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The Mood Lounge (2005)

The playlet was derived from themes in ‘The Tempest’. Allusions may also be detected to the classic science fiction film ‘Forbidden Planet’ (1956), directed by Fred Wilcox and starring, among others, Leslie Nielsen some time prior to his ‘Naked Gun’ (1988) success. In the film a group of astronauts from Earth land on Altair 4 and are entranced by Altaira, the Miranda-like daughter of the Prospero-like autocratic scientist Dr Edward Morbius. Altaira has never met anyone other than her father. One of the most moving speeches from ‘Blade Runner’ (1982) is also the subject of brief homage.
An enclosed rectangular performance space was built in the theatre with a gallery running around its perimeter. The audience was seated in the gallery and looked down upon the action.
All the furniture on stage was rigged so that it could be flown off the ground when required.

MICHAEL is attached to his daughter.
CANDY knows nothing of cocks.
ANDY has not seen a woman in some time.

Scene: An elegant sitting room.

MICHAEL IS SITTING ON AN ARM-CHAIR.
A DOOR BELL RINGS (THE TWO NOTE DING-DONG).

MICHAEL I went to the theatre with a friend the other night. I saw a play, I can’t remember what it was called. Written by somebody quite well known. In the play, a man, played by one of the actors – very good – began talking about his thoughts and feelings on a subject. I can’t remember the subject – it was quite important, quite topical. It may have been a situation, actually, now that I think of it. He was talking about a situation in the play – something to do with how people were treating each other. His observations were very shrewd, very insightful. He described his feelings with equal clarity. He seemed to be exceptionally in touch with them – one could see them playing across the muscles of his face. The speech in which all this took place was very long. The interesting thing was that the man was a gardener. In the play he played a gardener. Not that gardeners are incapable of insight, it’s just that…well. Another odd thing was that he was on his own. He was talking to himself.

ENTER CANDY

CANDY Hello Daddy.
MICHAEL Hello.
CANDY Don’t even ask!
MICHAEL I wasn’t going to.
CANDY I’ve been arranging things.
MICHAEL Somebody has to.

LOUD FOOTSTEPS ARE HEARD OUTSIDE (i.e. IN THE CORRIDOR SURROUNDING THE ROOM)

CANDY I’ve been a bit bored, actually.
MICHAEL How is that possible?
CANDY I don’t know.
MICHAEL To be bored you must have a sense that there is more. You have only known this world of ours. You cannot know that there is more.
CANDY (RELIEVED) Oh, Daddy!

THE DOOR BELL RINGS

MICHAEL There are bulbs to be planted, roses to be dead-headed and many manures to be mixed.
CANDY I have the manure of the cow, the horse and the chicken.
MICHAEL And your leopard Benny.
CANDY Today Benny lay with Richard.
MICHAEL Your chicken.
CANDY Richard pressed himself into the fur of Benny’s proud chest.
MICHAEL Strictly speaking, Richard is a male name…which would tend to make him a cock.
CANDY I know nothing of cocks.

LOUD FOOTSTEPS ARE HEARD OUTSIDE, FROM A DIFFERENT SIDE.
THE DOOR BELL RINGS
MUSIC: AS CANDY SPEAKS WE HEAR THE OPENING OF ‘MEIN HERZ BRENNT’ (RAMMSTEIN) UNDER HER SPEECH.

CANDY Sometimes I experience fleeting sensations of confusion as if warring forces writhed beneath my skin pressing blue serpents up through my flesh. From where do these fevers spring? Are they heralds of some ghastly gusher or is it something sent from up to down me? And if it is to down me then what is up? Have I blotted the book in which rites by rote are written – the directory to which our every enquiry is addressed? Should this be so then these snakes that surge and shudder in my fundament are more venous than I am vain.

AT THE INSTRUMENTAL BREAK [56”] CANDY STOPS SPEAKING AND SCREAMS AS ONE OF THE DOORS BURSTS OPEN, REVEALING ANDY. MUSIC PLAYS TO [1’20”] AS ALL STUDY EACH OTHER. THEN

ANDY I was just passing.
MICHAEL Ciao.
CANDY Daddy! It’s a monkey!
MICHAEL Did you take the stairs?
ANDY I’m afraid I did. Quite a climb.
CANDY What is he saying?
MICHAEL My daughter sees few visitors.
CANDY He is enormous!
ANDY Average, I can assure you.
MICHAEL (to ANDY) She has seen the world only from a great height.
ANDY (to CANDY) You’ve been in space, then?
CANDY I’m sorry?
ANDY You’ve been in space, then?
CANDY I’m sorry?
ANDY You’ve been in space, then?
CANDY (to MICHAEL) Daddy…
MICHAEL She is used only to my voice.
CANDY And the growls of Benny.
MICHAEL Benny is her leopard.
ANDY You have a leopard?
CANDY I’m sorry?
MICHAEL (to CANDY) He asks if you have a leopard.
CANDY Of course I have a leopard.
ANDY Does he bite?

MUSIC: INSTRUMENTAL BREAK [56” – 1’20”]: ‘MEIN HERZ BRENNT’ (RAMMSTEIN) AT FIRST LOUD THEN UNDER NEXT SPEECH.
LIGHTS: SNAP CHANGE TO OVERHEAD SPOT ON CANDY’S HEAD AND SHOULDERS.
ANDY PRODUCES A VIDEO CAMERA CONNECTED TO THE ONSTAGE MONITOR. HE FRAMES A TIGHT SHOT OF CANDY’S HEAD. MICHAEL SLOWLY TURNS THE MONITOR ON ITS WHEELED STAND SO THAT THE AUDIENCE IN THE GALLERY CAN SEE THE IMAGE.

CANDY Does he bite? Does Benny bite? Does Richard peck? Does my pigeon Walter coo? Does my ocelot go out a lot? Do my doves cry? Does my lynx expire? Are my lambs eating from my hand? Would Sultan the dog duck a thrown bone? Is my quiet doe pressing her nose against my arm, her wide eyes reflecting the lights behind my head? Does my duck Daisy die a little every time I say goodbye? When the three suns Thorax, Dido and Calliope slide at dusk beneath the green sands do my soft birds tuck up in the mouth of John my melancholy cougar?

MUSIC: STOPS
LIGHTS: REVERT TO PREVIOUS ‘NORMAL’ STATE.
CAMERA IS PUT ASIDE.
PAUSE IN SILENCE

ANDY I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in the rain… Time to die.
MICHAEL Andy…
ANDY You know my name…
MICHAEL You were expected.
ANDY I was only passing…I saw a light…Way up…I hadn’t eaten…I hadn’t spoken.
MICHAEL You must have some soup before you go.
CANDY He cannot go!
SHE CLASPS ANDY’S HANDS
My head is in the clouds. Tell me of life down there.
ANDY Down…where?
MICHAEL I recommend the cream of asparagus.
ANDY “And the snows swirled round the galaxies of Asparagan
And I fell to my lot, tumbling to nebulae
As the low light choked.”
CANDY That’s beautiful.
ANDY Nielsen. The last play.
MICHAEL Do you want the soup?
ANDY I seem to have lost my appetite…for food.

MICHAEL TURNS AWAY, TRYING TO CONCEAL HIS IRRITATION.

MICHAEL Perhaps you’d prefer something more solid.

FLYING : ALL THE HEAVY FURNITURE RISES SIX INCHES THEN RETURNS TO THE GROUND. THIS IS ACCOMPANIED BY MUSIC, WHICH STOPS AS THE FLYING STOPS.

CANDY I’m sure, sir, that you’d be most welcome to partake of our hospitality.
ANDY How kind.

ANDY STEPS INTO THE ROOM AND SITS ON THE RECENTLY AIRBORNE SOFA.

CANDY Are you an adventurer?
ANDY I have recently returned from Africa. A group of likeminded individuals decided to examine the place closely. We took a region each. I got the Horn.
CANDY Is it very large?
MICHAEL Nothing grows there.

FLYING: THE COFFEE TABLE JUMPS UP AND DOWN IRRITABLY.
THIS IS ACCOMPANIED BY MUSIC, WHICH STOPS AS THE FLYING STOPS.
ANDY TAKES UP THE VIDEO CAMERA AGAIN AND FRAMES A SHOT OF CANDY’S HEAD AS SHE SPEAKS.
MICHAEL WATCHES HER ON THE MONITOR.

CANDY I know nothing of geography, the diversity of terrains, the colours of skin, the variety of customs and practices, the way in which people much like you might buy food, hail a fellow in the street, open a gift, visit the theatre in order to see acts and scenes, watch fishing boats depart, gaze upon a dying flower, turn away from cruel sports, chuck a child’s chin, debate the pros and cons of this thing and that thing into the night, the cigarettes falling at your shoes.
ANDY But you have your puma Billy.
CANDY He is a leopard.
ANDY Benny.

ANDY CONTINUES FILMING AS MICHAEL WATCHES THE MONITOR.

MICHAEL (TO THE MONITOR) All these things of which you speak – they are details, symptoms, evidence of great engines of pattern.
CANDY No, Daddy!
MICHAEL These boats, these flowers, these…
ANDY Cigarettes.

ANDY TURNS THE CAMERA ON MICHAEL.
GRADUALLY, THROUGHOUT MICHAEL’S SPEECH, THE FURNITURE TAKES TO THE AIR.
MUSIC PLAYS UNDER THE SPEECH.

MICHAEL Can you not see? They float across the merest surface of the real – baubles, tidbits, a cascade of bric à brac jostling to seize the attention that is so very easily seized one wonders why we do not simply dispense with the whole busy charade and instead gaze all day at a great golden ball suspended from a hook in the sky, pausing only to sleep, eat and void ourselves. What would be the difference? You have no inkling of the power that lies on the other side! If you could reach through, just for a moment, if you could sunder the fabric that strikes you as so solid, if you could part the curtains whose designs, you feel, are some clue to some formula that will unlock some tremendous secret that will let you soar above all the other salivating slaves, then what would you find? You do not have within you the strength to withstand what is out there! Your glimpse would be conducted through the flames of your own inexorable immolation! Let us walk with giants now! Let us mingle with the Eternals who step between worlds, collapsing universes as they dance across the sands of time!

BY THIS TIME ALL OF MICHAEL’S FURNITURE IS FLYING UP AND DOWN AND LIGHTS ARE FLASHING HIGH ABOVE THE LOUNGE.
THE CAMERA IS TURNED ON CANDY.

CANDY Daddy! You cannot stop me loving him! I have been yours for too long! I have loved you as a daughter and all that I am has come from you. But now I have tasted worlds beyond the penthouse. I have stepped beyond the law. Andy and I will soon be taking the elevator out of here.

A MASS OF FLOWERS AND FRUIT BEGINS SLOWLY TO DESCEND INTO THE ROOM.
MUSIC: ‘MUTTER’ (RAMMSTEIN). UNDER.
IN THE COURSE OF HER SPEECH CANDY MOVES HER HAND TO HER GROIN AND APPEARS TO CONTROL THE DESCENT OF THE FLOWERS AND FRUIT BY TOUCHING HERSELF.

What you did not realise, Daddy, when you sequestered me here, was that magic and desire are inextricably linked. As I languished in my apartments, naked before the mirror, pondering the exquisite folds of my own body, asking myself why was I thus designed, for what purpose were these recesses granted me, I slowly came to realise that the longer I waited the more intense were the energies that craved expression. Somehow I knew that if I were not to wake up quite beside myself I must find an outlet. This is where you helped me, Daddy, if unwittingly. Your mastery of matter was the clue. But I had no knowledge. Your capacious library of occult arcana was always locked. All I had was my body. Daddy – imagine my surprise when I found that with the gentlest of intimate caresses I too could intervene in the subatomic worlds of the quantum, those ghostly realms of quark and antiquark, where lepton dances with hadron, where all is up, down, charmed and strange. Using an intuitive grasp of contemporary physics I had penetrated the mysteries that conjoin the minute with the mighty. And now – I seize the time! (SHOUTS) That’s enough!

SHE SCREAMS ECSTATICALLY.
A DEAFENING MAROON IS IGNITED.
THE FLOWERS AND FRUIT INSTANTLY STOP DESCENDING.
MICHAEL FALLS TO HIS KNEES.

ANDY The fathers are dead. The prohibitions are as dust. The sons and daughters are free. We may glide where we may. The birds will feed us.

MUSIC: SINGLE POWER CHORD FROM ‘MEIN HERZ BRENNT’.
THE COUPLE CLASPS HANDS.
BLACKOUT.
END.

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