The Dark Things – Ursula Rani Sarma


First performed on October 6, 2009 at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh.

Original Cast:

Daniel (20s, artist)                           Brian Ferguson
LJ (20s, former exotic dancer)      Suzanne Donaldson
Steph (early 20s)                             Nicola Jo Cully
Gerry (late 50s, psychiatrist)         David Acton
Karl (late 20s)                                  Keith Fleming

Director:  Dominic Hill
Designer:  Neil Warmington
Lighting Designer:  Lizzie Powell
Sound Designer:  John Harris
Stage Manager:  Gemma Smith

Publication:  Sarma, Ursula Rani. The Dark Things. Oberon Modern Plays, 2009. Drama Library PR6119.A76 D37 2009.

Setting:  The play takes place in London.

Language:  Contemporary


Tell that to my legs if you see them… maybe I’ll have them stuffed… put them on the living room wall beside the telly (DANIEL looks at her horrified.) Jesus… relax… I’m only fucking about… face of you… you’d swear they were your legs I was on about…

Genre/Style:  Drama

Plot:   Daniel is the only uninjured survivor of a bus crash in London.  LJ also survived, but lost both legs in the accident.  Daniel turns his experience into art, but suffers from survivors’ guilt and is falling apart inside.  In his desperation, he goes to Gerry, a psychiatrist who is seeing things and dealing with his own issues about death and survival.  Daniel’s half-sister, Steph, is trying to find her way in the world, but falls afoul of Karl, a somewhat seedy older guy who’s just as lost.


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.17-18:  Daniel recounting the moment of the explosion.  A very long monologue which can be edited down. 


Darkness (Beat.) Total and complete darkness. (Beat.) Oceanic darkness. (Beat.) Like being at the bottom of a lake, on your back, stuck fast in the mud and sinking (Beat.) Trying to breathe, trying to decide if I am alive or dead, try telling myself it’s a dream and will myself to wake up and see… and see… my bedside table… yellow lamp… floral sheets

[Lines cut]

The sound of bones breaking is… inhuman. I curl up… in a ball… pull my knees up duck my head down and pray… please God get me out of this… please God… Please fucking God… I don’t care… I don’t care if everyone else is crushed to death and I’m…  I’m the only one left

p.107-108:  Steph, drunk, talks to Gerry who has come to a party Daniel is holding before he kills himself.  Steph has seen Karl and LJ leave together and is trying to make herself feel good about her messed-up life and lack of connections. Long monologue, can be edited.


Oh… I remember… sure (She siles, beat.) You still remind me of Danny’s dad though. You know Danny’s dad and my dad were different people, but they both died, and then my mum met someone else and then he died… so it’s like I had two d ads and Danny had three… and they all died… so I guess we kind of gave up on the idea of having a dad.

[Lines cut]

Why do people use people? Just to make themselves feel better? Is that it? How can making     someone feel like shit make you feel better?

Representative Scenes: 

p. 19-23:  Daniel tries to deal with his half-sister Steph who has  been living with him, not working, making a mess, and generally being a pain in the ass.  He’s trying to get her to move out, but in the end, she manages to wrangle a permanent invitation out of him.  Starts with


(Listening, then presses pause.) Today is the first day of the rest of my life. (Presses play listens then presses pause.) Today is a gift and not a burden [Lines cut] did you get mugged by Jimmy Nail?

and ends with


(Smiles.) Good… I’m glad (He exits, she looks about.) I am the captain of my own ship of motivation (She picks up the paper.) I am. (She puts the paper down and picks up the remote control.) I…

p.73-77:  Daniel is visiting LJ in her flat.  While LJ is trying to advance their one-sided relationship and get him to move in with her, he tries to get her to let Steph move in with her.  Neither one is really connecting with the other.   Starts with


I can see your building from my bedroom window, just the roof, can see pretty much everything from up here (Daniel nods, beat) and it’s quiet… a bit too quiet sometimes… catch myself feeling lonely have to snap myself out of it…

and ends with


I know a place. (Beat.) I’ll show you. (Beat, Daniel goes to push her chair.) I can do it… I can do it on my own.


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

Cooper, N.  (2009, Oct 12). Artist’s brush with death; surviving a crash acts as one man’s wake-up call in a self-absorbed world; Theatre.  The Herald, pp. 18.

Fisher, M. (2009, Oct 16). Reviews:  Theatre:  The dark things traverse, edinburgh 4/5. The Guardian,  pp.42.

McMillan, J. (2009, Oct 15). Joyce mcmillan on theatre:  Integrity to fore as nts celebrates one man and his music. The Scotsman, pp. 36.

Scot, R. D. (2009, Oct 14). The dark things; arts first night theatre. The Times (London), pp. 16, 17.

McMillan, J. (2011, Aug 11). Review:  2401 objects/what remains. The Scotsman, pp. 13.

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