character (Gerrard-like man) would provide the audience or readers with a hint as to how the title was called 'If I Were You.'
With one hand, he held a pistol. He was flashily dressed in a bright suit, an overcoat, and a soft hat. He accidentally struck the table while attempting to enter Gerrard's residence in secret, alarming Gerrard. Gerrard then turned back to see where the noise had come from.
Gerrard was taken aback when he turned around and noticed the intruder. He hadn't expected someone to break into his house without his permission, that too with a gun. Gerrard sensed something was amiss. Despite this, he didn't express his anxiety and approached the situation coolly. He spoke pleasantly to the stranger, hiding his fear and anxiety and said that he was surprised to see him.
Gerrard's lack of fear of the stranger surprised the intruder. The intruder began to speak. To begin, the intruder sarcastically said he was glad to see Gerrard being pleased to see him without fear. He also said Gerrard wouldn't be pleased for long, which might mean two things. Gerrard would be horrified if he understood the intruder's motive, and he also knew Gerrard would be killed and would no longer be living.
The intruder then instructed Gerrard to raise his hands when he finished saying these things. Despite the fact that the intruder had Gerrard at gunpoint, Gerrard appeared calm, and his gesture showed his maturity and wit in dealing with a tough circumstance. He replied calmly to the intruder, noting that the intruder's behaviour seemed dramatic and not natural. The intruder did not care to respond but commented that Gerrard was attempting to maintain his calm and.... (the intruder was short of words and so didn't complete the sentence). Gerrard completed the intruder's sentence, which he had left unfinished. He concluding the intruder's thought and sentence by stating the term the intruder was looking for was 'nonchalant'. The intruder wanted to say Gerrard was attempting to be cool and not exhibit anxiety.
As Gerrard finished the intruder's sentence, the intruder sarcastically thanked him and said he'd soon make Gerrard crawl, indicating that he may shoot Gerrard at any time. He then informed him that he needed a few details from him.
When the intruder said he would like to know about a few things, Gerrard did not object but agreed to tell him the answers for all his queries. However, before the intruder could ask him any question, Gerrard requested that he be seated comfortably. Gerrard's mature approach in dealing with such a horrible circumstance was evident in every action he made. He was then permitted to sit in a chair by the intruder, who advised him not to make any moves against him. The intruder then sat down on the Divan and told Gerrard that they would talk about him (Gerrard). Gerrard took this option as a chance to divert the intruder.
Gerrard skillfully began to tell the intruder a story by stating that he had finally found someone who was interested in him and wanted to learn more about his background. He also stated that he would tell him about his past, including how he was kidnapped as a youngster by a gang of nomads and why, at the age of \(32\), he was living alone in a little cottage in Essex. Gerrard made up a fictional story about himself to divert the intruder.
When Gerrard began to tell the intruder the story about himself, the latter rejected it. Answers to his (the intruder's) inquiries were all he wanted and not a story from Gerrard. He began asking Gerrard questions, the first of which was whether or not Gerrard lived alone in his cottage.
Gerrard explained himself by saying, "I'm sorry. I thought you were telling me, not asking me." The line is a reference to the intruder's dialogue from the previous chapter: "Now, then, we'll have a nice talk about yourself". When the intruder had said that they'd have a little chat, Gerrard assumed that the intruder had wanted him to begin talking about himself rather than answer the questions he was asked.
He further explained by stating how unfamiliarity between the men had caused Gerrard to misinterpret the inflection in the intruder's speech.
While the above is the literal meaning of the lines, Gerrard's statements suggest that he was merely trying to evade the intruder's question. Neither he was sorry nor did he misinterpret the intruder. Moreover, his choice of words such as 'inflection' (and 'nonchalant' from an earlier scene) indicates that he is a man of letters, and he was probably trying to make the intruder feel less confident about himself, all the while trying to disarm the intruder through his wit and words.
On the other hand, the statement also suggests that the intruder already knew the answers to the question he had raised. And so, Gerrard informed him that the intruder's tone indicated that he did not want to hear the answers but already knew them. Gerrard's statements might possibly indicate that the intruder was already aware of Gerrard.
The intruder was so keen on getting Gerrard's answer and so asked him again, "Do you live here alone?" to confirm the details on him. However, Gerrard did not respond and openly questioned the intruder what would happen if he did not respond, to which the intruder implicitly threatened him that if he did not respond, he would be injured. Gerrard replied without enraging him by stating that his good sense was represented in his ability to avoid suffering rather than his desire to suffer.
And, he inquired about the intruder's views and addressed him as "Mr – er –" to make him known that he wanted to know his name. However, the intruder smartly responded to Gerrard by stating that he liked Gerrard's name than his own. It might be because the intruder didn't want to use his name anymore. Moreover, the line also indicates that the intruder was after Gerrard's name, and to be more specific, his identity.
In addition, the intruder was so eager to get all of Gerrard's information that he inquired for his Christian names. Generally, a Christian name would be given to a child at the time of his or her baptism. Accordingly, Gerrard's name was Vincent Charles.
The intruder then moved on to his next question. He asked Gerrard whether he had a car, to which Gerrard replied "no." However, the intruder refused to accept the response since it appeared that he already knew Gerrard had a car, as we could see the intruder urging Gerrard not to lie. He also told Gerrard that the intruder was wiser than he appeared and so he could not be played as a fool.
Gerrard did not respond to him. Was the intruder truly an American, or was he imitating an American accent? asked Gerrard instead. Hearing Gerrard asks such a question enraged the intruder. He cautioned Gerrard that the pistol he possessed was not a toy and that he might use it to injure Gerrard in order to obtain all of the information he needed.
Gerrard answered the intruder that if he had warned him like that, he would be terrified and inclined to provide him with the answers. The intruder then asked if many people came to his residence often, to which Gerrard responded that that was not the case because he only received visits on rare occasions. No one else cared to come to see him except the baker, greengrocer, and milkman.
The intruder wasn't convinced by Gerrard's answer. He revealed to Gerrard that he knew Gerrard would never meet tradespeople.
We were able to deduce one thing from the intruder's conversation. The intruder must have known certain facts about Gerrard and watched him, his actions, and his surroundings at some point in the past. And, after learning of Gerrard's details, the intruder could have resolved to murder him in order to conceal Gerrard's true identity. The intruder wanted to clarify certain things about Gerrard before killing him.
When Gerrard learned that the intruder knew a lot about him, he made a sarcastic remark to the effect that the intruder had gone to a lot of trouble to get more information about him (Gerrard). He asked him if he (the intruder) might provide some personal information because the intruder knew so much about him. Gerrard also commented that the intruder was such a modest person who didn't speak much about himself. After hearing that comment, the intruder informed Gerrard that he could tell a lot about him.
The intruder again repeated his claim that he was smarter than Gerrard, that he had brains, and that he used his intelligence to do things. Gerrard made another amusing statement, this time, claiming that a job like getting inside Gerrard's little home required no intellect because it was not a big deal for him. On the other hand, the intruder was uninterested in Gerrard's remarks and told him that the reason he had broken into his home would not be pleasant for him.
Gerrard told the intruder that by observing the intruder's actions, he could figure out that the reason for the intruder entering into his residence would be shocking. Then he asked what kind of crime the intruder specialised in, to which he answered that he specialised in "jewel robbery." He also told Gerrard that driving his car would be a delight since he thought his car was so stylish, suggesting that the intruder was set to steal the car. Immediately, Gerrard stated that jewels were seldom found in Essex, implying that an intruder visiting the region would be pointless because no jewels could be stolen in such a place. Moreover, Gerrard might have made the statement to let the intruder know that he doesn't have any jewels in his place.
Also, this suggests that Gerrard made a wise move in inferring the purpose of the intruder's entry into his cottage. Essex is a country in the east of England. Gerrard's cottage was situated within Essex. As he stated previously, the intruder was extremely clever, and he responded back by saying that, like jewels, cops were rare in Essex, so he could live there freely without being arrested by the cops.
The intruder's response reveals that he wasn't after valuables; instead, he sought a safe place to retire and blend in. This also explains why he calls the car a treat: the car is not the goal but an incidental treat.
Gerrard was confused when the intruder informed him he would stay at his (Gerrard's) cottage. He asked the intruder if he wanted to join Gerrard and told him that his choice was unexpected. Gerrard had pointed out to him that the intruder had not been asked to stay at his cottage. The intruder answered that he didn't bother to seek Gerrard's permission because he (Gerrard) wouldn't be around for long. Gerrard was shocked to hear those words, "You won’t be here long". He asked the intruder as to what he was alluding to.
The intruder had already informed Gerrard that the cause for the intruder's entry into his cottage would not be a pleasant surprise. The intruder explained why he had broken into Gerrard's house: he wanted to murder him. The intruder informs him that it was the major surprise he was going to deliver. Gerrard told the intruder that he sounded very harsh. The intruder sarcastically answered that he would be sad to do so since he had gotten fond of him. Gerrard advised him not to commit murder because it was a severe crime, unlike the jewel robbery he had committed previously.
The intruder told Gerrard that he was being chased by the police as he had already committed a murder, so if he killed Gerrard, the punishment would remain the same and he would not be hanged to death twice for the same reason (murder).
The phrase here, "gratuitous double", implies the meaning that the intruder had already committed a murder and was planning to commit another murder by killing Gerrard, which Gerrard thinks would be unnecessary. Gerrard advised the intruder that he was planning to kill him for no reason. According to Gerrard, though the intruder would not lose anything by killing him, he would not gain anything by murdering him. Gerrard felt so because he did not know the intention of the intruder behind killing him. And so, he conveyed this logical question to the intruder.
Gerrard was curious as to why the intruder wanted to kill him. And the response Gerrard received from the intruder was "freedom." It was because, according to the intruder, if he killed Gerrard, he would get freedom as he had already committed a murder and was hiding himself like a hunted rat. As Gerrard was an introvert and unfamiliar to his neighbours and tradespeople, the intruder thought to use that opportunity.
So, upon killing Gerrard, the intruder could use Vincent Charles Gerrard's identity and live a life with more freedom. He could go out to many places, eat and sleep without the fear of being caught by the police. Now we can understand why the play was named "If I Were You," as the intruder wanted to kill and use Gerrard's identity. Gerrard was shocked to hear such an explanation behind the murderer's motive.
Gerrard observed that in many dramatic plays, the villain is shown as a fool who would delay the murder of the victims. Eventually, as poetic justice would have it, his plan would become unsuccessful, with the victims escaping and him getting punished for his crimes. Gerrard then added that the intruder, on the other hand, has better luck than such villains.
Gerrard hinted that the intruder's stupid idea of murdering and taking Gerrard's identity would get him into problems. He also pointed out that it would eventually land him in the hands of the cops, whom he had managed to avoid for several days.
The intruder responded that he wasn't bothered because he was doing it for a reason. He wished to live under the mask of Vincent Charles Gerrard, to rescue himself. He was also certain that the cops would not notice him since he could replicate his sophisticated body language.
The intruder imitated Gerrard's mannerisms, which he picked up through overhearing Gerrard on the phone and from observing Gerrard's body language. He was attempting to establish himself as a capable Gerrard replacement.
However, Gerrard said that his impersonation was not very appealing, implying that he did not behave or talk like Gerrard, to which the intruder responded that it was because of Gerrard's behaviour. The intruder then told Gerrard that his impersonation was comparable to Gerrard's because he believed that having the same physique as Gerrard and his observation on Gerrard's tone and voice modulation would assist him.
He went on to say that he just needed spectacles to look like Gerrard, to which Gerrard responded by asking what he would do about the clothing, pointing out that if he didn't dress like Gerrard, he would be in trouble. The intruder answered calmly that it wouldn't be an issue because he could use Gerrard's clothing.
According to Gerrard, the intruder didn't understand Gerrard's remark that "the intruder was lucky compared to other melodramatic villains." He went on to say that he wasn't complimenting the intruder's intelligence but meant to say that he (the intruder) would not kill him as there is no good reason to do so. Gerrard was certain that even if he died, the intruder's problem would not be solved.
The intruder told Gerrard that his intention was incorrect, which meant that he was certain to murder Gerrard since he believed that was the only way for him to survive. Despite this, Gerrard maintained his optimism and informed the intruder that he would leave Gerrard alive and would even thank God for not killing him. Gerrard seemed to have planned to deceive the intruder in order to distract him. This must have aroused the intruder's interest, for he soon urged Gerrard to reveal the reason behind the latter's statement. Nevertheless, the intruder pretended to be calm and uninterested, telling Gerrard that their talk was boring him. He also urged Gerrard to disclose what was on his mind, indicating his desire to know what Gerrard was saying.
Gerrard began to ask questions since he wanted to be sure about a few things. He confirmed with the intruder once again that his objective was to kill him and flee the cops using his (Gerrard's) name, and the intruder affirmed the idea.
Gerrard questioned the intruder once more, this time asking whether he was certain that this plan would help him elude the cops. When the intruder heard Gerrard's inquiry, he revealed the truth of how he became a killer. The intruder said that he plotted everything.
In the past, the intruder had committed a crime in a town. Something went bad, and he killed a cop. He's been on the run since that day, attempting to elude the cops.
After listening to the intruder's crime story, Gerrard asked the intruder whether he reached Gerrard's cottage while running from the police. So, the intruder began to explain how he came to be in the town of Aylesbury while fleeing from police officers.
Cops - chasing the intruder
And it was there that the intruder happened to see Gerrard in a car. Also, he overheard few local people talking about Gerrard, which revealed Gerrard's strange, mysterious life. And the intruder planned to exploit the situation to flee from the cops. Aylesbury is the county town of Buckinghamshire, which is located in the southeast of the United Kingdom.
Gerrard told the intruder that he was about to explain the mystery that surrounded him to the intruder earlier. But, the intruder, on the other hand, did not pay attention to Gerrard's comments and did not give him the opportunity to speak. The stranger continued speaking despite Gerrard's proposal. He informed Gerrard that he would place orders over the phone, then go without seeing any tradespeople and reappearing unexpectedly, indicating Gerrard's irregular routine life.
The only thing the intruder had to do was phone tradesmen, and he didn't even have to meet them, according to the intruder. The intruder saw this as an advantage, claiming that learning about Gerrard was the luckiest thing that could have happened to him because Gerrard's neighbours did not know about him, allowing him to take advantage of it. He wouldn't have to meet people as Gerrard did, so no one would suspect him, and cops may miss him entirely.
But, Gerrard was smart enough to divert the intruder. He commented the intruder was not intelligent enough to guess why Gerrard was living such a life of mystery. Gerrard's reasonable query began to occupy the intruder's thinking.
While the intruder felt he was lucky to learn Gerrard was a mystery person, Gerrard's mysterious lifestyle was about to save himself, so it looks Gerrard was fortunate in the end.
The intruder was unwilling to listen to Gerrard and was prepared to shoot him. As he had stated previously, he informed Gerrard that their discussion was boring. However, Gerrard advised him not to be a fool, as murdering Gerrard would likely result in death rather than a peaceful existence for the intruder. He intended to inform the intruder that Gerrard's true identity would certainly get him in trouble again. In addition, Gerrard warned him that if he exploited Gerrard's (Vincent Charles Gerrard) identity, he might be hung to death. The intruder was taken aback and wanted to know how his (Vincent Charles Gerrard's) identification would impact him.
And it was Gerrard's turn then, as the intruder had believed Gerrard's words. Gerrard continued to speak. He told the intruder that it was his big surprise. He claimed himself to be right, as earlier, he told the intruder that he would not kill Gerrard.
Gerrard utilised this opportunity and started to weave a plot around his mysterious life. He explained to the intruder that the reason behind Gerrard living a mysterious life, avoiding people, and engaging in unusual activities that suited the intruder was due to the fact that he was a criminal and a killer.
Gerrard said he was a criminal, not a good man like a Sunday-school teacher who teaches God's teachings to people in order to alter their lives for the better. When he killed someone with a gun, his game was finished. After then, one of his accomplices was arrested by the cops, and they had proof against Gerrard. Gerrard had anticipated the police raiding his house that night in order to arrest him, so he had packed his belongings and was ready to go.
The intruder was confused upon hearing Gerrard's words. He checked Gerrard's bag, gun and other things inside. He was clueless as to why Gerrard carried such odd stuff like artificial moustaches, wigs, and props. The intruder had no idea what was going on in Gerrard's life. Gerrard told the intruder that he was carrying a disguise costume, false moustaches, and so on in order to change his appearance to hide from the cops. He then asked the intruder whether he trusted him.
Gerrard pleaded with the intruder to believe him and join him in his car. He further stated that he could be used by Gerrard in eluding the cops, and that if he found Gerrard's claims were fake, he could kill him with his gun. Fortunately for Gerrard, the intruder agreed with him and decided to accompany him. Gerrard then picked up his hat and bag to get himself ready without wasting time. He pretended to be fleeing the cops from his cottage.
Though the intruder agreed with Gerrard's idea, it did not mean he had complete trust in Gerrard. He warned Gerrard to be careful since he was watching his every step. The intruder was notified by Gerrard that one of his gang members had been positioned on the road to provide information to Gerrard about the cops. The phone rang, and Gerrard informed the intruder that it was time to depart. The call was actually made by the person Gerrard had requested to call earlier in the play during the introductory portion.
Gerrard then directed the intruder to leave through the door that led to the garage. But it was not actually a garage door, but a cupboard door.
The intruder's mind flickered with a sliver of doubt, and he began to question Gerrard's words. Gerrard then asked him to check inside on his own, and the intruder accepted it. Gerrard's plan had worked out at that time. Gerrard opened the door and stepped away, and asked the intruder to check it. The intruder kept his revolver pointing towards Gerrard and leaned forward to check the way. As he turned his head and peeped into the cupboard, Gerrard used that opportunity and pushed him into the cupboard. And, the gun on the intruder’s hand fell down. He closed and locked the cupboard door and then took the gun. He then moved over to the phone, aiming the gun towards the cupboard door, taking care not to let the intruder out.
The intruder's game was finally over, as he was trapped within the cupboard. He kept hammering on the door, asking to be let out. Gerrard's intellectual capacity shone through not just in his words but also in his actions. Within moments of locking the intruder, Gerrard answered the phone and said he wouldn't be able to deliver the props in time for the play's rehearsal because he had been bothered by someone, implying the reason for Gerrard's moustaches, wigs, and other accessories in his bag.
Gerrard went on to say that he would use that incident in his next play, indicating that he was a dramatist, not a criminal, as he had previously said. His calm demeanour, intellect, and patience shone through in his words and actions, which, of course, rescued him from a major peril. He also requested in the call to send sergeant (Gerrard's friend) to Gerrard's cottage, who Gerrard assumed would be in the Pub. The moral of the play might also be seen as not losing one's cool in difficult situations, and remaining calm and thinking about how to get out of them can rescue us.