Setting: Bare stage
Character: CANDIDA FORTESCUE, 40s
CANDIDA faces the audience, wearing a white laboratory coat and sexy glasses, holding a test-tube in her hand and leaning against a makeshift counter. All the paraphernalia of a photo shoot, white umbrella, wires, lights, cameras. She talks to Mark, the photographer, while she poses.
Thanks, Mark. You certainly know how to make a girl feel at home. This is not my forte. As you can see. (Laughs) Is it that obvious? I have to say my media training… (camera flash) …oh yes…sorry, was my mouth open?… Let’s do it again… Where was? Media training…didn’t stretch to this… it’s been mainly displays in city centres, beer swilling youths peering down a microscope at a stem cell beating like a heart, going, cool, there’s a heart… Sorry, yeah, okay… No, I’m doing myself down, not like me really… There were the radio interviews and… h yes… Open University…but this… (Poses. Flash, flash, flash.) Wow! the paparazzi! You know…we don’t really…I don’t wear, need to wear a white coat in my lab…unless you’re an actual, hands-on researcher type… What? …Puh-lease…lie on the counter…why? That’s ridiculous…I’m not lying on the counter… I can just see the headline now, “If your brain’s short of a cell or two, then Candida’s your girl.” Tell you what, I’ll sit on the counter…
(Candida’s shapely legs in black tights and fancy stilettos are now visible. Her lab coat is unbuttoned. She’s stylishly dressed.)
“Candida gets on top of her research.” Or “Candida gets on top of her tubes.” Scrap the last one. That probably suits “Loaded” better… A model who supplies her own headlines… (Flash) Two for one… Can I take my glasses off? I look much better without them (Takes them off and then puts them back on, wearily) Oh…alright. (Flash) Why couldn’t they have done a feature like “Candida: A scientist relaxes”? Pictures outside the Royal Opera house in a Dolce Gabbana dress and jewelry that comes with its own security guards…wouldn’t that be great?… I guess that would be Vogue, not Hello… Yeah, alright, keep your hair on…I’m sure Hello is a great magazine to work for… (Flash) Was I talking again?
(She looks at her watch) How much longer?… I have to get across town for a really important meeting… No I don’t think so. You keep flashing at the wrong times… No I’m not, I’d never dream of doing such a thing… I WOULD NOT… I’m not telling you how to do your job…okay, okay, I’ll stop talking. You started it …wanting to know what I had for breakfast…
(Flash. CANDIDA caught with grotesque expression. Blackout.)
copyright © 2011 Rahila Gupta. All rights reserved. _________________________________________________
Rahila Gupta co-wrote Provoked, a film that was released in 2007, about a battered woman who killed her violent husband. She was a member of the writing team of Westway, a BBC World Service drama series. She is currently under commission from the University of Newcastle to write a play on stem cell research and public engagement.