ANTHEM (Tertiary)

Conversation flows with the rapid ease of three people who have known each other for a very, very long time, and are used to interrupting each other’s stories to add details or predict the ends of sentences.

DYLAN and KIT take deep breaths in unison.

Beat.

(singing)

Beat.

Beat.

Beat.

Transition. Time leaps. It sounds like the way a migraine feels. The kind of brief experience that makes us wish our teeth would fall out just to have something else to think about.

An official government announcement on the radio or television or live-streamed on the internet – the BRITISH LEADER is the voice of a woman from the North of England.

Chaos descends. Utter, world-ending, earth-shattering Chaos. We hear phone and internet notifications, phones ringing, snippets of distressed voicemails overlapping:

Etc. Added to the chaos is the sound of sirens, riots, and general destruction. It builds to a crescendo, then abruptly snaps out.

Beat.

(frantic)

(in shock)

(calm)

Beat.

Beat.

Pause. The sound of DYLAN pacing up and down – her footsteps on floorboards.

A door slams.

Another door shuts softly and the sound of a light clicking on. The gentle clatter of hangers.

A floorboard creaks.

(echoing)

A dripping sound.

The muffled sound of an attic hatch clicking shut. The creak of floorboards and shift of boxes.

The sound of a light clicking on.

A gentle tap on glass.

Beat.

Transition. Time shifts.

It is another day. The day before, or ten days later, or last year – nobody seems to know for sure. The sound of a record being removed from its sleeve and placed on a record player. Anyone Who Knows What Love is by Irma Thomas plays.

Beat. The clink of cutlery.

(mouth full)

(mouth full)

Beat.

(tense)

The music snaps down to a low level with a muffled quality.

(slightly muffled)

Beat.

(more muffled)

Beat.

(very muffled)

Beat.

(barely audible)

Beat. Then, the music snaps back to normal. When the song ends, the crackling sound of a record that has finished playing.

(crystal clear, LOUD)

Beat.

Beat.

Pause.

Transition. Time hurtles, jolts, and skips.

Something nasty descends. KIT and DYLAN are heard in one ear, and TEDDY is heard in the other. KIT and DYLAN’s voices are soft, gentle, intimate. TEDDY’s is confident, possibly even a little arrogant.

Transition. Time tilts. TEDDY’s ‘Hello?’ echoes into the ether, distorting, as if it is being repeated underwater or turning into code.

As TEDDY’s voice fades, there is a split-second of complete silence, and when the silence ends, everything is slightly more gooey than normal. The sound of a record being removed from its sleeve, being placed on a record player, and Lippy Kids by Elbow begins to play.

(incredulous)

The song ends and we hear the record crackle.

Beat.

These next lines come whispered, tender: pillow talk.

Beat.

Beat.

Beat.

A moment of silence.

The sound of a radio being tuned, and then finding a station.

Music happens. Guitar starts softly and a spoken rhythmic voice, M, comes in.

M hums underneath the guitar. One by one, the three characters’ voices join in, in rhythm with each other but telling their own stories.

The music touches them as no-one else can. As nothing else can. It fills them. They find themselves, and each other, in it. The music gives them what they need, what we need, what we need them to need. They aren’t on drugs, but we could believe that they are. It builds and builds and builds.

The music concludes.

Time collapses.

Beat.

Beat.

Beat.

DYLAN sighs. Breathes heavy down the line, and then, gently:

The sound of a zip being pulled.

The creak of floorboards, and the rustle of fabric.

The clink of hangers and of clothes being moved.

DYLAN’s voice becomes breathier and closer to us.

KIT’s breaths become a little shallow, nervous but in a good way.

We can hear KIT start to smile. Maybe he giggles.

TEDDY’s voice now comes so close to us that we can feel their breath hot on our ear, even though we know that we can’t.

Beat.

Beat.

TEDDY shivers.

Beat.

Beat.

It starts to rain – in the sudden, unrealistic kind of way a downpour appears in a movie. It starts to hail. It gets heavier, and heavier, and heavier, until it is completely all encompassing. There is music underscoring this – something military, erratic and aggressive – but ultimately this is overpowered by the storm. Within the lightning and thunder and rain and hail, we see the shadows of what might be ghosts, or what might be people. The storm is relentless. Just as it is reaching its peak, the ghosts (or people) disappear.

Inside the storm, KIT’s and TEDDY’s voices are glitching, connection coming in and out:

The sound of someone frantically pulling on clothes.

The sound of a window opening – it screeches.

The sound of a window shutting again.

Boots heavy on the floor. Running.

An attic hatch thudding shut. Heavy and muted.

Boots running downstairs. Keys jangling.

A door slamming. Loud.

The storm tires itself out, and then it stops. After a moment (or a year, or a century, or a split-second), the sound of an attic hatch thudding shut.

Silence.

Beat.

Beat.

The sound of the attic hatch thudding shut again.

Beat.

Beat.

Beat.

Beat.

The sound of KIT switching positions. A soft, muted thud. KIT’s voice is now muted and muffled:

Beat.

TEDDY thinks.

Quiet – the kind when you are not quite sure if someone has finished telling a story.
TEDDY finds a letter. We hear them open the envelope and unfold the paper. They read it aloud.

Beat.

Beat.

Beat.

In the distance, in one ear, and so faint we can barely hear it:

We hear DYLAN begin to tap out the beat of S.O.S. in Morse code repeatedly underneath the following:

Beat.

Beat.

The sound of shuffling, the creak of hinges, and a muffled thump. Socks on carpet.

The S.O.S. stops. A second of complete silence, and then, a phone ringing. It goes unanswered, and we hear the sound of an app notification.

Pause. Then, TEDDY begins to sing acapella:

Tentatively, KIT joins in:

Then, we hear DYLAN in the distance singing along:

We begin to hear the other people in the ether – snippets and whispers and shouts and conversations overlapping, comingling, responding to one another, joining in the song. We hear words of other survivors across the planet, trying desperately to reach out, to connect, to find something or someone to cling to.

The song ends as they find each other.

(spoken)

End of play.

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