So today, with a week to go, and rehearsals underway, as a useful exercise we went back to writing the show as a short story. Here’s is how far we have got…
This is a story about two women living in an ordinary British town, living ordinary lives. Maureen heads up the local volunteer life savers group. She’d be lost without it. She keeps the jokes coming and the kettle on. She spends her weekends driving, Bruce Springsteen on the stereo. She sometimes has this feeling that if she stopped moving, she’d disappear. Sylvie is afraid of her policeman husband. She keeps the TV on all day and tries to laugh it all off. You’ve made your choices, she tells herself. But Maureen and Sylvie both dream in technicolour.
One night, on a whim, when Dave’s out at some work thing, Sylvie takes the bus up to the local lifesavers’ weekly meeting. The sign in Tesco’s said all welcome, and she thought, I’d like to do that, to be useful. She’s never been squeamish, she’s seen it all in her own living room, on the TV and sometimes for real. She has a great time at the meeting. They learn how to dress a head wound, they laugh, they gossip, they eat a lot of biscuits. Maureen talks about a thing she’s organising, a road trip touring their training course around the country. She’s looking for volunteers and Sylvie thinks, in another life. When she says goodbye to Maureen and tells her she’s headed to the bus stop, Maureen says don’t be daft, I’ll give you a lift. Chatting in the car with the heat on, it feels like they’ve known each other a long time. Bit of a nutter, but I like her, they both think about the other.
3am. Maureen’s awake as usual. Can’t stop the old cogs turning. She sits by the phone just in case – you never know, someone might be in trouble. Sylvie’s in her spare room, surrounded by box files, an exercise bike, the stuff they don’t use. Her ears are ringing. After he calmed down, Dave said he was so sorry Sylv, under a terrible strain at work, he said you’re okay though aren’t you and went to bed. She’s got the volume on the TV turned low, a movie she may have seen before about these two women driving across America, they’ve got themselves in all kinds of trouble and when they drive off the cliff at the end Sylvie’s heart soars. The credits are rolling and she’s calling Maureen’s number, somehow she knows she’ll be awake and without really thinking she’s saying can I come with you on this tour thing, I’ve got to do it, I’m the woman you need.
One morning a few weeks later, she waits til Dave leaves for work before she gets the suitcase from the back of the wardrobe. She checks again that the freezer’s full – he’ll manage. Her hand shakes as she writes a note: ‘Back in five days. I’ve been called out on an emergency.’
A work in progress performance of RedCape Theatre’s next show ‘Thunder Road’ will be performed on Sunday 4 February at 7pm part of ‘Calm Down Dear 2018’