There are two rooms. The larger room, which is the sitting–room, takes most of the stage. The smaller room is the bedroom. There are two single beds. The sitting-room is furnished sparsely with second-hand furniture. There is a ﬁreplace with a gas ﬁre, a wrinkled carpet and a dingy three-piece suite. Above the ﬁreplace is a door leading to the landing and stairs. At the far end of the room are two windows through which can be seen some tall pine trees. Near them are two gas rings, and in front of one window stands a heavy, ornate chair
As the CURTAIN rises Rooksby and Noel enter. Noel is a young man in his early twenties. He is carrying a suitcase. Rooksby is a man in his late forties. He has a grim, ravaged face. He is drawing heavily on a cigarette
Rooksby Well, here it is.
Noel (putting down his case) It seems bigger—-it seems bigger than when I came with my father.
Rooksby What was he in – your father? Noel Pardon? Rooksby In the war. Noel The Air Force. Rooksby A Brylereem boy!
Noel (smiling) He’s bald. (He looks around) I know what it is. Some of the furniture’s gone.
Rooksby No, it hast1’t.
Noel (examining the loor) There was a table just here – you can still see the marks.
Rooksby That table didn’t belong there. Noel Where is it now‘? Rooksby It’s downstairs. The man downstairs has got it. Noel That’s not fair.
Rooksby Now don’t get on to me. I’m doing the College a favour squeezing you in.
Noel You didn’t say anything about squeezing me in when I came with my father. You made us a cup of tea.
Philip stares at Rooksby
Philip I suppose it could be African.
Rooksby Yes, that’s deﬁnitely African all right. (He looks up and out of the window) Hello, the curtains are twitching. They’re at it again – the old ladies. “They’re supposed to need help – never ask me though. Always Fred Wilkinson. Where was that bastard in nineteen-forty?’ Forty-ninth Deserters, that’s where he was. (Turning from the window) If they give you any trouble, stick your arse out of the window. (Pause) I was all right during the war. They were my best years. You felt alive in those days.
Philip That’s because you felt the instinct for survival, Rooksby.
Rooksby The what? Philip The instinct for survival. Rooksby Yes – I suppose so. Philip In my country . . . (He falters) Rooksby What? Philip Nothing.
Rooksby (trying to encourage him) Of course in your country it’s different. You lead a more natural life. You’re closer to nature. (Wincing) I haven’t been close to nature since last Christmas. I wasn’t that close then. (He turns away)
Philip (blurting out) Rooksby – did I ever tell you about the Mating Ceremony?
Rooksby turns back to Philip, his face twisted in a grin
Rooksby Mating Ceremony? No, you never told me about that.
Philip It’s quite a ceremony.
Rooksby I bet it is.
They sit on the sofa. Philip on the arm, slightly dominating the situation
What exactly is it?
Philip All the girls of the village stand in a line, chanting softly, swaying, undulating . . .
Rooksby Undulating! (He tastes the word)
Philip You know. In waves.
Rooksby In waves! God.
Their voices get lower and lower as the ﬁnal music (African style) starts quietly and grows in volume
Philip (with many sensual gestures) The girls begin to shake slowly towards the drums, the sun glistening on their beads. They wear a string of beads around their waist, you see.
Rooksby Beads eh‘? (Etc. etc. etc.)
Philip Then their feet begin to beat in a new rhythm and . . .
FURNITURE AND PROPERTY LIST
On stage: SITTING-ROOM:
Settee. On it: 2 shabby cushions
2 matching armchairs
Ornate armchair with carved arms
Wardrobe. In it: piece of woodSink (practical). In it: basin, cloth. On drawing-board: various items of crockery, etc. as dressing2 gas rings (1 practical)
Gas ﬁre (practical). Beside it: meter with coins
Cupboard. On and in it: toasting-fork, crockery and cutlery. tins and bottles of food, bread, butter. Above it: shelves with dressing
On walls: hooks
2 small beds with bedding
Small table between beds. On it: lamp. In drawer: pair of gold cuff-links
Chest On wall: hooks with coathanger
Off stage: 2 suitcases, one with clothing, pyjamas, towel, books, toilet articles,
large Bible (Noel)
Suitcase with clothing, towel, etc. (Philip)
Personal: Rooksby: cigarettes, lighter
Copyright Text: Eric Chappell. All rights: From French’s Acting Edition.