Here’s a quick scene I wrote after my first experience of the Royal Mile at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2009, inspired by a workshop I attended on dialogue.
Characters: Gerald, Andy, Martina, Alice. Props: Newspaper, Gun, Herring.
[Generic Public Street during a Fringe Theatre Festival. MARTINA is already sat on stage, reading today’s paper. Enter GERALD and ANDY, not noticing her.]
GERALD: That was a truly excellent play.
ANDY: Couldn’t agree more! It had everything; love, hate, loss, gain, style, panache, sex-
GERALD: -Don’t forget the flaming puppets!
ANDY: Oh yes, the flaming puppets; delightful.
GERALD: Well, we have a good ten minutes before the next show starts. What would you like to do?
ANDY: Me? Well, I really had nothing in mind.
GERALD: We could… grab a coffee?
ANDY: Alright, a coffee it is!
MARTINA: [Surprising the two men] Excuse me?
GERALD: Argh! By Jubjub, Andy – A woman!
ANDY: It would seem so, Gerald!
MARTINA: What play did you two just go and see?
GERALD: She’s asking us what play we saw!
ANDY: You’re asking us what play we saw.
MARTINA: Yes… yes, I am.
MARTINA: Because you’ve been singing its praises right down the street.
ANDY: Well, it was very good.
MARTINA: I’m not denying that it was very good.
GERALD: Did you see it?
MARTINA: That depends. Which play did you see?
ANDY: [after a pause] Alice’s Adventures Through the Looking Glass.
MARTINA: Who put it on?
GERALD: Actors, mostly. I saw a techie or two, and front-of-house, naturally.
MARTINA: Which venue?
ANDY: Why, the one we just went to.
GERALD: Not the one we’re going to.
MARTINA: Where are you going to?
ANDY: The next venue.
GERALD: To see Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
MARTINA: Why didn’t you see that one first?
GERALD: We are about to see it, ummm… [waiting for her introduction]
ANDY: [repeating] Martina. Andy.
GERALD: [introducing himself] Gerald. Pleased to meet you.
ANDY: I already know you, Gerald; it’s Andy!
GERALD: [to MARTINA] It’s not Andy, I assure you, it’s Gerald.
MARTINA: You two should have watched Wonderland first; it comes before Looking Glass.
ANDY: Well, Looking Glass was at 2, and Wonderland is at 4, so I don’t see how we could have watched Wonderland first.
MARTINA: Could you not have seen Wonderland yesterday at 4?
GERALD: But we didn’t see Wonderland yesterday at 4.
MARTINA: Then couldn’t you have watched Looking Glass tomorrow at 2?
ANDY: But we’ve already seen Looking Glass-
GERALD: -Yes, we’re coming from it now.
ANDY: And moreover, when could we watch The Erotic Adventures of Sherlock Holmes?
MARTINA: When’s that?
GERALD: Tomorrow at 2.
MARTINA: Well, maybe you should have watched that today at 2.
ANDY: But it opens tomorrow.
GERALD: I’m not sure I’m following you. How could we watch Sherlock Holmes today?
MARTINA: Well, you can’t now.
GERALD: But you said we could.
MARTINA: I never said you did.
ANDY: Yes you did, you said to watch it today at 2, but it’s not even on today!!
GERALD: And it’s gone 2.
MARTINA: I didn’t mean you imperatively had to watch it at all.
GERALD: Why not? Is it bad? What have the papers said?
MARTINA: I don’t know if it’s bad! I haven’t seen any of these plays!!
ANDY: Then how do you know which Alice play comes first?
MARTINA: Because of the books!
GERALD: What books?
ANDY: I didn’t see any books. they were selling ice creams though.
GERALD: And bottled water.
ANDY: And bottled water.
MARTINA: The books that Lewis Carroll wrote.
GERALD: No, I think this play was written by students.
ANDY: Was it that obvious?
MARTINA: They were books long before anything else.
GERALD: The students were books?
ANDY: Are you Alice?
GERALD: She’s Martina.
ANDY: [introducing] I’m Andy. Pleased to meet you.
MARTINA: You are infuriating.
GERALD: The man just said he was Andy.
MARTINA: For God’s sake!
ANDY: Who’s that, then?
ANDY: No, Lewis Carroll.
GERALD: Didn’t he write the play?
ANDY: Is he a student?
MARTINA: He’s a prolific and beloved writer!!
ANDY: Definitely not one of the students, then.
GERALD: So he wasn’t one of the actors?
ANDY: Sometimes the writers act in their own shows.
ANDY: What makes you say that?
GERALD: I suppose they’ll be in the audience next.
ANDY: [to Martina] Are you an actor?
MARTINA: No, I’m a reviewer.
GERALD: Of what?
MARTINA: Live entertainment, mostly.
ANDY: Oh. [Shoots her with a gun. MARTINA dies.]
ANDY: The gun?
GERALD: No, she’s wearing a scarf. Why do people always assume that critics wear scarfs?
ANDY: How about that coffee?
[ALICE Enters, passing in a hurry]
GERALD: Hello, boy!
ALICE: [Stopped abruptly] Girl.
ANDY: Are you in a hurry?
ALICE: Yes, I am; I have a play to get to.
GERALD: What a coincidence! So do we.
ANDY: Yes – Alice.
ALICE: How do you know my name?
GERALD: We do?
ANDY: …Are you Lewis Carroll?
ALICE: No, I’m Alice.
GERALD: You? You’re Alice? You didn’t play Alice in the last play we saw…
ALICE: The one at 2? I’m not involved with that one. I’m actually heading to another one.
ANDY: Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland?
GERALD: And you’re Alice in that.
ALICE: Actually, no. I wrote it.
ANDY: And you’re a student?
GERALD: So you are Lewis Carroll!
ANDY: Are you God?
GERALD: No, Andy – Lewis Carroll.
ALICE: No, I’m Alice. That’s my name… in real life. Alice. I adapted Lewis Carroll for the stage.
ANDY: Who was Alice in the last play we saw, and who’s Alice in your play?
GERALD: You’re getting us very confused. Are you a reviewer? [takes out the gun once more]
ANDY: [to GERALD] She’s not wearing a scarf…
ALICE: No. I’m not.
GERLAND: You’re ‘Not’? You said your name was Alice, Not. [still has gun out]
ALICE: Look, I’ve really got to go-
ANDY: We were about to get a coffee!
GERALD: Come join us.
ALICE: No, really, I’m late.
ANDY: ‘Late’? Not ‘Not’, Late?
GERALD: She’s not ‘Not’, she’s ‘Late’.
ANDY: I’m Andy.
GERALD: I’m Gerald. Pleased to meet you. [shakes hands, accidentally passing over the gun]
ANDY: [To GERALD] Haven’t we already met?
GERALD: I thought you looked familiar. [To ALICE] Doesn’t he just have one of those faces?
ALICE: Do you always hassle strangers at the most inopportune times?
ANDY: Not always.
GERALD: I do, quite regularly.
ANDY: He’s infuriating.
GERALD: ‘Infuriating’? I assure you, ‘Gerald’.
ANDY: I’m not ‘Gerald’, I’m Andy.
GERALD: Nice to meet you, Andy. [puts out hand for shaking]
ANDY: Nice to meet you, Gerald- [puts out gun hand, accidentally shoots and kills GERALD]
ALICE: Good God!!
ANDY: No, not ‘God’ – he is Gerald [points gun at GERALD] and I am A- [points gun at self. Shoots. Dies.]
ALICE: Thank God for that. [Consults her watch.] I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!
[ALICE exits hurriedly, stepping on the bodies as she leaves. Blackout.]