04 June 2005

I've Created A Monster

The play - The May Queen - is giving me the heebeejeebees. Not only is it a runaway train of pain and misery and divine mercy, it's enormous. I put it into double spacing and it's 135 pages, and we're hardly anywhere near the mercy bit. omg.

Here's a bit of it. It's scene eight. I'm having a go at a loose adaptation of the Orestes myth, so this bit corresponds with the false messenger speech (in the Sophocles Electra) where the death of the avenger is announced to create a false sense of security among his intended victims. It's May 1941. Angela is the mother, Eileen her friend, Phelan her lover, Theresa her daughter (Electra). JJ is Michael's (Orestes) best friend and together they have gone AWOL from the army and returned to Liverpool to avenge Michael's father's murder. Btw, in the previous scene, a demon in disguise has taunted Theresa, telling her that JJ's back.

It's a draft, so if you want to comment, go easy. (If you like it, go crazy.)



Scene 8

The Donohues’ front room.

JJ wears a black armband. He plays the part of a soldier grieving for a comrade-at-arms.


JJ There were the five of us. Me and your Michael,
Johnny Bingham who we knew from our unit but not all that well, fella called Simon, tank driver whose ankle was broke, and the Captain. Simon was gunner in a Matilda we’d found gutted about five miles down the track. Was hit by a Panzer but he’d been thrown clear. Couldn’t believe he was alive and if you’d seen the state of that Matilda nor would you.
The Captain was alright, liked him meself but Michael didn’t warm to him much. He was called Avery or Avebury or something like that. Michael didn’t trust any of the officer class as far as he could throw them, to be honest. Which was fair enough considerin’ the number o’ daft orders we’d been given by the likes. Well we were in a bad way, we were all of us out on our feet. And we could hear them, the German tanks, steamin’ through the country all around, put the fear o’ God in us. The Captain hadn’t got a clue but yer couldn’t blame him. Michael was sure we could shimmy our way back north and find our unit, or at least some other stragglers like us who might at least have a radio. But Simon’s ankle meant we’d a passenger to think of, we couldn’t go none too quick, so we found the driest ditch we could and grabbed some kip ‘til nightfall. That was a horrible few hours that was, lyin’ there listenin’ to the moans of the Panzers on the move in the distance. Soon as dark fell we packed up and moved off, takin’ turns-about carryin’ Simon. Bastard moon was out so we still had to keep tight to the hedges. So we’d been going two hours when we saw a sign - Paradise. Le Paradise.Captain called it Para-dee. Tiny place, maybe ten houses, the church, cemetery, that was about it. Me and the Captain went forward on a reccy and left the others in the churchyard. Said to him

pause

Said to him before I went, Keep your head down, soft lad. And he said, I will do. That was the last time I saw your Michael alive.

ANGELA God have mercy

PHELAN It’s alright. Go on, lad.

JJ The captain and me were gone maybe half an hour. Found some food, no one around. Then we saw these – these graves just been dug - and there was the worst smell -

ANGELA’S grief has burst its banks, and she cries out, JJ breaks off his narrative

JJ Listen

PHELAN Hey

ANGELA Mother o God help me

PHELAN Angela queen

JJ I’m not sure

ANGELA I’m a dead woman

PHELAN No no

ANGELA I’m dead

PHELAN No love

ANGELA D’yers hear me

PHELAN No

ANGELA Dead to yers all

EILEEN Angela no Angela you’re not that

ANGELA I am that I am

EILEEN You’re not

PHELAN No one’s that

EILEEN No no one’s that

ANGELA How can I how can I live now ey
Tell me that
How
How

PHELAN No love come here

ANGELA I gave birth

PHELAN Come here let me now

ANGELA I gave birth to him birth to him

PHELAN Come on let me

ANGELA Gone

PHELAN No love

ANGELA Gone he’s
Dead oh
Mother o God

EILEEN Don’t Angela

ANGELA What am I

EILEEN Don’t

ANGELA What am I

EILEEN Don’t love

ANGELA Why am I even

PHELAN Drink this

ANGELA Why am I

PHELAN Do you good

EILEEN Yes

ANGELA Why am I

JJ Mrs Donohue

ANGELA Breathing

JJ Michael

ANGELA When he’s

JJ Mrs

ANGELA When he’s dead

JJ Mrs Donohue

ANGELA When he’s

EILEEN Angela let him

ANGELA My son

EILEEN Angela

ANGELA My only

EILEEN What did you want

ANGELA My only son oh God

EILEEN Did you want to say

ANGELA Michael I never
I never wanted

PHELAN God help her

EILEEN Here now

ANGELA I want him

PHELAN It’s all she needs

ANGELA I want him Eileen

I want him back

EILEEN Did you want

ANGELA I want him back


THERESA enters, unnoticed


PHELAN Come here

JJ Mrs Donohue

ANGELA Michael

JJ I’m sorry

ANGELA O Jesus

JJ I’m sorry

ANGELA My baby my baby

JJ There was nothing anyone

ANGELA Baby boy

PHELAN Come on now

ANGELA Fuck off you

PHELAN Hey

ANGELA Fuck off

PHELAN Come on queen

EILEEN Angela

JJ He was always lookin’ after

ANGELA Don’t you fuckin’ queen me

PHELAN Hey

ANGELA How dare you

EILEEN NO


ANGELA attacks JJ


ANGELA GOD FORGIVE YOU

PHELAN HEY I said

ANGELA Yer fuckin’ no-mark

EILEEN NO leave him

ANGELA What gives you

EILEEN LEAVE him

ANGELA What gives you the right

PHELAN Alright lad

ANGELA Come in ‘ere tell me baby

PHELAN Alright son

EILEEN Sit down

ANGELA You saved yourself
YOU saved YOURself
PHELAN Enough

EILEEN Sit down

JJ I couldn’t

ANGELA COS I WON’T
I WON’T FORGIVE

PHELAN Still

ANGELA Yer fuckin’ always was

PHELAN Quiet

ANGELA Like yer father before yer
Fuckin’ useless

EILEEN Stop it now

ANGELA Scrawny fuckin’ useless waste o space

PHELAN No need is there

JJ I’m sorry

PHELAN She knows

EILEEN Yer alright John

PHELAN Give the lad a drink


EILEEN sees THERESA come striding forward


EILEEN O my God


THERESA takes her mother by the shoulders, shakes her violently.
A beat.
Then she slaps her, viciously.
Three or four beats.
Then THERESA falls sobbing into her mother’s breast, and they cry together.

Slow fade.
End of scene.

2 comments:

Ova Girl said...

BLOODY WELL DONE YOU SBS!!

Good lord, I had goosebumps reading this. Great idea blogging a scene.

Ok here's my thought and it's just general - the scene does read a smidge long to me but it's hard in some ways to gauge the rhythm from the way it's set out here. Is it possible for you to grab some actors together (hmm our Larky friend springs to mind), whip up some pasta and hand them each a glass of wine and have a reading of it in your backyard or lounge room or something? and record it and listen later? I have done this with a play that I wanted to cut and found it very helpful.C ran the room because I was making notes and shaking in a corner - you do sort of need a directorial type I think.

Love the dialogue and the way it's split, I imagine there's a lot of overlapping here, feels end of first actish?

But congrats! Seems an amazing play from this excerpt.

sbs said...

bless you so much OG... It was potentially a foolish thing to do, blogging a scene from the middle of a draft. I'm reassured, and happy. It's invigorating to blog about what I'm doing. It probably marks me out as being quite uncool in the drama village, but there we are. Thanks for the enthusiasm, and the practical notes. I do want to get a reading organised when it's done and dusted. Who knows where. It's very interesting to me that you feel it's end of first actish. I agree. There's no way, however, it can be the length it is!
I know anonymity's important, but... if you set up an anon email i could certainly send you the rest - and you could send me stuff back. just a suggestion, i'm more than ok with things the way they are...
S