Rob Hayes Writes Plays

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Tag: free play scripts

Love It Then Leave It Alone – February 2015


Ryan. Male. 23-30.

Debs. Female. 22-29.

Housemate. Male.


Didsbury, Manchester.


November 5th, 2004-2011

©Rob Hayes

February 2015


Didsbury, 2004.

A kitchen. An external door. A window, ajar.

Ryan’s doing a handstand. Debs is sat on the kitchen table, hands clasped under her nose, watching.

Ryan crashes out.

Debs starts clapping.

Debs. Wooo!

Ryan rubs his flank. He may have banged it.

Debs. That’s amazing.

Ryan. How long was that?

Debs. Dunno. Sorry, was I…

Ryan. Oh I thought you were…

Debs. No, sorry. Do it again. I’ll count.

Ryan. Nah don’t worry about it. Just showing off.

Debs. Where’d you learn that?

Ryan shrugs.

Ryan. Been doing it since I was like four.

Debs. Put the hours in then.

Ryan. I’ve just always had this, like, weird amazing sense of balance.

Debs. That’s fun.

Ryan. There’s videos of me as a little kid walking around the garden on my hands like some little gymnast or something. Fell on a barbecue once.

Debs. Oh my god.

Ryan. Yeah.

Debs. Must’ve fucking hurt.

Ryan. Oh, man, it absolutely wrecked. Stitches and everything.

Debs. Did you burn yourself?

Ryan. No it was really weird. I didn’t burn myself at all, but the edge of it, you know the rim. The like sharp metal rim…

Debs. Yeah.

Ryan. That cut right into my back. There.

He shows her.

Ryan. Right near the spine.

Debs. You’ve got a scar and everything.

Ryan. Yeah too right. ‘My mum was like, you’ve broken the barbecue!’ Alright, let me just get my back sewn up and I’ll buy you a new one…

Debs laughs.

Debs. If you’re gonna ruin a barbecue, do it in style. Were you scared?

Ryan. Kind of but like…not really, actually.

Debs. Probably too worried about the barbecue.

Ryan. Like I could still move my toes so that’s all I cared about.

Debs. Yeah that’s a good sign.

Ryan. Good rule of thumb. Can you move your toes? You’re probably fine.

Debs. You’ve lost an arm but you can move your toes.

Ryan. Yeah. You’ve got ebola but look on the bright side, your toes wiggle. Nah, I think I would’ve been more worried if it was like, my head. Or my face.

Debs. Ah your beautiful face.

Ryan. Nah but do you know what I mean though? Actually you’ve probably never had this but when you have an accident and your face is bleeding and your first thought is…what if I’ve done like permanent lasting damage to my face?

Debs. I’ve never had that.

Ryan. Because everyone sees it. Every day. You know when you see people with like a massive scar on their face. Or a birthmark. I mean I’m sure they live full happy lives and all that. And I bet it’s, y’know, character-building as fuck. Going out every day with a fucking– but sometimes I just want to say it out loud, you know what I mean? Like there was this guy at college and he had like a lump. Or a boil or something. Just a lump really. Right on the bridge of his nose. Right there.

Ryan demonstrates on himself.

Ryan. Like actually obscuring some of his eye. I mean it must’ve drove him crazy. And first time I met him I just wanted to say, Cleef mate, I can see you’ve got a big fucking boil covering your eye. I’m cool with that. I’m sure you’re cool with it by now. So let’s just all move on.

Debs. He’s probably taken enough shit about it by that point.

Ryan. Yeah but I reckon it’s the not taking shit for it. I think it’s the polite ignoring of it that’ll wear you down. You know, over the years. Must just grind you down. Most people can deal with taking shit.

Debs. Hmm. Cleef.

Ryan. Yeah his name was Cleef. So he had that to deal with as well.

Debs. Why didn’t he just get it removed?

Ryan. Fuck knows.

Debs. Maybe it was connected to his brain.

Ryan. Cleef. He was alright. Sorry I went off on one a bit there. Probably not really an appropriate…

Debs. I grew up with a girl who’s fingers were all fused together on one hand.

Ryan. That is messed up.

Debs does an imitation of it with one of her hands.

Debs. As a kid as well.

Ryan. Yeah. Shit. Even as an adult though. Like, you go for a job interview. What’s the first thing you do?

Debs. …Shake their hand.

They both shake their heads at the horror of it all.

Debs. Everyone was mean.

Ryan. I bet. Fuckin’ kids.

Debs. Awful some of it.

Ryan. Never from you though, right.

Debs. No well I was her mate. Never tried to stop it though. Just as bad in a way. She wrote with it though.

Ryan. Did she?

Debs. Yeah that was her writing hand.

Ryan. Ah so it’s not all bad then.

Ryan opens the fridge. Rummages around. He takes out what was a six-pack of beer. Four left, connected by plastic rings. He yanks off two then passes one to Debs.

Ryan. Your fella’s taking his time.

Debs. He always does this.

Ryan. What?

Debs. He just manages to take ages and then when he gets back there’s always a really normal reason for it.

Ryan. Do you reckon he’s got lost?

Debs. Doubt it.

Ryan. There’s an off license literally about ten minutes straight down.

Debs. Maybe then.

Debs shrugs. Ryan grins, shrugs back.

Ryan. I should’ve gone with him.

Debs. You couldn’t leave me here by myself.

Ryan. Yeah that’s bad hosting, that. You guys been together a while?

Debs. Two and a half years? On and off.

Ryan. A while then.

Debs. Yeah but…on and off.

Ryan. He seems cool.

Debs. Yeah. He can be a bit of a bellend.

Ryan. Declan did say that actually.

Beat. They both start laughing.

Ryan. Sorry that was so rude.

Debs. No. Honesty. I like it.

Ryan. No he says he’s a nice guy. But…I don’t know. I’ve said too much.

Debs. Declan’s very astute.

Ryan. Well Declan can be a bit of a bellend too. And it’s not like we’ve had long chats about it. He literally told me about you two for the first time today.

Debs. And then he sent us round to your house…

Ryan. And didn’t even turn up himself! Yeah actually he is a total bellend.

Debs. He’s just a disorganised idiot.

Ryan. Seriously I’m actually a bit worried about your boyfriend.

Debs. Urgh.

Ryan. What?

Debs. Boyfriend.

Ryan. Oh, sorry– what–

Debs. No it’s just…I dunno. Weird. We never…

Ryan. Sorry.

Debs. No– I mean I guess– Like we’re not that…he’s not very connected, if that makes sense. He’s not that involved in kind of…what I’m doing, and–

Ryan. That’s crazy. You seem awesome.

Debs. I’ve been a bit of a dick to him too. I tend to make terrible choices when it comes to…

Ryan. Make mistakes while you’re young innit.

Debs. I’ve done that.

Ryan. I’m sure you’ll… I mean you deserve like…a real like, good, nice, stable…I dunno. Ignore me I don’t know what I’m saying.

Debs slides off the table. She rubs her arms, chilly.

Ryan. You cold?

Debs. I’m alright

He shunts at the half-open window. The wooden frame is a bit swollen and won’t close neatly. He hammers it with the palm of his hand.

Ryan. Need to fix that.

Debs. Yeah you of all people.

Ryan. I know right? Especially this time of year.

Debs. Could get burgled.

Ryan. I meant cos of the cold, but now I’m terrified.

He offers her a jacket. Which she takes and drapes over herself.

Debs. Thanks. Ah, you never finished your story. About Voltron.

Ryan. Voltan.

Debs. Voltan.

Ryan. Voltron’s like a Manga robot.

Debs. Wow. Where did I pull that from?

Ryan. Ah, man– right. Yeah so we were stood there, and he came over to us. And he looked at the chair. And I was expecting him to, like, explain all the ways I’d fucked up.

Debs. Right.

Ryan. Like give feedback, basically. I’d watched him go round the room like, “ziss is wrong, you know, Zat should be over zherre. I wouldn’t let my dog sit on ziss churr.”

Debs. Ha!

Ryan. And he looks at my chair. PA kind of just hanging out behind him, like not even watching. And he looks at it, Voltan does, and he just says…yes.

Debs. Yes?

Ryan. Just literally…yes. Then he wanders off. And me and Maureen just looked at each other– and she was as confused as me. She’s been doing this twenty years and she was– and I said what does that mean? And she was like, I think he likes it.

Debs. Fuck.

Ryan. I was like…sick!

Debs. That’s amazing.

Ryan. Apparently he like wants to meet me properly and stuff. See my other work.

Debs. So cool. You’re good!

Ryan. Well– I mean it’s just hours. Just hours and hours in the studio.

Debs. That’s what it takes.

Ryan. Which is a shame cos now I don’t have a studio.

Debs. What?

Ryan. Well I’ve graduated.

Debs. What are you gonna do?

Ryan. Tim says I can use the spare room here. My housemate Tim. His uncle owns the house. I swear they’re like part of the Dutch mafia or something. Is there a Dutch mafia?

Debs. Is it big enough?

Ryan. It’ll do. It’s just so expensive finding space, you know. I’d have to get another job just to, like, pay for studio space. Probably better this way. They used to do grants for graduates. Bursaries for studio space and materials, but they cancelled it. Literally just this year.

Debs. Why?

Ryan. Fuck knows. Government got better things to spend their money on.

Debs. That’s rubbish.

Ryan. Just means that people with a bit of family cash can do it and everyone else…well…I’m just lucky I’ve got that spare room.

Debs. So like are your chairs really expensive then? Like, if you sold one.

Ryan. Well bearing in mind this was a restoration, the one that Voltan… And that’s like…serious money. Can be anyway.

Debs. Is that where you do up an old chair?

Ryan. Basically you take an old chair, which you have to buy yourself, or maybe get it given to you. Or get a commission to restore it–

Debs. Like an antique?

Ryan. Yeah like an antique chair. And then you basically just return it to its former glory. Like painstakingly restore every detail until it looks like it would’ve done in the 1800s or whenever.

Debs. Man. Sounds hard.

Ryan. Can be. Can be really hard. Cos you’ve gotta match the textures and everything exactly. Like the glue and the fabric. Stuff you wouldn’t even think of, like varnish. Or the type of nails they use. That’s the kind of thing experts notice. And then there’s the actual craft of it. Like carving and getting the right shape. You basically have to be as good as whoever famous craftsman made it in the first place. And who’s famous obviously because he was so good. It’s mental, thinking about it.

Debs. So is it a really nice chair?

Ryan. I mean, I like to think so. Voltan seems think so and he’s…pretty big deal. But I was working on it for seriously about a year– over a year, in fact. And normally it wouldn’t take that long.

Debs. Wow. A year?

Ryan. Yeah because it was my first proper exhibition piece. It was like a graduate thing. Sales are actually really rare. Straight-up sales. It’s more about collectors just getting a look at what these kids are up to. Who’s gonna be the new, y’know, amazing designer.

Debs. Clearly it’s gonna be you.

Ryan. Well…

She holds up her can. They cheers. Drink.

Debs. How did you even– I mean it’s such a weird thing to get into.

Ryan shrugs.

Ryan. Yeah…I don’t even remember, really. I mean, I did carpentry.

Debs. Yeah but even that’s…

Ryan. Mental, I know. I think I just liked the idea of it. Building something with your hands. People were doing, like, software development. Or marketing.

Debs. You wanted to build stuff.

Ryan. Right. Like, objects.

Debs. Like a man. Grrr.

Ryan. So– like a man, right. Plus I knew not many people would do it. And I liked the idea of being in a small class. And then I just moved into chairs and tables and stuff because…that was my favourite thing to make. I liked chairs and tables.

Debs. Makes sense. They’re useful.

Ryan. Exactly, right?

Debs. You sit on them. Everyone needs a chair.

Ryan. Totally. Everyone needs a chair. We’re never not gonna need chairs.

Debs. Benches.

Ryan. Yeah but they’re hardly gonna overtake chairs are they?

Debs. Time will tell.

Ryan. It’s one of those things where there’s a very small few people right at the top making all the big bucks.

Debs. And you’re gonna be one of them.

Ryan. I wanna be one of them, yeah.

Debs. And what about everyone else?

Ryan. Fuck ’em.

Debs. Cheers to that.

They both drink.

Ryan. So how about you? We’ve hardly even…

Debs. Me?

She huffs out her cheeks.

Ryan. You work at Man Met, right?

Debs. Yeah.

Ryan. You’re an ‘administrator’?

Debs. Well…

Ryan. This is what Declan told me. About three hours ago. Before he bailed on us.

Debs. I work on the main desk. Basically it’s a receptionist– I’m a receptionist. Except for a college.

Ryan. Cool. That’s cool. And what do you, like, wanna do?

Debs. What do I wanna do?

Ryan. Yeah like…what’s the dream? I’m assuming it’s not be a receptionist. I mean maybe it is, I don’t know…

Debs. No it’s definitely not. Manager’s a bit of a creep.

Ryan. Ah, really?

Debs. Yeah he’s just a bit…yeurgh. But he did give me a job. And I flirted a lot in the interview.

Ryan. Can’t complain too much.

Debs. I can if he’s a creep.

Ryan. You gonna quit?

Debs. Can’t afford to. I’m just glad to have a job to be honest.

Ryan. Tell me about it. Who isn’t?

Debs. I am gonna get a proper job. I will, when I’m ready for a career and stuff. Something creative. Working with people. Free tea and coffee.

Ryan. What did you study?

Debs. Nothing. I mean I didn’t–

Ryan. Right. Sorry, don’t know why I–

Debs. No it’s fine–

Ryan. Assumed…

Debs. I just didn’t– like I had a lot of other stuff going on.

Ryan. Cool.

Debs. Like…I have a daughter.

Ryan takes half a beat to react appropriately.

Ryan. Amazing.

Debs. Yeah.

Ryan. Amazing. How old is she?

Debs. She’s one. Nearly one. Couple of weeks.

Ryan. Oh what so– is he–

Ryan points to the back door. Debs nods.

Debs. Yep.

Ryan. I…had no idea. Wish I never called him a bellend now.

Debs. Yeah it’s not…I mean that’s kind of why he’s still around. In a way. That sounds harsh.

Ryan. No, I get that. Cos you two must’ve been pretty new.

Debs. Yeah it was weird. I mean I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Ryan. No of course. What’s she called?

Debs. Juniper.

Ryan. Juniper? Haha. What’s her real name?

Debs. Juniper.

Ryan. Awesome. That’s actually a really nice name.

Debs. I’m just a fan of gin.

Ryan. Right. Why’s that– what’s the…

Debs. Gin’s made from juniper berries.

Ryan. Sure. Good reason.

Debs. I thought so.

Ryan. You’ve got a daughter. Wow. That’s crazy.

Debs. Yeah. They’re quite common.

Ryan. No, yeah. Sorry. Stupid– I just mean…I dunno.

Debs. It does feel weird sometimes, just thinking… I am a mother. And obviously it wasn’t exactly, you know, planned, but…

Ryan. Right. Right. Not the kind of thing you plan with a bellend.

Debs. This is true.

Ryan. But you’re happy now though, yeah?

Debs. Oh, all the cliches. She’s my life. I love her more than anything. It’s knackering. Giving birth was the most painful thing you could possibly imagine…

Ryan. Did you shit yourself?

Debs. Yep. They don’t tell you about that. But it happens.

Ryan. Must be tough with you being at work then.

Debs. Yeah it is a bit.

Ryan. Do you have a nanny, or…?

Debs. She actually lives with my mum.

Ryan. Oh right. Yeah.

Debs. Just because her place is way more suited to having a little baby there than any place I’ve ever lived.

Ryan. Totally. Nightmare.

Debs. And my mum adores her. She’s so happy just to have her around.

Ryan. Well that’s ideal then.

Debs. Obviously I’m always round there. It’s literally twenty minutes on the bus. Twenty-five minutes.

Ryan. That’s cool. Mums are just generally good with babies, aren’t they?

Debs. Yeah mine’s like a baby-raising robot.

Ryan. They’re always like, ooh, it never leaves you!

Debs. Ha! That’s so true.

Ryan. I was changing your nappy not so long ago!

Debs. That’s what she says!

Ryan. That’ll be you soon.

Debs. I will always hate changing nappies.

Ryan. Oh totally.

Debs. It’s completely rank.

Ryan. I mean when would that ever not be a rank thing to do?

Debs. Yes, thank you.

Debs shudders. Pulls a face.

Ryan. Another beer?

Debs. I’m still working my way through this one actually.

Ryan. Cool.

Debs. Slow drinker.

Ryan. No it’s good. I just…straight down. Wish I knew how to drink slow.

Ryan cracks open his second beer.

Debs. So Declan did your course?

Ryan. No he did a different one. We just started hanging out because my class was full of dicks. So I just moped about by myself and eventually he kind of…

Debs. Took you under his wing.

Ryan. Kind of.

Debs. Why were they all dicks?

Ryan. It was just all a bit cliquey. Bit snobby. I didn’t really go in for that. I’m not good at that stuff.

Debs. Who’s laughing now, eh?

Ryan. Well, yeah. I mean it’s a long game. It’s a long game.

Debs smiles. Ryan kind of echoes her smile.

Ryan. Got much on tomorrow?

Debs. Seeing Juniper. Gonna take her out. Anything to get out of my place really.

Ryan. Is it not nice?

Debs. I’m an idiot. I just took the first room I was offered. I put in basically no research. My friend Shawni went to India for six months, and she said I could have the room.

Ryan. India? For six months?

Debs. She’s half-Indian. Got family out there and stuff. But she just called me up and offered it me, and I just took it. Didn’t even look at it.

Ryan. Serious?

Debs. Didn’t even go there.

Ryan. Oh my god. What’s it like? Is it bad?

Debs. Whole place is just a mess.

Ryan. Yeah?

Debs. I live with these two guys. And they were nice enough at first, but– well put it this way, I found one of them pissing in the sink the other day.

Ryan. The sink?

Debs. The kitchen sink. It was disgusting. I mean, it was…urgh!

She gags at the memory.

Debs. His little todger hanging over the rim.

Ryan. Jesus.

Debs. And this wasn’t an empty sink. And they always have loads of friends round and never clean up. One of them uses the same bowl for cereal every day, and never cleans it.

Ryan. Oh my word…

Debs. He has Weetabix every single day and he just lets the leftover Weetabix dry up against the side of the bowl, then just uses it again the next day. You can’t even see any, like…

Ryan. Ceramic.

Debs. No visible ceramic. Just dried brown shit.

Ryan. So grim.

Debs. And their dealer comes round every day. And they let him sleep round about three or four times a week.

Ryan. What, a drug dealer?

Debs. Yeah, he’s like a punk except he’s about 40. And he stinks, and he just sleeps on the couch till twelve or one in the afternoon. And he brings his clients round to pick up at our house.

Ryan. What?

Debs. Yeah. If he’s round at our place, which he is all the time, he’ll just tell his little druggie clients to come round and pick up there.

Ryan. So he’s literally, like, transacting drug deals in your house?

Debs. In our living room, yeah.

Ryan. That’s horrible.

Debs. Yep.

Ryan. What does bellend think of all that?

Debs. Couldn’t care less. He never comes round. It’s just a shame because you move into somewhere new, you kind of hope you’re gonna make some new friends, you know? A new, sort of, chapter.

Ryan. Can you not move back in with your mum?

Debs. My sister moved back in a few months ago. She got divorced, so she’s got all that to deal with. It’s a really small house. Plus I kind of moved out on principle. I think she thought I was just gonna live there forever.

Ryan. I see.

Debs. And I just had to…

Ryan. Prove her wrong.

Debs. Basically yeah. Caused a right palaver.

Ryan. Palaver. There’s a word you don’t hear anymore. Listen, if you ever need a place to crash. We’ve got a spare room.

Debs. I thought that’s gonna be your studio.

Ryan. Yeah but…I just mean if you really needed…I’d rather help someone out than use it to saw fuckin’ wood.

Debs nods. Smiles.

Ryan clears up some bits and bobs lying around on the table. Absent-mindedly stacking stray envelopes, etc. He looks up.

Ryan. So–

Debs kisses him.

They pull apart. Ryan wipes his mouth.

Ryan. Holy shit.

Debs. I think I’m pissed.

Ryan. We should probably go out soon. Fireworks and all that.

Debs kisses him again.

Ryan. Are you hungry?

Debs shakes her head.

Ryan. Do you want that other beer?

Debs shakes her head.

Ryan. Cuppa tea?

Debs shakes her head.

Ryan. You’re just right as rain.

Debs kisses him again. They continue kissing.

Fireworks sound off in the distance.

The same. 2005.

Debs is holding a big bag. Ryan is sat nursing a beer.

Ryan. No way. No.

Debs. I’m just telling you.

Ryan. Are you actually thinking about it?

Debs. I dunno. Maybe.

Ryan. After everything he’s done. After how hard he’s made it.

Debs. That’s what I mean though. Maybe this is his way of…you know.

Ryan. I can’t believe you’re even– I don’t know why you even still answer his calls.

Debs. Alright forget it.

Ryan. He’s unstable. How do you know he won’t run off with her?

Debs. He won’t.

Ryan. You don’t know that. I tell you what he will do though. He’ll fill her head with shit. About you. About your mum. He will. This is where it starts.

Debs. I just feel bad saying no.

Ryan. Debs, she’s two. She doesn’t need this right now. He doesn’t even pay anything.

Debs. He said he would though. If he had access to her.

Ryan. That’s not how it works. He should be paying regardless of whether he sees her.

Debs shrugs.

Ryan. Look it’s your decision, I get that. I just think you’d be insane. This is where it all starts.

Debs shrugs.

Ryan. We don’t need the money that badly. It’s not worth whatever few quid you’ll get off him.

Debs. Yeah but nursery fees as well and stuff.

Ryan. That’s a year away. We’ll find it.

Ryan stands up and kisses her.

Ryan. Do you wanna show me now?

Debs. Okay. You ready?

Debs shrugs off her previous energy and excitedly whips a colourful spice rack out of the bag. Ryan stares at it.

Debs. It’s a spice rack.

Ryan. Uh huh.

Debs holds it up to the wall

Debs. Yeah? What do you think?

Ryan. Yeah… I mean, neither of us have ever used a spice in our life, but…

Debs. I know, but I just saw it and it looked so nice. And it was four pounds. Four pounds!

Ryan. I have no idea how much one of these costs.

Debs. That’s great value.

Ryan. We should probably buy some spices.

Debs. Doesn’t have to be for spices. Could use it for little ornaments or sauce bottles or…finger puppets.

Ryan. Finally, a place for all my finger puppets! Here I am using a shoebox like a mug.

Debs. Okay so it’s useless. I splurged.

Ryan. You what, sorry?

Debs. I splurged.

Ryan. Please never use that word again.

Debs. What, splurge?

Ryan. Yeah. I hate it.

Debs. What’s wrong with splurge?

Ryan. For starters it’s a one syllable word but it takes ages to say. Like, you can’t say it fast.

Debs. Splurge. Yeah. Splurge. Can’t say it in a hurry.

Ryan. It takes longer than most two syllable words.

Debs. Does it though?

Ryan. Like, oven.

Debs. Splurge. Oven. Splurge. Oven. I mean we’re literally talking milliseconds.

Ryan shrugs.

Ryan. Time is money.

Debs laughs. Ryan drinks his beer.

Debs. Is it a rubbish present?

Ryan. No. I love it.

Debs. Do you?

Ryan. Yeah.

Debs. I’m so proud of you y’know.

Ryan. Thanks mate.

She sits on his knee.

Debs. I mean it. You’ve done it. You’ve actually done the thing you’ve been banging on about.

Ryan. Cheers?

Debs. No I mean like, everyone talks themselves up. But you’ve just got on with it.

Ryan. Thanks.

Debs. I didn’t want to get you anything expensive cos I didn’t know when they were gonna pay you.

Ryan. Well the advance should come in a couple of days. Few grand or something. And the rest I’ll get…probably in about a year.

Debs. A year?!

Ryan. Well I’ve got to build the furniture first. It’s a whole line, that’s a lot of work. Then he’s got to actually want them. And then he pays me the rest of the money.

Debs. That’s long.

She thinks about it a moment.

Debs. Will you put it up for me?

Debs hops off Ryan’s lap. He takes out a pencil and marks up where the drill holes will be.

Debs. Are you gonna do it now?

Ryan. First thing tomorrow. No, second thing.

Debs. What’s first thing?

Ryan waits for her to guess.

Debs. Breakfast!

Ryan. Got some of that sick bacon today. Big fat slices like that.

He measures with his fingers.

Ryan. Maple-cured. Bit of brown sauce…

Debs. You gonna make me breakfast?

Ryan. What’s in it for me?

Debs mimes overtly comical sex. Possibly with noises.

Ryan. Hmmm. Then you can expect…a feast. My princess.

Debs. Bacon sandwich is fine actually.

Ryan. Cheap date. I knew there was a reason I fell in love with you.

Debs smiles. Takes a large swig of wine.

Debs. Are you not in the studio tomorrow then?

Ryan. No I am. As if a day would go by, y’know.

Debs. Poor boy.

Ryan. It’s just– I just wanna nail it.

Debs. Course.

Ryan. Sometimes I just stand there and think, I can’t do it. I can’t physically do it. Like I literally cannot move. I can’t pick up a tool, and–

Debs. It’s just cos you want it to be perfect. But you got to accept that you’re gonna make mistakes at some point.

Ryan. No I’m not. Seriously, I know everyone’s gonna be waiting to see what I do for my first line. After all that faff over my graduate show. And Voltan’s just…

Debs. Is he breathing down your neck a bit?

Ryan. No, he’s the opposite. He’s totally chilled out about it all. That’s almost worse, you know? Like too much trust, almost.

Debs. You gotta remember it’s not a lot of money for him. In the grand scheme of things.

Ryan. Yeah but it is for me. Especially to waste it on building shit furniture. I want to prove him right. That’s it. I want to be one of the good investments. You know, he’s given me this commission and I really wanna, just prove…

Debs. You will do. You will be.

Ryan. It’s just so intense. It feels like it’s a real…moment.

Debs. It’s a chance to prove yourself.

Ryan. Like to have him support me, and bring all this attention in, and I’m literally either gonna go…

He mimes going up to the sky on a sharp gradient with his hand.

Ryan. Or I’m gonna go, like…

He mimes a sharper, quicker downward gradient.

Ryan. And I just– He’s making such a statement. There’s this big thing where everyone’s going to Europe for furniture now cos they do it so well and it’s so cheap. They’re setting up proper schools cos it’s like they’re getting wise to the market. Like the art market and the design market. So all the big buyers are going over there and he’s deliberately staying here. He’s trying to prove that…I dunno. Heritage, or– I dunno. I just wanna be good.

Debs. You will be. You’ll be amazing. You are brilliant Ryan.

Ryan. Shut up.

Debs. I mean it.

Ryan. Thanks girlfriend who’s obliged to say that.

Debs. I’m, like, 90% sure I’d say it if I didn’t know you.

Ryan. Somehow I can’t imagine you looking at a piece of furniture and saying, ooh, that’s a fine example of late-baroque fluting. Look at that detailing.

Debs. I bought the spice rack didn’t I?

Ryan. And we don’t even own any spices.

Debs. And we don’t own any spices. Exactly. That’s appreciation of design.

Ryan. I take it back. You’re a guru.

Debs. And you’re fucking great. And these new chairs will be fucking great. And Vulcan will love it.

Ryan. Thanks. I’m gonna pretend you didn’t just call him Vulcan.

Debs. Whatever.

Ryan. It’s Vincent.

Debs. I know his name.

Ryan. Vincent Voltan.

Debs. I prefer Vulcan.

Ryan. I remember when he used to just cruise around college staring at us all. Just staring like that.

Ryan stares in a weird, creepy way.

Ryan. Not even looking at our work. I thought he was such a weirdo. Honestly I just thought he was there to pick up teenagers.

Debs. Maybe he was.

Ryan. Nah.

Debs. Has he ever come onto you?

Ryan. No.

Debs. Has he never, like, leant over you and just kind of grazed your crotch when he’s examining a piece of furniture.

Ryan. He’s got a wife. She’s actually pretty fit for a forty-five year old or whatever she is.

Debs. She could be a beard.

Ryan. He’s already got a beard.

Debs. I mean it could be a sham marriage.

Ryan. You’re a sham marriage.

They spontaneously start simulating comical, energetic vertical sex, humping each other grotesquely, noises included. Just as abruptly, they stop.

Debs. Are you not gonna drink tonight then?

Ryan picks up his beer can in response. He takes a swig.

Debs. I mean are you not gonna drink drink?

Ryan. I’m still gonna drink drink. I do my best work when I’m hungover.

Debs. No way…

Ryan. Seriously.

Debs. I couldn’t imagine anything worse.

Ryan. Oh yeah. Jogging pants. Rounds of jam on toast. Flask of tea. Maybe a cheeky hair of the dog. Best way.

Debs. Sounds like hell.

Ryan. You sound like hell.

Debs. I’m your worst nightmare.

Ryan. You’re my wildest dream baby.

He reaches out for her. She comes into him and they kiss. Then they do the sex dance again.

They pull apart.

Ryan. Do I taste of beer?

Debs. It’s really fit. Do I taste of wine?

Ryan. I got ripe berries and smoke with plummy overtones and a smooth chocolatey finish.

Debs laughs. Ryan picks up her bottle of wine and reads the label, nodding like a connoisseur.

Ryan. 2004 Malbec. Thought so.

Debs. Wish I knew about wine.

Ryan. Nah.

End of conversation. He tops her up. Then he finishes his beer, crunches the can, sends it on a high arc into the bin, and cracks open a fresh one.

Ryan. Sorry if I was aggressive before.

Debs. What? No.

Ryan. I just want you to know I’ll be there. I know that sounds really cheesy but I will be. I’ll make it work, whatever it is. You don’t need anyone else now. You’ve had a really hard time, but it’s over.

Debs. Cheers.

Ryan. If anyone tries to hurt you. I’ll…hurt them.

Debs. Spoken with true conviction.

Debs smiles, rubs Ryan’s shoulder.

Ryan. So is this thing literally in Platt Fields?

Debs. Yeah but you know it’s just fireworks right? They’re not doing a bonfire this year.

Ryan. That is bullshit.

Debs. I know it’s crazy. Apparently loads of places do it now.

Ryan. That’s like a childhood institution. Disappeared.

Debs. But Nicole says it gets stupid busy after about eight. So we’ll probably find a pub or something. Or just go back to someone’s house.

Ryan. Sweet. Just so you know, it’s ten to eight.

Debs. What?

Ryan shows her his watch.

Debs. Oh my god. I swear it was like four o’clock ten minutes ago.

Ryan. Ten minutes ago it was twenty to eight.

Debs. How does this always happen to me?

Ryan. And by extension, me.

Debs. You’re the one with the watch!

Ryan. To be fair unless somethings on fire I’m not that interested anyway.

Debs. I love it when you don’t give a shit.

Ryan. I never give a shit. About anything.

Debs. Do you wanna fuck?

Ryan. Absolutely.

Debs takes his hand.

Ryan. Like right now?

Debs. Do you not wanna?

Ryan. No I definitely do. What time did we say we were meeting them?

Debs pauses – a potentially impulse-killing question.

Ryan. Actually…I don’t give a shit.

She leads him out the kitchen by the hand.

Fireworks start in the distance.

Same. 2006.

Debs is sat at the table, face in hands, weeping. Ryan’s sat on the other side of the table, leaning over to comfort her.

Ryan. Hey. Hey.

He does this for a little while. For half a second he looks a bit bored, but regains focus.

Ryan. Debs. Debs. Look at me. Debs. It’s gonna be fine. It’s all gonna be alright. Debs.

Debs. Nine months? How is that even a thing?

Ryan. Yeah. I dunno.

Debs. I mean what’s the point in even telling us? Why say it? How would a nine month wait even be a…

Ryan. I don’t know. It’s stupid.

Debs. Fucking wankers.

Ryan. The whole thing’s just…

Debs. They think I’m a bad mum.

Ryan. No they don’t.

Debs. They do. They think I’m a terrible mother.

Ryan. No one thinks you’re a terrible mother.

Debs. They do.

Ryan. What, so you’re supposed to be able to, what, fuckin’…look inside her. Like you’re supposed to have x-ray vision and be able to see her kidneys? It’s totally, like– like how would you even know? How would you even know there was something you were supposed to know?

Debs. They said her wee would be different.

Ryan. Who’s checking the colour of their kid’s wee? What kind of insane person does that?

Debs. But I can’t do anything. I can’t afford to do anything about it.

Ryan. Yeah but that’s– that’s…

Debs. The way they looked at me when they said, do you have any savings. They were going on about charities that’ll meet you half way and I’m like, I can’t even get half way.

Ryan. No one’s thinking that though. You’re young. You’re a young mum.

Debs. It was embarrassing. And mum. Talking about how she always had a little put aside in case of emergencies. I’m such an idiot. I’m such a shit mum.

Ryan. You’re not. Debs. You’re not. I promise you. Come on, you love Juniper like, like– like it’s insane how much you love her. Doctors know when they see a lemon. They weren’t treating you like a lemon.

Debs. Weren’t they?

Ryan. Nah. No way.

Debs. Am I the worst person in the world?

Ryan. No. Johnny Borrell from Razorlight is the worst person in the world.

Debs tries to smile. Cracks again.

Debs. We can’t wait. Not for nine months.

Ryan. Then we’ll find a way of going private. Go with that dude in Belgium they kept going on about. Like the best dude out there. We’ll make it work.

Debs. There is a way.

Ryan. No. Not that way.

Debs. He has insurance. From work.

Ryan. No Debs.

Debs. But no one’ll have to pay. His work’ll pay.

Ryan. I said no. We don’t need it.

Debs. Then how? It’s right there for us. He offered.

Ryan. Debs we’re not using him in a crisis. We’re not gonna be those people who let him in the first problem we have.

Debs. He’s her dad. He should be looking after her.

Ryan’s hurt.

Debs. That came out wrong.

Ryan. He can’t cover Belgium.

Debs. Forget Belgium. We can’t cover Belgium.

Ryan puts his head in his hands. He seems to be formulating a plan.

Debs. What? What is it?

He’s resolved himself.

Ryan. The money. The commission money.

Debs. No. That’s…no.

Ryan. It’ll come through in like two weeks. I’ve delivered the whole line.

Debs. Ryan we’re not using that money. You need a studio.

Ryan. Not right this minute. I’m just sat drawing pictures all day. I could do that anywhere. Do that on the patio.

Debs. No that’s– that was gonna change things.

Ryan. It will change things. This is what happens. You work to pay for the stuff you need.

Debs. What about everything else? There won’t be any left after this.

Ryan. We’ve been fine up till now. I ain’t starvin.

Debs shakes her head. Almost breaks again.

Ryan. You can either take out a loan and work up a load of debt– more debt to pay for a specialist. And have to deal with that shit show. Or you can hang around on a waiting list for nine months, hoping for a cancellation. All that worry on like a daily basis. Or…or we can have this whole thing sorted in two weeks. Whole thing. Two weeks. We’ll make a holiday of it. You, me, Juniper. Go look at a castle or something. Or whatever it is they have in Belgium.

Debs. Legoland.

Ryan. Legoland. There you go. Tell you what, if we do find one of these charities that pays half, then I’ll take whatever’s left of the commission money and spend it on whatever the fuck I want.

Debs. Yeah, definitely. I’ll make you. A studio.

Ryan. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. This is just one of those things we have to deal with ourselves.

Debs dries her tears. Nods a bit.

Ryan. And while we’re at it…like, why doesn’t Juniper just move in here?

Debs. What?

Ryan. It’ll stop bellend bothering your mum every week. And you’ll be able to see her every day. Look after her through all this and stuff.

Debs. Yeah. Yeah no it does make sense.

Ryan. And then maybe we can go on a proper holiday, once it’s all done. The three of us.

Debs. Where to?

Ryan. I don’t know. Somewhere cool. Not Belgium.

Debs almost cracks again.

Ryan. Hey, hey. Listen: you know what I’m gonna ask, don’t you?

Debs. What?

Ryan. Is there anything we can do about it right now? Right this moment?

Debs. No…

Ryan. Actually you’re wrong. Say yes.

Debs. Yeah, okay.

Ryan. Yeah?

Debs. Yeah. Yeah.

Ryan. Good. Awesome. I’ll sort it.

He moves over to her and puts his arm around her.

Debs takes a deep breath and stands up from the table. She wipes her eyes and straightens out her top. Ryan purposefully knocks up a couple of gin & tonics, so that they’re ready by the time Debs notices what he’s doing.

Ryan presents her with a gin & tonic. She doesn’t take it.

Debs. Oh. I was gonna ask if you wanted a cup of tea.

Ryan. Too late. Come on. It’ll do you good. Stiff drink.

Debs. Thanks. Thank you.

Ryan adopts a jovial, comical voice.

Ryan. Ahnooo worries. Anytime, m’ladeee.

Debs offers a small laugh. Ryan holds his glass up. They cheers. Ryan briefly wraps his arm around Debs’ shoulders.

Ryan. We’re done, yeah. Moving forward and all that. It’s good.

Debs. It was just so…

Ryan. Totally out the…

Debs. Such a shock…

Ryan. You just don’t think it’s gonna happen to…

Debs. Kind of thing that happens to other people…

Ryan. One minute you’re…

Debs. Keeping yourself to yourself. Next minute…

Ryan. You find yourself thinking, ‘why me?’

Debs. What kind of god would allow this?

Ryan. Just gotta take it one day at a time…

They share a knowing laugh at their escalating flurry of clichés.

Debs. Do you think I should’ve had savings?

Ryan. Well it’s by the by, I mean…

Debs. No but do you think I’m irresponsible for not having savings? A bit?

Ryan. I dunno. Not really.

Debs. Do you think I’m a good mum?

Ryan. Yeah. Course I do.

Debs. I’m sorry.

Ryan. What for?

Debs. For everything. For me.

Ryan. Don’t be daft.

Debs. I am gonna get a proper job. Something I wanna do.

Ryan. Well don’t– you’ve got a lot on your plate at the moment, so don’t…

Debs. And you’ll get a studio.

Ryan. Course. Do you wanna stay in tonight then?

Debs. No. I wanna see everyone. Shell and Becki already know. I told them yesterday. Jordan’s gonna be there. Just so you know.

Ryan. Oh god.

Debs. You really don’t like him do you?

Ryan. All he talks about are his fucking photographs.

Debs. He’s got a new book out so it’s gonna be even worse tonight.

Ryan. He has no social skills. I don’t even know why he bothers coming out. He literally talks about photography non-stop. No one else even remotely knows who or what he’s going on about.

Debs. He’s really good though.

Ryan. I don’t doubt it. I mean he’s clearly doing well. And that’s fine if you want no life. Or family. Or friends. Or dress sense. Or any knowledge of basic cookery skills or conversational skills, or dental hygiene, or empathy–

Debs is laughing.

Debs. I get it!

Ryan. Basically if you want to be a lonely sociopath. That was harsh. He’s just weird.

Debs. People probably think you’re weird.

Ryan. I’m sure they do.

Debs. Especially looking like that. What you gonna wear?

Ryan shrugs, looks down at what he’s wearing.

Debs. What about that shirt?

Ryan. That shirt? That one shirt I have?

Debs. Don’t be a dick. The one we picked out a couple of weeks ago.

Ryan. Seriously help me out.

Debs. The shirt. The short sleeve one that glistens.

Ryan. Glistens? Oh that. That was ages ago we bought that. That was like two months ago.

Debs. Are you gonna wear it?

Ryan. Yeah. Might do.

Debs. You haven’t worn it yet.

Ryan. I have.

Debs. When?

Ryan. Just…when you weren’t around.

Debs. Do you not like it? I really like it. I think it looks nice on you.

Ryan. Me too. That’s why I bought it.

Debs. Not because I told you to?

Ryan. Nope.

Debs. Iridescent. That’s the word. Not glistening.

Ryan. It’s that kind of two-tone effect.

Debs. I like it. I’ve got eye shadow does that.

Ryan. Yeah I’ve seen it.

Debs. We should get going soon babe.

Ryan. Yeah alright. Hang on then, I’ll…change my shirt.

He grabs a can of beer from the fridge and cracks it open. Then moves to leave. He stops by Debs, puts his beer down, and holds her at arm’s length by the shoulders.

Ryan. Just…yeah.

Debs. Yeah.

They kiss. He leaves.


Same. 2007.

She’s on wine, he’s on beer. They’re both fairly far gone. Debs is dressed to go out for the night. A child’s toys and books lie haphazardly around the room.

Ryan’s trying to close the faulty window, without success. He has a brace over his wrist. It’s new to him; he’s still getting used to it. Debs is reheating leftovers.

Ryan knocks his beer can off the table trying to grab it with his bad hand. He reaches down to pick it up, putting pressure on his broken wrist.

Ryan. Ah, shit!

He presses his wrist, feels out his range of moment delicately.

Ryan. Phillipe. Kind of fucking name is Phillipe? Fuckin’ prick.

Debs stops what she’s doing, bored of this conversation.

Debs. Can we stop using that word now babe? Think you’ve made your feelings clear.

Ryan. I can’t think of a more appropriate word to describe him though. That’s just how it is.

Debs. He’s European. They have a different…way with things.

Ryan. I’m sorry, if someone’s a prick then they’re a prick. Doesn’t matter if you’re French or Italian or…fuckin’ Polynesian.

Debs. They speak French.

Ryan. He’s a prick.

Debs. Everyone’s a prick to someone.

Ryan. Do you fancy him a bit though?

Debs. No.

Ryan. No just a bit though? It’s fine.

Debs. Ryan…

Ryan. Is there a bit of sexual tension between you though? Because he was pretty forward.

Debs. No. I just told you no.

Ryan. So I’m like…what’s the phrase…

Ryan tries to find the phrase. Debs doesn’t help.

Ryan. Ah what is it…I’m like…non gratis.

Debs. What?

Ryan. Am I like public enemy number one now, with your workmates?

Debs. Not really. It was just a weird situation.

Ryan. I just think it was justified. I think there’s an argument for sometimes just…using a bit of physical…

Debs. I would never ever want you to hit someone for me. Ever.

Ryan. If it stops him doing it again…

Debs. No, violence is not a good way to make anyone do anything.

Ryan. Different methods.

Debs. Have you told Voltan?

Ryan. Voltan? No.

Debs. Have you told him you can’t do any work because you broke your wrist on someone’s face? When you were pissed?

Ryan. I wasn’t pissed.

Debs. You were pissed Ryan.

Ryan. I was not pissed.

Debs. Well he’s gonna love that. Gonna love hearing that.

Ryan. I wouldn’t worry about it.

Ryan shrugs. Takes a swig of beer.

Debs. You were drunk.

Ryan. Everyone was drunk. It was a party with free booze.

Debs. You should still be able to control it though. Do you still feel in control of it? I’m serious.

He starts rattling the can on the table.

Ryan. Oh my god…

He gives the can a life of its own. It flies up in the air and thwacks him in the head three times.

Ryan. Ah! Ah! Ah!

It then drags him out of his seat and sends him across the room, until he’s on Debs. He’s laughing. She tries to shrug him off.

Ryan. Oh, come on…

Debs. Yep, very good. Laugh it off.

Ryan. It wasn’t cos I was drunk Debs. I promise I would’ve done that anywhere. Any time of day.

Debs. I’ve never seen you hit someone in the mouth before.

Ryan. And I seem to remember you finishing up the night sat on a kerb crying your little eyes out.

Debs. That was different though wasn’t it.

Ryan. This is after a doner meat and chips. I’m just saying– are you genuinely pissed off with me? Am I in trouble?

Debs. I just hate the idea of you as a violent person. You’re not that kind of person to me. And I hate the idea that you might hurt yourself. It makes me shudder just thinking about it.

Ryan. I’m not gonna hurt myself.

Silence as Debs finishes preparing the meal, which he puts in front of Ryan.

Ryan. Thank you babes.

He holds his broken wrist up at her, by way of silent explanation as to why he didn’t prepare his own dinner.

Ryan. You not eating?

Debs. There’s gonna be food there.

Ryan. Very nice.

Debs. Virma told me specifically not to eat dinner.

Ryan. Oh god, is she gonna grill you on your calorific intake? Like, fuckin…weigh you, compare you to yesterday’s weight. What have you eaten? Just a salad, I promise!

Debs goes with this; clearly a noble skewering of Virma’s character.

Debs. Oh god. I didn’t tell her I’m allergic to walnuts. If she’s put walnuts in anything I’m in so much trouble.

Ryan. Still, might mean she’s put on a serious spread. Bold move that, telling people to skip dinner.

Debs. Apparently she’s a good cook.

Ryan. Maybe she should quit her job and become a chef then. Then you’d never have to see her again.

Debs. She’s not that bad. You’ve never even met her.

Ryan. Well she sounds like a dick.

Debs. She’s a bit of a dick. But I don’t think she’s as aggressive as I make out.

Ryan. I reckon she’s got some issues.

Debs. Err…

She nods to his hand.

Ryan. Yeah I’ve got one issue. It’s a French asshole who won’t leave my girlfriend alone. And to be honest, I think I might have laid that one to rest.

Debs. You’re really proud of yourself, aren’t you?

Ryan. I just don’t want to reflect badly on you. And I don’t want your workmates to think I’m some sort of– you know…

Debs. Thug.

Ryan. Right.

Debs. They don’t.

Ryan. I’d like to see them again. Get to know them properly and all that. They seem like very nice people.

Debs. They’re alright.

Ryan. And anyway, I’ve got my first physio session booked in.

Debs. Have you?

Ryan. Yep. Friday. Called up today.

Debs. Friday?

Ryan. Yeah. 11.30.

Debs. Oh right.

Ryan. Soonest one they had.

Debs. Friday.

Ryan. Yeah…

Debs. Cool. Well good you’re getting it sorted. What time, 11.30?

Ryan. Yeah, why?

Debs. Nothing. I’d better go and sort my stuff out.

She goes to leave.

Ryan. Hang on.

Debs. What?

Ryan. Do you not want to sit with me while I eat?

Debs. I’m late.

Ryan. You’re always late. What’s up?

Debs. Nothing.

Ryan. What’s wrong?

Debs. What? Nothing.

Ryan. Seriously what’s wrong? What have I done?

Debs. Nothing. I said nothing’s wrong.

Ryan. Okay. Okay.

Debs. Alright?

Ryan. Just– if everything’s okay stop acting weird then.

Debs. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Ryan. Fine. Alright. Sorry.

Debs silently fills up her glass. She drinks. Smiles curtly at Ryan when their eyes meet. She checks the contents of her handbag. Leaves the room, breezing past Ryan.

Ryan shakes his head. Takes a drink.Then:

Ryan. Fuck! Fuck…

Debs comes back through.

Ryan. The zoo. I know. I remember now.

Debs. What?

Ryan. Friday. I’m taking Juniper.

Debs. Well if you can’t make it you can’t make it. You’ll just have to tell her. Again.

Ryan. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I will take her.

Debs. But you’ve gone and booked your physio now.

Ryan. I’ll take her after.

Debs. It closes at five.

Ryan. Yeah…

Debs. So you won’t get in till about half one.

Ryan. Is that not enough time?

Debs. It’s her birthday present. I think she’ll probably want a full day of it.

Ryan. Fine, Saturday then. She got anything on?

Debs. She’s going to Jasper’s birthday party.

Ryan. Jasper? Fuck. Okay. I’ll take her on Friday. I’ll cancel physio.

Debs. No.

Ryan. I will do. I made a promise.

Debs. You can’t cancel physio.

Ryan. No I’ll do it. I’ll just…see if they’ve got a later appointment or something. Next week or something.

Debs. They won’t reschedule. They never reschedule if you’ve cancelled. That’s it. You get like a black mark against your name.

Ryan. Then I’ll get some physio exercises off the Internet. I don’t know Debs. Look I’ll sort it. I said I’ll sort it.

Debs. Don’t get upset.

Ryan. I’m not upset. It’s just an annoying thing.

Debs. Well don’t take her if you find it annoying.

Ryan. Not her. I mean the situation. I fucked up. I messed it up. I’ll sort it. I’ll cancel physiotherapy. I’ll fix it myself. It’s only a wrist.

Debs. Is that a good idea?

Ryan. I can’t bail. I told her I’d take her to Cornwall but fucking bellend had to take her instead. I was gutted.

Debs. She’d rather have gone with you.

Ryan. Well shit Debs, thanks for that. That’s done me the world of good.

Debs. Sorry, I meant– Whole thing was just a mess.

Ryan. Yeah it was. I will cancel. I really wanna go. I’m excited. Feels like we haven’t hung out in ages, me and June.

Debs. You could see a consultant. For your wrist.

Ryan. I can’t. Can’t afford it.

Debs. Talk to Voltan. You’ve been working on new stuff.

Ryan. Voltan’s setting up a workshop in Europe. He’s not buying anything.

Debs. What about other collectors?

Ryan. I don’t know any. I don’t…move in those circles. You need to go to gatherings, conferences for that kind of stuff.

Debs. Right, right. Lone wolf and all that. Paying off well isn’t it?

Ryan. The other option is I spend six nights a week moping around showings and exhibitions and grinning at shit furniture and talking to idiots who like the shit furniture. So I think I know what we’d both choose. And anyway I can’t show collectors what I’m making because I work from a bedroom. And now…

He gestures to his broken wrist.

Debs. Can’t Voltan help you? Or set you up with someone?

Ryan. He doesn’t owe me anything. I mean he invited me to help set up the workshop but…

He gestures vaguely around the room.

Debs. Can you call him? Talk to him?

Ryan. Look. He gets excited. He was excited by me for a bit. Now he’s excited about setting up a workshop in Bulgaria like everyone else is. I can send him an email but…he’s busy.

Debs. Okay. I didn’t know that. So what are you gonna do, d’you think?

Ryan. I don’t know Debs. What would you like me to do?

Debs. I’m just surprised. I didn’t know any of this.

Ryan. I haven’t told you.

Debs. So don’t bite my head off when I ask questions.

Ryan. Sorry. No one’s buying now anyway. February’s a good time.

They drink.

Ryan. Do you think I’ll have to drop her off at bellend’s house afterwards? After the zoo?

Debs. He said he’ll pick her up from here. I think he wants to talk about some stuff.

Ryan. What stuff?

Debs. Prep school stuff.

Ryan. Already?

Debs. This is late. Should’ve had it sorted ages ago.

Ryan. Just the two of you then? Talking it all through?

Debs. Yeah.

Ryan nods slowly. Drinks.

Debs. I’d better go.

Ryan. Do you think Phillipe’s gonna sue me?

Debs. No. Definitely not.

Ryan. What makes you say that?

Debs. He’s not that kind of person.

Ryan. Why, what’s he like?

Debs. He’s not gonna sue you Ryan. Forget about it now. It’s done with.

Ryan. Thanks for dinner.

Debs. You’re alright.

Ryan. Have fun tonight.

Debs. I’ll try.

She heads to the door.

Ryan. I love you.

Debs. I love you too. It’ll be alright babe. Something’ll come.

She turns back to him. They kiss. Debs heads for the back door. As she leaves.

Ryan. What time will you be back?

Debs. Not late.

She exits. Ryan starts eating his dinner alone.


Same. 2008.

There are now two needlessly high-quality chairs in the kitchen, just used as generic furniture.

Ryan’s no longer wearing his wrist brace. He is however wearing a red polo shirt with some sort of company logo on the breast pocket.

He’s slamming at the faulty window, trying to thrust it closed. He has a beer on the go. He has a bit of buzz on.

Debs is going through a pitch document. It has pullout pages of fonts, moodboard-type A3 foldouts, sample leaflets, etc. She frequently drinks from her wine glass, fills it up.

Ryan gives up trying to close the window.

Ryan. Fuck’s sake.

He turns round, rubs his face. He thinks for a second what to do next, then sees his beer and finishes it. He takes another from the fridge, cracks it open and takes a swig. He slumps down on a chair.

Ryan. That work is it? Debs.

Debs looks up.

Debs. Yeah?

Ryan drums on the table for a second. He tries to lean over to see what Debs is doing, but gives up.

Ryan. What is it?

Debs. Got a client, wants to just…basically start again with everything. Wants a whole new campaign concept by Monday.

Ryan. That’s annoying. It is a big one?

Debs. Biggish.

Ryan. Hey knock knock.


Ryan. Debs, knock knock.

Debs. Who’s there?

Ryan. Biggish.

Debs. Biggish who?

Ryan. Sorry mate I’ve got no change.

Debs smiles without taking her eyes off her work. Ryan fills in the silence sardonically, almost to himself.

Ryan. Satirical comment on our dismissive attitude…towards low-income street vendors…

Debs takes out her mobile phone and sends a couple of texts.

Ryan. D’you think if you took your salary and my wage, and put them next to how many hours we actually worked, whether they’d be the same? Or who do you think would earn more? In reality.

Debs. That’s a good question.

Ryan. Because when I’m done I’m done. But when you’re done…well you’re never done.

Debs. Can say that again.

Ryan grows bored and exits.

He returns a moment later with a toolbox. From inside he takes out a screwdriver. Over at the window, he tries to unscrew the frame. Debs continues drinking, flicking through her folder. Ryan tuts.

Ryan. Shit…

Another moment.

Ryan. Ah man– the screw’s– the, what’s it called, it’s… They’ve worn right through. Can’t get any purchase on the screwheads. Someone’s had a go at that before. Totally botched it.

He drops the screwdriver into the toolbox.

Ryan. That’ll be a fun job tryina sort that out. You know I’ve called Tim about six times about that window. He literally couldn’t give a shit. He’s like, yeah I’ll send someone over. Bullshit. He didn’t get it sorted when he lived here, he damn sure ain’t gonna do it now.

Debs. I might run over to Grace’s later.

Ryan. Yeah?

Debs. Yeah. Just for a couple of hours.

Ryan. What time? It’s getting on a bit.

Debs. I just– I’m banging my head against the wall with this.

Ryan. Phillipe gonna be there?

Debs. What? No.

Ryan. Makes a change.

Debs. Come along if you want.

Ryan. I’m in early tomorrow so I won’t. Need a good night’s kip.

He drinks.

Ryan. Cheers for the invite though.

Debs. You know you’re always welcome.

Ryan. Yeah, funny that.

Debs. Is it? Why’s it funny? Ryan, why’s it funny?

Ryan. Dunno.

Debs. No tell me. What is it you find funny?

Ryan. I’ve just never actually heard you actually invite me. And actually mean it.

Debs. I just did. That’s what I just did.

Ryan. No I mean– never mind.

Debs. Well what?

Ryan. Nothing. Seriously nothing.

Debs. Can you just not do that please?

Ryan. Do what?

Debs. Just for a bit.

Ryan. Do what?

Debs. Make your little comments and act as if you’ve been so badly treated, and then not actually have anything to complain about.

Ryan. Is that what I do is it?

Debs. Like when you’re actually asked what’s wrong.

Ryan. Okay I’m sorry. If I do that then I’m sorry.

Debs. Okay.

She returns to her work.

Ryan. I really am sorry Debs.

Debs. Okay. Sorry for snapping.

Ryan. I don’t mean to piss you off.

Debs nods without taking her eyes off her work.

Ryan. Sometimes we forget we’re like a unit, don’t we? Sometimes.

Debs. Yeah, it’s just when you do that it gets a bit annoying when I’m trying to focus on something.

Ryan. Okay. Well as I said I’m sorry.

Debs. It’s alright.

Ryan. Why don’t you do that upstairs? If you need privacy.

Debs. I don’t need privacy. I don’t mind you being here.

Ryan. Oh you don’t mind. That’s good.

Debs. Please, please drop the attitude. It’s so exhausting.

Ryan. Well I do live here.

Debs. It’s that. That’s what I mean. And I’m sorry I’m bringing this home. Believe me I do not want to be doing this right now.

Ryan. That’s not a problem. We have to do these things. I’m really not trying to make things hard for you. I’m happy. I’m happy Debs. Are you happy?

Debs. I’m over the moon, babe.

Ryan. Good. I’m sorry. Let’s just– Do you want a top up?

Debs. I’m alright.

Ryan. Can we just make things go back to normal?

Debs. They are back to normal.

Ryan. No they’re not.

Debs. Well I don’t know then.

Ryan. If there’s anything I can do to help. Honestly.

Debs doesn’t respond.

Ryan. Just tell me what to say. Just tell me what combination of words will just click you into just…feeling normal.

Debs. What?

Ryan. What fucking code do I need to use to unlock all this shit and make you actually want to fucking engage…

Debs. I literally do not know what you’re talking about.

Ryan. Just think, in your mind, about what I could possibly say, or do, to make you feel okay and normal again. And happy with us and wanting to be with me…

Debs. That’s a really unpleasant thing to say.

Ryan. And let’s just pretend I said it or did it. Just now. Please? Please. Because I would do it, whatever it is. I just don’t know what it would be. I’m asking you with whatever tiny morsel of goodwill you have left inside you for me, just do that.

Debs. I’m just trying to do my work and have literally one second to myself to just think…

Ryan. That’s not what it is. It’s this whole situation. You know, I think about how you talk about me. To your friends or whatever. Like I’m imagining how you are when I come up in conversation. And it’s like– I really can’t imagine you saying actual nice things anymore. You know, oh he works hard. He makes me laugh. He, he– I’m really attracted to him.

Debs. I am attracted to you.

Ryan. Are you though?

Debs. Yeah course I am.

Ryan. But like– do you know what I mean though?

Debs. Yeah I do. But you really don’t come up that much. We actually have work to do at work.

Ryan. Okay. Okay then. Well that’s okay then.

Debs. Where the hell did all that come from?

Ryan. I don’t know.

Debs. Since when did you give a shit about how I spoke about you to other people?

Ryan. Since I stopped assuming you said nice things about me.

Debs. Babe.

Ryan. And you spend so much time in, like, work mode. And you have all these drinks to go to and…just weird gatherings and events and stuff.

Debs. That’s just part of the job.

Ryan. No I mean it’s good. That you’re… but sometimes I think what’s left? Of you. For us. Are we still having fun? I guess is…

Debs. I promise next time I’m doing something I’ll bring you with me. I’ll drag you along with me. It’ll be good.

Ryan. Okay. That’s a good idea. I mean, I still don’t know if that’s exactly it, but–

Debs. Well let me know when you’ve figured it out.

Ryan. Yeah that sounds about right.

Debs. I’m gonna head over to Grace’s.

Ryan. Let’s just reset a sec. Let’s just…

Debs starts packing away her folder..

Ryan. Juniper’s back tomorrow.

Debs. Yeah.

Ryan. So that’s something.

Debs. Yeah.

Ryan. I’ll pick her up from bellend. And then he doesn’t get to see her for another six weeks.

Debs. Yep.

Ryan. I’m really excited about that.

Debs. Me too.

Ryan. We could do something tomorrow.

Debs. What time?

Ryan. I’m doing a 7-5, so I could be back here for six?

Debs. Actually no, can’t do tomorrow anyway.

Ryan. Well, this weekend then.

Debs. Okay. Yeah.

Ryan sits Debs back down.

Ryan. And then maybe we can see if your sister wants to take June to the cinema. Give ourselves a few hours.

Debs. My sister?

Ryan does an impression of Debs’ sister.

Ryan. Debs darlin’. No that’s not it. What is it? Debbie darlin’. Yeah. Debbie darlin’ can you come over here a sec? Debbie…

Debs cracks a smile, does a much more accurate impression.

Debs. Debbie darlin’ I’m gonna put the receipt for those nappies just here for you alright?

Ryan. Haha! Debbie darlin’.

Debs. Debbie darlin’ if you could leave the exact money just on the side there by tomorrow that’d be tip top actually.

Ryan laughs, settles, rubs Debs’ thigh.

Ryan. You’ve nailed that.

He lies one of his legs over Debs’ lap. He kisses her. She goes with it for a second.

Ryan wraps his arms around her neck, kisses her more passionately. It’s clear to him that she’s not responding with the same enthusiasm. He slowly pulls away.

Debs. I just– I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. I’m really…

She nods to her folder.

Ryan. Okay.

Debs. I’m sorry.

Ryan. Don’t be. No it’s–

Debs. Got so much in my head right now.

Ryan. No I get it.

Debs. I’m really just…not in the right frame of mind.

Ryan. But you get into the frame of mind. That’s kind of not really trusting the process, is it?

Debs. Can you please just respect my decision? It is my decision, I do get to make it.

Ryan. This is what I mean though. Like, I masturbate more than we have sex. Like, way more.

Debs. That’s depressing.

Ryan. Yeah it is. It’s really depressing.

Debs. I don’t know what to tell you.

Ryan. No, I just wanted to share that with you. Surely that’s a problem.

Debs. Maybe you should take up a hobby. Meet some new people.

Ryan. To pornography. To like, hardcore pornography.

Debs folds up her folder and stands up.

Debs. I’ll leave you to it then.

Debs exits into the house.

Ryan is left to seethe.

He moves back over to the window. Tries to close it again. Now he slams it, only to have it bounce back open. He slams it again. And again, and again, and again. Not even trying to close it anymore, just venting.

Debs comes back in.

Debs. What the hell was that?

Ryan. Nothing.

He shrugs.

Ryan. Just trying to…

He gestures to the window.

Ryan. I thought you were going out?

Debs exits again.

Ryan sits by himself.


Same. 2009.

Ryan’s leaning agains the counter top, looking through the contents of a mobile phone. He stands alone for a few moments, focused on the phone.

Debs enters, Ryan drops the phone on the counter. It clatters across the surface and falls onto the floor.

Ryan tries to look nonchalant. Debs picks up the phone.

Debs. What are you doing?

Ryan. Hah?

Debs. Were you looking through my phone?

Ryan. Pardon?

Debs. Were you looking through my phone?

Ryan shrugs, shakes his head.

Ryan. Nah.

Debs. What the fuck?

Ryan. It just dropped.

Ryan leans over to inspect it.

Ryan. Is it okay?

Debs. It just dropped? You were reading my messages.

Ryan. No I wasn’t.

Debs. Why’s it open on my messages then?

Ryan. I wasn’t… I wasn’t–

Debs. Don’t bother lying Ryan. I literally saw you.

Beat. Debs hands the phone back to Ryan.

Ryan. What?

Debs. Go on.

Ryan. No.

Debs. Go on.

He tries to hand it back. Debs won’t take it.

Debs. If you’re gonna do it you might as well do it.

Ryan. I don’t want to.

Debs. Well you clearly do. Go on.

Ryan holds the phone for a second, not looking at it.

Ryan. Who’s Jeremy?

Debs. He’s another account exec.

Ryan. Handsome?

Debs. A bit, yeah.

Ryan. He going tonight is he?

Debs. You tell me. You’ve read the messages. He’s got a fiancée.

Ryan. Yeah yeah no– just…

Debs. Anything else? Anything else about my private life you want to talk about?

Ryan gestures with the phone, still not looking at it.

Ryan. There’s literally nothing from Phillipe here.

Debs. I told you I haven’t spoken to him in ages.

Ryan. Yeah but this goes back to…like, July. And you definitely spoke to him in July because…

Debs. So…?

Ryan. And August and September. So…

Debs. Yeah?

Ryan. So where’ve they gone?

Debs. Where’ve what gone?

Ryan. The messages.

Debs. What messages?

Ryan. The messages that you obviously sent each other.

Debs. I don’t know.

Ryan. They’ve just disappeared off your phone have they?

Debs. Guess so.

Ryan. Oh so they just– literally just disappeared. One minute they’re there. Next minute, whoop. Gone.

Debs shrugs.

Ryan. I don’t want to be the person who does this kind of stuff. I hate it.

Debs. You hate it? How do you think I feel?

Ryan. I never thought I’d be this person. But now, when you pull shit like this, I kind of feel a bit justified. Messages just don’t delete themselves.

Debs. What messages are you talking about?

Ryan. I don’t know Debs. I don’t know exactly what they said because I didn’t read them did I? I don’t wanna pry into your personal– that’s not what this is about. I just need to know if he’s gonna be there.

Debs. I told you he’s not.

Ryan drops the phone onto the counter.

Ryan. Look, I understand if you deleted them because you didn’t want me to see the whole– the details or whatever–

Debs. Believe it or not I didn’t plan for you to steal my phone and read my private messages–

Ryan. But I promise you that’s not what I’m interested in. Believe me I do not wanna see that…stuff. I just need to know.

Debs. I’m telling you he’s not gonna be there.

Ryan. Just think for a minute. Just think about where I’m coming from. What I’ve actually done in all this. I forgave you Debs. Think about that.

Debs. Why though?

Ryan. Because I love you.

Debs. Because you don’t blame me. Because you know you’d have done the same.

Ryan. I’m trying to make this work. You said you’d do whatever it takes. You said that.

Debs. I know I did.

Ryan. So it’s not actually a massive deal. It’s not a huge deal for your boyfriend to just double check that you’re not secretly going off with another guy. Or is it? Because I don’t think it is.

Debs. It’s not, no.

Ryan. Is it? You tell me.

Debs. No it’s not a big deal.

Ryan. So if you are prepared to do anything then that’s hardly a big personal fucking sacrifice is it?

Debs. I’d do anything to get us back to normal. And you going through my stuff when I’m not around is not normal. It feels weird.

Ryan. I know I was an idiot. And I haven’t been…whatever. Very good, or… But there’s a line. There’s a line that you don’t cross. You don’t go anywhere near. And I get it, you’re not into, like sharing and stuff. You want to keep it bottled up inside and I know that comes from being a mum. I know that. But not once did you come to me and say, Ryan, I’m having a shit time. Or even Ryan, there’s a guy at work and I’m finding myself attracted to him. And maybe it’s because we’re not spending any quality time together. Or maybe it’s because you’re drinking too much, or– I know that would’ve been scary but…in hindsight–

Debs. Except I couldn’t do that, could I? That’s the exact thing I couldn’t do. The more I think about it, the more I think…maybe I did it because you wanted me to do it?

Ryan. What the fuck does that even mean?

Debs. You want it both ways. You wanna look down on me. You want me to feel like I’m doing something wrong all the time. Because you want to be jealous. And possessive. And to resent all the people in my life that aren’t you. But you don’t actually want a good, real reason to do that. You can’t bear the thought that there’s a genuine thing I’ve done to make you feel that way…but you do it anyway.

Ryan. That is not what this is. Debs–

Debs. You make me feel so guilty, just…because. I don’t know why. Just because. But maybe you pushed me into it. I might as well do the bad thing and then feel actually bad. I’m sick of feeling guilty that I have nothing to feel guilty about.

Ryan. Why would I do that though?

Debs. I dunno, maybe you’re jealous.

Ryan. Well in hindsight maybe I wasn’t jealous enough.

Debs. I mean jealous of me. The fact that I have this whole other side of my life. Work. Work friends. People you don’t really know. A reason to go out every day. People. Just people in my life. You hate that.

I didn’t really want to get with Phillipe. I find him attractive, yes. So? Don’t you find people attractive? I can’t help that. I didn’t plan to get with him. But his name came up so much, you spoke about him so much, I felt like he was part of our life anyway. I started to feel weird about him, just because you’d drilled home this idea. And then he came to me and…it just kind of felt inevitable.

Ryan. Maybe I talked about him so much because it was inevitable.

Debs. I realised I’m not even that bothered about him. It was only a few times we actually did it, and the rest was just talking. Just chatting. And I realised I could get this anywhere. If everything was fine I’d get it from you. You’re amazing. You’re fucking…you’re the best person I’ve ever met. But we’re bad together. I go to work. I come home. You find something to take out on me. We apologise to each other. We fall asleep. I wake up. I go to work… I’m scared because I want to be with you forever. And I just…I want it to go back to being good again.

Ryan. So do I. So do I.

Debs. But I’m scared it won’t. I think we’ve warped ourselves into this weird shape that we can’t go back from.

Ryan. Is that what you think?

Debs. I dunno. I hope not. I dunno.

Ryan. Please be honest with me. Is he gonna be there?

Debs. Oh my god.

Ryan. Is he gonna be there?

Debs. Do you know what it was? Actually. It was being able to talk about anything, and not feel like I was being judged, constantly. It felt so nice.

Ryan. I do want to make this work. I love you.

Debs. I love you too. A lot.

Ryan. Do you?

Debs. Yeah. A lot.

Ryan. Why don’t you stay in tonight?

Debs. Ryan…

Ryan. You look really fit. You look great.

Debs. Thanks.

Ryan. Let’s stay in. Juniper’s not here. We can just get drunk together. Lie on the couch.

Debs. I can’t.

Ryan. Why not?

Debs. I told Grace and everyone– I just can’t.

Ryan. And this is what I’m talking about.

Debs. What?

Ryan. Just constantly fucking– your focus is always just–

Ryan grabs her by the shoulders. He squeezes.

Debs. Ah, ow.

She squirms out of his grasp.

Ryan. Sorry. I’m sorry.

Debs. That hurt.

Ryan. I said I’m sorry, I… Go on. Go. You’re gonna be late.

Debs. What was that?

Ryan. Just go. Have fun.

Debs. What are you gonna do?

Ryan. I’m masturbating again. Like, two or three times a day.

Debs. Pardon?

Ryan. Often when you think I’m working on my own stuff I’m just sat around, I’m actually, you know. Or drinking.

Debs. I thought you were dealing with all that?

Ryan. Occasionally I daydream about you being hit by a motorbike or assaulted or raped, even. Then I imagine myself like getting revenge in some way. Some horrible way, where I use tools on whoever did it to you, and he’s strapped down and can’t move. And sometimes I get away with it and sometimes I go to prison for years and years. Decades. In the daydreams. It’s so weird.

Debs. Okay. What are we talking about now?

Ryan. I love you more than I love anyone in the world. More than I ever have loved anyone. That thought makes me really, really depressed. And I think you’re, like, looking outwards. A lot, actually. Like looking forwards.

I want you to be successful. I want you to run your own company one day and be happy about it. But I’m just–

Debs. Why are you telling me this–

Ryan. I want it out. I want it all out. I can’t sit there judging you if I’m all– I’m not a hypocrite. You think you can’t talk to me and… And if I’ve made you feel that way that you said then I want to make it right. So this is everything. And then you can judge me and then…

I never want to think that you’re smarter than me. I hate the fact that you earn more money than me. Hate it. And I can’t imagine ever marrying you. But that’s mainly because I can’t imagine marrying anyone. And I hate the stories from when you were younger. Even though we never knew each other. Because if we’d known each other maybe you wouldn’t’ve done all that stuff but then only because I was stopping you from doing it. Maybe deep down you’d still want to do it and the only difference would be me. Getting in the way. And maybe that’s what’s been happening anyway, since we’ve been together.

You’ve made me argue more than any other person in my life. I have arguments that I don’t want to have. I have arguments that I don’t want to win. I have arguments that if I saw other people having that argument I would judge them for it. I don’t know why I do this.

I feel like I’ve given you everything I possibly can– I feel like I’ve given you everything whenever you’ve asked for it and even when you haven’t and I hate myself for it. I wish I could have another personality to stop giving fucking everything away. I see other people and their personalities are like, I don’t give a fuck. And they still have friends, and they have girlfriends and careers, and…I want…

I keep making the same mistakes again and again and I watch myself do it. And there’s nothing I can do to stop myself. And I blame you. Sometimes. I guess.

I’m angry. And I lie to everyone about my income. And my prospects. And I tell people that I have potential opportunities to go back to making furniture but I don’t. Not one. And I pretend that it’s my choice and that I’m taking my time to hone my craft but I’m not. I’m scared to even think about building another chair or to use my hands to do anything other than lift and move other people’s shit. My hands literally shake when I think about it. And my wrist aches when I try…after a few minutes it burns. And you’ll never have any of those problems.

And I’m worried about losing my hair. And if I lose my hair you won’t love me anymore and you won’t find me attractive. And there are plenty of attractive bald men but there’s a shitload of men with fucking hair too so you could just go out with one of them.

I’m worried my penis is too thin. And I can only make you come from one angle, doing one thing. And sometimes I look at you lying there and think that you’re bored or you’re thinking you’d rather be doing something completely different. And I’m worried I’m doing something wrong or I’m not doing something that would make it more interesting or exciting for you. And I never want to do anything like have a threesome or do it outside somewhere or anything. And I think you probably do.

What else. I’m worried I’ve made a mistake staying with you all these years. I wonder if there’s someone I could have loved more easily. I see men who are, in my opinion, punching above their weight and I think, I could be one of them. And sometimes I imagine their beautiful girlfriends have some horrific, permanent, contagious STI just to make myself feel okay about my life choices. That sounds a lot worse when I say it out loud.

I’m putting on weight and I can’t be bothered to lose it.

There’s more. Hang on. There’s more.

I really fancy your mate Grace– I don’t fancy her I just really want to see her tits. I think about it every single time I see her. And I know if I did anything sexual with her I’d hate her immediately after. And she probably doesn’t even have the tits I think she has. That’s the truth. I wish I had the courage to seduce someone else. Like Phillipe did. Or just do anything to make my life more dramatic. In any small way. But I’m scared to leave the house in case I meet someone I know and have to justify my whole fucking life to them and where I’m at, and– I’m being forgotten, Debs.

I’m scared I’ll be ashamed of myself forever. I think about myself as a kid, and I know I’ve failed myself. And if that kid met me now he’d feel embarrassed and let down.

I think you might be satan. I have visions of you as the most evil and manipulative thing in the world. I don’t know if that’s the case. I feel like you knew how to be successful. That you had the secret of how to become successful and to just get by. And you never told me what it was. Like you always had the advantage. Because you knew…

I know we lie to each other all the time. Every day. About everything. Tiny little lies and big ones. I have no idea what effect this is having on us. I suspect it’s bad. Maybe it doesn’t matter. I don’t know. I think if you just promise to love me and I just promise to love you then it’ll be okay.

So yeah. Maybe you’re right about everything.

Debs is fairly freaked out. Surreal pause.

Debs. Are– are you finished.

Ryan. Yeah I’m finished, I’m..

Debs. Okay. Thanks. For…

Ryan. You’re welcome.

Debs. Do you think you should talk to someone about these thoughts? Like a proper…someone who might help.

Ryan. I’m gonna do something. I spend too much fucking time sat around feeling sorry for myself. I am gonna do something.

Debs. Good. That’s good. I think that was the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to me.

Ryan. Don’t leave me.

Another weird pause.


2010. Same.

Ryan’s drunk. His speech is slurred, and his movements are loose. He’s opening an envelope. Debs is stood leaning slightly against the counter, quite tense. She occasionally sips from a mug, which she holds close to her.

Ryan. Here we go. Doop be doop be doo…

He takes out the letter and reads it.

Ryan. Nope. It’s a no.

He looks to Debs with a strained smile. Shrugs.

Debs. What does it say?

Ryan. Thank you for your application…unfortunately on this occasion we felt your proposal showed insufficient market insight and a lack of business expertise or acumen… blah blah blah… ultimately we did not see this as a commercial enough prospect…although we are unable to accept future proposals for this project, here are some steps we advise you take…we wish you every success with your venture.

So that’s it. No loan.

Debs. How are you supposed to get market insight and business expertise if they don’t help you get started in the first place.

Ryan. Banks innit. Bunch of cunts.

Debs comes over and hugs him.

Debs. I’m sorry babe. Don’t dwell on it. There’s other options.

Ryan. No there’s not.

Debs. Don’t give up just because of one stupid bank.

Ryan swigs his drink.

Ryan. They’re literally– they’re literally– all they’re doin is tryina get money out of you. They fuckin– that’s all they care about. You know giving it all this about, ohhh, you know we’re tryina– it’s for your welfare and– it’s bullshit. They want whatever they can get. Whatever they can get. I say fuck ’em. Because what have they done for us, actually? What have they done?

Debs. Babe, there’s other options. One rejection from one bank does not mean–

Ryan. Hang on– what have– if you really think about it– you know, when I did my wrist. I did my wrist in. Few years back. Ooh no, can’t have physio. Sorry, have to pay for it. Can’t help your fuckin…muscles and ligaments heal. Can’t have fuckin expert guidance to help them heal properly. No, gotta pay for it, sorry. Here’s what we’ll do, we’ll put a fuckin bandage on it. Put a splint on it like the fuckin medieval times. And then just, on your way. It’s fucked.

He rotates his hand around his wrist to demonstrate.

Debs. It’s not that I don’t agree with what you’re saying. But don’t just lump everything together for–

Ryan. Grants got cut when I was at college. Year before us got offered work placement grants. My year, got cut. Subsidy for studio space got cut. So you fuckin finish your course. 21 years old, skint– where do you start? No subsidy. Means all the little fuckin rich cunts go and get their little pocket money. Their little…ooh daddy, daddy. I want a studio for my little fuckin…little prints of flowers and spots. Little fuckin rip-off prints that I’m gonna sell for nine hundred quid a pop. Why? Because I can. Because people are idiots and they’ll fuckin buy them cos I can afford lovely nice canvases to put them on. You know? So I had to get in with that cunt, fuckin…Vulcan. Voltan. Had to live in his pocket for fuckin…god knows how…two years or whatever. You know, that’s where they leave you. You gotta take whatever comes along first. Get a studio– five hundred quid a month for a bit of floor and a wall? Little corner of a big– Yeah I’ll just pull that out my arse shall I? With my student loan. And my tuition fees I just forked out for. And fuckin rent. In London. Fuckin slumlord paradise.

Debs. No, it’s difficult. It is–

Ryan. Some of them made it. You know, pushed through and– Got the right people to come to their shows or whatever. Hit the right fashions, or got a good PR whatever. And fair play to them. More power to you mate. But you’re the exception. They’re the exception that makes it okay. Cos the colleges and the studios and the fuckin government can go… He’s done it. She’s done it. This exclusive little tiny group of rich people have managed it. So everything’s fine. Everything’s working fine. You can’t all make it. But some of you will so that’s okay. Fuck the rest of you. But it’s not about that. This isn’t about that either.

Ryan’s unsteady on his feet for a minute. He tries absently to jam the broken window frame closed.

Ryan. And look at what Juniper…had happen to her. Payin– sendin her off to fuckin Belgium just so she can– fuckin Belgium. Any help? Any assistance? No mate, sorry. She’s your daughter, your problem mate. Good luck to you. Fuckin thousands of pounds. For something that just happened. No control over it. We didn’t have no control over it. Just– and still… Sorry mate. Fuckin Belgium on your own penny. Bunch of cunts. And so when they fuckin send bills through my door. The door that they get money off the house from the, the building owner, and then again from fuckin…whatsit…

Debs. Council tax.

Ryan. From fuckin council tax. Out of my pocket. My own pocket. Don’t send me a letter mate. You come to me, face to face, and tell me what you’re doin for my benefit. Give me a reason to contribute. Cos at the moment I can’t see one. I can’t see a fuckin one. I don’t even know what I’m on about anymore. You’re not even listenin.

Debs. I am.

Ryan. No you’re not.

Debs. I am.

Ryan. Stood there just fuckin…glazed. Glazed look in your eye. That glazed look you get when you couldn’t give a shit.

Debs. It’s just you’re going off on one again. It’s hard to get through when you’re like this.

Ryan. I’m no use to you any more, am I?

Debs. What?

Ryan. I’m no use to you.

Debs. Right. I’m putting the kettle on. You’re gonna have a cup of tea and we’re gonna watch–

Ryan. You won’t even listen to me when I’m talking to you. Won’t even– six years, I’ve given you. Six, six years.

Debs. You’ve given me? Jesus Christ

Ryan. Oh, need somewhere to live? Sure, no problem.

Debs. Don’t turn this on me. Do not–

Ryan. Yeah come in. Rent? Don’t worry about it.

Debs. I pay rent.

Ryan. Now you do. Your daughter too? You wanna live with her now? Mummy’s done the hard work now you wanna live with her? Bring her in. No fees. Because I love you. I love you.

Debs. Don’t be a dick. Don’t do this.

Ryan. Your daughter’s sick? The daughter that I take afternoons off work so I can pick her up and ferry her around everywhere? I’ll pay for it. I’ll sell my fucking…aspirations down the river to pay for it. I’ll forget about my future. But then, what’s this? Oh, you want to do a training scheme? An internship? Oh suddenly you’ve found some money from somewhere. Oh, here’s a bank account you’d all forgotten about. Mummy’s put some money aside and only now thought it was worth fucking mentioning. Not when her fucking granddaughter nearly died.

Debs. That is not how it was. Oh my god, you know that’s not how it was. Stop twisting everything just to try and put the world against you.

Ryan. Not when her daughter was living in a crack den.

Debs. Her brother died. That was inheritance. And we applied for a bursary–

Ryan. But now, now she’s got on a fucking three month training course and then has to work for free for another two months. And then when you all want to go on a nice little family holiday to celebrate.

Debs. It was a weekend. She was having panic attacks. I’m sick of this shit Ryan. You’re twisting everything because you’re angry and your pissed and you feel like being aggressive.

Ryan. Feel like being– I don’t feel like being aggressive. I gave you everything. Six years, I gave and I gave. And what have I got for it? What’s the, the, fruit of it all? In what way are we even together any more?

Debs. Oh my god.

Ryan. I’m serious though.

Debs. Why don’t you reach out to me more? Why don’t you try?

Ryan. What’s the point? What am I gonna get? A little tight-lipped kiss. A little peck. Little peck peck peck on the lips. All scrunched up like you’re cold. Like your a bit chilly. Little peck and then you push your face into my shoulder. That’s the signal. Pointless. You know what the smell of your hair reminds me of nowadays? It reminds me of not having sex. I don’t try. How hard do I need to try? Fuckin excuse me for thinking it’s supposed to happen naturally. What, am I not squeezing hard enough? Round your waist when you’re faced away from me. How many doodles do I have to draw on your back with my finger?

Debs. If you’re just gonna do this all night then I’m going out.

Ryan. Yep. As usual.

Debs. Well yeah. Rather that than stand here taking abuse all night. Look at me. You need help. This keeps happening and I’m not gonna let it take control of us. I want to be there for you. I really do. But…

Ryan sits down.

Ryan. Why can’t we just say it? Why are we so scared of saying it?

Debs. Saying what?

Ryan. I don’t love you anymore.

Debs. I still love you.

Ryan. Tell the truth. Just please be honest.


Debs. I don’t think I love you either. Anymore.

Ryan briefly puts his face in his hands, rubs his eyes.

Ryan. Why is it so hard? Why’s it always so hard? I just wanna– I just wanna be good. I just wanna be good at what I know I can do. Why is that so hard? Why is the world making everything so fucking difficult?

Debs goes over to him. She rubs his shoulder. He switches on her.


He grabs his chair and slams it back down several times.


He takes an unopened beer can and launches it against the wall.

Debs tries to leave quickly, but Ryan grabs her by the throat, shunting her up against the counter.

He kisses her aggressively. She defends herself by kissing back hard. They break. He does it again, as does she.

He kisses her hard until her mouth opens. He shunts her up against the counter, grabbing her thigh.

He parts her legs and pushes himself into her crotch.

She tries to squirm out from under him.

Debs. Get off!

Ryan. Look at me.

Ryan puts a hand around her throat and shunts her harder back against the counter. He’s leaning so heavily against her that she arches backwards until she’s almost touching the counter top.

He hoists one of her legs onto the countertop. He reasserts himself, now trying to tackle the garments around her crotch. Debs manages to move her face away from his.

Debs. Stop it. Stop this.

Ryan. Fucking open your mouth.

He presses himself against her harder. He grabs her face and guides her mouth roughly to his. When she manages to move her face away again he nuzzles his face into her shoulder, grinding against her.

Finally, out of the blue, it dissipates. Ryan slows, softens, then stops. He remains hunched against her for a moment, then peels away. Debs slaps him.

Debs. The fuck is wrong with you?! What the fuck is wrong with you?!

Debs straightens herself up. She looks at her boyfriend for a moment, then exits.

Ryan slides down the wall until he’s crouching on the floor.


2011. Same.

The kitchen’s empty. The microwave’s humming. There are no longer any toys or books around the space. The faulty window is now fixed.

Ryan enters, a mobile phone clamped to his ear. He’s sober.

Ryan. James, it’s Ryan…yeah yeah. Hi. I’m just calling about the place on Palatine Road. Yeah, the…it’s gone? What already? Wow. Yeah, no. Bloody hell. Okay. Okay…well I really want to stay in Didsbury if I can. Yeah, ideally. Right…Uh. That’s too much, that. Yeah that’s basically what I’m paying here, so…they just put it up last month. Yeah definitely south of that mark. I’d say the other place was the cut-off, price-wise… Alright, no worries. I’ll try again in a couple of days. Alright, cheers.

He hangs up. Looks out the window for a moment.

He makes another call.

Ryan. Hello Darren, you alright? I’m just calling about that time off… It’s just the Sunday, yeah… Yeah no I’m down to work it. I just… Yeah. No I told Gordon yesterday, I’m fine with Boxing day. New year’s day as well yeah. No that’s– I’m fine with that. I just need next Sunday…. It just came up. I just– I wasn’t paying attention when the rota was put up and… Yeah just didn’t think to…

The microwave dings. As he talks he takes out a pot of instant noodles from the microwave, takes a fork and stirs the contents, blows on it, starts eating, etc.

He sits down on a chair and notices that it’s wobbly. He finds this slightly distracting throughout the rest of the call.

Ryan. No I know… I have a prior engagement… The zoo… No I’ve asked them… They haven’t– I’m waiting to hear back from them… No literally just the zoo yeah… Quite important, yeah. Otherwise I wouldn’t bother with all this would I…

A housemate enters. He and Ryan share the slightest of nods. He grabs a couple of things from a cupboard then exits again.

Ryan holds on the line. He wobbles the chair with his bum. Takes a forkful of noodles.

Ryan. Yeah hi… Christmas eve? As well as Boxing day and new year’s day? Okay, yeah… Well I guess– if that’s literally… And there’s nothing I could take in November? No yeah I understand. It’s a crazy time… No that’s no problem. That’s an 11-7 is it, Christmas eve?11-8, okay… So that’s Christmas eve, Boxing day and new year’s day… And the 27th and the 28th, yeah. Got that down already. And I’m good for Sunday? Cleared for Sunday. Great, cheers. Alright, thanks Darren. Say hi to the lads for me. Cheers mate. Bye.

Ryan hangs up. He tries to make another call, but gets no answer.

He stands up and leaves the room for a moment.

He returns with his tool box. He moves his noodles out the way and turns the chair upside down onto the table. He examines the wonky feet, then takes out a scrap of coarse sandpaper from the toolbox and carefully begins to sand one of the feet down.

He blows the dust off, checks the levels, then continues sanding carefully, completely focused on the job at hand.



Rob Hayes playwright An office. Admin sits behind a desk, working at a computer. There is a phone, a file and a mini hi-fi on the desk. Josh enters. Admin does not look up from the computer. ADMIN: Are you my three o’clock? JOSH: I don’t know. ADMIN: You are. Come in. Josh enters and sits down. ADMIN: Have a seat. Josh immediately stands back up. Admin looks at him, nods to the seat. He sits down as if for the first time. ADMIN: What can I do you for? JOSH: I’d like to make a complaint. ADMIN: You’d like to make a complaint? JOSH: Yes please. ADMIN: Don’t know many people who like making complaints. JOSH: Well, no I…no I don’t like to…I feel it’s necessary– ADMIN: Are you a member? JOSH: Yes. ADMIN: Account details. JOSH: Account details? ADMIN: Please. JOSH: Yes…my email address– ADMIN: Just your username and password is fine. JOSH: My username is Joshie_78. That’s J O S H I E, underscore — ADMIN: 78. JOSH: Yes. ADMIN: And password? JOSH: Do you…really need my password? ADMIN: Can’t access your account without it, chicken. JOSH: I could give you my bank details. ADMIN: I don’t need your bank details I need your password. JOSH: Surprising. ADMIN: Yes it is. Password. JOSH: It’s Rebecca. ADMIN: Rebecca? I won’t ask. Admin types it in. ADMIN: Right, what can I do for you Joshie underscore 78? JOSH: I like the novel. ADMIN: Beg your pardon? JOSH: I like the novel. It’s not a girl’s name. ADMIN: Yes it is. JOSH: Yes but it’s not just a girl’s name. It’s also a bestselling novel by Daphne Du Maurier. And a film by Alfred Hitchcock, and he’s the greatest director of all time bar none so that’s….that’s…that’s… ADMIN: What do you want Josh? JOSH: I wish to make a complaint. ADMIN: Your wish may be granted. JOSH: What? ADMIN: I’ll have to order up a complaints form. Might take a few minutes. JOSH: I don’t mind. ADMIN: Would you like some soothing music while you wait? Admin presses the hi-fi. Music plays, preferably ‘Kung-Fu Fighting’. They sit for a moment listening to the music. Finally, Admin takes a complaint form from the file. The music stops. Admin clicks a pen. ADMIN: Okay, question one. Do you wish to make a complaint? Admin looks to Josh expectantly. JOSH: …Yes. Admin ticks. ADMIN: Question two. What is the nature of your complaint? JOSH: It’s about another member. ADMIN: Is it about another member… JOSH: Yes. ADMIN: An employee of… JOSH: No it’s another member. ADMIN: An associate of… JOSH: No, it’s… ADMIN: A subsidiary of, A member of the public, or none of the above? JOSH: It’s the first one. Admin ticks. ADMIN: Right, question three. What is the nature of your complaint — hang on, that’s…that’s the same as question two. Pause as Admin reads. ADMIN: They’ve gone and put 2 and 3 as the same. Why’ve they done that? Admin picks up the phone and presses speed dial. ADMIN: Carl, you know on the complaints form, do you know we’ve got question two and three as the same? It’s the same question. Yeah. Question two is ‘What is the nature of your complaint?’ It’s the same. No it’s literally exactly the same. ‘What is the nature of your complaint?’ No that’s question three. That’s what I’m saying! Literally, literally the same. We don’t need the same information twice do we? No, because it’ll be the same. Whatever the answer is for question two, it’ll be the same for question three, because…exactly. Who typed this up anyway? Dorothy, the dozy old bitch! Unbelievable. Oh well, she’s dead now. Swings and roundabouts I suppose. Okay, cheers. Admin hangs up and looks back to the form. ADMIN: I’m going to skip question three because it seems there’s been some sort of typographical error. Question 4. What is the nature of your complaint — oh no that’s question 3. I’m getting confused now! Admin laughs. Josh forces a smile. ADMIN: Bloody hell. Okay question 4. Please give details. That’s not really a question is it? Excuse me. Sorry go on. Give details. Josh clears his throat. JOSH: Details? ADMIN: Yes, of your complaint yes. JOSH: What. What kind of details? ADMIN: About what happened, about the complaint. JOSH: What do you need to know? ADMIN: If I knew that I wouldn’t need to know it would I? Christ on a bike. JOSH: It’s about another member. ADMIN: Yes we’ve established that. That was question 2. And 3. Which member? JOSh: Yes. It’s with Sandy123. Admin types. ADMIN: Sandy123…oh she’s lovely. JOSH: That’s what I thought. Except, that’s not an accurate reflection of…Sandy123 is withholding…. Josh puts his hand over his mouth, shakes his head. He composes himself. ADMIN: Let’ start from the start. When did you meet? JOSH: Three nights ago. ADMIN: Where? JOSH: In a restaurant. ADMIN: What type of restaurant? JOSH: Is it important? ADMIN: The form’s asking for details Joshie. JOSH: Vietnamese. ADMIN: Very nice. What did you have? JOSH: Gosh, I…seafood chow mein I think. Admin gags. ADMIN: No thanks. Can’t stand fish. Beat. ADMIN: Sorry JOSH: It was very strange, very dark. I thought it was a really odd choice. I felt very uncomfortable there. I wasn’t enjoying myself at all in fact. ADMIN: Why’s that? JOSH: I felt like I was being lied to. Everything about it was just…a little bit odd. ADMIN: So you had a bad date, that’s the game I’m afraid Joshie. Can’t lodge a formal complaint over a lack of chemistry and a poor venue choice. JOSH: No that’s not…look I’m just going to say it okay? ADMIN: Say what? JOSH: What I’m here to complain about. ADMIN: What are you here to complain about? JOSH: I’m going to tell you now. ADMIN: Well go on then. JOSH: I am going on then! Let me say it. ADMIN: I’m not stopping you. JOSH: Just let me — ADMIN: I’m letting you. You’re not letting yourself if anything. JOSH: Sandy123 is a man. She’s not a girl she’s a man with a, with a penis. He lied to me, then he….he….(inaudible) he raped me. ADMIN: Pardon? JOSH: He raped me. Long pause. ADMIN: So you want a refund then? JOSH: What? No — ADMIN: Because we have a strict no refund policy I’m afraid. JOSH: I’m not asking for a refund. ADMIN: We don’t do them anyway. JOSH: I don’t want a refund. I was sexually assaulted by another man, I think it’s a bit more serious than a refund– ADMIN: You’re sure she was a man? JOSH: Of course I’m sure. ADMIN: And you know this because she raped you. JOSH: He. He raped me. ADMIN: Well we don’t know she’s a he yet. JOSH: He had a penis. ADMIN: Are you sure it was a penis? JOSH: Of course I’m sure! I know what a penis is. ADMIN: Hold on. Admin takes out another form. JOSH: What’s that? ADMIN: Rape claim form. Question one. Were you raped, yes or no? JOSH: Yes, I just told you I was. Admin ticks. ADMIN: Question two. Was your attacker A: Male, B: Female, C: Don’t know. JOSH: Male! He was male! ADMIN: Well we don’t know that do we? JOSH: Yes we do. He was a man. ADMIN: Yeah but look at her. JOSH: He was a man. ADMIN: I’ll tick ‘don’t know’. Admin ticks. JOSH: I’m telling you he was a man. ADMIN: The only proof you seem to have is that she had a penis. When in fact it could have been an appendage. Did you see it? JOSH: I felt it. ADMIN: Did you see it? JOSH: I felt it! I know what a penis feels like! Pause. ADMIN: I won’t ask… JOSH: I’m sorry, do you think you could be a bit more sensitive about this please? I don’t want a refund — ADMIN: We don’t do refunds I’m afraid. JOSH: I don’t want a refund! I need this to be taken seriously. ADMIN: I’ll need more details then. JOSH: I gave you details. ADMIN: You gave me details of the complaint. This is a different form. JOSH: I don’t know what you want me to say. ADMIN: Well at the moment we’ve gone from seafood to sodomy. What happened in between? Josh thinks. Swallows. JOSH: We ended up back at mine after dinner. He insisted on walking me home, I just wanted to get away. Then when we were on my doorstep — ADMIN: You invited her in? JOSH: He asked to use my phone to call a cab. I was nervous, I couldn’t say no. I was nervous. ADMIN: Did you know at this point that she was a man? JOSH: I knew there was something different about her – him. I knew something. ADMIN: Okay, so then what? JOSH: The taxi firm was engaged. I made him a cup of tea because he was just sat there. I didn’t want to seem rude. And that’s when he… Josh holds back tears. ADMIN: Would you like a tissue? JOSH: No I’m fine. Admin ticks the form. ADMIN: No tissue… JOSH: He wrapped a piece of rubber round my neck and held it there. He used both hands so it must’ve been… ADMIN: A penis. JOSH: I felt it! ADMIN: Okay. JOSH: I felt it. He held me there for a long time. ADMIN: After he’d forced you onto the bed. JOSH: Yes. ADMIN: And taken your trousers down. JOSH: Y…yes. ADMIN: And presumably lubricated…whatever it may have been… JOSH: …Yes. ADMIN: Okay. Good. Did you enjoy it? JOSH: I’m sorry? ADMIN: Did you enjoy it? JOSH: What? Who the hell do you…? I’m the victim of a brutal attack and you have the— ADMIN: I need you to answer the question. JOSH: I’m not answering that. ADMIN: Then I can’t process the complaint. JOSH: That’s not on your form though is it? It’s not on your fucking form. Josh snatches the form from the desk and reads. Admin waits. Slowly, Josh hands the form back. ADMIN: I’ll ask again, did you enjoy it? Pause. Josh shrugs, shakes his head. ADMIN: Joshie… JOSH: I don’t know. ADMIN: I’m going to ask you that one more time. Did. You. Enjoy it? JOSH: A little bit. ADMIN: A little bit. JOSH: That doesn’t change anything. It was traumatic, it was… ADMIN: I don’t doubt. JOSH: I didn’t know what was happening, it was all so… ADMIN: Different. JOSH: Aren’t I allowed to feel that? Aren’t I allowed to experience something different? ADMIN: Of course you are. Of course you are. Josh is closer than ever to tears. ADMIN: Doesn’t that feel better? Get it all out in the open? JOSH: Can we continue with the complaint please? ADMIN: Slight problem there Joshie. See, if you enjoyed it, then technically it wasn’t rape. JOSH: Beg your pardon? ADMIN: If you enjoy it, it’s not rape. According to the… Admin gestures to the form. JOSH: I needed stitches. ADMIN: Some people would consider you quite lucky. JOSH: Who’s in charge here? ADMIN: I mean looking at this, looking at it on paper, it actually looks like you led her on. JOSH: I want to speak to the person in charge. ADMIN: ‘Ooh, come in. Have a cup of tea. Look at my lovely bed spread, isn’t it soft. Oh dear, my trousers seem to have fallen down…’ JOSH: Who is in charge here! ADMIN: I’m in charge, Joshie. I’m asking the questions, I’m in charge. JOSH: I could take this to court. ADMIN: Court? JOSH: Yes. This is a crime. I could report it. ADMIN: That’s a very dangerous game. You put a man and a woman in a bedroom and shout ‘rape’, who do you think is gonna get blamed? JOSH: What are you implying? ADMIN: I’m not implying anything. JOSH: Are you saying you think I’m to blame here? ADMIN: I don’t have to say anything. I’m just looking at the facts as they are. On paper. JOSH: What, you think I raped him? Is that… Josh has cracked, he starts to weep. ADMIN: Oh, here come the waterworks. What’s the matter, is it traumatic? You want traumatic, try sitting behind this desk eight hours a day. See some of the freaks I have to deal with. No offence. JOSH: Have you ever been in a situation where you’re so scared, you can’t even breathe? Where you’re too scared to even open your eyes? ADMIN: Well I did Judo for eight years, so… JOSH: It was the worst experience of my life. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. And it was because of your organisation. ADMIN: Arguably you brought it on yourself– JOSH: I wake up every night soaked in urine. Wetting myself like a child. ADMIN: And that’s exactly the kind of thing they’ll bring up in court– JOSH: And you sit there and judge me? You try to tell me how it happened? You have no idea. Who the hell are you anyway? Who are you to make a mockery of what I’ve been through? ADMIN: Who am I? Who are you Joshie? You come in here, you’ve not even got your story straight. God knows why you’re going through all this in the first place. I mean, Rebecca, rape, Vietnamese seafood, says here table tennis… Admin gestures vaguely at the computer screen. ADMIN: ‘Oh, she was a man, she was a woman, she was a man, she was a woman!’ Make your mind up. JOSH: He was a man! ADMIN: Doesn’t make for a very coherent story does it? So before you come in here throwing accusations around, you should take a long hard look at yourself. Who are you? JOSH: I am a human being, and I’m entitled to a bit of basic human fucking dignity. I will not have my very existence called into question when you refuse to even acknowledge that fucking Sandy fucking 123 might just be a psychopathic gender-bending sexual predator. ADMIN: Or just a kinky, big boned girl with a strap-on. I think you’re just a bit confused at the moment. Aren’t you? A bit stressed. JOSH: I’m very stressed. ADMIN: Stress can do awful things to a young man. Make him do all sorts of strange behaviour. I don’t think you meant to rape that girl. JOSH: I didn’t rape her and she wasn’t a girl. ADMIN: You put all this in front of a judge and they’d lock you up. JOSH: I’m the victim here, do you understand? I am a victim. ADMIN: At the very least I should see what Sandy123 has to say on the matter. JOSH: No. Don’t do that. ADMIN: The fact that she hasn’t come forward to report the rape is an absolute blessing as far as you’re concerned. JOSH: I can show you the bruising. ADMIN: I’m sure she didn’t take it lying down. JOSH: Please don’t contact him. ADMIN: I wouldn’t anyway, not until we’ve got your story straight. That’s not likely though is it? You’re all over the place at the moment. You’re vision’s all blurred. I mean, Christ, you probably think I’m a man. JOSH: You are a man. ADMIN: Oh, give me strength. Look again, Josh. Look very closely. JOSH: I can see you quite clearly thank you– ADMIN: Come here. Come here and look at me. Admin takes Josh by the face and pulls him close. Beat as Josh stares at Admin. JOSH: You’re a woman. ADMIN: You sound surprised. Admin lets him go, but he continues to stare. JOSH: How…how is that? ADMIN: You made a mistake, that’s all. Happens every day. JOSH: I made a mistake… ADMIN: Happens all the time. Josh continues inspecting Admin. JOSH: You really are quite beautiful. ADMIN: Thanks, I know. JOSH: I know this isn’t really the time or the place, but do you think…if perhaps you weren’t behind that desk, and I…I mean if we weren’t, you know…do you think it would ever be possible for us….I don’t know, I just thought it would be nice to…I don’t know. ADMIN: I don’t want you to get charged with rape. That is not what I want. Let me throw this in the bin and we can start again fresh, alright? Put all that nastiness behind us. Admin scrunches up the forms and throws them towards the bin. ADMIN: Here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m going to set you up on another date, get you back out there okay? Joshie? JOSH: But what about the complaint? What about the rape? ADMIN: Let me deal with that. I’ll make sure it’s all swept under the carpet. JOSH: Okay. ADMIN: I won’t tell anyone that you came in here today so don’t worry about that. Just try and move past all this. Go out there and embrace it. I’ve had a lovely new member join this week who I think you’ll love. You’re really perfect for each other. Admin starts typing at the computer. JOSH: Thank you. ADMIN: I’ll set you two up for Wednesday. JOSH: Lovely. What’s her name? ADMIN: Patrick. Fade to black.

Doctor’s Appt., 9am

This is a play I wrote for the Royal Exchange’s FUTUREWORLDS project – a series of short radio plays all set on the same day in the year 2020. 


Welcome To Parkhurst Road Surgery. Please type your identification number now.

Beep beep beep beep beep.

If you are not– Mr.– Paul– Cressman please press the hash key now.


Thank you. If you would like to order a repeat prescription, press one. If you would like a diagnosis, press two. If you’d like to pay your–


Thank you. If previous symptoms have continued or worsened, press one. If you are experiencing new–


Thank you. If you are experiencing– extreme headaches, press one–


If you are experiencing– a stabbing pain behind the eyes, press one–


If you are experiencing– lapses in memory and concentration, press one–


If you are experiencing– occasional vomiting, press–


If you are experiencing– loss of feeling in extremities


If you are experiencing– diarrhea press one now.


If you are experiencing any new symptoms, please enter them using the keypad now, separated by the hash key.

Several beeps.

You entered Read the rest of this entry »

Primate Example


An interior office. The blinds are drawn. The desks have been overturned and pushed to the walls. The chairs have been arranged to form a makeshift climbing frame. There is debris – files, papers, food, furniture – scattered across the floor.

Three men in suits squat like monkeys in the middle of the room, eyeing each other. They grunt, beat their chests and roll around the floor. They are, in effect, acting like monkeys.

After a moment, one of them shuffles out the room. One of the remaining men, Davies, immediately stands up.

DAVIES: I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up.

Shenton also stands up.

SHENTON: Just go with it a little longer. Please.

DAVIES: This is insane. We have our first project appraisal on Tuesday and we’ve done nothing. We’ve not even started.

SHENTON: It’s under control.

DAVIES: How? How is it under control? We’re pretending to be monkeys!

SHENTON: I’m telling you his system works. I’ve seen it.

DAVIES: We’ve made no progress.

SHENTON: But we have. Subconsciously. It’s all about unlocking creativity. Primal behaviour. We’re allowing our brains to do all the work. Last day, we get it all on paper.

DAVIES: I’m getting nervous Shenton.

SHENTON: Just trust me. The man’s a maverick, but he knows what he’s doing.

DAVIES:I just don’t see it.

SHENTON: Did I tell you about the Thai monk who trained him?

DAVIES: Yes you told me about the Thai monk who trained him.

SHENTON: We can’t expect to understand his ways. We must only serve them. And remember, you can’t show any signs of weakness, okay? If he senses even for a second that you’re not fully committed then the whole thing will go down the toilet. Is that clear?

Davies sighs, nods.

DAVIES: But I’m gonna need a break. My knee’s playing up again.

SHENTON: Okay. Fine. Just a little longer I promise.

The third man, McKee, enters. The three immediately start acting like monkeys again.

After a moment Davies exits. McKee immediately stands up.

MCKEE: How much longer is this going to go on for?

SHENTON: I don’t know mate, I don’t know.

MCKEE: We can’t work carry on like this. The man’s a nutter.

SHENTON: He’s having a really tough time. His wife left him, he’s under a lot of stress.

MCKEE: But this is ridiculous. We have nothing to show for the past two weeks. Why the hell should we risk our entire project pandering to that man’s neuroses? He’s a nut! He should be suspended.

SHENTON: Don’t worry, I’ve been working on the report in my spare time. It’s almost ready. You just keep quiet and carry on. And don’t, whatever you do, break the illusion. He’s very unstable at the moment. God knows how he’d react if he thought we weren’t genuine monkeys in an actual jungle.

MCKEE: But it’s not right. It just isn’t right.

SHENTON: All I’m saying is he’s a semi-professional archer. That’s a fact.

MCKEE: He shouldn’t be in a workplace environment. He should be in a secure unit.

SHENTON: We need to indulge him. Just till it’s safe for him to start therapy.

MCKEE: Shouldn’t we, I don’t know, tell someone?

SHENTON: In time, yes. I’ve got it under control. Listen, I’m gonna have to go and work on the report for a few minutes. Can I trust you?

McKee sighs, nods.

SHENTON: You’re a good man McKee, I’m sorry I dragged you into this.

Shenton exits. Davies re-enters. He and McKee eye each other, then both crouch down and start acting like monkeys. Again they grunt and howl, banging on the floor.

McKee moves over to Davies and starts grooming him.

Davies responds by climbing onto the furniture.

McKee moves over to a large bowl of fruit and starts chewing it up, skin and all, and throwing the mushed up remains around the room.

Davies pulls his tie off and rips open his shirt. He moves over to a bucket, sits into it and starts taking a shit.

At that moment the boss, Squire, enters.

SQUIRE: What the…

He puts his tie over his nose, gagging at the smell.

SQUIRE: Oh god! Shenton warned me you two were fooling around but…this is insane! You have a project appraisal looming and you’ve spent the whole time…hopping around like animals! What the hell do you think you’re playing at? You think it’s all one big joke? You know we’ve got another round of layoffs coming, don’t you? You are aware of that. In fact, what am I talking about? You’re both fired! Thank you for making my job a little easier.

The two colleagues are paralysed with shock.

DAVIES: But sir–

SQUIRE: I don’t want to hear it. You couldn’t possibly have an adequate excuse. Get out! Now! Pack your things and get the hell out!

The two men abjectly shuffle out of the room.

Shenton saunters in.

SQUIRE: Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Shenton. It couldn’t have been easy.

SHENTON: Such a shame.

He takes out a banana and peels it.

SHENTON: I have no idea what they were playing at.

He takes a big bite.

A Slackening Ache


A quaint, chinzy living room. A very old lady, Mary, enters, followed by another slightly younger lady, Eileen. They shuffle towards the table and armchairs. On the table are various ornaments, including a half-knitted sweater.

EILEEN: Absolute murder out there.

MARY: Cold is it?

EILEEN: It’s the ice.

MARY: Do be careful.

EILEEN: Absolute murder.

MARY: I didn’t realise you were coming over, I’d’ve made a cake.

EILEEN: Oh no Mary I’m just popping round.

MARY: Put a sponge in if I’d known.

EILEEN: Have you been knitting?

MARY: I’ve been knitting yes.

EILEEN: Who’ve you been knitting for?

MARY: No one in particular.

EILEEN: I shouldn’t think you’ve anyone to knit for nowadays.

MARY: I just like to knit.

EILEEN: I suppose if it keeps you busy.

MARY: Kettle’s just boiled. Would you like a cup of tea?

EILEEN: That’d be lovely, thank you.

MARY: I’ll do you a tea.

Mary exits.

Eileen sits down in an armchair and makes herself comfortable.

Mary re-enters with a cup of tea and puts it on the table. Every time Mary exits, a little jingle plays until she has put the cup down on the table.

MARY: There you are love.

EILEEN: Thank you love.

MARY: Are you well?

EILEEN: Very well, yes thank you.

MARY: How’s the garden?

EILEEN: Rosemary’s come through lovely.

MARY: Has it?

EILEEN: Come through lovely, yeah.

MARY: Only I thought because of the frost.

EILEEN: Well it’s hardy isn’t it. Had Derek round yesterday, taking pictures of my pulse patch for his magazine.

MARY: Maggots did you say?

EILEEN: Pardon?

MARY: The maggots have been at your pulses have they?

EILEEN: No, magazine. I said magazine.

MARY: Oh, magazine. My ears nowadays, honestly.


MARY: What’s that about a magazine then?

EILEEN: Derek’s magazine.

MARY: Derek’s got a magazine? I thought he couldn’t read.

EILEEN: He takes photographs for it. It’s a gardening magazine. He does the photographs for it.

MARY: You should have him round your garden. He could take some photos.


MARY: For his magazine.

EILEEN: Yes that’s what he was doing, see.

MARY: Oh I see. No trouble from maggots then?

EILEEN: No, not this time of year.

MARY: Because if you’re having photos taken you wouldn’t want any trouble with maggots, would you?

EILEEN: No I wouldn’t, no.

MARY: Well it’s lovely to see you Eileen. It’s been ever so quiet. Not many people out in this weather.

EILEEN: Best stay indoors when it’s like this. I hope you’re not going outside, not with your knee.

MARY: I’d never get back up if I fell.

EILEEN: Not with your knee.

MARY: I’d be out there all night if I went over.

EILEEN: Well I wouldn’t have made the journey, but I’ve some news.

MARY: Some news?

EILEEN: Before I forget let me come out with it. I’ve a bit of gossip you see.

MARY: What’s that love, you’ve been to Glossop?

EILEEN: No, I said I’ve a bit of gossip for you.

MARY: Oh I see.

EILEEN: I know you like a bit of gossip.

MARY: You’d like some bitter cough syrup?

EILEEN: No, I said you’d like a bit of gossip.

MARY: Would I? Oh yes.

EILEEN: It’s about Joan. You know she’s getting married at Christmas, well they’ve chosen a destination for their honeymoon. You’ll never guess where they’re going.

MARY: Hold that thought Eileen, can I get you a cup of tea?

EILEEN: Oh, I’d love a cup of tea, thank you Mary.

MARY: I just realised you’ve been sat there and I haven’t offered you a cup of tea.

EILEEN: I’d love a cup of tea Mary, thank you.

Mary exits. The music plays.

Eileen picks up a dead plant. She sniffs it, then drops it on the floor. She takes out a live plant in a plant pot from her bag and puts it on the table.

Mary enters with a cup of tea. She places it on the table with the other one. The music stops.

EILEEN: Thank you love. You always did make a good cup of tea.

MARY: I like to host. Keeps me active.

EILEEN: Not so much since your Pat left though.

MARY: Pardon?

EILEEN: Not so many parties since Eric died and your Pat left for New Zealand.

MARY: What love?

EILEEN: I’m saying you don’t host as much now.

MARY: Not with my knee.

EILEEN: No, no not with your knee.


EILEEN: Are you still drawing? The birds?


EILEEN: Are you still drawing birds?

MARY: I don’t have the fingers for it any more.

EILEEN: Shame that. They gave you a nice little income I imagine.

MARY: I liked the freedom.

EILEEN: That reminds me, I’ve got some news about the wedding.

MARY: Wedding?

EILEEN: Our Joan’s Wedding.

MARY: Oh yes.

EILEEN: They’ve chosen a date.

MARY: They’ve chosen a date?


MARY: What date have they chosen?

EILEEN: Christmas time.

MARY: A Christmas wedding, how lovely.

EILEEN: They were hoping for Easter but the church was booked up. Paul wanted it around a religious festival you see.

MARY: Oh of course, I forget he’s a Catholic. Have they thought about a honeymoon yet?

EILEEN: Oh, I don’t know. I’ll have to ask her. I can’t think of any catholic honeymoon destinations.

MARY: I went to Glossop.

EILEEN: Yes but they like to travel nowadays, don’t they? Look at your Patricia. Went halfway round the world and never came back. Mind you after what happened I should think that’s for the best.


MARY: Would you like a cup of tea Eileen?

EILEEN: You read my mind Mary.

MARY: Kettle’s just boiled.

Mary exits. The music plays.

Eileen looks through her bag and takes out a picture in a frame. She takes a picture off the table – a drawing of a bird in flight – and drops it on the floor, replacing it with her family photo.

Mary re-enters with two cups of tea. She places one in front of Eileen. The music stops.

EILEEN: Did you say you’d put a cake in?

MARY: Oh. Uh.

EILEEN: A sponge was it?

MARY: Should I put one in?

EILEEN: A sponge?

MARY: I could do a sponge. Should I put one in?

EILEEN: Only I did mention I was coming today. I thought we could have a nice piece of cake.

MARY: Did you?

EILEEN: Yes I did ring ahead. Do you remember? Me ringing ahead?

MARY: Let’s see.

EILEEN: I called two days ago asked if it was okay to pop round. In case you were busy, already had visitors. I knew you wouldn’t but thought it polite to ask all the same. Do you remember?


MARY: I’ll put a sponge on.

EILEEN: Oh no Mary I’m just popping round. Don’t trouble yourself. I just came because I’ve a bit of news about our Joan.

MARY: Oh I’ve not seen your Joan in weeks, how is she?

EILEEN: She’s getting married.

MARY: She’s getting married? To that lovely catholic fella?

EILEEN: That’s the one.

MARY: Oh bless her. Little Joan all grown up and getting married. I remember when she was running round in skirts and scraping her knees. Do pass on my congratulations.

EILEEN: I shall do.

MARY: You’ll have to take her one of my bird pictures. As a present.

EILEEN: I’ll do that.

MARY: Don’t have many left now but it’s a special occasion.

EILEEN: She’ll be grateful.

MARY: I enjoyed the freedom. I’ve not the fingers for it now.

EILEEN: They’re hoping for an Easter wedding, so it coincides with the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mary nods.

MARY: And it’s in Glossop, you say?

EILEEN: Glossop? I shouldn’t’ve thought so.


EILEEN: Not Glossop.

MARY: Have they got a cake?

EILEEN: I don’t know.

MARY: I could do a sponge.

EILEEN: There’s an idea. I could give you some strawberries from the garden.

MARY: What about the maggots?

EILEEN: The what love?

MARY: I thought Derek said you had a problem with the maggots? In the garden.

EILEEN: Did he? No love I think you’re mistaken. It’s all come through lovely.

MARY: Here’s your tea by the way.

She hands Eileen the other cup of tea.

MARY: I’d do one with plums from the tree but whenever I go to collect them the branches are always empty.

EILEEN: I’ll ask if you can come along.

MARY: Come along where?

EILEEN: To the wedding. It’ll be nice that won’t it?

MARY: Lovely, yes.

EILEEN: Because your Pat never did get married did she? In the end.


EILEEN: Mary, I’m saying you never had a wedding to go to for your Pat, did you? She was never married.



MARY: Yes love?

EILEEN: Your daughter never married.

MARY: No, no.


MARY: Can I get you a cup of tea?

EILEEN: Yes please, I’m gasping.

Mary exits. The music plays.

Eileen goes through her handbag and takes out a handful of plums, which she tips into an empty fruit bowl on the table.

Marry re-enters with a teapot and a cup of tea. She puts them on the table with the collection of teacups. The music stops.

MARY: I brought the pot in. Save me going back and forth for refills.

EILEEN: You don’t want to be doing that with your knee Mary.

MARY: Well I thought, see. How’s that chest of yours?

EILEEN: What chest of mine?

MARY: You had a bad cough didn’t you?


MARY: You were asking after some bitter cough syrup.

EILEEN: If I were ever ill it’s all cleared now, thankfully.

MARY: I’ve some Echinacea. For your cough.

EILEEN: Thank you. I’m fine though.

MARY: It’s very good.

EILEEN: Yes, my granddaughter Joan uses it. Did I tell you she’s met a fella?

MARY: Your granddaughter Joan?

EILEEN: Yes my granddaughter Joan, she’s met someone.

MARY: Is he nice?

EILEEN: He’s lovely. A catholic man.

MARY: So he’s got morals then.

EILEEN: He’s a bicycle courier.

MARY: He’s got a bicycle career?

EILEEN: Yes that’s right.

MARY: Well I never.

EILEEN: I do hope she settles down. She’s had such a hard life.

MARY: She’s met a catholic now.

EILEEN: He’ll see she’s well looked after.

MARY: He sells bicycles does he?

EILEEN: He may well do.

MARY: For a magazine did you say?

EILEEN: Very possibly.

MARY: He sells photographs of bikes to a magazine?

Eileen hesitates.


MARY: I wonder if there’s money in that.

EILEEN: Well everyone needs a bicycle.

MARY: In this weather?

EILEEN: Not with your knee love.

MARY: No, naturally.

EILEEN: Can’t even make it up the stairs nowadays can you? Let alone jump on a bicycle. Remember when we used to cycle down to coffee mornings?

MARY: I remember, yes.

EILEEN: Every Sunday we did that. You me and your Eric.

MARY: Yes.

EILEEN: And now you’ve a mattress in the dining room to save you using the stairs. Funny isn’t it, really? How things change.


EILEEN: They still ask after you at the coffee mornings. Sometimes.

MARY: I’ve left the kettle boiling, would you like a quick cup of tea?

EILEEN: A quick one then, yes please.

Mary exits. The music plays.

Eileen goes over to a pair of slippers and puts them on after taking her shoes off.

Mary re-enters. The music stops.

MARY: I’m sorry Eileen, I can’t find the teapot.

EILEEN: Oh not to worry love, I’m just popping round anyway.

MARY: I could’ve put a sponge on if I’d known you were coming.

EILEEN: Next time.

MARY: Yes next time.

EILEEN: I’ll bring our Joan.

MARY: Your Joan?

EILEEN: She’s all grown up now.

MARY: Really? Well I never. It goes fast doesn’t it.

EILEEN: She’s a lovely young lady now. When was the last time you saw her?

MARY: I think she’d scraped her knee.


MARY: You gave her Echinacea. For the wound.

EILEEN: That must’ve been a long time ago, I can’t seem to remember that.

MARY: It was many many years ago.

EILEEN: Well she’s much older now. She’s blossomed.

MARY: That’s good to hear. Bless her.

EILEEN: I do hope she finds a good man. She’s been through so much hardship and woe. I just want her to find a nice fella and settle down.

MARY: Bless her.

EILEEN: She bought a bicycle the other day.

MARY: They do them in magazines now, don’t they?

EILEEN: Do they?

MARY: Apparently. They take pictures of them for the magazines. Then people buy them.

EILEEN: I’ve never heard of that before.

MARY: Well. The things they have nowadays

EILEEN: You’ll have to meet her again. She’d love to see you.

MARY: Maybe she can cycle round.

EILEEN: Yes, when the ice clears.

MARY: Wouldn’t want her cycling around on the ice.

EILEEN: It’s murder out there. Coffee morning’s been cancelled on account of the ice. Not that you’d have gone of course. You’d hardly recognise anyone down there anymore. So many new faces.

MARY: New faces.

EILEEN: New to you I mean. Unfamiliar. Of course they wouldn’t know who you are. You’d be a stranger now.

MARY: A stranger.

EILEEN: You’d be lost. Even your old friends wouldn’t recognise you. I suppose that’s just how it goes.

MARY: Would you like a cup of tea?

EILEEN: No thanks, I’m not a big tea drinker. Could I have a wheatgrass smoothie?

MARY: Yes of course. Give me a moment.

Mary exits. The music plays.

Eileen takes a flannel blanket from her bag and spreads it over her knees.

Mary re-enters with a glass of wheatgrass smoothie. She struggles to find a place on the table for the glass. Eileen waits, watching. The jingle continues playing on a loop.

Finally Mary moves some cups around and makes space for the glass of smoothie.

MARY: There you go love.

EILEEN: I can’t remember the last time we saw each other Mary. When was it now?

MARY: Oh dear I can’t remember. It must be some weeks ago now. Before the frost.

EILEEN: Feels like years.

MARY: Yes it may be some years now, looking back.

EILEEN: I’ve so much to tell you Mary. I don’t quite know where to start.

MARY: Perhaps I could put a sponge in.

EILEEN: I have a granddaughter you know.

MARY: You’ve a granddaughter?

EILEEN: Joan. She’s lovely.

MARY: A granddaughter. Well I never. And all that time you thought she was barren.


MARY: Your daughter.

EILEEN: What daughter?

MARY: Rosemary.

EILEEN: Well, she’s very hardy.

MARY: Good for you. A granddaughter.

EILEEN: People say she has my features. I think you’d recognise her without even meeting her.

MARY: Fancy that. What a queer idea.

EILEEN: I hope you don’t think I’ve come to gloat. It must be sad for you.

MARY: What’s that?

EILEEN: Having no-one left, the way it is with you now.

MARY: Pardon?

EILEEN: You’ve no-one left, do you? It must be ever so lonely.

MARY: I like to host.

EILEEN: Not so much now though. Not since your Pat left.

MARY: It is quiet.

EILEEN: Mary love.

MARY: Yes dear.

EILEEN: I don’t mean to be impolite, but this tea is cold and green.

MARY: Is it?

EILEEN: And it’s a bit thick. I think you may have let it stew for too long.

MARY: Goodness, I am sorry. Let me get you a new one.

EILEEN: Would you?

MARY: Give me a moment.

Mary exits. The music plays.

Eileen takes up the half knitted sweater and starts to knit.

Mary re-enters, empty handed. The music stops.

MARY: I can’t find my cups.

EILEEN: Excuse me?

MARY: All my cups have gone.

EILEEN: Can I help you?

MARY: Pardon love?

EILEEN: I said can I help you?


EILEEN: I’m sorry. Do I know you? I don’t think I know you.

MARY: My cups.

EILEEN: I’m sorry love but I don’t usually allow strangers into my home.

MARY: Strangers?

EILEEN: I’m all alone you see. My husband died a long time ago and I live alone. I’m very vulnerable.

MARY: Vulnerable.

EILEEN: On account of my being all alone. It wouldn’t be very prudent to allow strangers into my home. I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to leave.

MARY: Pardon?

EILEEN: Yes, you’ll have to go I’m afraid.

MARY: I shouldn’t really leave the house.

EILEEN: Well goodness knows how you ended up here then.

MARY: With my knee.

EILEEN: I’d have you to stay only I’m knitting a sweater for my granddaughter.

MARY: The weather.

Eileen moves to usher Mary out the door.

EILEEN: Do be careful on the way out, with the ice.

MARY: It’s very cold

EILEEN: Yes make sure you wrap up warm. It’s very cold out there.

MARY: My bad knee.

EILEEN: You’ve a bad knee do you? Well make sure you take care with that. Wouldn’t want you going over on the pavement. You’d be there all night.

They have reached the door. Eileen is gently pushing Mary out.

EILEEN: And watch for the ice. It’s absolute murder.

Mary exits.

Eileen moves back to the armchair and continues to knit.