By Finn McGrath (2017)
Two people sit working on their computers in an office. They sit opposite each other with their screens in between them. There is a window beside them, at the back of the stage.
The two characters have a conversation that leads to an argument. Occasionally they draw on incidents or features outside the window for inspiration. Character one sits stage right.
Character 1: 1
Character 2: 2
2: Could you pass me the case folder for-
1: (Staring out the window) Look at the state of those flats. Look at them. It’s an absolute disgrace.
Character 2 gets the folder himself. It is bulging and stuffed without notes.
1: I’m telling you this country is going to the dogs.
2: (Disinterested) Is it?
1: We need a big change, seriously. Turn everything around and start doing things right again.
2: Well yes, it’s not perfect, but -
1: Yes! There you go, you can see the facts as plainly as I can. We’ve got to change.
2: Things are… different -
2: but some things -
1: Look at where we’re heading. If we don’t pull on the reigns now, this horse is going to run off a cliff, understand?
Offstage/Outside the window, the characters hear two people arguing with each other, interrupting 2 from his work.
1: See what I mean? Those people are the ones who get caught out. People like us.
2: You don’t know what they’re arguing about.
1: Doesn’t matter. They’re unhappy. And who’s fault is that? The people in charge.
1 leans back in his chair and folds his arms triumphantly.
2 is baffled
2: I can’t argue with that logic.
2’s irony is lost on 1.
2 tries to get back to work but 1 almost immediately starts talking again.
1: Look. (He points out the window) Look at that school down there. Go on, look!
2: (Looks halfheartedly) Oh, yes I see it.
1: What will those children have to deal with? They’re trapped, they can’t do anything. They’ll never be able to do anything
2: (Quietly) They say necessity is the mother of invention.
1: What’s that?
2: Well, the children will have to - no never mind, it’s nothing.
There is a pause. 2 again tries to get back to work.
1, with an exaggerated show of exasperation, recommences his rant.
1: How did I end up working with you in this place? If it wasn’t for the people in change I would be named partner of this firm by now. We need someone fresh in charge. Not these same old politicians who never worked a day in their life.
2: I think they work hard.
1: Not real work, not like you and me. Not like our mothers and fathers. No, they’ve never done anything worthwhile. I was supposed to get transferred you know. Over to the States. That’s where I should be. Did you know that? I was supposed to be a lawyer in the United States, not some bloody secretary or whatever they call us now.
2: Junior associates. Speaking of, do you know if the photocopier has been-
1: Did you know that I was supposed to go to the States?
2: Yes, you’ve told me.
1: But of course the people in charge are always moving the goalposts. They cheated me out of it. I’m telling you, you should feel angry at them for cheating you.
2: Cheating me?
1: Yes! They don’t care about you, or what you want. They just want to help themselves. They’ve cheated you out of what you deserve.
2: (under his breath) I deserve a new office.
1: (1 completely misses the barb. In fact, he thinks 2 is agreeing with him.) Yes! You do deserve it. If only someone could step in and change things up, then we would get what we’re worth.
2: (Looks 1 in the eye for the first time) Who would you have in charge?
1: I’d have that guy off the TV -
2: (Surprised) But what would he know?
1: (Visibly angered by being questioned) Let me finish! (2 drops eye contact) He could change things. Clean the blackboard, understand? It’s just what those people up top need, someone like us to tell them what we really want.
2: Hmm, yes, (2 picks up the folder from earlier and heaves it across the desk) would you be able to-
1: I’m telling you, nothing’s going to change the way things are. Are if things stay the way they are…?
2: Horse runs off the cliff, got it, would you mind-
1: (Not satisfied with 1’s answer, 2 presses for more) No wait, what’s that?
2: (Frustrated) Would you mind-
1: No no, the other thing.
1: No no what’s wrong, Come on. Speak your mind! Your opinion matters just as much as mine.
2: (reluctantly) I just think we shouldn’t panic. Things are getting better and -
1: Nonsense! Everything is getting worse. Can’t you see? isn’t it obvious?
2: Why? What is worse?
1: (voice rising) Everything! And the people in charge don’t care, it’s fine for them. What about us? Have they forgotten? (Shouting now) What about us?
2: (calmly) What if it’s just you?
1: (Indignant) Just me? How can you blame me? I haven’t done anything!
2: Exactly (2 finally asserts himself) You haven’t done anything. So you blame someone else. Someone you don’t know. “The people in charge,” it’s always their fault. Never yours. Nothing to do with the fact that you never accomplished anything.
1: That - that’s… it is their fault! They ruined my life! How is it my fault that -
2: All you do is complain. Just learn to deal with it. You’re so used to bullying everyone into agreeing with you. To having it your way. So now that whenever you can’t have what you want you blame “those people in charge.” Well guess what. This is how I feel when you interrupt me. When you tell me how I’m supposed to feel or think. I feel helpless. But you know what? I deal with it. This is the way the world works. You can’t have everything your own way. Sometimes life is difficult. So compromise. And deal with it.
2 immediately puts his head down and starts working again.
1 is stunned. He opens his mouth to respond but he has nothing. He sits staring out the window)
End of Scene