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CHARACTERS
TOBY BREGOVIC - 14, SUBURBAN PRINCE
TALON O’SHAUNESSY - 14, LESS COMFORTABLY A SUBURBAN PRINCE
CHRISTINA STEAD - FIFTY, WORLD WEARY
COMPUTER -
CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN - SIXTY, MOUNTAIN OF A MAN, DISHEVELLED
IN BLACK VELVET, SILVER HANDLED CANE
DOT - 12 YEAR OLD GIRL IN A TORN AND DIRTY 1890s DRESS
KANGAROO - MOTHERLY
POLICEWOMAN - INDIGENOUS, SAME ACTOR AS KANGAROO
POLICEMAN

SCENE AN OPEN SPACE LIVING AREA WITH DARKENED COMPUTER
STATION UPSTAGE. TOBY IS STANDING OVER TALON WHO IS
PATTERING ON A COMPUTER KEYBOARD. THE REST OF THE SPACE IS
OCCUPIED BY ARMCHAIRS, A SOFA, COFFEE TABLE, DRINKS
CABINET, FLATSCREEN T V ... THE COMPUTER SCREEN THROWS AN
EERIE LIGHT OVER SET.

ACT 1

                       TOBY
You’re useless, that’s no good.

                       TALON
You wouldn’t know how to get in. In any case, you told
those guys at school you watched Hot Babes Do Live Sex like
all the time.

                       Talon shoves himself away from the
                       screen. Stands up, moves off. Toby
                       takes his place at the keyboard,
                       patters furiously at keys. Screen
                       flickers.

                       TALON (CONT)
Hot Guys Do Live Sex more like it.

                       TOBY
              (While still pattering)
Have they got that?

                       TALON
How would I - (know)? Probably, they’ve got everything.
Prinzina said she watches this site where these guys dress
up as cuddly toys - like kangaroos and things ...

                       TOBY
That’s not sex! They’re fetish guys. God you’re a virgin,
that’s ... I bet that’s ... Anyway, she’s in America. I bet
that isn’t even her talking.

                       TALON
It is. Who else would it be? She’s talking .. (for Pete’s
sake). Who else would it be?
                                                            2.


                       TOBY
It’s probably her older sister and she just writes those
messages. Or some old pedophile out to trap you. They ask
you to meet them in - (McDonald’s or somewhere).

                       TALON
Tobster, it’s Prinzina, she talks, she hums, she sings, she
walks the walk. She’s coming to visit me. I’m going to take
her to the formal when I’m in Year Twelve.

                       Toby laughs.

                       TOBY
You crack me up. You’re so ... What’s that word, we did it
in English? It means you believe everything they tell you.

                       TALON
Gullible.

                       TOBY
You’re so gullible ... How do you spell it?

                       TALON
G-U-L- ...


                       Toby patters the key board.

                       TOBY
Got it.

                       Toby patters keyboard some more.

                       COMPUTER
GULLIBLE - G-U-L-L-I-B-L-E. An innocent, credulous person.
Someone who believes everything they are told.

                       TOBY
That’s so right, that’s you alright, innocent. That’s the
word I was trying to think of before. It means you’ve never
had sex.

                       TALON
It does not, it means you’re ... holy.

                       TOBY
What?

                       TALON
Innocent means you are washed clean of your sins by the
Lamb of God’s blood. You don’t even have filthy thoughts.
God can trust you.

                       TOBY
Oh my ... (God). Sure. Whatever. This is embarrassing.

                       Toby patters keyboard again.
                                                            3.


                       COMPUTER
GULLIBLE - G-U-L-L-I-B-L-E. An innocent, credulous ...

                       TOBY
What’s ‘credulous’ for ... (fuck’s sake)?

                        Toby patters keyboard again.

                       TALON
You’re ... Are you adding these to your vocab list?

                        Toby ignores him. Keeps pattering at
                        keyboard.

                       TALON (CONT)
I don’t think that’s very fair, Mr Tszinsky will think you
found them for yourself.

                       COMPUTER
CREDULOUS - C-R-E-D-U-L-O-U-S. A believing person, the
quality of accepting information unhesitatingly without
doubt or proof.

                       TOBY
That’s what you are. I’ll think of you and that will help
me to remember that word. Credulous, Talon O’Shaunessy, a
guy who believes whatever they ask him to swallow.

                        TALON
I feel sorry for you.

                       TOBY
Really? Why would that be Talon my friend?

                       TALON
Because you have no faith. Pastor says it makes people cold
and when the Rapture comes - (you will be left behind).

                       TOBY
Here we go. Pastor says.

                       TALON
I’m not that bad, I have scepticism. (IMITATING COMPUTER
VOICE) SCEPTICISM - S-C-E-P-T-I-C-I-S-M someone who thinks
about things in a way for himself to see if they are true.
And Prinzina is true.

                        TOBY
I didn’t say she wasn’t true, dude, I just said she
mightn’t be the one who is talking - she mightn’t look like
that way cool black chick who is too old for you by the
way. You are so credulous Talon, you really are. These old
guys are always pulling these scams on the net and ...
What’s that other word?

                       COMPUTER
GULLIBLE - G-U-L-L-I-B-L-E. An innocent ...
                                                            4.


                       TOBY
How did that ... (happen)?

                       Talon rushes over, pushes Toby aside
                       and patters at keyboard while ...

                       COMPUTER
.. credulous person. Someone who believes everything -

                       TOBY
Hey! Who’s computer is it, gullible man?

                       Talon keeps at keyboard.

                       TALON
We’ve got to do this now so we can play Amazing Car Theft.

                       TOBY
Chill dude, there’s plenty of time, it’s only ... (CHECKS
TIME) seven thirty. So who do we have to look up?

                       TALON
We can choose. One each. So long as it’s a famous
Australian writer.

                       Computer screen flickers.

                       TALON
You’ve got power failure.

                       TOBY
I didn’t till you took over. (POINTS AT SCREEN) What’s that
you’ve brought up?

                       TALON
I didn’t ...

                       TOBY
Oh. Right. Australian Literature. O K so who are we going
to research? Um ... John Marsden, or what’s the name of
that dude who wrote Looking for Alibrandi?

                       TALON
This is weird. I didn’t ... The computer just ... You’ve
already been searching, right?

                       TOBY
Searching what?

                       TALON
Looking for your great Australian writer. Who did you
choose?

                       TOBY
No-one yet. I don’t know ... (who to choose). Look, it says
CELEBRATED PRACTITIONERS. That must be it, like
celebrities, get it? So who was that guy who wrote Looking
for Alibrandi?
                                                           5.


                       TALON
Melina Marchetta.

                       Toby starts to type.

                       TOBY
How do you spell it? That guy shouldn’t’ve committed
suicide.

                       TALON
It’s against God’s will. So is anorexia.

                       TOBY
Is it? How do you spell it? M-?

                       TALON
M-E-L-I-N-A M-A-R-

                       Toby types.

                       TOBY
M-A-R go on.

                       TALON
M-A-R-C ... is it H? Or just C? Italians just write C when
they sound CH.

                       TOBY
Whatever.

                       Toby types.

                       TOBY
It’s frozen.

                       TALON
Let me. I think it’s ...

                       Talon types.

                       COMPUTER
M-A-R-C ... C-H-R-I-S-T-I-N-A Christina. S-T-E-A-D Stead.
1902 to 1983. Celebrated Australian author spent most of
her life escaping her native land but was forced to return
for financial reasons ...

                       Christina Stead   emerges from the
                       darkness behind   the computer station.
                       The boys do not   see her. She stares
                       at them and the   screen.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
That’s not entirely true.
                                                            6.


                       COMPUTER
She was more celebrated overseas than in Australia. Her
reputation was particularly high in the United States where
she set her thinly disguised autobiographical novel The Man
Who Loved Children.

                          CHRISTINA STEAD
Hmph!

                       TOBY
Yeah, I don’t really want to do her, she’s not celebrated
enough. I don’t want to do someone who - (wrote about
peds).

                       TALON
What? This is weird. What’s this got to do with ...

                       TOBY
What was the name of that guy who did Raw?

                          TALON
Scott Monk. Did you ...

                          Christina Stead is puzzled about
                          where she is, manoeuvres to see what
                          the boys are doing.

                       TOBY
I might do him. It was O K. He shouldn’t’ve got so mixed up
with that chick though, she was too good for him. What was
the name of that guy who wrote about the horses - Banjo
Patterson. I’m going to do him! That movie was cool. Who
else is there?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Henry Lawson. He was pointed out to me once, I had - (just
got off the ferry at Circular Quay and ...).

                          Boys gasp and leap away.

                          TOBY
Mum’s not here.

                          CHRISTINA STEAD
I see. So you’re alone?

                       TOBY
Yes, we’re doing our homework. No!

                          Christina Stead moves downstage
                          looking around.

                          CHRISTINA STEAD
How strange.

                       TALON
You better go now, his dad will be here any minute, we’re
expecting him ...
                                                            7.


                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I’d like to go. What time is the tram?

              TOBY                          TALON
Tram?                              Tram?

                       TOBY
What tram?

                       TALON
We don’t have trams.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I’ll take the ferry then. What time is it? It can’t be so
late that I’ve missed the last one.

                       TOBY
Ferry?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I wish I’d never come back, I knew it would be like this. I
must leave before David gets back. What time is he
expected?

                       TOBY
David?

                       TALON
Right away.

                       Christina Stead becomes agitated,
                       paces up and down.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Oh good grief. I cannot abide the idea of running into him.
This is most unfortunate. You boys ... Who are you? Has
someone had children? Are you neighbours in here to get one
of David’s gimcracks? A cotton reel ferry? A puppet head
made from a sock? Take it and go. No. I’ll come with you,
you can take me to the tram ... Did you say there are no
trams?

                       TALON
They’re very environmentally friendly but ...

                        CHRISTINA STEAD
I see David has been filling your heads with his ideas. Oh
dear, nothing has changed. King of the kids. Did he just
leave you here, watching television? Television. Does he
really have television?

                       TOBY
No. Dad will be here soon - now!

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Dad? Who is your father? Which of my brother’s ... I’m your
Aunt Christina. I’ve been ... away - in America of late.
Surely he’s mentioned me.
                                                            8.


Don’t tell me David had more children? Poor Thistle. Women
rush into marriage with (anyone) ... heedlessly.

                       TOBY
I don’t have an Aunt Christina, you’re in the wrong place.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
So I am not spoken of. Surely Thistle told you about me, I
write to her religiously.

                         TALON
Who‘s Thistle?

                         Christina Stead strides towards side
                         of stage.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I must get out of here before your father, my father -
which - who is your father? - before David arrives. I have
nothing to say to him.

                       TALON
My father’s in Aotearoa.

                         Christina stops.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
What’s he doing there? There’s no more work there than
there is here.

                       TALON
He manages a marae, he’s ... important.

                         CHRISTINA STEAD
A marae? What is that?

                         TALON
A Maori meeting house.

                       TOBY
They’re very environmentally friendly.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
What next. How typical of a Stead to go off and interfere
in the lives of some native people.

                       TOBY
My dad’s coming home. He’ll be here any minute. He’ll throw
you and your mates into the street and call the police.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Police? Why would he do that?

                       TOBY
Home invasions are against the law. Anyway we haven’t got
any jewellery or drugs - there’s no money.
                                                         9.


                       CHRISTINA STEAD
No. There never was. And I have none. Bill left me nothing
except the rights to his book and no-one buys it,
interesting as it is. No-one is interested in Marxist
economics anymore. (Looks around) How strange it all is.
(TO TALON) Your father has changed everything. Did he marry
Maria?

                       TALON
I don’t live here but he married (NODDING TOWARDS TOBY) his
mum and then ... he’s got a girlfriend.

                       TOBY
You don’t have to tell everyone. Dad married Mum and had us
and then ... he got a girlfriend, Toula.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Oh.

                       TALON
And I’m just visiting. I’m just here to do our homework on
a great Australian writer. I’m staying over. They don’t
have any money on them. Or drugs ... I think. His stepmum
took all the credit cards with her.

                       TOBY
My parents are coming home early. Now.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I must get away. How terrible that I am here and ... I have
the old familiar feeling of ... I knew I’d feel trapped. I
should never have returned. (TURNS AROUND) I recognise
nothing. And there are no trams.

                       Christina Stead goes and sits in an
                       armchair and weeps.

                       TALON
Would you like a glass of water?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Oh you may as well make me a cup of tea. And I am starving.
Does Thistle bake? Or this Toula? Some bread and butter
will do if - (you have no cake).

                       TALON
I don’t know how to make tea.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Good grief. Coffee then.

                       TOBY
He’s Seventh Day Adventist.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
What?
                                                              10.


                       TOBY
Seventh Day Adventist. It’s a religion.

                       TALON
A lot of Maori are. Mum makes me go to this special chapel.
(TO TOBY) I’m not SDA, it’s different from SDA, you get
closer to God with the singing and the ones who talk in
tongues. (TO CHRISTINA STEAD) We can’t understand them but
that’s our fault.

                       TOBY
They’re waiting for the Rapture.

                          TALON
We’re not just waiting.

                          CHRISTINA STEAD
The what?

                       TALON
The Rapture. It’s the End of Days.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Well that’s one for the books. And what does David have to
say about that? He raised us all to be rationalists.

                          TOBY
Who’s David?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Your grandfather. What do you call him? Surely not
‘Grandpa”? (LAUGHS) I can’t imagine him allowing that. Your
grandfather, my father, the distinguished marine biologist
David G Stead, author of - Fishes of Australia A Popular
Study and   Systematic Guide to the Study of the Wealth
within our Waters.

                       TOBY
My grandfather’s in Noosa.

                          Talon checks the computer screen.
                          Taps a key on the keyboard.

                       COMPUTER
C-H-R-I-S-T-I-N-A Christina Stead. S-T-E-A-D. 1902 to 1983.
Celebrated Australian author spent most of her life
escaping her native land but was forced to return - (for
financial reasons ...)

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I wish you’d turn that tape recorder off. It’s inaccurate.
Why are you playing that? Who’s that talking?

                       TALON
I get it. You’re a Guide, aren’t you?
                                                          11.


                       CHRISTINA STEAD
No. I was never a Guide, Father - David thought they were
an Imperialist plot, which they were. Besides, I would
never have subjected myself to the uniform - not that David
could have spared the cash. I was not that sort of girl -
grilling chops on open fires while being jolly, tying knots
and ... well I would have liked to learn semaphore, then I
could have signalled to the sailors ...

                         TALON
I think it’s begun.

                         TOBY
What?

                         TALON
The Rapture.

                       TOBY
You’re kidding right? This is going right off the screen.

                       TALON
I told you it was coming. She‘s here. She came from the
internet to ... guide ... us. (TO CHRISTINA STEAD) You can
save Toby, Miss, he just ... his parents didn’t take him to
chapel. But he’s been good ... sort of - he didn’t mean to
look at those porn sites, did you?

                       TOBY
Shut up. You looked at them too.

                         Christina Stead begins to pace again.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I must leave this awful place. You boys have been listening
to the Argonauts ... or is it those serials with The Air
Adventures of Biggles and the Cisco Kid and ... My brothers
were the same. David put a stop to that. I want to leave, I
do not want to be here. I starved myself to get away, I
barely bought a thing ... I walked miles to save a penny, I
endured my father and the poisonous atmosphere of this
house ... (LOOKS AROUND). No wonder they changed it so
completely.

                       TALON
We will all be leaving soon, right?

       CHRISTINA STEAD                          TOBY
Will we? Oh good. Where is my      Will we? Where to?
purse?

                         TALON
To our eternal reward.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I suppose it was inevitable that someone in this madhouse
would get religion. Did one of my sisters marry a Maori?
Probably Kate. (TO TALON) What is your name?
                                                          12.


                       TALON
Talon.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
What ... (did you say)? Not your nick name, your Christian
name?

                       TALON
Talon is my name in Christ.

                       TOBY
It is Miss.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I hope you boys are not being cheeky. (TO TOBY) And what is
your name?

                       TOBY
Toby.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Hmm.

                       TALON
Are you the angel? What is your name?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Christina.

                       TALON
I thought so.

                       TOBY
I’m going to call the police.

                       TALON
There’s no point. They can’t help. No-one can help. The
blessed are called and the damned are lost. There might be
some blessed police but ... why?

                       TOBY
My parents wouldn’t like this. I’m getting worried.

                       Talon goes over and puts his arm
                       around Toby’s shoulder.

                       TALON
You’re Mum might be saved, she goes to church sometimes but
your stepmother is a ho.

                       Toby shrugs him off.

                       TOBY
Get off! What are you doing? They’ve just gone out with the
Duvices. (TO CHRISTINA STEAD) I’m going to ring my parents.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Oh that’s a good idea, they can ... Where are they?
                                                           13.


                       TOBY
I don’t ... (know). At a restaurant. They’re going to ring
me and - (I’ll tell them you’re here).

                       TALON
(To CHRISTINA STEAD) Maybe you’re a saint. Did you feel the
Spirit coming into your body? What did you do that pleased
the Lord?

                       TOBY
(To Talon) Stop it! You’re bullshit.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Watch your language in my presence!

                       Christina Stead goes downstage and
                       peers into the audience.

                       TALON
You’ve got to be holy now, mate. (TO CHRISTINA STEAD) It
must feel funny. How long were you dead? Was it good?
What’s ecstasy like?

                       Fade up harbour sounds - very, very
                       low sound of waves lapping, ferries
                       hooting.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I can’t see anything. How quickly night came. All I wanted
was a glimpse through these windows again out at the bay,
with the ships waiting for the pilot to take them down the
Harbour or out through the Heads to the wide world. I am
half sick of shadows. (CHRISTINA STEAD TURNS TO THE BOYS)
Be careful what you wish for. (CHRISTINA STEAD TURNS AWAY
FROM THE BOYS). I longed for ... it cannot have been to
smell the salt air of Sydney Harbout tinctured with iodine
emanating from rotting kelp at low tide, it cannot have
been to be back in this hateful, sordid house. For one
foolish, desperate moment in my loneliness, sitting at my
desk in that freezing Catskills house with a view of a
frozen pond, puzzling over the strangeness and yet the
urgency of yet another novel I was compelled to write ...
something - was it the need of money? I was longing for
something, always. Why was I writing another of my novels?
I hardly understood the need. Was it an impulse towards
catharsis? Was it a longing to impress Bill and others? To
show David I was not just a useless expense ... Just for a
moment I longed for the warmth ... to be by the window,
looking out at the bay with the steamers from London and
Cochin, at night their lights blinking indecipherable
messages and enchantment, a figure for a moment in a pool
of yellow light on deck, perhaps paused to light a
cigarette, the flare of a match across the dark shining
waters ... I longed for warmth. (LOOKS AROUND) And here I
am, in this nightmare with imps tormenting me. I must wake
up, there is the chapter to finish. How will I finish it?
What is there to say? What in the end can be said of a
situation? Where to end? How?
                                                           14.


                          Fade out harbour sounds. Christina
                          Stead begins pacing again.

                       TALON
The Tribulation. Is it over or has it just begun?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I hope it is over, Talon.

                       TALON
(TO TOBY) Don’t worry mate, you’re saved.

                          TOBY
That’s good. Now what?

                          Christina Stead spins towards them.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Good imp! Let’s guide ourselves, let us turn this nightmare
- how could I have wished to be back? What madness
possessed me? - A cigarette, yes I will have a cigarette
and surely it is time for a whisky. (TO TOBY) Boy, Tony,
these - (parents).

                          TOBY
Toby, Miss.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Toby, as in jug, these parents you keep speaking of, where
is their whisky? And cigarettes?

                       TOBY
They usually drink wine.

                          CHRISTINA STEAD
That’ll do.

                       TOBY
It’s in the fridge or ... (POINTS TO DRINKS CABINET) over
there.

                          Toby goes over to drinks cabinet,
                          followed by Christina Stead. Toby
                          opens door, takes out a bottle of
                          vermouth. While this is going on
                          Talon goes to computer and patters on
                          keyboard.

                          CHRISTINA STEAD
Good heavens, my drink.

                       TOBY
I think it’s the one grandma gave them for Christmas, they
don’t like it.

                          CHRISTINA STEAD
That’s good.
                                                           15.


                       Christina Stead takes bottle and
                       opens it, gets a glass out of the
                       cabinet and pours a drink. She
                       drinks deeply and sighs with relief.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD (CONT)
Thank you Bacchus.

                       Christina moves to sit down. As she
                       does CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN emerges from
                       dark around the computer.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Did I hear a drink mentioned?

                       Toby and Christina Stead are
                       startled.

               TOBY                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Who are you?                       You almost made me spill -
                                   (my drink).

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
It’s the air, it makes you thirsty. What time is it?

                       Talon moves from the computer.

                       TALON
Seven-thirty seven.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Ah time for dinner. Or have I had it? One usually has a
glass or two of wine to simulate the appetite ... Madam?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I am a guest here.

                       TOBY
Who invited you?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Your ... I was going to say your parents but this is all
too odd.

                       TOBY
(TO TALON) Where’d he come from?

                       TALON
I got mine.

                       TOBY
Did you? Who? What?

                       TALON
Her. Miss. (TO CHRISTINA STEAD) Excuse me Miss, Ms, Ma’am
... Who are you? What’s your name? Your angel name?
                                                          16.


                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Miss Stead.

                       TALON
(TO TOBY) I told you, I got mine - he’s yours.

                       TOBY
What?

                       TALON
Christina Stead - Excuse me miss, can I call you Christina?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Aunt Christina, if you please. Oh yes, ‘Christina’ will do.
Whose are you? Do I know you?

                       TALON
No, I don’t think so but I am Jehovah’s.

                       Christina Stead looks at him
                       assessingly then drinks.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Does He have a cigarette? Or is that against His plan?

                       TALON
I don’t know. Probably. I didn’t know Guides smoked. And
drank. (INDICATING TOBY) Ask him, it’s his place. (TO
CHRISTINA STEAD) You’re really an angel, aren’t you? They
can do what they like.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
What are you drinking? I do not approve of women smoking.

                       Christopher Brennan approaches the
                       drinks cabinet, inspects the bottles.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Hmm, no sparkling burgundy, more’s the pity. Strange stuff.
(HOLDING UP THE VERMOUTH) I’ll try some of this.

                       TALON
(TO CHRISTINA STEAD) We are all one in the eyes of    -
(Jehovah, especially now we are blessed).

                       COMPUTER
C-H-R-I-S-T-O-P-H-E-R B-R-E-N-N-A-N Christopher Brennan.
Christopher Brennan (1870-1932). Brennan was born in Sydney
in impoverished circumstances. He was educated at St
Ignatius College and the University of Sydney where he read
Classics and Philosophy. After graduating brilliantly
Brennan travelled to Berlin where he continued his studies
in Philosophy. He returned to Sydney in 1894. He was joined
by his fiancé Elizabeth Werth, daughter of his Berlin
landlady and her other daughter who was deranged. The
marriage was not a success. Brennan abandoned it in 1922 to
live with Violet Singer.
                                                         17.


He worked as a librarian until he was offered a position as
a lecturer in Modern Literature at the University of
Sydney. The University forced him out ... (after his wife
petitioned for divorce).

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I thought it was you. What are you doing in my dream? Oh
Sydney ... escape ... surely I am not to return to Sydney
and pursue a life as unhappy as yours. Neither of us should
have come back.

                        CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
I beg your pardon Madam! Please keep my private life out of
your conversation. I do not know you, we have never been
introduced ... have we?

                       TALON
(TO TOBY) I got mine, now you’ve got yours. But I don’t
think homework will matter in the Rapture ... not unless Mr
Tszinsky was saved and I don’t think he’s the type. (TO THE
OTHERS) No offence but you don’t look like the types
either. No offence Tobe but ... You know.

                       TOBY
(TO TALON) You’re kidding aren’t you? You’re not for real,
are you? This is a joke, right? You’ve arranged this with
your church to scare me, right?

                       Christina Stead takes the bottle from
                       Christopher Brennan and refreshes her
                       glass, Brennan holds out a glass, she
                       pours.

                       TOBY (CONT’D)
(TO TALON) This is out of control. What have you done?

                       TALON
Don’t you get it? The computer’s our Guide. Don’t worry
bro, you’re saved. I don’t know how but you’re saved. You
must have done something that pleased Jehovah.

                       TOBY
For fuck’s sake - (shut up about Jehovah).

                       Christina Stead and Christopher
                       Brennan swing around with their
                       drinks.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
There is a lady present!

                       TALON
Yeah bro, you’re going to have to watch your language now
that you’re blessed. They’re angels. But they drink
alcohol. And smoke. Nicotine. But they must be. They’re our
Guides. You’ve got to keep you mind clean too, they can
read your thoughts.
                                                           18.


                       CHRISTINA STEAD
This is really too much ... Was it something I ate? Was it
that tine of raspberries - a craving, I thought ... Oh, of
course ... (I’ve haven’t been well).

                       Christina Stead goes over and sits
                       down, stares out at the audience with
                       her drink.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD (CONT)
Perhaps these are versions of the children I might have
had. (LOOKS BACK STAGE AT TOBY AND TALON) Dreadful thought.
Why a Maori ...? A gesture at internationalism? Of race
equality - neither black nor white? That must be it. Why
the religion? God this is awful, what a state I must be in.

                       Christina Stead begins to sob. Talon
                       goes over and puts a hand on her
                       shoulder, she lays hers on top of
                       his.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
It’s alright, child. Shouldn’t have taken so much aspirin.
That’s probably what did it, too much aspirin and vermouth,
if I think about it. I had insufficient restraint, I am
sufficiently punished, surely? Oh, I mustn’t think like
that. So your name is Talon?

                       TALON
Didn’t Jehovah tell you my name?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Oh child, what terrible revenge is this? No! This is
foolish, I am too rational to have this kind of guilt. I
was going to call you Wilhelm or ... I never thought of you
as a girl ... I think I wanted to call you after my mother
whom I never knew.

                       TOBY
(TO TALON) She thinks you’re a girl.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
‘Ellen’ ... Such a pretty name.

                       TOBY
(TO TALON) ‘Ellen’ ... suits you.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
No wonder I could not conceive ... of you ... (as a girl).

                       TOBY
(TO TALON) She’ll probably give you a boob tube for your
birthday.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
No wonder I am in this dreadful predicament.
                                                           19.


                       TOBY
(TO TALON) I think of you as a girl sometimes, like - (when
you’re going on about Jehovah).

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Silence boy! You are impertinent. (TO CHRISTINA STEAD)
Surely madam, if I understand you correctly ... Surely you
did not commit a mortal sin?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Oh, many no doubt. Do not trouble me with your vague
threats. You are not one to cast aspersions, you are a
scandal. Tous Sydney gossips of your ... I should not
engage in this.

                       Christina Stead composes herself.
                       Talon moves back to be near Toby.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
It is true madam that my marriage has failed, if that is
what you refer to. I have sought forgiveness.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Oh, I dare say. Let’s leave it.

                       Christian Stead and Christopher
                       Brennan drink.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Where did this Italian beverage ... Where did you buy this
vermouth?

                       Christina Stead ignores him.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Whose house am I in?

                       TALON
His. Toby’s. You’re my project. (POINTING AT CHRISTOPHER
BRENNAN) He’s his. You’re homework.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Strange. What sort of a retreat would offer drink? Would
allow young imbeciles to mix with ... (patients)?

                       TALON
(TO TOBY) What are the questions?

                       TOBY
What?

                       TALON
What are the questions we have to fill in?

                       TOBY
What questions? What are you - (going on about now?).
                                                          20.


                       TALON
What Mr Tszinsky told us to do for homework.

                       TOBY
You’re seriously ... mad.

                       TALON
It must be God’s will. Where’s the paper? Did you print it
out?

                       TOBY
No.

                       Talon goes to computer and patters at
                       keyboard.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
(TO CHRISTINA STEAD) Have you been an inmate - a resident
for long, if I may make so bold.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I am not a resident.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
I beg your pardon Nurse.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I am not a nurse.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Sister.

                       Christina Stead shakes her head.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
I beg your pardon Matron, I should have realised. I would
like to leave - as soon as possible. Now would be a - (good
time).

                       The printer starts. Christopher
                       Brennan and Christina Stead turn
                       around, surprised by the noise. Talon
                       picks up the printout.

                       TALON
(TO TOBY) It was on the blog in any case. The first
question is dates of birth and death. Oh. We can get the
birth dates - we got them, didn’t we? Yeah, they’re online.
This is great. We can ask them all sorts of things. Let’s
see ... Did they always live in Australia? (TO TOBY) Yo ask
yours and I’ll ask mine. (TO CHRISTINA STEAD) Excuse me
Miss - Aunty - Aunt - Christina, did you always live in
Australia?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
No-one can always live in Australia.
                                                           21.


                       TALON
Is that right? So .. (READS, LOOKS UP) How long did you
live in Australia for?

                         CHRISTINA STEAD
For a long, long time.

                       TALON
So that would be five years - no, you would have been five
when you left ... um, so that would be fifteen years?
Twenty?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I was a young woman when I left.

                       TALON
So that would be ... Seventeen?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I was twenty-six when I left.

                       TALON
(WRITES) Twenty-six. Wow. So that would be in ...?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
1928, twenty-eighth of March.

                       TALON
(READS) Why did you leave?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
One has to - I had to escape. I think I did. I thought I
did. (LOOKS AROUND IN DESPAIR, BEGINS WEEPING, STOPS
HERSELF BY DRINKING).

                         Silence.

                         TALON
(TO TOBY) Go on.

                         TOBY
What?

                         TALON
You ask yours.

                       TOBY
Who is he? I don’t know him. What’s he ... (doing here)?
(CLEARS THROAT. TO CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN) What are you doing
here?

                       TALON
No. It’s (READING FROM PRINTOUT) Did your celebrated
Australian writer always live in Australia?

                       TOBY
This is rats arse. (TO CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN) Did you always
live in Australia?
                                                        22.


                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
(TO CHRISTINA STEAD) Matron, surely these orderlies ... Are
not the appropriate individuals for taking my history? I
understand you might have trouble getting staff and these
are difficult economic times but ...

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Matron ... ? Oh god, I suppose I am.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
I do beg your pardon, one is not used to female doctors.
They strike one rather in the way Dr Johnson spoke of
female preachers - Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's
walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are
surprised to find it done at all. (LAUGHS)

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
How tedious this dream is. I wonder why I am coming up with
such banalities.

                       TOBY
(TO TALON) He won’t answer.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
(TO CHRISTINA STEAD) At least they are not the usual white-
coated thugs manhandling one. (TO TOBY) Boy, wouldn’t you
do better riding a bike and delivering telegrams? The fresh
air. This is not a salutary environment for boys.

                        TOBY
(TO CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN) Fuck you. Did you always live in
Australia you old fuck?

                       Christopher Brennan gets up and goes
                       over and clips Toby on the head. Toby
                       can’t believe it then begins to wail
                       and cry.

                        TOBY
You hit me! No. You ... can’t do that. You hit me. He ...
(TO TALON) You saw. No.

                       Toby sobs and throws himself on the
                       ground.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Insolent boy! Control yourself.

                       Christopher Brennan goes back to his
                       drink. Christina Stead drinks while
                       regarding Toby. Talon goes over to
                       Toby, kneels down.

                       TALON
You can’t swear at the Guides, mate.
                                                         23.


                       TOBY
He hit me, that’s assault. That’s ch- (ild) abuse. (TO
CHRISTIAN STEAD) You saw.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
He’s a Catholic.

                       Toby stops crying for a moment.

                       TOBY
Do they do that?

                       Christina Stead shrugs.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
They’re all apply the rod in order not to spoil the child.
It’s preferable in many ways, less cruel.

                       TOBY
What?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
You mustn’t think everyone is like David whom I presume is
your grandfather. Probably your mother - or father - whose
child are you? - is bringing you up in the quasi free way
that David applied to us. Beating would have been less
destructive it seems to me. The vagaries of his whimsical
tyranny were torture.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
I hope Madam, that you are not impugning an excellent
Catholic education, to which I owe everything.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Yes, yes, quite. We all know about the sophistry of the
Jesuits and the brutality of the Marists. Class based, of
course. Beat the poor into submission, confuse the - (clear
minds of the young rich).

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Everything! I say. Everything. The Jesuits gave me the
world of the mind, the spirit which I blindly craved and to
which I had no access. But for their charity - I am not
ashamed to admit it - what would I be? Some clerk longing
for ... longing for he knew not what and with vague,
inchoate ... I would be seeking ...

                       Christopher Brennan pours himself
                       some more vermouth. Christina Stead
                       sighs and holds out her glass.

                       TOBY
He hit me miss, aren’t you going to do anything about it?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Are you hurt?
                                                           24.


                       TOBY
N-o. Yes! Not a lot. But it was abuse. Violence. I’m a
minor.

                         TALON
You’re fourteen.

                         TOBY
So?

                       TALON
Um, I don’t ... (know). Listen mate, they’re Guides. We
have to listen. I know they’re hard to understand, it’s
probably because their first language is Aramaic.

                       TOBY
(MUTTERS) Fuck that, I’m - (going to call the cops).

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Watch your filthy tongue boy! Shouldn’t you and your
brother be studying your Latin?

                         Talon nudges Toby to say ‘yes’.

                         TOBY
Y-es. And our Aramaic.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
(TO CHRISTINA STEAD) Madam - Doctor, are these boys ... I
realise now that they are inmates - are these inmates
continuing their education or is that out of the question?
I ask because while I am here I may be of some assistance.
I have some experience in education. I would need a good
Latin primer of course. I could spend some of my time
supervising these boys ... I will not be here for long, of
course, just till I dry out. Perhaps three - two weeks? At
the most.

                         CHRISTINA STEAD
Perhaps.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Perhaps these boys are ineducable, from my observation that
seems to be the case. The other one, the quieter may have
some capacity for absorption, it is evident that the
obscene one is intractable. There must be a suitable career
...? I suppose you are applying tests?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Yes. Tests. I gave many when I left Teachers College. How I
loathed - (being a teacher).

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
So you are a teacher? I thought ... You are another
resident, aren’t you? I thought I had some dim recognition
of you. We passed in the garden or sat opposite at
afternoon tea.
                                                        25.


                       Toby tries to signal to Talon to get
                       help.

                       TALON
(TO CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN) Was it the Garden of Eden? No,
that’s wrong. The gardens in heaven. They have fountains,
don’t they?

                       Toby edges towards a shelf, picks up
                       a mobile phone, hides it in his back
                       pocket. Moves towards wing.

                       TOBY
I’ll make you a cup of tea.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
No need now. (WAVES GLASS) Some cheese and biscuits would
be appreciated. It’s such a long ride back into town. Where
will I stay?

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
I believe you’ll be spending the night here. How long have
you been here?

                       Toby starts to sidle offstage. Gives
                       a flick of his head to Talon to
                       follow. Talon looks puzzled.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I have no idea - twenty minutes.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Bad as that, eh?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Well if you put it that way ... yes. Now I would much
rather be in my little upstairs room overlooking the pond.
It was frozen. How cold I ... I was missing Bill and - I
most certainly will not be spending the night here. It
isn’t even ... It is dark, isn’t it? What a terrible dream.
And yet not quite a nightmare.

                       TOBY
(TO TALON) Come and I’ll teach you how to make tea.

                       TALON
I couldn’t do that. (TO CHRISTINA) Christina, do we still
eat and drink?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Well I do.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
That’s a good sign. What school did you teach in?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Plunkett Street. But it was years ago.
                                                             26.


                       TOBY
I’m going then. To the kitchen.

                         Toby taps his palm to indicate to
                         Talon his intention of making a
                         mobile call.

                       TALON
I don’t think there’s any point Tobster, who would you
call?

                       TOBY
(COVERING FOR TALON’S GAFF) Call?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Oh please don’t! Is he around? I dread ... (running into
him). (STANDS UP, IS AGITATED). I must leave. I must wake
up. What am I doing here? With ... Christopher Brennan. We
have nothing in common, there is no association.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
I should say not! I don’t know you. Except for that time in
the garden ... I have never met you. We have not been
introduced.

                         TALON
I’ll introduce you.

       CHRISTINA STEAD                         TOBY
Oh for God‘s sake.                Oh for God’s sake.

                       TOBY (CONT)
Come to the kitchen, Talon. We can ... work something out.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Yes. Bring us something to eat. Surely the doctors would
not want us drinking on empty stomachs. (TO CHRISTINA
STEAD) This must be some new treatment. I always considered
that drying-out too ... drastic, didn’t you?

                         CHRISTINA STEAD
I wouldn’t know.

                         CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Oh come now, madam.

                       TALON
Christina, this is Christopher Brennan. Both your names
have to do with Christ. Christopher -

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Professor Brennan to the likes of you!

                       TALON
Oh. Um ... This is Christina. She’s my Guide. (INDICATES
TOBY) You’re his.
                                                           27.


                       TOBY
I’m going to the kitchen. To make a call.

                        CHRISTINA STEAD
Oh don’t, please.

                        Talon rushes Toby and wrestles the
                        mobile away from him.

                       TOBY
Get off! What’re you doing?

                       TALON
Who’re you going to call?

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
You boys! Stop fighting.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Is that one of David’s gimcracks? I wouldn’t fight over it
if I were you, there’ll be plenty more.

                        TOBY
Dad! Mum! Triple 0.

                       TALON
They’ll either be with us or ...

                        Toby grabs the phone back and starts
                        punching in a number.

                       TOBY
Fuck! It’s out of credit.

                        Christopher Brennan gets up and moves
                        towards the boys brandishing his
                        silver-handled cane.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
I’ll teach you to use language like that.

                        Talon and Toby back off.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Oh for heaven’s sake. Sit down man. They’re imps. It’s
their role to prance and irritate. You should thank your
Lord they are not Furies, though I wouldn’t be surprised if
some turned up. Then we’ll be in for it.

                        TALON
Are they like demons?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
That’s an interesting question. Do you mean - (’imps’ or
Furies’?)

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
You cannot indulge children, madam. I am surprised.
                                                           28.


                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Don’t be.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
What did you say?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Don’t be. In this state anything may occur. Sit down.
Finish your drink. Don’t you smoke a pipe?

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Your training should tell you that these youths cannot be
allowed to get away with delinquent behaviour.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
My training ... My training ... My training and my
observation were often at odds. (ADDRESSING TALON) Are
Furies like demons? I think there may be a hierarchy ...
succubi, incubi ... the maenadae ... frenzied in their
pursuit of men. Probably low - the lowest - in the order
of evil spirits. I cannot think of a single female spirit
in Paradise Lost. Ramiel, Adrameleck, Asmadai ... all male.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Surely that is not remarkable? Whoever heard of a female
general? They were Satan’s generals. There’s Eve.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Eve was not a spirit. Though I always thought the Serpent
was rather feminine -


‘So spake the enemy of mankind, enclosed
In serpent, inmate bad, and toward Eve
Addressed his way; not with indented wave,
Prone on the ground, as since, but on his rear,
Circular base of rising folds, that towered
Fold above fold a surging maze, his head
Crested aloft, and carbuncle his eyes;
With burnished neck of verdant gold, erect
Amidst his circling spires, that on the grass
Floated redundant; pleasing as his shape,
And lovely, never since of serpent-kind
Lovelier ...

                       Christopher Brennan joins in at ‘With
                       burnished neck ..’

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
With burnished neck of verdant gold, erect
Amidst his circling spires, that on the grass
Floated redundant; pleasing as his shape,
And lovely, never since of serpent-kind
Lovelier ...

Your memory is good.
                                                              29.


                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Interesting isn’t it? A lovely serpent. Of course, they
are, snakes ...

                       TALON
The Devil can quote scripture for his purpose.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
What are you saying boy? That is not scripture. That is the
sublime Milton.


‘I might relate of thousands, and their names
Eternise here on earth; but those elect
Angels, contented with their fame in heav’n
Seek not the praise of men ..’

                          Christina Stead joins in the last
                          line.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
‘Seek not the praise of men’.

                       TALON
(TO TOBY) I think they might be demons. Give me the mobile.

                          TOBY
It’s out of - (credit).

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
What is this about mobiles? What is David up to now? What -
(has he got you making?).

                       TALON
I don’t think they work in the Rapt.. (ure)

                        TOBY
Mobiles in the rapture
Demons have they captured
Soon we’ll be free though
You can bet your dough-ough
Mobiles might be out of
Credit or ra-ange
We can always ca-all
The folks at the ma-all

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
What is this - (dreadful doggerel?).

             TOBY                             TALON
Mobiles in the rapture            Mobiles in the rapture,
Demons have they captured         Demons have they captured.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Oh stop it! I can’t stand it. What is this about rapture?
What have you boys been reading? Revelations?
                                                        30.


                       CHRISTINA STEAD
No doubt it’s a secret. Do you boys have a secret society?

            TOBY                             TALON
No.                             Yes.



                       CHRISTINA STEAD
And this is your secret language?

            TOBY                             TALON
Yes.                            No.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
This is what comes of unsupervised reading of holy script.
No youth should be allowed to wander alone through The Book
of Revelations. In fact ... no member of the laity. It may
be an apocryphal text.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Oh they may as well read what they like and come to their
own conclusions. Is it about the apocalypse? The end of
days you Christians have seen and sought through the ages
along with all religions no doubt ... though one is not
sure about an apocalypse in Aboriginal mythology.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Madam, you shock me.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Spare me your righteous grandeur. You have no right to be
shocked, worldly as you are.

                       TALON
(TO TOBY) Have you got a crucifix?

                       TOBY
What?

                       TALON
A holy cross, it needn’t have Jesus on it.

                       TOBY
What?

                       TALON
It doesn’t matter.

                       Talon grabs a ruler and a pencil from
                       the computer station, makes a cross
                       of them and advances on Christina
                       Stead and Christopher Brennan with
                       his improvised cross. Talon waves it
                       in front of them.

                       TALON
Be gone!
                                                           31.


                       Christina Stead laughs.

                       TALON
Return!

                       TOBY
(TO TALON) Why are you saying that?

                       TALON
It’s called an exorcism, you know like - (in that old movie
with the girl).

                       TOBY
No! I know what you’re doing. Why are you telling them to
return?

                       TALON
That’s what you say ... I think. (WAVING CROSS AGAIN)
Return to your nether regions.

                       Christopher Brennan gets up and
                       brandishes his cane. Talon backs
                       away.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Guard your tongue gushing its sewage.

                       TALON
Begone I say! In the name of God the Father, his Son and
the Holy Spirit.

                       Christopher Brennan returns to his
                       armchair.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
A Protestant. A gutter rat no doubt. Civilisation is
imperilled and has been since that blackguard Luther and
his so called Reformation. Blasphemy enacted as religion.

                       Christopher Brennan crosses himself.
                       Christina Stead laughs.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
You are no better than you ought to be Madam. I am
surprised, nearly appalled by your flippancy. Where is the
matron?

                       Christina Stead sighs.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Am I to be offered no refreshment? (TO THE BOYS) Surely you
boys smoke? Let us have one. If David comes I’ll tell him I
encouraged you. I’ll say they’re mine and I am here to
corrupt youth.

                       TALON
I know. I guessed. We don’t smoke - (TO TOBY) don’t we?
(TOBY SHAKES HIS HEAD). It gives you lung cancer.
                                                        32.


                       TOBY
And heart attack.

                       TALON
And cerebral palsy. It’s against God’s plan.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
(TO TALON) What denomination are you?

                       TALON
Um ... What?

                       TOBY
He’s Christian.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Obviously. But what denomination?

                       TOBY
Um ... what?

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Anglican, Presbyterian ... Methodist I suppose. Not
Baptist?

                       TALON
Oh. Pentecostal Church of the Liberated Spirit.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
I see. Some jigaboo nonsense you brought from your
homeland? You are a Pacific Islander are you? Fijian?
Samoan? Did you father bring you back from New Guinea? Was
he up there prospecting for gold?

                       TALON
No. He’s back in New Zealand. He’s a manager. Of a marae.

                       TOBY
He’s important. He wouldn’t like this. We’re expecting him
any minute, he’s coming to take Talon home.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
(TO TALON) Do you feel ready to go home?

                       TALON
Not really. I wanted to finish school and do Graphic
Design.

                       Talon starts to weep.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
No need to cry boy, your father will get you an
apprenticeship, I’m sure. Mrs ... (LOOKS AT CHRISTINA
STEAD).

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Mrs Blake. But Miss Stead to you. My nephew calls me
Christina.
                                                           33.


                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
He is your nephew? Oh. You have come to escort him home to
his father. The mother, I suppose, remains in New Guinea?

                          TALON
No. She’s in Granville.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
How has she adapted to civilised life?

                       TALON
She likes it. She says it’s all she has.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
I can well understand that after her pagan beginnings. She
might consider the consolation of the Mother Church, that
is civilised life, to a large extent. This interests me. So
your father, he was a planter then - not a missionary
surely?

                       TALON
He was a construction worker but he felt the calling.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
So he went to New Guinea?

                          TALON
No to New Zealand.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
I see, I see. So you are a Maori?

                       TALON
Half. Quarter. Mum is Cook Islander. But only half. (TO
TOBY) Have you got a calculator?

                       TOBY
You can do it on the computer. What do you want it for?

                          Through the following Toby tries to
                          edge his way towards an escape into
                          the wings but forgets his purpose as
                          he gets caught up in the exchange.

                       TALON
If Dad was half Maori and Mum is half Cook Islander, how
much Maori am I?

                          TOBY
How would I know?

                       TALON
Well you’re good at maths.

                          TOBY
So what is it again?
                                                           34.


                       TALON
Dad is half Maori and Mum is half Cook Islander.

                       TOBY
What’s the other half of your Mum?

                       TALON
Dalmatian.

                       TOBY
Like the hundred and one?

                       Talon nods.

                       TOBY (CONT)
That’s interesting. I didn’t know that, I just thought she
was a wog like the rest of us.

                       TALON
No. She’s Dalmation - half. They’re big in Aotearoa.

                       TOBY
So ... Like where is it?

                       TALON
Where’s what?

                       TOBY
Dalmatialand.

                       TALON
It’s not a country. It’s a place.

                       TOBY
So where is it? Is it like China or something?

                       TALON
Europe.

                       TOBY
How can it not be a country? Is it like a state?

                       TALON
I think so. People go there for holidays. It’s got ... I
don’t know, like castles and bridges - stone bridges and
... fishing villages. It’s a coast.

                       TOBY
It’s not like Draculand is it? Is it near to Transylvania
It’s not like the coast of Transylvania is it?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
It’s in Yugoslavia.

                       During the following Talon edges
                       towards the computer.
                                                          35.


                         CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
And where may that be?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
It’s before your time. There is another world war and after
it they amalgamate Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina,
they call it Yugoslavia. It prospers with the Soviet
Union’s help.

                         TOBY
Dad’s Serbian.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
But surely no-one calls himself Serbian anymore?

                       TOBY
He does. He’s really proud of it. My uncle’s got a tattoo.
On the inside of his thigh. It’s the Serbian flag. He hates
Croatians and Bosnians and ... everyone.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
That’s because he’s in Australia and is living in the past,
if he were back in Yugoslavia he would be living co-
operatively with the different ethnic groups whom General
Tito has united under socialism. Their lives have never
been better. Tito is not entirely reliable with regard to
Moscow, it has to be said. Yugoslavia is one result of the
War we can feel encouraged by.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
What madness are you talking? Tito? He sounds like a
character from an opera - by Verdi or ... The Soviet Union?
Socialism? You mean Communism, madam. The Devil’s influence
creeping through the world. Mercifully it is opposed by all
of the old civilisations.

                         CHRISTINA STEAD
China for example?

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
China hardly counts. I meant Christendom, as you well know.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
China counts. India counts. Japan ... Oh you are not to
know. The Second World War wreaked - (great changes).

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Second! What ... Not ... It was the War to End All Wars -
one baulked at that but ...

                         CHRISTINA STEAD
There is another.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Another? How? Another ... What are you talking about? I see
you are in a worse way than I had thought.
                                                          36.


                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Have you thought that you are in no position to judge?

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
I am perfectly rational.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
You have behaved violently towards an innocent child.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Wrong on both counts. (POINTING AT TOBY) He is no child and
his language suggests he is far from innocent.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Professor Brennan - (you do not belong in this scene).

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
So we have met.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
No. But I have seen you at the University. And read you, of
course.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Have you dear Miss Stead? It encourages me that someone
should remember my work, even a Godless woman such as
yourself. A Rationalist, didn’t you claim to be?

                       Christina Stead shrugs.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
                       (CONT)
So limited, Rationalism, so perversely blind. You, a woman
who knows Milton and ...

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
You.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Perhaps you were one of my students?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
No. I studied at the Teachers College. You were pointed out
to me - often, as a matter of fact. I would sometimes go up
to the University Students Union for coffee, it was a
treat. (CHRISTINA STEAD GETS UP AND STARES INTO THE
AUDITORIUM AS THROUGH A WINDOW). Why am I being tortured by
this memory? I left Sydney in 1928. I had hoped never to
return, never to ... What is the wish fulfilment in this
dream? But all I wanted was warmth. The Catskills are so
cold, so very cold. And I have had a miscarriage.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
A what?

                       Christina Stead turns back.
                                                           37.


                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Oh never mind. Women’s business.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
I hope it was not self-induced.

                       During the following exchange between
                       Christina Stead and Christopher
                       Brennan Toby creeps upstage to see
                       what Talon is up to. He joins him at
                       the computer. They confer in whispers
                       - an argument about what to do. Talon
                       resists Toby’s pleas to email.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Your assumptions can mean nothing to me. What do you know?
How typically Catholic to jump to that conclusion. What do
you know of anything but ... You are hardly in a position
to cast aspersions, you! you who have abandoned your wife
and children, neglectful man. Your marriage is annulled.
Catholic prevarication for divorce. Self-absorbed and self-
indulgent, cosseted within the Catholic Church whose prized
scholarship boy you will always remain. All Sydney is
scandalised by your drunkenness.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
You are not in a position to accuse there Madam, I will
remind you of where we are. You have obviously destroyed
your mind with ... It seems to have been quite a good one,
you might have done something with it ... taught.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Teach. Nurse. Scrub floors, cook, pull beers. My mind ...
You end up teaching Latin to schoolgirls. You, who had the
advantage of universities ... You studied in Berlin, didn’t
you? Did you encounter Henry Handel Richardson?

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Never heard of the fellow.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Woman. Her husband was a professor of German. In London.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Richardson?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
That is her name. His ... I cannot remember. She was called
Ethel Florence.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Mrs Robertson! I heard she wrote novels. So you knew her.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
A little. I met her in London. They wanted her to come
back, Dymphna Cusack, Florence James, Stella Franklin and
the others, they told her she should return to Australia.
They wanted me to add my voice to their bush chorus.
                                                           38.


As I had no intention of returning myself ... And here I
am, against my will. What dreadful anxieties am I trying to
integrate? I was never happy here, why - (am I dreaming of
being here?).

                       Talon patters on computer keyboard.

                       TOBY
No! You dropkick. Email Louis, he’ll get help.

                       Lights around computer flicker as
                       Talon types.

                       TOBY (CONT)
Who? What?

                       Lights around computer station go
                       out. As they rise again Dot emerges,
                       begins to walk straight downstage, a
                       dark shape remains behind her,
                       Kangaroo.




ACT 2

                       COMPUTER
Dot and the Kangaroo. A much loved Australian children’s
classic reprinted many times in different editions and
adapted for stage, film and television with marked success
both locally and overseas.
                                                          39.


Written by Ethel Charlotte Pedley - P-E-D-L-E-Y 1897 to
1898 with illustrations by Frank Mahony. Ethel Charlotte
Pedley was of a musical English background and was very
musical herself becoming the Royal Academy of Music’s sole
Board Associate in New South Wales. Her children’s classic
Dot and the Kangaroo was published posthumously in London
in 1899. Pedley had already insisted upon the illustrations
by Richard Mahony. She never married.

                       TOBY
(TO TALON) What have you done? I told you to email Louis.
What have you done?

                       TALON
I thought it might give us help.

                       TOBY
Who? What? Why didn’t you ... We’re fuck-

                       TALON
I thought it might ... (help) so I entered my favourite
book.

                       TOBY
You ... After ... What have you ... Who ... (DISCERNS THE
KANGAROO’S SHAPE) Eeeeh!

                       Toby and Talon scramble frantically
                       downstage to escape the lowering
                       shape. Dot, unperturbed continues to
                       look around.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
This is ... very bad. You boys, it’s - she’s - it’s ...
(LOOKS BACK AT DARK SHAPE) it’s ... and she’s just a
fantasm ... or two of delirium tremens. It is well you boys
have the opportunity to learn to avoid bad drink whilst
still so young. I myself must remember to stick to the
sparkling burgundy.

                       Christopher Brennan and the boys
                       stare at Dot and glance nervously
                       back at the large dark shadow
                       hovering behind the computer station.
                       Christina Stead, as unperturbed as
                       Dot, observes with scientific
                       detachment.

                       DOT
Hello.

                       No-one replies.

                       DOT
I’m Dot.

                       TALON
I know. I’ve always wanted to meet you.
                                                          40.


                       DOT
How charming. Have you lost your way too?

                       TALON
Very much so.

                       TOBY
This is fuck - no good. What ... Who ...?

                       TALON
This is Dot. She might help us.

                       TOBY
What? Who? How?

                       TALON
Dot. She ... you’re my favourite book.

                       DOT
Oh. Book? I’m not sure ...

                       Dot turns to Christina Stead and
                       Christopher Brennan.

                       DOT
(TO TALON) Are these your grandparents?

                       TALON
No.

                       DOT
Oh. Um ...

                       TALON
Oh. Christina, Professor Christopher ... this is Dot.

                        CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
This is purgatory. I must be dead. Was I run over while
crossing George Street?

                       TALON
Christina?

                        CHRISTINA STEAD
I know Dot. We’ve all read her. I found her most
interesting in her way.

                       DOT
Am I in my way?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I dare say you are on it.

                       DOT
That’s reassuring.
                                                        41.


                       TALON
(TO CHRISTINA STEAD) I knew you wouldn’t be surprised, like
everyone else. Even I’m astonished, it’s not every day you
see a drawing come to life.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I have never been very good at being astonished. I suppose
it comes from being raised by a lunatic.

                       Christopher Brennan throws glass on
                       floor. At this Kangaroo hops steadily
                       forward. Kangaroo confronts
                       Christopher Brennan, makes a Skippy
                       noise at him.

                       KANGAROO
Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
I knew that drink was drugged. (TO CHRISTINA STEAD) No
wonder you have been raving. What is this place? What sort
of treatment are they persecuting us with? You poor woman.
(TO THE BOYS) Those poor, poor boys. This is a barbarous
age. (KANGAROO PEERS INTO HIS FACE - HE SCREAMS AND THROWS
HIMSELF BACK IN HIS CHAIR).

                       Toby screams too and backs away from
                       Kangaroo. Kangaroo is perturbed. Dot
                       goes over and cuddles Kangaroo.

                        KANGAROO
(SHE SPEAKS TO DOT. ALL THE OTHERS HEAR IS TUT, TUT TSK
SKIPPY NOISES) Dot dear, jump into my pouch and we will
escape these horrible, horrible white humans, worse, far
worse, as I have told you than the black ones. Hurry child,
they may have r-rifles.

                       DOT
I don’t think they have rifles. (TO TALON) Do you?

                       TALON
Do I what?

                       DOT
Do you have a rifle? I’ve heard boys love them.

                       Talon shakes his head.

                       TOBY
Yes! Yes we have rifles. Automatic weapons. Kalashnikov AK
47s, M16s, M249 light machine guns ...

                       TALON
I didn’t know you knew all that about rifles.

                       TOBY
I have a store. I’m going to take you all out.
                                                           42.


                       DOT
Oh, where? I’ve never been anywhere but the bush, I’ve
never even been to town. Do you sell frocks? And hats?

                       KANGAROO
Shh dear. You must never, ever go near that place.

                       DOT
Mummy says ... (DOT WEEPS).

                         Kangaroo comforts Dot.

                       KANGAROO
Perhaps we should move on. These are your mob but ... you
don’t seem happy in their company.

                       DOT
I’ve still lost my way. (LOOKING AROUND) This is the
strangest place of all. (TO KANGAROO) I don’t think this is
my way. (TO EVERYONE) Are we near Walgett? That’s the
nearest town. (TO TOBY) Is your store in Walgett? Does it
have gloves?

                       TOBY
(TO TALON) What’s she talking about?

                       TALON
I think I know. (TO DOT) Do you worship the Beast?

                       DOT
I ... don’t think so. I don’t worship. I’ve never been to
church.

                       TALON
Does the Beast speak to you?

                       DOT
Oh yes! Oh I forgot. (TO KANGAROO) They can’t understand
you. Can I give them a berry? Have you got enough?

                         Kangaroo takes a sprig of green, red,
                         pink, blue and white berries out of
                         her pouch. Dot takes the sprig. She
                         gives the red berry to Christina
                         Stead, the green to Christopher
                         Brennan, she offers the pink to Toby
                         ...

                         TOBY
I don’t want the pink.

                       DOT
Oh. Why? They all taste the same - well, they’re all
lovely, like honey, don’t be afraid, they’re not nasty like
medicine.

                         TOBY
Not the pink.
                                                           43.


                       TALON
Give him yellow.

                       DOT
I’ve never seen ... (to Kangaroo) Do they come in yellow,
my dear friend?

                       KANGAROO
They come in all the colours of the rainbow, Dot dear.

                       Dot plucks the blue one and gives it
                       to Toby who takes it.

                       DOT
(PLUCKING THE WHITE ONE AND GIVING IT TO TALON) Here you
are.

                       TALON
What about you?

                       DOT
Oh I’ve had mine.

                       TALON
Why don’t you have another if they’re so nice?

                       DOT
You can only have one a day. (TO KANGAROO) Can’t you?

                       Kangaroo nods.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
I thought so.

                       DOT
Yes. If you eat too many you’ll learn too much.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.

                       DOT
Yes. And then you get indigestion. (TO KANGAROO) Don’t you?

                       Kangaroo nods, Skippy Tut, Tuts.

                       DOT (CONT)
Then you become irritable. (LOOKS AT KANGAROO WHO NODS).
One never wants to be irritable (LOOKS AT CHRISTOPHER
BRENNAN THEN TOBY) It’s bad manners.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
(EXAMINING HIS BERRY) So this is the fruit of the Tree of
the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Well one had better eat of it. (SHE POPS HER BERRY INTO HER
MOUTH).
                                                           44.


                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
(RISING FROM HIS ARMCHAIR) Don’t woman!

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Hmm, like very good whisky. (LAUGHS) You’ll like it. Eat
man.

                       Christopher Brennan sinks into his
                       armchair, lets his berry fall from
                       his hand.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
We’re done for. Again. Always the same. Woman does for us.

                       Talon eats his berry.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
(TO DOT) Well, shall I grow or shrink?

                       KANGAROO
Neither.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
(TO DOT) What then?

                       DOT
I don’t know.

                       KANGAROO
You’ll be able to understand the voices of the bush. (LOOKS
AROUND) Not that there’ll be many.

                       Christina Stead is startled as she
                       realises Kangaroo is talking to her.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
(TO KANGAROO) Are you talking?

                       DOT
Hasn’t she got the most charming voice? It makes me forget
... (WEEPS. KANGAROO HOPS OVER AND COMFORTS DOT) I’ve lost
my way.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Are you talking to me? Oh, I’d forgotten - (that’s part of
the story).

                       TALON
(TO KANGAROO) You’re the Beast, aren’t you? The Abomination
of Desolation.

     CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN                       TOBY
(TO TALON) Be careful boy,        (TO TALON) Stop it! You don’t
you know not what you invoke!     know wnat you’re talking
                                  about.
                                                              45.


                       CHRISTINA STEAD
He - or she is a Great Grey or Forester. Macropus major.
The Great Grey or Forster Kangaroo abounds (if I can risk a
pun) in the more or less open country of eastern Australia,
from the south-east of South Australia north to Cape York
Peninsula. There is a somewhat smaller form of the Great
Grey, with dark face and points ... (EXAMINES KANGAROO,
SHAKES HER HEAD) This one is Macropus major ... known as
the Black-face and Mallee kangaroo, which has been
distinguished as a separate race under the name melanops.
The habits are said to be different, in that the black-
faced animal favours the mallee belt and the less fertile
inland region. But as the two kinds occur coincidentally
over the entire range, though preferring different types of
country, the black-faced form must be regarded as a local
variation rather than a distinct species.

                       DOT
(TO CHRISTINA STEAD) That is a rather uncharming way to
talk of someone present.

                       KANGAROO
Hush child, the berries take some this way. This one of
your kind will be alright in a moment.

                       TOBY
(TO TALON) It’s a kangaroo, it’s not a beast. You’re
talking to a kangaroo for fuck’s sake. What would the guys
say? I’m going to tell them! I’m going to tell them even
though you’re my best mate. You’ll be toast on the team.

                          Kangaroo puts her paws over Dot’s
                          ears. Goes Tut! Tut! Tut! a la an
                          angry Skippy at Toby. Toby backs
                          away, frightened.

                          TALON
Tobster, eat the berry.

                       TOBY
Why? It might be poisoned.

                       TALON
Eat it and you’ll understand. It doesn’t matter if it’s
poisoned. Nothing matters now. We’re in the Tribulation.

                       TOBY
You’re fucked. What would you know? Your mother is a
Dalmatian and your father is a Maori.

                       TALON
It’s not pink Tobster, just eat it and all will come clear
... sort of.

                       TOBY
What are you, Hermione Granger ?
                                                           46.


                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Don’t! Don’t! It’s forbidden fruit.

                         Toby eats his berry. Everyone looks
                         at him for a reaction.

                       TALON
(TO KANGAROO) Speak to him, he’ll understand you now.

                       KANGAROO
I have nothing to say to him.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Stay calm, the effects will pass. It will only be worse if
you panic.

                         TOBY
What?

                       DOT
You can listen to the bush creatures now. They say such
interesting things. The Platypus knew such a lot about
prehistoric monsters.

                       KANGAROO
Well dear, as I told you, that is not to be wondered at -
he is one. (SHUDDERS) I cannot bear the idea of him - such
a sight and so ... difficult.

                       TOBY
(TO DOT) Are you a sex slave? If the mobile hadn’t run out
we could ... There must be a site where you can talk about
your problems.

             DOT                              TALON
What is the big boy talking       Shut up, she’s only a kid.
about?

                       TOBY
Look dude, she’s been kidnapped by some ... what do they
call them?

                         TALON
It’s a kangaroo, dude.

                         Toby laughs.

                       TOBY
You are so gullible and credulous. It’s a fetish guy. I
told you.

                       TALON
Tobster, it’s a kangaroo. But really the Beast. Maybe the
Abomination of Desolation. You heard it, It can talk.

     CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN                     KANGAROO
Be quiet! You know not what       ‘She’, Mrs Kangaroo, if you
you say.                          please.
                                                          47.


                       TOBY
It must be a Transylvanian type of dude, you know who
dresses up and acts like a chick and ... then puts on a
cuddly toy outfit. (TO DOT) Did he rape you?

                       Everyone is appalled.

                       DOT
Who? What?

                       TOBY
This dude. Don’t worry, we’ll ... get ... help ... (TO
TALON) Won’t we dude? Remember ...


Mobiles in the rapture
Demons have they captured
Soon we’ll be free though
You can bet your dough-ough
Mobiles might be out of
Credit or ra-ange
We can always ca-all
The folks at the ma-all
The mobile might be ou-out
But the email is about-out
Louis is at ho-ome
We can save the little ho-o
And o me and you-ou.
Mobiles in the rapture
Demons will be captured.


Come on
Talon
We can
...

                       TALON
(TO KANGAROO) Forgive my friend, he - (doesn’t know who you
are).

                       DOT
Mobiles in the rapture
Demons have they captured.


I love songs, don’t I Kangaroo? I’ll sing mine. I think
you’ll find it rather enchanting, if I may say so.

                       TALON
I think we’ve had enough ... (enchantment).

                       DOT
You may join in if you like ... I have no-one to sing with.
Mummy has no-one ... (to sing with either - STARTS TO
WEEP).

                       Kangaroo comforts Dot.
                                                           48.


                       KANGAROO
Dear, don’t. These humans ... (are not very helpful)

                       Dot pulls herself together, strikes a
                       singing pose, hands neatly clasped in
                       front of her in an eisteddfod manner.

                       DOT
Mummy taught me that. She and Daddy laugh and laugh. (TAKES
A DEEP BREATH)


If you want to go quick
I will tell you a trick
For the bush, where there isn’t a train.
With a hulla-baloo,
Hail a big Kangaroo -
but be sure your weight she’ll sustain.
Then with a hop and a skip,
She will take you a trip
With the speed of the very best steed;
And, this is a truth I can vouch,
There’s no carriage can equal a kangaroo’s pouch.
Oh! Where is a friend so strong and so true
As a dear big, bounding kangaroo?

                       TOBY
(TO TALON) She’s pretty good. (TO DOT) Do you like Missy
Elliott?

                       DOT
I’m sure I would. Does she have a doll?

                       TOBY
I wouldn’t know.

                       DOT
I can dance too. The Native Companions taught me, (TO
KANGAROO) Didn’t they?

                       Dot dances her Native Companion
                       dance.

                       KANGAROO
That might do now, dear.

                       Dot stops dancing. Talon throws
                       himself at Kangaroo’s feet. She jumps
                       back.

                       TALON
I will worship you - we all will - just don’t torture us
before you kill us.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
... At last his sail-broad vanes
He spreads for flight, and in the surging smoke
Uplifted spurns the ground; thence many a league
                                                           49.


As in a clouded chair ascending rides
Audacious; but, the seat soon failing, meets
A vast vacuity; all unawares
Flutt’ring his pennons vain plumb-down he drops
Ten Thousand fathom deep, and to this hour
Down had been falling, had he not by ill chance
The strong rebuff of some tumultuous cloud
instinct with fire and nitre hurried him
As many miles aloft: that fury stayed
Quenched in a boggy Syrtis, neither sea,
Nor good dry land: nigh foundered on he fares,
Treading the crude consistence, half on foot,
Half flying; behoves him now both oar and sail ...
 ... so eagerly the fiend
O’er bog or steep, through straight, rough, dense, or rare,
With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues his way,
And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies.
At length a universal hubbub wild
Of stunning sounds and voices all confused,
Borne through the hollow dark, assaults his ear
With loudest vehemence: thither he plies,
Undaunted, to meet whatever power
Or spirit of the nethermost abyss
Might in that noise reside, of whom to ask
Which way the nearest coast of darkness lies,
Bordering on light; when straight behold the throne
Of Chaos ...

                       TALON
(TO KANGAROO) Is that how you got here? It’s you isn’t it?
(TO CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN) How did you know that? I’ve never
heard anything like that, I just knew ...

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Compose yourself boy, this is no time to lose your faith,
to prostrate yourself before ... Think of the Dark One as
merely a kangaroo.

                       TOBY
(TO TALON) Some Christian. Look at you.

                       Talon gets to his feet.

                       DOT
It was like that when I was alone in the bush. I got really
scared. (TO KANGAROO) And when you left me under that rock
ledge when the Blacks were coming, The dingoes howled. Have
you ever heard that?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
It was Milton. Paradise Lost. Satan escaping Hell.

                       TOBY
I knew. It was like one of those Goth movies.

                       TALON
The Beast kills those who do not worship him ... her ...
it. Pastor said so. In the Tribulation.
                                                           50.


I didn’t want to be waterboarded or made to stand with a
sack over my head and electrodes attached to my balls. I
couldn’t stand it ... I was trying to save you.

                          TOBY
It looked like it.

                       TALON
I was! It wasn’t just for me.

                       KANGAROO
The berry had a powerful effect on the young human. He has
learned too much. Now I suppose he will get indigestion and
be irritable. Tut Tut.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
This is what comes of experimenting with crackpot
denominations. Return to the Mother Church boy where you
will be given proper religious guidance. Pastor indeed!
Sciolism is the result. This sciolism produces hysteria,
superstition leading to hysteria.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Not unknown in the Mother Church. Weepings and visions and
bleeding images, apparitions of shining angels, voices of
saints dead for centuries, the Holy Mother appearing in her
lovely blue cloak in lemon trees before shepherds no older
than these boys, and girls not much older than Dot here.

                       DOT
Did they help them find their lost way? We’re looking for
Willy Wagtail to help me find mine again.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I know. You will find him. Where are you now in your
journey?

                          Dot and Kangaroo look around puzzled,
                          so do Christopher Brennan and the
                          boys.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Where am I in mine? I thought I was in David’s house in
Watson’s Bay. I thought I saw the harbour out that window.
I felt warm. Perhaps it was only the vermouth. (TO DOT)
What are you doing in my dream? This endless dream. I can
only think you are a reaction to my determined rationalism.
An Australian Alice in Wonderland, clear-headed amongst ...
chaos. I think I had something of your determination, a
determination to find my way out of ... (my childhood).

                          DOT
Did you lose yours too?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
No. But the one I had wouldn’t do.
                                                           51.


                       DOT
That must have been terrible. Didn’t your mother show you
your way?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
She died. When I was two.

                       DOT
Oh.

                       Dot goes over and tries to embrace
                       Christina Stead but Stead avoids the
                       embrace by picking up her glass and
                       drinking.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I got another when my father remarried. So you mustn’t
worry, Dot dear. And I had all these brothers and sisters.
And I stayed sane ...

                       Christopher Brennan coughs.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD (CONT)
... amongst the maelstrom of unhappiness. I was determined
to be rational. David - that’s my father - encouraged an
unrelentingly scientific objectivity. Hence this dream, the
irrational striking back I suppose, my suppressed longings
for ... what? When I was a girl, which I was for a very
long time, I lived by poetry.

                       DOT
So do I. My mother reads it to me ... sometimes. And in the
bush, Kangaroo and I heard songs - they’re poetry with
music. Didn’t we Kangaroo? Remember Platypus? He sang of
antediluvian days.


The fairest Iguanadon reposed upon the shore;
Extended lay her beauteous form, a hundred feet or more.
The sun, with rays flammivomous, beat on the blue-black
sand;
As sportive little Saurians disported on the strand.


It made him cry because ... because ... (DOT BEGINS TO
WEEP).

                       Christina Stead reaches out an
                       awkward hand to Dot.

                       KANGAROO
How clever humans are! Imagine such a little one
remembering all that. Such big words too. Dot dear, you are
so clever. Platypus was just sad for the old days. Come
here dear and we will look for ... (LOOKS AROUND) What a
strange cave, I hope we are safe here. Can you hear any
warnings - dingoes in the distance? Blacks stealthily
creeping up? Or Whites on their horses?
                                                           52.


                       They all listen.

                       TALON
I can hear a cockroach whispering ‘Where’s food? Where’s
food? Where’s food?’.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I hear a possum in the roof complaining about not being
able to sleep in the day because humans are galloping about
beneath her floor. She wonders what on earth they can be up
to. She hates to think. She wants her mate to do something
about it but it seems he is too lazy and incompetent.

                       DOT
They’re like that. (TO KANGAROO) Aren’t they? Possums fight
all the time, it’s the only way they can be happy.

                       KANGAROO
They are selfish and spiteful, as a rule. One doesn’t care
for them.

                       TOBY
I can hear ants. They’re kinda humming and clicking and
crackling like ... They’re humming happily because they’re
busy. They’re saying, ‘This way. Over here. Watch out. Not
that way.’

                       They all look at Christopher Brennan.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Oh. Me. I hear heavenly choirs. The saints in their glory
singing God’s praises. I hear them offering intercessions
on behalf of sinners to the Holy Mother. I hear divine
music - masses by Palestrina and Byrd, the Monteverdi
Vespers of 1610. I hear the saints whispering their
concerns for all present in this room - except the kangaroo
- longing for us all to be shriven so we may experience
heavenly bliss.

                       They all continue to stare at him.

                       TOBY
Bullshit. You didn’t even eat your berry. It’s still there
on the floor.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Language boy.

                       TALON
I believe you. Will they save us?

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
If you confess so that you may be reconciled with the Holy
Church. Accept your state as a sinner boy, mend your ways
and confess so that you may forgiven and your worship be
acceptable to God in his glory. Offer your devotions daily
to the Holy Mother and the Saints - you have been baptised?
                                                          53.


                       TALON
Yes. Yes. It was cool. I got scared when he pushed my head
under and the water was muddy but that was only because all
these people were standing around in it staring and going
hallelujah, praise the Lord. Afterward I felt clean. It was
embarrassing but I felt clean. All these ladies kissed me
and my mother was crying.

                       TOBY
D’ough.

                       TALON
You wouldn’t understand, you’re a sinner - he visits porn
sites.

                       TOBY
So do you!

                       TALON
Only because you led me astray. Shut up, this is important.
(TO CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN) You’re the Holy Spirit, right? I
thought you always came in flames, that’s what Pastor said.
And you speak in tongues - but that’s only when you speak
through people right? It’s because they can’t speak Aramaic
right? They get mixed up. Can I give you some feedback here
- it might be better if you used English. Or if you were
visiting China, Chinese. Maybe. It’s just a suggestion. Not
many people understand Aramaic these days, only like Mel
Gibson and people. Like that. He’s a Catholic ... So ...
What do I have to do?

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Throw yourself on the mercy of the church. I have neither
the grace nor anything like the patience to instruct you.
You need a priest. An entire order I would think. Give up
the drink.

                       TALON
What drink?

                       TOBY
He thinks you’re a binge drinker.

                       TALON
Shut up dude, this is the Holy Spirit. He’s come to save us
from the Beast. (TO CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN) I knew you’d come -
but you knew I knew, hey? It’s just like I was expecting
like flames. Don’t you do that anymore? Like I guess it has
something to do with global warming - it adds to your
footprint, hey?

                       KANGAROO
(TO DOT) I think we might be moving along now, Dot. Say
good-bye to your new friends.
                                                            54.


                         Talon sighs with relief, throws
                         himself at Christopher Brennan’s
                         knees, grabs his hand and starts
                         kissing it.

                       TALON
Thank you! Thank you! I’ll be pure, I promise. Thank you. I
couldn’t have stood waterboarding and that ... (WEEPS)
(other thing with the electrodes).

                         Christopher Brennan tries to get out
                         of his chair and away but Talon won’t
                         let go of his hand.

                       TOBY
Dude, you’re making a bit of a ... This is embarrassing,
dude.

                         Toby goes over and hauls Talon away
                         from Christopher Brennan.

                       TOBY (CONT)
You’re going to have to chill, dude.

                         CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
The boy is hysterical.

                         Christina Stead nods.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
(TO CHRISTINA STEAD) Shouldn’t you ... take him in hand, or
something?

                         Dot goes up and takes Talon’s hand.

                       DOT
Don’t worry. I know how you feel, if Kangaroo hadn’t come
along I ... don’t know ... Don’t worry, I’m sure they’re
out looking for you. They’ll find you. Soon you’ll be ...
(back home). They’ll call in the Black trackers.

                         Kangaroo sniffs the air.

                       KANGAROO
Dot, we should think about going on our way. It’s night and
if we listen carefully we will hear Willy Wagtail singing,
this is his favourite time. The Black trackers might find
us too.

                       TALON
(TO DOT) Are they looking for you?

                       DOT
Oh yes, I’m sure. But I have wandered ... I didn’t mean to.

                       TALON
None of us do. We are led astray.
                                                            55.


                       KANGAROO
Dot, it is a dangerous time and the court made so much
noise ...

                       DOT
It was Cockatoo mainly. (TO TALON) He was the judge.

                         TALON
Have you been judged?

                         DOT
Oh yes.

                         TALON
And ... Are you saved?

                       KANGAROO
Dot. There was so much noise, it was not just Cockatoo, all
the animals ... I heard the uproar from miles away. We must
find a safe place to hide.

                       DOT
(TO TALON) Oh yes, dear Kangaroo came and carried me away
from the court. We fled.

                       TALON
(WHISPERS SO KANGAROO CANNOT HEAR) Be careful, you have
been judged and she is a beast.

                       DOT
She is my dearest friend! She is helping me find my way.
And she has lost her joey. I was lost and she found me.
Mother told me not to stray.

                         Christina Stead approaches them.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Come Talon, I will tell you what Sydney was like before you
were born, before your parents were born. Come and sit over
here with me.

                       DOT
Tell him to be nice to Kangaroo.

                       KANGAROO
Dot, the Blacks and their dogs will have heard all that
noise. We must get far away.

                       DOT
I’m just worried he may be lost too, he says such strange
things. But then I don’t know any other children. (TO
TALON) Are they all like you?

                       TOBY
No, they’re normal ... some of them.

                         Kangaroo looks around in an agitated
                         fashion.
                                                            56.


                       KANGAROO
Dot, we could be trapped here.

                       DOT
I’m coming ... It’s just ... I haven’t talked to young
people before, just Mummy and Daddy and ... I’m not allowed
to talk to anyone else. Couldn’t we stay here? It’s nice
and dry. Just for tonight? A little time? You need to rest.
I’m sure we're safe.

                          Kangaroo listens, sniffs.

                          KANGAROO
It smells strange.

                          DOT
That’s just humans.

                       KANGAROO
And it’s strangely silent.

                          They all listen to the silence.

                          DOT
I could sing.

                       KANGAROO
I don’t think that’s a good idea.

                       DOT
(TO TALON) Do you have any sisters?

                          TALON
Yes.

                          DOT
Oh goody. Where is she?

                       TALON
Out. Clubbing I suppose, she’s not saved.

                          DOT
Does she have a dolly?

                          TALON
She used to.

                       DOT
I wish she were here. We could play. My grandmother sent me
a doll from the West Australian goldfields. She made it.
Her name is Isobel. I left her on my bed. (DOT SWAYS WITH
DEJECTION) Mummy and Daddy will be getting sad and the big
men on their rough horses with be talking quietly. (DOT
TAKES KANGAROO’S HAND. TO KANGAROO ...) We could be trapped
here.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Come Talon, you and Toby should sit quietly for a bit.
                                                           57.


                       Christina Stead leads Talon to couch.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD (CONT)
Come and sit down Toby, I’ll tell you about ancient Sydney.

                       Kangaroo looks around.

                       KANGAROO
(TO DOT) How did we get in? I can’t see the opening.

                       DOT
We came through the thick brush and it opened up and here
we were. (DOT YAWNS). I’m terribly tired. Can we sleep?
Just for a minute?

                       KANGAROO
Just for a moment. I am so tired too. I won’t be able to
escape if the Whites and their horrible dogs ... Lie down
there, in that dark corner for a moment then we must be
going.

                       Dot lies down in a darkened area.
                       Toby goes over and sits with
                       Christina Stead and Talon. Kangaroo
                       moves around inspecting the cave
                       during the following then slumps into
                       a snooze.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
(TO TALON AND TOBY) When I was your age I caught the tram
every day and then another tram to school. How do you get
to school?

                       TOBY
Toula drives me. If she’s had a fight with Dad, he drives
me. Real early. He yells at me if I say anything. He drives
the ORV like he’s a demon

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
(TO TALON) And you?

                       TALON
I catch a bus. If I miss it I ride my bike. On walkathon
days I take my skateboard.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I see. Professor Brennan wrote a poem which captures my
journey to Teachers’ College where I went after I had left
school. I had quite a long way to go, it took me over an
hour. I would catch one tram into town and then take
another out past the University where the Teachers’ College
was. The University had a tower with four turrets.

The droning tram swings westward: shrill
The wire sings overhead, and chill
Midwinter draughts rattle glass
That shows the dusking way I pass
To yon four-turreted square tower
                                                        58.


That still exalts the golden hour
Where youth, initiate once, endears
A treasure richer with years.

Do you know what the ‘treasure’ is?

                       The boys shake their head.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD (CONT)
Education. (TO CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN) Isn’t that so Professor
Brennan?

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
More than that. A tradition. A civilisation. A cultivated
mind. A refined spirit. One must never stop. What a good
memory you have, I am deeply touched.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
(TO TALON AND TOBY) Then Professor Brennan’s poem gives us
the view from inside the tram - what I used to look out at
as I sat - or stood - you boys give up your seats for
adults, don’t you? Trams ran on electricity, as you know,
and the overhead wire which Professor Brennan has singing
shrilly - which they did as the tram moved along
underneath, like cicadas - splashed blue sparks of
electricity when the tram pole reaching to the wire bounced
as the tram moved along.

Dim-seen, the upper stories fleet
Along the twisting shabby street;
Beneath, the shop-fronts’ covered ways
Bask in the lampions’ orange blaze
Or stare phantasmal, weirdly new,
In the electrics’ ghastly blue
...


Electricity was still quite new in those days. Father got
us a wireless and we loved it. My brothers used to turn it
down low so they could listen to the serials - David, my
father, thought we should only listen to educational
programs. I must say the serials were very exciting, with
pilots and cowboys ... Flying was very - a great adventure,
so exciting, to think how you could be somewhere far away
in no time at all and ... We thought America was marvellous
- cowboys and Indians - we weren’t so impressed by our own
shearers and stockmen and the Aborigines were either mythic
or non-existent to us. I suppose you boys come home from
school and watch television?

                       TOBY
Naw, it’s boring.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Boring? Surely not?

                       TOBY
It’s just full of ads and reality.
                                                           59.


                       TALON
They’re disgusting. We go on the net. We talk to one
another.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
That’s good. What about?

                          TOBY
Stuff.

                          CHRISTINA STEAD
For example?

                       TOBY
Like this guy set the girl’s hair on fire and put it on
YouTube.

                          CHRISTINA STEAD
Oh.

                       TALON
It can be better than that, you can learn stuff.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Good. And what is your ambition?

                          TOBY
Ambition?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Yes, what job would you like when you leave school?

                       TOBY
Oh, like a goal. Dunno. Maybe construction, like Dad but
not small time - big, I want to run a multinational.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
(TO TALON) And what is your favourite subject?

                       TALON
I T. I’m going to be a graphic designer.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I T. I don’t think I know what that is.

                          TALON
Information Technology.

                          TOBY
Computers.

                       TALON
It’s more than that. It’s blackberries and mobile
technology, like uploading and ... stuff.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Do you have a favourite author?
                                                           60.


                       TALON
We were thinking of that before you - and (POINTING TO
CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN) came. Not you - sorry.

                       TOBY
And not him!

                       TALON
(TO CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN) No offence Your Holiness, the
thing about the tram was good though.

                       TOBY
The other was crap.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
I didn’t write the other, boy, the sublime Milton did.

                       TALON
(TO TOBY) You got off on it.

                       TOBY
I did not. You - are - a- total - whacko.

                       TALON
You said it was about Dracula.

                       TOBY
You’d know, you’re half Transylvanian.

                       TALON
Well that’s better than being totally Serbian.

                       TOBY
I’m an Aussie. Just because your parents come from
somewhere else doesn’t mean jack shit.

                       Kangaroo is disturbed from her
                       slumber by this.

                       TALON
What’s heaven like, Christina?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I don’t think that would be a useful line of inquiry at the
moment, Talon.

                       TOBY
Yes, she’s trying to calm you down after that whacko act
you threw.

                       TALON
I thought ... this is so weird ... I thought it was the
Tribulation.

                       TOBY
After you thought it was the Rapture. You almost had me ...
(believing in it too).
                                                         61.


(TO CHRISTINA STEAD AND CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN) You guys had
better go now, my father’s going to be home any minute now
and he’s like a very angry, hostile type guy. You’re
homeless right? We did you in school. They’ve got shelters.

                       Sound of Willy Wagtail from computer
                       station area. Kangaroo is instantly
                       alert, looks around for Dot, hops
                       towards her.

                       KANGAROO
Dot, Dot dear, wake up. Time to be going again.

                       Dot is reluctant to wake.

                       KANGAROO (CONT)

Can you hear him?

                       Sound of Willy Wagtail.

                       KANGAROO (CONT
It’s Willy Wagtail, he’ll tell us where your way is. Do
come on Dot, we’ll lose him, he’ll flit off and we’ll have
to wait and wait again. I can’t carry you ... (for much
longer).

                       Dot gets up.

                       DOT
What? I was dreaming I was back home on our selection.
Mummy was ... (opening the door).

                       Sound of Willy Wagtail.

                       DOT
It’s him.

                       KANGAROO
Do come Dot, come now or it’ll be too late.

                       Kangaroo begins leading Dot towards
                       computer station and darkness. Dot
                       turns.

                       DOT
Good-bye. Don’t forget me. I’ve - (so enjoyed meeting you).

                       KANGAROO
Dot, he’s flitting away, I knew we had to hurry, you have
no idea how unreliable Willy Wagtails are. Hurry Dot.

                       DOT
I have to go now.

                       TOBY
Where’s the little ho going? She shouldn’t be going off -
(with that pedophile) Don’t go!
                                                             62.


                         Toby gets up from couch.

                         TOBY (CONT)
We’ll get ... (help)

                         Dot hesitates between staying and
                         going on with Kangaroo.

                         DOT
I have to find my way.

                         KANGAROO
Do come Dot.

                       DOT
Kangaroo has been so kind ... She’s looked after me like
her own, just like I belonged in the bush. But I don’t.

                       TOBY
Stay here, we’ll find your parents - they’re not drug
addicts are they? Are they alcoholics? You can go into
foster care, I’ll find the site. Maybe Mr and Mrs Zenir
will adopt you, they’re old and they haven’t got a pool but
... (they’re nice).

                         Dot steps back towards them,
                         hesitates again. Kangaroo vanishes
                         into darkness behind computer
                         station. Sound of Willy Wagtail comes
                         faintly. Dot turns and runs into
                         darkness. Computer light blinks, goes
                         off. Stage dark for a moment. Lights
                         come up with same eerie glow around
                         computer station.

                       TOBY
They always think they’re nice. They give them boiled
lollies. Why would you boil a lolly? Bill Henson could’ve
photographed her. She could’ve been huge on Facebook - a
million hits. Poor little ho. He’ll probably keep her a
prisoner in a cellar in Germany for like years.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Sit down Toby. I know what happens to her.

                         Toby sits again.

                       TOBY
What? How would you know?

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I’ve read her story, many - millions probably - have. She
gets home.

                       TOBY
But her parents might be selling her to those pedophiles.
                                                           63.


                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I don’t know where you get these ideas. I wandered
everywhere as a girl. One knew how to keep out of harm’s
way.

                       TALON
It was a kangaroo, dude.

                       TOBY
You said it was ... What did you call it?

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Oh let’s not start again. Let’s say they were figments of
our imagination, thrown up by our unconscious minds through
some unacknowledged need. Mine must be to be punished.
Though you have provided me with ...

                       Christopher Brennan stands, bows to
                       Christina Stead who inclines her head
                       in return of the salute.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
                       (CONT)
... some honour.

                       Christopher Brennan begins to wander
                       upstage towards the dark behind the
                       computer station area.

                       CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
I would have liked to see my beautiful Vi again. But that
was not vouchsafed. We both drank too much. One night she
wandered out onto the tram tracks ... (TURNS TO FACE BOYS)
I suppose there is no point in trying to warn you. You
could be my own sons who (TO CHRISTIAN STEAD) as you
rightly say, I abandoned. God forgive me but I could not be
a father to them, nor the husband my wife wanted. They
suffocated me, they irritated me to distraction. I longed
to be free of them and their endless demands, their yells
and bickering. I waited three years for Elizabeth to join
me from Berlin, I thought I adored her, her storm of golden
hair and all would be well with her mother and poor mad
sister. I dreamt of domestic bliss - I felt bliss in
anticipation, a hearth against the cold rigours of the
world, a cool bower to rest in after engaging with the heat
and dust of salaried life. I thought domesticity would be
peace, such as the teaching brothers had at school, cared
for so they could go forth and pursue God’s work in the
world and return to the refreshment of quiet contemplation,
fellowship and study. For a few years we made a kind of go
of it but domesticity was not what I had imagined. I
struggled but did not seem suited to marriage, my spirit
rebelled, I fought to contain it, to subdue it ... to the
banal. But my spirit was a wanderer. (TO TALON) Perhaps
that little girl was one of your Guides. Saints in Heaven
ease her journey. Mary Mother of God intercede on behalf of
these poor boys, lost but for the grace of God.
                                                           64.



The winter eve is clear and chill:
the world of air is folded still;
the quiet hour expects the moon;
and yon my home awaits me soon
behind the panes that come and go
with dusk and firelight wavering low:
and I must bid the prompting cease
that bids me, in this charmed peace,
- as tho’ the hour would last my will-
follow the roads and follow still
the dream that holds my heart in trance
and lures it to the fabled chance
to find, beyond the evening ways,
and meadows clear with gold, and you
as once, ere I might dare to woo.


Vi was everything to me. She came into my life - she was
exquisite, she said she would be mine. My marriage was
ashes and thorns. Elizabeth petitioned for divorce, the
papers got hold of it, that was the end of my job at the
University but I had Vi, we were always together.


                        We hear the very faint sound of
                        church bells as Christopher Brennan
                        wanders off in the direction taken by
                        Dot and Kangaroo and as Christina
                        Stead recites his poem. The computer
                        light blinks and the stage is in
                        darkness as he vanishes.

                        CHRISTINA STEAD

Sweet silence after bells!
deep in the enamoured ear
soft incantation dwells.


Filling rapt still sphere
a liquid crystal swims,
precarious yet clear.


Those metal quiring hymns
shaped ether so succinct:
a while, or it dislimns,

the silence, wanly prinkt
with forms of lingering notes,
inhabits, close, distinct;

and night, the angel, floats
on wings of blessed spread
O’er all the gathered cotes

where meditation, wed
                                                        65.


with love, in gold-lit cells,
Absorbs the heaven that shed

sweet silence after bells.

                          Lights up.

                       TALON
You know a lot of poetry.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
I don’t know if I do now. I once ... did know a lot - of
poetry, I lived by it and ... I decided at one stage it had
filled my head with stuff and nonsense, that I must ...
(give it up). Funny how it floods my mind now. (GETS UP
HOLDING HER GLASS) It must be the stimulating company. I
must wake up now, I must! I have to write that chapter. Oh
they will be cross, I live in fear of them suing me. No I
don’t, I rely on their generosity of spirit, their capacity
to face the truth - and the fact they can’t afford lawyers.
I just jot down what I have observed. They accuse me of
being cruel in my depictions but they seem to forgive me. I
write and write ... I am so lonely here in The Catskills.
Bill is coming from New York ... soon. I must write and
write, it seems not to be enough to live life, I must write
it.

                       TOBY
Don’t you just make it up?

                          CHRISTINA STEAD
Sometimes I think I do.

                       TOBY
It’s pretty amazing - I mean it rhymes and ... it’s pretty
amazing.

                       CHRISTINA STEAD
Sometimes it amazes me - oh I didn’t write that, Professor
Brennan did, I just ... I just used to absorb it. I write
... fiction - about people’s lives and the society that
tries to contain their ever errant spirits. I write my
times, their ways. (PUTS GLASS DOWN) Thank you my imps, I
feel warmer. I feel I can finish the chapter, it was - it
seemed to drain away from me and I couldn’t find ... my
way. Do you know, I used to know so much poetry by heart
and I’d forgotten I’d forgotten it until I dreamt of you.
You boys won’t understand this but once I walked up from
the Teachers College to listen to a lecture Professor
Brennan was giving on Greek tragedy. Fogs rolled back,
clouds cleared, I saw vistas which I knew I had to pursue
though I would never reach them. (BEGINS TO MOVE SLOWLY
UPSTAGE) Don’t worry, I can find my way now. (TURNS, LOOKS
AROUND) I thought I was back in my father’s house with his
wife and all their children ... and you were here.
                                                         66.


                        As Christina Stead walks past
                        computer station its eerie light
                        blinks but unlike the times when
                        Dot, Kangaroo and Christopher Brennan
                        exited, the stage remains lit.
                        Christina Stead exits. There is the
                        very loud sound of a police siren
                        dying. Then alarmingly flashing
                        police car lights from the wing. A
                        very loud knocking on a door. Toby
                        and Talon are immobilised by terror.

                        POLICEMAN
Police! Anyone home?

                        More loud knocking.

                       POLICEWOMAN
We’re here about your parents.

                        TOBY
(TO TALON) You go.

                        Talon exits wing. Talon leads
                        Policeman and Policewoman in.

                        POLICEMAN
You’re Toby Bregovic?

                       TOBY
Yes. But I haven’t done anything wrong ... have I? We tried
to get them help. We told her not to - (go).

                        Policewoman goes over and sits beside
                        Toby on couch.

                       POLICEWOMAN
It’s O K mate, we’re here to help you. Is there anyone ...
any adult around?

                        TOBY
They’re out.

                       POLICEWOMAN
O K. Have you got any neighbours, friendly neighbours.

                      TOBY
Mr and Mrs Zenir but they’re not very friendly since Dad
yelled at them.

                       POLICEWOMAN
(TO TALON) What about you, mate?

                        TALON
I’m very friendly.

                       POLICEMAN
Are your parents nearby?
                                                           67.


                       TALON
Mum’s in Granville.

                       POLICEMAN
(TO TOBY) There’s been a bit of an accident.

                       POLICEWOMAN
(TO TOBY) Your Dad was - your Dad’s Javor Bregovic, right?
And he was out with (CHECKS NOTES) Ms Toula Drapaniotis?
Was she a family friend?

                       TOBY
She’s my stepmum, sort of.

                       POLICEWOMAN
Where’s your mum?

                       TOBY
Hawaii, I think.

                       POLICEMAN
Have you got her number?

                       Toby shakes his head.

                       TOBY
Was he speeding again? Will he lose his license?

                       POLICEWOMAN
(TO TALON) Can he stay with you tonight? We’ll drive you to
Granville. (PULLS OUT MOBILE) Here, give your mum a ring.
Then we’ll speak to her.

                       TALON
Mum’s at a chapel social, she doesn’t like me interrupting.

                       POLICEMAN
(TO TOBY) Sorry mate, but your Dad and (CHECKS NOTES) Ms
Drapaniotis ... I’m afraid there’s been an accident and ...
it’s pretty serious. Are you sure there are no adults we
could ring?

                       TALON
We could ring Mr Tszinsky only we don’t have his number.

                       POLICEMAN
Who’s he mate?

                       TALON
He’s our English teacher. We’re doing his homework.

                       POLICEWOMAN
(TO TOBY) We just think you should have someone with you
tonight. This is pretty important. The accident was bad,
the worst.

                       Toby and Talon take this in.
                                                        68.


                       POLICEMAN
Sorry mate.

                       TALON
(TO TOBY) I’ll stay with you Tobe.

                       Policewoman stands up, moves away
                       from couch. Talon goes over and sits
                       next to Toby.

                       TALON (CONT)
I’m here.

                       TOBY
(TAKING OUT MOBILE) If this fucking thing hadn’t’ve run out
we could’ve got the whole thing for YouTube, it would’ve
been fucking incredible, we would’ve got a million hits.



                       FIN
                                                          69.




Christina Stead and Christopher Brennan quote the
description of Satan as the Serpent approaching Eve in Book
IX of John Milton’s Paradise Lost



Christina Stead’s words on the Great Grey or Forester
Kangaroo come from Ellis Troughton’s Furred Animals of
Australia

Dot’s song is from Ethel Pedley’s Dot and the Kangaroo


Christopher Brennan’s recitation of Satan’s escape from
Hell comes from Book 11 of John Milton’s Paradise Lost

Dot’s rendition of Platypus’ song about antediluvian days
is from Ethel Pedley’s Dot and the Kangaroo

Christina Stead quotes Christopher Brennan’s poem about a
journey in Sydney by tram ‘1908’ from V Epilogues of his
POEMS (1913)

Christopher Brennan’s farewell poem ‘The winter eve is
clear and still ...’ is from III TOWARDS THE SOURCE 1894 -
1897 of his POEMS (1913)

Christina Stead farewells Christopher Brennan with ‘Sweet
silence after bells!’ from I TOWARDS THE SOURCE 1894 -
1897 of his POEMS (1913)

				
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posted:7/8/2011
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Description: WAYS is a play about two boys who inadvertently summons some great Australian literary figures - novelist Christina Stead, poet Christopher Brennan and two surprise characters - while doing their homework. Confusion reigns.