THE TROUBLE WITH TABLETS
By Emma D’Arcy, Playwriting Summer Camp
ELIZA, 72 YEAR OLD WOMAN IN A NURSING HOME, OPINIONATED AND EASILY AGITATED, PRIM
ROY, 23 YEAR OLD MAN FROM DUBLIN, EASILY SUBDUED AND QUITE CONSCIENTIOUS
Scene opens with Eliza sitting in an old looking armchair, sunlight streams through the open curtains. Eliza is ignoring Roy who stands in front of her, looking slightly irritated.
ROY: Ah come on Eliza, I can’t stand here all day.
ELIZA: I don’t expect you to.
ROY: I can’t leave until you take them.
ELIZA: My heart will be just fine without them, thank you.
ROY: Better safe than sorry though yeah?
ELIZA: I suppose.
ROY: Thank you.
Eliza swallows three tablets with some difficulty.
ELIZA: You wouldn’t like it if you had to swallow three blimps every day would you? Cod liver oil was always enough for me. I’m fit as a fiddle.
ROY: My mum gave me that once. Beat. I got sick on the couch.
ELIZA: We were hardier in my day.
ROY: I’m hardy.
ELIZA: No dear, you’re not.
ROY: Why the hell not?
ELIZA: Your age group are always so easily offended. I remember a few months ago I went with my grandson to Shaw’s to find a suit for his Debs.
ELIZA: He tried on this suit, a light blue thing and came out to me. I was very comfy sitting on this lovely little pouffe, very satiny. It reminded me of this beautiful dress I wore when I used to go out.
ROY: What was the suit like then? Did he suit it?
ELIZA: Oh heavens no. A pale blue suit on a boy? Lovely colour on a girl I’m sure but not for a young man. He looked awful. The poor petal had even done the jacket up wrong. I don’t know how he managed it.
ROY: I think I’ve done that before/
ELIZA: That doesn’t surprise me.
ELIZA: So anyway he wanted an honest opinion on it, and at my age why bother with minding his feelings?
ROY: What did you say, Eliza?
ELIZA: Well I told him he looked ridiculous and the poor boy just sat down and cried. I felt sorry for him but he really needed to hear it.
ROY: That’s… unfortunate?
ELIZA: I blame the gays!
ELIZA: All those gay men, I see them on the television all the time, they have such taste in clothes. They make the rest of the men look horrendous.
ROY: Eliza you can’t really blame the gays.
ELIZA: Why not?
ROY: Well it could offend someone?
ELIZA: Everyone is too easily offended these days.
ROY: Well that’s not fair/
ELIZA: That’s exactly it! We keep talking about what’s fair. You’ll hear them on the radio raising gender neutral babies, eating god knows what sort of new fangled vegetables. Why can’t we just stick with carrots? What’s wrong with carrots? Or a nice bit of broccoli?
ROY: Most people don’t like broccoli.
ELIZA: Shush Roy. You hear about these celebrities having babies and naming them Rainbow, River, Bear, and who knows what else? And I’m expected to look at some poor soul named one of these god forsaken names and say “Aw look at the little baby bear!” That used to mean an actual woodland creature!
ROY: Times change.
ELIZA: Well they’re certainly leaving me behind.
ROY: Just try to keep up?
ELIZA: Do I have to?
ELIZA: I’m not getting any younger. Please God I’m around for a while yet though.
ROY: Stop it.
ELIZA: It’s not fair on us.
ELIZA: My generation, us old folk, the “aul ones”, whatever you lot call us nowadays. I was having lunch with my daughter and she tells me that they’re getting rid of religion from schools. “A more secular society” she says.
ROY: Yeah that’s true, my sister goes to a non denominational school I think.
ELIZA: Well what’s wrong with instilling good morals into children at a young age?
ROY: That might be called indoctrination.
ELIZA: You can’t leave it to those parents to do it nowadays. They’re getting worse. They’re worse than the children.
ROY: Eliza, you really can’t say that.
ELIZA: Roy, I’ll say what I want to. I keep hearing that, I can’t say this, I can’t say that. You lot are always pushing free speech but I can’t have free speech?
ROY: You can have free speech but you should try to filter yourself.
ELIZA: At my age dear there’s no point. We’re considerate of the gays, the vegans, the immigrants, everyone. Well except my generation. What do we get? That censorship you lot are all so outraged about? For a liberal society it’s very restrictive.
ROY: You don’t need to be so upset Eliza, I’m not trying to shut you up.
ELIZA: We’re just shoved into some nursing home or if we’re lucky some relative will take us in. I don’t see fairness in that. I keep hearing people talk about the “future of Ireland” with every new referendum. Ireland wouldn’t have a future if it wasn’t for us.
ROY: You’re right.
ELIZA: But I still can’t say any of that?
ROY: No, not really.
ELIZA: Well then.
ROY: I’m sorry.
ELIZA: It’s not your fault.
ROY: I know but I’m still sorry.
ELIZA: Just try to understand how we feel about all this when you next talk to someone older.
ROY: I will.
ELIZA: You won’t always be the young university graduate. You’ll be sitting in this chair someday and it’ll come quicker than you think.
ELIZA: It’s nearly lunchtime surely?
ROY: Yeah it is. Do you want me to see what’s on the menu today?
ELIZA: Yes please.
Roy disappears momentarily and returns to her side.
ROY: It’s kale salad.