Just what the World Needs
The Confectionary Aisle
By Gary Baxter
Cast: 2m, 3f
Settings: various a unit set
Approximate Length: Full Length
Synopsis: Mary, middle aged wife and mother, captivated by a wildly attractive young man in the confectionary aisle in the supermarket, follows him home. Albert, husband, father and university professor, becomes embroiled in his own affair with a foreign university student. Daniel, teenage son, spends an obsessive amount of time in the bathroom grappling with philosophical and psychological dilemmas that prevent him from engaging with the world Ö except that he becomes aware that Ďsomething is not rightí. Jezza, mother, grandmother, mother-in-law and widow, has embarked on a crusade to fit as much into the rest of her life as possible and at first, when Mary seeks her help, finds Maryís fascination somewhat irrelevant.
Ultimately the competing desires and drives of all the characters lead to crisis and bring the family to the edge of destruction but Jezzaís intervention and a series of realisations and shifts of perception save them and offer the chance of hope and renewal.
ALBERT is at his desk. He is poring over his papers, marking and checking. We can also see DANIEL in the bathroom washing his hands very slowly and thoroughly to the sound of running water. MARY enters ALBERTís room.
ALBERT: Oh... just five...
MARY: ...You're still at it?
ALBERT: At it? Yes.
MARY: You've been marking the same papers all week.
ALBERT: Oh. Is that?
MARY: The same ones over and over and over.
ALBERT: Could that be?
MARY: Yes. It could be. It is! (Calling) Daniel! (To ALBERT) Leave them! (Calling) Daniel!
DANIEL, wearing only his underpants, finishes washing his hands and turns the tap off with his elbows. Then, he carefully turns and picks up a towel and dries his hands. As he replaces the towel he brushes his hand against his own leg.
He turns toward the sink, turns the tap on and begins washing his hands again.
ALBERT holds one of the papers in the air and hits it with the back of his hand.
ALBERT: Ha! That's it. There's an example. This girl, why she... Yes!
MARY: (Taking the paper) Yes there's an example. (Gathering the pile and putting it to one side) You've already marked it. All these are done. Finito!
ALBERT: (Taking the paper back) Sheís given it some thought, thatís what we want. (He writes on the paper) Yes!
MARY: You have to have them marked by a particular time don't you? Don't you!
ALBERT: Well of course, but if, it may be...
MARY: (Taking the paper off him again) ...No buts, no ifs, no maybes. There they are. There!
She stands defiantly with her hands on the pile of papers.
ALBERT: (Grabbing at the papers) Which ofÖ! Now look! I can't tell which?!
MARY: (Trying to organise the papers) Hey! Hey! This is the completed pile. Leave this pile alone. After dinner you can get onto a new batch. Alright? After dinner! Not now!
ALBERT: (Sitting back) But! I was in the middle! It's all out... the students need...
MARY: ...Yes, I know. I know. You want to do the right thing by the students but look at this one, see, look at it. You've written some remarks, then crossed those out and written something else. Then you've crossed out the second remarks and written on it again. Three times you've written on this paper. Three times! You've done the same thing every four or five lines! There's more of your writing on here than the student's! But it's impossible to read what you've written and the original work itself has disappeared in a... a jungle of scribble. How's that going to help the student!? Why donít you just... I donít know... settle for your first impression, write some brief notes...
ALBERT: ... Whoís the professor here! Besides, first impression, not always...
MARY: ...Then the second, even the third. But don't write on the paper until you've made up your mind, then, do it, put it aside and get onto the next one. Make up your mind, write, then leave it alone!
ALBERT: Thatís what I do. I read, I think, I make up my mind, then I write on the paper. But as I write I see other possibilities. Then I wonder... why does my opinion have to prevail. Who do I think I am! Who in fact, am I?
MARY: (Staring at him for a moment) Itís not who you are, itís what you do. Marking the papers is your... itís your contribution, it's the way... the way you see it! Thatís all you can do. There's no right or wrong!
ALBERT: No right or wrong! Is that right or wrong? The way I see it? What if Iím... there are influences I may not be aware of.
MARY: No one expects you to spend every spare hour marking and re-marking papers. Just tell yourself that. And no one expects you to sit here tying yourself into knots and driving me around the twist. Tell yourself that.
ALBERT: Whom is one telling when one is telling oneself?
MARY: You. Youíre telling you. You say to yourself ĎGo to the table and eat before your wife stabs you through the heart with a carving knife.í
ALBERT: Is Dan? Where is he?
MARY: Where do you think? Where he spends most of his life. In the bathroom. I'll get him. You go and sit at the table.
ALBERT looks at her, looks at the papers.
MARY: Albert! Please go to the table!
ALBERT reluctantly rises. MARY moves out of ALBERTís area and stands in front of the bathroom door, trying to listen at the door. DANIEL is drying his hands.
MARY: (Calling) Daniel? Daniel! What are you doing!
MARY: Daniel! Are you in there?
MARY: I know youíre in there!
MARY: Are you alive?! Answer me!
He puts the towel away and deliberately brushes his leg.
MARY: (Calling) Dan! Come on! That's enough! Finish that!
He steps off.