Friday, 4 March 2016

Manuela and Sam act 4 © David Collard

Here's the next act of Manuela and Sam. In the theatre this would probably come after an interval. (A drink or two tends to help any show - ask any actor.) 

This play is a two-hander, with a single set. There's nothing especially tricky about the staging apart, I suppose, from the appearance at the opening of this act of a billionaire's yacht. This needn't be shown of course - a single foghorn would do, perhaps followed by that high-pitched whistle that accompanies (or used to accompany) the arrival of bigwigs on naval vessels. Manueala can simply step off a gangplank.



Manuela and Sam © David Collard

Act 4

(The same music, but a scratched recording played at a slightly slower speed. It is thirty years later. Before the lights go up (or the curtain rises) we hear the sound of a coconut falling and hitting a human skull. The island has over the years become more habitable, There is a simple shelter, a vegetable patch, basic driftwood furniture. Curtain rises to show that the palm tree has grown considerably. An older, bearded Sam is lying concussed at the foot of the tree from which a coconut has fallen.

A vast modern yacht, the Jolly Oligarch, is moored close to the island.

Manuela steps on to the rock and retrieves the coconut. She is in human form, wearing an immaculate white cruise ship captain's uniform complete with braided cap. Heavy expensive jewellery and a pair of Jimmy Choos, which she carries. She is otherwise unchanged and hasn't aged a day since she left. She looks around neutrally, cradling the coconut, admires the palm tree then sees Sam supine beneath it. She smiles and crouches over him.)

Manuela:    What's the difference between an epileptic oysterman and a tart with diarrhoea?

(Sam groans, and keeps his eyes closed.)

Manuela:   An epileptic oysterman and a tart with diarrhoea?

Sam:          Not again.

Manuela:   One shucks between fits . . .

Sam :         And a noisy noise annoys an oyster most.

Manuela:   You look a sight

Sam:          Thanks a bunch.

Manuela:   You've made a few changes I see.

(Sam opens his eyes and looks at Manuela)

Sam:          So have you.

Manuela:    Just something I threw on.

Sam:           But - you're human?

Manuela:    You don't miss a thing do you?

Sam:           You've got legs!

Manuela:     I've had my hair done.

Sam:           You've got legs!

Manuela:    Dropped a dress size.

Sam:           You've got legs!

Manuela:    Like the fishnets? Old habits die hard.

Sam:           YOU'VE GOT LEGS!

Manuela:    Wrong. I've got great legs.

(She sashays around, pleased with herself. Sam kneels and gazes at her)

Sam:           How?

Manuela:    Never mind the how. It's the why that counts.

Sam:           You did it for love?

Manuela:     No I did it for kicks. (Gesture) Yes for love. Of bloody course for love. 

Sam:           What happened?

Manuela:     It's the old story.

Sam:            Boy meets fish?

Manuela:     Don't be cheeky.

Sam:            I'm old now.

Manuela:     Enough about you. What about me?

Sam:            You haven't changed a bit. Well a lot I mean, but -

Manuela:     'Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds'

Sam:            Enough with the Tennyson.

Manuela:     Shakespeare?

Sam:            Enough with the fucking poetry. 

Manuela:     How have you been keeping?

Sam:            I survive.

Manuela:     Evidently.

(She looks around appraisingly)

Sam:            Shelter. It's a shelter. You though. You're not a day older.

Manuela:     Why thank you.

Sam:            Not a compliment. An observation. I'm older now.

Manuela:     You don't say.

Sam:            Are you - are you with anyone?

Manuela:     Does it look as though I'm with someone?

Sam:            Yes.

Manuela:     Well then yes.

Sam:            Who?

Manuela:     Never you mind.

Sam:           Are you happy?

Manuela:    Never you mind. Are you deaf as well?

Sam:           So - how does it feel?

Manuela:    Takes some getting used to. There's a phantom tail thing. I prefer baths to showers.

Sam:           What's the hardest part?

Manuela:     Shoes. Don't get me started.

Sam:            Those are nice.

Manuela:     Jimmy Choos. 

Sam:            Do you ever think of us?

Manuela:     There was no us. There is no us. We are not an us.

Sam:            When did you...?

Manuela:     Ten years ago. About the same time I had some other work done.

Sam:           Did it hurt?

Manuela:    It's a simple procedure. Keyhole. Yes.

Sam:           How did you get here?

Manuela:    It's behind you (she gestures to the yacht).

Sam:           You have a yacht?

Manuela:    His Nibs has several yachts. A fleet, if you will.

Sam:           Nibs?

Manuela:     Boris.

Sam:           Boris?

Manuela:    My other half.

Sam:           You're married?

Manuela:     Try to keep up.

Sam:            He's rich?

Manuela:      Fleet of yachts. Pay attention.

Sam:            Do you love him?

Manuela:     He understands me. He's really very simple.

Sam:           Does he love you?

Manuela:    What do you think?

Sam:           Do you love him?

Manuela:    Oh for Neptune's sake.

Sam:           Does he know about -

Manuela:    My - heritage?

Sam:           Is that what you call it?

Manuela:    He knows how to please me and I let him.

Sam:           And the crew?

Manuela:    I please myself.

Sam:           Did you love me? At all? For a time?

Manuela:    Darling Sam  - of course not.

Sam:           Oh. Do you love him?

Manuela:    He's a plutocrat. Or an oligarch. There is a difference, but it's like flotsam and jetsam. He's
                   worth more than all the  other olicrats put together, if that helps. He's building me a Caspian
                   archipelago - that's how rich he is. Very very very very rich  indeed. My husband. And
                   now I have to leave. We're having sushi. Then he's going to have me in the wet room.

Sam:           What about me?

Manuela:    Shall I send some over?

Sam:           No. Sod the sushi. It's you I want.

Manuela:    It's very good, the sushi. 

Sam:           There's a word for women like you.

Manuela:    Free spirit?

Sam:           That's not what I had in mind.

Manuela:     You feel - what? 'Betrayed'? Oh Sam do grow up.

Sam:       Why did you have to come back here?

Manuela:     I left something behind.

Sam:           You certainly did.

Manuela:     Not you and don't be silly. (She looks around). Ah! Here it is! (She takes the long blonde 
                    wig from the washing-line and shakes it.) You never know when it might come in handy.

Sam:           You came here for that?

Manuela:    Yes. And to see you of course. But mainly for this. yes.

Sam:          Thanks.

Mariela:     It's my cohuleen druith. Without it you can't go back.

Sam:          As a mermaid?

Mariela:     I self-identify as a Merrow.

Sam:          Merrow then. 

Mariela:     Thank you.

Sam:          The wig?

Manuela:    Pay attention. It's not a wig, it's my cohuleen druith. (Glasgow) Ma jaggy bunnett? If I lose
                   this cap I lose the power to return beneath the water. 

Sam:          You think you know someone . . ..

Manuela:    I'm complicated. Shall I tell you something else?

Sam:          I'm listening.

Manuela:   We - we Merrow - are also known to leave their outer skins behind, in order to transform
                  into other beings.. Beings even more magical and beautiful. 

Sam:          Magical?

Mariela:     I still owe you wishes three.

Sam:          But you said -

Mariela:     I lied.

Sam:          Can I have them now?

Mariela:     What do you think?

Sam:          Hold on. Let me think. Would you have cigarette?.

Manuela (rummages in handbag): No problem. Keep the pack.

Sam:          Have you got a light?

(Manuela produces a gold-plated lighter and lights Sam's cigarette. Sam smokes with bliss and starts to cough.)

Sam:          Three wishes eh?    

Manuela:    One left.

Sam:          What?

Manuela:    The cigarette.

Sam:           That wasn't a wish! That wasn't a wish! 

Manuela:    Counts as a wish.

Sam:           Alright then, one wish! Jesus. What was the second?

(Manuela waggles the lighter)

         Oh great.

Manuela:    Take your time.

Sam:           Anything I want?

Manuela:    Of course not.

Sam:           I can't think of anything.

Manuela:    As I say - take your time but I'm leaving in five minutes.

Sam:          Oh. Where are you going?

Manuela:    Somewhere with a marina.

(Long pause)

Sam:          How are our - the children?

Manuela:   How should I know?

Sam:          Aren't you just a wee bit curious?

Manuela:   One can't love them all. There are thousands.

Sam:          All girls? Some boys?

Manuela:   I expect so. We haven't stayed in touch.

Sam:          And you? How are you?

Manuela:   Och you know. "Straining up under the bears"

Sam:          You what?

Manuela:    "Straining up under the bears".

Sam:           Oh yes. Hah.

Manuela:    Bearing up. Under the strain.

Sam:           I do get it.

Manuela:    Eventually.

Sam:           I'm out of practice.

(The yacht's foghorn sounds)

Manuela:     I'm wanted.

Sam:           I wish -

Manuela:    Yes?

Sam:           I wish you every happiness.

(Manuela is briefly taken aback)

Manuela:    Well that's a first. Thank you.

Sam:           You're welcome.

Manuela:    You must never forget your roots. The time may come when I need to wreck the yacht and
                   swim away. Och what am I like?

Sam:           Goodbye Manuella.

Manuela:    Auf Wiedersehen . .  à bientôt  . .  adios . . .до свидания . . . 

(She leaves. The Jolly Oligarch moves off. Sam sits down outside his shelter. He sees the Jimmy Choos and picks one up. Raising it to his face he inhales deeply. He reaches into the box and takes out a can of Irn Bru, which he opens and swigs from while first singing to himself, and then addressing the audience directly.)

Sam:         When I was a lad in a fishing town
  My old man said to me:
"You can spend your life, your jolly life
Sailing on the sea.
You can search the world for pretty girls
  Til your eyes grow weak and dim,
But don't go fishing for a mermaid, son
  If you don't know how to swim"

     Sea shanties. There are three types, you know. There's your short haul shanties, for tasks  
             requiring quick pulls over a relatively short time. Then there's your halyard shanties, for heavier
             work requiring more setup time between pulls and finally you've got your capstan shanties and
             these are long and they're sung for long, repetitive tasks requiring a sustained rhythm, but not
             involving working the lines. This is one of those (sings): 
'Cause her hair was green as seaweed
Her skin was blue and pale
I loved that girl with all my heart
I only liked the upper part
I did not like the tail
So I signed aboard of a whaling ship
  And my first very day at sea
There I spied in the waves,
  Reaching out for me
"Come live with me in the sea said she,
  Down on the ocean floor
And I'll show you many's a wonderous thing
  That you've never seen before

(He pauses and repeats to himself "shucks between fits" and smiles)
So over I jumped and she pulled me down,
  Down to her seaweed bed
A pillow made of tortoise-shell
  She placed beneath my head
She fed me shrimp and caviar
  Upon a silver dish
From her head to her waist was just to my taste
  But the rest of her was a fish
Then one day, she swam away
  So I sang to the clams and the whales
"Oh, how I miss her seagreen hair
And the silvery shine of her scales
Then her sister, she swam by
  And set my heart awhirl
From her head to her waist was an ugly fish
  But the rest of her was a girl

'Cause her hair was green as seaweed
Her skin was blue and pale
I loved that girl with all my heart
I did not like the upper part
And that's how I get my ...

(He starts to heave with sobs)



End of Act 4

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