My newest play. About addicts. My plays are available on my website
for free production at the present (Jan 2010)
Man – an addict
Woman – an addict
Outside a support group meeting. The back wall of a building with a door on one side of the stage. Door is not used; can be decorative.
Man is leaning against the wall drinking a beer. Woman enters; stops when she sees Man. She stands with her arms crossed and they both glance furtively at each other. Eventually, he breaks the ice.
Man: You wanna sip?
Woman: No, I really don’t.
Man: Suit yourself. (BEAT) You waiting for a ride?
Woman: Actually, no. I have an important meeting.
Man: You some kind of executive? Board member or company director or something?
Woman: I’m not, actually. It’s for… well…
Man: Don’t worry sweetie. I’m going too.
Woman: Oh. Well, don’t you think offering me a drink is in remarkably poor taste?
Man: You kept looking at my beer. I was only being civil.
Woman: I was looking at you, not your bloody beer. Frankly I’m surprised anyone would be drinking outside… you know.
Man: There is no
way I’m going in there sober.
Woman: And you think that’s a healthy attitude towards attending a support group?
Man: (DRINKS) You been to one of these before?
Woman: Well, yes. I’ve been to this one a few times.
Man: Let me tell you something. I
haven’t, and I’m scared as hell. I’m about to walk into the middle of a group of strangers and expose my deepest, darkest shit to them. This is stuff I won’t tell my best friend; you know, my confidant. Forgive me for settling my nerves.
Woman: I’m so sorry.
Man nods and sips. Woman comes over and puts her hand out. Man looks at her, then hands her the beer. She sips and gives it back.
Woman: I’m not actually an alcoholic. I guess a few sips can’t hurt.
Man: Yeah? What are you then? A psychology student? A journalist looking for some heart-wrenching story about the struggle of pathetic losers like me? There’s good money in tabloid exploitation.
Woman: No, no, I’m not here to take advantage of anyone. I… I’m a different kind of addict.
Man: Oh yeah?
Woman: Yes. It’s not uncommon, apparently. These groups help people with a whole range of issues, not just alcoholism. There’s Gamblers’ Anonymous for example, or Sex Addicts Anonymous.
Man: So what's your poison?
Woman: I’d rather not say.
Man: Of course. Sorry. Didn’t mean to pry.
Woman considers the man thoughtfully. Beat.
Woman: I’m really sorry about what I said before. I know how brave you are for coming here. It took me three years to find the courage. I mean, who cares if you take a little something to settle the nerves on your first day? (BEAT) Okay, why don’t I help you? If you’d like, you can talk to me while we’re waiting. I’ll just listen. That way you can get comfortable talking to a stranger. It’ll help for when you’re inside – trust me.
Man: What do you want to hear?
Woman: Whatever you want to talk about.
Man: Okay. Well, I’m a researcher. I used to work as a sociology lecturer at Sydney University. Up until last year. I lost my job because of my… condition. Fortunately I have enough publications under my belt to work independently of the uni.
Woman: Wow, that’s impressive.
Man: What is, losing my job?
Woman: Oh no, I meant…
Man: You meant it’s impressive that the guy standing outside an AA meeting drinking a beer is not a loser but an intellectual. I know. Judging by appearance factors into sociological studies somewhere, I’m sure.
Woman: There’s no need to be patronising.
Man: Sorry. You’re right. I’m just on edge.
Woman: When did you first start drinking?
Man: Age thirteen.
Woman: I mean… heavily.
Man: Age fourteen.
Woman: Christ. I’m sorry to hear…
Man: What about you? Tell me about yourself.
Woman: Oh. My name is…
Man: Anonymous. You can’t tell me your name; it defeats the purpose. It isn’t Alcoholics in Alphabetical Order.
Woman: June. If you can find me on Facebook with just my first name I’ll give you twenty bucks.
Man: Fair point. June.
Woman: I’m in marketing. PR. I teach companies how to present a positive image of themselves and conceal what they’re actually like. Something I’m very good at doing for myself. Like most people these days I’m an expert at the surface and an utter failure at the underlying problems.
Man: You’re remarkably candid.
Woman: I’m just being honest. You’ll find that as you attend more meetings, you’ll be increasingly open. The more you feel comfortable telling, the more it helps.
Woman: Why don’t you tell me about an occasion when your problem has messed things up for you?
Man: I’d really rather not. Let’s test your theory. We’re obviously going to struggle if you don’t even feel comfortable telling my what you’re addicted to. Instead, why don’t you tell me why an intelligent woman like yourself persists in a career she finds so soul-destroying.
Woman: Let me explain something to you…
Woman: Great. Let me explain something Mr Anonymous. These are called support groups because people support each other in them. Being judgemental and holier-than-thou will create nothing but hostility. And it’s a bit rich to criticise my closed doors if you won’t even tell me your name.
Man: I’m only making an observation.
Woman: No, you’re making an assumption.
Man finishes his beer. Beat.
Man: This one occasion
, I came home at three a.m.. My wife was in bed but she heard the door and woke up. She started asking me questions about where I’d been and why had I taken a cab and left our car in the city. I was exhausted. I undressed and lay in bed. But she could smell
what I’d been doing; it was on my breath. ‘How could you?!’ she screamed. 'I couldn't not,' I replied. 'It's out of my control.' 'How many times have you promised me this would never happen again?' 'I can't keep those promises. I've tried to stop but I can't. I have the best of intentions but the worst of compulsions. Opportunity presents and I'm sucked down into it.' 'I fucking hate you! You're a lying pig. You're such a weak, miserable cunt.' 'Is this how you show your husband support?' And then she slapped me across the face. It was both physical and symbolic, that slap; the ultimate display of her contempt for my problem. I hit her right back. Hard. Everything I hate about myself was embodied in that action. I was hitting myself and trying to devastate my target. I didn't deserve her, or anything else. I was nothing but a weak, miserable cunt.
Man: (cont.) My wife didn't press charges but she sent me the dental bill and divorce papers in the one envelope. It's only when I had nothing more to lose that I could begin rebuilding my life.
Woman: Well, you've outdone me. (BEAT) I have bulimia. I kind of more or less hate myself and I gorge to feel better. When I have an... episode, I go into this frenzy, and I shake like crazy, and I lose all control. It feels like I'm watching someone else do it. And it doesn't make me feel the slightest bit better. I'm not a vomiter, either. I eat until I’m sick and bloated then starve myself the next day.
Man: June, I'm very sorry. It's important to remember that my pain does not make yours any less significant. You may not have lost your wife and job but you're still suffering.
Woman: That's one of the nicest things anyone has ever said for me. (BEAT) And wow, I knew alcohol was bad, but your story is heart-wrenching.
Man: What can I say. I'm an experienced addict. (BEAT) But I'm not an alcoholic.
Man: I'm a sex addict.
Woman: You're joking? (BEAT) You're not joking. So your wife didn't smell alcohol
on your breath. And you weren't drunk at work, you must have...
Man: Four of them.
Woman: Four what? Students.
Man: Four in one class. The professor was pissed when he found out one was the daughter of some wanker associate.
Man: Did you like me better as an alcoholic?
Woman: I... well, I don't know. You're in just as much pain either way.
Man: I believe I am.
Woman: Do you want to go for a drink? I think we can help each other more than the group can help us.
Man: Yeah, sure.
Woman: Great. But I'm not going to have sex with you.
Man: You worried about indulging my addiction?
Woman: Yes, frankly I am. Besides, we only just met.
Man: That's usually how it works.
Woman: Not tonight, anonymous.
Man and Woman start walking off stage.
Man: Are you sure? I won’t be a stranger after tonight, and that makes a one night stand so much less fun.
Woman: Do you really expect that to sway me?
Man: It works about twenty percent of the time.
Woman: I don't even know why I'm not storming off the other way.
Man: I've been told my cheeky charm is... addictive.
Woman: I certainly hope not.
Man and Woman leave the stage.