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 Posted: Sat Jan 3rd, 2009 05:45 pm
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lostsocks
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Joined: Sun Jun 11th, 2006
Location: Cambridge, United Kingdom
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Mana: 
This is an idea I'm working on at the minute, it's a long way from being finished.
Possible titles are:
Jenga
Tyrants Tower
Foodchainstore

There is only one thing that the play is definitely not about, which is the Twin Towers. But I'm worried people might make those associations anyway.
Any and all feedback is welcome.

-----------

The stage is in near-black out, with a single light showing BOBBERT, asleep beneath a pile of sheets.
ALAN enters the light apprehensively and leans over BOBBERT.


ALAN:
Bobbert… Hey… Bob… wake up
BOBBERT:
Wh…?
ALAN:
Wake up…
BOBBERT:
What time is it?
ALAN:
If you’re stuck in a room with no windows or doors, and have nothing but a table and a saw… how do you get out?
BOBBERT:
Alan… What are you…?
ALAN:
It’s a riddle if you’re stuck in a room with no windows or doors and you only have…
BOBBERT:
What are you doing here?
ALAN:
Trying to solve a riddle
BOBBERT:
Why? … What time is it? What the hell are you doing?
ALAN:
Listen, this is important…
BOBBERT:
How did you get in?
ALAN:
I’m trying to get out. Listen, a saw and a table, you must remember from school, you remember everything
BOBBERT:
I don’t remember giving you a key… or where the light switch is…
ALAN:
You didn’t… and the light switch is where it always is, by the door. Well not by the door, because there aren’t any doors now, but it’s the door that moved, not the switch

BOBBERT starts trying to pull himself out of bed, he is not wearing pyjamas, but a torn and bloodied suit

BOBBERT:
Where are my pyjamas?
ALAN:
Why would I know that?
BOBBERT:
You’ve taken my pyjamas
ALAN:
Why would you need pyjamas at work?
BOBBERT:
I was asleep
ALAN:
Even so, there wasn’t exactly time to go home and change

The lights flicker and there are sounds of struggling electric system. They reveal the stage, a ruin, formerly an office. BOBBERT had been sleeping in a pile of debris with some sheets. True to ALAN’s dilemma, there is a table and a large saw in the room. The door has been damaged beyond repair and is blocked, there are no windows

BOBBERT:
This is a bad dream…
ALAN:
They’re only pyjamas… I would have thought that was the least of our problems
BOBBERT:
It’s a nightmare
ALAN:
A nightmare would be turning up to work naked, as it happens, you’re still fully dressed
BOBBERT:
Oh god…
ALAN:
Which is pretty impressive if truth be told. I saw Johnny from second floor shoot past the window before the last moments, and he didn’t have any skin
BOBBERT:
Johnny?
ALAN:
I know, he’s crazy. Remember when we finished our GCSEs and he set off the fire alarm?
BOBBERT:
No…no…no… This isn’t happening
ALAN:
I thought of him when the alarms went off today, and then he goes flying past with no skin, and I said to myself, “that is typical Johnny”
BOBBERT:
What?
ALAN:
You know, the fire alarms…
BOBBERT:
I remember the fire alarms
ALAN:
Yeah back at GCSE
BOBBERT:
Not back at GCSE for fucks sake!
ALAN:
It was…
BOBBERT:
Today! The alarms today!
ALAN:
There was no fire alarm today…
BOBBERT:
You just said
ALAN:
They stopped working three days ago, not long after the sprinklers went.
BOBBERT:
How long have I been out?
ALAN:
You’ve not been anywhere
BOBBERT:
I was asleep!
ALAN:
I know, I put you to bed
BOBBERT:
How long?
ALAN:
It didn’t take long
BOBBERT:
How long have I been asleep?
ALAN:
Just a few days
BOBBERT:
A few days?
ALAN:
About that… it’s hard to tell without windows
BOBBERT:
Have you tried calling anyone?
ALAN:
There didn’t seem much point. We’re already at work so there is no need to call in sick, we’re technically not skiving
BOBBERT:
I mean like the fire brigade
ALAN:
You’re not on fire anymore
BOBBERT:
Well not the fire brigade then but you know what I… what do you mean anymore?
ALAN:
The external phone line is dead
BOBBERT:
The internal one?
ALAN:
We can still get through to the I.T. department
BOBBERT:
Well?
ALAN
They said they didn’t think it was anything to do with new version of Windows we installed, but they’re looking into it
BOBBERT:
Did you ask them about the fire brigade?
ALAN:
I.T. isn’t responsible for the fire brigade
BOBBERT:
They can’t contact the outside world?
ALAN:
No windows
BOBBERT:
This is absurd!
ALAN:
I know, you would think the computer geeks could get windows working
BOBBERT:
What have you been eating?
ALAN:
Nothing much
BOBBERT:
We need to get out
ALAN:
I know but I can’t remember how it works… you saw the legs off the table and the four legs make a door… or it was something like that
BOBBERT:
What are you talking about?
ALAN:
You know. Stuck in a room with no windows or doors and only a table and a saw
BOBBERT:
Where on earth did you find a saw?
ALAN:
Stationary cupboard
BOBBERT:
I remember the fire alarms… we… we were
ALAN:
Right, this is probably still new and exciting for you
BOBBERT:
The whole building…
ALAN:
Only I’m a little fed up with it to be honest
BOBBERT:
We all laughed, because nobody wanted to be the first to jump under the table and look like a tit
ALAN:
The thing is the smoking ban… I need to go outside to have a fag Bob
BOBBERT:
And then we… it… all… I don’t really.
ALAN:
So we’ve got this table and a saw right and I need you to…
BOBBERT:
I must have banged my head
ALAN:
It’s something like you saw a door into the table or whatever
BOBBERT:
I don’t remember…
ALAN:
But you have to! It was an easy riddle! You were always telling it
BOBBERT:
I don’t remember anything
ALAN:
You’re joking
BOBBERT:
It’s… I know the fire alarms went off
ALAN:
The only reason I didn’t eat you was because I thought you might know!
BOBBERT:
What?
ALAN:
Look, I would be lying if I said it hadn’t crossed my mind
BOBBERT:
You were thinking of eating me?
ALAN:
Everyone in the catering department has eaten each other…
BOBBERT:
But they have all the food!
ALAN:
Yeah but you’ve tasted their sandwiches
BOBBERT:
What floor are we on?
ALAN:
Maybe Johnny will manage to bring us back some help
BOBBERT:
What floor are we on?
ALAN:
What difference does it make?
BOBBERT:
Well for escape
ALAN:
The entire tenth floor flew past… I don’t think they’re in numerical order any more
BOBBERT:
You say Johnny escaped?
ALAN:
He flew past after the alarms went off
BOBBERT:
Thank god
ALAN:
Though he didn’t have any…
BOBBERT:
Skin… right. You said.
ALAN:
But he was definitely alive
BOBBERT:
Oh god…that’s… it’s
ALAN:
Typical Johnny, I know
BOBBERT:
Do we have water?
ALAN:
Some… I saved a bit from the sprinklers in the little metal bin
BOBBERT:
And nothing else?
ALAN:
Susan used to keep biscuits in her desk… but it’s locked
BOBBERT:
Where is Susan?
ALAN:
Hard to say
BOBBERT:
You didn’t…
ALAN:
What?
BOBBERT:
You know
ALAN:
Oh! … No
BOBBERT:
Good
ALAN:
Not for lack of trying. Can’t find anyone else. Just you an me here when I woke up
BOBBERT:
You remember what happened?
ALAN:
Hard to say…
BOBBERT:
You can’t have missed it!
ALAN:
Nah I saw everything… just…
BOBBERT:
Just what? You chose that moment to go and make a coffee?
ALAN:
There wasn’t much to see… It all just… happened
BOBBERT:
What? What just happened?
ALAN:
It did
BOBBERT:
“it” doesn’t just happen
ALAN:
It did
BOBBERT:
We need to work this out Alan… If we can piece it together we can… well… if the authorities ask
ALAN:
Yes
BOBBERT:
We’ll be able to tell them
ALAN:
And then they’ll know
BOBBERT:
And I imagine they’ll be able to explain
ALAN:
And then we’ll know… only…
BOBBERT:
So we’ll piece it together, bit by bit
ALAN:
Only… when they know, and we know… what then?
BOBBERT:
We’ll tell our story!
ALAN:
Then everyone will know
BOBBERT:
So what happened first?
ALAN:
The fire alarms
BOBBERT:
Right, and we all stood around looking awkward… OK… And then
ALAN:
It happened

BOBBERT sits down, exasperated

BOBBERT:
Oh god… Oh Jesus shitting Christ
ALAN:
It’s ok
BOBBERT:
In what possible way… could this even begin to be ok?
ALAN:
Well you’re awake
BOBBERT:
That was precisely when the problems began!
ALAN:
No, its fine now, you’re just in shock
BOBBERT:
It’s not fine
ALAN:
This is perfectly normal
BOBBERT:
Perfectly normal?
ALAN:
When the building collapses…
BOBBERT:
Normal?
ALAN:
You’re bound to be upset I mean
BOBBERT:
Upset?
ALAN:
It’s OK, I was a bit upset as well
BOBBERT:
Alan… I don’t think I’m OK with this
ALAN:
You know what I did? I remembered the day of our job interview
BOBBERT:
But I can’t remember…
ALAN:
Nothing?
BOBBERT:
It’s all a blur
ALAN:
Not much of a loss then
BOBBERT:
But my whole life… I mean I could have been anyone, I could have lost everything… What if this whole building was mine?
ALAN:
It wasn’t
BOBBERT:
But what I mean is… I mean if I can’t remember… I mean just say it had been?
ALAN:
Then it isn’t anymore… so your situation isn’t much changed


There is a long pause. The building creaks ominously

BOBBERT:
So what was it?
ALAN:
What was what?
BOBBERT:
What happened the day of our job interview?
ALAN:
You really want to know?
BOBBERT:
Of course I want… That’s me! All that’s left of me
ALAN:
Well you only need to ask
BOBBERT:
Everything that is left of me is stuck inside your head
ALAN:
There are worse places to be
BOBBERT:
So tell me
ALAN:
You really can’t remember anything?
BOBBERT:
Nothing
ALAN:
It was the same day that I lent you a thousand pounds
BOBBERT:
What for?
ALAN:
Prostitutes I think, you were never as handsome as me
BOBBERT:
You’re joking?
ALAN:
You haven’t paid it back incidentally
BOBBERT:
…Alan…
ALAN:
Well I had just quit my job as fighter jet pilot
BOBBERT:
Alan… I’ve lost my memory I’m not stupid
ALAN:
Maybe you took a knock on the head… you used to be stupid
BOBBERT:
Stop it!
ALAN:
Sorry
BOBBERT:
This is important, I need to know
ALAN:
Yeah I know, I’ve just been bored is all
BOBBERT:
It’s not funny
ALAN:
Look, the story is this…
BOBBERT:
I’m serious
ALAN:
Ok, this is it, seriously, we went for the same interview yeah? And we were sat waiting in the same room. Well we all have to answer this question first don’t we? If the building is falling down, what is the one thing you would take out?
BOBBERT:
What did we say?
ALAN:
Nothing, we were too slowly, they collected the answers before we had time to write anything.
BOBBERT:
But we must have got the job?
ALAN:
We did. They thought we were being clever, saying that we wouldn’t take anything out of the building. Mr Malthus said that was exactly the answer that he had been after, that the people he wanted to employ didn’t jump and run, they stuck things through the bitter end, they were gutsy and tenacious
BOBBERT:
So we got the job?
ALAN:
By keeping our heads down and letting things happen to us.
BOBBERT:
But isn’t that wrong?
ALAN:
You can’t argue with results
BOBBERT:
We’re trapped under a collapsed building
ALAN:
Yes but that is only one thing
BOBBERT:
We were always happy to let things happen to us… so they did
ALAN:
But you’re missing the point
BOBBERT:
What point?
ALAN:
This is just one thing
BOBBERT:
But it’s a big thing Alan. A big heavy thing.
ALAN:
Statistically though
BOBBERT:
Statistically what?
ALAN:
We won
BOBBERT:
This isn’t victory!
ALAN:
But the building has only fallen on our heads about one percent of the time. You can’t deny that is pretty good going
BOBBERT:
I deny it!
ALAN:
You can’t deny it!
BOBBERT:
This is terrible, it’s not who I want to be at all… I wish you hadn’t have told me about it
ALAN:
You asked, you wouldn’t take no for an answer
BOBBERT:
That was the old me. The new me would rather live in blissful ignorance
ALAN:
The new you?
BOBBERT:
Yeah, the one who went to that interview
ALAN:
But the new you was there first…
BOBBERT:
Don’t I know it! There is nothing I can do about him now
ALAN:
We could try hitting you on the head again?
BOBBERT:
The old me… the one with no memories, he could have been anyone, he had his whole life ahead of him
ALAN:
He was buried in a collapsed building too
BOBBERT:
Yes but that building was his oyster
ALAN:
Yes but he was trapped underneath his oyster
BOBBERT:
I wish he was here. He would have known what to do
ALAN:
He didn’t, I asked him
BOBBERT:
So what now?
ALAN:
We solve the riddle
BOBBERT:
Which riddle?
ALAN:
We’re trapped in a room with no windows, no door, and all we have is a saw… It’s something like you shout till you turn into a horse… or that was a part of it, but not until you find a door under the table. You used to tell it all the time.
BOBBERT:
I don’t remember
ALAN:
Well we’ve got all day Bobbert…

The lights dim briefly and we hear the ticking of a clock.
When the lights return to normal ALAN is lying underneath the table with the saw and BOBBERT has removed his tie, shoes and socks, he is idly building a small pile of rubble into a pile.

ALAN:
I’ve got it!

ALAN sits up suddenly, bangs his head on the bottom of the table and falls back down again

BOBBERT:
Did it work?
ALAN:
Oh no…
BOBBERT:
What?
ALAN:
I think I’ve forgotten it again…
BOBBERT:
Forgotten what?
ALAN:
I don’t remember
BOBBERT:
Christ it’s hot in here
ALAN:
I swear I had it
BOBBERT:
I think it’s been getting gradually warmer
ALAN:
We’re going to die here
BOBBERT:
Aren’t you warm? I’m warm

He puts his hands in his pockets and looks suddenly bemused

ALAN:
Yes, it’s warm, who cares? I like the warm, I prefer it to the cold
BOBBERT:
What’s this?

He takes a small ring box out of his trouser pocket

ALAN:
How should I know?

BOBBERT opens the box to reveal an engagement ring

BOBBERT:
Alan… I have a question I need to ask you
ALAN:
I’m flattered Bob but you’re not my type
BOBBERT:
Alan you shit! Why do I have an engagement ring in my pocket? What haven’t you told me?
ALAN:
That you have an engagement ring in your pocket… obviously
BOBBERT:
No, this is important, this… it means something, right?
ALAN:
With a diamond that size you have to hope so

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 Posted: Fri Jan 9th, 2009 05:42 am
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Marc-Andre
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Mana: 
Hi Lostsocks, I enjoyed reading the dialogue and got disappointed when it ended, once hooked I want to read more. The only thing that actually bothered me a bit here is the credibility of the situation: not the setting, but Bobbert's memory loss, the few days asleep etc. Probably from whatever has "happened" but I'm still rather unconvinced. Perhaps it's just me, it would be interesting to see how other readers feel.

As for title, I like "Jenga" as this could reflect both the physical setting and psychological breakdown (for lack of a better term) of the characters, if this is what you're aiming at. The piece so far looks a bit comical, the importance of getting out of there not being as high a stake as I would like to see it. Perhaps a moment of panic before the witty lull? Alan might have had it before the play started, but what about Bobbert? Or will you have him realise the "seriousness" of the situation later on? I'd love to feel the urgency of it, even though it tends towards a nice comedy (the water  from the sprinklers was good; perhaps they should begin by using the saw on Susan's desk for her old biscuits...) -the lack of necessity to call in sick is one of my favourite parts :) - Alan's lucid approach and actions make me wonder about a background that "explains" his cool response, and I'd like to know during the course of the play.

These are just my impressions as a reader, I am new to playwrighting myself. Having read your post through and taking time to reply means that I did enjoy it. I look forward to reading what follows.

Have a marvelous day! Mark

Last edited on Fri Jan 9th, 2009 05:50 am by

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 Posted: Fri Jan 9th, 2009 04:54 pm
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lostsocks
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Location: Cambridge, United Kingdom
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Mana: 
Thanks Mark, that was helpful stuff.

Most of my plays tend to be in rather unusual settings (last one was set off the edge of the world), so I can sometimes neglect the realism needed to reinforce the unreal

Also, it doesn't help that myself don't often respond to situations in the ways that "normal" folks might ;)

The play is very much in the foetal stage at the moment (should have posted it in Works in Progress with the wisdom of hindsight), so there is lots of room for development and playing with it

Thanks again for the feedback,

Last edited on Fri Jan 9th, 2009 04:55 pm by lostsocks

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 Posted: Mon Jan 12th, 2009 08:43 pm
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playwright_bo
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Mana: 
I like it.  It's funny, it's existential, it's my cup-o-tea.
I think Jenga is a great title too.
The hard part might be continuing to build the dramatic tension.
I certainly want to know what is going to happen next.

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