Saturday, July 22, 2006

This is Act One Scene One of "Sammy". The play won a National Playwriting Award in England. It was produced in July 2006 in Crowborough England, with Millie Simmons as Jenny, Ben Blair as Mark, Laura Holmwood as Christine and Ade Morris as Phil.

Act One
The scene remains the same throughout the play: a kitchen in an ordinary house. There are cupboards around the walls, a fridge, freezer, all have padlocks on them. There is a table and chairs, and on the wall is a phone. There are two doors, one leading out to the garden, the other leading to the hall and the rest of the house.

Scene one
Jenny enters from the garden, carrying shopping bags. She is in her twenties, somewhat frumpy. She unlocks a cupboard, puts food into it and locks it again. She unlocks the freezer, puts frozen food into it, locks it. She unlocks the fridge and starts to put food into it. Mark enters from the garden. Also in his twenties, Mark is good looking, with an easy charm. He walks across the kitchen, stops, turns slowly to see all the cupboards. Jenny looks guilty. Mark crosses to a cupboard and examines the padlock.

Mark: What’s all this?
Jenny: You knew we were going to do it. We said.
Mark: I know what we said. Who put ‘em up?
Jenny: Well, you know, you’re always so busy, and I don’t like to ask you to do
anymore, so I thought I’d save you the job.
Mark:(sneers) You didn’t do it. You wouldn’t even know how to hold the screw driver.

Jenny is irritated but says nothing.

So who put ‘em up? You didn’t pay someone?
Jenny: Phil did it. He offered. He was only trying to help. And like I said, you were so busy –
Mark: I wasn’t that busy. I could’ve done it.
Jenny: I asked you. You didn’t do it.
Mark: I was going to.
Jenny: Mark, you’re always going to. You just never do.
Mark: I would’ve. When it was time.
Jenny: Time? When -?
Mark: Poor little lamb’s only a month old.
Jenny: The doctor said –
Mark: I know what the doctor said. I’m sick of hearing what the doctor said. And, you know what? Doctors are not God. They get things wrong.
Jenny: Mark –
Mark: They don’t always know what they’re talking about. And this lot – huh!
Jenny: That isn’t fair. They’ve bent over backwards to help us –
Mark: To cover their own backs, more like. (mimics) “We think this, we believe that. Tests are inconclusive but –” which is doctor speak for we don’t know what we’re talking about.
Jenny: I hate when you get like this.
Mark: They don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s nothing wrong with Sammy.

Jenny folds her arms, waits for him to finish.

They don’t know him. Not like we do. You and me. We’re the only ones who really know him, and from what I’ve seen, I can tell you, there’s nothing wrong with my son. All this –(He rattles a padlock) – waste of time and effort. Ridiculous. I knew it was. That’s why I didn’t put ‘em up.

A knock at the garden door. Christine stands the other side of it. Jenny moves towards it.

And when I see Phil, I’ll tell him that.

Jenny opens the door and Christine enters. She is thirty, prettier and more glamorous than Jenny, but hard faced. She looks from Jenny to Mark.

Christine: Have I come at a bad time?
Jenny: Of course not. Mark was just saying what a good job Phil made of the padlocks. Weren’t you, darling?

Mark grins coldly.

Christine: He has his uses. That’s why I keep him around.
Jenny: Coffee?

She picks up the kettle.

Christine: How are you, Mark? Haven’t seen you for ages. (laughs) I was beginning to think Jenny had murdered you and buried you in the garden.
Mark: I’ve been busy.

Off stage, a baby cries. Jenny groans and checks her watch.

Jenny: I’ll be back soon.

She exits. Christine moves towards Mark. He is uncomfortable.

Christine: How are you? Really?
Mark: I’m fine.
Christine: It’s me you’re talking to now. You can be honest with me.
Mark: I said I’m/ fine –
Christine: I suppose you feel you have to be strong for Jen, supportive,/ but –
Mark: I said, I am fine!

She rummages in her bag.

Christine: I went to the library yesterday, looked up Prader Willi Syndrome. I found quite a lot.
Mark: The doctors have already told us what to expect. Witness the padlocks. They say he’ll eat us out of house and home. Literally. (snickers) Jenny’s got it all organised, how to stop him. She’s been on at me for the last fortnight about redecorating. She wants me to strip the wallpaper. He might eat it. Did your books tell you that?

Christine touches his arm, reassuring.

Poor little bugger. He’s not even on baby rice yet, and she’s making sure he can’t chew the anaglypta. And all the carpets’ll have to go. Laminate flooring’s safer, apparently.
Christine: She likes to get things done ahead of time, doesn’t she? (She pulls a sheaf of papers from her bag.)Not that that’s a bad thing. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say. That’s why I brought these notes. I took ‘em in the library. I thought - it’s only fair if you know what’s in store.
Mark: Padlocked kitchens and glossed walls, by the looks of it.
Christine: Yes, but – did the doctors tell you the rest of it?
Mark:(anxious) Rest of it?
Christine: Hmm. Didn’t think so. I’ve had a few dealings with doctors, as you know. I find they never tell you everything.
Mark: What did they miss out?

Christine consults her notes.

Christine: For a start, you know he’s – I don’t know how they put it nowadays –
Mark: What?
Christine: He has – learning difficulties.
Mark: How bad?(Pause) How bad?
Christine: You might be lucky. He might just be a bit slow.
Mark:(frightened) And if we’re unlucky?
Christine: You won’t be unlucky. I know you won’t.

Mark stares, shocked, horrified, frightened. She looks at her notes.

Temper tantrums.
Mark: Temper tantrums?
Christine: Epics, apparently. People with Prader Willi could scream for England.
Mark: All kids have tantrums.
Christine: Not like these.

He is in despair. She looks at her notes again, reads from them.

The eating you know about, and it leads to obesity and susceptibility to various ailments – diabetes, liver complications, heart disease. To say nothing of his potential to poison himself by eating things he shouldn’t. There was a case in one of the books, boy ran away from home, found three days later having run up a restaurant bill of £600. £600! Imagine! Shortly after that, of course, he died. His heart couldn’t take/ the extra –
Mark: Shut up!

He towers over her, menacing her.

Christine: I was just saying –
Mark: You’ve said enough. Is this how you get your kicks? Out of other people’s misery?
Christine: No! I wouldn’t! For God’s sake, I wouldn’t do that to you. You know I wouldn’t. I knew how you’d feel when you found out. Because I felt the same. When I read all this, I cried. I cried, Mark. For you.

Mark looks at her with contempt.

I wondered whether to tell you. I knew you’d be upset. But I thought if it was me, I’d want to know. And I’d want to hear it from a friend, not some doctor who has no idea how I feel.

A pause. Mark sits down, calmer.

Mark: Is that all the books said?
Christine: Isn’t that enough for now?

He buries his face in his hands. She comforts him.

Christine: When I was reading this, it made me think. I wondered, if this was my baby, and I knew all this, what would I do? What’d be best for him? For me? For the family? And you know, there’s really only one solution I came up with.
Mark: Which was?
Christine: I’d put him in a home. It’d be the kindest thing. You and Jenny could get on with your lives. And he’d be better off, being with people like – well, his own kind.
Mark: A home?

She nods. He thinks for a moment.

It might be for the best, I suppose.
Christine:(relieved) That’s what I thought.
Mark: Course, me and Jenny don’t matter. It’d make life easier for us, I grant you, but that’s not what I’d be doing it for.
Christine: Of course not.
Mark: If it wasn’t right for Sammy, I wouldn’t even entertain it.
Christine: I know.
Mark: But it’s worth looking into it. For him.
Christine: For him.

They sit silently for a moment.

Mark: Don’t know what Jenny’ll say.
Christine: She’s not like us, is she? You and me, we see the big picture. Jenny, well, she’s much more – emotional.
Mark: She can be.

He starts to move in clsoe to her. She allows him to do so.

Christine: I couldn’t have had this conversation with her.
Mark: It’ll be all right. You leave Jenny to me.

They move in to kiss. At the last moment, Christine pulls away, leaving him frustrated. She puts her notes onto the table, walks quickly to the garden door.

Christine: I wasn’t interfering, or anything like that.
Mark: I know.
Christine: I was trying to help. It’s what friends are for.
Mark: Yeah.

Christine exits. Mark picks up her notes, begins to read.


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