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Matthew-Lee Erlbach Headshot

Harold Pinter, etc.

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WILL stands in front of Harold Pinter's dead body while NIC reads the paper.

WILL. Well he's dead.

NIC. What?

WILL. Look, there. He doesn't move.

NIC. Alright, hand me the tea. You're being rude.

He hands him the tea.

NIC. Anyway, if he was dead, he wouldn't just lie there like that. Would he? Lie there like that? It is Christmas after all.

Pause--

NIC. All I'm saying is it's rude. On Christmas to be dead like this. Especially when he knows how necessary it is that he be alive. It's a poor choice. To die right now. At a time like this.

WILL. Christmas morning?

NIC. Sure.

WILL. Or when we need his insight. More than Christmas really, but his insight.

NIC. Right--

WILL. You know, about things--

NIC. Sure.

WILL. -the horrors, as it were. Of humanity. The brutality. The rape. The tension of the unknown. And the known. Or something like that anyway.

NIC. You ever hear about electric scissors? Says here they can cut anything without ever having to move your fingers. How fun.

WILL. Not that the theatre can cure these things.

NIC. It can't.

WILL. But it also could.

NIC. It won't.

WILL. Such a cut, really. Makes me hurt.

NIC. You're staring.

WILL. We all are. Blankly. Staring the world down through the dusty broken glass of our own self-interest. Blind to the before. Deaf to the after. And dumb and mute to the present. Just like him now. No opinions anymore. Just waiting for the next thing to happen.

NIC. Merry Christmas. How about some tea then.

WILL begins searching the dead body for goods.

WILL. It's alright, thanks.

NIC. It's a little tart anyway. You put that lemon in there?

WILL. It's alright.

Pause--

NIC. You're nervous.

WILL. Am I?

NIC. Sure.

WILL. Me?

NIC. About the theatre now that he's gone.

WILL. Not really, no.

NIC. No one sees the theatre anyhow, people won't notice. Jut intellectuals and tourists.

WILL. That's not fair. You're angry.

NIC. Not angry, just want to read the paper without all this talk of the dead playwright on the living room. Bit of a distraction is all. And I have to get ready for the "you know what."

WILL takes off Pinter's pants.

WILL. Ah, right. The "you know what." Well anyhow, the theatre's not dead. It'll either be happening in Vegas with rides and candy sticks or in basements somewhere in abandoned factories. It's malleable like that.

NIC. Like people. Don't you think?

WILL. What, malleable?

NIC. Sure, able to change.

WILL. To what.

NIC. I don't know, to better, I would think.

WILL. What's better?

NIC. Not blowing the shit out of someone else or robbing them blind and getting the pass to do it.

WILL. You can't domesticate a man after he's learned to live among men.

NIC. That's the spirit.

WILL. It's the truth.

NIC. Well he'll be missed, Mr. Pinter. On many levels. That I can say.

WILL shakes out Pinter's pants and a note pops out; he picks it up and holds it.

Pause--

WILL. What if it's terrible?

NIC. Go on with it. Couldn't be any worse than this.

He opens note and reads it--

WILL.

"DEMOCRACY

There's no escape.

The big pricks are out.

They'll fuck everything in sight.

Watch your back."

Pause--

They take each other in--

NIC sips his tea--

A moment--

Black.

Poem excerpted from "Death etc.," copyright 2005, Harold Pinter.