The Brit Script: Part 3
LIGHTS UP, TABLE AND PROJECTOR MISSING FROM STAGE. IMMZIE WALKS ONSTAGE CARRYING A LARGE CARDBOARD BOX. SOME RANDOM ITEMS CAN BE SEEN INSIDE THE BOX: A TEDDY BEAR, FAIRY WINGS, AN ANTIQUE EDITION OF “A BOTTLED HISTORY OF HATS (4THIMPRINT)”, ETC. SHE STARTS TO WALK AROUND THE STAGE, TIDYING PROPS AWAY. PAPER ENTERS PULLING THE TABLE BACK ON.
Immzie? (shrugs, walks offstage and comes back with the projector)May I ask why you are emptying the stage?
IMMZIE: You said it was over.
IMMZIE PUTS THE BOX DOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STAGE. SHE THEN GOES TO ONE SIDE TO PICK UP THE POTTED ASPIDISTRA. AS SHE TURNS AWAY, PAPER STARTS TO EMPTY THE BOX. THEY GO ROUND THE STAGE, PAPER EMPTYING, AND IMMZIE FILLING IT. AFTER SOME TIME…
What are you doing?
PAPER: Stopping you getting us fired?
IMMZIE: You quit!
PAPER: It was the heat of the moment.
IMMZIE: Yes, that’s what happens when you cook up arguments over scones.
PAPER: (mutters) Sc-ons.
IMMZIE: Can we please just let the dough settle? Don’t rise up to it again...
PAPER: If you stop ruining the set.
Immzie… (looks up, and frowns) Hang on. (goes to the projector, plugs it back in, muttering under his breath) Everyone has arguments. Even these people…
LIGHTS DOWN AS THE PROJECTOR STARTS TO PLAY A MONTAGE OF BRITISH DOUBLE ACTS OVER THE YEARS. STARTS WITH THE PILOT OF “A BIT OF FRY AND LAURIE”, WITH FRY SAYING, “OH WAIT A SECOND, ISN’T THAT A REVOLTING SIGHT?” AT A PICTURE OF LAURIE. MIXES INTO VARIOUS OTHER INSULTS BETWEEN MITCHELL AND WEBB, ARMSTRONG AND MILLER, MORECAMBE AND WISE ETC. ENDS ON FLANDERS AND SWANN SINGING “THE ENGLISH ARE BEST”.
PAPER: All nearly as well known as us, and all having the same problem.
IMMZIE: Nearly as famous?
PAPER: Well, we can dream.
IMMZIE: Yes, we can dream. We can dream of a better future, of a world of peace and equality, where everyone pronounces things exactly the same so no one can make a fuss.
PAPER: Are you ever going to forget this?
PAPER: Ever? (Paper looks at her in a ‘hurt kitten/lost puppy’ type way) Ever ever? Forgive me?
PAPER: Thank you. Besides, imagine if we did say everything the same. Or said everything the way it was spelt. Or spelt it the way it was said.
IMMZIE: I do that anyway.
PAPER: I know. But like many things you do, imagine if it was actually correct.
IMMZIE: Then the English language would be so much better… and easier to learn.
PAPER: Ah, yes. The wonderful ‘English language’, where the same word can mean multiple things…
IMMZIE: Cleave. The action of sticking together… or pulling apart with a sharp object.
PAPER: Make sure you are using it in the right context… If someone is holding a knife nearby, play safe and avoid confusion.
IMMZIE: Use ‘disembowel’ instead.
PAPER: Or you can confuse people by using similar words in a sentence to mean different things.
IMMZIE: Did you alter the way to the altar?
PAPER: I beg your pardon?
IMMZIE: Don’t tell me you had to sell the cell as well?
PAPER: Immzie dear, could you possibly give me a smidgen of a suggestion that you haven’t gone totally mad?
IMMZIE: (getting carried away) Did you two go to the zoo too?
PAPER: …no I thought not.
IMMZIE: (laughing madly and a touch worryingly) And I couldn’t bear to see the bare bear!
PAPER: (sighs, rubs his forehead) I need a break.
IMMZIE CHEERFULLY PLUCKS A PENCIL FROM HIS BREAST POCKET AND
Oi! That was my third favourite writing implement.
IMMZIE PICKS UP A CAR BRAKE PEDAL FROM THE BOX AND HANDS IT
Why would I need this, I can’t drive!
IMMZIE:No, with just a brake you definitely wouldn’t be going
anywhere… But I think I’ve worked something out.
PAPER: (sarcastically) Gods save us.
IMMZIE: (ignoring him) So, you know how on public transport, people never talk.
PAPER: (guardedly) Yes…
IMMZIE: This is why! Because it is just too confusing attempting to avoid not overly misunderstanding the implicitly unintentional prevarications of the other person.
PAPER: (moves his lips silently for a few seconds as he tries to work this one out, then evidently gives up) Or maybe… they just don’t like talking to strangers.
IMMZIE: (grudgingly) Well, there is that as well.
PAPER: But it goes even deeper than that.
IMMZIE: Yes. It isn’t even the talking to strangers. It is just… the talking.
PAPER: And having to sit next to people. Without even being formally introduced.
IMMZIE: And the disapproving look you only get on buses. I have it perfected. (she demonstrates, tapping her foot slightly, folding her arms, and frowning in mild self-righteous vexation at the audience)
PAPER: Is this because it has been aimed at you so many times?
IMMZIE: How did you guess?
PAPER: Call it intuition.
IMMZIE: Anyway, we should show this to the audience.
IMMZIE RUNS OFFSTAGE AND COMES BACK ON PUSHING A SET MADE TO LOOK LIKE THE INSIDE OF A BUS, WITH MANNEQUINS SAT IN ALL BAR TWO SEATS.
Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the most important lesson of your life. How to cope with public transport!
PAPER: The least stressful part of public transport is of course, the queuing.
IMMZIE: But then comes the scary bit.
DARK MUSIC STARTS PLAYING QUIETLY AS PAPER WALKS ONTO THE BUS. HE RELAXES AS HE SEES TWO EMPTY SEATS TOGETHER. HE SITS DOWN ON ONE.
Where to sit?
A MAN WALKS ONSTAGE AND ONTO THE BUS. THE DARK MUSIC INTENSIFIES AS HE SEES THERE IS ONLY ONE SEAT LEFT. THE SCENE SEEMS TO FREEZE.
No! The dreaded situation has arisen. Does he stand and avoid possibly contagious social contact? Or does he sit, and resign himself to a journey of awkward glances and coughs?
THE SCENE UNFREEZES AND THE MAN SITS DOWN NEXT TO PAPER. PAPER COUGHS, AND SHUFFLES AWAY, AS DOES THE MAN. THEY LOOK AT EACH OTHER BEFORE MAKING IT CLEAR THEY ARE NOT LOOKING AT EACH OTHER. DARK MUSIC STOPS AND THE MAN FREEZES
PAPER: And then the bus starts moving.
PAPER STANDS AND WALKS TO IMMZIE, WHILE THE MAN QUICKLY SWAPS PLACES WITH A MANNEQUIN AND IMMZIE GOES TO SIT DOWN. THE MAN STARTS TO TALK QUIETLY. IMMZIE LOOKS AT HIM, THEN AWAY, AT HIM MORE INTENSELY, AWAY AGAIN, AND FROWNS.
If there is one thing a Brit cannot cope with, (other than potential American superiority) it is social interaction on a bus. So they do this instead…
THE MAN GETS LOUDER. IMMZIE PUTS ON HER ‘DISAPPROVING LOOK’ PURSED LIPS, SHAKING HEAD, STARING AT THE MAN.
A deadly weapon indeed.
PAPER DISAPPEARS ROUND THE BACK OF THE BUS, AS IMMZIE STANDS AND WALKS TO THE SIDES.
IMMZIE: The thing about buses is that people want it to be more like this…
THE BUS STARTS TO TURN AROUND TO REVEAL A FAKE LIMO ON THE BACK. PAPER, WEARING A TOP HAT, IS RECLINING DECADENTLY IN A SEAT AS TWENTIES NEW YORK JAZZ PLAYS OVER THE SOUND SYSTEM.
PAPER: (in an accent so stereotypically posh it is almost indecipherable, and seems to mainly consist of yawns) Chauffeur. Excuse me, I do believe I need to go to Trafalgar Square!
IMMZIE: We all wish buses were our own personal cars. We wish them to be empty, quiet, and only going where we want them to go.
PAPER: Much like unmarried women before equality.
IMMZIE: And to arrive exactly on time.
PAPER: Much unlike men with a job to do.
IMMZIE: However, we all know none of these things will ever happen.
PAPER: Much like gender stereotypes no longer being fruitful ground for vapid attempts at humour.
PAPER STANDS AND THE BUS IS PUSHED BACK OFFSTAGE.
IMMZIE: And that completes the lesson on public transport.
PAPER: Badges saying “I detest social contact; please do not breathe my air.” will be awarded by our assistant, fully equipping you for any journey you may have to make on British public transport.
BOTH BOW OBSEQUIOUSLY.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking…
IMMZIE: (nodding sympathetically) That must have been difficult for you.
PAPER: (rolls his eyes) Funny. Since it was my fault that the last act ended, I brought you something to eat.
PAPER WALKS OFFSTAGE TO COME BACK HOLDING A FAMILIAR PLATTER. HE PULLS OFF THE LID TO REVEAL ANOTHER SCONE. IMMZIE’S SMILE SLOWLY FADES AS SHE SEES IT.
IMMZIE: You made it wrong.
PAPER: (looks at scone, then at Immzie) How can you make one of these… items… wrong?
IMMZIE: What did you put on first?
IMMZIE: Exactly. Jam goes on first - otherwise it’s just not right!
PAPER: It’s still a… thing!
IT IS CLEAR BOTH ARE TRYING NOT TO SAY THE WORD ‘SCONE’.
IMMZIE: But it isn’t a right thing!
PAPER: (sighs, before picking up the scone, turning it upside-down and placing it in Immzie’s upturned hand.) The jam is now on the bottom, is that better?
IMMZIE TAKES A BITE, SHRUGS, AND WALKS OFFSTAGE STILL EATING.
PAPER:For once in my life, giving you food was not merely a ploy to get you offstage.
IMMZIE SAYS SOMETHING GARBLED AND INCOHERENT.
IMMZIE: No, but giving me food is a way to make sure I forgive you. (walks back on, carefully dabbing her mouth with a napkin) Which is fine, since this is apparently the only place that can cope with my humour.
PAPER: (mutters disbelievingly) Humour? If you can call this mess of arguments humour…
IMMZIE: It’s only an argument when you don’t believe I’m right.
PAPER: (opens his mouth to talk back, then thinks better of it) And with this… And before we get lynched… I think we need to finish up.
IMMZIE: Alas ladies and gentlemen, the aspidistra has wilted, the evening is nearly over…
PAPER: As are our reputations and careers.
IMMZIE: …and we are all Britished out.
PAPER: So we will leave you with the wise words of One Spike Milligan, In Almost Working Condition.
IMMZIE: “Always try to make other people happy…”
PAPER: “Even if you have to leave them alone to do it!”
IMMZIE: So we hope at least half of you are happy…
PAPER: …and to the other half, if you want a refund, you can queue for it. We’ll see who gives up first.
IMMZIE: We can tell you now, it won’t be us.
BOTH BOW, PAPER HANDS HIS TOP HAT TO IMMZIE, WHO PUTS IT ON, AND BOTH WALK OFFSTAGE AS THE LIGHTS GO DOWN.‘THE ENGLISH ARE BEST’ STARTS PLAYING AGAIN, AND THE LIGHTS GO UP. BOTH COME RUNNING BACK ONTO THE STAGE, BOWING, HOPEFULLY TO A STANDING OVATION.
END OF ACT THREE
And thus ends The Brit Script! But do not fear (or groan if you thought we had finished) For 'The Brit Script: On Tour' is already being written. So look out for it, coming soon to a Sparkler Post near you!
Originally published on July 16, 2014.