Scripts and Odd Writings

[script] concrete: act I

ACT I

On the floor sits IAN. He is naked. Spotlight from above.

IAN

This – is me. I am nothing but myself. Nothing else matters. No fashion, no job, no family. This is me, defined.

Pause.

IAN (cont’d)

I’m safe, defined. I’m just me, not them. They surround me, in crowds, in bundles, in – family units. They’re – everywhere. Bodies. Moving, breathing, pushing, pressing, crushing –

He presses his hands into his temples.

IAN (cont’d)

I… I don’t want to be with other people. It’s not who they are, it’s what they are. Lungs, snot, skin, heart, hair, nail, nerves. They are, and they deny it. They create identities based on theories about who they are and never concern themselves with what they are. Body parts.

He slowly stands.

IAN (cont’d)

I know what I am. I’m – body parts. But I want to be more.

He spreads his arms.

IAN (cont’d)

I want to be… a block. A granite block, arms spread. I want to stand at the apex of a pyramid, my arms flung wide, my heard turned to the sky. Exultant. I want to stand, and I want to tell them stories.

He has assumed a solid pose, his arms flung wide, his head skyward.

IAN (cont’d)

There was once a man called Actaeon. He was known far and wide as the best hunter in all the world. No man could run faster than Actaeon, or throw a javelin further or more accurately. He could track animals over hard ground, through moss, brush or shrubbery, over mountain high and through ocean wide. He was such an excellent hunter that all asked for his services. Kings of Macedon, Persia and across the sea hired Actaeon to hunt for them, and he always caught what they sought. He brought in deer and fowl, lion and bear… and human. Actaeon was not unaware of his gifts. He did not boast of them though, being a humble and honest man. One day, he was called before the King of Persia, who asked him to take part in his yearly Great Hunt, in preparation for the massive feast which took place the next day. The King of Persia praised Actaeon for his gifts, calling him the best hunter of all time, and Actaeon was pleased, leading his men into the forest to hunt deer all day. The King of Persia’s words travelled across the wind, and also reached the ears of Artemis, the Divine Huntress, Queen of the Chase, who was bathing in her hidden forest pool, and she was most angered. She also whispered to the wind, guiding Actaeon to her, and he stumbled upon her secret glade. As he stood before the naked god, she did not blush or hide her shame. She stood before him, female, curvaceous, glorious in the moonlight. Artemis smiled, and cursed Actaeon. He was instantly transformed into a stag, the greatest and finest that had ever walked the earth. Artemis vanished, leaving Actaeon the stag alone in the glade, free to tranverse the forest he had hunted through. But Actaeon’s men still hunted, and upon seeing a stag so beautiful, so graceful, they could not help themselves but hunt the mighty beast. They chased Actaeon through the trees, their javelins finding his sides, piercing his proud hide, and spilling his hot blood onto the forest floor. The hunters dragged the carcass to the King of Persia, where it was the centrepiece at his banquet. And as they feasted on the meat, it returned. And the revellers devoured the human flesh, tore it from the bones. And the head on the world reverted to that of Actaeon, staring blindly at the revellers.

As he has told the myth, IAN has shrunk into a hunkered figure, hugging his own ribs.

Lights up on a dim stage. One back wall, with a window, city backdrop behind. CS a couch, with a book and a magazine on it, SL a large metal bathtub with a bucket next to it. Beyond that a desk and a chest of drawers, a lone typewriter and an empty bin. The desk and floor are covered with crumpled up bits of paper. SR a wide, empty stage, in which IAN stands, beyond a door.

MEG enters from the SR door. She is wearing a smart-casual work outfit, a handbag, a blouse and a skirt.

MEG

Ian? Are you alright?

IAN

Hi Meg.

He shuffles to the couch and sits on it. MEG bustles around behind him, picking up items off the floor, and putting some of the paper in the bin.

MEG

Sorry, I let myself in. How are things? It was so busy this morning, the traffic was murder.

IAN

Oh. No, I’m OK.

MEG

You really should be getting dressed, Ian, it’s well past morning. Are you going to leave the house today?

IAN

I don’t really… want to. There’ll be too many people.

MEG

OK, suit yourself. But do please get dressed. I don’t necessarily need to see your penis every time I come here.

IAN

(covering himself) Oh… I, I’m sorry, I didn’t think, I just-

MEG

You don’t have to explain, Ian. It’s fine. I understand.

IAN

I’m sorry.

MEG

Don’t worry. Have you eaten?

IAN

I’m not hungry.

MEG

Are you sure? I could whip up a cooked breakfast or something before I go-

IAN

No.

MEG

OK. Well, I’d better get going, work won’t do itself. I’ll see you this evening.

IAN

OK.

IAN does not move. MEG moves to the empty space, and performs a series of stylised movements, all relating to an average day, while a piece of music plays (something energetic with clock-like ticking). While she does this, IAN walks to the chest of drawers and takes out a pair of jeans, which he puts on, and slumps back into the couch. He idly leafs through a magazine. MEG finishes the dance, then acts like she’s just walked in.

MEG

Hello Ian.

IAN

Hi.

MEG

How was your day?

IAN

Fine, thanks.

MEG

Did you leave the house?

IAN

No.

MEG

Did you do anything?

IAN

No.

MEG

No writing?

IAN

No, there’s nothing there.

MEG

(sitting on the couch) Ian, you have to write something.

IAN

Why? If I keep living like this, my money will last me.

MEG

I didn’t mean it like that. I mean… you should write something. You’re so talented, it would be a waste.

IAN

(picks up the book) I copied down some ancient myths, then put them all into one book. I’m not a writer.

MEG

Yes, you are, you’re a very good writer, you’re just in a rut. Now come on, let’s go outside, get some fresh air, have a walk, maybe it’ll clear your head.

IAN

I don’t want to leave. And leaving won’t bring out any creative ideas. I’m not creative, I just took the words of others and combined them into one book. That’s all.

MEG

You used to write. And reading other peoples’ work must have sparked off some ideas.

IAN

Nothing worth writing down.

MEG

Fine. Let me help you, Ian, I want to help you.

IAN

Then leave me alone.

MEG is visibly hurt. She gets up and leaves. IAN picks up to book, leafs it open. He starts to read, then walks to the desk as the lights dim. He sits in front of the typewriter, his hands poised over the keys. He starts to type as he speaks the following lines.

IAN

He woke in a dark room. It smelled of minty sex and casual sweat. He was lost, yet instinctively knew where he was. He got out of the large bed, and put on a pair of corduroy slacks. He found the light switch, and flicked it on.

During the next lines, IAN’s delivery becomes broken. The lines jump, stop and start. As the next lines start, he is dimly underlit by a light from under the table, which gets brighter as he speaks.

IAN (cont’d)

Her body was still in bed. She had long left it, but her body remained, a collection of – parts. It still breathed, spasmed, contorted – but she had left it. She was in a world of dreams – a world without who, where – when or what –

IAN is in visible pain as he attempts to deliver/type the next few lines. The underlight is painfully bright.

IAN (cont’d)

She was dancing – in clouds – making them – twist and change – She spoke of sunlight – of happiness – She was free.

On ‘free’ he gives up, slumping over the desk, and the underlight snaps off. He drags himself out of the chair and flops into the bath. He picks up the bucket and pours it over his head, and a hidden microphone amplifies the splashing. Silence.

Lights snap up as MEG enters.

MEG

Ian!? Are you alright? What are you doing?

IAN

I don’t know.

MEG

Get out of the bath, you silly thing. And give me those, you’ll catch your death of cold.

IAN

(mumbling, taking off the jeans) Sorry.

MEG

It’s alright, I’m not angry. I was just worried. I thought you…

Pause. IAN speaks as he goes to the chest of drawers and pulls out some corduroy slacks, which he puts on.

IAN

Thought I what?

MEG

Well, you can imagine. The bath, the water, wearing clothes IN the bath… I just thought you’d… Well, you know –

IAN

No.

MEG

I thought you wanted to…

Pause.

IAN

No.

MEG

OK.

Silence. MEG walks away, tutting to herself as she hangs the jeans over her chair. IAN sits on the couch, and idly leafs through the same magazine. MEG comes back over to the couch.

MEG

How old is that?

IAN

Does it matter?

Silence. MEG sits down next to IAN.

MEG

I was worried about you.

IAN

I’m fine.

MEG

No, Ian, you’re not fine. What were you doing?

IAN

I was writing.

MEG

Really?

She goes to the typewriter. IAN looks away.

MEG

This is… good.

IAN

It’s not even a paragraph.

MEG

But it flows, it has style.

IAN

There’s nothing there to flow.

MEG

Keep going, Ian. Do you want to join me for a walk before work?

IAN

No.

MEG

OK, well, I’ll see you this evening.

IAN

Bye Meg.

MEG walks to the empty space, and performs the ‘work’ movements. However, the movements have become more erratic, and SFX of police sirens and fire are now part of the piece of music. Meanwhile, IAN keeps leafing through his book. MEG acts like she has just walked in.

MEG

(a little flustered) How are you?

IAN

Fine.

MEG

What have you been doing today?

IAN

Not much.

MEG

No more writing?

IAN

No.

MEG is still standing. She is wringing her hands a little, and seems a little preoccupied.

IAN

Meg… Are you alright?

MEG

Yes… It was just… a busy day! (nervous laugh) A busy day.

IAN

Oh, OK.

MEG

It’s… things are changing. The world, you know? I just became very… aware of wars, and crimes, and, you know… all that today. The news just seemed to be full of… death and chaos.

IAN

If we pursue this way, if we are decent, industrious, and honest, if we so loyally and truly fulfill our duty, then it is my conviction that in the future as in the past the Lord God will always help us. In the long run he never leaves decent folk in the lurch. Often He may test them, He may send trials upon them, but in the long run He always let His sun shine upon them once more and the the end he gives them His blessing.

MEG

I didn’t think you were religious.

IAN

I’m not.

MEG

Oh.

IAN

Just a quote. That’s what I’m best at.

MEG

But you always choose the best ones, that was lovely. Who said that?

IAN

Hitler, 1937.

MEG

Oh.

Long pause. MEG sits down next to IAN.

MEG

Tell me a story.

IAN

What?

MEG

You always used to tell me stories. Late at night… They always used to calm me down. Please, Ian.

IAN stands and walks into the empty space. A moment’s silence.

IAN

The mighty Norse gods were aware of their fate. They knew that, when the time came, Ragnarok would occur, and all would happen as it is written. They were aware that some would die, and that some would live, and they knew their names. They knew that, when Ragnarok came, that the great war would rage, and  the mighty war would recreate existence in its aftermath. Ragnarok would start with the Fimbulwinter, a winter lasting three-score years. During the winter, Skoll and Hati, the mighty wolves of the sky, would catch Sol and Mani, the brothers that are the sun and moon, and devour them. The stars would then vanish from the sky, and the earth would be plunged into darkness. In this darkness, the earth would be rent asunder, mountains torn from their roots, and Loki, god of mischief, would be released from his prison. Loki, the teller of lies, the murderer of Baldr, would then return to the land of the living, bringing with him Fenrir, his son, the wolf with the mouth that stretched from the sea to the sky. The splitting of the earth would also release Jormungandr, the mighty Midgard Serpent, who would roll and twist in the sea, sending huge waves to wash over the land, and spit poison into the sky, polluting the air. The Jotuns, the giants, lead by Hyrm, would be set free by the lashing waves, and would sail their grisly ship Naglfar, made up of the nails of dead men, to Earth. Garm, the hellhound who guards the gates of Hel, would be released, as would the fire giants, led by the horrible Surtr, wielding his humungous Sword of Revenge, which sets everything in its path alight. Together, they would cross the Bifrost Bridge, the great rainbow, which would crack and fall away behind them, as they march, and pillage, and destroy everything in their path. And Heimdall would see them, being alert and vigilant, and warn the other gods with his Giallar Horn, who would all assemble for the final battle. Odin, most powerful All-Father, would battle Fenrir, and be swallowed whole. His son, Vidar, would avenge him by ripping Fenrir’s mouth clean in two. Freyr, son of Odin, would fight Surtr, but be defeated without his sword, which his servaant Skirnir would use to vanquish many, many fire giants. Tyr would battle the great Garm, and both would slay one another, as would proud Heimdall and treacherous Loki. Surtr would then burn all of the earth, and the sea, and the sky and the air with his mighty sword, destroying himself in the process. Everything would burn to ash. Fumes would flames would burst, scorching the oceans with fire. The earth would sink into the sea.

MEG has slowly dozed off. At the final line, she suddenly wakes and jerks up.

MEG

Thanks, Ian, that was wonderful.

IAN

It’s a myth about the destruction of the world.

Pause.

MEG

I must have dozed off. It’s your voice, it’s so… rhythmical. Like I’m being hypnotised.

IAN shrugs and sits back down. MEG stands quickly.

MEG

I should go. Dinner won’t make itself, and the kids’ll be hungry.

IAN

And Frank?

Pause.

MEG

Yeah, he will be as well. Good night, Ian.

IAN

Good night.

MEG leaves. IAN, with some trepidation, goes to sit at the typewriter. Again, he has trouble typing, and the light gets stronger from underneath the desk as his typing and speech become more broken.

IAN

She slept and traveled – far away, but he could only stand. He could – not – leave. He was – alone in the room. She had – left him alone and he had – nowhere to go. There was no door. He – would break down something. He hammered at the walls – he broke away concrete, steel – flesh – bone. He – snapped through the walls – and left but there was – nothing – there, only the ice – and the – shadow – and – the empty – white.

IAN again collapses in pain, and the light snaps off. He gets up and walks back to the couch, which he slumps into. Quick snap to brighter, morning lights as MEG enters. She says nothing, just cleans up absent-mindedly, looking upset.

IAN

You’re late.

MEG

What?

IAN

I mean, just… You’re normally here earlier.

MEG

There was an accident. On the motorway. Some man, he just… leapt in front of a car. There was blood everywhere.

IAN

Oh. Are you alright?

MEG

Yes. Yeah, I’m fine. How are you?

IAN

Fine.

Pause.

IAN (cont’d)

I wrote some more.

MEG

Hmm?

IAN watches as she goes to the typewriter and reads.

MEG (cont’d)

I don’t like this as much.

IAN

Why not?

MEG

The first bit’s more poetic. This isn’t as interesting.

IAN

Hmmm.

MEG

But it’s still good.

Pause.

IAN

Are we going on a walk?

MEG

Do you want to?

IAN

You normally ask.

MEG

(very quick) No.

Pause.

MEG (cont’d)

No, no, I should get going. I’m late already.

IAN

OK. See you later.

MEG

Bye.

MEG moves to the empty space and attempts her work routine, but the music has become almost completely overshadowed by police sirens, explosions, air raid sirens, etc. Halfway through, this cacophony reaches an apex, and MEG has to almost literally force herself away, out of the empty space. Meanwhile, IAN has been reading his book intently.

IAN

Meg? But it’s only lunchtime.

MEG

Something’s not right. The world is changing. Something’s not right.

MEG starts to shiver and shake. From the distance, the sound of bombs, slowly becoming louder.

MEG (cont’d)

Don’t go outside, they’ll kill you outside. Don’t drive, they put bombs under the hood. You’re just human, you’re not special. Don’t try to run, the whole world’s gone to hell.

These start to sound more and more like the lyrics to some demented song as the bomb sounds get louder and closer.

MEG (cont’d)

There’s nowhere to run, don’t leave the house, don’t run, they’ll gun you down, don’t leave the house!

A massive blast. Lights flare up, then short out. The back wall is blown open. MEG screams. Sounds of shattering glass, fire. Lights come up slowly. The floor is strewn with ragged pieces of concrete, girders protruding like ribs. A hint of smoke. Lights a hint of red. MEG lies on the floor, IAN on the couch. Both are smeared with dirt and dust, but no blood. IAN gets up, looks around, while MEG starts to sob, curling into a little ball. MEG starts to hum the work routine music.

IAN

Meg?

She keeps humming and doesn’t react.

IAN (cont’d)

Are you alright?

MEG, again, doesn’t react. IAN walks over to her, picking his way across the debris like a boy paddling in the sea. He picks her up, carries her back to the couch. He squats next to her and strokes her hair. She stops humming. Suddenly, she leaps up, and stumbles into the empty space SR, where the work routine was performed, bowling through the debris and scattering it as she goes. She stands, swaying unsteadily, and tries to perform the work routine, awkwardly, out of synch, and making mistakes.

MEG

No, no, it’s too cold. The life’s gone. I’m a little snapped, a little twisted. It’s all too much. Concrete shards. I’m singly snapped.

IAN watches her.

MEG (cont’d)

I’m a many mouthed monster of fear. Panic. I don’t know what I am anymore. What happened? What is happening? How are we where?

IAN

What do you mean?

MEG

I don’t know. I don’t know.

IAN

Do you know who you are?

MEG

No.

MEG slumps to the floor. IAN again steps across the debris as he comes and perches next to her.

IAN

Are you OK?

MEG

Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine. I need to see if Frank is OK.

She searches through the debris for her handbag, finds it, and tries to call her husband. After a few seconds, she throws it on the couch.

IAN

No signal?

MEG nods, mute.

IAN

We could go and look for them.

MEG

No, I can’t… I don’t want to go out there. It’s become…

IAN

What?

MEG

It’s wrong, it’s all wrong, it’s not safe. We’re not safe. Don’t leave the house, don’t leave the –

IAN

Meg? Why are you shaking?

MEG

I’m scared.

IAN

Describe it.

MEG

I don’t want to leave.

IAN

Are you scared of leaving here?

MEG

No. I’m scared of… outside.

IAN ponders this. MEG calms down a little, comes back over to IAN.

MEG

You’re scared too, aren’t you?

IAN

I was.

MEG

What’s changed?

IAN

Me. We can’t both be scared of outside. Of the world. I need to be the strong one, when you can’t. We can’t stay like this. We need to leave. I’ll go find help. This… feels like it’ll be easier.

MEG

Ian…

IAN

I can do it. I can find help. I don’t want you to be scared. Maybe if I’m not scared, you won’t be either.

Pause.

MEG

Thank you.

MEG hugs IAN. They hold each other. IAN starts to stroke MEG’s hair. They part slightly, and MEG moves in to kiss IAN. He pulls away.

IAN

No, we shouldn’t.

MEG

Please, Ian, I need you, I need someone. I need to be held.

IAN

We put this behind us.

MEG

Please, Ian, please. I’m yours again, hold me again. This is right, because it’s natural. Because it’s normal.

They come together, him more aggressive, her more accepting. The sex has to be guttural, natural, and as realistic as possible. Afterwards, IAN puts on his trousers again, and looks down at MEG for a long time. He stands. With solid stance, he walks towards the door, and, with a deep breath, steps through. After a pause, MEG wakes up, throws some clothes on. She stands and walks to the typewriter. She reads:

MEG

He woke in a dark room. It smelled of minty sex and casual sweat. He was lost, yet instinctively knew where he was. He got out of the large bed, and put on a pair of corduroy slacks. He found the light switch, and flicked it on. Her body was still in bed. She had long left it, but her body remained, a collection of parts. It still breathed, spasmed, contorted, but she had left it. She was in a world of dreams, a world without who, where, when or what. She was dancing in clouds making them twist and change. She spoke of sunlight, of happiness. She was free. She slept and traveled far away, but he could only stand. He could not leave. He was alone in the room. She had left him alone and he had nowhere to go. There was no door. He would break down something. He hammered at the walls, he broke away concrete, steel, flesh, bone. He snapped through the walls and left but there was nothing there, only the ice and the shadow and the empty white.

As she speaks, the lights flare up slowly, brighter and brighter, until they nearly blind the audience. On her final word, they snap off.

END OF ACT I.

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