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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