This is a heavily edited dramatisation I did for an EFL summer camp last year, of Tightrope, by Gillian Cross, who also wrote The Demon Headmaster books.
So this was my first EFL summer camp play, written in long nightly sessions during the first week, once I'd seen the kids and got an idea of their English levels and abilities. I subsequently realised that it was over-ambitious, and in the end we did half as full performance, and half as a rehearsed reading. I had to cut a large chunk of the plot, reducing a psychological thriller to a rite-of-passage story, but it says something for the power of Gillian Cross's writing that it still made satisfying theatre for the participants, and for their parents in the audience. I'll almost certainly do it again another year, now that I've got a script...
There's a lot of brechtian narrated action, which helps the kids assimilate the language they're using (Total Physical Response). Incidentally, look at all that narrative tense and modal practice. =)
She’s a good daughter . She looks after her mother, does all the housework and the shopping. She usually buys groceries at GALT’s.
She used to be a good student (still works hard, still does homework, but doesn’t get very good grades anymore)
She used to do gymnastics at school. She was very good, but she doesn’t have time anymore.
She sometimes goes out in the middle of the night to do graffiti.
Her tag is CINDY.
Ashley’s mum, widow
She loves Ashley and used to look after her.
She has very bad arthritis, and cannot do very much.
She sleeps downstairs in the living room.
She is Ashley’s best friend.
She is an ok student, but is more interested in parties, and her boyfriend, Matt.
Joe used to have big problems, but Eddie Beale helped him.
Joe lives with one of Eddie’s friends, and does what Eddie tells him to.
Geoffrey Galt 25-40
He is very shy and nervous, and all the schoolkids tease him.
He works in the family business.
He has a soft spot for Ashley because she is always polite to him, and he knows she looks after her mother.
Fat Annie 50-65 (Arnie in our show)
She owns a grocery shop, selling food, newspapers and magazines, sweets, soap powder and washing-up liquid, etc.
She hates schoolkids because some are cheeky and some of them shoplift.
She thinks Eddie Beale is a bully and a coward. She does not want protection. She has refused to pay a protection fee.
Eddie Beale 35-45
He takes an interest in people. He helps them when they have problems. He has a lot of friends.
Eddie expects his friends to do what he says. If they don‘t, they often have new problems, or accidents.
He offered to protect Fat Annie’s business, in return for a protection fee.
Eddie has taken an interest in Joe. He is taking an interest in Ashley.
He’s a good driver.
He does what Eddie Beale says.
He goes out with Vikki’s big sister. He does what Eddie says.
He’s Vikki’s boyfriend.
He’s got quite a hot temper, but Vikki bosses him about.
She lives in a flat in Ashley’s street.
She does her shopping at GALT’s.
Other boys and girls from Ashley and Vikki’s school.
The Script (Formatting probably dodgy...)
(Geoffrey is lying in a hospital bed. Ashley is sitting beside him.)
Ashley V.O. … the writing … wasn’t meant to be horrible… I just wanted to … leave my mark …I wanted to be special …
SCENE 1: AT THE SHOPS ON THE ROW
Ashley, Vikki and lots of other kids are walking home from school.
Narrator 1 Ashley stopped at the traffic lights on The Row, and saw the best wall in the world.
Narrator 2 It was a big, blank wall, where Arnie Galt’s grocery shop rose a whole storey higher than the fish and chip shop next door.
Ashley (nudging Vikki) Look at that, Vikki. It’s perfect.
Vikki (staring) Ash! You can’t!
Ashley And all I have to do is climb on to the roof of the chippie and walk along.
Vikki What? Twenty metres up in the air? With nothing to stop you if you fall? Ash, You’re mad!
Ashley Sssh! I don’t want anyone else getting there first!
Vikki Listen to me –
Ashley There’s nothing to say. Come on. I’ve got to buy some cheese.
Narrator 1 Arnie’s shop was full of kids pushing and shoving round the counter with chewing gum and chocolate.
Narrator 2 Arnie’s eyes were everywhere, checking the shop door and the security camera.
Narrator 3 Arnie hated schoolkids.
Arnie Get back and wait your turn, Dean Fox! And you, Shorty! And watch your language, or I’ll be round to talk to your mother!
Narrator 4 Ashley pushed through the crowd, heading for the cheese counter.
Narrator 1 Vikki stayed right behind her, still talking about the wall.
Vikki Ash, you’ve got to listen! (leaning closer, whispering) You’ll fall! You’ll break your legs! Someone’s going to catch you. It’ll be a disaster.
Ashley I can handle it. Now be quiet, I don’t want everyone to –
Narrator 2 Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Arnie’s son Geoffrey marching towards them, looking fierce and determined.
Narrator 3 She was surprised.
Narrator 4 Arnie was always yelling at the customers-Narrator 1 - but Geoffrey always crept around, turning away from people’s eyes, slinking around the shop like a hyena with its tail between its legs.
Narrator 2 He wasn’t slinking today, though. He was heading straight for Vikki!
Ashley (teasing) You’d better leave me alone. It looks as if I’m going to be rescued. (pathetically) Please leave me alone.
Geoffrey Is she bothering you? (Vikki rolls her eyes and exits.)Ashley Can I pay for this?
Geoffrey How’s your mother getting on, then?
Ashley She’s fine, thanks. (Ashley drops money in Geoffrey’s hand and exits.)
Narrator 1 Ashley walked round the corner into Railway Street, but she wasn’t heading home yet. There was a narrow alley behind The Row. She strolled into it.
Narrator 2 To work out how to get on to the roof of the chippie.
Geoffrey You always have a favourite, don’t you? There’s always one who catches your eye. Hundreds of schoolkids come into the shop, but Ashley’s my special one. She’s neat and tidy and quiet. She’s always stood out from the others.
I get angry when the I see other children bothering her. Like that girl Vikki today. You can see what she’s like, with her short skirt and dyed hair. It makes me feel sick just seeing her talking to Ashley.
And Ashley’s so good about it. I could tell she was being bullied, but she didn’t fuss. When I saw her looking up, I thought – I thought I wish I could protect her.
I hope she’d come to me if she was ever in trouble. I’d look after her.
SCENE 2: PLANNING
Narrator 5 Ashley stood in the alley behind Fat Annie’s and looked up at her wall. It wasn’t going to be easy, but she could manage it.
Ashley I know I can.
Narrator 6 First she had to get into the yard behind the chippie. The chippie’s wall was topped with broken glass. Her bit of blanket would take care of that.
Narrator 5 Inside the yard, she would have to climb up on to the flat roof of the chippie, but she could use the drainpipe at the corner of the building.
Narrator 6 The real problem would be getting on to the main roof. She’d have to use the window ledges and the guttering.
Narrator 5 If they were strong enough. Then crawl up the slope of the roof.
Narrator 6 After that, it was a tightrope walk. Four or five metres along the ridge of the roof. If she kept her balance, she’d be fine. If not –
Ashley Curtains. I’ll go tumbling down into the yard, or into the Row on the other side.
Narrator 5 It wouldn’t take much.
Narrator 6 Just a loose tile.
Narrator 5 Or a slip of concentration.
Narrator 6 She looked up at the ridge, and felt her whole body come to life.
Narrators 5 & 6 And now, the beautiful Miss Cindy will risk her life in a daredevil display of balance and courage! Watch her climb to the roof without a safety net! Thrill to her death-defying ridge walk! Marvel at her calmness as she leaves her signature on this IMPOSSIBLE WALL!!
Ashley I’m going to do it. I can feel it in my bones.
Ashley and Cindy girls She’s Miss Cindy and she’s the best. No question she’s better than all the rest. Tag a wall. Tag a roof. This girl’s fearless. Any wall. Any roof. This girl’s peerless. Fearless! ….. Peerless!
Now we’re her girls. Yeah we’re Cindy’s friends. With a ‘C’ at the start, and a ‘Y’ at the end. That’s a ‘C’ and an ‘I’ and an ‘N’, ‘D’ and ‘Y’ Spells her name in letters two metres high. …..Fearless! ….. Peerless!
SCENE 3: HOME
Narrator 5 (rapping) As she walked // home, Ashley / worked out the details.
Ashley Three o’clock in the morning. When everyone’s home in bed.
Narrator 6 (rapping) She was so busy thinking, / that she didn’t notice // how slowly she was going / (tapping watch) And what time do you call this?!
Ashley (shocked) Oh! Mum - I
Pauline What time do you call this? You’ve been out of school for an hour ! You know I won’t have you hanging around like that. You’ll get into all sorts of trouble!
Ashley (resigned, under her breath) Here we go. (Takes bag to kitchen and gets tray, teapot, etc. while Pauline speaks.)
Pauline You knew I was all on my own here! (Her breathing is getting rougher.) What do you think it’s like for me? Sitting here, waiting? You don’t care, do you? (Pauline thumps bed with fist. Ashley brings tray) . Oh I’m sorry, Ash…. It’s just that I’m not too good at the moment.
SCENE 4: NIGHT ON THE ROW
Ashley V.O. Mum started snoring at twenty-five past one. I waited another hour to let the streets clear, then I got out of bed and got my spray-cans. Four of them this time: black, red, orange and yellow. I put them in my backpack, with a piece of old blanket on top.
Then I crept downstairs into the kitchen, and very carefully opened the back door.
One step down into the garden. Close the door. Then six steps to the fence.
The alley behind the shops was very dark, but that was good. I could be invisible. On the way to the chippie’s yard, I folded my bit of blanket into a thick pad, then I put it up on top of the broken glass. Up and over!
Then I began to pull myself up the drainpipe, on to the extension. I had to be totally, absolutely silent. Along the extension to the main building. But when I put my foot on the windowsill, I felt the edge crack. I leant sideways to find a safe part, and reached up for the gutter. It had to be ok!
Then I pulled myself up, and planted one foot in the gutter. And I was up – crawling over the roof tiles towards the ridge.
Enter Joyriders (Eddie’s boys and others)
Phil There was a burst of sound from the other side of the building.
Steve Yaaaagh! Two cars roared down the row together!
Shaun Joyriders! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!
Dougie Circling round the flats, and coming back down the Row again!
Phil The scream of brakes and the noise of their engines filled the Row again.
Shaun Then they went for good, racing off towards the industrial estate.
Steve Yah! Here we go, here we go, here we go!
(Exit joyriders.) Pause
Ashley V.O. And I was on my own. Exposed. From the minute my head came over the top, anyone who looked up could see me. Neighbours up late. Police patrols.
I stood up. And saw the Row spread out below me. For a second, I stood looking down on it. Focus. Focus on the wall. Steadily, I walked along the ridge towards it.
Narrator 5 She knew exactly what she was going to do. No fancy pictures. Just her tag.Cindy girls (quietly) She’s Miss Cindy and she’s the best. No question she’s better than all the rest. Tag a wall. Tag a roof. This girl’s fearless. Any wall. Any roof. This girl’s peerless. Fearless ….. Peerless!
Five black outlines all the same height Five round letters in a level straight line Yellow at the top of every letter Orange in the middle, lookin’ better and better. Red at the bottom, bright red flood Spilling from the bottom in drops of blood.
Just one more touch , gotta edge them in black Pulling the spray-can out of the pack But hey, those crazies are coming back
Ashley I saw a movement in the shadow.
Joe A figure standing on the path at the side of the cinema. A face turned towards the roof of the chippie.
Ashley Someone’s down there, watching me.
Narrator 5 Don’t panic, she thought. Keep calm.
Joe She dropped the can back in her backpack, and started to move back along the ridge, keeping half an eye on the watcher. She slid down the roof, and out of sight.
Ashley Down the roof, across the extension, down the drainpipe. Listening all the time.
Narrator 6 But everything was silent outside the yard.
Ashley Blanket on the glass. Up and over. Creeping down the street.
Narrator 5 She didn’t see anyone, all the way home. She slid through the fence, feeling triumphant.
Ashley I managed it! I tagged that wall without getting caught!
Narrator 6 She slipped through the back door and locked it. CLICK!
Ashley (freezing, whispering) Mum!....... Sound asleep. Yes!
(creep up to bed, grinning)SCENE 5 PAULINE
Pauline Does she think I’m unconscious? Or deaf? Does she really think I can’t hear the door? I’ve tried talking to her, but she just gives me that blank stare.
Why would I go out at three o’clock in the morning? Honestly, Mum! You must have dreamt it(Eddie Beale and his boys appear in the background, doing business.Voices quietly murmuring’Eddie Beale, Eddie Beale, Eddie-Eddie-Eddie-Beale.’ Joe further back, not directly involved)
She won’t admit anything. If I felt better, I’d try and catch her, but at the moment – it’s hopeless. By the time I’ve struggled out of bed, she’s gone.
And it’s not every night, you see. And never two nights in a row. She’ll go weeks – months even, without stirring out of bed. Then one night, I’ll hear that little creak at the top of the stairs that always wakes me up. And I’ll lie here sweating. It’s no use calling out, because she won’t answer.
She doesn’t understand. I’ve tried talking to her, telling her about the gangs and the drugs and the joy-riding. She knows that terrible things happen round here. But she thinks she can handle anything.Eddie Beale, Eddie Beale, Eddie-Eddie-Eddie-Beale. Eddie Beale He’s a man with a purpose. Eddie Beale And he runs this whole circus. Eddie Beale He’s a man with a mission. Eddie Beale Better ask his permission.
You can’t blame her, I suppose. She does handle a lot of things at the moment. Helping me out. She cooks and cleans and shops. And does the washing. And she manages all right at school. And she’s not anorexic and she’s not on drugs and she doesn’t go out with boys.
I lie here in the dark, telling myself all these things. She’s strong and sensible, and she’s never got into trouble so far.
(Eddie & boys stand behind her.Cindy girls. Hip Hop.)
Pauline But it would only take one drunk. One junkie. One man with a knife. She isn’t safe out there in the street. In the dark. On her own.…And suppose she’s not on her own?
Eddie Beale, Eddie Beale, Eddie-Eddie-Eddie-Beale. etc.
SCENE 6: THE NEXT DAY
Narrator 4 The next morning.
Pauline (calling) Ashie? You’ll be late for school if you don’t hurry.
Ashley (kissing her) Be good, then. See you later!
Narrator 1 She raced up the road at top speed.
Narrator 2 She reached the end of the road and swung round the corner. There was her wall!
Narrator 3 (rapping) Yellow like the sun.
Narrator 4 Screeching orange.
Narrator 1 Red as a postbox.
Narrator 2 The best she’d ever done.
Narrator 1 She thought about it all day, and found herself grinning at people, and humming under her breath. None of them knew who Cindy was – no-one knew except Vikki. But when they saw the tag they would envy her. Because she had dared to climb up there. She was dying to talk to Vikki, but ( school kids – form concentric circles)
Narrator 2 First break
Vikki Sorry. Got to go to the secretary’s office.
Narrator 3 Lunch time
Vikki Detention with Saunders.
Narrator 4 Second break
Vikki Left my P.E. kit in the changing rooms!
Narrator 1 Finally, the bell rang, and they hurried out of school.
Ashley Wait til you see it!
Narrator 2 Down the road, up the side of the cinema, out by the traffic lights on the Row -
Geoffrey Geoffrey was painting the wall bright white. All over.
Arnie Arnie had sent him out to buy paint and brushes the minute he saw that tag.
Ashley It didn’t even last twenty-four hours. The mean, miserable …
Vikki The pig.
Ashley There’s nothing left. I’m nothing.
(The traffic lights change. Everyone crosses except Ashley. Vikki yells across, but the lights change)
Joe Eddie never explains when he takes up someone new. He just says ‘Do this.’ Or ‘Go there.’ And we find another person around.
Eddie Now I’m taking an interest in Ashley.
Joe Eddie’s mind moves so fast you can’t keep up with him. You’ve got to watch his eyes all the time, the way you’d watch a snake, or a tiger. He’s dangerous if he gets bored. Some of the others don’t understand that. They just hang around him because he makes things happen. He gets them living. And doing things they couldn’t get together on their own. The only thing is – I’ve got to keep in with Eddie. I’ve got to make sure he doesn’t get bored with me.
(to Ashley) Makes you sick, doesn’t it? (Ashley jumps, and turns to look at Joe.) It was a great bit of writing……. You don’t want to fall out with Arnie. If you touch his property, he stamps on your fingers.
Ashley Maybe someone should stamp back.
Joe Great idea. How are you going to do it?
Ashley (warily) Do what? (Joe looks from the white wall to Ashley’s face.)……. Do what?
Joe OK. If you’d done that, how would you get back at him for painting over it?
Ashley I’d tag the wall again. If it was me.
Joe You’re going up again tonight?
Ashley That’s what I would do. If it was me.
(Lights change. Ashley crosses. Joe keeps up. Eddie Beale passes, and waits just within earshot.)
Joe You want to watch out. Arnie’s going to have Geoffrey on guard………. Pity about those drops of blood.
Ashley Don’t know what you mean.
(Schoolkids approach. Arnie and Geoffrey Galt in shop entrance, watching Eddie, Joe & Ashley.)
Joe (laughing at her) You should have gone round them. In black.
Ashley (angrily) OK! Take a look tomorrow then. And see if you could do better.
(Joe grins and disappears into crowd. Ashley looks for him, but Vikki catches her up.)
Vikki Why was he talking to you? What did he say?
Ashley What? Who? What was who talking about?
Vikki That boy. Honestly, Ash, don’t you know who he is?
Ashley Just some boy.
Vikki Don’t be daft. He goes round with Eddie Beale.
Ashley Who’s Eddie Beale?
Vikki You’re kidding! Come on, Ash, you are kidding?
Ashley I’ve never heard of Eddie Beale.
(Exit Ashley. Eddie Beale smiles with satisfaction, nods ironically at the Galts, and exits)
Vikki I couldn’t believe it. Who’s Eddie Beale? She said, and she wasn’t joking. I didn’t think you could live near the Row and not know about Eddie.
But then, we are talking about Ashley. Every mother’s dream daughter. I’ve never heard her swear. Never seen her smoke. She doesn’t stay out late, or hang around in the street – except when she’s doing that crazy writing – and she’s never, never, never got into trouble at school. She hasn’t even had her ears pierced.
Don’t get me wrong. She’s my best friend, and I always go to her when I’m in trouble, because she can keep secrets, and is really sensible.
But she doesn’t know about … things. Outside school, she’s like a baby. Doesn’t know who the dealers are, or where the party’s going to be, or who’s out to get who. She’s straight home and into that house and you don’t see her til school the next day.
I wasn’t really surprised she didn’t recognise that kid at the traffic lights, but ‘Who’s Eddie Beale? Where do I start? Hasn’t she seen Eddie walking up the Row as if he owned the place? With Dougie Barrett and Shaun James acting really heavy. And all those flash cars? People are always talking about Eddie.
I tell you, if that boy had spoken to me at the traffic lights, I’d have been so-o- cool and funny, so he’d say to Eddie, ‘I saw this really amazing girl yesterday.’ So Eddie would fancy meeting me.
That would be brilliant, wouldn’t it? Just imagine.
SCENE 7: UP ON THE ROOF
Narrator 5 For the second night running, Ashley crept out of the house in the middle of the night. To the roof of the chippie, and that perfect wall.
Narrator 6 Five letters. Four colours. The whole thing was almost finished. She was just shading the last drop of blood, when she heard the sound of
Geoffrey the gate opening down in the chipshop yard. A shadow slid through the gate. Someone was standing in the yard, waiting for her to come down.
Narrator 5 If she hadn’t heard, she would have walked straight into the trap. She imagined Geoffrey hanging onto her, and all the policeand social workers in the world racing up and wagging their fingers at her.
Narrator 6 Bad girl!
Narrator 1 You’re out of control!
Narrator 2 You can’t cope!
Ashley (moving along the ridge) Well, they’re out of luck. I’m going to find a way to escape, even if I am twenty metres up, with no way down except the drainpipe.
Eddie And that was when the row erupted. Half a dozen cars roared around the corner and squealed to a stop outside Arnie Galt’s pathetic little grocer’s shop, burning rubber. People jumped out and started banging on Arnie’s front door, yelling and swearing and kicking the paintwork.
Dear me, he should have let me protect his business. I’m a reasonable man. What a shame if the place burns down. (looking the chippie roof) If a teenage vandal with a grudge breaks in to his shop through an upstairs window. And starts a fire? Kids today. Dear-oh-dear.
Narrator 5 Ashley froze, trying to work out what to do. The gang down there sounded crazy.
Narrator 6 If Arnie phoned the police, they might not just arrest the gang. They might look up and see Ashley as well.
Narrator 5 At the back of the shop, a window rattled up. (Narrators make window)
Arnie Geoffrey! Never mind the roof! Go and stop that lot! You hear me?
Narrator 6 Ashley couldn’t believe her luck. The Hyena raced out of the yard and down the alley, to get round to the front of the shop.
Ashley But what does Arnie expect Geoffrey to do against a gang? They’ll eat him for breakfast!
Narrator 5 But this was her chance to get away. She got down on to her stomach, and started edging feet first towards the guttering. She was halfway down, when someone grabbed her left ankle, and started dragging her towards the edge of the roof.
Ashley No! No, no no! Stop! You’ll pull me off!
Narrator 5 But the hand gripped tighter, and pulled harder. Who was it? Not Geoffrey. Not the police.
Narrator 6 Frantically gripping the roof tiles with her finger tips, Ashley gave a wild kick with her free leg. She felt her foot connect with – someone’s head? – and heard a grunt,
Narrator 5 but all that really mattered was that she was free – at least for the moment. Quickly, she crawled back up to the roof ridge, swung a leg over, and sat astride it.
Narrator 6 Her heart was pounding. She couldn’t see anything in the dark yard, but down in the Row, the gang was still banging and yelling at the Galts’ shop door.
Narrator 5 Where were the police? She could see a small crowd of people on the pavement opposite. Mostly in pyjamas and dressing gowns. How she wished she was home in bed.
Narrator 6 Wait til they spotted the fourteen-year-old on the roof.
Ashley And wait til Arnie sees this! Police. Social Services. Mum will be go spare. I’ve got to get down!
Narrator 5 Slowly, Ashley stood up and balanced, suddenly deathly tired. She couldn’t go down into the Row.
Narrator 6 And she definitely wasn’t going back to the chippie yard!
Narrator 5 Maybe if she went and sat against the wall, no-one would notice her, and she could wait until they’d all gone.
Narrator 6 She focused on her beautiful wall, and walked towards it.
Narrator 5 Suddenly there was a shout from the crowd below.
Lisa Look! There’s someone up on the roof. Hey! It’s Eddie’s men on the roof!
Narrator 6 Startled, Ashley half-turned, and saw two men crawling towards her on the roof ridge.
Narrator 5 The shock of it was too much for her balance. She tried to keep her footing, but there was nothing to grab at. Her foot slipped and she knew she couldn’t save herself. As she fell, she thought she heard a voice shout –
Eddie (furiously) No!
SCENE 8: FALLING
Lisa She went off the top, and I started to scream.
Everyone was screaming and pushing back so she wouldn’t smash into them. Me too, even though Ashley’s one of my friends. I could feel Vikki doing it too, and Matt, and everyone. Everyone wanted to get out of the way.
Arnie Except my Geoffrey. He didn’t even hesitate. The moment she slipped, he raced forward, pushing people out of his way.
Vikki He stood at the bottom of the wall with his arms held out for Ashley, as if he thought he could catch her.
Matt Anyone could see it wasn’t going to work. There was no way he was going to be strong enough. But even though she went through his hands, he broke her fall.
Pauline Instead of smashing straight into the tarmac, head first, she hit him
Arnie smack on the side of the head.
Lisa She hit the ground legs first, and crumpled and rolled. You think I can’t remember all the details? I could draw it frame by frame. I dreamt about it for weeks afterwards.
The worst thing wasn’t the moment she hit the ground. It was the next moment, when we realized we’d all pushed back. We’d left her to die. There was a horrible quietness.
Then someone said, ‘It was Eddie’s men!’ and it swept over me like a great wave. It was Eddie’s fault – the men banging on Arnie’s door, the men on the roof, Ashley falling – It was all Eddie’s doing. All of it.
The whole crowd roared, and we started pushing towards Eddie’s big flash car.
All Eddie Beale, Eddie Beale, Eddie-Eddie-Eddie Beale!! (crowd hides Geoffrey and Ashley)
Lisa But he was too quick for us. He jumped in his car and drove off. With his tough guys running after him.
We’re having a collection for Geoffrey. (crowd parts to show Geoffrey in hospital bed, and Nurse) And Arnie puts up a notice every day, to say how he’s doing. She says he’s got so many flowers, the hospital’s going crazy. If only he could see them……
(Exit crowd, revealing Ashley in a wheelchair, and Pauline.)
SCENE 9: GEOFFREY
Ashley Is Ge- Is Mr Galt all right? He’ll be fine now, won’t he?
Pauline He – Everyone thinks he’s wonderful. They’re calling him the hero of the Row. He –
Ashley There’s something else, isn’t there?
Pauline He’s not dead. But it’s been six days, and he’s still unconscious. They’re getting worried. His father talked to him for an hour yesterday, to see if Geoffrey would respond to his voice. But it was no use.
Ashley So why don’t they try someone else?
Pauline. It’s got to be someone he’d recognise. Someone he cares about.
Ashley Can I go and talk to him? (Pauline whispers to Nurse. Nurse wheels/leadsAshley across stage) And when I was there, beside his bed, I didn’t know what to do. He was so pale and still. Like a waxwork. How could anything I said make a difference to this – stranger?
Nurse (cheerfully) Don’t worry. Just chat to him. No need to be shy. Just be yourself.
Ashley Myself? Who? …….. The writing on the wall – it wasn’t meant to be horrible. I know your dad hated it, but I didn’t do it to annoy -
Geoffrey V.O I don’t know when I started hearing her voice, because in a way it was there all the time. My head was full of grey mist, and her voice whispering.
I wanted to tell her it was all right. I wanted to say I understood. But my eyes wouldn’t open and my voice wouldn’t work. All the words in my head were hers.
Ashley V.O. … the writing … wasn’t meant to be horrible… I just wanted to … leave my mark …I wanted to be special …
Geoffrey V.O. But I’d seen her fall. I’d seen her hit the ground. I meant to help her, the way I’d always wanted to. I meant to race in and catch her, like some kind of magician flying to the rescue. But it was no use.
She went through my hands like a thunderbolt, and I collapsed.
So when I heard her real voice. When it pushed its way in.
Ashley V.O. … I just wanted … to be special …
Geoffrey V.O. I was scared to open my eyes in case I was imagining it. But you can’t hide in the dark forever. So I made myself look. (end of V.O.)
Geoffrey And she was there. She’d got stitches over one eyebrow and her arm in plaster. The moment I saw all that, I knew she was real. She’d survived without a magician.
But she didn’t know what to say. She’s only fourteen, after all. So I helped her with a little joke.
(to Ashley) Are there any pens around? It’s my turn to do a bit of graffiti.
Ashley grins, gives him some felt tips, and holds out her cast.
Ashley And he wrote his name along my arm, in three different colours. With shading!