Our two main characters, ROB and CONNIE, knew each other when they were children. Both were born in London and went to the same school, before the Second World War broke out. Once it ended, they found solace in each other, fell in love and got married.
Before the war, CONNIE loved to paint in her spare time, and ROB enjoyed carpenting as a pastime. What were avid hobbies soon became comfort, and the more their lives intertwined, so did their craft.
CONNIE is a simple and beautiful brunette, who fell in love with Rob while he was working on his parents’ farm and she was babysitting children in the neighbourhood. Once the war came to England, she felt that she had to aid them in any way possible, so she worked towards becoming a nurse. It was there that she met and took care of Rob; they became fast friends.
ROB is a young man who has always had a charming and cheeky side to him. Nothing that would get him in serious trouble, but he was certainly someone to watch out for. He had to harden his shell once the war broke out. And after witnessing the death of his friend GEORGE and being injured, he was sent to the nurse’s quarters and became properly acquainted with the smart girl that would always sit behind him in class.
ACT ONE – SCENE 1
WINSTON CHURCHILL’S “WE SHALL FIGHT ON THE BEACHES” STARTS PLAYING THROUGH AN OLD RADIO. VIDEOS OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR ARE PLAYING ON THE WALLS OF THE THEATRE. AFTER A FEW BEATS, THE IMAGES BEGIN TO SLOWLY FADE, BUT THE SOUNDS ARE STILL AUDIBLE.
SUDDENLY THERE’S A CRASH OF THUNDER AND LIGHTNING, SCREAMS AND GUNSHOTS CAN BE HEARD. WINSTON’S VOICE IS BUILDING IN INTENSITY AND BECOMES ALMOST DEMONIC.
A young soldier limps on stage, followed by a Japanese soldier. Another young man runs out from the other side of the stage, wearing pyjamas. The young soldier collapses, gripping his ankle in pain. The Japanese soldier stands over him and puts pressure on his ankle, causing him to scream.
The soldier continues to push down on his ankle as he raises his gun.
The soldier pulls the trigger, and a final flash of lighting and burst of thunder crashes as you can hear Rob’s scream.
THE STAGE FADES TO BLACK AS THE AUDIENCE HEARS ROB SOBBING. THE LIGHTS SLOWLY COME UP AFTER A FEW BEATS AND WE ARE TAKEN TO A BEDROOM.
A woman jumps out of bed and begins to cradle and hold Rob, murmuring in his ear to calm him down.
FADE TO BLACK
LIGHTS UP AS AN OLD RADIO STARTS PLAYING.
RADIO HOST: Good morning, everyone! I hope you are well this wonderful sunny day. It’s officially December, which means Christmas season is fast approaching! Time to get your shopping, decorations, and cooking up to scratch to ensure that this is the best year yet! Don’t go anywhere because a new hit from our favourite Mr. Bing Crosby “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is a few songs away.
LIGHT MUSIC FILLS THE ROOM FULL OF CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS; A STUDY. THERE ARE TWO WORKING STATIONS OPPOSITE EACH OTHER – ONE DESK HAS NEWSPAPERS, PAPERS AND BOOKS; THE OTHER HAS PAINT POTS, BRUSHES AND A SMALL, WOODEN, NEARLY COMPLETE TOY. ON THE WALL, THERE ARE SKETCHES OF OTHER TOYS, AS WELL AS POSTERS.
Rob is sitting by his desk, writing. CONNIE walks in with two cups of tea and a plate of digestives. She sets his cup down next to him, returns to her table and starts painting a toy.
CONNIE: Robbie dear?
CONNIE: About the pants…
CONNIE: Are you sure the gold stripes look best? Lily would love the green or white-
ROB: Positive. (Smirks) The less Christmas elf-y you make ’em, the better.
CONNIE: (Pouts her lips) Naw, but it’s the holiday season, and little Lily loves a Christmas-y elf.
Rob gives her a look…she continues pouting.
CONNIE: Please? Not even some cute, little, iddy-biddy dots around the hems?
CONNIE: Pretty please, with triple chocolate chips on top?
ROB: No way!
CONNIE: Darling! You aren’t even lis-
CONNIE: You’re just upset ’cause my toys are better than yours.
ROB: Excuse me? Mine are unique.
CONNIE: (Smirks) Yours are certainly one of a kind.
ROB: (Sneezes) Pardon me. (sniffs) Allergies.
CONNIE: And what are you allergic to now darling?
Radio advertisements are now playing. Both Rob and Connie turn at the same time, eager to change the channel.
ROB: Oh no. You. Don’t! You’ve been controlling it all day…my turn!
He changes to the jazz channel and then gives Connie the “I’m watching you” signal before sitting back down. After a while, Connie grabs a digestive, walks to Rob, and looks over his shoulder. He continues to write while she eats the biscuit.
CONNIE: Another George one?
ROB: (nods) Yes, it’s been a while.
CONNIE: A couple of weeks, isn’t it?
He turns back a few pages.
ROB: Three weeks and six days.
Rob continues to write as Connie gives him the last bite of her Digestive.
ROB: What’s your description of the casualties you always use?
CONNIE: Um…a set of memories…an untold library of a thousand stories, disappearing every day before they’ve had a chance to be told.
ROB: (chuckles)…Almost forgot how romantic you make it sound.
CONNIE: Well…it makes it easier. And soon enough that will be all I remember.
He grabs her hand and kisses it as she notices an empty honey pot on the tabletop.
CONNIE: More honey, honey?
ROB: (smirks) Please and thank you.
She takes the pot and exits to the kitchen.
CONNIE: (Offstage) Well, would yah look at that – the jar’s dry!
ROB: Well… I’m fine with having milk. I should be watching my sugar intake.
He slides his chair to her desk and reaches for a biscuit.
CONNIE: (Offstage) Uh-uh!
ROB: (Freezes) Only one, I swear!
CONNIE: More like three or fo-
ROB: (Grabs a biscuit) You have no faith in me!
CONNIE: I do! (She returns) Just not when it comes to that (she pushes his chair back to his desk) epic…chocolatey…(puts the milk pot on his table) biscuit-y goodness!
She walks back to her desk and paints the finishing touches on the doll.
CONNIE: Did you take the rubbish out?
ROB: Not yet darling.
CONNIE: It’s fine. I just want to say that I’ve prepared chicken and salad for dinner so the bin is full.
ROB: Thank you.
Connie pokes her head back into the office.
CONNIE: Yes, love? Would you like me to buy an asthma spray while I’m out?
ROB: Lily will love anything you make.
She kisses his cheek and exits.
FADE TO BLACK OUT
ROB AND CONNIE’S OFFICE
Rob and Connie’s friend MICHAEL is sitting on the small arm chair, Rob across him. They are both sipping on cups of tea whilst nibbling on Digestives.
ROB: It drives me crazy that no matter how fast I run I can never save him.
MICHAEL: Have these been getting better or worse?
ROB: I can’t tell you, it changes.
MICHAEL: Well I’m just glad you’ve laid off the brew, you were getting out of hand.
ROB: (Chuckles) No need to remind me. It was bloody tough, I still struggle to fall back to sleep. The ones with him always keep me up the most.
MICHAEL: Mate I still get nightmares from being in the tank.
ROB: Mate…the smell gave me nightmares.
MICHAEL: (Chuckles) But he was lucky he got a clean one through his head. Why is George the one that keeps you up?
ROB: Well…George and I were in the same base. I always noticed that he would be writing in his diary or on pieces of writing paper more than most. I asked him why and he told me he was writing to his mother. He would write about the positive things he would notice. Something as small as seeing a flower or birds…how-such optimism…people called him naive, ignorant, or just plain stupid. But I would notice when he would write and allow those feelings of hope. When I signed up, I didn’t have the drive to kill like the others, but when I saw that Japanese solider put a bullet through his head…something snapped. That soldier ran away with a bloody…grin on his face. From that moment on, I had no problem killing them. If I didn’t look into their eyes as their life was ending by my hand, I felt like I wasn’t being a soldier. I wanted to keep going until the hunger was filled. Once I saw the worst in people, I didn’t think I could ever adjust or move on. Once the war was over-once I was ultimately left to myself…I didn’t know how my days were spent. Everything blurred together. I would try anything to take my mind off the dead, shell shocked faces… We were all casualties – we all died in some way on the battlefield, and those the war spared had to move on.
MICHAEL: And Connie was with you the whole time?
MICHAEL: You bloody lucky berk.
ROB: I want to do everything to make it up to her, to be better for her…and better for myself.
Rob comes to a realisation.
MICHAEL: What’s that look Rob?
ROB: I might need your help with something.
ROB: Learn to be the better version of myself.
MICHAEL: (Confused) Okay mate…well, what was it you wanted help for?
ROB: Opening a business!
ROB: I have an idea.
MICHAEL: To open a business?
ROB: I’ll let you know when I figure it –
MICHAEL: You don’t know?
ROB: Not completely, but I will.
MICHAEL: Building a business? Really Rob?
ROB: Well what do you suggest I do?
MICHAEL: Just…wait. That’s my suggestion. You can start thinking about it and planning, but please don’t set anything in stone and rush the process. You don’t need-you can’t afford another heartbreak.
FADE TO BLACK
Rob is pacing around between the desks in their office, Connie is sitting and watching him with a cup of tea in her hand.
CONNIE: Afternoon tea has convinced you to open a toy shop?
ROB: Not afternoon tea, me…and it’s for us…as soon as we get enough money.
CONNIE: This is so unlike you…but also so like you!
ROB: I know, isn’t it amazing?!
CONNIE: (Gobsmacked, she puts her tea on the table) But my drawings –
ROB: Are perfect. You know how much everyone loves them. And I can make anything from them. I build the toys and you paint them.
CONNIE: There may be a point where I run out of-
ROB: Your sleepless nights are always by your desk, we both feel comfort from it. The day we run out of ideas, pigs will be flying and we will be watching TV in our cars.
CONNIE: Not everyone is going to like them.
ROB: So many people I have talked to about your drawings absolutely love them! They all say the same thing – that you should sell them.
CONNIE: Where can we buy a toy st-
ROB: There are a few stores around our neighbourhood that would be perfect-
CONNIE: Will we need to hire p –
ROB: Once we get to running the store. We’ll work it all out.
CONNIE: That’s what you always say! I just – what I – can’t we just take our bloody time? Please?! I don’t know if I can keep up with this…with you.
She covers her face. Rob sits down and grabs her hands, stroking them with his thumbs.
ROB: Connie…I don’t think you understand that those little doodles and sketches on the walls have given me an idea…purpose…hope. Mrs Connie Abigail Smith, you have a gift.
CONNIE: This is mental. (Looks at him) You are absolutely mental.
ROB: Takes one to know one.
Connie signs and holds her head in her hands
ROB: You know dear, worrying means you suffer twice.
After a few seconds, her body shakes, laughing. She looks up at him with a big smile on her face.
FADE TO BLACK
ACT TWO – SCENE 1
ROB AND CONNIE’S OFFICE
JAZZ MUSIC IS PLAYING ON THE RADIO. IT’S MESSIER SINCE THE HOLIDAYS – THE DECORATIONS ARE STILL UP. THE DRAWING BOARDS ARE COVERED WITH IDEAS: SOME COMPLETED, SOME NEAR COMPLETION, AND SOME IN THEIR EARLY STAGES. THE DESKS ARE BOTH COVERED IN TOY LIMBS, PAINT POTS AND OTHER SCRAPS. IT’S CLEAR THEY’VE HAD A BUSY SEASON.
Connie walks onstage with slight discomfort but starts cleaning her working area. Her discomfort grows and she groans, hunched over the table. After a moment, she runs to the bathroom. Afterwards, she grabs her coat, handbag and exits.
FADE TO BLACK
ROB AND CONNIE’S OFFICE
Connie is working on their latest toy but freezes when she hears the door open.
ROB: (Offstage) Honey, I’m hooome! I’ve bought some more chicken and was thinking of making some – (Enters) Babe?
ROB: What’s wrong?
ROB: Okay…Then what’s bothering you? Your hand’s turning blue from the ink.
CONNIE: (She puts down her pen) Uh…I think…we are going to have to finish a few things earlier.
ROB: Uh…sure, what?
CONNIE: …The nursery.
ROB: What…? You’re…? Really?!
Connie: (Nods) Got the news from our doctor today.
Rob kneels in front of Connie and holds her hands, gently stroking them with his thumb, and kisses her stomach. He then spins her in a joyful embrace and starts laughing.
ROB: I’m going to be a father! We’re going to be a family!
He holds her back.
ROB: Darling…What’s wrong? Are you feeling unwell?
CONNIE: There’s so much joy…but my stomach keeps getting heavier. This baby is the biggest blessing, and I do want to have children with you, but I just don’t know if we can support our child with the store not even on its feet.
ROB: You will be an amaz-
CONNIE: But our child is going to be growing up as we’re healing. The nightmares, screaming…taking care of ourselves and running the store…I want our little baby to come into the world and see their parents in stability, not worry when the next hot meal will be!
ROB: I don’t think anyone can be truly ready. I know we can make the make the most of any-
CONNIE: I still can’t believe that we survived the bloody war, got married and moved into a quiet neighbourhood! Rebuilding our lives and are growing…I’m not used to such a fairytale-ever-after. I’m not worthy of being –
ROB: You are perfect, and don’t you dare think that you’re anything less than! I wouldn’t be the man I am, and am becoming, without you…dear God. I am so. Fucking. Grateful. I want nothing more than to build this life with you.
Beat, Rob has an idea
ROB: You know what?
Holds one of her hands and kneels
CONNIE: (Chuckles) Really, Rob –
ROB: I’m serious!
Connie sighs as she gets off her chair and kneels.
CONNIE: Bloody hell Robbie.
ROB: No matter what wars we face-
CONNIE: We face them together. No matter who tries to bring us down.
ROB: We will bring each other up. No matter where we end up.
CONNIE: We will walk out of it together. No matter why we make decisions.
ROB: We either make them together or solve them together. No matter what-
CONNIE: -We will respect each other. No matter what-
ROB: -We will support each other… and no matter what-
CONNIE: -We will love each other… No matter what?
ROB: No. Matter. What.
They both put their hands on her stomach, lean in and rest their foreheads together, smiling and breathing…together.
FADE TO BLACK
THE CRIB IS HALF BUILT.
Connie enters, takes her coat off and walks towards the crib, but collapses before she can get there. Sobbing.
FADE TO BLACK
CONNIE AND ROB’S THE OFFICE
Connie is sitting painting a toy, but freezes when she hears the door open.
Rob: Honey, I’m home!
He kisses her cheek and notices her behaviour
Rob: Darling? What’s wrong?
Connie: It’s the baby…
She stands up and walks to the other side of the room
Connie: When I got out of bed this morning, the sheets were bloody…and I went to the doctor..
Trying to contain her emotions, Connie is afraid to turn around.
CONNIE: He’s gone
After a moment of silence, he screams and kicks the wall, leaving a small hole. He falls to the ground and starts punching the floor until he gives up. Connie walks over to him and takes his face in her hands.
Connie: Look at me, darling, look at me… look into my eyes… I’m here for you.
Rob breathes heavily.
Connie: I believe in you…this isn’t your fault…
Rob: Then whose? The baby –
Connie: Is with George watching over us.
Rob: How long until we can hold our little baby?
ROB AND CONNIE’S OFFICE
RADIO HOST: Gooooood morning, everyone! The King of Rock and Roll, Mr Elvis Presley, has released another song that’s guaranteed to get your feet moving! “All Shook Up” will be played in a few songs so don’t go anywhere, unless it’s to get your blue suede shows!
Rob is busy working by his desk. Connie walks in with a pink blanket bundle in her arms. Rob turns around, walks to them and strokes the baby’s head while kissing her head.
Rob: How is our little soldier sleeping?
Connie: Well. How is my other soldier?
Rob: (Sighs and chuckles) Not as well.
Connie passes the baby
Connie: Are you hungry?
Connie: Pumpkin soup?
Rob: Sounds perfect.
Connie: I’ll feed Georgie once the soup is ready.
Rob places a loving kiss on Connie’s forehead before she exits. He walks back to his desk and leans back, rocking the baby back and forth.
FADE TO BLACK