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Issue number nine




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Three Short Plays by Brian E. Turner

Get On With the Play


X:   An actor

Y:   Another actor

FRANCISCO:   A waiter


A restaurant. The actors seated at a table, Francisco in attendance.

X:    I'd like a Scotch.

Y:    A G and T for me.

X:    And a plate of Turkish Delight.

FRANCISCO:    Certainly, Madame and Monsieur.

      (By a magical device a tray appears with the items on it. Francisco places them on the table.)

X:    (Sipping drink.) I say, this is flat ginger ale.

FRANCISCO:    That is of no concern. The audience will never notice.

Y:    (Sipping) This might have a slice of lemon but the drink is only water.

FRANCISCO:    But the audience cannot taste it.

X:    And this plate is empty.

FRANCISCO:     But actors only pretend to eat food when it is placed before them. (Goes)

Y:    What do we do then?

X:    Get on with the play.


Furtive Love


ROGER:   A young man dressed in a gorilla suit. He has taken the head off and placed it on the table.

NEMO:    Captain Nemo. An older man dressed as a super hero.


It is a restaurant. Roger is sitting at a table reading Alice in Wonderland. Captain Nemo enters.

NEMO:    May I join you?

ROGER:    That is a matter which requires some deliberation.

NEMO:    (Sits at table) Take your time.

ROGER:    She's jumped down the rabbit hole.

NEMO:    Who?

ROGER:    Alice.

NEMO:    Yes, I thought she would.

ROGER:    Why don't you join me?

NEMO:     Yes, I'd like that very much.

ROGER:    Fred's the name.

NEMO:    Captain Nemo. (They shake.)

ROGER:    Captain of the Nautilus?

NEMO:    That was a past life. Now I fly through the air and save damsels in distress as they fall out of tall buildings.

ROGER:     I wish I could do that. I can only swing from branch to branch.

NEMO:    Did you say your name was Roger?

ROGER:     No, Chester.

NEMO:     It's got Roger in the programme.

ROGER:    That's just the author's idea. Don't take any notice of him.

NEMO:    OK. Chester then.

ROGER:    No. Bartholemew.

NEMO:     I'd like to order.

ROGER:     You can't.

NEMO:    Why not?

ROGER:    There's no waiter in this play. The author decided to give him a rest.

NEMO:    To hell with the author, I'm hungry.

ROGER:    They don't serve Kryptonite in this restaurant anyway.

NEMO:    I don't want Kryptonite, I want seafood.

ROGER:    What about mushrooms?

NEMO:    In a pinch.

ROGER:    Here, read this, it's got a mushroom in it. (Passes over book.)

NEMO:    (Opening book) This is a hallucinogenic mushroom.

ROGER:    Entirely in keeping with the play.

NEMO:    That's true, Julian.

ROGER:     The problem is neither of us have characters, we don't have a past, I don't even know my own name. It can't be a realistic play.

NEMO:    It doesn't have to be. My name won't change though, Percival.

ROGER:    Why not?

NEMO:    'Nemo' means 'no name'.

ROGER:    He gave you that name so he wouldn't have to think of new names all the time.

NEMO:    Who did?

ROGER:    The author.

NEMO:    True. How many people went to your 21st birthday?

ROGER:    I wasn't alive when I had my 21st birthday.

NEMO:     I find that remarkable.

ROGER:     How many people went to your party then.

NEMO:    My mind is a blank. I don't remember a thing before today.

ROGER:    That's why you're called Nemo. You're not a real person at all.

NEMO:    Neither are you then.

ROGER:    We can still be in a play though. You don't have to have real people for it to be a play. (PAUSE) Do we know each other well?

NEMO:     We've only just met.

ROGER:    I'd like to make love to you.

NEMO:    That's hardly appropriate.

ROGER:    Why not?

NEMO:     I'm a super hero and you're a monkey.

ROGER:     Give me my book back.

NEMO:     No.

ROGER:    Why not?

NEMO:     I want a cup of tea.

ROGER:    Is there a cup of tea in it?

NEMO:     There's a whole tea party.

ROGER:     Take your time.

      (Nemo glances at a page the hands the book back..)

NEMO:     You could change your sex.

ROGER:     Why?

NEMO:     So we could make love.

ROGER:     You'll have to pay for the operation.

NEMO:     That could be arranged.

ROGER:     Not today though.

NEMO:     No. I have a great aunt called Penelope; she's one hundred years old tomorrow.

ROGER:     Did she have a 21st birthday?

NEMO:     She has one every year.

ROGER:     How many people attended?

NEMO:     One.

ROGER:     Why did you mention Penelope?

NEMO:     All the plays have a Penelope in them. It's a signature.

ROGER:     All the plays have a hundred-year-old great aunt?

NEMO:    No, just someone called Penelope.

ROGER:     I find that remarkable.

NEMO:     It's time we finished this isn't it?

ROGER:    It seems to be about that time.

NEMO:     There needs to be a twist to round off the plot.

ROGER:    There isn't any plot.

NEMO:     True.

ROGER:     How can we have a twist then?

NEMO:     (Takes a pink satin handkerchief from his pocket and twists it.) How's that?

ROGER:     Perfect.


A Cup of Tea


HANK:    Hank Snowden. A young man.

FRANCISCO:    A waiter


A restaurant. Hank sitting at table. There is an exhibition of two full-length mirrors covered by curtains; however, the mirrors are just mirror frames. Francisco comes.

HANK:     Do you serve tea?

FRANCISCO:     Certainly, sir.

HANK:     What type of tea do you have?

FRANCISCO:     You may select from: Orange Pekoe, China Black, Prince of Wales, English Breakfast, China Green, Lapsang Sousing, Assam, Ceylon, Indian, Earl Grey, Russian Caravan, Chamomile, Rhubarb, Dandelion, Mint and Rosemary, Lemon Zinger, Gumboot, Irish Breakfast, Darjeeling, Jasmine, Mother Grady's Herbal Infusion, Afternoon Tea and Morning Tea.

HANK:     Don't you have Model T?

FRANCISCO:    Indeed no, sir. Most of our customers cannot afford vintage cars.

HANK:    I'll try the Afternoon.

FRANCISCO:    That is a good time to try.

HANK:    I mean the Afternoon Tea.

FRANCISCO:    That is what I believe you said, sir.

HANK:    Crazy. (Francisco is about to go.) Tell me, I've heard about the exhibition you have here. Two full-length mirrors covered by curtains, I believe.

FRANCISCO:    Two illusions in fact.

HANK:     So when I look in a mirror I see an illusion?

FRANCISCO:    I do not know what you see. Certain philosophers will say that what we call reality is merely an illusion. Perhaps you should inspect the exhibits and make your own decision.

HANK:    Look at myself in a mirror? Why not?

(Hank goes to one of the exhibits and draws back the curtain.)

                 Hey, there's no mirror in this at all.

FRANCISCO:    You see, sir, you are an illusion so there is no reflection. Is it not true that ghosts do not reflect in a mirror?

HANK:    Are you calling me a ghost?

FRANCISCO:    I am merely making an observation. Who is to know about the reality of ghosts? (Goes to exhibit.) Then perhaps an attendant may have removed the mirror for maintenance. (Closes curtain.) May I get your tea, sir?

HANK:    In a minute. Tell me, who is the crazy loon that thought up this… this work of art?

FRANCISCO:    It is I, sir.

HANK:     You? A waiter?

FRANCISCO:    Ah, you see, there is the illusion. I am merely an artist in the guise of a waiter.

HANK:    What's your name then?

FRANCISCO:    Francisco, of course.

HANK:    Yes I know. The waiters in this place are always called Francisco. What's your real name?


HANK:    That's not a real name.

FRANCISCO:    But names are a mask of reality. I am also known as Marvello when I perform acts of magical illusion in the fairground.

HANK:    You are having me on. I don't really understand what you are.

FRANCISCO:    I am the author of the play, the creator of the picture. When the cast arrive on the stage I lead them to the mirrors and show them how to find their way through the maze of their delusion.

HANK:    You show them pictures in the mirrors?

FRANCISCO:    Everyone sees something different. Everyone sees what they need to know. That is the purpose of our art, is it not? To show the viewers new things and lead them to enlightenment?

HANK:    Your philosophy beats me. You say that people come here to learn from what they see in the mirrors?

FRANCISCO:    Of course. I create images to show them the way.

HANK:    Why didn't I see anything then?

FRANCISCO:     Perhaps I have nothing to teach you, sir.

HANK:     You're a character, Francisco. Go and get my tea.


Brian E. Turner is a native and resident of New Zealand. He's mainly written plays, many of which have been performed in back-alley theaters in New Zealand and USA. He also works in theater in other capacities, such as director and actor. His novel, The Road Goes On, is due for publication later this year. His short short, "His Exegamination of Poelemtics as Addressed to the Audience," appeared in Issue #3 of The Cafe Irreal.

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