The Joker

Cast

SUE - the on-line gambler
LAURA - Sue's flat-mate
JAN - Laura's friend
MUM - Sue's mother
ROYCE - Mum's boyfriend
STEVE - the landlord
THE JOKER - male or female
GAME SHOW HOST + 2 ASSISTANTS

This can be played by five or six actors, by doubling.

For a cast of five, Steve and Royce can double. The Joker and Jan can double. The Gameshow host and his/her assistants can be played by anyone except Sue.

This has a cast of 1M and 4F.

The Joker could be a separate M or F part, as you need. Jan too has a large enough part for exam purposes, and she can take part in the gameshow too. The Joker could be the gameshow host to give variety to his part.

This gives a cast of 2M and 4F or 1M and 5F, as required.

The play lasts about half an hour.

Sample Pages from the script

Extract 1

Sue is sitting facing the audience, working on a laptop. She is totally engrossed in what she is doing. Laura calls from off-stage.

LAURA Sue.

No reply.

Tea's ready.

Still no reply. After a few seconds Laura enters, carrying a mug.

I thought you'd gone out. What are you doing?

Sue hastily shuts the laptop as Laura tries to look over her shoulder.

SUE I was busy.

LAURA Right. Anyway I'm just going. [She starts to go out and Sue opens the laptop again. Laura hesitates.] By the way, Steve came for the rent last night. I gave him my share...

Sue looks rather uncomfortable.

He's coming back for yours tonight.

SUE Right. OK. That's OK.

LAURA All right. See ya.

She goes out.

SUE Yeah, see ya!

She goes back to the lap-top and we see from a projection on the back screen that she is playing on-line poker. We see a losing hand and she looks agonised. She closes her eyes and the Joker enters and stands behind her.


JOKER That wasn't very clever, was it?

Sue is startled, then she recovers and shrugs.

SUE Just bad luck.

Extract 2

SUE Hello, Mum.

MUM Hi, Sue, how's it going?

SUE Oh, you know. Going. How're you?

MUM Bloody awful. You would not believe the day I've had. You got any fags?

SUE Mum! You know I packed up more than a year ago!

MUM Oh yeah, I forgot. I'm dying for a fag.

SUE I think you should pack up as well. It makes you feel better, you know.

MUM Stuff that. We all need some pleasures in life. God knows there aren't many. Could you just lend me a couple of quid, Sue ...?

SUE Well, I'm a bit ...

MUM Just till Friday. I'll pay you back when I get my cheque.

SUE Well, all right. [Hands over the cash.] Just till Friday.

MUM Promise. Ta for that, Sue. See you Friday.

JOKER And you never got the money back?

SUE I never do. That's why I moved out, Mum's hopeless. I mean, I love her and all that, but she's useless with money.

JOKER Your Dad?

SUE Don't ask.

Extract 3

Laura and Jan appear at the front of the stage and meet up with Steve, who enters from the other direction.


LAURA Hi, Steve. Thank God it's Friday.

STEVE Hello, Laura. Hello ... [He clearly does not know Jan.]

LAURA Jan.

STEVE Hello, Jan. [To Laura.] You on your way home? Because if you are ...

LAURA No, not yet. We've got a visit to make.

JAN She's going to look at a flat with me. Help me make up my mind whether to start living a free and decadent life.

LAURA It's only a few minutes away, so it would be good. As long as it isn't a complete tip.

JAN In which case I'll keep looking. No hurry. Apart from the absolute need to get away from Mum!

LAURA Your Mum's fantastic. If I were you I'd never leave.

JAN Well, you know what it's like. She waits up for me, that sort of stuff. And now I've got a promotion ... But I love her to bits. I'd just rather do it from a distance.

LAURA If you're not doing anything, Steve, you could come with us. You're the expert!

STEVE Well, I wouldn't mind having a look at the opposition. Keep in touch with the market. That sort of stuff. I guess I can go round and see Sue later.

LAURA Come on then. Let's go flat hunting.

Sue has been playing poker on the laptop throughout the conversation. She looks really excited and pleased. She closes the lid of the laptop, leans back with her eyes closed - the lights dim and return to normal as Laura and Jan re-enter.

JAN  Well, I didn't think it was that bad.

LAURA Steve knows what he's talking about. I think you should take his advice.

JAN I thought the rent was reasonable.

LAURA But Steve was right about the kitchen. Imagine sharing that with two more people!

JAN It depends who they are. You know, I might just hang on a bit till I know who else is moving in.

LAURA doubtfully But Steve says he doesn't think it's such a good idea.

JAN Laura, do you think Steve might be thinking he'll have a spare room himself soon?

LAURA Oh, I see what you mean. Sue. [Sighs.] I don't know. It depends if she sees sense. But she doesn't seem able to leave that lap-top alone.

JAN What an idiot!

LAURA Yeah, well. But she has had a bad deal. You should see her mother.

JAN Excuses. Nothing could be that bad.

Extract 4

SUE .... I had a win. A good win. I put the computer away. There was enough to pay the rent. But ...

JOKER But?

SUE Then I realised that I had enough for the rent but no more - nothing left to spend. And I needed to get some food in - you know, coffee, milk and stuff. I can't leave it to Laura to buy everything. I don't want to upset her. [A pause.] I like this flat. The first night, when I moved in here, was one of the best of my life. Just being on my own, and independent. Just being away from Mum. And Royce.

JOKER Royce. Yes.

SUE Oh, he was such a creep. They'd come back from the pub. Mum would pass out on the sofa and he'd start - making suggestions.

JOKER Suggestions?

SUE Yes.

JOKER after waiting, realising Sue isn't going to say any more Such as ...?

SUE not looking at the Joker Such as suggesting I might give him a kiss. And - trying to put his horrible ugly hands on me. [She gets increasingly distressed.] And then he ... one night he ... he came into my room. He was drunk. So was Mum. She was flat out. It was horrible. I left the flat. He'd collapsed in my bed and I spent the night walking the streets. He was still there when I got back. I had a shower and left for work. I took this flat the minute I saw the advert. I couldn't stand it any longer. [A pause.] I couldn't really afford this at first. Then I got a pay rise and it was easier. In fact it was fantastic. I could pay the rent and go shopping. [She breaks down.] I was so stupid! I was managing, but I thought I needed more. The poker seemed ... seemed ... like an easy way to ... I can't believe I was so stupid. I feel so ashamed. Anyway, I've got to go and meet Mum.

JOKER But aren't you expecting another visitor?

Sue looks puzzled.

Steve.

SUE It's all right. I'll be ten minutes, that's all.

She goes out.

JOKER with a shrug Some people are very hard to help.