Shakespeare in Saigon by Cenarth Fox


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This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author’s PRIOR consent


      (Pre-show music is Elizabethan – Tallis, Byrd, Dowland, Gibbons and
      Morley. An optional downstage scrim blankets the stage. Lights come up
      DR.  An alternative to the scrim is to simply light the stage apron.
      We see chairs which represent the classroom, staffroom and lounge-room
      in scenes 1, 2 and 3.  The final year, Year 12, English Literature
      class is about to begin. The imaginary students are where the audience
      is seated. JULIET, a student, enters in darkness and awaits DAVID when
      lights come up. She sits facing the real audience. DAVID enters
      wearing jacket with leather patches on sleeves, collar and tie and
      corduroy trousers. He’s old school. It’s circa 2000 in Melbourne,
      Australia.  DAVID has a satchel in which JULIET’s essay is hiding.

      NOTE: You could use a Greek chorus as students and staff members in
      the first two scenes. Julia, Janice, Judith are students hidden behind
      the bookshelf in the first scene and Juliet and Janice swap places for
      Scene 2. JULIA could be in the Greek Chorus DR near where she enters
      to speak on the telephone)

      Act ONE - Scene One

      DAVID   (Enters) Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

      JULIET (With Greek Chorus, sing-song a la primary school students)
      Good morning, sir.

      DAVID   (Placing satchel on his chair/floor) And for the final time, I
      return herewith thy literary contributions.

      JULIET Did I pass, sir? Please?

      DAVID   But soft, methinks thou art privy.

      JULIET I really do need a good mark, sir.

      DAVID   Don’t we all? (To EVERYONE) Now children, it may have escaped
      your attention but today’s lesson is the last I shall give to you lot.

      JULIET (Clapping, celebrating) Hooray.

      DAVID   (Comes in over their cheering) … to not only you but to
      anyone, anywhere, ever.

      JULIET Ahhh. Come on sir, you’re too young to retire.

      DAVID   So I’m inclined to turn today’s lesson into somewhat of an
      insouciant ceremony.

      JULIET (With Greek Chorus makes Music Hall audience reaction - oooooh)
      Insouciant?

      DAVID   And you’ll notice I said cerem’ny and (Rising inflexion) not   …

      JULIET (Plus Greek Chorus. This pronunciation’s been made before)
      … cer - e-moan-ey.

      JULIET If you’ve taught us nothing else, sir, we know how to put the
      emphasis on the right syllable. (It’s a joke/point DAVID has
      hammered throughout the year)

      DAVID   Ah yes but will you ever truly appreciate the beauty of the
      writings of that doyen of wit and perspicasity…

      JULIET (Giving what she thinks is the correct answer) William
      Shakespeare.

      DAVID   … that profound philosopher, Groucho Marx.

      JULIET Oh, that great doyen.

      DAVID   Who once said, (As Groucho) “Those are my principles and if
      you don’t like them

      JULIET (JULIET mimics Groucho along with Greek Chorus) … well I have
      others.”

          (They laugh and relax. This last lesson is one to be savoured. DAVID
      finds it emotional and the class will be sad to see him go)

      JULIET So’s who’s the best, sir, Groucho or Will?

      DAVID   (Correcting her) Who is the better, young lady, (Mimicing young
      people’s speech) them’s just the two like.

      JULIET (Remembers) Oh, I remember - good, better, best.

      DAVID   (As Henry Higgins) “By George, she’s got it.”

      JULIET Before I took this subject, I knew nothin’ about William
      Shakespeare or Groucho Marx but now, thanks to you, sir, I know two
      Shakespearean sonnets, Juliet’s ‘wherefore art thou?’ speech and
      heaps of Groucho gags.

      DAVID   (As Groucho) “While hunting in Africa I shot an elephant in my
      pyjamas …”

      JULIET (With GC as Groucho) “… and how he got in my pyjamas I’ll
      never know.”

                (They laugh a little. This is fun. It’s the last lesson and
      everyone is relaxing)

      DAVID   (As Groucho) “I never forget a face, but in your case, …”

      JULIET (With GC as Groucho) “… I’ll be glad to make an exception.”

          (More laughter, more enjoyment. DAVID is feeding JULIET who responds
      in kind)

      DAVID   (As Groucho) “I didn’t like the play, but then I saw it under
      adverse conditions.”

      JULIET (With GC as Groucho) “The curtain was up.”

                (Laughter and more opening up as the last lesson unfolds)

      DAVID   (As Groucho, mimes speaking into a phone) “Room service? Send
      up a larger room.”

                (Pause, laughter fades, they settle)

      JULIET (As herself) Y’know sir, my mother reckons we get much more
      than we deserve from your classes.

      DAVID   (As himself) Ah, thy mother is both comely and wise.

      JULIET But sir?

      DAVID   (Rising inflexion) Yes?

      JULIET My cousin’s doing English Lit at her school and …

      DAVID   Doing English Lit? Doing it? My dear young lady, one explores,
      discovers and savours the immortal beauty of the English language; one
      does not do it.

      JULIET (Ignores his comment) As I was saying, they don’t do no
      Shakespeare at all.

      DAVID   And rightly so. Why bother with a gent who created sublime
      poetry, invented hundreds of words and explored and explained the
      human condition better than anyone before or since?

      JULIET (Stops looking at essay) Is that you being sarky again, sir?

      DAVID   (Hands JULIET her essay) Well done that man.

      JULIET (Sees her score/mark, is excited) I passed! I passed! (Goes to
      DAVID and hugs him) Oh thank you, sir, thank you.

      DAVID   (Gently rebuffing her affection) Take flight maiden, “our
      revels now are ended”. (She sits) As always I marked according to
      the golden rule of essay writing (Prompting their reply) which is …

      JULIET (Chant-like, emphatically with GC) … answer the question
      being asked.

      JULIET So what will you be doing in your retirement, sir?

      DAVID   Ah, methinks a multitude of wondrous things.

      JULIET Such as?

      DAVID   Hmmm, perhaps the greatest being not having to teach a
      generation of adolescents who reckon ignorance is not only bliss but
      cool.

      JULIET Aw, come on sir, it’s not our fault.

      DAVID   It never is. Behold thy creed, (Mimics their creed) ‘Take no
      responsibility.’ Never mind the skills of spelling, sums and syntax,
      just get thyself to schoolies’ week.

      JULIET (With GC clapping, delighted) Yeah, schoolies! Rah.

      DAVID   (Drab voice, mocking teen speak, pause for punch line, shrugs)
      Whatever.

      JULIET But that’s what school’s all about; exams and league
      tables. We regurgitate the facts and pray for a pass.

      DAVID   (Mock shock) Regurgitate? (Louder) Regurgitate? (Mock shock) But
      that’s (Quick count on fingers) four syllables; plus philosophy (Mock pleasure)
      Maybe all is not lost after all.

      JULIET Y’know, sir, you’re one of them teachers, what makes us think.

      DAVID   (Crescendo) Those teachers who make us think.

      JULIET But do you agree with my father?

      DAVID   Ah yes, the parent who reckons corporal punishment should be
      replaced by capital punishment.

      JULIET My Dad reckons you’ve gotta be real smart to go to uni.

      DAVID   Really? So does Dad know there are unis running remedial classes
      for first-year students who can’t spell or write a half-decent sentence?

      JULIET Well you’re the teacher. If we can’t spell or ain’t never
      heard of Shakespeare then it’s all your fault.

      DAVID   (Mock dramatic) Oh, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

      JULIET And why do you always show off like now - speaking French?

      DAVID   (Genuinely shocked, exasperated or both) French!?

      JULIET Whatever.

      FX     Bell rings for end of class

      DAVID   (Looks to the heavens) There is a god.

          (DAVID fiddles with satchel as he speaks, the imaginary students pass
      him heading upstage)

      DAVID   Right, that’s it. Parting is such sweet sorrow and all that
      jazz; now bugger off.

      JULIET (Stops beside DAVID as she exits) I just wanted to say …
      thank you, sir.

      DAVID   “O! she doth teach the torches to burn bright.” Now damsel,
      sling y’hook.

          (He doesn’t want an emotional farewell and turns to gather his
      things. She has been rehearsing this moment. Pause so DAVID looks up)

      JULIET “Your presence makes us rich, most noble lord. And far
      surmounts our labour to attain it.”

          (DAVID is stunned. He knows the Richard the Second quote of course.
      But the words are delivered well and are sincerely meant. Pause. For a
      moment nothing happens. Then JULIET leans in, kisses his cheek then
      scampers out as the PA kicks in)

      FX     (Voice over tannoy) “Would Mister Cadwallader please go to the
      staffroom. Mister Cadwallader to the staffroom.

      DAVID   (Unhappy) Oh Gawd - bloody presentation.

      ACT ONE - Scene Two

      FX     Brief musical interlude using a few bars of Elizabethan music
          (Lights crossfade down on the classroom and up on the staffroom. It
      could be the same room. Staff members are where the audience is
      seated. JULIET’S chair could become the chair for DAVID. He enters
      and moves chair if necessary)

      FX     Crowd noises welcoming DAVID. Includes smattering of applause.
      Greek Chorus now members of staff upstage behind bookshelf. JULIA
      could be in GC offstage DR.

      DAVID   (He acknowledges the greeting. As London East End tailor) Yes,
      all right, my son; enough already.

      JANICE (Principal enters carrying basket with gifts all wrapped) Thank
      you all. Bit of shush, please. (To DAVID) Take a seat, kind sir.

      DAVID   (Sitting, finger wave in admonition) ‘Brevity is the soul of
      wit, Mrs. Claypool’.

      JANICE (Addressing the staff) Well now, what can one say about this
      extraordinary man? Some of us weren’t even born when David started
      teaching.

      DAVID   (Cupping ear speaks as frail old man) Could you speak up
      please?

      JANICE ‘Salt of the earth’, ‘a born teacher’ and ‘generous
      to a fault’ - these are just some of the sayings which happily apply
      to our terrific colleague. How many hundreds, no thousands of students
      have had their life enriched by this dedicated and amazing man?

      DAVID   (Turning to imaginary colleague. Whispers) Who’s she talking
      about?

      JANICE Today we read that teaching has changed, that the so-called
      best teachers should be paid more and that testing creates curriculum.
      But with change all around, one thing remains constant.
          Teaching is and always will be about skill and passion; skill in
      knowing how to guide and inspire students; and above all, passion for
      the profession and text. David Cadwallader is one of those wonderful,
      unsung teaching heroes with skill and passion to burn.

      DAVID   I’m not dead am I? (Amusement)

      JANICE Anyone who can successfully introduce Shakespeare to
      generations of teenagers is a brilliant teacher. Anyone who can do
      that via the Marx Brothers is a genius.

      DAVID   (As Groucho) “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful farewell. But
      this wasn’t it.”

          (JANICE and imaginary staff amused)

      JANICE (Addressing him directly) David, to say we’re going to miss
      you is a serious understatement. We’ll miss your irrepressible
      personality, your energy and enthusiasm, your passion for books, your
      infectious sense of lunatic humour and of course, your wonderful
      friendship and love.

      GREEK CHORUS   Murmurs of support - hear, hear.

      DAVID   You left out my ‘modesty’. (Laughter)

      JANICE (Turning to her basket of goodies) Now choosing a gift for the
      man who has everything was, believe me, one hell of a task. (JANICE
      indicates gifts as she mentions each one) But knowing your
      appreciation of fine wine, we’re sure your palate will enjoy this
      fine drop of red.

      DAVID (As W.C. Fields) “I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it
      to the food.”

      JANICE (With an envelope) And for that long-awaited trip, two
      double-passes for you and Judith to the Globe theatre in London and
      the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon.

      DAVID   (Genuinely impressed, mouths) Wow.

      JANICE (With another envelope) Of course what else for the man who
      loves books, but a book voucher, and last but not least, (Indicates
      gift) a DVD collection of every Groucho Marx appearance in movies and
      on TV.

      DAVID   (As Groucho but overcome) “Anybody who doesn’t like this
      book is healthy.”

      JANICE I speak for everyone, David, the teaching staff, the office
      staff, the cleaners and caretakers, the canteen staff, the parents and
      your many adoring students, when I say thank you for just being you.
      Our loss is Judith’s gain and we wish you both a long and very happy
      retirement. (Basket with goodies handed to DAVID)

      FX     Applause or live from Greek Chorus

          (JANICE applauds with the imaginary others and steps back allowing
      him to speak)

      DAVID   (Stands. Pause) Crikey! (Turns to JANICE. As Groucho) “Do you
      think I could buy back my introduction to you?” (Laughter. Another
      pause. As himself) Well, thank you Janice for your very kind words.
      And thank you everyone for these superb gifts. (He struggles with
      emotion) I can’t remember what I said at my last retirement speech.
      (Amusement) And I think it fair to say I have some mixed emotions.
      Forty odd years is a bloody long time to stand in front of a bunch of
      kids and wonder if World War Three will ever be over. (Smiles)
          I’ve seen a few changes since I started teaching. Dress code for
      staff has gone from formal to informal to ‘I’ve just got out of
      bed’.  (Amusement) The boss has gone from headmaster to principal to
      Human Resource Controller, and finally to today’s Media and
      Marketing Manager. (Amusement)
          (Serious for once) Did you know there used to be a time when teachers
      were highly respected members of the community? It’s true.
      Stationmasters and teachers were once pillars of society. Now the
      trains are stuffed and teachers are fulltime report writers.
          (Back to his mischievous best) Of course there are some things I’ll
      never miss. 9E on a wet Friday afternoon - any Friday afternoon. Yard
      duty. Gary on Mondays if St Kilda fluked a win. (Staff react) Oh and
      so-called professional development sessions where we’re asked,
      (Whining voice) “Why did you become a teacher?” (This gets a
      laugh)
          But there’s one thing I will miss; big time. You. When Judith and I
      had that trouble with our son, (Pause, softer) still have, (Bucks up)
      your fantastic support kept us going. (Looks around) Thank you. I’ll
      always remember that.

          (Pause. DAVID is emotional and doesn’t want to or can’t say
      anything more)

      FX     Applause

      JANICE (In close to DAVID) I’ll see you before you go. (She squeezes
      his arm then exits)

          (DAVID collects his basket of gifts then turns one way then the other
      as imaginary colleagues come up and pat his arm, kiss his cheek, etc
      as they exit the staffroom. He nods and speaks to these colleagues.
      Once the chatting begins, lights begin to fade as music begins softly.
      The Greek Chorus staff members could each call out their best wishes)
      DAVID   Thanks … Great … Good on ya, mate …. Thanks Shirl …
      (Laughing) You’re on … Thanks buddy … Cheers …

          BLACKOUT

      FX         Brief musical interlude using a few bars of Elizabethan music
          (Lights up where the classroom was and it is now inside DAVID and
            JUDITH’s home.

          DAVID waits upstage in the darkness. JUDITH is offstage on the phone.
   
          MUSIC FADES)

      Act ONE - Scene Three

      JUDITH (Enters on phone) Yes, I know. I’ll tell him. (Pause)
      Tonight. I’ll tell him tonight.

      FX     (DAVID’S car is heard)

      JUDITH That’s him now. I’ll call you later. Yes, all right,
      tonight. (She exits)

          (She ends phone call, sighs and exits. Carrying presents, DAVID
      enters room)

      DAVID   (Offloading gifts) Judith, I’m home. (He looks at gifts,
      smiles then he calls again) Judith?

      JUDITH (Enters) I heard you the first time.

      DAVID   Got some great presents. It was the best final day I’ve ever
      had.

      JUDITH Sit down.

      DAVID   Even Janice made a half-decent speech.

      JUDITH (Sits) I’ve got bad news.

          (DAVID snaps out of his frivolous mood and is instantly deadly
      serious)

      DAVID   (Sits) It’s John, he’s dead. Where is he?

      JUDITH I don’t know.

      DAVID   You don’t know where he is or you don’t know if he’s dead?
      Come on, tell me, please.

      JUDITH David, we’ve talked about this a hundred times. John died the
      day he chose that lifestyle. And I’ve got nothing new about him or
      Rosie.

                (Pause. This is not a happy home. DAVID back to trying to be
      normal)

      DAVID   (Excited) We got fantastic presents; tickets to the Globe and
      the RSC.

      JUDITH I told you, I’m not going.

      DAVID   (Another instant mood switch, almost desperate) Oh but why?

      JUDITH You know why. It’s over; we’re over.

      DAVID   (Doesn’t want it to be over) Don’t say that!

      JUDITH (Pause, softer) And you’re not going either.

      DAVID   I know I said mediation was a waste of time but now I’ll give
      it a try. I’ll try anything, Judith. I want our marriage, I want us,
      to survive. (JUDITH won’t meet his stare. She decided long ago
      it’s over. She refuses to co-operate. Suddenly DAVID has twigged)
      ‘I’m not going either’?

      JUDITH That’s the bad news.

      DAVID   (Doesn’t want to ask) It’s mother.

      JUDITH It’s Robert.

      DAVID   Robert? What’s happened?

      JUDITH He’s been arrested.

      DAVID   (Shocked) Arrested? For what?

      JUDITH Fraud.

      DAVID   (DAVID is stunned, shakes his head) Fraud?

      JUDITH (She could touch his arm) I’m sorry.

      DAVID   (Full of dread) No. (Pause) How much? (JUDITH doesn’t reply)
      Not everything? (JUDITH barely nods. Pause. DAVID runs fingers through
      his hair. He’s in shock) Are you sure? There might be some mistake.

      JUDITH He rang from the police station.

      DAVID   (Despair as the truth sinks in) Oh god; why me?

      JUDITH He took money from all his clients and set up some Ponzi
      scheme.

      DAVID But he’s family; he’s my brother-in-law.

      JUDITH I did warn you.

      DAVID   That’s our entire super.

      JUDITH Your entire super.

      DAVID   (In shock) Jesus, Judith. What are we going to do?

      JUDITH What’s this ‘we’ business?

      DAVID   But that was all the money I had. I started that private super
      fund years ago.

      JUDITH I told you he stole from my mother. Why do you think she
      finished up in that urine-scented nursing home? He ruined her life and
      now he’s ruined yours.

      DAVID   (In shock) “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.”

      JUDITH It’s a bit late for poetry.

      DAVID   (Trying to make sense of things) I can’t go back to teaching.
      I can’t.

      JUDITH Time for down-sizing, matey.

      DAVID   We could both go on the pension. You get more if you’re a
      couple.

      JUDITH (Angry) Will you stop this bloody acting. There’s no more
      ‘we’. Our marriage ended years ago and certainly once our loving
      children dumped us. Get real, David. It’s over. We’re over.
    (Pause. She feels remorse. Softer) I’m sorry about your money …
      really … I’m sorry. (Another pause) We’ll have to sell the house.

      DAVID   (Shakes head. It’s all too much) And go where?

      JUDITH That’s your choice. (Pause) I’ll be living with someone
      else.

      DAVID   (This is an even bigger bombshell. Is staggered) What?

      JUDITH Oh come on, you must have known.

      DAVID   Known what?

      JUDITH Why are you doing this? Stop living in some parallel universe
      where everything and everyone is sweetness and light. We haven’t
      shared a bed for years. We’re a dysfunctional family and our
      imperfect marriage is dead.

          (Pause. They go back to speaking softly. This conversation has been a
      long time coming and now it’s here, both are unsure of how to behave)

      DAVID   (Softer, not looking at her) What’s his name?

      JUDITH Don’t go there.
      DAVID   So, after thirty-eight years of connubial bliss I’m being
      replaced by Mister Anonymous. I mean, does he actually exist?

      JUDITH Let’s talk money.

      DAVID   (As Groucho) “Man does not control his own fate. The women in
      his life do that for him.”

      JUDITH Always the bloody joker.

      DAVID   “Our revels now are ended.”

      JUDITH I suggest we sell the house unless you want to buy me out.

      DAVID   (You’re joking) Buy you out? And you call me the joker. (Takes
      money from pocket) Right. How does … three, five, twenty …
      twenty-seven dollars and forty cents sound? (She ignores him) With a
      lawn-mowing round I could stretch to thirty.

      JUDITH I don’t want to buy you out. I’m moving in with my partner.

      DAVID   Partner? Oh yes, Mister No Name. No, don’t tell me, let me
      guess. He’s a lawyer from Eltham called Sebastian. No? Ah, a retired
      stockbroker with a holiday shack in Portsea?

          (These place names can be changed to suit the area in which the play
      is being performed)

      JUDITH (Rises, leaving) Let me know when you’ve grown up.

      DAVID   (Contrite) Don’t go, Judith, please, I’m sorry. Please.
      I’ll stop clowning around.

      JUDITH (Returns) The best thing, we can do now is work through the
      situation.

      DAVID   (Nodding) Okay.

      JUDITH List what we have to do and make the split as smooth as
      possible. Yes?

      DAVID   (Nodding, resigned to the truth) Yes.

      JUDITH So, we sell the house?

      DAVID   (Nodding) Yes.

      JUDITH If there’s any money left, we split it fifty-fifty.

      DAVID   (Shocked) If there’s any money left?

      JUDITH We don’t own the house. (Annoyed he’s either forgotten or
      ignorant) Oh come on, we did that deal with the bank to fund John’s
      treatment. That rehab cost a fortune. (DAVID stunned) You’ve
      forgotten. God you’re hopeless.

      DAVID   (He’d forgotten or had blocked it out. Deadpan) “Brother can
      you spare a dime?”

      JUDITH We’ll get a third of the sale price less what we owe.

      DAVID   (Shocked) A third?

      JUDITH From that we pay off the personal loan Rosie abandoned,
      John’s lawyer’s bills and the money we owe my sister; remember?

      DAVID   (Bewildered) But …

      JUDITH What’s left we split fifty-fifty. I won’t quibble over the MG.

      DAVID   How kind.

      JUDITH I suggest you talk to a lawyer and make sure you’re not being
      cheated.

      DAVID   (His first nasty remark) Well your brother’s screwed me over
      so why not you?

      JUDITH (Angry) Now listen, matey, I repeatedly told you to not let
      Robert touch your money. You wouldn’t listen. So don’t hang that
      on me.

      DAVID   (Knows she speaks the truth) Sorry.

      JUDITH Grow up, stop playing the martyr and bloody well move on.

      (She exits)

      DAVID   (Alone) “When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in
      battalions.”

      JUDITH (Enters but stays at edge of room) And there’s an agent
      (realtor) coming to see the house at five. I suggest you tidy your
      room. (Starts to exit)

      DAVID   No, Judith, wait. (She enters, he’s struggling) Where, where
      will I find a lawyer?

      JUDITH Look under lawyers. (She wants to depart but he persists)

      DAVID   But wait, wait, please. (She’s impatient) Can you recommend
      someone? Could your solicitor recommend someone?

      JUDITH Hardly; there might be some conflict there.

      DAVID   Conflict?

      JUDITH (Exasperated, tells all) My solicitor’s my partner. We’re
      moving in together.

      DAVID   Ah, “It adds a precious seeing to the eye”. (Weak joke, ever
      the jester) So your mystery man is Stan the solicitor.

      JUDITH (Pause) Actually it’s Sue the solicitor.

      DAVID   (Will DAVID explode? No, he turns joker) Sue the solicitor. Oh
      that’s brilliant. Fire the arsonist, tap the plumber and sue the
      solicitor. (Sudden crash back to reality. He’s pathetic. Pause) Sue
      the solicitor? (JUDITH nods) It’s not a boy called Sue?

      JUDITH She’s a she.

      DAVID   (Pause) I didn’t see that coming.

      JUDITH (Kindness during the battle) No need for salt in the wound.

      DAVID   (Thinking aloud) My wife left me for another woman.

      JUDITH And yes, I am getting my divorce costs for free.

      DAVID   Oh. (Puzzled) Is that ethical? I mean, can’t you get struck
      off for sleeping with your clients?

      JUDITH We can do this the easy or the hard way.

      DAVID   I suppose a ménage a trois is out of the question? (She gives
      him a look. He shrugs) Worth a try.

          (Pause. It’s difficult for both of them but DAVID’s the one
      who’s received all the bad news)

      DAVID   I wonder what a woman feels like when hubby announces he’s gay
      and moves in with his first best friend? I mean are the wife’s
      feelings the same a husband has when his wife shacks up with a bird?

      JUDITH There’s one more bit of bad news.

      DAVID   (Thinking) Don’t tell me. My doctor rang and I’ve got two
      weeks to live.

      JUDITH (Rising, preparing to exit) Your mother’s had a fall.

      DAVID   Well she can’t be dead; you said it was bad news.

      JUDITH She’s in hospital, the number’s by the phone. And sounding
      just like your mother, (Imitating her mother-in-law) ‘tidy your
      room, David’. (She exits)

      FX     Elizabethan music begins softly - it contains car sounds for next
      scene)

          (Lights narrow on DAVID. Sign placed DL)

      DAVID   “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the
      flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is
      bound in shallows and in miseries.”

          BLACKOUT

      Act ONE - Scene Four

          (DAVID steps into new position near sign where he is lit. An
      imaginary buyer enters)

      DAVID   Oh g’day. You’ve come about the car? Yeah, she’s a beauty
      all right.

          (DAVID follows the imaginary buyer who walks around the imaginary
      car)

          Hop in. Make y’self at home.

          (Invisible buyer sits in vehicle and DAVID chats)

      FX     MG engine ticking over - continues

      DAVID   She runs like a dream. (Louder) A dream. (Sales pitch) I had a
      major service only last month. New tyres last year. Oh and it’s
      fantastically waterproof, especially when it rains. (The buyer isn’t
      amused) Of course I’m absolutely gutted to sell her but needs must
      … (Shrugs) She’s been a joy for …

      FX     Kill car sounds

      DAVID   (Distressed) How much? (Pause) But it’s a classic. They’re
      as rare as hen’s teeth (Pause. It’s just another kick in the guts
      for DAVID who is already down. He nods. Softly) Okay. Yes, okay. I
      accept.

      FX     The car engine revs and the car drives away

          BLACKOUT

      Act ONE - Scene Five

          (DAVID moves to new position having collected a book. Music fades.
      Lights up. David has copy of play. It’s Shakespeare’s Lear. He
      reads although he knows the speeches by heart)

      DAVID   “You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need
                And let not women’s weapons, water-drops,
                Stain my man’s cheeks! No, you unnatural hags,
                No, I’ll not weep.
                I have full cause of weeping, but this heart
                Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws,
                Or ere I’ll weep. O fool, I shall go mad!
                (He closes book, looks to the heavens and declares)
                “The wheel is come full circle, I am here.”

                BLACKOUT

      FX         Street noises - cars, people, etc

          (In the BLACKOUT, DAVID exits and adds scarf and cap and collects
      shopping bag with wine and cheese. He re-enters and is now in a street
      near his new flat)

      Act One - Scene Six

          (He and JUDITH have split, their house has been sold and DAVID is
      renting a one-bedroom flat in Footscray, a working-class suburb with a
      large Vietnamese population. He has just moved in and right now is
      heading home from a trip to the local licenced supermarket.

          It is late afternoon and he’s checking out his new locale and
      neighbours. This is a new adventure for him. With cap, scarf and
      shopping bag, he surveys the street outside his new home. Lighting
      comes up downstage only)

      DAVID   (Thinking aloud, observing new surrounds) “Expectation is the
      root of all heartache.” I shall prepare for disappointment, misery
      and woe. (Sees imaginary person. Steps towards them) A fellow
      traveller. (Stops. Nods to imaginary person in street) Good afternoon,
      friend. (No response. Thinking aloud again)
          How does one say ‘G’day’ in Vietnamese? (Extends hand to
      another imaginary person in street) Hello. “I do desire we may be
      better strangers.” (No response. Thinking aloud) I’m a stranger in
      a foreign land. (Looking around) I wonder if the RSC tour to
      Footscray. (Tries one more time to strike up a conversation with an
      imaginary local)  Excuse me? I was wondering … (They speak in a
      language unknown to DAVID) Sorry. Do you speak English? (Pause)
      Eng-lish?

    (Another failed conversation)

      FX     (Fade street noises crossfade to become a musical interlude)

          (DAVID shakes head, faces front and speaks to the world) “Confusion
      now hath made his masterpiece.” (Loud, frustrated) Where the bloody
      hell am I?

          BLACKOUT

      Act ONE - Scene Seven

          (In darkness he exits DR. Slowly lights come up on the whole stage
      for the first time. DAVID’s new home is seen. It is his rented
      furnished living-room with his personal belongings mainly books
      scattered about. He has a clock radio and a phone with
      answering-machine on the small table not far from the fridge.  He
      unlocks door UR and enters)

      FX     Music fades

      DAVID   (Once door opens) Paradise! (He enters, placing shopping
      beside/on settee and removing scarf and cap. He looks around) “I
      like this place and willingly could waste my time in it.” (Observing
      the decor) Mind you I’m not so sure about the décor. As darling
      Oscar once said, “Either that wallpaper goes or I do.” (He spies
      fridge) Ah, vittles. (He moves to and opens fridge. It is empty. As
      Groucho) “Look at me. I’ve worked my way up from nothing to a
      state of extreme poverty.”

          (Closes fridge. To shopping bag, removes items. Sits on settee
      placing items on coffee table)

          Dear boy, one must have life’s essentials. (Removes a bottle of
      wine/vodka)  Alcohol … (French accent) naturellement. Camembert …
      (French accent) essentiel. (Places cheese on table) And of course …
      (Pats well-thumbed book on table) The scribblings of one Will
      Shakespeare. (He leans back, stretches out) The winning trifecta, I
      want for nothing, my life complete.

      FX     Knock on door

      DAVID   (Groans, dismayed, calls) None today, thank you!

      FX     Another knock on door

      DAVID   “But hark, a voice.” (Sarcastically heading to door) And
      I’m fresh out of smoked salmon sandwiches. (Opens door) Ah,
      “gentle adieus and greetings” first visitor.

          (He addresses an unseen young Vietnamese man - played by unseen actor
      or THANH imitating a male - who is looking for a friend)

      YOUTH   Danny, co ở đây hay la Khong?  (Is Danny here?)

      DAVID   Pardon Monsieur.

      YOUTH   Danny, no co ở đây hay la Khong? (Is Danny here?)

      DAVID   Danny?

      YOUTH   Danny.

      DAVID   Sorry old chap but … (We hear fading footsteps as YOUTH
      departs. Calling) Not a problem. (American accent) Now y’all have a
      nice day. (Closes door, re-enters)

          That went well. I wonder if Danny kept a stash. (Sits, bored) Am I
      too young to become a drug baron? (This new life is not appealing) Now
      what? (Looks at watch, holds to ear to test it) How long till death?

          (He wanders DC and peers out through an imaginary small window)

          What is this style of architecture? Lego? One (Mimes trying
      unsuccessfully to open window) … immoveable window. (Surveys the
      view. Speaks with distinctive voice until the final word which is flat
      nasal) “This land of such dear souls, this dear, dear land, Dear for
      her reputation through the world, Is now leased out, I die pronouncing
      it …” Footscray.

          (Waves to imaginary passers-by below, calls) Greetings fair
      neighbours. Welcome to my humble abode. (Sings a la Noel Coward to
      locals) “A room with a view and you, with no one to worry us, …”
      (Gets idea) Of course. I’ll create the Noel Coward Appreciation
      Society, West Footscray Branch; even a choral society. (Sings a la
      Coward) “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”.

          (Wanders to radio, speaking as he goes)

          This is the life. Wine, cheese, Shakespeare and music; what more
      could a ragged idiot want? (He switches on radio)

      FX     Musical interlude using Elizabethan music which later leads to
      snoring, car noises, telephone and phone message

      DAVID   (Mock excitement) Culture. “If music be the food of love, play
      on.”
          (He picks up receiver and listens) And a dial tone. (Pleased,
      replacing receiver) Bliss.

          (He moves to settee, opens bottle, pours a good measure)

          “A man cannot make him laugh – but that’s no marvel; he drinks
      no wine.”

          (He drinks then settles on settee, and makes a toast)

            “Drink sir, is a great provoker of three things - nose painting,
      sleep and urine.”

          (He toasts, drinks, puts glass on table then leans back as lights fade)

          BLACKOUT

 

[end of extract]



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