June 08, 2015

The (Fake) Real Thing

This is a parody for the Shawnigan Lake Players, having just put on Tom Stoppard's fine play.  As such, it's pretty much all inside jokes and mocking of characters.

This isn't the best place for formatting a play, so apologies for that!

***

 The (Fake) Real Thing
A Shawnigan Players Parody


Scene One:

Drawing room of unaccountably successful architect. This will be immediately apparent to the audience because I write for British theatre and we have unlimited stage space for drawing boards and the like. The budgets are pretty good, too.

Max is alone, forever alone. He pervades the stage with existential ennui by building a house of cards. Charlotte comes through the door.

Max: Don't slam – (the door slams gracefully. Max invokes the spirit of Nietzsche on a particularly bleak day) ... the door.

Charlotte: It's me. I have alcohol.
(Max contemplates the eventual heat-death of the universe as embodied in his now collapsed cards. They mock him silently as he drinks, desperately trying to obliterate his conscious mind.)
(Charlotte enters the room, her cheer bringing an oh-so-rare light into this den of misery)

Charlotte: Hello! Let me get a glass.
(She kisses the top of his head and gives him a quick fondle)

Max: (The foolish, suspicious bastard) You've been gone a while. Where?

Charlotte: Switzerland, I think. More booze?

Max: (Poor, miserable Max who should have done more to make Charlotte happy) I'm very clever, you know.

Charlotte: (Gleefully oblivious to their doom) Really, dear? How nice for you. Another drink?

Max: (Who should have just shut the hell up and enjoyed his life) You're sleeping around, aren't you?

Charlotte: (Oh, lovely, sweet Charlotte) Only when I travel, love. More wine?

Max: (Who wouldn't know a good thing if it bit him on the ass, even when it literally did on more than one occasion) Of course not! Get out!

Charlotte: (I'm so, so sorry, Charlotte! I was mad! An idiot!) Oh. Um, okay. I'll leave the bottle, then.

(Charlotte leaves, and Max embraces his joyless future where he realizes his love too late and in his misery he takes up writing for the National Theatre.)


Scene Two

Henry and Charlotte's house. Henry is playing with his records. No, seriously – he has some albums out and he's digging through them. Ask older members of the audience to interpret his actions for the younger ones around them.

Charlotte emerges (perhaps unsurprisingly) hung over and partially dressed.

Henry: Hello.

Charlotte: Gbermeh. (She passes out immediately on the couch)

Henry: Yes, I thought you might feel that way. (Charlotte snores in response) Don't worry, don't worry. The effects wear off in a bit. You were told not to take the brown ones. (The doorbell rings) Whoop! That'll be Max.
(He slings Charlotte over one shoulder and exits. We hear a shower running and a scream: it sounds very cold)
(Henry returns and exits out the other side)
Hello, Max!
(Max and Henry enter)

Max: Uh, hi. Did I just hear a scream?

Henry: Possibly.

Max: Is Charlotte all right?

Henry: I don't think she's terribly happy. Drink?

Max: Maybe not... (he looks around a bit nervously)

Henry: I'll get a bottle. (Exits)

Max: But I... what?
(Charlotte emerges from the next room)

Charlotte: Hello, darling! Don't I get my morning fondle?

Max: Um... Isn't Henry -
(Henry emerges carrying champagne)

Henry: Hello, dear! Given Max his morning fondle yet?

Max: What?

Henry: It's how she greets people. I don't understand it, but actors, you know? Sit! Let's drink! I'm going to be on the radio!
(They sit)

Max: Really?

Henry: Yep! Specifically on a desert island on the radio, so I'm not sure how people will hear me, but there it is. How did the play go?

Charlotte: It sucked.

Max: Honestly, Charlotte!

Henry: Oh?

Charlotte: Fortunately, so does Max, so that made up for it.

Max: Oh now, Charlotte!

Henry: Really?

Charlotte: What else are you going to do for long stretches backstage? Join the crew?

Max: (frantically gesturing) Uh, Charlotte! Hst! Really! Charlotte!

Charlotte: Not that they were bad, or anything. Especially that one guy who kept tearing his shirt off...

Max: Charlotte! Jesus, Charlotte!

Henry: Actors are so strange.
(Doorbell rings, Annie enters)

Max: Oh, thank god! I'll get that!
(Max sprints out the door)

Charlotte: Why on earth did you invite him over?

Henry: I thought you liked him?

Charlotte: Sure, but not when he's talking.
(Annie and Max enter. Henry's eyes bulge comically)

Annie: Hello, everyone!

Charlotte: Lovely of you two to come by!

Max: Great! We're leaving now!
(Henry can't seem to keep his tongue in his mouth for some reason)

Charlotte: Oh, Max; do shut up and sit down. I'll come sit on your lap.

Max: Uh, you guys are married, right?
(Everyone sits but Henry. Steam has started to come out of Henry's ears)

Annie:I brought vegetables.

Charlotte: Any cucumbers?

Annie:Um... will a turnip do?
(Charlotte thinks for a bit)

Charlotte: Possibly... let me get a knife.

Max: Are you making a dip?

Charlotte: ...Sure.

Max: I'll help!

Charlotte: Get in here, then. Oh, listen! They're playing my song!

Song: Tonight you're mine, completely
'Cause I slipped you a mickey
Oh well, the smell
Of ether's in your nose
I've got you 'till tomorrow!
(Max and Charlotte exit to kitchen as song continues)

We'll have fun together
You won't last forever
'less I can tie
A really good bowline
I'll get arrested tomorrow

(Henry and Annie are alone in the living room. Annie plays with her hair and Henry's stands on end. Max gives a yelp of “Charlotte!” from the kitchen, but neither Henry nor Annie notice. Annie smiles at Henry and crosses her legs. We hear AHOOGA AHOOGA noises. If Henry has a bow tie, it spins now)
(Charlotte enters from kitchen with a bowl of dip, wiping some from her lip)

Charlotte: Here we are!
(Max enters from kitchen looking a bit worn and with a slight limp)

Charlotte: It's apparently Hawaiian. Pineapple was involved, anyway.

Max (“singing”): I've lost all my feeling...

Annie:Oh, God, no!

Max (“singing”): I really should be kneeling...
(Charlotte winces in pain)
Max (“singing”): From my waist down all my feeling is gone, gone, gone...
(Now even Henry notices, covering his ears)
Max (“singing”): Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh.
(Charlotte pulls out a gun and shoots Max)
Max: Really, Charlotte! (dies)

Charlotte: What? They shoot horses, don't they?
(The other two seem to agree)


Scene Three

Max and Annie's house. Annie walks in as the radio is playing. She looks slightly distracted, as if she's forgotten something. The music on the radio gives way to Henry being interviewed. Annie eagerly sits down to listen.


Scene Four

Henry and Annie's temporary apartment. Henry is typing as Annie enters. He seems very intent as she walks around in housecoat that barely stays on her, but his attention is immediately drawn to Annie, eyes following her around the room. Annie lounges on the sofa across from him and reads her script. Eventually, she notices he's stopped typing and is just staring at her.

Annie: Carry on as if I'm not here. I won't be any bother, promise!
(As she reads, her housecoat falls off slightly to one side, revealing her legs. There's a muffled 'thump' from under Henry's desk)

Henry: (wincing slightly) Oh, God.

Annie: How are you getting on?

Henry: I'm not.

Annie: What?

Henry: Can't we just have sex now?

Annie: Don't be silly! Not until you're done your play. Have you been working all night? I didn't notice you come to bed.

Henry: Er... Of course.

Annie: I had the strangest dream, though...

Henry: I was right here! Didn't go anywhere near the bedroom!

Annie: Something about vegetables...

Henry: Aaaall night! Working away!

Annie: (goes to typewriter) What have you got so far?

Henry: One hundred and twenty four pages...

Annie: (reads) “All work and no play makes Henry a dull boy.” Not much plot, is there?

Henry: (Crawls from his desk) Can we please have sex now?

Annie: Oh, Hen! Maybe with a second plot line woven in there...

Henry: Agh!

Annie: Well, I'm off to work!
(Exits still dressed in housecoat)

Henry: Agh! Agh!




Scene Five

Henry and Annie's new place, as made obvious by new furniture, different lighting, changed costumes. Did I mention the advantages of writing for the National Theatre? Henry is reading. Annie enters from bedroom and eyes Henry coldly until Henry looks up.

Annie: (With perhaps a slightly Teutonic accent) Vell?

Henry: (Nervously) Uh... Verdi?

Annie: (Stands ramrod straight, eyes widening) Vat?

Henry: Ah... ah... not Verdi?
(Annie turns and strides back into the bedroom)
Uh oh.
(Annie returns with riding crop)

Annie: (Scornfully) Verdi. How can it be Verdi? It is in German!

Henry: Is it? (Annie strides towards him) It is! It is! One of the Germans! (She raises the crop) STRAUSS!

Annie: Gut. Very gut. Continue verking.
(She walks to drinks stand and pours herself some ice wine)

Henry: (Tapping at keyboard) You... you know... (Annie looks at him) I... uh... I can't help feeling. Um.

Annie: You may speak freely here, dahlink.

Henry: That, um, that something's changed about you.

Annie: Nonsense, dahlink. You vill write the Brodie play now in silence. There will then be sex for exactly seventeen minutes. Then ve shall drink vine. Then you vill continue the Brodie play.

Henry: (Muttering) If I still had my cricket bat-

Annie: In! Silence!


Scene Six

Annie, back to being Scene Two Annie, is sitting by the window of a moving train, reading. Billie enters and sneaks up behind her.

Billie: (In a Scottish accent) Excuse me, is this seat taken?

Annie: No.

Billie: You'd think with all these fascists the trains would be on time.
(Annie looks up from her book, otherwise unmoving)

Annie: (coldly) What was that?

Billie: Er, hello.

Annie: Improving efficiency is hardly something to be frowned upon, is it “Billie”?

Billie: What?

Annie: Everything and everyone knowing their place makes a better world for us all, don't you think?

Billie: Uh... I guess?

Annie: And where is your place, Billie? You're not supposed to be in first class, are you Billie? You do not belong with the true elites, Billie.

Billie: What are you going to do? Report me? Jeeze! Okay, okay, I'll go!
(He rises from his seat and turns to the door)

Annie: One moment. (Billie pauses) Remove your shirt.

Billie: What? Why?

Annie: It amuses me... and may let you stay in first class with me. You want to stay with me, don't you Billie? Away from the stinking, crowed masses behind us? With me? (He nods) Remove your shirt. (Billie, weeping silently, starts to remove his shirt) Slower. Slower.


Scene Seven

Henry and Charlotte's former place, now just Charlotte's. A young Pat Benatar (AKA Debbie) is smoking by the door while Charlotte is going through old programmes and past memories. Does she regret? Does her past come to haunt her in her sleep? Are there dreams of former National Theatre writers dancing mockingly through her night, waking her with painful remonstrance? Does she try to drink them away? Perhaps we shall never know; but we can hope. Oh, Charlotte... Charlotte... Could it have ever worked?

Henry: Since when did you smoke?

Debbie: Since “We Live for Love” hit number twenty-seven in the US. My agent advised it: it's an image thing.

Henry: Why did I pay for music school again?

Charlotte: Oh, don't be such a square, daddy-o! It's hip!
(Debbie stares at Charlotte)

Debbie: Promise me you will never, ever try to be cool again.

Charlotte: Yes, dear.

Henry: So smoking's cool now, is it? When did that happen?

Debbie: Since “You Better Run” was broadcast on MTV. (She shrugs) Image thing.

Charlotte: I can't find it anywhere!

Henry: Why would you want to know who played Giovanni opposite you now, of all times?

Charlotte: I'm hoping a number's attached. He did this GREAT thing with his left hand...

Henry: Can we please talk about Debbie? She's the one hitting the streets!

Debbie: It's a world tour, Fa. Have to support the latest album.

Henry: And you're going on tour with these... these... carnies?

Debbie: Roadies, Fa.
(Henry's eyes narrow)

Henry: You're not having... 'relations' with them , are you?

Debbie: I married my guitarist yonks ago, Fa. And it's called sex, not 'relations'.

Henry: Good God! How did you find out about that!

Charlotte: In school. Honestly, Henry; it's almost like you never went to all those PTA meetings!

Debbie: What PTA meetings?

Henry: HOW ABOUT THAT SEX, HUH?

Charlotte: Sex is fun, Henry! Why shouldn't she enjoy some now and again?

Henry: (discretely touching tender spots) Is it?

Debbie: Oh, Fa! In school, everything was sex: French, history, Latin, art, French again, music... Everything but biology.

Henry: Your best subject, I seem to recall.

Debbie: Max helped there.
(They look down at the dried and partially-dissected corpse of Max still on the floor)

Charlotte: I had no idea what a spleen looked like, honest truth.
(Suddenly we hear the chorus to “Hell is for Children”)

Debbie: That's my ride. Don't wait up!
(Charlotte walks her to the door)

Charlotte: (pushes some cards into Debbie's hands) Gift certificates for Adam and Eve mail order. Make sure they go to your home address, or they'll follow behind you from city to city like particularly slow groupies.

Debbie: Thanks, Charlie.

Charlotte: Shh! Your dad doesn't know about my night job.

Henry: What?

Debbie: Bye, Fa! (Exits)


Scene Eight

Annie is seated in the audience, near the back. Her eyes are closed in and she seems restful. Suddenly her mouth drops open and she silently convulses forward, shaking slightly. Then she relaxes again.

Billie: (Unseen, with an oddly muffled voice) Can I come up now?

Annie: That was only three, Billie. If you wish a place in the big show, you will have to work much harder than that.

Billie: Three? No way that was only three!

Annie: (Warningly) Billie...

Billie: (Pleading) It's hot down here.

Annie: (Leaning back and lighting a cigarette) Yes it is, Billie; yes it surely is.


Scene Nine

Henry is waiting at home for an indeterminate amount of time before Annie enters.

Annie: Hello!

Henry: Hello. How did it go?

Annie: We had a great finish. GREAT finish.
(She starts taking off her coat, putting away her suitcase, etc)

Henry: Oh? Good. I thought you-

Annie: Seriously, a great finish!

Henry: I thought you were coming-

Annie: Great, GREAT finish!

Henry: ...coming back on the sleeper.

Annie: I did and he was lovely.

Henry: What?
(She stops at the bedroom door)

Annie: I did and it was lovely. Lunch?

Henry: I called the hotel.

Annie: Did you? Did you make reservations?

Henry: They told me that you – what?

Annie: Reservations. For us? And here I thought you forgot! Oh, Henry! You are so sweet!

Henry: I... Uh, yes?

Annie: (Squeals, embraces Henry) Yay! I just love you to pieces!

Henry: Uh. Yay! But there was something...
(Annie 'embraces' Henry lower down)

Annie: Thank you so much for remembering, sweetie!

Henry: Yay!


Scene Ten

Annie sits on the train, reading as before. Billie enters slightly more timidly than before, with a slightly better Scottish accent.

Billie: Er, excuse me? Is this seat taken?

Annie: No.

Billie: Mind if I sit down? Ma'am?

Annie: It is a free country. (Lower) For now.
(Billie sits with some trepidation)

Billie: D'you reckon? (She ignores him) Going far?

Annie: To London. All... the... way... down.

Billie: (Sweating profusely) My name's Bill. You... you put me in mind of Mussolini.

Annie: (Looks at him with a smile of pure evil) That was wrong.

Billie: What?

Annie: That was the last script, Billie.

Billie: Oh, God!

Annie: (Standing, staring at Billie) We're going to need a half hour break, Roger.

Roger: (Voice over) All right, darling. Remember, nothing on the hands or face this time!

Billie: Oh, no.


Scene Eleven

Henry, looking healthier than last we saw him, is listening to Bach's 'Air on a G String' playing on the radio. The phone rings as Annie walks through the room. Henry answers.

Annie: If that's them tell them I've left.

Henry: Hello? (Sees Annie is looking at him) Annie's left... Oh. (To Annie) It's your... friend.
(Annie takes the phone from Henry)

Annie: Billie? Yes, I'll be there in a bit. Out of curiosity, how did you...? Oh, someone else dialled for you? Was it Roger? I see. No, I will be there soon. Very soon. Discipline is important, Billie.
(She hangs up)

Henry: Is everything going all right, then?

Annie: I may have to drop Billie.

Henry: Ah.

Annie: (Looking Henry over contemplatively) I may be spending more time at home. This might be good for you: I can focus more on my – our – home life. (She leaves)

Henry: (Sits on the couch, having turned a slightly green shade of pale) Please, please, please, don't.


Scene Twelve

In blackout the music gives way to various sounds involving a prison, possibly from the medieval era. Crackling fire, echoing screams, hissing steam, the rattle of chains. Light slowly increases, starting with the glow of a TV screen. Eventually we see Brodie, transfixed by what he sees on the TV screen. Henry enters with a water jug for Brodie's scotch.

Annie: (voice over) Don't you ever, EVER change!

Billie: (voice over) No, ma'am! I won't! I promise!

Annie: (voice over) Never!
(We hear a whip crack and a scream)

Billie: (voice over) I won't! I won't! Thank you ma'am!

(End credits music begins and Brodie turns off the TV)

Brodie: 'Rosie of the Royal Infirmary' changed a bit since I went in, then.

Henry: Ever since cable, really. Lots of pressure to keep up ratings against increased competition sort of thing.

Brodie: The pretty one wasn't supposed to be (swallows) me, was he?

Henry: You'd better hope not.

(Annie enters as Brodie finishes what's left in his glass)

Brodie: Can I have another?

Annie: You could earn it...

Brodie: I think I've got to go, then.

Annie: Come back for some dip another time!
(Brodie pales and runs out the door)

Henry: I know what you did to me; but you scared the hell out of him. (The phone rings and he answers it) Hello? Oh, hello, Max! What? Well that's fantastic! Married, eh? Can't wait to meet her. Who is she? Oh, she's from Canada and I wouldn't know her? Never comes to the country, but is really, really cool. Sure. Oh, and hot too, is she? Sure, Max. Sure she is. Say, aren't you dead?


End
posted by Erin Butler at 12:04 pm

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