An aspiring playwright has sent The Bug a copy of his latest offering. While The Bug is not normally a vehicle for promoting other people’s creativity, we were moved by its relevance to the hum-drum of 21st Century suburban Australian life. We will pass on his details to anyone interested in advancing his project further.
SUPPER-TIME IN THE SHIRE
A short play in one act.
The players: Scott, Mrs Scott, Daughter 1 and Daughter 2.
Scene: A small dining room table, yet in a clearly affluent household. Religious icons adorn the walls. It’s clear the main evening meal has just concluded. It’s also obvious daughter 2 is upset and distressed. Daughter 1 appears to be getting some joy from her sibling’s discomfit.
Daughter 2: “But why can’t I have some pudding, Daddy?” She pauses before adding a plaintive and drawn-out: “Please!”
Scott (pushing his glasses in and acknowledging a supportive pat on the arm from Mrs Scott): “Now pumpkin, how many times have we told you not to throw your towel on the floor after your shower?”
Daughter 2 shrugs her little shoulders and casts her eyes downwards.
Scott: “You’ve done it four times this week. That’s four towels you could have put on the rack and reused, yet now your mother has basically had an extra load of washing to do. The cost of that, because of your reckless and selfish behaviour, means we don’t have the money now to afford sweets. And I really wish we had the money to do that.”
Daughter 1: “See what you’ve done!”
Scott: “And I wouldn’t get so cocky if I were you, young lady. I supposed you’ve forgotten that new pair of trainers you lost at school sports the very first time you wore them?”
Daughter 1 also casts her eyes downward.
Scott (folding his arms): “They were very expensive sports shoes and because of your reckless behaviour, what happened?”
Daughter 1: “We had to cancel that weekend trip away we’d all been looking forward to…”
Scott (wiping his mouth with a napkin): “That’s exactly right. Every home has a budget and we must live within our budget. Fair dinkum, I’d dearly have loved to have spent the money we had to waste on new trainers on that little break away, but it wasn’t to be, was it? I am sick and tired of this nation … I mean this household…having to repeatedly pay a price for the selfish and thoughtless actions of you two. Your mother and I have had it up to here (chops at his neck with his right hand and Mrs Scott follows suit) of having to clean up for your towel and trainer tragedies!”
Daughter 1 begins to sob, and her sibling joins in.
Scott: “Oh, for goodness sake!”
Daughter 1: “I’m sorry, Daddy. It’s not just that though…
Scott and Mrs Scott look at each other, as if to say ‘what now’.
Daughter 1 (between sobs): “We had a vote for lower-form captain today and I lost it 82 to eight.
Scott (throwing down his napkin and leaning in): “How the bloody … sorry…. sorry how on earth did that happen?”
Daughter 1: “It’s no big deal, Daddy. The girl who won is very nice and she’s also very popular. I’m a big girl. I’ll get over it. Anyway, it’s not all that important….”
Scott (face reddening and leaning in even more aggressively and in raised voice): “Not that important! Young lady, I’m not even going to think about what they’re not teaching you at Sunday school about prosperity theology. Now you listen to me. Being a form and school captain is so vital on your resume for when you make your way through life. Do you want to be financially successful as our good Lord and Saviour, the Holy Ghost, expects of all of us…?”
Daughter 1 (softly): “I guess so..”
Scott: “So what do we need to do to turn this setback around? The school community needs to know what this other girl and her family are really like. She probably stacked the classes. And embellished her CV. We need the school head to call for a revote. And, darling, get me the phone number of the editor of the Daily Telegraph. Its circulation is quite large around these parts. Let’s get to work on these people. My best guess is that the father is a criminal lawyer and they never go to Hillsong.”
Daughter 1: “She really is nice, Daddy. Do you really think God would want to harm her in any way just because of a silly student vote…”
Scott (jumping to his feet): “I’ll let you hear directly what God wants!” (turning his hands to the ceiling and closing his eyes in prayer).
Daughters 1 and 2: “Mummy, please tell Daddy to stop. It scares us when he does this.”
Scott: “Hava hara mata mara! Ma tosa nera nosa nowsa cama wacky brown. Hava nagila hava nagila hava nagila ve’ nismecha! Goo goo g’joob g’goo goo g’joob goo goo g’joob g’goo goo g’joob g’goo..I..am..here…and..you..are…here…naa …naaar…na…na…naaarrrr…”