Epistemysics

Some theatre each day keeps the doctor away…

Critique: Thyestes

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Program

[IMAGE REMOVED AT REQUEST OF  BELVOIR]

I think it’s becoming increasingly obvious that I, your must humble and devoted writer, am a genius on par with the likes of Mozart.  I was sitting in the Sydney Opera House last night, watching Benedict Andrews’ production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, and thoughts of this review of the Thyestes program came to mind.  What was I to say about it?  Was there anything new to say?  I remembered listening to a lecture on music once, in which the lecturer described his admiration for Mozart’s genius as was evidenced in the piece of music he was discussing.  I couldn’t remember the specific piece of music, but I knew it was a Theme and Variations, and that the variations were many (we’re talking double digits) and spectacularly different, while the theme, as all good themes in such works often are, was boringly simple.  What genius, the lecturer was explaining, to create so much from so little!

Which brings me to the latest Belvoir program.  Yet again the script has been included, so that yet again the non-script content is rather small.  And yet again much the same advertisements have been printed inside.  In short – yet again, another disappointing program, just like the one before it, and the one before that, and the one before those two, and so on.  The publications department of Belvoir has set me this boring theme, and it is up to me to constantly vary my response to it for your edification and entertainment.  Mozart, methinks, had it easy.

As such, most of the programs in Sydney nowadays make me think of death, of ending it all, of renouncing this charade we call life and retreating behind the curtain.  For you see, dear reader, either the program is so woefully lacklustre that the mere sight of it is enough to instil a nauseating despair within my vital stuff, or it’s so similar to the one that came before it that I begin to feel the Sisyphean torment of the constant mundane.  And so I push my stone, all the while as I yearn for more content, as I reach for more content, and yet whenever I think it in my grasp it scuttles away like a puff of smoke in reverse, taunting me like Tantalus was those many years ago.  (Can you tell, dear reader, that I’ve been reading up on my Greek myths of late?  Never let it be said that I’m not thematic in my program reviews.)

Somewhat hypocritically, the script was actually of use to me this time – as you will see when you read the review of the play – but an act of charity, dear reader, does not absolve one of all past sins.  It was useful to me only because I was writing the review, and as such I believe this utility should not be counted.  And so I have yet another script to put on my bookshelf, yet another script to waste space when I haven’t got any to spare, a straw on a camel’s back when no one has a Tetra pack.  (Yes, I know it was a different type of straw.  Shut up.)

I think about what will happen why I die, and I think of such books as Wilde’s Library (or some such title), which goes about describing the contents of Oscar Wilde’s bookshelf.  I worry that, because I do not wish to throw these program/scripts out (as that would be an exceedingly bad waste of money – plus I’m obsessed to boot), when I die the biographers will swoop in (oh yes, reader, the ego is running strong today), and they will see on my bookshelf all these scripts of plays that I’ve seen and for the most part not liked, and they will think, “oh, this man was truly interested in new Australian theatre”, or “how could such a writer have such bad taste?”, or “why aren’t these in alphabetical order?”.  (Because I’m lazy.)  So not only are these programs rather uninteresting, they also could have a deleterious effect on my reputation.  The bloody nerve of the thing.

I must say, dear reader, that I’m not entirely sure what’s happened to my voice – I seem to have turned rather English.  Perhaps because it was the diamond jubilee of the Queen yesterday.  Yes, that’s probably it.  Not that I swing one way or the other in the republican/monarchist debate.  And what does this have to do with the program, Adam?  Very little!

So what have we got.  A Co-Writer & Director Note:

[IMAGE REMOVED AT REQUEST OF  BELVOIR]

I can’t help but feel that, even with my terrible grammar, ‘Co-Writer & Director Note’ should have an apostrophe and an ‘s’ somewhere.  It just clangs with my ear.  One can imagine how ridiculous it would sound if, rather than the aforementioned title, it instead said, “Simon Note”.  Oh, how the world would laugh!

But global mirth aside, we now move on to the synopsis, which is, well, informative, but nothing much else:

[IMAGE REMOVED AT REQUEST OF  BELVOIR]

And then there’s a lovely family tree with the extra connections required for a Greek tragedy:

[IMAGE REMOVED AT REQUEST OF  BELVOIR]

And that’s it.  Well, I must say, that was rather invigorating, wasn’t it?  Nothing like a solid jog down the road two houses and back.

The Longest Biography Award, for those of you who remembered that I give it out, goes to Simon Stone.  Congrulations, Simon, you win a pasta dish of your choice.

And I’m just going to finish it here, because I’m bored with this.  1 for the Note, 1 for the synopsis and the family tree (half each – I don’t think they deserve a full mark each), 1 for the biographies and 1 for the pictures.  Kill me now.

4/10

Play

Atreus (Mark Winter), Aerope (Chris Ryan), Thyestes (Thomas Henning)

AUTHOR’S NOTE

Axos was written by the actors and myself with the aim to improvise significantly on the text each night.  Therefore this script represents an indicative example of an average night’s performance and not anything definitive.

All roles, male and female, are played by men.  The roles of Otros, Nemina, Mimesthes, and Clymnesia are played by a single actor.  The actors playing Axos and Belgus play only one role each.

In the second act, the scenes move backwards through time, hence the reverse order of the scene numbering.

At the beginning of each scene there is a section of text in inverted commas.  This text represents a projected surtitle that is shown to the audience before each scene.

AXOS

after Thyestes by Thomas Henning, Chris Ryan, Simon Stone & Mark Winter

after Seneca

after the Greek myth

afternoon, all

ACT ONE

SCENE ONE

SURTITLE: ‘Modern Australia, City of Melbourne.  Chief drama critic for The Australian, Pretonus, has declared his bastard child, Otros, successor to his position as critic.  Enraged, his wife, Eponia, publicist for the Melbourne Theatre Company, convinces her sons, Belgus and Axos, to ‘dissuade’ their half-brother Otros.’

Curtain up.  We discover an empty white room with three young men in it.  They’re sharing a bottle of red wine.  OTROS is in the middle of telling BELGUS and AXOS a story.  BELGUS is texting on his phone.

OTROS: You know what really annoys me, though?

AXOS: What?

OTROS:  People who think they can just stick an ‘s’ at the end of some random syllables and think that that makes the name sound Greek.

AXOS: Yeah.

BELGUS: What?

AXOS: Greek names.

BELGUS: I thought we were talking about Sydney.

AXOS: We are.

BELGUS: What the fuck do Greek names have to do with Sydney?

AXOS: Because–

BELGUS receives a text message.

BELGUS: Forget it.

OTROS: So–

AXOS: Yeah.

OTROS: So I finally find this CarriageWorks place, right.

AXOS: Right.

OTROS: It’s like this disused railyard that’s been renovated.

AXOS: They’re doing that a lot now – it’s a good idea.

OTROS: It’s a brilliant idea.

AXOS: Creates more areas for art to flourish.

OTROS: Yeah.  Yeah…  (Awkward pause.)  So I’ve found this place after walking around for like half an hour–

BELGUS: What the fuck?

OTROS: What?

BELGUS: Haven’t you heard of a map?

OTROS: I didn’t have one with me.

AXOS: That sucks.

OTROS: Yeah, it did.

BELGUS: Well what about on your phone?

OTROS: My phone?

BELGUS: GPS, man.

OTROS: Oh, I’d forgotten my phone, anyway.

BELGUS: Jesus.  Did you remember to wear clothes?

OTROS: What?

BELGUS receives another text message.

BELGUS: Never mind.

Awkward pause.

OTROS: So I walk in and there’s all these caravans in the foyer–

AXOS: Caravans.

OTROS: Yeah.

AXOS: As in mobile homes?

OTROS: In the foyer.

AXOS: Okay.

OTROS: And I’m wondering, what are these caravans–

BELGUS: I like the ones where you can pick a custom voice.

AXOS: Since when do caravans have voices?

BELGUS: For the GPS, dipshit.  Like mine’s set to this dominatrix, so whenever I’m driving I’ll hear, “in fifty metres, turn left, you naughty boy”.  (Makes a whipping noise.)  Like a whip.  (Makes it again.)  Only cost me three bucks.

AXOS: People are making a fortune off those things nowadays.

OTROS: What?

AXOS: Apps.

OTROS: Oh.

AXOS: Great business model.

OTROS: Yeah.

Awkward pause.  BELGUS makes another whipping noise.

AXOS: So there were caravans?

OTROS: Yeah.  And on these TVs inside them they had interviews with random people–

AXOS: About what?

OTROS: I didn’t go in any of them.

AXOS: The caravans?

OTROS: Yeah.

BELGUS: Health and safety.

AXOS: What?

BELGUS: Liability and shit.  You could’ve banged your head on the roof and sued the bastards.  So they can’t let you in.

OTROS: No, you could go in.  But I didn’t.

Awkward pause.

BELGUS: Well that was a fucking fantastic story.

AXOS: All exposition and no climax.

BELGUS: Right.  Like sex with a limp dick.

OTROS: What?

BELGUS: You tell limp-dick stories, man.

OTROS: I do?

BELGUS:  They’ve got nasal sprays for that kind of thing now, though.

OTROS: How could–

BELGUS: Oooh!  Oooh! …  Shit!

OTROS: What?

BELGUS: No wait…  I was going to say something…  Sex!  Do you think anyone’s had sex in the caravans?

OTROS: They were pretty open.

BELGUS: So?

OTROS: Anyone could walk in.

BELGUS: So?

OTROS: Even children.

BELGUS: Are you trying to argue or are you just saying random shit?

BELGUS receives a text message.

OTROS: Anyway.

AXOS: Yes.

OTROS: I was there to see a play with my girlfriend.

BELGUS cackles. The other two look to him, wondering why he’s laughing at the mention of a girlfriend.  He points to his phone as an explanation.

AXOS: So you’ve got a girlfriend.

OTROS: Yeah.  Two months now.

BELGUS: And you both had sex in one of the caravans.

OTROS: No.

BELGUS: So she only gave you head.

OTROS: We didn’t have sex.

BELGUS: What kind of fucking useless story is this?  You need to take a writing class at like NIDA or something.  Jesus.

AXOS: Do they have writing classes there?

BELGUS: Yeah.

AXOS: I thought it was only acting.

BELGUS: No, they do heaps of cool shit.  I was gonna apply there last year.

OTROS: I didn’t know you wanted to be an actor.

BELGUS: I’m a man of many secrets.

AXOS: Sure you are.

BELGUS: Man, the stuff I know that you don’t would like, blow your mind.  (Mimes mind being blown, with sound effects.)

AXOS: Oh yeah?

BELGUS: Yeah.

AXOS: Such as?

BELGUS: If I told you then it wouldn’t be a secret.

AXOS: You’ve got nothing.

BELGUS: I’ve got everything.

AXOS: Sure you do.

BELGUS: Everything.

AXOS: Yep.

BELGUS: I wouldn’t want to shatter your view of the world or anything.

AXOS: I think I’m safe.

BELGUS: Says the blind man standing on the edge of a cliff.

AXOS stamps his foot.

AXOS: Solid ground last time I checked.

BELGUS: Don’t you know what a metaphor is?

AXOS: I’m wondering if you know.

BELGUS: God I hate you  sometimes.

AXOS: Cheers.  (Raises glass and takes a sip.)

Pause.  BELGUS receives a text message.

BELGUS: Whatever.

Pause.  Pause.

OTROS: So I’m standing in the middle of all these caravans…

AXOS: Caravans, right.

OTROS: Waiting for my girlfriend to show up.

BELGUS: Miss Chastity Belt.

OTROS: And I’m waiting, and I’m looking at my watch, and the show’s about to start, and I’m wondering whether I should leave a ticket for her at the box office and go in, or if I should stay outside.

AXOS: And what did you…?

OTROS: I stayed outside.

BELGUS: What?

OTROS: I waited for her.

BELGUS: What the fuck?

AXOS: That’s what I would’ve done.

BELGUS: And miss the play?  Did you miss the play?  He fucking missed the play.

OTROS: It wouldn’t have been as fun without her.

AXOS: Yeah, I know what you mean.  Like a vicarious pleasure, right?

OTROS:  Right.

BELGUS: ‘Cause she sticks her hand on your crotch?

AXOS: Why is everything about sex with you?

BELGUS: Why is everything not about sex with you?

AXOS: It’s called being a gentleman.

BELGUS: ‘Gentleman’ is just another way of saying ‘pussy-whipped’.  (Makes whipping noise.  Receives a text.)  You lovebirds let me know when you’re ready to talk like men are supposed to.

AXOS: So did you see it?

OTROS: What?

AXOS: The play.  Thyestes.

OTROS: Yeah, we went the next night.  She turned up half an hour late, ’cause she thought that was when it started.  And we tried to go in when she got there but they wouldn’t let us.

AXOS: Oh?

OTROS: Total lockout, apparently.  It’s like they’ve quarantined the whole theatre because of an outbreak of swine flu or something.

AXOS: I hate it when they do that.

OTROS: Yeah…  Yeah.  But they let us swap the tickets to the next night, which was nice of them.

AXOS: ‘Cause they’re not legally required to do that.

OTROS: No.

AXOS: But it’s good for customer relations.

OTROS: Yeah.

They both drink at the same time.  Pause.

AXOS: So what did you do after?

OTROS: Well we had dinner plans but it was too early for that so we just walked around the city while we waited.  And we got a chance to talk and stuff.  Like it was really nice, just talking, you know?

AXOS: Yeah, it sounds really sweet.  Very romantic.

OTROS: Exactly.

AXOS: And how was the play?  The next night.

OTROS: It was great.  Yeah.  We had a really good time.  Highly recommended.

AXOS: I was thinking of flying up to Sydney to see it, but my girlfriend’s been planning this big event for the company she works for, and so she hasn’t had any days free recently.

OTROS: I think it goes to February.

AXOS: Because we missed it when it was down here, because it was sold out and neither of us wanted to spend half the day waiting for returned tickets.

OTROS: It’s definitely worth the effort.

AXOS: We could make a bit of a romantic getaway out of it as well.

OTROS: Fancy hotel on the harbour…

AXOS: Right.  Maybe see some music.

OTROS: Sounds great…  Yeah, you should really make the effort.

AXOS: Yeah, definitely…

Both take sips of their drinks.  Pause.

BELGUS: Right.  You know what I’m gonna do for you two?

AXOS: What?

BELGUS: I’m gonna buy you a card each.  Hallmark or something.

OTROS: A card?  Why?

BELGUS: And they’re gonna say, “Congratulations on your successful castration you spineless pieces of SHIT!”  What the hell is wrong with you?  I bet you both go to bed before ten don’t you?  Right?

OTROS: Ten-thirty.

BELGUS: Ring a fucking ding.  You probably sit down to piss as well.

OTROS: No, I definitely stand for that.

BELGUS: Oh?  I’m wondering if you stand for anything at all!  How about standing for male dignity, huh?

AXOS: He’s full of it.

BELGUS: Full of righteous fury.  Yeah!  You’ve let these chicks change you.  I bet you wipe the seat after you’re done then.

OTROS: What, the little droplets of urine when I miss?

BELGUS: Ladies and gentlemen, we have our answer!

AXOS: It’s only polite.

OTROS: She has to sit on it afterwards.

BELGUS: Fuck that!  Let her deal with it.

AXOS: This is why he doesn’t have a girlfriend.

BELGUS: I don’t need a girlfriend.

OTROS: Oh.

BELGUS: Oh?

OTROS: I didn’t realise.

BELGUS: Didn’t realise what?

OTROS: That…you know…not that I’m in anyway against it…and I fully support you and all that…I mean, you’re my half-brother…I thought you would’ve told me by now…it’s just surprising, that’s all.

BELGUS: What the fuck is he talking about?

AXOS: He thinks you’re gay.

OTROS: Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Pause.

BELGUS: Of course there’s something fucking wrong with that.  I lick cunts not assholes.

OTROS: Well then why don’t you need a girlfriend?

BELGUS: Oh, I’ll tell you why.  As long as you think you can handle it.

OTROS: After the play I’ve seen, I think I can handle anything.

AXOS: Is it out there, is it?

OTROS: Like way out there.

AXOS: But it’s good?

OTROS: Yeah, it may be out there but it’s all for a purpose, not like some of the shows you go to where there’s all this random stuff that makes no sense at all…

AXOS: And you’re wondering why anyone would even program it in the season to begin with.

OTROS: I suppose lots of things look good on paper.

AXOS: Yeah.

OTROS: But this Thyestes was good on stage as well.

BELGUS: When you guys have finished jacking off Shakespeare and–

AXOS: Seneca, actually.

BELGUS: Blowing some Greek cunt then.

AXOS: Roman.  Roman?

OTROS: Yeah.

BELGUS: Does it matter?

AXOS: It probably did to him.

BELGUS: Just both of you shut up.  Look.  Now I understand why you may be under this delusion that you have to change for these women, that you have to pretend to like fucking Masterchef just so they’ll sleep with you.  But why go to all the effort, yeah?  Why stand outside the fucking theatre for half an hour because she doesn’t know how to tell the time?

OTROS: Okay.  Then what would you suggest?

BELGUS: Hookers.  Prostitutes.

OTROS: I’m not going to pay for sex.

BELGUS: Why not?

OTROS: Because.

BELGUS: You pay for porn, don’t you?  Rubbing one out on those lonely nights.

OTROS: No I don’t.

BELGUS: You don’t give the cobra a good charming?  You gotta flush the pipes, dude, ’cause it’s like cholesterol – builds upon the walls of the tubes, so when the little guys want to get through there’s no room.  It’s genocide, dude.

AXOS: I don’t think that’s how it works.

OTROS: I meant I don’t pay for porn.

BELGUS: You don’t…what?

OTROS: I’m on this site where you can download it for free.

BELGUS: Are you fucking kidding me?  You’re jerking off to pictures of naked chicks with black ‘censored’ bars over the good bits?  Just give the company your credit card.

OTROS: No, no, no it’s like, illegal stuff.

BELGUS: Like with what, horses?

OTROS: No!  Pirating.  Downloading the stuff you have to pay for without paying for it.

BELGUS:  Woah.  I mean, like – woah.

OTROS: What?

BELGUS: That’s pretty ethically questionable, man.

OTROS: Everyone else does it.

BELGUS: That’s what the Nazis said.

AXOS: They probably said it in German.

Pause.

BELGUS: So you download all this porn without paying for it, and poor Sucky Sucky Big-Tits or whatever the girl’s name is gets nothing from you?  She’s over in America sucking the cock of some fat dude and trying to put her kid through school and you couldn’t give a shit.  You know, it’s people like you that ruined communism for everyone.

OTROS: I think she still gets paid.

BELGUS: But not as much.  And plastic surgery ain’t cheap.

OTROS: How do you know their breasts are fake?

BELGUS: As if any of them are real.

OTROS: I reckon lots of them are–

BELGUS: And Santa shits Ferraris.  Look, we’re getting off track.  You gotta get yourself a hooker.  Break up with this chick of yours that’s making you sit through reruns of Better Homes and Gardens and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and get yourself laid by a professional.  It’s all about efficiency.  Maximum orgasms for minimal effort.  Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency.

OTROS: What about love?

BELGUS: Love is for fugly people and Italians.

AXOS: My brother the romantic.

BELGUS: Laugh, then.  Here I am, trying to help, and all you can do is fucking laugh.

AXOS: You think telling us to hire hookers is help?

BELGUS: And just what do these girlfriends of yours let you do to them?  What is a typical session for you – five minutes of going at it in the missionary and then rolling off and going to sleep?  ‘Cause that’s what it used to be like, before I had my eyes opened.

OTROS: Your eyes opened.

BELGUS: Man, what you’re doing now, how you’re fucking your women – you may think it’s great but you’re so fucking wrong.  It’s like – how can I put it – it’s like going to a free buffet and only having the bread rolls.

OTROS: Only having bread rolls.

BELGUS: And there’s so much other food for you to–

OTROS: You know what puzzles me about those bread rolls?

AXOS: What?

OTROS: The butter.

AXOS: Yeah?

OTROS: What is in that butter!

AXOS: In the little packets–

OTROS: In foil–

AXOS: Sort of split in two inside–

OTROS: Yeah.

AXOS: I know the brand name…  It’s…  It’s…

OTROS: But it’s delicious, right?  And like ten times better than any other butter.

AXOS: Yeah.

OTROS: I wonder if they sell it at Woolies.

AXOS: Or Coles.  It’d be at one of them probably.

OTROS: I think I’m going to buy myself some, ’cause I really–

BELGUS: Forget about the fucking butter!  Jesus!  How much fucking Masterchef have your chicks made you watch?  What I’m trying to say is that a hooker lets you do so much more.

OTROS: Like?

BELGUS: Like ramming her up the arse.  Like stripteases any time you want.  Like roleplaying.

OTROS: Roleplaing?

BELGUS: Let me tell you – you have not lived until you’ve done some roleplay.  Roleplay is like the MSG of sex.

AXOS: MSG gives me headaches.

OTROS: It does?

AXOS: I’m always telling the restaurant not to put it in when I ring up for Chinese.

OTROS: That’s weird.

AXOS: I know.

BELGUS: God – it’s like talking to a classroom full of kids with ADD.  (Claps hands together.)  Can we try and focus?  Little bit of hush.  Right.

BELGUS receives a text message.

BELGUS: Fuck!

OTROS: How rude.

AXOS: I know.

BELGUS: Fuck the phone.  Actually…  (He begins tapping the screen of his phone.)  You know how I had that crush on Cate Blanchett when I was younger?

AXOS: In Lord of the Rings.

BELGUS: When she was playing that elf.  Galadriel.

AXOS: Yeah.

BELGUS: Have a look…at…this.  (Shows them a picture on the phone.)

OTROS: How’d you get a picture of her nude?

BELGUS: But it’s not Cate, you see – it’s a hooker.  Her name’s Tiffany.

OTROS: Tiffany.

BELGUS: She’s one of my favourites – the things she lets me do…

OTROS: Like?

BELGUS: A minute ago you were completely against the idea of prostitutes, and now you want to know?

OTROS: I’m curious.

BELGUS: Alright.  Prepare yourself.

OTROS: Right.

AXOS: Sure.

BELGUS: My favourite bit at the moment, right, is when we role play, Lord of the Rings style.

OTROS: Lord of the Rings?

BELGUS: Didn’t you see the movie?

OTROS: I know what it is.  Just…

OTROS and AXOS laugh.

AXOS: Is that a hobbit in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

OTROS: Gandalf, what a big staff you have!

BELGUS: Fuck you both.

OTROS: Do you wear a chainmail condom?

Pause.

AXOS: We’ve hurt his feelings.

BELGUS: I don’t know why I bother.

OTROS and AXOS keep laughing.

BELGUS: Didn’t you have teenage crushes that you would’ve fucked if you had the chance?

OTROS: Well yeah, but…

BELGUS: Don’t be such a pussy, man – go out there and fucking make it happen.

OTROS: If you say so.

Awkward pause.

OTROS: How about some music?  What have you got on your iPod?

BELGUS: There’s heaps of shit on there, probably nothing you’d like.

OTROS: All the same.

BELGUS: Just hit random.

OTROS: Shuffle.

BELGUS: Whatever it’s fucking called.

OTROS starts the random music.  The most recognisable theme from The Lord of the Rings plays.  BELGUS lunges for the iPod and stops the music.

OTROS: You’ve got the Lord of the Rings soundtrack?

BELGUS: It’s to help set the mood.  Fucking pick something else already.

AXOS is silently laughing, though OTROS cannot see, turned away as he is from the two while he picks a song.  BELGUS gives AXOS the finger.

OTROS: How about this?

Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’ begins to play.  OTROS gets into the music.

OTROS: Thanks for having me over.

AXOS: No problem.

AXOS and BELGUS move a few feet behind OTROS – it is apparent that they have something sinister in mind.)

OTROS: I tell you what, though – I’d like to poke her face.

AXOS: Yeah?

OTROS: Yeah…  But you should definitely see Thyestes.  It was really good.

AXOS: Yeah, we will.

AXOS pulls out a gun tucked in his pants and cocks it.  OTROS continues to sing.  BELGUS picks up the iPod and turns the volume down.  OTROS turns around and sees the gun.

OTROS: What the fuck?

AXOS: We’ve been meaning to talk to you about Jesus.

BELGUS turns the volume up to a roar.

Curtain.

Pelopia (Chris Ryan)

SCENE TWO

SURTITLE: ‘Pretonus has exiled Belgus and Axos from Melbourne after learning of their involvement in Otros’ sudden and uncharacteristic decision to become a monk.  The brothers settle in Sydney.  Their mother, driven to despair, takes up scrapbooking with an obsessive passion.  News arrives of their mother’s new hobby.

Curtain up.  AXOS and BELGUS are sitting opposite each other at a small table, their right hands intertwined.

BELGUS: One, two, three, four, I declare a thumb war.  Five, six, seven, eight, try to keep your thumb straight.

They thumb wrestle.  BELGUS wins.

AXOS: 92 – 97.

BELGUS: Bring it on, bitch!

AXOS: Whatever.

BELGUS: Thyestes was crap.

AXOS: No it wasn’t.

BELGUS: One, two, three, four, I declare a thumb war.  Five, six, seven, eight, try to keep your thumb straight.

He wins again.

BELGUS: 98 – 92.

A phone on the table rings.  BELGUS picks it up and hangs it up immediately.

BELGUS: Thyestes was crap.

AXOS: No it wasn’t.

They play again.

BELGUS: 99 – 92!  Match point.  Thyestes was crap.

AXOS: No it wasn’t.

BELGUS: Yes it was.

AXOS: No it wasn’t.

The phone rings again – they ignore it.

BELGUS: Yes it was.

AXOS: No it–

BELGUS: 100 – 92!  Yes!  Take it off, take it off!

AXOS takes his shirt off.

AXOS: Isn’t a bit weird playing strip thumb wars with your brother?

BELGUS: What else is there to do?

They start playing again.

Curtain.

Atreus (Mark Winter) and Thyestes (Thomas Henning)

SCENE THREE

SURTITLE: ‘Following the death of the Chief Drama Critic of the Sydney Morning Herald, Belgus and Axos have been given dual control of the position.  They agree to alternate which of them will be the critic from one play to the next.  To celebrate their fortune, Belgus chooses a wife: Nemina, senior publicist of Belvoir Street Theatre.’

Curtain up.  It is very early morning.  A party has been going since lunchtime the day before.  Los del Rio’s ‘Macarena’ is playing loudly.  BELGUS is doing the song’s signature dance.  NEMINA is printing off strips of theatre tickets from a printer connected to a laptop, both of which are connected to a powerpoint in the wall.  She is burning the tickets in a waste bin and collecting the smoke into a garbage bag that she holds above it.  She takes deep breaths from the bag on occasion, taking a swig of vodka in between.  AXOS is reading a copy of Ibsen’s ‘Collected Plays’.  BELGUS presses pause on the music.

BELGUS: You know what I fucking love about the Macarena?  How inclusive it is.  I mean, anyone can dance to it – you’ve just gotta put your arm here and here and here and here and…fuck.  But anyone can do it.  Except Stephen Hawking.  But he’s probably the wrong generation.  And now, lady and gentleman, I present my next selection!

He puts on Hampton the Hamster’s ‘The Hamsterdance Song’ and dances like a man possessed.  After half a minute he turns the track off.

BELGUS: Fuck.  I need some friggin’ blood doping or some shit like those Tour de France guys use to keep dancing like that…  You there.

NEMINA: Yes?

BELGUS: You’re meant to make me happy, right?

NEMINA: Yeah babe.

BELGUS: Give me all the good tickets, give me free wine, give me blowjobs in the interval.

NEMINA: What do you want?

BELGUS: Come here.

She comes.  They hold each other.

BELGUS: Can you get me…

NEMINA: Yes?

BELGUS: Can you get me Lance Armstrong’s testicle?

NEMINA: What?

BELGUS: Think about it.  He’s got the most testosterone of any guy on the whole fucking planet, and he’s doing it all with only one testicle.  Talk about a super-powered ball.  It’s like organic steroids or something.

NEMINA: How about I just do this?

She reaches into his pants and starts to jerk him off.

BELGUS: You always know what’s best.  You know – ooh, watch the nails – you know I never thought I’d fall in love, never thought I’d let myself fall in love.  But we’re just so right together.  Like two pieces of velcro.

NEMINA: Velcro, I like it.

BELGUS: That’s why I’m the writer.

They kiss.  NEMINA caresses his hair with both her hands.

BELGUS: Don’t stop babe.

She puts a hand back in his pants.

BELGUS: Fuck yes.  This is the life, eh, brother?

AXOS: Sure.

BELGUS: We can do whatever we want and because we work for the biggest paper in town they can’t do anything about it.  The all-powerful critics!

AXOS: If you say so.

BELGUS: God that feels fucking amazing.  (He kisses NEMINA.)  Whatcha reading?

AXOS: Ibsen – I’m reading up for next year.

BELGUS: Oh, I know him – that’s the guy who founded IKEA, right?

AXOS: He’s a playwright.

BELGUS: That too?  Busy man.

AXOS: No – nevermind.

Pause.

BELGUS: What’s with the tickets, babe?

She giggles.

BELGUS: What?

They kiss.  She stops jerking him.

NEMINA: I’ll show you.

He picks up where she left off.

NEMINA: It’s like this secret all publicists know, about the ink that we use in the tickets.

BELGUS: The ink?

NEMINA: It’s this special blend of chemicals that’s supposed to make the tickets harder to forge, and when you burn them, then all the chemicals get released and…

She hands him the garbage  bag.  He takes a deep breath from it.

BELGUS: Fuck.

NEMINA: (In a Thai accent.)  You like?  You like?

BELGUS: Seriously, bro, is she not like fucking perfection?  She gives me booze, she gives me sex, and now she gives me drugs.

AXOS: And you don’t even have to pay for it.

NEMINA: What?

BELGUS: Nothing.  He’s drunk.  (Pause.)  Music, more music!  You’re gonna like this one.  It’s something I prepared earlier with a friend of mine who goes by the name of Andre Rieu.

AXOS laughs.

BELGUS: What the fuck is your problem?  So what if I like Andre Rieu?  I’ve just as much right to my opinion as you.

AXOS: Whatever.  (To NEMINA.)  You should ask him what he thinks about Thyestes.

NEMINA: Huh?

BELGUS: I loved it, babe.

AXOS chortles.

BELGUS: Anyway.  You ready?

NEMINA: For what?

BELGUS presses play.  Mendelssohn’s ‘Wedding March’ plays.

BELGUS: Oh, my lover…

NEMINA: Yes?

BELGUS: Close your eyes.

NEMINA: Okay.  (She does.)

BELGUS retrieves a ring-pull from his pocket and slips it on her ring finger.

BELGUS: And open.  Will you marry me?

NEMINA: What’s this?

BELGUS: It’s a ring.

NEMINA: No it’s not.

BELGUS: If a chair with a gumboot on it can be a fucking horse, then I say that’s a ring.  It’s spur of the moment, see, all romantic and shit.  I kept it off that can of Red Bull I had a few hours ago.

NEMINA: Where’s the diamond?

BELGUS: I don’t think that’s one of the ingredients.

NEMINA: I’m not marrying you without a diamond.

BELGUS: But how about in theory?  Can we agree that we would marry if I got a diamond?  Well?

Curtain.

Aegisthus (Chris Ryan)

SCENE FOUR

SURTITLE: ‘Years pass.  Axos takes a wife – the senior publicist for the Sydney Theatre Company – and she bears him two sons and a daughter.  As the years pass, Belgus’ opinions as a critic grow more unreliable and idiotic.  Axos decides to oust Belgus and become sole critic for the Sydney Morning Herald.  He seduces Belgus’ wife, Belvoir publicist Nemina.’

Curtain up.  AXOS’ children’s bedroom.  There is a tent on the floor with a light on inside it.  BELGUS is having a psychotic attack.  He has forced his way into their bedroom and is trying to get into the tent.  AXOS is trying to stop him.  BELGUS has a garbage bag in his hand.  NEMINA is standing distraught in the corner.

BELGUS: That pretentious cunt’s locked me out.

AXOS: Must you use that word?

BELGUS: Pretentious?  I thought you love everything pretentious.  Get out of my fucking way!

AXOS: I can’t do that.

BELGUS: Can’t or won’t?  Cunt, cunt, cunt…

AXOS: Let’s go back outside.

BELGUS: No!  What is it that you’re not fucking getting?  Simon Stone’s in there, pissed off at me for all the bad shit I’ve written about his plays, and if I don’t fucking settle this now then it’s just gonna get worse.

AXOS: My kids are in the tent, not Simon.

BELGUS: Don’t you fucking lie to me!

AXOS: Why don’t you give me the bag–

BELGUS: No!  No!

AXOS: You’re high.

BELGUS: And you’re fucking insane.  Am I the only one who can see what a load of bullshit all his work is?  And you, brother, I know you never agreed with me, but to take his side?  Does family mean fuck all to you?

AXOS: Calm down.

BELGUS: I am calm.  All I have to do is talk to this pretentious cunt and dissuade him from continuing to live his life and then–

AXOS: He’s not here.

BELGUS: He’s not here…  He’s not here…  And now my own brother is fucking hiding him from me!  I can hear that cunt laughing at me–

AXOS: No one’s laughing at you–

BELGUS: You don’t think I know what all the fuckers say behind my back in the foyers?  No, no – I’m right.  I’m fucking right and the rest of you can–

NEMINA: Honey–

BELGUS: Who the fuck is this?

AXOS: She’s your wife.

BELGUS: Wife?  Would my wife publicise that cunt’s jerk-off theatre?

NEMINA: Honey–

BELGUS: Would my wife quote my brother’s review to sell tickets even when I thought it was fucking garbage?

NEMINA: You’ve had too much ink.

BELGUS: ‘Powerful’ he said.  ‘Not banality but echoes of great events’.  What does that even fucking mean?  You mention banality in the review and you still give it five fucking stars?

NEMINA: Honey…

BELGUS: Get your filthy fucking hands off me!  I’m the critic for the fucking paper – you think I can’t have you replaced?  Plenty of other pussies around who are willing to fucking agree with me.  Fucking…not go behind my back and undermine my fucking opinions!

NEMINA: Honey, I love you and–

BELGUS: Who the fuck asked you to do that, huh?  Fucking whores, the lot of you!

BELGUS starts to attack her.  AXOS wrestles him to the ground.  NEMINA collapses into a sobbing heap.

BELGUS: Get off me.  Get the fuck off me you cunt.  Just ’cause you know you’re fucking wrong about the play.  Fuck!

AXOS calms him down.

AXOS: Shh…  Shh…  Go to sleep.

BELGUS: Brother?

AXOS: I’m here.

BELGUS: Brother?

AXOS: Shh…

BELGUS: I’m right, though, aren’t I?

AXOS: Yes.

BELGUS: Right about the play.

AXOS: Of course you are.

BELGUS: I know they all laugh at me.

AXOS: No on laughs at you.

BELGUS: Just ’cause I know all this shit with this new all-powerful director movement is a load of crap.

AXOS: Shh…

BELGUS: But we’ll show them.

AXOS: Alright.

BELGUS: We’ll show them all, right?

AXOS: Yeah.

BELGUS: We’ll show them…

BELGUS falls asleep.  AXOS checks on the kids inside the tent.  He goes and sits next to NEMINA.  He pours her a glass of wine.

AXOS: Some wine on the house.  Complimentary.  (Pause.)  You know, when we were both teenagers, our grandfather took us to see Don’s Party – the Williamson play – to see what we thought of it.  There was a revival of it at the Melbourne Theatre Company or something.  And so we sat through it all and laughed and so on, and at the end our grandfather asked us if we enjoyed it.  And I said that I thought it was okay but nothing great, you know…  But my brother loved it.  He loved it so much he made our grandfather take him back four times.  (Pause.)  And he’s loved Williamson ever since.  (Pause.)  And there’s nothing I can do to help him.

They sit together in silence.  He puts his arm around her.

AXOS: But Thyestes…  I don’t know why he hates it so much.  It’s been years now but he still goes on about it.  Something in the play stuck, and I don’t know what it is.  I probably never will.  Still.

Pause.

AXOS: It’s okay.  It will be.

NEMINA collapses into his shoulder and cries.  She looks up at AXOS.  He leans in to kiss her.

Curtain.

Atreus (Mark Winter)

SCENE FIVE

SURTITLE: ‘Belgus has found himself exiled again.  He plots to take back the paper and reclaim his wife.’

Curtain up.  BELGUS is on his own in the room.  He has his phone plugged into some speakers and is listening to NEMINA’s voice on a voicemail message.

NEMINA’S VOICE: Hi honey, how’s it going?

BELGUS: Oh, you know, same old shit.

NEMINA’S VOICE: I’m just about to leave the office.

BELGUS: You work so hard babe.

NEMINA’S VOICE: …but I thought I might book the tickets for you now.

BELGUS: You’re so efficient.

NEMINA’S VOICE: But obviously you’re not there.

BELGUS: I am here, babe, right here.

NEMINA’S VOICE: So I’ll wait a couple of minutes – I’ve got some filing that…  well, call me back.

BELGUS: Can’t you hear me honeybuns?

NEMINA’S VOICE: I like to give you the best seats, but I forgot to look at your diary this morning.

BELGUS: My diary’s completely free now.

NEMINA’S VOICE: Anyway, call me back.  Love you.  Bye.

BELGUS: Don’t go, babe.  It’s so nice talking to you, hearing your voice, imagining you naked…

PHONE VOICE: To return the call press six.  To transfer this message press fou–

BELGUS presses a button on his phone.

PHONE VOICE: Message received, nineteenth January at eight oh-four p.m.

NEMINA’S VOICE: Hi honey, how’s it going?

BELGUS: Pretty fucking poor, actually.  I think I’m still in New South Wales but I can’t be sure, and all this crappy town has for a theatre is a big table in the corner of the pub and most of the blokes in there seem to think that Shakespeare took it up the arse.  So there’s not much to do around here except masturbate and think of you while I’m doing it, but the pharmacy doesn’t sell any lube and I get sick of having to spit on my hand every fucking minute so I don’t get to do as much jerking as I’d like.

He plays the message again.

BELGUS: Sorry babe we got disconnected.  You’re such a good listener, though, even if you do talk all the fucking time.  And always about tickets.  That opening night was ages ago!  You know what I think I miss most about you, babe, apart from the free fucks that you let me have without a condom like the hookers always made me wear…  The thing I miss most is the tickets.  All this hole has is alcohol and it just isn’t the same.  Just like the spit on my hand isn’t the same as the spit in your mouth.  And you know babe, every time I imagine you while I’m jerking, I keep seeing my brother fucking you in the arse you dirty fucking whore.  You know he’s got a smaller cock, right?

He plays the message again.

BELGUS: Where were we, babe?  My brother having a small dick.  How unsatisfied you must be right now, when he fucks you and you don’t cum like I used to make you.  You’re probably sleeping around like the slut you are, giving him all the good tickets as well, I suppose.  Putting your entries in his diary as he makes logs in your vagina.  Twigs more like it.  You would’ve laughed at that if you were here with me and not halfway across the fucking state impaled on his dick.  You know what, I hope he gives you syphilis and your fallopian tubes shrivel up and die and you can never have kids and you’ll be constantly bleeding out of your vagina like a leaky tap every fucking second and–

The phone starts making call-waiting noises.  BELGUS stops the voicemail replay and answers the phone, pulling it out of the speakers as he does so.

BELGUS: Hello?  Oh.  Hi.  How are you?  That’s good to hear.  I’m doing just fine.  Dandy.  Mmhmm.  Yep.  Ah.  Yes, you see, that’s going to be a bit of a problem.  Because it’s not what I asked for.  You said your agency did these kind of things all the time.  Well of course he has to have the fucking drink before the show starts, if you wait until the interval then it won’t take effect in time.  Well how long do sleeping pills take to work?  Right.  No.  No.  Look, if you give him a triple dose in the interval then no one’s going to be able to wake the fucker up and they’re gonna suspect a bit of fucking foul play, aren’t they?  And if they think something’s amiss then the plan’s not gonna fucking work is it you stupid fucking cunt!  Jesus, are you new?  Put your manager on.  I’ll wait.

He switches to the voicemail.

BELGUS: Hang on, babe, I’ve got a call on the other line.

He switches it back.

BELGUS: Hello?  You’re the manager?  Has your goon told you about the situation?  And what are you gonna do about it?  No, no, don’t give me shit about it being too hard.  Either you get my brother to fall asleep during a play he’s meant to be reviewing or you don’t get your fucking money.  It’s called fucking capitalism.  So fucking do what I asked for or I’ll take my business elsewhere.  Okay.  Nice talking with you too.  Yes, I thought it was very constructive as well.  Okay.  Bye.

He switches to the voicemail.

BELGUS: Is that what it’s like when you try to organise interviews and shit with all the other journalists, babe?  That’s what I really admire about you – your ability to work well under pressure.  I think I’ll test it out next time we meet by wrapping my hands around your neck and squeezing as hard as I fucking can until you’re almost dead and then maybe you’ll have some idea of just how I feel right now, you bitch.

Curtain.

Atreus (Mark Winter) and Aerope (Chris Ryan)

SCENE SIX

SURTITLE: ‘Belgus has retaken control of the paper.  Now chief critic again, Nemina is forced to reconcile with him.’

Curtain up.  NEMINA is giving BELGUS a blowjob.  He’s sitting in an armchair.  The action is desperate and fast.  BELGUS looks unaffected.  Eventually he taps her on the back.

BELGUS: Okay, babe, you can stop now.  You’re having about as much effect on me as Thyestes did.  Though it probably had you cumming in your seat when you watched it, right?  But let us let bygones be bygones ’cause I don’t want to have to listen to you nagging me over and over about it.  A brand new beginning, yeah?  Yeah?  Speak when you’re fucking spoken to!

NEMINA: Yes…

BELGUS: That wasn’t so hard, was it?  Neither was my dick, but that’s probably ’cause I’m so fucking angry at the moment, but I’m happy that you’re here, though, and we can have lots and lots of sex instead of me having to imagine it.  I imagine your pussy’s probably a bit tighter after sleeping with my brother for so long, though.  Every semi-incestuous cloud has a silver lining, as they say.  So what’s been happening in Sydney while I was away?  Anything interesting?  Speak up.

NEMINA: N-nothing…

BELGUS: You know, you were much more talkative when we first got married – you must be in shock.  I’ll put some underwear on.  (He puts on lacy underwear.)  You hungry?  You look like you might be.  I didn’t want to say anything but I noticed you’ve put on a few pounds – not that I’m holding all that excess fat against you, but don’t expect me to hold it against moi until you lose it.  But we can buy you a treadmill tomorrow.  Tonight, we feast!  Do you want to go out somewhere?  There’s this really good restaurant near that CarriageWorks place that my half-brother recommended to me awhile back, though I don’t know whether it still exists or not.  Things have a way of disappearing around here, don’t they?  Don’t they!

NEMINA: Yes…

BELGUS: I’m glad we understand each other.  Trust is so important in any relationship.  Yeah…  Oh!  Speaking of things disappearing…

NEMINA moans.

BELGUS: Don’t get your knickers in a twist.  No, wait, I’m wearing them.  Never mind.  See?  We’re laughing already, just like before.  No, I’ve got you a present, and it’s gone and disappeared on me the fucker.  Oh.  I know where it is.  Close your eyes babe.

BELGUS retrieves a small box from under the armchair.

BELGUS: Here you are babe, open your beautiful eyes.

NEMINA: T-thank you.

BELGUS: I wonder what’s inside?  What’s in it?  What – oh!

NEMINA: A sewing kit.

BELGUS: To stitch up your cunt for safekeeping when I’m not using it.  Surprise!

NEMINA: Oh god, oh god…

BELGUS: Gotcha!  It was a joke!  Oh, you should see the look on your face.

NEMINA starts to sob.

BELGUS: Probably too soon.  Cheer up, babe, I’ve got your real present here.

BELGUS retrieves a large box from under the armchair.

BELGUS: Here we go.  Open it.  Open-it-open-it-open-it!  What’s inside?  Huh?  What is it?  Is it – no – it’s chainmail.  But not just any chainmail, this one’s made from mithril, yeah.  Let me put it on.  (He does so.)

NEMINA starts moaning.

BELGUS: And what else is there?  A mask?   Who is this a mask of?  Cate Blanchett as Galadriel?  How did that get there?  Well we better put it on you babe – wouldn’t want it going to waste…

He puts the mask on her.

BELGUS: I think you know the rest.

NEMINA reaches reluctantly into his underwear and starts jerking him off.

NEMINA: One ring to rule them all…

BELGUS: Oh yeah…

NEMINA: One ring to find them.

BELGUS: Talk elvish to me, you dirty forest-dweller you.

NEMINA: One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

BELGUS: Wait!  I almost forget the music.

BELGUS reaches to the iPod on the floor and starts playing the Lord of the Rings theme.

BELGUS: Been waiting forever for this babe.  My long-expected party.

Curtain.

END OF ACT ONE

Chrysippus (Chris Ryan), Thyestes (Thomas Henning), and Atreus (Mark Winter)

ACT TWO

SCENE TWELVE

SURTITLE: ‘Eighteen years later.  Axos’ prophecy is fulfilled.  Belgus’ adopted son, Mimesthes, has discovered his real father’s identity.  Mimesthes returns to Belgus with a message.’

Curtain up.  BELGUS is sitting in an armchair, projecting slides against the wall.  The slides are all of a theatrical opening night.  Mimesthes is standing in the corner of the room with an envelope in his hand.

BELGUS: Enjoying being a junior critic?

MIMESTHES: I’m not a junior critic any more.

BELGUS: You didn’t like it then?

MIMESTHES: I got promoted.

BELGUS: What?

MIMESTHES hands him the envelope.  BELGUS reads the contents.

BELGUS: Promoted to chief drama critic for the Sydney Morning Herald?  What the fuck?  What the fuck am I supposed to do?

BELGUS reads on.

BELGUS: Canberra!?  They’re sending me to fucking Canberra?  That’s like the cultural black hole of Australia!  There’s nothing on in fucking Canberra!  Questacon, the Art Gallery, and the  War Memorial if you want to waste a third day.  What the fuck have you done?

MIMESTHES:  (Laughs.)  Revenge!  This is for my father, and there’s not a fucking thing a washed up cunt like you can do about it!

Pause.

Pause.

BELGUS: NOOOOO!!

Curtain.

Atreus (Mark Winter), Aerope (Chris Ryan), and Thyestes (Thomas Henning)

SCENE ELEVEN

SURTITLE: ‘Clymnesia, mother of Mimesthes and second wife of Belgus, has discovered the identity of Mimesthes’ real father.  Her discovery drives her to scrapbooking.’

Curtain up.  CLYMNESIA accompanies herself on a grand piano as she sings a lesser known work of Schubert entitled ‘Den Schrott Buch’.  Also in the room is an elephant, a champagne fountain, and a twenty-storey house of cards.

CLYMNESIA (sings): Ach Schrott Buch, Ach Schrott Buch,
Wie Glücklich du mich,
Ach Schrott Buch, Ach Schrott Buch,
Wie Sie sind nützlich.

Ach Schrott Buch, Ach Schrott Buch,
Sie sind mein Leben endgültigen Hobby für immer,
Ach Schrott Buch, Ach Schrott Buch,
Von Licht, das du bist mein einziger Schimmer!

And so on.

Curtain.

Atreus (Mark Winter) and Aerope (Chris Ryan)

SCENE TEN

SURTITLE: ‘Years after the disappearance of Nemina, Belgus has chosen a new wife, Clymnesia, publicist for Belvoir in Nemina’s absence.  He vows to raise her illegitimate son, Mimesthes, as his own.’

Curtain up.  BELGUS and CLYMNESIA are having vigorous and loud sex while Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’ plays on their iPod.  They switch positions constantly.

Pause.

Curtain.

Atreus (Mark Winter) and Thyestes (Thomas Henning)

SCENE NINE

SURTITLE: ‘Axos inseminates his own daughter, Clymnesia.  Clymnesia remains ignorant of her attacker’s identity.’

Sound of doorbell.

Curtain up.  AXOS is dressed in a Santa suit.  CLYMNESIA stands near him.

AXOS: Ho!  Ho!  Ho!  Merry Christmas!

CLYMNESIA: Ooh!  A mystery Santa Claus!  I wonder if it’s my boyfriend under there come to stick a present up my chimney?

AXOS: Ho!  Ho!  Ho!

CLYMNESIA: Let me go and get you some milk and cookies.

She turns to get them and AXOS covers her mouth with a cloth soaked in chloroform.  She is subdued with only a minor struggle.  Once she is unconscious on the ground, he produces a small esky filled with phials with semen inside them.  He also produces a baster, which he fills with semen and proceeds to stick up her dress.

AXOS: Time to stuff the Christmas turkey – ho, ho, ho!

He starts humming ‘Jingle Bells’ as he moves on to the next phial.

Curtain.

Atreus (Mark Winter)

SCENE EIGHT

SURTITLE: ‘Axos has been driven mad by Belgus’ horrific act.  He receives a prophecy that a child by his own daughter, Clymnesia, will one day avenge him.’

Curtain up.  AXOS is sitting in a wheelchair, clothed only in a nappy, watching a Christmas report on television.  He has an intravenous drip attached to his arm.

TV: ‘Shoppers have been coming to this mall ever since it opened in 1987, and every year Santa has come to listen to the wishes of thousands of children from the area.  But this year, the Santa impersonator, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had had enough with the questions, and began telling the children that there was no Santa Claus.’

SANTA: Get the —ing camera out of my face.

REPORTER: What do you say to all the children who you’ve disappointed?

SANTA: No comment.

REPORTER: Would you consider your actions in the spirit of Christmas?

SANTA:  No comment.

REPORTER: What do you have to say to the parents of the children whose dreams you have shattered?

SANTA: You think Santa just shits Ferraris?

TV: ‘As you can see from the footage…’

Sound of children’s voice singing ‘Ding Dong Merrily on High’.

Curtain.

Thyestes (Thomas Henning

SCENE SEVEN

SURTITLE: ‘Several years have passed since Belgus reclaimed the paper.  Axos has settled with his family in Brisbane.  A message from Belgus arrives, inviting Axos to return home and share the critical duties again.  After much deliberation, Axos accepts the offer.  He arrives in Sydney with his family.  That night, Belgus plans to take his brother to the theatre.

Curtain up.  AXOS and BELGUS have a glass of wine each.

BELGUS: Cheers.

AXOS: Cheers.

They drink.

AXOS: So what are we seeing tonight?

BELGUS: It’s a surprise.

AXOS: Okay.

Pause.

AXOS: You like surprises, don’t you?

BELGUS: And you don’t.

AXOS: That’s true.

BELGUS: But you’re gonna get one tonight.

AXOS: Apparently.

BELGUS: And you’re gonna be all like ‘I’m so surprised!’.

AXOS: If you say so.

BELGUS: But let me be serious for a moment.

AXOS: Okay.

BELGUS: Now I know a lot of shit has happened in the past, and that for all intents and purposes we’re treating that as water under the bridge.

AXOS: Yes.

BELGUS: But there’s one crappy little twig that’s refused to go under…

AXOS: Yes.

BELGUS: And so I thought in the spirit of reconciliation, well…  What I’m trying to – you were right about Thyestes.

AXOS: What?

BELGUS: I’ve come to agree with your assessment of the play.

Pause.

AXOS: What?

BELGUS: I’m a new man, brother, ready to embrace all the new forms.

Pause.

AXOS: I don’t know what–

BELGUS: You don’t have to say anything.

AXOS: This is wonderful news!

AXOS embraces BELGUS.

BELGUS: Yeah, yeah, big man-hug.  Fucking fantastic.

AXOS: You’ve lifted such a weight off my shoulders.

BELGUS: Just call me Atlas.

They laugh and drink.

AXOS: I’m so glad we can finally have an honest–

BELGUS: And frank.

AXOS: And frank discussion about it.

BELGUS: Exactly.

AXOS: So you really like it?

BELGUS drinks.

BELGUS: You know I’m off the ink now too.

AXOS: That’s amazing, man.

BELGUS: Not even for birthdays.  Or Christmas.

AXOS: I’m proud of you.

Pause.

BELGUS: What?

AXOS: I’m just – it’s still processing.

BELGUS: Ah.

AXOS: I came all prepared that you’d try to do something…never mind.

BELGUS: What?

AXOS: It doesn’t matter.

BELGUS: But I want to know.

AXOS: Well, uh, you know – something dramatic.

BELGUS: Like chopping up your two sons and serving them up to you as canapes?

AXOS: What?

BELGUS: Like in Thyestes.

AXOS: (Relieved.)  Oh.  It was spaghetti and meatballs, wasn’t it?

BELGUS: Yes, it was.  You always had the better memory.

AXOS: I did?

BELGUS: I always have trouble remembering shit.  Probably why I’m so good at forgiveness now!

AXOS: Well, I’m glad it’s all settled.

BELGUS: Me too.

They drink.

AXOS: I have to say, though…

BELGUS: Yeah?

AXOS: When you were talking about my kids just then…

BELGUS: Too soon?

AXOS: A bit.

BELGUS: Sorry, man.

AXOS: That’s okay.

BELGUS: Pretty fucking poor reconciliation if I’d done something like  that!

AXOS: Yeah.

BELGUS: I’m always saying and writing shit that gets me in trouble.  You were always good at avoiding that.

AXOS: I was?

BELGUS: Yeah you were.  You knew how to give a play a bad score without pissing off half the fucking theatre community at the same time.

AXOS: Really?

BELGUS: Yeah.  Whereas I…

They laugh.

BELGUS: Remember what I said about Baal?

AXOS: No, but I remember the effect it had.  I didn’t like it either, if I recall.

BELGUS: But I didn’t like it a lot more than you didn’t like it.

AXOS: That you did.

BELGUS: But I’m learning restraint now.

AXOS: Oh?

BELGUS: The wife’s got me meditating.

AXOS: You, meditating?

BELGUS: Dude, it is like, fucking amazing the effect it’s had.

AXOS: Yeah?

BELGUS: So much calmer.

AXOS: I can see that.

BELGUS: Great for anger management.

AXOS: I imagine it would be.

BELGUS: You should try it.

Pause.

AXOS: You know what?  I think I will.

BELGUS: I’ll send you the website of the instructor that taught me all the basics.

AXOS: Thanks.

BELGUS: She’s really good.

AXOS: Excellent.

They drink.

BELGUS: I’m just a lot happier now.  Like, when something pisses me off, I can control my reaction, and I don’t end up trying to get revenge by upping the ante.

AXOS: Right.

BELGUS: ‘Cause that leads you fucking nowhere.

AXOS: Yeah.

BELGUS: Dead end down that path.

AXOS: Totally agree.

They drink.

BELGUS: You’re gonna fucking love the play tonight.

AXOS: Yeah?

BELGUS: Yeah man.

AXOS: But you’re not telling me what it is.

BELGUS: You’ll find out soon enough.  It’s pretty out there, though.

AXOS: Oh?

BELGUS: Might be a bit out of your comfort zone.

AXOS: Well, after Thyestes, I think I can handle it.

BELGUS: If you say so.

AXOS laughs.

AXOS: I’m intrigued.

BELGUS checks his watch.

BELGUS: Almost time to go in.

AXOS: Almost.  I should see more theatre like this.

BELGUS laughs.

BELGUS: Really?

AXOS: Not knowing anything about it beforehand.  Makes it kind of exciting again, you know?

BELGUS: I’m definitely excited.

AXOS: But you know what the play is.

BELGUS: I’m excited for you.

AXOS: Oh.

BELGUS: Like a – what’s the fucking word – vicarious pleasure.

AXOS: Yeah.

BELGUS: Because I know what you mean.

AXOS: How boring it can get.

BELGUS: Night after night.

AXOS: Right.

BELGUS: You should be excited.

AXOS: I am.

They drink.

BELGUS: Life is so fucking good.  Just like the old days.  Remember?

AXOS: Most of what I remember about back then involves playing thumb wars.

BELGUS: One, two, three, four…

They laugh.

AXOS: That’s it.

BELGUS: I always won.

AXOS: Really?

BELGUS: Pretty much every time.  All throughout our childhood as well.

AXOS: You must be more coordinated than me.

BELGUS: Something like that.

They drink.  BELGUS starts to laugh.

AXOS: What?

He keeps laughing.

AXOS: What?

BELGUS: I’m just so fucking excited for you, bro!

AXOS: Okay…

BELGUS puts his arm around AXOS.

BELGUS: I’m really glad you came.

AXOS: Yeah, I’m glad I did too.

BELGUS drinks.

BELGUS: Do you remember when our grandfather took us to the theatre?

AXOS: No.

BELGUS: To the Melbourne Theatre Company.

AXOS: Nope.

BELGUS: To see Don’s Party.

AXOS: Oh…

BELGUS: Remember?

AXOS: Yeah!

BELGUS: God I fucking loved that play.

AXOS: You went back to see it another four times or something, right?

BELGUS: Three times.

AXOS: Right, three.

BELGUS: Only obsessed morons would see it more than four times.

BELGUS laughs.

BELGUS: But you hated it, didn’t you?

AXOS: It was okay.

BELGUS: But you haven’t liked anything Williamson’s written since, have you?

AXOS: Not really.

BELGUS: Don’t be fucking shy – you’re with friends!

AXOS: I hate virtually everything he’s written.

BELGUS: There we go!

AXOS: I’d rather stick screwdrivers in my eyes than have to sit through one of his plays again.

They laugh.  They drink.

AXOS: What made you think of that?

BELGUS: (Shrugs.)  The mind works in mysterious ways.  Should we go in?

AXOS: Sure.

AXOS looks for a place to put his wine glass down.

BELGUS: You know that Williamson wrote a sequel to Don’s Party?

AXOS: He did?

BELGUS: Yeah, it’s opening this month.

AXOS: I can’t believe he’s not dead yet.

BELGUS: Opening tonight, actually.

BELGUS retrieves a gun tucked into the waistband of his pants and points it at AXOS’ back.

AXOS: Well thank God we’re not going to that!  Where the hell can I put my glass?

AXOS turns around and sees the gun.  BELGUS cocks it.  BELGUS starts to laugh, slipping quite quickly into maniacal laughter.

BELGUS: Surprise!  (Laughs.)  Guess who gets to see Don Parties On?  (Laughs.)

AXOS drops the wineglass.  BELGUS keeps laughing.

Curtain.

The following section is the equivalent of a montage sequence in cinema.  The curtain goes up and down quickly, revealing the moments that follow AXOS’ discovery of his brother’s plans.  The curtain acts as a fast-forward device.

SURTITLE: ‘Two and a half hours later.’

Curtain up.  AXOS has just come out of the theatre after watching Don Parties On.  He is on his knees, vomiting.  BELGUS stands over him with the gun.

BELGUS: I knew you didn’t have the stomach for Williamson!

Curtain.

Curtain up.  AXOS is still vomiting, against the wall.  BELGUS is performing a victory dance.

Curtain.

Curtain up.  AXOS is on his knees, screaming.  BELGUS is still dancing.

BELGUS: I can’t believe you fell for it!  As if I’d ever like Thyestes!

AXOS: My eyes!  I’ll rip out my eyes!

BELGUS holds the gun to his head.

BELGUS: I can’t let you do that?

AXOS: Why?

BELGUS: Wrong myth, motherfucker!

BELGUS resumes dancing.

Curtain.

Curtain up.  NEMINA has arrived in the foyer.  BELGUS is laughing as he watches AXOS huddled in a corner.

NEMINA: Fuck this, I’m going to a convent!

Curtain.

Curtain up.  BELGUS is dancing with the wall and waving his gun around.

AXOS: How could you?  Anything but a Williamson play!

Curtain.

Curtain up.  AXOS is holding BELGUS’ gun against his head and begging to be put out of his misery.  BELGUS is shouting in victory.

BELGUS: Feels good, huh?  Feels good.  This is how it feels.  No worse torment than a Williamson play!  Did you enjoy yourself?

BELGUS has wrestled AXOS to his knees and is shaking him by the shoulders.

BELGUS: And you know what else I did?  I took your two sons to the preview last night.

AXOS shouts unintelligibly.  

BELGUS: And do you know what they said at the end?  They were chanting, yeah.  Fucking chanting in delight, shouting, “We love Williamson!  We love Williamson!  We love Williamson!”

Blackout.

THE END

9/10.  Thyestes by Thomas Henning, Chris Ryan, Simon Stone and Mark Ryan after Seneca, at CarriageWorks until February 19.  Directed by Simon Stone.  With Thomas Henning, Chris Ryan, and Mark Winter.  Set by Claude Marcos.  Lighting by Govin Ruben.  Sound by Stefan Gregory.  Dramaturgy by Anne-Louise Sarks.  Photos courtesy of Jamie Williams.

Written by epistemysics

February 7, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Posted in Theatre Reviews

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