Belongings – Morgan Lloyd Malcolm

belongings

First per­formed at Hamp­stead The­atre, Lon­don, on May 19, 2011.  The pro­duc­tion trans­ferred to Trafal­gar Stu­dios on June 16, 2011.

Orig­i­nal Cast:

Jim                                        Ian Bai­ley
Deb 
                                     Joanna Hor­ton
Jo 
                                        Kirsty Bushell
Sarko                                   Calum Callaghan

Direc­tor:  Maria Aberg
Designer:  Naomi Daw­son
Light­ing:  David Holmes
Sound:
  Car­olyn Down­ing
Stage Man­ager:
  Sarah Cowen

Pub­li­ca­tion:  Lloyd Mal­colm, Mor­gan. Belong­ings. Oberon Mod­ern Plays, 2011.. Drama Library PR6113. A43 B4 2011.

Set­ting:  A home in Chip­pen­ham; a British Army camp in Afghanistan; dur­ing the war.

Lan­guage:  Con­tem­po­rary; a few Eng­lish slang terms but noth­ing that impedes under­stand­ing; how­ever, the odd turn of a phrase might be chal­leng­ing for some

JIM

Yeh alright. Chucked it didenI?

Genre/Style:  Serio-comedic

Plot:  Deb, a young les­bian sol­dier, returns home to Chip­pen­ham from Afghanistan, and attempts to make a place for her­self while deal­ing with mem­o­ries of the war and unre­solved feel­ings for her par­ents and an old love—who just hap­pens to be her dad’s new girl­friend.  Through the char­ac­ters of Deb, Jo, and Deb’s absent mother, the play deals with the role of women in the mod­ern world as moth­ers, lovers, daugh­ters, sol­diers, etc.  Although the issue are seri­ous, there is humor in the grimmest of places.  A late in the play act of vio­lence seems both inevitable and yet unnecessary.

 

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mono­logues:  Mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.

p. 39–40:  Deb responds angrily to her father’s asser­tion that women don’t belong in the mil­i­tary because men can’t cope with women get­ting hurt.  

DEB

Hold up—male sol­diers ‘can’t cope’ with seein’ us injured? ‘Can’t cope?’ Oh fuck off. I’m sorry but if we’re in a bat­tle situation—which by the way I have been in; I have been shot at and I have shot back. Just because it aint the offi­cial line don’t mean it don’t hap­pen. [Lines cut] And I was car­ryin’ 50 pound of kit in 50 degree heat. Can you do that you fat bas­tard? Course you can’t ‘cos you aint trained. But I am. And some­one gave me that chance and I took it and I proved that I was capable.

p. 49–50:  Deb tells Jo how she used to won­der about the women in Afghanistan and what kind of sex they must have had with their hus­bands. Jo’s line can be cut.

DEB

When I was out there I would have to search the women. On patrol. I would do this and I never once found any­thing other than what you’d expect. A body. Arms. Legs. Breasts.  [Lines cut] What kind of sex must they have with their husbands?

[JO

You’re inter­ested in everyone’s busi­ness, aren’t you?]

JO

Like. I’m look­ing at this woman and thinkin’ it must be pretty shit livin’ under all that cloth all the time. I’m thinkin’ her hus­band must be keepin’ her under lock and key. That their sex must be hor­ri­ble. [Lines cut] Right there. In that moment. The two of them. Or am I assumin’ right? Is it cold, mechan­i­cal, brutal?

p.57:  Jim defends his involve­ment in the porn busi­ness. Deb’s line can be cut.

JIM

Oh come on Deb. You’ve seen it. You’ve seen how dark it is out there. I’m on the sur­face of it. Not even scratchin’ it. I’m the tip of the flip­pin’ ice­berg what’s gonna send us right down into the pits of hell/

[DEB

/dramatic/]

JIM

/There are peo­ple out there with things in their head that you don’t even want to glimpse. The major­ity of peo­ple have thoughts every fuckin’ day that, if they ever acted on them, you’d be yellin’ for the return of cap­i­tal fuckin’ pun­ish­ment. [Lines cut] We like the base, the dirty, the wrong. We  fuckin’ lust after it every wak­ing hour. So why, when we’re all thinkin’ it, can’t we indulge in it? Just a bit? Just to relax? No hurtin’ no one. Just a man and his computer.

p.61–62: Deb talks about how when you get your kit, they take a death photo of you, the pic­ture they send to the press if you’re killed in action, and make you write let­ters to your loved ones in case you don’t make it back. She talks about the let­ter she wrote to her mother. This extra long mono­logue ends the play.

DEB

When you go out you get your kit and they take your photo. We call them the ‘death pho­tos’ because they’re the ones they will use to send to the press when you’re injured or killed. In my last tour they took the photo and I was blinkin’. Fuck­sake. They were in a rush so they wouldn’t let me do another and they were all like ‘bet­ter make dou­bly sure you don’t get killed then hadn’t you?’ [Lines cut]

What I didn’t write. And what I should have. Was. That I think that she has this, like, mas­sive heart inside her and that no one’s let her use it prop­erly. And that I’m sorry for not. For not standin’ up for her more.

She puts the let­ter back in her pocket.

I’ve been cov­ered in this thin film of dust see? Not just in the desert. I’ve felt like my skin hasn’t been able to breathe.

 

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Scenes: 

p. 19–22:  Sarko dis­cusses his the­ory of the desert with Deb in Afghanistan, about how it’s insane to be killing peo­ple in a place where there’s so lit­tle life.  Starts with

SARKO

I’ve got this the­ory about the desert.

and ends with

DEB

Sweet dreams.

p. 38–40:  Jim expresses dis­be­lief that Deb might have actu­ally enjoyed being a sol­dier, doesn’t believe that women should be sol­diers at all.  Starts with

JIM

You sayin’ you actu­ally wanted to do the stuff you did out in Afghanistan?

and ends with

DEB

Sud­denly I’m really tired.

p.105–108:  Jo apol­o­gizes to Deb for the less than stel­lar home­com­ing and they play word asso­ci­a­tion, a game they have played many times before.  Starts with

JO

Sorry.

and ends with

JO

Kiss.

A pause.

JO

Kiss.

 

 

Select Bib­li­og­ra­phy of Reviews and Crit­i­cism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

(22 June, 2011). Army debut ranks high. The Evening Stan­dard (London).

Billing­ton, Michael. (23 June, 2011). Review: The­atre: Mul­ti­fac­eted women grap­ple with one-dimensional men: Belong­ings Trafal­gar Stu­dios, Lon­don 3/5. The Guardian (London).

Cavendish, Dominic. Grip­ping tale of skir­mishes on all fronts. The Daily Tele­graph (London).

Jones, Alice. (20 June, 2011). On the front­line in the bat­tle of the sexes; Mor­gan Lloyd Malcolm’s first West End play, ‘Belong­ings’, will con­firm her as an excit­ing new tal­ent, says Alice Jones. [open access] The Inde­pen­dent.

Purves, Libby. (23 June, 2011). Heart of dark­ness for a woman in male worlds; The­atre. The Times (London).

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