Just what the World Needs
By Tony Moore
Publisher: New Theatre Publications (www.plays4theatre.com)
ISBN: 1 84094 399 8
Cast: 2f 2m
Approximate Length: 40 mins
Synopsis: A pastiche of Absurdism intended to highlight some of the changes in the world that occurred as a result of the Second World War. It uses humour to highlight the way in which women came to realise their true value to society.
“Thrill to the adventures of John and Janet as they experience everything that War can offer. Sympathise with Mum as she throws off the shackles of patriarchism and learns to think for herself. Watch as Dad withdraws into the mouthing of unthinking clichés in order to protect his won bankrupt world view.”
History: The play was produced originally by Spotlight Theatre Co at J’ahz Lounge Adelaide for the 2009 Adelaide Fringe Festival. The production also travelled to Bordertown SA in the following April.
Reviews: Adelaide Theatre Guide
“…this is another cleverly written work by Tony
…clever and intelligent writing…”
This play is published by New Theatre Publications.
Copies of scripts and performance rights are available from them at their website www.plays4theatre.com
The scene is a World War Two suburban home. To the left is a kitchen where MUM stays constantly. Exactly in the centre of the stage is a large armchair in which DAD sits for the entire play. He is reading a newspaper, the front page of which reads “WORLD WAR TWO All The News That’s Fit To Read”. Next to him is a coffee table with a radio and an ashtray overflowing with butts. On the right is a dining table with two chairs at which JOHN and JANET are sitting and a large wardrobe. There is a large aspidistra in a pot. When the lights come up MUM is, as always, in the kitchen and DAD in his chair. MUM is dressed in a floral coat thing over her dress; she has her hair in curlers with a scarf tied over them and slippers on her feet. She has a fag hanging out of her mouth (it doesn’t have to be lit but should be burned down). DAD is wearing open-necked collarless shirt, braces and tweed trousers. He has a flat cap on and boots. JOHN and JANET are sitting at the dining table eating breakfast; they appear to be about twelve and are dressed as pre-war school children.
JANET: Stop it John. Mum, John’s kicking me.
JOHN: I am not.
JANET: You are too.
JOHN: Am not and anyway, you started it.
MUM: Now stop it you two. Your Dad’s trying to read his paper. Who wants some more boiled cabbage?
JOHN: No thanks Mum.
JANET: Nor me.
MUM: Well off to school with you, and you just behave yourselves.
JOHN & JANET: Yes Mum.
They leave pushing and shoving, just like all children everywhere. MUM goes back to her cooking. (If possible she should have about six pans on the stove all with steam coming out of them.)
MUM: Anything in the paper Dad?
DAD: I’m only on page one, but it’s all about this Hitler bloke. Seems he wants a piece of Czechoslovakia. Says it’s full of Germans.
MUM: Why are there a lot of Germans in Cze... Cze... where you said?
DAD: I don’t know. Maybe there’s no living room in Germany.
MUM: Don’t they have houses with nice living rooms in Germany then Dad? I thought homes everywhere had nice living rooms.
DAD: That’s not what I meant. I was making a joke based on the German phrase lebensraum, oh never mind.
MUM: What time is it then Dad?
MUM: Oh, well we’re just about due for a war then.
DAD: Yes, it’s a bit late actually.
MUM: Will you go and do your bit for the war then Dad?
DAD: I don’t think so Mum, I did my bit in the last war. I was killed at Ypres, then at the Somme, then I was gassed in Flanders, then at the Somme again and I was shot down twice by that Baron Richtofen, not to mention being torpedoed in the Atlantic.
MUM: Ooh yes that was nasty that Atlantic business, you haven’t been swimming since. You’d think they could tell the difference between a boat and…
DAD: All right Mum no need to go any further. We don’t need to rely on obvious cheap humour to illuminate our otherwise serious subject matter. I’ll think I’ll leave it to the young ones this time.
MUM: You do that Dad.
DAD: Oh look here at the bottom of the page, it says that Chamberlain’s got a piece of paper, says its peace in our time.
MUM: That’s nice then Dad. John can grow up and go to university then.
DAD: University? No son of mine is going to University! He can go on the dole like me and my Dad before me. What’s good enough for me is good enough for him.
MUM: Whatever you say Dad.
DAD: Here on page two it says this Hitler bloke has invaded Poland.
MUM: Why? I thought he wanted Cze... what you said.
DAD: I don’t know Mum, I don’t understand geopolitical imperatives and the clash of opposing ideologies, all I understand is that when my country calls I go, except I got this bad back and anyway I've already done my bit.
MUM: That’s all right Dad that’s what the governments for, to make decisions for us. I’m sure it’s all for the best and couldn’t be any better.
DAD: That’s right Mum. Better turn the radio on; it says that there’s going to be a speech.
MUM comes down from the kitchen and turns the radio on. The announcement of the declaration of hostilities from World War Two is heard. The radio goes off.
DAD: Well that’s it then. We’re at War.
MUM: Well I’m sure it’s for the best and couldn’t be any better.
JOHN comes in wearing more grown up clothes (long trousers and a jacket).
JOHN: War’s been declared Dad, I’m off to enlist. Here’s my school certificate.
MUM: That was quick.
DAD: It’s war Mum, no time to muck about.
JOHN: Are you proud of me?
DAD: Of course we are. Now off you go and give this Hitler bloke a real walloping just like we did in the big one. I’m sure it’ll all be over by lunchtime.
JOHN: Well I’m off then.
MUM: Here you are dear. Take a nice jar of pickled cabbage with you. That’ll tide you over until the end of the war.
DAD: Now just make me proud son. It’ll make a man of you.
JOHN: Bye Mum, bye Dad. Have a nice war.
MUM: I’m sure we will love. I’m sure it’s all for the best and couldn’t be any better.
JOHN takes his jar of pickled cabbage and leaves. JANET comes in dressed as a land girl.
DAD: What’s this my girl? You just take those trousers off and get dressed in a skirt like a nice young lady or I’ll take my belt to you.
JANET: I’m a land girl Dad. I’m off to fill the job of a farm worker who’s gone to war. They won’t let me join up but this is the next best thing.
MUM: That’s good dear. Where are you going?
JANET: Off to Wiltshire Mum, to look after pigs. It won’t be that different to getting married.
MUM: Do you want to take some pickled cabbage dear?
JANET: Plenty of food in Wiltshire Mum, I’ll be all right.
MUM: Of you go then dear, have a nice war.
JANET: You too.
MUM: Well dear, I’m sure it’s all for the best and couldn’t be any better.
JANET leaves waving goodbye as she goes.