The Good Samaritan by Sonny Peart

This Play is the copyright of the Author and may not be performed, copied or sold without the Author's prior consent

Scene One

The scene is a Samaritans office. The stage is divided into two, left
and right. Stage left is an office. There are two desks: one
downstage, facing the audience, and one stage left, facing stage left.
There is a filing cabinet, some shelves, two chairs and a hat stand.
There are posted on the walls, and a phone on each desk. There is an
exit upstage leading stage right. Stage right is a lounge. There are a
couple of easy chairs, a coffee table and some coffee making
equipment. There is another exit upstage right.

Lights come up in the office. Mary sits at the desk facing the
audience. Michael sits on the other desk.

MICHAEL: So there we were all dressed up with nowhere to go. Well, no
football match at least. I suppose we should have guessed the pitch
would be waterlogged; it had been raining for days. But you don't
think do you? Of course David was almost heartbroken. That's my
eldest, David. He'd been looking forward to it for ages. But what
can you do? If the pitch is waterlogged, the pitch is waterlogged, and
the game will get played sooner or later. But try explaining that to a
nine year old.

MARY: Hmmm.

MICHAEL: You've never seen a face as long. It was frightening. So
Jess and I, that's my wife, Jessica, we decided to take the kids to
the coast for the day, to cheer them up. I say we decided. It was Jess
that decided really. I could have done with a day at home, and it
would be good for the kids to learn how to handle disappointment. But
she insisted. I still maintain it was a damned silly idea. It was
bloody cold, and still threatening to rain, but an hour later we were
driving down the front at Southend. Do you know Southend at all?

MARY: Not really.

MICHAEL: No, me neither, not now. I used to go there a lot when I was
a kid, but it's completely changed now. All luxury marinas and
amusement arcades. I hardly recognised the place. Not that it
mattered, virtually everything was closed. Well it would be on a
Sunday in February. But we managed to get some fish and chips, and as
soon as the boys found one arcade that was open they were all smiles
and "can we have some money dad?" Strange what kids get their
kicks out of these days. It can't be good for your soul when your
best friend is a computer. I'm just grateful I'm a child of the
sixties, when people talked to each other rather than to machines. Do
you think those video games could damage their eyes?

MARY: I don't know. It's possible I suppose.

MICHAEL: Perhaps I ought to look into it. What with that and
television, my two could be blind before they reach puberty. Not that
it would do them any good if I told them to stop. Kids today don't
know how to do what they're told.

MARY: Mmm.

MICHAEL: So then we went on the beach for a while, while it was still
light. God knows why. It's all stones rather than sand, and dirty as
hell. And the sea's virtually raw sewage. It's a disgrace. It was
in the news a while back. Did you see it?

MARY: I think I saw something.

MICHAEL: Apparently it's a hundred times the EEC pollution limit. I
think it was a hundred times. Or was it twelve? Anyway, it was a lot.
More than you could clean up with a bottle of Domestos. And the
council refused to close the beach because it would damage local
trade. Isn't that terrible? Something ought to be done about it.
Anyway, I wouldn't let the kids go paddling, which they didn't
like. But they could have caught anything. And they wouldn't have
enjoyed it anyway. Too bloody cold. If they didn't catch dysentery,
they'd catch pneumonia. So we got them some rock and some candy
floss and they were as quiet as the grave on the way back. Now
they'll just get tooth decay. How was your weekend?

MARY: Oh, fine.

MICHAEL: You didn't get up to anything exciting?

MARY: No, not really. It was quiet?

MICHAEL: Just quiet?

MARY: Yes. On Saturday I went to visit my mother, in Romford. On
Sunday I went to church, then stayed in. I watched some tv and did
some homework for my evening class. So you see it wasn't very
exciting.

MICHAEL: Evening class? What are you doing?

MARY: O' Level psychology.

MICHAEL: Psychology eh? Very useful. I've often thought about doing
something like that. Never got round to it though, what with the kids
and things. So you're a bit of an expert then?

MARY: I wouldn't say that. I haven't been doing it long.

MICHAEL: I suppose most of it's fairly elementary at O' Level.

MARY: Some of it. But it's still interesting. Sometimes it's good
to be told what you already know.

MICHAEL: Yeah. I suppose so. Perhaps one day I'll get round to
doing a course, like you. But something else always comes up. I
suppose it's a question of priorities.

MARY: I suppose it is.

MICHAEL: It's a pity though, that we can't do everything we want
to do. No matter how well you plan things, there's always one more
thing, that you didn't quite get round to doing.

MARY: Mmmm.

MICHAEL: God, that was a bit profound. Perhaps I ought to take up
philosophy.

MARY: Perhaps.

A pause.

MICHAEL: You seem quiet tonight.

MARY: Do I? I'm sorry.

MICHAEL: Please, don't apologize. There's nothing bothering you
is there?

MARY: No. No, I' don't think so. I've just got a lot of work to
do for tomorrow, that's all.

MICHAEL: I'll let you get on with it then.

MARY: No, I didn't mean it like that. I mean I didn't

MICHAEL: It's OK. I know what you meant. You don't have to
explain. Do you want to help me do the crossword?

MARY: I'm not very good.

MICHAEL: Neither am I. I haven't completed one in my life.

A pause.

MICHAEL: Do you think we'll have a busy night?

MARY: I don't know.

MICHAEL: No, of course you don't.

Lights go down.

Scene Two

Lights come up in the office. Mary and Michael are sat at their
desks.

MICHAEL: How about this one? A nice uncle, perhaps, stops to give a
helping hand. Any ideas?

MARY: No. How many letters?

A doorbell rings.

MICHAEL: I'll get it.

MARY: No, it's alright. I'll go.

MICHAEL: Are you sure?

MARY: Yes, I want to.

Mary exits. Michael sits listening, then returns to the crossword.
Lights go down.

Scene Three

Lights come up in the lounge. Mary and John enter stage right.

MARY: Have a seat. Would you like some coffee?

JOHN: Yes please. Do you have any tea?

MARY: Yes, of course.

JOHN: I prefer tea.

MARY: Me too.

JOHN: That's nice.

MARY: How do you like it?

JOHN: Mmmm?

MARY: Your tea. How do you like it?

JOHN: Milk, no sugar.

MARY: Won't be a minute.

John sits down nervously. Mary busies herself making tea, and glances
over at him.

MARY: It's a cold night.

JOHN: Yes.

MARY: Not too bad for February though.

JOHN: No.

MARY: Have you come far?

JOHN: No. Not far.

MARY: It's quite warm in here.

JOHN: Yes, it's warm in here.

MARY: Take your coat off. I'll hang it up for you.

JOHN: It's alright. I'll keep it on.

MARY: Would you like some biscuits?

JOHN: No thanks. I've eaten.

A pause

JOHN: Did I disturb you, when I rang?

MARY: No, not at all.

JOHN: What were you doing?

MARY: I was just doing a crossword.

JOHN: Nothing important then.

MARY: No, nothing important. Just a crossword.

JOHN: Are you good at crosswords?

MARY: No, not really. In fact, I'm pretty hopeless.

JOHN: What do you do them then, if you're no good at them?

MARY: I don't know. I suppose I hope that one day I'll get good
at them. I suppose they're fun.

JOHN: Yes.

She brings tea for them both, and sits down.

MARY: There you are.

JOHN: Thanks.

A pause. Mary smiles, inviting John to start. He sips his tea and
stares at her.

MARY: Well, how can I help you?

JOHN: I don't really know that you can help me.

MARY: That's OK. There's no hurry. We can take our time. Let's
just sit and talk awhile shall we? My name's Mary. What's yours?

JOHN: Why do you want to know that?

MARY: It's more friendly.

JOHN: Is it?

MARY: I think so.

JOHN: It's John.

MARY: Hello John.

JOHN: Hello Mary.

They drink. John says nothing, but continues to stare at Mary. He
takes out a packet of cigarettes and lights one. Mary looks at him,
questioningly.

MARY: We don't have to talk if you don't want to. If you'd
rather just sit, we can do that.

JOHN: Don't you want to talk to me?

MARY: Yes. But only if you want to. I'm here if you need me.
JOHN: That's nice.

They sit. John stares at Mary.

MARY: What made you want to come to the Samaritans?

JOHN: I thought you said there was no hurry. Why are you rushing me?
What's the matter?

MARY: Nothing's the matter. I'm not trying to rush you. I'm
just trying to help, if that's what you want.

A pause.

JOHN: Are you frightened of me?

MARY: No. Why should I be?

JOHN: You don't know who I am. I might be anyone, anyone at all.
Aren't you frightened by the unknown?

MARY: Sometimes. Everyone gets frightened sometimes.

JOHN: Yes. But you're not frightened now? You're not frightened
of me?

MARY: No. I'm not frightened of you.

JOHN: You think I'm harmless do you? A nice chap, a friendly sort
of bloke, a jolly good fellow, an upright citizen, one who bears no
malice toward his fellow men, and women?

MARY: I have no reason to think otherwise.

JOHN: No. No you don't, because you don't know anything about me.
I'm a complete stranger, to you.

MARY: I know you name, and I know you prefer tea to coffee.

JOHN: You think you know my name. I may have been lying. My name
might not be John. It might be Mark, or Matthew, or Luke, or
Mephistopheles.

MARY: Which would you prefer?

JOHN: John. I prefer John, even if it isn't my real name. Isn't
it funny how no-one is ever entirely satisfied with the name they're
given? Do you think it's a sign of a general malaise? A universal
identity crisis?

MARY: I don't know. I'm quite happy with my name.

JOHN: Are you? That's nice. Yes, Mary, that's a very nice name.

[end of extract]

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