Footloose

A play by Kevin Mitchell.


ACT ONE

Scene. The open plan living-dining room of Marcus and Daisy Quick. A meal is cooking, Daisy is laying the table. Marcus enters.

Daisy: Where have you been?

Marcus: Out.

Daisy: I know, you have been gone all afternoon.

Marcus: I've been window shopping.

Daisy: What did you get?

Marcus: The hard sell from a double glazing rep.

Daisy: Everest?

Marcus: No he just kept on and on.

Daisy: Why didn't you tell me where you were going?

Marcus: I don't tell you that I am going fishing — I return and say that there is fish for supper. What is for supper, I'm famished?

Daisy: Fish.

Marcus: But I hate fish.

Daisy: So do I.

Marcus: Well why are we having it then?

Daisy: Because it's traditional.

Marcus: What is?

Daisy: Fish and chips.

Marcus:(Sighing).—

It becomes apparent that they have been rehearsing some sort of sketch.

This is awful.

Daisy: It's not as if I hadn't warned you is it. I don't know why you still waste your time with him. He is definitely past his prime.

Marcus: You know perfectly well why I still need him dear. Besides, he promised to bring round some better material tonight.

Daisy: Marcus Quick, if I was dear, you couldn't afford me.

Marcus: (Laughing). There's no need to cheapen yourself any further my love.

He gives her a hug.

Daisy: (Frostily). I suppose that he'll be bringing another piece of his jailbait along with him. Well I'll soon cut her down to size.

Marcus: Frankly I don't care who he associates with, just so long as he delivers the goods. Surely you can forgive him his little idiosyncrasies.

Daisy: Come on let's get this over with.

Marcus: If we must.

Daisy: We must. Look, it was your idea to familiarise yourself with this atrocious skit before he arrived. As if I haven't got a million and one other things I could be getting on with. I mean to say, you're his agent not me.

Marcus sits down at the table and stares at an imaginary plate.

Marcus: These aren't chips.

Daisy: Yes they are.

Marcus: No they're not.

Daisy: What are they then?

Marcus: They are . . . blast I've forgotten the line.

Daisy: It's hardly a memorable piece. Would you like a prompt?

Marcus: No good the mind is blank — have to find the wretched script. Now where did I put the damned thing.

Marcus proceeds to search everywhere for the missing script. Daisy, having experienced it all before, stands patiently waiting. Meanwhile on the doorstep, Dickie arrives with one arm around Natasha, a much younger girl (Lamb dressed as mutton — all fur coat and stilettos!) and the other embracing a bottle of wine.

Dickie: This is it — la maison de Quick.

Natasha: It's a bit posh isn't it.

Dickie: Ostentatious they call it. Everyone has their little idiosyncrasies, but they shouldn't be held against them. Besides, they've got to spend all the money I make for them on something.

Natasha: I thought you said she had a blossoming acting career.

Dickie: What, Daisy, she's just a sad old thespian. There's no money to be made from treading the boards that way. Making them laugh is where the real lucre's at. You don't honestly think that I do it for fun do you?

Dickie rings the doorbell.

Daisy: I suppose that will be them.

She goes to answer the door.

Marcus: (Producing script from a desk draw). Found it. (He turns round to see that she is not there. He shrugs). Oh well, if you want something done around here—

He carries on with the skit reading both parts, but in different voices. Meanwhile Daisy greets the guests.

These aren't chips . . . Yes they are . . . No they're not . . . What are they then? . . . They are French fries . . . French fries are chips . . . They are not: chips are wholesome chunks of potato, immersed in boiling fat until they are a delicious golden brown. French fries are those anaemic, soggy slivers that accompany ones burger should they choose to patronise McDonald's . . . McDonald's aren't French are they? . . . Yes in fact the first link in their global fast food chain was opened only a stone's throw from the famous leaning tower . . . Surely pisa is in Italy . . . I know that pizzas are Italian, just like the Pope . . . Actually the Pope is Polish . . . And I suppose that you will be telling me that he used to keep goal next . . . Honestly, don't you know a single thing about sport? . . . Of course I do, I watched every single episode when he was in Neighbours . . . They are moving at the weekend . . . What, Harold and Madge? . . . No John and Norma . . . Number ten? . . . Number six . . .

Daisy opens the front door. Dickie enters, wipes his feet and gives Daisy a welcoming peck on the cheek. Natasha follows behind him.

Dickie: Hi ya, D D! (He laughs). This is Natasha. Where is the old bugger? (Cocks an ear). Ah! I'd recognise that voice anywhere, and the routine come to think of it.

Dickie goes through and picks up the skit taking the male role.

(Producing a packet of cigarettes and offering them to Marcus). Have one of mine.

Marcus: (Still in female voice). No thank you. I don't smoke.

Dickie: Yes you do darling.

Marcus: I'm not your darling, I'm not even your wife.

Dickie: That's because I'm not married.

Marcus: You're not married to me.

Dickie: That is what I said.

Marcus: Well I say that it is overrated.

Dickie: What is, marriage?

Marcus: No the new `Walt Disney'.

Dickie: Why, is it naff?

Marcus: No it's an `X'.

Dickie: Shall we go and see it?

Marcus: I bought tickets.

Dickie: When for?

Marcus: This afternoon.

Dickie: But I was out.

Marcus: So I went with Margie from work.

Dickie: Which one is she?

Marcus: The one who's husband sells double-glazing.

Natasha goes to follow Dickie through. Daisy eyes her up and down.

Daisy: Excuse me Natasha, I hope you weren't intending on teetering through there, piercing the parquet.

Natasha: I beg your pardon.? (She starts to walk back).

Daisy: No, stay there. (Cutting short Natasha's advance, shaking her head). Honestly, people ploughing up the shag-pile we can well do without. I realise that appearence everything to the youth of today. But at the risk of tilting your little world of fashion off its axis kindly discard those horrendous heels.

Natasha: But—

Daisy: (With stern look holding out arm impatiently). Your shoes please young lady, take them off and the coat as well while you're at it.

Natasha slips off her coat and shoes like someone whose world of fashion has indeed just been tilted off its axis and hands them to Daisy. Stockingfooted they are the same height.

There I knew that we'd see eye to eye eventually. Carry on. (Daisy pats Natasha on the bottom as she walks off).

Natasha gingerly pads through to the others in her stockinged feet. Daisy puts her coat and shoes in a closet near the door and locks it, rubbing her hands in a self-satisfied way. Marcus and Dickie have helped themselves to drinks.

Marcus: (Normal voice again). Look Dear boy, I really don't think that it's strong enough.

Dickie: I'm sorry old chap, but I couldn't fit any more in the glass.

Marcus: No, the dialogue—

Natasha enters.

(Distracted). Hello there, I'm Marcus.

He offers his hand, she limply takes it. (To Dickie). For heaven's sake man, stop unwinding with that glass in your hand and get, er— (He gestures towards Natasha).

Natasha: Natasha.

Dickie: I call her Tash, cos she's only got a little one. (He laughs).

Marcus: Get Natasha a drink, I'm not going to stand on ceremony when you're nearest the cabinet. (He eyes Natasha up and down). What kept you Tash, been baring your soul to my wife have you.

Natasha stands uneasily with one foot covering the other.

Take a seat why don't you, take the weight off your feet. (He motions towards the appropriate furniture).

Natasha goes and curls up in an armchair.

Dickie: Have a drink. (He hands Natasha a glass of wine and kisses her on the top of her head).

Daisy enters and looks disapprovingly at Natasha who hurriedly sits round, spilling some wine on her dress.

Dickie: Alright nobody panic, situ under control.

Dickie goes to get a cloth from kitchen.

Daisy: So have you told him yet?

Marcus: Look, how can I. We've been through thick and thin together over the years. Besides, there's Gavin to think of. Consider where he'd be without Dickie.

Dickie returns.

Dickie: Oh not him again. (He wipes Natasha down with the cloth). I thought that we'd laid that mischievous little urchin to rest long ago?

Marcus: Over my dead body.

Natasha: (Puzzled). Who's Gavin?

Dickie gives an exaggerated sigh. Marcus starts to explain.

Daisy: It's okay, I'll explain. Now are you aware of the power of positive thinking?

Natasha: Positive what?

Daisy: No, I don't expect that you are, but basically it means that anything can happen if you will it to hard enough.

Natasha: You mean that if I wanted Dickie to—

Daisy: No dear, that is requited lust.

Natasha: Dickie says he loves me, don't you Dickie?

Dickie looks decidedly put on the spot. Daisy waves her hand to silence Natasha.

Daisy: One night, after we'd all had a bit to much to drink, Marcus here had the bright idea to hold an impromptu seance. After that failed, due no doubt to too many spirits on the inside, He suggested that we should put our heads together and see if we could conjure up a poltergeist. He said that he'd read about it being done in some or other book without any real explanation and wanted to find out for himself whether it could be done. Unbeknown to us be had already done the preparation and prepared a fake background for this supposed apparition. All we had to do was believe in it and voila! Amazingly enough, after considerable mental consternation, Gavin was born into this and what ever other world counterfeit children haunt when not being a thorn in ones side.

Marcus: Honestly love, you're being unfair, he's no trouble.

Daisy: Don't you believe him.

Marcus: Well you would say that.

Dickie: And you would say that.

Daisy: Quite right, Dickie, and you don't even have to live with him. He can be a real pain in the arse at times, if you will pardon my French. Now I know that we were right not to have any of our own.

Natasha: What's this Gavin like?

Daisy: In his infinite wisdom, my husband decided that he should be the restless spirit of a child who tragically died in a fire after his negligent baby sitter decided to lock him in his room with some matches to play with while she drunkenly romped downstairs with her boyfriend.

Marcus: They dialled `9-9-9' at the first whiff of smoke and scarpered, the bastards!

Daisy: Alright, there's no need to embellish.

Marcus: I was only trying to—

Daisy: Well don't, I'm doing the explaining here.

Dickie: It may come as a surprise to you, but I did not come here this evening to listen to tired retreads of the same old story being wheeled out again for anyone's benefit.

Natasha: But Dickie, you know that I'm interested in things with a hint of mystique about them.

Marcus: Then I don't know what you see in him I'm sure.

Dickie: I came here at your request to go over my latest material. I understand you think that it's not so hot.

As Dickie speaks Gavin appears and, unnoticed, tears up the script that Marcus was reading from earlier and drops it in the waste paper basket before disappearing.

But the stuff I brought round tonight — I promise it'll knock your socks off.

Dickie produces a copy of the act, hands it to Marcus. and stands apart from the others as if to start his routine. Daisy stands also to intervene. Marcus puts the script to one side.

Ladies and gentlemen—

Daisy: Before you get too carried away, why don't we eat, or didn't you also come round to sample my fare?

Dickie: D D, your cuisine is nothing short of exquisite.

Dickie moves to the table and motions for Natasha to join him.

Daisy: Yes sometimes I wonder that Marcus only stays with me on the count of him liking my cooking so.

Marcus: Your orange sauce is a proper killer darling, I really cannot get enough of it.

Daisy: Then you will be pleased to know that it's on the menu tonight.

Gavin appears and makes the face of someone being horribly poisoned and clutches his throat before going into the kitchen. Dickie holds a chair out for Natasha, who sits. Dickie then sits and Daisy goes into the kitchen.

That's right leave it all to the women.

Natasha: Would you like a hand?

Daisy: No thank you, stay there. I'm sure that my husband will pour you another drink if you ask him.

Daisy goes into kitchen.

Dickie: That sounds like a jolly decent idea Marky boy.

Dickie offers his glass to Marcus, who pours everyone another drink.

Daisy: (From kitchen). Blast!

Marcus: What's wrong love?

Daisy emerges from the kitchen wheeling a hostess trolley. She proceeds to dish up the dinner.

Daisy: The pepper just got knocked into the orange sauce. It's completely ruined I'm afraid.

Marcus: The meal just won't be the same without it.

With the meal served, Daisy sits at the table with the others.

(Raising his glass). To the continuation of our long and prosperous relationship.

They all chink glasses and sip their drinks. Natasha hiccoughs. Curtain.


ACT TWO

One meal later. Daisy is laboriously clearing the table onto the trolley and to-ing and fro-ing between the dining room and kitchen. The others are sitting at the table drinking. Dickie is in the process of telling an obviously very poor joke and in approaching the punchline.

Dickie: I said to him, ``So it's from here to maternity then George.''

Natasha bursts out into fits of laughter far and above that warranted in the circumstances. Marcus sits there sipping his drink completely nonplussed.

Natasha: (Shaking her head, still tittering). Oh dear.

Dickie: I heard that one in the taxi on my way back from the club the other night.

Marcus: It shows.

Dickie: The price one has to pay for being famous I'm afraid; every Tom, Dick and cabby with aspirations in light entertainment pressing you to incorporate their piss-poor jokes into your act. And what if I did? They'd only end up suing me for breach of something or other. And I tell you I need tying up in more litigation right now like Oswald worked alone.

Natasha: (To Marcus). Could you direct me to your—

Dickie: I think she wants the little-girls' room Marky boy.

Marcus: Don't embarrass the poor girl Dickie, though Lord knows to be seen out with you she must have no shame.

Marcus and Dickie laugh.

Daisy: Take no notice of them. It never did me any harm. It's up the stairs, second on the left.

Natasha: Thank you. (She gets to her feet and heads for the toilet).

Dickie: I hope that you can whistle loudly, the lock's probably still broken.

Natasha: In that case I'll put my foot against the door.

Marcus: (Shaking his head, with straight face). No good love, it opens outwards.

Natasha looks horrified and goes upstairs. Marcus and Dickie laugh again. Gavin appears and goes upstairs.

Daisy: Wherever did you find her Dickie?

Dickie: Why, don't you like her?

Marcus: She'll break a few hearts when she's older.

Dickie: She's breaking yours now.

Daisy: That's my point: they don't exactly get any older, do they? You missed your station in life, your true vocation is that of a gynaecologist.

Dickie: Hold on DD. I'm the comedian round here and I think you mean an obstetrician. I used a variation of that at the Palladium in eighty-four.

Daisy: You know very well what I mean, just because you never had a `Sindy' to dress up when you were a boy there's no need to spend the rest of your life making up for it. And another thing; I wish that you wouldn't call me that in front of her, or anyone else for that matter. She might start asking awkward questions. Young minds can be very inquisitive so I've been told.

Dickie: Daisy, for an actress you have little tolerance of the recklessly absurd.

Daisy: (Becoming irate). And what exactly is that supposed to mean?

Marcus: (Attempting to defuse the situation). It means that he is making statements that he is not yet drunk enough to qualify. (To Dickie). Give me your glass Dickie.

Dickie's glass is refilled. Natasha comes back downstairs and sits down.

You found it okay then?

Natasha: Yes and I'd thank whichever one of you it was not to bang on the door and turn the light off next time.

Daisy: But the switch is on the inside.

Natasha looks miffed.

Dickie: It was that bloody Gavin I'll warrant.

Marcus: What makes you so sure.

Dickie: Oh come off it, because we were all down here, so unless you have some very perverse natured burglars in this neighbourhood—

Marcus: So how does this new act of yours go then Dickie?

Dickie: There you go again — changing the subject as soon as his name is mentioned.

Marcus: But you could hardly contain yourself when it was mentioned earlier.

Dickie: I wish I had that superfluous spook contained like, like a fart in a jam jar. Now there's an idea.

Daisy: Are you going to perform for us or not Dickie?

Marcus: Go through the motions more like.

Natasha: Go on, I'd really love to hear it.

Dickie: Right then, are you all sitting comfortably?

Daisy and Natasha reseat themselves on more comfortable furniture.

Marky boy, you could at least give me an introduction.

Marcus: But we are all more than acquainted with you here old chap.

Dickie: Just play the part; it's not right without an intro.

Marcus: She's the actress of this brood.

Daisy: Who's she when she's at home?

Marcus: Alright, alright. (He clears his throat). Ladies and gentlemen, there being no lords present I trust. It gives me no pleasure at all to introduce to you, here tonight, for one performance only, from the innermost recesses of his filthy little mind, the one, and thankfully the only irrepressible Dickie Ticker.

Marcus makes a gesture of presentation towards Dickie.

Natasha: Uh?

Daisy: (Whispering) That's his stage name.

Marcus: Sssh!

Dickie: Thank you, thank you for such a bathetic run down there Marky boy. Why I put up with all this I really don't know. I could be doing this on television you know. Well why not? There's so much crap on already, one more turd squeezed through the tube wouldn't make any difference. And the thing is, Joe Public and his live-in lover sit there every night of the week lapping it up like ambrosia. It gets me what the Gods liked rice pudding so much for anyway; it's like a clammy sample of magnified semen. No madam, you tell me what it tastes like!

The small audience laugh where they consider it appropriate.

I tell you, its enough to drive you mad — I learnt to drive once. It was in one of those dual controlled cars. Well, when I say dual-controlled . . . I had the steering wheel and pedals and the instructor had the hand brake. ``We're coming up to a junction so I would like you to reduce your speed Mr. Ticker. That's it, brake, brake harder, BRAKE HARDER, Jesus Christ!'' (Mimes someone yanking on a hand brake) ``What the bloody hell was that?'' ``A Robin Reliant wasn't it? I can always double check though with the samples of fibreglass they left on our wing.'' Did I mention that I had a female instructor? A woman of many talents she was; amongst other things black belt at karate. I used to dread having to reverse in case my hand brushed accidentally against her leg putting the car into gear and she gave me a chop to the throat. Maybe I had a guilty conscience, I don't know. I passed first time. I must be doing something right though; my licence is still as untroubled by points as a Norwegian entry for the Eurovision song contest. Mind you I haven't actually had a car for several years, I'm doing my bit for the environment. As you may have noticed, my career hasn't been all it should have of late: you don't have to be right-on to be green you know, just skint.

Dickie takes a step back and bows. Marcus, Daisy and Natasha applaud.

Marcus: (Getting to his feet). Thank you once again Mr Ticker. (He slaps Dickie on the back). Dickie, I didn't think you still had it in you.

Dickie: You old doubter.

Marcus produces a cigar which he places in Dickie's mouth and lights. Dickie turns to the others.

(Between puffs). So you liked it then?

Natasha: Liked it! It was brilliant.

Marcus: It could perhaps do with a dab more polish in places.

Daisy: There you go, ever the pessimist: the goose would have gone to the spit long before the golden egg if it had belonged to you.

Dickie: (Waving his arm to silence her). No, no. Fair comment Marky boy. (In his element with all the attention). It hasn't been honed to perfection yet I know; it's still a work in progress at the moment. I intend to beef it up a bit after the driving spiel, though once it's been liberally peppered with my usual selection of expletives live stage should present no problems. I'm also working on some put-downs to reduce the hecklers to their brain size. (He indicates a very small size with his thumb and index finger).

Marcus: Oh fine, fine, whatever you see fit. Now let's have another little drinkie-poo to celebrate this, your latest triumph.

Dickie: (Offering his glass). Don't mind if I do.

Marcus fills Dickie's glass.

Daisy: You'll need another bottle at this rate. (She rise to fetch more wine).

Marcus: Tasha?

Natasha: (Rising uneasily to her feet). I really don't know if I should.

Marcus: Don't be so anti-social, of course you should. (He drains the bottle into Natasha's glass).

Daisy: She doesn't look at all well you know.

Natasha: (Slumping back down in her seat). Oh I'll pull through. (She hiccoughs). Though I expect that come tomorrow morning I'll feel as If I've got someone's genitals lodged in my throat.

Marcus: Yes there's every chance you will dear.

Daisy: (Hitting him). Marcus! I think that I will go and get that other bottle of wine, though you've obviously had your fill, and half the street's as well, the way you're carrying on.

Daisy storms off to the kitchen.

Dickie: She changes her tune like a two-penny whistle in a hurricane.

Marcus: Isn't it simply wonderful? The ability of women to wilfully pick holes in the characters of those they hold dearest never ceases to fascinate me.

Dickie: If their tongues were vorpal blades, we would have been sliced and diced a thousand times by now.

Daisy returns and plonks another bottle of wine on the table.

Daisy: There you are and I hope that it makes you as sick as I am of you.

Daisy sits down. Gavin appears behind her back and raises the empty bottle above her head as if to smite her.

Dickie: (Slapping his hands together and rubbing them, ready for action). Right. How are we going to get rid of this Gavin then?

Gavin puts the bottle down and disappears.

Marcus: I still don't see why we have to.

Daisy: Perhaps if we put our minds to it and thought about it hard enough we could simply will him out of existence.

Marcus: It's out of the question, what do you think Dickie?

Dickie: I think you'd never co-operate.

Daisy: Why, when I suggest something, does there always have to be dialogue?

Dickie: Because in spite of all you might have achieved in the course of your glittering, all be it, tin foil, stage career— you are, especially when he's far from in a state of sobriety, just a woman.

Daisy: (Sneering). Huh! I'm still more of a man than he'll ever be.

Dickie: And to think that you were steering me well clear of any such observations earlier on in the evening.

In an attempt to change the subject, Daisy notices that Natasha has by now slumped into unconsciousness.

Daisy: Shouldn't you be attending to your own little luvvie instead of putting on me? I fear that it's past her bed time.

Marcus laughs.

Dickie: Oh, leave her be. I'm sure that she's having a good time where ever she is; it's in her nature.

Marcus: Let sleeping dogs lie, eh?

Dickie: Not at all, it's a question of priorities and at this precise moment in time, though you are trying every trick in the book — including the addendum, to distract me and divert my attention onto other infinitely more trivial matters—

Marcus: Such as?

Dickie: (Thinking). Such as . . . such as. See there you go again.

Daisy: I think that what he's trying to say Marcus is that he wants to see the back of Gavin, and for that matter so do I.

Dickie: Yes, he's got to go.

Marcus: Well I'm not having it.

Daisy: Reached quite a little impasse here haven't we?

Marcus starts to sulk. Dickie picks the script which Marcus placed to one side earlier on and producing a pen begins to make ammendments.

Honestly Marcus you're just like a child sometimes; I've a good mind to leave you to it. Goodnight.

Daisy goes upstairs.

Dickie: (Trying to make conversation). Maybe I should use that bit about dykes and Dutch boys after all.

Marcus is not listening to him; he is, absorbed by the exceses of the evenings alcohol, gazing at Natasha.Gavin appears and approaches her, stroking her hair. He blows in her ear and then runs his hands gently over her in a sensual way, occasionally kissing her. Natasha doesn't stir. Gavin gradually works his way down her body until he starts to caress her feet. As he starts to nibble her toes she starts to stir.

Natasha: (Ecstatically, with mock concern). Oh Dickie. No wait till later.

Natasha opens her eyes and recoils, letting out a startled cry. Marcus breaks out of his trance. Gavin disappears.

Dickie: Whats's wrong?

Daisy runs downstairs in her dressing gown. Natasha is sobbing to herself. Dickie goes to comfort her.

Daisy: Whats wrong with her.

Marcus: Too much wine if you ask me.

Daisy: No one is so be quiet. The poor girl is nigh on hysterical. If that mischievous sprite has been up to his tricks again, he's certainly gone too far this time.

Dickie: I told you we should have gotten rid of him long ago.

Marcus: Look I promise you that he'll behave from now on.

Daisy: And how can you ensure that?

Marcus: I—

Daisy: Is there something that you've been keeping from us?

Marcus: I just know he will that's all.

Dickie: Well I'm sorry but I'm afraid that it's too late for that as far as I'm concerned; this whole farce has gone on for long enough. And it's not as if you haven't promised that before. If you are not capable of putting an end to him them I will. From now on I shall be taking by business elsewhere. (He rises to leave). Come on darling, we're going.

Dickie takes Natasha's hand but she is reluctant to move. He glares at Marcus before striding to the door. Daisy helps Natasha to her feet and comforts her to the door where she returns her possessions. Dickie embraces Natasha and they leave. Daisy closes the door behind them and returns to Marcus who has been helping himself to another drink.

Daisy: He's really done it this time. I hope that you are satisfied.

Daisy storms upstairs to bed. Marcus drunkenly surveys a page of Dickie's discarded script but his eyes do not focus. Eventually he tosses the paper down on the table, drains his glass and goes to bed also. After a passage of time Gavin comes down the stairs, he goes into the kitchen and then reemerged a few seconds later. The hiss of escaping gas is heard. Gavin takes the script from the table and sets it alight with Marcus' lighter. Once the fire has caught a hold, he drops the script into the waste paper basket and returns upstairs. Curtain.


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This page © Kevin Mitchell, 1998.