Monkey / by Damian Brant

Cast

MALE:
DREAMER

FEMALE:
REASONABLE
COMPLIANT

EITHER MALE OR FEMALE: [Many of these parts are designated 'He' in the script, but they need not be.]
LETHARGY
VOLATILE
PESSIMISTIC
DETERMINED
FORCEFUL
SUPREME, THE GREAT LEADER

NON-SPEAKING PARTS EITHER MALE OR FEMALE:
CURIOUS
TWO OLDERS
A MONKEY
A LEOPARD
NIGHT CREATURES

The cast can be expanded to as many apes as wanted. To give additional speaking parts, Determined's lines can be divided between; that character and another called 'KEEN'. Similarly, Forceful's lines can be shared with another character, called 'SURE'.

The play should be between half an hour and forty-five minutes in length, depending on the length of the movement sequences.

Sample Pages from the script

Extract 1

There is darkness. Quiet jungle noise. It becomes louder. The sun rises. Cautiously, apes awaken from their slumber. Slowly they begin to move in a co-ordinated rhythm. The noise builds. The sun which has been slowly rising, giving only a taste of its expected appearance, moves above the horizon. The tempo is increased and the whole group of apes is now moving as one. They dance and sing. The song - grunting and screeching - no words, but melodic. A large ape appears. it is the Great Leader. The apes respond with adulation. The Great Leader takes his! her place. The Great Leader shows his approval and, with a gesture, summons his trusted Olders about him. The apes disperse several ways. One ape moves cautiously amongst the others, speaking as he goes. This is Dreamer.

DREAMER
Morning, Lethargy.

LETHARGY
Huh?

DREAMER
Hello, Volatile.

VOLATILE
Grrgh!

DREAMER
Morning, Pessimistic.

PESSIMISTIC
Morning? Is it still only morning? Will we survive the day? It's a jungle out there! Oh!

DREAMER
Morning, Reasonable.

REASONABLE
Hello, Dreamer.

DREAMER
Another day starts with another tribute to the Great Leader. I suppose life has to be this way.

REASONABLE
What do you mean?

DREAMER
Grunting and screeching our way through life. [Silence.] Why does Supreme wave his hands so much?

REASONABLE
Because he's the Great Leader, and that's what Great Leaders do. And don't call him Supreme. You're too familiar!

DREAMER
Does king lion wave his hands?

REASONABLE
No.

DREAMER
There, you see - and yet he commands a whole pride.

REASONABLE
Without any hands. Our hands are our saviour. They give us the ability to rise above other beasts. [Pause; then thoughtfully - hiding a secret.] But they're also our downfall.

DREAMER
How do you mean?

REASONABLE
Did you see Ruthless this morning?

DREAMER
Yes, what of it?

REASONABLE
What was he doing?

DREAMER
I'd rather not say.

REASONABLE
Come on - what was he doing?

DREAMER
Well, he was, um, doing his toilet.

REASONABLE
No, I mean after that.

DREAMER
Oh, that's a relief- so to speak. Um, he was eating termites.

REASONABLE
Yes, exactly!

DREAMER
Exactly what?

REASONABLE
Well, was he using his hands?

DREAMER
To do his toilet?

REASONABLE
No. To get the termites. Really, Dreamer, ! can see how you were given your name. Was Ruthless using his hands to get the termites?

DREAMER
Yes, well, and his tongue of course. He was sort of licking them like this. [He demonstrates.] Slurping them up. They did look rather juicy.

REASONABLE
I'm sure they did. Shame all the Olders get the first go at all the good food. I haven't had a decent termite meal for as long as I can remember.

DREAMER
I know what you mean. I've been eating bloody bananas for the last six Golden God sleeps. I spend more time covering business than doing it these days.

REASONABLE
Really, Dreamer, you seem to be obsessed with toilet duties this morning. What's got into you?

DREAMER
I'm sorry, Reasonable, but I just think there must be more to life than this.

REASONABLE
Than what?

DREAMER
Eating and sharing everything in our lives with other apes. The Orang-utans don't have to be sociable and they seem to do all right. Why can't we be like them? More individual!

REASONABLE
You know the Orang-utans are a special race. If the Great Leader heard you say that he'd have you beaten.

DREAMER
But why are they special? And why aren't we? And why do they call us monkeys? We're apes!

REASONABLE
Apes! Monkeys! What does it matter? I don't know. Anyway, young ape shouldn't ask those things. It's not safe. [Remembering.] Besides, what were you doing watching Ruthless at his toilet?

DREAMER
I was just curious, that's all. Oh, not about his toilet - but about what the Olders do when they go beyond the permitted boundaries of the jungle.

REASONABLE
Going beyond the permitted boundaries unless you're an Older is forbidden. You know that. Dreamer.

Extract 2

There is a commotion. An ape is brought forward to the great leader.

THE GREAT LEADER
Apes!Apes! Apes! Apes! I call you apes for apes you are and apes you shall remain. You shall seek nothing more nor want nothing further. Which creature slashes with the sharpest claws in the jungle? The lion. But who has the fingers to climb the trees? Which creature snaps with the deadliest bite in the jungle? The snake. But who can crack nuts with a rock? Which creature springs the keenest ambush in the jungle? The leopard. But who has the intelligence to avoid the traps? Who? Who? Who? The apes! The apes! The apes! We are the apes! We are the masters of the jungle! And what keeps us masters of the jungle? You, the clanapes, the decrees given to us by the Golden God, the Organisers who ensure the enforcement of these decrees, interpreted by your beloved Olders, and l, the Great Leader. [There is general ape cheering.] You are told you must remain within the permitted boundaries of the jungle. This is for the safety of all our nation. Only
the Olders may stray beyond these boundaries. This is decreed by the Golden God. Do you believe in the decrees of the Golden God? [Cheers.] Do you believe in the decrees of the Golden God? [Louder cheers.] And what of those who disobey these decrees? What of those who would defy your Olders and your Great Leader? What of those who would jeopardise our peaceful existence? What do they deserve? For bringing danger to our way of life? What do they deserve? For seeking beyond the permitted boundaries of the jungle, where only the Olders should go? What do they deserve? Tell me, what do they deserve?

FORCEFUL
Let the Organisers make her a union with the jungle before her time!

There is general cheering of agreement.

THE GREAT LEADER
Bring forth the miscreant. Curious, you have ventured beyond the permitted boundaries of the jungle. You have rebelled against the sacred decrees of the Golden God. Your fellows demand one thing. - that you should be taken by the Organisers and made one with the jungle. Take her!

Curious is taunted and then dragged away by Organisers. Much noise, which subsides almost immediately after Curious has gone. The apes return to their routine.

DREAMER
That can't be right. Curious is to be made part of the jungle before her time - for being curious.

REASONABLE
It is the law, the decree of the Golden God.

DREAMER
But it's not right.

REASONABLE
No, but that's the way it is.

DREAMER
What do we do,Reasonable?

REASONABLE
Nothing.

DREAMER
Nothing?

REASONABLE
Nothing.

DREAMER
And is that what your father would have done?

REASONABLE
My father is part of the jungle.

DREAMER
And so are we all, all part of the jungle. We eat of the jungle, sleep in the jungle and live off the jungle and thus we become part of the jungle. The jungle is ours. Let us claim it. Save your soul. Remember the words of your father.

REASONABLE
thoughtfully Save my soul.

Pause.

DREAMER
Dare you venture into the jungle, beyond the permitted boundaries?

PESSIMISTIC
Did you say beyond the permitted boundaries?

REASONABLE
No.

PESSIMISTIC
Oh no. Not beyond the permitted boundaries. What will happen to you?

REASONABLE
Nothing will happen to us. [Looking around nervously.] No one said anything about being beyond the permitted boundaries. Now, Pessimistic, just lope along and -

PESSIMISTIC
Curious went past the permitted boundaries and now she's made a union with the Jungle. Oh, perhaps they'll make me a union with the jungle just for talking to you. Oh, Golden God, help me!