straitjackets by Janet Paisley
SAC playwright's bursary commission 1999
Only a vicious circle can resolve a paradox… Bertrand Russell
Rehearsed reading and discussion at The Tron, Glasgow 6 Nov 1999
Directed by Irina Brown
straitjackets was workshopped at the Tron with artistic director, Irina Brown, whose retiral from the post at the theatre interrupted plans for the full production of the play.
Jordan Conrad is thirty-something, footloose and fancy free, an engineer who travels a homeless world setting up house wherever he hangs his hat, usually with settled friends whose lives and relationships are never the same again.
straitjackets is a study of repeating patterns in love affairs, life and friendships.
To have unexamined emotional responses is as immature, as dangerous, as to have unexamined beliefs… Norman MacCaig
<box 80% round prose| Extract - straitjackets> Blackout. Music Rawhide (Blues Brothers). Music fades.
JORDAN: What fills you up? Chocolate? Five pints? Pack of tabs? A snort? Good crack? Decent crack? A wee drop of the hard stuff? A good night out? A good night in? A good book? A good jump? What if nothing does? What if nothing satisfies? What if you could rip your skin off, look in. And there was no heart, no lungs, no stomach? Just a howling wind. A kind of emptiness. Like hungry is. Like an ache that sticks to your backbone. Like you can’t be fed. Like you don’t know what the fuck food is. And you can’t remember when you ever felt full of anything. How do you satisfy that? No bother, eh? It’s what you do. Read the Book. The Book of Men. Shake it off. I’m a man, you say. Play the game. Square your shoulders. Stick on the grin. I’m a man. But when you knuckle your fist. Knock on that door. You know. If they’d any sense. They wouldn’t let you in.
A raised fist lit in the blackness. Knuckle knocking. Set lights up.
In hallway, Davie opens the door.
DAVIE: Jordan! Hey man, how you hanging?
Jordon, cases sitting behind him, yanks the end of his tie up full stretch.
JORDAN: Damn high. (HUSKY) Cut me down, lil buddy.
TOGETHER: Darn draughty up here. (LAUGH)
DAVIE: (LAUGHING, TO JORDAN) Get in.
Kate enters from kitchen.
KATE: Get down, you mean.
JORDAN: Ooo, don’t tempt me, Kate. C’mere.
He pulls her into a big, enveloping hug, swings her up in his arms, staggers forwards as Davie pulls the cases inside.
JORDAN: (HUSKY) I’ll save you, lil chicken. Them cayotes can’t gnaw through ol Hudson’s legs.
DAVIE: (MOCK CAYOTE) Howoooo!
KATE: Why not?
JORDAN: Cause them’s ol oak timbrey.
DAVIE: (HUSKY) Lost em both in the war, darlin.
JORDAN: (LUTON) Na-ah. Eaten by a bear.
TOGETHER: (MOCK CAYOTE) Howoooo!
All laughing. Jordan, out of breath, puts Kate down.
JORDAN: Woman, ah’m a’done fir.
DAVIE: Aye, she’s putting on the weight.
KATE: Am not!
DAVIE: Must be you then, ol mate.
JORDAN: Pound or two, maybe. (SLAPS DAVIE’S INSIGNIFICANT PAUNCH) And what’s this?
KATE: Beer gut.
DAVIE: (SLAPPING HIMSELF) Good cause, eh? (TO JORDAN) Hey, five point lead, eh, eh? Are we the boys or what?
JORDAN: Did you see that right foot, that sweet curve he puts on it? Gets them every time.
KATE: Oh god, you support the same team.
JORDAN: Team? I don’t know what the fuck he’s on about.
DAVIE: Get off.
JORDAN: Naw. (TO KATE) It’s just bloke-speak. Dead easy. Doesn’t matter what you say. Goes like this. What about that tackle? Eighty seventh minute, man. I mean it was all over till then.
JORDAN: (IGNORING HIM, TO KATE) What a run. Straight down the mid-field.
DAVIE: Miller. It was Miller. Made Jonston look a right donkey.
JORDAN: (TO KATE) Like taking candy off a baby.
DAVIE: And that corner. Clean as a whistle. Set up the header. And Skiffy…
JORDAN: (HEADING, TO KATE) Just knocks it in. (KISSES HIS FINGERS) See? Twenty two guys with only one ball between them. Stands to reason they all chase after it.
KATE: Maybe if I was a bloke I’d understand.
JORDAN: Nothing to it. The Big Book of Men. Bloke-speak: adult replacement of toy fights and slapping each other where it hurts. Learn a couple of key phrases and you’re in. Somebody’ll tackle on the detail, pass it on. There’s always some old codger in the corner knows the date, match, season.
DAVIE: Wembley. F.A. cup. Ninety seven.
KATE AND JORDAN LAUGH
JORDAN: What the fuck’s he on about? </box>