This is not a drill, repeat:THIS IS NOT A DRILL!

Y2Ka                        Paradise plc

 

Paradise plc Jim Grover 1998 

 List of characters:

Mark Crowsuft                 m         20 – 30.
Fi Gates                            f           20 - 30
Mike (an angel)                m         40+
Raph (an angel)                m         younger than Mike.
Security -a satanic force  m         voice only.
Madonna a holy relic        f          45+.
Jesus                                 m    `    30+.

Set: Stage is divided diagonally by a window (Mark pre-set), upstage to a coffee table and two chairs. Larger portion of stage is an office area; computers, fax machine, telephones, filing cabinet, filing trays, waste bin, door to CEO’s office, coat-stand with angels’ wings on hooks. Possible portrait of 'Our Founder' (God with big cigar).

Sound cue: Introductory Music: LifeFiles

Scene 1

Lighting cue: Light office.

Mike and Raph pick up from SAVED tray, input details in computer, replace papers in cabinet. Pick up from FAIL tray and put in bin. This business, continues intermittently throughout the following exchange.

Mike: So many files, so much paper.

Raph: I’ll be glad when this job comes to an end.

Mike: An end? It has no end.

Raph: No end? No, of course, of course. No end. All the same I know computerisation is going to make life easier hereafter, but it seems to be taking ….

Mike: An eternity?

Raph: Yes, that's the word. It seems to be taking an eternity.

Mike: It is an eternity. That’s the whole point. That is the nature of our work.

Raph: Yes, I know that. But it’s not only the time it takes. It’s all of this copying out of everything, all the records. It’s, it’s absolute hell. It’s so....so ...

Mike: .......soul-destroying?

Raph: That’s it exactly. I know we shouldn’t grumble but.....

Mike: I know. You don't mean to. But I understand. You’re thinking back to when it all started, back in the old days.

Raph: The old day? Oh yes, those were the days.

Mike: Thinking back to those days when we really knew who we were.

Raph: We knew who we were and what was expected of us.

Mike: Everything, that was it. Everything was expected of us. And we did everything. We could do anything because it was expected of us.

Raph: Everything and anything. It was so easy in the old days……. What was it we did? I suppose, when you look at it, in the beginning was …….

Mike: …….the word.....

Raph: That’s right. The word, the word……

Mike: ....the word of mouth. No need for anything else. We knew everyone by name and they knew us. They were like…family.

Raph: If they had a problem they could just call us and…

Sound cue: Phone.

Mike: And we’d know what they wanted before they even asked. We always knew.

Raph: We knew what to do and everyone knew what to expect of us.

Mike: They expected everything of us.

Raph: Everything.

Mike: But then, as there became more and more people, our customer-base multiplied…

Raph: All those people. And the more people

Mike: The more problems we had to deal with. Problems like ….

Raph: ……this record keeping? It is such a burden. Is it getting worse? I don’t remember it always being this bad.

Mike: It wasn’t. Populations grew, but we still knew who we were dealing with. Even if we no longer knew everyone by name we could pick out the family characteristics, sort out who begat who begat who begat whom.

Sound cue: End phone

Raph: Predict how they were likely to behave from generation..

Mike: …even unto generation. That was all right at first, but eventually we had to keep files. Omniscient as we were, even we couldn't remember everything. We couldn't know everyone.

Raph: I know we can't remember it all. But the files, all this paperwork. It's such a headache. You know, for centuries, must be for more than centuries…..

Mike: Millennia….

Raph: Yes, millennia. For millennia I failed to notice how large a part of our workload was devoted to administration.

Mike: Perfectly understandable. You were too busy doing it to notice.

Raph: Was I failing in my duties to neglect the volume, the importance of correct paperwork. I’m catching up now, doing the work as best I can. Yet I can’t help but feel, I know I shouldn’t but it’s so, so......

Mike: Impersonal?

Raph: So impersonal. Every human has become a set of……

Mike: Statistics. A row of ones and zeros against a grid of infinite variables.

Raph: Infinite variables? That rings a bell. Now what does that remind me of?

Mike: Infinite variables! Creating unimagined variety in the world. Probably reminds you of the old days.

Raph: Ah, the old days!

Mike: When it all began. Creation; God, it was such a laugh.

Raph: I'm just trying to remember what it was like! A time before all these files. A time when we could remember….What’s the word?

Mike: Yes, the word. A time we could remember when the word really meant something.

Raph: The sound of the word….

Mike: Clear as a bell,

Sound cue: Phone. Picks it up, listens, looks at it askance, puts it down.

  • sweet as birdsong.
  • Raph: The word! Certain as, certain as........

    Mike: Certain as a wave pounding the shore.

    Raph: And the look of the word.

    Mike: Lovingly hand-scripted on paper.

    Sound cue: Phone, then clicking of fax machine They both pay attention to the fax machine.

    Raph: Confidently……painted on parchment.....

    He picks up paper from behind fax machine

    Mike: Cast in stone. The word really meant something back then.

    Raph: Back then, in our heyday. I remember when….I remember…..it seems only……and then there was the time that……

    Mike: Don’t tell me you have forgotten? Surely you remember who we were. Who we are?

    Raph: Of course I do. But the memories, well, although they’re really vivid, pictorial and fresh enough in themselves, they get, well they get....

    Mike: They get mixed up.

    Raph: Yes, that’s it. Do you know what I mean? All these famous stories, and you know you’re in them, part of them. You know they've got names and dates, faces appear in your mind. What I’m trying to say is, you …I think I know the story and what happens next…

    Mike: When you realise it was a different story you were thinking of, a similar beginning but with a different ending.

    ,Raph: Is my memory failing? Has too much happened for me to make sense of it anymore? Or is it because it all happened so long ago. After all, there has been so much time…

    Mike: So much has been and passed, so much time.

    Raph: And yet it seems only yesterday, a moment ago, no time at all.

    Mike: Yesterday, no time at all.

    Raph: What?

    Mike: It was only a moment ago to us. We are eternal, unchanging. It is only the world beyond that grows older.

    Raph: If it was no time at all, how can it all seem to have happened so long ago?

    Mike: It must be the contrast. Because now, let's face it, nothing happens any more.

    Raph: Nothing at all. But then, a moment ago in the past, it was real then? Things did happen once?

    Mike: We had our time.

    Raph: We were really quite important, weren’t we? There was some meaning to our lives?

    Mike: Oh yes. There was a time when what we were had real meaning.

    Raph: We were something more than just being a filing clerk.

    Mike: Something much more.

    Raph: I sort of….. I remember it now. It’s like one of those dreams about flying. Well, I guess it must have been a dream. One minute we were flying …

    Mike: Flying through the air on the wings of a storm, fighting evil with a sword of fire.

    Raph: Really? The next moment we’re buried under papers, trying to prepare for a file audit…

    Mike: attempting to meet productivity targets.

    Raph: And as soon as we think the records are faithful and true....

    Mike: ....and all the names from alpha to omega are on record.

    Raph: Another pile of files lands on your desk.

    Mike: Either that, or you get......

    Sound cue: Phone rings

    Mike: ....interrupted.

    Snatches up phone, snarls, then composes himself)

  • Our lines are all busy. You are in a queue. Please hold until an operator is free.
  • Sound Cue: Music - Heaven.

    Raph: I don’t know why, but it just seems so final, putting the records on computer.

    Mike: Nothing could be more final. It’s the final straw in depersonalisation, the beginning of the end.

    Raph: The beginning? That word again. I have real trouble, going that far into the past. Sometimes I find it hard to think back beyond a moment ago.

    Mike: How much can you remember?

    Raph: I can recall clearly when we... all that flying …it was true?

    Mike:, It was true.

    Raph: Fantastic! And …..what did we call ourselves, you know, our little gang.? Something about….the eternal and unchanging.....

    Mike:, We, the eternal and unchanging forced changes, overwhelmed the opposition. We ruled heaven, monopolised eternity.

    Raph: God fed off the strength of….human praise.

    Mike: Praise that we won for him through our work.

    Raph: Was it really always so? Is it now? Can you be certain it will be so for

    Mike: For ever and ever? Of course.

    Raph: Even though we have to cope with a changing world?

    Mike: The world had always been changing. That’s how it was planned, its purpose.

    Raph: And people gain greater knowledge and understanding?

    Mike: They grow in knowledge and understanding because that is the way they were designed.

    Raph: So why are we here?

    Mike: What kind of question is that. We are here because we are here.

    Raph: I wish I was that certain. After all, it’s hard when you hear nobody believes in us any more. Faith is a dying …..

    Mike: Faith? Dying? How could you even think such a thing?

    Raph: But everyone says it. Lots of people say that they don’t believe all they...

    Mike: In this, of all places, I never expected to hear such a thing.

    Raph: You can’t hide from the truth.

    Mike: Why? Why would people conspire to conceal the truth? Was I not there when they tasted knowledge? Did I not guard the entrance to Eden, lock the gate to keep out humans, protect the tree of everlasting life?

    Raph: Of course you did all those things. Everyone knows that. Except maybe sometimes they think…they think it’s a bit exaggerated, just a story.

    Mike: Just a story? How many false rumours have been spread?

    Raph: That’s just what I’m saying. You can’t hide from the….

    Mike: In my day, in my prime, heaven and earth were so well balanced.

    Raph: You've got to move with the times. Now nothing is so certain anymore. You've got to face it, we’ve been found out.

    Sound cue: Phone ring

    Mike: For God’s sake! Who’s supposed to be taking prayers today?

    Raph: Gabby. But she’s out on a call.

    Mike: Damn! I’ll have to take it myself for now.

    To Phone

  • Emergency, which service do you want, caller?
  • Scene 2

    Lighting cue: Light ‘window’ half of stage.

    Enter Fi, agitated.

    Fi: Oh god, don’t let him jump, please don’t let him jump.

    Mike: One moment caller. I’m trying to connect you.

    Fi:

    looks around on hearing the voice.

    Sound cue: Music – Heaven

    Mike:

    fiddles with the phone, then the computer.

    Where are you praying from, caller?

    Fi: Who’s that? Who’s there?

    Looks more agitated.

    Mike: Hello, Security. I can’t seem to get any answer from the Invocations Classification Response Team. Can you trace the prayer on line 7 and give an idea of status?

    Sound: All Security cues are through a PA, slightly phased and menacing

    Security: Security. There’s nobody in ICRT. I’m just checking the monitors. Yes I have a visual on screen. I’ll switch it through to your line.

    Lighting cue: Cut light to office.

    Sound cue: Occasional traffic noise, pigeons.

    Fi: Come in, please come in.

    Mark: Leave me alone.

    Fi: Please, please. Can’t we talk about this?

    Mark: Nothing to talk about.

    Fi: There must be something I can do.

    Mark: Don’t you think you’ve done enough?

    Fi: Please, don’t do this to me.

    Mark: I’m not doing anything to you. This is me acting for me. I’m in control for once.

    Fi: Don’t leave me like this.

    Mark: That’s rich coming from you. Just a while ago it was me pleading with you not to go.

    Fi: Look, maybe we’ve both been a bit hasty. Come inside and we’ll…….

    Mark: Be in exactly the same position we were in before, with you walking out on me.

    Fi: I tried to explain, I just wanted some time. So time to myself.

    Mark: You want time? You’re getting all the time you want to yourself now. So just let me get on with this.

    Sound cue: Increase volume of traffic and pigeon sounds.

    Fi:

    Puts head out the window.

    Come on in. You’ll catch cold out there. You know what you're like with draughts.

    Mark: You know about cold.

    Fi: Don’t let’s go through all this again. I’ll hold out my hand, I just need you to…

    Mark: You need? You need? What do you know about needs?

    Fi: Come on then.

    Tries to grasp his leg.

    We’ll talk about it. Just get back into the room.

    Mark: No. I know what you’re trying to do. Well it won’t work. I can’t take anymore. You’ve said you're leaving me and I’ve got no intention of living in an empty room in this empty world. There’s no point.

    Fi: Come in. There’s….important things I need to say to you. I can’t say them when you’re out there.

    Mark: You want to leave me. You’ve said it all.

    Fi: Please, don’t do this to me! We both know that things have been a little difficult lately. But there’s no need to …

    Mark: You speaking about needs again?

    Fi: Look, I know you’re upset, but this is hardly the most practical way to…

    Mark: There’s no use trying to talk me out of this. You say you’re going to leave me? Fine, leave if you must. But I’m leaving first.

    Fi: Wait. There’s got to be something I can do. I do anything, anything. Just don’t…

    Mark: There’s no way around this. If you’re not going to be here to come home to, I’m making sure I’m not coming home either.

    Sound cue: Volume of traffic and pigeon sounds as before.

    Fi:

    Walks to the back of the room

    You want me here to come home to? That’s rich coming from you. What do you think all of this is about?

    Mark: I wish I knew. I work all the hours I can manage so you can have all the things you want. I don't know why I bother. You’ve never been satisfied.

    Fi: I never see you. You're always away working, you’re never here. That’s what I’ve been complaining about for the past six months.

    Mark: Tell me about complaining. That’s all I’ve heard from you for six months. That's the other reason I've been staying out so long.

    Fi: Don’t give me that old nonsense about working hard to get the things we need. We didn’t need more things. Time is what we needed, not things. We needed more time together. We’ve become strangers.

    Mark: Except a stranger wouldn’t have been so cold.

    Fi: I know, I know, I've been distant physically. How do you expect me to behave? You're a stranger. You’re always working. I'm asleep when you get in. If you get any time off you're too tired to go out and we can never sit and talk. I never know what you’re thinking any more.

    Mark: Well now you won’t have to.

    Fi: You’ve taken this all wrong.

    Mark: Yes, and for the last time.

    Fi: It was never meant to be a big deal. I wanted to have some time to myself. For just a while - to not be here waiting for the slim chance of seeing you, just for once to know where I stood.

    Mark: I don’t have listen to any of this. There's no need for me to take this. This is my moment. Mine! I’m doing this for me, to get away.

    Fi: We both needed time to think about our relationship. It doesn't mean there was anything wrong with us. It was …..to see what we both wanted. There was no way I could think straight under all that pressure. It's no big deal. I just have to be on my own for a while.

    Mark: Fine. I’m about to arrange that.

    Fi: You know what's wrong with you. I've been saying it for months. You’ve been working too hard.

    Mark: I’m about to take early retirement.

    Fi: That job of yours is the cause of all this.

    Mark: You never complained when I took it. You knew how important it was.

    Fi: Clocks. You'd been mending bloody clocks.

    Mark: You’ve never understood.

    Fi: I don't need to. You'd leave home at some ungodly hour, travel to fuck-knows where, stay in some tacky hotels for days on end and then come back here like nothing had happened.

    Mark: I can't help my work. It's what I do.

    Fi: Expecting a warm welcome, a warm shower, a hot meal and a steamy shag. Life doesn't work that way. My body doesn't work that way. I don't turn on and off to suit you entrances and exits.

    Mark: You know me. You know what I'm like.

    Fi: No Mark. That's the whole point. You've become a total stranger. No, worse than a stranger. There's a thrill in finding out new things about a real stranger

    Mark: You won’t miss a stranger when he flies off this window ledge.

    Fi: Stop it! You’re frightening me.

    Mark: At last. A bit of real emotion from you. Pity it’s too late.

    Fi: Don’t be so dramatic. Look, I said I wanted a bit of time to myself. It’s not the end of the world.

    Mark: Not for you, maybe, but it looks like it's looming pretty close from where I’m standing.

    SCENE 3

    Lighting cue: Light whole stage.

    Mike: I have you on screen now caller. What seems to be the problem?

    Fi: Who’s that, what’s going on?

    Mark: Who you talking to? I said you weren’t to call anybody. No police, no Samaritans. I'm warning you, I mean to do this.

    Mike: If I could just take a few details - the sooner I get the application form done the sooner I can try to help your friend on the ledge. Don’t be alarmed. I just want to help. What religion are you?

     

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