A bare stage, post-show, worker lights are on. A YOUNG WOMAN stands and walks on from the audience, takes in the space, there’s something sacred. She breathes. Lights come up. Slowly. It’s hers, for a moment. From the back of the auditorium an OLDER MAN, forties, like he owns the space. She sees him, freezes. He sees her – stops.
Do I –
I left my bag, I had to come back for it.
Right. You were in the audience?
You shouldn’t be on stage.
I just left my bag. Behind. I –
She grabs the backpack and heads offstage. He’s confused, watches her go a second.
You saw the show?
Did you enjoy it?
If you want to get your bag in future you should ask a member of front-of-house to come in and get it for you. It’s health and safety.
Yes, that’s fine.
They’re weird about it – you’re not meant to be in the auditorium unless you’re a member of crew, or we’re liable.
It seems unlikely I’d forget it twice but if I do – I’ll make sure I ask.
Did you enjoy the show?
Were you in it?
You’d remember me if I was in it, no?
I don’t know, there were a lot of – guys like you. In it.
You didn’t like it?
‘Like’ isn’t the right word, I guess.
What is the right word?
Did you write it?
Did you direct it?
No. Did you come on your own?
Yeah. I have to catch the last Tube. I need to go.
You’ve got ages yet.
She checks her phone, even though she knows she’s got at least an hour.
How old are you?
What made you come and see it?
Is this an audience survey?
What is it?
I’m on the board. I’m not in town a lot, I want to know why audiences like the work.
You’re assuming we like the work?
You came to see it.
You haven’t seen it until you’ve seen it, though, have you?
You didn’t like it?
Will you come up here? It’s strange talking to you whilst you’re down there.
I’ve got to go. I’m going to be late.
It’s totally confidential, I’d be grateful for your candour.
She gets up on stage.
Two people walking on stage pretending to be two other people and saying – ‘Hi’, ‘hi’ – or worse – much fucking worse, walking on stage and – (Beat.) ‘Phil looks uncomfortable in his skin, beat, Phil fiddles with his lighter but doesn’t light the cigarette, beat’ because we all know cigarettes need a licence to be lit and Cara enters – ‘thunderously sexual, beat’, whatever that fucking means, what does that even mean? ‘Cara: the sky, this evening. Pass me the salt.’ What sky? What fucking sky? This evening? It’s all dark in here.
/ A miraculous army of – builders, soldiers, scientists, fucking women in completely unnecessary hot pants move shit about and we’re all meant to think, what? It’s the magic hot-panted people that move fucking furniture around? With the carpet and the little bits of flesh-coloured tape sticking the mics on – it’s like you actually think that we’re meant to think it’s real, like we’re meant to think, with the current state of things that a perfectly charming front room with people being funny is motherfucking real life?
The world is imploding.
And the actors, man, they’ve got nothing new, no insides, they just need the job – they know it’s pretend so they’re living on the applause and applause alone and that is fucking dangerous. That is a perilous way to be. Moving fucking tables about and living on applause for it. You’re staring at them thinking ‘do what you like’, go on, stop saying those lines and doing what he’s told you to do, do something you actually like, go on. Do what you want; do it to get laid or I don’t give a shit, do it whilst galloping across the stage in a fucking thong pretending to be Bambi, do it HOW THE FUCK YOU LIKE – because at least then someone is actually doing it for real. But then you realise, you’re like, oh yeah – fuck – you’ve been saying lines so long you’ve got no sense of it, you know – the way they make you so fucking scared of age and poverty and joblessness, that wanting things got way too dangerous a while back. So, you’re watching all these people move around, moving tables and pretending, totally deaf to the sound of their own wanting. I can’t remember the last time I watched a thing that looked even half-alive. Fake hair and new shoes and famous people doing boring things badly and you know, painfully, like in your bones it hurts – and you can smell the money, so you’re not believing a fucking second of it.
And of course, that comes with a woman in a tight skirt leaning arse-front over a desk for twenty minutes, for no fucking reason. Because it’s all part of the same way of seeing so, you know, it’s ‘sexy’ women and ‘smart’ men – but actually it’s this woman being made to present, like some animal and entitlement just dribbling down the front of its suit – but how it’s being given to you is old guys saying some fascinating fucking things about time and history. We’re sick, you know that? We’re sick to the back fucking teeth of hearing from old men, with flaky skin, at weddings, patting the back of your hand gently as they explain what they consider to be the truths of the
world, like I share the same truths, like his truth and my truth are anywhere near the fucking same when it’s you that gets to make the world and me that’s got to live in it.
She gets choked.
Are you okay?
Sure. I’m fine. (Swallows.) It’s just you come here thinking you’re going to watch something that makes you feel something for the first time in… The state the world is in, you wake up and hear the news and find yourself crying into your fucking cereal, I mean actual tears plopping into your Cheerios and so for some reason you come here – because you think here is where there’s meant to be hope and you know what, fuck it. Fuck it.
She picks up her bag and goes to head off the stage.
Stop. Wait a second.
She waits. He doesn’t speak.
I watched an entire audience get on their feet tonight for a show that had a dog in it.
Yes. I /
/ Real-life babies. Like that’s the only pulse we can find. Silent women in hot pants told to sing like canaries in this fucking day and age are you kidding me? With Trump in, with the monstrosities going down, the world is cracking open and what I just saw is meant to heal us? We should be screaming, we should be speaking in tongues, in a fit, in a fuck...