28 Plays Later: Challenge 9 (Their World)

We were given a Hemmingway quote today as our inspiration, we could choose any part of the quote, or all of it to inspire a play today.

‘The world is a fine place; and worth fighting for; and I hate very much to leave it’- Earnest Hemmingway.

My brain went to a dark place, very quickly.

Their World.

Samantha Frost.

9th February 2017

Characters

Jim (22)

John (21)

 

The Somme, 1916. The stage is mud and wire, almost sepia in tone but with no nostalgia, the sky is overcast with the threat of rain looming. The sound track is of shells and machine gun fire. It should feel claustrophobic, as if the atmosphere itself is a fever burning hot and cold. We here footsteps of a man running through sodden ground, we see Jim Rivers enter, he is soaking and covered in mud and blood, trembling and crying. He looks feral and barely recognisable as human. He runs and hides behind a tree stump that has fallen casualty to an earlier shelling.

He sits still but we can sense movement within him. He is lost but doesn’t care. A moment passes, he does not move. We hear another set of foot falls, calmer and slower than Jim’s, they belong to John.

John:

Jim? Jim? Jim, are you here?

 

Jim remains still and silent almost as if he cannot hear John. John searches the stage, he trips over Jim’s boot.

John:

Bloody hell, Jim! You gave me a fright! Jim, you can’t be here, if anyone other than me found you, you’d be in deep shit mate, they would call you a deserter. You’ve got to come back with me now, we could say you thought you saw a Hun and tried to run him down or summit.

Jim:

I can’t.

John:

Jim, they’ll shoot you.

Jim:

So, will the Hun, at least this way it’ll be quick and clean and nobodies gotta see it.

John:

Think of Maggie, she deserves better than a deserter, the shame that would bring her and the littlun, having to grow up everybody calling his dad a coward? (Jim doesn’t move) Mate come one, if you come back you’ve got a chance, you could go home.

 

 

Jim:

Even if this war ever ends, even if I survived, it wouldn’t be me going home. We don’t belong to the world anymore John, can’t you see that? We are walking vapours, shadows walking hand in hand with the dead as we split their skulls under our boots. I’d rather die. At least them back home would never know, they could remember me as I was before.

John:

You gotta fight mate, for them. I know its shit, this whole fucking war is bollocks but we are fighting for them, for their world even if we can’t ever get back to it.

Jim:

We aren’t fighting for anything, there’s nothing left fighting for, the world is just damp and mud and corpses and fucking explosions.

John:

No, the world is a fine place and worth fighting for. We are fighting to contain this hell, to keep the cancers from spreading back home. To protect our families from ever having to see this. Fuck Haig, fuck all of them, we for fight for our families and for each other. We keep hope for them even if we have none left.

Jim:

For each other? I swore I’d protect Fred, he was 18 John, conscripted. He was terrified and I swore to him I’d protect him.

John:

Is he…

Jim:

Just happened, he couldn’t breathe – kid had asthma, shouldn’t have even been here. He stood up to catch his breath but he caught a bullet instead, through the throat. It took him ages to die and all the time I was holding him trying to tell him it’d be alright but he couldn’t speak, he just kind of made a gurgling sound. He didn’t look away from me once, at first I could see he believed me, he had hope that he’d get through it but then it turned to betrayal, he just looked up at me knowing I lied to him and he hated me for it. He died with that burnt in his eyes.

John:

(John doesn’t know what to say, he puts his hand on Jim’s shoulder) Fight for him, Jim, fight for his mum. You owe him that, don’t you?

Jim:

(thinks)Yeah.

John:

So, get your arse up and let’s go before you get shot and the poor kids died in vain! Their world is worth fighting for Jim.

John stands up and extends his hand, Jim takes it and pulls himself up. We hear a shell explode – its close, dirt flies onto the stage.

John:

We gotta move now, Boche is getting too close.

The start to run, just as the get to the exit of the stage we hear another shell, we see smoke and a hug amount of dirt is projected onto the stage were the soldiers were exciting. When the smoke clears, we see John and Jim contorted on the floor, dead.

 

END.


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