Four One Page Plays by Julian Gough

by Julian Gough

illustrator Sabrina Mansouri

Issue VII

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GERRY sits on the pavement, wrapped in blankets, dozing, holding a large supermacs cup. A cardboard sign says “put something in the cup.” A few yards on, a WOMAN stands at a card table. She shuffles three upside-down Supermacs cups around and around. A shadow moves across the WOMAN. She looks straight up and tracks a moving crane with her eyes. The shadow falls across GERRY, he starts awake, sticks out his cup.

GERRY: Have you something for me?

HE looks up. There’s no one there. GERRY and the WOMAN track the movement of the crane as it passes over them. GERRY dozes. The WOMAN shuffles the cups. A man in a suit, DONNACHA, walks past GERRY. GERRY thinks the shadow is the crane, is slow to react, almost misses DONNACHA.

GERRY: Donnacha! Have you something for me?

DONNACHA, already past, pats his pockets, keeps walking.

DONNACHA: Gerry. I’ll get you on the way back.

GERRY: I’ll be here.

DONNACHA reaches the card table, and stops. Studies the cups.

DONNACHA: What’s under the cups?

WOMAN: Wouldn’t you like to know?

DONNACHA pats his pockets.

DONNACHA: How much is it?

WOMAN: Wouldn’t you like to know?

DONNACHA takes out his wallet.

DONNACHA: It’s not a trick, is it?

WOMAN: Wouldn’t you like to know?

DONNACHA: How much can I win?

WOMAN: Wouldn’t you like to know?

DONNACHA hesitates. Takes more notes out of his wallet.

DONNACHA: I’m supposed to be doing the big shop for the week. (The WOMAN looks at him. continues to shuffle the cups.) I can’t really afford to lose it. (DONNACHA pushes the money across the table.) Do you take credit cards? (The WOMAN continues shuffling, nods at a credit card swiper under the table. DONNACHA enters the amount. Swipes his credit card, enters his pin. Carries out both sides of the transaction.) Ah, sure, might as well go for it. I got an increase in my limit there last month… What happens if I lose?

WOMAN: Wouldn’t you like to know?

DONNACHA hesitates, takes off his shoes while talking. 

DONNACHA: They’re new. Italian. Hand made. They’re only out of the box. (DONNACHA puts his shoes on the table. The shadow of the crane moves back over them. GERRY stirs, holds out cup, realizes it’s the crane, dozes. DONNACHA and the WOMAN look up. As DONNACHA takes off his jacket, the WOMAN shuffles cups.) Is that building going up or coming down?

WOMAN: Wouldn’t you like to know?

DONNACHA folds his jacket

DONNACHA: The suit is new. Louis Copeland. (DONNACHA takes off the trousers. Folds them, puts them on the table. Pats the pockets. Hesitates. Takes off the tie.) Duchamp. Silk. Hand woven. (DONNACHA puts tie on table. Takes off shirt.) Charvet. I got it as a bit of a joke, you know, because Charlie Haughey wore them. But it’s very comfortable. (He puts the shirt on the table. Hesitates.) The socks and the boxers aren’t worth very much. (The WOMAN says nothing, continues to shuffle the cups. DONNACHA sighs, and takes them off.) OK. (Naked, DONNACHA studies the movement of the cups intently.) Yeah. Yeah. (He leans over the table. Pulls a BMW key out of his trouser pocket.) And this. It’s the black M6. I’ll leave it open. (He presses the key button. We hear the beep/click of the car unlocking. He drops the key on the table. Without taking his eyes off the cups…) That one. (The WOMAN freezes. DONNACHA reaches in, lifts one of the three big red cups. There’s nothing under it.) Feck. (Pause.) Can I keep the cup?

The woman nods. DONNACHA stuffs his genitals into the cup and walks off. His shadow falls across the dozing GERRY, who wakes up.

GERRY: Have you something for me? (GERRY looks up. The cup containing DONNACHA’s genitals is at eye-level.) Ah no you’re grand.

The WOMAN pulls out another cup and starts shuffling. DONNACHA sits down beside GERRY, gives him a blanket.

DONNACHA: What happens now?

The shadow of the crane moves across the three of them. They all look straight up, each clutching a cup.

WOMAN: I don’t know.

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Lights come up, to reveal a WOMAN, with no expression on her face, sitting at one end of a bench. A MAN with no expression on his face enters, and sits on the other end of the bench. When the MAN speaks, he is not heard by the WOMAN, and vice versa, until the final line.

MAN: Alarm

WOMAN: Alarm

MAN: Snooze

WOMAN: Get up

MAN: Masturbate


MAN: Get up. (Pause.) Chocolate digestives.

WOMAN: Low-fat yoghurt

MAN: Nespresso cappuccino. Two sugars.

WOMAN: Mint tea.

MAN: Pringles

WOMAN: Granola

MAN: Drive to work. Late.

WOMAN: Cycle to work. Early.

Pause. A BLUEBIRD sings.

MAN: Mmmm… Yellowstone

WOMAN: Mmmm… Disneyland. (Pause.) Too many emails.

MAN: Too many emails. Plan my holidays.

WOMAN: Plan my holidays. Canada.

MAN: Mexico.

WOMAN: Lunch at desk. Flirt with Ted. Toilet. Fix makeup.

MAN: Lunch at desk. Flirt with Amy. Apologize. Flirt with Ted. Apologize. Toilet. Masturbate.


WOMAN: I always wanted a pony

MAN: I always wanted a machine gun.

WOMAN: A little brother.

MAN: A little sister.

WOMAN: A Barbie

MAN (Looks around before speaking): A Barbie


MAN: Leave work. A burger, a malted. Drive home. Pringles.

WOMAN: Leave work. A salad, water. Cycle home. (Long pause.) More salad. Croutons. A lot of dressing. (Pause.) Pringles. (Pause, then, in a rush) Two protein bars, cold slice of pizza from the fridge, half a jar of peanut butter, three brownies, Ben & Jerry's, Pinot noir, a chocolate fudge cake, Mini Mars Bars, M&Ms, a doughnut fished out of the trash. (Pause.) Pringles… (Pause.) Get sick. (Pause.) TV. (Long pause.) Pringles.

MAN: DVDs. Pringles.

WOMAN: Sopranos.

MAN: Sopranos… The Wire

WOMAN: The Wire… Breaking Bad

MAN: Breaking Bad… 24

WOMAN: Desperate Housewives. (Pause) Mad Men.

MAN: Mad Men. (Pause

MAN & WOMAN simultaneously: Game of Thrones.

MAN: Bed. X-Box. Grand Theft Auto.

WOMAN: Bed. Laptop. Civilization.

MAN: Call of Duty

WOMAN: The Sims. (Pause.) Gawker

MAN: iPad. Voyeurweb. (Pause.) Youporn

WOMAN: (Pause.) Fifty Shades of Grey.

MAN: Masturbate.

WOMAN: Masturbate.

MAN: Sleep.

WOMAN: Sleep.

The MAN takes out a tube of Pringles. Pops the top. Pulls off the airtight foil, reaches to take one. Hesitates. Doesn’t take one. Holds out the tube to her.

MAN: Pringle?

The WOMAN turns to face him.


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Total darkness. Pause.


Pause. A sickening thud, with cracking noises in it. Lights come up, to reveal a crumpled corpse, at the foot of a very tall ladder. The ladder leads up to the eyepiece of an enormous optical telescope, high above.

Lights go down. Pause. Lights come up again. Scene as before, but now ALBERT EINSTEIN is bending over the body. His assistant, DR. NEWTON, is taking notes.

EINSTEIN: I would be interested to hear what you make of this case, Dr. Newton.

DR. NEWTON: Very well, Einstein… I see a body, at rest.

EINSTEIN: Yes, but do you notice anything… suspicious about it?

DR. NEWTON: I cannot say that I do. The body is not in motion. No forces would appear to be acting on it.

EINSTEIN: He has been murdered.

DR. NEWTON: What! Poor Galileo. But, how do you deduce this?

EINSTEIN: You know my methods, Newton. To the untrained eye, it would appear that the earth simply lay there, unmoving, while he hurled himself at it. An accident. A fall. Leather-soled shoes on a wet day... But they have privileged their own point of view. Look at it from his point of view.

DR. NEWTON: Well, I suppose… from his point of view… Good God!

EINSTEIN: Yes. He was quietly minding his own business, when he was struck from behind, by a planet. (Einstein stamps on the ground firmly.) 

NEWTON: This innocuous seeming planet!

EINSTEIN: The murder weapon. Lying in plain sight.

DR. NEWTON: But… but it seems so improbable.

EINSTEIN: You will not apply my precept. How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

DR. NEWTON: Yet… if there were an aether, relative to which all things move…

EINSTEIN: I have proved, you will recall — in the Case of the Creeping Man — that determining a fixed point is utterly impossible. Motion is always relative. Therefore…

DR. NEWTON: You have convinced me. We have the weapon… but, who is the murderer?

EINSTEIN: One thing puzzles me. Galileo was looking after Schrödinger’s cat. Yet the cat is not here.

DR. NEWTON: You believe it was… lured away?

EINSTEIN: Possibly. The cat famously adored red herrings…

DR. NEWTON: But there have been no red herrings available in the market for months, Einstein.

EINSTEIN: Yes. That mystery remains to be solved. In it, I believe, lies the key to the identity of the murderer.

DR. NEWTON: Have Galileo’s relatives been informed?

EINSTEIN: Information cannot travel that fast, Newton. Taxi!

A TAXI appears. EINSTEIN gets in, followed by NEWTON. The taxi does not move. A projection flashes images past the window. NEWTON stares out the window. EINSTEIN ignores the projections and plays the violin.

NEWTON: You’re right, Einstein. Who is to say we have moved at all? Relative to what? The sun, around which we spin? The Earth? Each other?

The projection of a police car flies past, its siren high-pitched as it approaches, dropping in pitch as it passes. Its flashing lights are blue as it approaches, and red as it recedes. EINSTEIN puts down his violin.

EINSTEIN: The herring was not in fact red.


EINSTEIN: The cat was lured away by a blue herring, travelling away from the cat at such a speed that the frequency of its light was stretched till it appeared red to the cat’s eyes.

DR. NEWTON: But, but… what does this mean?

EINSTEIN: That the universe is in fact expanding; that the stars and galaxies are moving away from each other.

DR. NEWTON: What! Then… but this means...

EINSTEIN: Yes; he was killed by the universe; and the universe is running away from the scene of the crime.

DR. NEWTON: Extraordinary, Einstein!

EINSTEIN: Elementary, my dear Newton. But let us confirm my hypothesis.

They step out of the taxi, having gone nowhere. It is now night on stage. Stars twinkle overhead. They step over the body, climb the ladder, and take turns to stare up at the stars through the telescope.

EINSTEIN: And there he is. The fleeing killer… Who will be his next victim?

The stars shift slowly from blue to red, and go out.


Two sickening thuds, containing crunching noises. Pause.



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TIME: 2014


The piece begins in the foyer of the theatre, as the first night audience arrive. The audience are politely invited to take their seats. As the audience are herded through a cattle-crush, into the stalls, they are sprayed with delousing agents.

Once the audience members are seated, actors move among them, asking them to write cheques to fund the performance. This should be done in a light-hearted, joking manner. Once all the audience members have acquiesced, the actors should return to their starting positions, and, less light-heartedly, repeat the request, encouraging each audience member to add another zero to their next cheque. This sequence should continue until no more cheques are forthcoming.

An actor leaves the theatre and cashes the cheques.

The actor hires construction machinery, and returns to the theatre.

One member of the audience is picked out, and crucified. Ideally a capitalist with a top hat.

The remaining members of the audience are asked to remain in their seats.

The theatre is torn down and replaced with a replica theatre made entirely of bulletproof glass.

The logos of a number of American corporations involved in privacy issues (Google, Facebook, etc), are projected onto the glass.

The audience members are asked to provide their home addresses and house keys, in return for food and water.

An actor is sent to their home addresses, to remove any play texts from their shelves, and bring them back to the theatre. All the longer speeches are torn out of the play texts, and thrown into the top hat of the slain capitalist.

An actor is democratically elected by the other actors to give a speech.

The actor picks a speech at random from the top hat of the slain capitalist.

As the actor delivers the speech, the other actors build a wall in front of the stage, obscuring him or her. The speech is drowned out by construction noise.

The actor finishes the speech.

The other actors, wearing Ronald Reagan, Osama Bin Laden, and Angela Merkel masks, storm the wall they have just built.

The wall in front of the stage collapses, crushing some audience members, and revealing several former members of Einstürzende Neubauten playing distorted electric guitars through amps made from the skulls of the previous night’s audience members.

It begins to rain blood.

A genuine emotion is felt.


If the applause is prolonged, and there is a curtain call, the actors fire on the surviving audience members with machine guns.

The doors of the glass theatre are closed and locked. The glass theatre slowly fills with blood.


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