Rehearsal Photo: EP Company, New Perspectives, Behind Closed Doors (Tour: 1-5 July). ©
A one bed flat. They are in the kitchen / lounge.
Louise is cleaning a cupboard. She is on her knees. Daniel is sat over on the sofa, polishing his shoes.
Louise: You’re being careful aren’t you?
Louise: Shall I put another cloth down?
Daniel: It’s fine. I’m not going to make a mess.
Louise: You always make a mess.
Daniel: I’m only polishing shoes.
Louise: You polished them last week.
Daniel: They need polishing again.
Louise: They look fine to me.
Daniel: You’re cleaning the cleaning cupboard again.
Louise: I haven’t cleaned it all week Daniel.
Daniel: I’ll clean next week.
Louise: No, you don’t need to. It’s my flat.
Daniel: But its our place, I live here don’t I?
Louise: Yes, it’s our place, but it’s my flat. And I like to clean.
(Daniel puts a shoe down and picks up another. Silence as they both clean)
Daniel: Just out of interest, Louise, what would make it our place, our flat?
Daniel: Well, it’s our place, your flat. Wouldn’t it be nice to be our place, our flat?
Daniel: I’d pay rent.
Louise: I don’t want your money.
Daniel: It’s only fair.
Louise: Is it really that much of a problem? It being our place, my flat?
Daniel: No. I’d just like to know what –
Louise: You’ve been here like eight months. This works doesn’t it?
Daniel: Ten months.
(He finishes polishing his shoes. He puts them back in a shoebox)
Daniel: Are you scared we’ll break up?
Louise: No, no, I’m not. No, I’m not scared of anything.
Daniel: I beg to differ.
Daniel: But you are aren’t you?
Louise: If you’re going to – I don’t want to talk about it.
Louise: It’s only been –
Daniel: Well over a year.
Louise: I’m cleaning.
(Daniel gets up from the sofa and moves to the kitchen cupboard where Louise is cleaning. She can’t see him. She is still talking louder as if talking across the room)
Daniel: You’ve lost your job. What else –
(She jumps realising he is right by her. She pulls her head out of the cupboard.)
Louise: – You frightened me. Don’t be a jerk about it.
Daniel: I’m hardly being a jerk Louise. I’m just asking –
Louise: Have you finished with that shoe polish?
Daniel: Louise! I’m trying to –
Louise: – Have you?
Louise: Then don’t leave it around. Something might happen.
Daniel: Seriously, this has to stop.
Louise: What has to stop?
Daniel: The cleaning, the worrying, all the over-calculated responses.
Louise: It’s better to be safe than sorry.
(She gets up herself and fetches the shoe polish to put it away)
Daniel: But it’s completely irrational –
Louise: (Jumps in) You wouldn’t know the first thing about irrational.
Daniel: And what do you know?
Louise: I have to be completely irrational Daniel. Because this whole place is irrational. This whole world is irrational. Haven’t you realised?
Daniel: Then why bother trying to put everything in order all the time.
Louise: You’re making me angry, please stop.
Daniel: I want to help you –
Louise: I told you I didn’t want to talk about it.
Louise: Talk to me about something different.
Daniel: How about tonight?
Louise: What about it?
Daniel: We should go.
Louise: They’re your friends. You go.
Daniel: It’ll be fun. It’ll be good for you to see everyone again.
Louise: (quite indignant) Good for me?!
Daniel: You’ve hardly seen anyone for months.
Louise: I’ve seen people.
Daniel: Like who?
Louise: My friends.
Daniel: Who? Kirsty said you haven’t seen her in weeks.
Louise: You’ve been talking to Kirsty? I’ve been looking for a job. I’ve got no money. I’m prioritising things.
Daniel: I’ve got money. I’ve told you before.
(Louise flares up a little more than expected)
Louise: Of course you have and don’t you like to remind me all the bloody time.
Daniel: OK. Be like that.
Louise: (Sharply) I don’t want to go to your swanky bars with your fancy friends.
Daniel: We’re only going to the Indian on the high street. And my friends aren’t –
Louise: Who’s going?
Daniel: Laura and Monty, Marcus, and Catherine, Ian, his new girlfriend, Hazel, I think.
Louise: Catherine will be there?
(Louise is very blunt with her answers)
Louise: Well of course she’s going.
Daniel: What now?
Louise: I’m just saying.
Daniel: Just saying what?
Daniel: No, Louise, please actually say something for once.
Louise: You know what.
Daniel: I know that it must have been, what, three days since we last spoke about this.
Louise: You brought her up.
Daniel: You asked who was going tonight!
Louise: Yes, but –
Daniel: No, two!
Daniel: Days. Two days, not three.
(There is silence. Louise tries to get back to cleaning. Daniel looks at Louise. No one says anything for about 5 seconds)
Daniel: Come on then, interrogate me. You want to don’t you –
Louise: I don’t want to –
Daniel: Why else would we be talking about Catherine again?
Daniel: C’mon, (mimicking Louise) “What happened last Friday Daniel?”
Louise: (Firm) Daniel.
(Daniel is starting to get louder)
Daniel: Just say it.
Daniel: No, you, please.
Louise: (Sharp) Fine! Where were you last Friday?
Daniel: At the opening night of Catherine’s exhibition.
Daniel: Because she invited me, she invited us actually. But you wouldn’t leave the flat, again. In case, in case, I don’t know, your Mother appeared and–
Louise: –What time did you get there?
Daniel: I went straight from work. I left work at maybe six fifteen, six twenty, I don’t know. I grabbed some chips from the corner there and I –
Louise: Straightened up your tie.
Daniel: I headed to the gallery. I got there just before seven and so I –
Louise: Freshened up your breath.
Daniel: (Annoyed, fast) For God’s sake Louise! (Pause, he catches his breath) I waited in the car until five past seven.
Louise: And you went into the gallery?
Daniel: Yes, I went into the gallery.
Louise: And you went to see Catherine?
Daniel: Yes, and Ian. Catherine was talking to some people, they looked important, so Ian and I got a glass of wine. Red. Dry. It was free. He introduced me to Hazel.
Louise: Who’s Hazel? Daniel: Ian’s new girlfriend. I told you. She’s coming tonight.
Louise: You didn’t tell me. How much wine did you drink?
Daniel: (Calm) I did.And I don’t know exact amounts. Can we move on?
Louise: Why didn’t I see you again until Sunday?
Daniel: I drank too much and I slept on the sofa at Catherine and Marcus’ flat.
Louise: All weekend? That’s not like you.
Daniel: Louise made a big sell on one of her paintings. It was a big deal so we went on to celebrate in a few bars. That’s what friends do. (Beat) You know I can’t handle wine.
Louise: You just disappeared Daniel. All weekend. No phone calls, nothing.
Daniel: (Steadily getting more defensive) I was at their flat. You’ve got their number.
Louise: I phoned.
Daniel: When? I don’t know. We were all asleep. Hung-over.
Louise: Catherine said you weren’t there.
Daniel: Please can we –
Louise: Where were you?
Daniel: I wasn’t feeling great. I… I went to get some fresh air or something.
Louise: I didn’t see you again till Sunday. (Pause. Daniel sighs)
Daniel: This isn’t about me, is it?
Louise: It helps.
Daniel: Not for me, I can’t be dealing with this anymore. The constant questioning, the ordering of things, everything. You can’t treat me like this, like, like I’m to blame for any of this. No one’s to blame. She’s gone.
Louise: People don’t just disappear.
Daniel: It’s not your fault Louise.
Louise: I wish you knew how it felt. To lose someone. Just out of thin air. No trace, nothing. Just one day, nothing. Ever again.
Daniel: I know, I –
Louise: You don’t know! It burns a hole. Right here. Really, deep inside of you (Catherine is getting upset).
Daniel: I’m sorry (He goes towards her for an embrace but she refuses).
Louise: No you’re not, you’re just sorry I can’t get on with my life. That would be a hell of a lot easier for you wouldn’t it? (Silence. A few seconds.)
Louise: Do you like her?
Daniel: I don’t.
Louise: She has less issues.
Daniel: She has a boyfriend.
Louise: So you would if–
Daniel: I’m pointing out the obvious. I have you. She has Marcus.
Louise: And it’s that simple is it? Facts, pragmatics, the obvious. That’s all it is with you. I’m yours. She’s his.
Daniel: What do you want me to say?
Louise: It would be nice, nice, if it were about love or something.
Daniel: You want it to be about love? You want this thing, this crazy stupid idea you have about Catherine and me to be about love?
Louise: No, I want our crazy stupid idea to be about love. (Pause)
Daniel: You don’t love me. Love is completely irrational to you, just like everything else in your world.
Louise: I do.
Daniel: You don’t trust me.
Louise: If you knew my Mother –
Daniel: You’re not your mother Louise. You can’t blame your Mother for everything – she’s some ghost that walks in and out of your life and then she just disappears. That’s all she is, was! You have to make a choice, for yourself. Either you want to let go of all the mystery, of your mother, the irrational happenings, the strangers, the unknowing, or – or you want it, you want it to play some sort of figure in your world. Because if you do, and you clearly do, I don’t.
Louise: I can’t just forget about it all.
Daniel: I’m not asking you to just flick a switch and turn it all off, I’m just asking you to work out what you actually want. Your Mother is gone, no trace, no one knows. There’s no dust left to chase anymore. You don’t have to live in some cuckoo world just in case she comes back.
Louise: Have you heard what you’re saying to me? Have you no idea what I’m going through?
Daniel: No. I don’t know. And I don’t want to know. I want to know what you want.
Louise: I want you.
Daniel: No, you want to keep me, from –
Louise: What –
Daniel: – You want to keep me, here, in this world of yours. Under your eye, where I won’t disappear. I can’t breathe, it’s all your stuff here, all your ways of doing things. It’s the possessiveness. Always wanting to know where I am and –
Louise: I’m protecting you.
Daniel: From who?
Louise: From what happened.
Daniel: Life happens and I’m not your Mother. She’s gone. She was her own phenomenon.
Louise: But –
Daniel: No, really. I’m OK Louise. I don’t need you to protect me. (Pause. He gets his coat on)
Louise: Are you leaving?
Daniel: I’m going out tonight, remember?
Louise: OK. It’s early.
Louise: You’re leaving me?
Daniel: I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m going out. I’ll speak to you later.
Louise: You’re not coming back?
Daniel: Not tonight.
Louise: Please, Daniel, don’t just go like this – don’t just –
Daniel: What? Disappear? I’m not, watch.
Louise: I can’t let you disappear.
Daniel: You can watch me leave out this door here.
Louise: When will you be back?
Daniel: I don’t know.
Louise: Is this it?
Daniel: I’m leaving now.
(Daniel opens the door)
Louise: What about our place?
Daniel: (He laughs slightly) It’s your flat. It’ll always be your flat Louise. It was never ever going to be ours.
Louise: Don’t disappear Daniel, please!
End of scene.
Kelly Punton ©