A few weeks ago, I attended a few writing workshops as part of the Pens in Pubs in North Somerset. The project was run by Theatre Orchard and the sessions were led by Writer and Dramaturg David Lane. I had the opportunity to submit a short piece of work for a rehearsed reading. The following section of my play The Line Up was performed on the last session.
The first draft of this play was commissioned for a rehearsed reading at Menagerie Theatre, Cambridge and I’ve been tinkering with it on and off ever since, so it was a good experience to hear how it sounded with a new beginning.
Dirty walls, dusty floor. ‘Clinic’ is
written on a door leading off from
Strip lights. A wind whistles.
A poster advertises: ‘Freeze now, use
later. Ask your consultant.’
Three women in green hospital gowns
are lying on grotty hospital trolleys
fast asleep, blankets over knees.
A trolley rattles by, loaded with
test tubes, pushed by Fergus,(an
impatient hairy man in white
The three women start to move: a
finger, a foot. There’s FLEUR (33,
platinum blonde curls, Anne Summers,
high heels), Ginger (27, Red head,
posh accent, new-age), DAWN (46,
kind, Christian, frustrated).
Ginger sits up and acting out her
dream, blows up a condom and puts a
pin through it so it bursts.
Fleur, dreaming, has a dolls house on
her belly, a profile like she’s
pregnant. She pats it tenderly.
Dawn, dreaming, prays.
The trolley rattles by again, this
time a baby on top.
Ginger finds a large egg within her
gown. She lights a joss stick and
floats the smoke around the egg.
Fleur takes off her dolls house and
swings up to reveal she is wearing a
silky nightgown and some very sexy
underwear. She’s seducing someone.
Dawn rocks a pretend baby in her
arms, mouths ‘Thank you’ to God.
SFX: A screech of brakes, a yell, a
massive, glass breaking bang.
All is silent and dark.
TED(14, in a school uniform, nerdy,
swotty, enthusiastic) and his Mum
MAUD(40, an insecure, unsuccessful
playwright, hopeful for recognition),
are suspended on a ledge.
Ted pulls out a GCSE Physics revision
They both become aware that their
clothes are burned.
They both realize they are on the
edge of a precipice. They wobble,
Bardo – an in between place.
Half light. Dusty, grubby. Turbulent
A sign post saying “Bardo”.
Ted and Maud are catapulted into
Bardo from above or below.
The wind spins them round.
Out of Maud’s skirt falls a bashed up
car radio, nuts and bolts and…
something is stuck… she pulls it
out… a car steering wheel. Maud
keeps hold of the steering wheel.
FERGUS, marches in carrying a table
tennis bat. He’s humming an old
Northumbrian song, ‘Fareweel
Ted, I feel… that song, my head… where are we?
Fergus clears his throat.
(Sings, serenading them)
“So we’ll cry fareweel Regality
And cry fareweel the Liberty
To honest friends civility
To winters frost and fire:
And there’s nowt that I can bid ye
But that peace and love gan with ye.”
(speaks) Alreet, that’ll do. Welcome t’ Bardo.
He farts loudly.
Ted sniggers. Maud raises her eyes.
(to Fergus) Excuse me, would you be kind enough to… to
direct us to…?
Yes, Home. I’d really like to get back soon, I’ve got a
play to send out. I just finished it. There’s this woman in
a company… she says I have a lot of potential. It’s her I
want to send it to.
And I need to revise.
T’ be strait with ye pet, it’s sort ‘uv like… ye can’t go
home. Yer can never go home.
Are we in some sort of war or something?
Fergus shakes his head.
Where can we go?
Fergus adds ‘Zilch’ to the signpost
Zilch. What’s Zilch?
Obviously nothing much man, that’s the point alreet? Zilch
is nothing. Yuz have to make a decision, otherwise I’ll
just send yuz, to Zilch.
A decision about what?
Whether yuz want a choice or not.
What kind of choice?
Fergus breathes out an impatient
Look lad, the thing is… altho’ it’s ne bother at aall,
yuz cannut purret off. I want ye shifted.
SFX: A clap of thunder and
lightening. A man yell’s.
(to a distant soul) Arrival change. At this moment in time
due t’congestion, yuz have to gan to the waitin’ room.
Mind, unattended luggidge will… sort ‘uv… be removed
and destructed – if ye knaa wharra mean.
What in the… how did we…? I’m so hungry.
Maud reaches for a bolt and eats it.
You were driving at near terminal velocity, overtaking. You
tried to nab my book.
Ted puts his hand out, seeing Maud
eating. Maud picks up a bolt for him,
puts it in his upturned hand and he
I wanted to see what you were reading. I must have swerved.
Yeah right. Actually, the kinetic energy converted to heat
energy at the brakes and tyres, but the massive tree…
Maud screams, realising.
Ted cowers. Maud examines Ted.
My little boy. My baby.
Maud licks her finger, tries to clean
his face. He pushes her off. Reads.
Maud feels her head. Sticky liquid.
Shh. Electromagnetic waves.
We’ve passed on.
Maud screams again.
Ted returns to his book.
Maud grabs the book and walks away
Ted fights to get it back.
You are totally not facing up to what is happening to us.
Where can I can study Mr? My mother’s a total distraction.
(to Maud) Did you forget your HRT again?
It’s not surprising. I wish I didn’t have to face up to it.
Dead. In his prime.
Ted looks down at himself, horrified.
Oh Mum. I’ll never be Professor…