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AN EXTRA PLACE
By Michael Pearcy
Set mainly on a seaside cliff. There is the ruin of an old cottage – just a few parts of walls remaining, overgrown with ivy and tilting at strange angles as they decay.
There are three characters:
Brian Ramsay (Glenda's son)
Celia Hughes (Journalist)
AN EXTRA PLACE
Eighteen years ago...
Glenda Ramsay enters in front of the closed stage curtains. She sits at a table her head slumped forward so that her chin is on her chest. She lifts her head to look forward and there is an instant mass of flashes of light directed at her as might come from a hoard of press photographers. Her head drops, the flashes stop. She lifts her head and looks to one side, wiping her eyes on a handful of tissues. The flashes accompany this movement, stopping only when her head drops again. Glenda stands holding a sheet of paper. More flashes. She flinches as if the barrage of light was a hail of stones, but despite this, she stands bravely against the flashes until they subside and stop.
Glenda: I wanted to say something. I've written it down but.... (she lets the paper fall onto the table) The man who murdered my son is now in prison. That is right, that is like it should be. But Craig is still dead and we don't even have his body to bury. The only person who can change that is Peter Hurd but he still says he is innocent. Some of the mothers got their children back - they've had funerals; they've got graves to go to. What can I... what can we do? I just want to say to all mothers and fathers that this is not a safe country. We thought it was but it isn't. Our children are not safe and they should be. I want to make it so that all our children are safe - if that can ever be.
There is a final barrage of flashes as Glenda leaves.
Curtains up to reveal rough open countryside and the ruins of the cottage. We are on a cliff near the sea; perhaps we can hear seagulls.
Brian Ramsay, dressed and equipped for country walking, is discovered contemplating the ruin. He moves away and takes off his rucksack. He is waiting for something, looking into the distance then sitting.
Glenda Ramsay comes into view leading Celia Hughes who is blindfolded by having a woolly hat pulled down over her eyes. Glenda has a large rucksack and is carrying Celia's handbag. Glenda is dressed for country walking, Celia is not.
Glenda: It's flat for a bit then its a bit muddy for a few yards then we're there.
The two move slowly forward with Celia stumbling often.
Celia: I would have worn better shoes if you'd told me.
Glenda: Just take it easy. No need to rush.
Celia: And the blindfold, what's point - even on a good day, I can't tell one tuft of grass from another.
Glenda: It's just a precaution.
The two women are nearing Brian's place and Glenda signals to him that he should get out of sight. Brian exits, taking his rucksack with him.
Glenda watches Celia stumbling forward, presumably towards the cliff edge. Glenda makes no attempt to assist her.
Celia: (Feeling around in space) Glenda?
Glenda: This is it.
Celia: Thank God for that. Can I take this off now? (She starts to remove the woolly hat and we see a scarf tied over her eyes as well. She fumbles with the knot) Can you do this please... I can't manage.
Glenda hesitates for a moment before untying the knot.
Celia: (After squinting in the light) What a fantastic view. This is lovely.
Glenda only nods watches Celia as she admires the view.
Celia: I can understand why you want to keep this place a secret. It's so cool.
But… I have to ask why here? Here in partiular?
I know these cliffs are where Hurd is supposed to have hidden... buried your son. I assume it's got something to do with that.
Celia: Okay, when you're ready. Take your time.
Glenda: Why did you come?
Celia: Because you asked me.
Glenda: I mean, why did you agree to come? We picked you because... because you seem straight: honest reporting I suppose they call it. Not very sympathetic, but honest.
Celia: I've tried to be objective. I'm sorry if that’s appeared unsympathetic.
Glenda: Have you got children of your own?
Celia: I’d rather not discuss my private life.
Glenda: But you’re happy to poke around in other people's.
Celia: This is my job. My private life has no bearing.
Glenda: But just that one little point - children - do you?
Celia: Okay. I have children.
Glenda: That's all, I won't ask any more - it's just that I don't think people can really understand all this unless they've got children of their own. Having children means you know their value.
Celia: Surely everybody knows that.
Glenda: Did Hurd?
Celia: I have a boy and a girl.
Glenda: Are they healthy?
Celia: Yes, blooming.
Glenda: You're lucky.
Celia: Adam and Lucy.
Glenda: Thank you. I hope they behave themselves for you.
Celia: They have their moments.
Glenda: It helps me to know that about you. I think you’ll understand better what’s going to happen here.
Celia: Maybe, but to be honest, my first professional reaction was to turn it down. This isn't meant to be as brutal as it sounds but you – all of this - is an old story. In twenty years the police have failed to come up with any evidence that would prove Hurd was connected with your son's disappearance.
Celia: Yes, I’m sorry - Craig. I know everything pointed to Hurd but it was all circumstantial.
Glenda: He did it.
Celia: I can’t prove Hurd is innocent but the law says he is until there's enough evidence to prove otherwise. With due respect, there isn't even a body. (Glenda is hurt by this last remark) I'm sorry.
Glenda: So why did you agree to come?
Celia: Call it instinct. It didn't feel like a publicity stunt - like some of the things you've pulled in the past. When we spoke on the 'phone I had a… feeling. You sounded tired, resigned – like you’d reached the end of something. My guess was that you wanted to say that you were putting Craig to rest. At last.
I know what this place means to you and if you need to be here in order to talk then that's the way it must be. So here I am.
A beautiful place like this helps put things into perspective - perhaps this is what you need: a place for us to be alone and just talk...
Brian: (Entering near Celia) Where nobody will hear you scream.
Celia: (Frightened) You said it was just you and me.
Glenda: I didn't, as a matter of fact.
Celia: But you never mentioned your son.
Glenda: You didn't ask. He's my witness.
Brian: What's the problem?
Celia: I thought it was just me and your mother.
Brian: So what's the problem?
Celia: There had better not be one.
Brian: (To Glenda) I've had a good look round, No sign of anybody. (Now at Celia) Never is, must be why he picked this place.
Celia: (To Glenda) Look, I came here in good faith: you told me you had some information for me. Is that true?
Celia: Okay, can we sort it out and then I want to go.
Glenda: All in good time.
Brian: You can leave any time you like - I'm sure you know the way. It’s over here…. or is it... this way?
Glenda: Take no notice of Brian, he likes to tease but there's nothing in it. Be patient, It will be worth it.
Glenda begins to lay out a picnic from her rucksack - cloth, plates, flask, sandwich boxes etc. Brian helps, unloading his rucksack.
Celia: But I need to have your word that I'm just here to talk. And that you will show me the way back when I want to leave.
Glenda: Trust me.
Brian: No, trust me.
Celia: (Taking a mobile phone from her bag) I've had enough of this. (She punches in a number) This stupid thing, They always let you down when you need them most.
Brian: It’s a crap signal up here. Dead spot.
Celia: Glenda, I want to leave, now.
Glenda: Brian, stop teasing. (Now to Celia) That's all it is - teasing. I wish he wouldn't do it but it's just the way he is. When we've had a chat he'll take you back safe and sound. (Now to Brian) Celia’s got two children – boy and girl – Adam and Lucy. Isn’t that nice for her Brian?
Glenda pours four plastic cups of tea, hands out two of them, has one herself and leaves one on the ground.
Celia: This is getting too bizarre. Why the picnic for God's sake?
Glenda: It's a lovely day and a beautiful spot. We can talk while we eat.
Celia: Why four places?
Glenda: (Smiling) Craig, Craig is here.
Celia: (Fearing the worst) Oh I see.
Brian: No you don't. She's not mad - "Oh I see." No you don't.
Glenda: I'm sorry, that must sound a bit crazy. Perhaps it’s better to say - we are with Craig. That sounds better doesn't it? Makes more sense.
This extract offers six pages out of a total of twenty-four pages. Please contact me if you are interested in producing An Extra Place and I will send a copy of the full script.