Bullyboy / by Joe Maingot

Cast:

SID a cleaner in his sixties This part might be interesting played by a girl - it would work, if desired.

BOB a policeman in his fifties

ROGER a boy of fourteen who has run away from school

MR RICHARDSON a lawyer in his late sixties

TIM Roger's friend

MR HARDY Roger's father, in his forties

Scene: a waiting-room in a rural train station. The present day. There are seats around the room and two doors.

Lasting about twenty-five minutes, this is an ideal GCSE examination piece with good contrasting characters, fairly evenly balanced, and nice contrasts between comedy and potential tragedy. Staging is of the simplest too, with no fancy lighting needed and few sound effects.

Sample Pages from the script

Extract 1

Lights up to reveal Sid with a mop and bucket and cleaning materials. He stands stage centre and sighs. He puts down his stuff and takes out a small bottle of whisky. He swigs some after a shifty look around He puts back the whisky and scratches his bum. He stretches and then lies down on one of the benches.

Pause.

Enter Bob, a policeman in his fifties. He is a timid man. He sits down next to Sid without either man taking notice of the other. Pause.

In one motion, Sid slowly raises the whisky bottle with a straight arm towards Bob, who pauses, then takes the bottle and swigs some whisky before returning the bottle to Sid's waiting arm. Sid pockets the bottle. Pause.

BOB
Busy then.

SID
I am studying the ceiling for areas that may be encrusted with dust. Before commencing any job, a methodical quantification of the work is essential.

BOB
Is that so you can decide whether or not to do it?

SID
Precisely.

BOB
And in this particular case?

SID sitting up
Bollocks to it.

BOB
Very wise. You'd break your neck up there. It must be twenty feet.

SID
At least. [Pause.] You rushed off your feet as well, I take it?

BOB
No, thank goodness. I'm still recovering from last week.

SID
Yes, well, that doesn't surprise me at all. Nasty, very nasty.

BOB
A bald tyre and an improperly displayed tax disc. [He sighs.] Oh, I hate crime.

SID
I know.

BOB
it really frightens me.

SID
I know.

BOB
It's not the criminals.

SID
No.

BOB
It's the actual crime. I find it so exhausting, you know, being horrified and so on.

SID
Oh, I know. [Pause.] Still, you know what your trouble is, don't you?

BOB
What?

SID
You're too conscientious.

BOB
You're quite right.

SID
You don't know when to turn a blind eye - when to let things slip.

BOB
I can't help it. It's the way I'm made.

SID
getting up and tidying a few things, or dusting a little Whereas I - I know where to draw the line. Now, imagine if I tried to keep this place spotless... there'd be no end to it. And of course there's a world of difference between perceived dirt, dirt, and imperceptible dirt. Whereas, in your case, a crime's a crime and once detected...

BOB
Quite so, quite so,

Enter Roger in a hurry. A sports bag is in his hand. He stops dead when he sees the policeman. Bob and Sid both stare at him, Bob with complete horror. Pause.

BOB
Young man, why are you not in school? I hope you are not truanting?

Extract 2

TIM
You can't keep blaming yourself.

MR HARDY
What's all this about?

ROGER
Get out of my way, Dad. I want to get on that train.

MR HARDY
I can't let you go, Roger.

ROGER
Get out of my way. [He lunges of his father, who wrestles with hint and throws him to the floor.]

MR HARDY
I'm sorry, Roger. I had to do that. I didn't mean to hurt you, but I can't let you go off like that. I've been insane with worry.

The sound of the train moving off is heard.

TIM
Come on, Roger. Get up. Come and sit down. [He tries to help Roger to his feet.]

ROGER
Get off! Just leave me alone!

Pause. Roger remains on the floor. His father approaches him slowly.

MR HARDY
Roger, what is this all about? They didn't seem to want to say anything at school - but there must be something. What the hell has happened to you? You were fine two weeks ago. We had a great weekend together, didn't we? [Pause.] Well, I thought it was good. [Pause.] Roger, we've always talked about things, haven't we? We've always been open with one another.

Pause.

ROGER
In a way. Not really, dad. We pretend. That's all.

MR HARDY
We pretend!? What the hell does that mean?

ROGER
We pretend that I'm a nice guy, don't we? We pretend that I'm a model student, good at sport too and, most importantly, one of the lads.

TIM
It's not like that, Roger. You've got it all screwed up.

ROGER ignoring Tim
We pretend that I'm not the sort of person who drives other people to commit suicide!

Pause.

MR HARDY
Suicide? What are you talking about?

ROGER calmly
There was this boy called Freddy - in the third form. Everyone pushed him around. He had huge ears. We thought it was a joke - pulling his ears every time we saw him. Everyone did it, you see, so it was all right. Can you imagine that? Every time you walk down a corridor, every time you go into a classroom, or a dorm, or anywhere? Then one night we decided to be a little inventive, you see. Me and my nice friends, all of us good chaps. The cool guys - you know, Dad? All of my friends that you love having over in the holidays. Well, we decided it would be hilarious to hang Freddie upside down out of the second floor window by his feet. And it was hilarious. Everyone was there. And d'you know what? D'you know what was the really funny bit? ... When you let go with one hand so that he was dangling by just one ankle, he pissed himself. Oh, that was the best, that was the really funny part. It was so funny, we decided to do it rather frequently - almost every night. `Hello, piss pants,' we used to say. And the funny thing was, he seemed to like it. He could take a joke - he would laugh it off half the time. And of course he brought it on himself. That's what a lot of people said. He brought it on himself. He was cheeky - he liked being pushed around - it was a way of getting attention. He brought it on himself. [Pause.] Well, the fun came to an end last Sunday night, Dad. I guess he'd had enough. He didn't tell anyone or write a note or anything, he just ... drank a bottle of bleach. [Pause.] Oh, he's not dead. Amazingly, someone found him in time. He's still in hospital. [Pause.] So you see, we have been pretending, Dad. I'm not the sort of person you think I am: I drive little boys to suicide and pretend, and pretend, pretend... [He breaks down.]

TIM
Roger, I don't know why you're doing this to yourself. You didn't hang him out of the window...

ROGER
I was there! I was part of the gang! l cheered and I shouted and I watched! And so did you.... I just want to disappear, I just ...

Long pause.

MR HARDY
Come on, Rog, let's go home. I'm not surprised you ran away feeling like this. Let's go home and you can hide in your room, or talk about it or ... do whatever you want.

Enter Bob, the policeman.

Sample Pages from Production Notes

INTRODUCTION: THEMES, THE PLAY'S INTENTIONS

The play sets out to expose the effect of bullying on those who are the victims. Though we never meet Freddie, who attempts suicide, Roger's description of what he had to go through, the time span, the courage with which he tried to laugh it off, all serve to underline the horror. A secondary theme is the effect on the actual bully of what he has done. Roger is not a typical bully; it is clear he is just one of the 'in-crowd', but he knows he's as much to blame as anyone. His life has been changed by what he has done. The writer is keen to show that despite the near-tragedy of Freddie's suicide attempt, bullying will not stop. In boarding schools like this, as in ordinary schools, 'boys will be boys.' And boys are a pretty heartless lot on the whole, especially if they're anxious to be seen to be on the 'right' side - that is the 'cool' side. Tim, representing the more normal reaction, is concerned by Freddie's plight, but not overly. He is more concerned by how it has affected his friend Roger. One senses that Tim, like most of the bullies, will not have learned anything.

The writer uses the comedy of Sid and Bob as a balance. They are a classic comic double-act and should be played as such, though not to such an extent that it undermines the serious effect of the play.

CHARACTERS

SID, a cleaner in his 60s. Sid is a stereotype. He is the lazy, rascally underling who does all he can to get out of doing any work at all. His main interest is the people who use the station, with all of whom he has struck up an easy friendship, by sharing his bottle of whisky and gossip. Care must be taken not to over-play Sid. The comedy will be more effective if played 'straight'. Nonetheless, the timing of his thrusting the whisky at anyone is crucial and the way he makes his duster or mop 'speak' his affront when he has been upset requires skill.

BOB, a policeman in his 50s. Bob is a less usual stereotype. He is a policeman who is terrified by crime. Completely honest, he cannot let anything go and, for him, the tiniest 'offence' is as monstrous as a murder. Yet this daily tackling of small offences [to him large] completely exhausts him and he must resort to Sid, his friend, and the comfort of his bottle, to cope. His fear and timidity should be shown by face and body language: eyes huge, flinching when he detects something, slumping with rolling eyes, exhausted, on the bench, etc. Approaches to supposed 'criminals' could be tentative, ready to flee at any moment [though of course, he will always return - cautiously.]

ROGER, a boy of fifteen who has run away from school. Roger is the centre of the play and he is going through a life-changing experience. His trauma and distress must be played seriously and not melodramatically.

MR RICHARDSON, a lawyer in his late 60s. This man serves mainly to underline Roger's discomfort, by dwelling on his own memories of boarding-school. he is clearly a sensitive and kind man, concerned about Roger. Though apologetic, he is sure that he has done the right thing by alerting the school and Roger's father.

TIM, Roger's friend. A more typical schoolboy than Roger. He lacks Roger's sensitivity about the bullying; he accepts that it's bad but not so bad as Roger makes out. And the world goes on. he is, however, a good friend to Roger and sensitive enough to be moved by his distress.

MR HARDY, Roger's father, in his 40s. Mr Hardy has to come to grips with the inadequacies in his relationship with his son. He is shown to be a sensitive and caring man.

SETTING

The play requires only a single setting; that of a rural station waiting-room. Anyone who has used one of these will know that furnishing is shabby and minimal. There could be benches, wooden or even plastic chairs to delineate the area of the room. Two entrances are required, one on each side of the stage. If you want to make the set more interesting, a window could be hung in the back centre against the back studio curtains, depicting either a rural view or the station itself.

LIGHTS

All that is needed is good bright cover for the whole playing area. I have suggested an optional spotlight to make the most of Roger's monologue.

LIGHTING CUES

PAGE 2, beginning of play. Lights up to full bright over whole playing area.

PAGE 9, near bottom of page. Optional cue: Cue Roger starting his speech 'There was this boy called Freddy....' cross-fade stage lights out and bring up single spotlight on Roger, near front of playing area.

PAGE 11, end of play. Fade lights out to blackout.

SOUND

If desired, the lead-in to the play could be the sounds of a train leaving the station, to set the scene.

SOUND CUES

PAGE 8 Quarter of way down page; Cue - I suppose you think me a terrible old hypocrite but ... Sound of train coming in to station and tannoy announcement. The writer says going out but entering the station makes more sense. The same train leaves later on.

PAGE 9 Just over quarter of way down - Cue: Mr Hardy 'I've been insane with worry.' The sound of the train leaving the station.

PROPS

SID, Page 2 - mop and bucket, bottle of whisky in pocket. Duster [optional], in pocket perhaps.