Curtains open to a sitting room in a house. The room is full of cabinets, bookshelves, sofas and a television. A 9-year-old child we know to be Angela sits on the sofa staring gloomily at her feet, while her mother sits in the chair opposite her.
MOTHER: Is this about your dad?
ANGELA: (Stiffly). I don’t even remember my dad.
MOTHER: Angela…. why do you never talk to me about it?
ANGELA: Because I know all about it, you hate him and he hates you so you are not living together anymore.
MOTHER: (Sighing). We do not hate each other we….
ANGELA: (Shouting). Then why are you not together? You hate dad, dad hates you and I hate you too.
MOTHER: (Fighting back tears) Is that why you keep playing with the matches? Is it because you hate me?
MOTHER: Why then Angela? Why go to all the trouble of climbing up on chairs to reach them? (No reply) Why do you keep disobeying my rules? I have them for a purpose…so you do not get hurt!
ANGELA: No you do not; you have rules so you can make sure I have no fun!
MOTHER: That is not true at all, what would have happened if you had burned yourself, then dropped that match and set fire to the house. Who could have saved you if I was upstairs, and you were nowhere near an exit? (No response except a slight shuffling) You better start obeying my rules or things are going to get very unpleasant round here. Meanwhile you can go to your room and think about what you have done, no television and no computer.
ANGELA: (Shouting) That is not fair! Not fair! Not fair! (In tears) You are really horrible! It is not fair! I hate you!
MOTHER: Go to your room! Don’t you dare talk to me like that, when all I have tried to do is talk to you. Just go to your room.
Angela, still crying and screaming’ it is not fair’, runs off stage. Lights dim to blackout and curtains fall.
Curtains open to a primary school playground. Children cluster together in random groups some sitting, some standing, some motionless and talking and others moving exaggeratedly in midst of a jest or a game. There is a clear divide between girls and boys except for one group. This group is louder than the other groups, stage front and open to the audience, whereas the other groups are fairly closed.
GIRL 1: She is really mean; she would not even talk to me!
GIRL 2: Yeah, she thinks that she is great when she is not.
BOY 1: Have you even talked to her?
GIRL 1: Yes! She ignored me! I was being nice, asked her what her name was and she replied with ‘Angela’ and didn’t ask back. She just walked off.
GIRL 2: Yeah.
BOY 2: My mum says that she is just shy. I think she looks kind of nice.
Boy 1 begins to laugh and point at Boy 2; Boy 3 then begins to laugh too.
BOY 1: (Laughing) You like her!
BOY 2: (Embarrassed) No I do not!
They all nod their heads mockingly and continue with their laughs and ‘ooooo’s.
BOY 1: (When he stops laughing). Well my mum told me to stay away from her.
GIRL 1: Yeah, I heard that she set her tree on fire!
GIRL 2: (Excitedly) Yeah! With matches!
BOY 3: No, my mum said that she started a fire in her house and its nearly burnt to the ground!
BOY 1: That is not true!
BOY 3: My mum said though!
Boy 1 looks like he is about to retaliate, when Girl 1 spots Angela.
GIRL 1: Hey, there she is!
GIRL 2: Oh yeah.
They all turn and watch Angela as she sits down by herself against a wall. Smirking, the girls walk over to her, the boys stay behind and watch.
GIRL 1: Hi Angela.
They look inquisitively at each other for a few seconds, GIRL 1 waiting to be asked her name. When she receives no such question, she presses on.
GIRL 1: Do you want to play with us?
GIRL 2: We are going to play mummies and daddies.
ANGELA: (Brightening) Yeah okay!
GIRL 2: Okay, I want to be the mummy!
GIRL 1: Oh! I want to be the mummy though…
GIRL 2: Okay, I will be the daughter instead, you be the daddy Angela.
GIRL 2: Right, lets pretend…
Girl 2 begins to walk to the back of the playground but Girl 1 remains where she is with Angela by her side.
GIRL 1: (Cutting in) no! I have an idea, lets pretend we are moving house!
GIRL 2: (Slightly disheartened) oh…okay.
Girl 2 walks back slowly to Girl 1, motioning to the boys on the way to follow. As a group they walk offstage, lights fade to black out.
As lights come back on, there is a change of set; it is a school corridor with lots of doors on the sides, however only one of these doors has a room, which is visible to the audience; this room is a cupboard full of mops and cleaning equipment. The corridor is filled with light but it appears very dark in the cupboard.
BOY 1: I do not want to play mummies and daddies it is boring. We should play wars.
He turns to Boy 3, and they both make gun gestures with their hands and start shooting each other, making loud ‘bang’ noises, moving exaggeratedly and rolling around on the floor. Boy 2 watches them, then when they fall on the floor dead, he spreads out his arms and runs around them making aeroplane noises.
GIRL 1: (Shrieking) No! I do not want to play stupid wars! I want to play mummies and daddies!
GIRL 2: Me too!
BOY 2: But it is three against two.
ANGELA: Why don’t we play hide and seek?
The girls and boys exchange brief glances and agree.
GIRL 1: Okay! And guess what Angela!
GIRL 2: You get to be the counter!
BOY 1: Go and count in the cupboard over there, then we will know that you are not peeking!
ANGELA: Okay, but only if I get to choose who counts next time?
BOY 1: Sounds fair.
BOY 3: Count to 30.
Angela goes into the cupboard and turns a dim light on, she closes the door slightly so the door is not completely closed, but she cannot really see anything that is happening in the corridor. The boys and girls move close together.
ANGELA: One, two, three…
BOY 2: You are not allowed in that cupboard.
ANGELA: Seven, eight, nine…
BOY 1: Lets lock her in!
ANGELA: Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen…
The girls giggle quietly, for a few seconds.
ANGELA: Eighteen, nineteen…
As a group, the boys and girls sneak up to the door, Girl 2 starts incessantly giggling and the others pull the door shut with a loud bang.
ANGELA: Twenty-five…hey! What?
Boy 1 quickly turns the key in the lock, the others laugh hysterically and boy 3 rolls around on the floor with laughter. Angela bangs on the door; her words cannot be heard over the laughter. After a few seconds, the children beam at each other and run offstage, boy 3’s laughing still distinguishable but fading away into the distance. Lights fade on the corridor and the audience’s attention goes to Angela.
ANGELA: (Banging her fists against the door) Let me out! Let me out! Help I am stuck! Help!
She continues to bang her fists against the door for a few more seconds, then backs away from the door and falls into a wall of mops and buckets, she falls backwards and lands with a thump on the ground, buckets etc falling down from the shelves. Angela brings her knees up to an embryonic position; she then begins to cry, rocking herself backwards and forwards slowly. The light dims a little bit more and Angela’s cries become louder, her rocking becoming stiffer until she is almost completely rigid; her back continuously thudding against the back wall of the cupboard. Lights fade to blackout, but the thudding and Angela’s cries continue for a few more seconds. Curtains fall. End of Act One.