Issue #8

Playing Our Song

A One-Act Comedy-Thriller by Tom Lodge

Illustration of a revolver gun

“[CLOV Exits without turning.]

CLOV: This is what we call making an exit.”



ANNA WILSON, an attractive woman in her twenties. She is beginning to be bored by her relationship with her recently made husband, ROBBIE WILSON, and is first to suggest the murder idea. Unknown to him, she is having an affair with OLIVER WYKE.

ROBBIE WILSON, ANNA’S husband, around the same age. He is a charming man who deeply loves his wife yet has secrets of his own.

OLIVER WYKE, ANNA’S beautiful lover who “mistakenly” arrives at their house. He has recently divorced his wife in Australia and moved back home, taking a job in an abattoir to pay the bills whilst he waits to turn out another play.


The play takes place in the living room of a small house. The time is the present, and the action is continuous.

The curtains open to reveal a small but well-decorated front room of a house - a few well-placed and tasteful ornaments that, although nice, lack any real emotional connection to the inhabitants of the house. There is a leather sofa centre stage on top of a rug with a tall standing lamp on the stage left side and a table with a phone on the right. A door leading to the kitchen is stage right and the front door stands upstage left in front of which rests a brown welcome mat. A hat stand with one bowler hat and an umbrella adorning it is upstage from the door. A staircase runs the back wall, dimly lit. On the back wall is a picture of a woman falling out of a plane, and below it, a picture of the same woman walking on the wing of a plane. Above these, there is a picture of a man next to a camel.

A few seconds pass, and a car engine can be heard from offstage. The engine is turned off, the door closed and ANNA WILSON, the woman from the photographs, opens the front door of the house. She is an attractive woman of around 20 dressed for work, carrying a bag on one shoulder. Her brown hair is neatly done into a bun. She takes off her red trench coat and comes into the room. She sighs a little, hangs up the coat and begins to undo the bun in her hair. As she passes the photo of the man with the camel, she giggles. She walks off into the kitchen, taking off her shoes. She returns a moment later with a glass of wine, collecting a remote from the kitchen. She presses a button and “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole begins to play on a record player. She sits on the sofa and begins to flick through a photo album labelled “HONEYMOON MEMORIES”. She grins and giggles along. The phone rings.

ANNA: Hello, Anna and Robbie? Oh, hello mum! Yes, I’m fine, how are you? Oh it was absolutely horrible. Deborah from accounts had gastric flu and pretty much threw it around the team so I had to do the presentation! Robbie was struggling too, Deborah neglected to inform him that he’d be doing all the tech prep for it on his own, scrabbling round the floor of a German conference room on his hands and knees trying to wire in a projector... Just... terrible, really. Sorry I haven’t had a chance to call since I got back, but we touched down at about 1 Saturday morning, slept right through until Monday morning and then we both went off to work at 9, back to bed, and here we are at Friday and it’s the only time I’ve actually known what day it is. Yeah, he’s fine, he’ll be home in a bit if you want to speak to him? Oh, alright. Yes, of course I’ll tell him. Okay, okay. Bye mum!

She hangs up the phone and momentarily goes back to the photo album. She turns to the audience. The lights change to just illuminate the sofa.

ANNA: Mum and I had always had a good relationship. Ever since Dad died, we’d been inseparable. Not that she and my sister, Jess didn’t get on mind, same with her and my younger brother Donald, but it was always me and mum. We’re still good friends to this day. All my friends say she’s just like one of us. I suppose she is, she’s only about fifteen years older than me. Robbie and her got on a storm too. But then again, that was Robbie’s charm, he’s good like that, just sort of... gels with anyone, you know? I’ve always said, he’s always been able to think quickly, sort out your wireless internet connection and gel with anyone. We did, the first time we met. It was at an engagement party actually, his friend Julia’s I think. Anyway, I knew this girl vaguely, and my friend Laura, who knew Julia quite well, asked me to go along with her, she’d just split up with her boyfriend and thought this might tip her over the edge if she was on her own. She didn’t kill herself in the end, she got hit by a bus.

ANNA laughs a little.

ANNA: No, no she didn’t. She works in Costcutter.  Anyway, this party was in full swing as you say, and Robbie was there, smashed out of his face, staggering around with his tie around his head... My word, he’s destined to be an uncle. He came over and offered to buy Laura a drink, which she declined and ran off into the toilets in floods of tears. He turned round with a disappointed grin on his face and asked me if I’d like to take it, and well, this being one of the most awkward social situations I’ve ever been in, happily accepted the alcohol as a means of taking my mind off things. We talked, danced, I drank, sang, he spoke, sobered up... and I guess, you know, one thing led to another and we... fell into love, really. It’s been the same ever since. Well...

A pause. The lights return to normal and she continues to flick through the book. The phone rings again.

ANNA: Mum? Oh, it’s you... hello. Yeah, yeah, it’s all going to be fine, don’t worry about it, we’ll be fine, I promise.

ROBBIE WILSON, the man from the picture on the wall opens the front door and comes into the room. A tall man with neatly trimmed black hair, he is dressed in work clothes too, and comes into the room, kissing ANNA on his way toward the kitchen.

ANNA: That’s fine, do it. Of course I’ll be ready, don’t you fret, everything is in readiness. Okay, I’ll speak to you later. Bye, bye.

ROBBIE comes back into the room, now with a biscuit, taking his coat off. As he goes past the picture of himself, he too laughs a little. He kisses ANNA again.

ROBBIE: You’re playing our song.

ANNA: Course I am darling.

THEY kiss.

ROBBIE: Was that your mum?

ANNA: No, no, just Sally from work, checking that Ellie’s surprise party is going to be ready, we’ve got cake, strippers, fireworks -

ROBBIE: Everything you need in an office then?

ANNA laughs. THEY kiss again.

ANNA: Hit it right on the head there. Head Office have decided that instead of buying essentials such as toner, paper, wages, heating, the building, they are to now use that money to fund staff orgies. Which reminds, me, I’ve a two o’clock with Barbara -

ROBBIE: Any jobs going in your department then?


ANNA presses a button on the remote and the music stops.

ANNA: I don’t really think they’re hiring at the minute. Although there may perhaps be a position available... under... me?

ROBBIE: Oh come on!

ANNA: What, darling?

ROBBIE: We were there doing intelligent repartee and you reduce it to the level of... Carry On Up The Khyber!

ANNA: Ah, what can I say, I work with what you give me.

THEY laugh and kiss again, their faces lingering close for a few moments.

ROBBIE: I didn’t see you at all at work today, or even yesterday actually. How was your day?

ANNA: Oh, I spent the day in Accounts with Gerard, absolutely rubbish.


ANNA: Yeah, yeah why not.

ROBBIE: Sure I couldn’t tempt you to something stronger?

HE shakes an unopened bottle of schnapps at her.

ANNA: If I ever have to look at that shit again I’ll... I’ll... I’ll...

ROBBIE: Frankfurt conference taking its toll I see?

ANNA: Oh shut up you, I’ve had a long day!

ROBBIE: So have I you know! You’re not the only one who’s been back at the coal face after an ordeal in Germany.

ANNA: Oh but it was grim, wasn’t it?

ROBBIE: Yeah, yeah it was.

THEY kiss again. ANNA jumps up and wraps her arms around him.

ANNA: I still can’t believe we spent our anniversary listening to Gerard retch in a dirty hotel room.

ROBBIE: I know, not a year ago we were basking in the Mexican sun.


ANNA: Sand...


ANNA: You...

ROBBIE laughs.

ROBBIE: Oh really? You don’t expect me to laugh at that? That’s in the running for the biggest cliché of the week...

ANNA gives him a peck on the cheek.

ANNA: Come on, sit down, I’ll do the tea.

ROBBIE: Lovely.

ANNA: Biscuit?

ROBBIE: Blue Riband, thanks.

ANNA: No. No. It’s just too... old.

ROBBIE: What?!

ANNA: You can’t eat a Blue Riband, you’re not over sixty!

ROBBIE: It’s a reputable biscuit!

ANNA: It’s a biscuit for arseholes!

ROBBIE: My dad eats them.

ANNA stays silent. SHE winks at him and goes into the kitchen, laughing. ROBBIE relaxes on the sofa. The lights change again.

ROBBIE: What a grim weekend. I mean, it’s one thing that we had to go on a conference together, but add an office full of gastric flu patients and a tech system from the stone age, oh and on top of that make it our first anniversary... Christ. The honeymoon though, my word... It really was marvelous, what a wonderful time. Bliss. But then again, I’m sure it said that on the brochure. I bet Thomas Cook had more original comments than that. Sun, sea, sand, and the love of my life. She really is just... amazing. Where has a year gone?

I suppose it’s true to say that I never really liked her that much at first. I mean, you know, we all like a drink now and again but... fuck me the night I met her... I literally could not walk. I went over to she and her friend... apparently, and offered to buy one of them a drink. I mean, I couldn’t tell which was which between them, let alone distinguish if I was seeing double or not. I offered a drink, one turned it down, one accepted and when I woke up, I think I was in bed with Anna. I think. But I got a call off Anna that week asking me to meet her for a drink. By all accounts I wrote my number on the back of a pizza box, Jesus. But yeah, as I say, she was dead keen. I’m not flattering myself, but she was, calls, knocks on the door, asking my mates about me... But I did eventually relent and give her a chance.  Then I got a position as an IT technician in her work I couldn’t get away... or for that matter get enough of her. This was, of course, just after coming out of the most serious relationship I’d been in - Holly - about a week before the party that I met her at. I was... crushed, obviously. In pieces, really. I suppose Anna was there to reform what she could from what was left. It took me a while to stop loving Holly really. I mean, not that Anna isn’t, but she was... perfect, you know? It might have been altered slightly in my mind but every day was always exciting and new and fresh... We spoke a few times over the years, but sort of, I don’t know, fell off one another’s radar, you might say. She did call the other week but I didn’t give it much thought...

The lights snap up again. A boiling kettle is heard. ROBBIE flicks through the photo album that ANNA left on the floor. HE grins occasionally and stops for a moment, as if lost in recollection. ANNA re-enters with two cups of tea in matching mugs.

ANNA: There we are lovely.

ROBBIE: Thank you honey.

THEY both blow on their tea and exchange a look into one another’s eyes from over the mugs. THEY grin.

ANNA: So, what to do for tea then? I was thinking maybe we could go out?

ROBBIE: Yeah, that might be nice, what were you thinking?

ANNA: The Pollard?

ROBBIE: I’m not really feeling it tonight... How about Steeton’s?

ANNA: If you like, yeah, good idea.

ROBBIE: Oh, but don’t you have to go over to your mum’s tonight?

ANNA: Oh bloody hell yeah. Forgotten about that. Shit.

ROBBIE: Takeaway?

ANNA: Yeah, why not, can’t be bothered to cook.

ROBBIE: Chinese?

ANNA: Hmm.

ROBBIE: Pizza?

ANNA: Mmm.

ROBBIE: Fish and chips?

ANNA: Really?


ANNA: We always have fish and chips.

ROBBIE: No we don’t.

ANNA: Do we not? Or have we in fact eaten fish and chips three nights this week?

ROBBIE: Yeah but you like them more than I do!

ANNA: I know, but do you not fancy - a change?

ROBBIE: Get haddock instead of cod then.

ANNA: No, I mean... mix it up a little!

ROBBIE: Are you saying I’m boring?

ANNA: Oh god, definitely not! It’s just... fish and chips... for the fourth time?

ROBBIE: Anna, we’ve just been in Frankfurt. I don’t think I ate a single thing I’d ever eaten before. Well, save for the “Big Mac mit pommes”. Is that not enough of a “change” for you?

ANNA: You know what I mean Robbie... What about now? We sit around looking at the photo album for years? Because that’s not what I want to do, and it shouldn’t be what you want to either.

ROBBIE: And it’s not what I want to do, and it’s still only fish and chips -

ANNA shouts over him, clearly now more distressed.

ANNA: It’s not just fish and chips, it’s the rest of our lives! I don’t want to be one of those couples who exchange a few coughs across the dinner table because the love left long ago!

ROBBIE: And why will that happen to us?

ANNA: It always does... I... I don’t know. I’m sorry darling, I’ve just had a bit of a rubbish day...

ROBBIE: It’s okay darling. Come on, back over here.

THEY embrace. ANNA rests her head on ROBBIE’S shoulder for some time.

ROBBIE: What can we do to make it more exciting? Shall we get a curry for tea?

ANNA: Yeah.. go on then.

THEY kiss. ANNA looks slightly forlorn. ROBBIE doesn’t notice this and goes to get a takeaway menu from the kitchen.

ROBBIE: Right, Mufasa’s it is.

ANNA: Okay honey.

ANNA gets up and wanders around the room.

ANNA: But you do see what I mean, don’t you dear?

ROBBIE (offstage): Yeah, sort of, but it’s sort of natural isn’t it? Oh hello, is this Mufasa’s?

ROBBIE continues to talk from the kitchen.

ANNA: Well yeah, but that doesn’t mean we should, does it? I mean, all the family on my dad’s side were butchers, and it would have been “natural” for me to cut up cow carcasses for the rest of my life, but I didn’t did I?

ROBBIE (offstage): Yeah I’ll have a... lamb bhuna with pilau rice please. And, er, Anna?

ANNA: Prawn Biryani please, with a naan.

ROBBIE (offstage): Prawn Biryani please, with a naan, thanks.

ANNA: I really do worry about this, and you can’t even be bothered to properly listen to it?

ROBBIE: Five minutes? Thanks mate.

ROBBIE comes back into the room.

ROBBIE: Right, I’m all ears. Shoot.

ANNA: See you’re not taking me seriously!

ROBBIE: I am, tell me what you mean!

ANNA: Do you think we’re falling into a rut?

ROBBIE: Honestly? A little. But as I said, it happens. There’s no point going mad about it.

ANNA: So you understand me?

ROBBIE: Well... yeah.

ANNA: So what are we going to do about it?

ROBBIE: I don’t know, wife swapping?

ANNA slaps him on the shoulder.

ANNA: Robbie!

ROBBIE: I don’t know, holiday? I mean, we’d have to book -

ANNA: I don’t want, bookings, and forms and... planning, I want - now!

ROBBIE: Well do it then!

ANNA: What?

ROBBIE: Throw some clothes into a suitcase, get some of mine, I’ll get the car running and - we’ll go!

ANNA: You mean it?

ROBBIE: Yes! I’ve always wanted to do this, it’s like I’m in... I don’t know, something!

ANNA jumps up to kiss him again and runs off. ROBBIE runs toward the kitchen, similarly excited. ANNA stops, as if she has suddenly realized something.

ANNA: Oh... didn’t we, er, order a curry?

ROBBIE remains excited.

ROBBIE: Oh come on, curries don’t matter a thing when we could be flying to Barbados in an hour!

ANNA: Oh but I was really looking forward to my, er... chicken -

ROBBIE: Prawn.

ANNA: Prawn... tikka.

ROBBIE: Biryani.

ANNA: Biryani...

A pause. ANNA is clearly not paying much attention.

ROBBIE: You sure you’re alright, love?

ANNA: Yeah, I’m... yeah. It’s just... not going to work, is it?

ROBBIE: What isn’t?

ANNA: Us going on some spontaneous holiday. We’ve... too much to do.

ROBBIE: Are you being serious?

ANNA: Yes! I mean, there’s work, David’s birthday next week, my Pilates -

ROBBIE: I’ve got a meeting with Barbara on Thursday -

ANNA: We’ve Archie Hesketh’s funeral -

ROBBIE: Taking your mum to the garden centre...

ANNA and ROBBIE slump back onto the settee. ROBBIE looks upset.

ANNA: I’m sorry, I think last week’s just, got to me...

ROBBIE: Tell you what, go and run us a bath, eh? We’ll have tea in there and get an early night?

ANNA smiles.

ANNA: Okay darling.

ANNA kisses him and runs upstairs. The lights change again.

ROBBIE: I suppose being with Anna just smoothed out my life really. I mean it’s so sort of - hackneyed, but she actually was there for me. I’d always been so close with my mum, boys always are really, so when she died, as you can imagine, I was devastated. I mean, yeah inheritance is good, and Mumma did leave a fair substantial amount... half a million actually... but no matter how many zeros come after your bank balance you’ve still lost your mother... But Anna just... picked me right up! I understand she’s getting stressed with everything, I know it’s not easy to live and work with someone... someone like me. I’m not a wife-beater, you understand, I’m just... a bit... not... “unfaithful” -

The lights change again. ANNA bounds down the stairs. She rushes over and kisses ROBBIE.

ANNA: Shall we have some papadums while we wait?

ROBBIE: Yeah, why not.

THEY both go off to the kitchen.

ROBBIE: So, really though now, what do you want to do?

ANNA: How do you mean?

ROBBIE: About us, this “falling into a rut” stuff.

ANNA: Well, I didn’t really mean it...

ROBBIE: No, it’s okay, if you’re worried, we can do something about it.

ANNA: What do you mean?

ROBBIE: I don’t know, whatever it is that people do to spice things up... Zumba, role-playing, dogging or fisting.

ANNA: Well I don’t think Zumba’s really your scene is it?

ROBBIE: You know what I mean though?

ANNA: Well, I have always wanted to take up tennis.

ROBBIE: Tennis? Bit... tame, no?

ANNA: Well what would you like to do?

ROBBIE: Something properly out there... adrenaline and that.

ANNA: Well there is one thing... but... no.

THEY come back into the living room with papadums and chutney. ROBBIE carries a bottle of wine and two glasses. Throughout these exchanges they pour glasses of wine, drink and eat, occasionally feeding one another.

ROBBIE: Go on?

ANNA: It’s not even worth suggesting.


ANNA: Because it’s ridiculous.

ROBBIE: Why is it ridiculous?

ANNA: Because it is.

ROBBIE: Why won’t you tell me?

ANNA: Just... no!

ROBBIE: Please?

ANNA: Oh, bloody hell! Well, I was going to suggest that… maybe…

ROBBIE: Go on.

ANNA: That maybe...


ANNA: Of course we wouldn’t but... kill... someone.

A pause. ROBBIE begins to laugh. ANNA tries to look serious for a few seconds but cracks and begins to laugh too.

ANNA: You see?

ROBBIE: Oh that really is brilliant.

ANNA: You see?

ROBBIE: Ah, classic.

Another pause. ROBBIE and ANNA sit for a moment, grinning and occasionally looking at one another. ANNA’S mood suddenly changes.

ANNA: You know it isn’t... too ridiculous.

ROBBIE: You what?

ANNA: I mean... it would be quite... exciting.

ROBBIE: Well, yeah, but it is, you know, illegal.

ANNA: Not if you don’t get caught...

ROBBIE: You really mean this, don’t you?

ANNA: Of course I don’t!

ROBBIE: But I suppose you’re right.

A pause. ANNA can’t quite believe what ROBBIE has just said.

ROBBIE: There is a certain excitement to it...

ANNA: How would you do it?

ROBBIE: Well... have you ever seen that film Hostel?

ANNA: Erm, yeah?

ROBBIE: Yeah well nothing like that. I don’t know, I think it’d be fun to... shoot someone.

ANNA: Have you got a gun?

ROBBIE: Yeah, my granddad left me one in his will!

ANNA: The antique revolver? Pontius Pilate had better firearms than that.

ROBBIE: Are you in possession of any weaponry?

ANNA: No, but I don’t want to shoot someone.

ROBBIE: Well, what would you do?

ANNA: I don’t know... A Sweeney Todd would be pretty cool, you know...

ANNA mimes the slitting of a throat, complete with violent splaying of blood.

ROBBIE: Bit of a hassle to clean, no? And you don’t like pie.

ANNA: Fine then... poison.

ROBBIE: That’s boring!

ANNA: Batter them over the head with a lead pipe?

ROBBIE: Do I look like Professor Plum?

ANNA: Alright, alright. How about like in... oh, that Hitchcock film!

ROBBIE: The Birds?


ROBBIE: Rear Window?


ROBBIE: Vertigo?

ANNA: Rope!


ANNA: You know, the one with the er -


ANNA: Yeah!

ROBBIE: So strangulation then?

ANNA: Yeah!

A pause.

ROBBIE: Fair enough, but who?

ANNA: Barbara, what a bitch.

ROBBIE: Yeah, but people would notice Barbara was missing. And she’s in prime physical condition, she can probably take us both on, we wouldn't be able to hold her down.

ANNA: Gerard?

ROBBIE: I like Gerard, he’s not a bad guy.

ANNA: He’s a dickhead.

ROBBIE: I don’t know, that homeless guy outside Waitrose?

ANNA: Why him?

ROBBIE: Because nobody would notice he was gone.

ANNA: Of course they would!

ROBBIE: Well, even if they did, would anyone even care?

ANNA: Robbie that’s horrible!

ROBBIE: It’s true!

ANNA: I love you very much Robbie, but I am not going to help you choke a tramp to death.

ROBBIE: Have you any better suggestions?

ANNA: How about my Aunt Valerie?

ROBBIE: What about her? I didn’t even know she existed.

ANNA: Well, she’s my great aunt, really. She’s a bit of a shut in to be honest.

ROBBIE: Strangle a pensioner?

ANNA: She’s not that old. I mean, mum’s only forty-five, and I think Valerie’s barely fifty-five...

ROBBIE: What makes you so keen to kill her?

ANNA: Well, nobody would notice. And she’s not got any money, so there would be no motive.

ROBBIE: What do we do then?

ANNA: Invite her here.

ROBBIE: What if people see us? Or her?

ANNA: That’s the beauty of it - she lives alone somewhere on a hill in Howarth, a good ten miles out from anywhere.

ROBBIE: So we wouldn’t be seen coming down?

ANNA: Only by birds and a few sheep.

ROBBIE: But... strangling? It’ll be so obvious we did it.

ANNA: Not if we make it look like suicide.

ROBBIE and ANNA consider this for a moment.

ROBBIE: I’ll get a length of rope.

ROBBIE gets up off the sofa.

ROBBIE: No, we can’t strangle her! She wouldn’t come here to kill herself.

ANNA: I see what you mean.

A pause.

ROBBIE: We give her a heart attack.

ANNA: What?

ROBBIE: Scare her to death - get her tanked up on whisky and painkillers, frighten the life out of her. Like in Deathtrap!

ANNA: But that is a film, dear.

ROBBIE: Not ten minutes ago you suggested we recreate Rope. What makes this any different?

ANNA: You’ve got a point... Oh this is exciting isn’t it?

ROBBIE: I know! Think of how good it’ll be when we’ve done it!

ANNA goes to get their jackets.

ANNA: Right, we’ll go get some whisky and painkillers.

ROBBIE and ANNA begin to put their jackets on.

ROBBIE: Right, give her a call, invite her round for tea tomorrow or something.

ANNA goes to the phone and dials a few numbers.

ANNA: Hello, Valerie? Yes, it is Anna! How are you? Good, good. Listen, Robbie and I were wondering if you’d like to come round for tea tomorrow evening? We’ve a few other bits of family coming and thought you might want to join? Oh, excellent, I’ll see you tomorrow.

ANNA hangs up the phone.

ANNA: Done.

ROBBIE: Excellent! We’ll go to the shop, get some dinner stuff and -

The doorbell rings. ROBBIE and ANNA are frozen to the spot. Nobody moves. The doorbell rings again. THEY relax.

BOTH: Curry!

ROBBIE goes to answer the door, expecting the delivery man. HE opens it. Much to ROBBIE’S surprise, OLIVER WYKE is standing there, looking just as perplexed as ROBBIE. He is a tall man, slightly older than ROBBIE and ANNA, with blond hair, a stubbly beard and glasses. He is dressed in far more casual clothes than ROBBIE or ANNA. He holds a letter in his hand.

OLIVER: Hello...? Is this James’ house?

ROBBIE: Erm, no?

OLIVER: So James Hebden doesn’t live here?

ANNA: No, sorry, he moved about two years ago. We bought the house after him.

OLIVER: Oh, well, I’m sad to hear that. Sorry to have bothered you.

OLIVER goes to leave. A flash of inspiration flashes across ROBBIE’S face as he quickly realizes something.

ROBBIE: Why don’t you er - come in? We can pass the letter on for you if you like.

A pause. ANNA looks perplexed.

OLIVER: Yeah, why not. Oh I should have introduced myself. My name is Oliver Wyke.

ROBBIE: I’m Robbie Wilson, and this is my wife, Anna.

ROBBIE shakes his hand. ANNA walks over to the two of them.

ANNA: Hello.

ROBBIE: So, could I offer you a cup of tea? We’re just waiting to have a curry if you fancied joining us?

OLIVER: I don’t think I’ll be staying that long, I’ve work this evening... Do you mind if I use your loo though?

ROBBIE: That’s fine, up the stairs, first door on the left.

OLIVER: Thanks.

OLIVER goes up the stairs and ANNA and ROBBIE watch him.

ANNA: What are you doing?

ROBBIE: Change of plan. We murder him.

ANNA laughs. ROBBIE remains stony-faced.

ANNA: What?! We don’t even know who he is!

ROBBIE: Well, when he comes downstairs, why don’t we ask him?

ANNA: What’s wrong with Valerie?

ROBBIE: This is much easier! We can literally do it right here.

ANNA: Are you sure?


ANNA: Well, Oliver Wyke it is.

ANNA smiles gleefully, as if forgetting herself somewhat. She straightens herself up.

ROBBIE: Are you okay?

ANNA: Of course I am, this is well -

ANNA stops as OLIVER comes back down the stairs.

ROBBIE: Take a seat, mate, can I get you anything?

OLIVER: I will take a cup of tea if you have one?

ROBBIE: Certainly.

ROBBIE gestures over to ANNA to go and make a cup of tea. Irritated, she does so.

ROBBIE: So, what is you’re looking for?

OLIVER: Just to give this letter to a friend actually. He never told me he moved, how strange.

ROBBIE: Were you and he good friends?

OLIVER: Yeah, he was best man at my wedding actually. I moved to Australia with my wife, well, ex-wife, and we sort of lost touch, you know, as people do. It was just to invite him to a little private function I’m having next week, a welcome home party for myself, sort of thing.

ROBBIE: So your wife stayed in Australia then?

OLIVER: Yeah, I couldn’t handle it out there any more.

ROBBIE: I really like Australia. See this picture?

ROBBIE indicates the one on the wall. He pulls the same face as he does in the picture.

ROBBIE: Look at that little camel face! That was taken in Australia a few years ago, when I was, with, erm...

ROBBIE trails off. OLIVER is quick to jump in.

OLIVER: Those other two look pretty interesting. Anna went on an “extreme adventure holiday” two years ago. It wasn’t that extreme, they only got as far as Bognor.

OLIVER laughs.

ROBBIE: So did you bring any family with you then or not?

OLIVER: Just me I’m afraid. I got a new job in an abattoir actually. I like the hours and I, don’t really have to see... people.

ROBBIE: Well, that’s good for you then.



A clearly awkward pause. ANNA comes in with a cup of tea.

ANNA: There you go, er, sorry, what was your name again?

OLIVER: Oliver Wyke. Thanks, by the way.

ROBBIE (making his point very obvious): Oliver here was just telling me that he’s recently divorced, in England on his own and works in an abattoir.

ANNA: Oh really.

ROBBIE: Yes indeed.

ANNA: It must have been terrible to split up with someone and have your home thousands of miles across the world.

OLIVER: Yes, yes it was.

A pause.

ROBBIE: So, any plans for what you’ll do now then?

OLIVER: Yeah, this current job’s just a temporary thing really, taken it on to help out my mate that runs it. What I really want to do is to get back into writing.

ROBBIE: Oh you’re a writer then?


ROBBIE: Anything I’d have heard of?

OLIVER: I write, well used to, write plays, mainly. Thrillers, comedies, farces, that sort of thing.

ROBBIE: Ah, well, that sounds ace.

OLIVER: It really is, good fun, too.

ANNA: Robbie, might you come and help me in the kitchen?

ROBBIE remains silent and does so. OLIVER reclines on the sofa, taking off his jacket as the lights change once again. Occasionally, the shouting of ROBBIE and ANNA can be heard.

OLIVER: I know exactly what you’re thinking - he works in an abattoir, he must be a husk of a man who hasn’t experienced emotion in years. Well, you’re wrong, I’m an author by trade. Having said that, it’s probably true to say you do become desensitized to it. It’s not like I’m slaughtering innocent animals for the good and greed of a higher species, I suppose I’m just, you know, doing my job. They don’t even seem like mounds of flesh, let alone living and breathing things, more like, just... numbers. Like numbers on a screen whizzing past your eyes to be chopped, packaged, bought and dispatched to all corners of the country. I suppose it’s just the same with anything in life really, supply and demand. I stun them to death so you don’t have to. I’m actually writing a play about that, well, death in general. Partially based around my own life. My wife wasn’t too happy when I wrote a play about our relationship. She said I was being “passive aggressive” and “sneaky”. She always said I had anger issues. When the relationship ended, I guess she turned out to be  right. Guess she won’t be telling the story to anyone else...

The lights change again as OLIVER’S phone begins to ring.

OLIVER: Hello? Hello? Oh, hello, bad reception in here, just a minute.

OLIVER walks out of the front door deep in conversation.

ANNA: You see, he’s bloody left now! I knew we should have never let him in, Valerie would have been easy!

ROBBIE: Oh shut up will you, he’s left his jacket, he’s coming back! Now, are you with me. or what?

ANNA: I suppose I am.

ROBBIE: Right then, you pour him a whisky and I’ll go get the gun. Shoot him, bundle the body up in a carpet and go roll him down a hillock.

ANNA: Okay.

ROBBIE goes up the stairs. ANNA begins to pour a whisky as OLIVER re-enters.

OLIVER: Sorry about that, important phone call from my bank, “you may be eligible for... blah blah blah”.

ANNA: Oh it’s fine, whisky?

OLIVER: I am driving back... but I suppose one can’t hurt now can it?

ANNA hands him the whisky, pours one for herself and ROBBIE and turns back to him.

ANNA: Cheers.

OLIVER: Cheers. So what is it that the two of you do then?

ANNA: Well I work in middle management of a credit company, and Robbie is head of IT at the same place.

OLIVER: So you never get away from him?

ANNA: Sadly yeah.

OLIVER: Oh sorry have I -

ANNA: Oh it’s nothing, don’t worry about it.

A pause.

OLIVER: Middle management then eh? Sounds endlessly entertaining.

ANNA: Yeah, quite... I actually want to run my own business someday.

OLIVER: Oh? What do you want to do?

ANNA: I’ve always wanted to sell properties abroad to be honest with you, don’t like the cold weather too much around here.

ROBBIE comes back down with the stairs with the gun concealed on his person. ROBBIE has finished his whisky, so ANNA pours him another.

ROBBIE: Is there a whisky for me down here?

ANNA: Yes darling, there you go.

ANNA hands him his drink. He finishes it in one and begins to pour another.

ROBBIE: Bet you’re excited to see all the old faces again aren’t you?

OLIVER: Yeah, very much so. It’s the one thing I really missed whilst abroad, friends and the like. But I’m looking to start again really.

ROBBIE: How do you mean?

OLIVER: You know, new job, new friends, new wife.

ANNA: Oh that sounds lovely.

ROBBIE: So mate, got any new ideas for plays coming up?

OLIVER: Well actually, there is one project I’m working on, but it’s... complicated. It’s about an alcoholic trapped in a loveless marriage. Quite... personal, really.

ANNA: You ever acted in any of your own plays then?

OLIVER: No, no, not my line of country at all, too much like hard work, lines, rehearsal, directors...

ANNA nervously pours them all another drink. OLIVER notices this change in her.

OLIVER: Are you okay Anna?

ANNA: Yes, I’m fine, just a little... jet-lagged, is all. I think I’m going to go have a smoke actually.

ANNA leaves through the kitchen, collecting a pack of cigarettes from her jacket as she goes.

OLIVER: So, how long have you and your good lady wife been together then?

ROBBIE: Well it’s actually just gone our one-year anniversary.

OLIVER: Oh, congratulations! That’s brilliant! To... the Wilsons!

ROBBIE: To the Wilsons.

They drink. ROBBIE refills both of their glasses.

ROBBIE: You sure you’re gonna be okay driving back after this mate?

OLIVER: Yeah, I’ll be fine, I’ll drive a bit down the road and get a taxi home.

ROBBIE: Ah okay.

OLIVER: So you were saying, you and Anna?

ROBBIE: Oh yeah, where was I.. Oh yeah, a year. There’s never been anyone else for me really, sort of. I imagine it was the same with your wife?

OLIVER: Oh, heavens no. She was treating me like a real fool. Having affairs here there and everywhere. When we split up, she told me, that she’d never been truly happy.

ROBBIE: Seriously?

OLIVER: Honest truth.

ROBBIE: My god.

ROBBIE goes, unseen to OLIVER, behind the sofa and begins to load the gun.

OLIVER: I felt like such an idiot, that I’d been blind to see what had been right in my face for so long. Coming back from work late, always having evening appointments, keeping her phone away from me. I should have done something about it as soon as I spotted something.

ROBBIE: Why didn’t you?

OLIVER: Well, I just... left it, thought it would sort itself out.

ROBBIE: And it never did?

OLIVER: Never. I had to take matters into my own... hands.

ROBBIE: At least you were happy for some amount of time though?

OLIVER: Yeah, true, but at what cost? You and Anna look perfect really.

ROBBIE: I suppose it is. We’ve a lot of the same interests really, films, music, friends.

OLIVER: Oh it’s always important isn’t it?

ROBBIE: Yeah, yeah it is... She’s a bit of an adrenaline junkie really, into skydiving and all that. I must say, it’s rubbing off onto me somewhat. Thrilling.

Unseen to OLIVER, ANNA has re-entered.

OLIVER: Oh, how so?

ROBBIE: Like this very evening.

OLIVER: Oh? How do you mean -

OLIVER turns round to see ROBBIE pointing the gun straight at him.

ROBBIE: As I say, like this very evening. You know that film, Rope? Where they try and do the perfect murder? Well, it’s a bit like that. Only, we’re not really all that interested in, perfection, so to speak, more...

ANNA: The act of merely, doing it. For the thrill, you see. Because wing walking and fire breathing are all well and good, but come on! This is a whole new level of excitement! It’s not that Robbie and I have a boring relationship, it’s more we need... a kick in the right direction.

ROBBIE: Well put, darling.

ANNA: Thank you.

OLIVER: And why do I have to foot the bill because your relationship’s hit the rocks?

ROBBIE: I told you, we’re not on the rocks!

OLIVER: But why kill someone and have blood on your hands when there’s a therapist on the high street?

ROBBIE: Therapy’s for people with problems. We don’t have problems.

ANNA: So, we’ll bundle you up in a carpet and roll you down a hillside. By the time anyone finds you, we’ll be long gone.

ROBBIE: It is quite a good idea, isn’t it?

ANNA: I’d definitely agree with you there.

OLIVER: Of course it isn’t! People will know I’ve been here!


OLIVER: I could phone someone!

OLIVER produces his phone.

ROBBIE: Yeah, I don’t think that’s gonna happen.

ROBBIE shoots OLIVER in the leg, causing him to jerk in agony, sending his phone flying across the room. OLIVER cries out in pain.

ANNA: Think we put a stop to that one.

ANNA smiles. OLIVER tries to make a break for it, only to be stopped by ANNA at the door, she punches him in the stomach and he falls to the floor. ANNA locks the door.

ANNA: I’d say it looks like you’re pretty much... fucked, mate!

OLIVER: No! Please, let me go, I’ll never tell anyone about it, I don’t want to die, I’ve so much to give!

ROBBIE: The thing is, you don’t, do you? You’ve nothing tying you down, so nobody will notice you’re gone. Your job requires you to kill animals, so murdering you is my way of doing Greenpeace and Morrissey a favor. And your plays are absolute rubbish. I did a bit of Googling upstairs, actually, and in fact I have heard of your work. All flops, no? I thought so. In short, you, Mr Wyke, are one of those people, who, maybe in a few years, a handful of people may ask: “Oh, what happened to him?” and the answer will come: “Oh, I don’t know”, followed by: “You know what, I don’t think I even care”.

ANNA: Robbie! No!

ROBBIE: Anna, I’ve got to do it. I’m sorry Oliver, but this is your play’s last scene.

An agonizing pause. OLIVER continues to sob at ROBBIE’S feet. Quickly, ROBBIE jerks the gun away, fires a shot away from him and throws the gun on the sofa. He begins to walk toward ANNA.

ROBBIE: I can’t… I just can’t. It’s wrong, I’m an IT technician, not a murderer!

OLIVER: Oh thank you so much!

ROBBIE: Yeah, yeah, go on, go, just... don’t tell anyone, yeah?

OLIVER: I promise!

OLIVER happily exits, taking his coat, and unseen to anyone, the gun, from the sofa with him. ANNA walks toward the door, relieved.

ANNA: Thanks, Robbie. I don’t know what I’d have done if you’d actually shot him.

ROBBIE: Screamed?

ROBBIE and ANNA laugh a little. They walk toward one another.

ANNA: Probably. I’m sorry.

ROBBIE: What for?

ANNA: Suggesting all this... business. We don’t need to kickstart the relationship, it’s perfect as it is.

THEY kiss, and walk to in front of the sofa, and begin to slowly waltz.

ROBBIE: I’m sorry too, for getting quite so... caught up in it, I guess I just thought too quickly! I love you Anna.

A pause. The lights change again. ANNA moves slightly out of the embrace.

ANNA: I was very happy I hadn’t had to see Mr Wyke die. I couldn’t have done with it. Poor Robbie though, I felt really bad for him.

A pause.

ANNA: Or, so I told him. It was really very exciting, that kiss in the living room, trapped in his arms and chained to that slow waltz. He didn’t have a clue.

The lights go back to normal. ANNA plants a kiss on ROBBIE’S lips.

ROBBIE: I love you.

ANNA: And I -

Unseen to ROBBIE, OLIVER bursts through the front door with his own blood streaked all over him. HE clutches the gun. ANNA screams and ROBBIE turns round. OLIVER points the gun at him before ROBBIE can react, and wordlessly shoots him square in the chest. HE falls to the ground silently and ANNA continues to scream. A pause. OLIVER puts the gun in his pocket and smiles. ANNA smiles back, jumps over ROBBIE’S body and into OLIVER’S arms. THEY spin round for a while, giggling. THEY kiss and look into one another’s eyes.

OLIVER: You know what, I never thought it would work.

ANNA: I was a little on the ropes for a while, I thought he was actually going to shoot you!

OLIVER: So did I! I’ve never been more terrified in my life. Why did he have to shoot me?!

ANNA: Well I had to let him think he was in control didn’t I! Only then, in that split second of a moment where he turned round to see a centimetre of metal hurtling toward him, would he fully realize how far into our lovely web he’d fallen, how much he hurt me and how much I hated him.

OLIVER: Never suspected a thing though, did he?

ANNA: Not even when I was on the phone to you when he came in! He thought it was someone from work!

ANNA turns to shout at ROBBIE.

ANNA: I quit last week!

OLIVER: How did he not notice that?

ANNA: Told him I’d been in a different department!

OLIVER: Genius! And did he believe you actually had an Aunt Valerie?

ANNA: Hook, line, sinker.

ANNA blows a raspberry toward ROBBIE’S corpse on the sofa, flicking him the “V” as she does so.

ROBBIE: Just amazing.

ANNA: And my mother... well my mother...

OLIVER: We should probably go and sort that out now.

OLIVER gets a length of rope from his pocket and gestures to it. THEY laugh together. THEY notice the picture of ROBBIE with the camel and laugh again.

ANNA: Is everything ready for us to leave?

OLIVER: Yes, yes it is. The plane tickets are in my bag -

ANNA: I withdrew all the money from mine and Robbie’s shared account -

OLIVER: What we gonna do now then?

ANNA: I don’t know...

THEY look into one another’s eyes.

BOTH: Bundle him up in a carpet and roll him down a hillside?

THEY laugh again and kiss. The lights change again as ROBBIE begins to speak.

ROBBIE: So, that’s how I died. Pretty disappointing way to go really, being shot by your wife’s lover ‘cos she found out about my affair with Holly. Fucking hypocrite. I’d spent so much time, loving Anna that... Holly was a mistake, and I tried so many times to tell her but it just didn’t... I couldn’t! I loved her so, so much but she never believed me. She must have known from the start. Thinking about it, I think I’d seen Oliver before, Anna told me he’d come round to read the meter. Hold on, we don’t even have a fucking meter! Oh I feel like such a stupid -

I suppose this always answered that question I’d forever ask of life - what will people say about me after I’m dead. What I heard was -

ROBBIE/ANNA: Cheating bastard.

Throughout this next speech, ANNA and OLIVER begin to move him onto the sofa.

ROBBIE: My own wife. Moving my lifeless arms and cold legs into a contorted position on the sofa, her lover beginning to encase me in bargain basement floor coverings. I suppose there’s a poetic justice in it all really. I smothered Anna for years, or, so she’ll say, and now she’s doing the same for me. Or, you know, maybe not. Maybe my life is just... shit. Oh my god, that’s it. Radiohead were right, it’s all just bloody pointless. You think it’s all going well and you get a big fat bullet to the chest. Well done Robbie. Just goes to show. You never know what’s gonna happen tomorrow. Or who it will be that conspires to murder you.

ANNA and OLIVER are now behind the sofa. THEY kiss, and ANNA moves to a table, collecting the remote. She presses a button, and “Unforgettable” begins to play once more. THEY begin to dance.

OLIVER/ROBBIE: You’re playing our song...

ROBBIE begins to cough and splutter, blood pouring from his mouth. With a choke, he dies. The lights change again.

ANNA: Course I am darling.

ANNA presses a button on the remote and the music gets louder. Unknown to them, there is a loud knock at the door, in a heartbeat like rhythm. THEY continue to dance. More knocking. ANNA kisses OLIVER on the cheek. More knocking. Eventually, the door is opened. In the doorway now stands a man dressed in a delivery man’s outfit. HE enters, with a pile of food stacked to just below his eyes. He comes into the room, notices ROBBIE’S bloodied corpse laying on the sofa and screams, scattering the food. ANNA and OLIVER sharply turn. Slow curtain.


Tom Lodge