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Heavy Petting - a short play by David Jobling

Petua sighs. Darren enters.
PETUA: Nothing to be done!
DARREN: Waiting for Godot starts like that. Nothing to be done.
PETUA: At least Waiting for Godot is political.
DARREN: Two tramps standing at the side of a road waiting for someone who never comes. That's not terribly political.
PETUA: Originally when the audience saw it, they were enraged. They tore up the theatre in protest. You must have heard about that. It's theatre history. More proof that theatre has to be a social tool. It can't be hijacked by box office takings and administrators forever.
DARREN: Sulking isn't going to help.
PETUA: I'm trying to run a rehearsal. That's what I'm trying to do but someone keeps letting the damn writer into the rehearsal room.
DARREN: Seems like you're trying to reinvent a wheel.
PETUA: Actually I'm illuminating your text.
DARREN: Actually you got this assignment because Administration thought it would work at the box office. What's got into you? Fancy pushing such morbid bloody ideas-
PETUA: How can it not be morbid?
DARREN: Petua, singing in space, where no one can hear you scream isn't morbid, it‚s irony. If you start shoveling shit-loads of metaphorical symbolism onto it, you run the risk of missing the whole point. The press release will say "A diesel dyke with headset'n‚lungs, defeating Aliens with prosthetic tongues".
PETUA: But it's got to be more than that!
DARREN: Do people buy tickets out for a good time expecting a mind fuck?
PETUA: What about her journey through the whole Jesus/E.T.-transformation thing?
DARREN: Forget it.
PETUA: You want to ignore all that?
DARREN: Absolutely.
PETUA: You want it to be frivolous and cheap?
DARREN: Prosthetic tongues aren't cheap! It's ŒALIENS - The Musical‚. It has nothing to do with AIDS.
PETUA: I think-
DARREN: Ellen Ripley doesn't have AIDS.
PETUA: Her relationship with the Aliens is a metaphor of the history of HIV-
DARREN: No it isn't.
PETUA: I'm being allegorical. It's a subliminal message. A confirmation. Offering hope.
DARREN: It's a musical comedy! She gets two guys and a girl in the last act. There's plenty of hope.
PETUA: You must allow me to do it how I feel!
DARREN: Don't ask me to do that when you look like you feel like shit. Try not to intellectualise everthing. Enjoy yourself. Surely you know how to do that. So far, you've only managed to alienate everybody working on the production. We've only been at it two days. People are alienated enough as it is. Don't add to their burdens of self doubt. Geraldine thinks you want her to seroconvert during the tap dance. Try not to think of it as theatre, it's a show. Forget all your metaphors of AIDS and Ellen Ripley. Please. Otherwise we'll never get it up.

PETUA DROPS A SCRIPT ON THE FLOOR

DARREN: What?
PETUA: I want you to do it with me.
DARREN: No that's my line. I want you to do this with me.
PETUA: At least take a look at it.
DARREN: A look at what?
PETUA: Come on, it‚s not too long to fit in. Wrap your fist around it.
DARREN: I don't follow.
PETUA: For once would you just take the hat when I pass it? Come on. Slip into something a little more Beckettesque. I want you to take it. Once you know how good it is; I've been saving it up.
DARREN: Pick this up? It's a script. I can hardly believe you actually wrote-
PETUA: Do it with me. Take it.
DARREN: And it's Beckettesque? Like Waiting for Godot?
PETUA: Just do it.
DARREN: Have you been eating lately?
PETUA: I wrote it with you in mind.
DARREN: I write. I don't act.
PETUA: You should. Let's do it, just you and me.
DARREN: Is it a two hander?
PETUA: Yeah.
DARREN: Well. (reads) Scene One - An inner-city park. Petua is shirtless; is this about you?
PETUA: Carry on.
DARREN: Well. Tell me about it first.
PETUA: It's a virgin work. Never touched by anyone. Not in the real world any way. Listen. (pause) I told everyone else to take a break from rehearsal. We could do this before they're due back. Let's just get right into it and if you want to offer some constructive feedback; like, it's not like it doesn't need more work. It's going to need work. Too poetic maybe; but you should do it first. As long as you don't mind throwing yourself into it, yeah? That's the way to do this. Like pulling back an arrow aiming at the bullseye; that‚s what you told me yesterday. Good advice. Got to be a clear strong gesture. One simple move. That's what you said. It‚s incredibly complex. I put my soul into this. I should shut up now. I know I say to much sometimes and it annoys you. I'll let you do it. Just do it. Go on.
DARREN: Petua is shirtless, ritualistically drawing sun shapes on his shoulders and chest with a lipstick. His baggy pants are too big around the waist, he has no belt. When he stands up, his pants slip down. On the table is a filthy pillow-case containing several objects. He takes the following items. Too much direction on the page here.
PETUA: Don't comment. Just do it.
DARREN: There're too many words.
PETUA: Don't worry. I'll mime as you read. Help us get into it. Come on.
DARREN: He removes items out of the pillow-case and places them down; an impressive chunk of rose quartz, a string of fake-pearls, candle, packet of incense, holder, matches, tobacco pouch. Small box, wrapped in a feminine blouse. Places all on the bench. He lights the candle and a stick of incense with a match. Waves his hand through the thin trail of smoke, sniffs it, then stands up on the bench.
PETUA: (reads, with actions) Holding the box with great care he moves it around in the trail of incense smoke. Sweet an‚ sour. Just like you Poss 'ey?
DARREN: Unwraps the blouse. He smells it, holds it against his face for a moment, now he stands on the bench and puts the blouse on.
PETUA: You should‚ve let me look after ya Possum. The Man enters reading his note pad. He stops and stares. What are you lookin' at?
DARREN: I don't think-
PETUA: Nah. It's your line. Then I say "Bugger me!".
DARREN: I didn't mean to embarrass you-
PETUA: Bugger me. Who's embarrassed? I'm not a side-show that‚s all.
DARREN: I like your blouse.
PETUA: Yeah pull the one with the knob on the end, it comes with bells.
DARREN: Your blouse is, very sweet.
PETUA: My mum made it.
DARREN: It suits you.
PETUA: She didn't make it for me. I remove the blouse and wrap it around the box. What are you smirkin' at?
DARREN: Wait a second, where are we?
PETUA: Just keep going.
DARREN: Why?
PETUA: I want to see if it works.
DARREN: What is it?
PETUA: A short play.
DARREN: Short plays seldom get done.
PETUA: Just do it.
DARREN: You've got more chance of being run over by a bus than getting a short play produced. Could it be a short film?
PETUA: Pick it up from - What are you smirkin‚ at?
DARREN: I don't know. You tell me.
PETUA: I'm mindin‚ me own business in the mornin‚ sun, burnin‚ a bit of incense. What's it to you?
DARREN: I thought you were setting up shop.
PETUA: May have somethin‚ to trade if you give me your belt. Me braces gave up the ghost.
DARREN: We could work something out.
PETUA: Sorry if I's rude'ey. There's some real weirdos around. Closer it is to the city the more ya get.
DARREN: What do I get for my-
PETUA: I'll make it a fair trade. I'm part Hopi Indian.
DARREN: Unusual character isn't he?
PETUA: Focus please.
DARREN: Sorry.
PETUA: One part Hopi, one part Scotch, one part Irish-
DARREN: You make yourself sound like a cocktail.
PETUA: I guess that‚s better than a cock-tease.
DARREN: What kind of short play is this?
PETUA: Sssh! Show us ya belt then. Open it up. Go on.
DARREN: What?
PETUA: Do I have to do it for you?
DARREN: You don't want me to actually do it do you?
PETUA: Of course. We have to get the physicality. The Man unbuckles his belt. Do it.
DARREN UNBUCKLES HIS BELT, REMOVES IT
DARREN: Where's this going?
PETUA: Short play competitions. Carry on. Oh right it‚s my line. Nice buckle. What do you want for it?
DARREN: Nice piece of rose quartz you have here.
PETUA: How do you know it's rose quartz?
DARREN: Oh I know my rocks. I'm a bit of a rock-hound.
PETUA: You can call me Pet. I'll call you Rocky! Get it? Pet Rocky!
DARREN: I particularly like igneous rocks. What does that mean?
PETUA: It's a tribute to Ryan O'Neil in 'What's Up Doc?' He's got a bag full of igneous rocks and he's doing an impression of Cary Grant.
DARREN: I don't get it.
PETUA: I thought you'd pick up on that much. It was Madeline Khan's first feature film. She died of cancer. It gives the actor playing the role permission to think about screwball. It's a tribute to screwball. Come on, I'm standing here with my bits to the wind. Just do it.
DARREN: Okay. Actually rocks are my hobby. I'm a writer.
PETUA: Do you write about rocks?
DARREN: No, I write about all sorts of things; for kids mostly.
PETUA: Like "Harry the Hairy-nosed Wombat"? That's my favourite.
DARREN: No, stuff like, Yoghurt bubble chocolate drop, chew an‚ blow 'an watch 'em pop!
PETUA: Never heard of it.. What is it?
DARREN: It's the Gap stop bubble gum rap. Been playing for three years on television, you must have heard it.
PETUA: Slip it in. Let's see if it fits. You mind threadin' it through me loops?
DARREN: Bit awkward back to front.
PETUA: The Man moves behind to buckle the belt.
DARREN: Good on him.
PETUA: Do it.
DARREN: No need.
PETUA: How do you expect me to get it if you don't-
DARREN: It should all really be in the dialogue-
PETUA: Well it isn't. Drop your script and come here and slip your belt through my loops.
DARREN: Why?
PETUA: So I can see how it goes. Come on. Drop it. You have a line as you do it. You slip it in nicely all the way around.. thanks. Now the buckle. You say "That's much easier".
DARREN: Easier?
PETUA: Come up behind me, buckle my belt and say, "That's much easier".
DARREN: That's much easier.
PETUA: Isn't it? .. you say 'isn't it'.
DARREN: Isn't it.
PETUA: Yeah. Good-one Rocky.
DARREN: What now?
 
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