No Picnic by Greg Freeman
ACT ONE - SCENE ONE
A storybook world - Hedge on a cliff.
It is late afternoon. There is the sound of thundering hooves
The horses gallop past and ride away
The heads of JULIUS and LUDOVIC appear over the hedge
They have been hiding.
JULIUS and LUDOVIC are slightly threadbare Edwardian Teddy Bears.
JULIUS is stoical. LUDOVIC blusters and is a tad slippery.
LUDOVIC: We are stuffed.
JULIUS: Not yet.
LUDOVIC: They saw us.
LUDOVIC: They did. (rising panic) They're turning around. They're
turning around and coming back.
LUDOVIC: They are.
JULIUS: They're following a bend in the road.
LUDOVIC: Are you sure?
JULIUS: Look there they go. They've gone.
LUDOVIC: That was a lucky escape. You really must move quicker. You
were too slow getting out of the road.
JULIUS: Is it really necessary, all this diving behind hedges? I'm
just not used to this sort of thing.
LUDOVIC: Get used to it.
JULIUS: They may not be looking for us.
LUDOVIC: Well they're looking for someone.
JULIUS: It won't be us. Surely. (beat) Not yet.
LUDOVIC: Not yet. But once they discover.
LUDOVIC and JULIUS look at each other significantly.
JULIUS: I will be more be vigilant.
LUDOVIC: And waddle fast when I shout waddle fast.
JULIUS: Will do.
LUDOVIC: Let's move on. Come on Alfie. (confused) Alfie? What
happened to Alfie?
LUDOVIC looks around behind the hedge.
JULIUS: (looking around) He was here a moment ago.
LUDOVIC: Where did he go?
JULIUS: (calls) Alfie
LUDOVIC: Now where's he gone?
JULIUS: (calls) Alfie
LUDOVIC: (calls) Alfie. We're moving on. Alfie. Alfie. (then)
We've lost him
JULIUS: We haven't lost him. He's lost us.
JULIUS: He's slipped away, when he heard the horses.
LUDOVIC: (in disbelief) No
JULIUS: There's no sign of him. He's scarpered.
LUDOVIC: Without telling us?
JULIUS: It's not the first time, is it? He's always slipping
away…And does anyone ever see him go? Never
LUDOVIC: This is not like we're paying for a meal. This is life and
JULIUS: So you can't blame him, can you?
LUDOVIC: What can't we blame him for?
JULIUS: Disappearing. Going to ground.
LUDOVIC: No you can't blame him for that.
JULIUS: We're in a difficult situation.
LUDOVIC: Difficult? Difficult Julius? It's a damned catastrophe.
It's a disaster. I don't think you have grasped the gravity of the situation.
JULIUS: I have. I was there in the woods. At the
picnicwhen(words trail off).
LUDOVIC: We can't possibly talk to clowns.
JULIUS: I am aware of that.
LUDOVIC: We can dodge them, but we can't dodge the truth.
JULIUS: I know.
LUDOVIC: If they ask us questions, what are we going to say to them?
JULIUS: The truth.
LUDOVIC: They won't like the truth.
JULIUS: But what choice do we have?
LUDOVIC: We always have choices.
JULIUS: In this case we don't.
LUDOVIC: Choices are different paths. Some lead to honestysome don't.
JULIUS: What are you suggesting?
LUDOVIC: We lie.
JULIUS: I can't do that. (slight pause) Can you?
LUDOVIC: There are ways of learning how to lie.
JULIUS: Ludovic, I am incapable of lying.
LUDOVIC: So am I, you think I am not like you. We are Teddy bears. We
are cut from the same cloth… but sometimes if you want to survive you have to
look at the truth and bend it.
JULIUS: As Teddy Bears we have to honour the truth. - "Honora
Veritatum". Honour the Truth. We have it embroidered onto our underpants.
LUDOVIC: There are many ways of interpreting that.
JULIUS: There is truth and there is non-truth, there is nothing in between.
LUDOVIC: I've heard there is. There is much in between, there is a
whole country in between, you've just never bothered to explore it.
JULIUS: And you have?
LUDOVIC: No, but I'm prepared to explore it now.
JULIUS: And I will follow you on your exploration. But I won't
change my mind.
LUDOVIC: We are not the same.
JULIUS: No. We are not the same.
LUDOVIC: I want to live.
JULIUS does not respond.
LUDOVIC: And I am going to find a way to lie.
JULIUS: And I will follow you on your journey.
LUDOVIC: Don't just follow me, you could try and learn too
JULIUS: I can't, it's not in my nature.
LUDOVIC: You could at least consider the possibility. You're being
very stubborn. Considering the truth…will see you hanged.
JULIUS: I know.
LUDOVIC: And me.
JULIUS: I know.
LUDOVIC: And Alfie. No wonder the little fellah has gone to ground.
JULIUS: I realize we're in a difficult situation.
LUDOVIC: Stop saying it's difficult. We are playing for our lives.
To get through this we all need to stick together.
JULIUS: Maybe Alfie will come back.
LUDOVIC: It really is inconsiderate of him. We can't stand around
JULIUS: I don't think Alfie thinks in straight lines. I don't
think Alfie thinks.
LUDOVIC: No. And I am not saying this debacle is all Alfie's fault.
Far from it. But he could have warned us.
JULIUS: About what?
LUDOVIC: The picnic.
LUDOVIC: Not what I was expecting.
LUDOVIC: What were you expecting?
LUDOVIC: There were no sandwiches.
JULIUS: There was no picnic.
LUDOVIC: Bread sticks and a dip.
JULIUS: That's hardly a picnic. It's hardly a snack.
LUDOVIC: And then..(sighs) well you know what happened next.
JULIUS: I do.
JULIUS and LUDOVIC both shudder as they remember what happened.
LUDOVIC: I should have left when I realized there were no serviettes.
JULIUS: Hindsight is looking backwards and then walking into a tree.
LUDOVIC: Hindsight is looking backwards, at the fact you looked
backwards.. and then walked into a tree.
JULIUS: Then let us look forward.
LUDOVIC: Look forward to what? A noose.
JULIUS: We shall just have to trust in the future.
LUDOVIC: Empty words. And empty words are not going to save us.
LUDOVIC: Listen. Either we learn to lie or we die.
LUDOVIC: Lets find this cottage…it's not far, just up ahead,
please, I beg you, just listen to what she has to say.
JULIUS: I will listen.
LUDOVIC: That's all I ask. But you must listen with an open mind.
JULIUS: I will listen.
LUDOVIC: Open mind
LUDOVIC: She could be our salvation.
JULIUS AND LUDOVIC start to exit.
LUDIVIC: (sighs) This has been a very difficult day.
JULIUS: And it's not over yet. However we must endure what life
throws at us.
LUDOVIC: Well expect it to be smelly and wet and from the wrong end of a cow.
JULIUS and LUDOVIC exit. Fade lights.
SCENE TWO - Cottage by the edge of the woods
There is a fire/stove and three wooden stools.
JULIUS and LUDOVIC sit patiently waiting on two of the stools.
JULIUS: (whispers) Where did she go?
LUDOVIC shrugs. They sit is silence a moment. GRETA enters carrying a
GRETA is a beautiful but weird doll. She is very concerned about her
GRETA: Sorry, I like to make myself comfortable before I begin. Are
LUDOVIC: Well now you come to mention it.Do you have another
GRETA: (dismissive) No. So let me get your story straight. Three teddy
bears and a clown went into the woods for a picnic.
GRETA: Who were the bears?
LUDOVIC: Me. Alfie
JULIUS: And me.
GRETA: Where's Alfie?
JULUS and LUDOVIC exchange looks
LUDOVIC: He is otherwise engaged.
GRETA: And who was the clown?
LUDOVIC: Is it really necessary to say who the clown was?
GRETA: It was BoBo.
LUDOVIC: (to JULIUS) We didn't have to tell her.
JULIUS: She may not know who BoBo is.
GRETA: Dove white foundation, black crow liner, ladybird rouge,
with limp, unmanageable hair.
JULIUS: You know him.
GRETA: I know he mixes in high circles. Our paths have crossed.
LUDOVIC and JULIUS exchange looks.
LUDOVIC: Before we proceed. We do have client confidentiality don't we?
GRETA: Are you paying me?
LUDOVIC: Absolutely, without question.
GRETA: Then you are buying my advice and my discretion.
LUDOVIC: That is reassuring.
GRETA: Provided you do pay me.
LUDOVIC: Of course.
JULIUS: You will be paid.
LUDOVIC: Without question.
GRETA: Without question?
LUDOVIC: Absolutely. You are dealing with teddy bears. We are
GRETA: Good. So the story is - three teddy bears and a well-connected
clown went into the woods for a picnic.
GRETA: What happened next?
LUDOVIC: Where do you begin? It was awful.
JULIUS: The beginning was ok. When we went into the woods.
JULIUS: The sun was shining. And there was a delightful light warm
breeze. The wood warblers were warbling. It started well.
LUDOVIC: But the end Juliusthe end.It was shocking.
JULIUS: It was.
LUDOVIC: I feel sick just thinking about it.
GRETA: (impatient) Yes, yes. Can we get straight to the point.
JULIUS: It was a very disappointing picnic.
LUDOVIC: Which could lead to criminal proceedings.
GRETA: Have you been arrested ?
JULIUS: They won't have found the body yet.
LUDOVIC: We don't know that.
GRETA: A dead body?
JULIUS: Well we are not doctors.
LUDOVIC: Though I did once read an extensive medical magazine.
JULIUS: But you're not a doctor. You're a beekeeper.
LUDOVIC: He was dead Julius. I know a dead body when I see one.
JULIUS: I agree. He was dead. But we're not doctors.
GRETA: Who are you talking about?
JULIUS: The well-connected clown.
GRETA: He's dead.
JULIUS: Well as I said we're not doctors.
GRETA: This isn't good. This isn't good at all. A dead
well-connected clown in the woods.
LUDOVIC: It's a catastrophe.
GRETA: So you expect to be arrested.
LUDOVIC: Only, if they can prove we were there.
JULIUS: We were there.
LUDOVIC: I know, but she is going to help us not be there. Aren't you?
GRETA: Are you looking for an alibi?
LUDOVIC: We don't know what we're looking for.
JULIUS: This is all new to us.
GRETA: How did he die?
LUDOVIC: 'Accidentally' strangled. It was a tragic accident.
GRETA: Let me get this straight. You went into the woods for a picnic
and the well-connected clown is accidentally strangled.
LUDOVIC: Can you see our predicament? Teddy bears caught up in this
tragic accident. And they will blame us. I know they will.
GRETA: Did you murder him?
LUDOVIC: Did we murder him?
LUDOVIC puts his hand over JULIUS mouth
LUDOIVC: What can I say?
GRETA: You are a Teddy Bear you cannot lie.
LUDOVIC: You understand our predicament
JULIUS brushes aside LUDOVIC's hand.
JULIUS: Ludovic, I won't be silenced.
LUDOVIC: It was not murder.
JULIUS: For me it was.
LUDOVIC: For me it wasn't.
JULIUS: We have to honour the truth.
LUDOVIC: Oh for heavens sake, try and be a little flexible and listen
to what she has to say.
LUDOVIC and JULIUS look at GRETA
LUDOVIC: Can you help us?
GRETA: Before I answer that, I want to be very clear. Just in case I
am missing something. BoBo was accidentally murdered.
JULIUS and LUDOVIC nod
GRETA: "accidently murdered?"
JULIUS: (nods) Murdered.
LUDOVIC: (nods) Accidentally.
GRETA: Was it in some sort of fight?
LUDOVIC: No. Nothing like that, it was all very ordered.
JULIUS: Apart from the strangling.
LUDOVIC: (concedes) Apart from that. Now is there anyway you can help
us cover it up. Is there anyway you can help us, how shall I put it,
play with the truth?
GRETA: You mean lie without lying.
LUDOVIC: That's the ticket.
GRETA: I am still unclear as to what actually happened.
LUDOVIC: Do you actually need the intricate details? The nuts and
bolts. The minutiae. Basically we have a dead clown in the woods and
we want to know how to lie without lying.
JULIUS: Look I'll tell you the whole truth.
LUDOVIC: Julius, it's not necessary.
JULIUS: We are paying her, so at least lets tell her the whole truth.
GRETA: One moment, before you say anything, I'd like to point out
there is no such thing as "the whole truth".
JULIUS: There is.
GRETA: There is no such thing as "the whole truth".
GRETA: "The whole truth" is always a past event. "The whole
truth" can only ever be a version of what you thought you saw or did.
An opinion. An observation. A story of the truth. Truth is always a story.
And no story is 100 percent accurate. The recounted truth can be 50
percent accurate with 50 percent selective amnesia, leaving out
awkward detail. Or it can be 95 percent accurate but that still leaves
five percent possibility of inaccuracy which allows you the flexibility to be
flexible with the whole truth.
LUDOVIC: Perfect! Perfect! Didn't I tell you she would save our arses.
GRETA: You don't need to lie you just need to create a new reality
of the truth.
JULIUS: A new reality of the truth?
LUDOVIC: Love it. Didn't I tell you what we needed was a hot shot lawyer.
GRETA: You think I'm a lawyer?
LUDOVIC: Aren't you a lawyer?
GRETA: See, we are already creating a new reality of the truth.
It's easy to do if you are a liar. You just mislead. For example, you could
give the impression you are a lawyer when in fact you are not. But because
someone knocks at the wrong door and wants to believe that you are, they will.
Does that make sense?
Perplexed, LUDOVIC and JULIUS think about their answer
GRETA: Excellent. Looking confused is another misleading tactic. Take
a long to time to think about your answer, shrug your shoulders and look blank.
Then answer "can't remember"
JULIUS: But if you do remember, it's lying.
GRETA: They will assume when you say that you can't remember, that
you are Answering the question, but in fact it's taken you so long to
answer, you have forgotten the question. And that's what you can't remember
so you're not lying.
LUDOVIC: Marvellous. Marvellous.
JULIUS: I am not comfortable with this.
GRETA: Ask me a question?
LUDOVIC: (to GRETA) Did you murder BoBo?
LUDOVIC: I wasn't asking you. (to GRETA) It was an accident. I swear.
GRETA: If it was truly an accident, why are you trying to cover it up?
LUDOVIC and JULIUS exchange looks
LUDOVIC: Look we're teddy bears. We're not very good with conspiracies.
GRETA: Okay, I think I need a little more detail.
JULIUS: BoBo was running a workshop in autoerotic asphyxiation
GRETA: In what?
JULIUS: Autoerotic asphyxiation.
GRETA: Do you know what autoerotic asphyxiation is?
LUDOVIC: We do now.
JULIUS: We've done the workshop.
LUDOVIC: And it went horribly wrong. Horribly wrong.[end of extract]