We are at the Pleasance Zoo, watching Neil Smith’s play “Echoes,” with Jill Rutland as Helene and Luke Barton as John…
[Scene: The countryside.]
Helene [sullenly]: So are you going to take the bins out?
John [placidly but with an expression of keen poetic sensibility]: The sunlight plays upon the rape, bringing out the yellow. The bins – how often, in my nine years away, have I kept the wish tucked up in my heart, of taking them out, down the garden path. The differently coloured receptacles, for each type of domestic and garden waste…
Helene: But you didn’t take them out, did you? Nine bitter years – nine bitter years have I gone back and forth, up and down the garden path, arms full of cans and bottles, bitterly separated, and for what? To see you come back – after all this time, to see you come back?
John: But what for?
Helene: Julie begged me – she beseeched the sky – “when is Daddy going to take the bins out?” [Alarmingly, Rutland whips into an impersonation of a bewildered nine-year-old girl.] “When is Daddy going to take the bins out?”
John: Tell Julie I’m an okay guy – a nice guy. I have the searching eyes of a poet – the nicely modulated voice of a respectable thespian. It’s not very believable that I would run off for nine years, leaving my wife and apparent child, my wife and apparent child alone here, here in the cottage, for no reason.
Helene: Look what you’ve done John! The audience have cottoned on to our story’s total absence of psychological plausibility. We’ve got away with this for twenty-five minutes because the play is basically a gigantic domestic argument, which is naturally fun to watch, but we now need to distract them again. I’ll slice one of your eyes out.
[Scene: The dustbins. There is dramatic lighting and industrial music. John has been crucified on the black wheelie bin (landfill).]
Helene: You thought you could come back – after nine years – nine bitter years – of not putting the bins out. Take that you pig! [She slices one of his eyes out with a screwdriver. A very modest amount of blood appears on John’s face.]
John: Aaaaaaaah! Yarooooooo! If I bellow loudly enough, this will disguise the fact that there are more realistic torture scenes in a Punch and Judy show.
Helene: That’s the way to do it! And your eyes go into the blue bin, John, the blue bin for eyes, and your TESTICLES! [she swipes again with the screwdriver and there are even more desperate screams] go into the tiny green cylindrical bin, which is collected every second Thursday, John. But you didn’t know that John, you never knew that did you, after nine years, nine bitter years, of not taking the bins out!
Tychy [from the audience]: Why not throw yourselves in after them?