Thoughtful Friends by Alex Townsend


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This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent


Time: the present, New Year's Eve

Location: Harry's bedsit

(The scene is the lounge of HARRY's flat. DSL, there is a table
arranged with plates and glasses, bowls of crisps etc. Hung around
the room are a few Christmas decorations and some cards. Back centre
stage a screen can be erected to represent the kitchen area. In
front of the screen, there is a small cupboard/sideboard on top of
which there is placed a small, artificial Christmas tree. Centre
stage, there is an old three piece suite, with the settee being
central and the two armchairs arranged diagonally on either side.
HARRY is wearing a party hat. He is fiddling around with the table
arrangement and humming to himself "Auld Lang's Syne!" The
doorbell sounds. He moves excitedly to the door off SR)

HARRY: (off) Hi. Thank you so much for coming!

MINNIE: (off) Thank you for inviting me.

(They enter SR)

HARRY: It's lovely to see you.

MINNIE: It's lovely to see you.

(They stand centre stage and he is staring at her lovingly, almost
dopily MINNIE is composed, if a little bemused)

HARRY: You look really nice.

MINNIE: Thank you.

HARRY: I mean, you look great, you know? I mean really great.

MINNIE: Thanks. So do you.

HARRY: Thanks (pause) I really didn't know if you would come.

MINNIE: How could I not come when you were lovely enough to invite
me?

HARRY: I really wasn't sure.

MINNIE: Well, I'm here and I'm sure it's going to be a lovely evening.

HARRY: Yes, I hope so (coming to himself) Oh, I am sorry let me
take your coat. Please sit down.

MINNIE: (she sits at the end of the settee) Thank you.

HARRY: (as he goes to hang her coat out off SR) Can I get you a
drink?

MINNIE: Have you got any lemonade?

HARRY: Yes I think so. Are you sure you wouldn't like anything
stronger? There's plenty of wine, I

MINNIE: No I

HARRY: You don't, of course! How stupid of me not to have
remembered! You talked of it how important it is to you to keep a
clear head, to be authentic, to see clearly ahead and here I am trying
to pour the stuff down your throat! How stupid! I am so sorry. I
really

MINNIE: Harry! Harry! It's fine. It really is. Is something
wrong? You seem nervous.

HARRY: Well, yes, sorry I am a little, yes. It's just that I'm
not really very good at this sort of thing I mean, I don't
normally

(Harry is lost for words; there is an awkward pause)

MINNIE: You don't normally what?

HARRY: I don't normally entertain.

MINNIE: Oh, I see. Look, it's going to be fine, honestly. So what
time have you told people to arrive?

HARRY: People?

MINNIE: The other guests?

HARRY: (part cheery/part disconsolate) Oh, don't worry they'll
be here soon enough.

MINNIE: Stop worrying they're your friends, aren't they?

HARRY: Well, they

MINNIE: And it's all going to be fine. They're coming here to
celebrate with you.

HARRY: (unsure, depressed; he sits beside her in the middle of the
settee) Yes.

MINNIE: (brightly) How do you know them?

(HARRY mumbles, barely audibly, with his head down).

MINNIE: Sorry?

(Again, HARRY mumbles, barely audibly, with his head down).
(raising his face with her hands) Harry, Harry, listen to me
everything is going to be fine (she starts an innocent almost
childlike rendition of 1st verse of Auld Lang's Syne and he stares
dreamily into her eyes) There. Is that better?

HARRY: Yes, much much better.

MINNIE: I love New Year's Eve, don't you? So full of hope; time
to make a fresh start. Leave the old year behind, start the new.
It's great, isn't it?

HARRY: (lost in wonder at her) Yes (pause) Minnie look, I just
wanted to say before the others arrive that well, that day we
got talking in the park well, I never expected it was so
how you just started to and it changed everything I started to
feel for the first time that and you being here now,
wellI've never, you know, I you make me feel so

(Sound of doorbell; HARRY jumps up almost scared out of his wits)

MINNIE: Harry! What's the matter? Harry! Now, calm down! Do you
want me to go?

HARRY: No, no. It's ok. I'll go. They won't know who you are.

(HARRY goes to the 'door' SR)

(from off) Oh, hi, Nick. How are you?

NICK: (from off he's clearly already been drinking) Wah hey hey!
All right?!

(HARRY and NICK enter SR. NICK heads straight for the buffet table,
ignoring MINNIE)

HARRY: Nick, this is Minnie. Minnie, this is Nick.

MINNIE: (bright and breezily) Hi!

NICK: (picks up a big handful of nibbles and begins scoffing them,
barely acknowledging MINNIE) All right? Hey Harry, have you got any
beer?

HARRY: Yes, there's some in the fridge.

NICK: Cheers, mate!

(NICK exits to the kitchen area)

(embarrassed pause)

HARRY: (embarrassed by Nick's rudeness) That's Nick!

MINNIE: Yeshow do you know each other?

HARRY: Well, we

(NICK re-enters from the kitchen area and pops open a can and it
sprays everywhere)

NICK: Wah hey hey!

HARRY: Nick!

NICK: What?

HARRY: (trying not to show too much irritation) Take it easy.

NICK: What do you mean 'take it easy'? I am taking it easy
what's up? Have you lost your sense of humour or something?

MINNIE: (innocently, brightly) How do you two know each other?

NICK: Oh, it's a long story. Listen, do you like reggae? I'm
really into reggae at the moment. Harry, have you got any reggae?
This party needs some music, man!

MINNIE: (kindly/lightheartedly) Seems like you've already been
partying what time did you start?

NICK: (defensively) Well, I've had a few babyshams, yeah. I'm not
gonna lie! (aside to HARRY) Who is this tart? She's doing my head
in, man!

HARRY: (aside harsh whisper back to Nick) That's Minnie
she's just being nice!

NICK: (walking over to the buffet table) She's doing my head in,
man!

(Sound of doorbell)

MINNIE: Wow! Everyone's arriving at once! Isn't it exciting?

HARRY: (weakly) Yes

(HARRY goes off SR to answer the door)

HARRY: (from off) Hallo, Richard! Happy New Year!

(HARRY and RICHARD are entering SR)

RICHARD: Hi Harry. Surely you say 'Happy New Year' after
midnight, don't you? When it's technically the new year.

HARRY: Yes, I suppose so. Anyway, come in, come in. This is Minnie
by the way.

RICHARD: Hello "Minnie by the way."

HARRY: (laughs in a forced, nervous sort of way trying to disguise his
irritation) Minnie this is Richard; he's a bit of a card!

(HARRY takes RICHARD's coat without saying anything and take it to
'hang up' SR).

RICHARD: (to Minnie) Pleased to meet you.

MINNIE: Pleased to meet you.

RICHARD: Although I've only just met you it's what you say,
isn't it?

HARRY: And you know Nick.

(Nick, whose mouth is full of crisps, just puts his hand up in
acknowledgement)

RICHARD: (sounding bored) Yes, hallo Nick.

(Sound of the doorbell)

HARRY: I can't believe this!

RICHARD: Can't believe what?

HARRY: Nothing. Excuse me.

RICHARD: What for?

(HARRY goes off SR to answer the door)
(to MINNIE) So how do you know Harry?

MINNIE: We met in the park one day.

RICHARD: Oh. That's a bit weird.

MINNIE: (amused, not offended) Is it?

HARRY: (from off) Hallo, Alan

(HARRY re-enters with ALAN a small, neurotic, pale-faced,
ferrety-looking man wearing a raincoat. His hair is greased and
combed tightly to the scalp)

NICK: Alan!

(Throughout, ALAN's painful shyness means that he grins inanely but
never establishes eye contact; always looking down and slightly off to
the side)

ALAN: Hi.

RICHARD: (waving inanely) Hi Alan!

ALAN: Hi.

HARRY: This is Minnie. Minnie, this is Alan.

MINNIE: Hi.

ALAN: (strangled/nervous laughter) Hallo.

HARRY: Can I get you a drink, Alan?

ALAN: Yes, can I have a glass of water?

NICK: Did you say 'water'?

ALAN: Yes.

NICK: Come on, man have a proper drink. What's wrong with ya?

HARRY: He can have a glass of water if he wants.

NICK: Why are you being a wuss? It's New Year's Eve!

HARRY: Richard what would you like?

RICHARD: Meths, please!

NICK: Wah hey hey!

HARRY: Meths?

RICHARD: Yes, Meths or aftershave or toilet cleaner anything
really; don't want to be a wuss on New Year's Eve!

NICK: Are you having a laugh?

HARRY: (going off to the kitchen area;to himself) Dear God!

(Brief pause)

MINNIE: (unfazed) So, is anyone making any New Year's resolutions?

NICK: You what? You're doin' my head in! (wanders off SR)

Where's the music? This party sucks!

RICHARD: New Year's resolutions are ridiculous! The idea that just
because it's a 'new year' whatever that's supposed to mean you should
start promising yourself that you're going to do this or not going to do that
in the future makes no sense whatsoever. It's completely arbitrary!

MINNIE: (to Alan) How about you?

ALAN: (the same strangled/nervous laugh) No!

HARRY: (re-enters carrying a glass of water/starting to show real
signs of strain) Here here you are Alan, your glass of water.
Richard, there are some beers in the fridge if you want one.

ALAN: Thank you.

HARRY: You're welcome (looking around him) Where's Nick?

MINNIE: I'm not surehe was saying something about some music.

ALAN: Have you got any ice?

HARRY: It's tap water.

ALAN: Yes, but it's tepid.

(HARRY snatches the water from him and marches back into the kitchen
area)

RICHARD: Did you say your name was 'Minnie'? That's a strange
name. You don't look that small.

MINNIE: It's short for Minerva actually.

RICHARD: Oh.

ALAN: (very quietly) Goddess of wisdom, medicine, poetry and magic.

RICHARD: What?

ALAN: (a little more assertively) Minerva is the goddess of wisdom,
medicine, poetry and magic.

MINNIE: Yes!

(HARRY re-enters and hands Alan his glass of water with ice in it)

HARRY: (to Alan) Your iced iced tap tap water water.

MINNIE: Are you ok, Harry?

[end of extract]



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