Natalya foreword



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BRIAN brushes his hair with two brushes, wets it down with something from a test-tube after smelling it.
A DISCO. Flashing lights. BA dancing in wild ecstasy. At one point, head-shaking, she ricks her neck, and staggers, pulling a cross face. But she recovers and dances even more wildly, arching and bending.

SCENE TEN

JACK and EBBA. Tension between them. They sit apart in silence. He makes to speak, changes his mind.
DOORBELL. Neither answers it. It rings again. She glares at him. He frowns, gets up. And lets in MICHELENE.
MICHELENE

Where is she?
EBBA

Who?
MICHELENE

The Russian!
EBBA

I don't know, I'm not her keeper.
JACK

She took Ba to the shops.
MICHELENE

Did you know?
EBBA

Know what?
MICHELENE

About her...and Brian.
EBBA

No.

JACK (together)

Yes.
MICHELENE

You knew - you knew she'd been seeing him.
EBBA

No.
JACK

I...well -
MICHELENE

Was it your idea?
EBBA

No.
MICHELENE

Obviously you feel she's a better match - Russian royalty -
JACK

Royalty?
MICHELENE

(Out of face) If one is to believe her...
JACK

(Laughs) Natalya?
MICHELENE

I've seen her emeralds - and the brooch with the Romanov crest - she was trying to flog it to Princess Michael. Are you saying you don't know what's been going on?
EBBA

Michelene, I never know what's going on!
MICHELENE

(Brandishing her left hand with the engagement ring) Well if he thinks he's getting this back he's reading the wrong label. I'll flog it first.
EBBA

Have you two fallen out?
MICHELENE

Hasn't he told you? He's broken off our engagement!
EBBA

What?
JACK

He's aborting the wedding?
MICHELENE

So it seems.
JACK

Because of Natalya.


MICHELENE

I presume so. Apparently he took her down to Surrey to see the house...
JACK

...and she pissed on it?
MICHELENE

No! She said it was charming, and hoped he'd be very happy (through her teeth). For some reason...for some reason it's put him off!
EBBA

Good grief.
JACK

Baffling.
EBBA

I expect it's just -
JACK

He'll probably come round. Give it time. Natalya has an effect on people.
MICHELENE

Well I'm not standing for it, and you can make that clear to her. What is she planning to do - divorce you and marry him? It's ridiculous, I can't make head nor tail of it all...Goddam it, it's only Brian.
EBBA

I'm sorry, what did you say?
MICHELENE

I didn't mean it like that.
EBBA

Yes you did. Michelene. You caught Brian at a weak moment when he was exhausted after three years of punishing work. He saw you making a prat of yourself, in public, and felt sorry for you.
JACK

Eb...


EBBA

You - are a scrote. Not to mention a wuss and a jessie. No doubt Natalya has pointed this out to him. Whatever she may - or may not - be, she does have a clear mind.
MICHELENE

Whose side are you on?
EBBA

Nobody's. Not even my own as far as I can see.
MICHELENE

Well, he's not backing out now. If I were to cost my time alone - I've taken your sister off your hands three times in the last six months.
EBBA

Only once on your own and you said that was a debacle.
MICHELENE

She spat on a woman's head!
EBBA

Because she made fun of her.
MICHELENE

So what was I supposed to do?
EBBA

(Tired) I don't know.
MICHELENE

Let's face it - it's not everyone would want to marry into a family with -
EBBA

With what? With what, Michelene?
JACK

Eb -
EBBA

(To MICHELENE) Why don't you just clear off?
JACK

Ebba!
MICHELENE

This is ridiculous. Where is Brian?
JACK

I don't know.
EBBA

Get out of my house.
MICHELENE turns and goes. Sound of a door slamming. Silence.
JACK

(Laughs.) Natalya and Brian! She's giving us all a seeing to - except you of course. Look...where were we? All I'm saying is -
EBBA

I heard what you said. I still can't believe it, but I heard it clearly enough. (She rises, stands over him.) You're a pimp. I've been sharing my secrets through the night with a pimp.
JACK

I'm being realistic.
EBBA

You're being opportunistic.
JACK

Yes, if you must. This is the world we live in!
EBBA

You're talking pre-nuclear physics. There is no `world we live in'. Only the world we make... WE make up.
JACK

Sorry, I do not share your idealism...I'm out there, in that world. You are not. Because I'm out there you are able to...do what you do... protected -
EBBA

Exploited -
JACK

Protected...by me. You're the best. I honour that. I'm prepared to give you my life, to be the back-up.

EBBA

But not to have children with me.
JACK

Which is why Lamarr Wainthropp is such a beautiful solution for us. Goddam it, Ebba -you're a woman with a heart. Lamarr Wainthropp's had his broken. His first wife dies in childbirth...he marries again, his wife miscarries till she gets fed up and runs, he marries a fertile-looking Italian who turns out to be a harpy. And then he meets you. You can give him what he wants, a couple of kids, then an amicable divorce. Meanwhile, I stay in the background.
EBBA

We are not in the same universe. How could I have believed that we were? You persuaded me that to be a salesman was an honest job. I've admired you for doing what I couldn't...face people... make deals. I've been grateful. Now I ask myself, has the job done this to you, or was I always mistaken...were you always a pander?
I should have seen it. She told me.
JACK

Natalya?
EBBA

No. The journalist. `He's not prepared to commit.'
Silence.
JACK

Ebba! Come on. There's no mileage in it any more. Dad? Head of the family? Women and children first? You don't need our protection any more, the honour code is cracked to pieces -I can't give you what you want.
EBBA

You mean you won't?
JACK

I can do better. I can turn you towards it.

EBBA

I'm to marry one of the richest men in the world and give him children. So that you can prosper in his conglomerate. Have influence over him, over me. You're ambitious, Jack.
Silence.
JACK

Will you at least think about what I've said? Give it realistic thought.
It needn't make any difference to us!
EBBA

The fact that you can say that is a knife thrust I shall never recover from.
NATALYA enters with BA. Silence. BA looks from EBBA to JACK and back to EBBA.
BA

I been fucked.
A little later. EBBA, JACK and NATALYA. EBBA and NATALYA are rowing.
EBBA

I don't believe you!
NATALYA

She was always in my eyes - !
EBBA

It's a dive! You'd no business taking her there.
NATALYA

She likes to dance.
EBBA

Ba doesn't tell lies. If she says -
NATALYA

She doesn't know what means to be fucked -
EBBA

Of course she knows.
NATALYA

Examine her. You will see. She drank one beer, that is all... maybe two, maybe mine as well, I don't drink this piss...
EBBA storms out of the room.
JACK

That's blown it.
NATALYA

(Shrugs.) What if she is fucked?
JACK

Come off it. Has she been?
NATALYA

How should I know? (Lights up.)
JACK

Christ Almighty.
NATALYA

Is not true. You know why she says this.
JACK

Why?
NATALYA

(Shrugs) She feels the hate in the room. It makes her mischief.
JACK

Mischievous.
NATALYA

Whatever. She is being wicked. I know this feeling. We share. So - will she marry him? Ebba? The rich man?
JACK

I doubt it.
NATALYA

Hah! Down grade for Jack hanh?
JACK

You could say so.


NATALYA

What will you do, my husband?
JACK

Cut it out.
NATALYA

I think of something.
JACK

I wish you would. If she could just see...the way I figure it, we could make everyone happy...find you a billionaire on the side.
NATALYA

Good. (She smokes, looks at him shrewdly.) Did you make arrangement?
JACK

Sorry?
NATALYA

For my brother. To come here.
JACK

Sorry, haven't had time.
NATALYA

He needs to leave quickly.
JACK

OK, I'll see to it.
NATALYA

Please do.
JACK

Look, I've said I'll try. I can't promise anything. I have some calls to make.

He grabs his cellphone and goes. NATALYA looks after him. She sits and thinks. EBBA enters.
NATALYA

You see...she was joking with you. (EBBA sits heavily.) She is not fucked.
EBBA

(Mutters) No, I'm the one who's fucked.
NATALYA

What?
EBBA

You heard me.
NATALYA

Why do you quarrel with your lover?
EBBA

Oh don't say you don't know...that he hasn't told you...that you haven't heard us yelling all over the arrondissement? You think it's a good idea, no doubt - marrying me off.
NATALYA

I don't know. I haven't met him, your rich man. (EBBA broods.) What is he like?
EBBA

Old.
NATALYA

How old?
EBBA

Bloody sixty. (Slight pause.) He doesn't look it.
NATALYA

What does he look like?
EBBA

Like a forty year old tennis player from Australia. (Gloomily) He's got his own teeth. Probably capped.
NATALYA

You have been to bed with him? (EBBA shakes her head.) Maybe you should. Not if you don't wish.
EBBA

He's all right. Sane.
NATALYA

Does he have sense of humour?
EBBA

Yes. Yes, he does.
NATALYA

You see? You are involved already.
EBBA

(Laughs) Not in the way you mean.
BA comes in in a kimono, flowers in her hair, twirls lazily, switches on TV, watches with sound off on her stomach.
NATALYA

You don't want him?
BA

Wan' who?
NATALYA

This rich man I was telling you, Ba-bar-a. He wants to marry Ebba.
BA

No.
NATALYA

Why not?
BA

She got Jack. (Goes back to TV.)
EBBA

I got Jack.
NATALYA

You know what kind of man is Jack.
EBBA

Do I?
NATALYA

You told me, you want children. So - protect them. My father is in Afghanistan wounded. Useless. No pension, no money, my mother works for bloody foreigners. When you choose a man you choose a father for your son, for your daughter. You can not be frivolous.
Silence.
EBBA

I take what you say. The trouble is, I have chosen.
NATALYA

Jack.
EBBA

He's everything I most dislike - he's venal, calculating -
But -
I've had lovers - a doctor...an illustrator, an Irish songwriter who went out one day and didn't come back...
NATALYA

Not so many.

EBBA

I'm a romantic. I have to be in love. When I met Jack it was like coming home. I knew all about him before we spoke. I can't go back, start all over again. I'm ready now. Every month is a little death.
NATALYA

You are a good woman - you are deserving better.
EBBA

Oh come on! Anyway, he's not all rogue. He did marry you. He's more of a knight errant than he knows, the silly sod.
NATALYA

The marriage was illegal.
EBBA

What? What?! (She bursts out laughing.)
NATALYA

We tricked him, my brother and me. His Russian is tarrible.
They laugh.
EBBA

Oh, by the way. Your brother. All fixed. (Takes papers, hands them to NATALYA.) Airline ticket - I've asked for him asap.
NATALYA takes the papers. She holds them.
NATALYA

I owe you big favour.
EBBA

Oh, rats.
NATALYA

I mean this. (She thinks.) You want him...Jack?
BA

She want Jack. (Turns back to TV.)
EBBA

I want Jack.
NATALYA

OK. I fix for you. When do you see your rich man?
EBBA

I'm supposed to be having dinner with him tonight.
NATALYA

Where?

EBBA

(Pulls a face.) The Ritz.
NATALYA

He will come here?
EBBA

(Shakes her head.) I said I'd join him.
NATALYA

You have hat?
EBBA

Hat?
NATALYA

I need hat. Small. With veil.
BA kicks the hat box across with her foot.
NATALYA

Ba-bar-a - Angelica!


BA

That's not my name.
NATALYA

(Hugs her.) I can wear your hat?
BA

Yuh, but don't mess it up.
NATALYA tries it on. BA offers flowers. They try. EBBA shakes her head. The flowers come off.
NATALYA

At what hour the Ritz?
EBBA

Nine. Don't jump him, it won't work.
NATALYA

Please. I am professional.
EBBA

That's what I'm worried about.
NATALYA

He will think me virgin - a maiden!
EBBA

That I doubt.
BA

(Points to the hat.) Don't break it.
NATALYA

It will come back neat and new as before.
BA

Good. (Sits up with cross expression.) I don't want to be a smelly bride, you know.

SCENE ELEVEN




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