Video Nasty / by Micheal Theodorou
EDDIE FLETCHER - owner of a video hire shop
DEBRA FLETCHER - his wife
TYRONE FLETCHER - their son
ANGELA - Eddie's assistant
FATSO - classmate of Tyrone
EGBY - classmate of Tyrone
NEWITT - classmate of Tyrone
STOCKLAND - history teacher at their school
CHESTER WILLIAMS - about 21, a street racketeer
+TWO CRONIES of Chester's, self-styled bodyguards
This play comes with resource material and follow-up work. It is intended as a GCSE script, useful for either English or Drama at this level.
The cast size is 10, with 2 unspeaking extras as the Cronies. Of the ten, only three parts are for girls.
If used as an examination piece, all but the Cronies have enough to do and say to be examinable.
The running time is around forty-five minutes.
Sample Pages from the script
Tyrone, Fatso, Egby and Newitt are watching a video nasty. We see their faces in the flickering light of the TV screen.
NEWITT turning away in disgust
They all laugh at Newitt.
Told you the fart would look away.
They laugh even more.
EGBY laughing manically and shaking
Oh, that's coo!, man. That's cool.
FATSO almost slavering
Let's see it again.
Yeah. In slow motion.
FATSO and EGBY together
And let's hold the fart's face so he don't look away.
FATSO and EGBY together
Fatso and Egby get hold of Newitt who struggles to get away.
Aw Get off me! Get off!
rewinding the tape Hold him, fellas ... Ready? Right ... here we are.
Stop it. Get off! I don't want to watch it!
Hold him still, lads. Here we go!
I feel sick. I'm gonna be sick.
They hold his face towards the screen. Newitt closes his eyes.
Open his eyes.
Stockland comes in. He walks up to the counter where Eddie and Angela are serving.
Good morning, sir.
Have you got a copy of 'Ben Hur?'
Ben Hur? Sure. Angela? Is there one in?
I think so. [She goes out the back.]
Out of your period somewhat, isn't it, sir?
Oh, we're doing Roman history at the moment. They've no appreciation of German history at all. Ignorant louts. Chariot races and violence - that's all they want.
Pig ignorant really, aren't they, sir?
ANGELA coming back in
Yes. Here we are.
Ah, lovely. Can I have a receipt please?
Of course. Angela ... make out a receipt for the gentleman.
School fund pays for it, you see. I claim it back from the office.
Ah, yes, of course, sir .... Would you like ... anything else? ... on the same bill?
Oh, well... what have you got?
EDDIE bringing out a tape from under
Well, sir, there's... er... this one... or perhaps... [Bringing out another tape.] ... this might be more to your liking.
Oh, well, that's very kind of you. Yes, they might do very nicely, thank you.
Always a pleasure to help, sir. One of our best customers.
Angela is behind the counter. Tyrone is on his way to school and pops his head round the door.
'Bye... Oh, where's mum?
She's just popped out for a minute. Off to school then?
You must be joking.
Don't they ever set you any work to do?
I never do it.
I always worked hard when I was at school.
That's why you're working in a video shop?
Aw, shut up, clever clogs. We can't all be geniuses like you.
No, that's right. And don't you forget it. One day I'm going to be a Chief Inspector.
Yeah. What's wrong with that?
Excuse me while I puke.
I fancy being a copper.
Well, you better work hard then.
It's a dump, that school. All we ever do is copying.
Nothing's changed much then.
Did you go there?
Yeah. The maternity ward.
Eh? ANGELA That's what it was called - the girls' school.
More babies born there than in hospital. [Pause.] Go on, you'll be late.
God, we used to get the cane when we were late.
It's gonna be banned.
Yeah, I know. Your teacher told me.
He's a perv.
Yeah, I know. [Pause.] He hasn't done anything to you, has he?
What do you mean?
You know - tried anything.
He's a sadist. He enjoys beating people.
They're a right lot, teachers, aren't they?
You can say that again.
'Ere, that wasn't you last night, was it? Involved in that glass smashing?
No! ANGELA Whole side of the school was smashed in.
Don't know nothing about it.
Who's gonna pay for it? That's what I want to know.
Probably you. Your taxes.
Yeah, you're right there. You be careful it ain't you, you little bugger.
Me? I was in watching videos last night.
Yeah. Probably nasties.
Newitt was there. And Egby.
Isn't his dad a glazier?
Yeah, I think so.
Good business for him then?
Yeah, I suppose.
Sample Pages from Production Notes
PRODUCTION NOTES + TECHNICAL CUES etc.
N.B. These notes are suggestions only. You may find them helpful to follow; or they may act as a springboard for your own ideas; or you can choose to ignore them entirely!
INTRODUCTION: THEMES, THE PLAY'S INTENTION.
Though set firmly in the 1970s - because of the fact that one of the issues addressed is that of corporal punishment which was abolished in schools at that time - the material dealt with is just as relevant today. The main issues used as a basis for the play are:
Is the rise in street crime perpetrated by gangs of school children a direct result of the too-easy availability of 'video nasties?' - videos that have an extremely violent or sexual content.
What contribution to youth crime can be blamed on lax parenting? Violence in the home - and at school, from the old-school style teachers - may also have a part to play suggests the writer.
The play does not moralise at all.
It can simply be performed as a play which shows boys from a certain
kind of background, drifting into a life of petty crime. Or it
can be used as a basis for discussion work and exploration in
Drama or English classes. For
this reason, there is a teacher's pack of material that accompanies the play. The newspaper articles make it clear that it was these events that inspired the writer to create the play.
Though no 'message' is thrust in our
faces, we are aware at the end of the play of the spiralling crime
these boys are getting into; we have witnessed the depressing
home life of Tyrone, the main character, seen how video nasties
are his and his friends'
R main form of entertainment, heard about a present of a crossbow given to one of the roup and his enjoyment at practising his skill on the local birdlife, and observed Mr Stockland, their history teacher, and his views on keeping the children under control through violence - not to mention his own addiction to video nasties, probably of a sexual and perverted nature. The conclusions don't need to be underlined any further.
Authority in the play is symbolised by Stockland, who believes in violence. Characters in the play mostly react with loathing to any symbol of authority - the police or teachers; but experience has taught them to fear rather than respect these figures. Only Tyrone still has a residual respect for the police - though his burgeoning life of crime doesn't bode well for this dream.
What is most alarming about the group of four boys which are
the centre of the play, is that these boys are clearly not street
thugs or 'Chesters in the making.' They are obviously misfits,
who hang together less out of a sharing of common ground, than
convenience, because no one else will have them. We see Tyrone's homelife and the solitary person it has made him; his love of nature is not something picked up from school or likely to make him popular - it is the hobby of the loner. Egby is a boaster who clearly is inadequate - he cannot ride a bicycle; probably he will never be very accurate with his crossbow - which might make him even more dangerous. Once again, he is the kind of boy who would be picked on by the school bullies. Newitt is a weed -picked on by everybody, including the main bully - the teacher, Stockland. Fatso is the kind of person always teased and bullied at school for his obesity. This is a group of loners, drifting onto the streets, made to feel big by watching video nasties, likely to cause violence less for attention-seeking than to revenge themselves on a world that is giving them very little of morality, warmth or kindness.
The play is not without humour. There is the character of Chester - probably the most inept gang leader ever. He attempts to run a protection racket, using intimidation on local shop-keepers like Eddie, Tyrone's father. The intention is there, but Chester is incapable of carrying it through - so far.
The other source of humour is Mrs Betts, who can clear the shop of Chester and his cronies by her stench alone.
In a way, the play does not finish.
We are left with a number of situations waiting to happen: a group
of young boys, inured by their daily viewing of violent videos,
who will one day cause some serious damage - even more serious
than the school windows
- with a crossbow, or through their careless bullying of younger and weaker boys like Newitt; a gang leader, Chester, who may one day do some real harm when he gets his act together; a teacher who may one day be led by his addiction to perverted video sex to perpetrating his own serious sex offence. The play gives us an explosive situation and leaves us to our own conclusions.
EDDIE FLETCHER - a seedy, semi-alcoholic owner of a video hire store. He is father to Tyrone, who he seems to have no particular concern about. Tyrone has free access to the videos in the store and is largely unsupervised throughout the day, often being left alone in the evening. Dad goes out to the pub in the evening, to drown his sorrows. He knows his wife is having an affair and is afraid that she will leave him; in his cups he becomes maudlin and self-pitying. He has no 'morality' as such, over who has his videos and clearly has illegal videos for 'special' customers, which he keeps under the counter. Nonetheless, he is not a character who is entirely despicable; he stands up to Chester with humourous strength, perhaps recognising the latter's inadequacy as being worse even than his own.
He needs a regional accent - strong; a lazy way of speaking. His body language should be slobby - slouched, slack stomach, shuffling walk.
DEBRA FLETCHER - Eddie's wife and mother to Tyrone. She is having an affair and seems to spend most evenings away from home consequently. Like her husband, she goes her own way day or evening, without thinking what her son may be doing. Both she and her husband have a monumental selfishness. Both of them argue in front of Tyrone, and she thinks nothing of enlisting Tyrone to take her side against his dad. She swears freely in front of him, talks of divorce without concern for her son's feelings and slaps and hits her husband all the time. The relationship between the two, violent and abusive, is the background against which Tyrone must be viewed.
She has twice the energy of Eddie: sharp, quick, often angry, movements. A loud, brassy voice with a strong regional accent.
TYRONE FLETCHER - their son, about fourteen. He is at the age and stage where he could go either way - towards a spiralling life of crime, or towards a better style of life, following his dream to be a 'copper.' It is clear that at the moment, though, given his home background and easy access to violent videos, it is more likely that he will go to the bad. However, the writer makes clear that he has a sensitive side. Apart from wanting to be a 'copper' [surely a sign that he wants to raise himself from all that life is surrounding him with at present], he values the wildlife at the lake, knows something about them and protects them from being killed by the others. We feel sorry for him and his obvious insecurity when he questions his mother about whether she intends to divorce his father. Tyrone must be played as a waverer - somewhere along the road to the young criminal - but not yet beyond redemption.
ANGELA - the assistant in the video hire shop. She is a victim of the school system, with unhappy memories of school life. She is unphased by Chester and his bullying tactics; perhaps she has seen it all before - perhaps, even, she doesn't expect anything else from life having been brought up in this deprived area and attended the sink school. She shows more concern for and interest in Tyrone in her one scene with him than do his own parents. But she's nobody's fool - she's streetwise. She realises that Tyrone and his mates had something to do with the glass-breaking episode.
Play her as a world-weary brassy type. Strong regional accent, bored slow lazy movements. Face deadpan whilst serving in the shop - more animated when talking to Tyrone.
FATSO - an obese bullying type, always eating, taking pleasure out of cruelty to others. He and Egby are the worst of the little group - genuinely enjoying the violence they watch and letting it spill over into their own lives.
Play with a combination of cockiness and slobbiness - horrible smile when watching violence or torturing Newitt. Strong regional accent and drawling, lazy speech.
EGBY - filled with the spirit of rivalry, Egby is dangerous because he is always daring himself and others to further extremes. He has been given the crossbow for a birthday present and he is the type to end up killing someone. Like Fatso, he enjoys violence, including bullying Newitt. We are told he is the victim of violent parenting, ending in divorce.
Egby also needs to be cocky - tone of 'dare me' a lot of the time. He is lively, spiky in his movements, speaks fast. Strong regional accent.
NEWITT - the weed who is the butt of everyone's teasing and worse - bullying. Why does he stick with the other boys? Because he hopes to be accepted, and so, though terrified of the violence in the video nasties, he is potentially the most dangerous of the lot - the type who will do something really extreme to gain acceptance. It is he and Tyrone who do the window smashing - at face value the least likely of the foursome. He is too stupid to understand Tyrone, who enjoys nature and peace, thinking that Tyrone will be pleased with his actions and conversation - killing birds, girls, smoking - yet at the end, perhaps seeking to please Newitt, and brooding on the violence just dealt him at school by Strickland, Tyrone suggests the window smashing and Newitt enthusiastically goes along with the idea. Acceptance at last!
Newitt is a puny little thing - the kind who looks as though he is beaten regularly and underfed. He should have a cringeing way about him, as if always expecting to be hit. His tone is ingratiating and eager, like a puppy wanting notice. Strong regional accent.
STOCKLAND - needs to be a big beefy character, swaggering and confident. A teacher who believes in instilling fear into his pupils, the suggestion is that it is his addiction to Hitler and violent video nasties built around Nazism that fuels him. Angela's concern for Tyrone tells us that he also likes under-the-counter films, perhaps of a perverted sexual nature - child pornography perhaps.
His voice should be loud and bullying - except when dealing with the hire of video nasties, when he becomes shifty. Could have a regional accent, less strong than the others.
CHESTER WILLIAMS - around about 21 years old and a street racketeer. He is a symbol of the next stage on - the school leaver who has turned to street crime, lacking any qualifications. He is so inadequate at it that it is dear that he, too, is the misfit type - like our four boys. Yet, with the backup of his thugs, he just might become dangerous - and thus grow in confidence. He is not going to go away.
Play him for clumsiness. He is emulating videos he has seen of old-style gangsters. Have him copy this kind of walk and the dapper dress of that era. He is clearly very fastidious - driven away by the smell of Mrs Betts. Though he is trying to be cool - and some of his actions should be successfully cool - he keeps failing - dropping things, taking too long, failing to light his cigarette first time. Perhaps he tries to click his fingers to call his thugs - but can't do this either until the third or fourth attempt. He should put on a drawling 'cool' streetwise voice.
MRS BETTS - a smelly old woman. More of a type than anyone else in the play, she is a typical product of a deprived area: cantankerous, sharp, nosey, poor. She too loves video nasties - her one pleasure in life.
Her clothes should look as if they're rotting on her. She has sores on her body, which cause her to walk with a painful slow shuffle. Her voice should have a strong regional accent and slow, shouted delivery, suggesting that she is a little deaf. Make a play of her terrible breath by having people recoil [subtly - not to offend her] when she talks to them. Perhaps she could have a habit of coming too close to a person and thrusting her face near theirs.
I am going to suggest something that will chime in with the idea of a 'Video Nasty.' It is quite a complicated idea - but I think will actually simplify some scene changes. Nowadays, most schools have a video camera, so use of it shouldn't be a real problem.
You will need a screen at the back, ideally one of those large screens found in pubs etc. - or a number of TV screens - at the back and the sides of the stage - on which video footage can be shown.
It seems to me that the play is written with the idea of video/ film in mind. It has that feel - and moves from area to area in a way that would be hard for the stage alone to suggest. This way scene locations and changes can be suggested with video footage.
A list of the scenes gives us some
idea of the problem.
Scene 1: The video hire shop.
Scene 2: The street.
Scene 3: Tyrone's bedroom.
Scene 4: The Fletcher's lounge.
Scene 5: Tyrone's bedroom.
Scene 6: The Fletc her's lounge.
Scene 7: The Fletcher's kitchen.
Scene 8: A street.
Scene 9: The video hire shop.
Scene 10: The video hire shop
Scene 11: A lake surrounded by trees
Scene 12: The video hire shop.
Scene 13: A street.
Part of the problem can be solved by
a multi-locational set. A high raised area towards the back on
one side of the stage can be Tyrone's bedroom, set up with bed,
untidily unmade, clothes all over the floor and a large TV set,
with video, angled so that it
is facing the bed, back diagonally towards the audience. Steps/ stairway down from this area to the stage floor.
A corresponding but lower raised area on the other side of the stage, perhaps needing to be larger. I suggest an L shape for this platform. 4n it a sofa, shabby, towards the back, ie in the long part of the L. Small formica-topped kitchen table and three chairs set nearer the front, towards the side of the stage, ie in the short bottom part of the L. Behind the chairs and table, a surface with toaster, loaf of sliced bread, mugs, teapot, knife and plates already set out. Radio already set on table.
In the gap between the two areas, level with the fronts of the two raised platforms, a long counter. Under it, various videos, etc. Against the high side of the bedroom platform, bookcase full of videos. Decorating the black-painted sides, posters advertising videos - preferably of a violent nature.
The front half of the stage left dear for exterior scenes and the customer area of the video hire shop.
High centre back - the large TV screen hangs and is used for scene setting, as well as other uses, detailed in the Production Notes section.
Each area of the stage will need to be defined further by lighting, as follows: Area A = the video hire shop. Front half of the stage, counter in centre and a little way behind the counter. [The gap between the two raised flanking platforms should suggest the backroom referred to in the script.] Father dingy white lighting.
Area B = Tyrone's bedroom. High raised area, spilling onto stairs
leading up to room. Warmer interior lighting, but not bright.
Area C = The Fletcher's sitting room - the long part of the L shape platform leading from front to back. Some spillage onto middle area nearest this platform - or step if used. Again warmer, interior lighting, but not bright.
Area D = The Fletcher's kitchen - the short front part of the L shaped raised area. Bright light, stark - perhaps suggestive of neon.
Area E = front of stage, whole width, used for exterior scenes. Bright, sunshine even, for lakeside scene; otherwise fairly bright light - though suggestion of deprivation and general poor neighbourhood can be suggested by
starker lighting in the street scenes.
Beginning of play. Cue - the end of the TV footage, thugs walking in the video shop door. Snap lights suddenly up to full on Area A, video hire shop.
End of scene 1. Cue: Chester -'What's that funny smell?' Fade out lights on Area A. Wait for TV footage. Cue: Tyrone, Fatso and Ebgy coming into close-up. Bring up lights on Area E, front of stage street.
Bottom of page = end of scene. Cue: Tyrone -'Oh, alright then. See you about nine.' Fade lights out on Area E. Allow view of a violent bit of a film to establish itself [also giving time for cast to get to new positions]. Cue could be one of the characters switching on the TV set. Then bring up light to dim on Area B, Tyrone's bedroom. [Top of PAGE 5.] Don't allow light to cancel out the flickering of the TV screen - that is, the prop set in the bedroom, not the back screen, which can be cancelled out now.
PAGE 5 continued
End of scene 3. Cue: Newitt - 'Alright.'
As he exits, fast fade lights to out on Area B. Wait for video
footage. Cue: - filmed Newitt opening door. Bring lights up to
dim on Area C, the Fletcher s sitting room.
Bottom of page. Cue: Newitt -'Alright.' Leave lights up on Area C until Tyrone has finished his bit of business. Eventually, he will give up - make a 'Tcch!' sound of frustration and exit. Lights off at this point. Leave dark whilst video film excerpt happens. A good visual cue must be found at which to cut the film and put the lights back up on Area B, Tyrone's bedroom. As before, the light is low, allowing the flickering of the TV screen to be seen.