The straight man?

Jennifer Davidson

Scene 1
(Two chairs, centre stage. Mannie and Dolce are aged 5. Dolce sits on a chair, pink shawl in her arms, scrunched together, rocking it back and forth. Mannie runs on stage, grabs the pink shawl off her and puts it round his neck like a cape. Dolce runs after him, crying. She grabs the end of the cape and pulls Mannie back to the ground. He lets go of the shawl. She runs back to the chair and cradles her shawl. Mannie stomps over, his hands shaped like a gun. He stands over her pretending to shoot at her).

Dolce: (Yelling) Miss! He’s doing it again.
(Mannie sits on his chair watching Dolce, singing a lullaby to her shawl.)
Mannie: Tell-tale tit, yer breath smells like sh…
Dolce: (Yelling) Miss!
(Mannie stops. Dolce pulls tongues at him. Mannie thinks)
Mannie: (Yelling) Miss! She’s showing her knickers again!
(Mannie thinks he’s hilarious. Dolce is not impressed and rushes over to him. Mannie squares up to her. The pink shawls suddenly becomes a shield, which she shoves into Mannie. Mannie shoves her back. Dolce runs away and Mannie follows, off stage).

Scene 2
(Mannie and Dolce are teenagers. Dolce walks on stage, the pink shawl is now a mini-skirt around her waist. She walks to centre stage, proud of her figure. She struts her stuff. Mannie, impressed, walks over to her and wolf whistles. Dolce stops; she is uncomfortable)

Mannie: Keep going.
Dolce: Go away.
Mannie: Tease.
Dolce: Prick!
Mannie: You’re no better than me, you know.
(Dolce sits on her chair trying to avoid Mannie’s stare. Mannie sits next to her.
Mannie: Haven’t you got fat legs? (Mannie touches her inner thigh. She pushes his hand away, stands and walks off stage. Mannie shouts as he walks off stage). Don’t get picky with me, we’ve all seen your knickers, remember?

Scene 3
(Dolce and Mannie are adults. Mannie walks on stage, sits on his chair and looks at his watch.)
Mannie: (Yelling) Next!
(Dolce walks on stage, carrying her pink shawl like a baby. She lays her baby gently down on the floor next to her chair. Mannie looks uncomfortable.)
Mannie: Before the readthrough, we need to check your sexiness.
Dolce: Excuse me?
Mannie: It’s imperative that we have a sexy lead. Now show us your underwear please.
Dolce: What?
Mannie: Sharon Stone style – it’s in the script.
Dolce: Sharon Stone didn’t wear any underwear.
Mannie: Feel free to ad-lib.
(Dolce looks disgusted but tries to prepare herself. Mannie sits closer, positioning himself for the best viewpoint. This makes Dolce even more uncomfortable. Mannie is waiting. Dolce closes her eyes, sits straight and is about to spread her legs. Mannie looks a little closer.)
Dolce: Isn’t this a little gratuitous?
Mannie: Oh, it’s completely gratuitous! (Dolce stops). And yet, it’s absolutely essential.
(Dolce thinks a minute, then begins to spread her legs. Mannie looks even closer. A baby cry. Dolce closes her legs again and Mannie sits up, confused. Dolce picks up her baby.)
Dolce: Sorry. (She settles the baby and puts it down.) Shall I try again?
Mannie: Don’t bother, I could see too much baby fat. Fair bit of hangover there. You should try the Atkins. And a childminder! (Yelling) Next!
(Dolce picks up her baby and walks off stage.)

Scene 4
(Mannie sits alone, in his fifties, looking a little less confident. Dolce walks on stage, wearing the pink shawl around her shoulders.)

Mannie: Well if it isn’t my favourite failed actress.
Dolce: Well if it isn’t my favourite sex pest!
(Dolce tries to turn away from Mannie. Mannie is angry).
Mannie: You had everyone fooled with that act, didn’t you?
Dolce: Act?
Mannie: Like you didn’t love the attention.
Dolce: I didn’t.
Mannie: You were well up for it. (Dolce stares in disbelief).
Dolce: I was never up for it. Not with a creep like you. You make my skin crawl.
Mannie: Remember when you showed me your knickers.
Dolce: I was doing a cartwheel!
Mannie: You were asking for it.
Dolce: And were the others asking for it too?
(Mannie and Dolce turn away from each other, both very angry).

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