As part of my English coursework we had to write a scene for a play and this is what I came up with. Annoyingly we only had a maximum of 550 words to play with but I sort of like what I managed to do. It's sort of inspired by some of the people I've met at the nursing home I volunteer at - some of the residents are such big characters and hilarious to talk to, not at all like I initially (and I imagine the majority of people) expected. It's a completely fictional exchange and the perspectives are exaggerated a little but mostly I just hope that Gwen comes across right to everybody - she's just an amazing and surly woman, and whilst I've given her more words than she actually cares to share with people, I imagine that if we could, a conversation like this would happen between us.
Centre-stage in a bland sitting-room in an OAP home, three aged residents [GWEN, BERYL and MAE] sit in large armchairs angled towards each other in a crescent shape, with blankets on their knees and newspapers and magazines on nearby side-tables. Another resident, JACK, crouches in front of an old television downstage-left, pressing buttons and muttering to himself. The crackle of static and blank grey screen shows. As GWEN begins speaking, he gives up and settles in the spare armchair next to her, wincing as he moves. Seated on the end, MAE fidgets uncomfortably throughout the conversation, repeatedly glaring at the others. Upstage-right a group of three other residents [JOHN, SUE and HARRY] sit around a table, playing gin rummy. They play silently, acting in the background.
BERYL: What was his name?
GWEN: Might as well have been.
BERYL: And a heart attack, they say?
BERYL: Don’t get many of those these days, do we? Mrs Pullan was a stroke, and so was that other woman she sat with. What was she called, the one with the drooping eye?
GWEN: Ah yes, frightful woman. Hated her.
BERYL: You never spoke to her!
GWEN: Didn’t have to.
JACK: Mmh, she was rather awful. Took her meals ‘fore the rest of us, ‘cause of her “weak stomach”. Pah! Old trout...
GWEN: I’d say good riddance if it wasn’t so un-Christian.
JACK: Yer blasted daughter’s nowhere around, do what you like.
GWEN: Well there’s a relative statement if ever I heard one. You’re an inmate as well as I. There’s not much we can do.
JACK: Quite. ‘Cept tally off the luckier buggers that escape, eh!
MAE: Oh, do be quiet. Have a little respect for the lost, will you? It’ll be us next.
GWEN [TO MAE]: From your mouth to God’s ears.
JACK [TO GWEN]: Or someone’s, anyway.
BERYL: [admonishing] Jack!
NURSE enters, pushing a tea-trolley.
NURSE: [nervously] Afternoon ladies. And gent.
BERYL [TO MAE]: They’re only joshing you, Mae. We’re all happy we’re here.
MAE begins to read newspaper.
GWEN: Speak for yourself. Last time I was happy was 1972, day before my lass started talking. Blight of my nerves, that girl.
JACK: Ruddy children. Never did quite live up to all the puff, did they?
JACK and GWEN guffaw. NURSE pours tea. JACK winks at NURSE; she blushes and exits quickly. BERYL tuts.
GWEN: Still, like Mae says. It’ll be our turn soon.
JACK: Quite, quite. And out with a bang, I should hope, eh Beryl?
BERYL: Wouldn’t expect anything less from you.
GWEN: Heart attack’s been done though, mind. Old news, as it were. Myself, I’m more of a fader, I should think. Little nap, turning to eternal sleep.
BERYL: It’s morbid, but I agree. I don’t want any drama.
GWEN: I’d expect a fair bit of weeping from you three, mind. Even if it does interrupt the activities schedule.
JACK: [mock-outraged] What? Miss out on group-bloody-Sudoku to cry over you instead? Never.
MAE: [acidly] Well maybe us three’ll have to do. The rate you’re going at, Gwen, who else’ll be weeping? Not a friend in this house, I’d bet, outside us daft ones.
GWEN [TO MAE]: Now who’s being rude?!
Background group erupt in cheers (HARRY: Gin!), clapping HARRY on the back and dealing the cards again. MAE turns to them, glaring.
JACK: Well, she’s right. Truth is, excepting our fine selves, the rest ‘ere are merely room-fillers and obituary listings to us. And us to them. What does it matter? Circle of life.
MAE drops newspaper, exasperated.
MAE: Circle of life? You’re barking. There’s much more to life than waiting to die. If you don’t like it, suit yourself. Just don’t bring me down with you.
JACK: So you reckon you’re still on top? You’ll ’ave the screamin’ girls and cryin’ doves at your funeral, then? All the guests wailin’ ’bout your past glories?
MAE: A bit less dramatic, but something reverential, yes.
JACK: Oh, you just don’t geddit.
MAE: Get what?
JACK: Why we’re ‘ere. What we’re doin’.
MAE: Well, I’ve a good healthcare plan.
BERYL: Easy, Jack...
JACK: Rubbish. We’re ‘ere ‘cause it’s easier both ways.
MAE: Both ways for what?
JACK: To become what they no longer need.
Pause. JACK and GWEN look sagely at each other, then at MAE.
GWEN: [solemnly] We’re Smiths.
Lights darken. Exeunt.