Published 6 years ago
ELLE - Middle-aged, dishevelled, wearing nightclothes.
BETH - Indeterminate age, smartly dressed in casual attire.
LISA - Twenty-something, short dress, heels, make-up.
WAITER - Young, handsome male.
Staging notes :
‘Black box’ stage, plain black floor. Three identical, plain chairs positioned CSR, CS, CSL.
Blackout. ELLE, BETH and LISA enter. Each sits in a chair: ELLE CSR, BETH CS and LISA CSL. Lights up low on chairs. Light builds on ELLE.
ELLE: (Addressing audience) Why today? That’s what he asked. Why today? What had changed? He didn’t understand you see, couldn’t get his head around the sudden disintegration. I’d been fine when he’d held me in his arms, yet less than twenty-four hours later... (Draws a breath) He wanted to know the reason - had I changed my mind about being with him, was I thinking of calling it off? Why was I upset? Why so miserable? Why?
BETH and LISA look at ELLE. BETH shakes head, LISA stifles a laugh.
ELLE: How can I describe this…this…thing? It’s hard to articulate. And I can’t give you any reason for it. There’s no cause, there never is. The world simply implodes. My future folds into nothing before my eyes, my past mutates into a vile catalogue of mistakes which play out over and over, each inflicting its own unique, savage pain. Nothing triggers it. It just is and my only safe haven is the present, a tiny bubble of ‘here and now’ that I daren’t leave, even for a second. I want to hide away. Everything scares me. Sometimes I can't leave my bed, it's like i'm -
LISA burst out laughing.
ELLE: (Turning to LISA) How can you laugh? How dare you! What do you know of my pain? I’d like to see you cope with the constant tiredness, the aching muscles, the dreadful, pounding, throb in my head day in, day out.
LISA: (Yawning) Oh, do shut-up!
BETH turns to look at LISA. Light opens out as LISA stands and saunters towards ELLE
LISA: Whinge, whinge, whinge. I’m so bored of you. You talk nothing but self-obsessed crap. (Sniffs air close to ELLE) And you stink. You’re a disgrace.
ELLE: (Defensive) I can’t help it. You know that.
LISA: Yada, yada… no energy, too tired. Boo-hoo! (Addressing audience) There’s no excuse. So Elle leads a stressful life? Don’t we all? We cope. For my own part, I more than cope. I thrive on it. Work deadlines? Bring ‘em on. Multi-tasking? Piece of cake. What do I care if there aren’t enough hours in the day for sleep? Plenty of time for that when I’m gone. (Mockingly) “You’ll burn-out,” that’s what she says. Her, still in her pyjamas, looking like shit. Live fast, die young, I say.
LISA clicks her fingers. A waiter enters carrying a tray with a cocktail glass and pill bottle on it. LISA takes a couple of pills and washes them down with the drink. She flirts with the waiter before he exits.
LISA: (Addressing audience) Oh don’t judge me. I get things done. I’m a human dynamo, the creative powerhouse, the energy behind every decision around here. So what if I need a little ‘boost’ from time to time? I’d never achieve anything if I acted like her. (Walks towards ELLE) Look at her. Pathetic. Life too much for you? Fallen in love with a man you can’t have? Aw, poor baby. (Whispers) Don’t worry, I’ve sorted that problem.
ELLE: (Alarmed) What do you mean?
LISA: (Smirking) I’ve solved your man problem. You should thank me. I told him you don’t want to see him again and when he asked why, I said you didn’t love him, you never had.
ELLE: Lisa, how could you? It’s not true.
LISA: ‘Course it is, stop fooling yourself. Too late now anyway. (Giggles) Do you know what he did when I told him?
ELLE remains silent.
LISA: (Triumphantly) He cried! He actually cried. I’ve no idea how I managed to keep a straight face.
ELLE brings up her knees and curls up into a ball on her chair.
LISA: (addressing audience) It’s amazing how easy it is to provoke a reaction. People crumble far too easily. Find the right button, and boom! They self-destruct before your eyes. It’s so much fun. Poor old lover boy cracked straight away.
BETH: (Sternly) Lisa!
LISA: (Laughing) What?
LISA: I beg your pardon?
BETH: (Standing) I said enough. It’s shifting.
LISA: Don’t talk crap!
BETH: (Calmly) It’s shifting. How else could you hear me?
LISA: Nothing's shifting. I’m in charge and I’m not done.
BETH: Yes you are. Sit down.
LISA: Order me around, will you? I don’t think so. Ungrateful bitch!
LISA: Yes, ungrateful. You need me. Admit it. Life’s better with me at the helm, much better. I have energy, I have fun. I live.
BETH: At what cost? (Pointing at LISA) Sit down.
LISA stands her ground
Smirking, but defeated, LISA returns to her seat and sits. As LISA sits, ELLE uncurls. The two of them sit straight, facing the audience. Their movements mirror each other, their faces remain blank.
BETH: (Addressing audience) It’s clearing. I have control.
ELLE and LISA look at her, their movements synchronised. BETH moves to DSC. Lights focus on her.
BETH: My name’s Beth. Elisabeth. I’m a mother, an employee and a lover. I lead a hectic life but then, so do millions like me. I’m no different, I'm nothing special. I have no excuse for…them. I guess you could call them a coping mechanism, a means to get by. Some people work off stress at the gym, some do yoga, others escape into the fantasy world of a book. I have them. They’ve been around for years and sometimes they’re useful, essential even. Lisa gets things done and, I admit, she’s a lot of fun. The life and soul of the party, the best days of my life have been controlled by her. Elle may seem worthless, but she’s not. I’m forced to stop when she’s in command. The pace of life never slows but she knows how to press pause. I need that. And me? I’m the middle ground, the pivotal point. I bind us together, we three. Elle-Lisa-Beth. When my voice is strongest, when the equilibrium is right, we’re a formidable combination. Life can throw what it likes at us, it's water off a duck's back. But the scales don’t stay balanced for long. (Pause) I’m not sure what damage has been done today. My lover understands, he knows about my issues, but he’s only human. A direct run-in with Lisa’s enough to send the toughest person running. And to meet Elle on the same day…well. I can only hope he forgives me. I love him. (Looks around) At least they’ve quietened down. I seem to have them back under my thumb.
ELLE: Don’t count on it.
LISA: Hear, hear.
BETH: It’s an ongoing battle but I keep fighting. No doctors, no drugs. This is my war and I know I’m not alone. That comforts me. This silent conflict, this carefully hidden, multiple existence, is more common than you think. It’s out there being dealt with on a daily basis, one day at a time, one tilt of the scales to another. (Smiles) There’s at least one of you out there, right now, who knows exactly what I mean.