MISS WHIPLASH REGRETS….
Maddy……… late 30’s
Eexamines a group of characters whose lives are lived in the seedier, shadier side of London. There’s Roger and John, who, in the distant past, had robbed post offices for a living. Roger has ‘done his bird’, and John is now doing his – as Roger’s dogsbody. Roger can’t keep his hands off Mona, and she can’t keep her hands off his diamonds. His long-suffering wife, Liza, decides she has had enough, and schemes to get her fair share, while there is still some left.
Liza teams up with Maddy – John’s recently- acquired girlfriend – and they put the shackles on Roger – literally. He is in a situation from which he cannot escape, and they torture him to find out the whereabouts of his considerable stash. Who Maddy really is, and what her true agenda is, only become apparent in the final, dramatic confrontation.
© Tom O’Brien 2012 All rights reserved.
MISS WHIPLASH REGRETS…
The sitting room of the flat of John and Madeleine. (all scenes take place in this room) MADELEINE is seated, doing a x-word. There is a model car on the floor near her, a bright racing-type model. JOHN is in the bathroom, shaving.
MAD: What’s the capital of Peru?
JOHN: (off) Bagota?
MAD: four letters. Ends with A.
JOHN: Pisa…Riga…no, Lima. Definitely Lima.
MAD: Liza is leaving Roger.
JOHN: How many letters?
MAD: No. Liza and Roger are splitting up.
JOHN: I’m not surprised. She’s been
taking him to the cleaners for years.
MAD: Nothing to do with his laundry arrangements, dear.
He’s been fucking some little scrubber in the office
for months, apparently. (beat) Going to seed?
MAD: Going to seed. Ten letters.
JOHN: Ooh…I don’t know. vegetating? (beat)
Who’s the scrubber?
MAD: Mona. You know Mona. Mona with the big…eyes.
(counts letters in x-word) Ten letters… yeah. Oh no, it begins with S.
If you had money, would you leave me?
JOHN: (emerges from kitchen, shaving foam on part of his chin)
MAD: Stagnating. It’s stagnating
JOHN: What’s stagnating?
MAD: The clue, darling. It’s stagnating. What did you think
I meant…our relationship?
JOHN: Ha ha. What did you mean just now?…if I had money…
MAD: Exactly what I said. If you had money, would you leave me?
JOHN: (returning to kitchen) That’s what I thought you said.
There is a silence for a moment.
MAD: Well, would you?
John returns clean-shaven, patting his cheeks. He picks up a remote control off the armchair and sends the model car racing across the floor. He slows it down and maneuvers it around Madeleine’s legs.
Now, that’s a tricky one.
MAD: You bastard.
JOHN: It’s academic anyway. I don’t have any money.
(he tries to move the car, but she prevents it with her foot)
Don’t do that.
MAD: But if you had?
JOHN: I believe I would…stay put.
JOHN: Why ask, then?
MAD : Don’t you want to ask me the same question?
MAD : Aren’t you curious?
JOHN: Maybe I don’t want to know the answer
MAD: Has Roger much money?
JOHN: He has a few bob…yes.
MAD: I mean – real money?
JOHN: Yes, real money.
MAD: How much real money?
JOHN: I don’t know.
MAD: You do his books. If you don’t know, who does?
JOHN: It’s privileged information. I couldn’t possibly reveal…
He sits down, and picks up the car.
JOHN: Look what you’ve done…
He takes a screwdriver from his kit and does some adjustments.
MAD: Oh, you couldn’t possibly reveal…
Why not? You didn’t take the Hippocratic oath, did you?
And you’re not a priest – as far as I know.
JOHN: It would be unethical. There’s the employer/
employee relationship for a start…
MAD: What relationship? He walks all over you.
And you obligingly lie down and make it easy.
JOHN: It’s not like that.
MAD: (putting away the x-word and watching him tinker)
You men are all little boys at heart, aren’t you?
Did you have a deprived childhood or something?
No toys to play with on your birthday…
(John doesn’t answer)
What is it like then? Go on, tell me.
Refresh my memory about what a bastard he is.
JOHN: Roger? He has his off days.
MAD: So you don’t really want to nail his balls to a plank?
Don’t want to stick hot needles under his toenails?
That was just you talking in your sleep, was it?
JOHN: I’m not saying that sometimes he isn’t a…a
MAD: Four letters, beginning with a capital C…
(laughs) You once wanted to give him
the wax treatment…remember?
JOHN: The wax treatment?
MAD: You get him to place his….dick on a table, and then
you pound it with a mallet until the wax comes out
his ears. (John looks horrified)
Well, perhaps it wasn’t you
JOHN: What sort of people were you mixing with before you met me?
MAD: Oh, forget it! I must have read it somewhere.
Here’s another word. Five letters, begins with M. Something we lack.
JOHN: We’re doing okay.
MAD: Right! A holiday then. Three weeks in the Caribbean.
JOHN: Not that okay.
MAD: Roger’s just come back from two weeks in Benidorm.
Christmas, they went cruising down the Nile. Later
in the year they’re off to Mexico…
JOHN: Not if Liza is leaving him.
MAD: That won’t stop him! He’ll take Mona…or some other floozy.
(beat) If I was a tramp like her…
JOHN: You don’t know her.
MAD: I know her type. (beat)
I could have been like that, thrown myself at men…
it wasn’t for the lack of opportunities, you know…
JOHN: Why didn’t you? I find that most women have
a talent for that sort of thing.
MAD: Piss off.
JOHN: You couldn’t be like her. Not in a million years.
MAD: Why not? What’s she got that I haven’t got?
JOHN: I‘m not saying she’s got anything.
Just…It takes a certain type of woman. A…a…
MAD: Slag? You don’t think I have what it takes to be a slag?
JOHN: I was going to say look. They have a certain look..
MAD: (ripping the buttons on her blouse, exposing lots
of cleavage, then ripping a slit in her skirt and exposing
Like this, you mean?
JOHN: Can you afford a gesture like that? Silk blouses don’t
grow on trees.
MAD: (ripping her blouse off completely, and throwing it at him)
It’s not a fucking gesture. (pause)
Is this the look? Go on, tell me
JOHN: I was under the impression you’d led a sheltered life.
Convent girl, you said (beat) Or was that a load of old tosh?
MAD: Is it or isn’t it? Is that what turns men on? Turns you on?
JOHN: (shrugs) Any half-naked woman is a turn-on for a man. Some more than others, I suppose. That’s a biological thing.
But that isn’t what I meant. It’s in the eyes, it’s in the
mouth, its in the gestures. It’s an inner thing…subconscious
maybe…I don’t know…,(trails away)
MAD: Listen to him! The great lover speaking.
JOHN: You did ask. I never pretended I was John Travolta or…
MAD: Hah! (grabs her blouse and puts it back on)
Does she turn you on? Mona.
JOHN: I suppose after about six pints I might be tempted. But
you know how drink affects me. With that amount of alcohol
inside me a sheep would look inviting.
MAD: Don’t be crude.
JOHN Come on, I’m old enough to be her father!
MAD: When did that ever stop a man?
JOHN: She’s not my type, Maddy. You are.
MAD: I hate it when you call me that.
JOHN: Sorry. Madeleine.
MAD: Couldn’t we rob a bank or something.
MAD: You, then. What about Roger?
Could you fiddle some books?
JOHN: Wouldn’t be a clever move.
MAD: It would be a move, though. A…move.
JOHN: I never heard you like this before.
(tries the car ,but it doesn’t work)
MAD: I was never desperate before.
JOHN: I thought you said it didn’t matter.
MAD: Do you have to believe everything people say?
(beat) I don’t want to wind up being discarded like Liza.
JOHN: You said she was leaving him.
MAD: She is. But she could see the writing on the wall from
a long way off
JOHN: Why are you suddenly so concerned? You hardly know her.
MAD: Expanding my circle of friends, dear. You don’t
seem to have any – and mine are all…well, elsewhere. (beat)
We both use the same hairdresser…and…well… you know…
JOHN: Does Roger know she plans to leave?
MAD: I shouldn’t think he cares.
JOHN: I can’t feel sorry for her. She’s one of life’s takers.
MAD: There’s plenty to go round.
JOHN: There isn’t a well deep enough that she couldn’t drain.
Do you know how much she spent last month?
Nearly fifteen hundred quid. Fifteen hundred
for a few frocks! Roger is on the warpath.
MAD: Good for her! I’d spend it if I had it.
JOHN: Not my money you wouldn’t.
MAD: You’re so tight your arse squeaks when you walk, John.
JOHN: Ungenerous to a fault, that’s me. (beat)
Must be my terrific personality that won the day then.
MAD: No. And in case you’re wondering, it wasn’t your
big cock either.
Before John can reply, the door to the hallway opens and ROGER strides in. Roger is a small cockney with a big voice.
to be continued tomorrow.