The Lad (in 10 miniature scenes)

THIS PIECE IS A COMPLEMENT TO BECKETT’S PLAY ‘KRAPPS LAST TAPE’ IN SO FAR AS IT FEATURES A BANANA.

IT CAN BE PERFORMED LIVE ANYWHERE IN WHICH CASE ALL THE PROP CHANGES AND BUSINESS BETWEEN THE TEN MINIATURES COULD, PROBABLY WOULD, BE SEEN BY THE AUDIENCE AND TREATED LIKE PART OF THE PERFORMANCE.

THE SCENE IS ANYWHERE. THE TIME IS TODAY

…BUT ANYWHERE HAS BEEN ADAPTED FOR AN OLD MAN WHO IS SAT IN AN ARMCHAIR LISTENING TO AN OLD RADIO WEARING A BIB. NEXT TO HIS CHAIR, ON ONE SIDE IS AN OCCASIONAL TABLE WITH A FRUIT BOWL CONTAINING LOTS OF BANANAS AND THE RADIO. NEXT TO THAT IS A WASTE BIN. ALSO IN THE SCENE IS A YOUNG MAN PLAYING A CLASSICAL GUITAR SOMETIMES FOLLOWING THE OLD MANS ACTIONS PRECISELY, SOMETIMES NOT. (MAYBE HE IS THE OLD MAN’S YOUNGER SELF OR MAYBE JUST AN ENTERTAINER.) ON THE MAN’S KNEE IS ‘THE LAD’ A VENTRILOQUIST DUMMY IN A PURPLE SHINY SHOW SUIT. THEY APPEAR TO BE LISTENING TO THE RADIO TOGETHER BUT IT BECOMES APPARENT FROM THE UNATURAL WAY THEY INTERACT DURING THE PERFORMANCE THAT THE OLD MAN IS NOT A SKILLED VENTRILOQUIST. FROM TIME TO TIME THE LAD WILL SING ALONG TO THE RADIO (SEE LYRICS ON PAGE 3). ALL THE ACTION IS VERY VERY SLOW AS BEFITS THE OLD MAN AND MUCH IS FOCUSED ON HIS FREE HAND NOT THE LAD. THE MAN IS AS SKILLED WITH HIS FREE HAND AS HE IS UNSKILLED WITH THE LAD, SUCH THAT IT SEEMS TO SPEAK AND AT TIMES PARALLELS THE MUSIC AS IF IT WERE SINGING ALONG TOO. THE NAILS ON HIS FREE HAND ARE LONG LIKE THOSE OF A GUIARIST.

(INEVITABLY MISTAKES OCCUR DUE TO THE INTRICACY OF THE ACTIVITIES THE MAN IS REQUIRED TO PERFORM. THESE ARE AS IMPORTANT AS THE SUCCESSFUL ACTS OF MANUAL DEXTERITY AND SHOULD NEITHER BE EDITED OUT NOT ‘STAGED.’)

THE CORE RADIO SOUND IS POOR QUALITY AND CONSIST OF SAMPLES DERIVED FROM 1970‘S POP AND POP/CLASSICAL MUSIC HOWEVER THESE CAN BE TRANSFORMED APPROPRIATELY AND DISTRIBUTED THROUGH A HIGH QUALITY SOUND SYSTEM OR OPTIMISED IN POST PRODUCTION. THE RADIO MUSIC MAY FLOW ACROSS SCENES OR BE INTERUPTED. THERE SHOULD NOT BE A SENSE THAT EACH MINATURE HAS A RADIO THEME. THE GUITAR MUSIC IS SYNCHRONISED WITH THE RADIO SOUND AND MAY BLEND WITH IT AT TIMES. IT HAS A TRANQUILITY THAT ESTABLISHES THE SLOW REPETITIVE GENTLE RHYTHM OF THE PIECE.THE MEANING OF THE WORDS DOESN’T MATTER THEY COULD BE ANY OLD MANS SEMI LUCID ’KRAPP’ BUT THE WORDS SELECTED FOR THE SCRIPT MUST BE ADHERED TO PRECISELY AS IF DELIVERED BY A MACHINE WITH NO OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVISATION. THE ‘DRAMA’ IF ANY IS IN THE MUSIC, SILENCES AND THE NON-SPEECH VOCALISATIONS. ALL PAUSES APPLY TO ALL THE SOUND SOURCES SO THAT THE FLOW IS CONTINUALLY INTERUPTED. THE LAD HAS A CHILD’S VOICE (FALSETTO) MOST OF THE TIME, AS IS TRADITIONAL.

SUGGESTED RADIO MUSIC – IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER

Only fragments may be used or more extended samples – the extracts may be significantly modified and processed to be barely recognisable.

RADIO MUSIC: ROGER WHITTAKER https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzKQfrNseoI

RADIO MUSIC: I’D LIKE TO TEACH THE WORLD TO SING
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWKznrEjJK4

RADIO MUSIC: SATIE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WfaotSK3mI

RADIO MUSIC: RODRIGO
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knZyzhMNeP0
 

RADIO MUSIC: STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXQUu5Dti4g

RADIO MUSIC: ANNIES SONG
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNOTF-znQyw

RADIO MUSIC: WHERE DID YOU GO TO MY LOVELY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8XQZYIiNgo

RADIO MUSIC: STARRY STARRY NIGHT
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wrNFDxCRzU

RADIO MUSIC: CAT STEVENS
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGNxKnLmOH4&list=PL262337A5F58BD941

RADIO MUSIC: CAVATINA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7SvBtJuh3Y

The following lyrics can be sung by the Lad whenever appropriate. They may or may not marry to the original songs from which they are derived

Your head is humming and it won’t go, in case you don’t know
The piper’s calling you to join him
Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind?

Come let me love you, let me give my life to you
Let me drown in your laughter, let me die in your arms
Let me lay down beside you, let me always be with you
Come let me love you, come love me again

Like the strangers that you’ve met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

I know where you go to, my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed
I know the thoughts that surround you
‘Cause I can look inside your head

That’s a song I hear
Sing it along
Let the world sing today
Over and over

        minIature 1

The man is eating a banana sandwich. (He rests between each bite)

(Pause)

THE MAN

Want some?

THE LAD

Only if you take off the crusts.

(Pause)

The man takes off the crusts with one hand and his fingernails showing significant virtuosity that is reflected in the music. He feeds the lad clumsily. Bits fall out of the dummies mouth.

THE LAD

(Choking a little)

Watch it, you’re wasting it!

        MINIATURE 2

The Man is holding a banana. He peals it methodically and very very slowly using only one hand. It’s another virtuoso performance.

The Lad watches him apprehensively at first and then tries whistling to calm his nerves. The music accompanied by the guitar sounds a bit like Roger Whittaker

THE MAN

Want some?

THE LAD

You first.

(gulp)

        MINIATURE 3

The Man is pretending to be asleep. The Lad is ‘awake.’ The guitarist plays. The Lad ‘dances’ and sings along with the music.

(Counting to the music)

(Breaths)

        MINIATURE 4

The Man holds the banana as he did at the end of Miniature 2. It’s as though the recording has slipped backwards

THE MAN

Want some?

(Very long pause)

THE LAD

No you are all right!

The man eats the banana in small bites as he does so the lad tries to speak and some words are audible between mouthfuls but the rest of the time the words are completely garbled. The words that are heard are –

THE LAD

…conscious of something

…but the Dartford Crossing was jam packed

…true friendship can

…a bungalow

…your carriage it’s waiting

…fried not baked

…pull up, knock up, rock up, wake up

…feeling like shit

…nobody makes a better flapjack.

        MINIATURE 5

The man holds the banana skin. It hangs limply.

THE LAD

Want some?

THE MAN

Maybe later. You?

THE LAD

(Pause)

It’s empty.

THE MAN

Good though.

        MINIATURE 6

The man holds up a bunch of five bananas

THE LAD

Now that’s more like it.

THE MAN

It’s a feast!

(Slurp)

THE LAD

Enough for everyone.

THE MAN

A bunch…

THE LAD

…a bunch of five

The man pulls his hand out of the dummy and shows his fist to the radio. The Lad now unsupported collapses with laughter.

(Laughter)

        MINIATURE 7

The man is controlling the Lad again. He holds up his other fist.

THE MAN

Nobody does it better

THE LAD

You can say that again.

THE MAN

(Like a nursery rhyme)

Five bananas will make Wilma fat. We don’t want that.

(repeat ad infinitum)

THE LAD

Who is Wilma?

THE MAN

(Pretending to mishear)

Who is Sylvia?

Mad cows!

THE LAD

(In the mans voice – for real like an aside)

Sylvia is here now. We all are, the whole street. No 9 us, No 11 Wilma, No 12 Sylvia. Nobody does it better. She does it, everyday, like clockwork. Up the stairs the window, her tower, waiting all day, nothing doing, nobody, poor cow. Why should they.

(In the Lads voice)

Nobody does it better. The flapjacks. Now that’s something to write home about.

        MINIATURE 8

The lad lies spread over the Mans lap enabling to him to prop a bowl of bananas and custard on his back. (It may look sexual who cares but it’s not the intention.)

THE MAN

Bananas, custard…

He reaches behind his bib and pulls out a paper bag with the remainder of a piece of flapjack in it.

THE MAN

And flapjack.

He breaks the flapjack into the bowl and eats the contents.

        MINIATURE 9

The man holds the empty bowl and presents it to the front so we can see the contents. Its inside is painted like the moon.

THE LAD

A bungalow would be ideal then she couldn’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t climb the stairs.

(Crying in a cod way)

THE MAN

Her head is in the shed.

(Laugh.)

THE LAD

Her head is in the shed.

(Laugh.)

THE MAN

Shall we dance fa la la.

(Breaths and breathless)

(Giggling)

        MINIATURE 10

THE MAN

Easy go.

(Sighs)

THE LAD

Easy come.

The man produces another banana. The Lad stares at it.

THE LAD

(Sighs)

The Man freezes for as long as he can holding the banana aloft while the guitar music plays. Once he can no longer keep the banana still, the performance/film is over.

THE END

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *