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Boz & The Bag Lady

 

Boz & The Baglady

By

Dafydd Williams

Two Characters

Boz: early twenties, Mancunian Scally, sharp and witty, thin framed, underfed like he’s just come out of prison.

Besse o’th’ Barn: late fifties, early sixties, Lancashire, homeless, also quite sharp but covered in a scarf and woolly hat so we can’t see her face fully.

 

Setting

The Arndale Centre’s underused and forgotten rooftop garden. An environmentally friendly idea gone wrong.  Litter and rubbish, hundreds of scrunched up old newspapers. Some trees and grass and plants and a bench upstage with a shopping trolley covered in a tarpaulin and full of rubbish. Standing centre stage is an old fashioned green metal bird table. Round table with a bowl for water and a bath and a tray for food at the top.  There is a hatch/door in the concrete floor. There is a Video screen at the back above the stage. There is also a Red Dansette record player on which the music is played turned on either by Boz or Besse!  

 

Act 1

Scene 1

Besse gets up from the Bench she is sitting on and turns on the Red Dansette and sets up the first record. It drops on the turntable and a crackly version is heard of…

Music: ‘Up on the Roof’ by the Drifters

A burberry hat sticks its head up through a hatch in the floor. It looks about then lifts Wilko’s carrier bags full of bottles and cans on to the floor above. Boz pulls himself up on to the floor and slams the hatch shut. He looks unsteady on his feet and intoxicated. He starts dancing about, whooping and yelping. He flicks the Vs at the hatch and then looks about him. He sees the rest of the roof which is quite clear to the audience downstage but upstage is in darkness but we can make out a few faint figures. A Tree, a bench, a shopping trolley with a tarpaulin over it. There is a flickering green Exit Sign on the back wall with an arrow pointing down and a figure running on it.   He runs over to the side of the roof and looks down. He starts to wobble a bit and grabs on to the side of the wall. He is intoxicated and looks upset

Boz: You little beauty, Manchester you little beauty.

 I love you Manchester.

 I love you City.

 I love you United,

 Blackley,

 Cheetham Hill,

 Chorlton-cum-Hardy,

 Didsbury,

 Fallowfield,

 Hulme,

 Moss Side,

 Newton Heath,

 Northenden,

 Ringway,

Rusholme,

Withington,

 Wythenshawe.

Let’s have us a fucking spliff shall us!

 Let us have a few fucking spliffs.

They never approved of us doing this in Abraham Moss.

I don’t know why!

Mr Headmaster Sir!

Go and read Morrisey’s Autobiography would you Sir!

Fucking hell its cold!

Nice one Cyril,  Nice One Son ! Nice One Cyril, let’s have another one, said the fat bastard.

On a clear day, you can see Rochdale from here!

Filthy fucking Police bastards.

Here I am, returning to the scene of my crime.

Ha Ha, Ha He, He He!

You’ll never catch me again!

What a buzz running away from them.

August 10th 2011

You can lock us away but you won’t lock away the spirit.

2 years in prison because of you!

2 years because you tempted me with your merchandise you whore!

I’ve come back to haunt you.

The Arndale Centre

You think you’re so big

You think you are a giant of a shop don’t you!

But I’m sitting on top of you now!

Up on the Roof!

Boz waves his hands to the music as it finishes 

Besse: Suicide does not end the chances of life getting worse.

 Suicide eliminates the possibility of it getting better.

Boz drops to the ground in fright. He is flat on his face.

Boz : Shit who’s there? Who’s that?

Lights up on Besse who is downstage sat on the bench with a shopping trolley and tarpaulin nearby.

Besse: I am Besse!

Besse o’th’Barn

Boz: Well would you fuck off then please!

Besse: You want to be alone?

Boz: Yes please.

Besse: No Sorry!

Boz: What?

Besse: I’m not leaving you alone.

Boz: I’ve had a heart attack and I’ve shit meself.

Besse: All the more reason not to leave you alone.

Boz: Who are you?

Besse:  Would you like me to call for Paramedic Assistance?

Boz looks quizzically up at Besse.

Besse: An Ambulance (Impatiently)

Boz shakes his head vigorously. Besse gets up off the bench!

Besse: Welcome to my umble adobe! Welcome to my little patch of English Earth! We expect the unexpected and we invite the uninvited! Welcome to Manchester Skyline’s very own Court of  Miracles. I will be your hostess for this evening’s entertainment.  If I can point out a few Housekeeping details. We have a phone over there should you feel the need to call the Samaritans. We encourage you to do this before you follow the directions on the Exit Sign. I will announce in advance if we are to test the Fire Alarms, Abigail the Pet Goose will provide that service. Toilets are a bit and miss I’m afraid. I use that hole in the corner. There’s plenty of newspaper and plastic bags. We don’t get many visitors as you might imagine but you, you little burberry bundle of fun, you are very welcome!

Boz: Fuck I need a drink!

Besse: I’ll join ya!

What have you got?

Boz does a double take then looks into his carrier bag.

Boz: Oh well, err Thunderbird, Vodka, Cider, Wine

Besse: Got any port or gin?

Boz: errr no sorry!

Besse: Well I’ll have a glass of wine then!

Boz: I’ve only got bottles.

Besse: White or red?

Boz: Red

Besse: Oh I was hoping for white.

Boz: Well if I’d known I was going to have company I’d have brought a wider selection madame.

Besse: No need to be sarcastic!

Boz gets up off the floor and starts to laugh after looking more intently at Besse.

Starts opening the bags and hands a bottle of red wine to Besse!.

Boz: How the fuck did you get up here with that thing? pointing to the Shopping Trolley

Besse: This is a shopping centre in’t it?

Besse stands and from underneath the tarpaulin brings out two silver medieval goblets.

Boz: Nice bit o kit that!

Who hoa! This is the life!

Fuck I feel like a Lord!

I wasn’t expecting anybody up here.

Besse: This is the City Centre, what do you expect?

 You’re not in the middle of a Scandinavian Forest.

Boz: Yeah but it’s miles up in the air here and the sign on the Fire Escape said ‘Closed’

Besse: You can’t read then?

Boz: Oh don’t you worry sister! I can read what I fucking need to!

Besse: You swear a lot don’t you?

Boz: Can’t say as I’ve fucking noticed.

Besse: It’s the sign of an impoverished vocabulary!

Boz: Impoverished?

 What the fuck’s that?

Besse: It’s what you fucking are………

through no fault of your own.

Besse smiles a very wide toothy grin.

Never mind! Chin Chin!

Boz:  looking quizzically Aye, Chin, Chin!

The two drink in silence for awhile.

Boz: How old are you?

Besse: I forget.

Boz: You look about the same age as my Nan!

Besse: How old is she?

Boz:  She’s dead.

Besse: Oh!

Boz: You look about what she would have been!

Besse: Oh!

Boz: She died at 50.

Besse: Oh!

Boz: Diabetes

Besse: Oh!

Boz: Aye the silent killer!

Besse: Oh!

Boz: You don’t sound very interested.

Besse: I’m not.

Boz: Why not?

Besse: I don’t like people.

Boz: Oh that’s sick that is!

Besse:  Yes I…….what do you mean?

Boz: Not liking people, that’s bad that!

Besse: Well I think it’s quite natural!

Boz: No man! always been around people me, I need people man.

 Got to have me posse, got to have me gang!

Besse: How old are you then?

Boz: 22 last birthday!

Besse: Oh plenty of time, you’ll learn.

Boz: What do you mean?

Besse: more wine?

 Boz: Hey you’re a good drinker!

Besse: I have my moments, not as often as I’d like.

Boz: So what you doing up here like?

Besse: Sitting

Boz: No come on!

Besse: Avoiding people.

Boz: You’re weird you are, a freak!

Besse: You’re not the first to have noticed, thank you.

I’m not always up here.

Sometimes I go and sit in Piccadilly Gardens with Abigail the Goose.

 We go and honk  at the tourists and the Chinese Students.

Boz: Hey you’re not racist are you?

Besse: What’s that mean?

Boz: Err, well it means you differentiate on the basis of ethnicity and skin colour.

Besse: Oh No! Abigail will honk at anybody!

 I’ve heard that people who wear hats like yours tend to be.

Boz: Tend to be what?

Besse: Tend to be… Tend to be…. Looking for trouble!

Boz: That’s Media demonisation!

Besse:  Well you’re quite welcome to wipe your arse on it whenthe need arises of course.

Oh don’t get me wrong, its nice to have company. Speak as you find I always say!

Boz: Raast! pulls out rizlas, tobacco and some green and rolls a spliff

Besse: I’m going to have some of that with you!

Boz: No, you’re fucking not!

Besse: I bet you don’t know what the word ‘fucking’ means!

Boz: Yes I do.

Besse: What does it mean then?

Boz: I can’t say…..not here!

Besse: Why not!

Boz: Well…..there’s ladies present…..

Besse: Where? Looks around animatedly.

Boz: You!

Besse: oh yes of course, I had forgotten….after all these years.

Yes a lady!

So what does it mean?

Boz: Well, its when the Bee sticks his…. It’s where the flower…….. it’s….oh fucking hell,

It’s sexural intercourse innit?

Besse: Sexural Intercourse….ha ha ha ha ha ha! Besse starts laughing uncontrollably.

Give us that spliff…. I haven’t been high for years.

Boz: You’re a right raver you are……

Besse: Besse o’th’ Barn

Boz: That’s a tram stop outside Bury innit?

Besse: Yeah, they named it after me!

Boz inhales deeply and passes the spliff to Besse.

Besse is obviously not a smoker and pulls and pulls, coughs and coughs and stands then totters over to the side of the roof and spews over the side.

Boz: Cop that Copper!

Besse gives out an almighty scream and raises her two arms aloft

Besse: Give us some more of that wine.

Boz: Fucking Hell, I wouldn’t want to party on a regular basis with you.

 You’re an animal.

Besse: I am Besse o’th’ Barn.

The Legend as is, as was.

Boz: How long you been up here then?

Besse: I forget now…..although……

Most of the housing estates near the city centre have been flattened and replaced with swanky apartments for the rich….not a good thing, everyone was so much more down to earth back then.

Slaps Boz on the back who starts coughing himself.

 They both start giggling, then laughing, then they are doubled over in laughter.

Boz: I’m going to roll another one.

Besse: I should hope so too.

Boz: Don’t let that little bit o sick put you off Besse!

 Boz has got quite high quite quickly and his speech is fast

That’s part of the initiation.

I’m just back from the Dam me.

 A Gang of us from the Langworthy flew from Manchester Airport.

The Green over there is summat to behold and smoke Besse!

I’m going to go back over there once this is all over and open a Coffee Shop and sell the finest bud in all the land.

It will be purple Kush.

 I shall call it Besse’o’th’Barn.

Besse: What will you call the coffee shop though?

Chav Central? chuckles to herself

I’ve seen your friends about, tracksuit bottoms tucked into socks!

They’re a bit scary especially those ones on bikes with their hoodies up and some of them wear skeleton masks don’t they? 

Boz:  Hey hang on!

 I paid you the greatest compliment  ever  and you come back at me with that!

 You can’t trust anybody, murderers come with smiles eh Besse?

Bet you’ve got a carving knife underneath all those lairs Besse?

Besse:  You’ll find out if you carry on with your ‘moiddering’

 She pulls off his Burberry Hat and gives his hair a ruffle.

Boz: Hey, leave it there!

Besse: What’s the matter?  

Boz: Nothing…Nothing, just

Besse: Did you have a nice time then?

Boz: What?

 Where?

Besse: Dam?

Boz: Amsterdam were chillin!

Wall to Wall Dope!

Besse: Did you lose your virginity?

Boz stands up and starts puffing furiously on the spliff.

Boz: What kind of question is that?

Besse: All right then……Did you have sexural intercourse?

Boz: Look shut up, you’re just a bag lady!

What do you know about sex?

Besse: Errr, not 3 minutes ago you were calling me a lady.

Where did the Bag come from?

I don’t think you can be a lady and a bag lady at one and the same time, can you?

Well you would know wouldn’t you…a man of the world like yourself.

Bet you were standing looking at those women in the windows eh?

Like a Moth to a Flame eh?

What’s the going rate now?

Boz: How do you know so much about it?

Besse: I haven’t always been a bag lady you know.

Boz wanting to change the subject quickly!

Boz:  What’s in that bag?

Points at a large round black bin liner

Besse: Wouldn’t you like to know?

Boz: Yes I would like to know, that’s why I’m asking.

 And what are all these newspapers doing about here?

 Hang on…..they’re all the same newspaper.

 Hundreds of copies of the Manchester Evening News.

Besse: That’s toilet paper, I’ve told you.

Boz walks away from the bench with a can and a spliff!

Stops half way across and picks up a newspaper with a large picture of Besse on the front!

Turns when he gets to the edge and looks at Besse.

Boz: What the hell are you doing up here?

Besse: I beg your garden?

Boz reads from the copy of the newspaper in his hand.

Boz: Besse Barclay from Bury inherits  money from the last descendant of the Cotton Millionaires of Lancashire.

Homeless lady bags a million but decides to remain homeless.

Besse: I’ll have to kill you now.

Boz: What the Fuck?

Is this you?

Is this you?

No ‘Fucking’ Way!

Is this you?

 Where’s the money?

In that Bag?

Besse:  What do you care?

 What business is it of yours?

Boz: Sorry like!

I was forgetting myself.

Besse: I am a human being, although that doesn’t mean anything these days.

What are you doing?

Boz is distracted and is not interested in Besse’s answer. He has jumped up on the ledge and is excitedly walking up and down.

Boz: Surveying my empire, my kingdom!

Besse: An horse, an horse, my kingdom for a horse.

Boz: it’s kicking off did you know?

Besse: What do you mean?

Boz: August 10th 2011 ring any bells?

Besse: Yes it does actually!

Turns back

Boz: So you’re a Millionaire?

Besse: That’s what it says in the paper!

Boz: Can I ask what you’ve done with the money like?

Besse: What do most people do with their money?

Boz: Put it in a Bank

Besse: Building Society actually!

Boz: Well it’s a pleasure to know you!

Besse: It wasn’t so much of a pleasure before you read the paper.

Boz: Come off it Besse!

I gave you my Booze and my dope, surely that’s got to be worth something.

I said I would name a strain of Mary Jane after you!

Besse: How much do you want then?

Boz: Nothing!

Besse: Well why did you mention it then?

Boz: Why are you so suspicious?

Besse: Because you’re starting to make me nervous.

Boz: Nothing to be afraid of Besse!

 You and me are friends, bosom pals!

Besse: Nah! Don’t think so!

 I am 68 and you are 22.

 What would we have in common?

Boz: We live on the same planet don’t we?

Besse: I don’t think that’s enough is it?

Boz: We breathe the same air, we smoke the same dope….we travel on the Metrolink!

Besse: They won’t let me on, they say I stink!

Boz: Fascists!

Besse: You don’t know what that means!

Boz: And you do?

Besse:  Summat to do with Faesces!

Boz: What?

Besse: Shit!

Boz: They’re all fucking fascists down there! Police, Teachers, Traffic Wardens.

Besse: Same old story innit!

Boz: So why did he leave you all the money?

Besse: For services rendered and for keeping his confidentiality when he was alive.

SFX of Pigeons cooing and feathers, wings rustling.

Besse rises and moves over to the shopping trolley again!

She brings out bread and seed and starts throwing it about!

There are a few precious moments of silence up on the roof.

We hear the sound of grain being thrown in a ‘swoosh’

Besse: They call it broadcasting Boz!

Boz: What?

Besse: What I’m doing with the seed! 

Boz: That’s nice for you.

Besse: Nice for the Birds!

Continues to Broadcast

Besse: What about your family?

Boz: My family are down there!

That’s my family, my Gang!

Manchester is my family

Blood don’t mean a thing.

I’ve got nobody whose gonna leave me a lot of money

 Yours?

Besse: Oooh lost touch years ago!

 I think I’ve got a sister somewhere down South……… Stockport way!

You know how it is!

 When they found out I’d come into money!

 Well everything changes then doesn’t it!

Boz almost chokes on his roach!

Boz: Yeah,yeah you’re right!

Besse: Money can’t buy happiness you know!

Boz: I’ve heard that before but I bet it helps.

 Besse: It just paralyses you.

Boz: I better not stay up here with a millionaire then.

Besse: There’s the trapdoor, close it behind you when you go.

 I never asked you up here.

 I never invited you into my garden!

Boz: Your Garden?

 It’s the Arndale Centre’s Rooftop Garden.

Besse: Piss Off

 This is my Garden.

 My Ancestors had little shops round here before the Arndale was even a pound sign in the eyes of the developers.

Boz: I thought you said you didn’t swear!

 Besse: I never said I smoked dope either.

 I’ll use whatever language I choose.

This is my garden, my roof, my bench, my shopping trolley!

This is my home.

Besse picks up Boz’s bag of stash and starts waving it around.

Only this is yours and God knows where you got it from.

 This is your booze and dope.

 You can leave any time you like.

Boz: Hey, watch out, there’s glass and breakables in there!

Besse: I’d rather you leave through the door you came up through rather than the way you intended to leave.

Boz: What?

Besse:  I know why you came up here!

Boz: Go on then Sherlock Holmes!

Pause

Besse: To kill yourself!

Boz: Do I look unhappy?

Besse:That’s a sign now is it?

Boz: You’re an authority on suicide now  are you?

Besse: Well you are in a high risk group!

Boz: So if we’re not robbing and rioting we are killing ourselves is that it?

Besse: You tell me!

(Pause)

 Boz: Psychic Besse?

Is that you in Bury Market behind the curtain ripping peeps off?

Besse: Make a joke of it, why don’t you?

 No I’m Besse o’ th’ Barn.

 I’ve thought of it many times.

 I’ve stood on that ledge many times but something or someone stops me from doing it.

Boz: But why would I….?

Why would I Boz Barclay of the Langworthy, having spent 2 years in prison come out and top myself?

Besse: Some people can’t handle freedom!

Boz: Freedom, that were in that film ‘Braveheart’, fucking hell he was good in that Mel Gibson weren’t he?

 Good for a short arse anyway!

Boz starts to feel the cold, he stamps on the ground and his breath freezes on the air.

Boz: How do you live up here?

Besse: How do you live where you are?

Boz: I haven’t tried it yet.

Besse: Yet you choose to come here rather than going home?

Boz:  Well it’s New Year’s Eve innit?

Besse: Is it?

Boz: Course..where have you been?

Besse: I’ve been living in my head….away from people for far too long!

Pause

Besse: I saw two films as a young un in Bury, Swiss Family Robinson and Swallows and Amazons and I knew I wanted to live away, on an island or in a treehouse or something! Without a Calendar!

How long before they come looking for you?

Boz: Who?

Besse: Your Heart!

Boz: Don’t know what you’re talking about!

I’m a free man I am.

Besse: Mozza, Goose & Terry? The Gang.

Your surrogate family.

Boz: How do you know about them?

Besse: I’ve got a good memory

Boz rolls another spliff and opens another can! Looks at Besse quizzically

Besse: You were safer in prison.

Boz: Maybe so Detective Besse but I’ve made me bed and I’ve got to lie in it as they used to keep telling me.

Besse: It doesn’t have to be like this.

Boz: I’m not leaving Manchester.

 This is my ho…..my base.

Besse: This is your prison!

Boz snorts

Boz: I should have fucking known.

You’re like all the old ones, dissing the young uns!

 I can’t see you properly behind that veil Besse o’th Barn but… hang on what did you say your surname was?

Besse: I didn’t.

Boz rushes over to pick up a newspaper and shouts

Boz: I’m a Barclay as well!

Besse: It’s a common surname

Boz: No it isn’t.

Besse: We’re not related

Boz: How do you know?

Besse: Because I refuse to be related to you.

Boz: Eh?

Besse: Nothing.

Boz: Why did the bloke leave you all that money then?

Besse: I told you, I haven’t always been a bag lady.

Boz: Why won’t you give me a straight answer?

Besse: Why do you keep asking me straight questions?

Boz: I want some of your money.

Besse: You do surprise me!

Boz: Can I have some?

Besse: No

Boz: Why not?

Besse: I don’t trust you.

Boz: Why not?

Besse: Because you’re a chav!

 And chavs burn bag ladies in the game of rock paper scissors.

Boz: What are you on about?

Begins to sing ‘Nearer my God to thee’ She has a beautiful singing voice.

Boz: I don’t believe in God.

Besse: yes you do!

Boz: I don’t, I don’t believe in God! 

Besse: I didn’t either until I was left the money!

All the Journalists and TV stations wanted to speak to me.

They wanted me to go over to that Media City place in Salford and I said no, you’ll have to come up here to see me.

Boz: I’ll check you out on You Tube.

Besse: Yes. I was on the same couch as Susan Boyle on This Morning.

Nice Voice but not as good as Lena Martell.

Boz: Who?

Besse: Before your time!

Boz: Oh aye!

Besse:  Now its you who doesn’t sound  interested.

Boz:  How can you believe in God looking like that?

You could at least have gone to Primark and tarted yourself up a bit!

Besse: Oh I did! I got a whole new outfit out of it!

They brought the couch and Susan Boyle up here.

You see, she’s down to earth and not stuck up like the rest of em.

And she’s got Asberger’s Syndrome….

Which makes her a real person in my book!

Boz:. I don’t really want your money.

Besse:  You just said you did!

 They were all tapping me up for a bit!

 Lucky that Mr Reynolds had organised a Solicitor for me or I would have given it all away!

Jumps up and starts jogging around the roof like Rocky punching his arms like a boxer in training.

Boz: August 10th 2011.

 I want that date tattooed into me arm.

 We were the Kings of Arndale, that day!

We were the gang that done JD Sports!

 We were the gang that came in the furthest.

They started in Salford

We had decoy teams and distracters over Piccadilly Gardens.

We’d all seen it on the Telly from London.

It spread like wildfire.

 Me, Mozza, Goose, Terry!

 Besse: It was the song the band played on the Titanic

Boz: What?

Besse: Nearer my God to thee!

Pause ( Besse noticing that Boz had lost his train of thought)

So were you and your gang..’ politically motivated freedom fighters’… or just out for a bit of fun?

Boz: It were for the buzz to start off with.

We’d seen all the pictures on the Telly.

That Mark Duggan could have been Boz Barclay.

 The police are out of control Besse, they answer to no one.

They are like Teachers aren’t they? The Police.

Who gives them the authority to act like God?

Why have we got to respect them before they respect us?

Why can’t it be the other way around?   

Besse: The underclass taking over?

 I should have been a Scally with my  trackies tucked in me socks kicking the shop windows in but instead I’m up here,  the baglady of Bury as you call me.

Boz: You can be in our gang Besse!

 I’ll have a word with the boys.

 I’ll even see if you can be leader of the gang.

Besse:  Yeah do that!

And we’ll do it right next time.

Besse walks across the roof to Boz

 I were like Emperor Nero!

I could see it all from here.

Pause

Boz: Come again?

Besse: Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

You’ve got a TV have you?

They did have a TV in prison I take it.

You know where the bosses of this country were when you were kicking the windows in downstairs?

Boz: What do you care about that? 

That’s Politics.

 How come you know?

You haven’t got a TV up here?

Besse: They gave me one you daft apath!

The Telly company!

I watch Question time religiously.

 That’s politics, what you were doing downstairs.

Boz: We were just having a laugh.

Besse: Then you’ve missed the point

Boz: So who were this Nero bloke then and what were he doing fiddling with himself?

Besse: Do you play chess?

Pause

Boz: I’ll play you for money.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Act 2

 Besse is bent over the side of the roof looking down and Boz is lying on his back on the floor looking at the stars. The chess board and pieces are all over the place.

Boz: I hate it when you offer someone a sincere compliment on their moustache and suddenly she’s not your friend anymore.

Besse: You’re  just a bad loser.

I told you I was a member of the Lancashire ladies league.

Boz:  I didn’t see that check mate coming!

Besse: Too much cider!

 Rots your guts that stuff!

Boz: I could start another riot now!

Besse: Better not eh?

You all right?

Boz: Well I should be if you are!

Besse: I live outside, I live on me nerves.

Boz: Well you got on my nerves, how do you have the patience?

 I just didn’t see those moves coming?

Besse: Do you think that’s maybe why you ended up in prison and your so called ‘scally’ mates landed you in the shit.

Boz: man doesn’t like to admit he’s wrong.

Besse: Admit it!

Besse: If you had a wider vocabulary you could be dangerous!

Boz: What do you mean like?

Besse: More words!

 More words at your disposal!

 You speak like the text messages on those mobile phones.

 Conversation and Communication is more than a series of grunts mate.

 The people you spend the most time with.

They are the ones that influence you the most.

Boz: Balls

Besse: My Money’s safe.

Boz: Don’t care!

Besse: You’re unteachable eh?

Boz: Untouchable more like!

Besse: If I give you a dictionary will you promise to read it every night?

Boz: That sounds like hard work.

Besse: The people working in the shops downstairs work hard.

Boz: I’m not going to end up working in Argos am I?

Besse: What do you want to do?

Boz: I don’t know do I?

Besse: You’ve had plenty of time to think about it!

 What do you think your mates are doing now?

Boz: Fuck knows!

Besse: They’ve made you look a fool!

Boz: How?

Besse: You are a Fool

Boz: Why?

Besse:.For taking the rap for something you didn’t do!

Boz: What?

Besse: You didn’t set fire to the tramp in the park

They did.

Boz: How do you know about that?

Besse: Newspapers and

Boz: And?

Besse: I know cos I was that Tramp.

Besse takes off her scarf and hat and shows Boz her disfigured face and hands when the gloves come off!

Boz is frozen in fear and horror!

Besse: not nice is it?

Boz: Kin Hell! I feel sick

Besse: You didn’t do anything, it was the others.

Boz: How do you know?

Besse: Because I saw you all!

You were miles behind them.

 You rang for the Paramedics!

Your mates set me on fire

And then you rang for an ambulance!

I recognised your voice straight away!

Why did you start putting out the flames?

Why didn’t you run with your mates?

Boz: I had forgotten…..until now…..I’m sorry Besse!

I don’t know!

Its just something you do.

Besse: And then you went to prison for two years!

You took the rap for your mates!

Boz: Its what you do when you’re a…..

Besse: sheep?

Boz looks down and shakes his head in disbelief

Besse: wretched, defrauded, oppressed, crushed human nature, lying and bleeding fragments.

Boz: eh!

Besse: Marx and Engels used to meet and chat and write in Cheetham Library

Boz: I’ve heard of em

Besse: It’s a start.

The Telly company came to visit me in Hospital!

And Susan Boyle brought me a bunch of flowers as well.

I were becoming quite the celebrity.

I wasn’t looking so happy this time round though.

We hear the whirr of a Helicopter overhead.

Boz: Filthy Bastards, they’ve got heat seeking equipment now to find Cannabis Factories.

Fuck, I think we’ve been spotted. Hey, I’ve got a lazer pen, I could bring it down.

The Helicopter sound becomes louder. The Helicopter sends out a flashing search light.

Besse: Put it away and get in the Trolley!

Boz: We’ll never both get in there.

Besse: I’ll hide under the bench, they’ll just think its an old sack.

Besse hobbles over to the Trolley and lifts the Tarpaulin and motions for Boz to come over. The Helicopter sound is deafening now and light beams are being thrown on to the roof. Boz dodges the beams and dives into the Shopping Trolley. Instead of getting under the bench as she said, Besse walks over to the bird table and outstretches her arms. A Dove and Pigeons alight on to her arms. She turns into a human statue.(Magic Realism)

 Green and White light highlight this fact.

The Light Beams highlight the trolley and the roof top garden and then the sound of the helicopter can be heard disappearing into the distance. The Tarpaulin is kicked off and Boz jumps out.

Boz: You saved me life!

Besse: Just returning the favour.

(Pause)

Boz:  How do you mean?

Besse:  You’re a cat Boz

 Cats have got nine lives.

 You’ve used up one of your lives tonight.

 You forfeit and somebody else benefits.

Boz: What?

Besse: I don’t mean to be unkind Boz but you are not the sharpest tool in the box.  

Boz: Are you calling me thick?

Besse: Er….. well…….yes!

Boz: That’s all right then….just so long as I know.

Besse: Sorry?

Boz: Just so I know that you’re like all the others.

 The ones that labelled me at school.

Besse:  Shall I get my violin out?

Boz: Can you play?

Besse: I was being sarcastic

Boz: Oh aye, I remember that on a daily basis in school.

 I told my English Teacher that I would write a play one day and one of the characters would be called ‘Sarky Cow’ after here.

Besse: You didn’t enjoy school then?

Boz: You are a piss taker aren’t you?

Besse: No, I am asking because I have heard tell that some people do enjoy school.

Boz: No way!

Besse: We all need a good teacher!

Boz: I don’t know about that, I can survive alone.

Besse: Life isn’t about surviving or at least it shouldn’t be, it’s about thriving.

Boz: And you’re thriving are you?

Besse: It’s not about me, is it?

Pause

Boz: What isn’t?

Besse: All this, it isn’t about me!

Boz: It’s about all of us because its New Year eh?

Besse: That’s right Boz, it’s about all of us.

Boz hands her a goblet of vodka and offers a cigarette.

 She takes the drink but refuses the cigarette.

Besse: I only smoke the funny cigarettes.

Get rolling kid.

Boz: You are quite unreal.

 I’ve never met an old person like you before.

Besse:  You’ve said! No, not many like me.

Boz: Wish we were in Australia Besse!

 Wish we were in a land down under!

Besse: Why?

 First it’s Amsterdam, now Australia!

What about Accrington?

Boz: They’ve got the best fireworks on New Years Eve they have!

Besse: You could always go out there next year!

I hear they’ve got a soft spot for convicts.

Boz: Ha Ha Very Funny!

Besse: Fireworks?

Bright shiny things, distracted by bright shiny things.

Boz: Why do your lot always disapprove?

Besse: My lot?

Boz: Old People

Besse: You become ageless when you’re a Bag Lady!

Boz: It’s like your lot, your generation don’t give us any credit.

Besse: Are you surprised?

Boz: That’s why we rioted.

To make you lot fucking listen!

The blue rinse brigade.

Besse: Oh I would kill for a blue rinse.

Boz: You’re off your fucking head you are!

Besse: Yes!

Boz: Oh for fuck’s sake!

The people who go in there Points at the Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre  

The comfortably numb.

The Matinee and a Muffin brigade.

Besse: Can’t say I’v ever been in there!

 Looks a bit too grand for my tastes.

Boz: I were chased out by that miserable bastard on the Stage Door for smoking dope in the toilets.

Besse: You must stop swearing, you’ll never get a job swearing like that!

Boz: I don’t want a fucking job!

 I could do his job standing on my head!

Besse: Jump then!

Boz: What?

Besse: That’s what you came up here for!

Boz: What?

Why would I want to do something like that?

Besse: Because you’ve realised very young, that there is no point to this existence!

You know that it doesn’t matter how much alcohol you drink, how much dope you smoke. The pain is still there when you sober up, when your head clears.

Boz: Pain? I’m not in pain…..

Besse: Screams: YES YOU ARE! EVERYBODY IS IN FUCKING PAIN

This has shocked Boz. He stands up abruptly

Boz: take my dope, take all the booze, I don’t want it.

 I’ve given up, I’m going clean.

Besse: I’m having that anyway!

Boz: What do you want?

Besse: I want you to have a future

Boz: More dry chat!

Besse: Shut up and listen!

You and me kid, we are the same!

Boz tries to interrupt

 Shut up and just listen to me.

We are the same, we are not wanted down there!

 They don’t want to have to look at us, they don’t want to acknowledge us.

 So that’s why we are up here!

 You could have knocked about down there but you decided to come up here.

Boz: Yeah!

Besse: We’re Mavericks, Renegades, Outlaws!

Boz: Yeah!

Besse: We’ve got what they haven’t!

Boz: What’s that?

Besse: Freedom

Boz: Yeah!

Besse: Freedom to choose!

Boz: I’m listening.

Besse:  Freedom to appear or to disappear!

We don’t have to kill ourselves because we are ghosts anyway.

They don’t see us!

We don’t have the big swanky car or the plush flat in the Beetham Tower.

Die before you die, Boz my little beauty!

 Die to yourself!

Boz:  I think I’ve shit myself!

Besse:  You’re listening but you don’t hear me…..do you?

Boz:  It’s allright, false alarm….carry on!

Besse: I could give you that bag of money.

 And then you would go and buy yourself a big swanky car and a plush flat……

Boz: And some bling..

Besse: I’m gonna hit you in a minute…

Boz:  Sorry!

Besse:  Yes, you would be sorry because after a while you would be empty, emptier than before you began.

Boz:  I’d take the risk!

Besse: I can see it in their eyes.

 They are not happy.

 The eyes don’t lie.

Boz sticks his hands in his pocket.

Besse: Show me what’s in your pocket?

Boz brings his mobile phone out!

Besse takes it off him, walks over to the roof and drops the mobile over the side.

Boz: That was a an Apple I phone Series 5 you’ve just thrown over the side.

Besse: You won’t need it where you’re going.

 (pause)

Boz: Where am I going?

Besse: I’ve got plans for you!

Boz:  Well would you mind telling me what they are like so I can let people know.

Besse: No people must not know!

Boz: I’ll have to tell me mother!

 She won’t be happy with me just out of prison and that!

Besse: I’ll speak to your mother.

 What about your Dad?

Boz: What’s one of those?

Besse: I’m sorry

Boz: Yeah, me too

Besse:  You’re going to travel the world!

Boz: Oh aye on fresh air and magic carpet eh?

Besse: Don’t be naïve, you’ve passed the test, you’ve passed the most important exam of all.

Boz: Don’t get too heavy now!

 I was kicked out of Abraham Moss when I was 14

Besse: You’ve got the most important thing of all Boz Barclay!

Boz:  What’s that then?

Besse: Humanity

Boz breaks down and sobs!

Besse: And that’s something that all the money in the world cannot buy!

Boz: Cries and Sobs and Weeps

Besse: You see, the truth will out.

 You wouldn’t be so upset if you didn’t know that it was true.

Boz: But we set you on fire!

Besse: Fuck That! I’m Fire-Retardant me.

Boz: What do you want me to do?

Besse: You already have my name and I am going to give you Mr Reynolds’ money. You are going to do good Boz Barclay, you are going to become a do gooder and in years to come when I am dead and long gone you too will be on the Television from Media City and all your gang Mozza: Goose and Terry will see you and you will have returned the conquering hero.

Pause

Boz:  But what do you want me to do?

Besse: Well I will leave it up to you but I can give you some ideas….

Boz: Go on then…..

Besse: Build schools and orphanages, work with the homeless and the downtrodden, open drop in centres for those that society down there call the Mentally Unwell.

 Mentally Unwell?

They are geniuses if you ask me!

Are those enough ideas for you?

Boz: No Bling?

Besse: No Bling!

Boz: No Fast Car?

Besse: Definitely Not!

Boz: No Plush Flat in the Beetham Tower?

Besse: You’ve been in Prison, what would you want to go back in for?

Boz runs to the other side of the wall and starts shouting and waving his arms.

Boz: I’m not rich, I’m not rich.

The world is going to be though!

Besse: You do understand what I’m telling you, don’t you!

Boz: Err!

Besse:  I TRUST YOU!

Boz: I know.

Besse: So which comes first Amsterdam or Australia?

Boz:  Accrington I think Besse, Charity begins at home.

Besse: I won’t be here when you get back!

Boz: Where are you going?

Besse: I’m 68 Boz,

I’ve been living on my wits and out in the cold for years.

Pause

I won’t be here when you get back.

Boz: Can I send you a Postcard, tell you how I’ve been getting on?

Besse picks up her bag of seed and starts broadcasting again.

Besse: That would be nice, Pigeon Post perhaps?

Boz:  White Dove of Peace?

Besse:  Send them care of Cheetham Library then Boz, I’ll pick em up from there.

Pause

Boz: I’m scared.

Besse: This is your rights of passage Boz.

Boz nods his head.

Besse: This is where you become a Man, not behind a window with a red light in Amsterdam.

Boz: I know.

Besse: It’s a huge responsibility you know…

Boz:  I told you that I was scared Besse….can we change the subject so I can get me breathe like.

Besse: You will be re-distributing a Capitalist’s wealth Boz.

He wasn’t a bad man Mr Reynolds

Boz: He was a good man to leave it to you!

Besse: I told you that I hadn’t always been a Bag Lady.

No, but he was also a bit of a shit!

You have to be a bit of a shit to be a great man Boz

Boz: I can be a great man also!

Besse: Yes because you have identified the ‘shit’ in yourself.

Boz: You spotted it Besse!

Besse: Yes and I called it Humanity.

 Do me a big favour though Boz!

Pause

Boz: What’s that?

Besse: Don’t do it in anybody’s name!

Boz: I thought you believed in God.

Besse: I do…..but don’t say that you are doing it in his name….

Boz: But…..

Besse: because you won’t get as far…..people are tired of all that now.

Do it in your name!

Do it for the Barclays!

Do it for Barclays.

 

 

 

Act 3

Besse: You wouldn’t think it to look at me now but I used to be a great dancer.

Northern Soul

Wigan Casino 1973

Boz: Are we really going to dance Besse?

Besse:  Its not as if I’m asking you to have sex with me is it?

Boz steps back and starts shaking his body!

That isn’t dancing

Boz: I can do Langworthy, Gangnam style.

Besse: Go on then.!

Pause

Boz: Maybe not!

Besse is smiling.

 What were the records that you used to dance to?

Besse: Well there were always three at the end of the night.

Tobi Legend : Time will pass you by

Jimmy Radcliffe: Long after tonight is over.

Dean Parrish: I’m on my way.

Besse: I’m going to teach you how to dance so good.

Boz: I can’t believe that just by dancing that you’ll…… that……

Besse: Shut up and come here!

 It means that you’ll have to look at me, eyes, face and body.

You’ll have to take in what you’ve done!

Further Redemption.

Do it for the Gang Boz!

Besse and Boz take each others hands and rather awkwardly at first Besse moves Boz about the roof to the three songs mentioned! After each song, there is an embarrassed silence but we observe an improvement in Boz’s confidence, demeanour and dancing.

Besse: That’s it Boz!

This is where our journey ends.

Boz: Aww, just as I was getting good.

Besse: Isn’t it always the way?

Boz: I’ll leave you…like…what’s left of the dope and the booze!

Besse: That’s kind of you!

 It’s getting colder.

Boz: Right then! Look out Accrington, here I come.

Besse: So you know where and how to get the money now!

It’s all been accounted for and it will be in different branches around the world for you to use and invest in those places.

 The places that Mr Reynolds family and ancestors benefitted from in the Clothing Business.

 Look after those people Boz.

 They deserve this reward and thank you for taking on the responsibility.

For you will be a man my son!

Boz: Besse?

Besse: Yes Boz.

Boz: Thank you for teaching me that there is another way!

Besse picks up her bag of seed and starts broadcasting again. The SFX of birds wings! 

Boz: Can we have one more dance Besse so I can really sweep you off your feet!

Besse: So you don’t mind looking at me anymore!

Boz shakes his head! Besse moves over to the old Dansette and lets the last record drop! Boz and Besse dance to The Drifters: Save the Last Dance for Me!

The chimes strike midnight, fireworks explode over the Manchester skyline.

Boz reaches over to give Besse a kiss on the cheek. Besse shouts “give over” and pushes Boz backwards. Boz stumbles and trips over the wheel of the shopping trolley. Everything happens so quickly and Boz falls over the side of the roof. We hear a shout and scream from Boz. Besse freezes with her back to the audience and turns into the stone statue once again with arms outstretched.  SFX of a Helicopter.

Susan Boyle sings ‘Nearer my God to Thee’ to darkness.

Fini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Red Button

Dixie Dickenson

Red Button Theatre began at the University of Glamorgan after the Artistic Director Dafydd Williams began planning with Keith 'Dixie' Dickenson for a Theatre Movement that would give voice to the underdog, to those on the fringes of mainstream society.

After the success of 'Catharsis' at the University of Glamorgan, the new company comprising Dixie, Richard Lewis and Alex Shaw began working on different projects. We have worked with Alan Osborne on realising his Oratorio 'This is the Day' at the Myfanwy Theatre, Merthyr Tydfil and our most recent work has been the acclaimed 'Lost Souls' Laundrette/Golchfa'r Golledig' which was staged at the Weston Studio, Wales Millennium Centre in August 2010.

In 2016, our focus concentrates on 'Theatre for Mental Health', we will be workshopping and improvising with Mental Health Service Users across Wales and the UK and those who self identify as sufferring with anxiety and depression and other Mental Health Conditions, to perform work which already has Mental Health as its theme as well as new work which we hope will offer fresh focus and challenge the stigma associated with Mental Ill-Health.


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