Accidental Death Of An Anarchist (Version)

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A contemporary adaptation of Fo\'s brilliant play for a smaller cast (unperformed)

Transcript of Accidental Death Of An Anarchist (Version)


2. 2 ACT ONE Scene One An interview room at Scotland Yard. A desk, a filing cabinet, a cupboard, a few chairs and a coat-stand on which are hanging a dark overcoat and a black hat. INSPECTOR KRATOS and WPC CRESSIDA DICK are engaged in interrogating a man: the MANIAC. INSPECTOR KRATOS: (As he flicks through a pile of paperwork, he turns to the MANIAC, who is seated, calm and relaxed) So this isnt the first time you have passed yourself off as someone else! Here it says that youve been caught twice posing as a surgeon, once as a captain in the police force, three times as a bishop, once as a pilot. In all youve been arrested. lets see .. two plus three, five one, two .three .eleven times in all ..So that makes the twelfth. MANIAC: Correct. Arrested twelve times.But I must point out, Inspector, arrested, but never found guilty .My record is clean! INSPECTOR KRATOS: According to your charge sheet, you were arrested while passing yourself off as a psychiatrist, a lecturer, formerly teaching at the University of Bath. Thats trading under false pretences. You do realise that you could go to prison for that? MANIAC: Certainly false pretences perpetrated bys a sane person. But Im mad, Inspector: certified mad! Look, Ive got my medical record, here: sixteen times in the nuthouse..and always for the same reason. I have a thing about dreaming up 2 3. 3 characters and then acting them out. Im a sort of amateur performance artist. With the difference that I go for Invisible Theatre my fellow performers need to be real people, but people who dont realise that theyre in my plays. Which is just as well, cos Ive got no money and couldnt pay them anyway. I applied to the Arts Council for a grant, but since the Labour Party announced that this was a golden age for the arts, theyve gone bankrupt! INSPECTOR KRATOS: You had the nerve to charge five hundred pounds for a single consultation. CONSTABLE: (Standing behind the MANIAC) Jesus! MANIAC: A reasonable rate for any self-respecting psychiatrist..Sixteen years studying before you qualify! INSPECTOR KRATOS: Sure, but when did you ever study psychiatry? MANIAC: Sixteen years Ive studied.Thousands of lunatics like myself day after day.And at night too! Because, unlike your normal psychiatrist, I slept with them. Often as not, three to a bed, because theres always a shortage of beds these days. Anyway, feel free to check. I think youll find that my diagnosis for the poor schizophrenic I was arrested for was spot-on. INSPECTOR KRATOS : Your five hundred pounds was spot-on too! MANIAC: But Inspector, I had to .. it was for his own good! INSPECTOR KRATOS : Ah, for his own good, eh? So a big bills part of the cure? 3 4. 4 MANIAC: Sure! If I hadnt stung him for five hundred, do you really think the poor bastard, and more particularly his family, would have been satisfied? If Id asked for a mere fifty, theyd have thought: He cant be a lot of use. Maybe hes not a real professor. Must be newly qualified But this way, it knocked them sideways and they thought: Who is this man? God Almightly? And off they went, happy. They even kissed my hand. Thank you Professor.. Kiss-kiss-kiss. INSPECTOR KRATOS: Ill say this you run a good line in bullshit! MANIAC: Its true, though, Inspector. Even Freud says: Be you sick, be you ill, the best cure is a big fat bill for the patient and the doctor! INSPECTOR KRATOS: Now, lets take a look at your visiting card.. (He shows the card) If Im not mistaken, it says here: Professor Harold Shipman. Psychiatrist formerly, lecturer at the University of Bath. Come on, now, talk your way out of that one! MANIAC: First of all, I really am a lecturer. I teach carpentry, actually, dovetail joints, toilet roll holders, you know. I do evening classes at the Bournville Community Centre. INSPECTOR KRATOS : Im impressed, my compliments! But it says her: Psychiatrist! MANIAC: Well done but after the full stop! Are you familiar with the rules of grammar and punctuation? Read it properly: Professor Harold Shipman. Full stop. Then theres a capital P. Psychiatrist! Now look, you cant tell me its going under false pretences to say: psychiatrist, I presume youre familiar with the grammar of the English language? Yes? Well in that case you should know that if a person writes archaeologist it doesnt mean hes studied its like saying stamp collector, vegetarian, chronic asthmatic.4 5. 5INSPECTOR KRATOS: Yes, but what about this: Formerly lecturer at the University of Bath? MANIAC: Im sorry, now youre the one trading under false pretences: you just told me that you knew the rules of grammar and punctuation, and now it turns out that you cant even read properly INSPECTOR KRATOS : I cant even what.?! MANIAC : Didnt you see the comma after the formerly? INSPECTOR KRATOS : Oh yes . Youre right. I didnt notice it. MANIAC : So you didnt notice it! You didnt notice it, and just for that you arbitrarily condemn an innocent man. I have four words for you Inspector, Jean Charles de Menezes! CONSTABLE: FIRE! (covers her mouth with her hands) Sorry! INSPECTOR KRATOS : Youre really mental, you know..Whats a comma got to do with anything? MANIAC: Nothing, for someone who knows nothing about grammar.! I think you should come clean I want to see your school reports.Who was responsible for promoting you (The INSPECTOR tries to interrupt him) Let me finish! Remember, the comma indicates a pause for breath. a brief hiatus because the comma always indicates a change of intentionality. So it goes like this: Formerly, and here we could do with a sarcastic sneer, and if you want to add an ironic chuckle, all the better! Formerly.. (He grimaces and gives a high-pitched laugh) 5 6. 6 Lecturer at the University, another comma, of Bath. Its like saying: Come on, what do you take me for.. Pull the other one.. Only an idiot would fall for that! INSPECTOR KRATOS : So Im an idiot, am I? MANIAC : No, youre just a bit short on grammar.I could give you lessons if you like. Do you a decent price .. I say we start straight away.theres a lot of ground to make up. Recite me a list of the personal pronouns. INSPECTOR KRATOS: He, you, they . . .Will you stop piss balling about! I think we can all agree that youve got performance mania, but Id say youre just pretending to be mental. Id lay money youre as sane as me! Now, lets get on with your statement! MANIAC: I could type it myself, if you like, Im a qualified typist, forty-five words a minute. INSPECTOR KRATOS: Stay right where you are or Ill have the handcuffs on you! MANIAC: You cant! Straitjacket or nothing. Im mad, and if you put handcuffs on me.Article 122 of the Penal Code states: Any public official applying non-clinical or non-psychiatric instruments of restraint on a psychologically disturbed person, thereby resulting in a worsening of his condition, commits a crime punishable by five to fifteen years imprisonment, and loss of pension and rank. INSPECTOR KRATOS : Read up on the law, have we?! MANIAC : Know it inside out. Studied it for twenty years! INSPECTOR KRATOS : Where did you study law? 6 7. 7 MANIAC : In the nuthouse! Very good for studying, youve no idea! There was a paranoid clerk of the court who gave me lessons. A genius he was! I know it all. Roman law, English law, Ecclesiastical law, the lot! Try me with a few questions! INSPECTOR KRATOS : No thank you. Can we get on. It says nothing in your CV about being a lawyer! MANIAC : Ah, no, Id never want to be a lawyer. Defence was never my style. Too passive. I prefer sitting in judgement.handing down sentences.coming down like a ton of bricks! Im, one of yours, Inspector. INSPECTOR KRATOS: You just watch your step; Ive had enough of you taking the piss. MANIAC : Alright, alright. INSPECTOR KRATOS : Now this might be interesting. Have you ever passed yourself off as a judge? MANIAC : No, unfortunately. Chance never arose. Id love to, though: best job in the world! First of all, they hardly ever retire. In fact, just at the point when your average workingman, at the age of 55 or 60, is ready for the scrap heap because he is slowing down a bit, your judge is just coming into his prime. In fact the more ancient and idio(He corrects himself),,,,syncratic they are, the higher they get promoted and the classier jobs they get! You see them up there, little old men, silly wigs on their heads in capes and ermine with two pairs of glasses on cords round their necks because otherwise theyd lose them. And these characters have the power to wreck a persons life or save it, as and how they want: they hand out life sentences like somebody saying: Maybe itll rain tomorrow or make pithy remarks like Judge Ian Starforth Hill's comments that an eight year old victim of a sexual attack was "not entirely an angel", or Judge Sir Harold Cassel QC, hes my favourite,7 8. 8 when refusing to jail an ex policeman for raping his 12 year old daughter. He said the man was driven to assault the girl because his wife's pregnancy had dimmed her sexual appetite causing "considerable problems for a healthy young husband". Ah, yes, yes. The judge is the job for me what a role! What wouldnt I give to be able to play a judge just once in my life? Oh, England and her lionhearted judges! INSPECTOR KRATOS: Shut Up! Stop this nonsense? Youre doing my brain in. Sit down! Right there. And shut up. He pushes him towards the chair. MANIAC : (Reacting hysterically) Hands off or Ill bite! INSPECTOR KRATOS : What do you mean bite? MANIAC : You. Ill bite you. On the neck and on your gluteus maximus! Nyung.! And piss-all you can do about it. Article 122b: Provocation and violence towards a person of diminished responsibility. Six to nine years, with loss of pension! INSPECTOR KRATOS: Sit down, or Im going to lose my temper! (To the CONSTABLE) And what are you doing standing there like a prat? Sit him down! CONSTABLE: But he bites, sir! MANIAC : Prec