A One Act Play


                          By David Erdos










HOYLE,50’S, British

AUSTIN, 30’s, American

SHAIN, 40’s, American

CALEB, 50’s, American

ELLER, 70’s, British




A non descript room. From beyond, pipes resound, along with a bad generator. A group of men gathered, each wearing similar clothes. Early morning or night, the place seems isolated. The men, captive in it do what they can to resist.


AUSTIN.  Its worse than locusts.

HOYLE.  What?

AUSTIN.  That. What is it, a machine?

HOYLE.  Generator. The place is old testament, truly. Most of the lamps are oil.

SHAIN.  Yeah, or steam!

CALEB.  We’re the new Victorians.

SHAIN.  Right. Babylon fell. We’re the ruins.

HOYLE.  They wouldn’t want us ‘impeded’ by comfort. Its not a prison as such, just related.

CALEB.  Its a prison’s cousin!

SHAIN.  That’s right, it is, twice removed!

HOYLE (To Austin:)  You’re new.

CALEB.  He’s not briefed.

SHAIN.  He only got here this morning.

HOYLE.  Its controlled from their side. They want the noise to upset us.

CALEB.  You should try and rise above it.

AUSTIN.  I hate it. So, that’s why its there, its just spite?

SHAIN.  Listen, spite is a powerful thing. Spite has aim. It’s sharp hatred. Spite has direction. Spite has intent. Spite has force.

AUSTIN.  So, they can’t or won’t turn it off?

CALEB.  Sure they can. But then we wouldn’t have any power. Do you want the wilderness, sweetheart, or some sort of semblance to the illusions of home?

SHAIN. He hasn’t spent a full day in here yet. Wait until the radio starts in a minute… Well, I say radio: Static. The top ten of crackle. That’s what they play all night long.

CALEB.  Guantanomo.

SHAIN.  Right.

HOYLE.  Where what they actually play is the Osmonds.

CALEB.  The Osmonds?

HOYLE.  As torture.

SHAIN.  Ah, but at least the Osmonds are pretty..

CALEB.  Donny or Wendell?

SHAIN.  Why should we have to choose?


(A scratching static starts from an outside radio through a speaker.)


There you go, there it is!

AUSTIN.  What’s the –

CALEB.  Yes, that’s the static. Radio Static! Static FM. The air’s scratched!

SHAIN.  Of course if we were clever, we’d ask them to turn the radio up to full volume. We’d convince them we like it.

AUSTIN.  So there’s no peace at all?

CALEB.  Not on earth.

AUSTIN.  I’m used to clear air.

HOYLE.  Then try to come back as an eagle. Down here we’re all vermin…

SHAIN.  I mean, just look at those sofas..

CALEB.  Just look at the chairs, walls..whatever..

HOYLE.  That’s all in the past. Comfort’s gone.

AUSTIN.  So, this is really happening..

CALEB.  Yes.

AUSTIN.  I never thought they would do this.

SHAIN.  Ah, but did they have any option?

AUSTIN.  Yes, but what did we really do?

HOYLE.  All we could.


(ELLER runs in, his state somewhat desperate.)


ELLER.  The light in the bog’s broken.

HOYLE.  God blinked.

ELLER.  Is that all you can say to me, Derek? if we don’t have a light in the toilet there’s going to be all manner of mess everywhere.

CALEB.  Then don’t –

HOYLE. ‘Dump.’

SHAIN.  Or eat.

ELLER.  You want me to die?

CALEB (FAUX ENGLISH:)  You’re an arsehole.

SHAIN.  Which is probably why he likes toilets.

HOYLE.  Go in the soil. Feed the world.

ELLER.  Like an animal?

CALEB.  Yeah.

HOYLE.  And you are you an animal, Eller.

ELLER.  I am not!

HOYLE.  What sort of animal are you?

ELLER.  I said I was not!

HOYLE.  But you are. You’re a fat, greasy pig and you are a worm in the water. You’re a bug in the breakfast and a crap covered croc in the bath. We all know what you are. You masturbate in that toilet. That failing lightbulb’s your spotlight..

SHAIN.  Yeah, but it’s the only one he has left!

CALEB.  There’s no art in those pants..

SHAIN.  But he still wants an audience for it!

CALEB. (To Austin🙂 That was his thing..

ELLER.  Screw you, Jimmy!

SHAIN.  He’s not your type!

CALEB.  ..Which remains something that not even I understand.




ELLER.  That light is one of the last things we have left..

SHAIN.  Look how he changes the subject..

CALEB.  As if he were ashamed..

SHAIN.  It’s see how very low the low goes.

CALEB.  Or doesn’t go, that’s if the light in the toilet is broken..

SHAIN.  Can he hold it in, though? His evil. Or is the ball bag of poison  currently curdling within set to burst?

CALEB.  Stand back, watch it fly!

SHAIN.  This was our thing. This is STANDUP..

CALEB.  Or persecution..

SHAIN.  Its Eller! And Eller doesn’t count, do you, Ken?

ELLER.  I count as much as you..

SHAIN.  Well, we’d have to look at the figures. Compare the tables over so many years..

ELLER.  I still count!

CALEB.  You don’t, Ken. We count. We’re all counts. You’re historic.

SHAIN.  Although abuse of the system has shelf life..

CALEB.  Yes, but then the system adapts..

SHAIN.  Also true.




AUSTIN.  So is this what you do?

HOYLE.  Is what what we do?

AUSTIN.  Pass the water.

SHAIN.  Pass the what, now?

AUSTIN.  The water..

HOYLE.  He means the water within..


HOYLE.  The piss.

AUSTIN.  You take it too.

CALEB.  Yes. And as for Ken, well, he’s English. That’s what they do there. They take it. And come on, lets be honest, its what he likes in the end, isn’t it?


CALEB.  It is too. You’re a real liar, Eller.

HOYLE.  Snake in the grass.

SHAIN.  Old and oily.

CALEB.  Worming his way, leaving trails.

SHAIN.  If we do as you think, then its all connected to reason. We want to find out why we’re in here by measuring ourselves next to him. Ken is all kink. This what makes him feel special. He’s our gimp. We abuse him and so the cycle flows on. Its important, right, Hoyle? To know where we are in the billing.

HOYLE.  I think ranking’s better.

CALEB.  Ranking’s much better!

SHAIN (LAUGHS) Ranking..

CALEB.  Yes, ranking!

SHAIN.  The man’s quite right. Rankers all!

CALEB (TO AUSTIN) You’re new. You don’t know. But this old man is disgusting. He truly is. He’s a villain. And while we are not heroes, this makes him our therapy.

AUSTIN.  You mean you use him..

CALEB.  We do. Just as he once used others. Imprisonment – no, containment – affords you the proper chance to reflect. And so we do. And compare. Comparing my bad to his bad. My appetite to his hunger. My addictions, as such, to his drugs. Do you see how this works? Its why they’ve slammed us together. We’re like stones in a slipstream, each rubbing against, chipping off.

ELLER.  You’re lousy bastards!

SHAIN.  Its true. Its punishment enough being with him. Look at him sweat. Smell the odour. See what he is, under grease. He’s a dirty monkey. Shite’s ape. I know girls and boys who worked for him. You don’t want to know what he did there. And then he was young. The man’s sick.

CALEB.  So when he complains we advise Hoyle not to listen. We steer clear and they see this, the powers that be. They all know. His sins run a mile. His corruption is endless. If he was light we’d be hiding. Instead he’s a trickle, a dark little stain, spilling in.

SHAIN.  Why did you do it, you prick? Why do those sort of things to young people? What’s in it for them? Full disclosure! Because it can’t be your thing! Not at all!

CALEB.  You mean you’ve seen it?

SHAIN.  Sadly. We all see all of our useless weapons. We’re like some old army with Tupperware shields and bent swords. Nothing to do but compare our now wilted triumphs. ‘What he once was..’ It is tragic.

ELLER (To Hoyle🙂  Call someone in! Fix the light!

SHAIN.  Someone? Who?


SHAIN.  Them, he says –

ELLER.  Hoyle’s the contact. They –

HOYLE.  No. They don’t attend to me. I’m here as well. I’m no different. They wouldn’t listen. What makes you think they’d hear me?

ELLER.  Because you were the first. They know you.

CALEB.  We could do with that light, if you want the God’s honest, Derek. It affects us all.

HOYLE.  They don’t know me.

SHAIN.  Derek, they do.

HOYLE.  What?

SHAIN.  They know you. Plus, you’re a Sir. They respect you..

HOYLE.  What do you mean!

SHAIN.  They accept you. Or upto a point..

AUSTIN.  I know you.

HOYLE.  What did you say?

AUSTIN.  I know you. I know all about you. We all do. We’re familiar because everyone knows what we do.

CALEB.  Did.

AUSTIN.  Does that matter now? They all think the same things about us..

CALEB. Oh, look, he’s on your side..

AUSTIN. They all believe we’re the one thing and have no actual thought for much else. This is disgrace. That’s my understanding. That’s why we’re here, bound together. This the hell we’ll all share.




HOYLE.  You mean its a colony.

ELLER.  Christ!

HOYLE.  Just like Steve McQueen’s lepers.

AUSTIN.  Steve McQueen?

HOYLE.  In Papillon. You’ve not seen it? When he breaks free he’s assisted by a leper’s enclave by the river. They lend him their sailboat, and so for a time, he sails free. The lepers are noble in that. As they decay you revere them. Its a wonderful image and a perfectly good metaphor. The lepers are isolated but strong, with or without any lightbulbs. They have leper prostitutes, even. Its touching and sad; sweet but strange. And so they’ve put us here, stashed away, without whores or light fittings. We have to find ways to be noble, scrabbling around in the dark as we do..

CALEB.  They respected us once. That’s why this isn’t conviction.

AUSTIN.  Then what do you call it?

CALEB.  Its disappointment I think, fair and square.




HOYLE.  Eller’s different.

SHAIN.  I know. But he was just a bad actor. You were a Knight and Director. You were a Knight Batchelor.




ELLER.  This is all very well but it doesn’t help me with the toilet!

HOYLE.  You make me ashamed to be English..

ELLER.  Oh, so yours doesn’t stink I suppose? Well, your pathos does. Fool! This is a fight for survival. A fight for dignity!

SHAIN.  Ranker!

CALEB.  Coming from you, Derek! Christ!

ELLER.  They dealt with Hoyle first.

HOYLE.  So what?

ELLER.  Its down to him that they got us.

HOYLE.  And what does that mean?

ELLER.  You crumbled and that toppled us all! Dominoes! You were the informer, so scared of your so called position being exposed as the cover for so much disrepute! We’re the worst, all of us, so let’s not make some sort of strained attempt at pretending! We’ve been at the peak of true power and have let acres of crap spiral down! Politicians rape boys. Industrialists dress as Nazis. Actors believe charm’s rewarded with as much self regard as they want! Success has its rates, isn’t that we believe? Cocks as invoice! So don’t stand here and judge me in your orange sweatpants and your sad baseball cap!




HOYLE.  You’re worse than piss.

ELLER (Misunderstanding)  And the rest?

HOYLE.  Dig a hole. Dogs. Grow flowers. Crops.

AUSTIN.  What?

HOYLE.  Potatoes. Now you can’t do that in a loo. We have to make something good from the worst kind of position. Don’t you think? To find something..

SHAIN.  Gardeners of crap!

HOYLE.  But its life. From manure, from the soil you grow the new plant, the next flower. Look at me straight. I’m not joking. For the muck and the murk begets hope!

ELLER.  Hope, he says.. mad! DEREK, YOU PUT US IN HERE!


ELLER.  So you named us?

HOYLE.  What, you think that they didn’t know?

ELLER.  Some of them!

HOYLE.  No! They knew all about us! They’ve always known all about us. They just haven’t known how to get us after so long.. We were slick. This is one of our great foundations, you prick.. from the casting couch to the trailer, via the back lot and green room! Do you really believe the years haven’t been coloured by rumour? Well, they have, let me tell you, and the colour is bright, rainbow bright! Its a vast swollen red, like some kind of boil or blood blister! And it popped. It burst, Kenneth! From pussy to pus in one flow! Once fat boy went down, they were on me with names and a stopwatch. I didn’t have to speak. They had pictures.

ELLER.  What was the Detective’s name, Hoyle..Mcarthy?

CALEB.  Eller, shut your pervert’s mouth!

HOYLE.  Get away! I’ll kill you, you hear? GET AWAY FROM ME, ELLER!

SHAIN.  Derek, don’t..

HOYLE.  Get him away from me, Jimmy!

SHAIN.  Calm down. I’ll duke him.

ELLER.  Duke me how?

SHAIN.  Want to see?

ELLER.  You’d hit an old man?

SHAIN.  You’re not a man, you’re a sickness. This is the fight to cure cancer and my fists are both radium!


(There is a tussle, of sorts, which is quickly abated.)


CALEB.  Let’s watch the noise. They can hear us.

SHAIN.  You lucky pervert..

ELLER (ignoring Shain🙂  Even through that infernal machine?

SHAIN.  Ah; Cocteau.

AUSTIN.  Excuse me?

SHAIN.  Cocteau.

AUSTIN.  I don’t see how the two are related.

CALEB (LAUGHS) My god, he’s stupid, but funny!

AUSTIN.  What did you just say?

CALEB.  I’ll repeat it..

AUSTIN.  Don’t call me stupid!

CALEB.  My dear little Pooh, we’re all stupid..

AUSTIN.  Not me!

CALEB.  Oh, really? Well, they got you in here, didn’t they?




SHAIN.  Listen, maybe we should all aim for calm.


CALEB.  Isn’t that a town in Nebraska?

SHAIN.  No. Minnesota. (THINKS) Or is it Wyoming? No, its not. I don’t know.


(They almost laugh. Silence. The noises stop.)

CALEB.  They can hear us.


CALEB.  That’s a sign, see? The silence.

AUSTIN.  Where’s the camera?

CALEB.  It’s in the corner there..look: Red light.


HOYLE.  I could ask for some seeds. Forget Ken and his lightbulb.

SHAIN.  Come on, be honest. They wouldn’t give us the wind through the trees.

AUSTIN.  Look, its not really my business..

CALEB.  You’re right.

AUSTIN.  But we all know each other. We know who we are –

SHAIN.  Were..

CALEB.  We’re –

HOYLE.  No. No, we are not. None of us are, any longer. What we were. What we have been. And that is why we are here. We’ve struck a bum note and its currently staining the chorus. And what’s more its long and it lingers..

ELLER.  Don’t mention bums. They shat back.

CALEB.  You mean the people we –

HOYLE.  Quite.

CALEB.  I suppose you have to almost admire the effort.

SHAIN.  You do, yes…

HOYLE.  The gumption.

AUSTIN.  I’m sorry, the what?

HOYLE.  English word.

CALEB.  Old world.

HOYLE.  Gold days.

CALEB.  They put us right where they want us.

AUSTIN.  We’re not under the ground..!

SHAIN.  Meaning nothing. This is worse than being dead.

HOYLE.  Yes, it is.

CALEB.  Not when we –


ELLER.  None of this fixes the toilet.

SHAIN.  There she goes again!

CALEB.  Moron!

ELLER.  I’m talking about a toilet! That’s all. I’m talking about a light in the toilet! It’s not as if I’m even going on about carpet.. Or about a bloody radiator at night. We deserve that at least, don’t we? No? Or am I supposed to thank the stars we’ve got paper? That and food in our bellies. Because if they give us food IT GOES THROUGH! Or shall we not? Shall we starve? Do they want us living here like wild badgers? Or moles, say? Derek, do they? Moles above ground. Buried up? Is that what they want? Was that part of the brief I skipped over? He’s new. Did they tell him? Did they tell you?


ELLER.  Badgers, moles?

HOYLE.  Kenneth..


ELLER.  So, we..what? What do we do?

HOYLE.  Use the garden.

ELLER.  It will ruin the flowers.

CALEB.  The piss mingles with dew, Ken. Its fine.

ELLER.  I want to grow beans.

CALEB.  Idiot!

SHAIN.  Beans for the badgers!

ELLER.  Potatoes, too.

HOYLE.  Roughage. All leading him back to the bog.

SHAIN.  He means the can.

CALEB.  Right.

SHAIN.  The john.

CALEB.  I never thought I’d die with the English.

SHAIN.  I don’t mind the English. I only really mind that it’s him.




AUSTIN.  We’re not going to die in here..


AUSTIN.  I was told this is quarantine only.

SHAIN.  And what do they do once they’ve happened? Have you ever seen the films you’ve been in? The quarantined always die. Whether its a dog or on Star Trek.

CALEB.  Or a dog on Star Trek.

SHAIN.  They didn’t have dogs.

CALEB.  Didn’t they? Although, DeForest Kelly..

HOYLE.  Yes, Bones looked like one..

SHAIN.  Bones! Its a nice irony..

HOYLE.  Jimmy..

SHAIN.  It is!

AUSTIN.  Is there laughter..?

CALEB.  What do you mean?

AUSTIN.  Should we laugh?




SHAIN.  Should we? Why not?

AUSTIN.  Well, what do they want. That’s the question. What do they want to do with us now we’re in here and what do they want of us? Is this a precursor to..what? Is this a holding cell, Derek?

HOYLE.  Sir Derek.

AUSTIN.  Sorry. Do they want us cowtowed?

CALEB.  Buffalo.


CALEB.  You said cows..

AUSTIN.  I said cowtowed! I meant abject!

CALEB.  Now, what is that, English? Do you think you’re better than us? You sweaty creep: know your place. Nobody knows what will happen. They could be sending us someone.

SHAIN.  Doctors, or whores? Care to bet?

HOYLE.  Boys.


HOYLE.  Last taste.

CALEB.  Big titted women.

SHAIN.  Soldiers.

AUSTIN.  Footballers..

SHAIN.  No, I meant..Soldiers. Soldiers with guns.

AUSTIN.  Oh. I see.




HOYLE.  None of us know what they want but it must be good that we’re in here. At least it keeps us away from temptation..

SHAIN.  Temptation, yes.

HOYLE.  And the people.

AUSTIN.  Because of how we’re contagious?

SHAIN.  No. But we won’t abuse us.

HOYLE.  Dear God, no.

CALEB. Jesus, no.

SHAIN.  Can you imagine waking at night and seeing old Eller stuck there, balls out and breathless as he tries humping away on your leg?

ELLER.  I wouldn’t!

SHAIN.  You might!

HOYLE.  We’re not his type.


HOYLE.  We’re lucky.

AUSTIN.  That’s not what it feels like.

HOYLE.  Just consider. We’re lucky.

CALEB.  Lucky but stopped.

SHAIN.  A bummed clock.


(The noise resumes.)


AUSTIN (TO HOYLE:) I can’t believe you said that. I can’t believe I’m hearing you, Derek.

SHAIN.  Or that again..

HOYLE.  Then I suggest you try. I just said it. Its better in here.

AUSTIN.  Better how?

HOYLE.  Better all round. Better by far. In the long run. Better to try to found our own kingdom and to stick close to its walls and the ground. Better for us to attempt to keep our own counsel. To establish a state that’s directed and dictated by us. None shall pass. We can find purpose here and some of the corrective they’re after. After a certain amount of time there’s no option, other than to try and understand what you are. Can you see yourself? Do you know? Or are you just your own actions? Are you merely your hunger or is there something else lost in you? Are you love? Are you lust? Bitterness, even. Are you revenger or victim. Hero, or –

CALEB.  No, Derek..

HOYLE.  What?

CALEB.  None of us want to be here. Or at least not with Eller. We don’t want to be thought of as he is, or even considered like that. Thats the disappointment for me. Forget how we’ve disappointed. I jerk off before women. Its something I do. I don’t know.

AUSTIN.  Its disgusting.

CALEB.  Says you.

SHAIN.  At least its a nice looking penis. Circumcised.

ELLER.  Ugly.

AUSTIN.  Its an insult to them, what you do.

CALEB.  What?

AUSTIN.  Power.


AUSTIN.  Yes. What do you want as reaction? What are they supposed to do these young women when you do that, read a book? Its about being noticed, Caleb. Its about a form of dominion.

SHAIN.  Says you who blows actors.

AUSTIN.  Only if they agree.

SHAIN.  So you..

AUSTIN.  Twice.

CALEB.  What, a week?

SHAIN.  Rohypnol. Ketamin. Dicks are vitamins for you. B, C or D? Protein.

AUSTIN.  I was starved as a child..

CALEB.  What for?

AUSTIN.  Love.

ELLER.  Cock, he means.


SHAIN.  He had his own.

HOYLE.  They’re tails, Austin.

AUSTIN.  What?

HOYLE.  They wag like a dog’s does, and so we chase them, eager and mad, from the front.

SHAIN.  Whereas Caleb..

CALEB.  Girls laughed.

AUSTIN.  So that’s how you justified it?

CALEB.  When I was a kid..

ELLER.  Boo hoo..

CALEB.  Bastard! Shut your mouth Paedophile!

ELLER.  I am not a –

CALEB.  You’re scum! At which point does taste smear sensation? Where does need break all borders? Because that’s why they’ve got us all squirreled here!

ELLER.  Squirrelled..?

SHAIN.  Where we’ve come from, we – well.. none of us thought we would get here.

AUSTIN.  And where is it?

HOYLE.  Somewhere. Its no discernible place. That we know.

SHAIN.  A former quarry.

CALEB.  No rocks. Just a line of trees, at a distance.

SHAIN.  It could be anywhere..

ELLER.  England..

HOYLE.  You should be able to tell by the trees.

CALEB.  They’re too far.

HOYLE.  Somewhere in Europe, I think. What do you think? Smells like Auschwitz. Its not America. Its the climate.

SHAIN.  Unless its –

HOYLE.  What?

SHAIN.  Canada.

HOYLE.  No, its remote.

SHAIN.  I say it again.

HOYLE.  Like New Zealand.

CALEB.  Its a barren land.

ELLER.  Russia?

CALEB.  Could be the moon. And we’re drugged. They’d want us off planet for sure. Why haven’t they shot us? And why are we not in Prison, and just in its cousin?

SHAIN.  Who knows.

HOYLE.  They’re keeping us doused. This is us treading water.

ELLER.  Or else we’re the chickens awaiting the cull.

HOYLE.  We’ve no eggs. There’s nothing here they can take. And I very much doubt that they’d eat us.

CALEB.  Right. Chickens are useful.

AUSTIN.  Then maybe we’re lambs.

SHAIN.  Lambs?

AUSTIN.  Our skins. They want our skins possibly, for some sort of perverts museum. Like the Romans or Saxons. Heads stuck on spears by the gates. We’ll be examples, emblems of yesterday’s sins for the future. We who were once celebrated are held up and damned, ridiculed.

HOYLE.  I can’t believe its that.


HOYLE.  We’re not savages are we?

AUSTIN.  They say we are..

ELLER.  Really? At the end of the day its just sex.

SHAIN.  Shut up, Eller! Sit. Die. Why don’t you go and rot in the corner!

AUSTIN.  To them its not sex. Sex is something else. We’re defilers. We were prized. We took friendship and screwed it up into a ball.

HOYLE.  Its disconcerting, I know. We’re used to our lives having structure. We’re used to our needs being minded and more importantly, met. Now they’re not. We were used, all of us, to things we will not see again. Now its all different. We have to face lack of structure. Lack of purpose too.

CALEB.  Lack of work.

HOYLE.  Was it work, Jimmy?

CALEB.  What?

HOYLE.  Could we say it was, if we’re honest? Or was it more of an exercise, an expansion..

CALEB.  An expansion of what?

HOYLE.  Ego.

CALEB.  Oh. Yes. Probably.

ELLER.  Filming’s hard work! What do you mean? Acting’s working!

HOYLE.  At your level? Really? All you ever did was turn up! You did your thing, your one thing and that’s all that they ever wanted. So, I would say, yes, that’s expansion. You could do what you liked! Power, Ken!

ELLER.  I was popular!

SHAIN.  Yes. And then you abused your position.

AUSTIN.  He took the pop out. Deflation..

ELLER.  Watch what you say..

AUSTIN.  Or? You’re old.

ELLER.  I’m not so old..

AUSTIN.  Old enough.

ELLER.  If it makes you feel better, believe that..

HOYLE.  Kenneth..

ELLER.  Everyone I knew, they all liked me..

AUSTIN.  You mean until they had reason not to.

ELLER.  Everyone that I worked with..

AUSTIN.  Even those boys?

ELLER.  They were young. The young are misshaped. They’re ill-equipped. They’ve no language.

SHAIN.  No, but they have lights and toilets..

ELLER.  Part of what I did or do teaches them.




AUSTIN.  Did he really just say that?

ELLER.  The Greeks. It comes from them. Then the Romans. Its legacy and tradition. Template, almost.

AUSTIN.  Template?

ELLER.  Once. The older man, the young boy. The handing over of knowledge.

AUSTIN.  Wrapped around an old penis, as if it needed instructions..

CALEB.  You’re a degenerate, do you know that?

ELLER.  If I didn’t before I do now.

CALEB.  Progress!

HOYLE.  And what we know is this; that none of us here can believe you. None of us accept what you’re saying, particularly because we’re all here. You got found out, chummybum. You got dislodged. Thorns through flowers. A flick of spunk in the whiskey. A toenail inside the cupcake..

ELLER.  Go to hell!

SHAIN.  We’ve arrived!

HOYLE.   You thought you could do anything. None of us thought any different. But fame’s not charm. Don’t you know that? Its the illusion of charm. Charm’s a grace.

ELLER.  Well, I’m sure you could charm the birds from the trees, but they’d be dead as you did so. Don’t deign to judge, or worse, dare me. I’ve shrugged off worse things than you..

SHAIN.  Recently?




ELLER.  This is unbearable!

CALEB.  So? They don’t think we deserve any better..

ELLER.  I can still write to people..

AUSTIN.  There aren’t any pens here, or paper..

ELLER.  But surely, there’s –

HOYLE.  Ken: this is it.


(Eller slumps in despair.)


ELLER.  I don’t know what to do. I pretended to fight in wars for this country..

CALEB.  All actors are loose change. We get spent easily.


(A silence. All brood, moving away from each other. The radio is still playing. Static and sharp scrapes of low sound.)

SHAIN.  Its a funny word, rape. An antique word some might call it. The association feels different, something to do with Vikings perhaps, or Brigands. But nevertheless, it goes on, in all of the conquering forces. When the military invade a new country, which is a rape of the land, they go on.

HOYLE.  The women are land. Its women who represent any country.

ELLER.  I never liked women. I think women smell.

AUSTIN.  And you don’t? You’re going to have to die, Ken, you know. You’re going to have to be a sacrifice, Eller. Maybe this is a gameshow. Have you thought that maybe that’s why we’re here? The cameras and the noise – they’re pushing us now past our limits. Until one of us buckles and the rest of us follow suit.

SHAIN.  He may have something there..It makes a lot of sense. They are watching. And entertainment of course was our business. And possibly is.

CALEB.  Could well be.

SHAIN.  Gladiators of love. Even if we all despise Kenneth Eller.

CALEB.  For being a ponce, nonce and trouncing everything left we hold dear.

ELLER (PANICS) If you kill me its murder!

CALEB.  We know! I can’t believe the stuff he comes out with!

ELLER.  Get away from me!

HOYLE.  Grab him by either his sagging balls or sunk soul.


(They mock chase him. He shrieks, then trips and stumbles.)


SHAIN.  Animal!


(Eller whimpers.)


CALEB.  So sad..

HOYLE.  But, I’m afraid, also useful. For each of us, he’s a mirror, spluttered and smeared.

AUSTIN.  What’s that smell?


(Eller weeps, having wet himself.)


SHAIN.  Leave the lightbulb. Ken has just been to the toilet.

CALEB.  Is that what you that what you wanted to see, TV land?

HOYLE.  When we can no longer act and there is nothing left we can offer, they’ll just watch us all empty, like a man who is bleeding..

CALEB.  Or wetting himself by the road.


(Silence. They wait as Eller slowly recovers. His humiliation is awful as his crying shows. He rises slowly to stand. He unzips his trousers.)


ELLER.  Dignity..

HOYLE.   In your crackers. Are you going to stay like that?

ELLER.  Going bed.


(Eller leaves. They stand watching after.)


CALEB.  We’ll have to kill him. Free him from each huge misery.

(The noises stop.)


SHAIN.  Ah. Would you say that was encouragement, Derek?

HOYLE.  Hard to say.

AUSTIN.  It might help us..

CALEB.  What do you mean?

AUSTIN.  To repent.

CALEB.  You’re not serious?


SHAIN. So, what are you saying now, that you’re noble? Or that you have aspirations..You think they’ll have you back, do you?

HOYLE.  Stop..

AUSTIN.  Is that a challenge?

SHAIN.  Perhaps.

AUSTIN.  From a predatory queer..

SHAIN.  Careful, Billy..

AUSTIN.  From a somniatic cocksucker, from a plucker of corks not yet sold? Because you can castigate Ken but I won’t have you giving orders! Because they weren’t antique balls you were playing like so many bells, were they?

HOYLE.  Stop!

AUSTIN. They weren’t windchimes!

HOYLE.  Austin!

CALEB.  Well, look at the noble assassin! What is this, the day of the Jekyl who only now gets to Hyde!

HOYLE.  Gentlemen, please..

SHAIN.  We’re none of us gentlemen, Derek..

HOYLE.  Then we are at least cultured.. cultured and refined..

SHAIN.  Like old malt. But malt bites, old boy. By which I mean whiskey. Malt wounds.

HOYLE.  That’s Pinter.

AUSTIN.  I’m sorry, that’s who?

HOYLE.  Nevermind.

SHAIN.  No, for that he should die! Do you really not know Harold Pinter? This generation, I tell you.. hoist by their own retarded petard and regard! Take your insults young scum and shove them where no-one’s going! We’re getting older, but there’s no-one for you to get close. What you did, what you do, has put your balls in the ice-box. All you have will heal over. Maybe one day they’ll free you when you’re as seedy as Ken. Then you’ll pay. Rent boys. Lowlifes. To blow stale air on your darkness. To do their level best to revive it, that withered stem you’ll half own. Because the best of it will be lost. This will be what happens to us. All we were. All our projects, overshadowed and sunk by our crimes!

AUSTIN.  Crimes?

SHAIN.  I said crimes.

CALEB.  We’re not criminals, Jimmy. We have not been convicted. Only –

SHAIN.  What, quarantined?

HOYLE.  I would have said set apart.

SHAIN.  You’re now in Lulu land, Derek. This is a camp.


SHAIN.  Its Auschwitz. And we are the jews and we’re wrong.



AUSTIN.  Its too quiet now.

SHAIN.  What? Its only been off for a minute.

AUSTIN.  No, but it feels like there’s something behind it..

CALEB.  Pinter again.

AUSTIN.  Something else.




HOYLE.  Go to the window..

SHAIN.  Its dark.

AUSTIN.  But it was light before.

SHAIN.  Is it winter?

HOYLE.  We couldn’t tell. This weird climate.

AUSTIN.  Its like they’ve controlled it..

SHAIN.  What do you mean?

AUSTIN.  Well, the sky.


CALEB.  Are we out? Are we in? Is this a lot, or what..

HOYLE.  Listen..

SHAIN.  What do you mean?

HOYLE.  Is that..singing?

SHAIN.  Singing from where?

HOYLE.  There! Outside!


(They listen. From far off, a strange drone like singing. Discordant, distant. They strain to hear.)


CALEB.  What is that, Wolves?


SHAIN.  Bears?

HOYLE.  Jim.

SHAIN.  Coyotes?

CALEB.  Sasquatch?

AUSTIN.  There’s no Bigfoot. That’s rubbish. Maybe its wind.

SHAIN.  That wind’s sharp.

AUSTIN.  Something’s coming for us!


(Unheard, ELLER enters.)


HOYLE.  Don’t be absurd..

ELLER.  Maybe Vikings..

CALEB.  We thought you’d gone to bed, pisspants..

ELLER.  Bastard!


(Eller stabs Caleb, who falls.)





HOYLE.  Eller, where did you get!

SHAIN.  Jesus!

ELLER.  The knife? Its for grapefruit..

SHAIN.  What?

ELLER.  They said they’d keep me in grapefruit. Its a kind of sedative for me. They knew I wouldn’t take my Viagra, because if you take that and eat grapefruit it gives you a heart attack..

CALEB.  Call an ambulance!

HOYLE.  No, they’ll see! We can’t call anyone, Caleb! You know we can’t!

CALEB.  Show them! Carry me to where they can see..!

HOYLE.  Can you see!


(They help him move to where the upper camera can see him.)


CALEB.  Punch that old pervert!


(Austin punches him.)


AUSTIN.  Bastard!

ELLER.  Ponce!

SHAIN.  You’re calling him that? Now that really is poncesence!

HOYLE.  It isn’t a good time to start joking!


(Eller laughs.)

CALEB.  I’m bleeding! You’re laughing and I’m –

HOYLE.  Quick! Tear a sheet!


(Shain takes a tablecloth and helps Hoyle wrap it around Caleb.)


Tourniquet! Turn him!

CALEB.  I’m feeling weak..

HOYLE.  Lay him down!

AUSTIN.  Are they going to help us?

HOYLE.  Who knows..even if someone’s coming.

CALEB.  Are there still –

SHAIN.  What?

CALEB.  Those noises..

HOYLE.  Noises, no..Singing.

SHAIN.  Still?

CALEB.  You’ve wrapped me up. I’m a cake. Now look at all this jam in the middle.. You bastard, Eller…

ELLER.  Its what you deserve, Monster!

CALEB.  Me? I am?

ELLER.  All!

SHAIN.  Christ..

ELLER.  Beasts of the field and the bedroom. Now the long night discloses the true knights’ dark approach.



HOYLE.  There’s nothing we can do but remain. That’s all we have left. That’s our power. If they want to bleach us or blanche us, its the only real thing we have left. If they were to kill us we’d be filed, after being wiped away, then forgotten. But if we remain they can’t stop us. They can’t forget. We’ll be here.

CALEB.  I’m leaking..

AUSTIN.  We’re screwed.

HOYLE.  It isn’t bad. You’re not dying.

CALEB.  Is sex ever..

HOYLE.  Listen!


(The singing has grown.)


SHAIN.  What is that, the dead?

HOYLE.  No, that’s us.

AUSTIN.  What do you mean?

HOYLE.  That’s our threat, given back to us. It must be some sort of protest. They’ve found out where we are..


HOYLE.  They’re here.

CALEB.  Cameras, press..

AUSTIN.   At least its what we’re used to..

SHAIN.  What do you think this is, practise?

ELLER.  What’ll they do to us, Derek?

HOYLE.  Worse than we did to them, I imagine.

AUSTIN.  And what can you imagine?

HOYLE.  No, this is about what we did.

CALEB.  I’m getting worse..

AUSTIN.  This is bad..

SHAIN.  We’re going to have to stop baiting Kenneth..

AUSTIN.  Is there sound on that camera? Can they hear that odd singing too?

HOYLE.  We don’t know what it is.

AUSTIN.  Well, it sounds like singing..

HOYLE.  And we can only assume with the cameras..

SHAIN.  So, why aren’t they here?

HOYLE.   I don’t know.


(The singing grows.)


AUSTIN.  Are they singing words?

SHAIN.  Its just sounds..

AUSTIN.  Sounds off if you ask me..

SHAIN.  Do we go outside?

HOYLE.  No, they’ll see us! They could have guns, knives..

CALEB.  No knives!

HOYLE.  Wrap the sheet tighter..

CALEB.  I’ll die..

SHAIN.  Death, perhaps could be better..

AUSTIN.  So strange to know we’re the villains..

SHAIN.  The baddies always have the best lines.

ELLER.  Well, I don’t know what to say.

HOYLE.  Nobody wants to hear from you, Kenneth.

AUSTIN.  What are they singing?

SHAIN.  It sounds like an H. Jesus H!


(The singing builds and is even more discordant. The sound of the pipes and the generator has resumed now..)


ELLER.  I’d prefer Chinese water torture!

HOYLE.   And here we all are with dry eyes..

SHAIN.  Jesus!


(The sounds build. The men express their discomfort. A cacophony and a chorus – and then all at once the sounds stop.)


SHAIN.  Sweet jesus, that’s worse!

CALEB.  I can’t breathe..

HOYLE.  Wrap it tighter!

CALEB.  Derek..

SHAIN.  Such silence..

ELLER.  Maybe they want us all to confess.

AUSTIN.  What?

ELLER.  To confess. How about the rat in our kitchen? The one who has damned us. How about you, Derek?

CALEB.  Can’t breathe..


(He gasps..)


SHAIN.  He’s passed out!

HOYLE.  Is he –


HOYLE.  Wrap the sheet tighter. Get a bowl.

AUSTIN.  Is there..

HOYLE.  Water.. Whatever you can. (TO THOSE BEYOND:) Can you hear?

SHAIN.  Derek..

HOYLE.  Can you hear me out there? This is Derek Hoyle.. Will you listen? Can anyone out there hear me? Caleb Holt has been stabbed! We need assistance at once! Can anyone hear me? And if you can, will you listen? This is a sincere appeal, a request! There’s no plot or plan.. Caleb’s stabbed! Can anyone out there hear me? We have no supplies here, just bed sheets.. water and bedsheets.. Is anyone there? Please attend!

ELLER.  They’re going to let him die!

AUSTIN.  They can’t!

HOYLE.  Please.. is anyone out there..

ELLER.  They want blood..

HOYLE.  Ken!

ELLER.  Confession.. they want us reduced!

HOYLE.  Kenneth, please!

ELLER.  Give them something at once if you want to save this cock gobbler..

SHAIN.  Or any of us for that matter..

AUSTIN.  Give them what they want, Derek..





Please! Stop! Just let me think for a moment!

SHAIN.  He’s bleeding fast..

HOYLE.  Get more bedsheets!

ELLER.  Then how will we sleep?

HOYLE.  What do you mean?

ELLER.  Without sheets? How will we sleep, Captain Hoyle? It gets cold at night. We all feel it..

SHAIN.  Derek, he’s bleeding..





AUSTIN.  Listen, we should not affront, just defend. We have to pretend we’re alright. Let them turn up their volume. We shouldn’t ask for new lightbulbs. We should ask them to take things away! These sofas.. these chairs, its all been said: there’s no comfort. We’ll crap outside. We’ll do nothing. We’ll sleep on the floor! We’ll go mad! We like it in here! Don’t you see? This is the way we defeat them! This is how we defy them! This is how we all of us here, adjust! It will soften each sting. Punishment turned into pleasure. Afterall, we were actors and aren’t we all still on show?

ELLER.  They’re waiting for us.

SHAIN.  They’re what?

ELLER.  They’re out there now. I can feel them.

SHAIN.  Pervert or psychic. Stir crazy comes after all.

AUSTIN.  Its worse than locusts..

SHAIN.  What?

AUSTIN. That; the revengeful crowd, waiting. Assessing their moment..

ELLER.  A crowd’s like a machine set to kill. Or stun us, at least. They’re out there now, set to stun us. They’re coming in..

SHAIN.  You’ll bend over..

ELLER.  I’ve given up the past. I’m this now. I’ve given into my sins. Once the sin has struck it stays out there. What can you do? You do nothing but lay claim to it. Let them come.

SHAIN.  Boys and girls, one and all. You really are the lowest of creatures.

ELLER.  I have evolved.

SHAIN.  From a butterfly all the way back into gunk.




HOYLE.  Listen!

AUSTIN.  What?

HOYLE.  There.. they’re singing something else..

SHAIN.  I can’t hear them..

ELLER.  Only dogs can..

HOYLE.  We’re dogs now, having found this new frequency.


(Eller growls..)


SHAIN.  Caleb’s –

HOYLE.  Yes.

AUSTIN.  What’s going to happen now, Derek?

HOYLE.  Hopefully, some sort of return to the ocean. Then maybe we can try and start all this all again..


(Eller barks.)


SHAIN.  He’ll lick his own balls, Eller, now. At least he won’t need any children..

AUSTIN.  Will there be women there..?

SHAIN.  Or Footballers..

AUSTIN.  Do fish have rape?

HOYLE.  Wait and see.



(A silence. They wait. A wind is growing. It builds. Soon ferocious, it suddenly cuts.


                                 End of Play.)


David Erdos.
Illustration Nick Victor

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