Here, for anyone interested. Is the 15 minute stage play script of the short story I posted yesterday. There are several bits of dialogue in this version that don’t appear in the short story. If you prefer to read the short, it’s still here, you’ll find it on the post below this one. Thanks for reading.
AN AWKWARD ENCOUNTER
A Stage Play Play In One Act
Written By Trevor Belshaw
MARTIN: Widowed Lecturer. Late 40s Grey-White Hair and Goatee.
MAGGIE: Team Leader in a Financial Office. Early 40s
SIMON: Assistant Team Leader in MAGGIE’S Office. Mid 20s
BRIAN: Barman. 30s
BRENDON: Software Developer. Mid 20s
Old Man 1: Non speaking Dominoes player
Old Man 2: Non speaking Dominoes player
Act 1 Scene 1 Village pub; Lunchtime.
The bar is a typical village pub with original oak beams and a stone tiled floor. Polished, dark oak, oblong tables and chairs are spread evenly around the room. Two old men are playing dominoes CSL. The only other occupant is BRIAN who is busy humming to himself whilst wiping down the optics behind the counter. USC. There is a table with three chairs around it facing front DSL with a small stool nearby. Two fruit machines flash and whir to the left of the table. A door opens USR and MARTIN appears. BRIAN looks up from his work and smiles warmly.
Brian: Well, there’s a sight for sore eyes. Hello Martin.
(MARTIN holds the open door with one hand while he checks his watch. He looks across to the barman, a half smile on his face.)
Martin: Hello, Brian. It’s been a while hasn’t it? (Walks to bar.)
Brian: You haven’t changed much, a little more white in the beard perhaps. I always said you were a dead ringer for that Paul Hollywood. You look even more like him now.
Martin: (Laughs.) Give over; Paul Hollywood indeed.
Brian: (Grins.) What can I get for the master baker? How about a cheeky little Chablis? (Reaches for wine glass.)
Martin: No, no, erm, just a Diet Coke, please, Brian.
(MARTIN checks his watch again, sits on a stool and surveys the room. Brian places the drink on the counter and waves away the offer of payment.)
Brian: On the wagon are we?
Martin: No, nothing like that. I’m meeting my son, Simon. There’s someone he wants me to meet. I think love may be in the air.
Brian: Love? Oh, that old thing.
Martin: I suppose it comes to all of us in time; even you, Brian.
Brian: (Looks shocked.) Me? Heaven forbid; I’m far too selfish for that sort of thing. I like to come and go as I please. Confirmed bachelor, me.
Martin: (Sips drink.) You’ve never considered going into a relationship? Don’t you ever get lonely?
Brian: Never. I like my own company.
Martin: You’re not a family man then?
Brian: Family! I didn’t even like the one I came from. As for a wife, she wouldn’t last out the day… (Polishes bar with vigour.) Sorry, I didn’t mean to…
Martin: It’s okay, Brian, the subject isn’t off limits.
(Door opens (USR) and SIMON moves into the doorway. He calls to an unseen companion. MARTIN cranes his neck to try to see who SIMON is talking to.)
Simon: (Loudly) White wine was it? Any preference or shall we try their Pinot Grigio? Okay, see you inside. (SIMON enters the bar and makes a beeline for MARTIN. MARTIN stands and turns to face his son. SIMON grips MARTIN in a bear hug.) Hi, Dad, lovely to see you.
Martin: (MARTIN pats his son on the back with both hands.) Lovely to see you too Simon; it’s been too long.
(SIMON releases MARTIN from his grip and looks around the bar, his eyes settle on the table DSL.
Simon: Shall we sit over there?
MARTIN picks up his glass and follows SIMON to the table. OLD MAN 1 and OLD MAN 2 whisper to each other as they watch MARTIN walk across the room. SIMON takes off his overcoat, folds it neatly and places it on a nearby stool.)
Simon: Can I get you a refill?
(SIMON turns and heads towards the bar without waiting for an answer. MARTIN sits down and pushes his glass of coke to the centre of the table. MAGGIE enters, (USR,) walks across the room. She comes to a halt behind MARTIN.)
Maggie: (Sarcastically.) Well, look what the cat dragged in.
Martin: (Stands up and turns around in one movement, mouth agape.) Maggie, what are… why? I mean…
Maggie: (Bites bottom lip.) I was just thinking exactly the same thing.
Martin: (Flashes a glance at the bar.) Simon’s here.
Maggie: I know… We came in together. Do you know him?
Martin: You don’t mean you and him are…?
(Before MAGGIE can reply SIMON returns. He places three glasses of wine on the table and hangs his arm around MARTIN’S neck.)
Simon: Maggie, this is my Dad, Martin. Dad, this is Maggie, from work, isn’t she gorgeous?
Martin: (Nods, looks at table.) Lovely.
(MAGGIE and MARTIN sit down. MAGGIE places her bag on her knee and studies it. MARTIN strokes his chin nervously. SIMON takes a sip of wine as the phone rings in his pocket.
Simon: (Pulls out phone and holds it to his ear.) Hello, yes… One moment please. (Looks apologetic.) Sorry, I have to take this. (Walks to (USR) phone to his ear.)
Maggie: (Stands up.) I’d better go, Martin, I wasn’t expecting this; he didn’t say we were meeting anyone.
Martin: (Looks over shoulder towards SIMON and motions with his hands for MAGGIE to sit.) No, don’t go, it might lead to awkward questions later. Please?
(MAGGIE plonks herself down and purses her lips.) Well, this is a turn up for the books. I thought I’d seen the last of you.
Martin: (Averts eyes.) I’m sorry, Maggie; I know it was all a bit sudden but…
Maggie: A bit? That’s putting it mildly.
Martin: Sorry. (Clears throat.) It was Pam you see, I couldn’t…
Simon: (Slips phone into his pocket walks back to table.) Right, that’s that sorted, how are we getting on? (He crouches and puts his arm around MAGGIE who forces an embarrassed smile. SIMON grins at MARTIN.) Isn’t she wonderful?
Martin: (Nods enthusiastically.) Wonderful.
(SIMON’S phone rings again.)
Simon: (Shrugs.) Sorry, more problems, be right back. (Walks across bar again, (USR,) talking into phone.)
(MARTIN watches SIMON walk away, waits until he is out of earshot.)
Martin: Are you and he …?
Maggie: No… Nooooo. He’s been inviting me out for weeks now, I kept saying no but today I felt like I needed a drink… I didn’t know he was your son.
Martin: He’s crazy about you, that much is obvious.
Maggie: Well, I haven’t encouraged him, he’s too young for me, and anyway he’s not my type… I don’t have a type anymore. (MAGGIE glares at MARTIN.)
Martin: Sorry, I…
Maggie: Will you stop bloody apologising, Martin.
Martin: Sorry… I mean… (Smiles.) You haven’t changed a bit… how are you?
Maggie: How am I? Well now, let’s see… To say I’ve had my heart torn out, chopped into tiny pieces and fed to a pack of rabid dogs, to say I spent night after endless night wondering how you were and what the hell I’d done wrong, to say I almost had a bloody breakdown, I’m fine, I suppose.
Martin: (Reaches across table for MAGGIE’S hand. She pulls it away quickly.) You didn’t do anything wrong Maggie, I’m-
Maggie: I know I didn’t do anything bloody wrong… now… but at the time I had no idea what had happened. I went over everything in my mind a thousand times. It almost drove me insane.
Martin: Oh Maggie, I’m so sorry. I wish I-
Maggie: (Sniffles.) Martin, you dumped me with nothing more than a curt text message and disappeared off the face of the earth. Saying sorry isn’t close to being enough.
Martin: (Reaches across table, this time MAGGIE allows him to take her hand.) It was Pam, Maggie, she was so ill. I had to look after her… I felt so bad. I-
Maggie: And you found yourself with a conscience. I don’t suppose you thought about me for an instant.
Martin: She was dying, Maggie, it was all so sudden, she only lasted three months, what did you expect me to do, leave her?
Maggie: I expected …
Martin: (Looks over shoulder.) Shhhh. He’s coming back.
Simon: Sorry about that, a bit of a crisis. All sorted now. (SIMON sits, reaches for wine glass and takes a large gulp.)
(MAGGIE starts to get up. MARTIN shakes his head and mouths, no, MAGGIE sits down again and looks to the ceiling.)
Simon: (Beams at MAGGIE then turns to MARTIN.) Maggie is my team leader at work. We’d be lost without her, she’s so good. I’m sure she could run the whole department on her own.
Martin: (Smiles and reaches for his drink.) Yes, she looks very, erm… efficient.
Simon: (Finishes his drink, claps his hands and gets to his feet.) Right, who’s ready for another? (SIMON walks to bar without waiting for a reply.)
Maggie: (Loudly.) Efficient? Was that supposed to be a compliment?
Martin: Sorry, It just came out.
Maggie: I told you to stop bloody apologising.
Martin: Sor… I mean… I’ll try.
Maggie: Yes, you’re a trier, I’ll give you that. It’s just a pity you didn’t try a little bit harder; efficient, indeed.
(OLD MAN 1 walks over to MARTIN’S table carrying a beer mat. He coughs and bends down to look at MARTIN’S face.)
Old Man 1: Excuse me, but are you Paul Hollywood from the Bake Off?
Martin: No, I’m not, sorry.
Old Man 1: Are you sure?
Martin: Positive, sorry.
Old Man 1: That’s a shame. (Shows beer mat to MARTIN.) I was going to ask you to sign this for the missus. She loves you. Never misses the show.
Martin: (Shrugs.) Sorry.
Old Man 1: (Turns to OLD MAN 2.) He says it’s not him
(OLD MAN 1 walks back to join his friend.)
Maggie: (Looks closely at MARTIN.) You know… there is a slight resemblance.
Martin: Don’t you start.
(SIMON returns from the bar with three fresh glasses of wine. He places them in the middle of the table as his phone rings again.)
Simon: Hello, Brendon, you’re here… What now? Today…? Well, if you’re sure… okay, I’ll be two minutes. (SIMON slips phone into pocket and heads for the door looking over shoulder.) Sorry, I have to… back in a moment… sorry.
(Simon exits USR.)
Maggie: It’s a family trait isn’t it?
Martin: (Looks puzzled.) Sorry?
Maggie: Saying sorry all the time.
(MARTIN reaches across table and takes hold of MAGGIE’S hands again.)
Martin: Let him down gently, Maggie. Please?
(MAGGIE pulls hands away.)
Maggie: I don’t know that you deserve any favours from me, Martin.
Martin: I’m not asking for a favour, Maggie. Simon had nothing to do with what happened to us.
Maggie: No, that’s true. What happened to us was all down to you.
(MAGGIE opens handbag, takes out make-up mirror and checks her face.)
Martin: I thought it was for the best, Maggie, I know you think I’m a coward, but the news came like a bolt from the blue. I just had to drop everything and concentrate on her.
(MAGGIE drops mirror back into handbag and snaps it shut.)
Maggie: You could have told me. I didn’t even know she’d been ill until I saw the messages of condolence in the paper.
Martin: (Leans forward.) I wrote you a letter explaining everything, but when I read it back it seemed so utterly pathetic that I burned it. I called you a few times but got an operator message. I rang your work number but they said you’d left and didn’t know where you had gone.
Maggie: Martin, I changed my flat, my job, my phone; I very nearly changed my name. It was obvious you didn’t want me around so I tried to move on. It’s been a long road. You can’t just delete three years of your life like an unwanted spreadsheet. (MAGGIE pulls a handkerchief from pocket and dabs at her eyes.) Now look what you’ve done.
Martin: I never stopped thinking about you, Maggie, even when I was looking after Pam, but she had to come first, I just wanted to make her last few months as happy as I could; she knew nothing about us, I had to keep it like that.
Maggie: Poor woman. (Pause.) Did you ever tell her you loved her, Martin? You never told me.
Martin: Didn’t I? Are you sure? I meant to.
Maggie: Not once. You didn’t come close to saying it either. You have the romantic inclinations of a slab of granite… unless we were in bed of course, you were softer then, but you still couldn’t really let it all out, could you?
Martin: I always cared for you, Maggie, I-
Maggie: Spare me the platitudes, Martin. Be a man and admit it. I was just your bit on the side. I was the Friday night special, the midweek treat; someone to run to when you needed a shoulder. Did you ever go home and whine to your wife about how much you hated your job, or was that a special little delicacy you served up just for me?
Martin: I wasn’t that bad was I?
Maggie: Martin, you even whinged when your bloody football team lost.
Martin: I was going to leave her you know.
Maggie: (Laughs) Of course you were, and I was going to become an astronaut. How many women have heard their married lover say that over the years?
Martin: I mean it, Maggie, I really was going to leave. We’d both had enough. It might have had something to do with Simon getting his own place. He may have acted as a break on us, I don’t know, but after he’d gone all we seemed to do was argue, mainly about really unimportant things. We even argued about which side of the bed we slept on and we’d kept to the same side for twenty five years.
Maggie: Maybe she knew more than you thought.
Martin: She didn’t know anything about us, I’m certain of that. Maybe she suddenly found me as boring as you obviously did.
Maggie: I didn’t say you were boring…
Martin: You implied it. Anyway, that’s not the point. We were arguing all the time and we were both sick of it. We talked about me moving out a couple of times. Strangely, we discussed that without a hint of antagonism.
Maggie: So, why didn’t you leave and why didn’t I ever get to hear about it.
Martin: I did talk to you about it. I told you I was going to leave her.
Maggie: You promised me you were going to leave her, but that was about six months into our relationship. Simon was still at home then. I didn’t believe it when you said you were going to leave then and I don’t believe you now.
Martin: Nevertheless, it’s true.
Maggie: So why didn’t you? This was all happening well before Pam got ill. You never mentioned a word of it to me.
Martin: This may sound ridiculous, but I wanted to surprise you. I had this mad plan about turning up on your doorstep with my bags. (MARTIN shakes his head and lowers his voice slightly.) I was going to do it on Valentine’s Day believe it or not. I had it all mapped out.
Maggie: So, how come all these finely tuned plans were laid to waste. What happened?
(OLD MAN 2 walks across to fruit machine and inserts a coin. A few whizzes and whirls later there is the clatter of change in the machine tray. He inserts another coin, presses some buttons and there is another clatter of coins. OLD MAN 2 scoops up his money, sticks up thumb to MARTIN, and hurries back to his seat to count his winnings.)
(MARTIN waits until OLD MAN 2 is out of earshot.)
Martin: Her sister happened.
Maggie: Her sister?
Martin: We allowed her to persuade us to put our money into a get rich quick scheme.
Maggie: (Sighs.) Not you, Martin. You’re Mr Careful-in-the-Extreme. I’m amazed you fell for something like that.
Martin: She had a new partner; he worked in the city. There was a share issue by AGMC, an old established mining company that he assured us had found new reserves of Uranium in the North of Africa. It couldn’t fail. The country’s government was backing it.
Maggie: And there was no Uranium?
Martin: Oh, I think the Uranium was there, but the country plunged into civil war and ended up with a new government that had no intention of allowing its natural resources to be harvested by western companies. AGMC went bust.
Maggie: How come you didn’t tell me any of this?
Martin: There was no point, really. I didn’t want to worry you with it. We did get a bit of our money back, but we had to re-mortgage and I couldn’t leave her then. I couldn’t bloody well afford to. We could hardly afford to run one household, let alone two.
Maggie: And you felt you couldn’t tell me any of this. You couldn’t let me in. Martin, this gets worse all the time. I was good enough to be trusted with the trivial stuff, how you felt about your lousy job and your lousy boss and your lousy football team but you couldn’t tell me about anything important that was happening to you.
Martin: It was embarrassment as much as anything else, Maggie. I should have let you in, I know that now, but I didn’t want you to see me as a failure. If we were going to share a future I had to be seen as a solid prospect, financially at least.
Maggie: Don’t you think I should have been the one to decide whether you were worthy or not? You were making decisions for me.
Martin: It wasn’t like that.
Maggie: It looks exactly like that from where I’m sitting, Martin. Even if you couldn’t talk to me about your financial situation you could have at least told me about Pam.
Martin: Maggie, I know I treated you abominably, but believe me, I really thought it was for the best. I didn’t want you to suffer too. I rang you from the hospital just after she died; I tried to leave a message, to tell you… I don’t know… something.
Maggie: (Bites lip. Voice trembling.) I’d have come to you, even then if I thought you needed me… (Gets to feet.) I’m going now, Martin. I’ll make sure that Simon knows I’m not interested. (Wipes away a tear.) Tell him I had an urgent call from work… I can’t do this.
MAGGIE hurries across the room with her phone to her ear. Exits USR)
(MARTIN looks at ceiling, heaves a big sigh, rubs finger and thumb across the bridge of his nose to remove the tears from his eyes.)
Martin: (To himself.) Damn.
SIMON enters the bar with BRENDON at his side. He looks around with a confused look on his face.)
Martin: She had to go, Simon. (Beat.) Look, I think there’s something-
Simon: Work, I expect. She never thinks of anything else.
(SIMON ushers BRENDON forward.)
Simon: Dad, this is Brendon… We’re sort of, well… we’re engaged. I wasn’t going to announce it like this but, well, he insisted, so…
Martin: Engaged… to Brendon…So you and him… and not… (MARTIN looks at MAGGIE’S empty seat.)
Simon: Maggie? God, no, Dad, I’ve known I was gay since I was thirteen, though I was in denial for years. Mum knew, I thought you had guessed too.
Martin: I had no idea… I… Gay…? But you were always bringing different girls home. I couldn’t keep up with them all.
Simon: It’s all part of being gay, Dad. I tried to be what I thought you wanted me to be, but I was fooling myself, and the girls. They all guessed soon enough.
Martin: You had me fooled too, Simon… Not that there’s anything wrong with being Gay… I mean… Don’t think I’m disappointed or anything… No… I didn’t mean it to sound like that… Sorry.
Simon: (Laughs.) It’s fine Dad, you’ll get used to the idea. I know you’re not a bigot.
Martin: (Shakes head.) I really thought that you and Maggie were… (MARTIN grabs SIMON’S hand and shakes it vigorously, then pumps BRENDON’S hand.) Congratulations… Well done both of you… this is fabulous news… but, I still can’t understand why you brought Maggie?
Simon: I thought you might like her, Dad. I was sort of hoping that you were ready to get on with your life again now, so I kept asking her out until she said, yes, then I called you. It doesn’t seem to have worked out though. That’s a shame because Maggie’s been through a lot over the last couple of years. She was treated abominably by some lousy sod. I thought you’d be just the person to show her that all men aren’t the same.
Martin: (Pulls phone from pocket.) Simon, could you give me Maggie’s number? There’s something I forgot to tell her.
Aprox; 15 minutes 45 seconds