Where's joy? by Pam Gems



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WHERE'S JOY?


by Pam Gems


Copyright © Pam Gems

Pam Gems is hereby identified as author of this work in accordance with section 77 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The author has asserted her moral rights.
All rights whatsoever in this play are strictly reserved and application for performance etc. should be made before rehearsal to Rose Cobbe, United Agents, 12-26 Lexington Street, London W1F 0LE, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 20 3214 0800.

http://unitedagents.co.uk/agents/rose-cobbe/. Assistant: Dan Usztan. Email: dusztan@unitedagents.co.uk Tel: +44 (0) 20 3214 0873. No performance may be given unless a licence has been obtained.


WHERE'S JOY?

CAST

MOIRA, early 40s.

SALES LADY.

TOBY, teens, dark, pudding hair-cut.

CLAIRE, teens, blonde and attractive.

NICK, teens, stocky, Jewish.

PAUL, teens, good-looking.

RACHEL, Nick's mother, comely, 40s.

HAL, Paul's father, 40s, trendy.

CLELA, 20s, American, a model.

ERNEST, thin, 50s.

SCOTTIE, heavily built, late 30s.

ANN, teens, middle-class accent.

JOY, 40ish, full-bodied, black hair, white face, intense.

RAYMOND, Nick's father, 50s, well-built.


WHERE'S JOY?

Prologue.

A committee room in the House of Commons. The time - today.
ANN

(Offstage) No, no, quite all right - I'm early - not at all...thank you, I'm fine.
ANN enters. She is an attractive woman in her forties. She wears functional but elegant clothes and has a good hair-cut. She looks at the papers laid out for the meeting, peruses them with close attention. She turns at a sound.
PAUL enters. He is in his forties, less formally dressed, lean, tanned, good-looking, wiht an intelligent face. ANN smiles politely.
ANN

Another early arrival.
PAUL

Hullo. Congratulations on the appointment.
ANN

Culture, Media and Sport - not known as preferment.
PAUL

All the more room for -
(She smiles up at him in enquiry.)
PAUL

- busting guts? Laying landmines?
ANN laughs, and then comes closer.
ANN

Don't I know you?
She peers into his face, and jerks back in surprise and recognition.
ANN

Paul!
PAUL

Ann!
They stare at each other and then embrace warmly. PAUL steps back, shakes his head in wonder.
PAUL

I didn't - I'd no idea you were Ann Phillipson - the Ann -
ANN

Different surname. Married name.

PAUL

You didn't keep your own name, Ann Vernon?
ANN

No. Well, you know - the kids.
PAUL

Kids?
ANN

Two boys and a girl. You?
PAUL

I have a son. He lives with his mother in Montana.
ANN

Do you see him?
PAUL

Oh yes. So...are we going to get anything?
ANN

Not a lot. As little as possible - but something. You're here for - ?
PAUL

Trees.
ANN

Oh Paul! Of course. It was always trees.
PAUL

(Surprised) Was it?

ANN

Oh yes! - amongst everything else. We were in Hyde Park once and you said that town parks made you feel claustrophobic but that the trees were superbly tended - model forestry. I read your book on the Amazon. Where are you living - what country?
PAUL

Oh, here and there. I move about. You've moved about a bit yourself.
ANN

Well, keep trucking as we used to say. (She smiles at him.) Funny though. Here we are, still -
PAUL

Yup, still -
ANN

Plus ça change, eh? It's exceedingly good to see you.
PAUL

You too.
ANN

I feel quite fortified!
PAUL shakes his head.
PAUL

Uch-uch. As the Minister, you're the enemy.
ANN

Well, as I say - plus ça change! (They laugh.) How is your mother?
PAUL

Moira? She's fine - "Look, we have come through!" Married a New Zealander with a farm the size of Devon - my father's still sulking after calling her a loser and doing her out of the house.
ANN

I liked Moira.
SCENE 1.

The time changes to the early Seventies. Our attention is drawn to MOIRA, who is in a changing room and stands before a store mirror as ANN and PAUL disappear unobtrusively. MOIRA has tried on a droopy long dress in swirly purple and brown. The medieval sleeves are too tight and the dress displays her stomach.
The SALESLADY looms up behind her.
SALESLADY

How are you getting on - ooh that looks nice!
She catches MOIRA'S eye.
SALESLADY

I'll see what else I can find. (Goes.)
MOIRA

No, don't b-
She struggles out of the dress, sinks onto a spindly chair, looks at herself in her discoloured underwear. The SALESLADY erupts again through the curtains.
SALESLADY

What about a trouser suit?
MOIRA just looks at her. There is a moment of truth between them.
MOIRA

Thanks anyway.
SALESLADY

Sorry.
She disappears. MOIRA looks at herself in the glass, rises, grabs her stuff and wanders off in her underwear.
SCENE 2.

Three YOUTHS erupt onstage. They wear school blazers. They play around robustly, shouting hoarsely. CLAIRE, an attractive blonde girl, walks past. TOBY, a dark boy with pudding hair-cut and a closed, somewhat Asiatic face, throws himself at her feet and propels himself on his back before her. She sidesteps him deftly and he jumps up.
TOBY

(Calls after her) Hey Claire, your ass wobbles!
She wheels back and clouts him with her schoolbag. It is a well-aimed blow and he staggers.
NICK

(Dark, not thin, takes CLAIRE suavely by the arm) Catherine - I had to come. (US accent.)
CLAIRE

Get out.
They box her in.
NICK

(US accent) If you would only let me Explain!
She dodges them, gives PAUL, the third boy, rangy and good-looking, a challenging stare. He turns away.
CLAIRE

Anyway, why weren't you lot at the meeting?
PAUL

De Forrest was there.
NICK

Yeah, real coup - big asset. That guy's going to be England's first black Harold Wilson -
TOBY

No he's not.
PAUL

He's got a trial for West Ham.
NICK

You're kidding - a schwarzer? What do you know?!
CLAIRE

Fuck football. You better make the next one, Joy was mad.
She slings her bag on her shoulder, gives PAUL another challenging stare and goes.
PAUL

(To TOBY) Was she mad?
TOBY shrugs.

TOBY

We're not speaking. I said I'd do the leaflets.
NICK jerks his head at PAUL.
NICK

That was his fault.
PAUL

I forgot.
NICK

You always forget.
PAUL

What about you, bourgeois hyena?
NICK

I couldn't miss it, it was a Cagney film!
PAUL

(To TOBY) When's the next gig?
TOBY

Tomorrow.
PAUL

God I hate meetings. Your stomach going like a bloody geyser - look, are meetings a fucking mammalian anomaly or is there something wrong with me?
TOBY

You just need to screw more.
They look at him. He gives them a rictus smile and lopes off. They watch him out of hearing range.


PAUL

I reckon he's the one going funny in the head.
NICK

What makes you think that?
PAUL

Him and his fucking mother.
NICK

Yeah, weird. (Going) Caio.
PAUL

(Calls after him) Hey, did youu do the essay on Pitt?
NICK

(Walking backwards) Yeah...
PAUL

And you've bloody given it in!
NICK

(Going, calls) Had to do something to bring her on.
He goes. PAUL grins, then moves about, moody and indecisive. Finding no solution to his problems he goes separately.
SCENE 3.

NICK, at home, lies sprawled, listening to music, joining in with his guitar and ad-libbing vocals.
RACHEL, his mother, a comely woman, successfully dressed in warm colours, she likes velvet, enters, laden with expensive shopping bags.
NICK

Been shopping?
RACHEL

Sweaters!
She hauls them out of the shiny bags.
NICK

Six? What you want to buy six for?
RACHEL

Because we can afford it. (She smooths a sweater.) Cashmere - beautiful - don't wear it when you're eating, Nicky, or I'll kill you -
NICK

Ma!
RACHEL

And don't look Protestant at me. Buy and sell -buy and sell - you have to turn money round eight times a year otherwise the world stops spinning.
NICK

Come again?
RACHEL

It's what I read and if you'd went away to a good school like we wanted, never mind. There's no shame in being well-dressed, what's wrong with looking good, you're a beautiful boy - find some new friends, nice ones and - oh - by the way - Ruthie and her mother are coming for dinner tomorrow, don't forget, she's a lovely girl.
NICK

I'm not old enough to get married.
RACHEL

(Laughs) Get married...get married! (She hugs him fondly and kisses him. He doesn't mind this.) Such a handsome boy.
She goes. NICK strums the guitar...drops it, puts on all the sweaters, a loud golfing cap and goes. He re-enters at once.
NICK

(Muttering to himself) Buy and sell...buy and sell...suy and bell...buy and sell...

TOBY

Where you going?
NICK

Over to fuck Vanessa, wanna come?
TOBY

I've got my essay to do - oh, OK.
They go.
SCENE 4.

PAUL and MOIRA at home. He wears an old raincoat nearly down to his feet, tied with string, and an Aussie hat, turned up at one side. It is too big, low on the brow, making him look mental. MOIRA gazes at him without expression.
PAUL

Don't look like htat, I have to see him, he's my father, anyway I'm broke.
MOIRA

I hate it.
PAUL

Why? It's finished, done with. You're not jealous of Her, are you?
MOIRA

She's young.
PAUL

Production line, this week's offer! They're not in your class, either of them.
(She sniffs.)
Mum, for Christ's sake.
All right, I won't go.
MOIRA

No, go. Go. I can't...it's...
PAUL

Get another man.
Why not?
MOIRA tries to recover.
MOIRA

(Hopeless smile) The Avon lady made up my face. What do you think?
PAUL

No, it looks silly. You don't need - it's not your style. You could lose some weight.


MOIRA

(Furious) Oh get out!
SCENE 5.

PAUL at his father's flat in Holland Park. His father, HAL, is trendy, careful, tough. His girlfriend CLELA, is a model in her mid-twenties.
HAL

Well, if not university, then what?
CLELA pushes a big bowl of dip towards PAUL, and a dish of crackers. He sticks his whole fist in the dip and licks it.
PAUL

Dunno. Bum around, I guess. I could try a bit of business.
HAL

Don't even think about it.
PAUL

The money's good. OK...OK...how about a handout?
HAL

Not a good moment I'm afraid.
PAUL

When is it?
HAL

I paid for your trip to Iceland, and your teeth.
(PAUL sticks his fingers in the dip, swirls them round and round.)
Don't DO that!
(PAUL looks in mock-innocent enquiry.)
It's offensive.
PAUL

Why? My hands are clean.
CLELA

(She is American) It is offensive because you do it to offend.


PAUL

Could be. (He licks his fingers) Ugh.
CLELA

What?
PAUL

Why mash the fruits of the earth into smooth sick?
CLELA

(Baffled) It's supposed to be like that.
PAUL

Loose-bowelled owlshit.
His father hands him a fiver.
HAL

Here. Buzz off.
(PAUL makes no move to take the money.)
Suit yourself.
He pockets the fiver, turns away.
PAUL

I don't blame you, I'm surprised you stayed so long.
HAL

Shut up.
PAUL

It's just -
PAUL is suddenly weary. He puts on the ludicrous hat with care.
HAL

It's not as simple as you -
PAUL

I know.
HAL

Not diagnosable at the drop of a hat or any other flow-chart, quick-fix -

PAUL

I've said, I know!
(He picks up his bag.)
I'm getting the weight of her depressions now.
HAL

Oh God.
(PAUL starts to go.)
Look, I've been thinking -
PAUL

(Turns, murderous) Don't. (Slight pause as he recovers himself.)
You disappoint.

(HAL gestures, mystified.)
Matter of taste. She has it, you haven't.
(He wheels, waving an arm at the decor.)
What the fuck did all this Cost!
How many years was it - solicitor's secretary, export supervisor, dogsbody for hauliers, repping, subbing while you sat at home `freelancing', ringing your bloody girlfriends -
(His father shoots a look at CLELA. Who looks back levelly.)
She cooked your meals, washed your clothes, made you read, had the ideas, wrote your promos, your job applications, mocked up interviews for you, bam, bam, bam...bingo! Soft-top Merc, expensive deodorant, gold card credit rating...
HAL

And I'm grateful for -
PAUL

There was still no money for the bloody gas bill. No Shangri-La on the domestic front -
HAL

That's enough. Moira has her own style. She makes her own choices, she always has.
CLELA

And I'd love to help! If she would just - relate a little. I know Moira thinks - but I do have insights into her problems, I'm a woman, we do have things in common -
PAUL, going, gives her such a threatening look that she prudently steps out of the way. His father rises angrily but PAUL is quick, backs away. His father contains himself.
HAL

Give my regards to your mother. If she has any more trouble with the car, tell her to let me know, I'll try and fix a trade in.
PAUL

The old banger? We sold it last winter to pay the plumber.
He goes. Silence. HAL sits, makes a show of relaxing. He looks across to CLELA.
HAL

Show me something nice.
She takes out one tit.
NICK reprises his song.
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