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SAM                                                       Female, 30’s

WALT                                                Male, 30’s

JESS / SIMONE                               Female, 40’s

TOM / MAURICE                           Male, 50’s

ELLEN / NURSE / CORDELIA   Female, 20’s

BRADY / LEAR                               Male, 60’s

SETTING: Play is set in a theatre. We are watching a rehearsal of a play. The setting for this play is: A hospital bedroom. Simple in layout: a single bed with a chair to the right of bed, a plain locker to the left. On far stage left a curtained window.

Presently a woman, SIMONE, frail, 40’s, enters in an old-fashioned wheelchair, being pushed by a young nurse (20’s). SIMONE wears hospital pyjamas and has a blanket wrapped around her shoulders and has a small satchel in her lap. NURSE helps her onto the bed. As NURSE takes wheelchair away from the bedside, SIMONE looks out towards audience and speaks


SIMONE   A lovely room to die in.

NURSE    Sorry?

SIMONE is silent.

NURSE    Was that French?


NURSE    If you don’t speak English, people won’t know what you’re on about.

SIMONE   True.

NURSE helps SIMONE into the bed.

SIMONE   May I have my satchel please.

NURSE takes the satchel to hand to SIMONE. A book falls out. NURSE picks it up and looks at it before handing it to SIMONE.

NURSE    King Lear? We had to read that for our final exams. Can’t say I liked it.


NURSE    Dunno, maybe ’cause she had to die in the end. That made no sense to– oh sorry! I’ve spoiled it now!

SIMONE   You ’ave not spoiled anything. I have read the play many times.

NURSE    Oh that’s a relief. But if you already know what’s going to happen, why read it again?

SIMONE   Because it is beautiful. And very appropriate. You know that the final scene takes place here? In Kent?


NURSE    Oh of course! Dover, forgot all about that. Wait, is that why you wanted to stop at the gate?... Tell you what, tomorrow, we can open the gate, go up the hill and you can see Dover from there. Deal?


SIMONE nods with a smile.

NURSE    After you’ve had some porridge.

The smile disappears from SIMONE’s face.

NURSE    Well, can’t say I didn’t try… It is rude to keep him waiting longer, don’t you think?


NURSE    Your gentleman friend. He can’t wait all day.


NURSE    Then I will tell him he can come in. He’s French too? I mean, he understands English?


NURSE    Then he’ll understand me when I tell him not to get you all worked up. I’m not putting up with any more arguments. From either of you. Got it?

SIMONE dutifully nods her head.

NURSE exits. PAUSE. Mumbled talk is heard off stage. Presently, MAURICE enters. He is dressed quite formally in a suit and tie. He speaks to Simone with a serious tone.

MAURICE  Simone. You must listen to me. I ‘ave been talking to your doctor. She tells me that you're still keeping up your fight with the enemy. Simone, this is totally unreasonable.

SIMONE  Unreasonable?

MAURICE  You know that the rations system takes care of the children and the needy first, so you're not depriving anyone of precious food.

SIMONE    I ‘ave to do something.

MAURICE  You call starving yourself doing something?


SIMONE    You know that I've resigned from the Free French. Politics doesn't interest me any longer.

MAURICE   You 're not being interested in politics?

SIMONE   I'm not, Maurice.

MAURICE   Your politics, Simone, are like your heart. They'll always be there, and to the left.


SIMONE   I want you to know that I am never going to speak to you again.

MAURICE   What do you mean?

SIMONE   Exactly that. I am never going to speak to you again. I am serious.


MAURICE   You’re going to stop speaking to me? Well, why not, you’ve stopped everything else. Eating, drinking, caring-

SIMONE  I ‘ave not stopped caring.


MAURICE   So, what ‘as brought this on?

SIMONE   Simple. Your radio broadcasts. It’s pure propaganda. What you’ve been saying about Russia, it’s not true.

MAURICE   At least you ‘aven’t stopped listening… Simone, this is unfair. Propaganda? This is a situation of defending our own interests. Our own security. We are a provisional government in a foreign country, this country, and we are at war… My god, it is true what they called you, ’the Categorical Imperative in a skirt’. Simone, you are not teaching philosophy any more at Le Puy, this is no time for classroom ethics. If you were more involved in the war, you would see that.

SIMONE  And why am I not in the war?

MAURICE   Now wait, that is not fair. That is not my fault.

SIMONE   Then whose fault is it?

MAURICE   I did my best! When you were stuck in New York I got the necessary papers to get you over ‘ere. And when you got stuck in detention once you got ‘ere I got you out. I took your ideas to De Gaulle and got you an office on Hill Street so you could continue working on the new constitution, all that, despite De Gaulle telling me ’No, Maurice, no, she is crazy’.

SIMONE   Oh… So that is what he thinks of me and my writing for the constitution.

MAURICE   Sorry, I didn’t mean for you to find out like this.

SIMONE   And you? Do you think I’m crazy?

MAURICE   No. Unreasonable. And stubborn… but crazy? No.


MAURICE   And still, you’re not going to speak to me again?

SIMONE ’says’ yes, with her gaze.

MAURICE   Like I said, unreasonable and stubborn… I guess that it is my fault that you’re ‘ere too. I should have left you lying on your office floor, the office I got for you. Should ‘ave left you there, unconscious, too tired to even stand up. Should have persuaded you to keep on writing ideas, pages on pages, for De Gaulle, pages he would never take seriously.


MAURICE   As for the radio broadcasts, I’ll go on saying whatever needs to be said, even if it means that you won’t speak to me.

PAUSE. SIMONE is silent.

MAURICE   If that’s the way it has to be… I’ll still visit you.

MAURICE goes to door.

MAURICE   I… love you, dearly.

SIMONE is steadfast, refusing to speak and does not meet MAURICE’s gaze. He exits. Long pause. SIMONE takes up her copy of King Lear. She begins to read out loud.

SIMONE   Howl, howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones:
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'ld use them so
That heaven's vault should crack. She's gone for ever!
I know when one is dead, and when one lives;
She's dead as earth. Lend me a looking-glass;
If that her breath will mist or stain the stone,
Why, then she lives.

SIMONE closes book and places it in her lap. Looking out at the audience she speaks.

SIMONE   What shall Cordelia do? Love, and be silent.

SIMONE grows tired, weak. She closes her eyes and slowly her head comes to drop to the side.

NURSE enters.

NURSE   Well done. You managed to see your friend without raising your voice. An improvement. Let’s see if you can muster up an appetite. Simone?

NURSE stops talking. NURSE approaches SIMONE, and presently realizes that she is dead. SLOW FADE TO BLACKOUT.

Lights up. Some clapping from SAM as she goes to front of stage. JESS sits up on the bed, TOM and ELLEN come back on stage. SAM has a notebook where she has been taking some notes.

SAM   Guys, good work. Seriously, really good. Just a few points.  (the lights go up and down, as if testing) Jim! I can’t read my, can you give me five minutes?!


SAM   So. Jess, Tom, some of those lines coming without a connection. You need to connect more to eachother. Take the lines in first, digest them. Don’t be afraid of the pause. Take the lines in before you respond. PAUSE And we’re dropping the nurse.

ELLEN    So I don’t come back in?

SAM      No, worked better earlier. We should drop that coming back in.

JESS     But doesn’t… I thought the other way was too abrupt.

SAM      Yeah, and now it’s too smaltzy, I preferred the raw, no compromise ending. She dies alone. Curtain.

Cast look a little unsure, but say nothing.

SAM      Look guys, just don’t drop the ball and we’re in with a real shot with this. OK?

ENTER WALT from back of hall, clapping.

SAM   I hear a knocking at the south entrance… Walter, enjoy the show?

WALT   Just caught the last act, super!

SAM   My sentiments exactly. Look, get dressed guys, makeup off, see you all in, five?

WALT   Really coming together.

SAM   You’re still not happy with it.

WALT   No, not really. That final scene-

SAM   Well, that too bad.

WALT   Cast are not happy.

SAM   Cast not happy? Cast are happy Walt. You just saw the last scene. We however have been here over three hours, nobody’s had lunch, we’re tired so for the last time-

WALT   They asked me to talk to you.

SAM   They? Who?

WALT   Some of the cast are not happy and have asked me-

SAM   Asked me to talk to you yes-I’m not deaf.

WALT   Don’t shoot the messenger.

SAM   Can’t you just go to lunch?

JESS enters.

JESS    Problems?

SAM   No problems. Walt was just saying what a great production its going to be.

WALT   Sam, the cast are not happy-

SAM    Oh for godssake!

JESS   They aren’t Sam.

SAM   Are you involved in all this?

JESS   Look, there are some things that, well yeah, I think could be you know…

SAM   No I dont know.

JESS   Well, improved.

WALT   Like that final scene-


SAM   Have you two been talking about this?

JESS   Sam, I promise, just some ideas, I haven’t been involved in any of the mailing.

SAM   Mailing?! OK... Give me a minute here…

WALT   Sam, its nothing personal against you, but-

SAM   So people are mailing. Behind my back.


SAM   Are you two in on this mutiny?

TOM   What?

SAM   Mailing eachother about the play. Behind my back.

ELLEN   I said that was a bad idea. No way to behave, I told you all. Sam this is not the way you were supposed to find out. Where the hell is everyone else?





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