The Arc, part two: La Reine Claude

Tom Murphy began our collaborative play for the Dublin Theatre Festival; here, Enda Walsh gives the plot a surreal twist

Playwright Enda Walsh. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Playwright Enda Walsh. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

In this, the second part of The Arc, an Irish Times project in association with Dublin Theatre Festival, Enda Walsh takes up the gauntlet thrown by Tom Murphy.

We’ve asked 10 playwrights to contribute to a play, with each adding a few pages to what has gone before. The play is being written during the Dublin Theatre Festival, and will receive a rehearsed reading on the final Sunday of its programme, on October 12th.

Tom Murphy kicked things off with the opening scene for the play, which he has called La Reine Claude. You can read it here. You can currently see two of Murphy’s plays, Brigit and Bailegangaire, at the Olympia Theatre, as part of the festival.

The other parts of the play will be published on irishtimes.com/culture in the coming weeks, along with details of the public reading. Tickets will be available from dublintheatrefestival.com. The other contributing writers are Deirdre Kinahan, Bush Moukarzel, Sonya Kelly, Brokentalkers, Stacey Gregg, Michael West, Genevieve Hulme-Beaman and Kate Heffernan.

La Reine Claude: Part two

Lights up on KAROLINA and PAULINA.

KAROLINA is looking down onto the street, a cup of tea in her hand. She reacts:

KAROLINA: (In Polish) He’s here!!

The cup falls from her hand and smashes on the ground.

KAROLINA: (in English) He’s parking his car. (Her upstage hand indicating a room) In there quick!

PAULINA exits to the room indicated.

KAROLINA brushes up the smashed cup.

Carrying the pieces she exits into the kitchen and returns with a bottle of red wine which she starts to uncork, in the middle of which she barks:

KAROLINA: (in English) Shut the door! Shut the door!!

As the room door is shut by PAULINA, the front door is heard opening.

Then:

A MAN’S VOICE: Karolina!

She uncorks the bottle of wine but the very top of it shatters.

MULCAHY comes in. He wears a businessman’s suit, carries a tiny briefcase - and sports a Hitler moustache.

KAROLINA: The red wine is opened, as you instructed, for three hours. Breathing.

MULCAHY: Did you collect my shirts?

KAROLINA: Yes they’re hanging in your wardrobe. I’ve ordered others too.

MULCAHY: And why’s that?

KAROLINA: It seemed like you were running low on that type of shirt.

MULCAHY: How many did you order?

KAROLINA: 45.

Pouring himself a glass of wine from the shattered bottle -

MULCAHY: You know my brown shoes I wore yesterday?

KAROLINA: Yes of course I do.

MULCAHY: I wondered whether you could give them the once over.

KAROLINA: Now Mr. Mulcahy?

MULCAHY: I fancy a change of shoes. It’s not something I do often - change shoes in the middle of the day - but today - walking around outside - I had this insatiable urge to rush home and try on those brown loafers and flounce about the house - a bit like Jay Gatsby.

KAROLINA: Yes, Mr. Mulcahy.

Karolina leaves - and exits into the kitchen.

Suddenly an enormous sound of furniture falling and crashing to the ground - the kitchen has exploded.

A slight pause.

Karolina: (off stage) I’m fine - all fine!

MULCAHY opens up his tiny suitcase and takes out a tape recorder.

He grabs his phone and quickly rings someone -

Meanwhile PAULINA has come out of the room and is regarding him. She removes her hat.

MULCAHY: (Into the phone) Me, yeh…I picked up another Percy French today… Don’t say a word - just listen!

He hits the tape recorder and Foster and Allen are heard singing The Mountains Of Mourne.

He holds his phone to the tape recorder.

He has sensed a presence in the room. He turns and sees PAULINA.

The song continues -

MULCAHY: What is this!...Who are you?

He turns off his phone.

PAULINA: My name is Paulina.

MULCAHY: I don’t give a fuck what your name is! What are you doing in my house?!

PAULINA: I’m Karolina’s sister.

MULCAHY: Oh.

PAULINA: I was passing by and thought I‘d come to say ‘hi‘.

MULCAHY: I’m sorry - she didn’t say - I was startled. Do you want a drink?

PAULINA: No.

They listen to Foster and Allen for a few moments.

PAULINA: Isn’t this a Percy French song?

MULCAHY: Yes.

PAULINA: Do you like him?

MULCAHY: Yes, very much.

PAULINA: Why?

MULCAHY: He represents an Ireland I think we’d all like to return to.

PAULINA: And what is that exactly?

MULCAHY: Difficult to say.

Blackout.

Lights up on KAROLINA and PAULINA.

KAROLINA is looking down onto the street, holding a cooked chicken. She reacts:

KAROLINA: (In Polish) He’s here. (in English) He’s parking his car. (Her upstage hand indicating a room) In there quick!

PAULINA exits to the room indicated.

The chicken falls from her hands and onto the carpet. She kicks it towards the kitchen and disappears momentarily. She returns with a bottle of wine and starts to uncork it.

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