Marked / by Nikki Atkin-Reeves
PATIENTS AND CARERS IN DEAN HOUSE:
GILL - carer in charge of the half-way house
DAVE - her assistant carer
IAN - his younger brother
LOUISE - his little sister
DOCTOR VARA [female]
The above sixteen characters form the nucleus of the play and should not be doubled. The following extra characters can, however, be doubled and could be divided between a minimum of ten further players:
FURTHER CAST IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE:
JOHN - customer in Homebase
JENNY -his wife
KERRY - sales assistant in Homebase
MR PARKER - Homebase manager
DOCTOR JANE HARGREAVES
MR PRENTISS - husband of Mrs Prentiss above
JOB CENTRE WOMAN
MR HENDERSON - prospective employer
MRS CAPIDOSE - prospective employer
DENEICE - cleaner
HAYLEY - cleaner
MS WILLIAMSON-ELLIS - young keen teacher
MRS SMITH - older teacher
NICOLA HARRIS - Year 10 pupil
BEV - her friend
SHARON MENZIES - another friend
In addition, throughout are needed the 'VOICES', PATIENTS and SCHOOLCHILDREN, CUSTOMERS, and so on. The play therefore needs a minimum of 26 players and could use more. The minimum of boys needed is: 8 [ 6 in the 'main' cast + at least 2 to play remaining characters.]
The play is full-length, lasting approx. two hours.
Sample Pages from the script
Have you got any paint?
KERRY glares at Lily
I am serving this customer at the moment.
If you just show me where the spacers are, I'm sure I'll be all right.
If you follow me I'll take you to them, Madam.
Have you got any paint, I said.
KERRY ill-concealed anger
I am serving this madam at the moment, madam.
Are you deaf? [Too loud.] I only want some paint. You are a DIY store aren't you? God, I only want to get some paint.
MRS PRENTISS shocked
Manners! [She exits to find the file spacers on her own.]
Because if I don't get this paint soon, I'll be putting people's future in jeopardy. Now, I want something bright and cheerful - don't show me beige, I don't want to see any more boring bloody beige because ... [Begins to engage with Kerry urgently. Kerry is rattled.] ... that is obviously half the problem and of course no one else will do it so it's up to me and if you want my opinion it's just closed-mindedness because if more people listened ... [This accentuated by a poke in Kerry's chest, which makes her look around for help and begins to elicit interest from other shoppers ] ... if more people listened, ultimately we'd be better off, wouldn't we? Yes! You don't want to pay more tax than necessary, do you? Exactly, so why don't you just show me where the paint is and save the NHS a few million. [Takes Kerry the hand and begins to drag her.] Have you worked here long? Awful uniforms, aren't they?
They're all right
What I'm after is pink, bright pink - fuchsia through to magenta - I don't want to be fobbed off with rose-white or ballerina pink, because God knows, I've seen enough of that to last me a lifetime.
Over there. [Tries to go, but Lily wants to detain her to explain her theories]
I need quite a lot so you'll have to give me a hand. About a hundred million gallons, I expect. Yes, that should do it. You see, I need to paint all the psychiatric wards in Kent [or relevant county]. Immediately. [Very intently.] It's a matter of sanity or insanity, and I'm the one who's discovered the answer, do you understand?
KERRY twigs that something is very wrong and calls for the Manager
It's to do with the lack of colour in people's lives, you see ... our lives are dull. Who hates Winter? We all do, because it's grey and fiat, and that's why we all love Spring, isn't it ? - and I've only just found out the answer and I thought, you know ... [Suddenly terribly bright] Strike while the iron's hot. I'll get the trolleys and you load up the paint. [Looks at Kerry's name badge.] Kerry, the emerald green county Kerry.
KERRY to Mr Parker who has just arrived on the scene
I think she's from Dean House, sir.
MR PARKER resigned
Not another one. I'll get on the 'phone. [He leaves again.]
Well done. We need some reinforcements, get onto the news. I'm making history.
Don't leave me on my own with her!
Lily, Kerry, the customers, etc. all exit, leaving Mrs Prentiss isolated in the middle. Music: Bewitched, Bother and Bewildered. Mrs Prentiss stands immobile. Reg enters and takes up an equally still position apart from her. Both face front. Their stillness contrasts with the bustle of the previous scene.
Pink is for girls. Sugar pink. Sugar and spice and all things nice. I wanted a girl.
I lost my boy three years ago.
MRS PRENTISS coldly
I got a boy.
Three years I've been like this.
It took months to get over it.
I can't get over it.
It was like an animal, a scrap of needs and instincts. Straight away the midwife tried, put it to my breast, tried to latch it on. I pulled away ... the pain... the pain was horrific, he was eating me alive.
I loved that boy if you want to know.
He squealed, maw wide open, dried blood gums and a lizard's tongue.
When I went to see him, there was a little red bruise on his forehead; it didn't seem enough to kill him.
I cried when I saw him, he looked so young.
DAVE like a holiday camp
You can always tell if someone comes from us, from Dean House. For a start, there's the walk, head down, feet dragging, sometimes a slight tremor to the hand. Let Elizabeth here demonstrate. [Enter Liz.] Lizzy, over to you. As you can see, the side effects of major tranquillisers are not attractive, but better than risk you sticking a fork in someone's neck, eh Liz? You might be a danger to the public and that wouldn't be acceptable, but we've got to let you out and about or else you'd forget what real life looked like. So, you're tranquillised, in order to keep the peace and preserve the furniture.
Spot the client who takes Chlopromazine, Perphenazine, Pericyazine, Promazine, Haloperidol, Droperidol, Beniperidol ... such pretty names and such a unifying effect: dizziness, drowsiness, dryness of mouth, blurred vision, constipation and lack of concentration. Not that that will bother our clients; they're all too busy concentrating on their demons. [Drum roll.] The side effects! Facial grimacing. [Patient enters, demonstrating and takes up dance position.] Laboured breathing . [Patient enters demonstrating and takes up dance position.] Arching of the back. [Patient enters demonstrating and takes up dance position] And prettiest of all, auto lingo bucco dyskenesia [tongue hanging out] ... [Patient enters, demonstrating and takes up dance position.] ... with ocular giro crisis. That's eyes rolling around in the head, which gives you a wonderful style when you're dancing the Haloperidol Shuffle.
Patients dance to the music and whirl around the floor while the washingup bowls are brought on for the next scene.
Music fades, although one
of the residents is humming the tune as they wash up. There are
several people exhibiting the side effects mentioned previously,
especially lack of concentration and shifting from foot to foot.
There is a line of clients with three washers up and three dryers.
[Suggest Liz, Reg, Trina, Steve, Nadine + 1 extra.] Reg is washing
one plate with great care, over and over again, thus holding up
the drying. Liz is meant to be drying his washing up and is becoming
progressively more annoyed until suddenly and explosively angry
Bloody hell! How many more times are you going to wash that plate? Hurry up, hurry up, what's the matter with you? Pass it over, pass it over, pass it over to me, Reg! [Reg ignores her and begins to wash the plate all over again, muttering.] Put it down, Reg, pass it over, pass it over to me! You're going to make me late. Hurry up - put the plate down - hurry up, Reg! You're making me angry now; pass the plate over. Someone make him hurry up, hurry up, hurry up, you pig! Gill, stop him, stop him now, you bitch! Liz lunges for the plate. Reg turns around in surprise, shocked and unhappy at Liz's proximity. Gill tries to intervene.
Leave him ,Liz. Let him wash it once more, then you can have it.
I want it now, I'm missing my programme, you stupid old man, you stupid pathetic old man. [Sudden burst of rage.] Give me the plate or I'll smash your face in!
Shut up, you fat old tart. I'm not talking to you. Keep your nose out of it.
Don't talk to me like that.
Or what? What are you going to do about it? You can't do anything, because I'm mad; you can't touch me! [Shouting.] None of you can touch me, I can do whatever I like! Stop washing that plate, you lunatic!
She snatches the plate from Reg after a brief struggle. Reg becomes very distressed and tries to snatch it back but Liz is too powerful and too strong. She pushes Reg over. Reg grabs the plate back. Gill goes to restrain Liz but Liz runs out.
You're all bloody mad in here!
Gill exits after Liz Reg has slowly got up and begins to mechanically wipe the plate. Trina gently takes the plate from him and moves him to a chair. The other patients take up casual positions, as if relaxing in the common room of Dean House.
All right, mate ...
I know it's silly.
No, you're all right, mate. Whatever turns you on.
REG indicates plate
Can I just?
TRINA It's all right.
Yes, I just have to.
I know. Must be rough on your hands, eh? Here, you could always come round my place one day, do the washing up, if you're so fond of it? [Slight pause.] Maybe not.
Reg permits himself a slight smile and Trina smiles back at him.
Gill enters and stands with Dave. The Voices take grey blankets and begin to move towards Reg.
Lack of satisfaction. Nought points for I am not particularly dissatisfied. One point each for, I feel bored most of the time or I don't enjoy things the way I used to. Two marks for I don't get satisfaction out of anything any more.
I am dissatisfied with everything.
You feel bad or unworthy practically all the time now.
I feel as though I am very bad and worthless. I deserve to be punished. I want to be punished.
I don't like myself.
I am disgusted with myself.
I hate myself. I am to blame for everything that goes wrong. I feel my family would be better off if I were dead.
VOICES 3 and 4
I would kill myself If I could.
I used to be able to cry but now I can't cry at all, even though I want to. I am completely absorbed in what I feel.
At this point the Voices wrap the grey blanket right up around Reg, muffling him from the reality of the scene.
NADINE as one of the Voices, turns to audience
It's almost as though I just slowed down. One day I noticed the time going more slowly and then I was responding to it in kind. I woke up slowly, my eyes gummy and tired, looked around my room and thought, what am I supposed to do next? The struggle of dressing myself seemed insurmountable: too many decisions, too many drawers and hangers. I couldn't do up buttons, hooks and eyes, or zips, so I didn't get dressed. I sat on the floor waiting for the slow time to go. I didn't phone in sick; the phone was downstairs and the number was in my diary. Too much effort, I thought; they'll realise I'm not coming in soon enough. I sat in a puddle of clothes in a dark room with the curtains drawn for days. I didn't do anything; I just sat. And thought. And cried. We should have more words for aging, like the eskimos have for snow. First of all I cried little snivelling sobs that caught in the back of my throat and made my nose run, salty over my lips. Then I took deep breaths
STEVE another one of the Voices, turns to audience
that couldn't control the next deep sobs that were making my chest heave and my shoulders shake. And the crying went deeper, into my stomach, deep down and up again, through my throat, ripping out of my mouth in a wet gurgling.
And the crying went deeper and deeper, mixed up with my stomach and my limbs and it had a life of it's own. I was nothing to do with it, a passive vehicle, as the crying took a dangerous turn and became a crying cancer, dangerous, frightening, nothing to do with feeling sad.
It was despair that tore the howl from me.
I howled like an animal.
All instinct, primal scream. Howled on my bedroom floor on a sunny day in a beautiful house.
And I had no right to do it.
You've got everything going for you, Nadine. Your whole life is ahead of you, look how well you're doing already.
But I was howling for the past.
Marks mum pulls Mark by
the hand and moves increasingly fast along the corridors.
This is no place to bring my Mark. He's doing his exams next year.
FIONA ANSTEY enters through the maze of human corridors
You are Marks mum? And you must be Mark. I'm Fiona Anstey.
MARKS MUM to audience
She didn't look old enough to be a doctor.
Tell me, Mark, do you ever feel afraid or anxious? How do you sleep? Have you got many friends, would you say? Do you worry that people may be trying to influence your thoughts?
No response from Mark save grunting.
FIONA ANSTEY slight pause before she asks this next question
Have you ever heard someone speaking to you and when you look there's no one there?
Mark looks startled and grunts in the affirmative.
MARKS MUM equally startled
I thought we were here about drugs. I wasn't expecting this; hang on a minute! [She takes a sharp intake of breath, looking horrified.]
Thank you, Mark. Why don't you go and get a cup of coffee for yourself and your mother? There's a machine in the corridor. She'll be out directly.
Mark moves to corridor but makes no effort to get a coffee. He sits, slumped, echoing the facial expressions and the posture of the other clients who occasionally drift down the corridor.
I'd like to bring him in for some clinical observations and some tests. We need to build up a better picture but to be honest, he's looking textbook. He doesn't wash you say? [Marks mum shakes her head.] Did your GP mention anything to you about the possibility that Mark may be suffering from a schizophrenic illness? [Marks mum reacts as though someone has punched her in the solar plexus.] So we'll admit him for a short time while we get him onto the appropriate drug therapy. Did you drive here? I'll phone up to the ward and let them know you're coming. It's clearly signposted: Hopeless Ward ...
MARKS MUM to audience ...
Is what I thought she said.
NURSE entering briskly
Hopewell Ward? Follow me.
FIONA ANSTEY an afterthought
Out of curiosity, any family history of this type of illness? Your husband or your parents, for example?
MARKS MUM reacting violently to the suggestion No! And neither does my Mark. You're over reacting.
FIONA ANSTEY cutting her off
Good day, Marks mum.
MARKS MUM to audience
I walked very fast out of her office, pulling Mark by the hand. He was nothing like these people. Nothing. [Slight pause.] But when I looked again and saw the pain and hurt in Mark's face, and the pain and hurt in the faces that we passed in the corridor ... [Finding it difficult to keep a brave face on things.] Well ... you know...
Whisper from the voices in the corridor.
My son is not mad. He's got his exams next year. He's not ... [Finds it hard to say the word.] ... He is not ... [Whispers.] ... Schizophrenic.
Exit music and lighting change as the cast in the previous scene exit, except the Voices, who regroup behind the following scene. Deneice, Hayley and Trina enter. They have been cleaning and enjoying their fag break.
DENEICE to Trina
How about that nutter, then, eh?
DENEICE That schizo bloke, stabbed a woman and then ran amok with a knife. How about him?
DENEICE They want to lock him up, don't they? They want to lock all of them up and throw away the key, bleeding nutters. Why they let them all out to bother us I don't know. They want shutting up for good and all. I don't want to see them walking down the road with their funny walks and crazy clothes. Do you?
TRINA wary lest she give herself away, but angry
I dunno. Some of them are all right.
Oh yeah? Bloke goes psycho with a knife and that's all right is it? What are you, a social worker?
No, I just think you shouldn't judge everyone by what one person's done, that's all. It's not fair.
Oh hark at Mother Teresa! Trina, there are nutters walking about these streets all day and every day and no one is going to stop them. They're everywhere! They might even be living next door to you. I mean, you don't know, do you?
I know what you mean, because down the road from us we've got a whole house full of them. And it's a nice house as well. And you know who's paying for it, don't you?
HAYLEY We are, in our taxes.
Well, not us exactly, because I'm working cash in hand so I don't
declare it, but my hubby does and I think it's criminal. You know
what they should do with them, don't you? They should put them
back in those hospitals, then at least you'd know where they all
High on the hill
Grey and grim
Extract from: PRODUCTION NOTES & TECHNICAL CUES, ETC.
INTRODUCTION: THEMES, THE PLAY’S INTENTIONS
Interspersed with the main characters, some of whom we follow through their stay in a halfway house, some of whom are in different states of clinical depression, though not yet hospitalised, are short scenes exploring ‘ordinary people’ and their perception of and fears about their own mental health. Occasionally, the people at the halfway house infringe on ‘society’ and we see the ripples this causes. And those who are still out in the world, but need help, also cause ripples with, in particular, their own families.
The main intention of the play is to expose the weaknesses in the mental health system. A secondary intention is to confront the audience with people in different states of disintegration, to ask us to reassess, to face up to our own embarrassments and preconceptions. The mentally unstable are people that so-called healthy society don’t want to know about. They’d rather sweep them under the carpet. This play asks us to take another look, with compassion and understanding.
We see how hard it is to get a job for those who have been mentally ill. We see how difficult it is to assess mental illness on any normal ‘scale’, though doctors attempt to do just that. What mainly comes over is the extraordinary lack of understanding of these people by the medical profession.
The second half of the play begins with a study of Mark who is a teenage schizophrenic. During the course of the second half he is returned to his family under medication. It is clear he is never going to be quite ‘normal’.
The end of the play brings all the characters together in an outing. There chaos ensues as school-children wind up those they perceive as ‘nutters.’ The situation is not helped by a stick-in-the-mud teacher who reinforces their attitude and says the patients should be locked away. The limited success of this outing leaves us with no clear idea as to answers. Perhaps there aren’t any to be had - and that is what the writer is pointing out. Being locked away, as in the old days, is not an answer - but there are all sorts of problems re-integrating recovering ‘mental cases.’ This is the issue the writer wants to address and leave the audience with plenty of material for debate.
The play is written in a physical theatre style, which means that the smaller ‘characters’ have plenty of chances to be involved throughout as Chorus or Voices or a number of subsidiary characters. Against this style, many of the characters voice their thoughts, sometimes naturalistically in conversation, sometimes through narration. The play is challenging, thought-provoking and rewarding to tackle.
LILY - resident in Dean House. She is volatile, loud, hard to contain, flung between extremes of mood.
REG - resident in Dean House. He has lost his son three years ago, been in and out of hospital since his wife died, also three years ago. The play doesn’t tell us - did they both die together? I think it could be a writer’s mis-print, on reflection. The wife is never mentioned again. Gentle and timid, behaves as if stuck in a rut, or there is a wall [of medication?] between him and his surroundings. He makes it clear that this muffling wall is his depression. He can see things, but not feel. He is obsessive about washing up - repetitive actions. This helps mask his feelings of hopelessness. This OCD [Obsessive Compulsive Disorder] is seen in various forms throughout the play.
LIZ - resident in Dean House. Gets angry very easily and becomes hard to handle then. Cannot handle her own anger issues, which make her violent. We see her moving into part-time work, though still resident at Dean House. She is beginning to handle her anger issues a bit better but flips at the end. It is clear that she was abused by her father as a child.
TRINA - resident of Dean House in the first half. Out in the world in the second half. A young woman who pushed herself over the edge by overdoing drugs. Clubbing and drugs was her life. Now she’s pulled herself together and is trying to find a job preparatory to going back into the world. She is bright, chirpy and a little in love with Dave - which he is too professinal to notice.
NADINE another person with clinical depression. She has reached a stage where she cannot make a decision about anything at all, not even what clothes to wear or whether to get up at all. The actor taking her part would have to work at a character to make her more integral to the Dean House scenes, since she is not given a lot to say.
STEVE - also has depression. He describes his despair as a reflection of the horrors he sees everywhere in the world. He, Nadine and Reg all have many of the same symptoms, though Reg is the most developed of the characters . Like Nadine, Steve is not given a lot to say. The actor needs to make a more definite character for him. Aim to make a contrast to Reg.
GILL - carer in charge at Dean House. Plays everything by the book. More cautious and experienced than Dave. She knows that some things that do seem in Dean House just odd could be dangerous or frightening to people in the outside world. She believes that they have to take responsibility for these people who are unable to take responsibility for themselves.
DAVE - assistant carer at Dean House. Has a good heart but does not always play things by the book. Careless about writing up whether medication has been taken or not. Rather woolly and idealistic. He represents the idea that we should be working to integrate them; that these people are not really harmful, just odd or eccentric. He is against overuse of medication.
MRS PRENTISS is one of the characters on the ‘outside.’ She was depressed after the birth of her baby boy. The depression was unrecognised and she came close to killing the baby. But now she dismisses this event as perfectly normal, her mind shying away from the very thought of mental sickness. She denies that the term mental sickness could be applied to her.
MARK - a teenager suffering from schizophrenia. During the course of the play we see him first taunted by his ‘voices’ and then allowed out under medication, where he is very reliant on his mother.
MARKSMUM - wanting the best for her son but frightened by the fact of his illness being a mental one. She tries to deny it and fights against the label but in the end gives in to the realisation and after an initial desire to cut him off from her, she tries to be as supportive as she can.
MARKSDAD - finds it impossible to accept Mark and feels protective towards the two younger children. He feels Mark should remain locked away from the family.
LOUISE - Mark’s adoring little sister, about eight years old.
IAN - Mark’s younger brother. Around thirteen years old. Just becoming aware of girls - but only just. Not close to Mark, embarrassed by him.
The other characters each have good sections of script and action in their places. They are either brisk and professional - like most of the medical practitioners, who come over as uncaring but others might say they are just doing their job - or showing different attitudes of the public to mental illnesses. Deneice and Hayley, the two cleaners who work with Trina are bigotted and cannot see their own illogicality. The school-children have the same attitudes in the making. The prospective employers will not even consider someone who has been in a mental institution.
The second half needs the height of a castle rampart. I suggest then a stagesetting that is as open and neutral as possible, allowing for plenty of action and different locations, as in the Leeds castle scene.
Scaffolding, ideally a lighting tower or similar, needs to be built at the back, with, against it, along the back, rostra, preferably at two different heights, like a castle wall. Make a feature out of these rostra so that they look tumbled and random - like bricks falling apart - or ruins - or the castle which is a central image to the whole piece which ought to be safe and pretty as in a fairy-tale - but isn’t.
The rest of the stage should be bare, furniture as necessary being brought on by the cast.
PAGE 2 Opening of play. Large pink ribbon, or pink broad band of material. See notes. The material or ribbon needs to go right round the group in in the centre of the stage.
Furnishings for TV room: two or three easy chairs, TV, a small table, enough upright chairs. Magazine, perhaps, for Trina. Other things might be needed, dependent on characters you have built up for the others, e.g. Reg - something to fiddle with or clean. Steve, blanket to hide in, and so on.
PAGE 5 baskets, trolleys, paint cans, strips of wood, tile charts, etc. as available
PAGE 8 - chair
PAGE 10 - small light table and Drugs book
PAGE 12 - three small tables [one is reused from previous scene], three bowls with a little water, three sponges, one in each bowl and some crockery in each bowl. Set ready on the tables, three drying up towels.
PAGE 15 Row of chairs set up. Near bottom of page.
PAGE 17 - Reg - form [could be in pocket from beginning.]
PAGE 24 -6 Broom, mop and bucket, duster
3 polystyrene cups
Trina- also handbag, with mirror and lipstick [red] inside.
PAGE 33 - Fiona Anstey, clipboard
PAGE 35 - Revolving postcard rack with postcards
PAGE 39 Packed lunches for residents. kept in a haversack for ease of moving around the stage.