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Note: The Sami word runebomme is pronounced roo-na-bomma, to
rhyme with una-bomber.
Location: A hotel room in northern Sweden. A forest.
Time: Mid-summer - the longest day of the year.
Summary: Frank is there with his girlfriend Rachel to attend
the wedding of his son Sam to his Swedish fiancee. His ex
wife, Sheelagh, and brother, Michael, are also there. All
four end up in Frank's hotel room after the wedding
reception. They drink through the night.
Frank: A man in his early forties. He is a successful
Rachel: Frank's younger girlfriend, early thirties.
Sheelagh: Franks's ex-wife, around the same age as Frank.
Michael: Frank's younger brother, late thirties, a sometime
The Father: Frank and Michael's father, as old as he was when
he died, around sixty.
Frank and Rachel arrive back at their hotel room around two
in the morning after leaving the wedding reception of Frank's
son Sam. Typical hotel room but all we need is a double bed
and a table with a few of chairs. They are dressed in their
wedding outfits, ie smart.
Frank takes off his tie and pours himself a brandy.
Well, that went off okay.
It was beautiful. And your speech
went down well.
I could have done without my
brother heckling me. Standing in
the wings, taking shots at me.
He made me laugh.
I wonder what it cost them? Ten,
I love the way they have the sprays
of white apple blossom along the
aisle, and the bridesmaids with
flowers in their hair. And Anna
looked so pure.
Well, the Swedes virtually invented
it, didn't they? Cleanliness. Scrub
the soul clean every day and be
spotless before God because you
never know when He's going to call
Rachel walks up behind him and puts her arms around him,
resting her head on his back. They stay in that position with
Frank drinking his brandy until indicated.
I bet they'll be really happy
together. Sam and Anna...
Sounds like Salmonella, if you say
it quick enough.
Well, I hope they are happier than
his parents were at least.
You must have been happy, to stay
together so long.
We were happy for a while, and then
the reality sank in. Waking up next
to the same person every day of
I'd like that.
No you wouldn't. Familiarity breeds
But I like Sheelagh, she seems
Frank turns around, breaking her hold on him. He steps back
You spoke to Sheelagh?
Well, I had to speak to someone, I
was on my own most of the time.
I was doing my duty, getting to
know the in-laws.
I'm not criticising you. I was on
my own and she came over to speak
to me. What does it matter?
It depends on what you told her.
Did she say anything about me? Did
she ask any questions?
No... she just asked how you were
I bloody knew it. What did you tell
Nothing. I just said that you were
fine and your business was going
Oh shit. You told her my business
was going well? You shouldn't have
Oh, it's not your fault, I'm sorry,
but we're just finalizing the
You told me that you were already
Well we were separated, we just
didn't feel the need to formalise
it but now she's met this other
bloke, she wants to sort it all
out. I don't want her to know how
You know, solicitors, money, people
poking their nose into your
I'm sorry, I just answered
naturally when she asked, I didn't
No, you couldn't have known. That's
why I like you, because you don't
No, you know what I mean - you're
naive and innocent.
No I'm not. But if you don't ever
tell me anything about what you're
doing, how can I know what to say?
I think you should just be open
You can't be open with solicitors.
No - with me, I mean. I'm open with
you. I tell you all about myself
and what's going on in my life.
There's nothing going on in my life
that you don't see, except for my
business. I don't discuss that with
Anyway, I've invited them round for
a drink. They'll be here soon.
Sheelagh and your brother. I told
them to come around here, since the
hotel bar is closed.
Whoops, hang on a minute. I didn't
hear you right then, did I? Unless
I'm dreaming, you said that you had
invited my soon to be ex-wife and
my brother around here for a drink?
Why not? You don't want to go to
bed yet do you? It's going to be
light all night and I thought we
could have a drink and then all go
out and look for the Northern
Lights. I really want to see the
Northern Lights. Did you know we're
almost in Lapland?
(Frank is stunned; doesn't
What's the matter?
I can't believe you did that,
invited around for a chat the two
people I least want to talk to at
this moment in time.
They're lovely people.
Rachel, Rachel, Rachel. With the
exception of my brother, they are
lovely people, I grant you that,
but I don't want them in my room,
for legal and financial reasons.
What's wrong with your brother. He
seems a really good laugh.
Okay, I admit, that when he's sober
my brother, to someone who doesn't
yet know him, might be a really
good laugh. But you haven't seen
him when he's drunk - he's a
He seemed really gentle and
He's not gentle and considerate.
He's a malcontent writer with a
chip on his shoulder. He thinks he
should be Shakespeare but the only
thing he can write are TV cop
shows. What you think of as gentle
is just him being scheming and
subtle. He is always after
something, sponging off of me
because he thinks it's below him to
earn money the only way he knows
how, which is writing about bent
coppers who are sickened by
paedophilia and say 'Sarge' every
(a beat; he paces around)
No, no, no. This is not good. We
have to stop this.
Can't they just stay for one drink?
I'll talk to them and then you can
say you have a headache and need to
get to sleep.
No, you say I've got a headache.
They won't believe it if I say it.
Okay, I'll say it, but will you be
nice to them?
Yes, yes, I'll be nice to them.
Just don't do anything like this
again, will you. Ask me next time.
How did I know?
Rachel walks up to him with her arms open, to hug and make
up. Frank side-steps her.
You didn't, you didn't, it's not
Okay, I'm going to get changed into
something more casual. I'm sorry
Oh, that's alright, just forget
Rachel goes to the bathroom (?) to get changed. Frank pours
himself another brandy. There is a knock at the door. He
answers it and Sheelagh, his ex-wife is standing there.
Rachel invited me and Michael over
for a drink. I left him in the bar
about an hour ago. They will have
thrown him out by now I suppose...
he should be here.
Come in, come in. Rachel is just
getting changed. I've only got
brandy or wine, unless you want to
ring room service.
Wine will be fine. I've had a
skinful already so there's no point
in stopping now.
Frank gets her a wine. She looks around the room.
Well, cheers - here's to Sam and
Frank drinks but doesn't reply to the toast.
And your new bloke, what's his
What sort of plans?
To live together, marriage?
It won't make any difference to the
I didn't mean that. Okay, let's
change the subject. Today, our son
got married. We did it! We raised a
child without him becoming a
delinquent or a drug addict. That's
I always told you that he would
turn out okay. You have to let
children discover the world for
themselves. You just hope that they
come through it unscathed.
And do you think he's unscathed?
Well, he's found what he wants to
do in life. And he's met a girl who
loves him and will stand by him
come what may. He's happy - what
else could you want?
He'll never make any money building
unicorns out of perspex and filling
them with tomato sauce.
Why are you always criticising him?
He's an artist. I don't always like
the stuff he does but maybe I just
don't understand it. Other people
seem to like it. He gets paid.
About twice a year.
Well, that's his business.
I suppose. I just wish you'd
supported me when I wanted him to
do business studies instead of art
school. He could have done art in
his spare time.
It's not for us to decide for him.
Yeah, we're only the parents.
Well, he's an adult now, he does
what he wants.
At least she can support him if he
fails. There won't be any problems
when it comes to their divorce.
Frank, it's his wedding day and
your talking about divorce. What is
wrong with you?
I'm just a realist, that's all.
Well, don't be. Give people a
Rachel seems nice.
What's that? Your tenth, twentieth,
since you left me?
I don't keep count.
Maybe you should. It wouldn't
matter if you didn't string them
along, making them think they have
a hope in hell.
I never make them any promises.
No, but it takes them a while to
find that out, and then it's too
We're all adults.
Maybe, but Rachel adores you - I
can tell by the way she looks at
you. And she wants children so it's
not fair to waste her time, is it?
I refuse to speak about it.
It amounts to the same thing.
Look, can we leave this? I don't
get involved in your love life so
can we leave mine out of it?
You have that look about you, when
you're together, you're not
I can't help it. My emotional life
is complicated. I feel like I'm
living in a soap opera.
It's only complicated because you
want it to be. You don't have to
date several women simultaneously.
I'm not. You know why it is...
Rachel comes back in the room, dressed in a pair of jeans and
Hi!!! You made it then. Where's
I left him at the bar. He seemed to
be getting very friendly with the
barmaid, so we may not see him
That's a shame.
Frank has got a headache.
It came on at the reception, didn't
(holds his head)
That's not like you. You never get
headaches, unless they are
It must be the strain of seeing all
my relatives together in one room.
Shall I go?
No! Stay - he'll be alright for
half an hour.
Why don't you take an aspirin
instead of drinking brandy?
Frank shakes his head and drinks some more brandy.
Is it the first time you've been to
Yes. I went to Denmark once when I
was at school but we were playing
hockey and I didn't see much of the
country. But it is so different up
here, isn't it, near the Arctic
Circle. Did you drive up?
No. I flew.
We drove up. The landscape was
amazing. You get these rivers that
come out of nowhere and burst from
the mountains. We saw some people
in traditional dress herding
reindeer. It was an amazing sight,
wasn't it Frank?
They're all on welfare.
We stopped the car and I got out
and walked down to the river. It
was weird because although it was
hot there were still big chunks of
ice floating down.
When are you going back?
Tomorrow, but I want to see the
Northern Lights before I leave so
we all have to go out tonight and
You can't see them at this time of
year. It stays light all night.
It's not completely light. You can
still see them low down, right in
the North - Michael told me.
My brother doesn't know anything.
Don't listen to him Rachel -
Michael is the brains of the
So everybody says, but why isn't he
Just because you're rich doesn't
mean you're clever.
And vice versa.
No person with any brains would
choose to be poor.
Maybe he doesn't choose to be poor -
maybe he just chooses to do
something that he likes.
It amounts to the same thing. I
don't understand people who are
clever enough to be rich but choose
to be poor.
He's winding us up - I know him. He
just says things for their effect.
No. I mean it. If someone has a
good enough brain to work in a bank
but instead they choose to stand in
the middle of the street pretending
to be a statue, I'm not going to
What is he talking about?
When we arrived yesterday we saw
someone pretending to be a statue
near the shops. But not everyone
wants to work in a bank. I'd hate
What do you do?
She gets ripped off by the State.
I'm a paediatric nurse. The money's
not so good but I'm doing what I
What about you - do you work?
I work for myself at home. I
organise events for people,
corporate hospitality, parties,
It must be great to be able to work
It's not really work.
Of course it's work. It's no
different to what you do, phoning
people up and importing things.
It's not an efficient cash
generator, though. You'd be better
off going to work in a shop.
I don't want to work in a shop.
Anyway, I know that you're only
saying that because you don't want
to pay me maintenance. When Jilly
has left home, I don't want a penny
And what about my house?
Our house. We split it, fifty
I wonder where Michael is? Shall I
go down and look for him?
No. If he's not polite enough to
come when he's invited, forget him.
Off-stage, the sound of a drum and Michael's voice singing:
"If I knock on your door,
Will you turn me away,
'Cos I'm no longer young
And my hair is all grey?
That wasn't the answer,
You gave me before,
When I was young, fresh and handsome,
And knocked on your door."
A knock on the door.
That's my brother.
Rachel laughs and jumps up to let him in.
Hiya. Was that you playing the
I was trying to summon up spirits.
(he hugs Rachel)
Rachel, I've only just met you but
I feel I hardly know you at all.
Welcome to our dysfunctional
(he hugs Sheelagh)
Shillelagh, my sister by law, how
goes the night?
We thought you weren't coming.
I thought I was coming, but it
didn't happen, so now I'm here.
Besides, everybody at the bar was
speaking a foreign language.
Swedish, you mean?
No - football. I don't talk
Frankie, baby, how are you. You
were ignoring me at the party.
In case you didn't notice, it was
my son's wedding.
And very handsome he looked too,
with his young bride beside him.
But the Swedes are too abstemious
for my liking - they only drink to
be polite whereas I drink to become
impolite. I was just getting warmed
up and they went to bed and left
me. I found this drum on the wall
of the reception. They've got a
cabinet of native artifacts, bows
and arrows, the whole lot. This is
a runebomme, a magic drum used by
the Sami shaman to contact their
dead ancestors. When I beat it, we
enter the dream - we know the truth
and see the future. If you put it
to your ear, it can tell your
Michael holds the drum against Sheelagh's ear.
Did you hear anything?
The sound of the sea.
That means you'll drown, but don't
worry about it. It's better than
dying of thirst.
Who are the Sami?
That's the real name for the
indigenous people of Lapland, who
don't like being called Lapps
because it is the name given to
them by people who don't know them.
Oh, they're the people we saw
herding the reindeer. I had a dream
I've only just met you - tell me
your dreams later, first we must
drink. What do you have for me
Brandy - but it's my last bottle.
And I'm your last brother - pass it
Michael pours himself a tumbler full of brandy.
Here's to Sammy and Anna. Long may
they gloat over us.
And you're ugly - but tomorrow I
will be sober. A famous Englishman
I think you should take that drum
back, now that you've woken the
whole hotel up with it.
No way! I'm going to use it for
ritualistic purposes, to summon up
my brother's generosity. I want to
ask you for a loan.
I told you he was a sponge. He only
ever comes to me when he needs
That's unfair. I borrowed your car
once. Anyway, I always pay you
No you don't.
I stand corrected: I always intend
to pay you back. Rachel, you are a
nurse - you must have a cigarette.
How did you know?
Because, in my experience, nurses
are the most depraved, fun-loving
creatures of any occupation. It
must be their proximity to death
that makes them gluttons for life.
You're full of bullshit.
Only when I want to be, that's the
difference between us. Besides, I
was right, wasn't I Rachel? You
like to indulge yourself
Rachel passes him the cigarettes.
I thought you'd given up smoking.
That was before I realised the
damage that health warnings can do
to your mind.
You used to say you could only
write when you smoked, so how's the
It's going. I have a new series...
in my head. I just can't be arsed
to put it down on paper. Everything
seems so much better in my head and
then when I write it down, it
offends me with its realism - it
always looks like somebody I know.
Weren't you working on Viceland?
I'm sure I saw your name on a
couple of the episodes.
Oh no, I never use my own name for
fear of being tainted, but you may
have seen my nom de plume, Mike
Gritt. I did a couple last season,
not that I'm proud of it but it
helps bring in the pennies.
Not enough, obviously.
And how is the world of imported
leather these days, Frank? Still
making it hand over fist?
Actually, I've had a bad couple of
years. Things are really tough.
You're only saying that because I'm
going to ask you for a loan.
What do you want money for now?
I've written a play and I want to
see it performed.
A play! What's it about?
It's about these four people in a
hotel room in Sweden and one of
them is found dead in the shower...
No, only joking. It's set in India
during the Raj. An Irishman serving
in the British Army finds himself
unable to carry out the orders of
his colonial masters when he is
asked to arrest and guard a Hindu
woman suspected of assisting
Nationalist fighters who have
assassinated the Governor. Needless
to say he falls in love with her.
Where do you get your ideas from?
They start as germs and develop
into grubs and then into
But for germs to develop, you must
have a mind like a sewer and always
imagine the worst.
Michael, I can't lend you any money
at the moment. My business is going
really bad. I haven't paid myself
for three months and I'm living on
But I only need five thousand
pounds, Frank, to stage my play.
I thought it was supposed to be the
other way round - people pay you to
see your play.
It's hard to get started. I need to
break out of television. This will
be a showcase for my talent.
You said the same thing when you
broke out of teaching to get into
I know: I broke out of a lecture
hall and ended up in a television.
And now I need to break out of
television to get on the stage.
Life is just a series of escapes
from one cell to another.
Yes, and you'll end up in a prison
I would pay you back though, I have
some TV royalties coming in next
I can't lay my hands on it.
You must have loads of money
stuffed away in offshore bank
accounts that you haven't told the
tax man about.
What about that house you bought in
I had to sell that years ago. I
can't even afford to go on holiday
Aren't we going to Italy?
No. I can't afford it.
We were only talking about it on
the way up here. It's all planned -
I've booked the time off work and
I thought I'd told you.
You told me we were going -
yesterday. You said we'd drive down
across the Alps and stop in all the
little villages. Then we'd stay in
your flat in Naples.
I didn't know that you had a flat
in Naples, Frank.
I haven't. It's not my flat, it
belongs to one of my suppliers - I
can stay there whenever I want.
You told me it was yours.
He was probably trying to impress
you. Did he also tell you he keeps
a yacht moored in the Caribbean?
It's all lies. My brother is a
fantasist - it's him who should be
So we're not going to Italy?
Rachel is upset. She leaves the table and walks over to the
What did I say?
You just ruined the poor girl's
holiday. She would probably pay for
you, if you asked her.
Look Frank, if you're doing this
for my sake, pretending you have no
money - don't bother! I don't care
about your money. All I want you to
do is support your daughter. Forget
Okay, okay! Why does everyone get
so excited about money? All you
care about is money!
Good god! My brother has had a
conversion. Soon he will renounce
his worldly possessions and dress
in a pair of sandals and a robe. He
will walk through the streets of
London begging from the good people
of the parish, dispensing his holy
wisdom for a few grains of rice. I
hardly recognise him.
Michael, you are starting to annoy
me. Just shut up, do you
Help! My big brother is bullying
me. It was always this way.
Frank walks over to Rachel. He puts his hands on her
Rachel, I'm sorry. We can go away
somewhere else later in the year.
Rachel shrugs him off. He walks back to the table.
What can you do with women, eh?
You could start by treating them
Here, here! Rachel, come and sit
back down with us. We're going to
have a seance, to see if we can
contact some spirit...
(tips up empty brandy
...since this one is empty. Frank
ring room service and order a
bottle of whisky.
Not now, I need to get to sleep - I
have a headache.
You're lying. You've never had a
headache in all the years I've
known you, which is all the years
I've known anything. You just want
us to go. Well, we'll all go to my
room instead. Come on Rachel, we're
going to my room.
No! You can stay here. I'll lie
down on the bed.
How rude, to show us the soles of
your feet. That's an insult in
Nordic culture. Let's ring for a
bottle of whisky.
Michael walks over to the phone.
Hello. Hello. There's no-one there.
Helloooo, no-one, we want some
(puts down the phone)
I'll go down and get some.
I'll come with you.
No, I'll go with him. I don't want
him stealing anything else from the
I didn't steal it - I borrowed it.
There is a difference. Okay, if
you're going, I'll stay here with
the women and discuss fertility
I'll come with you. There's
something I want to talk about.
Frank and Sheelagh leave the room.
Rachel, I think my brother is lying
about the money, because he doesn't
want to lend it to me.
It's more likely that he doesn't
want Sheelagh to get it from the
You might be right.
So, has he proposed to you yet?
No, don't be stupid.
We've only known each other nine
That's a long time for my brother.
He must like you.
Why are you so horrible to him.
You know you are. You're always
making fun of him.
Well if I am, I'm simply repaying
him for the way he derides me, and
besides, he deserves it.
He can be nice, your brother.
Can be - that's true, but is he
Give me an example.
We'd only just met and he took me
to France for the weekend.
Oh, he whisked you away for the
weekend. Can I ask you a personal
Had you slept with him before he
whisked you away? Be honest.
You see where I'm coming from...
You're just assuming the worst.
Where my brother is concerned, it
never leads to disappointment. So
how did you two meet?
In a wine bar. I was out with some
friends from work and Frank was
there with some of his friends.
All local businessmen wearing open
necked shirts and gold chains. Lots
We just got chatting at the bar,
and that was that.
So, do you think he loves you?
What a stupid question. How do I
Well, does he ring you up in the
middle of the night just because he
wants to hear the sound of your
Does he walk up behind you when you
are standing at the sink and
embrace your waist?
During this speech Michael gets physically closer to Rachel.
Does he seek your hand with his
when you're sat next to each other
in a restaurant? Do you sit up into
the night discussing the things you
did together that day? Does he
stroke your hair and sigh before
kissing your neck? Does he look you
in the eyes and say, 'Rachel, I
love you and would do anything for
Rachel pulls away from him. She is amused and embarrassed.
No! No-one has ever done that.
But you do have sex standing up in
the shower, don't you?
You see I knew it. My brother has
only loved once, and that was
badly. He doesn't have it in him.
And what about you? Are you in
I'm always falling in love - that's
my problem. I only have to look at
a girl across a crowded supermarket
and I can picture our lives
together. And then I go and chat
her up, we go out together, I'm
passionate and loving for two
months and then I realise, she's
not the one.
Have you tried Internet dating?
I've tried every kind of dating
known to man... including carbon
dating, for some of the older ones.
It's like a disease - I just can't
Maybe you just haven't met the
right woman yet.
That's what I tell myself, so I
keep on trying. But I do it with
conviction and belief that I will
find the right woman, unlike my
brother who does it by manipulation
You're not as different as you
The end result is the same. You
stay with a girl for a few months
and leave her - you told me that
Ah, but I know how to be in love
when I am with them. That's the
difference between us.
In which case, you hurt them more
than Frank does, because you make
them fall in love with you. It
would be better if you were cold.
Like Frank, you mean? What a cold
place the world would be. Talking
of cold - shall we go and see the
Northern Lights? It's the longest
day of the year.
Shouldn't we wait for Frank and
We can wait if you want to, but
Frank isn't interested in nature.
When we were children, he slept in
the car all the way through a
nature reserve. We had monkeys
bouncing on the windscreen and
Frank slept like a baby. Anyway,
they'll be discussing the fine
points of their divorce - who keeps
the Le Creuset saucepans. Come on,
let's take what's left of this wine
and sit amongst the heather. Maybe
it will make my brother jealous,
and then he'll pay attention to
They leave the stage.
Frank and Sheelagh are talking as they come back in the room
with the bottle of whisky.
You know that.
Yes, and I have always trusted you,
but you know what solicitors are
like, they get a sniff of money and
the whole thing turns into a bloody
I just want both of us to be happy.
That's why we separated, isn't it?
I think so.
So you don't have to lie about your
flat in Naples - I'm not going to
try and take it from you.
That wasn't the reason I lied.
Frank realises that Rachel and Michael are not there.
Where have they gone now?
Probably out to see the lights.
Michael won't listen to me. You
can't see them in the middle of
summer, it's too light.
Michael is a romantic - he'll see
them if he wants to.
I would like Michael more if he
wasn't always trying to be so
clever. He's always trying to get
one over on me. I've helped him so
many times over the years and he
just acts as if it's my duty.
I know how you've helped him. But
Michael is not the same as other
people. You know what happened to
But he's over all that now - or
should be. But I feel like I'm
treading on egg-shells if I don't
do what he asks. It's not fair. He
can say what he likes to me but I'm
supposed to pussy-foot around in
case he has another breakdown.
He's better than he was.
He shouldn't drink so much. That's
what tipped him over the edge last
You both like your drink. I don't
think you'll change him in that
If I knew that it did to me what it
does to him, I wouldn't touch a
drop. I don't understand why he is
so bitter towards me. Ever since we
were kids. First it was toys -
everything I had, he had to get.
And then it was girls - every one
of my girlfriends he either thought
I'd snatched from him or he tried
to snatch her from me.
And he normally succeeded.
Okay. But I don't hold that against
him. I just move on, you know what
I'm like - I'm easy going, I get
lucky. And then it was the farm - I
was the one that dad was grooming
to take over the farm and Michael
resented that. Then when I left and
it could have been his, he didn't
want it. It's been like that our
We're just different people - it's
in my nature to cruise through life
and take my chances but Michael
always has to make things difficult
for himself, to crash through every
door and leave by every window.
It's like he's perpetually out of
sync. I mean, if Michael's life is
(he describes the peaks
and troughs of a wave
with his finger)
...he won't be riding the peaks,
he'll be down here crashing into
But Michael is different. He's
driven by his imagination. I always
thought he was going to do
something great - maybe he still
will. Maybe that's why you should
help him with his play. You can
take the money from the divorce
settlement, I don't mind.
I've helped him so many times, you
I know, you've been good to him.
So why does he hate me?
(touches his hand)
Oh, he doesn't hate you. It's just
sibling rivalry. Who can explain
It hurts. Everyone thinks I'm hard
but that's just because I have to
I know that. I lived with you for
twenty years, if I don't know you
by now, no-one ever will.
And what about Rachel?
What about Rachel?
You have to do the right thing with
her. Love her or leave her.
I do love her. She's the only woman
I've fallen in love with since you.
Well show it then.
I can't show it. I can't encourage
Well leave her then.
I can't. I need her in my life.
But it's so cruel, Frank, to be
holding back from her all the time.
When you want to hold someone, and
you feeling them shrinking back.
When you want to kiss someone, and
they move their mouth away. When
you speak to them and they don't
listen. You might as well be
Well, I've thought about it a
thousand times. I just don't know
what to do.
Michael crashes through the door with Rachel next to him. He
has his right arm around her shoulder. Over his left shoulder
he has a bow and some arrows in his hand.
The return of the native.
What have you stolen now?
Only what's my birthright. This
land was stolen from me. I'm
becoming an indigenous person. I
want to die without leaving a trace
of myself on the earth, as if I'd
never existed. Did you know that's
what they aspire to?
The Sami people. They believe that
the earth is loaned to them, along
with all the other creatures on it,
so they aim to leave it as they
found it, unlike us, who foul it up
with our disgusting activity.
And did you see the Northern
(simultaneous with Rachel)
I'm really disappointed.
I saw them. Like my childhood, they
are always there - I only have to
shut my eyes and I see them.
Ghostly and dancing before my eyes,
hovering in the air like a...
(he waves his hand around,
looking for the word)
(inserting an arrow into
Now, I haven't done this since I
was a child. Do you remember,
Frank? Chasing through the woods,
Michael fires an arrow into the wall.
For fuck's sake, Michael. That
could have gone straight through
and killed somebody.
Michael retrieves the arrow from the wall.
But you shot me in the leg, didn't
It was an accident. Give me that -
I'm taking it back.
Michael nimbly side-steps Frank and keeps the bow and arrow,
arming it again.
Oh no, you don't. Us native peoples
need our native defences. We have
to have our wits about us. Yes,
people, let me tell you the story.
Michael enacts the story as he tells it.
My big brother Frank said to his
little brother Michael, "Michael,
let's pretend to be Indians and go
into the woods and hunt some deer."
So off we go, him in the lead and
me trailing behind, watching our
rear for enemy outriders.
Imagine the scene: the sun is
shining but the woods are dark,
nothing but flashes of light
glinting through the trees. You are
a young boy, only nine years old,
and your big brother is leading you
on an adventure. You trust him, you
look up to him, he's the tribal
elder, he has acquired wisdom. You
trust him so much that you are
scared he will leave you behind he
is moving so fast. You want to tell
him to slow down but you are scared
that it will make you look small
and childish, as if you shouldn't
be in his gang, running through the
woods with him.
So you keep quiet and run as
fast as you can, tripping over
roots and fallen branches. You can
hear your heart pounding in your
ears and feel your breath as it
tries to fill your lungs. Your body
is trembling with excitement or
fear, you don't know which, but you
know that it's dangerous - there
are other animals in that wood:
wild boar, wild dogs, someone said
they'd seen a puma;
there might even be maniacs in
there, bad men, the kind who
strangle children with their own
shoe-laces and leave them mutilated
in the undergrowth, beneath a
shallow grave of leaves.
But everything is okay because
your big brother is there - he
would lay down his life for you if
he had to, so that you could
escape. We're in the thickest part
of the forest, it's deadly quiet,
the light is green - like being
under water. Ahead of me I see my
brother crouch. He holds up his
hand to tell me to halt: I halt. I
await his instruction. He waves me
forward. He's spotted a deer up
ahead. He could shoot it but he
wants to give me the honour - he
wants to blood me, to make me a
warrior. I take my bow off of my
shoulder, I creep quietly past him.
I'm on my own, ahead of me there is
danger and darkness. I look back, I
cannot see my brother - he's
keeping still so that he doesn't
disturb the deer.
I carry on creeping forwards
until I see a movement in the
bushes ahead of me, but I can't see
what it is. I pull back my arrow;
my arm is trembling. I look ahead
but I still can't see anything. I
look back over my shoulder to see
if my brother is still there, and
what do I see? I see my brother,
his bow armed and raised, aiming at
me. Before I can say anything, he
shoots. The deer breaks, a thunder
of hooves smashing through the
leaves, an animalistic squeal, and
the arrow hits me in the leg!
Michael fires the arrow so that it hits the floor near
Frank's chair. Rachel and Sheelagh scream. Frank jumps up and
tries to get the bow from Michael.
You fucking idiot. Give me that
before you kill someone.
Michael loads another arrow and points it at Frank.
Oh no you don't Frank. Let me
finish the story.
Go on, back, back, back, that's
right, sit down and listen to the
end of the story. So, I fall to the
ground and my brother comes running
over. "It was a wild boar," he
says, "it was about to charge you."
But there was no wild boar - it was
a deer, but at the last moment my
brother couldn't bear to let me
have the honour. Or maybe it was
some darker impulse? Some sibling
envy that made him shoot me instead
of the deer. Who knows?
Is that true?
I have the scar to prove it. Here,
I'll show you.
Michael drops the bow and arrow onto the floor and undoes his
trousers to reveal the scar at the top of his leg. Frank
jumps up and takes the bow and arrows from the floor. He puts
them away somewhere (wardrobe).
(touches Michael's scar)
It's a good scar. Did you go to
Yes, but I'm still wounded.
It was a wild boar. I saw it at the
last moment and I tried to shoot it
but it was right in front of
Michael and I missed.
You could've killed him.
But I saved him. I carried him
I was his quarry that day. He
bagged me and threw me over his
Sit down, Michael, you're getting
Michael sits back down. He crosses his arms on the table and
rests his head on them, looking towards Frank.
I've heard that story before.
It's still true.
It's not true.
But it didn't happen how you tell
it. It was an accident.
What did your father say?
My father... My father broke my
That's all kid's stuff. Michael's
problem is that he can never forget
anything and move on.
I could forget if I could forgive
but the wound is still fresh.
A silence, then Michael sits up energetically.
Rachel, tell them your dream.
The one you told me out on the
moor, as we sat beneath the stars
that weren't there. The one about
I've forgotten it.
We never forget our dreams - unless
we live them. I'll tell it for you.
I don't want you to. It's
You told me.
That was different - it was out
Are you embarrassed?
Yes. It's silly.
It didn't sound silly when you told
it to me - we're all friends here.
Go on, tell us. What did you dream?
Yes, Rachel, what did you dream?
You know those people we drove past
on the way up here, herding the
Whatever. I was one of them and -
this is stupid - I was in a tent
and there was a man in there with
long white hair and he was beating
a drum and chanting. I walked over
to him and there was a child
standing next to him, a little
The old man passed the child to me
and I realised that it was mine and
we'd been separated because half
the tribe went one way and half the
other, but now we were back
Does anything happen in this dream?
No, not really. But I held this
baby in my arms and felt a terrible
Terrible love, now there's an
innocent adjective to turn a man's
Okay, not terrible, but this deep
sense of happiness flowing between
us. I carried the baby out of the
tent and the sun was high in the
sky. I was standing in a green
field that went on forever and the
ground was green and spongy. I held
the baby up in my arms, against the
sky, and its eyes were smiling at
me and it was laughing and then it
felt as if the sun was inside my
body, filling me with warmth and
You were suffused with joy.
I don't know, but it felt really
lovely inside, as if there were no
problems in the world. And then I
just woke up and the feeling stayed
with me. I was all sunny and happy.
It's stupid, isn't it?
No it isn't. It's telling you
Let me interpret it for you, since
I have the drum.
Michael picks up the drum and beats it a few times.
You long for a child but you cannot
have one until you meet the man who
brings you wisdom. The tent
represents your relationship - you
have to leave it before you can be
I used to dream about babies until
I had one.
Now what do you dream about?
A good choice. What do you dream
Dreams don't mean anything -
they're just your brain sorting out
all the rubbish left over from the
I'm tired, I need to sleep.
Go to bed. I want another drink.
Michael pours himself more whisky.
I need to go to bed too.
Have another drink.
I don't drink whisky.
Call yourself Irish?
(offers her the bottle)
Michael pours Rachel some whisky.
I told you, I'm tired.
But we hardly see each other these
days. When's the next time we'll
all be together? We're all getting
older. Besides, you haven't
answered my question.
I asked you to lend me the money
for my play.
I thought I said I didn't have it.
But we all know that's a lie.
Everyone who thinks that Frank
can't afford to lend me five
thousand pounds put up your hand.
See? No-one. Even Rachel doesn't
I don't know about Frank's affairs.
He never tells me anything.
Just like our dad. He kept
everything to himself.
Michael, I've helped you your whole
life. You can't keep asking me.
When was the last time?
I supported you when you went back
to university. I supported you when
you got fed up with that and tried
to become a writer.
Tried? I succeeded.
Okay, you succeeded, but why do you
keep jumping around? Why don't you
stick at something for longer than
two years. Every time you change,
you go backwards.
All living things change, otherwise
they die. An artist can't stand
I don't know anything about art but
I know about money.
And that's what you're like - a
And insulting me is going to
persuade me to help you, is it?
Michael, don't start an argument. I
know that Frank has always helped
Well, you know why then.
Frank stands up and walks around the room.
He's going to start on that again.
Michael, don't drag all that up.
It's not buried that deeply.
It's the past. We all know what
happened but it just makes you
unhappy when you talk about it.
We don't all know. Rachel doesn't
know. She might change her opinion
about my brother if she knew.
Frank walks angrily across to Michael.
Right. Get out!
(quietly, with menace)
Unhand me, brother.
I want you out of my room. We can
talk about this tomorrow, when
It is tomorrow.
But you're not sober. Come on, get
I'm not leaving till you've heard
I've heard you out a thousand times
and it's always the same bullshit,
about our father, and the farm, and
how you were left to deal with it.
Michael stands up and confronts him.
And why was I left to deal with it?
Because you abandoned me and ran
off when everything went wrong.
Frank turns his back on him and walks away.
Sheelagh, you talk to him.
Sheelagh reaches out and holds Michael's sleeve.
Michael, don't bother yourself
about it, you'll make yourself...
What? Sick? Mad? I might have
another breakdown? And whose fault
Don't you try and blame me for
that. You should never have come
back from university. No-one asked
you to come back.
My father asked me. He rang me up.
Everything is going wrong, he said,
we need your help.
We didn't need your help. Do you
want to know why you came back?
Leave Sheelagh out of this - she
didn't even know you then.
Your mother told me.
My mother didn't know either. Dad
told her nothing, that's why he...
No it isn't. Don't say that.
What? What happened?
It doesn't matter.
Okay, I'll tell you why you came
back. It's because you were jealous
of me. You didn't want the farm -
you wanted what I had. That, and
your stupid dream of being a 'man
of the soil'. You, a man of the
soil? You don't even have your feet
on the ground.
You're right, I didn't want the
farm. I came back because dad asked
for help. Because of you and your
You wanted to expand, to be the big
business man, borrow money to buy
more land, new machinery, automated
packing sheds, new crops, new
No, oh no, you weren't even there,
so how can you know? Dad wanted
that. That's what everyone was
doing at that time. The people in
government, the banks, they all
wanted us to expand. We were the
same as everyone else.
And when I came back, what did you
do? You ran away from it all and
left me to deal with your mess.
I left because you came back and
turned him against me. You filled
his ears with your poison, your
black and twisted thoughts.
I had to stay there and watch him
disintegrate before my eyes, losing
everything. The banks calling in
the loans, the crops unharvested,
the machinery repossessed. But you
didn't see any of that - you were
too busy being successful, being a
businessman, making money. You
didn't care what happened to us. It
was you that killed him.
Frank walks coldly towards Michael.
It's true. I was the one who went
into the shed and found him hanging
there. It was these hands that cut
him down. I had to tell mum. Where
were you then, Frank? Where were
you at two o'clock in the morning
when I went looking for him and had
to tell her what I'd found. You
weren't with her in the middle of
the night when she broke down and
You didn't comfort her for two days
until her eldest son decided to
come back when it was too late.
I was in Australia. I came back as
soon as I could.
Yes, you came back with your
accusing look, absolving yourself
of all responsibility, knowing who
I never blamed you. It was me that
saved the farm, with my dirty
money. I could have just walked
away from it but I didn't. I
bankrupted myself to save the farm
and pay off all the debts, and
that's the real reason I went away,
if you really want to know, to make
enough money to save the farm.
So you say.
Do you know your trouble, Michael?
You spend too much time imagining
the worst about people. You think
that life is a TV crime drama where
everyone's a liar, a murderer or a
rapist. Your head is black inside.
The truth is black.
The real world isn't black,
Michael. It's not black and white.
And it isn't even grey. The real
world is more complicated than the
little pictures you have in your
head. Step outside sometime and see
It's simple cause and effect. Your
ambition ruined the business. Dad
And then you had your breakdown.
It's all so logical, isn't it.
It's the truth.
It's your truth.
It's why my life is so disrupted.
It's a little fairy tale that keeps
you happy. Except it doesn't keep
you happy. No-one knows the truth
about it except dad, and he's not
here, is he? So you will just have
to keep on believing what you do
until the day you die. But don't
ever ask me for help again.
They both fall silent. The two men stand and the two women
sit in contemplation, stuck in a maze from which there is
seemingly no escape.
I didn't know that your father
killed himself. Did you really find
Didn't he speak to anyone
No, he kept everything to himself.
He didn't like to talk about
So he didn't tell you then?
No - he didn't tell me, but I knew.
It was in front of my eyes.
Maybe it was something else -
something none of you knew about.
Our father was a simple man. He had
no secrets. It was just that he was
ashamed and couldn't talk about it.
And then you had a breakdown?
Yes, I had a breakdown. I went
I don't want to talk about it.
Like your dad.
No, not like my dad. I'm over it
now - it was a long time ago.
Okay, if you really want to know -
I used to get drunk all the time
and wander around the fields,
singing and crying, talking to the
animals. And I slept in ditches.
How long for?
Until the sun came up.
No, stupid. How long were you like
About two months, I think. Until
Frank got me into hospital. He'd
just met Sheelagh.
Do you remember?
The first time I met you, we
visited you in hospital.
And was I mad?
No - you were lethargic.
They made me normal. But
fortunately, there are ways to be
Michael takes some mushrooms out of his pocket and puts them
on the table.
Magic mushrooms. I picked them on
the moor. And now I'm going to eat
them and find out the truth. Do you
No, and I don't think you should
It's going to be a long night. Do
you want some Rachel? Come on a
little trip with me.
I took some once and I laughed for
four hours and then fell asleep.
That's a 'yes' then?
No, it's a 'no'.
You don't like laughing?
Yeah, but I also like to know what
I'm laughing about.
That's where we differ. What about
you, Frank? Fancy a little truth
I've never put anything in my
brain, and I'm not going to start
Not even the truth? You never put
the truth in your brain? Shame on
Michael picks up the drum from the table and points at the
drawings on it.
These people knew about the truth.
You see, this side is us, poor
mortals, lost in a maze; and this
side is the gods and the ancestors.
And in between them there is a
As he says the word 'veil' he passes his hand over Rachel's
But, it's possible to break through
that veil and contact the ancestors
and the gods - to find out the
truth. It's what they used to do,
the people who made this drum. They
used to eat these mushrooms and
whirl themselves into a state of
ecstasy, and they would chant until
the dead appeared.
Michael eats some mushrooms. He then walks across to Frank
and tries to feed him a mushroom.
Do you want to do that, Frank? Do
you want to break through to the
other side and discover the truth?
Are you brave enough?
Frank pushes his arm away.
That's not brave, it's stupid.
What, discovering the truth is
stupid? Ask our dad what really
No, no - it's what they used to do.
It will work.
I've had enough of this. Michael,
you should go to bed. Come on...
(tries to take the drum
...you'll wake everyone up.
You can go. This is family
And I'm not family?
You are soon to be divorced, but we
will have no more divorces. Those
that are married already, all but
one shall live; the rest can keep
as they are.
God, there's no way to get sense
out of you. I've had enough. I'm
going to go to bed and I'll speak
to you later. Rachel, do you want
to sleep in my room - these two are
going to be at each other's throats
Rachel and Sheelagh stand up. Rachel walks downstage to
Do you mind?
(tenderly, touches her)
No, that's okay. Let me talk to him
alone and then I'll call you.
She walks across to Michael and embraces him to say goodnight
while Frank watches them. Michael holds her and says
something in her ear.
Sheelagh embraces Michael.
Go to bed soon, Michael. I'll see
you before I leave.
Goodnight, Frank. Ring me if you
need to talk about anything. You
don't have to speak through your
Sheelagh and Rachel leave.
So. Her as well?
Rachel? What comes to a man is
known to be his own - the rest can
gather dust. Besides, you don't
That's between us.
You and me?
No, me and her.
We always shared everything, as
boys. What happened?
Stealing isn't sharing. You always
want what I have.
If you don't want it; if you don't
have the eyes to see, why shouldn't
Because it makes you look pathetic,
hanging on my skirt tails forever.
Why can't you separate yourself
from me and be your own man? Take
responsibility for once.
Michael sits down. He begins to doubt himself.
I could, if only I knew the truth
about what happened. If I'm wrong
it changes everything. Maybe you're
right, I've always blamed you, but
what if my life is inside of me?
What if it's the road I've chosen.
I have to ask my father - he'll
Michael picks up the drum and stands up.
Don't start beating that now - it's
four o'clock. You'll wake everyone
Michael has a glazed look in his eyes.
I have to know.
Michael walks towards the front of the stage. He has a
spotlight on him. The rest of the stage is in darkness. He
beats the drum, slowly at first but then faster, becoming
furious. As he beats, he sings a Sami chant. The same chant
is played through the PA, becoming louder and louder,
accompanied by the beating of drums.
The drums and chanting reach a crescendo.
The father is sat at the table, beneath a spotlight, facing
the stage. Michael and Frank are sat on either side of him in
The father's tone is alternately humorous, sad, nostalgic and
prophetic - a sort of madness.
We'll have to cut her down, boys,
and plough her under. A big tree
like that, fallen by the storm. You
take one end and I'll take the
other. Pull her to and fro and
neither let her go.
That was the year, sixty-four.
Who said that?
It's me - Michael.
What do you want now, you young
I want to ask you a question?
Questions, questions, questions -
you were always asking questions.
You wanted to know everything - how
the sun got its shine, where the
wind came in, how the water grew. A
forest couldn't blow down but you
wanted to know what happened,
hanging on my knee, asking me
everything. Drove your mother nuts.
You remember when I came home...
Do I remember? You weighed nine
pounds if you were a day.
I made a bed for you from the old
potato basket, filled it up with
straw and covered it in my best
sack. Your mother was well pleased.
No, when I came back from
university, to help you...
Cried like a baby you did. Mewled
and puked in your mother's arms,
just like an infant. Things were
different then. I didn't hold you
with these arms, oh no, that came
later, much later.
This is stupid. Let him go.
No! He can tell us what happened.
Who's that there?
(he peers into the
Is that you, Frankie? Made your
fortune, did you? Knew you would. I
told your mother, the day you left,
that boy is going out into the
world to get what he deserves.
He'll come back a rich man if no
That's what I want to ask you
about, dad. Why did Frank leave?
Frankie? Why did he leave? Now
there's a question. He left because
of blight - blight and disease. We
had a bad year, everything wiped
out. But he was a strong one. They
don't breed them like that any
more, don't know how, they've lost
the knowledge, you see. Every year
you keep back twenty percent of
your crop for next year, mix 'em up
so's they're not the same.
Different natures you see, resist
blight and disease. Now I'll tell
you something, you never keep a bad
one because that just spreads the
next year. People don't like it but
it's true - you have to bring seed
in from outside.
If your own seed is ruined, you
have to get it from elsewhere,
unless you want to infect
everything. Frankie knew, he was a
sharp one. That's why he went away.
Came back solid though, turned
himself about he did. You see this
(he rolls up his sleeve to
reveal his upper arm)
That's muscle, what I mean by
'solid'. You can't buy that. You
have to work for it - digging,
cutting, ploughing, trimming,
shaping, forming, making the dust
live the way you want it to. That's
what I mean by wisdom. You wake up
in the morning and the sun's just
rising. You go out into the fields
and the mist is still lingering.
You see some trees and you know
whether they're happy or not. You
see, boys, everything has a
language, not just the stones -
everything: the trees, the leaves,
the birds, animals, people, we all
have a language. If Michael was
here, he could tell us...
(calls him, quietly and
I'm here dad.
Michael was the boy for the words.
Full of them he was. I was proud of
that boy, striding out across the
fields, his chest filled with
nonsense. Always making up rhymes
to make his mother happy, from when
he was this height, running around
the kitchen while she made the
bread, entertaining her, like a
(more insistent this time)
I'm here dad!
There you are.
Father tenderly touches Michael's cheek.
You were a good boy. We loved you,
your mother and I. You came to us
just at the right time. We'd had a
bad year - the crops were down,
nothing would grow, the dead of
winter, when you came along. A ray
of sunshine you were. A little
brother for Frankie. Remember that,
eh? You boys, always at each
other's throats. So different you
see, like peas in a pod. Not the
same at all. People who say that,
don't use their eyes. I challenge
you, open a pod and find me two
peas the same. Go on! Hold them up
to the light, see how they crumble.
Never the same. All my life, never
seen two the same. Just like you
two. Chalk and cheese. Oh, well,
everything has its nature and
things will run their course.
That's what I learned.
What happened to the farm, dad?
That time you rang me and asked me
to come back and help you?
Help? I never needed help. We got
too big that's all. Stay small and
move quickly, that's what my dad
told me, always patting me on the
(taps palm on table
...stay small and move quickly.
Times change. Everything changes,
including time. Bigger, everything
had to be bigger, and better - do
We decided that together, didn't we
dad? It was what everyone else was
You decided. It wasn't dad.
Who decided it, dad?
You wanna know the truth?
FRANK AND MICHAEL
I went out for a walk and never
came back. I left you there to sort
it out - do you remember that?
You asked for my help.
Not to tie the rope I didn't.
Frank ran away.
Time runs away. You think you've
got it by the neck, it gives a
kick, and you're left standing on a
barrel holding a rope. Kick it
...kick it away and hope for the
(a beat; wistfully)
But I should've spoken to her - I
should have told her.
(he listens for a
response; then more
Are you listening, mother?
Mother's gone, dad.
Gone to town, probably, to sell the
geese that laid the golden horn,
all tattered and torn.
I should have told her...
Told her what?
Why I did it. She should have
It wasn't fair to leave her there,
not knowing, like the rest of you.
None of you know a thing, do you?
Tell us, then. Tell us what you
would have told her.
The only things you can tell are
not worth telling. It's the things
you can't tell that people want to
Tell Michael why I went away.
Michael can tell it. He's the story
teller around here.
Tell Frank why I came back.
The music. It was the music that
drew you back. The music and the
smells. They go together and you
couldn't live without them. But you
were never cut out for the farm.
Too sensitive, your mum said, and
she should know. Called you the
changeling, something different
about you. You came from another
place, Michael, like a rare bird
that only visits the earth once in
a thousand years. You had poetry in
you. I should never have asked you
back. Oh well, we were all together
then, and then it started, you and
Frank, at each other's throats. It
nearly broke my heart the way you
fought, blaming each other.
But who was right?
When things go wrong, no-one is
right. Men become bad during the
bad years, that's just the way it
is. It was all my fault.
No it wasn't, dad. I was there, I
could have stopped you.
No, I forgot about the earth. Blind
ambition, makes you forget
everything that matters, and I
forgot about the farm. I paid the
price, I suppose, but you don't
have to pay it for me.
Long pause. Stage gets a bit lighter so that we can see all
of them. Father stands up and walks around the side of them.
He looks at them and then pulls up both sleeves. Stretches
out his arms.
You see these arms?
(no reply, so he repeats,
You see these arms?!
FRANK AND MICHAEL
These arms made you. These arms
lifted you up towards the sun and
kept you warm. These arms loved
you. I was buried, and I pulled
myself out with these arms. I went
under so many times and these arms
saved me. Come here! Get up!
Michael and Frank get up and walk over to him, one on each
The father stands in the middle of them and takes an arm of
each of them. He holds them at the wrists and joins them in a
handshake so that they make a rising bridge in front of him.
You are my sons. You will love each
other. You won't join that stupid
club. You won't maim, and hate and
kill each other. You will beat your
swords back into ploughshares.
You'll take that bow over there and
turn it into a harp.
Father lets go of them. They walk back towards the table; he
Sing me a love song, Michael, like
you used to do when we were all
together. I'm going on a long
journey and no-one can come with
me, but your song can come with me.
Your song will live inside of me
and I'll remember you - you,
Frankie, and mum.
(turns around to face
You're a singer, Michael. You sing
me a love song. I don't want to
hear any song about crime or hatred
or torture. Leave that to the
others. Let the dead bury their own
dead. Here, pass me that drum -
I'll show you a love song.
The father walks towards them.
I'm going now, but it was you that
called me here. You wanted to hear
what I would say and what I say is
this: these arms made you; you are
my sons; you love each other.
He hugs them both and then picks the drum off the table. He
looks at it and taps it gently. He puts the drum to his ear
and then looks at them both.
There's a woman isn't there?
FRANK AND MICHAEL
You can't fool me - you're both
chasing the same game. Remember,
boys, chasing through the forest?
"Only one can win, and the other
will come after." That's the song,
you used to sing, it had the ring,
the ring of truth, the scent of
youth, she's getting away, I'll
have my prey, her name is... what
her name is. You want the truth? Go
into the forest.
He walks towards the front of the stage and pauses.
You know what it is when a child
comes into the world? It's a new
light that brings innocence. The
child looks up to you and it
expects love, unconditional. A
child is a gift that lets you
You'll love that woman. You'll do
The trees, the stones, the rivers,
the birds, the animals, we're all
just creatures. We're here for a
season and then we're gone. But
when I close my eyes...
(he closes his eyes and
gently taps the drum)
...I hear a song. It takes me back
to when... I'm going now... It's
He beats the drum faster and faster. Sami chanting over the
PA, louder and louder. Spotlight increases on him. Crescendo.
Lights up. The father is gone.
You heard what he said?
We have to go into the forest, to
find out what happened.
I'm not going into the forest.
Michael offers him a mushroom.
You scared of the truth? What
happened on that day, the day you
I know what happened... I think.
You were there and I was here and
she was over there...
Are you sure?
I think I remember how it might
You don't sound sure. Eat the
truth, Frankie. Come on into the
I won't go back to the forest.
You'll come with me and eat the
I won't eat the truth!
Michael eats another handful of mushrooms. He picks up the
drum and beats it again. More Sami chanting and music. As
Michael chants and the music gets louder, Frank holds his
head and repeats: "I won't eat the truth, I won't go into the
Lights up. Frank and Michael are downstage, at the edge of
the forest, each with a bow in their hand (no arrows!).
So this is where it started, at the
edge of the forest leading to the
dream. I want you to be sure of
this, Frankie - whatever happens
now is the truth. Do you accept
What do you mean, you don't accept
it? You agreed to come here with
me, to find out the truth. We go
back into the forest to where it
all began and we see it again, just
like it happened.
I don't want to go to the darkest
place, not to where it happened.
You don't have to be worried about
it, Frank. I've been there already.
I went there without you and I came
back. Look - you can see my scars:
I'm still here; I'm still your
The thing is, Michael, you've
always blamed me for what happened
but it happened to both of us - the
farm, daddy dying, mummy going
away, lying in the ditches like a
madman, that was you. But I was
there beside you, right from the
beginning and before.
But still there's something missing
- a part of the puzzle you cannot
tell. You look to move forwards but
you're always going back and now
I've come to help you.
I don't need help.
You think you don't but you cannot
love her. You keep your distance
and shie away - I'm going to show
you how. That's why I brought you
here. You see, Frank, a long time
ago was something lost, something
you need inside you in order to
live. Everyone thinks they have it
and they do, but not everyone can
lose it the way you did. You'll
see, if you come with me.
I can't come, Michael. I'm just a
businessman - I buy cheap and sell
dear. I know how to wheel and deal.
If you ask me now, I can buy us out
of here, we can go back to where we
were and this has never happened.
You'll have the money for your play
and we'll all come to see it - me,
Rachel, Sheelagh, Sam and Anna.
This is my play. Now read this!
Michael hands Frank a piece of paper. Frank reads it to
What does it say? Read it out loud.
"The thing you most desire is the
thing you're most afraid." It
doesn't make sense.
Of course it doesn't. That's what
I'm trying to tell you: you can't
trust what people say; you can't
trust wisdom - you have to find out
for yourself. Now, are you ready?
Check your bow.
Frank plucks his bowstring.
Is it taut?
Michael throws his arm around his shoulder.
That's good, Frank, you're already
learning. Now let's go. You follow
me and don't get lost.
Michael holds his bow before him and leads off into the
forest. Frank hesitates then follows him.
Another area of the stage. Michael and Frank are both sitting
comfortably. Michael is holding a pen and notepad; he talks
in the steady measured tone of an analyst.
Right Frank, I wonder if you could
close your eyes and tell me where
you are now. Take your time. Just
close you eyes and picture to me
where you are now, in the middle of
I'm in the middle of the forest.
Near the centre.
And how does that make you feel? I
want you to explain your feelings
Why are you scared?
Something bad happened here.
So you've been here before?
And what was the bad thing that
happened to you here?
I found my brother Michael, when he
had his breakdown.
My mother rang me. She told me to
come back home because she was
worried about Michael. He was
staying out all night. He hardly
came home and when he did, he was
drunk and crying all the time. She
said he was saying crazy things. He
locked himself in his room and she
could hear him breaking everything
Was that the room you shared with
him when you were children?
Yes, and he was breaking up
everything we'd owned together -
our toys, our trains, my favourite
And how did that make you feel?
Firs I was angry but then I was
worried for him and wanted to help
You wanted to help him - that's
good. And then what happened?
I said to mum that I would go and
look for him so I left the
farmhouse and I ran across the
fields calling out his name. It was
late afternoon and the sun was
getting low in the sky. There were
long shadows beside the hedgerows.
I looked for him everywhere but I
couldn't find him and then I
realised where he would be.
A long pause.
Go on, Frank. Imagine yourself
running through the fields, your
young hair streaming back. There's
a certain amount of fear showing on
your face as you call out for your
little brother. Now where would you
find him? Think about it? Where
would he be?
He'd be in the forest. He'd go back
to where it happened.
Where what happened?
That thing. The day I shot him.
So you followed him into the
forest; right to the centre, where
the darkness iswas. And then what
I came through here, into this
clearing and I saw him lying on the
ground with his back against that
It was this exact spot, wasn't it?
Yes. I was standing over there.
Show me where you were standing.
Frank stands up and walks a few paces.
I was standing here and I saw
Michael lying against that tree.
His shirt was ripped and he was all
covered in mud. He saw me and
Michael stands up.
And then what happened?
I can't... I can't tell it like it
Yes you can, Frank. You have to
throw allocution to the wind if you
want to know the truth. I want you
to go over there and be Michael, so
that you know what he was feeling.
No - I can't be Michael, Michael.
You'll still be Frank, Frank. I
just want you to be Michael so that
you know what he was feeling. If
you feel your brother's suffering,
yours will go away.
I can't... Not mad. Please don't
let me be mad.
You won't be mad, Frank. I'm here
to help you come through. You need
to know what happened. So go over
there and lie down.
Frank goes and lies against a tree. Michael takes a small
bottle of whisky from his jacket pocket and gives it to
Frank. Frank drinks from it.
What was Michael doing then?
He was crying - sobbing like a
Go on then. Cry.
I can't. I can't cry.
Because you're a man, you can't
Michael kneels next to him, something threatening in his
You cried when you were a boy
No. I was the big brother - I never
Michael grabs him by the lapels.
You cried when you were a baby
didn't you? The day they dragged
you kicking and screaming into this
goddamn fucking world. The day this
whole mess got started. The day
they pulled you from your mother's
womb. You cried for her now cry for
Frank starts crying. Michael stands up and turns his back on
him; he bends over and holds his temples, rocking as if he
has a migraine. Then he composes himself. He kneels down
again and gives Frank a handkerchief.
(tenderly; his hand on Frank's
This must be hard for you, Frank -
just let it all out.
Frank sobs for a few moments. Michael wipes his cheeks.
And then you spoke to him.
I said, "Michael, what are you
doing?" He said, "I'm thinking." I
said, "What about?" He said, "You,
me, dad, the farm. You and dad,
mostly." I said, "What about me and
dad?" He said, "The way you killed
him." I said, "I never killed him
Michael. It got too big and
everything got out of hand. It
wasn't my fault." And then he
grabbed hold of me and started
They grab hold of each other and start fighting, repeating:
"You killed him." "I never killed him. It got too big", etc.
They suddenly stop and Michael steps back, totally composed.
And then what happened?
He started singing a song. He just
stopped and looked up through the
trees, like a blind man, singing a
song for pennies.
What song was it?
By John Lennon.
Yes. He sang that song. The one he
used to sing at home without the
Sing it to me now, the way he sang
it to you on that day.
Frank sings the first word, in a cracked voice:
Father... It's no good - I can't
Everyone can sing, Frank. It's part
of being human - like walking and
talking and fucking.
What key is it in?
Michael takes a harmonica out of his pocket and blows one
It's in the key of C - the sea of
Frank starts singing again. Michael stops him and gives him a
pair of John Lennon sunglasses, small and round. Frank's
head, tilted back, looks up at the sky. While Frank sings,
Michael taps the harmonica against his palm as if keeping
beat to fast jazz.
Father, you left me, but I never
I needed you, you didn't need me.
So I, I just got to tell you
Children, don't do what I have
Okay, that's enough now. I get the
picture. Now tell me what's wrong
with that song?
I sang it as best as I could.
No - the words. What's wrong with
I don't know.
That's because you're, Michael. He
didn't know either. Michael was
lying there, sodden with his own
mess, full of self-pity and
resentment, singing that song in a
voice trembling with angst and
feeling, but it was all a lie, the
words weren't true.
He was loved, and needed. They
never left him.
That's right. That's right. It just
shows how fucked up a boy can be.
And then what did you do?
I helped him up and took him home.
Michael extends his arm to Frank and helps him up.
And what did you feel for your
brother at that moment? Go back in
time and feel it.
I... I loved him.
You loved your brother then. That's
Michael's demeanour suddenly changes, as if he is winding up
a business meeting.
Right, that was very good. Only two
more sessions to go and then we're
No, I can't do any more sessions.
I've had too much truth for one
You shouldn't be scared of the
truth - it's just like an onion.
Close your eyes and imagine that in
my hand I'm holding an onion.
Frank closes his eyes.
Right - I want you to see that
onion very clearly in my hand. Its
skin is smooth and golden like the
sun. Can you see that?
Right, I'm very gently peeling away
the outer layer. What do you see
beneath that layer?
Right. Now I'm going to peel away
that layer. And what do you see?
And now I'm going to peel away that
layer, and the next one, the next
one and the next one. They're
getting whiter and whiter. And now
I'm at the final layer - it's very
small and almost invisible. I peel
it away and what have I got left?
Open your eyes.
Frank opens his eyes and looks at Michael's empty hand.
Nothing. There's nothing left.
That's right. You thought there was
an onion but there wasn't. It's
just like the truth. Only a madman
would be afraid of an onion,
wouldn't he? So come on, let's
finish this while we still have
Michael puts his arm around Frank's shoulder and they walk
Frank and the father are stood on one side of the stage. The
father is wearing a hangman's noose loosely around his neck,
hanging down like a tie.
Michael is on the other side of the stage, watching them
Everything is in a mess, dad. We
have to call Michael.
We can't call, Michael.
But everything is in a mess, dad.
We have to call Michael.
We can't call Michael.
But everything is in a mess, dad.
We have to call Michael.
We can't call Michael.
But Michael has brains. He can get
us out of this.
Michael doesn't know how to run a
farm. It was you who inherited the
earth. You know all about business
and money and how to reap rewards.
Michael inherited the sky - he can
pluck words from the air and make
them sing. We can't call Michael.
I'll call Michael.
Don't call Michael.
You need somebody beside you when I
Are you going away?
I'm going on a long journey and you
can't come with me. But I will
remember you... and mum... and
Michael. You need Michael, dad.
The father thinks about it, and then he shouts, "MICHAEL!"
Michael lowers his binoculars and walks over to them.
What's happening? What happened to
We got in a mess.
(to his father)
What happened dad?
I don't know. It all got too big.
We should have stayed small. We
should never have grown up and then
none of this would have happened.
It was fine when it was just the
four of us, when we were little.
Now look what's happened.
What have you got to say for
I was only trying to help.
Okay, dad, don't you worry
yourself. Frank and I will sort
this out between us. You go and
have a long lie down; take good
care of yourself and get some rest.
Thankyou, son, I didn't mean to...
That's okay. Don't you worry
(cheering him up)
And make yourself look smart will
you? You can't go for a long lie
down looking like that.
Michael adjusts the hangman's noose like you would do a
There you are then - off you go.
Thankyou boys. I'll never forget
Bye. Look after yourself, old man.
And give our love to mother.
A pause. Michael turns to Frank.
So, it's come to this.
What do you mean?
Well, we're almost there, aren't
we? There's only one scene left.
Which one is that?
The crucial one. The one in the
forest with the deer. I mean,
that's what we came here for.
That's what this is all about,
But it's too far back. I can't
remember - we're all too big now.
Michael puts the binoculars to his eyes, the wrong way
No. We're getting smaller all the
Michael hands Frank the binoculars.
You're right. You're tiny. How did
But it's not true, is it?
It will do for now - come on.
Lights down, for a longer period.
At the back of the stage, Rachel is wearing a deer-mask. She
has her back against a wall and her arms outspread. She
Frank is in the middle of the stage. He has his bow up and
the string pulled back as if to shoot the deer. Michael is
standing a few feet away from him.
Go on then, shoot!
Frank ignores him.
You see how beautiful she is; how
her hair glistens in the sun; the
softness of her skin, how tanned
and golden. She's waiting for you,
like a deer trembling in the
forest, her flanks are quivering
with expectation. Do you see the
longing in her eyes and sense the
anticipation in her breath, as it
rises and falls inside her chest,
trapped between fear and desire?
You can see that, can't you?
They watch the deer. Frank doesn't answer.
And you want to go to her, don't
No. Yes. I don't know.
Michael circles Frank, aggressively.
You want to take her, but you
can't. And you know why, don't you?
No! She's mine - I'll take her.
(pulling back the bow to
I'm going to take her now.
Michael waits. Frank doesn't shoot.
You see, you can't do it. There's
something stopping you.
Something inside of you that stops
you being alive, that stops you
committing. You're holding back,
all the time, and you don't know
why. Shall I tell you why?
It's everything that happened back
there. It's all the fear and pain
you have inside of you. You're
scared to let go in case it all
happens again. You're not being
frank, Frank. You're lying to
yourself. You can't be a man
because of all the fear inside you.
Now let go and take her, go on.
I didn't want this. All I wanted
was for you to tell me a story. I
never wanted it to come to this.
Of course you didn't. You wanted a
nice little story about four people
in a hotel room in Sweden, filled
with little problems and witty one
liners. But that's not the story of
your life, Frank. This is the story
of your miserable fucking life -
the horrible things that people do
to each other, the way they fuck
each other up and cause each other
pain, because they don't know how
to live. That's the story you need
Now, are you going to go to her?
Michael puts his hand on Frank's arm.
You see, Frank - we're so alone,
and life is brief. Go to her now -
she's waiting for you.
Michael waits but Frank still doesn't move. Michael gives up.
Okay. You won't go to her. I'll go.
I'll go and show you how it's done.
I'll show you what it means to be
Don't touch her!
Michael drops his bow and walks slowly towards Rachel. When
he gets to her, he turns and looks at Frank. Then he lifts
Rachel's mask, embraces her and kisses her.
Rachel opens her eyes and screams, "Michael!", as Frank fires
at Michael. Michael falls to the ground and Rachel runs from
Frank drops his bow and walks slowly towards Michael's body.
He gets there and falls to his knees, collapsing onto
Michael. As Frank's head hits Michael's chest, John Lennon's
"Mother" starts playing very loud through the PA.
"Mother, you had me but I never had you.
I wanted you but you didn't want me.
So I got to tell you,
"Father, you left me, but I never left you.
I needed you, you didn't need me.
So I, I just got to tell you,
"Children, don't do what I have done.
I couldn't walk and I tried to run.
So I, I just got to tell you,
While the song plays, Frank sobs silently on Michael's chest.
At the end of the second verse, Frank stands up and he tries
to move Michael's body, pulling and rolling it around the
stage. At the end of the third verse he collapses next to it,
his head in his hands.
When John Lennon starts screaming, "Mama don't go! Daddy come
home!" Sheelagh walks onto the stage. She walks across to the
bodies and kneels down, stroking them.
Lights down as music ends.
We're back in the hotel room. It's morning.
Frank is asleep on the bed. Michael is asleep sitting at the
table, his head on the table top. There is now a bowl of
fruit on the table, piled high with apples, pears, oranges
Sheelagh enters the room. She walks over to Frank and looks
at him. Then she walks over to Michael and tousles his hair.
She sits down at the table. The bow/harp is on the table and
she twangs a string. Michael wakes up and groans.
It's a beautiful day.
What time is it?
Half eight. The sun is high.
It's never low, is it.
What time did you get to sleep?
I don't know. It was a long long
night. What about you?
We went to bed, got a few hours
sleep, woke up refreshed, went down
to the pool and had a swim, then we
had a sauna, breakfast, and spoke
to Anna's parents.
That sounds like a full day. You
must be tired.
So did you resolve all of your
Michael sits up and thinks.
All the whisky's gone, so we must
have but I really can't remember.
So what about your play? Is he
going to lend you the money.
Hmmmm... I think so.
Frank's body twitches on the bed.
We're all dreaming. We think we
wake up but we're in another layer
of the dream. It's like an onion -
you peel it and peel it and peel
Sheelagh takes hold of Michael's face and squeezes his
Michael - sometimes you talk a lot
of bullshit. Now wake up.
Michael sits up fully and looks around.
She went for a walk.
I really really like Rachel.
But Frank loves her.
Does he? Why doesn't he show it
Maybe he has a reason.
Let's ask him.
Michael takes fruit from the fruit-bowl and throws it at
Frank, wake up. Wake up and explain
You're horrible to him, leave him
That's because he's my brother.
He's my whetstone - I need him to
keep me sharp.
Michael carries on throwing fruit at Frank. Frank wakes up
and looks around.
What's going on? What are you
You asked me to wake you up.
No I didn't. What's all this fruit?
Frank gets up off the bed and picks up the fruit. He carries
it across to the table and sits down.
She's left you for a reindeer
herder, to have a baby and sleep in
She's gone for a walk. She'll be
Why don't you marry her, Frank? Do
the right thing.
Why don't you mind your own
It is my business. You're my
brother. You're drifting through
life like a ship without a rudder.
You need to settle down.
Will you listen to this - the man
who's never been married, never had
children, never had a relationship
that lasted longer than a year,
giving me advice about settling
down. Michael, when you can live
with a woman long enough that you
don't keep calling her by the wrong
name, then I'll ask you for your
advice. In the meantime, button it.
It's true, though. The woman wants
children and you won't give them to
You give them to her! If you want.
She's not my girlfriend - I didn't
Well, you've met her now.
But this is about the third time
this has happened since you left
Sheelagh. There was that girl
Deborah, then Lorraine, both really
nice girls and you just let them
It's not my fault that all of the
women I meet want to have children.
What am I supposed to do?
Stop skating around on the surface
of life and plunge back in. That's
what you want anyway. You told me
that you missed having children
around you, that they made you feel
young. Why don't you do the right
thing for once - marry Rachel and
have children with her?
Well you should leave her then.
Let's drop this subject. Don't
start rowing again.
I'm not rowing. It means nothing to
me really, what he does, but I
think it's unfair to Rachel. He's
not going to meet another woman
like her, so he should do it.
Won't, you mean!
No, I mean can't.
Well, you have two children
already. What did you do - have a
Since you won't get off my back
until I tell you, you might as well
know: I've never been able to have
children. I'm sterile, and I've
always been sterile.
(looking at Sheelagh)
But Jilly and Sam?
They're not mine.
Of course they're yours - they call
We both wanted to have children and
stay together, so we chose a father
Is that true?
Yes - it's what we wanted. You're
the only one who knows apart from
their biological father. You must
never tell anyone. When both the
children are grown up, we'll find a
way to tell them.
Oh my god - Sam and Jilly...
(a beat; he thinks about
So who was the man?
Frank's best man.
Tony Martello? No!
He looks like me - everyone said we
could have been brothers.
We wanted someone we knew, whose
children we knew, to know they'd be
Jesus, this is the first time
you've ever surprised me, Frank.
So you had artificial insemination?
No - we didn't want to involve the
So what did you do?
Well... what do you think?
You? And Tony Martello?
We were like brothers, we shared
everything anyway, so...
Michael sits there pondering this, then he smiles.
Bloody hell - who would have
So you really do love Rachel?
But she wants children?
What if I... I mean, would it help
Well, you did it for your first
children! Why not again?
Rachel? With you?!
Why not with me? What's wrong with
me? I'm closer to you than Tony
Martello is - well, genetically at
least. If you were a potato, we'd
have to do it, bring in seed from
But I'm not a potato, am I?
As Frank says 'I'm not a potato', Rachel enters the room.
Come on, you two, you're not still
arguing are you? It's a beautiful
day - you should be up and about.
She walks up behind Frank and kisses him on the head.
You're not a potato, Frank, you've
just got a hangover. Are you ill?
Without getting up, Frank warmly holds her hands and pulls
her close to him.
I've got the sweats but maybe it's
just warm in here.
It's about thirty degrees outside.
They say it's going to be the
hottest day of the year. I went for
a walk on the heath and you can
hear the bracken crackle and the
That was a very mellifluous
alliteration, Rachel. You have a
native poetic talent.
I just met Anna's parents and
everyone is going to the beach for
a picnic. It's going to be
fantastic so you'd better all get
My flight is at one o'clock.
Oh no, Michael, don't go. Phone up
and change it. Come back on our
I can't. I need to go back and
write, to purge my sanity.
Oh no, don't. Please stay. It's
going to be so lovely. All the
children will be there, the whole
(with good humour)
What do you think, Sheelagh? You
think Michael should stay, don't
I think it should be compulsory. He
can cure his sanity instead of
Right, Michael. That's decided -
you're staying. Give me your
ticket. I will ring the airline and
change your flight. You can come
back with us tomorrow.
Rachel walks around the table and starts feeling around in
Michael's jacket pockets for his ticket. She takes out the
various objects we saw in the forest: harmonica; whisky
bottle; notepad and pen.
Get off, you're tickling me.
Come on, Sheelagh, help me!
Sheelagh gets up and the two women drag Michael on to the
floor and hold him down. They are all laughing.
Get off me, you crazy harridans!
Ha! Insulting us as well, now, eh.
We might have to inflict maximum
punishment on you.
They start tickling him.
Okay, okay, I'll give it to you.
Let me go!
They let him go and he gets up and finds the ticket. He gives
it to Rachel.
So you're staying?
I won't be leaving.
Rachel puts the ticket in the back pocket of her jeans. Then
she notices the harp (it's now an Irish harp or zither) and
picks it up.
It's an Irish harp - I made it for
a maid but she won't listen.
Can you play it?
I can play on it.
Go on then, sing us a song.
I can't, until I've had a drink, my
voice is croaky.
Here, drink this.
Sheelagh passes him some leftover wine.
Sing us a love song, Michael. Not
one of those songs about crime or
torture or hatred.
Okay, I will. This is a traditional
song I wrote myself, full of
Rachel sits on Frank's lap. Michael walks to the front of the
stage and sings:
"As I walked out one summer's morning,
I met a maid who caught my eye.
The sun was hot, my heart was warming,
I said, I'll love you bye and bye.
"She said to me, Don't too long tarry,
For summer's short and I am keen.
I will love and I will marry
The man who beds me on the green.
"So you who live, don't too long tarry,
Don't too long linger till you're old.
When winter comes you'll try to hurry
And you'll regret not being bold."
They all clap. Michael walks back to them.
Come on, everyone - it's the
longest day of the year. Let's go
and meet the others.
They leave the stage, all linked together. As they leave,
they sing, "So you who live, don't too long tarry..."
Lights down. The gentle tap of a drum and a Sami chant from
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