like, dead 2005 Richard Jordan 45 Freesia St Macgregor Qld 4109 (07) A Play in Two Acts

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1 5.1 FULL-LENGTH STAGE PLAY like, dead A Play in Two Acts 2005 Richard Jordan 45 Freesia St Macgregor Qld 4109 (07)

2 Characters: Clare Vain and beautiful. Desperate to be famous. Sister of Mark. 21. Zack Drama student. Closet gay. Self-conscious, but not camp. Late teens. Sarah Bleached blonde of Chinese descent. Broad Australian accent. Early 20s. John Tactless and lost. Obsessed with sex. Early 20s. Mark Dead. (Mostly). 20. Voices Setting: A share-house in West End, Brisbane. The house has several rooms, however the action is divided up between the kitchen, and the TV room, with a bedroom located at the back. The set should have a very sitcom feel to it but with the odd surrealist touch. From time to time canned laughter is played in the background, however this should only take place when Clare is on stage, and only then where indicated. The time is now. Synopsis: A wannabe diva, a closet gay, a Token Asian, and an absolute tosser. Oh, and a dead guy. Welcome to the 20th birthday party of Mark Chadwick recently deceased. In fact, so recently that his intimate gathering of close friends and acquaintances don t quite know what to do with him, and what s worse, his party s an absolute fizzer. Still, one mustn t let a little thing like death get in the way of a good time... like, dead is a darkly surreal comedy with the works: "Music! Glitz! Glamour!... Streamers!" and everything in between. Throw in a dead cat, an 80s revival dance sequence and a healthy dose of cannibalism, and get ready for one of the strangest parties you will ever attend. With a heady mix of humour laced with pathos, like, dead explores concepts of image, sex, race and identity within the most death-defying culture of them all youth. What does it mean to be immortal? To be Australian? To be alive? 46

3 ACT ONE Darkness. Somewhere, a band plays out of time. A brass section made up of truck horns yell at each other randomly. Garbage bins crash in a discordant rhythm. The dull humming of cars and lawnmowers makes for a bass line, etc. All combine into a jumbled Suburban Symphony. Lights up as MARK enters the house carrying an esky. He sets it down on the kitchen table, and pulls out a heart in a plastic re-sealable bag. He takes the heart out and examines it carefully, before placing it back in the bag, and peering at something written on the microwave. MARK: (reading) Instant Emotional Defrost. (pause) Well that s a handy feature. He puts the heart in and pushes a button. The microwave whirs and the heart spins around inside. MARK waits. A Chinese flute begins to play. Its smooth, sad melody glides over the chaos of the symphony. SARAH walks on stage, the flute in her hands, though she herself is not playing. Bringing the flute to her lips, SARAH attempts to play along with the melody. But all that comes out is an embarrassing squeak. She hurriedly exits. Lights up on ZACK, who wonders across the back of the stage, alone. ZACK: I love people who appreciate the small things the way a word can sound when said beautifully the way cracks appear along the surface of dry skin How a clear sky on the fifteenth day can be as brilliant as the first; How rain can stir the sun-stroked from their sleep He exits. In the kitchen, MARK has become impatient. MARK: Oh come on! Instant my arse! MARK opens the microwave door; examines the heart. MARK: Woah this doesn t look so good Lights change. The room has become a microwave, revolving slowly around MARK. He drops the heart back into the esky, and looks around, terrified. 47

4 MARK: Hey! Hey, wait a minute, what the hell is going on here? Oh shit, I m inside the thing! Zack? Clare? Anyone? Can anyone hear me? I m trapped inside the microwave and I can t get-! Lights out and sound effect of an electrical blow-out simultaneously. MARK gives a blood-curdling scream. A bright ding! sounds. Silence. Overwhelming static can be heard suddenly; it lingers for a moment, before SFX begins of an invisible hand channel surfing. Channels change in quick succession. CHANNEL ONE: (journalist) Tanya West never expected to find Change. CHANNEL TWO: (movie) Giant space monkeys! On the top of the Change. CHANNEL THREE: (man singing) This old man came rolling home Change. CHANNEL FOUR: (British woman) And the peace, and the absolute clarity Change. CHANNEL FIVE: (American Voice Over) We now return to Life As We Know It. Please note tonight the role of Clare will be played by Clare Chadwick. Life is filmed in front of a live studio audience. Cheesy, sitcom-style theme music plays as CLARE enters the TV room. SFX of an audience cheering uproariously which subsides as she talks. CLARE: Now we ve got streamers, balloons, cake, alcohol ZACK enters behind her, carrying plastic bags filled with all of the above and more with great difficulty. ZACK: Clare, we ve got everything! CLARE: We better have, or your ass is mine, buddy. Canned laughter. ZACK: Don t worry! We ll get it all together before Mark gets home! 48

5 CLARE unwraps the packets of streamers. She and ZACK begin to put some up around the room as they talk. CLARE: (to ZACK) You realise if we screw this up, it s officially your fault. ZACK: Yes, I know, and I ll be your slave for a week. CLARE: Yeah, well She Who Must Not Be Named better not find out. Canned laughter. ZACK: Clare, that s the whole point! Your mother s insisting, remember? CLARE: I realise, Einstein. I mean I hope she doesn t find out if you screw up. She nearly killed me when I wasn t here last time! Threatened to cut off my rent money and everything! Bitch. Canned laughter. ZACK: It wasn t your fault you were on a Contiki tour! CLARE: I know! You d think I d killed the Pope the way she was carrying on. It was just bad timing it s not like Mark cared, anyway. (sighs) And to think, I was in Paris this time last year. We d just caught the train from London; saw a West End show the night before. Now look at me. West friggin End, Brisvegas. Canned laughter. ZACK: Well, you re making up for it this time round and nothing s going to go wrong. CLARE: Who s coming again? ZACK: Except that. CLARE: Didn t you send out the invites? ZACK: Of course I did! CLARE: Well? ZACK: Let s just say the response was underwhelming. CLARE: How underwhelming? ZACK: Somewhat Kind of All right, no-one replied. CLARE: (panicking) Oh shit! Then who s left? Sarah? 49

6 ZACK: Yeah, Sarah. CLARE: Bless her little Asian heart. She ll be a good conversation starter Canned laughter. CLARE: Who else? ZACK: Well there s that guy I ve been running into CLARE: The schizo? ZACK: Don t call him that! CLARE: But he is. ZACK: Well, he said he was a schizo. I don t know. We were both drunk, it s hard to remember these things. CLARE: But you think you invited him? ZACK: I think. Maybe. CLARE: We ll call him a maybe. Who else? ZACK: Well there s Mark- CLARE: He doesn t count! Canned laughter. ZACK: Then there s me CLARE: Oh shit. ZACK: And you make five! CLARE: Two people! No, make that one and a half! I can t believe it! ZACK: It is a Wednesday. It s hard to get people to come out on Wednesdays. CLARE: Face it. Mark is a hardcore nerd with no friends and no life. It was going to be uphill planning this party from the start. But we did the best we could. ZACK: Yes you did. CLARE: So we ll change tactics. This is no longer Mark s 20 th Birthday party. This is a small, intimate gathering of close friends and acquaintances. 50

7 Slight canned laughter. ZACK: OK... CLARE: At 7, the guests, or part there of, will arrive. At 8 we ll pass round finger food. At 9 the music will change from ambience to house. At 11 from house to techno. Then from 1am we may go out. Sound like a plan? ZACK: You re a star, Miss Chadwick! CLARE: I know, I know. Now, keep going with all of this and I ll go and get ready. Oh and put that stuff in the fridge, will you? The last thing we need is everyone throwing up. ZACK: You look ready to me. CLARE: Zack, I ve been up since 5 doing photo shoots, my nails are a wreck and if I don t take care of this fringe sometime soon I ll be looking like Courtney Love on a bad hair day. Canned laughter. ZACK: Whatever you say. She kisses him on the forehead. CLARE: Who s my favourite boyfriend? ZACK: (rolling eyes) I am. CLARE: (friendly) That s right! Now move it, bitch. Canned laughter. CLARE goes towards the back room and ZACK towards the kitchen. The doorbell rings. ZACK: (to CLARE) Your turn. CLARE groans and turns back melodramatically. ZACK grins and walks into the kitchen which remains in darkness. CLARE opens the front door. SARAH is standing there, holding a box-shaped present. Clare motions at her audience to cheer wildly. CLARE: (sarcastic) Oh look! Our token Asian s arrived. Canned laughter. SARAH: (same) Rub me, bitch, I m good luck. 51

8 They break into smiles, squeal and hug each other, jumping around like schoolgirls as the cheering and laughter track continues. Finally it dies down and the girls stand grinning at each other. CLARE: Thank God you re here. It s just you and a schizo tonight. Slight canned laughter. SARAH: Ooh, sounds like a blast! CLARE: What d ya get me? SARAH: (dryly) Ha ha. So where s Mark? CLARE: Beats me. Work, Uni, I forget what he does Wednesdays. So what did you get him then. Come on, you can tell me! SARAH: Nup. Sorry. CLARE: I m gonna find out anyway! SARAH: It s the principle of the thing! The birthday boy should see it first. (beat) What have you guys got planned? CLARE: What haven t we got planned? Music! Glitz! Glamour! (beat) Streamers! Slight canned laughter. SARAH: (hopefully) Lolly bags? CLARE: Huh? SARAH: You know, lolly bags, like they used to give out at parties when we were kids! They were the best. Those big orange and green snakes and those little milk bottle things? They were cool. CLARE: Oh yeah, and pin the tail on the donkey, and mintie hunts SARAH: And that dumb rule where you had to kiss the boy next to you if you cut the cake right down to the bottom! CLARE: Erh. Don t remind me. My mum made me kiss Justin Woodley when I turned 7. He was so the grossest boy in school you should have seen his hair! Canned laughter. SARAH: Come on it was the 80s! We were all a little confused. 52

9 CLARE: You re right, it wasn t his fault. It was bloody George Michael. Boy, I d like to wake him up before he go-goes. Canned laughter. Clare takes out a mirror from her pocket and looks at herself. SARAH regards her strangely. SARAH: (confused) Clare, that didn t make any sense. CLARE: Oh my God! Why didn t you tell me? I look hideous! (puts mirror away) Honey, can you help Zack put up those decorations? He s just putting the food away. I ll be back soon. SARAH: Can I put on a CD? CLARE: Sure, knock yourself out. My house is your house. SARAH: You re renting. CLARE: Well go for gold, then! She pokes her tongue out at SARAH, who makes a face back at her. Canned laughter, which stops abruptly as CLARE disappears into the back room and closes the door. SARAH laughs to herself. She chooses a CD and puts it on, before blowing up balloons and putting them up around the room. Lights down in the TV room, lights up in the kitchen. MARK lies frozen on the kitchen floor. The microwave door is open, though no light emits from it. ZACK cautiously pokes MARK with a broom. ZACK: Hey Hey Mark! You re pretty funny! But you can wake up, now! MARK does not respond. ZACK bends down to MARK s mouth to hear him breathing, before taking his arm and feeling his pulse. ZACK: Oh shit. ZACK stands. ZACK dithers. ZACK thinks of something suddenly and opens the fridge door. After removing the shelves from the mostly empty fridge, ZACK bends down and attempts to pull MARK across the kitchen floor towards the fridge door. MARK stirs. MARK: You could have asked, mate. 53

10 MARK gets up before a bewildered ZACK, before proceeding to throw himself in the refrigerator. MARK: Ooh! Arctic fresh. ZACK: ARRGGGGHHHHHH! ZACK slams the fridge door shut and jumps back, terrified. SARAH rushes into the kitchen. SARAH: Zack, are you all right? ZACK jumps again and turns around. ZACK: Ah! Oh, hi Sarah! Um, yeah I m fine SARAH: What were you screaming about? ZACK: Oh! Oh that! Um I just realised Clare and I forgot the milk. SARAH stares at him. SARAH: Right. (beat) Well good luck with that. SARAH regards him oddly and returns to the TV room. ZACK turns back around, still shaken. He hesitates, then throws the fridge door open. MARK has removed his jacket to reveal a T-shirt underneath, with the words I m with Grim printed on it, and an arrow underneath pointing to the left, a la I m with Stupid. MARK: You re out of milk. ZACK: Am I hallucinating or are you actually dead? MARK: (grimacing) Ugh! Can you not use that word? ZACK: What? Dead? MARK: Did you even hear me? I said- ZACK: Sorry. MARK: It s a disgusting word. Filthy. Offensive, even. ZACK: Offensive? MARK: And dreadfully unfashionable. The D word is out. ZACK: I didn t realise. 54

11 MARK: Ignorance is not a defence. ZACK: I like your shirt. MARK: Thank you. Brief pause. ZACK: So what should I call you? MARK: Deceased, Departed, Asleep, whatever you like, really, just not that. OK? ZACK: OK. MARK: Good. Pause. ZACK: But you are? MARK: So it would seem. Yes. I am. Happy? ZACK: (relieved) Yes. I mean no! I mean well, at least I m not losing it. ZACK becomes very confused. Brief pause. MARK: Was there something you wanted? ZACK: Umm no. Not really. Just checking. You re not cold in there, are you? MARK: Of course I m cold; my heart s stopped. Feel me. ZACK feels MARK s cheek. Slight eroticism. ZACK: Can I kiss you? MARK: Can you what? ZACK: Nothing. Awkwardness. ZACK: Listen, about you. About this. I don t think Clare s going to deal very well. MARK: Let s face it. Clare doesn t deal with anything. Least of all the d word. Did you get a load of her last week when the neighbour s cat left an 55

12 expired goanna on our doorstep? She squashed it flat with a rolling pin and shoved it in their letterbox! ZACK: Mark, that was a goanna. Can you possibly imagine how she ll react when she sees you? MARK considers this. MARK: Good point. ZACK: I think our safest option is just to keep you here For the time being. We ll ease her into it, or something. Get her drunk, at least. And anyway we don t want to go spoiling your party, do we? ZACK laughs nervously. MARK seems unsure. MARK: I guess not. ZACK: (relieved) Good. Thanks. (pause; points to microwave) So how exactly? MARK: Let s not go into it. I m still in therapy. ZACK: Oh right. Right. He makes to leave. MARK: You know, Zack you can t hide me in here forever. ZACK pauses. ZACK: I know. MARK: Cause she ll find me. Eventually. And let her come. She can notice someone else for a change. It ll be good for her, don t you think? Slight pause. ZACK: You ll be all right in there, won t you? You won t get lonely? MARK: I can make my own fun. ZACK: Nothing ever changes, then, eh? They stare at each other. The doorbell rings. 56

13 Lights fade in the kitchen and rise in the TV room. More decorations have been put up, including balloons. SARAH is standing on a chair, attempting to tie an inflated balloon. Music plays in the background. SARAH: Can someone else get that please? She keeps trying to tie it. The doorbell rings again. And again. SARAH: Somebody?? And again. SARAH: Oh for God s sake! SARAH lets the balloon fizzle, jumps to the ground and answers the door in a huff. Before her stands JOHN, dressed fashionably enough, but failing to pull the look off convincingly. JOHN: (very Aussie ) Yo yo. SARAH: G day. JOHN: What up bitch? SARAH: Can I help you with anything? JOHN: Party. SARAH: (trying to close door) There s no party here tonight. JOHN: Ah sure there is! JOHN picks up an esky from outside the door and pushes past SARAH into the TV room. JOHN: So where s the Zack-meister? SARAH: Around. JOHN: You re a suspicious one aren t ya? SARAH: (accusingly) How do you know Zack? JOHN: Interesting story, that. But fuck it if I can remember how it goes! (beat) So where s the piss? SARAH: (pointing to esky) Didn t you bring your own? JOHN looks sheepish. 57

14 JOHN: Well yeah, but it s kinda more for show. SARAH: For show? JOHN looks around shiftily. SARAH: You mean so you can scab off other people? (gasps; points dramatically) You re a scabber! JOHN: Oi! There s no shame in being a scabber! SARAH: Yes there is! JOHN: Listen, this baby s (pats esky) made it through four parties this month without me having to lift her lid once. I happen to think that s pretty fuckin impressive! SARAH: Then what was the point of buying the piss in the first place? JOHN considers this. JOHN: Ah shit. He lifts the lid and takes out a XXXX. SARAH: Thanks! JOHN looks at the beer, looks at her, and begrudgingly hands it to her. SARAH smiles, triumphant, and takes it from him. JOHN digs one out for himself. They each take a sip and sit on the couch. Brief pause. JOHN: So where d you say Zack was? SARAH: Who knows. He seemed to be having a nervous breakdown in the kitchen last time I checked. JOHN: Shit ay? Maybe he broke a nail! SARAH gives a polite laugh, but seems confused by the comment. JOHN moves a little closer to her. JOHN: So SARAH: (uncomfortable) So. JOHN: What ya been up to? SARAH: I don t know. Stuff. 58

15 JOHN: Oh yeah, stuff. Hey, I was hoping we could find somewhere later and fuck. SARAH pretends to ignore him and moves herself down the couch. SARAH: Well to be honest I ve been compiling research on the indigenous populations of North-West Queensland JOHN: We ll take a raincheck, then, ay? SARAH: Seeing whether new technology is driving their communities closer or further apart. JOHN: Oh yeah, up North? They eat people up there, don t they? SARAH: (flabbergasted) What? JOHN: Huge conspiracy. There s a whole truckload of reported cases. Human skeletons. Secret Government records. All hushed up, of course. Not PC anymore, is it? SARAH: (sarcastic) You know you re so right. You just can t trust the natives. Or those nasty yellow people. JOHN: Nah, nah it s all right. I dig Asian chicks. SARAH: (getting fired up) Then what have you got against Aborigines? JOHN: I think you misheard me- SARAH: Indigenous peoples of this country have preserved their own unique cultures and belief systems for tens of thousands of years. JOHN: Righto. SARAH: It is not my place to pass judgement on a culture and way of life infinitely older and wiser than myself. JOHN: You re scared of em, aren t ya? SARAH: You re insane. JOHN: You re shit scared, I reckon. SARAH: And what would I possibly have to be scared of? JOHN: Well, strikes me you re in a prickly position. I mean, what do you say to em? Fuckin Sorry Day comes around and all the white people are supposed to say sorry and the black people are supposed to say ah, that s all right and they re meant to have a big fuckin group hug and a 59

16 cuppa and you people are kinda walking in on it all. Did we come at a bad time? SARAH: How would you know anything? JOHN: Listen, all I know is this: Blackfellas are people. SARAH: What a stunning observation. JOHN: Which means, of course, that like the rest of us, that some are friendly, and some aren t. SARAH: Unfriendly white people don t go around eating each other. JOHN: Oh I don t know about that ZACK enters from the kitchen. SARAH: (to ZACK) There you are! JOHN: Zacky, my man! ZACK: Oh, John hey! I was wondering if you d show. How you been? JOHN: Oh yeah same, different, the usual! Sit down, boy, sit down! ZACK sits down, still preoccupied with the matter in the kitchen. SARAH: You must have gone for a jog you took so bloody long! ZACK: Not today. Don t feel up to it. JOHN: Is Zack here a young athlete is he? ZACK: Hardly. I just like jogging. I like the silence. JOHN: And how s that lovely Clare going? She here tonight? SARAH: How do you know Clare? JOHN: She was at a party once. With this guy (signals ZACK), they were trynna make out like they were a couple or something. JOHN laughs. ZACK: We are a couple. ZACK stares at JOHN. JOHN: Oh right. Right. 60

17 SARAH: (sarcastic) So. John. You seem to be fairly sure of yourself. Why don t you fill us in on the wonderful world of you? It seems to be your expertise. JOHN: All right. What do you want to know? SARAH: (sarcastic) Heavens, where do I begin. OK. What do you do with yourself all day? JOHN: When I m not doin myself you mean? JOHN laughs at his joke. The others stare at him. JOHN: Oh yeah, work. Sometimes. In a factory. SARAH: (sarcastic) Fun fun. JOHN: You know those special bulbs you get in microwaves? SARAH: No. JOHN: I put em in. ZACK: All day? JOHN: 5 til sundown. SARAH: God. I d go insane. JOHN: I did. SARAH and ZACK aren t quite sure where to look. JOHN: So I was at a party once, and the guy hosting it he s dead now, he shot himself last year he s like really drunk and stuff and he s got this pet parrot out on the deck it was raining that night, just pissing down. And the parrot s all drenched and shivering from the cold, so he says the guy, not the parrot, he says, Hey! I know how we can dry him off quick! and you know what happened next don t you. JOHN mimes the action of placing the parrot in a microwave. He pushes some imaginary buttons (complete with sound effects). Then after a few seconds, he makes an explosion sound. SARAH: (repulsed) That s disgusting. Why didn t you stop him? JOHN: It was a dull party. (beat) Speaking of which ZACK: How careful are factory workers with microwave small parts? 61

18 JOHN regards him oddly. ZACK: Never mind. JOHN: Well, there are rumours, of course. About some of the accidents. SARAH: Really? JOHN: Oh yeah Pace-makers goin nuts. Brain tumours. Electrocutions ZACK: Yeah, I m still a bit hazy as to how that works JOHN: You fuckin get zapped, mate. ZACK: No, I mean, specifically with a microwave. JOHN: Beats me. Oi, what do you reckon happens to your body when you get zapped? Does your blood, like, boil? SARAH: You tell us. You re the schizo, aren t you? JOHN looks at her. JOHN: It s not the same thing. Not exactly. Pause. SARAH is mortified by her faux pas. SARAH: (concerned) Oh, sorry. I was only kidding. I didn t think they did that stuff in asylums anymore. JOHN: They re called psychiatric wards. And yeah, they do. They do everything now. ZACK: (cautiously) What was it like? John composes himself. JOHN: You start to forget things after a couple of times. Simple stuff. Like the name of your best mate in primary school. Or whether you had a pet dog or not. I m still a bit hazy on that. Or the time you oh shit I can t remember. He smiles at them. JOHN: Zzzzzzzzz! He shakes himself violently on the chair, grinning stupidly. SARAH and ZACK are repulsed. 62

19 SARAH: (shaken) You wanker. JOHN: You re priceless! Both of you! The look on your faces-! ZACK: That was low. JOHN: Awww Do I make you uncomfortable? SARAH: Why would you do that? JOHN: (to SARAH) I m a fucked-up lunatic. It s part of my charm, don t you think? ZACK: Whatever, mate. SARAH: (to JOHN) I can t work you out. JOHN: No one s asking you to. SARAH: But I m a sociologist! We need to know how things work. How people work. JOHN: People don t work. That s why we spend our whole fuckin lives trying to fix ourselves. Cause we re broken, you know. From the day we re bloody born. They cut the cord and the engine stops running. Brief pause. JOHN: Which reminds me. I m hungry. Was this Mark-dude going to have a cake or something? CLARE: (off stage) All in good time! Patience is a virtue, you know! Canned applause and cheering from the audience as CLARE enters from the back room, in a new dress and looking fabulous. She waves at the crowd and grins broadly at ZACK, JOHN and SARAH. The audience dies down. CLARE: A new guest! How exciting! SARAH: (sarcastic) Yes, he s delightful. JOHN: (to CLARE) I m John, if you remember. CLARE: Clare Chadwick. Hand model. They shake hands. JOHN s eyes linger on CLARE s hand with interest. As they talk ZACK takes hold of SARAH and pulls her across to the other side of the room. 63

20 CLARE: Did you see the latest Goldmark catalogue? JOHN: Nah, no women in lingerie. But you were in it, were you? CLARE tries her best to give a modest nod. Clare and John s conversation A continues at the same time as Sarah and Zack s B, however the latter should be heard much more prominently. CONVERSATION A: CLARE: Pages 3, 5 and 6. She hands him a catalogue she just happens to have on the coffee table. JOHN: Page 3 girl, ay? He grins at her. CLARE giggles as he studies the pictures. JOHN: Mmm. Sexy fingers. CLARE: But anyway, you know, it s all only temporary. JOHN: How so? CLARE: I ve got global ambitions. Hand modelling s just the beginning. CONVERSATION B: ZACK: Mark s dead! SARAH: Dead! ZACK: Shhhh! Well, kind of. SARAH: Kind of? ZACK: He seems to be in denial. SARAH: Well is he dead or isn t he? ZACK: Yes, he is! But look, we can t tell Clare OK? She ll freak! He s in the kitchen, you ve got to keep him company. SARAH: I m not going in there! ZACK: I m scared he ll go looking for her ZACK turns SARAH s attention to CLARE and JOHN. CLARE: I figure I ll move onto my singing career when the time is right. JOHN: Oh yeah? Give us a tune, then. CLARE: (a la Whitney) And I.eeee-I will always love yooooooouuuuuuu! Raucous applause and cheering from audience, that stops abruptly as ZACK and SARAH look back at each other. CLARE continues to wave at her audience in silence, as JOHN looks at her oddly. SARAH: All right. I ll do it. ZACK: Thanks. SARAH goes to leave. ZACK stops her, passes her Mark s present. 64

21 ZACK: You might want this. SARAH shrugs, takes the gift, and walks into the kitchen, which remains in darkness. JOHN taps CLARE on the shoulder, interrupting her fantasy. JOHN: (to CLARE) I think you ve got potential there. CLARE: Thanks! I do, don t I? And you know what else? I m totally, totally prepared for the constant attention. You see all these stars in magazines with weight problems? That so won t be me. Cause you know I m really lucky like that. I can eat whatever I want and the weight just stays off. JOHN: (disinterested) Shit, ay? CLARE: Yeah, it s pretty cool. I can wear whatever I want, too, which is fortunate. Cause it s so hard to keep up with fashion in Brisbane, you need all the help you can get! I mean, our latest looks are New York hasbeens. At least down south they can pretend they re cool well enough to get away with it. But no-one cares here. You walk down any given street and there are just miles and miles of ugly, ugly people! (beat) But I m different, of course. I m going to be on television. Pretty people always end up on television that s what my Dad says. And I m gorgeous. Vigorous canned applause. JOHN: (sleazy) You know, I ve got a way you could be really famous. CLARE: Yeah? JOHN: Yeah. CLARE: How? ZACK: So John, you got a beer there for me? JOHN and CLARE hold each other s gaze briefly. JOHN: Yep. JOHN digs into his esky and pulls out a XXXX. He gives it to ZACK. ZACK: (to JOHN) How you been, anyway? JOHN: You asked me that before. CLARE: Can I have one? 65

22 JOHN: Yeah, yeah, help yourself. CLARE, a little put out, takes some white gloves from her pocket and puts them on. ZACK: (to ZACK) So, still recovering after that big night? JOHN: Shit, yeah. Woo! That was a big one. ZACK: You re not kidding. I can t remember any of it. CLARE: How much ice have you got in here? JOHN: (to CLARE) Keep digging! (to ZACK) You know that s funny. Cause I can remember some stuff really clearly. ZACK: Really? JOHN: Oh yeah. Like it was yesterday. He gives ZACK a strange look. ZACK seems confused. CLARE: A-ha! CLARE triumphantly pulls out a dead cat. And screams. CLARE: Arrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhh! CLARE flings the cat across the room. JOHN: Oh yeah I forgot about that. ZACK: That s Brigita! CLARE: Who? ZACK: Psycho-neighbour-cat! JOHN: Ran over it when I was parkin. CLARE: Arrrgghhh! ZACK: So you put it an esky? JOHN: It s for me mum. They look at him. JOHN: She stuffs them! CLARE: She stuffs them. She stuffs them. SHE FUCKING STUFFS THEM! 66

23 CLARE points at ZACK. She is close to hysteria. CLARE: You! You! Get rid of that thing! ZACK: I m not touching it! CLARE: From goannas to bloody cats this is FUCKING UNBELIEVABLE!! Furious, CLARE yanks up the cat by the tail, her gloves still on, and marches with Brigita in tow into the kitchen before ZACK can stop her. ZACK gets up and turns to JOHN. ZACK: All right, mate. Before we race after her, there s something you should know Lights down in the TV room, lights up in the kitchen as CLARE enters, too focussed on her mission to notice SARAH and MARK playing Guess Who. Discarded wrapping paper lies on the floor. The groceries have all been put away. CLARE walks straight past them and out the backdoor. MARK and SARAH are fixated on their game. MARK: OK, OK Does your person wear a hat? SARAH: (bored) No. CLARE: (off stage) I will not have dead things in this house! A toilet can be heard trying to flush several times. MARK and SARAH look at each other, alarmed. ZACK and JOHN enter the kitchen ZACK anxiously, JOHN bewildered. They stare at MARK and SARAH, who shrug. ZACK: (to MARK; motioning at the fridge) The fridge! Quick! MARK: But-! ZACK: Do you want get all of us killed? MARK rolls his eyes and hides behind the fridge. JOHN: (to ZACK) He doesn t look dead to me! ZACK: Looks can be deceiving ZACK pulls JOHN out of the kitchen and back into the TV room, which remains in darkness. 67

24 CLARE returns from the back door, composes herself, and puts on her best fake smile upon seeing SARAH. CLARE: Oh Sarah, I didn t see you there! Who are you playing with? SARAH: (uncertain) Ah myself? CLARE: Worked out who you are yet? Canned laughter. CLARE smiles at her audience. SARAH looks at her strangely. SARAH: Are you OK? CLARE: Yes, of course I m OK. I m always OK. (looks at her watch) Where is that fuckwit? MARK gets up the courage and goes to step out from behind the fridge. CLARE: I m gonna kill him! MARK promptly stays where he is. CLARE sits down beside SARAH. CLARE: All right, Sarah, I confess. I m not doing OK. In fact I m doing terribly. This party sucks. I seem to have been cursed through no fault of my own! by a dead cat, a bad hair day, a friggin birthday boy gone AWOL and two pathetic excuses for guests. Oh sorry, don t take that the wrong way! I mean, it just doesn t get any worse than this. SARAH: Bitch. Honey. I hear you. And you know what I think? CLARE: What do you think? SARAH: I think it s time for you to loosen up CLARE: Loosen up SARAH: Let go CLARE: Let go SARAH: And do what we do every time things start going to shit. CLARE looks at her and grins. SARAH & CLARE: Dance, baby, dance! The two girls strike diva poses as the atmosphere changes. Music plays loudly; lights flash as in a nightclub; the set opens up as both the living and the dead 68

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