Play: At the party

Written earlier this year for the 24 hour play festival during Shakespear In the Port. About a 20 minute run time.

AT THE PARTY
Daniel is an Actuary, a bit of an introvert and awkward with girls.

ABLE is his introverted legitimate self.
CAIN The extroverted persona he’s creating.
CLAIRE, who is somewhat uncomfortable at this party
Scene opens at a party in some kind of nightclub. CAIN and ABLE are on one side of the stage. Claire is at the opposite end. Cain and Able stand talking to one another, whilst surreptitiously watching Claire.
ABLE
Oh my god, it’s carry on my wayward son. I fucking love this song.

CAIN
No we don’t. We do not love this song. We cannot dance. Do not dance. We need to approach the target and ASK her to dance, we cannot dance on our own.

ABLE
But this is my JAM.

CAIN
Please don’t say that out loud to her. Able. Don’t do it. I can tell you’re thinking of it don’t bloody…

Cain and Able dance at the same time, very very badly. In sync, singing CARRY ON MY WAYWARD SOOOON, THEY’LL BE PEACE WHEN YOU ARE DONE. LAY YOUR WEARY HEAD TO REEEST DONT YOU CRY NO MOOORE BA BA BA BAAAAM BA BA BAAAM BOOOM (please youtube ‘carry on my wayward son’ for reference)

CAIN
JESUS CHRIST I THINK SHE’S LOOKING AT US.

They both stop abruptly. Able puts his head in his hands.

ABLE
Oh my god, why didn’t you stop us.

CAIN
It’s okay. Stay cool bromeo. I got this. Arms wide, like you own the space. Shows the HB that you’re comfortable and stuff
puts arms out wide
Back straight
caricature of a straight back.
Now smile!
Ridiculous smile.

Able hides behind him, peering out at CLAIRE.

CLAIRE looks bored.

CAIN
Oh man, she has such a great ass.

ABLE
I bet she can sing. She looks like she can sing.

CAIN
Can’t sing with something in her MOUTH. HEYO!

Able leaves him hanging.

CAIN
Come on man. Give me some confidence.

Able gives him a weak high five.

Claire mimes as if she is then approached by someone, who makes her laugh awkwardly. He briefly grabs her hand then leaves. When he does her mask of exhuberance collapses and she returns to looking bored and uncomfortable.

ABLE
Oh fuck, Lance just started talking to her. Oh em gee she just laughed. Fuck. FUCK! It’s over man. We never should have looked at her. I bet they are going to go have sex soon.

CAIN
Wait. Look, he’s leaving, he…oh shit.

ABLE
What happened?

CAIN
Nothing man.

ABLE
YOU CAN’T HIDE STUFF FROM ME MAN. SHIT. He just touched her hand. He fucking dragged his fingers across her FUCKING PALMS. Fuck.

CAIN
But he’s walking away, see? He’s walking away. Okay. It’s all good. Maybe they are just friends. Maybe she…FRIENDZONED HIM. Okay. Look, I got this. I’m going to go do it. I’M GOING TO GO DO IT.

ABLE
singing the lines of the Pokemon theme song
You sure? You got this? Just remember man. I wanna be…

CAIN
THE VERY BEST.

Both
THAT NO ONE EVER WASSSSS!

Cain approaches whilst continuing to sing

CAIN
To catch them is my real test…to train them is my…

ABLE
SHUT UP!!! Christ. Use the opener. Use the opener. Use the opener.

Cain approaches Claire.

CAIN
Hey. How you doin? (said like Joey from the classic sitcom Friends)

CLAIRE
SORRY WHAT?

CAIN
I SAID HI. DID YOU SEE THOSE TWO GIRLS FIGHTING OUTSIDE?

CLAIRE
No.

CAIN
It was CRAZY, they were like, FIGHTING. Really hard.

CLAIRE
(sarcastically)
Oh really? It’s funny how you saw that considering you never went outside. You were just over there, leering at me, and…dancing? Was that even dancing? You looked like you were having a seizure.

CAIN
But the girls, outside, they are fighting…were…fighting…uh…

CLAIRE
Oh I quite doubt that. You’ve read all of this in ‘The Game’ didn’t you? Some kind of sad little pick up artist attempt? It’s an ‘opener’ right? A way of getting a conversation going with a random girl? This whole thing you are doing is such a bad act, you and your creepy fedora. Now Lance, over there, he doesn’t need to pretend to be a man. Unlike you. I bet you have a tiny DICK. I bet you still like POKEMON!

They all rewind themselves back to their original positions, like rewinding a casette tape. Walking backwards etc.

ABLE
And that’s what will happen if you say that.

CAIN
Really? Jesus Christ that was truly awful. Okay, okay, but what if instead, you know, I just be all confident, and maybe I’m just gotta be more, hrmm, you know. If I roll up my sleeves and just…

Cain walks forward

CAIN
Hey there.

CLAIRE
Umm. Hello!
meekly lifts up hand and waves

CAIN
So I couldn’t help but notice you were here. At this party. It’s the 21st century. No need to mess around, because going down, is like taking a shower. You dee tee eff?

CLAIRE
Dee Tee Eff?

CAIN
You know what I mean. How about we skip all the bullshit and get out of here, you and me. And I know I’m kind of short and I got no abs, and I may have not had sex in like, well, years. But like…wanna fuck anyway?

Claire slaps him.

They rewind back again.

ABLE
Maybe I should just be myself. Be honest. Yeah.

(a beat)

If its meant to work out then, I mean if it’s going to be more than just sex, if we’re meant to be together, if we can be together then I should start by being honest. If I tell her the truth, then she likes me or she doesn’t, what’s the big deal? I don’t know her that well, we’ve only talked twice before, directly. Maybe she remembers.

Able approaches her. He stands there, and she pauses, then notices him.

ABLE:
Clearly nervous
Hi.

CLAIRE
Hey there. It’s crazy right?

CAIN
Runs over to Interjects
NO MY NAME IS DANIEL!

ABLE
SHUT THE FUCK UP!
Shoves Cain away, Claire is unfazed

ABLE
What, this? The party?

CLAIRE
Well, what else?

Able stops. He looks around, then up and out, then to the audience. He sighs, as if psyching himself up to confess something. Then he confesses:

ABLE
How about all of this.
He motions wildly to everything, including the audience
We are in a room, filled with people, I mean this place looks…well…crowded, and all these people are moving. Even when they sit perfectly still they…are…moving. We are literally spinning through space- right now, you and me, and everyone here. We’re spinning.

He says it and looks at her woefully, like he’s worried she will not understand.

CLAIRE
Pirouetting through space.

ABLE
Pirouetting!
He lights up
Yeah, I like that. We’re pirouetting through space…hurtling around at like a million kilometers per second. Around a star, that’s being pushed, pulled and shoved, all over the place, by all the other bodies, and in the end around something else, in the center of the galaxy: a black hole. A super massive black hole to be exact. A rip in time and space, like a cosmic sinkhole. We’re circling the drain I suppose.

CLAIRE
And yet here we are. You and me.

ABLE
Separated by time and space.

A beat, and another confession

ABLE
You know I was thinking of talking to you for ages, but I didn’t because I was scared.

CLAIRE
Half-joking
And are you so easily scared?

ABLE
Oh yeah, I’m scared of loads of things, things that don’t even make any goddamn sense.

CLAIRE
I’m scared of spiders. And snakes I suppose.

ABLE
See, now that’s a good fear, those fears makes sense. Spiders are fucking poisonous, black widows, man, a single bite from one of those bastards and you’re dead. For millions of years snakes and spiders have been killing us and the only ones that were left were the ones who ran like hell. Who became scared of them. Spiders and snakes makes sense. But me, I’m scared of people. Which is the opposite, because it’s people that well…I mean…people…mating…that’s kind of the whole of life right there and I’m scared of…no…I’m uh…scared of people’s thoughts, the ones I can’t even hear but sometimes I think I can.

CLAIRE
Wait…you think you can hear people’s thoughts?

CAIN
ABORT. ABORT. EJECT MAVERICK, FUCKING EJECT.

ABLE
Able yells over his shoulder at Cain
NO.

CLAIRE
Like you are afraid that people are judging you? Of course they are judging you though, aren’t they? You judged me the moment you saw me, without knowing a thing about me you judged me, took one look and formed a consensus. I could tell you people aren’t judging you, but that’s not really true. I could tell you it doesn’t effect how they treat you, but it does. But most of the time they are more obsessed with thinking about themselves, stuck inside their own heads, they haven’t got any space for you left in them. Most of the time. You shouldn’t be scared of me though.

Claire freezes. Cain steps in.

CAIN
You need to stop Able. This is going to be Martha all over again, okay? You didn’t establish rapport and escalate. There is no attraction, you’re coming across as sad and pathetic.

ABLE
You totally get me, this is great. We’re going to be great.

Cain and Claire freeze. Able approaches the stage and narrates, like he’s telling a story to the audience.

ABLE
Then she asks me what my favorite movie is. I ask her what her favorite childrens TV show is. I am awkward but that’s okay because she is bored, and I talk about what I’d normally do on a night like this, which is watch Cosmos, (the Carl Sagan one first), and I make a joke about watching porn afterwards!

(Laughs awkwardly to himself)

She asks me what I do and I tell her I’m an actuary, and she makes a bad joke about how that’s ‘actuary quite interesting’ and I tell her that was awful and we both laugh. We leave seperately but I get her number so she can come play board games with some friends of mine at a cafe next week. She comes and we all have a good time, and afterwards me and her go get frozen yoghurt. We stay up till 2 am chatting at the pier and when we say goodbye it takes ages. I look at her profile photo before I go to sleep. We talk on Facebook, whatsapp, SMS, even phone each other at first, then start to skype instead because its cheap- we meet often, she tells me who she really is. She unloads secrets she’s never told anyone else, afraid they make her ugly, but they’re are the best parts of her- she undresses her soul to me for months until I crack and tell her, awkwardly, that I like her, maybe even love her. She freezes and says.

CAIN AND ABLE
I only think of you as a friend.

They rewind back to before

CAIN
Dude, that was really fucking sad. You got to focus on the real. There is a chain of sentences, that said, will make her take off her clothes and let us touch her. Look, let’s try together, how about both of us?

ABLE
It’s too risky. You go again man, remembering Martha was awful.

CAIN
No worries man. Remember, we haven’t even been out in ages. At least we are trying. This is progress. I’m going to go up to her again. All I need is the perfect line. Like…OH yeah. Yeah. I got it.

ABLE
Wait, what are you going to say?

CAIN
I lost my teddy bear. Will you sleep with me?

ABLE
Jesus.

CAIN
OH OH. How about: Was your dad a terrorist? Cuz baby, you da bomb.

ABLE
Nope.

CAIN
HEY ARE YOU A PARKING TICKET, CUZ YOU GOT FINE WRITTEN ALL OVER YOU.

They are so engrossed with talking to one another that they don’t even notice when Claire walks nearer to them and sits down on a chair, her back facing them. She hangs around near the stage and pretends to be smiling gregariously at the audience- the other people at the party. Cain and Able continue with one another, miming or otherwise. Meanwhile Cain mimes telling able more shitty lines, and Able continues to be disgusted and rejects them.

CLAIRE
Claire is addressing the room, like other people are interacting with her.

Motioning with a drink in her hand:

No thanks, I’m good. Yeah I’m fine, no, go dance! Shooing motions. She slumps forward.

Cain and Able freeze. Claire gets up and flips the chair, then yells, addressing the audience.

CLAIRE
GODAMMIT! We couldn’t even stop, and stand, and say fucking HI? We had to go PAST him. I wanted to say Hi, how hard can it be? It’s one stupid syllable. Hi, hello, salut, yo ho, howdy, yo, sup, heya, hey there, fucking HOW YOU DOIN (said like Joey from the hit TV sitcom, Friends).
But of course, no, nothing. Well. At least we are closer now. Maybe he’ll talk to me. I’m definitely closer now.
She starts to look over her shoulder then freaks out and looks forward.
That wasn’t subtle AT ALL. Fuck. This place used to have mirrors. No wonder clubs have mirrors. I knew it wasn’t just good feng shui. (She gets up). These shoes hurt like hell. I hate heels, I freaking hate ’em. My feet hurt. My freakin’ purse is too small. Why am I even out here? What am I doing? This was such a bad idea. I can’t even afford to have another drink. Probably a good thing too. Can’t afford a drink, and no ones offering. Not that I’d take it, yeah, I’m not like that. I am totally not the sort of person that spent half the freaking evening putting on make up and the other half psyching myself up just to go outside. I should have stayed home and watched Doctor Who. Rewatched the Satan Pit, could have seen parts one and two. I could go now. And ignore all the texts from Emma about how ‘I don’t socialize enough’. But Daniel.
(She turns and looks at him)
Maybe he’d remember me from movie night. He said he likes board games. Maybe I could tell him…to add me on Words With Friends! Shit, If I play Words With Friends, right now, facing just the right way, maybe he’ll come over, and he’ll be like ‘hey words…and with friends!’ and I’ll be all ‘yeah, too bad i’m playing with myself.’

She realizes what she just said
Fuck my liiiife.
She buries her head in her hands.

CAIN
The problem is you are too needy man, girls can smell it on you.

CLAIRE
To the audience
People scare me. I don’t know what to do at these things.

ABLE
I’ve never actually been in a serious relationship and I’m freaking 24.

Cain and Able freeze

CLAIRE
Oh what the fuck, why not. She gets up and goes over to him I’ll go up and be like “Hey Mike, it’s me, Claire. Remember? Your Fedora is cool. Have you ever seen Doctor Who? Personally, I prefer David Tennant to Matt Smith. Do you hate parties? I hate parties, a little. Not because I hate people though. People are great. So uh, what do you do? Oh what do I do? I’m a film editor. Which is to say, I’ve worked on one film. Even though I have a film degree from NYU, yeah I came back to Hong Kong because America was too expensive and I couldn’t get a job so I live with my parents here. Yeah my uncle got me onto the set. It’s pretty much unpaid but it’s okay because it’s only for two months and I’ve already got a job lined up as a PHP programmer. Yeah so I’m not really a film editor. But I love films. Maybe one day I’ll get to edit one? Fuck. Fuck. Fuck Fuck Fuck. I should just go back and talk to Emma. I’ll give it a few more minutes. Maybe he’ll just turn up and be like HEY CLAIRE, I FUCKING LOVE DOCTOR WHO AND ALSO YOU ARE REALLY BEAUTIFUL! REALLY! I love movies too, fuck yeah you’re going for what you love, that’s great, hey, let’s dance, come over here, no really, wanna go outside instead? She hangs her head, whines. God I just want to touch his hair…
She reaches out to them. Stops.

CLAIRE
To the audience
Can we just skip to the part where I touch his hair?

She freezes. Then when the other’s start she walks back to her original position whilst they continue.

ABLE
Cain, lets go back and watch Doctor Who

CAIN
Ooooh Yeah I like me some Capaldi. WAIT. NO. We should go talk to her.

ABLE
Yeah, I’m going to go over there and tell her all about my TARDIS mug.

Cain and Able share a look with each other. They both jump and search their pockets and get out their phones having both received the same text.

CAIN
Reading off the phone
How is it going? Winky face. Is it wrong that his winky face annoys me? He’s patronising us.

ABLE
Tapping on phone as well.
I’m going to tell him we’re done. We gave it a shot, got dressed up, walked in. And look- you aren’t even slouching. At least we tried.
Cain straightens up

CAIN
Yeah but we didn’t did we. Oh now what, he sent a fucking picture. It’s some self help bullshit.

ABLE
It’s a poem I think:

She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by-
And never knew.

CAIN
Christ thats depressing. Sean’s going. Says Sarah’s about to sleep. Must be nice.

ABLE
Wistfully
Maybe he gets to be the little spoon.

CAIN
Wistfully
Maybe she wakes him up with a blowjob.

They put away their phones.

ABLE
Let’s do it together.

CAIN
Saying Hi isn’t whats important.

ABLE
What’s important is what comes after.
They look at each other. Shake hands. Then they move towards Claire’s original spot. They search around for her but can’t seem to find her.

ABLE
Well that’s that then.
He goes and picks up the jacket he left on one chair. Claire picks up her stuff too.
They walk towards and just pass each other when they freeze.

CLAIRE
Claire turns around and says to them
My name’s Claire, you don’t even know me yet. You think you do, maybe, from across a room you see me and you think you have a clue. and after you first kiss me, you’ll think you’ll know me then. And after we wake up together I’ll think I know you.

ABLE
Turns to her and says: Ill learn to make breakfast for the first, time and you’ll pretend to like it.

CAIN
I won’t have to pretend to be funny, you’ll just think I am.
They then look at each other directly. For a moment, and walk away, towards edges of the stage on opposite sides.

CAIN
At least it’s quieter outside. My ears are ringing. We don’t have to talk so loudly out here.
Cain walks off stage

ABLE
I am so tired. Maybe we will just go sleep now. I know you can, at least.
Looks around for Cain. Can’t find him.
What a waste of time that was. Just another night, and it passed so slowly. Now it’s quiet outside, and we don’t have to worry. But we’re- I’m still cold. Fuck it’s cold. I should have gone to bed. Better to be alone where it’s warm then with company outside.

CLAIRE
Sarcastically
Maybe he was too quiet as well, and didn’t talk to me. Maybe he fell in love with me at first sight and was so intimidated by my mesmerizing beauty that he didn’t even bother. (Looks across at Able). Who’s that poor bastard? Well at least I’m not the only one going home alone tonight.

They walk off in opposite directions off stage.

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