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Plays One
The Birthday Party
The Room
The Dumb Waiter
A Slight Ache
The Hothouse
A Night Out
The Black and White
The Examination

Contents Title Page Introduction: Writing for the Theatre The Birthday Party First Presentation Act One Act Two Act Three The Room First Presentation The Room The Dumb Waiter First Presentation The Dumb Waiter A Slight Ache First Presentation A Slight Ache The Hothouse Author’s Note Characters First Presentation Act One Act Two A Night Out First Presentation Act One Scene One Scene Two Scene Three Scene Four Scene Five Act Two Scene One Scene Two Act Three Scene One Scene Two Scene Three The Black and White The Examination About the Author By the Same Author Copyright .

settled and unequivocal. What took place. What I write has no obligation to anything other than to itself. Apart from any other consideration. any scene. In The Caretaker I cut out the dashes and used dots instead. The audience holds the paper. And the danger for a writer is where he becomes easy prey for the old bugs of apprehension and expectation in this connection. should be interpreted as final and definitive. is understandable but cannot always be satisfied. dot. I was strangely warmed by all this. I was at once booed violently by what must have been the finest collection of booers in the world. still booing. public activity. But basically my position has remained the same. between phrases. The more acute the experience the less articulate its expression. knowing that there are at least twenty-four possible aspects of any single statement. doom. whenever I sense a tremor of the old apprehension or expectation. dot. no difference. These facts are not easy to reconcile. They want the playwright to be a prophet. nor give a comprehensive analysis of his motives is as legitimate and as worthy of attention as one who. We will all interpret a common experience quite differently. Writing is. whatever that may mean. Once there. directors. and I wouldn’t like you to do so today. can do all these things.INTRODUCTION Writing for the Theatre A speech made by Harold Pinter at the National Student Drama Festival in Bristol in 1962.’ the text would read: ‘Look. dash. It doesn’t seem to be. A character on the stage who can present no convincing argument or information as to his past experience. often even at the time of its birth. Everyone’s happy. his present behaviour or his aspirations. but it was pure mouth. that the state to which it refers is equally firm. will never stay where it is and be finite. I’ve had two full-length plays produced in London. Where this takes places it is not theatre but a crossword puzzle. So I’m speaking with some reluctance. we are faced with the immense difficulty. whatever the virtues it undoubtedly possesses. A categorical statement. No statement I make. It will immediately be subject to modification by the other twenty-three possibilities of it. dot. but to the play in hand. found a couple of characters in a particular context. of verifying the past. we’ll have forgotten. it’s no worse or better for that. what happened? If one can speak of the difficulty of knowing what in fact took place yesterday. some hysteria. Warnings. on the part of the critics or the audience. with regard to our own experience and the experience of others. rain or sunshine. as allegorical representations of any particular force. dot. You can’t fool the critics for long. critics. A thing is not necessarily either true or false. they may even be almost final and definitive. keeping my nose to the ground. what was the nature of what took place. for me. dot. against recognition. moral judgements. One or two of them may sound final and definitive. and we took thirty-four curtain calls. even if they can hear neither. as is the Continental custom. The professional theatre. and in my opinion. and a good deal of inefficiency. concrete and particular. There is a considerable body of people just now who are asking for some kind of clear and sensible engagement to be evidently disclosed in contemporary plays. By the thirty-fourth there were only two people left in the house. one can I think treat the present in the same way. though we prefer to subscribe to the view that there’s a shared common ground. dash. nor between what is true and what is false. In Düsseldorf about two years ago I took. The first ran a week and the second ran a year. who. To supply an explicit moral tag to an evolving and compulsive dramatic image seems to be facile. the tendency is to perch him on a symbolic shelf. dash. The cast was as dogged as the audience. Of course. he can be talked about but need not be lived with. I’m not a theorist. but that it’s more like a quicksand. say: ‘Look. sermons. therefore. and am cured. They can tell a dot from a dash a mile off. they convince nobody. but I won’t regard them as such tomorrow. a completely private activity. I. simply because we have been brought up to expect. dot dot. the social scene. A play is not an essay. this morning. it can be both true and false. The desire for verification on the part of all of us. heaven or the milky way or. I’ve never started a play from any kind of abstract idea or theory and never envisaged my own characters as messengers of death. energetic. alarmingly. who. ideological exhortations. admonitions. I. The fact that in neither case could you hear the dots and dashes in performance is beside the point. a known ground. The theatre is a large. and even though they are continually fixed to us by others. when I can manage it. We don’t carry labels on our chests. I suggest there can be no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal. Because ‘reality’ is quite a strong firm word we tend to think. all to boos. dash. I write plays. and the characters concrete also. actors or to my fellow men in general. defined problems with built-in solutions. and as far as I’m concerned ‘X’ can follow any course he chooses without my . I find. nor should a playwright under any exhortation damage the consistency of his characters by injecting a remedy or apology for their actions into the last act. thrown them together and listened to what they said. That’s the sum of it. in other words. I remember Düsseldorf. and now. but yesterday. in their plays and out of them. and that’s all. I don’t mean merely years ago. all can camp under the banner of prophecy. It took me quite a while to grow used to the fact that critical and public response in the theatre follows a very erratic temperature chart. if not the impossibility. there are differences between the two plays. or our imagination will have attributed quite false characteristics to today. There is certainly a good deal of prophecy indulged in by playwrights these days.’ So it’s possible to deduce from this that dots are more popular than dashes and that’s why The Caretaker had a longer run than The Birthday Party. against an active and willing participation. and we won’t know then. the last act ‘resolution’. calculated tensions. producers. What’s happening now? We won’t know until tomorrow or in six months’ time. dash. And the alarms of this world which I suppose I work in become steadily more widespread and intrusive. for me. A moment is sucked away and distorted. a bow with a German cast of The Caretaker at the end of the play on the first night. simply. When a character cannot be comfortably defined or understood in terms of the familiar. dot. I thought they were using megaphones. impertinent and dishonest. however. In The Birthday Party I employed a certain amount of dashes in the text. it is easy to put up a pretty efficient smoke screen. In this way. The context has always been. So that instead of. depending on where you’re standing at the time or on what the weather’s like. is a world of false climaxes. I think there’s a shared common ground all right. or to hope. I’m not an authoritative or reliable commentator on the dramatic scene. My responsibility is not to audiences. I have usually begun a play in quite a simple manner. a poem or a play. dot. I warned you about definitive statements but it looks as though I’ve Just made one. dot. out of harm’s way. The play fills in the blanks. The attitude behind this sort of thing might be summed up in one phrase: ‘I’m telling you!’ It takes all sorts of playwrights to make a world. But I think Düsseldorf cleared the air for me.

Given this nausea. ‘The fact would seem to be. not to let them live. I’d like to make quite clear at the same time that I don’t regard my own characters as uncontrolled. There are two silences. I do all the donkeywork. which is even more interesting. but by allowing them to carry their own can. another thing is being said. That is its continual reference. from the shape of a sentence to the overall structure of the play. unwilling. But if it is possible to confront this nausea. It is in the silence that they are most evident to me. The rehearsal period and the performance. I’ve written nine plays. But at the same time I have another strong feeling about words which amounts to nothing less than nausea. This can be extremely painful. The other when perhaps a torrent of language is being employed. They’re not. You don’t know until you’ve cornered it. and how much more abortive. my job is not to impose upon them. It’s much easier. What is presented. ‘a different kind of failure’. his altruism. their aspirations. when he says something. sorting them out. Samuel Beckett says. Language. The function of selection and arrangement is mine. giving little away. trite. anguished or mocking smoke screen which keeps the other in its place. where image can freely engender image and where at the same time you are able to keep your sights on the place where the characters are silent and in hiding. I mean the life we in fact live. and can never be taken back. A dramatist will absorb a great many things of value from an active and intense experience in the theatre. that I shall have to. desperate rearguard attempts to keep ourselves to ourselves. throughout these two periods. I am not suggesting that no character in a play can ever say what he in fact means. not only that I shall have to speak of things of which I cannot speak. If I were to state any moral precept it might be: Beware of the writer who puts forward his concern for you to embrace. sly. But it’s out of these attributes that a language arises. Not at all. following the clues you leave for yourself. who leaves you in no doubt of his worthiness. And if I find writing plays an extremely difficult task. for me. I have found that there invariably does come a moment when this happens. words spoken in a context such as this. our empty preferences. grimy phrase: ‘Failure of communication’ … and this phrase has been fixed to my work quite consistently.’ . is a highly ambiguous business. One way of looking at speech is to say that it is a constant strategem to cover nakedness. what he says is irrevocable. under these conditions. to put it mildly. But I can’t but feel that we have a marked tendency to stress. the bulk of it a stale dead terminology. in fact. And if it’s possible to talk of gaining a kind of freedom from writing. both ways. or making him speak of what he could never speak. I forget. obstructive. So often. This shaping. it’s very easy to be overcome by it and step back into paralysis. his usefulness. The preference for goodwill. these deliverances. is of the first importance. from this I derive a considerable pleasure. as a body of active and positive thought is in fact a body lost in a prison of empty definition and cliché. how much more difficult it is to attempt to rationalise the process. words written by me and by others. in what is unsaid. below the word spoken. to follow it to its hilt. their history. so much of the time. where under what is said. There follow two further periods in the progress of a play. ideas endlessly repeated and permutated become platitudinous. And that fact. And where this happens. through the characters. that something has even been achieved. A blank page is both an exciting and a frightening thing. And sometimes a balance is found. perhaps. Moving among them. which is held up to be very different to life with a small 1. I have mixed feelings about words myself. for various mediums. meaningless. To disclose to others the poverty within us is too fearsome a possibility. much less pain. how facile they’ve become. no matter. which he has never said before. their motives. Communication is too alarming. by giving them a legitimate elbowroom. a violent. a pulsating mass where his characters ought to be. with reference to their experience. Given characters who possess a momentum of their own. This speech is speaking of a language locked beneath it. Between my lack of biographical data about them and the ambiguity of what they say lies a territory which is not only worthy of exploration but which it is compulsory to explore. I imagine most writers know something of this kind of paralysis. We have heard many times that tired. the characters which grow on a page. is the thing known and unspoken.acting as his censor. This kind of writer clearly trusts words absolutely. unreliable. I suppose. if in my situation one may speak of facts. it doesn’t come by leading one’s characters into fixed and calculated postures. so glibly. watching them appear on the page. evasive. day out. but also that I. by which I mean forcing a character to speak where he could not speak. but also. elusive. who declares that his heart is in the right place. To propagate a phoney war between hypothetical schools of playwrights doesn’t seem to me a very productive pastime and it certainly isn’t my intention. as I think I’ve clearly demonstrated to you this morning. You arrange and you listen. One when no word is spoken. and ensures that it can be seen in full view. and at the moment I haven’t the slightest idea how I’ve managed to do it. And there’s no guarantee that you will know then. at the beginning of his novel The Unnamable. while still understanding it as a kind of celebration. But finally he is again left looking at the blank page. My characters tell me so much and no more. then it is possible to say that something has occurred. When true silence falls we are still left with echo but are nearer nakedness. most of the time we’re inexpressive. You and I. sent me on to write the next one. It’s what you start from. In that page is something or nothing. It is a necessary avoidance. for charity. to move through it and out of it. The speech we hear is an indication of that which we don’t hear. The preference for ‘Life’ with a capital L. I repeat. and I think I can say I pay meticulous attention to the shape of things. The relationship between author and characters should be a highly respectful one. for benevolence. But it always remains a chance worth taking. Such a weight of words confronts us day in. But I think a double thing happens. I think that we communicate only too well. To enter into someone else’s life is too frightening. Each play was. not to subject them to a false articulation. making him speak in a way he could not speak. in our silence. I believe the contrary. and that what takes place is a continual evasion. which is if possible even more interesting. A language. or anarchic.


The Birthday Party was first presented by Michael Codron and David Hall at the Arts Theatre. a man in his late thirties LULU . a man in his sixties MEG. with the following cast: PETEY MEG STANLEY LULU GOLDBERG MCANN Directed by Kenneth Ives A morning in summer Evening of the same day ACT III The next morning ACT I ACT II Robert Lang Joan Plowright Kenneth Cranham Julie Walters Harold Pinter Colin Blakely . on 18 June 1964. Hammersmith. Cambridge. a woman in her sixties STANLEY . and subsequently at the Lyric Opera House. with the following cast: PETEY MEG STANLEY LULU GOLDBERG MCANN Newton Blick Doris Hare Bryan Pringle Janet Suzman Brewster Mason Patrick Magee Directed by Harold Pinter The Birthday Party was broadcast on BBC Television on 28 June 1987. a man of thirty Willoughby Gray Beatrix Lehmann Richard Pearson Wendy Hutchinson John Slater John Stratton Directed by Peter Wood The Birthday Party was revived by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Aldwych Theatre. a girl in her twenties GOLDBERG. a man in his fifties MCCANN. on 28 April 1958. with the following cast: PETEY . London.

The living-room of a house in a seaside town. A door leading to the hall down left. Back door and small window up left. Kitchen hatch, centre back.
Kitchen door up right. Table and chairs, centre.
PETEY enters from the door on the left with a paper and sits at the table. He begins to read. MEG’S voice comes through the kitchen hatch.

Is that you, Petey?

Petey, is that you?

Is that you?
PETEY. Yes, it’s me.
MEG. What? (Her face appears at the hatch.) Are you back?
MEG. I’ve got your cornflakes ready. (She disappears and reappears.) Here’s your cornflakes.


He rises and takes the plate from her, sits at the table, props up the paper and begins to eat. MEG enters by the kitchen door.
Are they nice?

PETEY. Very nice.
I thought they’d be nice. (She sits at the table.) You got your paper?
MEG. Is it good?
PETEY. Not bad.
MEG. What does it say?
PETEY. Nothing much.
MEG. You read me out some nice bits yesterday.
PETEY. Yes, well, I haven’t finished this one yet.
MEG. Will you tell me when you come to something good?


MEG. Have you been working hard this morning?
No. Just stacked a few of the old chairs. Cleaned up a bit.
MEG. Is it nice out?
PETEY. Very nice.

Is Stanley up yet?
I don’t know. Is he?
MEG. I don’t know. I haven’t seen him down yet.
PETEY. Well then, he can’t be up.
MEG. Haven’t you seen him down?
PETEY. I’ve only just come in.
MEG. He must be still asleep.


She looks round the room, stands, goes to the sideboard and takes a pair of socks from a drawer, collects wool and a needle and goes back to the table.
What time did you go out this morning, Petey?
PETEY. Same time as usual.
MEG. Was it dark?
PETEY. No, it was light.
MEG (beginning to darn). But sometimes you go out in the morning and it’s dark.
PETEY. That’s in the winter.
MEG. Oh, in winter.
PETEY. Yes, it gets light later in winter.
MEG. Oh.
What are you reading?
Someone’s just had a baby.
Oh, they haven’t! Who?
PETEY. Some girl.
MEG. Who, Petey, who?
PETEY. I don’t think you’d know her.
MEG. What’s her name?
PETEY. Lady Mary Splatt.
MEG. I don’t know her.


What is it?
PETEY (studying the paper). Er—a girl.
MEG. Not a boy?
MEG. Oh, what a shame. I’d be sorry. I’d much rather have a little boy.
PETEY. A little girl’s all right.
MEG. I’d much rather have a little boy.


I’ve finished my cornflakes.
MEG. Were they nice?
PETEY. Very nice.
MEG. I’ve got something else for you.
PETEY. Good.

She rises, takes his plate and exits into the kitchen. She then appears at the hatch with two pieces of fried bread on a plate.
MEG. Here you are, Petey.
He rises, collects the plate, looks at it, sits at the table. MEG re-enters.
Is it nice?
I haven’t tasted it yet.
I bet you don’t know what it is.
PETEY. Yes, I do.
MEG. What is it, then?
PETEY. Fried bread.
MEG. That’s right.


He begins to eat.
She watches him eat.
Very nice.
I knew it was.
PETEY (turning to her). Oh, Meg, two men came up to me on the beach last night.
MEG. Two men?
PETEY. Yes. They wanted to know if we could put them up for a couple of nights.
MEG. Put them up? Here?
MEG. How many men?
MEG. What did you say?
PETEY. Well, I said I didn’t know. So they said they’d come round to find out.
MEG. Are they coming?
PETEY. Well, they said they would.
MEG. Had they heard about us, Petey?
PETEY. They must have done.
MEG. Yes, they must have done. They must have heard this was a very good boarding house. It is. This house is on the list.
PETEY. It is.
MEG. I know it is.
PETEY. They might turn up today. Can you do it?
MEG. Oh, I’ve got that lovely room they can have.
PETEY. You’ve got a room ready?
MEG. I’ve got the room with the armchair all ready for visitors.
PETEY. You’re sure?
MEG. Yes, that’ll be all right then, if they come today.
PETEY. Good.


She takes the socks etc. back to the sideboard drawer.
MEG. I’m going to wake that boy.
There’s a new show coming to the Palace.
MEG. On the pier?
PETEY. No. The Palace, in the town.
MEG. Stanley could have been in it, if it was on the pier.
PETEY. This is a straight show.
MEG. What do you mean?
PETEY. No dancing or singing.
MEG. What do they do then?
PETEY. They just talk.


MEG. Oh.
You like a song eh, Meg?

I like listening to the piano. I used to like watching Stanley play the piano. Of course, he didn’t sing. (Looking at the door.) I’m going to call that boy.
PETEY. Didn’t you take him up his cup of tea?
MEG. I always take him up his cup of tea. But that was a long time ago.
PETEY. Did he drink it?
MEG. I made him. I stood there till he did. I’m going to call him. (She goes to the door.) Stan! Stanny! (She listens.) Stan! I’m coming up to fetch you if you don’t
come down! I’m coming up! I’m going to count three! One! Two! Three! I’m coming to get you! (She exits and goes upstairs. In a moment, shouts from
STANLEY, wild laughter from MEG. PETEY takes his plate to the hatch. Shouts. Laughter. PETEY sits at the table. Silence. She returns.) He’s coming down. (She is
panting and arranges her hair.) I told him if he didn’t hurry up he’d get no breakfast.
PETEY. That did it, eh?
MEG. I’ll get his cornflakes.


exits to the kitchen. PETEY reads the paper. STANLEY enters. He is unshaven, in his pyjama jacket and wears glasses. He sits at the table.

Morning, Stanley.


Silence. MEG enters with the bowl of cornflakes, which she sets on the table.
So he’s come down at last, has he? He’s come down at last for his breakfast. But he doesn’t deserve any, does he, Petey? (STANLEY stares at the
cornflakes.) Did you sleep well?
STANLEY. I didn’t sleep at all.
MEG. You didn’t sleep at all? Did you hear that, Petey? Too tired to eat your breakfast, I suppose? Now you eat up those cornflakes like a good boy. Go on.

He begins to eat.
STANLEY. What’s it like out today?
PETEY. Very nice.
PETEY. Well, there’s a good breeze blowing.
PETEY. No, no, I wouldn’t say it was cold.
MEG. What are the cornflakes like, Stan?
STANLEY. Horrible.
MEG. Those flakes? Those lovely flakes? You’re a liar, a little liar. They’re refreshing. It says so. For people when they get up late.
STANLEY. The milk’s off.
MEG. It’s not. Petey ate his, didn’t you, Petey?
PETEY. That’s right.
MEG. There you are then.
STANLEY. All right, I’ll go on to the second course.
MEG. He hasn’t finished the first course and he wants to go on to the second course!
STANLEY. I feel like something cooked.
MEG. Well, I’m not going to give it to you.
PETEY. Give it to him.
MEG (sitting at the table, right). I’m not going to.

No breakfast.

All night long I’ve been dreaming about this breakfast.
MEG. I thought you said you didn’t sleep.
STANLEY. Day-dreaming. All night long. And now she won’t give me any. Not even a crust of bread on the table.
Well, I can see I’ll have to go down to one of those smart hotels on the front.
MEG (rising quickly). You won’t get a better breakfast there than here.
She exits to the kitchen. STANLEY yawns broadly. MEG appears at the hatch with a plate.

Here you are. You’ll like this.
rises, collects the plate, brings it to the table, puts it in front of STANLEY, and sits.
What’s this?
Fried bread.
MEG (entering). Well, I bet you don’t know what it is.
STANLEY. Oh yes I do.
MEG. What?
STANLEY. Fried bread.
MEG. He knew.
STANLEY. What a wonderful surprise.
MEG. You didn’t expect that, did you?
STANLEY. I bloody well didn’t.
PETEY (rising). Well, I’m off.
MEG. You going back to work?
MEG. Your tea! You haven’t had your tea!

Yes. STANLEY.) Say please. No. Stan. No time now. Succulent. STANLEY. (STANLEY eats. Why not? MEG (pouring the tea. He pushes his plate away and picks up the paper. MEG. Whoo! MEG. . MEG. He rubs his eyes under his glasses and picks up the paper. MEG. Ta-ta. STANLEY. STANLEY. This isn’t tea. Please. What? MEG. MEG. STANLEY. never mind. STANLEY. MEG. tch. He knows I’m not a bad wife. STANLEY. It’s gravy! MEG. tch. You deserve the strap. STANLEY. succulent—? MEG. Who? STANLEY. This house is on the list. It’s not. How many? STANLEY. STANLEY exclaims and throws her arm away. Tch. I know it is.) You won’t find many better wives than me. What word? MEG. I’ve got it made inside. if I can’t say it to a married woman who can I say it to? MEG. You don’t deserve it though. STANLEY. left. Well. Not to make your husband a cup of tea. I can tell you. tch. Never you mind. What. it’s true. Is that a fact? MEG. MEG. Visitors? Do you know how many visitors you’ve had since I’ve been here? MEG. STANLEY. What about some tea? MEG. Don’t say it! STANLEY. MEG. STANLEY. Terrible. I never knew that. PETEY. How long has that tea been in the pot? MEG. I bet it is. Disgraceful. That word you said. STANLEY. MEG. Ta-ta. Calling me that. STANLEY. MEG. I keep a very nice house and I keep it clean. Yes! And this house is very well known. Was it nice? STANLEY. for a very good boarding house for visitors. Who told you that? MEG. Just sorry. What do you mean? STANLEY. Well. Just sorry! MEG. MEG. MEG (defensively). It’s good tea. MEG. anyway. coyly). Sorry first. It wasn’t sour. PETEY. Go on. STANLEY. MEG. You shouldn’t say that word. Do you want some tea? (STANLEY reads the paper. STANLEY. You mind your own business. Giving him sour milk instead.That’s all right. STANLEY. STANLEY. I’m not. Me! I’m your visitor. The fried bread. You shouldn’t say that word to a married woman. Who said I am? STANLEY. You’re a bad wife. Well. Don’t do that! She takes his plate and ruffles his hair as she passes. I don’t know what I’d do without you. You’re bad. I brought the pot in. She goes into the kitchen. STANLEY. No. MEG. You’re a liar. What’s the matter with it? MEG. STANLEY (absently). See you later. One. Good strong tea. She enters. STANLEY. STANLEY. Say sorry first. PETEY exits. STANLEY.

He recoils from her hand in disgust.) STANLEY. they did. I’d rather have you than a cold in the nose any day. You’ll see when they come. MEG. smoking. Oh. STANLEY. STANLEY. She comes to the table and dusts it. Didn’t anyone ever tell you to warm the pot. STANLEY. Here? They wanted to come here? MEG. MEG goes to the sideboard. I need a new room! MEG (sensual. Will I? MEG. It needs papering. Without your old Meg. Oh God. STANLEY (moving to her). STANLEY returns. A fake alarm. They won’t come. MEG. MEG. Is the sun shining? (He crosses to the window.) Tickle. A cigarette. (He sits at the table. The street door slams. It’s a false alarm. That’s good strong tea. stands and exits quickly by the door on the left. What two gentlemen? I’m expecting visitors. stroking his arm). And another thing. that’s all. STANLEY (pacing the room). I tell you they won’t come. Forget all about it. You’ll be lonely. But I’m going shopping in a minute. It’s not easy to find in the dark. Look. I like cigarettes. You didn’t know that. STANLEY. that’s a lovely room. Are you going to give me one? STANLEY. you are. Why? MEG. why don’t you get this place cleared up! It’s a pigsty. Stanny! Don’t you like your cup of tea of a morning—the one I bring you? STANLEY. at least? MEG. Get away from me. MEG.) Where’s my tea? MEG. Oh. She crosses behind him and tickles the back of his neck. STANLEY (putting his head in his hands). Two gentlemen asked Petey if they could come and stay for a couple of nights. This house is on the list. watching him. It’s true. Go.Get out of it. I’m tired. You didn’t want it. (She picks up the duster and begins to wipe the cloth on the table. Petey told me this morning. (She takes the curlers out of her hair. What do you mean. Not the bloody table! Pause. STANLEY (violently). MEG. Perhaps they couldn’t find the place in the dark. When was this? When did he see them? MEG. STANLEY. STANLEY (pushing her). You succulent old washing bag. STANLEY. Are you going out? STANLEY. What? MEG. You’re saying it on purpose. collects a duster. I’ve got to get things in for the two gentlemen. He turns. MEG. MEG. And it isn’t your place to come into a man’s bedroom and—wake him up. STANLEY. I can’t drink this muck. But who are they? MEG. MEG. all by yourself. Why not? STANLEY (quickly). Am I really succulent? STANLEY. STANLEY slowly raises his head. You’re just saying that. tickle. I don’t believe it. MEG. I took it away. They won’t come. STANLEY. I am not! And it isn’t your place to tell me if I am! STANLEY. I’m expecting them. Didn’t he tell you their names? MEG. if they were coming? MEG. what about my room? It needs sweeping. Stan? STANLEY. A pause. Someone’s taking the Michael. (He stands at the window. Not with you. Who are they? MEG. takes a cigarette and matches from his pyjama jacket. MEG. STANLEY (grinding his cigarette). MEG. did you? STANLEY. STANLEY. He speaks without turning. Last night. STANLEY (decisively). No.) What are you smoking? STANLEY. you took it away? . and lights his cigarette. Stan. Silence. No. MEG. MEG. I’ve had some lovely afternoons in that room. I don’t know. What are you talking about? MEG. Yes. and vaguely dusts the room. Why didn’t they come last night. MEG.) STANLEY. What? MEG (shyly). She collects his cup and the teapot and takes them to the hatch shelf. STANLEY.

Yes. I’d like to know who was responsible for that. Berlin? STANLEY. not even a caretaker. Absolutely unique. (Pause. You’re just an old piece of rock cake. STANLEY. What latest? STANLEY. STANLEY. then lifts himself slowly.) Like you used to? (STANLEY grunts. Carved me up. You stay with your old Meg. his trunk falls forward. (He replaces his glasses.) That’s what you are.) I once gave a concert. We don’t stay in Berlin. You wouldn’t drink it. it was all worked out. In Berlin. I’ve … er … I’ve been offered a job. It was all arranged. You stay here. What did you wear? STANLEY (to himself). (MEG fidgets nervously. have I? MEG. It was a good one. aren’t you? MEG. MEG.) Tell me. They came up to me and said they were grateful. I meant like when you were working. MEG. No. No. Then we pay a flying visit to … er … whatsisname…. that was it.) Look at her.) All right. They’d locked it up. Have you heard the latest? MEG. No. He looks at her. STANLEY. when you address yourself to me. You haven’t heard it? . Yes. I haven’t got a piano. do you ever ask yourself who exactly you are talking to? Eh? STANLEY Silence. as a matter of fact. MEG. I went down there to play. (Pause. can I? MEG. Playing the piano. (Pause. Who do you think you’re talking to? MEG (uncertainly). How long for? STANLEY. Did you pay a visit this morning? He stiffens. the hall was closed. Every single one of them. I dropped him a card anyway. Didn’t you enjoy your breakfast. then looks at MEG. Then we go to Athens. Who gave you the right to take away my tea? MEG. It’s a round the world tour. casually. He groans. That piano. Berlin. Come over here. Stan. What? STANLEY. At Lower Edmonton. Mrs Boles. MEG (in a small voice). I took it away. STANLEY stares at her. But I don’t think he could make it. MEG.) Stan? When are you going to play the piano again? (STANLEY grunts. (Takes off his glasses and wipes them on his pyjama jacket. What did you take it away for? MEG. They came up to me. You did! STANLEY. (Pause. MEG. Yes. In winter. (quietly). When are you going to play it again? STANLEY. They want me to crawl down on my bended knees. I had a unique touch.) I used to like watching you play the piano. I haven’t. would you? You could play the piano on the pier. You’re not. Then. STANLEY. A concert. MEG. aren’t you? (He rises and leans across the table to her. STANLEY. MEG. Have you played the piano in those places before? STANLEY. you know what they did? They carved me up. the lot. Lower Edmonton. Well I can take a tip … any day of the week. Shall I tell you? MEG.) My father nearly came down to hear me. I want to ask you something. STANLEY. They pulled a fast one. What? STANLEY. Why not? STANLEY. I can ask it from here just as well. Come here. You didn’t want it! STANLEY. Don’t you go away again. Meg. I can take a tip. Somewhere else it was. Vladivostock. It was a great success. MEG. What? STANLEY. They were all there that night. Do you know what? MEG. the place was shuttered up. I’m considering a job at the moment. How long for? STANLEY. Stan. MEG. I—I lost the address. I can’t. A good one. Jack.) All right. I’ll bet you have. MEG. Then after that. A night club. A fabulous salary.MEG. Constantinople. Who said I didn’t want it? MEG. (He groans and lies across the table. She does not go to him. (Bitterly. But you wouldn’t have to go away if you got a job. All over the country. A night club. STANLEY. MEG. You’ll be better off. And all found. his head falls into his hands.) Come on. Zagreb. (Deliberately. then speaks airily. too. No.) A fast one. turns to face her and speaks lightly. My next concert. MEG (sitting at the table). A concert? STANLEY (reflectively). STANLEY. when I got there.) Yes. Played the piano? I’ve played the piano all over the world. Well. too. Yes. MEG.) Aren’t you feeling well this morning. Stan? (She approaches the table. What do you mean? STANLEY. Champagne we had that night. Go and do your shopping. Where? STANLEY.

STANLEY. STANLEY. They’re coming in a van. I don’t know about that. STANLEY. round parcel upon it. MEG. of course not …(Whispers. LULU (offering him the compact). Very nice. Don’t you believe me! She sits. and they wheel it up the garden path. Yes. Yes.) Ta-ta. It’s lovely out. MEG (hoarsely). They’re looking for someone. And when the van stops they wheel it out. I don’t … (Whispers. they’re not! STANLEY. Do you want to have a look at your face? (STANLEY withdraws from the table. LULU. Cheese.) Don’t you ever go out? (He does not answer. Ay-ay. LULU (at the door). I’m a big eater. Oh yes they have. Come out and get a bit of air. They’re not. STANLEY. STANLEY. I won’t … (Whispers. LULU. I thought I’d bring it round. (advancing). A big wheelbarrow. You’re a liar! STANLEY A sudden knock on the front door.) That’s a bulky object. it’s just come.) You could do with a shave. takes out a compact and powders her nose. No! STANLEY. They haven’t. What. Mrs Boles. walks upstage. STANLEY. Oh. I went right out to the headland and back before breakfast. You don’t want me to tell you? MEG. what do you do. LULU’S voice: Ooh-ooh! edges past STANLEY and collects her shopping bag. Were you? STANLEY. They’ve got a wheelbarrow in that van. MEG. No. right at the table. All right. STANLEY sidles to the door quickly sits at the table.) MEG. You’re not to touch it. LULU. You’re a liar. They don’t. MEG. And I’ve got a few sandwiches. MEG. STANLEY. They’re coming today. just sit around the house like this all day long? (Pause. that’s better. What sort of sandwiches? LULU. What do you think? LULU. Well. anyway. (LULU crosses to the sideboard and puts a solid. you know. I always stand on the table when she sweeps the floor. LULU (rising). Why don’t you open the door? It’s all stuffy in here. LULU. and then they knock at the front door. Enter LULU . I just want to leave this in here. And do you know what they’ve got in that van? MEG. LULU LULU. Why don’t you have a wash? You look terrible. STANLEY. STANLEY. That’s all right. You could do with it. LULU.) Hasn’t Mrs Boles got enough to do without having you under her feet all day long? STANLEY. I’m not hungry. LULU. looking like that. You depress me. Who? STANLEY. LULU. STANLEY. Shall I tell you who they’re looking for? MEG. MEG (breathlessly). STANLEY. Do. you’re not to. and listens. Well. VOICE (through letter box).) VOICE. MEG STANLEY MEG goes out. Oh. MEG. They’re looking for someone. What shall I do with it? MEG. A wash wouldn’t make any difference. No. MEG. is that it? VOICE.) I mean. Me! I was in the sea at half past six.) VOICE. No. STANLEY (rising): Stuffy? I disinfected the place this morning. Mrs Boles … MEG. hullo. . has it come? VOICE.MEG. STANLEY. I hope so. What? STANLEY. A certain person. STANLEY (advancing upon her). She opens the back door. Air? Oh. Hullo. but … (Whispers. Oh. Is it nice? VOICE. Why would I want to touch it? LULU. do you know that? (STANLEY sits. I think it’s going to rain to-day.

we could go. How do we know this is the right house? GOLDBERG. Nat. GOLDBERG (reflectively). Besides. GOLDBERG (sitting at the table. You may be right. Nat. He was an all-round man. You know what I said when this job came up. MCCANN. Nowhere. Of course. Nowhere. What’s the matter with you? I bring you down for a few days to the seaside. I was a very busy man. What about me? MCCANN. I don’t know. How would you like to go away with me? LULU. Well. takes off his glasses and begins to wash his face. So you’re not coming out for a walk? STANLEY. then walk downstage. MCCANN. the sun coming down—golden days. I do try. When I know what I’m doing. Hey. Yes. Is this it? GOLDBERG. Learn to relax. Thank you. GOLDBERG and MCCANN look round the room. Well. Do yourself a favour. Canvey Island. GOLDBERG. and when you’re doing the job you’re as cool as a whistle? MCCANN. Are you going to take a seat? GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. One of the old school. It’s more than true. STANLEY. every second Friday of the month my Uncle Barney used to take me to the seaside. Take a seat. GOLDBERG. One of the old school. coming from a man in your position. where else is there? STANLEY. (He gets up. What about you? GOLDBERG. LULU. No. STANLEY. You’re a capable man. GOLDBERG. True? Of course it’s true. MCCANN. Nat. MCCANN. There’s nowhere to go. we’d watch the tide coming in. No. wiping his face. It wouldn’t matter. Enter. So we could just go. he was an impeccable dresser.) Sit back. GOLDBERG. Still. MCCANN. Relax. We’ll both take a seat. I’m just all right once I know what I’m doing. by the back door. Everywhere you go these days it’s like a funeral. How do we know this is the right house? GOLDBERG. MCCANN. We might as well stay here. to see how the M. GOLDBERG a briefcase. They halt inside the door. STANLEY stands. It’s a well-known fact. let yourself go. That’s why. For a paper. Rottingdean—Uncle Barney wasn’t particular. .) Uncle Barney. Don’t worry yourself. MCCANN. going out. regular as clockwork. McCann. what do you mean? He was a cosmopolitan. Culture? Don’t talk to me about culture. MCCANN. MCCANN. I didn’t see a number on the gate. MCCANN. That’s true. When I was an apprentice yet. Pause. Yes. McCann? You don’t trust me like you did in the old days? MCCANN. or you’ll never get anywhere. LULU. you do it very well. It’s a fact. MCCANN. Nat. Nat. sidles through the kitchen door and out of the back door. McCann. What makes you think it’s the wrong house? MCCANN. Brighton. that’s a charming proposal. aren’t you? STANLEY She exits. was getting on overseas. Respected by the whole community. No? GOLDBERG (settling in the armchair). That was very good of you. LULU. After lunch on Shabbuss we’d go and sit in a couple of deck chairs—you know. It’s no good here. LULU. when I had to go away on business I never carried any money. I mean naturally they approached me to take care of it. I’m all right. Sure I’m sure. McCann. breathe out. He used to carry a few coppers. This is it. A pause. the ones with canopies—we’d have a little paddle. Nat…. LULU. right).C. Otherwise my name was good. Nat? Isn’t it about time someone came in? GOLDBERG. McCann. (Reminiscent. You’re a bit of a washout.) Do you have to wear those glasses? STANLEY. STANLEY slips on his glasses. You know one thing Uncle Barney taught me? Uncle Barney taught me that the word of a gentleman is enough. STANLEY. Well. What about this. MCCANN. MCCANN. Breathe in. MCCANN. it was nothing. The secret is breathing. GOLDBERG. He had a house just outside Basingstoke at the time. take a chance. What now? GOLDBERG. Nat. Nowhere. Take my tip. what are you so nervous about? Pull yourself together. And you know who I asked for? MCCANN. What is it. believe me. But why is it that before you do a job you’re all over the place. Are you sure? GOLDBERG. I wasn’t looking for a number. What? MCCANN. left. Nat. LULU. left. glimpses their backs through the hatch. That’s a great compliment. MCCANN carries two suitcases. McCann. Take a holiday. GOLDBERG. One of my sons used to come with me. You. GOLDBERG and MCCANN. Where. Sure I trust you. But where could we go? STANLEY. He goes into the kitchen. He then goes to the mirror and looks in it. McCann.C. Who? GOLDBERG. I can’t at the moment. perhaps. (MCCANN puts down the suitcase and sits at the table. McCann. Ah sure. what can you lose? Look at me.(abruptly).

MCCANN leans forward. tch. Just one. What’s his name? MEG. What does he do.Well. Stanley Webber. Nat. GOLDBERG. MCCANN. Yes. Hey Nat. In a way. of course? MEG. Mrs Boles? MEG. MEG. Oh. Quite unnecessary. Perhaps he mentioned us? We heard that you kindly let rooms for gentlemen. A man. But today it’s different. And your husband. it would have been easier last week. Never. Pause. MEG. GOLDBERG. I can assure you that the assignment will be carried out and the mission accomplished with no excessive aggravation to you or myself. It’s unnecessary to recapitulate. How are you keeping. No. thank you. MCCANN. Very pleased to meet you. MCCANN. Yes. Oh yes. it’s true. I won’t deny it. really. Yes. Or a woman? MEG. Been here long? MEG. GOLDBERG. he’s out in all weathers. MCCANN. This job—no. The main issue is a singular issue and quite distinct from your previous work. We spoke to your husband last night. GOLDBERG. No. Just one at the moment. GOLDBERG. goes behind the table. looks at MCCANN. GOLDBERG. Why? How many have you got here at the moment? MEG. MCCANN. Oh yes? Does he work here? GOLDBERG. McCann. I appreciate it. GOLDBERG. Mrs Boles? MEG. Satisfied? MCCANN. and I won’t ask any more. MEG enters. so what do you say? You can manage to put us up. . eh? MEG. you’ve done a lot for me. What now? MCCANN. No. GOLDBERG. A resident. however. Sure. Just one? MEG. I’ve got a position. you understand. Just that. GOLDBERG. I’m glad. sits at the table. Well. Yes? GOLDBERG. Yes. listen—this job. MCCANN. Yes? Really? MEG. You certainly have. Yes. You’ve always been a true Christian. That’s very nice. We’re pleased to meet you. eh. Thank you. You’re right there. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. is it going to be like anything we’ve ever done before? GOLDBERG. your husband? MEG. too. A man? GOLDBERG. All is dependent on the attitude of our subject. Say no more. I’m Mr Goldberg and this is Mr McCann. stands. You’re right. left. I would never deny that I had a position. I just thought I’d tell you that I appreciate it. Until you came. very well. MCCANN. How often do you meet someone it’s a pleasure to meet? MCCANN. So we came to you. Oh. GOLDBERG. They shake hands. Certain elements. Ah. GOLDBERG. He’s a deck-chair attendant. might well approximate in points of procedure to some of your other activities. Mrs Boles? MEG. Of course. GOLDBERG sighs. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. tch. And what a position! GOLDBERG. And your guest? Is he a man? MEG. He’s been here about a year now. She begins to take her purchases from her bag. GOLDBERG. It’s not a thing I would deny. GOLDBERG GOLDBERG. Well. Oh yes. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. MCCANN. GOLDBERG. just one thing…. but he sleeps with me. MEG. very nice. So I brought my friend along with me. fluent. GOLDBERG. We were after a nice place. GOLDBERG. just tell me that. It would. and then speaks in a quiet. At all events. ponders. official tone. right. Tch.

STANLEY appears at the window. you’ll look like a tulip. We’re going to give him a party. and he’s forgotten all about it. Oh. He enters by the back door. you must have one. as MEG enters. Are you going to have a party? MEG. And then he got a fast train and he came down here. STANLEY. STANLEY. The ones that were coming. MEG. And now you’ve got McCann and me. Is this the way? MEG (rising). They’re very nice. They were thrilled with their room. McCann? MCCANN. Do you mind being both together? GOLDBERG. Really? MEG. Oh. Er—well. He hasn’t mentioned it. MEG.He used to work. Today. lovely. They said the beds were wonderful. STANLEY. MEG. MCCANN. and GOLDBERG exit laughing. What colour? GOLDBERG. Mr Gold— GOLDBERG. Do you mind. MCCANN (at the door). Silence. He lights a match and watches it burn. He goes to the door on the left. What? GOLDBERG. STANLEY. So he had to wait until the morning before he could get out. You like the idea? MEG. GOLDBERG.) They were very grateful. eh? What do you say? MEG. He stands.) He once gave a concert. And I’ll invite Lulu this afternoon. GOLDBERG. I’ll put on my party dress. Tonight. Well. GOLDBERG. is that a fact? MEG. But then they locked the place up and he couldn’t get out. I wish he could have played tonight. We’ll give him a party. Oh. What time shall we have the party? GOLDBERG. opens it and listens. that’s wonderful. So we’re going to remind him. He walks to the table. MEG. GOLDBERG. His birthday? MEG. We’ll bring him out of himself. The two gentlemen. STANLEY. MCCANN. He sits. McCann? There’s a gentleman living here. MEG. If you don’t mind coming upstairs. And so he took the tip. (She sits at the table. No. Oh yes! GOLDBERG. of course. I hope I look nice in my dress. I’ve put you both together. With a tulip? It’s a pleasure. I wanted to have a party But you must have people for a party. What two gentlemen? MEG. MCCANN. She crosses and hangs her shopping bag on a hook. I just took them to their room. He used to be a pianist. If we hadn’t come today we’d have come tomorrow. (Pause. The caretaker had gone home. MEG. Berg. GOLDBERG. I don’t mind. Tonight. I’m glad we came today. Oh. No. Just in time for his birthday. In … a big hall. (With confidence. I’m so glad you came today. It will. GOLDBERG. What do you think of that. GOLDBERG. Could I go up to my room? MEG. GOLDBERG. A party? GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. Stan. Who is it? MEG.) We’ll have a party. Berg. Weren’t you going to have one? MEG (her eyes wide). eh? Does he play a nice piano? MEG. They’ve come? MEG. Doesn’t he know it’s his birthday? MEG. MEG. I’ll have to see the dress first. Still. Ah! Tell me. MEG. Why didn’t they come last night? MEG. Who are they? MEG . In a concert party on the pier. He’s been down in the dumps lately. Pause. Oh yes? On the pier.) And then they all wanted to give him a tip. Sure. And I’ll get some bottles. GOLDBERG (thoughtfully). Nine o’clock. Oh yes. MEG. GOLDBERG. McCann’s the life and soul of any party. Leave it to me. But I’m not going to tell him until tonight. GOLDBERG. I’ll show you. Yes. GOLDBERG. Straight down. GOLDBERG. Oh? Where? MEG (falteringly). this is going to cheer Stanley up. MEG. followed by MCCANN. His father gave him champagne. Oh. GOLDBERG. (He stands. Oh. Madam. Why tonight? MEG. It’s his birthday today. He’s got a birthday today.

MEG.) STANLEY. STANLEY slowly sits at the table. MEG (tenderly).) There are some sticks in there. Open your present. I’ve told you. How do I know if I know them until I know their names? MEG. Halfway round the beat becomes erratic. Shall I put it round my neck? She watches him. I’ve brought you a present. I’ll still bring you up your early morning tea. Go on. A pause. He takes out two drumsticks. I didn’t think they’d come. I remember. Uh? MEG. What do they want here? MEG. didn’t they? Or didn’t they tell you? MEG. banging the drum. He stares at the parcel. STANLEY. STANLEY. then turns and walks towards the door. Stan. beating it regularly. left. Goldberg? MEG. looking down upon her. STANLEY. (STANLEY looks into the parcel. and places it on the table in front of him. left. Yes. Gold—something. But why here? Why not somewhere else? MEG. Oh. MEG He rises and walks to the window. It’s because you haven’t got a piano. MEG. STANLEY. MEG. STANLEY. I’ll tell them they must be quiet. That was one of them. MEG. Goldberg.) Here. STANLEY. He takes out a boy’s drum. then marches round the table. His shoulders sag. It’s your present. STANLEY. Stan? Do you know them? STANLEY. STANLEY sits still. It is. He hangs the drum around his neck. STANLEY. Try to remember.) Aren’t you going to give me a kiss? (He turns sharply. STANLEY (flatly). Still beating it regularly. MEG. He stops at her chair. watches him. MEG. STANLEY. STANLEY. uncontrolled. I said. STANLEY. Goldsomething? MEG. STANLEY. They have. (He stares at her. who are they? MEG. STANLEY. Why. Gold…. Do you know them? STANLEY does not answer. Stanley. They told you. I promise. Well? She thinks. Curtain . This house is on the list. No. slowly stands. What are they called? What are their names? MEG. I can’t remember. (She goes to the sideboard. Meg. It’s your birthday. and stops. STANLEY (dumbly). they…. Stanley. They didn’t say. They won’t be here long. He looks at her. Then what are they? Come on. STANLEY (turning). Stan. A boy’s drum. Yes. Pause. It’s a drum. This isn’t my birthday. Of course it is. He taps them together. He arrives at her chair. Well … he told me. he begins to go round the table a second time. Yes? MEG. he bends and kisses her on the cheek. his face and the drumbeat now savage and possessed. They were here when I came in. He walks back towards her slowly. MEG expresses dismay. the two gentlemen.(sitting). They want to stay. They’re very nice. uncertainly. they won’t wake you up. I was going to keep it a secret until tonight. pleased. and opens it. STANLEY sits still. That’s right. STANLEY (coming down). Open it. It’s your birthday. How long for? MEG. Stan. What’s this? MEG. taps it gently with the sticks. You mustn’t be sad today. picks up the parcel.

one whistling while the other speaks. MCCANN. That’s right. Oh really? That’s unfortunate. MCCANN. It’s very nice.? MCCANN. joins MCCANN in whistling “The Mountains of Morne”. Ah no. STANLEY. It is evening. Myself for one. if you’d move out of my way— But everything’s laid on. MCCANN. STANLEY goes into the kitchen and pours a glass of water. STANLEY. It’s all laid on. Yes. I’d say you were exaggerating. Evening. My name’s McCann. STANLEY. But they’re holding a party here for you tonight. Mind it. sir. stops. MCCANN. On your birthday? STANLEY. STANLEY. Voices from outside the back door. During the next five lines the whistling is continuous. MCCANN. I’m glad to meet you. (STANLEY picks up a strip of paper. Staying here long? MCCANN. and both whistling together. No. MCCANN. I’d say that was plain stupid. My friend. MCCANN. would you? It’ll just be another booze-up. MCCANN. They stand. Guests? What guests? MCCANN. After a few moments STANLEY enters from the left. Chuckles are heard from outside the back door. . MCCANN. STANLEY. on my own. STANLEY. Well. STANLEY. I want to go out. Leave it. MCCANN. Oh no. (He turns towards the back door. left.) Mind that. That’s a shame. He then walks towards the kitchen. Oh. I wouldn’t call it an honour. What’s your name? STANLEY. Evening. But it is an honour. He stops upon seeing MCCANN. MCCANN. I’d say it was an honour. Not long. STANLEY. MCCANN. MCCANN rises and intercepts him.) Were you going out? STANLEY. Why not? MCCANN. MCCANN begins to whistle “The Mountains of Morne”. Why don’t you stay here? STANLEY. What is it? MCCANN. MCCANN. I’m sorry. Excuse me. we haven’t. STANLEY. Yes. (STANLEY withdraws his hand. STANLEY moves away. Where are you going? STANLEY. STANLEY walks round the table towards the door. Oh yes? And…. MCCANN. STANLEY They stare at each other.ACT TWO MCCANN is sitting at the table tearing a sheet of newspaper into five equal strips. STANLEY. I’m going out to celebrate quietly. Who are the other guests? A young lady. MCCANN. I had the honour of an invitation. So you’re down here on holiday? A short one. STANLEY. MCCANN meets him. and MCCANN holds the grip. I’m not in the mood for a party tonight. Your friend? MCCANN. Ah no. Very warm tonight. and watches him. which is open. STANLEY.) Someone out there? MCCANN tears another length of paper. STANLEY (moving away). MCCANN moves in. and speaks. The guests are expected. (He offers his hand. They face each other.) Many happy returns of the day. STANLEY. STANLEY. STANLEY. and back. to the right of the table. Yes. He puts the glass down. I don’t think we’ve met. comes out of the kitchen and walks quickly towards the door. MCCANN. Webber. He drinks it looking through the hatch. STANLEY. STANLEY takes it. is that so? I’m sorry.

STANLEY. you wouldn’t think. No. This is a ridiculous house to pick on. STANLEY (sharply). You know. sir. I lived well away from the main road. I was born and brought up there. Yes? STANLEY. I bet you wouldn’t think I’d led such a quiet life. STANLEY. Why do you call me sir? MCCANN. Ever been anywhere near Maidenhead? MCCANN.) Mind that. of course … I’ll be all right when I get back … but what I mean is. And you don’t know what you’re doing. STANLEY. You want to steady yourself. the way some people look at me you’d think I was a different person. Voices from the back. in a small way. (He sits at the table. STANLEY lights a cigarette. not really. this time. this isn’t my birthday. STANLEY MCCANN. Back home. No. Then I started a little private business. really … I mean. A charming town. Been drinking a bit down here.I’ve got a feeling we’ve met before. MCCANN. (He laughs. Oh no. MCCANN. I don’t know it. No place like home. but I’m still the same man that I always was. Haven’t you found that out yet? There’s a lot you don’t know. You don’t like it? STANLEY (to the table. MCCANN. MCCANN. Your cigarette is near that paper. STANLEY. Don’t call me sir. I think someone’s leading you up the garden path. STANLEY. MCCANN. thriving community. Why are you down here? MCCANN. A quiet. Don’t you agree? I lived so quietly. STANLEY. You’ll find it very bracing. I don’t smoke. but business calls. MCCANN (sitting at the table. You never get used to living in someone else’s house. Let go my arm.) MCCANN. STANLEY. It’s not till next month. and it compelled me to come down here—kept me longer than I expected. You’re here on a short stay? That’s right. crosses to him and grips his arm. Why did you choose this house? MCCANN. MCCANN. That’s a terrible thing to say. MCCANN. Look. Yes? STANLEY. MCCANN. No. You can only appreciate what you’ve had when things change. MCCANN. You in business? STANLEY. STANLEY. STANLEY. STANLEY Where the hell are they? (Stubbing his cigarette. No. MCCANN. That’s what they say. I’ll stay there too. Her? She’s crazy. MCCANN. That’s slander. Look— Don’t touch me. No? STANLEY. It never was. isn’t it? Cigarette? MCCANN. No we haven’t. I think I’ll give it up. Why? STANLEY. MCCANN. STANLEY. But what I mean is … you know how it is … away from your own … all wrong. Pause. that I was the sort of bloke to—to cause any trouble. Listen a minute. you’re a bit depressed for a man on his birthday. The lines on my face. Me? No. Sure it is. if you don’t like it. No. I used to have my tea there. STANLEY (moving away).) Listen. (urgently). STANLEY. You know what? To look at me. Don’t like being away from home. I’ve got a small private income. I think I’ll give it up. eh? It’s the drink. I mean. Everything delivered to the door. I used to live very quietly— played records. but I’ll be moving soon. I seem to connect you with the High Street. Anyway. Business called. you see. A short holiday. But you will. STANLEY (to the table). I won’t. MCCANN. STANLEY. There’s a Fuller’s teashop. Voices from the back. Do you find it bracing? STANLEY.) Why don’t they come in? What are they doing out there? MCCANN. You know how it is. don’t you think? MCCANN. STANLEY (quickly). I suppose I have changed.) Do you know what I mean? MCCANN.) I like it here. And a Boots Library. and I had to leave for a bit. STANLEY. to look at me. That woman is mad! MCCANN. left).) I wouldn’t have left. (As STANLEY picks up a strip of paper. Round the bend. (He rises. Because it’s not a boarding house. Who’s out there? My friend and the man of the house. Not according to the lady. Who would do that? STANLEY (leaning across the table). I don’t know it. that’s about all. MCCANN. would you? (MCCANN looks at him. . STANLEY. MCCANN.

damn you. Pause. In Carrikmacross. PETEY PETEY and MCCANN go out. past the children’s playground. I’m afraid there’s been a mistake. Listen. of a Friday. (savagely. You’re being made a fool of. Oh. my word of honour. GOLDBERG. I’ve never seen such sunsets. What town hall? MCCANN.) Yes. taken too much for granted these days. You look an honest man. I used to go for a walk down the canal with a girl who lived down my road. I was telling Mr Boles about my old mum. They respect the truth and they have a sense of humour. Getting up in the morning. What days. Beat him quick and come back. Mr Goldberg? GOLDBERG. Now? GOLDBERG. It’s my chess night. Ah! (He leans back contentedly. what makes you think that? As a matter of fact. But a birthday. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. I always feel. I can see it like yesterday. No. Round the corner. your feet stink. Anyway. Pleased to meet you. Look. Not bad going. MCCANN. A mother in a million. We’ll save some drink for you. The voices draw nearer. I’ll have to be off. I didn’t know about it till just now. holding his arm. STANLEY (reasonably). Of course.) MCCANN. I beg your pardon? STANLEY (moving downstage). this is Mr Goldberg. I must congratulate you on your birthday. that all those years I lived in Basingstoke I never stepped outside the door. Oh well. have you. your mouth is like a boghouse. No. inside the door. STANLEY (ignoring hand). right. the palms of your hands are full of sweat. You needn’t be frightened of me.” And there on the table what would I see? The nicest piece of gefilte fish you could wish to find on a plate. Is it a good game? STANLEY. Very difficult to get in these parts —(He breaks off. Off? PETEY. we all remember our childhood. hitting his arm). Mrs Boles forgot to tell you. I’d tip my hat to the toddlers. remember? Mention my name. Hot milk. A beautiful girl. We knew the meaning of respect. what are you but a corpse waiting to be washed? Whenever I hear that point of view I feel cheerful. Because I know what it is to wake up with the sun GOLDBERG. I thought your name was Nat. they say. Eh. What a voice that bird had! A nightingale. (He sits at the table. Your room is taken. I forgot. You’re not staying for the party? PETEY. GOLDBERG. home. You’re in a bad state. STANLEY. Yes. Do my best. advancing). your eyes are full of muck. Stan. I don’t know what you’re at at all. MCCANN STANLEY backs across the stage. Don’t mess me about! GOLDBERG. Sit down a minute. Too true. I run the house. When I was a youngster. Told me what? STANLEY (hissing). GOLDBERG. you need a shave. all right? Oh. You understand? Where do you come from? MCCANN. You knew what I was talking about before. GOLDBERG. Where do you think? STANLEY. man. that’s all. that reminds me. GOLDBERG. PETEY. She called me Simey. what do you say? Childhood Hot water bottles. I’d leave her with a little kiss on the cheek —I never took liberties—we weren’t like the young men these days in those days. every single one of my senses is at its peak. I’ve explained to you. everything came natural. What about coming out to have a drink with me? There’s a pub down the road serves draught Guinness. I’ve heard them. into my gate. Are you the manager here? STANLEY. And we’ve got a game on. It’s a mistake! Do you understand? MCCANN. Good? Pure? She wasn’t a Sunday school teacher for nothing. PETEY. Oh hullo. Like behind the town hall. GOLDBERG and PETEY enter from the back door. There’s no comparison. You’ll have to find somewhere else. I’ve been there. Mr Webber. Or hasn’t he told you? MCCANN. now. MCCANN. I love that country and I admire and trust its people. eh? For a man past fifty.) GOLDBERG (as he enters). GOLDBERG. Humming away I’d be. what is it? Your skin’s crabby. PETEY. (Offering his hand. The sun falling behind the dog stadium. Has he told you anything? Do you know what you’re here for? Tell me. GOLDBERG (rising). didn’t you? MCCANN. I think their policemen are wonderful. Don’t do that! STANLEY. (He sees STANLEY. STANLEY . What a thing to celebrate—birth! Like getting up in the morning. STANLEY. your nose is clogged up. You’d better go and collect the bottles. (turning). STANLEY (whispering. MCCANN. I’d give a helping hand to a couple of stray dogs. PETEY. See you later. What a life. I’m flabbergasted with you. I’m sorry. “quick before it gets cold. is a great occasion. I’m coming your way. GOLDBERG. left. Perhaps you’re deaf. I know Ireland very well. I’ve many friends there. You haven’t met Stanley. That’s right. GOLDBERG. Soap suds. Stan. STANLEY moves to the centre. So I’d give her a peck and I’d bowl back home. GOLDBERG. A warm night. Mr Boles. Stan. Pancakes. Time’s getting on. You know. Well. I haven’t had the pleasure. GOLDBERG. (rising from the table). PETEY. I’ll try and get back early. I trust them. GOLDBERG. Up the street.) Congratulations. We’re booked out. I’m afraid you and your friend will have to find other accommodation. this is Mr Webber. PETEY. Marvellous! Some people don’t like the idea of getting up in the morning. We were just getting a bit of air in the garden.) Ah.Look. “Simey!” my old mum used to shout.

Nat. without any more fuss? GOLDBERG. STANLEY. Nat. from any angle. And the day before.) Anyway. GOLDBERG. It’ll do him good! MCCANN. I told you to get those bottles out. Sit down again! GOLDBERG. MCCANN. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. STANLEY. Nat? GOLDBERG. STANLEY. to the sound of the lawnmower. GOLDBERG. He stops whistling. You don’t bother me. STANLEY. It’s no good starting any kind of trouble. Sit down. MCCANN. No. Same here. He won’t sit down. Once I’m up I’m up. ask him. No thanks. STANLEY begins to whistle “The Mountains of Morne”. Yes. He sits. They watch him. That’s a dirty trick! I’ll kick the shite out of him! GOLDBERG (rising). GOLDBERG. Webber. If you will I will. what were you doing yesterday? STANLEY. tomato juice— STANLEY. MCCANN puts the bottles on the sideboard. No. all the little birds. To me. Why are you wasting everybody’s time. Webber. with bottles. You’d better be careful. Silence. You’ve made Mr Goldberg stand up. What do you mean? GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. They’ve been down here too long. Mr Webber. Ask him to sit down. Webber. MCCANN (to STANLEY). Get down in that seat! GOLDBERG (crossing to him). STANLEY. Ask him again. MCCANN (moving to STANLEY). MCCANN. STANLEY. (Silence. Why should I? GOLDBERG. Sit down. If you want to know the truth. What? MCCANN. STANLEY. You first. Really? Well. STANLEY (his voice rising). this house isn’t your cup of tea. . So would you. Why don’t you sit down? MCCANN. MCCANN. All right. with the good lady getting her strength up to give you a party. McCann. He strolls casually to the chair at the table. GOLDBERG. not me—you.) SIT DOWN . You’re in a terrible humour today. the smell of the grass. that’s— GOLDBERG. STANLEY. you’re nothing but a dirty joke. Pause.) STANLEY. STANLEY. Get Out.) Do you mind sitting down? STANLEY. Well? Right. Yesterday? GOLDBERG. I’ve asked him. What did you do the day before that? STANLEY. But I have a responsibility towards the people in this house. Let me—just make this clear. Get in that seat. Pause. And on your birthday too.shining. Sit down. GOLDBERG. STANLEY. Webber? Why are you getting in everybody’s way? STANLEY. Mr Webber. These are unlicensed premises. Mr Webber. MCCANN slowly sits at the table. and sits at the table right. STANLEY. McCann. There’s nothing here for you. (MCCANN moves to STANLEY. GOLDBERG. MCCANN. I do mind. MCCANN. left MCCANN. I haven’t. Well. GOLDBERG sighs. No! I have stood up. you’re beginning to get on my breasts. church bells. (A little less forceful. STANLEY. (Quietly. And nobody’s going to take advantage of them while I’m here. sit down. Now you’ve both had a rest you can get out! MCCANN (rising). MCCANN. Yes. any angle. Yes now. Why? MCCANN. sit down a minute. They’ve lost their sense of smell. Enter MCCANN. but—it’d be better if you did. You’d be more comfortable. Get that drink out. MCCANN. So why don’t you just go.

Fruit salts! GOLDBERG. You’re playing a dirty game.GOLDBERG. With arsenic. What wife? MCCANN. Anything. his back to the audience). Why did you never get married? . Why do you behave so badly. Who does he think he is? MCCANN. You don’t know.) When did you last wash up a cup? STANLEY. Where did you come from? STANLEY. GOLDBERG. Why did you leave the organization? GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. Yes! GOLDBERG. Why did you come here? STANLEY. Take off his glasses. crouched). takes his chair downstage centre. Answer. You’re on the wrong horse. below the table. Which one? STANLEY. What wife? GOLDBERG. Did they fizz? Did they fizz or didn’t they fizz? MCCANN. MCCANN. What can you see without your glasses? STANLEY. How did he kill her? GOLDBERG. I had a headache! GOLDBERG. What would your old mum say. snatches his glasses and as STANLEY rises. MCCANN. Enos or Andrews? STANLEY. Webber? MCCANN. What? STANLEY. Why did you betray us? GOLDBERG. How did you kill her? MCCANN. I know him! STANLEY. Webber. You hurt me. Why did you stay? STANLEY. reaching for them. Why are you getting on everybody’s wick? Why are you driving that old lady off her conk? MCCANN. STANLEY (turning. There’s your man! GOLDBERG. Somewhere else. In— GOLDBERG. Webber. You betrayed the organization. Did you take anything for it? STANLEY. He doesn’t know! GOLDBERG. Me? What are you— I’m telling you. When did you come to this place? STANLEY. I have one every— GOLDBERG. Webber? Why do you force that old man out to play chess? STANLEY. GOLDBERG. Last year. Lyons Corner House. (They stand on each side of the chair. The Christmas before last. clutches the chair and stays bent over it. What the— GOLDBERG. Don’t lie. Why do you treat that young lady like a leper?She’s not the leper. My feet hurt! GOLDBERG. You’re a washout. GOLDBERG. Marble Arch. MCCANN. Where? STANLEY. What did you wear last week. you’re a fake. When did you last have a bath? STANLEY. STANLEY stumbling as he follows. Who do you think you are? STANLEY. Yes. you— GOLDBERG. In the sanatorium. now. GOLDBERG. MCCANN STANLEY STANLEY. Why did you kill your wife? STANLEY (sitting. Did you stir properly? Did they fizz? STANLEY. MCCANN. Where was your wife? STANLEY. Webber! STANLEY. You don’t! GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. You throttled her. What have you done with your wife? MCCANN. wait. Where’s your old mum? STANLEY. Webber? Where do you keep your suits? MCCANN. GOLDBERG. Webber. He likes to do it! GOLDBERG. En— An— GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. He’s killed his wife! GOLDBERG. Now. That’s a Black and Tan fact. Me? GOLDBERG.

You left her in the pudding club. Nothing. Do you recognise an external force? MCCANN. MCCANN. Mother defiler! GOLDBERG. Which came first? MCCANN. GOLDBERG. Webber! Why did you change your name? STANLEY. Must be. Who watered the wicket in Melbourne? MCCANN. GOLDBERG. responsible for you. Wrong! Why do you think the number 846 is necessarily possible? STANLEY. He doesn’t know. You skeddadled from the wedding. What’s your trade? MCCANN. Why did the chicken cross the road? STANLEY.She was waiting at the porch. all along the line. He left her in the lurch. MCCANN. GOLDBERG. Right! GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. When did you last pray? MCCANN. Both. You’re a traitor to the cloth. GOLDBERG. I forgot the other one. GOLDBERG. What about Ireland? GOLDBERG. I demand justice! GOLDBERG. You contaminate womankind. What about the Albigensenist heresy? GOLDBERG. Why do you pick your nose? MCCANN. You stuff yourself with dry toast. Do you recognise an external force. What? GOLDBERG. Both. Which came first? Which came first? Which came first? MCCANN. Why did the chicken cross the road? STANLEY. MCCANN. MCCANN. What about the blessed Oliver Plunkett? GOLDBERG. You’ll pay for this. He doesn’t know! GOLDBERG. Wrong! It’s necessary but not possible. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. The possibility can only be assumed after the proof of necessity. GOLDBERG. It’s late. No hands! GOLDBERG. What’s your name now? STANLEY. GOLDBERG. What’s your trade? STANLEY. Chicken? Egg? Which came first? GOLDBERG and MCCANN . MCCANN. Speak up. MCCANN. What do you use for pyjamas? STANLEY. GOLDBERG. He wanted…. Not even a building society. GOLDBERG. You verminate the sheet of your birth. MCCANN. Is the number 846 possible or necessary? STANLEY. Right? Of course right! We’re right and you’re wrong. Webber. That’s the question! GOLDBERG. All along the line! GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. Do you recognise an external force? STANLEY. Wrong! Is the number 846 possible or necessary? STANLEY. MCCANN. Neither. How many fingers do you use? STANLEY. He doesn’t know which came first! GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. She was waiting at the church. I can smell it. I play the piano. He’s sweating! GOLDBERG. He wanted to—he wanted to…. He’s sweating! GOLDBERG. Why did the chicken cross the road? STANLEY. No society would touch you. You stink of sin. Why don’t you pay the rent? MCCANN. MCCANN. STANLEY screams. Late! Late enough! When did you last pray? MCCANN. GOLDBERG. MCCANN. Joe Soap. Wrong! It’s only necessarily necessary! We admit possibility only after we grant necessity. suffering for you? STANLEY. . Where is your lechery leading you? MCCANN. GOLDBERG. It is possible because necessary but by no means necessary through possibility. Webber. STANLEY. GOLDBERG. He wanted to—he wanted to—he wanted to….

McCann. Oh yes. What you honestly feel. don’t you? MEG. Your bite is dead. Easy. what should I drink? GOLDBERG. descending the stairs. Oooh! GOLDBERG. They stand over him. the light’s too strong. GOLDBERG. What a deportment! MCCANN (to STANLEY). Uuuuuhhhhh! GOLDBERG. Wonderful. Here they are. STANLEY. Stan. GOLDBERG. Lift your glasses.) Here they are. (circling).He doesn’t know. McCann. one for the lady. MEG. Don’t be shy. Open the Scotch. Who are you. We’ve got four bottles of Scotch and one bottle of Irish. I don’t drink Scotch. GOLDBERG.) MEG. McCann. You’re a plague gone bad. Uuuuuhhhhh! MCCANN. MCCANN. (STANLEY takes them.) It’s Stanley’s birthday. But what do I say? GOLDBERG. But we’ve got the answer to you. GOLDBERG. (He holds his hand out to MCCANN . MEG. MCCANN. STANLEY seizes a chair and covers his head with it. MCCANN. Your Stanley. Who else? MEG. You betrayed our land. MCCANN. Wonderful. Do you know your own face? Wake him up. MEG. nothing less. What makes you think you exist? MCCANN. MCCANN. I used to be in the business. Oh no. (MEG looks uncertain. GOLDBERG. You’re dead. MEG (at the sideboard). Steady. (He slaps her bottom. ladies and gentlemen. Stanley. Wait a minute. Will you. Could I have my glasses? GOLDBERG. Mr Goldberg? GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. Stan? STANLEY. He is crouched in the chair. Mrs Boles. MEG. you can’t love. Thank you. Maybe Stan’ll play us a little tune afterwards. I think Stanley should pour the toast. (Placing drum on table. MEG. MCCANN seizes a chair and lifts it above his head. STANLEY stands. it can only be you. You can pour my Irish too. You’re dead. Uuuuuuuhhhhh! MCCANN. (He holds them out for STANLEY. Webber? GOLDBERG. You’re dead. GOLDBERG. You’re what’s left! GOLDBERG. You’re a plague. He looks up slowly and kicks GOLDBERG in the stomach. Silence. GOLDBERG. i n evening dress. Mr Goldberg. MEG. What a carriage. MEG. Stick a needle in his eye.) Here they are. I know. Madam. Let’s have a look at you.) Doesn’t it make a beautiful noise? GOLDBERG. Out of this world. . GOLDBERG. You’re nothing but an odour! GOLDBERG. Right. Here’s my very best glasses in here. We can sterilise you. GOLDBERG. walk up there. MEG. McCann? Like a Countess. They put the chairs down. The bastard sweatpig is sweating. He’s sweating. McCann. MEG. Here. GOLDBERG falls. GOLDBERG (rising). holding sticks and drum. What about Drogheda? GOLDBERG. Oh. Steady. Enter MEG. (STANLEY walks slowly to the table. One for the lady. MCCANN. Glasses. Come on. You’re an overthrow. Go on. Say what you feel. have you got your torch? MCCANN (bringing a small torch from his pocket). Me? GOLDBERG. McCann.) Do you like my dress. MEG. you can’t think. what about my dress? GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG takes the chair from STANLEY. Now—who’s going to propose the toast? Mrs Boles. It’s past the hour. Look at him and it’ll come. MCCANN. now turn about and promenade to the kitchen. MCCANN passes him his glasses. I brought the drum down. Lulu isn’t here. MCCANN. glasses first. They stop still. Let’s have proper lighting. Turn yourself round a minute. We’ll drink a toast. Look at him. GOLDBERG. who reaches for them. It’s a fine piece of work. I’m dressed for the party. There’s no juice in you. You can’t live. What’s your opinion. Webber. My father gave it to me. Ah yes. Good. Walk up the boulevard. What have we got here? Enough to scuttle a liner. You’ve got the Irish. Now madam—your glass. STANLEY A loud drumbeat off left. MEG (bringing the glasses). Judas. Oh yes. You betray our breed. Only your pong is left. MCCANN and STANLEY circle. You like my dress? GOLDBERG. It’s out on its own. Come on! STANLEY. You look like a Gladiola.) Now.

very nice to be here tonight. my first chance to stand up and give a lecture was at the Ethical Hall. GOLDBERG. do you come across real. He must sit down. Stan. Nat. No. It’s a lonely pillow to kip on. plume and peacock. Charlotte Street was empty. Stan. The Necessary and the Possible. Lift your glasses. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG sits left of the table. he carries. (MCCANN goes to the door. MCCANN switches out the light. LULU enters from the door. Happy birthday. a drink for your guest. because it’s his birthday. What did you speak about? GOLDBERG. you know that? Where did you learn to speak like that? GOLDBERG. and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for him. How do you do. But just now. I wish you. and he’s my Stanley now. Clink my glass. Right! GOLDBERG. Let me fill you up. LULU (to GOLDBERG ).) Right. Lulu? I’m Nat Goldberg. Stanley. McCann. that’s what I say. Lights! MCCANN. Now Stanley’s sat down. McCann. GOLDBERG. That was a wonderful speech. look who’s here. on his birthday. LULU. McCann. shines the torch on MEG. MEG. eh? LULU. the lady of the house said her piece and I for one am knocked over by the sentiments she expressed. That’s better. tea in Fullers. Call me Nat. Isn’t the light in his eyes? GOLDBERG.) That was a lovely toast. A little Austin.) GOLDBERG. MEG.) How can I put it to you? We all wander on our tod through this world. it’s all yours. We’ve heard a lady extend the sum total of her devotion. Now raise your glasses. and I know him better than all the world. MEG. Yes. in my house. You just missed the toast.) Not on the lady. Stanley. I say just now. You must sit down. Many happy returns of the day. I don’t know what to say. although sometimes he’s bad. a happy birthday. GOLDBERG. like all of you. Stanny…. (kissing him). I’ll never forget it. Well. That’s the sort of man I am. true warmth? Once in a lifetime. (Pause. STANLEY remains still. and all you good people here tonight…. LULU. Lucky is the man who’s at the receiving end. LULU. was asking the same question. Come on! GOLDBERG. MCCANN. I believe in a good laugh. we’ve known a great fortune. Come on. Outside the window there is still a faint light. Right! (He switches on the lights. Well—it’s very. MEG. A wonderful opportunity. Put the light on. a day’s fishing. the unashamed expression of affection of the day before yesterday. It went like a bomb. my dear. (“Hear—hear” from GOLDBERG. You clink my glass. Agreed. GOLDBERG. Everyone standing up? No. That’s what I thought.Switch out the light and put on your torch. They all drink. Lulu. (An appreciative laugh from GOLDBERG. I could cry because I’m so happy. and shines the torch in STANLEY’S face. Gone with the wind. to a member of her own living race. Beautiful! A beautiful speech. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. a bit of gardening. Look at him. comes back. a library book from Boots. right. Stanley. which . MCCANN pours more Irish from the bottle. that’s a good while ago. not you. Come on! LULU. MEG. and I’m satisfied. and he’s lived here for a long while now. Stanley. having him here and not gone away. Stanley. Until a few minutes ago. my heartfelt congratulations. The light outside the window is fainter. Happy birthday. in all its pride. (Taking the stage. Hallo. Of course. I’m sure you’ve never been a prouder man than you are today. that’s right. smile at the birdy. ladies and gentlemen. Mazoltov! And may we only meet at Simchahs! (LULU and MEG applaud. LULU. Pause. You’re a marvellous speaker. comes back. Bayswater. and I want to propose a toast to Stanley. You liked it.) Well. (STANLEY hands a glass to LULU . although he doesn’t think so. You don’t mind sitting down a minute? We’re going to drink to you. no.) Turn out the light. Lulu. (The light goes on. the bonhomie. Right! LULU (admiringly).) MEG. Ah. on the gentleman! You must shine it on the birthday boy. Right. They were all there that night. GOLDBERG. Oh yes! GOLDBERG. while we drink the toast. GOLDBERG. And I think he’s a good boy. Not size but quality. (MCCANN goes to the door. and what a toast. And well over the fast. MEG STANLEY is still. Stanley—happy birthday. GOLDBERG. Did I? GOLDBERG. left. until today. How often. Go on. MEG (to MCCANN ). But tonight. that our mums taught us in the nursery? MCCANN. a drink for your guest. into his glass. (She sobs. Just look at him. left. LULU is downstage. I want to say first that I’ve never been so touched to the heart as by the toast we’ve just heard.) And he’s the only Stanley I know. You’re empty. in this day and age. It’s a pleasure. MEG. on behalf of us all. What’s happened to the love. LULU. STANLEY sits in a chair at the table. I. made out of my own spit and faith. Oh. GOLDBERG comforts MEG . MCCANN. Since then I always speak at weddings. Mrs Boles.) Buck up now. MEG joins MCCANN downstage.) Well.) Now. switches off the light. LULU. I was very proud of my old greenhouse. Mr Goldberg— GOLDBERG. LULU. (MCCANN shines the torch in STANLEY’S face.

My father was going to take me to Ireland once. GOLDBERG. pours more drink for GOLDBERG and herself. Thank you. MCCANN. MCCANN (sitting). Do you think I should? GOLDBERG. Do you think I should? GOLDBERG. will you? (LULU sits on the table. Mind how you go. Why? GOLDBERG (draws in his breath and wags head).Let’s have some of yours. there’s a lot in your eyes. I didn’t know I was going to meet you here tonight. Try it. MCCANN drinks. It’s comfortable. This? Comfortable? LULU. Do you think you knew me when I was a little girl? GOLDBERG. He didn’t take me. You know. (to MCCANN). I thought your name was Nat. you’re a big bouncy girl. then comes back to MCCANN. MCCANN. GOLDBERG. LULU. What a wife. Sure it’s a game! MCCANN. No. downstage. GOLDBERG. You came right out of the blue. I bet you were a good husband. right. Sit down on this stool. LULU. In that? MEG. I had a wife. I don’t know if he went to Ireland. Come and sit on my lap. LULU. do me a favour. They can soothe you. MCCANN. LULU. I was. I’ve been to King’s Cross. I’d say hullo to the little boys. Yes. and gives GOLDBERG his glass. You should have seen her funeral. MEG. Give me your glass. What a funeral. MEG (to MCCANN ). I trust you. GOLDBERG. of an afternoon. She called me Simey. . Gesundheit. Go on! MCCANN (to MEG ).) LULU (to GOLDBERG ). LULU. Maybe you did. You should worry. MEG sits on a shoe-box. I’d take myself for a little constitutional. You’re tickling me! GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. MEG dances round the room alone. MEG (standing). MCCANN. MEG. LULU. Ever been to Carrikmacross? MEG (drinking). “quick. I’ve always liked older men. Were you a nice little girl? LULU. She sits. Or pop goes the weasel. MCCANN. LULU. LULU. MEG LULU sits on GOLDBERG’S lap. I want to dance! (LULU and GOLDBERG look into each other’s eyes. GOLDBERG. Take a chance. MCCANN.” my wife used to shout. back to my bungalow with the flat roof. MEG (sipping). Shall I tell you something? GOLDBERG. LULU. the little girls—I never made distinctions—and then back I’d go. He stretches and continues. LULU. What? LULU. GOLDBERG (lifting his glass). Listen to this. Why didn’t he take you to Ireland? LULU. Yes thanks. Is that a game? GOLDBERG. MEG (to MCCANN ).) A little constitutional. And in yours. Very nice. I don’t know how you can mix that stuff. You’re cracking a rib. before it gets cold!” And there on the table what would I see? The nicest piece of roll-mop and pickled cucumber you could wish to find on a plate. Do you think so? LULU (giggling). LULU . down over the park. GOLDBERG. too. “Simey. GOLDBERG. you know that? GOLDBERG (as she moves). Eh. Why not? LULU. Have you got a wife? GOLDBERG. I’ll bounce up to the ceiling. who fills her glass. Are you used to mixing them? MEG. Friday. GOLDBERG. My father gave it to me. LULU. MEG crosses to STANLEY). MCCANN (to MEG ). Maybe I played piggy-back with you. at the table. Where’d you get it? MEG. just sit on the table a minute. But then he went away by himself. LULU (to GOLDBERG ). Dance. Lulu. (STANLEY sits still. Stanley. MEG.

MCCANN. GOLDBERG. . Oh. My little room was pink. Singing and drinking all night. MEG (rising). Stanley. There was a night-light in my room. GOLDBERG. Oh. LULU. MCCANN.They embrace. MEG. to Bally-James-Duff. all different colours. Tullamore. You mustn’t be touched. Yes! GOLDBERG. Who. MEG. Stanley. Now still. I don’t know. A love song! MCCANN (reciting). All right. MEG. But you can’t move after she’s blind. And they played me to sleep. Haven’t you ever played blind man’s buff? Keep still. the Garden of Eden has vanished. You want to play blind man’s buff? LULU and MEG. let’s play a game. Put it on. MEG touches MCCANN . It goes without saying. A love song! MCCANN (in a full voice. LULU. Up. Right! Everyone move about. Any game. You must stay where you are after she’s blind. And a plate of fry in the morning. LULU. Glorio. LULU. Paddy Reilly. GOLDBERG. and sing songs to me. How many fingers am I holding up? MEG. I was cared for. Turn round. GOLDBERG. MEG. me? LULU (taking her scarf from her neck). we’re going to play a game. Mrs Boles. What lovely hair! LULU (untying the scarf). McCann. One time I stayed there all night with the boys. sings) MEG. don’t be sulky. There. Blind man’s buff. Caught you! Take off your scarf. Stop! Still! MEG. MCCANN. Come on! Everyone up! (Rising. the boys they all paid him a visit. But I know the lie of it still. Of course you. MCCANN rises. when I was a little girl. Come on. That’s why I never had any complaints. And my father was a very big doctor. MEG moves about the room. Blind man’s buff. Stanley. Right. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. What game? MEG. Right! Now—who’s going to be blind first? LULU. It’s there you will find it. Right. I know sure enough. MEG. LULU (tying it on MCCANN ). Roscrea.) McCann. I want to play a game! GOLDBERG. How do you play this game? LULU (tying her scarf round MEG’S eyes). I can’t see. come on. Here you are. right. Oh. Right! Everyone move about McCann. Turn round. LULU STANLEY rises. There. And it’s whispering over to me: Come back. LULU (jumping up). MCCANN (filling her glass and singing). and I had musical boxes all over the room. STANLEY is downstage. McCann. Glorio. where are you? MEG (to MCCANN ). Mrs Boles. The night that poor Paddy was stretched. they say. to me! (to GOLDBERG). What’s the matter with him? MEG (bending over him). A game? LULU. LULU. Off you go! GOLDBERG. Stan. What game? MCCANN. MEG. MCCANN. Mother Nolan’s. GOLDBERG. Now where am I? MEG. Just turn to the left at the foot of Ben Clay And stop when halfway to Coote Hill. Paddy Reilly. How many fingers am I holding up? MCCANN. what a lovely voice. I had a pink carpet and pink curtains. Yes! GOLDBERG. Yes. You’re the dead image of the first man I ever loved. Not me. Stanley—Stanley! MEG. And if she touches you then you become blind. And my Nanny used to sit up with me. Now stop. I know a place. MCCANN. GOLDBERG fondles LULU at arm’s length. Give us a drop more. Give us a song. Come home. to the bold Fenian men! MEG. Hide and seek. and I had little sisters and brothers in other rooms. It’s you! GOLDBERG.

Where’s your torch? Pick up your torch! MCCANN. He reaches her and stops. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG and MCCANN turn and stumble against each other. GOLDBERG MCCANN takes off the scarf. What is it? Who’s that? GOLDBERG. I can’t. GOLDBERG.MCCANN begins to move. He begins to strangle her. It’s Stanley! (to LULU ). Boles. The lights! GOLDBERG. MEG is downstage. My torch! LULU. (To STANLEY. Ooh! Sssh! GOLDBERG. Where is he? MCCANN. Stop! And still! GOLDBERG STANLEY stands blindfold. Hold me. Where’s your torch? (MCCANN shines the torch in GOLDBERG’S face. Now—all move again. Whimpers from LULU . takes STANLEY’S glasses. It’s your turn. GOLDBERG and MCCANN move up left of the table. snapping the frames. Why has the light gone out? GOLDBERG. Let go of me! GOLDBERG. dragging the drum on his foot. Give me the scarf. close together. Who’s this? LULU. BLACKOUT There is now no light at all through the window. right. MCCANN picks up the drum and places it sideways in STANLEY’S path. Where is he? MEG. The stage is in darkness. Stop! Still! moves about. MCCANN. Silence. I can’t find it. Get down on your knees. Stan. MEG. Oh God! GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. MCCANN MCCANN (to STANLEY). (holding LULU ). very slowly. screams and faints. The lights! MCCANN.) Not on me! (MCCANN shifts the torch. MEG. Where? GOLDBERG. LULU. this is lovely! Quiet! Tch. MEG. His hands move towards her and they reach her throat. Silence. What’s happened? LULU. MCCANN. In the darkness STANLEY picks up LULU and places her on the table. It goes out. Oh. Grunts from MCCANN and GOLDBERG on their knees. MEG. . Hold me. STANLEY moves down right of the table. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG fondles LULU at arm’s length. What is it? GOLDBERG. LULU. tch. It’s gone. I’ll take your glasses. tch. Help him find the torch. MCCANN. Everyone quiet! Help him find the torch. That’s what I’m doing. MCCANN. Over there. across the stage to the left. MEG. LULU suddenly perceives him moving towards her. MCCANN backs slowly across the stage to the left. STANLEY begins to move. LULU. sustained rat-a-tat with a stick on the side of the drum from the back of the room. Over here. Suddenly there is a sharp. He stretches his arm and touches STANLEY’S glasses. It is knocked from his hand and falls. MCCANN MEG. Ready? Right! Everyone move. He can’t. GOLDBERG. LULU and GOLDBERG upstage centre. MEG. GOLDBERG. MCCANN and GOLDBERG rush forward and throw him off. He breaks STANLEY’S glasses. Mrs. Wait a minute. come to me. STANLEY walks into the drum and falls over with his foot caught in it. STANLEY rises. GOLDBERG It’s Lulu! and MCCANN move downstage. Where is she? She fell. Come to me.) MCCANN. Someone’s touching me! MCCANN. Why has the light gone out? GOLDBERG. McCann! Here. Tie his scarf. He begins to move towards MEG .) Can you see my nose? GOLDBERG. Easy. MCCANN draws near STANLEY. Enjoying the game? MEG. left.

STANLEY bent over her. left). She must be. She must be somewhere. shines it on the table and STANLEY. Their figures converge upon him. MCCANN. begins to giggle. left. MCCANN. GOLDBERG. The torch draws closer. GOLDBERG (moving downstage. MCCANN (moving downstage. giggling. They follow him upstage. Curtain . MCCANN. Help me pick her up. I can’t find her. He backs. She’s gone. LULU is lying spread-eagled on the table. She’s not here. His giggle rises and grows as he flattens himself against the wall. as soon as the torchlight hits him.About here. He backs against the hatch. left). MCCANN finds the torch on the floor. the torch on his face. GOLDBERG. giggling. GOLDBERG and MCCANN move towards him. STANLEY.

Yes. MEG’S voice comes through the kitchen hatch. (She goes to the back door. What do you mean.) What a shame. MEG (appearing at the hatch). left. Is that you. PETEY. I’ve been up once. Leave him. Stan? (Pause.) Petey. Yes. in the party. PETEY. Is that you? PETEY. Well. PETEY. but he doesn’t know that I’m going to call him. (She puts it down. Stanley. MEG. The two gentlemen had the last of the fry this morning. PETEY. PETEY. PETEY. Nor have I. stops suddenly and turns. Yes. (She rises and picks it up. It wasn’t there yesterday.) The drum’s broken. He begins to read. PETEY. MEG. MEG. But he wasn’t this morning.) You got your paper? PETEY. He said they were talking. I had a peep. I don’t know. There isn’t any breakfast. That big car. MEG. I’ve run out of cornflakes. No.) Why is it broken? PETEY. Just a minute. MEG. Inside it. I must have been tired. MEG. PETEY. He’s late for his breakfast. Well.) Stanny? PETEY. It’s me. PETEY. She hits it with her hand. (Pause. PETEY. PETEY. what else have you got? MEG. after a bit. MEG. they came down to breakfast. I’ve got a splitting headache. Meg.) I’m going out shopping in a minute. Stanley had a lot of friends. MEG (sadly). with his cup of tea. did they? MEG. Let him sleep … this morning.) Did you see what’s outside this morning? PETEY. PETEY (reading). Have you seen him down yet? (PETEY does not answer.ACT THREE The next morning.) Do you think they know each other? I think they’re old friends. MEG. What? MEG. I was surprised. with a newspaper and sits at the table. (She leaves the hatch and enters by the kitchen door. PETEY enters. Get you something nice. Because Stanley’s usually fast asleep when I wake him.) Oh. He said he’d made him one. A wheelbarrow? . at least he did have it on his birthday. I don’t know what they were talking about. Is it good? PETEY. MEG. look. Meg? Yes. Stanley must have gone to sleep again. Nothing. MEG. Oh. (PETEY looks up. Yes? MEG.) I didn’t give him his tea. MEG (coming down tensely. When are you going to do your shopping. PETEY. What? MEG. (She pours tea for him. You can always get another one. in it? MEG. PETEY. I know he did. You can always get another one. Not bad. PETEY (quickly). But Mr McCann opened the door. Have you seen him down? PETEY. No. Is there anything in it? PETEY. MEG. You slept like a log last night. There’s some tea in the pot though. (Pause. Meg. It still makes a noise. and whispering). (She looks about the room and sees the broken drum in the fireplace. Then. It was probably broken in the party. Nothing? MEG. He’d already had one. But you say he stays in bed too much. Let him sleep. I heard him talking. Yes. Did you … did you have a look inside it? PETEY. MEG. Yes. Well … I mean … is there … is there a wheelbarrow in it? PETEY. Did I? PETEY. In it? MEG. PETEY (reading). I don’t remember it being broken though. Dead out. He must have been up early. MEG. I came down again and went on with my work. Pause. Oh. didn’t he? Like I wanted him to. it’s you. What sort of thing? MEG.) I’ve got a rotten headache. (Collecting the bag. Who? MEG. That boy should be up. don’t do that. MEG. I must.

Someone with a few letters after his name. quite alike. GOLDBERG (sighs). MEG (vaguely). I haven’t got the … the qualifications. That car? That car’s never let me down. What is old is good. Oh … a little better. (She exits. My wife was identical. He’s … keeping him company. PETEY. (He strokes the teapot. I do feel better. I feel better. You like it? MEG. MEG (entering from the kitchen). PETEY.) Have an Abdullah. GOLDBERG. when Stanley comes down…. Different build. Well. PETEY. that sometimes it happens gradual—day by day it grows and grows and grows … day by day. Yes. and moving upstage). you know that? PETEY. PETEY. I didn’t see one. Your wife makes a very nice cup of tea. MEG. GOLDBERG (pouring tea). He halts at the door. He hasn’t had his breakfast yet. A smart car. GOLDBERG. What are you on about? MEG. But what brought it on so suddenly? GOLDBERG (rising. What came over him? GOLDBERG (sharply). of course. Are you going to go for a ride? GOLDBERG (to PETEY). (He pauses. I’ll go and get the shopping. What came over him? Breakdown. PETEY. MEG. It’s his car. of course. GOLDBERG. I thought he was coming down for his breakfast. On a lovely sunny day like this he shouldn’t come down? He’ll be up and about in next to no time. he was telling me. as he meets their gaze.) Anyway.) It’s Stanley! He’s coming down—what am I going to do about his breakfast? (She rushes into the kitchen. what shall I give him? (She looks through the hatch. Is he coming down? GOLDBERG. How is he this morning? GOLDBERG.A wheelbarrow? MEG. Yes? MEG. eh? PETEY. MEG. There’s no guarantee how it’s going to happen. It makes all the difference. The birthday celebration was too much for him. Oh. I mean.) Petey. (She goes towards the back door. then brings out a cigarette case and takes a cigarette. PETEY.) There’s no cornflakes. She turns. Sometimes she forgets. Nervous breakdown. Poof! Like that! The nerves break. but … quite alike. Mr Goldberg. GOLDBERG (coming into the room). My mother was the same. Yes. . you see. it can happen in all sorts of ways. A good woman. PETEY. You didn’t? Are you sure? PETEY. Down? Of course he’s coming down. take my tip. Yes. PETEY. Tell him I won’t be long. Dermot? GOLDBERG. A reception committee! MEG. MEG. then smiles.) Petey. I didn’t know it was his car. Are you going to go for a ride? GOLDBERG does not answer. You find a resemblance? MEG. Yes. (They both gaze at the door. Yes? MEG. Dermot’s with him at the moment. Enter GOLDBERG. Nice shine on it all right. I’d better be off now. Pure and simple. and turns. I think. but with certain people … it’s a foregone conclusion. a little better. Stanley.) GOLDBERG (sipping his tea). Mr Boles. This friend of mine—he was telling me about it—only the other day. His car? Oh. It’s a terrible thing. Well. Oh no. Really? GOLDBERG. I’ll tell him. What would Mr Goldberg want with a wheelbarrow? MEG. Of course. We’d both been concerned with another case—not entirely similar. MEG. PETEY. GOLDBERG. Oh. PETEY. You look quite different. I won’t be long. PETEY. GOLDBERG. A charming woman.) The pot’s hot. MEG. Anyway. No thanks. (He sits at the table. Is he any better? GOLDBERG (a little uncertainly). You go and get a bit of air. There’s room there. Yes. Room in the front.) And what a breakfast he’s going to get. she does sometimes. A door slams upstairs. Yes. Yes. I will. MEG (relieved). and room in the back. GOLDBERG. Mr Boles. Mr Boles. And then other times it happens all at once.) GOLDBERG. I’m not really qualified to say. I thought it was Stanley. Mr Goldberg? PETEY. (She moves to the back door. I didn’t know that was your car outside. (He stands uneasily for a moment. Who? PETEY. PETEY. The best thing would be if someone with the proper … mnn … qualifications … was to have a look at him. drinks his tea. Oh. Mr Boles? PETEY. this friend of mine. Of course it’s his car. More tea. I will. Mr Boles. A friend of mine was telling me about it only the other day. PETEY. MEG.

You’re going to take him to a doctor? GOLDBERG (staring at him). By then we may be gone. swimming out to sea. Mr Boles. mightn’t he? GOLDBERG. Who? PETEY. GOLDBERG. I’m not going up there again. Sure.) Came in the front door and all the lights were out. or a … (He snaps his fingers. then I came in here. (GOLDBERG lights his cigarette with a lighter. I asked you well. We’ll give him a bit of time to settle down. GOLDBERG.) MCCANN (turning to look at GOLDBERG . They get over it sometimes though. (He sits. My life. and takes out a brush and brushes his shoes. GOLDBERG (coming downstage). . GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG (sharply). He stopped all that … talking a while ago. PETEY. It’s all taken care of. MCCANN GOLDBERG and MCCANN turn to see him. GOLDBERG. So Mrs Boles has gone out to get us something nice for lunch? PETEY. don’t they? I mean. What about the deckPETEY. keep his mind off other things. PETEY rises and picks up the teapot and cup. GOLDBERG. Mr Goldberg? GOLDBERG (earnestly).) All packed up? PETEY. The frames are bust. grimly). And he told me. It’s all taken care of. He goes up to the window and looks out. MCCANN (without turning). Recover? Yes. Monty. There’s some Sellotape somewhere. How did that happen? MCCANN. Yes. You can go up yourself next time. He tried to fit the eyeholes into his eyes. Don’t worry yourself. GOLDBERG. PETEY. Why not? MCCANN. They’ll be lying on their backs. GOLDBERG (heavily). came in here and the party was over. You put a shilling in the slot? PETEY. That’s right. It’s all taken care of. PETEY (moving downstage). Dermot. PETEY. (briskly). can’t they? GOLDBERG. We can stick them together. sometimes they recover. It’ll keep him quiet for the time being. Well. GOLDBERG (with a short laugh). So I went upstairs and your friend—Dermot—met me on the landing.) PETEY. I left him doing it. Unfortunately we may be gone by then. What a night. What do you mean? (Enter MCCANN with two suitcases. in one way or another. GOLDBERG. Yes. PETEY appears at the kitchen hatch. What’s what? (MCCANN does not answer. no. unnoticed. I don’t take them. There was dead silence. if he’s no better by lunchtime I’ll go and get hold of a doctor. Mr Boles. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. that’s all right. Pause. Well what? GOLDBERG. I think I’ll see how my peas are getting on. I agree with you.) PETEY. Waiting for what? (PETEY walks towards the back door. will you. Yes. I’m not going up there again. No.PETEY. MCCANN Sellotape? No. Conceivable. I mean. PETEY (at the kitchen door). When will he be ready? (sullenly). PETEY. Couldn’t hear a thing. PETEY (moves to the table). no. moves over right to the shoe-box. perhaps. I gave him…. Your friend—Dermot. MCCANN brushes his shoes. What’s going on now? MCCANN (moving down). Well. I gave him his glasses. not yet. An Abdullah. It’s conceivable. Give me a call when he comes down. they can recover from it. What’s the matter with you? MCCANN (quietly). I think he needs one. and then I’ll take him to Monty. Put a shilling in the slot. GOLDBERG. I could have sworn it was a fuse. PETEY (continuing). And the lights came on. GOLDBERG PETEY takes the teapot and cups into the kitchen. in the meantime. Will you? GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG.) Aren’t you going back to the beach? PETEY. MCCANN crosses left and puts down the suitcases. PETEY (dubiously). he might have recovered by now. GOLDBERG. Well? (MCCANN does not answer. What about a doctor? GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. He’s quiet now. Pause. What? MCCANN. Pause.) McCann. The meantime? PETEY. While we’re waiting. GOLDBERG. No. Wasn’t he glad to get them back? MCCANN. GOLDBERG. Once in a while I treat myself to a cigarette. You’ll have a crowded beach today … on a day like this.

Don’t you worry about that. All along the . Stop doing that! What? GOLDBERG. Nat. He opens his mouth wide. Simey! (opening his eyes. It’s without a solitary point. MCCANN slips to his side. play up. left. You know what I mean? MCCANN peers. picks up the paper and begins to tear it into strips. What do you think I am? GOLDBERG. You know what? I’ve never lost a tooth. just a question. Is that so? GOLDBERG. Will I go Up? GOLDBERG (violently). Questions. Don’t call me that! (He seizes MCCANN by the throat. All my life I’ve said the same. Honest to God. NAT! I called you Nat.) NEVER CALL ME THAT! MCCANN (writhing). That’ll be all right. MCCANN studies him. I don’t know why. MCCANN. I never said that! GOLDBERG. MCCANN. McCann. GOLDBERG rises. Nothing’s changed.) That’s why I’ve reached my position. Just a question. Wait! He stretches his arms to the arms of the chair. Stop asking me so many questions. He sits right of it noticing what MCCANN is doing. He exits. Take a good look. GOLDBERG. Do we wait or do we go and get him? GOLDBERG (slowly). his eyes closed. left. goes to the window and looks after him. I feel a bit … It’s uncommon for me. What—did —you—call—me? MCCANN. questions. Get the thing done. ( He gets up. Mr Goldberg. MCCANN approaches him very slowly. But what about the tickets? Who’s going to take the tickets? PETEY. leaving the strips inside. It’s unusual. Let’s get the thing done and go! GOLDBERG Pause. I want to get it over. Nat. and play the game. Let’s finish and go. regarding MCCANN). MCCANN. GOLDBERG. Because I’ve always been as fit as a fiddle. Nat! GOLDBERG sits humped. brooding. MCCANN. What do you mean? Why not? GOLDBERG. PETEY. Let’s get it over and go. Come here. Who? GOLDBERG (murderously). but I feel knocked out. sits. Will I go up? Pause. MCCANN. to the room at large). Not since the day I was born. What’s the matter with you today? GOLDBERG. do you see. You want to go and get him? MCCANN. Play up. I was asking you. He then folds the paper. GOLDBERG leans back in the chair. Have a look in my mouth. MCCANN crosses to the table. Who said that? I never said that! I’ll go up now! GOLDBERG He jumps up and rushes to the door. GOLDBERG. Nat. GOLDBERG walks heavily. Honour thy father and thy mother. MCCANN (rising swiftly and going behind GOLDBERG’S chair. Well what? MCCANN. You said so! MCCANN. Well? (with fatigue). do you follow me? GOLDBERG (jerking him away). What question? MCCANN. Well? Pause. MCCANN looks. So do we wait or do we go and get him? GOLDBERG (interrupting). Nat. That’s understandable. it’s pointless. that’s all. Why do you do that all the time? It’s childish. That’s all right. MCCANN. I want your opinion. to the table.chairs? Are the deck-chairs ready? I put them all out this morning. Hissing). No? MCCANN (from the floor. MCCANN. Is everything ready? Sure. Let’s finish the bloody thing. I’ll be back. Up? I thought you weren’t going to go up there again? MCCANN. GOLDBERG.

You’re very smart. LULU. He didn’t mention names. Sit down. That’s what you did. LULU. One for the road.) I swore on the good book. Dad. School? Don’t talk to me about school. And whatever happened. I’m a self-made man? No! I sat where I was told to sit. GOLDBERG. if he knew? And what would Eddie say? GOLDBERG. Work hard and play hard. for old time’s sake. he said. You quenched your ugly thirst. Right! Enter LULU . I wouldn’t touch you. follow my line? Follow my mental? Learn by heart. I’m going. sit here where I can look at you. LULU. do me a turn. for schnorrers and for layabouts. Because I believe that the world … (Vacant. he said. BECAUSE I BELIEVE THAT THE WORLD … (Lost. Do your duty and keep your observations. LULU (distressed). it was pure. With him! He didn’t come into my room at night with a briefcase! GOLDBERG. Come over here. the constitution and the core! If you’re ever in any difficulties Uncle Barney will see you in the clear. Because I believe that the world … (Desperate. for they are the rock. Never write down a thing. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. come here. Who used who? LULU. You didn’t appreciate me for myself. I’m not ashamed. Have a game of pontoon first. LULU. why did you do it? GOLDBERG. He sits in chair. Follow the line. (Intensely. he said. And that’s why I’ve reached my position. Eddie? LULU. Always bid good morning to the neighbours. A girl like you. I’ve had enough games. And don’t go too near the water. Your sort. facing MCCANN.)….)….) You had a long sleep. Me? MCCANN. Who opened the briefcase. schmulu. MCCANN blows again in his mouth. GOLDBERG. McCann. What’s the matter? You got the needle to Uncle Natey? LULU. I’ll give you five minutes. And I knew the word I had to remember—Respect! Because McCann— (Gently. me or you? Lulu. LULU. GOLDBERG breathes deeply. And today I’m leaving. the line. LULU. and goes to the door. Miss. What do you think.) Blow in my mouth. Oh Nat. I will. A passing fancy.)…. Keep an eye open for low-lives. LULU. Benny. you spend too much time in bed. Now you’re a jump ahead! What are you complaining about? MCCANN Enter MCCANN quickly. GOLDBERG. What do you mean? MCCANN. and you don’t take to games? LULU. You wanted me to do it. He was my first love. Yes. My motto. Do you think I’m like all the other girls? GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. And who came before him? Before him? … ( Vacant—triumphant. Have you got anything to confess? LULU. Silence.line. never forget your family. Lulula.) Seamus—who came before your father? His father. and you can’t go wrong. Who else was there? Forgive. give me a blow. LULU (backing upstage left). What would my father say. Benny. You’re leaving? GOLDBERG. MCCANN looks at them. Today. (Advancing. at your time of health. He slowly rises. Kiss and make up. GOLDBERG. Benny. I’ve never touched another woman. Anyway. thank you. What’s going to happen? GOLDBERG. Top in all subjects. That’s fair enough. (at the door). You used me for a night. so I did it. No. By him day and night. smiles. I kept my eye on the ball. What? . I lost my life in the service of others. GOLDBERG. MCCANN. who says you don’t take to them? LULU. McCann. (He exits. You taught me things a girl shouldn’t know before she’s been married at least three times! GOLDBERG.) Who came before your father’s father but your father’s father’s mother! Your great-gran-granny. bends. Not a day’s illness. Are all the other girls like that. puts his hands on his knees. with growing certainty. I’m telling you. MCCANN kneels in front of the table. ( He kneels.) My father said to me. I knelt down. MCCANN All the same.And you’ll find—that what I say is true. Eddie was. Come over here. Nor me. And for why? Because I’m telling you. LULU (with growing anger). Never. let bygones be bygones. Because I’ve always been as fit as a fiddle. stands. He was dying. GOLDBERG sits. I knelt down. (Pause.) GOLDBERG. too? LULU. Who took them down? LULU. I don’t know about any other girls. GOLDBERG. at your age. and let live. You took all those liberties only to satisfy your appetite. Dad. McCann. You made use of me by cunning when my defences were down. Go home to your wife. and blows in GOLDBERG’S mouth.

GOLDBERG. MCCANN. Out of our own pockets. I know what’s going on. MCCANN. left. A pity. Give you a free pass. MCCANN. He is clean-shaven. But we can save you. MCCANN. You need a long convalescence. MCCANN follows and closes the door. She exits. Take you for constitutionals. doesn’t he? GOLDBERG. STANLEY stares blankly at the floor. Help you acknowledge the fast days. Out of my sight! LULU. Epileptic. GOLDBERG. He ushers in STANLEY. He’s right. MCCANN. MCCANN. He looks better. Let you use the club bar. We’ll take tuppence off your morning tea. MCCANN. GOLDBERG. We’ll buy him another pair. Much better. we’ll be the hub of your wheel. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. MCCANN goes to the door. We’ll renew your season ticket. GOLDBERG. He holds his broken glasses in his hand. gently and with relish. Between you and me. MCCANN. GOLDBERG. Advise you. MCCANN LULU. MCCANN They begin to woo him. MCCANN. Are you feeling any better? Pause. MCCANN. You know what we’ll do? MCCANN. Where angels fear to tread. True. MCCANN. MCCANN (advancing). I’ve got a pretty shrewd idea. You’ve gone from bad to worse. GOLDBERG. Keep a table reserved. Confess! Confess what? MCCANN. Myopic. GOLDBERG. Help you kneel on kneeling days. You’ve been cockeyed for years. Kneel down. He remains. MCCANN. A change of air. woman. MCCANN. We’ll give you a discount on all inflammable goods. and goes out. MCCANN. Confess.(savagely). Stan? Pause. Worse than worse. Stan. What does he mean? GOLDBERG. where he sits. I’m going. MCCANN. seats him in a chair. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. MCCANN. GOLDBERG. . who is dressed in a dark well cut suit and white collar. I’ve seen everything that’s happened. Rheumatic. MCCANN. Exactly. GOLDBERG. You’re on the verge. You’re in a rut. (at the table). It’s true. Give you proper care and treatment. From a worse fate. You can’t see straight. From now on. What can you lose? LULU. it’s about time you had a new pair of glasses. MCCANN. GOLDBERG. They’re broken. GOLDBERG. Somewhere over the rainbow. MCCANN. He’s only been unfrocked six months. with no movement. profaning the soil with your goings-on. and tell me the latest! LULU (retreating to the back door). GOLDBERG. We’ll watch over you. You’re a dead duck. GOLDBERG. During the following sequence STANLEY shows no reaction. Down on your knees and confess! LULU. Undeniable. GOLDBERG meets STANLEY. to him? GOLDBERG. A new man. What? GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. You look anaemic. Bake you cakes. I’ve seen you hanging about the Rock of Cashel. What’s the matter with your glasses? GOLDBERG bends to look. MCCANN. What. How are you. Now you’re even more cockeyed. GOLDBERG. MCCANN. It goes without saying.

Give you hot tips. I said animals. What’s your opinion.) Caahh … caahh…. GOLDBERG. MCCANN. sir? STANLEY. MCCANN. downstage. MCCANN. GOLDBERG. MCCANN. left. STANLEY. MCCANN. You’ll be adjusted. he crouches. Where are you taking him? They turn. his mouth opens. We’ll make a man of you. GOLDBERG. Come along with us. GOLDBERG. MCCANN. MCCANN. Animals. (He turns back to STANLEY. You’ll be our pride and joy. You’ll own yachts. his head drops. He concentrates. GOLDBERG. The crash helmet. You’ll give orders. Sure it’s a prospect. The ointment. The vest and pants. MCCANN. You’ll be re-orientated. You’ll be a magnate. Caaahhh … caaahhh…. GOLDBERG. His head lowers. relaxes. MCCANN. STANLEY. Stanny boy. stooped. GOLDBERG. The baby powder. All on the house. The back scratcher. GOLDBERG. . MCCANN. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. That’s it. GOLDBERG. PETEY enters from door. MCCANN. MCCANN. what do you say. he becomes still again. he attempts to speak. By my life. GOLDBERG. Stan? What do you think of the prospect? MCCANN. MCCANN. He concentrates. STANLEY’S hands clutching his glasses begin to tremble. You’ll be rich. STANLEY What do you think? Eh. A day and night service. MCCANN. MCCANN. The plaster of Paris. You’ll make decisions. The abdomen belt. Animals. eh? They watch. Come with us. GOLDBERG. The oxygen tent.) You’ll be able to make or break. PETEY. GOLDBERG. The hot poultice. boy? begins to clench and unclench his eyes. And a woman. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG looks at MCCANN. MCCANN. (Silence. The stomach pump. GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. Mr Webber! What’s your opinion? GOLDBERG. GOLDBERG. You’ll be a success. What’s your opinion of the prospect? STANLEY’S body shudders. GOLDBERG. Stanley? STANLEY concentrates. Sure. GOLDBERG. Ug-gughh … uh-gughhh…. What’s your opinion. Well. sir? Prospect.) Well? What do you say? STANLEY’S head lifts very slowly and turns in GOLDBERG’S direction. MCCANN. sir? Of this prospect. The prayer wheel. What’s your opinion of such a prospect? Eh. Come on. MCCANN. GOLDBERG. You’ll be integrated. What do you say. GOLDBERG. fails and emits sounds from his throat. boy. STANLEY is still. Uh-gug … uh-gug … eeehhh-gag … (On the breath. The fingerstall. MCCANN. You’ll be a mensch. Still the same old Stan. MCCANN. GOLDBERG. The spare tyre. MCCANN. Stan. The crutches. MCCANN. He draws a long breath which shudders down his body. A statesman. They watch him. We’ll provide the skipping rope. Silence. his chin draws into his chest. The ear plugs. GOLDBERG. We’re taking him to Monty.

GOLDBERG. MEG. Is it good? PETEY. Let him … sleep. Yes. GOLDBERG studies him. GOLDBERG.) What are you doing? PETEY. PETEY stands. eh? Pause. Petey? No … he’s…. PETEY. Yes. PETEY. They help STANLEY out of the chair. Monty’s the best there is. GOLDBERG. We had dancing and singing. Yes. Silence. (She hangs her coat on a hook. PETEY. I bet you were. He looks down at them. He needs special treatment. They all said I was. PETEY studies the front page of the paper. MEG. GOLDBERG PETEY makes no move. PETEY. Yes. I haven’t laughed so much for years. Why do you want to look after him? PETEY. He’s my guest. (insidiously). No. MEG. And games. Come with us to Monty. Reading. PETEY. You should have been there. MEG. Sound of a car going away. Were you? MEG. PETEY. PETEY. It was a lovely party.He can stay here. Won’t they be in for lunch? PETEY.) It’s hot out. He picks up the paper and opens it. MEG. Bring him. Oh. MEG (coming downstage). he’s … still asleep. I was the belle of the ball. Don’t be silly. Wasn’t it a lovely party last night? PETEY. Oh yes. Where’s Stan? Pause. Pause. Pause. Pause. Is Stan down yet. We’ll find someone. why don’t you come with us? GOLDBERG. They pass him and reach the door. Sound of a car starting. She sits by the table. Why don’t you come with us. GOLDBERG. Still? He’ll be late for his breakfast. PETEY slowly goes to the table. MEG. Stan. The car’s gone. Leave him alone! They stop. what a shame. MEG comes past the window and enters by the back door. No. (She puts her bag on the table. MEG. Weren’t you? PETEY. too. It was good. I wasn’t there. I know I was. PETEY. it’s true. We can look after him here. I came in afterwards. MEG. There’s plenty of room in the car. All right. They all three move towards the door. Curtain . MEG. The front door slams. left. Mr Boles? MCCANN. Oh. I was. Oh. MEG. MEG. PETEY. left. He sits on a chair. Have they gone? PETEY. PETEY (broken). PETEY. MEG. McCann. The strips fall to the floor. Silence. MCCANN opens the door and picks up the suitcases. Is he still in bed? PETEY. don’t let them tell you what to do! They exit.


The Room was first presented at the Hampstead Theatre Club on 21st January. with four changes in the cast: Michael Brennan John Cater Michael Caine Anne Bishop BERT HUDD MR KIDD MR SANDS MRS SANDS Directed by Anthony Page . with the following cast: Directed by Harold Pinter The Room was subsequently presented at the Royal Court Theatre on 8th March. 1960. 1960.

I can tell you. What about the rasher? Was it all right? It was a good one. BERT is at the table. Did you ever see the walls? They were running. You go. soon. But I think someone else has gone in now. I mean. I’ll wait for mine. You could sit by the fire. I haven’t been so well. You eat that. Who is it? Who lives down there? I’ll have to ask. I haven’t been out. I don’t know how they live down there. That’s what you like. Still. I’ve never seen who it is. Drink it down. She goes to the table and cuts a slice of bread. It’s better than the basement. I’d have pulled you through. She goes to the rocking-chair. When it’s cold. Go on. She goes to the window and settles the curtain. but not as good as the last lot I got in. I’ve left the tea. anyway. It’s good you weren’t down there. This’ll keep the cold out. they’re taking a big chance. left centre. It’ll be dark in a minute as well. in the basement. and sits. pours salt and sauce on the plate and cuts two slices of bread. a magazine propped in front of him. I’m much better today. Anyway. We’re quiet. I can tell you. Couldn’t you run it down tomorrow? I could put the fire in later. I think there was one first. turns off the gas and takes the plate to the table. Oh. I think they’ve gone now. She takes a plate to the sink and leaves it. She returns to the stove and pours water from the kettle into the teapot. when you come in from outside. you might as well know. She butters the bread. centre. Pause. Don’t worry. wipes a cup and saucer and brings them to the table. She goes to the sink. I don’t know whether you ought to go out. No. You can feel it in here. A door dawn right. She goes to the table. Anyway. Eat it up. That’s right. this room’s all right for me. I’m quite happy where I am. It was enough for me. I wouldn’t like to live in that basement. I know.THE ROOM Scene: A room in a large house. Pause. Bert. A gas-fire down left. Anyway. This is all right for me. A table and chairs. Just now I looked out of the window. I didn’t see who moved in then. Lovely weak tea. A window up centre. It’s not far up either. up right. ROSE is at the stove. It’s good you were up here. It’s very cold out. There isn’t room for two down there. She rises and pours out tea at the table. of an evening. It’s the weather. Maybe they’re foreigners. Still. up left. No. I don’t know about you though. Here you are. Because you’ll feel it when you get out. Pause. It’ll do you good. it’s not bad. I didn’t feel up to it. That’s no joke. the room keeps warm. BERT begins to eat. Go on. You’re happy up here. And we’re not bothered. If you want to go out you might as well have something inside you. Go on. I’ll have it a bit stronger. wearing a cap. But whoever it is. I think it’s changed hands since I was last there. Nice weak tea. for instance. straight after you’ve been laid up. turns off the gas and brings the teapot to the table. I mean. She places bacon and eggs on a plate. . Pause. I made plenty. I mean the first time it was taken. If they ever ask you. There wasn’t a soul about. before he moved out. A rocking-chair. It’s murder. I don’t know why you have to go out. Can you hear the wind? She sits in the rocking-chair. it can’t be too cosy. Maybe they’ve got two now. It gets dark now. Still. Those walls would have finished you off. you know where you are. ROSE. She pours milk into the cup. Bert. I’ll have some cocoa on when you come back. And nobody bothers us. She goes to the rocking-chair and sits. Have a bit more bread. Whoever it is. It’s asking for trouble. Bert. You’ll need it. I don’t know who lives down there now. Here you are. I mean. Bert. She goes to the table and pours tea into the cup. You won’t be long. Bert. you shouldn’t. Pause. She rocks. we’re all right. I’ve left the tea standing. She rocks. The foot of a double-bed protrudes from alcove. A gas-stove and sink. She rocks. anyway.

that’s all right. Why don’t you sit down. I thought I saw someone. I came straight in again. have I seen that before? ROSE. you can come home. She wraps her cardigan about her. goes to the window. I know you can drive. I told him you hadn’t been too grand. MR KIDD. ROSE. A knock at the door. You like yours weak. if you have to go out. But I think someone’s down there. it’s cosy in here. ROSE. No. Mr Kidd. This is a good room. No women here. You know what though? It looks a bit better. Knock repeated. Be coming on for dark. So I thought to myself. Wait a minute. you can do your job. Mr Hudd. like. The door opens and MR KIDD comes in. I’d better have a look at those pipes. MR KIDD. ROSE. Eh. thank you. I told him. Oh. ROSE. and looks out. Maybe I was thinking of somewhere else. all right? I’ve been looking at the pipes. I’ve never seen them.She sits at table. Mr Hudd? I went out. She drops the curtain. MR KIDD. isn’t it? ROSE. Very likely. It’s really cold today. I wouldn’t mind what time. I haven’t got any woman. That looked a good rasher. No. I like mine a bit stronger. chilly. You stand a chance. how are you. Whoever’s got it can keep it. Bert. Mr Kidd? MR KIDD. MR KIDD. It’s likely to snow. No. Pause. It’s not so windy. Mr Kidd. She stands. but I said. I heard you. I mentioned to Mr Kidd this morning that you’d be doing a run today. The ceiling right on top of you. Hallo. MR KIDD. In the circumstances. I’m not saying you can’t drive. I look after you. Oh. that’s all right. And I’m here. What? MR KIDD. Eh? ROSE. you’ve got a window here. You’ve got a chance in a place like this. You’d better put on your thick jersey. you can move yourself. Not here though. Pause. ROSE. I thought you had a woman to help. looking. MR KIDD. Bert. Hallo! Knock repeated. Not many people about today. Pause. You going out today. Well. No. you’re all right. ROSE. No. Well. Plenty of women round the corner. I knew that’d be no good. where. There’s no one about. it’s a shame you have to go out in this weather. I only went to the corner. don’t I. I wonder who has got it now. Come in then. ROSE. MR KIDD. for a few necessary items. Pause. It’s quiet. She rises. You know how to drive. I’ll have you some nice cocoa on for when you get back. still. of course. Mr Kidd. You looked out today? It’s got ice on the roads. or heard of them. She stands. Who is it? Pause. sits and rocks. no. nothing. That. MR KIDD. Who is it? Pause. he’s a marvellous driver. I wonder who that is. Only to the corner. She goes to the rocking-chair. Oh no. Don’t you have a help? MR KIDD. Bert? Like when they offered us the basement here I said no straight off. MR KIDD. Sit down. Eh? ROSE. Eh? ROSE. We heard you. in my opinion. Mr Kidd. Are they all right? MR KIDD. you can come home at night. I knocked. I thought you had one when we first came. I just popped in. to see how things were going. . I’ll have a cup of tea later. But it’s cold.

I don’t blame you. Oh. I’ve seen him bowl down the road all right. Pause. Mr Kidd. What about downstairs? MR KIDD. I say. ROSE. I can take my time. I can’t recollect this one. Oh. ROSE. I wouldn’t take an oath on it though. A bit. MR KIDD. ROSE. I won’t sit down. She’s a very nice little van. MR KIDD. to tell you the truth. MR KIDD. MR KIDD. after she died. MR KIDD. once. MR KIDD. Have you? I seem to have some remembrance. Eh? ROSE. ROSE. the other morning. My bedroom? ROSE. perhaps you have. (He laughs. Eh? ROSE. ROSE. yes. That was when my sister was alive. I used to count them. maybe I have. It must be a bit of a job. It’s a very comfortable room. Anyone live up there? Up there? There was. Very smooth. I’ve got to go and get mine going in a minute. What about it? ROSE. and continues looking at his magazine. ROSE. ROSE. we had a good few of them in the old days. MR KIDD. Take a seat. Oh yes. I brought it myself. A good while back. ROSE. Pause. When was this your bedroom? MR KIDD. Well. ROSE. Wasn’t it at the back? Not that I ever knew. I was able for it too. The rain comes in. then. MR KIDD. MR KIDD. When was that then? MR KIDD. I could swear blind I’ve seen that before. You’re going out then. Mr Hudd? Oh. ROSE. I take my time. I thought your bedroom was at the back. Mr Hudd can drive all right. I wasn’t in my bedroom. I used to keep a tack on everything in this house. ROSE. It was a good house then. But I lost track a bit. It must get a bit damp downstairs. I didn’t know that. No. Mr Kidd. Was this chair here when you came? ROSE. Never got tired of it. ROSE. Yes. my sister. How many floors you got in this house? MR KIDD. Not as bad as upstairs. I had a lot to keep my eye on.I don’t know. What about downstairs? MR KIDD. Yes. MR KIDD. Well. MR KIDD. MR KIDD. Was it here when you came? ROSE. Pause. MR KIDD. MR KIDD. MR KIDD. What? ROSE. I notice you wrap her up well for the cold. MR KIDD. not now.) ROSE. MR KIDD. I will sit down for a few ticks. MR KIDD. Yes. Pause. Must get a bit damp. MR KIDD. How many have you got now? MR KIDD. No. I don’t count them now. ROSE. Mr Hudd? I was just looking at your van. BERT yawns and stretches. MR KIDD. She’s been dead some time now. . No. Mr Kidd. She ROSE. I must say this is a very nice room. ROSE. ROSE. This? When? MR KIDD. ROSE. Best room in the house. I was hearing you go off. I can tell a good gear-change. Oh. ROSE. with Mr Hudd just having a bit of a rest after his tea. I was telling Bert I was telling you how he could drive. when was it.) Ah. I was up and about. It’s just an old rocking-chair. ROSE. Perhaps you have. I don’t get up early in this weather. that. ROSE. Why’s that? MR KIDD. well. Not as bad as upstairs though. Gone now. When I lived here. Floors. I never knew that. (He sits in the armchair. Well. This was my bedroom.

goes to the door and opens it. All sorts. goes to the sink. He exits. ROSE. your sister? MR KIDD. Wrap it round. MR SANDS. Mr Kidd? MR KIDD. How do you do? grunts acknowledgement. she had a resemblance to my old mum. goes to the door and exits. Where’s your bedroom now then. I make ends meet.) You’ll be going out soon then. bends. of course. Get into it. It’ll be dark soon too. goes to the fire. Take your coat off. She was very grateful. Arivederci. Who? ROSE. What about your sister. stops and straightens the curtain. you know how to manipulate your van all right. ROSE. She had a lovely boudoir. His name’s Mr Kidd. Oh! MR and MRS SANDS are disclosed on the landing. Wait a minute. puts on a shawl. Yes. She always used to tell me how much she appreciated all the – little things – that I used to do for her. She helps him into his jersey. That’s all right. Well then. We were just going up the stairs. Right. What were you looking for? MRS SANDS. Mind how you go. Didn’t mean to give you a fright. will you? I’ll have some cocoa on when you get back. Still. Have a good run. Mr Kidd. Pause. He fixes his muffler. Packed out. ROSE. Pause. What did she die of? MR KIDD. Wait a minute. Kidd? No. right until her last. that’s not it. I’ve made ends meet. ROSE. Your sister. it was after she died that I must have stopped counting. Taller. goes quickly to the window. MRS SANDS. MR SANDS. that’s right. All right. too. But not for a good while yet. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that she was a Jewess. She goes to the bed. of course not. ever. ROSE. MRS SANDS. MR KIDD. ROSE. I think my mum was a Jewess. I think she took after my mum. She looks at the window and listens. We’re trying to get hold of the landlord. She takes the plate and cup to the sink. MR SANDS So sorry. We’ve just come up the stairs. Pause. You won’t be long. The man who runs the house. Not a thing.was a capable woman. MRS SANDS. don’t we. Did she have any babies? MR KIDD. Where’s your overcoat? You’d better put on your overcoat. When did she die then. Oh yes. Yes. lights the fire and warms her hands. MRS SANDS. This is Mr Sands. I’m Mrs Sands. Yes. That’s his name. What about her? ROSE. watching the door. ROSE. Me? I can take my pick. ROSE. Mr Kidd? MR KIDD. I was her senior. She stands. Mr Hudd. She stands and looks about the room. Yes. MR KIDD. Toddy? ROSE. ROSE. MR KIDD. Bert. I suppose? MR KIDD. Yes. The landlord. She comes to the centre of the room. like. from what I can recollect. Yes. Was that the name. Mr Kidd? MR KIDD. Toddy? MR SANDS. Here you are. We do. No. Where’s your jersey? She brings the jersey from the bed. and puts it down. I think she took after my old mum. I think. Here you are. Toddy? MR SANDS. What’s his name. Can you. picks up the magazine. And I gave her a helping hand. MRS SANDS. ROSE. don’t you? Where you going? Far? Be long? ROSE. She used to keep things in very good trim. . Shouldn’t take him long. takes a bin from under the sink. No. She stands and listens. ROSE. Fine size of a woman too. BERT pushes his chair back and rises. be careful how you go. I was her senior. Then she copped it. I don’t believe he had a sister. But you can’t see a thing in this place. He won’t be long. That’s it. We didn’t mean to be standing here. A beautiful boudoir. Where’s your muffler? She brings a muffler from the bed. I’ll pop off. Kidd. She didn’t have many babies. that’s not the bloke we’re looking for. Mr Hudd? Well. (Rising. ROSE. You full at the moment. Bert? ROSE. and looks towards the door. Don’t go too fest. Well. Those roads’ll be no joke. then turns slowly to the table.

That’s it. MR SANDS. Mr. MRS SANDS. I’ll just stretch my legs. Why? You haven’t been sitting down. and have a warm. Well. The first crack. Clarissa. isn’t it? My father and mother gave it to me. That’ll be the day. What did you say? MR SANDS. I said that’ll be the day. if you like. MR SANDS. Hudd. MRS SANDS. That was Mr Kidd. A star. Is he? Maybe there are two landlords.) ROSE. Well. come inside. MR SANDS. MR SANDS. Mrs – ROSE. The landlord. When? MR SANDS. MRS SANDS. No. What’s it like out? It’s very dark out. ROSE. We’ve not long come in. Was it? I thought it was Hudd. You must be. I never go out at night. this is a room you can sit down and feel cosy in. He’s right there. MR SANDS. Who? ROSE. Bring over a chair and sit down. MRS SANDS. thanks. We stay in. You’re the wife of the bloke you mentioned then? MRS SANDS. she isn’t. Pause. MRS SANDS. You saw what? MRS SANDS. ROSE. MR SANDS. What did you say? ROSE. Well. You can get a good warm. MRS SANDS. Pause. is there. No darker than in. There’s not much light in this place. Mrs Hudd? ROSE. It’s darker in than out. MRS SANDS. You think you saw what? MRS SANDS. Clarissa? What a pretty name. that’s his name. MR SANDS. Pause. MR SANDS. Sands. it’s all right. not the landlord. MRS SANDS. MRS SANDS. He’s the landlord. Well. (looking at the room). Where? ROSE. Mr Kidd. Wasn’t it. Why should I? MRS SANDS. MRS SANDS. You look cold. for my money. Thanks. MR SANDS. MR SANDS. No thanks. I’m not. . You don’t look one thing or the other standing up. I’m quite all right. Pause. What did you say the name was? ROSE. I’m all right standing up. I suppose we must be. all right. I think I did. You know. Have you been out? ROSE. You must be cold. The other man. Hudd. MR SANDS. Pause. MR SANDS. MR SANDS. I saw a star. MR SANDS. It’s a fair size. why don’t you sit down? MR SANDS. you must be looking for someone else. No. ROSE. MRS SANDS. Now I come to think of it. MR SANDS MRS SANDS. No. ROSE. Sit down here. Yes. (Bringing the chair from the table to the fire). MR SANDS. Why don’t you sit down. What about it? MRS SANDS. MRS SANDS. No. MRS SANDS. it is nice. MRS SANDS. Come over by the fire. It’s murder out. No. That’s right. it was Kidd.ROSE. MR SANDS. They come into the centre of the room. this is the first bit of light we’ve seen since we came in? MR SANDS. MRS SANDS. (She sits. Well. MR SANDS. ROSE. Mrs Hudd? Do you know.

I’m telling you you didn’t see a star. I felt a bit of damp when we were in the basement just now. Of course he lives here. Why not? MR SANDS. Toddy? MR SANDS. You were in the basement? MRS SANDS. MR SANDS. all right. MRS SANDS. Go home. A man. You’re sitting down! (jumping up). where would I find him? ROSE. Why? MRS SANDS. I don’t know him at all. ROSE. MRS SANDS. MRS SANDS. A man? MRS SANDS. And you say he’s the landlord. How long have you been here? I don’t know. Yes.) I think there’s a lot of damp. is he? ROSE. ROSE. Because I’m telling you. He’s not long gone to make his tea. ROSE. ROSE. MR SANDS . Yes. When? MRS SANDS. Longer than that. MR SANDS. but I wouldn’t mind betting there’s a lot wrong with this house. ROSE. Pause. Well. Couldn’t see a thing. But Mrs Hudd seems to know Mr Kidd very well. We don’t bother anyone else. he’s taking a big chance tonight then. I hope it’s not too icy. ROSE. No – I mean. MR SANDS. Toddy. What? MR SANDS. ROSE. isn’t it? Roomy. I think you’ll find Mr Kidd about somewhere. You were. Well. Why? Haven’t you ever been down there. Tod? MR SANDS. ROSE. We keep ourselves to ourselves. does he? ROSE. Well – I’m not sure. MR SANDS. As a matter of fact. He lives here. MR SANDS. a long time ago. there was a bloke down there. much longer. Why not? MR SANDS. ROSE. This is a very big house. I was just wondering whether anyone was living down there now. MRS SANDS. I know it is. does he? ROSE. but I don’t know – MR SANDS. About thirty-five minutes. No. What do you mean? MR SANDS. I don’t know about the house. MR SANDS. You haven’t been here all that long. you know what it’s like then. ROSE. ROSE. It’s a nice house. I hope it’s not too dark out. MRS SANDS. MRS SANDS. MRS SANDS. I never interfere. But he does live here. We’re all right. You didn’t see a star. He doesn’t drive slow either. I mean. I wouldn’t say that. He perches on the table. No. There wasn’t any light. Of course he is. ROSE. we went down there when we came in. Yes. He’s a very good driver. it’d be a bit dodgy driving tonight. once. MRS SANDS. doesn’t he? MRS SANDS. About half an hour. Pause. not exactly. MRS SANDS. (She sits in the rocking-chair. What was it like down there? MR SANDS. didn’t you. Well. One man? MR SANDS. MRS SANDS. say I wanted to get hold of him. It was a long time ago MR SANDS. ROSE. As we were coming along. Oh yes. Yes. why should I? We’ve got our room. don’t you? ROSE. Pause. MR SANDS. Who is? MRS SANDS. That’s the way it should be. MR SANDS (guffawing). Yes. We were looking for the landlord. Mrs Hudd? ROSE. How long have we been here. My husband’s in his van. I felt a bit. MR SANDS. But what was – you said it was damp? MRS SANDS.In the sky. Well. He never drives slow. We’re very quiet. have you? ROSE. You don’t know exactly where he hangs out? ROSE. Yes. He lives here. Yes. MR SANDS.

I didn’t like the look of it much. What were they talking about? MR KIDD. MR SANDS. the thing is. muttering. if he’s about. MR SANDS. The man in the basement said there was one. rocks. Come on. Between you and me. MRS SANDS. ROSE. we got down there only due to Toddy having such good eyesight really. We didn’t see him. Mrs Hudd. ROSE. Was he old? Pause. ROSE. I thought we must have come to the wrong house. He was very polite. ROSE. Must be lonely for you. MRS SANDS. and sits still. MR KIDD. So Tod said we were looking for the landlord and this man said the landlord would be upstairs. I didn’t bring you into the world. we’d better try to get hold of this landlord. as soon as I heard the van go. I came straight in. I told you. MR SANDS. (rising). starts towards it. Well. said yes there was a room vacant. Did they get hold of you. I saw you sit down. I’ve got to speak to you. Who did? Who did bring me into the world? MR SANDS. You say you saw a man downstairs. that’s who you take after! MR SANDS. Well. being all alone here. I’ve got to speak to you. Mr Kidd? ROSE. Enter MR KIDD. So we went down to the basement. As soon as I heard the van go I got ready to come and see you. And Toddy stopped. Look here. ROSE. Because we’re looking for a place. Goodnight. We’d been up. MR SANDS. What was it all about? Did you see those people? How can this room be going? It’s occupied. We’d better go and get hold of the landlord. You didn’t what? MRS SANDS. this voice really. We’d been up. You don’t mind some of that tripe! MRS SANDS. Pause. Well. Why not? ROSE. He told me. the further we went in. I don’t know why they never put a light on. She goes to the rocking-chair. They said this room was going vacant. I don’t know about Tod. MRS SANDS. we’d heard they’d got a room to let here. well. I perched. but we thought we’d call of an evening. You won’t find any rooms vacant in this house. They were looking for the landlord. Mrs Hudd. thank you for the warm-up. I perched! MRS SANDS. Well. you see. There is a sharp knock at the door. ROSE. And who do you take after? MRS SANDS (rising). That’s this room. I thought. MR SANDS. You take after your uncle. No. I’m knocked out. You did not see me sit down because I did not sit bloody well down. Mrs Hudd. I came up specially. Perceive! That’s all you do. They go out. This man. Number seven he said. What? ROSE. Mr Kidd! I was just going to find you. I feel better now. So I stopped. Then Tod asked was there a room vacant. looks at it. She takes the chair back to the table. but we didn’t see anyone. MR SANDS. which opens. I didn’t bring you into the world. picks up the magazine. She sits. to catch the landlord. I’ve been getting ready to come and see you. MR SANDS. Pause. but someone asked if he could do anything for us. and stops. ROSE. sits. I hope your husband won’t be too long. we were coming down. Anyway. MRS SANDS. You could do with a bit more of that instead of all that tripe you get up to. One room. but we never saw him. ROSE. so we came along this evening. We were coming down. ROSE. you see. MRS SANDS. Perceive. in the basement? Yes. and we were just coming down again when you opened your door. You didn’t say that before. I’m just telling you. and we knew this district was quiet. And then this voice said. what was he like. I think he was behind the partition. There were two people in here just now. Do you think I can’t perceive when someone’s sitting down? MR SANDS. MR KIDD. MR SANDS. we got out then and we came up and we went to the top of the house. MR SANDS. MR SANDS. and we couldn’t see where we were going. we went through a kind of partition. Well. This room is occupied. MRS SANDS. we couldn’t make much out. Get hold of me? Who? ROSE. so there might have been another floor. when we got here we walked in the front door and it was very dark in the hall and there wasn’t anyone about. MRS SANDS. stops. Mrs Hudd. Mrs Hudd. I said. I don’t know whether it was the top. MR KIDD. And this man. this voice came – it said – well. There was a door locked on the stairs. and it was dark. it gave me a bit of a fright. I mean the feel. it seemed to me it got darker the more we went. and we passed the house a few months ago and we thought it looked very nice. ROSE. Well then. You said you were going up before. ROSE watches the door close. and puts it down. was he old? MRS SANDS. then there was another partition. somewhere quiet. He told me he was full up. who were they? ROSE . MR SANDS. Mr Kidd told me. ROSE. who did then? That’s what I want to know. Mr Kidd? MR KIDD. muttering. Two people. it smelt damp to me.Don’t be silly. so we thought we’d come along and have a look. He stands. You said you were going up. MRS SANDS (rising). Anyway. MR SANDS. Come on.

MR KIDD. It’s apparent. ROSE. do you? MR KIDD. he knows you. MR KIDD. ROSE. They were looking for the landlord. aren’t you? There isn’t any other landlord? MR KIDD. But he doesn’t come from this district. do you? You don’t think that. I know what he’ll do. Mrs Hudd. You’ve got to see him. I’m not a young man. ROSE. to ask you if you’ll see him. But I don’t know anybody. He hasn’t given me any rest. He sits. well when he goes. Who? The man. He wants to see you. But he hadn’t gone yet. ROSE. Mr Kidd. He just lies there. while we’re waiting I’ll play you a game of chess. I don’t know him. I said. You don’t think he’s going to do that. that’s all. You need rest. He closes the door behind him. I can’t get rid of him. I don’t know him. I can’t take it any more. I know what he’ll do. But he hadn’t gone yet. I said. In the black dark. Vacant? ROSE. he won’t indulge in any conversation. Mrs Hudd. that’s all. MR KIDD. Please see him. do you? ROSE. No. Do you expect me to see someone I don’t know? With my husband not here too? MR KIDD. What? What’s that got to do with it? I don’t know what you’re talking about. Just lying there. All right. I said he hasn’t gone yet. He lies there. See who? MR KIDD. you are the landlord. in the basement? MR KIDD. Mr Kidd. walks further. He’s been waiting to see you. ROSE. Mrs Hudd? ROSE. I don’t know what’ll happen if you don’t see him. Enter a blind Negro. ROSE. You must know him. She sits in the rocking-chair. He just lies there. He wouldn’t even play a game of chess. What’s the time? I don’t know. MR KIDD. MR KIDD. ROSE. He’s been there the whole week-end. He’ll come up when Mr Hudd’s here. All this way? MR KIDD. I know it. Why don’t you see him? ROSE. Hour after hour. ROSE. How do I know who he is? All I know is he won’t say a word. You might know him. How could he. You’ve got to see him. See him? I beg your pardon. An old man like you. don’t you? I tell you. I’ve been waiting for him to go the whole week-end. After a few moments the door opens. Quick. after he’s come all this way. It’s not good for me. So I came up again. You’ll have to see him. What room? ROSE. do you think I go around knowing men in one district after another? What do you think I am? MR KIDD. Why should I see him? MR KIDD. He’s downstairs now. Shall I tell him it’s all right? ROSE. waiting. I don’t know him. That what’s all right? MR KIDD. he’ll come up on his own bat. ROSE. both of you? Mrs Hudd. The man. MR KIDD. you must ask her if she’ll see me. You play chess. ROSE. That’s exactly what he’ll do. Quick! goes out. He would do that. Who were? ROSE. have done with it. Perhaps you knew him in another district. when your husband’s here. when your husband’s here. that’s what he’ll do. You won’t see him? ROSE. Pause. I don’t know if he even heard what I was saying. when I don’t know him? MR KIDD. But he knows you. and feels with a stick till he reaches the armchair. what did they mean about this room? MR KIDD. I’ve had a terrible weekend. MR KIDD . Mr Kidd. MR KIDD. He’d never do that. Pause. That’s why I came up before. I’ve got to tell you. I don’t know what I think. Listen. Why don’t you leave me be. That you’ll see him. have a bit of pity. I’ve told you I don’t know this man! MR KIDD. ROSE. So I told him. You don’t think he’s going to go away without seeing you. We’ve just moved into this district. MR KIDD. But it’s damp down there. Is this room vacant? MR KIDD. Mr Kidd.That’s why I came up before. Who is he? MR KIDD. Fetch him. Mrs Hudd. ROSE. ROSE. that’s apparent. there’ll be nothing else for it. go up. He wouldn’t do that. Shall I tell him it’s all right. ROSE. ROSE. He said that when Mr Hudd went out I was to tell him. you can go up. MR KIDD. If you don’t see him now. Oh yes. Pause. You can never tell. Mr Kidd. he says. ROSE. just – has he gone? that and nothing else. I said. MR KIDD (rising). What you need is rest. the other night. I think I’m going off my squiff. We’re quiet here. I’ve got to tell you. Pause.

Come. Upsetting my landlord. Don’t call me that. a little girl? I can keep up with you. this week-end? You’ve got him going. RILEY. You disturb my evening. A bunch of cripples. What do you want? You force your way up here. Don’t call me that. now. Pause. What do you think you’re up to? We’re settled down here. Mrs Hudd? You just touched a chair. I can’t take it. What are you looking at? You’re blind. Oh. They come in here and stink the place out. I want you to come home. and you come in and drive him up the wall. Stop it. ROSE. you know. Finished. Don’t thank me for anything. Come home. RILEY. Spit it out or out you go. Pause. Sal. What do you want? RILEY. And the sooner you get out the better. have you. ROSE. Pause. No. Pause. I wouldn’t know you to spit on. who lets a respectable house. Why don’t you sit in it? He sits. Come on. What message? Who have you got a message from? Who? RILEY. It’s late. do you hear? Or are you deaf too? You’re not deaf too. Because I can tell you. and our landlord thinks the world of us. ROSE. RILEY. can you? You’re a blind man. . ROSE. I want to see you.He stops. ROSE. we’re his favourite tenants. They say I know you. ROSE. I don’t want you up here. RILEY. You’ve got a grown-up woman in this room. I know all about it. You’ve got what? How could you have a message for me. This is a large room. not from a mile off. You’re not only a nut. To come home. What do you know about this room? You know nothing about it. Not Sal. An old. What did you call me? Come home. ROSE. quiet. I’ve had enough of this. (Rising. RILEY. You’ve led him a dance. My luck. aren’t you? So what are you looking at? What do you think you’ve got here. And you drag my name into it. when I don’t know you and nobody knows I’m here and I don’t know anybody anyway. That’s not your name. Never mind about the room. come on. I’m one ahead of people like you. I get these creeps come in. Sal. RILEY. Pause. ROSE. ROSE. these customers. You push your way in and shove him about. Now I touch you. RILEY. you’re a blind nut and you can get out the way you came. Aren’t you? Can’t see a dickeybird. You come in and sit down here. Mister Riley. Thank you. RILEY. What do you want? He looks about the room. smelling up my room. ROSE. You think I’m an easy touch. don’t you? Well. I don’t know who you are. cosy. ROSE. That’s an insult. ROSE. Enough’s enough. Tell me what you want and get out. I have a message for you. After a handout. It’s late. ROSE. ROSE. have you? A poor. Well. and drag my name into it! What did you mean by dragging my name into it. Done for. RILEY. ROSE. what liberty is that? Telling my landlord too.) Well. Pause. Come on. RILEY. then. Your father wants you to come home. What do you want? What do you want? RILEY. for a start. the lot of you. So now you’re here. Home? Yes. Sal. Pause. And you won’t be staying in it long either. and my husband’s name? How did you know what our name was? Pause. Home? Go now. I don’t care if it’s – What? That’s not your name. Pause. I’m here. With me. weak old man. Well you can’t see me. are you? You’re all deaf and dumb and blind. why don’t you give it up as a bad job? Get off out of it. What do you want? RILEY. You say you wanted to see me. RILEY. ROSE. And as for you saying you know me. My name is Riley. I can’t. RILEY. RILEY. You can take a liberty too far. poor blind man. Don’t touch me.

ROSE. Then with his foot he lifts the armchair up. Pause. Sal. ROSE. But I drove her. BERT. She went with me. There again and back. BERT. Yes. RILEY. ROSE (going towards him). Lice! He strikes the NEGRO . I kept on the straight. They got it very icy out. ROSE. He takes the chair from the table and sits to the left of the NEGRO’S chair. Yes. She took me there. Mr Hudd. I got back all right. RILEY. Then I drove her back. She was good. I caned her along. One there was. your wife – BERT. It is dark. ROSE stands clutching her eyes. Not with her. I can’t see. I sped her. Yes. I never go out. They shoved out of it. ROSE. close to it. I got back all right. RILEY. Yes. I had all my way. Like that. Yes. He stops at the door. RILEY. I go where I go. Sal.ROSE. She don’t mix it with me. RILEY. I’ve been here. Pause. Yes. I can’t see. She brought me back. ROSE. Silence. Is it late? I had a good bowl down there. BERT. The day is a hump. She was good. ROSE. He wouldn’t move. I can’t. Can’t see. So. hard. The NEGRO falls on to the floor. There was no mixing it. ROSE. I got back all right. Pause. then goes to the window and draws the curtains. ROSE. Pause. No. There was no cars. the back of his head and his temples with her hands. Pause. hard. knocking him down. He rises slowly. RILEY. She touches his eyes. I drove her down. I use my hand. They got it dark out. ROSE. RILEY. and then kicks his head against the gas-stove several times. I got my road. now. I bumped him. He regards the NEGRO for some moments. The NEGRO lies still. now. Now I see you. So. ROSE. BERT walks away. Enter BERT. BERT. Blackout Curtain . I waited to see you. RILEY. I could see the road all right. Not that. RILEY. Then I got back. Come home now. I’ve been here. Yes. Pause. BERT. Long. I get hold of her. ROSE. He comes to the centre of the room and regards the woman.


with the following cast: BEN GUS Colin Blakely Kenneth Cranham Directed by Kenneth Ives .The Dumb Waiter was first presented at the Hampstead Theatre Club on 21 January 1960. with the same cast. The Dumb Waiter was produced for televison by the BBC on 23 July 1985. with the following cast: BEN GUS Nicholas Selby George Tovey Directed by James Roose-Evans The Dumb Waiter was transferred to the Royal Court Theatre on 8 March 1960.

left. Go on! BEN. GUS walks to the door. Only they’ve got a black stripe – the plates – right across the middle. left.THE DUMB WAITER Scene: A basement room. Incredible. It’s unbelievable. He looks inside it and brings out a flattened cigarette packet. You know. Ruminatively. BEN. closed. GUS. GUS. flat against the back wall. GUS puts the matchbox in his pocket and bends down to put on his shoe. between the beds. It’s sort of striped. bends down. GUS. (He sits in a chair. see? He couldn’t see how he was going to squeeze through. He looks inside it and brings out a flattened matchbox. That’s what it says here. where the cup goes. The lorry started and ran over him. you see. right. sort of round the cup. reading. trousers and braces. GUS. scratching his head. Two beds. BEN lies back and reads. left. Round the rim. and halts at the door. Their eyes meet. But there was a lot of traffic. yawns and begins to walk slowly to the door. looks down. It’s enough to make you want to puke. BEN. Silence. Silence. Well. . Who advised him to do a thing like that? BEN. A door to a passage. Silence. GUS. A stationary lorry. Well. He shakes it and examines it. Well. I’ll say that. GUS puts the packet in his pocket. but the lavatory does not flush. I will. GUS. left. you’d better eat them quick. Then the plates are the same. Yes. He shakes it and examines it. Kaw! He picks up the paper. go on. Get away. with difficulty. What are you doing out there? GUS. I’m just going to make it. GUS ties his laces. GUS. BEN whistles at an item in the paper. BEN. I’ll say that. He wanders off. Or a pie. left. BEN. He what? BEN. but the lavatory does not flush. GUS kneels and unties his shoe-lace and slowly takes off the shoe. BEN lowers his paper and watches him. BEN. BEN. Silence. He picks up the paper and lies on his back. BEN turns the page.) He’s laid on some very nice crockery this time. and slowly takes off the shoe. you see. So he crawled under a lorry. He crawled under a lorry. GUS is sitting on a bed. What do you want plates for? You’re not going to eat. GUS re-enters. The lavatory chain is pulled once off left. BEN (still reading). A man of eighty-seven crawling under a lorry! GUS. What about this? Listen to this! He refers to the paper. It’s very nice. with difficulty. BEN. will you? Time’s getting on. puts on his shoe and ties the lace. A man of eighty-seven wanted to cross the road. Their eyes meet. BEN reads. rises. right. All the rest of it’s black. A lavatory chain is pulled twice off. unties his shoe-lace. It’s down here in black and white. isn’t it? GUS. and shakes his foot. I’ve brought a few biscuits. GUS I want to ask you something. except for right in the middle. BEN rattles his paper and reads. What about the tea? GUS. make it. He kneels. left. and shakes the other foot. A door to the kitchen and lavatory. shakes his head and exits. BEN slams the paper down on the bed and glares after him. reading a paper. GUS. BEN rattles his paper and reads. Both are dressed in shirts. He ties his lace. I was just – BEN. You know I can’t drink tea without anything to eat. left. tying his shoelaces. A serving hatch. BEN is lying on a bed. GUS re-enters. BEN lowers his paper and watches him. I always bring a few biscuits. GUS brings out the flattened cigarette packet and examines it. Then the saucer’s black. where it’s white. Well. There’s a white stripe. No? BEN. make the tea then. stops. Yes. I’m quite taken with the crockery. He stops. BEN slams down the paper. BEN reads.

It just says – Her brother. You seen this. What? GUS. I could have done with another blanket too. Pause. GUS. Terrible. Pause. Ben? BEN (reading).brings out the flattened cigarette packet and examines it. you could see what it looked like outside. eh? A child of eight killing a cat! GUS. How did she do it? BEN. She – He picks up the paper and studies it. The brother. this one. How did he do it? BEN. looks out front. I wanted to ask you something. Go on! BEN. It’s a fact. I think you’re right. There’s a photo here of the first eleven. You got any cigarettes? I think I’ve run out. aged eleven. GUS. I was going to ask you something. what’s this? (Peering at it. he flips the packet under his bed. I didn’t have a very restful sleep today. that’s all. GUS rises. GUS. viewed the incident from the toolshed.) ‘The First Eleven. GUS. It doesn’t say. That’s what I should say. No. I wouldn’t mind if you had a window. Aiming carefully. BEN.’ Cricketers. The first eleven. What time is he getting in touch? BEN. Nothing. Get away. What’s that? BEN. Wait a minute. BEN. Oh. GUS. GUS. Who? GUS. What about that tea? GUS. then all about the room. Any time. Ballcock. BEN. It’s got a deficient ballcock. What about that. BEN. Go on! That didn’t occur to me. I wouldn’t like to live in this dump. Nothing? BEN. BEN. GUS wanders to his bed and presses the mattress. What? GUS. That’s bloody ridiculous. A deficient what? BEN. They all look a bit old to me. GUS wanders downstage. eh? A kid of eleven killing a cat and blaming it on his little sister of eight! It’s enough to – He breaks off in disgust and seizes the paper. Does it? GUS. GUS. GUS. What do you want a window for? . I bet he did it BEN. BEN. What do you think’s the matter with it? BEN.) What about that. It was a girl. BEN. I hope it won’t be a long job. No? Really? BEN. He throws the packet high up and leans forward to catch it. did you? It’s not much of a bed. BEN (slamming his paper down). What time is he getting in touch? BEN reads. Well. Kaw! GUS. Have you noticed the time that tank takes to fill? BEN. What’s the matter with you? It could be any time. It doesn’t say. (Slamming down the paper. Well. In the lavatory. What first eleven? GUS (studying the photo). What tank? GUS. BEN. Why not? BEN. GUS. BEN. GUS (moves to the foot of BEN’S bed). GUS. what about it? GUS.) Hello. A child of eight killed a cat! GUS. What? GUS. (He catches sight of a picture on the wall.

You kill me. I mean. It’s difficult to tell. will you? We’ll be on the job in a minute. It was still dark. haven’t we? You can’t move out of the house in case a call comes. BEN. I like to have a bit of a view. I thought you were asleep. Fed up? What with? GUS. GUS. isn’t it? I don’t want to share my bed-sheets.) It could be my pong. BEN (lowering the paper). Anyone would think you’re working every day. you come into a room you’ve never seen before. I thought they ponged a bit. that’s the trouble. You never get the chance in this job. Pause. GUS picks up a small bag by his bed and brings out a packet of tea. in the middle of that road? BEN (lowering the paper). you sleep all day. BEN. We were too early. Then when a call comes. We’re not staying long. You haven’t got any interests. which hangs on the bed. honest. but I woke up when you stopped. I’ve got interests. . haven’t you? GUS. GUS feels in the pocket of his jacket. What was all that about then? Why did you stop? BEN (picking up the paper). Have you ever seen me idle? I’m never idle. GUS. don’t you remember? I looked out. that’s taking a bit of a liberty. No. GUS sits on his bed. What? BEN. GUS. Pause. The lavatory flushes off left. How do you know those sheets weren’t clean? GUS. He walks about the room. GUS. He examines it and looks up. I’ve been meaning to ask you. I’m ready. Ben. you come into a place when it’s still dark. didn’t you? GUS. I was too tired to notice when I got in this morning. I thought these sheets didn’t look too bright. I know how to occupy my time. I thought perhaps you wanted to kip. BEN. Why did you stop the car this morning. Don’t you ever get a bit fed up? BEN. to its best advantage. Only a fortnight. What? Tell me one of your interests. Look at me. It is. don’t you? GUS. Make the tea. It whiles away the time. Remember that last place we were in? Last time. BEN. You get your holidays. you do your job. Pause. You. Eh. I must have fallen asleep again. So how could we be too early? BEN (quietly). You’d get rheumatism in a place like this. I told you things were going down the drain. You mean someone had to get out before we got in? He examines the bedclothes. didn’t we. There she goes. We were too early.) Yes. Well. me or you? GUS. I don’t know. Who took the call. GUS. I mean. but we’ve got to be on tap though. BEN. How do you know they weren’t clean? You’ve spent the whole day in them.GUS. BEN Silence. I’ve got my model boats. We shoved out on the dot. if you stay long. reads. What. BEN. How often do we do a job? Once a week? What are you complaining about? GUS. Eh. I’ve got my woodwork. What the hell is it now? GUS. and then you go away in the night again. I was. where was it? At least there was a wireless there. saying we were to start right away. BEN.) What do you mean? We got the call. But that’s about all I can say for this place. We did. I say the crockery’s good. What do you mean? BEN. You know what your trouble is? GUS. I’ve noticed it. It was all misty. In the middle of that road. we’ve always had clean sheets kid on up till now. What have I got? GUS. It’s worse than the last one. You got any cigarettes? I’ve run out. BEN. I suppose. I’ve got interests. I wasn’t waiting for anything. GUS. I mean. Early? (He rises. (He sits slowly on bed. When are you going to stop jabbering? GUS. No. GUS. I like to get a look at the scenery. It’s very nice. you mean it might be my pong? (He sniffs sheets. Yes. He doesn’t seem to bother much about our comfort these days. BEN. What? BEN. Too early for what? Pause. You did stop. like you were waiting for something. but you were sitting up dead straight. BEN. I don’t really know what I pong like.

It was one-all at half-time. What? GUS. I’d remember Tottenham. What must? GUS. The Villa don’t play that sort of game. Ben. Then they might be playing here. BEN. there’s no time. You were there yourself. But the referee had the ball on the spot. BEN. An envelope slides under the door. He stands. They were playing away. turns his head and sees the envelope. BEN. you were there. Who are? BEN. because of it. No. . Who was it against now? White shirts. Eh. BEN BEN. GUS. GUS. I’d never have guessed. Pause. If they’re playing away they might be playing here. BEN. in Birmingham. GUS. Get out of it. Their opponents won by a penalty. right. BEN. BEN (tonelessly). mate. Pause. GUS. haven’t we? Stayed over and watched a game. They’re all playing away. GUS. GUS. it’s Friday today. Kaw! GUS. Didn’t touch him! What are you talking about? He laid him out flat! GUS. Well. BEN. Ben. They’re playing away. BEN turns on his bed to look at him. that must have been here. No. BEN. How do you know? GUS. BEN. Don’t you remember that disputed penalty? BEN.(referring to the paper). Here. BEN. will you? turns back and reads. Anyway. He stands. BEN. we have done in the past. They might be playing the Villa. Eh. Not me. Birmingham. That’s in the Midlands. That must have been here. I saw the Villa get beat in a cup-tie once. anyway. it was a disputed penalty. They got beat two-one. GUS. BEN GUS. We could go and watch the Villa. BEN. We’ve never done a job in Tottenham. GUS. I didn’t think the other bloke touched him myself. Talk about drama. We’ve got to get straight back. GUS. I’ll never forget it. GUS. Ben. Yes. I’ve told you. But the Villa are playing away. They’re playing away. Eh. What town are we in? I’ve forgotten. are they? Caarr! What a pity. what about it? GUS. Don’t make me laugh. Things have tightened up. Ben. GUS sees it. What about it? GUS (excited). The Villa. I’ve always been an ardent football fan. BEN. BEN. BEN. Well. When’s he going to get in touch? GUS. Then they said he was just acting. Yes. BEN. Not the Villa. The Spurs. Because you know who the other team was? It was the Spurs. I’d like to see another football match. haven’t we? For a bit of relaxation. The second biggest city in Great Britain. He went down just inside the area. Away. BEN. What? GUS. It was Tottenham Hotspur. Pause. He snaps his fingers. Look. looking at it. Where did it come from? BEN. BEN. They’ve tightened up. Don’t be silly. isn’t it? It’ll be Saturday tomorrow. GUS chuckles to himself. look here. GUS. Yes. Disputed. GUS. BEN. Kaw! GUS. GUS yawns and speaks through his yawn. what about coming to see the Spurs tomorrow? BEN (tonelessly). What’s that? I don’t know. Go on! BEN He looks with interest about the room. GUS.

isn’t it? BEN. BEN examines it. Go on where? BEN. Pick it up. BEN. GUS. Why? GUS. Nothing on it. Go on! GUS. you’re always running out. He replaces the revolver.Under the door. BEN. GUS passes the envelope. That’s funny. Well. Must have done. aren’t you? GUS. You don’t even need a box. what is it? GUS. you’ve got some now. BEN. Red too. What did you see? GUS. Nothing. He goes to the door. Matches. opens it. BEN. About a dozen. Matches? GUS. GUS stares at him. GUS. BEN. GUS. puts the matches in his pocket. I could do with them. They stare at it. (Slapping his hand). BEN. Yes. Yes. Is there anything on it? GUS. All the time. you’re always cadging matches. Well. eh? GUS. No one. Pick it up! GUS slowly moves towards it. What’s in it? GUS empties twelve matches into his hand. Open the door and see if you can catch anyone outside. GUS. Show it to me. bends and picks it up. Yes. GUS. BEN. I could do with them too. I can light the kettle now. It came under the door? GUS. looks out and shuts it. BEN. BEN. Yes. BEN. GUS takes the matches from his pocket and looks at them. GUS. they’ll come in handy. BEN. Well. BEN. BEN. GUS. You could. haven’t you? GUS. Don’t waste them! Go on. Eh? . Won’t they? BEN. GUS probes his ear with a match. don’t lose them. Well. BEN. Is it sealed? GUS. BEN. Well. me? BEN. What? BEN. BEN. Won’t they? GUS. Open it. We haven’t got any. Not a word. They must have been pretty quick. goes to his bed and brings a revolver from under the pillow. go on. Open it! GUS. GUS opens it and looks inside. Well. Who. GUS. GUS. What do you mean? BEN. Yes. go and light it. How many have you got there? GUS. they’ll come in handy then. Yes. BEN. GUS. GUS. Yes. What is it? An envelope. BEN. Yes. I don’t know. No.

all right. BEN stares at him. at arm’s length). GUS goes to his bed and sits. for Christ’s sake. I’m not trying to be unreasonable. BEN. You mean the gas. GUS slowly exits. They look at each other. He takes out the flattened box and tries to strike. BEN (his eyes narrowing). He throws the box under the bed. but – BEN. How can you light a kettle? BEN. What do you mean? GUS. (wearily). BEN. BEN (menacing). BEN (putting his legs on the bed). BEN. Well. I’m just trying to point out something to you. (Deliberately. Pause. Oh. Light the kettle! It’s common usage! GUS. If I say go and light the kettle I mean go and light the kettle. Gus. about – BEN. stops and half turns. Shall I try it on here? BEN BEN BEN stares. You do. GUS raises his foot. BEN. realising what he has said. YOU FOOL! GUS takes the hands from his throat. mate. Silence. The kettle. The stove. I’m only looking after your interests. THE KETTLE. but. They stare at each other. left. GUS.) I have never in all my life heard anyone say put on the kettle. What are you sitting on my bed for? . I wonder who it’ll be tonight. He rises and sits on BEN’S bed. GUS (entering). GUS. goes to his bed. I was going to ask you something. that’s what you mean. Well. Gus. I don’t know. Eh. what are you waiting for? GUS. You. They say put on the kettle. I bet my mother used to say it. Your mother? When did you last see your mother? GUS. GUS. I’ve been wanting to ask you something. You’ve got to learn. Light what? BEN. breathing hard. BEN (taut). No. The matches. What do you mean. BEN (powerfully). BEN. All right. Put on the bloody kettle. me or you? GUS. It’s a figure of speech! GUS. Who does? GUS. what are you talking about your mother for? They stare. head in hands. BEN. don’t you? The gas. I mean the gas? GUS. Yes. Well. BEN. What? GUS. GUS. GUS. Yes. No. What does the gas –? BEN (grabbing him with two hands by the throat. Who’s the senior partner here. It lights. but I’ve never heard – BEN (vehemently). GUS. It’s a figure of speech! Light the kettle. for Christ’s sake. Here we are. I want to see if they light. BEN. GUS. I think you’ve got it wrong. Nobody says light the gas! What does the gas light? GUS. Who says? BEN. GUS. What? GUS. I’ve never heard it. GUS strikes a match on his shoe. It’s going.Go and light it. BEN slams his paper down on the bed and sits on it.

what about it? GUS. After all. there’s never a soul in sight – (He pauses. He’s not even laying on any gas now either. I find him hard to talk to. BEN grabs the paper. What’s come over you? GUS. He picks up a packet of tea from the bed and throws it into the bag. It’s his place all right. Blimey. Scrub round it. Sure. You’ll have to wait. BEN looks at him. isn’t it? BEN. You’d better get ready anyway. GUS. GUS. BEN. BEN. GUS. That’s what I was wondering about. anyway. when I see him. What job? GUS (tentatively). it’s his place. Go and make the tea. nobody ever hears a thing. GUS (thoughtfully). you know. you’ll have to do without it. BEN. (Rising. will you? Pause. Wilson. The gas has gone out. He might just send a message. He’s probably only rented it. that’s a bit much. I’ve been thinking about the last one. You never used to ask me so many damn questions.) Can’t tell. have you ever thought of that? We never get any complaints. GUS. But I can never get round to it. GUS re-enters. BEN. BEN GUS. There are a number of things I want to ask him. looking down at BEN). I bet the whole house is. do we. BEN. Who what’s going to be? They look at each other. That girl. Well. What last one? GUS. Well. He then takes his revolver from under the pillow and checks it for ammunition. How many times have you read that paper? BEN slams the paper down and rises. Silence. won’t you? GUS.) Eh. He’s entitled to have. BEN. GUS. What do you mean? . Well. I like to have one before. BEN. What’s the matter with you? GUS. eh? Half the time he doesn’t even bother to put in an appearance. left. BEN. Well. The job.GUS sits. It doesn’t have to be his place. You’ve got a job to do . BEN looks after him. Are you feeling all right? GUS. Who it’s going to be. there’s a teapot. which he reads. there’s a key there. BEN. I was just wondering. BEN. What’s the matter with you? GUS. Nothing. for my money. it’s his place? GUS. For Wilson. What’s the matter with you? You’re always asking me questions. What for? BEN. (He touches the wall above his bed. No. BEN. Ben? BEN. if he comes. BEN. BEN. I thought perhaps you might know something. BEN. do you? – except the bloke who comes. GUS. GUS (at length). Pause. He doesn’t always come. There’s a meter. You’ll have a cup of tea afterwards. BEN (angrily). Look at all the other places. Why should he? He’s a busy man. Wilson. holds the revolver up to the light and polishes it. Stop wondering. BEN. All you do is wait. GUS sits on his bed. I hope he’s got a shilling. What do you mean. Why don’t you just do it and shut up? GUS. sure. too much noise or anything like that? You never see a soul. I don’t know. You go to this address. He might not come. What? GUS. Do you know that. Yes. You ever noticed that? I wonder if the walls are sound-proof. I thought perhaps you – I mean – have you got any idea – who it’s going to be tonight? BEN. I know it’s his place. Nor have I. he could have seen there was enough gas for a cup of tea. I haven’t got any money. GUS exits.

I was just wondering how many times you’d –
BEN. What are you doing, criticizing me?
GUS. No, I was just –
BEN. You’ll get a swipe round your earhole if you don’t watch your step.
GUS. Now look here, Ben –
BEN. I’m not looking anywhere! (He addresses the room.) How many times have I – ǃ A bloody liberty!
GUS. I didn’t mean that.
BEN. You just get on with it, mate. Get on with it, that’s all.


gets back on the bed.

I was just thinking about that girl, that’s all.

sits on his bed.

She wasn’t much to look at, I know, but still. It was a mess though, wasn’t it? What a mess. Honest, I can’t remember a mess like that one. They don’t seem
to hold together like men, women. A looser texture, like. Didn’t she spread, eh? She didn’t half spread. Kaw! But I’ve been meaning to ask you.

sits up and clenches his eyes.

Who clears up after we’ve gone? I’m curious about that. Who does the clearing up? Maybe they don’t clear up. Maybe they just leave them there, eh? What
do you think? How many jobs have we done? Blimey, I can’t count them. What if they never clear anything up after we’ve gone.
BEN (pityingly). You mutt. Do you think we’re the only branch of this organization? Have a bit of common. They got departments for everything.
GUS. What cleaners and all?
BEN. You birk!
GUS. No, it was that girl made me start to think –

There is a loud clatter and racket in the bulge of wall between the beds, of something descending. They grab their revolvers, jump up and face the wall.
The noise comes to a stop. Silence. They look at each other. BEN gestures sharply towards the wall. GUS approaches the wall slowly. He bangs it with his
revolver. It is hollow. BEN moves to the head of his bed, his revolver cocked. GUS puts his revolver on his bed and pats along the bottom of the centre panel.
He finds a rim. He lifts the panel. Disclosed is a serving-hatch, a ‘dumb waiter’. A wide box is held by pulleys. GUS peers into the box. He brings out a piece
of paper.
BEN. What is it?
GUS. You have a look at it.
BEN. Read it.
GUS (reading). Two braised steak and chips. Two sago puddings. Two teas without sugar.
BEN. Let me see that. (He takes the paper.)
GUS (to himself). Two teas without sugar.
BEN. Mmnn.
GUS. What do you think of that?
BEN. Well –
The box goes up. BEN levels his revolver.

Give us a chance! They’re in a hurry, aren’t they?


re-reads the note. GUS looks over his shoulder.

That’s a bit – that’s a bit funny, isn’t it?
(quickly). No. It’s not funny. It probably used to be a café here, that’s all. Upstairs. These places change hands very quickly.
GUS. A café?
BEN. Yes.
GUS. What, you mean this was the kitchen, down here?
BEN. Yes, they change hands overnight, these places. Go into liquidation. The people who run it, you know, they don’t find it a going concern, they move out.
GUS. You mean the people who ran this place didn’t find it a going concern and moved out?
BEN. Sure.

What do you mean, who’s got it now?
GUS. Who’s got it now? If they moved out, who moved in?
BEN. Well, that all depends –

The box descends with a clatter and bang. BEN levels his revolver. GUS goes to the box and brings out a piece of paper.

(reading). Soup of the day. Liver and onions. Jam tart.

A pause. GUS looks at BEN. BEN takes the note and reads it. He walks slowly to the hatch. gus follows. BEN looks into the hatch but not up it. GUS puts his hand
on BEN’S shoulder. BEN throws it off. GUS puts his finger to his mouth. He leans on the hatch and swiftly looks up it. BEN flings him away in alarm. BEN looks
at the note. He throws his revolver on the bed and speaks with decision.
BEN. We’d better send something up.
GUS. Eh?
BEN. We’d better send something up.
GUS. Oh! Yes. Yes. Maybe you’re right.
They are both relieved at the decision.

(purposefully). Quick! What have you got in that bag?
GUS. Not much.


goes to the hatch and shouts up it.
Wait a minute!
Don’t do that!


examines the contents of the bag and brings them out, one by one.

Biscuits. A bar of chocolate. Half a pint of milk.
BEN. That all?
GUS. Packet of tea.
BEN. Good.
GUS. We can’t send the tea. That’s all the tea we’ve got.
BEN. Well, there’s no gas. You can’t do anything with it, can you?
GUS. Maybe they can send us down a bob.
BEN. What else is there?
GUS (reaching into bag). One Eccles cake.
BEN. One Eccles cake?
GUS. Yes.
BEN. You never told me you had an Eccles cake.
GUS. Didn’t I?
BEN. Why only one? Didn’t you bring one for me?
GUS. I didn’t think you’d be keen.
BEN. Well, you can’t send up one Eccles cake, anyway.
GUS. Why not?
BEN. Fetch one of those plates.
GUS. All right.


goes towards the door, left, and stops.

Do you mean I can keep the Eccles cake then?
BEN. Keep it?
GUS. Well, they don’t know we’ve got it, do they?
BEN. That’s not the point.
GUS. Can’t I keep it?
BEN. No, you can’t. Get the plate.

exits, left. BEN looks in the bag. He brings out a packet of crisps. Enter GUS with a plate.
(Accusingly, holding up the crisps). Where did these come from?
GUS. What?
BEN. Where did these crisps come from?
GUS. Where did you find them?
BEN (hitting him on the shoulder). You’re playing a dirty game, my lad!
GUS. I only eat those with beer!
BEN. Well, where were you going to get the beer?
GUS. I was saving them till I did.
BEN. I’ll remember this. Put everything on the plate.

They pile everything on to the plate. The box goes up without the plate.
Wait a minute!
They stand.
GUS. It’s gone up.
BEN. It’s all your stupid fault, playing about!
GUS. What do we do now?
BEN. We’ll have to wait till it comes down.

puts the plate on the bed, puts on his shoulder holster, and starts to put on his tie.
You’d better get ready.

goes to his bed, puts on his tie, and starts to fix his holster.
Hey, Ben.
GUS. What’s going on here?


What do you mean?
GUS. How can this be a café?
BEN. It used to be a café.
GUS. Have you seen the gas stove?
BEN. What about it?
GUS. It’s only got three rings.
BEN. So what?
GUS. Well, you couldn’t cook much on three rings, not for a busy place like this.
BEN (irritably). That’s why the service is slow!


puts on his waistcoat.

Yes, but what happens when we’re not here? What do they do then? All these menus coming down and nothing going up. It might have been going on like
this for years.

brushes his jacket.

What happens when we go?

puts on his jacket.

They can’t do much business.
The box descends. They turn about. GUS goes to the hatch and brings out a note.

(reading). Macaroni Pastitsio. Ormitha Macarounada.
BEN. What was that?
GUS. Macaroni Pastitsio. Ormitha Macarounada.
BEN. Greek dishes.
GUS. No.
BEN. That’s right.
GUS. That’s pretty high class.
BEN. Quick before it goes up.


puts the plate in the box.

(calling up the hatch). Three McVitie and Price! One Lyons Red Label! One Smith’s Crisps! One Eccles cake! One Fruit and Nut!
BEN. Cadbury’s.
GUS (up the hatch). Cadbury’s!
BEN (handing the milk). One bottle of milk.
GUS (up the hatch). One bottle of milk! Half a pint! (He looks at the label.) Express Dairy! (He puts the bottle in the box.)

The box goes up.
Just did it.
BEN. You shouldn’t shout like that.
GUS. Why not?
BEN. It isn’t done.

goes to his bed.

Well, that should be all right, anyway, for the time being.
GUS. You think so, eh?
BEN. Get dressed, will you? It’ll be any minute now.

puts on his waistcoat. BEN lies down and looks up at the ceiling.

GUS. This is some place. No tea and no biscuits.
Eating makes you lazy, mate. You’re getting lazy, you know that? You don’t want to get slack on your job.
GUS. Who me?
BEN. Slack, mate, slack.
GUS. Who me? Slack?
BEN. Have you checked your gun? You haven’t even checked your gun. It looks disgraceful, anyway. Why don’t you ever polish it?


rubs his revolver on the sheet. BEN takes out a pocket mirror and straightens his tie.

I wonder where the cook is. They must have had a few, to cope with that. Maybe they had a few more gas stoves. Eh! Maybe there’s another kitchen along
the passage.
BEN. Of course there is! Do you know what it takes to make an Ormitha Macarounada?
GUS. No, what?
BEN. An Ormitha –! Buck your ideas up, will you?
GUS. Takes a few cooks, eh?

puts his revolver in its holster.

The sooner we’re out of this place the better.

He puts on his jacket.
Why doesn’t he get in touch? I feel like I’ve been here years. (He takes his revolver out of its holster to check the ammunition.) We’ve never let him down
though, have we? We’ve never let him down. I was thinking only the other day, Ben. We’re reliable, aren’t we?

He puts his revolver back in its holster.
Still, I’ll be glad when it’s over tonight.

He brushes his jacket.
I hope the bloke’s not going to get excited tonight, or anything. I’m feeling a bit off. I’ve got a splitting headache.
The box descends. BEN jumps up.
GUS collects the note.
(Reading.) One Bamboo Shoots, Water Chestnuts and Chicken. One Char Siu and Beansprouts.
BEN. Beansprouts?
GUS. Yes.
BEN. Blimey.

He listens. This? It’s a speaking-tube. I can’t hear a thing. Tube to mouth. He listens. We’d better tell them. (Speaking with great deference. To GUS. He looks back at the box. then speaks into the tube. The chocolate was melted. He listens. all we had we sent up. What about the crisps? BEN (listening). It whistles up there if you blow. come on. We should have used it before. The Eccles cake was stale. Tell them what? BEN. We sent up all we had. Funny I never noticed it before. What’d they do that for? GUS. GUS. (throwing the tea on the bed. To ear. Silence. GUS. This. GUS. The milk was sour. but we just thought we’d better let you know that we haven’t got anything left. He listens. BEN (examining it). What. take it out. BEN. Blow into it. Look here. GUS. They’ve sent back the tea. He grabs the tube and puts it to his mouth. I wouldn’t know where to begin. We’ll write a note. To mouth. GUS.GUS. BEN GUS . That we can’t do it. To mouth. Lend us your pencil. suddenly discovers the speaking-tube . (tube at mouth). That’s it. I’m sorry to – bother you. BEN.) Good evening. GUS. The packet of tea is inside it. GUS. we’re very sorry about that. Well. Blow. What do we do now? BEN. To ear. He picks it up. Now you speak! Speak into it! GUS looks at BEN . What? To mouth. GUS blows. He brings the tube slowly to his ear. The biscuits were mouldy. which hangs on the right wall of the hatch facing his bed. we haven’t got it. There’s no more food down here. He glares at GUS. Blow? BEN. I’m very sorry to hear that. Oh. GUS. BEN. Tube to ear. What? . GUS. GUS does so. instead of shouting up there. turning for a pencil. The box goes up. and speaking urgently). What do you do? BEN. To GUS. Silence. See that? That’s a whistle. this? BEN. GUS. Just the job. Yes. What? To ear. What’s this? What? GUS. No. The larder’s bare! Give me that! BEN. To GUS. He listens. Pull it out. BEN (anxious). GUS BEN. Maybe it isn’t tea-time. Well. All right then. GUS. Then they know you want to speak. How long has that been there? BEN.

Time’s getting on. What did he want us to light the kettle for? BEN. don’t worry about that. BEN lets his head sink on to his chest. What’s the matter with you? You don’t look too bright. You don’t think they’re just going to sit there and wait for stuff to come up from down here. radishes. What do you mean? GUS. The voice has ceased. Pause. That’s past a joke. BEN. Stand behind the door. staring. Cold meat. do you? That’ll get them nowhere. don’t we? BEN. He wanted a cup of tea! What about me? I’ve been wanting a cup of tea all night! BEN (despairingly). What do we do now? GUS. Let me give you your instructions. did he? They do all right. rises. GUS. You know what he said? Light the kettle! Not put on the kettle! Not light the gas! But light the kettle! GUS. What? BEN. I feel like an Alka-Seltzer myself. Certainly. Be quiet a minute. BEN (wearily). honest. Yes. He wanted a cup of tea. Why did you send him up all that stuff? (Thoughtfully. BEN. Roll mops. GUS. There’s no gas. If there’s a knock on the door I don’t answer it. I know. To mouth. you go over and stand behind the door. Pause. They’ve probably got a crate of beer too. Did you hear that? GUS. They must have something up there. GUS. BEN. You notice they didn’t ask for any salads? They’ve probably got a salad bowl up there. He hangs up the tube. When the bloke comes in – . and goes to him. GUS. What? To ear. Now what do we do? GUS. When the bloke comes in – GUS. When we get the call. Watercress. What about you? You look as if you could do with something too. And he wants a cup of tea. Who knows what he’s got upstairs? He’s probably got a salad bowl. that does. We send him up all we’ve got and he’s not satisfied. What are we supposed to drink? BEN sits on his bed. Pause. I’m thirsty too. Let me give you your instructions. Didn’t have anything to say about those crisps. Yes. He looks over at BEN. BEN GUS sighs and sits next to BEN on the bed. So I won’t answer it. That beats the band. The lot. Pause. What for? We always do it the same way.) Why did I send it up? Pause. But there won’t be a knock on the door. BEN (clapping hand to head).To mouth. For tea. GUS sits on his bed. (Excitedly). Yes certainly. Right away. Hardboiled eggs. I’m starving. it’s enough to make the cat laugh. BEN sits up. cucumbers. They do all right. If there’s a knock on the door you don’t answer it. (in a low voice). To ear. And he wants a cup of tea. How can we light the kettle? BEN. GUS. No. Probably eating my crisps with a pint of beer now. in my opinion. The instructions are stated and repeated automatically. I don’t like doing a job on an empty stomach. Pause. What about us? BEN sits. I could do with a bit of sustenance myself. GUS. They won’t get much from down here.

He won’t see you. The lavatory chain is pulled once off left. I’m here. GUS. BEN. Exactly the same? BEN. GUS. He exits through the door on the left. I know. He stops in his tracks. Silence. Pause. We do the same. GUS. So what will he do? BEN. I take out my gun. He won’t know you’re there. He stops in his tracks. Without divulging my presence. GUS. You take your gun out – GUS. But he’ll see me. Shut the door behind him. GUS. Without divulging your presence. GUS. He won’t know you’re there. We do exactly the same. BEN remains sitting on the bed. GUS. thinking. He’ll feel uncertain – GUS. We’ll look at him. And me in front of him – GUS. He turns and looks at BEN. He won’t know I’m there. He won’t know you’re there.) Why did he send us matches if he knew there was no gas? Silence. BEN. You take out your gun. Pause. GUS (absently). GUS. After you’ve closed the door. We won’t say a word. BEN. You’ve missed something out. Exactly. BEN. GUS. And you in front of him – BEN. BEN. GUS re-enters and stops inside the door. still. He moves a few paces towards him. BEN. If he turns round – GUS. BEN. BEN. And we’ll look at him. GUS. BEN. BEN. GUS. We don’t do anything different? BEN. BEN. BEN. You’ve never missed that out before. When he sees you behind him – GUS. GUS. BEN frowns and presses his forehead. He’ll see you. then walks slowly across to his own bed. Oh. GUS. GUS. but the lavatory does not flush. you know that? BEN. Uneasy. GUS. He looks at BEN . He’ll look at me and he’ll look at you. and shivers. He’ll see me and come towards me. He won’t see me. He is troubled. You’re there. He won’t say a word. He’ll look at us. I haven’t taken my gun out. . Nobody says a word.When the bloke comes in – Shut the door behind him. GUS. Eh? BEN. Excuse me. BEN. BEN. tense voice. according to you. After I’ve closed the door. He’ll see you and come towards you. What? GUS. GUS. BEN. Me behind him – BEN. What do we do if it’s a girl? BEN. BEN. If he turns round – BEN. GUS. GUS rises. deep in thought. He won’t know what to do. He stands. (Slowly in a low. BEN. GUS. He won’t see you.

He picks up his paper and reads.) Scampi! He crumples the note. BEN. years ago. to the foot of his bed. BEN. who moved in? BEN (hunched). across the chest. Silence. He follows GUS and slaps him hard. to get to his other ear. It’s down here in black and white. It’s true. Why did he send us matches if he knew there was no gas? BEN looks up. I told you before who owned this place. GUS crosses to the left side of BEN . GUS. back-handed. I asked you before. Silence. Who is it. Who? GUS. Listen to this! Pause. WE’VE GOT NOTHING LEFT! NOTHING! DO YOU UNDERSTAND? BEN seizes the tube and flings GUS away. That’s enough! I’m warning you! BEN. eh? Pause. haven’t we? We’ve always done our job. What’s he doing it for? BEN. though? BEN. their eyes meet. Why did he do that? BEN. haven’t we? We got right through our tests. . takes out the whistle. Well. The box goes up. and sits. The noise is this time accompanied by a shrill whistle. Shut up! GUS (feverishly). GUS rushes to the hatch and seizes the note. BEN turns to his paper. GUS. What’s one thing to do with another? GUS. BEN throws his paper down. (Violently. GUS (thickly).BEN stares in front of him. What games? GUS (passionately. BEN turns back to his paper. Get away. blows and speaks. They turn quickly. BEN Silence. What about that. Who sent us those matches? BEN. Go on! BEN. didn’t I? BEN hits him viciously on the shoulder. The hatch falls back into place. (Reading. Enough! GUS (with growing agitation). didn’t we? We took them together. BEN. picks up the tube. Kaw! He picks up the paper and looks at it. I asked you a question. as it falls. He goes to his bed and lies down.) Well. Kaw! Pause. I told you who ran this place. I told you. Who is it upstairs? (nervously). GUS. don’t you remember. didn’t we? We’ve proved ourselves before now. Ben. didn’t I? I told you. what’s he playing all these games for? That’s what I want to know. Silence. Stop it! You maniac! But you heard! BEN (savagely). Slowly GUS goes back to his bed. What’s one thing to do with another? BEN fumbles for his paper on the bed. Shut up. What are you talking about? GUS BEN stares down at him. Have you ever heard such a thing? GUS (dully). They turn quickly. BEN hits him viciously on the shoulder. What’s he doing all this for? What’s the idea? What’s he playing these games for? The box in the shaft comes down behind them. What’s he doing it for? We’ve been through our tests. You said the people who had it before moved out. didn’t I? BEN (standing). Who moved in? I asked you. hangs the tube. their eyes meet. GUS. advancing).

Right. Sure we’re ready. Is that a fact? Can you imagine it. The whistle in the speaking-tube blows. He is stripped of his jacket. Sure we’re ready. body stooping. Repeat. Gus! He takes out a comb and combs his hair. Curtain . Straight away. To ear. He puts it to his mouth. BEN brushes dust off his clothes and shoes. To mouth. To ear. holster and revolver. To mouth. GUS. To mouth. A long silence. To ear. It’s enough to make you want to puke. He raises his head and looks at BEN. He listens. He listens. waistcoat. To mouth. They stare at each other. BEN. Understood. BEN.(very low). BEN shakes his head. Where are you going? I’m going to have a glass of water. He listens. Incredible. GUS stands up. tie. Right. takes the whistle out and puts the tube to his ear. He has arrived and will be coming in straight away. adjusts his jacket to diminish the bulge of the revolver. He exits. BEN goes quickly to the door. his arms at his sides. GUS stumbles in. He listens. GUS. Understood. left. He goes towards the door on the left. He puts the paper down and rises. He goes to it. isn’t it? GUS (almost inaudible). BEN turns. It’s unbelievable. He stops. BEN. To mouth. his revolver levelled at the door. The normal method to be employed. To ear. He fixes the revolver in his holster. GUS BEN. Yes. He listens. The lavatory flushes off left. Gus! The door right opens sharply. He hangs the tube up. He listens. To ear.


London. and subsequently at the Criterion Theatre. on 18th January 1961. with the following cast: EDW ARD FLORA Maurice Denham Vivien Merchant Directed by Donald McWhinnie It was presented by Michael Codron at the Arts Theatre. with the following cast: EDW ARD FLORA MATCHSELLER Emlyn Williams Alison Leggat Richard Briers Directed by Donald McWhinnie It was produced at the Young Vic in June 1987 with the following cast: EDW ARD FLORA MATCHSELLER Directed by Kevin Billington Barry Foster Jill Johnson Malcolm Ward .A Slight Ache was first preformed on the BBC Third Programme on 9th July 1959.

[Pause. The garden gate. EDWARD: Oh. . FLORA: EDWARD: [Pause. EDWARD: Is there a breeze? FLORA: A light one. FLORA: [Pause. FLORA: You know perfectly well what grows in your garden. Keep still. FLORA: Don’t hit it. EDWARD: But good God. And everything in flower. EDWARD: About the what? FLORA [calmly]: Edward—you know that shrub outside the toolshed … EDWARD: Yes.] Don’t move. EDWARD: I tell you I thought it was convolvulus.] FLORA: Do you know what today is? EDWARD: Saturday. you just denied there was any. good Lord no. Have you noticed the honeysuckle this morning? EDWARD: The what? FLORA: The honeysuckle. [Pause. FLORA: EDWARD: Pause. The sun was up. [Pause. Everything. with two chairs and a table laid for breakfast at the centre of the stage. The clematis. You should work in the garden this morning. I must look. FLORA and EDWARD are discovered sitting at the breakfast table. EDWARD: Give me the lid. I don’t see why I should be expected to distinguish between these plants.] I thought it was japonica. I was out at seven. Oh. [Pause. EDWARD is reading the paper. bite? Keep still.A SLIGHT ACHE A country house. EDWARD: Really? FLORA: It’s the height of summer today. both indicated with a minimum of scenery and props.] It’s in wonderful flower. The peace. It is clear that I don’t.] Give me the ‘Telegraph’. It’s not my job. EDWARD: Is that honeysuckle? I thought it was … convolvulus. EDWARD: Did you say—that the convolvulus was in flower? FLORA: Yes. please. you know. EDWARD: Don’t move. trimmed hedges. FLORA: It’s in. A large well kept garden is suggested at the back of the stage with flower beds. [He puts the paper down on the table. We could put up the canopy.] FLORA [rising]: I was up at seven. It’ll bite. FLORA: I was talking about the honeysuckle. There’s a wasp. Edward. EDWARD: It’s very treacherous weather. etc. or something. is off right. EDWARD: That? FLORA: Yes. These will later be removed and the action will be focused on the scullery on the right and the study on the left. FLORA: What? EDWARD: Cover the pot. EDWARD: Honeysuckle? Where? FLORA: By the back gate. I stood by the pool. FLORA: But you know it’s honeysuckle. EDWARD: Give me the lid. EDWARD: The canopy? What for? FLORA: To shade you from the sun. FLORA: The whole garden’s in flower this morning. The convolvulus. EDWARD: Quite the contrary. which cannot be seen by the audience. Keep still. EDWARD: Cover the marmalade. FLORA: That’s convolvulus. yes. I stood by the pool. Leave it. FLORA: It’s going in the pot. What are you doing? FLORA: Covering the pot.] It’s landing. She pours tea for him. EDWARD: Bite? What do you mean. Pass the teapot. FLORA: It’s the longest day of the year.

FLORA: Yes. It’s trying to crawl out. Very good. It’ll suffocate in the marmalade. FLORA: Well. Can’t do it. [Silent pause. They sting. FLORA: What are you going to do? EDWARD: Scald it. EDWARD [briskly]: You do know I’ve got work to do this morning. Give it to me. EDWARD: How can it? FLORA: Through the hole. a slight ache. She hands him the jug. I’ll pour down the spoon hole. yes. FLORA: It’ll fly away. let’s kill it. of course. EDWARD: Vicious creatures. FLORA: Now he’s in the marmalade. Uninterrupted.] FLORA [tentatively]: If we … if we wait long enough. Anyway. EDWARD: Very well. don’t you? I can’t spend the whole day worrying about a wasp. FLORA: Listen! EDWARD: What? FLORA: It’s buzzing. EDWARD: On the contrary.Give me the lid. EDWARD: Give it to me! Now … Slowly … FLORA: What are you doing? EDWARD: Be quiet. Pause. FLORA: Why is that. FLORA: But wasps do bite. no. Pause. then? EDWARD: I really don’t know. It’ll bite. through the spoon-hole. FLORA: He’s becoming frantic. How can you hear him? It’s an earthenware lid. EDWARD: Precisely. kill it. EDWARD: They don’t bite. Take it away from the table. it won’t fly out. I merely said I had a slight ache in my eyes. It’s trying to come out. Pass me the hot water jug. It’ll drown where it is. Edward? EDWARD: Of course I slept. I’ll do it. It’s stuck. Right … down the spoon-hole. It’s snakes … that bite. Slowly … carefully … on … the … pot! Ha-ha-ha. in the marmalade. dear. FLORA: It’ll fly out and bite me. blinking them. FLORA: Can you hear him? EDWARD: Hear him? FLORA: Buzzing. FLORA: Did you sleep. I suppose it’ll choke to death. EDWARD: Rubbish. But how? EDWARD: Bring it out on the spoon and squash it on a plate. [Pause. EDWARD: I have a slight ache in them. FLORA: What about horseflies? [Pause. EDWARD: It will not bite you! Wasps don’t bite. . EDWARD: You want to kill it? FLORA: Yes. [Pause. As always. FLORA: What a horrible death.] FLORA: Have you got something in your eyes? EDWARD: No. Now … EDWARD: FLORA [whispering]: Do you want me to lift the lid? No. EDWARD: Yes. FLORA: And yet you feel tired. let’s.] EDWARD [to himself]: Horseflies suck. She sits on a chair to the left of the table and reads the ‘Telegraph’. EDWARD: I didn’t say I felt tired. EDWARD: If you don’t stop saying that word I shall leave this table.] Well.] FLORA: Oh goodness! EDWARD: What is it? FLORA: I can see it. EDWARD: Mmmnn. [Pause. no. FLORA: He sits on a chair to the right of the table. Why do you ask? FLORA: You keep clenching them. FLORA: What shall I do with it? EDWARD: Put it in the sink and drown it. FLORA: Oh. for goodness’ sake. EDWARD: Nonsense. As if I hadn’t slept.

It’s hardly surprising. FLORA: Let me see. He’s back again. really. All right. But he’s always there. EDWARD: You’ve spoken to him? FLORA: No. it’s a good day. He’s on the wrong road. No one goes up it. I think I’ll stretch my legs in a minute. going about his business. EDWARD: Mmmmnnn? FLORA: Kill it. And do you know I’ve never seen him sell one box? Not a box. EDWARD: Damn. how do you know he’s … not been standing there all night? EDWARD: FLORA: [Pause. I … don’t find him interesting. Pause. I mean. EDWARD [pacing up and down]: For two months he’s been standing on that spot. look at that flowering shrub over there. Not a cloud. to stroll along through the long grass. has he? The man’s been standing there for weeks. EDWARD: Why? What is he doing there? FLORA: But he’s never disturbed you. I think I shall work in the garden this morning.] FLORA: What an awful experience. Down to the pool. I haven’t spoken to him. Of course he’s harmless. FLORA [going over to him]: I don’t know why you’re getting so excited about it. I’ve nodded. I’m sure I don’t know why.] FLORA: What? [Pause. Did you say it was the longest day of the year today? FLORA: Yes. There he is! Dead. FLORA: He’s a very nice old man. just look at that sky. That pleasure is now denied me. by the front gate? The whole thing’s preposterous. FLORA: I really can’t understand this. EDWARD: What is he doing there? FLORA: He’s selling matches. Beautiful. My goodness. How could he be other than harmless? EDWARD Fade out and silence.[Pause. EDWARD: Seven o’clock? FLORA: He’s always there at seven. He’s quite harmless. You’ve never mentioned it. EDWARD: Yes. Off everybody’s route. EDWARD: I didn’t say he wasn’t harmless. What is it? It’s a lane. I feel it in my bones. all summer. FLORA’S voice. drawing nearer. could it? FLORA: Please. My God. he’s there at the back gate. he’s there. FLORA: Why on earth not? EDWARD [to himself]: It used to give me great pleasure. EDWARD: Yes. What a wonderful … [He stops suddenly. It’s not a road at all. FLORA: Edward. EDWARD: Ah. Edward? . yes. She moves over to him to look. Tilt. Where’s that canopy? FLORA: It’s in the shed. murmuring]: Blast and damn it. such pleasure.] Edward … EDWARD [thickly]: He’s there. there must have been wasps. Edward? [casually]: Interesting? No. harmless old man. but you’ve never … actually seen him arrive? FLORA: No. No.] FLORA: Do you find him interesting. we must get it out. Why doesn’t he stand on the main road if he wants to sell matches. but I don’t remember seeing any wasps at all. Clematis. I will. what is it? [Pause. It’s my own house. Tilt the pot. Aah … down here … right down … blinding him … that’s … it. FLORA: Is it? EDWARD: Lift the lid. it’s the matchseller. I … EDWARD: Well. EDWARD: What a beautiful day it is. [Lightly. I haven’t been able to step outside the back gate. EDWARD: What in God’s name is he doing with a tray full of matches at half past nine in the morning? FLORA: He arrives at seven o’clock. No. FLORA: Please. In my muscles. [He squashes it on a plate. of course. leading to the monastery. What’s the time? FLORA: Half past nine. Even the monks take a short cut to the village. FLORA: Who? EDWARD [low. He’s a quiet. until now.] Curious.] Oh. Edward. Edward? [off]: Edward. What a monster. where are you? Edward? Where are you. FLORA She appears. when they want to go … to the village. do you realize that? Two months. pass into the lane. EDWARD: Ah. out through the back gate. EDWARD: This couldn’t be the first wasp. It’s not possible. EDWARD: It’s ridiculous. isn’t it? It’s my own gate.] Edward. far in the house. EDWARD: The first wasp of summer? No.

EDWARD [tonelessly]: What would I be doing in the toolshed? FLORA: You must have seen me in the garden. [A slight pause. that’s all. Do you know it’s twelve o’clock? EDWARD: Is it? FLORA: I even went to the bottom of the garden. FLORA: Notes? EDWARD: For my essay. EDWARD [tonelessly]: What would I be doing in the attic? FLORA: I couldn’t imagine what had happened to you. you can see him … through the hedge. FLORA: Good Lord. I came back and you were nowhere to be seen. I even went into the attic. [Pause. He’s sold nothing all morning.] FLORA: EDWARD: . FLORA: Yes. FLORA: And it’s dark in here. You’ll miss the best of the day.Edward. FLORA: It’s so bright outside.] I want to speak to that man.] Are you coming outside? I’ve put up the canopy. FLORA: What are you doing in here? EDWARD: Nothing. I want to have a word with him. [Pause. EDWARD: I’ve no work to do this morning. [Pause. [Pause. FLORA: Which essay? EDWARD: My essay on space and time. FLORA: I looked in your study. [Pause. EDWARD: Only part of the garden. I shall not tolerate it. right on my doorstep.] [Slowly. of course. EDWARD: Yes. He looks bigger. all morning. [Pause. You’d be highly surprised.] But you don’t keep notes in the scullery. A very small corner. EDWARD: Only a corner of the garden.] [Moving over to him. do you? EDWARD: Get out. A monk passed. It’s quite obvious he was a non-smoker but still. FLORA: Where have you been? EDWARD: Here. Have you been watching him? He looks … like a bullock. FLORA: It’s too dark in here to peer … EDWARD: Damn. to see if you were in the toolshed. what’s that? Is that a bullock let loose? No. Why? EDWARD: I am not! FLORA: He’s a poor. EDWARD: You don’t know it? FLORA: I thought you were writing one about the Belgian Congo. I have. FLORA: Let me bathe them. You can see through this window. FLORA: Oh. FLORA: What about your essay? You don’t intend to stay in the scullery all day. It’s the matchseller! My goodness. Yes.] Edward? [Pause. He made no effort to clinch a sale. to rid himself of one of his cursed boxes. FLORA: You’re frightened of a poor old man. FLORA: But … I’ve never … I don’t know that one.] EDWARD: Christ blast it! FLORA: You’re frightened of him. His one chance. EDWARD: I’ve been engaged on the dimensionality and continuity of space … and time … for years. I really can’t tolerate something so … absurd. A non-smoker. Have you been out? EDWARD: No. Leave me alone. EDWARD: Aaah my eyes. I put up the canopy ages ago.] FLORA: Really Edward. harmless old man. and he made no effort. No one passed. You’d be surprised. I was digging out some notes. EDWARD: Keep away. Weddie. the man made no effort. You’ve never spoken to me like that in all your life. what are you doing in the scullery? FLORA: EDWARD [looking through the scullery window]: Doing? I’ve been looking everywhere for you. In a loose garment. Beddie-Weddie … EDWARD: Do not call me that! FLORA: Your eyes are bloodshot.] It’s quite absurd. You can have an hour before lunch. EDWARD: I’m not. FLORA: And the Belgian Congo? EDWARD [shortly]: Never mind about the Belgian Congo. EDWARD: Damn it. EDWARD: Damn.

Would you like to go in? I won’t be long. That’s … right. I live in this house here. This way. or even see. He’s not a matchseller at all. I’m not sure if he can hear.] FLORA: Edward … are you sure it’s wise to bother about all this? EDWARD: Tell him to come in. I could call the police. FLORA: But you’ll see for yourself in a minute. There’s something we’d very much like to … tell you. Edward? You won’t be rough with him in any way? He’s very old. My husband’s been rather a collector.] That’s honeysuckle. I intend to get to the bottom of it. or in any way alter his step. FLORA: Me? EDWARD: Go out and call him in. FLORA: I … EDWARD: Now. you know. Curious I never realized that before. Or even the vicar. Mind now. FLORA: EDWARD: She goes and collects the MATCHSELLER. Silence. the monk made no move towards him.I haven’t wasted my time. FLORA: You’re going out to speak to him? EDWARD: Certainly not! Go out to him? Certainly … not. [Pause. what is his trade? EDWARD: We’ll soon find out. I know. FLORA: Why don’t you call the police and have him removed? He laughs. And that’s convolvulus. . Silence. last week. He made no move towards the monk. And do you see that plant by the conservatory? That’s japonica. No. A summer storm. in fact.] FLORA: He’s an old man. Do come. [Pause. I’ve hit. FLORA [in the garden]: Good morning. the longest day … EDWARD: There was a storm. As for the monk.] We haven’t met. EDWARD: Call him in.] Would you like to come inside for a little while? It’s much cooler. He’s an impostor. outside my back gate. Do you care for goose? She moves to the gate. The monk was moving along the lane. Instead of standing like a bullock … a bullock. [Pause.] I wonder if you could … would you care for a cup of tea? [Pause. [Pause. He stood without moving.] Might I buy your tray of matches. EDWARD: Go and get him. You won’t … be rough with him? EDWARD: If he’s so old. Isn’t it beautiful weather? It’s the longest day of the year today. EDWARD waits. He’s here. [Pause. We have goose for lunch. As for the matchseller—how ridiculous to go on calling him by that title. we can discuss it inside. standing here. upon the truth. There’s clematis. May I take your arm? There’s a good deal of nettle inside the gate. It happens that way. Come and have lunch with us. Our house is full of curios.] Here. FLORA: Smell him? EDWARD: I smelt him when he came under my window. while it thundered all about him. My husband and I. doesn’t it? Well. [Slight pause. [The MATCHSELLER appears. It’s summer. I watched him very closely. do you think? We’ve run out. if you speak to him. while it raged about him.] Or a glass of lemon? It must be so dry. that will benefit you. Pause. EDWARD: I know he’s here.] Edward. FLORA: Hullo. She goes out. why doesn’t he seek shelter … from the storm? FLORA: But there’s no storm. completely. What a farce. He didn’t pause. FLORA: Are you serious? [Pause. Although I … I can’t say I find him a nuisance. Could you spare a few moments? We won’t keep you long. FLORA: When was this? EDWARD: He remained quite still. This way. Can’t you smell the house now? FLORA: What are you going to do with him. EDWARD: I shall. or halt. Why don’t you call the police. I’ll invite him in here. This way. FLORA: He’s in the hall. Ah now. FLORA: But if he isn’t a matchseller. [Pause. Then we’ll … get to the bottom of it. Edward? You could say he was a public nuisance. The bastard isn’t a matchseller at all. And he’s wearing the oldest— EDWARD: I don’t want to know what he’s wearing. do come. Into my study. there is something very false about that man. I’ll soon get rid of him He can go and ply his trade somewhere else. She enters the study. and we always keep a very large stock. I can smell him.

[Pause. I can tell you. in her youth. Fascinating country. I’m sure you agree. That’s … it.Up these stairs here. Very well. but they look upon me with some regard. EDWARD [cheerfully]: Here I am. put it by. What will you have? Sherry? Or what about a double scotch? Eh? [Pause. Do you know it? I get the impression that you’ve … been around a bit. you understand. [With a laugh. Stood by me through thick and thin. We win the first prize regularly.] You possess most extraordinary repose. Never been there myself. I was in commerce too. Especially fauna. A flower. I say. too. Mind how you go. actually. it wasn’t Sally.] the door … [Pause. That’s right. different backs. though I shall probably spend the whole afternoon working. You must be a stranger here. Africa’s always been my happy hunting ground. Flaming red hair. no. Keep at it. Where are you? [Pause. Do you find it chilly in here? I’m sure it’s chillier in here than out. In season and out of season. The pride of the county. [With a chuckle. I know what it’s like—the weather. Which one would you prefer? We have a great variety. Like different seats. in the garden. you mustn’t … stand about like that. I’ve done it all. [He stops abruptly. for a man of your age. as a matter of fact. Three daughters. I can quite understand that. The youngest one was the best of the bunch. scribble a few lines. the best kept village in the area. but Europe? Out of the question. now. can I ask you a personal question? I don’t want to seem inquisitive but aren’t you rather on the wrong road for matchselling? Not terribly busy. Do you by any chance know the Membunza Mountains? Great range south of Katambaloo. today. can you hear me? [Pause.] the door at the top. French Equatorial Africa. ponder. Take a seat. Can’t stand uniformity. I haven’t been out yet. [Pause. Thought you might like some refreshment. Don’t know what became of him.] Come in. don’t you? Well.] . old man. Sally.] I say. as you see. Fanny. We have few visitors this time of the year. of course. [Pause. No. by the pool.] Do you live in the village? I don’t often go down. make yourself comfortable. now. I draw up one chair. Now. the rain. I understand in the Gobi Desert you can come across some very strange sights.] [Pause.] Now.] I entertain the villagers annually. maps. yes. [He rises. Eunice I think was number two. [Silent pause. draw up another.] I said. Alice was the eldest. I’m a home bird myself. on a day like this. [She goes out.] I say. [Pause. Why don’t you take off your balaclava? I’d find that a little itchy myself. Nice old man he was. no.] Don’t stand out there.] Oh. Now look. old chap. perhaps that’s not quite the right word … repose. Never mind what the world says. [Pause. Africa. up hill and down dale … the rewards were few … winters in hovels … up till all hours working at your thesis … yes.] Now and again I jot down a few observations on certain tropical phenomena—not from the same standpoint. wait a minute. beaten from pillar to post.] Shall I take your tray? No. it was … Fanny. [Pause. Come into my study. Wonderful carriage. The door at the … [She watches him move. of course. too. Don’t believe we’ve got a squire here any more. old chap. that woman.] I write theological and philosophical essays … [Pause. Sit down. The MATCHSELLER enters. Unless you lived here once.] You must excuse my chatting away like this. went on a long voyage and have lately returned. All our friends summer abroad. Fascinating things.] Do forgive me peering but is that a glass eye you’re wearing? [Pause. take it with you. under my canopy. But then I’ve always been one for freedom of movement. Pause. Or are you passing through? On your way to another part of the country? Well.] You can have some sherry before lunch. I understand you met my wife? Charming woman. mind you. Wouldn’t mind taking a trip to Asia Minor. you know. [Pause. put it by … [absently] … sit back … put it by … [Pause. I’m not the squire. Much too noisy. Let me advise you. Do you know the district? [Pause.] You look a trifle warm. flaming red hair. Keep your shoulder to the wheel. or to certain lower regions of the Congo. It’ll pay dividends.] Yes. Struggling to make my way in the world. I … I was in much the same position myself then as you are now. Sit down. Great chess-player. Most extraordinary diversity of flora and fauna. I’ll join you … later.] Oh. can you hear me? [Pause. in my opinion you won’t find many prettier parts than here. Fine figure of a woman she was. Get a good woman to stick by you. at my table. you know. is it? Of course you may not care for petrol fumes or the noise of traffic. if my memory serves me right.] Yes. Even in the depth of winter I wear next to nothing. don’t you think? Plenty of grit there. sit back. Just … up those stairs. Often when I’m working.] The MATCHSELLER stands on the threshold of the study. Studied the maps though. what will you have to drink? A glass of ale? Curaçao Fockink Orange? Ginger beer? Tia Maria? A Wachenheimer Fuchsmantel Reisling Beeren Auslese? Gin and it? Chateauneuf-du-Pape? A little Asti Spumante? Or what do you say to a straightforward Piesporter Goldtropfschen Feine Auslese (Reichsgraf von Kesselstaff)? Any preference? [Pause. Sit yourself down. as I remember.

] EDWARD: [Pause. Sit here. I was not alarmed by the look of you. [Pause. You too. under your canopy. you understand me.] I must get some air. [Pause. They move from the study door to a chair under a canopy. perhaps! [Pause. Aaah. let me be quite frank with you. what …? [Pause. [He sits. You disgusted me. [Pause. come here … mind your tray! [ EDWARD rises and moves behind a chair.] Go into the corner then. I can’t hear them. Into the corner. Get into the shade of the corner. I can’t possibly talk to you unless you’re settled. Good God.] At the same time. [Pause. Sit … sit in this. Ah. Why do you stand outside my back gate. perhaps. No. I bought all the furniture in this house in a sale. The sweat’s pouring out of you.] Chair comfortable? I bought it in a sale.] You’ve dropped your tray. It’s understandable. There’s the same … [Pause. FLORA: Our own trees.] No doubt you’re wondering why I invited you into this house? You may think I was alarmed by the look of you.] You’re sweating. I was mistaken. these boxes are all wet You’ve no right to sell wet matches. or are there just a few half-empty ones among them? Oh yes.] The same … [Pause.] Eh. You’re sagging. That’s right.] [Muttering. A little to the right. In appearance you differ but not in essence. He’s a little … reticent. Now I can get down to brass tacks. I must get a breath of air. The same sale. You understand me perfectly well. You’re shivering. When I was a young man. You too.] How are you getting on with your old man? EDWARD: What do you mean? What’s happening? How are you getting on with him? EDWARD: Very well. In shade. The peace out here. Flora! EDWARD FLORA: Yes? [with great weariness]: Take me into the garden. perhaps. [Grunts. before the good lady sounds the gong for petit déjeuner will you join me in an apéritif? I recommend a glass of cider.] Ah. Forgive me for saying so. Pause. Aaaah! You’re sat. ] Come. Somewhat withdrawn. high up. put your tray down and take your ease. Come here. FLORA: Shall I bring your lunch out here? You can have it in peace. He goes to the door. perhaps. Now … just a minute … I know I’ve got some—Look out! Mind your tray! The tray falls. Now you’re there. in his place. Can you hear the birds? EDWARD: No. Backward. Then and only then can I speak to you. why …? What is it. as they say in this part of the world.] The peace. At last. FLORA: But they’re singing. The MATCHSELLER stumbles and sits. Yes. quite forcibly. Well now. Pause. and the matchboxes. FLORA: EDWARD: [Pause. FLORA: Come under the canopy. FLORA: .] [In a low voice. EDWARD: Good. in shadow. I used to be in commerce. Good-o. This feels suspiciously like fungus. if you want to know the truth. damn you. I should be the same. Look at our trees. Silence. Let them flap. A little more. are those boxes full.] I must say you keep quite a good stock. there’s a good chap. Not to mention the hassock. Now listen. from dawn till dusk. There. [ He moves towards him. rising. [Pause. We get on remarkably well.] Get back! [Pause. What a relief. Nothing outside this room has ever alarmed me. [Slight pause. the squire’s daughter. [Slight pause. don’t you? Tell me. Uuuuugggh. Can’t I? [Pause.] Well.] I want to ask you a question. He picks the matchboxes up. I did not find you at all alarming. Do you follow me? You’re not being terribly helpful.] Here’s your tray.Do take off your balaclava. You won’t get very far in this trade if you don’t take care of your goods. and a quiet drink. you know. Back. Take off that balaclava. quick quick. between ourselves. You would be quite mistaken.] Why did you disgust me to that extent? That seems to be a pertinent question. and flapping. Pause. here you are. You must be tired. Go on. He puts the tray into the MATCHSELLER’S hands. but I had decided that you had the comprehension of a bullock. You’re no more disgusting than Fanny. and sits. after all. no. [Grunts. There are four chairs at your disposal. why do you pretend to sell matches. shall I? I really cannot understand why you don’t sit down.

Early spring. inadmissible. how was I to know? I dismounted. He’ll … he’ll admit everything. Let me speak to him. There. Wouldn’t you rather sit in the shade? She sits down. I mean. I’m really sure of it.] Of course. Look. I shall in due course … by nightfall. That’s how I know he was a poacher. [Pause. my pony took off. He’s almost stone deaf … almost … not quite. He was there for poaching. [Pause. letting him off with a caution.] Actually. you’re a woman. I remember. EDWARD: You? It’s laughable. the brute.Though. Cunning. I promise you. I remember. You should trust her judgment. Edward. I saw the sky through the trees. Why should he frighten me? No. Everything stopped. he rose. life was perilous in those days. and have a greater insight into her capabilities. A bit of a stinker. you know nothing. You’re much too heavyhanded. down to the valley. he might just as well stand outside our back gate as anywhere else. Pause. He’d grown a red beard. Yes.] Do you know. I promise you I will. Silence. He’s very nearly dead on his feet. you’re hurting me! [Pause. the sun’s shining directly on you. I could not possibly find myself in his place. you know. I know it. you are perspiring. And stop calling me Edward. I was out riding on my pony. [Pause. EDWARD [softly]: He’ll admit everything. I shall go and have a word with him now. you just— EDWARD [hissing]: What are you plotting? FLORA: I know exactly what I shall— EDWARD: What are you plotting? He seizes her arms. [Pause. The evidence though was sparse. I promise you. He can’t see straight. the day is cooling. FLORA: You’re not still frightened of him? EDWARD: Frightened of him? Of him? Have you seen him? [Pause. FLORA: You’ll see—he won’t bargain for me.] [With dignity.] I shall wave from the window when I’m ready. or anything. unfortunate … old. A great bullockfat of jelly. weak in the head … that’s all. Long before the flood. The man’s an imposter and he knows I know it. . I’ll speak to him. isn’t it? And I’m the only woman on hand. somewhere. did you know that? Actually the year has flown. EDWARD [quietly]: And I know he knows I know it. There’s no point in upsetting yourself like this. As yet. It’s the longest day of the year today.] He’s like jelly. You’ve seen him. FLORA: Edward! Listen to me! I can find out all about him. I can … make him.] I lost. Do you mind if I come in? The door closes. EDWARD: And he knows I know. It’ll soon be dusk. You should trust your wife more. I’ll surprise him. He’ll move on. that’s certain.] But he possesses other faculties. [ Slight pause.] Oh. [Pause. blue. of course. Up to my ears in mud. I fell. I assure you. in every way. Yes. It was a ghastly rape. I’ve got a feeling I’ve seen you before.] EDWARD: You’re deluded. FLORA: Have you found out anything about him? EDWARD: A little. It is a woman’s job. I haven’t discovered the reason for his arrival here. of course. where a man must invariably fail. were you ever a poacher? I had an encounter with a poacher once. I acquitted him. May I? You don’t mind? [Pause. The country was a lake. FLORA: Edward. She mops his brow. A little. when I was a Justice of the Peace for the county. It was my first canter unchaperoned. She goes into the study. We lived on our own preserves. Edward— listen—he’s not here through any … design. He’s an old man. it wouldn’t matter. but in the valleys whole families I remember drifted away on the current. A woman … a woman will often succeed. We were out of danger up here. Then you can come up. will he? FLORA: You wait and see. FLORA: I’ll find out all about him. drank elderberry wine. there. I can remember Christmas and that dreadful frost. He’s had various trades. I shall get to the truth of it. And there on the verge a man lay—ostensibly injured. Are you comfortable? [Pause. Edward. studied other cultures. FLORA: I’ll tell you what. His place of residence is unsure.] Years later. [Pause. He’s … he’s not a drinking man. I went to him. And your cheeks. possibly the victim of a murderous assault. Between ourselves. that’s better. aren’t you? Shall I mop your brow? With my chiffon? Is it the heat? Or the closeness? Or confined space? Or …? [ She goes over to him. High up on a hillside cattle track. It was a desperate battle.] I say. FLORA: Is it necessary? EDWARD: Necessary? FLORA [quickly sitting on the right arm of the chair]: I could show him out now. She leans on the arm of chair. I think as a matter of fact he wears a glass eye. lying on his front. Perhaps it is dusk. that’s all. FLORA: Edward— EDWARD [rising]: You’re deluded. I had him in front of the bench. You were much younger. And the floods! I hope you weren’t here in the floods.] Ah. I shall … get to the bottom of it. he’s harmless.

All you need is a bath. your great big eyes. [Coolly. and you came and stood. Of the blinds. [ Slight pause. And little toys to play with.] Tell me all about love. [Pause.] Tell me. Good … Lord. I think you’d amuse me if you weren’t so hideous. you’re a solid old boy. my pretty daisy apron. Why are you sitting in the gloom? Oh. if you like. I suppose. what? He opens the windows. Does it ever occur to you that sex is a very vital experience for other people? Really.] Good evening to you. You’ve seen me in the woods.] I’m sure you must have been quite attractive once.] Sex. [ She kneels at his feet. quite a dab hand at solo whist. am I? No. I hope. Where did you live in those days? God damn it. Pull the blinds.] More comfortable? Yes. You look less and less like a cricketer the more I see of you. Mmnn? [Pause.] Did you say something? [Pause. Kept wicket and batted number seven. Quite repellent. Strip to your buff. preferred a good round of prop and cop to anything else. mostly. A lovely lathery scrub. [Pause.] I’m not tickling you. I’m going to keep you. [Pause. [Seductively. for goodness sake? A jersey? It’s clogged. till death us do part. It’s quite disgusting. your eyes. Speak to me of love. Why shouldn’t you die happy? A shout from the hall. FLORA: The man is desperately ill! EDWARD: Ill? You lying slut.] God knows what you’re saying at this very moment. picking daisies.] You haven’t been rolling in mud. in fact. [Pause. I think had something of your style. He pulls the blinds. eating my duck! Now you’ve had your fill you sit like a hump.] Did you say something? [Pause. On your deathbed. Air will enter through the side chinks. And close … the curtains … again. I’m entitled to know something about you! You’re in my blasted house.] I’m going to keep you. I’m going to put you to bed and watch over you. Make yourself at home. have you? [ She rises and goes over to him. Never. Not at all like a jelly. EDWARD: Well? [Footsteps upstage.] Well? FLORA: Don’t come in. And I’ll buy you pretty little things that will suit you. Pause. You look different in darkness. [Pause.] Anything? Well then.] On wet days when the field was swamped. I can rem … [He stops abruptly. at my gate.] . Too warm? Let’s open these windows. Get back to your trough! FLORA: Edward … EDWARD [violently]: To your trough! She goes out. in my apron. I must say.] Have you ever … stopped a woman? [Pause. [Pause. and call you Barnabas.[Intimately. poor creature. Take off all your togs. Quite original. [She sits on the arm of his chair. drinking my wine. a mouldering heap. I’m going to put you to bed.] And what have you got under your jersey? Let’s see. do we? [Pause. Country house matches. Pause. You’re probably quite amusing in your own way. is this a vest? That’s quite original. EDWARD: Well? FLORA: He’s dying. he’s very ill. [ She throws her arms round him. Have you been rolling in mud? [ Slight pause. you’ve begun to disrobe. Vile. EDWARD: He’s not dying! Nowhere near. Poor Barnabas. FLORA: I tell you. Do you know when I was a girl I loved … I loved … I simply adored … what have you got on. on my territory. Do as you would in your own house.] I used to play myself. means nothing to you. He closes the curtains.] [Pause.] What did you do with it? Run? Swim? Kick the ball? You kicked the ball? What position? Left back? Goalie? First reserve? [Pause.] Not any more. And a good scrub. Bowled left arm over the wicket. In my room.] Perhaps you don’t play cricket.] Hmmnn. [She sits. Ah. A lovely lathery bath.] It’s me you were waiting for. He’ll see you cremated. [Pause. My den. then. My husband would never have guessed your name. Man called—Cavendish. But first you must have a good whacking great bath. tell me about your boyhood.] Kept wicket and batted number seven. Isn’t it dark. of course. [Pause.] Don’t you? It will be a pleasure. Don’t want to suffocate. you dreadful chap. wasn’t it? You’ve been standing waiting for me. And filter through the curtains. Whispering. You’ve got a vile smell.] Perhaps you never met Cavendish and never played cricket. EDWARD: Dying? He’s not dying. Barnabas? Your eyes. always kept his cap on. have you a woman? Do you like women? Do you ever … think about women? [Pause.

through the long grass. No. is that a grin on your face? [Further disgust. was polished. I’ve caught a cold. Be a man.] Even now you look different. adjust the lens [he mimes a telescope]. no. no. [Brightly. [Muttering. In my eyes. the eternal quivering—please stop crying—nothing to do . and on other occasions bare eyed. [Pause.] My den. of any kind. in the sun. or from the roof. we’re laughing together! He laughs and stops. for when I first saw you you wore no balaclava.] Good Christ. [Pause. yes in driving snow. climb the hill. I’ll laugh with you! He laughs. was sharp. isn’t it? Bound to be. and my reputation down. [Pause. in the rain. my progress was fluent. for God’s … [He catches his breath. Very different. my command established.] It’s lopsided. easily. and the stair rods. It’s all—down on one side. I could pour hot water down the spoon-hole. examine the overhanging of my hedges. too. no need to watch for the nettles. Fever. the roof. [Pause. literally lists of people anxious to do me down. [Pause. Pull yourself together. Ah. [Pause. their suppleness. my progress was as sure. You looked quite different without a head—I mean without a hat—I mean without a headcovering. why not.] Well. does it? When I tell you how well I remember this room.] What are you doing? You’re taking off your balaclava … you’ve decided not to.] I could stand on the hill and look through my telescope at the sea. My nearest and dearest. And follow the path of the three-masted schooner. I was ready for my excursions to the cliff. city and village. the quivering. You’re crying. feeling fit. how well I remember this den. I’ve been wrong. very well then. For me.] You’re crying … [Pause. or from the bottom of the drive in thick fog. In fact every time I have seen you you have looked quite different to the time before. disreputables. For my plight.] I was polished. It amuses you. is it? That’s good for a belly laugh? Go on. my sight is excellent—in winter I run about with nothing on but a pair of polo shorts—no. did I then invite you into this room with express intention of asking you to take off your balaclava. my command was established. Ha-ha-ha! Yes! You’re laughing with me. [Pause. [Pause. clearly defined. He sneezes. [Pause. and the curtain rods. [Pause. But surely correspondence would have been as satisfactory … more satisfactory? We could have exchanged postcards. town and country. [Pause. It was this morning. all things considered.] That’s right.You find that funny? Are you grinning? [Pause. that’s good for a guffaw. A germ. I can’t believe it. [Nostalgic. He drops his arms. the shades they make. He rises. it is funny. Blow your nose for goodness sake. was sharp. In my eyes. it was not so much my sight. Yesterday now. so clearly. arranged for my purpose … quite satisfactory. watch the progress of the three-masted schooner. in fact. Ah. in order to determine your resemblance to—some other person? The answer is no.] Admitted that sometimes I viewed you through dark glasses. or from the roof again in blinding sun. was not at all the same thing. yes.] Seeing you stand.] The garden. yes. my arms lifted holding the telescope. No headcovering of any kind.] The house too. my life was accounted for. well aware of my sinews. Let yourself go. certainly not. come. no difficulty.] [In disgust. couldn’t we? What? Views. steady.] Ha.] Come. My kith and kin. couldn’t we? Of sea and land. after my long struggling against all kinds of usurpers. autumn and winter … clocktowers … museums … citadels … bridges … rivers … [Pause. and on other occasions through the bars of the scullery window. you’re quite right. stop it. all summer I would breakfast. lucid. I’m laughing with you. so blinding. He falls to the floor. and my cabinet. all the banisters were polished.] [Moved. take my telescope. Let it out. Sneeze. the currents obtaining in the space between me and my object.] My desk was polished. my grasp firm. that I had to skip and jump and bounce in order to remain in one place.] [Briskly.] Laugh your bloody head off! Go on. such close proximity. [Pause. Excuse me. my aim was perfect. Yes. pursue the narrow lane past the monastery. I did not. at the back gate. and sometimes through light glasses. too. Not that I had any difficulty in seeing you. down the path to the back gate. lists.] Why did I invite you into this room? That’s your next question. My eyes. you might say? My oldest acquaintance. [Pause. the shapes they take.] You’re quite right. as fluent … Pause. survey my landscape. You’re shaking with grief. it was clear. easily. then. it is funny.] You’re weeping. yes. [Pause. no trembling. No need to be polite. Don’t mind me. You’re grinning.] You haven’t been laughing. so hot. Pause. it was not so much any deficiency in my sight as the airs between me and my object—don’t weep—the change of air. He blows his nose. Ah.

Here is your tray. [Pause.] I want to show you my garden. Then she and the MATCHSELLER start to go out as the curtain falls slowly. The three-masted schooner. erect my canopy and so make shelter. I’ve put up your canopy for you.] Rocking … gasping … rocking … shaking … rocking … heaving … rocking … You’re laughing at me! Aaaaahhhh! The MATCHSELLER rises. my fingers lightly in contact with the blades of grass. .] The summer is coming.] You are laughing.] And then I no longer heard the wind or saw the sun. scything together … [Slowly.with heat-haze. Yes. but it is only afterwards I say the foliage was dark. the earthflowers.] Who are you? FLORA [off ]: Barnabas? [Pause. [Pause.] She enters.] Take my hand. then in my times of shelter. shelter to compose myself. Ah. and the dust at my back gate.] The pool must be glistening. I would take shelter. lying on my palm. by the pool. Oh. I saw the wind. You’re laughing.] But then. nothing left it. You look younger. I remarked nothing. [Pause. You can lunch in the garden. Sometimes. Silence. She crosses to EDWARD with the tray of matches. [ Low murmur. my clematis. I saw the wind. the petals flaking. lifting. the time came.] Edward. [Becoming weaker. then I said nothing.] You want to examine the garden? It must be very bright. in horror. And the lawn. nothing left my nook. [ Overwhelming nausea and horror. You must see my japonica.] [With great. and puts it in his hands. [Pause. I remember it well. the shades. the underside of all the great foliage dark. Your face. final effort—a whisper. carried themselves. [Pause. my convolvulus … my honeysuckle. of course. Barnabas. Nothing entered.] I would like to join you … explain … show you … the garden … explain … The plants … where I run … my track … in training … I was number one sprinter at Howells … when a stripling … no more than a stripling … licked … men twice my strength … when a stripling … like yourself. the petals of the earthflowers flaking. I would seek a tree. and the long grass. Your body. And rest.] [Flatly. the petals. swirling. I lay on my side in my polo shorts. things happened upon me. carried their bodies upon me. Yes. [Pause. The cliff. The MATCHSELLER goes over to her. I’ve polished the whole house for you. your garden. [Pause. You look extraordinarily … youthful. In the moonlight. in the moonlight. Pause. above me. The sea. and nothing entered my nook. Everything is ready. wait a moment. a cranny of bushes. [Pause.


I put it aside for further deliberation and made no attempt to have it produced at the time. I then went on to write The Caretaker. I made a few changes during rehearsal.AUTHOR’S NOTE I wrote The Hothouse in the winter of 1958. In 1979 I re-read The Hothouse and decided it was worth presenting on the stage. HAROLD PINTER . mainly cuts.

fifty GIBBS . in his fifties in his thirties in his twenties MISS CUTTS .CHARACTERS ROOTE . in his thirties TUBB. fifty LOBB. in her thirties LUSH. . LAMB.

on 24 April 1980 in a production directed by Harold Pinter. on 25 June 1980. It moved to the Ambassador Theatre.The Hothouse was first presented at Hampstead Theatre. London. The cast was as follows: ROOTE GIBBS LAMB MISS CUTTS LUSH TUBB LOBB Derek Newark James Grant Roger Davidson Angela Pleasence Robert East Michael Forrest Edward de Souza Director Harold Pinter Set Designer Eileen Diss Costume Designer Elizabeth Walker Lighting Gerry Jenkinson Sound Dominic Muldowney Sets ROOTE’s office A stairway A sitting room A soundproof room LOBB’s office in the Ministry . London.

GIBBS Yes. GIBBS is at ROOTE Gibbs. sir. sir? ROOTE How’s 6457 getting on? GIBBS 6457. for goodness sake. Well.ACT ONE ROOTE’s office. looking out. sir? ROOTE Yes. What did he die of? GIBBS I beg your pardon. sir. Only the other day. ROOTE Wait … here we are. ROOTE Dead? GIBBS He died on Thursday. Got it.) Recently. sir. . what did he die of? GIBBS Heart failure. ROOTE Thursday? What are you talking about? What’s today? GIBBS Saturday. ROOTE Why not? GIBBS I supervised the burial arrangements myself. I think. sir. Just a minute. I had a talk with him. what do you make of that? GIBBS I’m afraid there seems to be a slight discrepancy. ROOTE is standing at the window. ROOTE stares at him. sir. sir. GIBBS He’s dead. ROOTE Saturday … Well. the filing cabinet. when was it? (Opens his desk diary. sir? ROOTE If he’s dead. Yesterday. Morning. That was yesterday. GIBBS I hardly think yesterday. sits at the desk and consults the diary. ROOTE This is ridiculous. sir. examining some papers. Conversation with 6457 ten o’clock Friday morning. sir? ROOTE Tell me … GIBBS Yes.

ROOTE Dates? What dates? GIBBS In your diary. ROOTE Nothing’s more irritating. isn’t there? What are you breathing down my neck for? GIBBS I do apologise. I agree with you.) Good Lord. I haven’t written a single thing down in this diary for a whole week. (He steps away from the desk. How extraordinary. if I may.) I must point out that you are in fact referring to Friday. sir. (Indicates a date. that you would cancel all interviews until further notice. I haven’t. sir.) There. Pause ROOTE Well … what was this other discrepancy. sir. ROOTE What! (He turns the pages back. So I did. ROOTE No. There does seem to be a slight discrepancy. to point out to you what is apparently another discrepancy. You had a conversation with 6457 on the 17th. sir. sir. What’s the matter with you? GIBBS I’m so sorry. ROOTE You’re very keen this morning. sir. I’d like. You’re right on top of me. ROOTE Another one? GIBBS Yes. Gibbs? GIBBS I do try to keep my powers of observation well exercised. GIBBS It was thoughtless of me. (flatly) . GIBBS I meant … about the dates.ROOTE Discrepancy! I’m damn sure there’s a discrepancy! You come and tell me that a man has died and I’ve got it down here that I had a conversation with him yesterday morning. GIBBS moves round the desk. the 17th.) Here. anyway? GIBBS It was not 6457. He died on the 23rd. sir. during the last week. ROOTE Don’t stand so close to me. you’re right. ROOTE (slowly) Oh yes. sir. aren’t you. sir. ( He turns the pages forward and indicates a date. According to you he was in his grave. sir. ( He indicates a date on the page.) ROOTE There’s plenty of room in here. have I? Why not? GIBBS You decided on the … 18th. GIBBS For the sake of accuracy. whom you interviewed on the 17th. Yesterday was Friday the 24th. sir. You’re quite right. sir. GIBBS You’ve held no interviews with any of the patients.) Here. ( He moves to the desk. sir.

Nine. I wonder why I thought it was seven. sir. so it is. It’s not a seven. sir. is it? GIBBS It was in fact 6459 whom you interviewed. ROOTE Nine? GIBBS Nine. for God’s sake? They’ve got names. ROOTE Which one? GIBBS This one. ROOTE Good God. sir. sir. haven’t they? GIBBS It was your predecessor who instituted the use of numbers. Well. GIBBS Quite. ROOTE I was. GIBBS No. ROOTE Are you taking the piss out of me? GIBBS Most decidedly not. Why don’t we use their names.) We shouldn’t use. ROOTE You weren’t even here then. You have just said it was not 6457 I interviewed on the 17th. ROOTE Figures? GIBBS One figure. sir. GIBBS Sir? ROOTE One question.ROOTE Gibbs. The number is 645 … 9. ROOTE How do you know? GIBBS So I understand. That’s funny. Slight pause ROOTE All right. sir. GIBBS Sir. If I may … (He bends over the desk. it’s not a very clear nine. It’s a nine. sir. ( He walks across the room. sir. sir. What evidence have you got to support your contention? GIBBS The figures in your diary.) … this one. these stupid numbers at all.) The whole thing’s ridiculous! The system’s wrong. Only confuses things. sir. . ROOTE Must have been. ( He rises abruptly.

it’s in the order of things. that confidence which will one day enable them to say ‘I am … Gubbins’. ROOTE Which one was he? GIBBS You had quite a lot to do with him. to the best of our discretion.ROOTE I was standing where you’re standing now. (He sits at the desk. it’s not the order of things. The patients are to be given numbers and called by those numbers. Saying yes sir. ROOTE A death on the premises? GIBBS Sir? ROOTE A death? You say this man has died? GIBBS 6457. agreed. I sometimes think I could have instituted a few more changes – if I’d had time. I didn’t bribe anyone to get where I am. sir. I worked my way up. After some of them have been here a few years they’re liable to forget what names their fathers gave them. sir. Dick or … or … er … Harry. But on this numbers business. in one way or another. confidence in … the world. Just as you are now. actually. They’re only people in need of help. after all. doesn’t it? We lose sight of their names and they lose sight of their names. What? They’re all people specially recommended by the Ministry. After all. for example. after all. Change is the order of things. brooding. That’s not necessary. I can tell you that. Pause One of the purposes of this establishment is to instill that confidence in each and every one of them. GIBBS Can’t. Then we’d all know where we were. to help them regain their confidence. for instance. I’m not talking about many changes or drastic changes. It would make things so much simpler if we called them by their names. They’re not any Tom. confidence in themselves. . ROOTE Right! Pause But I sometimes think I’ve been a bit slow in making changes. Not easy. sir? ROOTE You know damn well we can’t. sir. He stops. they’re not criminals. sir. And that’s how it’s got to remain. You understand? GIBBS Perfectly. but it makes it doubly difficult if they’re constantly referred to as 5244. confidence in others. sir. sir? Yes. no sir and certainly sir. Or their mothers. I often think it must depress them … somewhat … to have a number rapped at them all the time. I sometimes wonder if it’s the right way to go about things. to the best of our judgement. That was one of the rules of procedure laid down in the original constitution. We can’t. sir? ROOTE (sharply) Certainly not.) GIBBS Would you like me to place further consideration of this matter on the agenda. ROOTE Why? GIBBS Because you called him sir then. When my predecessor … retired … I was invited to take over his position. Slight pause Still. And have you any idea why you call me sir now? GIBBS Yes. which we try to give. not easy. GIBBS goes to the filing cabinet. I mean it’s in the order of things.

he limped. sir. sir. Whenever he walked anywhere … he limped. Prematurely grey.ROOTE He was a man I dealt with personally? GIBBS Yes. he was. ROOTE Limped a bit? GIBBS Oh. Pause ROOTE Tall? GIBBS Certainly not small. for God’s sake? GIBBS You knew him well. he had a slight limp. which one was he. Pause ROOTE Quite a sharp sort of face? GIBBS Quite sharp. Pause Yes. . sir. What did he look like? Pause GIBBS Thinnish. GIBBS Yes. he had a sharp sort of face. of course he had. Pause He had a slight limp. sir. ROOTE Well. I’m sure of it. yes. ROOTE Yes. didn’t he? GIBBS I should say it was sharp. one of them. He limped on his left leg. possibly a trifle. Prematurely grey. ROOTE Fairheaded? GIBBS (sitting) Not darkheaded. ROOTE You keep saying that! But I can’t remember a damn thing about him. sir. ROOTE Yes. ROOTE Yes. sir? ROOTE Well. yes. GIBBS His left. sir. sir.

ROOTE goes back to the desk and sits. ROOTE (appalled) No last words? ROOTE rises. GIBBS goes to the filing cabinet. very decent. What is it? What are you waiting for? GIBBS You asked me a question earlier. I demand an answer. sir. You are dependent . ROOTE I don’t see why I wasn’t invited. sir. He examines some papers. We simply passed on to another topic. walks to the window.Pause Yes. GIBBS does not move. are you? GIBBS Most assuredly not. looks out. sir. Why wasn’t I told? GIBBS You signed the death certificate. Bear everything in mind. ROOTE looks up. ROOTE Did he get a decent burial? GIBBS Oh. sir. Isn’t it the patients’ exercise time? GIBBS Not today. you say? GIBBS Yes. no matter how slight. which I haven’t yet had a chance to answer. Snowing. sir. ROOTE Why not? GIBBS It’s Christmas day. ROOTE Then why wasn’t I told? It’s your job to keep me informed of all developments in this building. ROOTE All right. GIBBS Sir? ROOTE (confidentially) Between ourselves. By no means. ROOTE Haven’t had a chance? What do you mean? That I’ve been talking too much or something? GIBBS Not at all. that’s all for now. or to do my best to do so. sir. man to man. ROOTE (regarding him) Gibbs. Who said the last words over him? GIBBS There were no last words. no matter how trivial. sir. Pause He’s dead. I remember him very well. sir. you’re not by any chance taking the old wee-wee out of me. sir. I merely feel it incumbent upon me to answer any questions you put to me.

sir. GIBBS Yes. I shall know. Look. Gibbs. of course. Have no doubt whatsoever on that point. that it was 6459 you were referring to. Things are getting much too slack around here. but. Miss Cutts. excellent. CUTTS Do I? LAMB Oh. (Quietly. We agreed. Pause ROOTE Well. ROOTE I didn’t get this job for nothing. Pause ROOTE (expressionless) Did we? The lights fade on the office. 6457 is dead. ROOTE Stick to the facts. or whether I didn’t. I must say. sir. LAMB Black or white? CUTTS Black. I shall know. Pause Well. sir. . but immediately you’ve said it I shall know whether I said it. man. If the morning’s like this what’s the rest of the day going to be like? There’s no system. I enjoyed it immensely. after examining certain discrepancies. Be sure that what you say is accurate.) Before you go on. MISS CUTTS sits. come on. I can assure you. it was 6457 you inquired after. LAMB That was fun. GIBBS Yes. sir – ROOTE Wait! He leans forward on the desk. MISS CUTTS and LAMB enter the sitting room. GIBBS No. that’s the trouble. You know you really play extraordinarily well. The next time I ask you a question answer it and we won’t waste so much time fiddling about. sir. what was this question? GIBBS You asked me how 6459 was getting on. sir. especially when it is by specific request. Pause ROOTE (expressionless) Did I? GIBBS To be quite accurate. and we won’t go far wrong. You are about to quote a question you say I put to you. They go up on the sitting room.upon me for certain information and I feel it in the line of duty to supply you with it. what was this question? GIBBS You asked me. ROOTE Stop mouthing! This has been a most exhausting morning. let me say one thing. I don’t know what you’re going to say. LAMB goes to the coffee machine.

I think a lot about the patients. What I mean is. I’m the sort of chap who’s always thinking – you know what I mean? Then. I suppose? CUTTS Mmmn …… LUSH walks quickly into the sitting room. I like to put it into action. LAMB Your work? CUTTS Terribly rewarding. Pause You have quite a bit to do with them. He stands. Roote? How do you get on with him? CUTTS Oh. He gives her a coffee. of course? CUTTS Mmnn. you know. very soon now. Although I expect I will be meeting him. Do you play often? CUTTS Not often. I’m sure he is. isn’t it? It’ll be something to look forward to. Miss Cutts? That was Lush. such a charming person. I mean. I’m a very energetic sort of chap. It’s so rewarding. Oh yes. LAMB You’ve been here some time. when you came up to me this morning and asked me if I played table tennis. Tremendous mental energy. CUTTS Mmnn? LAMB Lush. Pause. What a curious thing. LAMB Yes. Asked if we’d seen Gibbs. you see. He sits with his coffee. CUTTS . I haven’t really … spoken to him yet. He asked if we’d seen Gibbs. Do you like it here? CUTTS Oh. I only wish I had a bit more to do. MISS CUTTS is leaning back in her chair. considering we’ve never spoken to each other before. a game of ping-pong. when I’ve thought about something. LAMB What about Mr. So genuine. Popped his head in the door just now. you know. LAMB Well. I haven’t played for ages. it’s a damn good piece of luck that our rotas coincide at this time of the morning. walks about. LUSH Have you seen Gibbs? LAMB Gibbs? LUSH goes. I do. Did you hear that.LAMB (chuckling) I must say I got the surprise of my life. It was really very nice of you.

I feel a bit whacked when my shift’s over. Pause That’s what they said. I’ve thought out a number of schemes. The fact is. But as I said it gives me time to think – not when I’m testing the locks. Haven’t heard anything yet. Don’t know why.) No. The lights fade on the sitting room. Pause You know. anyway. They go up on the office. sir. sometimes – I mean after a certain period. Anyway I’m pretty sure he wasn’t doing the job I’m doing. As a matter of fact. they called me up and they said to me – ‘You’ve been posted’. but I haven’t seen him since. That was over a year ago. tea and dinner. but we think you’ve got the right qualifications. and mostly I think about the patients. I share their interests. I have to see that all the gates are locked outside the building and that all the patients’ doors are locked inside the building. of course. you see. of course. doing something quite different – well. sir. I wish I could deal with the patients – directly. Pause ROOTE She … has … what? GIBBS Given birth. Or if he was doing the same job he wasn’t doing it in exactly the same way. Still. Well. I think possibly what’s happening is that on the evidence of these schemes I sent in they’re considering promotion. CUTTS Will you excuse me? I’m afraid I have an appointment. to be quite frank. I don’t seem to be able to … reach the others. you know. to try every gate and every door.And have we? LAMB I haven’t. LAMB You’re the only friend I’ve got here. and if he wasn’t doing my rota he can hardly be said to have been doing my job. then off I go again. I was working in one of their other departments at the time. ROOTE . I’ve sent them in to the office. and I’ve never found out why he left. I haven’t made much contact with any of the others. either. then I can stand still for ten minutes. for a really constructive. I can’t make much more progress with this job I was allocated. Wouldn’t you say? They go out. Pause Quite frankly. Pause I mean. I must admit. She goes to the door. He couldn’t have been doing my rota. I want to ask you. You’ll learn that when you get down there. LAMB follows. these schemes of mine – you know. who? MISS CUTTS looks at her watch. Pause Perhaps it might even be promotion. honestly. Look. She stands. what happened was this – the Ministry said to me. I have the regulation breaks. I get some very good ideas while I think. It takes me two hours and six minutes. After all. I was delighted. how is 6459 getting on? GIBBS She’s given birth to a boy. I’ll say that. I’d heard about this place. I said. But … but what exactly is the post. It gives me exercise. The whole rota’s been altered since he left. There’s not enough scope. lunch. ideas. they said. or should I have handed them in personally to someone? The point is. for instance. Hogg said good morning to me in a very nice way about a week ago when I bumped into him near the gym. my job. ROOTE (deliberately) Well. of course. ROOTE and GIBBS are in the same positions. for a start. Pause Do you know what I mean? I wouldn’t say this to anyone else but you. the ones I’ve sent in to the office – do you think that was the right place to send them. Pause And I’ve never learned who the man was I took over from. (With sudden briskness. approximately. I … I haven’t really got used to this place. progressive approach to the patients – in fact. Rotas make all the difference. I’ve got a feeling that mine’s almost due. of course – but in between locks – it gives me time to think. I hear one receives a little token of esteem. Breakfast.

He turns to GIBBS . of humanity and by humanity. turns. have tried to preserve that order. ROOTE rises. ROOTE This has made my morning. gentlemen. after the incredible hordes of patients. looking down from the platform. nursing homes. ROOTE Sex? GIBBS Male. the breath of a … feather … can send the whole thing tottering into chaos. Never! In all the years I’ve been here. his briar burning. sir. finer than a … finer than a …… far. ‘Order. unable to speak. ‘for the love of Mike!’ As one man we looked out of the window at Mike. so fragile the boundary between the achievement of one’s aspirations and their collapse. Gibbs. it so happened. sanatoria. the man who laid the foundation stone. had followed him through town and country. Pause ROOTE I think you’ve gone too far. hanging without movement from the wallbars. trying to sustain this fine. GIBBS With respect. then as now. The gymnasium was packed to suffocation. about to speak.To … a what? GIBBS A boy. ROOTE leans across the desk. I can’t see that the matter is of such extreme significance. the predecessor of us all. Year after year. To spend years and years. leans over the desk to GIBBS . leaves the desk. ROOTE Given birth? GIBBS Yes. The lucky ones were perched on vaulting horses. I tell you quite frankly I smell disaster. lined the bridges and sat six feet deep in the ditch. the man who. He was sanctioned by the Ministry. the man who introduced the first patient. GIBBS Not me. . a tradition. ROOTE To a child? GIBBS Yes. order!’ I remember the silence. sir. Mike! The predecessor of my predecessor. He had set in motion an activity for humanity. Goodness gracious. and gazed at the statue – covered in snow. fine balance. I. convalescent homes. And the keyword was order. opened institution after institution up and down the country. to the death and cancellation of all our hopes. Quite thunderstruck. ROOTE On these premises? GIBBS On the fourth floor. and so refined the operation that the softest breath. gentlemen. It really has made my morning. I assure you. puts them on and looks across the room to GIBBS . standing room only. sir. As my predecessor said. ROOTE sinks on to the sofa. He takes a pair of glasses out of his pocket. row upon row of electrified faces. I’m dumbstruck. in fact. trying to perfect the working of an institution so fragile in its conception and execution. sir. into ignominy. rest homes. he with his golden forelock. upright and commanding. waited under hedges. such a delicately wrought concept of participation between him who is to be treated and him who is to treat that it defies analysis. winter after winter. far finer. Absolutely thunderstruck! This has never happened before. in all the years my predecessor was here. walks heavily across the room. rather the aspirations of a whole community. an ideal. Gibbs. sir. And you choose Christmas morning to come and tell me this. A vocation. hills and valleys. And I’m quite certain never before him. not only one’s own aspirations. or would-be patients.’ he said. revered by the populace. a soldier’s stance. for God’s sake. sir. He stands. subsidised by the State. on one unforgettable occasion: ‘Order.

She said she couldn’t be entirely sure since most of the staff have had relations with her in this last year.ROOTE You can’t? Have we ever. ROOTE What does she look like? Pause GIBBS Fattish. given birth to a child on these premises before? GIBBS Not to my knowledge. we have not yet been able to ascertain. sir. sir. to your knowledge. ROOTE What did she say? GIBBS She was … noncommital. sir. Right! There’s work to be done. ROOTE Most of the staff? GIBBS According to her statement. ROOTE Which one is 6459? GIBBS She’s a woman in her thirties – ROOTE That means nothing to me. GIBBS Oh. As a mathematician you will appreciate that we have nothing to measure this event by so that we can with ease assess its implications. sir. get on with it. you look like one! He pockets his glasses. ROOTE Why not? Have you asked the patient? GIBBS Yes. there’s no doubt that you know her. ROOTE Darkheaded? GIBBS (sitting) Not fairheaded. sir. Who is he? GIBBS That. sir. ROOTE rubs his mouth. sits at the desk. Pause ROOTE Small? GIBBS Certainly not tall. ROOTE Therefore we have no yardstick. GIBBS I am not a mathematician. what does she look like? Perhaps I know her. sir. sir. . ROOTE Well. Find the culprit.


Quite a sensual sort of face?

Quite sensual, yes, sir.


Yes, she’s got a sensual son of face, hasn’t she?

I should say it was sensual, sir, yes.

Wobbles when she walks?

Oh, possibly a trifle, sir.

Yes, she wobbles. She wobbles in her left buttock.

Her left, sir?

Well, one of them. I’m sure of it.

Yes, she has a slight wobble, sir.

Yes, of course she has.

She’s got a slight wobble. Whenever she walks anywhere … she wobbles. Likes eating toffees, too … when she can get any.

Quite true, sir.


No – I don’t think I know her.

And you say a number of the staff have had relations with this woman, do you?

Apparently, sir.
ROOTE (standing)
Well, one of them’s slipped up, hasn’t he? One of them’s not been using his head! His know-how! Common or garden horsesense! I don’t mind the men dipping
their wicks on occasion. It can’t be avoided. It’s got to go somewhere. Besides that, it’s in the interests of science. If a member of the staff decides that for the
good of a female patient some degree of copulation is necessary then two birds are killed with one stone! It does no harm to either party. At least, that’s how
I’ve found it in my experience. (With emphasis.) But we all know the rule! Never ride barebacked. Always take precautions. Otherwise complications set in.
Never ride barebacked and always send in a report. After all, the reactions of the patient have to be tabulated, compared with others, filed, stamped and if
possible verified! It stands to reason. (Grimly.) Well, I can tell you something, Gibbs, one thing is blatantly clear to me. Someone hasn’t been sending in his

Quite, sir.


sits on the sofa and puts his hand to his mouth.

I think I know the man.



Yes, it’s suddenly come to me. How absurd I didn’t realise it before.

Who, for God’s sake?

I’d prefer to have the matter verified, sir, before I … bring him before you.

All right. But find him. The good name of this establishment depends on it.

sits at the desk. GIBBS goes to the door.

What shall I do about the baby, sir?

Get rid of it.

The mother would have to go with it, sir.


Can’t live without the mother.

Why not?

The mother feeds it.

I know that! Do you think I’m an idiot? My mother fed me, didn’t she?

Mine fed me.

But mine fed me!

I remember.

Isn’t there a wet nurse in the house? If there’s a wet nurse in the house the baby can go with the wet nurse and the mother can stay here.

There’s no wet nurse among the staff, sir.

I should hope not. I’m thinking about the understaff, the kitchen staff, the cleaning staff. Find out if there’s a wet nurse among the understaff and get the thing
in motion.

Don’t you think the mother might miss the baby, sir?

I won’t miss it. Will you miss it?

No, sir. I won’t miss it.

Then why should the mother miss it?

They stare at each other. There is a knack on the door.

Who is it?


Gibbs, find that father. Come in!


(to GIBBS )


I’ll keep you in touch with developments, sir.

That’s very thoughtful of you.

goes out. MISS CUTTS sits on the sofa. ROOTE rises, goes to the sofa and sits next to her.

I’m exhausted.

You know, I think that man’s frightened of me.


He never speaks to me. He never says a single word to me. And not only that, he never … he never looks at me. I can only think I must frighten him in some

What do you mean, never speaks to you? He’s obliged to speak to you. You’re working together, aren’t you?

Oh yes, he talks shop to me. We discuss the patients, naturally. We were discussing one of the patients … only yesterday. But he never speaks to me socially.

Which patient?

Or do you think he’s taken with me? Do you think that he just finds me too attractive to look at?

Which patient were you discussing?

But I can’t say I like him. He’s so cold. Oh, I like men to be cold – but not as cold as that. Oh, no, he’s much too cold. You know, I think I’ll ask him. I think I’ll ask
him whether he’s taken with me or whether I frighten him. I mean, one might as well know.

Do you know what I’ve just heard? One of the patients has just had a baby.

A baby? But how?

As large as life. And under my auspices. It’s nothing short of criminal.

But how did she manage it?

She had an accomplice.

No? Who?

That’s what we’ve got to find out. yes why not? CUTTS You do think I should be more feminine? ROOTE What? CUTTS But you always say I’m feminine enough! ROOTE You are feminine enough. CUTTS (dreamily) I bet she feels very feminine now. I don’t. staring into space) She’s always been feminine. you don’t think I could go even further? Do you? ROOTE (absently. On top of everything else one of the patients has died. CUTTS Oh my poor sweet. .) I’ve had the most wearing morning. ROOTE (vacantly. (He runs his hand through his hair. do you? I mean. She kisses him. muttering) Yes. CUTTS Do you think I’m feminine enough. CUTTS But which patient? Who is she? ROOTE I don’t know her. Darling. and I’ve been nasty to you. CUTTS Then if I’m feminine enough why do you want me to be more feminine? ROOTE I don’t. CUTTS Died? ROOTE Dead. You don’t think I’m too masculine. darling? Or do you think I should be more feminine? ROOTE is still abstracted. I don’t! CUTTS (at a great pace) Because it would be awful if you really thought that I was letting you down in the most important aspect of the relationship between any man and any woman – ROOTE You’re quite feminine enough!! Pause CUTTS You really mean it? ROOTE Yes. MISS CUTTS leans back. CUTTS But you just said you did! ROOTE I don’t.

enters. takes out a pack of cards and begins to play patience. GIBBS You want something. looks up. about to place a card. Suddenly a long sigh is heard. amplified. Charlie? (Pause. Gibbs. you know. GIBBS Listen. We’re all concerned. They go up on the sitting room. What is it? LUSH Actually I want to ask you something first. What is it? LUSH I hear she’s given birth. stops. GIBBS What? LUSH How’s 6459 getting on? Pause GIBBS You want to report something. LUSH descends the steps. GIBBS LUSH LUSH Hullo. LUSH. If you’ve got something to report report it and don’t make a fool of yourself. Charlie. Gibbs? . GIBBS . GIBBS .) Having a nice Christmas? GIBBS What do you want? LUSH What do you think of the weather? GIBBS collects the cards and puts them into a card case. LUSH looks up. that’s all. appears at the head of the stairway and descends. GIBBS scatters the cards. GIBBS What is it? LUSH Don’t get tense. GIBBS You want to report something. GIBBS It’s none of your business. Gibbs. Let me do your neck. Silence. aren’t we? We’re all in the game together. Come into the bedroom. A long keen is heard. He sits at the low table. Do my neck. LUSH stops. After all. amplified. I’m not prepared to have any kind of conversation with you whatsoever. we’re all buddies. LUSH Oh. dying away. we’re all concerned.) What you been doing with yourself? (Pause. very deliberately. after a glance at him. What is it? LUSH I don’t want anything. Lush.) Mmnn? (Pause. card in hand. They go into the bedroom. amplified. ROOTE Yes. The lights go down on the office. How’s tricks. A laugh is heard. GIBBS . inspects the state of the game. places another card. enters the room. He closes the door and comes to the table.Let me massage you. LUSH Are you the father. I’ve got something to report.

GIBBS His mother? LUSH Yes. A convalescent home? I countered. You’re incompetent. But. you’re unwholesome and you’re offensive.. barbecued boar by the lake? None of this? I never knew about it. No. I said. in both institutions. What! I said. said 6457’s mother. the Old Boys and Girls supper and social? Dancing on the lawn. in a convalescent home. Lush. I don’t know how you’ve lasted here. I shall have it looked into. no. you know. A. Oh. which eventually he did. How did she do it? Why wasn’t she stopped? Why did no-one demand her credentials? It baffled me. It quite baffled me. it depends on the father’s name. GIBBS How did she get in? LUSH That’s what baffled me. The kid’s got to have a name. The autumn art exhibition. not at all. GIBBS What! LUSH He was moved some time ago. LUSH I can see you’re in one of your moods today. our dramatic instructor? You came down.) Silly woman. wasn’t he getting enough rest here that they had to send him to a convalescent home? Ah. GIBBS What is it? LUSH The mother of 6457 came to see me today. Is the old man the father? LUSH sits. ( He laughs. I see. not at all. whatever gave you that idea? This is a rest home. The one who died. do you merely convalesce. Mrs 6457.R. relatives and friends? Weren’t you invited to the Halloween Feast. staff. I said.B.M. for none of these activities and ceremonies through which we from time immemorial engage and channel our patients’ energies? Oh dear. Well. to a convalescent home. I said. What do you think yourself? I think something that’ll remind him of this establishment when he grows up. so I suppose I’d better report to you what I came to report to you.GIBBS sits back and folds his arms. don’t you? His birth place. waiting for Tubb to leave his cubbyhole and take a leak. I said. What did she want? LUSH She wanted to know how her son was getting on. L. said 6457’s mother. Then – in a flash! – the answer came. held traditionally in the men’s changing room? The pageant? The unveiling? The Festival of One-Act Plays. Of course. you do not merely rest. the half-yearly debate on a selected topic. Obviously a clerical error. you see. and then she just darted in. no. GIBBS What did you say? LUSH I said – A year? You haven’t seen him for a year? But that’s ridiculous. you know. cold buffets on the flat roof. no. In a rest home. It’s not quite so simple as that. you are . We really tend to overlook the simple cunning of the simple. no. the May Dance. From heart failure. she said. Simple. like a shot off a shovel. She’d been hiding all night in the shrubbery. the monthly concert of orchestral music in the bandroom. judged by Miss Daisy Cutts. if the father’s name was John then the boy would be named John too. it is a shame that you haven’t seen him. He died last Thursday. it’s not quite so simple as that. or for the annual summer picnic for patients. you see. LUSH Or the old man. You’re the most totally bloody useless bugger I’ve ever come across. But I thought this was a convalescent home. Nor. after all. She said that when her son came here she was told he needed peace and expert attention and that she would be hearing from us in due course. You know. GIBBS The mother of 6457? LUSH Yes. I was never told.. the father might like the boy to be named after him. or Thanksgiving Day. Can’t think what to call it. the October Revival. midnight croquet. How on earth did she get in? I wondered. I said. she said. Gibbs.A. It did. doesn’t it? I mean. Would you like her description? GIBBS No. Do you see what I mean? The same name as the father.C. Didn’t you come down for Mother’s Day. and that in fact it was now a year since she had seen him and she wanted to know how he was getting on. Who’s going to carry the can? Miss Cutts? Do you think she’s the father? We’re all terribly excited. GIBBS You know. since he is now departed from us.

No. but as soon as you said ‘Mr Gibbs wants to see you. appears at the foot of the stairway. Isn’t it amazing? Really. MISS CUTTS . Gibbs. Sometimes one must rest first and then convalesce. care. I can’t help thinking. followed by LAMB. She left much moved by my recital. I shall be glad of your participation. LAMB You know. LUSH No congratulations? GIBBS consults his watch and goes to the internal telephone. LAMB But what do you think it’s all about? I mean. When I join you. if I may. unflagging effort. He replaces the receiver. Pause GIBBS Thank you for your report. I don’t know why. They represent. He goes out. perhaps you would be so kind as to go to 1A control room. with reference to that matter we were discussing earlier. but I can’t help thinking this is something to do with my promotion. I would be obliged if you would collect him and bring him to number one interviewing room. The lights come up on the sound-proof room. He wears a white coat. I’d like to speak with Miss Cutts. Mr. I know it’s very silly of me. did he? CUTTS Oh yes. scrupulous attachment to the matter in hand and meticulous examination of all aspects of the question had determined the surest and most beneficial course your son’s case might take. after this supreme example of applied dedication. deep into the depth of the night. please. and leaves the room.) Miss Cutts? I believe you know a man called Lamb. I still do. why should I suddenly feel uplifted … You know. Thank you. It’s very curious. Don’t for a moment either imagine that the terms rest and convalescence are synonymous. I must say … They go out of sight. is only decided after the best interests of the patient have been taken into account. where some of the leading brains in this country are concentrated. hours of time. but I really feel it’s … significant. the wealth and weight of all the expert opinion in this establishment. ( Pause. document. you see. So. I mean. affidavit. no. I felt uplifted. GIBBS (into the phone) 22. he wanted to see me particularly. left stage area. CUTTS Mr Gibbs. no. Yes. no. (Pause. tape recordings. The conclusion. where we are sure he will be content. Otherwise the concepts of rest and convalescence are rendered meaningless. why else would he send for me when I was on duty? GIBBS enters the room from another door. I know. MISS CUTTS is wearing a white coat. LAMB (stopping) But he didn’t say why? CUTTS No. of course. He’s on the staff. Do you think he’s read my schemes? I mean. after a world of time. The lights go up on the. Lush. stages. Particularly. MISS CUTTS and LAMB enter the sound-proof room. Thank you. unstinting labour.obliged to work and play and join in daily communal activity to the greatest possible extent. have you met Mr Lamb? GIBBS How do you do? LAMB . The lights fade on the sitting room.) Sir? Gibbs here. I continued. was to send your son to a convalescent home. gathering and accumulating of mass upon mass upon mass of relevant evidence. you can rest assured that if your son was moved from here to another place it was in his best interests. including the stairway.’ I felt an extraordinary uplift. played both backwards and forwards. Pause I also pointed out that we had carte blanche from the Ministry. They ascend. and only after the most extensive research into his case. GIBBS Will you excuse me? LUSH I’ll excuse you for the time being. Sometimes the reverse. Either course. attention to the most minute detail.

LAMB But where from? GIBBS From room 1A. It’s just been switched on. But in the meanwhile I wonder … if you’d give me a helping hand? LAMB I’d be quite delighted! GIBBS That’s the spirit! (With no undue emphasis. GIBBS I’m delighted to meet you. LAMB How? GIBBS That mike. please? LAMB What did you say? GIBBS I beg your pardon? LAMB Did you speak to Miss Cutts just now? GIBBS Yes. I must say I’ve always enjoyed my work here tremendously … I mean.How do you do? CUTTS Would you excuse me a minute. you know. LAMB Thank you. something really valuable. you really get the feeling here that something … important is going on. GIBBS Would you take a seat. LAMB Oh. LAMB But did she hear you? GIBBS Oh yes. I’ve heard a great deal about you. this one. Mr Lamb? LAMB This one? GIBBS Yes. (pointing) . and to be associated with it in any way can’t be seen in any other light than as a privilege. quite sincerely. when we have the time. GIBBS Good. please? She leaves the room by the other door.) Miss Cutts. LAMB sits. LAMB Really? GIBBS Yes. there’s quite a lot I’d like to talk to you about. I asked her to come down. I really mean it. could you come down. GIBBS That’s a very heartening attitude.

Pause Curious kind of room. Lamb. GIBBS Now she’s going to plug in. CUTTS We do. Lamb. And to you. LAMB What kind of tests are they? GIBBS Experiments. Miss Cutts. CUTTS Now I’m going to plug in. Will you do that? LAMB Tests? I’d be delighted.) That’s right. of course. I see. Now. LAMB What are they … exactly? GIBBS They’re electric. GIBBS Really? Good. Miss Cutts. Ah. through a hole. what I’d like is for you to help us with some little tests. (To GIBBS . CUTTS Could I have your hand.) Now – perhaps you would fit the electrodes to Mr. GIBBS And to you. three leads protrude. I see. Miss Cutts. She bends at the wall. Merry Christmas. First plug in . CUTTS Now the other one. isn’t it? GIBBS It’s a sound-proof room. GIBBS Oh by the way. Mr.LAMB (laughing) Oh. Enter MISS CUTTS . That’s what I hoped I’d be doing when I first came down here. where. You don’t feel anything. ( He watches MISS CUTTS plug in. Merry Christmas to you. LAMB Thanks. CUTTS Thank you. (Briskly. She picks up two and returns to LAMB. You see the little socket on each of those electrodes? They’re for the plug. Lamb? MISS CUTTS brings an electrode from her pocket and attaches it to LAMB’s wrist. Best thing to do is forget all about them.) And to you too. LAMB Oh. She attaches a second electrode. we have a very willing subject. GIBBS Well. LAMB Electrodes? GIBBS Yes. And to you. Lamb’s wrists.

A, then plug in B. Right. Now you’re plugged in.

Oh, you’ve … got to be plugged in, have you?
GIBBS (with a chuckle)
Oh yes, got to be plugged in. The leads go right through the wall and up to the control room, you see. We’re plugged in the other end.



No, no, not me. You. Into the receiving set.

Oh, I see. What are these … what are these electrodes for, exactly?

They measure electrical potential on the skin.


Engendered by neural activity, of course.

Oh, of course.

Electrical impulses, in a word. You can imagine how important they are and yet how little we know about them. Right. Now the earphones.

stoops, picks up the earphones, attaches them to LAMB’s head.


Yes, same principle. Plugged in at the socket on your head, plugged in at the other end in our control room. ( Cheeringly.) Don’t worry, they’re nice long leads,
all of them. Plenty of leeway. No danger of strangulation.


Oh yes. Good.

By the way, your predecessor used to give us a helping hand occasionally, too, you know. Before you came, of course.

My predecessor?

Could you just keep still a second, Mr Lamb, while I plug in the earphones?

is still. She plugs.

Thank you.


Yes, thank you. My predecessor, did you say?

Yes, the chap you took over from.

Oh! Did he really? Oh, good. I’ve often wondered what he … did, exactly. Oh good, I’m … glad I’m following in a tradition.

They all chuckle.
Have you any idea where he is now?

No, I don’t think I do know where he is now. Do you know where he is, Miss Cutts?


No, I’m afraid I don’t.

No, I’m afraid we don’t really know. He’s not here, anyway. That’s certain. Now what I want you to do is to sit perfectly still. Relax completely. Don’t think about
a thing. That’s right. Now you see that light up there. Ignore it. It might go on and off at regular or irregular intervals. Take no notice. Sit perfectly still. Quite

Yes, thanks.

Jolly good. Don’t go to sleep, will you? We’re awfully grateful to you, old chap, for helping us.

It’s a pleasure.

places his hand briefly on LAMB’s shoulder.
go out.
LAMB sits. Silence. He shifts, concentrates. The light, which is red, flicks on and off.
Silence. Suddenly LAMB jolts rigid, his hands go to his earphones, he is propelled from the chair, falls to his knees, twisting from side to side, still clutching his
earphones, emitting highpitched cries.


He suddenly stops still.
The red light is still flickering.
He looks up. He sits in the chair, emits a short chuckle.
The red light stops.
The voice of MISS CUTTS is heard.

Would you say you were an excitable person?

looks up.

Not … not unduly, no.

The voice of GIBBS is heard.

Would you say you were a moody person?

Moody? No, I wouldn’t say I was moody – well, sometimes occasionally I –

Do you ever get fits of depression?

Well, I wouldn’t call them depression, exactly –

Would you say you were a sociable person?

Well, that’s not a very easy question to answer, really. I try, I certainly try to be sociable, I mean I think it should be the aim of any one interested in human
nature to try to mix, to better his understanding of it. I –

Do you find yourself unaccountably happy one moment and unaccountably unhappy the next?

It’s strange you should say that because –

Do you often do things which you regret in the morning?

Regret? Things I regret? Well, it depends what you mean by often, really. I mean, when you say often –

Are you often puzzled by women?




Men? Well, I was just going to answer the question about women –

Do you often feel puzzled?


By women.



Uh – now just a minute, I … do you want separate answers or a joint answer?

After your day’s work, do you ever feel tired, edgy?



At a loose end?




Unable to concentrate?

Unable to sleep?

Unable to eat?

Unable to remain seated?

Unable to stand upright?



On heat?


CUTTS Have you always been virgo intacta? LAMB Oh yes. Always. in front of a lady— CUTTS Are you virgo intacta? LAMB Yes. actually. he is propelled from the chair. knots. it’s difficult to say. still clutching his earphones. From the word go. I’ll make no secret of it. leap frog. GIBBS What is the law of the Wolf Cub Pack? LAMB The cub gives in to the Old Wolf. the cub does not give in to himself.CUTTS Full of desire? GIBBS Full of energy? CUTTS Full of dread? GIBBS Drained? CUTTS Of energy? GIBBS Of dread? CUTTS Of desire? Pause LAMB Well. always. I am. The red light flicks on and off. GIBBS When you were a boy scout were you most proficient at somersault. He looks up. CUTTS Are you virgo intacta? LAMB What? CUTTS Are you virgo intacta? LAMB Oh. his hands go to his earphones. that’s rather embarrassing. falls to his knees. recitation or ball games? LAMB . emitting highpitched cries. emits a short chuckle. twisting from side to side. really – LAMB jolts rigid. hopping. skipping. He sits in the chair. CUTTS From the word go? LAMB Go? Oh yes. I say. The red light is still flickering. He suddenly stops still. balancing. cleanliness. The red light stops. I mean.

But I was a cub. I don’t know why. CUTTS Do women frighten you? GIBBS Their clothes? CUTTS Their shoes? GIBBS Their voices? CUTTS Their laughter? GIBBS Their stares? CUTTS Their way of walking? GIBBS Their way of sitting? CUTTS Their way of smiling? GIBBS Their way of talking? CUTTS Their mouths? GIBBS Their hands? CUTTS Their legs? GIBBS Their teeth? CUTTS Their shins? GIBBS Their cheeks? CUTTS Their ears? GIBBS Their calves? CUTTS Their arms? GIBBS Their toes? CUTTS Their eyes? GIBBS Their knees? CUTTS Their thighs? Pause LAMB . I’ve forgotten … to be frank.Well. I was a wolf cub. actually. I never became a boy scout proper. actually. but I never became a boy scout. of course.

have you? I’m ready whenever you are. GIBBS Which establishment? LAMB This one. I must admit. Silence (Looking up.Well.) Mmnn? Any more questions? I’m quite ready for another question. I’m rather enjoying this. We hear the loud click of a switch from the control room. for a glass of water. it depends what you mean by frighten – GIBBS Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night? LAMB Sometimes. GIBBS Do you ever fed you would like to join a group of people in which group common assumptions are shared and common principles observed? LAMB Well. The red light begins to flick on and off. The red light gradually grows in strength. Curtain . LAMB sits still. you know. stares at it. Are you all right up there? You haven’t finished your questions. The microphone in the room has been switched off. by the way. LAMB looks up. Silence LAMBsits. GIBBS You are a member of this establishment? LAMB Of course. what was that extraordinary sound? It gave me quite a start. GIBBS Which establishment? LAMB This one. Oh. I am a member of such a group. in this establishment. until it consumes the room. here. I’m quite ready. yes.

ROOTE Anyone about? LUSH Not a soul. ROOTE’S ROOTE ROOTE (without looking up) What are you looking at. don’t you. (He puts the papers in a drawer. It’s a Ministry typewriter. LUSH It looked like rust to me. Brand new. I never leave this desk. ROOTE Well. sir.) I can’t read a word of this! It’s indecipherable. Lush? LUSH The yard. sir.) LUSH walks to the cabinet. It’s the price you have to pay for being in command. The whole damn shoot. there must be an obstacle somewhere. (He drinks. collects a glass and pours himself a drink. sir? ROOTE . I can’t sit here all night trying to work this out. examining some papers. LUSH You do leave this desk quite often. looking out. ROOTE turns a page. Anyway. Day in day out. sir. LUSH is at the window. LUSH His typewriter’s out of action. or something. eh? (He examines the page. What’s the matter with this man Hogg? Why can’t he type his reports out like everyone else? I can’t read this writing. It’s unreadable. though. is at his desk. goes to the drinks cabinet. ROOTE Ah. I’ve still got the invoice somewhere. ROOTE What’s the weather like? LUSH The snow has turned to slush. Night. takes out a bottle of whisky and pours himself a drink. No wind at all. ) I’ve had enough this week. for being responsible for the whole shoot. We had a whole cartload sent down from the Ministry – when was it? – a couple of months ago. Pause Has the wind got up? LUSH No. do you know that? Sun up to sundown.ACT TWO office. ROOTE Rust? What are you talking about? It’s a brand new typewriter. As I am. Never heard such rubbish. ROOTE What’s the matter with it? LUSH It seems to have got stuck. ROOTE (muttering) No wind. then slams it onto the desk. Rust. ROOTE Stuck? LUSH It just won’t move at all.

ROOTE I said don’t Mr Roote me! LUSH But I always understood that you looked upon visits to the patients from the head of this establishment as one of the most important features in the running of this establishment … Mr. LUSH Oh.What? LUSH I say. you understand me? Otherwise you’re liable to find yourself in trouble. Colonel? ROOTE I was. Mr Roote. It’s not relaxation. LUSH What an extraordinary thing to say. you do leave this desk quite often. It’s not worth it. ROOTE So don’t give me any more lip. you still possess considerable military bearing. And a bloody good one too. LUSH But I never expected to hear you say a thing like that. Roote. I’ve given up visiting the patients. LUSH You know I harbour no illusions about my position. LUSH No. ROOTE As easy as look at you. LUSH If I may say so. ROOTE . ROOTE Don’t Mr Roote me. sir. ROOTE Don’t think I can’t squash you on a plate as easy as look at you. But don’t think I give you that much leeway. LUSH Yes. I meant relaxation. for instance. in point of fact. weren’t you. Mr Roote. LUSH Quite. sir. ROOTE That’s purely in the line of duty. I wasn’t talking about the line of duty. Lush. ROOTE Listen! I give you leeway. Colonel. A waste of energy. ROOTE Don’t call me Colonel! LUSH But you were a Colonel once. ROOTE Anyway. sir. don’t you? ROOTE When? LUSH When you go and visit the patients.

ROOTE Well. LUSH And the ability to be always one thought ahead of the next man. They’ve got no vision. no. ROOTE . phytology. it’s not surprising.Really? LUSH Oh yes. I’ve had so many other things to think about. ROOTE Yes. LUSH I mean. theology. LUSH Really? ROOTE Oh yes. philology. phytonomy. of course. Vision’s very important. some of them aren’t very bright. LUSH Really? I’m sorry to hear that. ROOTE It’s a military characteristic. LUSH That’s why I say you must have been quite a unique kind of man. sir. He perches on the desk. LUSH Naturally. LUSH Not phytotomy? ROOTE I was always meaning to get round to phytotomy. LUSH Who? ROOTE Military men. sir. ROOTE What? LUSH The age of the specialist is dead. musical ability. knowledge of most schools of philosophy. Yes. phytotomy – ROOTE Oh. yes. ROOTE Oh. there’s something in that. anthropology. They’ve got no foresight. no. not only are you a scientist. well I … What do you mean? LUSH The age of the specialist is dead. LUSH You must have been quite a unique kind of man. but … well. in your regiment. They can’t think clearly. Of course. that’s what it is. ROOTE Yes. in your regiment. I must admit. not phytotomy. photography. being such an all-round man. Dead. ROOTE Yes. but you have literary ability. some of them tend to let the side down. cosmology.

) Yes. LUSH But surely you achieved results with one patient very recently. Slowly he lowers his own.) Who is it? Enter GIBBS . LUSH grabs ROOTE’s glass and holds it above his head. quite a substantial result. Pause ROOTE suddenly takes off his jacket. brings the glass to ROOTE. (He takes ROOTE’s glass. ROOTE throws his whisky in LUSH’s face. the heat of this place. Oh no. sir.But anyway. in a low voice) You’re neglecting to call me sir. isn’t it? It’s like a crematorium in here. LUSH Let me fill you up. gives it to him. pours. LUSH Why have you given up visiting the patients? ROOTE I’ve given up. What was the number? 6459. God. Cheers. LUSH fills the glasses. LUSH Weren’t you getting results? ROOTE (staring at him) Drink your whisky. Lush. He drinks. ROOTE It’s a heatwave. sir. what is it? Business at this hour? You sit down to have a quiet drink and what happens? GIBBS I have something to report. that’s all. LUSH wipes his face. But perhaps I’m thinking of 6457. ROOTE throws his whisky in LUSH’s face. Why is it suddenly so hot? LUSH The snow has turned to slush. ROOTE Has it? LUSH Very dangerous. and then gives ROOTE his glass. LUSH takes ROOTE’s glass. brings the glass to ROOTE. It’s damn hot. I should have thought. I think. sir? ROOTE To phytotomy! Pause Give us a drink. . that’s what it is. with his own. LUSH Halfway where. LUSH wipes his face. once you know something about phytonomy you’re halfway there. gives it to him. (A knock on the door. hangs it on the back of his chair and sits. ROOTE (taking the glass. You’re supposed to call me sir when you address me. pours. LUSH But I thought you were getting results? ROOTE (staring at him) Cheers.

cultivate the habit of split second decisions. you bloody fool! LUSH . ROOTE Right. ROOTE I know you don’t approve! I don’t approve! Nobody approves! But you’ve no alternative. That’s what we try to do here. Gibbs! ( He stands. pick your man and pin him to the wall. Gibbs? GIBBS Quite. Gibbs. ROOTE And it never fails. if I have been presumptuous. alacrity! Get on with it. not a woman.) Absolutely first class! ( He moves to LUSH. Lush? LUSH Quite. ROOTE (rising) Found? So soon? In so short a space of time? Jiminy Cricket. what’s your business? GIBBS The father has been found. Who do you think you are? Pause (To LUSH . ROOTE You see the way I train my staff? Alacrity! First and foremost. Let your nose do your thinking for you and you won’t go far wrong. sir. don’t muck about. what an impertinence! The man’s my guest. sir. do you understand that? Which is more than you bloodywell are! I’ve never heard of such a thing in all my life. LUSH Lamb? Surely not Lorna Lamb? Lorna Lamb in the dispensary department? ROOTE A man. have you? GIBBS Mr Lush could leave the room. eh. I’m pleased with you. ROOTE Well. that’s quick work. ROOTE No? GIBBS Found. for a bit of quick work? LUSH Remarkable. don’t dither. sir. ROOTE Good God. never mind about him! What is it? GIBBS I don’t approve of divulging official secrets to all and sundry.) He gets on my wick sometimes – doesn’t he you? GIBBS I … apologise. sir.) Oh.) What do you think of that. sir.ROOTE What? (GIBBS looks at LUSH. Who is he? GIBBS A man called Lamb. Right? Right. ROOTE sits. shakes hands with GIBBS . sir. pours a drink and drinks. He barges in here and tells me to chuck my own guest out of the room. ROOTE Never heard of him.

sir. ROOTE That’s why I’m so hot. ROOTE I don’t care whether it’s true or not.) Is that radiator hot? LUSH bends to the radiator and touches it. of all the rooms in the building. Either this particular lock was … not locked. He pours a drink. ROOTE That’s about the fifth time you’ve said the snow has turned to slush! GIBBS It’s quite true. The snow has turned to slush. under your very nose. Open the window. sir. LUSH An adder. ROOTE It’s unbelievable. A rapist on my own staff and I don’t know what he looks like! LUSH Was it rape? ROOTE Of course it was rape. It was considered a matter of the first importance to locate the father. isn’t it. ROOTE Lamb? Who the hell’s Lamb? Do I know him? GIBBS I think it doubtful that you’ve ever met him. This has now been done. I didn’t quite … What exactly has this person done? Pause ROOTE Tell him what this person has done. sir. (LUSH opens the window. I don’t like to have a thing repeated and repeated and repeated! Anyone would think I was slow on the uptake. LUSH Scalding. sir. GIBBS A child has been born to one of the patients. I noticed it myself. the things that go on? LUSH It almost is. Lush. I’m as quick as a python. You don’t think that sort of thing happens by consent. ROOTE Well. drinks. sir. How did he get in? GIBBS He tests the locks. I’m suffocating. Mr Gibbs. I’m so sorry. ROOTE I don’t even know what he looks like. ROOTE What? LUSH .Oh. That’s enough. The snow has turned to slush. LUSH The night is warm. You think I’m past my job. if he’s not important how did he get into the patient’s room? You know as well as I do that only a very select handful of the personnel are allowed in the patients’ rooms. ROOTE The sabotage that goes on. do you? GIBBS He’s not a very important member of your staff. sir. or he forced it. do you? You think I’m a bit slow? Don’t you believe it. Mr Roote. I heard it. I understand it.

If we can’t turn it off here we’ll have to get hold of Tubb and tell him to turn it off at the mains.) What’s the matter with you. ROOTE What do you mean. I can feel a draught. It’s overheated! Always has been. sir? ROOTE I’d like to drink a toast. it’s Christmas. LUSH Oh yes. you or me? LUSH Not me. standing there like a tit in a trance? Tip the bottle. ROOTE The men who gave their lives so that we might live. an adder? GIBBS Do you think I deserve a little tipple of whisky. Who helped keep the world clean for the generations to come. Either of you. That’s what causes the laxity. The heating will have to be turned off! Every single pipe of it. You’ve got a job to do. Got yours. GIBBS I meant for locating the father. that’s better. See if you can turn that radiator off. Let us drink to them. gentlemen. Who sacrificed themselves so that we might continue. anyway? You deserve nothing. LUSH It’s a very cold building. LUSH pours a glass of whisky. GIBBS pours himself a glass of whisky. The men who died in our name. Couldn’t be more appropriate. fill it up. son? Oh. ROOTE You deserve nothing. Did you hear that. It’s stiff. Do it. to our glorious dead. LUSH Which ones are they. the inefficiency in this place. LUSH My glass is ready. Lush? He’s just made a pleasantry. After all. . Come on. ROOTE (solemnly) I’d like to drink a toast. we’ll drink a toast. LUSH To whom. You won’t get any tulips from me. for the love of Mike. ROOTE It’ll have to be turned off at the mains. ROOTE I tell you it’s too bloody hot and the damned heating’s got to go off! Who’s the boss here. ROOTE I do ten times as much work as the whole lot of you put together. sir? ROOTE The chaps who died for us in the field of action. Didn’t you. sir? ROOTE Good God. it’s perishing on the upper floors.An adder. What do you mean. LUSH bends to the radiator. for Christ’s sake. you deserve it. Deserved or undeserved. Lush? LUSH Just a minute. a bit of consideration. I deserve a bit of comfort. Well? LUSH It won’t budge. sir. sir. ( To GIBBS . the skiving. sir. Gibbs is being jocular.

ROOTE Is yours ready. Small. LUSH Straight. I give you a toast. Pause ROOTE Brown eyes? GIBBS Blue. . sir. sir.) GIBBS and LUSH To our glorious dead. ROOTE Gentlemen. ROOTE Is he fat? GIBBS Thin. To our glorious dead. GIBBS Thin. ROOTE A rapist on my own staff and I don’t know what he looks like. sir. sir? Nondescript. Pause ROOTE Do you know him. Lush? LUSH I’ve seen him. LUSH Fat. They drink. LUSH Brown. It’s ridiculous. GIBBS Small. What sort of man is he? GIBBS Lamb. sir. ROOTE Tall? GIBBS No. (Rising. GIBBS Blue. Pause ROOTE Curly hair? GIBBS and LUSH eye each other. Gibbs? GIBBS It is. LUSH Tall.

Number 21. Let’s see. It sounded a bit clogged up. I don’t like the look of it. cutlery. Next time bring me a photograph. Two tickets to the circus. A documentary – for educational purposes. cutlery. sir. Pause ROOTE Any special peculiarities? GIBBS None. I must admit. Number 44. stuffed up. Who’s got ticket number 84? A duck ready for the oven. Unclaimed. . What’s it all about? LUSH It’s the Christmas raffle. GIBBS Shall I call Tubb on the intercom. Fred. He fills the glasses. held by the understaff in the understaff canteen. bunged up. No-one? Unclaimed. Ticket number 21. GIBBS Lemon. A lovely crockery. LUSH Nigger. The whole thing’s running down hill. Fred. Number 38. Ten beautiful Portuguese cigars. isn’t it? LUSH It’s warm out too. We’ll have to get hold of Tubb. ROOTE Yes. Pause ROOTE What colour teeth? GIBBS Lemon. Ten Portuguese cigars. A duck. buggered up. Fred. ROOTE turns. Number 44. A voice is heard.GIBBS Curly. You could devote a halfhour film to the man. It’s still stifling in here. A lovely crockery. Fred. LUSH Nigger. Next one coming up. LUSH One. sir? LUSH I tried the intercom before. china and cookery set. No-one? Unclaimed. The snow has turned to slush. expostulating. it does sound a bit clogged up. Unclaimed. china and cookery set. Two tickets to the circus. GIBBS None. It’s uncommonly warm in here for this time of the year. VOICE Number 84. Pause ROOTE These descriptions don’t tally. He switches on the intercom on his desk and sits. LUSH Straight. Or you’ve got a cine-camera. ROOTE switches off. ROOTE Clogged up? What’s the matter with this place? Everything’s clogged up.

sir. I’ve seen the duck. ROOTE (to LUSH) What do you know about 6457? GIBBS I wouldn’t advise any further discussion of that matter. sir. ROOTE You’re damned clever. If not deader. of any kind. aren’t you? (to LUSH) . Not one gift. LUSH Yes. but on behalf of the staff declined to purchase any. sir. sir. ROOTE What about that duck? You can’t keep a duck until Easter! It’s … it’s just not sensible! There’s not much I don’t know about poultry. ROOTE You have? What’s it like? LUSH It’s a dead duck. LUSH Actually. ROOTE Good God. He sits. isn’t there? LUSH Must be a whole pile of it.ROOTE Raffle? Did we get any tickets? GIBBS I was approached. eh? And I haven’t received one present. who gets it? LUSH I expect there’ll be another raffle at Easter. ROOTE Dead? LUSH Quite dead. ROOTE Well. sir. sir. ROOTE Did you? Well. I didn’t know it was dead. sir. ROOTE What do you know about it? GIBBS It is inadvisable to discuss the matter any further. sir. What about the two tickets to the circus? ROOTE Christmas. It’s most upsetting. Silence GIBBS Is this Ministry whisky. make an immediate inquiry as to what’s to become of that duck. LUSH Yes. as dead as patient 6457. there’s a bloody big amount of unclaimed stuff down there. ROOTE What do you know about 6457? LUSH I know that he’s dead. Lush. sir? It’s quite excellent.

ROOTE Do you think I didn’t? LUSH (pointing at GIBBS ) He didn’t. damn you! ROOTE I was fed. picks it up and swallows the glassful. GIBBS (taking his left arm) Come and sit in the armchair. takes it to ROOTE. ROOTE How do you know she was his mother? LUSH She said so. ROOTE What relation? LUSH His mother. shaking and panting.LUSH As a matter of fact. A short tug-of-war commences. stands. sir. (taking his right arm) . Sudden silence ROOTE WELL? AND WHAT ABOUT IT? ROOTE sinks back in his seat. LUSH Come and sit on the sofa. ROOTE You what? GIBBS Lush. GIBBS So was I. ROOTE How do you know what mothers look like? LUSH I had one myself. ROOTE She was a liar! LUSH No. I did. at my mother’s breast. He stands. Mister Cleverboots. I met a relation of 6457’s today. ROOTE LUSH shakes them off. sir. ROOTE How do you know? LUSH She looked like a mother. ROOTE still coughing. He looks at his glass. GIBBS and LUSH go to his aid. picks up a glass of whisky. GIBBS Oh yes. she wasn’t. goes to the desk. The matter is closed. writhes about in a fit of coughing. He chokes. LUSH Me too.

He stands. Lush. ROOTE Happy Christmas to you. Tubb! I thought you were on the intercom. things are going from bad to worse. sir. sir. ROOTE Who’s that? TUBB Tubb.) Down the hatch. GIBBS and LUSH The best of luck for the new year to you. sir. then goes back to his desk. Tubb. ROOTE Thanks. sir. ROOTE viciously knocks the glass out of his hand. TUBB How did you enjoy your Christmas dinner. Colonel. LUSH Happy Christmas. Enter TUBB. ROOTE Tubb? That was Tubb just now. in the understaff canteen. ROOTE Thank you. GIBBS and LUSH (raising their glasses) And to you. glaring at them. sir. A knock at the door. And the best of luck for the new year. LUSH fills his glass.LUSH Here. ROOTE 6457’s mother. eh? How did she get in? Wasn’t the porter on duty at the gate? LUSH Don’t you want to know what she wanted? ROOTE I want to know why the porter wasn’t on duty at the gate! GIBBS He’s in charge of the raffle. A happy Christmas to you both. carrying a small box. TUBB Merry Christmas to you. Gibbs. sir. on the intercom? LUSH Oh. ROOTE Thank you. sir. (Pouring.) GIBBS Happy Christmas. sir? ROOTE Disappointing. sir. Happy Christmas to you. . ROOTE Holding a raffle when he should have been on duty at the gate? Honestly. very much Tubb. And to you. sits. LUSH picks up the glass and places it on ROOTE’s desk. drink this. ROOTE Come in. (He raises his glass.

LUSH Really? Mine was bone dry. I’m sorry to hear that. we haven’t got any duck. Gibbs? His was swimming in gravy and mine was bone dry. Bone dry. Just a little something for Christmas. ROOTE What? LUSH Honestly. He looks at the box. so we’re keeping it for him till he turns up. . mine was swimming in gravy. Oh. sir. by any chance? TUBB A duck. What have you got there. TUBB I’m surprised to hear yours was wet. sir. ROOTE (startled) Claimed? Who by? TUBB Well. Colonel. What? That was a duck wasn’t it? And what’s more it was unclaimed. ROOTE Well. ROOTE A present? TUBB Just a little token of the understaff’s regard. isn’t it. TUBB Oh. it’s only fair. it wasn’t exactly claimed. sir. ROOTE What about number 84 then? Eh? Unclaimed. ROOTE Who is it? TUBB A man called Lamb. that was claimed. ROOTE Not a duck. But we found out who owned the ticket. sir. ROOTE Well. Tubb? TUBB It’s a Christmas present for you. LUSH That’s funny. Colonel? ROOTE I just wondered whether it might have been a duck.TUBB Oh. that duck. Colonel. Colonel. TUBB Oh no. it was. ROOTE No duck? TUBB No. Very wet. Colonel. Ready for the oven. ROOTE Too much gravy.

Silence But anyway. Pause This … was from the cook? TUBB From the cook. I know they would. Colonel. I’m most touched. ROOTE A cake? For me? LUSH That’s very nice. Colonel. Most touched. More than touched. How very kind. from the kitchen staff. A long long time. is a little token of regard from the understaff and the compliments of the season from all of us in the understaff. sir. Just a little word for Christmas. sir. ROOTE How kind. cooked by the cook. LUSH What a splendid idea. from me. isn’t it. sir. ROOTE And the patients … they haven’t expressed any desire … themselves … have they? TUBB Well. but I’ve fitted up the loudspeaker system to their rooms and I’m sure they’d be deeply moved. sir. would they? TUBB Oh. a very long time. ROOTE An address? Your people would appreciate an address. How very very kind. sir. More than moved … LUSH What an awfully nice gesture. I’m deeply moved. Pause ROOTE What do you think. sir. TUBB The understaff. Tubb. sir. sir. would be even more deeply moved if you were to give them a Christmas address. It’s a long time. they would. What is it? TUBB It’s a Christmas cake. sir. Gibbs? . ROOTE An address? TUBB They would be most touched. ROOTE Thanks very much. since I had a Christmas cake. wishing you all the very best of luck in the year to come. sir. from the cleaning staff. from the very all of us … to you. as far as I know. from the portering staff. ROOTE How very kind. from the very whole of the understaff. sir. not exactly expressed one. what I’ve got here. Colonel. Gibbs? ROOTE A cake? For me? TUBB For you. They’re all clustered up now in the canteen and I’ve fitted up the loudspeaker system with an extension to all the corridors leading onto the patients’ rooms as well. Deeply moved. sir. LUSH What an exciting innovation. and I’m sure the patients. Deeply moved.

You can’t make a speech like that without some thought. sir. ROOTE Lush? LUSH I think it would be deeply moving. ROOTE In the cake! TUBB I just shoved it in with the cake. Pause ROOTE What are you looking at. . sir. They go up on the sitting room. sir? ROOTE Move out of it. Tell them they’ll hear my Christmas address later on. sir? ROOTE I said what do you think? GIBBS I … I think it’s an excellent idea. Later on. Colonel. let’s get on with it. plug it in. Later on. sir. ROOTE Well. clean his throat. Tell them not to be disappointed. TUBB (with mike) On here on the blotting paper all right. Pause ROOTE (briskly) Where’s the mike? TUBB In the cake. ROOTE Well. TUBB Switch this switch when you’re ready.) What a place to put a mike! TUBB (extracting mike) Here we are. ROOTE You were looking at me! Do you call that nothing in particular? Pause I can’t do it now. sir. ROOTE (slowly) Yes. ROOTE sits. sir. it’s got no business to be anywhere near the cake! What’s the matter with you? (Muttering. TUBB They’re all ready. Gibbs? GIBBS Nothing in particular. The lights go down on the office. TUBB plugs in by the wall. I’ll do it later on. They’re all clustered up in the understaff canteen.Pause Gibbs! GIBBS I beg pardon. Colonel.

about to toss the ball. Suddenly a long sigh is heard. Be honest. GIBBS is still a moment. amplified. (She kisses him. closes his eyes. CUTTS What’s the matter. A laugh is heard. amplified. CUTTS Have you got a headache. CUTTS What! Why? GIBBS To hear his Christmas address. then turns and enters the sitting room. amplified. Charlie? GIBBS Headache. I thought he’d forgotten all about it. MISS CUTTS goes to him. tosses it up and catches it. dying away. GIBBS (throwing her off) You and your necks! You love to get your hands round someone’s neck! CUTTS So do you. Am I no longer the pleasure I was? Be frank with me. CUTTS Charlie. GIBBS I’m not in the habit of touching people’s necks. CUTTS Let me massage your neck. what is it? Don’t I please you any more? Tell me. MISS CUTTS throws the ball at him. MISS CUTTS .) I’ll make it better for you. descends the stairs. CUTTS Another one? Oh. darling? Come to room 1A. GIBBS Don’t do that. She sits. GIBBS looks up. He sits. I’m not in the mood. GIBBS I can’t stand screaming.comes in. CUTTS Every year. She touches his neck. It falls at his feet. takes a table tennis ball from her pocket. Are you coming? GIBBS I’ve got to go back. Sometimes I could scream. GIBBS stops. MISS CUTTS GIBBS CUTTS Catch! GIBBS looks down at the ball and stamps on it. Am I failing you? GIBBS Stop it. God. Silence. . stops. He takes out a packet of pills and swallows one. A long keen is heard. MISS CUTTS puts the ball to her mouth. MISS CUTTS looks up. GIBBS He hadn’t forgotten.

It’s such an intimate room. It’s such fun in room 1A. you know when the questions must stop. question time. What was it? GIBBS I don’t know. I feel it. GIBBS It is absurd. Didn’t you? Do it now. GIBBS (standing) I tell you I’m not in the mood.CUTTS It was such fun working with you this morning. You keep waiting for the questions to stop. Just before. Nothing. But I don’t know what. She sits. CUTTS Come to 1A. Charlie. CUTTS Nothing. and we can start. Sounds. Just now. you always know. we can continue. in room 1A. and I must start asking you questions. GIBBS That old fool in there. because you know. I love your questions. You’re so clever. That’s what makes it so exciting. and I can’t define it. and it’s question time. You can ask the questions and be so intimate. stow it. Sounds. CUTTS I know what’s going to happen. They’re so intimate themselves. CUTTS How absurd. Now. just now? CUTTS What? GIBBS Something. for God’s sake! CUTTS But you said you would! GIBBS Did I? . your sense of timing is perfect. The intimacy becomes unbearable. other questions. You promised you would. and just when you know you can’t ask another one. She looks at him. GIBBS Oh. CUTTS I know what’s going to happen. he sees nothing. that you must stop. and you must start asking me questions. getting drunk with that … bitch. GIBBS stands. CUTTS (a nervous chuckle) Don’t tell me something’s going to happen? GIBBS Something’s happening. that they must stop. Before he makes his Christmas speech. I think you’re the cleverest man I’ve ever had anything to do with. I can’t define it. You’re going to kill him. I think that’s my favourite room in the whole place. GIBBS Did you hear anything. to pass from one intimacy into another. forever and forever and forever. I know it. that it must stop — they stop! — and we’re alone. We don’t work together nearly enough. It’s … it’s ridiculous. looking at the door. GIBBS What? CUTTS Aren’t you? You promised. beautifully. Something’s happening. Not a thing. question time. those questions.

he’s a murderer. He’s scum but he’s not a murderer. CUTTS No. You. you try to incite me to kill my chief. Mr Roote. Just to satisfy your own personal whim. Roote is a murderer! Pause You dare to call me a murderer? CUTTS (moaning) No. I didn’t call you anything – GIBBS (ice) How dare you call me a murderer? CUTTS But I didn’t! GIBBS Who do you know that I’ve murdered? CUTTS No-one! GIBBS Then how dare you call me a murderer? CUTTS You’re not a murderer! GIBBS (hissing) I’m not a murderer. don’t you? Slander. GIBBS (quietly) What did you say? Pause What did you call me? CUTTS Nothing. GIBBS You called me a murderer. his own mistress. Pause And on top of that. The man in charge. but you are. Charlie. GIBBS You know what that is. GIBBS Really? Who? CUTTS Lush.CUTTS You said you’d stab him and pretend it was someone else. Pause CUTTS Charlie … GIBBS Shut up! . GIBBS Lush? Lush could never be taken for a murderer. CUTTS No. GIBBS stares at her. Defamation of character.

It’s not so much the language. (Thrusting a piece of cake at him. Now. No heart. I met her in Casablanca. What are you doing? That’s my cake! LUSH I can’t! ROOTE (shaking him) That’s my Christmas cake! You can’t spit out my Christmas cake! LUSH (violently.MISS CUTTS falls out of her chair onto the floor. LUSH (muttering) Muck and slush. Because you’ve no sense of decorum. Her belly was covered with a pelican. putrid. Her control was superhuman. ROOTE (gravely) You’ve insulted me. it sticks out a mile. sideways. I remember the day my walls used to be hung with Christmas cards. I used to walk knee deep in presents. flowers. Only a woman could possess it. LUSH stares at it. ROOTE grabs him by the neck. it’s the attitude of mind that’s nasty. drooping. He unwraps the cake. bells on the Christmas tree. I shall never get to room 1A again. did I? Didn’t expect it either. have a piece of this cake. all my aunties and uncles popping in for a drink. ROOTE Lush! LUSH Colonel? . feet first. Eat it! They both munch. A beauty. He cuts the cake.) I didn’t notice a card from you. I know I won’t. Did I ever tell you about the woman in the blue dress? She was a spy. garlands. you’ve insulted the cook. On all fours. A spy in a blue dress. She could make that pelican waddle across the room to you. floral decoration. unwholesome. Where are we? Just the thing in here. ROOTE is at the desk. ROOTE The temperature must have dropped. Believe it or believe it not that woman was an agent for a foreign power. She was tattooed on her belly with a pelican. LUSH spits his out. and you’ve insulted Jesus Christ. Go on. Pause We’ve got no room for unhealthy minds in this establishment. music. ROOTE and LUSH are still drinking. and it’s nearly midnight. Ever. any way you like. a log fire in the grate. Blackout. flowers … floral decoration … laughter … (Abruptly. Under her blue dress she wore a shimmy. arse-upwards. And under that shimmy she wore a pelican. Takes a bayonet from the drawer. breaking away) Stuff it! ROOTE regards him. LUSH The snow has turned to slush. (Going to his desk drawer.) Wait a minute. A drone is heard. here you are. Lights go up on the office. I wish I was in room 1A. Yes. Right down the middle. The drone stops. LUSH is seated.) Well. Pause My cake! We haven’t cut the cake! My God. CUTTS (whispering) Oh. ROOTE Women! I’ve known them all. ROOTE rises and perches on the front of the desk. holds it.

LUSH A delegate of what? . Boghouse-Peters we used to call him. ROOTE jumps. GIBBS I’ve come to hear the Christmas speech. I suppose.) Well. He used to hang about with a chap called House-Peters. goes back to the armchair. I can see right through them. Do you think I’m going to be murdered? LUSH That’s it.) I don’t mean that that’s second sight. sir. aren’t you? Why don’t you make it? GIBBS It’s your privilege. Pondering. I’ve got second sight. there they were. It’s ridiculous.) But are we? Are we? LUSH considers. GIBBS enters and stands still. back in the good old days. up came this policeman … up came a policeman … this policeman … approached … Boghouse … and the Whipper … were questioned … this night … the Euphrates … a policeman … GIBBS moves. And there’s something going on here that I haven’t quite cottoned on to. You can’t trust a soul. (He laughs. creeping up behind me like a snake! Eh? You frightened the life out of me. pours a drink. the staff. I can hear a whisper in the basement. ROOTE That’s more than a passing acquaintance. Everyone had better watch their step! (He begins to move about the room. Aaaaahhhh! (To him. ROOTE brings the bottle to the desk and pours. (Bending over LUSH. not by a long chalk. Something’s going on which I can’t define. Absolutely bloody scandalous! Is it too much to ask – to keep the place clean? LUSH goes to the desk. the whole damn thing! GIBBS I’m sorry to hear that. anyway. I can feel it. I remember one day the Whipper and Boghouse – he had a scar on his left cheek. But I don’t damn well know what it is. sir. ROOTE Because I’m a delegate. And today I feel something in my bones.) What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing. There’s something funny afoot. ROOTE Well. (He considers. You know who you remind me of? You remind me of Whipper Wallace.ROOTE (grimly) I said you’d better watch your step. seeing through walls. sir. If the world was going round we’d be falling about all over the room. the Whipper and Boghouse. I didn’t waste my youth. ROOTE Well. but oh no. I mean I’ve got second sight and I can see through walls! LUSH And your knowledge of phytotomy. I’m sick to death of it! The patients. I exercised my faculties – to the hilt! And I spent a lot of time pondering. I know it. It’s all a lot of balls. LUSH Then why do you continue? ROOTE looks at him. I can see through walls. Some people think I’m old. Boghouse – caught in some boghouse brawl. the understaff. For instance. why don’t you make it? You’re dying to make it. ROOTE The day got off to a lousy start! A death and a birth. ROOTE It’s bleeding me to death. The door opens.) I don’t like the look of things. sir. rolling down the banks of the Euphrates this night. when up came a policeman … He dissolves in laughter. this stupid business of the world going round.

LUSH sinks to the floor. ROOTE Who hasn’t? LUSH You can’t explain yourself. Delegated! (He hits him in the stomach. you! You explain yourself! ROOTE Be careful. ROOTE (moving to him) Explain yourself.) I’m a delegate! (He hits him in the stomach. LUSH You haven’t explained yourself. LUSH A delegate of what? They stare at each other. LUSH (rising) You’re a delegate. Lush. ROOTE There you are. crouched. sourly) . are you? ROOTE (facing him squarely) I am.ROOTE (calmly) I tell you I’m a delegate.) I was appointed! LUSH backs.) I was entrusted! (He hits him in the stomach. ROOTE stands over him and shouts: I AM AUTHORISED! LUSH remains heaped on the floor.) Entrusted! He hits him in the stomach. ROOTE I’m a delegate! (He hits him in the stomach. GIBBS He’s drunk. (To GIBBS . ROOTE I can’t? LUSH Explain yourself. ROOTE following him.) Aren’t you? GIBBS I am. LUSH On whose authority? With what power are you entrusted? By whom were you appointed? Of what are you a delegate? ROOTE hits him in the stomach. ROOTE Not only me. pours a drink for himself and GIBBS. All of us. sonny.) Appointed! (He hits him in the stomach. ROOTE (to GIBBS . LUSH No. slowly across the stage. ROOTE goes back to the desk. That bastard there.

man. GIBBS I did no such thing. ROOTE Yes.) Didn’t I? You won’t get very far as a murderer.) Well. LUSH He didn’t mean it. Will you? GIBBS I resent this levity. Lush? LUSH begins to stand. GIBBS This is ridiculous. you’re not much good at it. wasn’t that why you came? GIBBS Certainly not. ROOTE Do you? GIBBS I resent it very strongly. LUSH makes a tiny movement to his jacket.) You’re just too sensitive. covering them both. LUSH faces him. comes above them. Gibbs old man. Honestly. GIBBS (sitting) A foul insinuation. Sudden silence. if he resents it he resents it. Don’t be downhearted. ROOTE Yes. ROOTE You’re sure you didn’t come here to murder me? GIBBS Murder you? ROOTE Yes. Lush. slowly. What an idea. a knife in his hand. LUSH He was only having a little joke. ROOTE Oh. don’t argue with me. Immediately GIBBS rises. don’t be so touchy! LUSH walks carefully to GIBBS. are you? You’re pretty poor at it.What do you want? GIBBS I came to hear your Christmas speech. Colonel. in his eyes? This chap came here to do me in. Now give me the knife and we won’t say another word. grinning. I twigged it like that! ( He clicks his fingers. You can see it in his eyes. GIBBS and LUSH stare at each other. ROOTE seizes the bayonet from his desk. (Going behind the desk with his drink. well. that’s your trouble. will he. Guilty! It was written all over your face. ROOTE Of course I was. you did! I can see it in your eyes! Can you see it. with a knife in his hand. laughs. ROOTE You went cross-eyed. . sir. ROOTE He resents it. All still. (Drinks. GIBBS I found it less than funny.

amplified. GIBBS Yes. Pause ROOTE I heard something. dying away. What was it? GIBBS I don’t know. Come on. ROOTE A present? . the fact is. All knives up.Silence. Pause GIBBS We’ll investigate. Pause ROOTE Well. Silence. ROOTE Go with him. LUSH Nor do I. I did. what was it? Pause GIBBS I don’t know. ROOTE Go with him! What’s the matter? Are you frightened of the dark? LUSH (shyly) No … well. amplified. Lush? I was saying the same before. There’s something going on … which I can’t quite define. LUSH What was that? ROOTE I don’t know. The knives go down. wasn’t I. LUSH I don’t want to go with him. A laugh is heard. Colonel. I don’t like it. A long keen is heard. sir. They look up. LUSH Go yourself. you see. Suddenly a long sigh is heard. is there any way of finding out? GIBBS Something’s happening. Lush. I heard something. I was only saying the same before. didn’t you? LUSH Yes. amplified. ROOTE How odd you should say that. Pause ROOTE Well. Just before you came in. I’ve … I’ve got a present for you.

The cigar explodes. watches him. LUSH And the cake. in the morning. He takes a cigar from his pocket and hands it to ROOTE. walks. sir. Thank you for the drink. In the morning. ROOTE throws the cigar down. ROOTE I say! That looks a fine one. puffs. This is it. that’s a very nice thought. ROOTE (suspiciously) Oh yes? What sort of a present? LUSH Just a little something. I shall smoke it before I go to bed. sir. Who do I remind you of? . LUSH Just a little token. GIBBS When would you like to see Lamb. sir. MISS CUTTS appears behind him from the bedroom door. I can’t be bothered to bother with him now. with the cigar.LUSH A Christmas present. What’s the matter with that cigar? ROOTE You remind me of someone. about your business. Now off you go. CUTTS In my new nightie? Who? ROOTE Where did you get that thing? CUTTS It’s a gift. ROOTE Well. I’m deeply gratified. ROOTE Oh. gentlemen. Can I? GIBBS In the morning then. LUSH I’m glad you like it. son. very nice. for Christmas. ROOTE (beaming) Yes. Lush my lad. to the sofa. sir? ROOTE Lamb? GIBBS The father. sir. and LUSH go out. sir. She wears a nightdress. him. MISS CUTTS rushes to him. ROOTE Goodnight. ROOTE lights the cigar. sees MISS CUTTS GIBBS ROOTE CUTTS Are you all right? ROOTE stares at her.

He caresses her hand. She’s so sweet. but she said the baby misses his Daddy. what does your lover call you? I said. Are you … happy? CUTTS Happy? Of course I am. ROOTE I don’t want you to go out. What could he have called her? She’s sweet. Archie. you know. now we’re friends. just for a little while. Daddy will stay where he is. ROOTE You’re supposed to be working. I want you to stay. I had tea with her today. CUTTS Where is he? ROOTE You’re supposed to be on nightshift. CUTTS Or perhaps … perhaps it’s because you think you’re not masculine enough. She regards him gravely. ROOTE You’re really happy with me? CUTTS Not when you want me to go out into the cold with my nightie on. ROOTE Are you … are you happy with me? CUTTS Of course I’m happy. ROOTE I am! CUTTS . Do you like it? She just gave it to me. ROOTE Are you … He sits on the sofa with her. I must say I’m very curious. looks at her. She’s a nursing mother. she wouldn’t tell me? Well. just to say hello? ROOTE (quietly) No. ROOTE sighs.ROOTE Where did you get it? CUTTS From a friend. can’t the baby see his Daddy. With you. can I? What’s your name? Do you know. Babies do miss Daddy. it’s Christmas. She doesn’t need it. CUTTS Perhaps if I was more feminine you wouldn’t want me to go out in the cold. I knocked off early. you are feminine enough for me. ROOTE (taking her hand) Don’t go out. what little nickname? She blushed to the roots of her hair. She insisted I should have it. CUTTS Oh. ROOTE You are. When you’re not silly. Pause. CUTTS You’re not pleased to see me. I can’t go on calling you 6459. sometimes I think I’m not feminine enough for you. and she’s got such a bonny baby. CUTTS You know. I said to her.

And to the patients I should like to send a personal greeting. demanding desire. Remember this. which I know would be glad to be associated with these words. and they tell me that over there things are not really very different to over here. but men are the same. Pause We have had our little difficulties. sits. through each and every one of us pulling his weight. A spider caught in a web. Archie? I mean. languages may differ. as of iron doors opening. I stood there magnetised. I never said anything – CUTTS (intensely) If I didn’t love you so much it wouldn’t matter. Brutal. To you I would say one simple thing. Have faith. The rattle of chains. in this our home. somersaulting. and very best wishes. Pause Remember that you are not alone. to share this day with you. I have seen many lands and many peoples. Bestial. It’s what you really think. And in your eyes. Customs may differ. we stand undaunted. He switches off the microphone and sits. by living. and that we are no different to they. can’t you see that. in front of you. happy and prosperous new year. Transfixed. staff and understaff. translucent. and hail the new. The clanging of locks and doors grows in intensity. ruthless. are inextricably related. dumbstruck. wait a minute. Whispers. no matter how lowly or apparently trivial his job. all over you. a beacon. the understaff to the patients. consuming you. half-screams of the patients grow. The sounds reach a feverish pitch and stop. the whole world over. Pause Some of you. And I think it’s appropriate at this time of year to remind you that our cousins are stretched right across to the far corners of the earth and that they are no different to we. but I say to you. it’s what you truly are. if you’re suddenly worried that you’re not masculine enough – I mean. wishing them the heartiest compliments of the season. and a happy and prosperous new year. The lights go down on the office. on behalf of the staff. worth it. with your families. by working. hypnotised. I held your gaze.CUTTS Perhaps you’re not. Lights up on the office in the ministry. chuckles. Squeaks are heard. who have come from near and from far. I was rigid. . ROOTE stands. for a healthy. laughing? And you – standing silent. it’s not going to work. And today I have received greetings and gifts from many of my cousins who reside in other lands. The moon was behind you. that we here. the little daily disappointments. switches on the microphone. as we stand before these embers. Motionless and still. remorseless. goes to the desk. reverberating. It’s what you really deeply think and feel. rapidly. and you may be content. Darkness. that I’m not feminine enough and that you’re too feminine – well. I was struck dumb. Pause Yes. for example. Pause We say goodbye to the old year very soon now. And on behalf of all the staff I’d like to wish all the understaff the very best of luck for the year to come and a very happy Christmas. It’s what you want. not forgetting the Ministry. bold and unashamed. I could not move. as of doors opening into corridors and into rooms. A merry Christmas to you all. sitting at your loudspeakers tonight. I think if I were asked to convey to you a special message this Christmas it would be that: Have faith. by pulling together as one great family. in the year that is about to die. to each and every one of them. but through working together. you were transparent. our little sorrows as well as our little joys. Love at first sight. Pause Since I last spoke to you I have travelled far. the understaff and myself. ROOTE (into the mike) Patients. our little troubles. in the end. the staff to the understaff. that we carry with us from the old year … things … which will stand us in good stead in the new. and we are not daunted. ROOTE You can’t want me to be more masculine? CUTTS (urgently) It’s not what I want. of locks turning. A great clanging. was desire. the patients to the staff. Shafts of light appear abruptly about the stage. The light shifts from area to area. may sometimes find yourselves wondering whether the little daily hardships. the trials and tribulations which seem continually to dog you are. Immovable. Our eyes met. Water rose up my legs. far off lands. one to another. A low light on the stairway and the forestage. Do you remember the first time we met? On the beach? In the night? All those people? And the bonfire? And the waves? And the spray? And the mist? And the moon? Everyone dancing. staring at a sandcastle in your sheer white trunks. is it? ROOTE Now. suffusing you. as you sit by your fires.

Pause Well. LOBB You haven’t been waiting long. I take it? GIBBS Yes. sir. went down like a log over the weekend. I have it with me. My secretary. Rather disorganised. LOBB Cigarette? GIBBS No thank you. thank you. have you? GIBBS Oh. LOBB Yes. sir. What’s the weather like up there? GIBBS Quite sharp. GIBBS It’s certainly treacherous. sir. You’ve made out your report. sir. but he never wore a vest in his life. . strong as an ox. come in. sir. You wear a vest. Gibbs. Very sensible. sir. for instance. LOBB There you are. That’s what did it. though. My secretary. for the time of year. LOBB My secretary’s down with flu. for instance. GIBBS No. LOBB Sit down. LOBB Ah. Remarkably fit. you look fit.LOBB rises as GIBBS enters. really. How are you? They shake hands. Gibbs. LOBB Dreadful. LOBB Been fair to middling down here. strong as an ox. I’m glad you got down to see me. not at all. quite a stalwart sort of chap. no sir. How are you feeling yourself? GIBBS Oh. They sit. Treacherous. GIBBS So am I. I’m quite fit. sir. thank you. Have a good journey down? GIBBS Not at all bad. sir. LOBB I haven’t seen it yet. LOBB Rather unfortunate business. don’t you? GIBBS Yes.

LOBB What are they? Pause GIBBS The whole staff was slaughtered. go on. LOBB Oh yes. in charge of things. sir. He’s very capable. LOBB What’s the position now? GIBBS The patients are all back in their rooms. sir. will you? GIBBS Yes. Beck. in fact? GIBBS Exactly. eh? A massacre. LOBB Got any definite figures? GIBBS Yes. sir. . Mr Roote and Miss Cutts were stabbed in their bed. Tuck. Lush – LOBB Excuse me. LOBB Oh. sir. or beds? GIBBS Bed. Gibbs. sir. GIBBS Lush. Dodds. All the understaff. Well. Hogg. of course.LOBB Hand it in to the office on the way out. did you say bed. GIBBS Yes. of course. Budd. I … have. Tate and Pett. LOBB Most distressing. Pause The whole staff. Tubb. I’ve left the head porter. really? Yes. LOBB I see. sir. are still active. variously. LOBB The whole staff? GIBBS With one exception. of course. I should think there’s going to be quite a few questions asked about this. LOBB Who was that? GIBBS Me. Pause How did they … how did they do it? GIBBS Various means. sir. were hanged and strangled. sir.

Well. that the patient got out. LOBB Good Lord. Gibbs.) Tell me. Meanwhile you’d better try to get hold of that locktester of yours. Look here. LOBB That’s the spirit. there’s something I’d like to know. sir. I think we shall probably want to have a word with him. I was probably the only member of the staff awake. GIBBS Thank you. GIBBS I can carry on. sir. We’ve got to get hold of some properly qualified people. LOBB Naturally. How did the patients get out? GIBBS I’m not sure that I can give an absolutely conclusive answer to that. GIBBS Was absent from duty. What’s his name? GIBBS Lamb. Well. Not as easy as all that. I suppose? We’ll have some reinforcements down in a few days. and let the others out. (Slight pause. sir. LOBB Ah. sir. sir. Why weren’t you killed? Just as a matter of interest. LOBB I see. Can’t be sooner. LOBB Good-o. the locktester who should have been on duty – we always had a locktester on duty – LOBB Of course. sir. it’s all most unfortunate. until the proper inquiry has been set in motion. LOBB Absent? I say. of course. but we can’t really do anything until the report has gone in and the inquiry set up.LOBB They didn’t touch the understaff? GIBBS No. LOBB (making a note of the name) Lamb. My work means a great deal to me. LOBB Well. GIBBS I was engaged on some research. isn’t it? GIBBS Yes. it would be a good thing if he were found. Gibbs. I would like to say on behalf of the Ministry how very much we commend the guts you’ve shown. filched the keys from the office. wouldn’t it? GIBBS I shall do my best. sir. ( Slight pause. naturally. sir.) You can carry on now. GIBBS One possibility though is that one of their doors may not have been properly locked. alone. LOBB What happened to him? GIBBS He’s … not to be found. . Just the staff. so was able to take measures to protect myself. well … that’s rather … significant. GIBBS You see. I’m afraid.

It’s we have to thank you. GIBBS Thank you. They walk to the door. naturally. LAMB in chair. Lights rise on sound-proof room. LOBB (rising) Don’t thank me. He sits still. GIBBS One doesn’t like to speak ill of the dead. It’s the facts that count. LOBB Naturally. it’s a little delicate in my position … LOBB Go on. Curtain. as in a catatonic trance. of course. LOBB With good cause? GIBBS I’m afraid so. my boy. Mr. Lobb. go on. Two things especially had made him rather unpopular. One last question.LOBB You’ll be in charge. Why do you think they did it? I mean … why did they feel so strongly? GIBBS Well. He had seduced patient 6459 and been the cause of her pregnancy. sir. sir. GIBBS But there’s no doubt that Mr Roote was unpopular. and he had murdered patient 6457. staring. That had not gone down too well with the rest of the patients. Blackout on office. .


KING MR. RYAN GIDNEY JOYCE EILEEN BETTY HORNE BARROW THE GIRL Produced by Philip Saville . Third Programme on 1 March 1960.C. with the following cast: Barry Foster Mary O’Farrell Harold Pinter John Rye Walter Hall Norman Wynne David Bird Norman Wynne Nicholas Selby Jane Jordan Rogers Auriol Smith Margaret Hotine Hugh Dickson David Spenser Vivien Merchant ALBERT STOKES MRS. KING MR.B.A Night Out was first performed on the B. RYAN GIDNEY JOYCE EILEEN BETTY HORNE BARROW THE GIRL Produced by Donald McWhinnie The play was televised by A. his mother SEELEY KEDGE BARMAN AT THE COFFEE STALL OLD MAN MR. his mother SEELEY KEDGE BARMAN AT THE COFFEE STALL OLD MAN MR.C. with the following cast: Tom Bell Madge Ryan Harold Pinter Philip Locke Edmond Bennett Gordon Phillott Arthur Lowe Edward Malin Stanley Meadows José Read Maria Lennard Mary Duddy Stanley Segal Walter Hall Vivien Merchant ALBERT STOKES MRS. STOKES. Armchair Theatre on 24 April 1960. STOKES.B.

your dinner’ll be ready soon. It’s beautifully pressed. a young man of twenty-eight. MOTHER: Didn’t you hear me call you. STOKES descends the stairs. You don’t believe me. but ALBERT: . Mum. bends down. that’s no way to speak about your Grandma. A woman’s voice calls his name from upstairs. The voice calls again. MOTHER: Albert! ALBERT: I mean. won’t I? MOTHER: ALBERT puts the brush back under the sink and begins to search the sideboard and cupboard. the blue tie. ALBERT [wearily]: I am. He ties the tie. MOTHER: No. Albert? What have you put on your best trousers for? ALBERT: Look. I’m not going … I’m just going to Mr. I’ve been calling you. cleaning your shoes. the blue striped one. The striped one. you didn’t. reaches under the sink and takes out a shoe duster. it sounded like you were going somewhere else. I’ll have to put the flag out. Albert? I’ll have to put the flag out. not a party. I thought you were joking. Ryan’s leaving. you know that as well as I do. What are you looking for? My tie. Aren’t those your best trousers. I’ve told you. You know Ryan. Albert? I’ve been calling you from upstairs. Lay the table. Albert. King’s? ALBERT: Mr. Now why don’t you go and put a bulb in Grandma’s room and by the time you come down I’ll have your dinner on the table. we’re all invited. it’s just a junk room. Come on. I’ve told you. honestly. get a bulb and put it in Grandma’s room. I’ve told you three times I had to go out tonight. I went in and switched on the light and the bulb had gone. He’s leaving the firm. I’ve got to go. there’s a good boy. I told you last week. exclaims and knots the tie. Look at it. where is it? You know the one I mean. ALBERT: I can’t go down to the cellar. ALBERT: Has it? MOTHER: That’s what I was calling you about. I asked you to press it for me this morning. ALBERT [irritably]: I don’t know why you keep calling that room Grandma’s room. He slips the comb in his pocket. combing his hair in the kitchen mirror over the mantelpiece. So Mr. ALBERT: What do you mean? MOTHER: Cleaning your shoes. He ignores it. I’ve got a white shirt on. He begins to polish his shoes. ALBERT: I’m not going on about anything. picks up a brush from the mantelpiece and brushes his hair. where’d you put it? MOTHER: What about your dinner? ALBERT [searching]: Look … I told you … I haven’t got the … wait a minute … ah.ACT ONE SCENE ONE The kitchen of MRS. three times. I told you this morning. I gave it to you this morning before I went to work. ALBERT: You have. MOTHER: You’re dressing up tonight. He’s been there years. MOTHER: You’ve got five minutes. I gave it to you this morning. ALBERT: Why should I look for it afterwards? You know where it is now. you’re not going to the Ritz? ALBERT: What do you mean? MOTHER: The way you said you’re not going to the Ritz. MOTHER [gently]: Well. Everyone else is going. You can look for it afterwards. King’s giving a sort of party for him at his house … well. MOTHER: Albert. ALBERT: MOTHER: She watches him open the kitchen cabinet and look into it. you are. King’s. I told you I was going out. I don’t want to go. aren’t you? Dressing up. I’ve got my best trousers on. Look. she’s been dead ten years. Of course you have. you go on like that. MOTHER: What do you want your tie for? ALBERT: I want to put it on. just a few … you know … anyway.] What are you doing? ALBERT: Nothing. I haven’t pressed it. where’s my tie? The blue one. didn’t I? She goes to the gas stove. Honestly. the blue one. MOTHER: Yes. Albert. Mum. ALBERT: I’m not going to the Ritz. ALBERT: You seen my tie? MOTHER: Oh. I say. that’s all it is. Go down to the cellar. not exactly a party. go on. passes through the hall and enters the kitchen. [She watches him. where’s my tie? I’ve got to have my tie. MOTHER: You can’t wear that tie. MRS. The bulb’s gone in Grandma’s room. Clean and tidy. ALBERT: ALBERT MOTHER: Where are you going? Mum. STOKES’ small house in the south of London. here it is. ALBERT. I’ve got to go. opens the oven and looks into it. MOTHER [shocked surprise]: You’re going out? ALBERT: You know I’m going out. I’m late already. It’s fine. examines the vegetables. is standing in his shirt and trousers. ALBERT: I’m not saying a word against Grandma— MOTHER: You’ll upset me in a minute. anyone would think you were going to the Ritz. MOTHER: You’re going to Mr. MOTHER [suspiciously]: What do you mean.

it’s Friday night. I don’t want to go. ALBERT: I’m sorry … I raised my voice. Who wants to go to Mr. MOTHER: Would you? ALBERT: You know I would. An old man leans at the corner of the counter. BARMAN: Two cheese rolls. any of them. [following]: Albert! What? MOTHER: I want to ask you a question. speaking of your poor father like that.] Look. ALBERT: Seeley and Kedge are waiting for me. you don’t know the hurtful way you’ve got.] In here! And this is his house! MOTHER ALBERT: [Pause. I won’t be late … and I won’t … But what about your dinner? It’s nearly ready. thanks. MOTHER: If we had a light in the cellar you’d be able to see where those bulbs were. ALBERT: He goes to the door. MOTHER: You promise? ALBERT: Promise what? MOTHER: That … that you won’t upset your father. you want them or don’t you? SEELEY: Just the rolls. MOTHER [Pause. She calls after him from the hall. ALBERT: What? MOTHER: Are you leading a clean life? ALBERT: A clean life? MOTHER: You’re not leading an unclean life. you don’t know how you hurt me. SEELEY: Make it two. I told you not to cook dinner this morning. MOTHER: If you’re going to the firm’s party. Mum. we were going to have a game of cards. SEELEY [to KEDGE ]: You want a sausage? KEDGE [shuddering]: No. both about ALBERT’S age. I’d much rather stay with you. there’ll be girls there. Albert. sausages? BARMAN: Best pork sausages. mate. [bewildered. two rolls. Give us a cheese roll as well. There’s no light in the cellar either. talking to the barman. SEELEY: Yes. ALBERT: But he is dead. BARMAN: Two tea. King’s party? MOTHER: We were going to have our game of cards.] MOTHER: Put the bulb in Grandma’s room. I can’t go down to the cellar in the dark. are you? ALBERT: What are you talking about? MOTHER: You’re not messing about with girls. I told you yesterday. you’re right. I want you … I want you to bear that in mind. SEELEY: . Albert. I’m your mother.] Just because you never listen … ALBERT: MOTHER: He runs up the stairs and disappears.I’ve got to. are you? You’re not going to go messing about with girls tonight? ALBERT: Don’t be so ridiculous. I’ve told you I’m not going down to the cellar in my white shirt. BARMAN: Two cheese rolls. MOTHER: I told you to put a light in the cellar. Albert.] MOTHER: Your father would turn in his grave if he heard you raise your voice to me. What about these sausages. SEELEY and KEDGE. MOTHER: He’s not! He’s living! [Touching her breast. I can’t do it now. MOTHER: Answer me. I don’t know … ALBERT [with his arm round her]: I won’t be late. what am I going to do while you’re out? I can’t go into Grandma’s room because there’s no light. I haven’t got anyone else. ALBERT: Well. [Mumbling. A wooden bench is situated a short distance from it. ALBERT: I don’t know any girls. I’ll be pitch black in five minutes. ALBERT: My father? How can I upset my father? You’re always talking about upsetting people who are dead! MOTHER: Oh. sitting]: Well. You don’t expect me to go down to the cellar? ALBERT: I don’t know why we keep bulbs in the cellar! [Pause. makes one and eightpence. ALBERT: Well.] I’ve got to go. won’t there? Girls from the office? ALBERT: I don’t like them. I want you to remember that. You’re all I’ve got. [He goes to the stairs. will you? KEDGE: Make it two. SEELEY: What are these. Albert. we can’t have our game of cards. looking for those bulbs. are at the counter. what about our game of rummy? SCENE TWO A coffee stall by a railway arch. MOTHER: Well.

Fred? Sitting over there he was. is he? KEDGE [doubtfully]: Well. he’s a good ballplayer but he’s not all that good. Gidney? He said. I told him six times before the kick off. Well. SEELEY: He was a dasher. didn’t he. why don’t you go left back. You know Connor. You haven’t told me yet. He means depressed. KEDGE: Very what? OLD MAN: Compressed. What about that game on Saturday. don’t he. Foxall. All he knew was run. look. but he wasn’t so clever. OLD MAN: Eh! [They turn to him. plays outside right for the printing works. ay. isn’t he? SEELEY: Look. but look how Albert played him! He cut him off. I’m too valuable at centre half. but he’s a defensive left half. BARMAN: Who’d you play? SEELEY: Other firms. He let him come. then? KEDGE: They move to the bench. I said to Gidney myself. SEELEY: No. eh? You want to try one of my sausages. KEDGE: He didn’t. though. SEELEY: I’ll bet. he’s good. Gidney moved Albert to left back. the firm. I mean. SEELEY: Sure. SEELEY: Yes. Fred? He sat there looking very compressed with himself. didn’t you. SEELEY: Well. KEDGE: He’s clever though. KEDGE: Yes. And Levy’s faster than Connor. I thought he was looking compressed.SEELEY gives him half a crown. SEELEY: No one’s denying he’s good. Took his cup of tea and went and sat down. Well. You know what I mean? KEDGE: He’s fast. not all that fast … SEELEY: What about Levy? Was Levy fast? KEDGE: Well. see? Play on Saturdays. sitting over there he was. play your normal game. I hope he won’t be long. yes. KEDGE: You think there’ll be much there. BARMAN: What game? Fulham? SEELEY: No. KEDGE: What happened with the game. KEDGE: Who was? OLD MAN: Your mate. He waited for him. I said. Firm’s got a team. SEELEY: Well. But he’s not all that good. SEELEY: . you’re talking about Lou Fox. SEELEY: Yes. KEDGE: Thanks very much. I’ve been off sick though. no. SEELEY: I know he’s a left half. KEDGE: I thought he’d given up the game. I don’t want to miss the booze. BARMAN: One and eight from half a dollar leaves you ten pennies. he’s not tip-top. don’t you? Connor. he played him out the game. I said to Albert before the kick off. the winger. Fred? BARMAN: Depressed. SEELEY: Oh yes. are you? KEDGE: Yes. SEELEY: No wonder. OLD MAN: Not gone more than above forty-five minutes. I said to him. KEDGE: Oh. when you couldn’t play. on the bench. he was sitting over there. isn’t he? That’s why I told him to play his normal game. though. You don’t want to worry about Connor. I said. he’s not a left back. SEELEY: Yes.] Your mate was by here not long ago. KEDGE: He’s a left half. KEDGE: He could move. BARMAN: Sick. OLD MAN: Anyway. KEDGE: Who? Tony Connor? SEELEY: No. didn’t he. I’m talking about Sandy Foxall. KEDGE: Oh—whatsisname—Micky Connor. KEDGE: Oh. KEDGE: What’s the good of him playing his normal game? He’s a left half. he told me to tell you when I see you he was coming back. Levy was a sprinter. that Connor. what are you talking about? He plays for the printing works. I didn’t play last week. But what did Albert do? He played his normal game. did he? SEELEY: Yes. Levy. eh? KEDGE: You were going to tell me. KEDGE: He’s a good ballplayer. KEDGE: Uh-uh. Connor’s on the right wing. He said he was going home to change but to tell you he’d be back. What’s the matter with you? You’ve played against Connor yourself. Henry? OLD MAN: Oh. BARMAN: You boys in the team. SEELEY: He’s fast. He was a very smart ballplayer. you know who was on the right wing. what about Foxall? KEDGE: Who? Lou Foxall? SEELEY: No. SEELEY: Which mate? OLD MAN: He had a cup of tea. do you? OLD MAN: Yes. And Connor’s not as clever as Foxall. OLD MAN: Yes. but he’s not all that fast. There’ll be plenty to eat at the party.

MOTHER: They go into the kitchen.] OLD MAN: Yes. KEDGE: All right. ALBERT: I’m sorry. You can’t go out like that. Oh. I just said she was all right. you know him better than I do.Gawd blimey. No. Fred? Looking very compressed with himself. He always looked like a gentleman. MOTHER: SCENE FOUR The coffee stall. You ever met her. You’ve got to be properly dressed. wasn’t he. then? SEELEY: I don’t know. [Pause. Turn round. SEELEY: Pause. Seeley? Who? His … mother. A nice clean one. KEDGE: I bet his Mum’s combing his hair for him. that’s what’s the matter with it. I just thought you might … sort of … well.] Of course. is she? SEELEY: I told you. come in here and I’ll give it a brush. Where’s your handkerchief? ALBERT: What handkerchief? MOTHER: You haven’t got a handkerchief in your breast pocket. If you’ve got to go out you’ve got to look nice. light-haired. did I? I made it specially. Just a minute. old Albert. She dusts his jacket with her hands and straightens his tie. he don’t let much slip. he’s fast too. don’t you? KEDGE: [Pause. They eat. He goes towards the door. You know Gidney. She gets the brush. KEDGE: What’s she like? SEELEY [shortly]: She’s all right.] You mustn’t let me down. what I mean is. doesn’t he? A bit touchy. MOTHER: Look at your suit.] Here you are. is he? KEDGE: The trouble is.] No. We’ll give him five minutes. Albert! Where are you going? ALBERT: Out. Time we were there. KEDGE: How many’d Connor get? SEELEY: He made three and scored two. Come on. are you? ALBERT: What’s the matter with it? MOTHER: It needs a good brush. KEDGE is returning from the counter with two teas. he always gets a bit niggly when she’s mentioned. There. MOTHER: Your dinner’s ready. [She arranges it in his pocket. ALBERT: It’s all right … MOTHER: Come on. He goes to the door. he was sitting over where you are now. with Connor. isn’t he? SEELEY: But if Albert would have played his normal game! He played a game foreign to him. he was very depressed after the game. does he. ALBERT [taking her hand from his tie]: The tie’s all right. ta-ta. I mean. What’re you asking me for? KEDGE: I don’t know. old Albert? . that’s better. He is wearing his jacket. I haven’t got time to have it. ALBERT is coming down the stairs. of course. Well. I didn’t tell you what I made for you. stand still. does it? MOTHER: Doesn’t matter? I should say it does matter. His mother calls from the kitchen and goes into the hall. Your father was always properly dressed. KEDGE: That birk. You’re not going out with your suit in that state. Light-haired bloke. eh? KEDGE: SEELEY: He chuckles and sits. You noticed that? SEELEY [unwillingly]: Yes. Albert! Wait a minute. [She takes a handkerchief from a drawer. You’d never see him out without a handkerchief in his breast pocket. You can’t go out and disgrace me. SEELEY: Yes. SEELEY: KEDGE: [Pause. but he’s not as clever as Foxall. Albert. SCENE THREE The house. you know. ain’t he? SEELEY: Yes. KEDGE: Why’s that. SEELEY: KEDGE: No wonder he’s depressed. And of course Gidney was after him. I can tell you. I made Shepherd’s Pie tonight. I know he’s clever. ALBERT: That doesn’t matter.

ALBERT: I see them every day. in the corner! SEELEY: Oh. Connor. he’s captain of the team. I’ll come. KEDGE: Betty! The dark bit! The new one. [irritably]: What do you mean.] Anywhat. so what? KEDGE: And Betty. Kedge? KEDGE: Well. OLD MAN: That’s the bloke! That’s the bloke was here before. Betty’ll be there. actually. She’s raring to go. what about it? KEDGE: And Eileen. Her name’s Betty. I … I don’t think I feel like going. SEELEY: What are you talking about? What do you mean. son. KEDGE: [Pause. KEDGE: What are you talking about? ALBERT: I don’t feel like it. KEDGE: Yes. I’ll … KEDGE: Albert. isn’t he.] KEDGE: Secretive. He’s tricky. secretive? What are you talking about? KEDGE: I was just saying he was secretive. come on. that one. mate? It’s wine. catch a thirty-six round the corner. He’s a charmer. I’ve just got a bit of a headache. SEELEY: Clever player. don’t they? KEDGE: I played against Connor myself once. he’s a bit deep. SEELEY: Very fair. because of the game? ALBERT: What do you mean? KEDGE: Go on. women and song tonight. then. you coming or what? ALBERT: Yes. isn’t it. he’s secretive? KEDGE: You said yourself he was deep. SEELEY: Well. He’s a nice bloke. ALBERT: What’s Gidney got to do with it. don’t I? What’s new in that? KEDGE: You frightened Gidney’ll be after you. Albert. KEDGE: . What’s the matter with Gidney? ALBERT: Yes. mate. ALBERT: Oh … thanks. fits you like a glove. I feel a bit … you know … KEDGE: Don’t you know who’ll be there tonight. What’s wrong with him? KEDGE: Nothing. Well. The one that came in last week. ALBERT: Joyce? Well. ALBERT: Wait a minute. Albert? ALBERT: Who? KEDGE: Joyce. come on. they do. SEELEY: Well. ALBERT: What? KEDGE: Well. isn’t he? SEELEY: The cream of the cream. He’s a very tricky ballplayer. she’ll be there. Is her name Betty? I thought it was— KEDGE: Betty. all right. There’s nothing wrong with him. SEELEY: I said he was deep. I didn’t say he was secretive! SEELEY ALBERT walks through the railway arch across to the bench. He’s a bit deep really. that’s all. will you? It’s late— ALBERT: You think I’m frightened of Gidney? KEDGE: I didn’t say you were— SEELEY: Gidney’s all right. SEELEY: What. Hullo. her. OLD MAN: Didn’t I? KEDGE: You did. everyone has a bad game. not much. for a bang-off? ALBERT: You think—? SEELEY: Oh. you go then. ALBERT: Well. ALBERT: Yes. very fair. ALBERT: Yes. scrub round it. isn’t he? SEELEY: Yes. KEDGE: ALBERT: [Pause.SEELEY: No. with all that drink laid on? ALBERT: No. what’s going on. SEELEY: Betty? Who’s Betty? KEDGE: Betty? What do you mean? You don’t know Betty? SEELEY: There’s no girl in the office called Betty. what’s the matter with you. you did. you know what he is. Albert. ALBERT: Well. KEDGE: That’s a nice bit of clobber you’ve got on there. Fred? I gave them your message. Hullo. They’ll all be there. The little one. you coming or what? ALBERT [touching his forehead]: No. SEELEY: I’ve been calling her Hetty.

KEDGE: Just a friendly question. [To the BARMAN. that’s all right then. ALBERT: Well. my mother is.] Twenty ‘Weights’. She takes the alarm clock from the mantelpiece and puts it on the table. A marvel for her age. SEELEY: They’ll do. Gaw! You can’t even ask a bloke how his mother is now without him getting niggly! ALBERT: Well. how is she.] SEELEY: Well? Are you coming or not? Or what? KEDGE: I’m coming. then? ALBERT: She’s fine. Absolutely great.SEELEY: Just a minute. Of course. Close up of her. SCENE FIVE The kitchen. What’s the matter with you? KEDGE: [Pause] ALBERT: Oh. Well. that’s all. KEDGE: That’s the idea. She takes out a pack of cards. suddenly asks how my mother is. KEDGE: Well. Albert? ALBERT: All right. [Pause. . The MOTHER is putting ALBERT’S dinner into the oven. How’s your Mum. ALBERT [quietly]: What do you mean.] KEDGE: Mine’s fine too. why’s he suddenly ask—? SEELEY: He was just asking a friendly question. It is seven forty-five. SEELEY [returning]: What’s up now? ALBERT: Kedge here. ALBERT [following]: I’m coming. how’s my Mum? KEDGE: I just asked how she was. Albert. ALBERT and KEDGE are left standing. Great. BARMAN: Only got ‘Woods’. mate. isn’t it? ALBERT: What are you getting at? KEDGE: I don’t know what’s the matter with you tonight. Fine. I’ll get some fags. that’s all. He goes to the counter. you know. What about yours? SEELEY: Fine. Close up of the clock. KEDGE regards ALBERT. sits at the table and begins to lay out a game of patience. mate. ALBERT: Why shouldn’t she be all right? KEDGE: I didn’t say she wasn’t. she is. SEELEY: [Pause. broodingly setting out the cards. she had me very late.

you noticed that? That’s one thing I’ll say about you. Gidney. enjoying the party? nods. honestly. an urbane man in his fifties. Stokes? ALBERT: What? GIDNEY: Sorry. through the town … the air in your lungs. GIDNEY: Not so good in the rain. I often think very seriously about it. KING: Not enough exercise. of course. MR. . Kedge looks all right again. muscles working … you arrive at work … you arrive at work fresh … you know what I mean? Uplifted. SEELEY: Well. KEDGE and BETTY are dancing. whispering. EILEEN: A mambo! Who’s going to dance? SEELEY: I’ll give it a trot. KING: I drive too. King. Kedge! KEDGE [passing]: You never said a truer word. we’ve got Kedge back at left back next Saturday. KING: I recommend a bicycle. won’t you? ALBERT: Yes. JOYCE [to RYAN ]: Nice party. of course. Gidney—you carry your feet well. Ryan. SEELEY: Stomach trouble. KING: Yes. I’ll be the oldest man in the office after you’ve gone. BETTY: You’re just saying that. the very best. Don’t you dance. GIDNEY [pleasantly]: What are you laughing at. on the bike. it’s all in your honour. Out in the morning. KING: I must admit it. GIDNEY: Do you think so? SEELEY: Oh. It really keeps you up to the mark. Honest. KING’S house. I can tell you. [He laughs. Like a dream. Two men and a woman of indeterminate age sit holding drinks. Mr. smiles. KEDGE: You do. [To KEDGE . KING: Refreshes you! Clears the cobwebs. the chief accountant. stand by the door.ACT TWO SCENE ONE The lounge of MR. but I often think seriously of taking up cycling again. Gidney? GIDNEY: Me? I’ve got the car. winks and smiles. I thought you were laughing. Sorry. smiling. eh? RYAN nods. HORNE and BARROW. do you. Stokes? Yes. Of course.] Well. Mr. Mr. KING: RYAN Well. Albert? Gidney always wears a nice pair of shoes. doesn’t he? What was the matter with him? I’ve forgotten. SEELEY and ALBERT. Betty. GIDNEY. they’re the best. GIDNEY: Do you? You will excuse me. Mr. Let’s fill you up. ALBERT: I was laughing. that’s quite enough of that. No more of that. smiles. you know. SEELEY: SEELEY and EILEEN dance. doesn’t he. smiling. GIDNEY and JOYCE. JOYCE: RYAN You enjoying the party. KING: Well. GIDNEY: ALBERT: ALBERT is left standing. the old man. two young clerks. King. Ryan? RYAN nods and inclines his head. EILEEN [pleasantly]: Enjoying the party. KING. MR. GIDNEY: Oh yes. aren’t they. JOYCE and EILEEN are at the table which serves as a bar. are standing in a group. you know that? BETTY [shyly]: I don’t. Music comes from a radiogram. sometimes. Ryan? nods and smiles. That’s a lovely pair of shoes you’re wearing. in his late twenties. GIDNEY: [Pause. sits in the centre of the room. KEDGE They laugh. you young men. KING [smiling]: Now.] You’ll have to see you get more exercise. now. Nice to see a lot of young people enjoying themselves. RYAN. old man. he don’t look in bad trim to me. The party is in progress.] SEELEY: You don’t walk to work. He’ll never get to the last lap with that one. isn’t it. Excuse me. Like a dream come true. [dancing]: You dance like a dream. You made a joke. are you? He nods.

JOYCE: You’d look lovely in white. Mr. GIDNEY [drinking. Just for a lark. Couldn’t I. if I wanted to. You go over. come on. you have. GIDNEY: Could you? What qualifications have you got? ALBERT: Well. by the door]: Well. It shows we look on the lighter side of things too. has it? BETTY: Oh no. that’s all. Honest. After all. Enjoying the party? EILEEN: You dance well. King. that’s all. GIDNEY: No. I’m not going to. GIDNEY: Gah. it’ll amuse me. KEDGE: You know I’ve got the best interests of the firm at heart. true. don’t you? SEELEY: I was going in for ballet once. you know. Mr. JOYCE [slyly]: Eh. ALBERT: Then why don’t you? GIDNEY: I don’t want to. King. do I? JOYCE: What do I get if I do? GIDNEY: A toffee apple. I don’t mean anything else. talk to him. HORNE: Oh. I could go anywhere and be anything. that’s all. by any chance? You’re quite welcome to come down to my boat at Poole any weekend—do a bit of sailing along the coast. I hope you’ll both be in the team soon yourselves. JOYCE: No. he just irritates me. You come over. They offered me the leading part in Rigoletto. thank you. I’ve been teaching her all about mortality tables. SEELEY [dancing]: Hullo. We like to foster … to foster something … very different. And I’ll tell you another thing as well. JOYCE: Oh. he looks a bit gloomy. don’t he? EILEEN: I don’t want to go over. you wouldn’t know how to. I think it’s a very good thing we’ve … that the firm’s got a football team. in an armchair with BETTY]: Oh. Mr. KEDGE: I’ve taken her under my wing. I could turn professional cricketer any day I wanted to. BARROW: Yes. Mr. Ryan. you’re lovely. what about going over and cheering up old Albert? EILEEN: What for? JOYCE: Well. in front of—? GIDNEY: Just talk to him. Miss Todd. of course. When I was a boy soprano. For a bit of fun. with my qualifications I could go anywhere. with my qualifications I could go anywhere. Stokes? ALBERT: What? I was saying. Mr. KING: You interested in sailing. BARROW: Yes. King. You stay too long in a place you go daft. You know what I mean? HORNE: Oh yes. that bloke. KING [to HORNE and BARROW . I told her in case of fire or burglary commission and damages come to her. Mr. ALBERT: So could I. Just makes me laugh. with JOYCE ]: Anyway. in front of everyone else. see what he does. I want to see his reaction. King. whispering. GIDNEY [to JOYCE ]: No. JOYCE: Oh. You’re the loveliest thing on four wheels. just lead him a dance. wouldn’t I? GIDNEY [taking her arm]: Get hold of Eileen. KING [to BETTY]: Well. Why should I? Go on. I … I haven’t got any time for a bloke like that. Mr. Miss Todd. KEDGE [in the corner of the room. KEDGE: Yes. don’t tell her I told you though. GIDNEY: JOYCE and EILEEN. JOYCE: You’ve got an evil mind. King. see if you can wake him up. EILEEN: You’re making it up. GIDNEY: I’ll take you for a ride in the car. EILEEN: What for? JOYCE: Cheer him up. King. that’s all. really? Thank you. And a cricket team. I’ve got a few. They wanted to sign me up. Mr. JOYCE: He’s just quiet.No. JOYCE: What for? GIDNEY: For a lark. King. Office work can become so impersonal. King. that’s all. I just want to see how he takes it. JOYCE: What. Just for a lark. King. Work together and play together. Don’t you agree? HORNE: Oh yes. EILEEN: Go on! SEELEY: Yes. and go over and lead him a dance. it hasn’t taken you long to get to know everyone. KING: I would hardly take Kedge’s word as gospel. BARROW: Thank you. Mr. GIDNEY: These people who talk about qualifications. GIDNEY: Well. JOYCE: GIDNEY: He sees ALBERT at the bar. Mr. KING: Also gives a sense of belonging. GIDNEY: Listen! Do you know that Chelsea wanted to sign me up a few years ago? They had a scout down to one of our games. anyway. I feel like being amused. JOYCE: Well. . KING: So I noticed. I’m thinking of moving on.

[with an uncertain smile]: No. I’m on the edge. as you know. mind your drink. Mr. move up. everyone.] Sorry. I love work. EILEEN: Eh. drinking. what are you tired about? ALBERT: Oh. EILEEN [laughing]: Oh. she won’t mind. Women. ALBERT: Thanks for the compliment. really. she … [He stands. King wants your attention. will you? ALBERT: What? GIDNEY: Mr. then? ALBERT: Yes. thrown off. we’re all gathered here tonight to pay our respects to our old friend and colleague.Oh. mind out. JOYCE: Does she look after you all right. actually. JOYCE: You just said you were tired. ALBERT: No. Feel a bit tired. EILEEN: He looks tired. sorry. Come over. please … GIDNEY: Eh. Ryan for a very long time. pay attention. don’t you? ALBERT: Yes. JOYCE: Thanks. [jumping up]: Oh. KING [to RYAN ]: Can I fill your glass. I’m not tired. Of course. EILEEN: Enjoying the party? JOYCE: What are you sitting all gloomy about? ALBERT: I’m not gloomy. hullo. JOYCE: I’ve been working too. falls. Have you? EILEEN [forlornly]: No. just work. Eh. Mind if we join you? Oh. can we? The guest of honour. I wouldn’t … Eh. Well. JOYCE: The girls giggle. Don’t you. what have you been doing? ALBERT: Nothing. Mr. Ryan. I’m not tired. EILEEN: You got a flat of your own? ALBERT: No. then. Stokes. Joyce! JOYCE: ALBERT: GIDNEY. [BETTY. Gidney! GIDNEY: Yes? ALBERT: Here’s your gin. Come on. JOYCE: You live with your mother. did you? JOYCE: Didn’t I? KING: Just for a moment. JOYCE: Why. tell us.] EILEEN: Oh yes. JOYCE: You’ve been living it up.] I’m just going to the bar. and smiles. I’ve known him myself much longer than anyone here— GIDNEY: KEDGE . JOYCE: He’s not bad looking when you get close. He picks her up. JOYCE and EILEEN sit either side of ALBERT on a divan. with a smile. JOYCE: Females. EILEEN: I’ll bet. EILEEN: Quite nice when you get close.] Can’t leave you without a drink. KING: I’d just like to propose a toast to our guest of honour. GIDNEY taps KEDGE on the shoulder. I suppose. ALBERT: Sorry. EILEEN: Me too. ALBERT EILEEN: They follow. I’m just sitting. will you? Now. you’re squashing me. watching. Eileen? [She leans across him to speak. Ryan? EILEEN: JOYCE: [RYAN nods. My best taffeta. now everyone … I’m having gin. Mr. Ryan … KING: JOYCE: KEDGE and BETTY are locked together in the armchair. KING: We’ve all known Mr. ALBERT: Gin? Wait a minute … KING: Just a minute. King wants to know if you’ll honour the party with your presence. ALBERT: Oh … JOYCE: You squash her. KING [to GIDNEY]: Go and get Kedge out of that corner. I’m all right. can I have your attention? GIDNEY [to JOYCE ]: Didn’t make much impression. JOYCE: So are we. I love work. you’re awful. Come on.

the very core of our little community. What are you doing? SEELEY: How do you know it was him? ALBERT [throwing off GIDNEY’S hand]: Let go of me! SEELEY: What are you pulling him for? GIDNEY: You keep out of this. how shall I put it. anyway? EILEEN: Mind you own business. KING [nervously]: Now please let me continue my toast. ALBERT: What are you looking at me for? [muttering]: Good God … GIDNEY Tense. General laughter. Albert. KING [at speed]: We are all collected here tonight in honour of Mr. Seeley. It must be quite clear from the expression that it was his hand which strayed. Ryan first and then the floor is yours.KING: KEDGE: For he’s a jolly good fellow— Wait! Very glad for your enthusiasm. ALBERT: Don’t worry about him. wait a minute. RYAN’S hand. Eileen. Really. indignation and horror]: Albert! ALBERT: What do you mean? SEELEY: How does she know it was Albert? KEDGE: Wonder what he did. What do you think you’re up to? EILEEN: Yes. All stare at ALBERT. I am quite sure. SEELEY: Come on. you must settle this elsewhere. Your heart. I remember Mr. eh? I’ll say it is. Seeley. what’s he supposed to have done. Mr. as I was saying. is in the right place. But please allow me to toast Mr. RYAN’S chair. Eileen. SEELEY and GIDNEY stand in a group around MR. EILEEN. touch her? BARROW [open-mouthed]: Yes. She’s upset. ALBERT. smiling vaguely. sit down. Ryan sitting at his very own desk the first time my father brought me into the office— A sharp scream and stiffening from EILEEN. is inclined to the ceiling. ALBERT: Don’t pull me. JOYCE. KING: As I have been trying to say— JOYCE: You come over here. I was just standing there. what’s the matter? EILEEN: Someone touched me! JOYCE: Touched you? EILEEN: Someone touched me! Someone—! BETTY: What did he do? KEDGE: Touched you? What did he do? JOYCE: What did he do. suddenly this hand … JOYCE: I could tell he was that sort. and then to his face which. ALBERT: I didn’t do anything. ladies and gentlemen. Well. Eileen? EILEEN: He … he … he took a liberty! KEDGE: Go on! Who did? ADLIB: EILEEN turns and stares at ALBERT. GIDNEY: We can guess what he did. this is absolutely ridiculous— GIDNEY: Ridiculous. Silence. do you? GIDNEY: Look. Gidney. What are you looking at me for? Please. why don’t you shut up? SEELEY: Now don’t talk to me like that. All turn to her. SEELEY: We don’t even know what he’s supposed to have done. whispering]: What did he do. Good heavens! GIDNEY: What is it? What’s happened? Eileen. open-mouthed and wide-eyed. Kedge. HORNE [wide-eyed]: Where? They look at each other. now … can we possibly … I mean … EILEEN [in a voice of reproach. Made her jump didn’t he? ALBERT: Now look. GIDNEY: Come out here. resting comfortably on his knee. would you mind composing yourself? EILEEN: Composing myself! . HORNE [at the door. aren’t you? EILEEN [to SEELEY]: So would you be! KING: Miss Phipps. embarrassed pause. ALBERT: KING: The camera closes on MR. Ryan and to present him with a token of our affection— JOYCE [to ALBERT]: You snake! SEELEY: Well. what did he do? What’s he supposed to have done? ALBERT: She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. JOYCE: You don’t think she’s going to tell you. the whole department is here tonight to pay tribute to a man who from time immemorial has become.

GIDNEY: Wait a minute. Go on … if you can take me … ALBERT: Seeley— SEELEY: No. caught by their stares. Albert. What do you want? GIDNEY: I haven’t been satisfied with your … sort of … behaviour for some time. don’t you? SEELEY: Go on! GIDNEY: Any day. GIDNEY: I was telling you. besides one or two other things! SEELEY: Eh look. ALBERT: What’s my trouble then? GIDNEY [very deliberately]: You’re a mother’s boy. you’re talking like a prize— GIDNEY [viciously]: I’ve told you to keep out of this. SEELEY: Right out of the bowler. did they? SEELEY: Who invited you? GIDNEY: I’m talking to this man on behalf of the firm! Unless I get a satisfactory explanation I shall think seriously about recommending his dismissal. I’m with you. Something to do with breeding. if he says he can take me. ALBERT: What for? GIDNEY: For insulting a lady. Mr. go on. words and grunts. I’ve told you— GIDNEY: What did you think you were doing with that girl? ALBERT: I didn’t touch her. I know her uncle. KING’S voice from the room. sticks out a mile. Mr. King! KING: What? KEDGE: I’m listening. ALBERT [tensely]: I’m going. that if you’re going to behave like a boy of ten in mixed company— ALBERT: I told you my name’s Stokes! GIDNEY: Don’t be childish. There is a scuffle. [obstructing him]: Go back and apologize. The door of the room opens. Gidney— GIDNEY: Seeley. MR. KING: What in heaven’s name is going on here! . ALBERT GIDNEY ALBERT hits him. SEELEY: Well. Gidney. Albert— ALBERT: Stokes.]: Goodnight. ALBERT: You’re talking right out of your hat. then. ALBERT: Oh. ALBERT: Do you? SEELEY: You know.Come outside a minute. The door shuts behind them. Stokes. GIDNEY [to SEELEY]: No one invited you out here. Ryan will always be remembered at Hislop. don’t you? ALBERT: You haven’t … you haven’t what? GIDNEY: For instance. my boy. KING: … and for his unfailing good humour and cheeriness. Wait a minute. Albert. That’s your trouble. you’re being so stupid. The three rock back and forth in the hall: confused blows. will you? GIDNEY: Acting like an animal all over the place— ALBERT: Move out of it! GIDNEY [breathlessly]: I know your trouble. there was that bloody awful game of football you played when you threw the game away last Saturday that I’ve got on my mind. I can take you any day. if he can take me any day … GIDNEY: ALBERT: The door opens slightly. That’s what you are. ALBERT: Does it? GIDNEY: Yes. you know that. GIDNEY: KING: ALBERT goes into the hall. You’re a mother’s boy. followed by GIDNEY and SEELEY. why don’t you … why don’t you get back to the party? GIDNEY: I was telling you. She’s a good friend of mine. anyway. HORNE. Faces. King and Martindale! Scattered applause. HORNE and BARROW peer out. A lady. As I have been trying to say— KEDGE [brightly]: I’m listening. yes? GIDNEY: Yes. Gidney. let’s have it out. But I suppose you’re too bloody backward to know anything about that. GIDNEY: I’m responsible for that girl. What do you think you’re up to? ALBERT: Look. thank you. ALBERT: I’m going. SEELEY: You can take me any day? GIDNEY: Any day. [going to the door. MR. KING: Oh. ALBERT: A sudden silence. SEELEY tries to part them. Albert. you know that. Mate. KING comes out. shuts the door hastily. anyway. Thank you. ALBERT: Get out of my way.

Mucking about with girls. He walks past her into the kitchen. [Pause. STOKES is asleep. picks up the clock and violently raises it above his head. I suppose. Albert. specially for you. MRS. I love you. I suppose your dinner’s ruined. The front door opens slowly. But you’ve never brought a girl home here in your life. I kept it on a low light. I don’t know where you’ve been. to start off your career. that’s your business. You haven’t eaten a single thing all night. Not for years. you’re the only one I’ve got. The clock ticks. Albert. Mr. What have you been doing. you’ll have your dinner.] Come on. Yes. it’s all dried up. I pressed it for you this morning. Coming in this time of night. I’d know you were sincere. I wasn’t going to break my neck going down to that cellar to look for a bulb. anyway. They’ve got a bit of respect at that firm. MOTHER: Albert! He stops. Albert! Is that you? She goes to the kitchen door. I suppose you’re ashamed of your mother. Well. Creeping up the stairs like that. I keep things from you. A short silence. his face set. if you want to make a convenience out of your own home.The scuffle stops. . If you want to go mucking about with girls.] I hope you’re satisfied. you don’t care. sees his mother. and I’ll tell you what it is. and begins to creep up the stairs with great stealth. I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to upset you. What Would I have done then? He descends slowly. her head resting on the table. if you’re content to leave your own mother sitting here till midnight. she’d be like a daughter to me. Give anyone a fright. I wouldn’t mind if you found a really nice girl and brought her home and introduced her to your mother. I’ve never told you. She takes his dinner out of the oven. I don’t say anything. Well. It is twelve o’clock. I’m warning you. the cards disordered. you wouldn’t care. that’s your business. anyone would think you gave me a fortune out of your wages. You leave me in the house all alone … [ She stops and regards him. Well. And he was a good man. I couldn’t even go up to Grandma’s room and have a look round because there wasn’t any bulb. anyway. they wouldn’t let you carry on like that at one of their functions. I don’t know what you do with all your money. Do you know what the time is? I fell asleep. brought her home for dinner. you might as well eat it. I’m only your mother. She follows him.] Look at you! Look at your suit. I suppose. A stifled scream from the MOTHER. Not since before your father died. Don’t you read the papers? [Pause. Drunk. Telling me lies about going to the firm’s party. But don’t forget what it cost us to rear you. it’s Shepherd’s Pie— ALBERT lunges to the table. The house in darkness. have you come up to me and said. SCENE TWO The kitchen. if she was a really nice girl. not for years. I bet there’s none of the boys in your firm better fed than you are. anyway. breathing heavily. if you want to go mucking about with all sorts of bits of girls. I keep a lovely home. about the high hopes he had of you. Mum. Well. to one of those pubs in the West End? You’ll get into serious trouble. King would have his eye on you. right here at this table. goes to the sink and pours himself a glass of water. It’s after twelve o’clock. my boy. looks across to the open kitchen door. But one things hurts me. I’m not asking for gratitude. ALBERT comes in. stops. You’ve never said it without me having to ask you. closes the door softly. The camera follows him. I’m not saying any more. you come home looking like I don’t know what. if you don’t want to lead a clean life it’s your lookout. the least you can do is sit down and eat the dinner I cooked for you. anyway. She places a plate on the table and gets knife and fork. and I wasn’t feeling well. What are you creeping up the stairs for? Might have been a burglar. my boy. it’s all crumpled. I don’t suppose that counts for much these days. if you frequent those places. That’s all. goes out and slams it behind him. I don’t know what your father would say. you don’t care. that’s why we sent you there. He stands by the sink. are you drunk? Where did you go. Creeping up the stairs like that. What’s the matter. sipping water. He had high hopes of you. I never grumble. In a state like that. mucking about with girls? She begins to pile the cards. like you did when you were a little boy. do I? I keep quiet about what you expect me to manage on. I’ve never told you about the sacrifices we made. He stands. but what do you care. You look a disgrace. He stands on the doorstep. Her voice stops him. waiting for you. What’s the matter with your tie. ALBERT opens the front door. I won’t even ask any questions.

There’s no need to let … to let the whole house know you’re here.] Come on. He walks about. actually. I can’t bear that sort of thing. ALBERT is leaning against it. The lace breaks. too. Do you like this photo? It’s of my little girl. would you mind taking your shoes off? You’re really making a dreadful row. He stares at her. opposite. upon which are a number of articles and objects. He goes towards a small stool. She is brisk and nervous. You’d burn your fingers. Don’t slam the door. [Pause. I die without the fire. I did the needlework myself. It’s just … something in my nature. The GIRL searches for matches on the mantelpiece. ALBERT pulls at the lace of his other shoe. Like to? Chilly out here.] I shall be going down for the prize day shortly. begins to untie one. He starts. I mean? ALBERT [holding his forehead. I know I had one somewhere. SCENE TWO The GIRL’S room. . She comes in. She bends down to the hearth. In … Hereford. I say. There is a sound of a foot on gravel. He swears shortly under his breath. It’s just … not in my personality. He is sweating. GIRL: Oh. Rather fine. Really. [ She puts the photo back. A long time ago. You do look idiotic standing there with one shoe on and one shoe off. [Pause. the butt burns his hand. He looks at his shoes. don’t you find? Have you got a match? He walks across the room. I’ll light the fire. Where are the damn things? This is ridiculous.] What are you doing? [Pause. Chilly out. It’s my own stool. here we are. isn’t she? Very aristocratic features. He goes with her. The door opens. All lop-sided. muttering]: I don’t know. ALBERT: I’ve got a lighter. Not on that! That’s my seat. At last. He sits in a chair. Shut it gently. He watches her. don’t you think? She’s at a very select boarding school at the moment. GIRL: You can’t light a gasfire with a lighter. Her manner has changed from the seductive. God. ALBERT: My lace broke.] What are you doing out at this time of night? She moves closer to him. I … I don’t think I have. A GIRL is looking at him. I’ve got to think of my daughter.] Ah. he drops it and turns. She puts the matchbox on the mantelpiece and picks up a photo. ALBERT: What did I say? GIRL: I’m sorry. She’s staying with friends. ALBERT: I’m sorry. GIRL: Good evening. you’d think you’d have a match. [sharply]: Do you mind not saying words like that? ALBERT: I didn’t … GIRL: I heard you curse. Come near the fire a minute. GIRL: That’s no excuse. I simply die. Please. GIRL: Come in. including a large alarm clock. very near Hereford. shuttered. She turns on the gas fire and lights it. Which do you prefer. Have you got a match? ALBERT: No. I can’t bear … noisy … people. Life’s difficult enough as it is. isn’t it? Come on. She smiles. GIRL: Please don’t walk so heavily. [She finds the box. Sit down. GIRL: It’s quite all right. electric or gas? For a fire. He is holding the butt of a cigarette. I live just round the corner. GIRL She crouches by the fire. you know.ACT THREE SCENE ONE The coffee stall.

when you broke your lace. You’re right. GIRL: I beg your pardon? ALBERT: I said it was fantastic.] Yes. GIRL: I didn’t realize you had a lighter. I’m beginning to think you’re right. But I gave it up. somewhere. by any chance? I don’t know how men can be so bestial. It’s a dreadful area. Here’s one thing. there was a man. How far do men’s girl friends go? I’ve often . Really? She belches. and groans. ALBERT: Is that clock right? GIRL: People have told me. but there was no mistaking the fact that you had breeding. I don’t want someone else’s blood on my carpet. you know. for instance. His gaze rests there. Quite fantastic. Not even if I was … starving. the most distinguished people. ALBERT: GIRL: Nothing. GIRL: I’m very fond of a smoke. She stands and taps the mantelpiece. GIRL She lights her cigarette. What on earth’s the matter with you? What have you been doing tonight? He looks at her and smiles. though. they’ve told me. It’s hardly much fun for women. excuse me. which he slowly lights. but that word you used. I used to be a continuity girl. I have to hide them. You meet such a good class of people. What are you looking at? ALBERT [ruminatively]: That’s a nice big clock. In fact. Of course. I’m better. he was sweating … sweating. GIRL: Really? How funny. I mean. They have them in Switzerland. all she does is spy on me. they’re supposed to be … they’re supposed to be respectable! ALBERT [muttering]: Fantastic. GIRL: Films? Really? What do you do? ALBERT: I’m an assistant director. looks up at the mantelpiece. You looked a bit washed out. ALBERT: Uh. After dinner. it was a civil question. here we are. I knew I had. Where have you been? Had a nice time? ALBERT: Quite … quite nice. I suppose? ALBERT: No. My father was a … he was a military man. You don’t happen to have any cigarettes on you. I can tell you. don’t they? Do you … do you want one of these? She throws him a cigarette. GIRL [sitting on the stool]: What do you do? ALBERT: I … work in films. Nobody wants her. Hiccoughs come from not eating.GIRL: There’s no need to be rude. of course. You look as if you’ve had a night out. I could tell you had breeding the moment I saw you. I don’t want to be personal. ALBERT suddenly coughs violently. I don’t know why she comes in at all. I’m quite well educated. I’m thinking of moving. It is twenty past two. Oh. I haven’t eaten all day. I prefer gas. I’m extremely particular. I just don’t fit in. You do look hot. go out and pick men up when their husbands are out on business! Isn’t that fantastic? I mean. Actually it was a relief to speak to you. With a glass of wine. I’m no different from any other girl. perhaps. with sherry. it made me shiver. ALBERT [tonelessly]: What a pity. Yes. now you say you’re an assistant director I can see what you mean. this room is serviced. GIRL: Do you know what I’ve actually heard? I’ve heard that respectable married women. You could go anywhere. I do like a certain amount of delicacy in men … a certain amount … a certain degree … a certain amount of refinement.] Have you got a headache? ALBERT: No. [Pause. please don’t do that! Use your handkerchief! He sighs. you’re an assistant director—all your continuity girls and secretaries. Oh. You haven’t been in a fight. but I’m obliged to put up with her. it’s late. It’s not in the least funny. There’s one thing that’s always fascinated me. Which means I have to pay a pretty penny. too. GIRL: It is. Well. I had a tooth out. Or before dinner. made me wonder if you were as well bred as I thought … He wipes his face with his hand. I’m just not that type. her eyes roaming over it. you could be anything. that I could go anywhere. I’ll bet they’re … very loose. solicitors’ wives. The neighbourhood is full of people of no class at all. one man. In the Army. [She goes to the table. You do see my point? Some men I couldn’t possibly entertain. I mean. GIRL: Yes. you remind me … I saw the most ghastly horrible fight before. I suppose we might as well … Haven’t you got a cigarette? ALBERT: No. I’m sure they’re much worse than I am. What are you laughing at? GIRL: ALBERT ALBERT: Nothing. GIRL [jumping up]: I’m sure I have. you see. [with fatigue]: Yes. These so-called respectable girls. Why are you so hot? It’s chilly. Or a log fire. she’s very light-fingered. ALBERT chuckles. I haven’t … spoken to anyone for some hours. The woman who comes in to do my room.

I’m warning you. He lets it fall on the carpet.] What are you doing with that clock? He looks at her. ALBERT GIRL: What’s the—? [through his teeth]: Be quiet.] You mean on the girl? ALBERT: What? You mean it depends on the girl? ALBERT: It would do. You couldn’t call me … anything else.] I do like that word. of course. I must admit that with your continuity girls and secretaries. All I do. with a child at boarding school. ALBERT: When were you a …? GIRL: Years ago! [Standing. tremblings but with quiet command]: Don’t scream. Have you been on the town tonight. No better than they should be. I can see you’re one for the girls. He stares at the clock. Otherwise the charlady.] Let me go.] What are you doing? [She crosses to him. [Outraged.] Eh? GIRL: ALBERT: Depends. Of course. I tell you! It’s my carpet! She lunges towards it. aren’t you? GIRL: Only because I’ve been one myself. What are you doing? Let go. they’ll make me pay— His hand closes upon hers as she reaches for it. she’s always looking for excuses for telling tales. yes. And what film are you making at the moment? ALBERT: I’m on holiday. GIRL: How dare you? ALBERT: Shut up. slowly. of my own choice. Don’t know why you had to pick on me. You interest me. I’m not being personal. All the trains go out. Here’s an ashtray. Treating my place like a pigsty. you know. GIRL: What are you going to do? . GIRL: It’s a perfectly ordinary clock. Where’s your wife? ALBERT: Nowhere. Pick it up! Pick that up. aren’t you? ALBERT: Oh? GIRL [laughs]: You amuse me. She gives it to him. Don’t stand about like that. Sit down. you know. [Pause. of course … just being … psychological. You’re burning my carpet! ALBERT [quietly. then? With a continuity girl? ALBERT: You’re a bit … worried about continuity girls. What are you staring at me for? He sits. I suppose it must. I warn you. as soon as your back’s turned. GIRL: You’re … rather young to be in such a … high position. now and again. Give me it.] You’re nosey. I’ve seen too many people slip things into their pockets before now. intensely]: Sit down. I could sleep … on and on. GIRL: Where do you work? ALBERT: I’m a free lance. [She laughs. at this time of night. Now you be quiet. I just entertain a few gentlemen. GIRL: Quite possibly. He stares at her. I’m a bit of a psychologist. I’m a respectable mother. No screaming.] Mind your ash! Don’t spill it all over the floor! I have to keep this carpet immaculate. He lifts her by her wrist and presses her down on to the stool. please. Here. She stubs her cigarette. ALBERT stands and picks up the clock. There’s something childish in your face. [She puts it back. Yes. I don’t see why you … had to approach me…. You’re very young to be—what you said you were. What girl doesn’t? GIRL: His hand screws the cigarette. [She looks up at him as he bends over her. I told you to be quiet. Sometimes I wish the night would never end. I like sleeping. I suppose we might as well … [She turns and sees him. Sit down. really rather forward of you. right through the night. [Pause. Mmnn? ALBERT: Admiring it. I know what they’re like. Nothing personal. aren’t you? GIRL: She goes to the window. Use it. GIRL [struggling]: What are you doing? ALBERT [erratically. She studies him. almost retarded. Sit down.wondered. It’s not my carpet.] What do you think you’re doing? She stares at him. Yes. you can see the station from here.

] Bring them over here.] Come on. GIRL: I … ALBERT [casually]: Don’t be so frightened. I’m just telling you. tonight…. . He holds her at arm’s length. I’m giving the orders here. Stop! GIRL [whimpering]: What … do you want me to do? Just keep your big mouth closed. ALBERT GIRL: Leave that! [Writhing. Let’s get that quite … straight. Just watch your step.] Who do you think you are? You talk too much.] It’s cold. you know that.] I’ve had—I’ve had—I’ve had—just about enough. [Bending over her. I got the answer to her. That’s you. you’re all the same. this time. [To her. He looks at the photo curiously. Cover your face! She does so. still holding the clock. you see. He begins to grow in stature and excitement. ALBERT: He frowns uncertainly. GIRL: You’re … ALBERT: On! Right on. you see. He stands. That’s it. ALBERT [warningly]: Mind how you talk to me. Put them on. Get it? … You know what I did? He looks at her and chuckles. [He crumples the photo. you’re just all lies! GIRL: Scum! Filthy scum! ALBERT. Leave that! ALBERT [dropping the frame and holding the photo]: Is it? The GIRL grabs at it. [ Breathlessly. He shivers and murmurs with the cold. Yes. See this? One crack with this … just one crack … [Viciously. It’s you! You’re just a fake. Those shoes! Pick them up! She looks for the shoes and picks them up. passing the clock from hand to hand. to the wall.] GIRL [rushes at him]. And I got the answer to her. I loved her. That’s right. falls back into her chair. You never stop talking. She hadn’t either. I didn’t touch her! GIRL [almost inaudible]: What you been doing? ALBERT: I’ve got as many qualifications as the next man. you’re just a dead weight round my neck. Third Prize. He extends his foot.ALBERT [seizing the clock from the mantelpiece]: DON’T MUCK ME ABOUT! She freezes with terror. Walk over there. Come on.] You haven’t got any breeding. ] … What makes you think you can … tell me … yes … It’s the same as this business about the light in Grandma’s room. He looks about. [He sits. What makes you think … [ He begins to move about the room. And what about those girls tonight? Same kind. Do as you’re told. That’s more like it. Always something. ALBERT: Get up. Bronze Medal. puts the clock down and takes it.] My ash? I’ll put it where I like! You see this clock? Watch your step. Twickenham Competition. [ He suddenly sees the photograph on the mantelpiece. really. controlled violence]: Watch your step! [Stammering.] [moans]: My daughter. He squats by her. GIRL: No … ALBERT: Get up! Up! GIRL She stands. Always something. He looks about the room. My little baby girl. nineteen thirty-three. That’s … more like it! Good. What are you—? ALBERT [seizing her wrist. She crouches. Silence. She walks to the wall. GIRL: It’s not! ALBERT: That’s not your daughter. watching him.] What? Don’t—it’s mine! [turns the photo over and reads back]: ‘Class Three Classical.] One … crack … with … this … clock … finished! [Thoughtfully. at one point half crouching. moves suddenly to her. Just because you’re a woman you think you can get away with it. GIRL: Stop this. I finished the conversation … I finished it … I finished her … She squirms. [He sees his shoes. With this clock! [Trembling. Do as I’m telling you. The GIRL cringing. with trembling. That’s right.] You’ve made a mistake. ALBERT clutches her wrist. I’m just telling you.’ [He stares at her. The GIRL half rises and gasps. My little girl. Lace them! Good. Go on! Get over there. that’s all. as if exercising his body. The GIRL stands.] You liar. And that one. at another standing upright. pick up those shoes. for a start. twisting her wrist. That’s right. You’ve picked the wrong man. Don’t be so frightened. blinking. shivering and whimpering. ] Uhhh? … Your daughter? … This a photo of your daughter? … Uuuh? [He breaks the frame and takes out the photo. That’s it. He raises the clock. come on. ALBERT: [Pause. You’re all the same.] Of course.

Getting out of this place. The front door opens.] I don’t know what to say to you. We’ll go away … together. He kicks it across the room. Mind how you talk to me. Ooh. Do you know what the time is? [Pause. ALBERT comes in. I know you’re not … [Pause. He shivers and drops the clock. I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. muttering. To threaten your own mother. Albert. Not staying here. He goes to door. Stretching his arms. We’ll have your holiday in a fortnight. She looks at his slumped figure. scratches his head with both hands and stares ruminatively at the ceiling. You look washed out.] That clock would have hurt me. To raise your hand to your own mother. Listen. you’re good … you’re not a bad boy. His legs slowly come together. And you’d have been … I know you’d have been very sorry. SCENE THREE The house. The same with his tie. Her reproach turns to solicitude. Albert. [With a smile. [Gently.] Buy yourself a seat … buy yourself a seat at a circus. you’re not bad. aren’t you? .] What a dump. His gaze comes down. near to tears. [Flipping half a crown to her. You’ve never done that before in your life. you’re not … you’re not bad. She strokes his hand. ALBERT GIRL [whispering]: The fire’s gone. Aren’t I a good mother to you? Everything I do is … is for your own good. Albert. MOTHER [from the stairs]: Albert! His body freezes.] [Reproachfully. His MOTHER comes into the room. He opens the door and goes. Albert. We can go away. you look … I don’t understand what could have come over you. softly. loosely. His mother’s voice calls his name.] Ooh. He looks down at it. in a chair. he yawns luxuriously. Albert. a smile on his face.] So you … bear that in mind. [looking at the window]: What’s that? Looks like light. takes off his jacket and throws it across the room.] Where have you been? [Pause.] Look at you. [Looks about. then turns. He sits heavily. you’re a good boy … I know you are … you are. He saunters across the hall into the kitchen. looking at him. in her dressing gown. a slight smile on his face. You should know that. She too.[Pause. You’re all I’ve got. his legs stretched out. You see? I’m going to forget all about it. He looks in front of him. [Pause.] You’re good. it’s perishing. She stands. She takes a chair and sits close to him. [Pause. Oh.] It’s not as if you’re a bad boy … you’re a good boy … I know you are … it’s not as if you’re really bad. it’s freezing. I’m going to forget it.

That’s where some of them end up. they can tap your breath. She said they took a fancy to her. not the way some of them go. I’ve never been the other way. I did go down there once. But at five o’clock they close down to give it a scrub round. if it’s cold. it’s always light in the Black and White. there’s always a bit of noise. When it’s light I walk up to the Aldwych. she said. I’ve never had the coffee. I have a cup of tea. I give them a look. They’re always rushing. my friend did. She didn’t like the coffee. she won’t stand for any of it in the Black and White. I always wear my grey skirt and my red scarf. I’ve been down to Liverpool Street. dead asleep. They all run down there. They took my friend away in the wagon once. We soon told him off. Still. She goes. I don’t know many. Still. One woman in a big black hat and big black boots comes in. not even with your feet up. A man slips me the morning paper sometimes. I like the vegetable soup better than the tomato. Mostly nobody looks. If there’s someone taken her place she tells him. My friend came later. They don’t get many coppers. I see them look. I never make out what she has. They only shut hour and a half. Some remarks I never listen to. So I might have soup. if she’s there. They’re selling the papers. Then the copper came over to us. But they don’t try much. He slips her the morning paper. He told me what he was once. One morning I went a bit over Waterloo Bridge. One got me sick. going back. They give you the slice of bread. it’s all Whitehall. Too old for you. I walk to Marble Arch and get the two-nine-four. My friend won’t wait. Then I go into the Black and White at Fleet Street and sometimes my friend comes. he said. When it’s light I go. I can’t see much. in daylight. It’s always warm in the Black and White. Sometimes my friend comes. sometimes it’s draughty. Mostly it’s vans. I don’t mind. sometimes they’re different. They got him out. I never go down to the place near the Embankment. Are you. I don’t kip. It didn’t look like an allnight bus. Once a man stood up and made a speech. she said. I got her quiet. But I can do better without the cold when it’s cold. six days out of the week. You can go along. You can see what goes on from the window by the top table if you look. You keep yourself clean. I’ve read it. . You could go down to that one near the Embankment. I don’t mind. A copper came in. It must have been the last. a time or two. They won’t do that with tea but they do it with soup. He used to be in on it. they inject you in the ears. I’ve never gone in for that. either of them. She’s older than me but thinner. I’m never without lipstick. You get a good bowl. I saw the last two-nine-six. The lights get you down a bit. They didn’t keep her. He was pulling the hairs out of his head into my soup. I never speak to them when they take it. They don’t let you stay. that takes me to Fleet Street. scratching his head. Sometimes she comes and we sit at the top table. Five o’clock they close down to give it a scrub round. I was having a bowl then and this man was leaning from across the table. My friend never stays. they got it all worked out. the first one. I pulled my bowl away. I always keep her place but you can’t always keep it. when it’s dark. but sitting on his elbows. then come back. but I’ve only been down there once. Young people in cabs come in once. dead asleep. I’ve always got my red scarf. You can’t buy a cup of tea. I’ve asked but they won’t let you sit. She’s greyer than me.THE BLACK AND WHITE I always catch the all-night bus. some I’ve seen about. you can get about four hours out of it. They’d take her in. I had coffee up at Euston. It’s not long. She was a bit nervy. He went. you never see me without lipstick. Came in a fur coat once. I never seen him since. Now and again you can see the allnight buses going down. She is taller than me but thinner. My brother was the same. she said. But I can do better without the night. I’m a bit old for that. I never speak to the men on the all-night buses. They give you injections. there’s not too much noise. she always brings over two teas. Mostly they’re the same van-drivers. If it’s cold I might have soup. They never pick me up. sometimes it’s blue. my friend told him.

And so the nature of our silence within the frame of our examination. For if Kullus fell silent. He showed. and began from its vantage. but took alteration with what I must call the progress of our talks. At every interval. I viewed it as a utility he was compelled. by virtue of my owning the room. which had been his shelter. I began to take the only course open to me. I could neither suspect nor conclude. Now only one area was to witness activity and to suffer procedure. With the chalk I kept I marked the proposed times upon the blackboard. obligatory. either in day-time or in night-time. and seldom to my taste or my comfort. and had become my imposition. no disregard for my directions. I had no reason to doubt the wisdom of this arrangement. and the nature of our silence outside the frame of our examination. in silence. He expressed no desire for these. to pay him due regard and welcome. and through appreciation to subservience. and was no longer his dominant. For the door was closed and so closed. before the beginning of a session. between interval and interval. and became his imposition. from time to time. although I suspect Kullus was aware of my watchfulness. nor. at whatever crucial point. were entirely opposed. did he prove consistent. when I could no longer follow him. But this was not until later. nor any objection. and of no moment. and equally as a tribute to my own incisiveness and patience. That I detected in him a desire for a summation of our efforts spoke well for the progress of our examination. he extended his voluntary co-operation. And observed the man I had welcomed. a common policy. For it seemed. to fall back on. Never. he did not cease to participate in our examination. naturally. so I suspect he was aware of my arrangement. and the interim ended. he retired to the window. and that only was necessary and valid. as from a source. that his manner. if possible. Kullus’s silence. yet I was not deluded by this. for him to examine. And so gradually. on these occasions. at this time. expressed any desire for a break in the proceedings. And if then I viewed it as a tactical measure. where this occurred. I allowed him intervals. To institute these periods seemed to me both charitable and politic. Not that Kullus displayed any interest in this constant arrangement. I think. Whereupon I offered Kullus the stool. so be better equipped for the periods of increased demand which would follow. This was sufficient for my requirements. and where I could not follow. and the curtains were always open. Neither was Kullus’s predilection for windows a deviation from former times. entered. When the door opened. I observed the selected properties. On approaching initially when the break was stated. It must be said. that I decided to allow him intervals. But he made no objection. bearing the seal and arrangement of their tenant. he paid no attention to the aspect beyond. His behaviour. and neither. or act in such a manner as would suggest change. but this is not to say that on such occasions their purpose was offended. each in their place. to verify. during our talks. Equally. To be confronted with the especial properties of my abode. now. if he did not so much obey. However. for they were not. was it initiated by motives of resentment or enmity. Yet I was naturally dominant. the context of the room in which Kullus moved during the intervals was familiar and sympathetic to me. Frequently his disposition would be such that little could be achieved by insistence. when he might note it. When Kullus. in like examinations. the stool. or by persuasion. for a time. the which I placed for him. and I had no course but to follow. And only in his automatic course to the window. and not so to him. And where both allotment and duration had rested with me. I allowed him intervals. I am convinced. he having crossed my border. did Kullus so regard them. through word and through silence. Imminent upon opening and welcoming it had possessed moment. And it is upon this point that I could be accused of error. and entitled. the which I duly noted. and stood in the light from the window. when the order of his room had been maintained by particular arrangement of window and curtain. he having entered through the door I now closed. And. the window. and prided myself on those occasions with tactical acumen. It was my aim to avoid the appearance of subjection. cutting short the proposed duration. For he journeyed from silence to silence. however. And so I took it upon myself to adjudge their allotment and duration. nor. I turned from all light in the window. and I recognized what I took to be his devotion as actual and unequivocal. For gradually it appeared that these intervals proceeded according to his terms. For Kullus had known it. he moved from the door as from shelter. The intervals themselves. I had myself suffered under his preoccupation upon previous occasions. and took his place in it as a stranger. allowed only for recognition on the part of my visitor. and to offer any criticism if he felt so moved. when they occurred. Had not Kullus been obliged to attend this examination? And was not his attendance an admission of that obligation? And was not his admission an acknowledgement of my position? And my position therefore a position of dominance? I calculated this to be so. any ostensible change in his manner. I trusted that such a development would take place. but where his silence was too deep for echo. Not that I made any pretence to be otherwise. It was not uncommon for them to be both preceded and followed by an equal silence. were passed. I understand. Upon my announcement of an interval Kullus would change. and initially believed it to have done so. so confident was I in the outcome of our talks. according to day and to night. seemed to border upon indifference. . I was no longer his dominant. the blackboard. and no early event caused me to re-assess this calculation. For I hoped he might benefit from a period of no demand. had I reason to doubt his active participation. besides. in the intervals. and. But I could not always follow his courses. at this early juncture. unattended. But I did not regard these silences as intervals. For we were no longer in Kullus’s room. as it seemed to me. So I watched the entrance become vacant. where he was entitled to silence. whether it was outside the frame of our examination or not. was not consistent.THE EXAMINATION When we began. and his lack of interest in the aspect beyond. Indeed. they now proceeded according to his dictates. and now knew it no longer. And the window was always open. that the advantage was mine. as I suspected they might benefit both of us. Dependent on the intensity of his silence I could suspect and conclude. But now he maintained no such order and did not determine their opening or closing. and terminated the intervals arbitrarily. or offended. and through recognition to acknowledgement and through acknowledgement to appreciation. Whereupon without reserve or hesitation. preceded by whatever deadlock. They were not consistent. at whatever juncture. At least. I was obliged to remark. at any time. And the door had closed and was absent. was compounded of numerous characteristics. Also. But as I suspect he was aware of my watchfulness. it caused me little concern. When Kullus was disposed to silence I invariably acquiesced. Kullus’s predilection for windows was not assumed.

For where the intervals had been my imposition. in the intervals. And never once did he remark the absence of a flame in the grate. nor certain whether he still understood that as being the object of our meeting. I was equally bound. indeed. so as not to become hopelessly estranged within its boundaries. . Equally. but one duration. To balance this. which formerly were distinct in their opposition: that is. seemed to me no longer opposed. For we were now in Kullus’s room. and outside his silence. And so the time came when Kullus initiated intervals at his own inclination. And so I took the only course open to me. placed it for him. so that I remained isolated. I was bound to acknowledge this. And when Kullus remarked the absence of a flame in the gate. cutting short the proposed duration. did he prove consistent. and his silence to confound me. Kullus made no objection to this adjustment. and a silence outside the frame of our examination. which I knew to be familiar to him. I hoped to determine this. out of concern for the progress of our talks. I offered no criticism. when I was able to observe him with possibly a finer detachment. And when he removed the blackboard. and pursued his courses at will. For now I followed him in his courses without difficulty. and there was no especial duration for interval or examination. dictated by Kullus. was compelled to pursue a particular convention and habit in his course. but as he never once remarked this presence. I can only assume Kullus was aware. and by taking courses I could by no means follow. I concluded his concern did not embrace it. I concluded he did not recognize this absence. I had omitted to establish one property in the room. and was persuaded to resist it. and was no longer his dominant. My devotion was actual and unequivocal. they had now become his imposition. on these occasions. and so liable to bring him ease. though without doubt he noted my anxiety. and to act against it. Until his inconsistency began to cause me alarm. and were one silence. I extended my voluntary co-operation. of the scrutiny of which he was the object. and terminated the intervals arbitrarily. Not that it was at any time simple to determine by what particular his concern might be engaged. which now seemed to me to be affected. However. I was no longer certain whether Kullus participated in our examination. when I could no longer follow him. And when he remarked the presence of the stool. For I suffered anxiety with good cause. the nature of our silences. I emphasized the presence of the stool. For I desired a summation of our efforts. But gradually it became apparent that only in his automatic course to the window. and made no objection to procedure. indeed were indistinguishable. a silence within the frame of our examination. and thus of negligible influence. Prior to his arrival. And when he closed the curtains I did not object. He did so by deepening the intensity of his silence. and his lack of interest in the aspect beyond. in which I participated.and when each break was stated. and I was able to remark some consistency in his behaviour.

awarded for a lifetime’s achievement in literature. the Wilfred Owen Award for Poetry and the Franz Kafka Award (Prague). . He died in December 2008. In 2006 he was awarded the Europe Theatre Prize and. In 2002 he was made a Companion of Honour for services to literature. In 1995 he won the David Cohen British Literature Prize. the Légion d’honneur. He lived with Antonia Fraser from 1975 and they married in 1980. in the same year. In 2005 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and. In 1996 he was given the Laurence Olivier Award for a lifetime’s achievement in theatre. the highest French honour.About the Author Harold Pinter was born in London in 1930. in 2007.

POLITICS 1948–2005 W AR . POLITICS 1948–1998 VARIOUS VOICES: PROSE. Ashes to Ashes. Applicant. Victoria Station. The Quiller Memorandum. Trouble in the Works. Celebration.By the Same Author plays ASHES TO ASHES BETRAYAL THE BIRTHDAY PARTY THE CARETAKER CELEBRATION AND THE ROOM THE COLLECTION AND THE LOVER THE HOMECOMING THE HOTHOUSE LANDSCAPE AND SILENCE MOUNTAIN LANGUAGE MOONLIGHT NO MAN’S LAND OLD TIMES ONE FOR THE ROAD OTHER PLACES (A Kind of Alaska. Victoria Station. Special Offer) PLAYS THREE (The Homecoming. The Pumpkin Eater. Precisely. Monologue. Dialogue for Three. The Trial. Umbrellas. Last to Go. That’s Your Trouble. Tea Party (short story). Apart from That) screenplays HAROLD PINTER COLLECTED SCREENPLAYS ONE (The Servant. Request Stop. Tea Party. Reunion) HAROLD PINTER COLLECTED SCREENPLAYS THREE (The French Lieutenant’s Woman. The Basement. The Hothouse. The Black and White. One for the Road. The New World Order. The Proust Screenplay. The Heat of the Day. A Slight Ache. Old Times. The Last Tycoon. Langrishe. The Room. A Kind of Alaska. Landscape. Family Voices) PARTY TIME REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST (with Di Trevis) THE ROOM AND THE DUMB W AITER A SLIGHT ACHE AND OTHER PLAYS TEA PARTY AND OTHER PLAYS PLAYS ONE (The Birthday Party. Night. The Collection. The Dumb Waiter. That’s All. No Man’s Land) PLAYS FOUR (Betrayal. Night School. Accident. The Dreaming Child) prose. POETRY. Interview. Turtle Diary. The Dwarfs. The Examination) PLAYS TW O (The Caretaker. The Comfort of Strangers. POETRY. Mountain Language. Go Down) HAROLD PINTER COLLECTED SCREENPLAYS TW O (The Go-Between. The Black and White. Party Time. Victory. Family Voices. Silence. Moonlight. A Night Out. poetry and politics COLLECTED POEMS AND PROSE THE DW ARFS (a novel) 100 POEMS BY 100 POETS (an anthology) 99 POEMS IN TRANSLATION (an anthology) VARIOUS VOICES: PROSE. The Lover. God’s District.

1 St Charles Place. 1991 The right of Harold Pinter to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with Section 77 of the Copyright.Copyright First published in 1991 by Faber and Faber Ltd Bloomsbury House 74–77 Great Russell Street London WC1B 3DA Reissued in 1996 as Harold Pinter: Plays One Originally published by Eyre Methuen Ltd in 1976 Revised in 1986 This ebook edition first published in 2013 The Birthday Party. 1965 The Room and The Dumb Waiter © Harold Pinter. as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights. transferred. This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied. this revised version first published in The New British Drama. 1960. 1963 ‘Writing for the Theatre’ first appeared as ‘Between the Lines’ in the Sunday Times 4 March 1962. 1985. 1964 All rights reserved The Birthday Party © Harold Pinter. Grove Press. 1959. 1964 This collection © Harold Pinter. 1966. Designs and Patents Act 1988 All rights whatsoever in these plays are strictly reserved and applications to perform them should be made in writing. 1980 The Black and White © Harold Pinter. 1961. and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly ISBN 978–0–571–30098–3 . leased. to Judy Daish Associates. before rehearsals begin. distributed. 1960 A Slight Ache and A Night Out © Harold Pinter. London W10 6EG. New York. The Room and The Dumb Waiter first published by Methuen & Co. 1968 The Hothouse © Harold Pinter. 1962. 1961 The Hothouse first published by Eyre Methuen Ltd in 1980 The Black and White first appeared in Transatlantic Review in 1966 The Examination first published by Methuen & Co. reproduced. 1959. 1963 ‘Writing for the Theatre’ © Harold Pinter. No performance may be given unless a licence has first been obtained. 1976. 1966 The Examination © Harold Pinter. 1960 A Slight Ache and A Night Out first published by Methuen & Co. licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers.