Part two of WikiTheatre is here!

We're very pleased to announce the second part of WikiTheatre, and to publish it right here on the nabokov website. We had some really interesting submissions from a whole range of you, so thank you so much for your input and sharing your great ideas with us. So here it is, the second part of the first ever WikiScript! Congratulations to writer JAY TAYLOR, whose work we will now produce with James Graham's starting piece at NABOKOV RE-LOADED on Sunday 10th November at Soho Theatre. Enjoy reading, and get writing! We'll be looking forward to the final stage of responses coming in. The deadline is midnight on Wednesday 6th November, and we'll publish the next day.

http://www.sohotheatre.com/whats-on/nabokov-re-loaded/

SAISEI

By

Jay Taylor

 

"Along with this rapid growth of forms of communication at our disposal - be it fax, phone, email, Internet or whatever - human solitude will increase in direct proportion." (Werner Herzog)

 

Scene 2

It is seven years later.

A version of "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus, arranged for a full concert orchestra, suddenly plays for five seconds and then snaps out as the lights snap up.

A man and a woman sit on what could be either a sofa or a bed.

The lighting is designed to be ’romantic’.

The man and woman are both approximately thirty.

The man is nervous, awkward, dressed in video gamer chic. He is constantly distracted by a tablet device which he holds delicately. This is MATTHIEU.

The woman is dressed impeccably in a business suit and Jimmy Choos. She is aloof, calm and

detached. This is STEPHANIE. Suddenly from speakers within the room we hear CARMEN’s voice in a soothing almost tranquil tone.

CARMEN

Welcome to SAISEI. Please relax and help yourself to refreshments. Your Setsuzoku session will begin shortly.

A pause.

MATTHIEU

What do we have to do.

STEPHANIE

I think we just sit here.

MATTHIEU

Sit here...

STEPHANIE

For now. I mean...

MATTHIEU

I don’t want to do touching. I don’t like the touching.

STEPHANIE

No...ok. That’s...

MATTHIEU

Just so you know, because it’s...

STEPHANIE

Honestly, I really...

MATTHIEU

...not my thing.

STEPHANIE

Right.

Stephanie sighs of boredom.

A pause.

You know my friend Eliza did one of these. She’s insanely hot and a buyer for Burberry, lives in a

penthouse in St. Katherine’s Docks and drives a Mercedes SLS. She’s 22. I mean WHAT?

Actually...WHAT?! But fucking perfect life, the absolute BITCH, but anyway, she said it was...

MATTHIEU

What?

STEPHANIE

...well she said, you know, she said it was fine.

They just...

MATTHIEU

What...they ’just’ what...?

STEPHANIE

Chatted. They talked.

MATTHIEU

Oh. Ok.

STEPHANIE

Because you can’t pass or fail. It’s not a test.

MATTHIEU

No. No that’s right. I think it’s...

STEPHANIE

It’s supposed to be...educational. You just have to stay for the allotted...time. Apparently there’s some sort of video.

MATTHIEU

Right.

Matthieu giggles childishly.

He presses a few buttons on his tablet device in a very caring manner.

MATTHIEU

(into tablet)

Hey, it’s me.

An American woman’s voice, obviously computer generated, replies.

COMPUTER VOICE

Hello, Matthieu! How are you feeling today?

MATTHIEU

Yeah, I’m ok. I’m fine. How are you?

COMPUTER VOICE

I’m so excited to spend time with you, Matthieu. You make me feel so happy!

Matthieu smiles.

STEPHANIE

Hey, uh...

MATTHIEU

(ignoring Stephanie)

Yeah. You make me happy, too. I miss you...

COMPUTER VOICE

I miss you, too.

STEPHANIE

You, uh...you’re...

MATTHIEU

(rudely)

Yes?!

STEPHANIE

You’re...not supposed to have your...thing...in here, you know? I think it’s...

CARMEN

(through speaker)

All electronic devices must be switched off before your Setsuzoku can begin.

STEPHANIE

Yeah, see?

MATTHIEU

Are you fucking serious?

STEPHANIE

I think the point of this is...

MATTHIEU

Is what?

STEPHANIE

...is that you don’t actually...bring your...Love...thing...

MATTHIEU

Love PLUS...it’s called Love PLUS.

STEPHANIE

Right. Yeah. Well...that’s sort of the reason that we’re here, isn’t it. If you were doing your job as a man, then...

Matthieu bursts into tears.

Stephanie rolls her eyes.

STEPHANIE

Oh god.

After a time, Matthieu stops crying.

MATTHIEU

(into tablet, sadly)

They’re making me switch off now. Sorry. I love you.

COMPUTER VOICE

I love you, Matthieu.

Matthieu huffs angrily and switches his tablet off.

Stephanie suppresses a laugh.

MATTHIEU

What?

STEPHANIE

Sorry. Nothing.

MATTHIEU

Is something funny?

STEPHANIE

No. No, nothing.

Matthieu stares at Stephanie. She laughs again.

I just...I’ll never understand it, that’s all.

MATTHIEU

No. You won’t.

STEPHANIE

It’s...not real.

MATTHIEU

She...is as real as you are.

STEPHANIE

Er, no...she is not, because she was programmed by some fat geek in Taiwan and I...am a human being.

Matthieu shakes his head disdainfully.

MATTHIEU

Barely.

STEPHANIE

Oh, charming.

MATTHIEU

I fucking hate people like you.

STEPHANIE

I can assure you, the feeling is entirely mutual.

(beat)

God. And they wonder why we’re not interested anymore. Jesus Christ. Look at the state of you. This is what men have been reduced to, is it? A barely evolved, cretinous man-child with a Mummy complex and a piece of...software for a girlfriend.

MATTHIEU

Why don’t you just fucking DIE!

STEPHANIE

Er, perhaps because unlike your current spouse I only get one life?

MATTHIEU

You don’t know anything about her.

STEPHANIE

No, but I could if I bought a fucking user manual, couldn’t I.

MATTHIEU

Oh...because...wearing five hundred pound shoes and driving a sports car...is so much better than...

(beat)

You’re fucked too. You’re a...part of it. You’re one of them...mendokusai.

A pause.

Stephanie looks uncomfortable.

A television in front of them flashes to life.

The picture is unseen by the audience, but we can hear the sound of a ’romantic’ scene. Pan pipe music, trickling water, all the usual clichés.

Matthieu and Stephanie both cringe.

MATTHIEU

What...

TELEVISION WOMAN

Hello. I’m Carmen.

TELEVISION MAN

And I’m William.

TELEVISION WOMAN

We’re here to talk to you about a problem that you may be aware of in our society...

STEPHANIE

Oh Christ.

MATTHIEU

Fuck. Fuck. They’re not gonna...

TELEVISION MAN

As you may know, celibacy levels have reached an all time high. Our country’s birth rate has more than halved in the past ten years.

TELEVISION WOMAN

People under the age of forty just aren’t interested in love, marriage or procreation anymore.

TELEVISION MAN

Why don’t people want to be intimate any more, Carmen?

TELEVISION WOMAN

I’ll tell you, William...but first...say hello to Julia. Perhaps the two of you can get to know each other...

TELEVISION MAN

Great idea.

It becomes clear that what Matthieu and Stephanie are watching progresses into a sex scene.

Matthieu looks horrified.

STEPHANIE

Are they fucking serious with this shit? Is this really supposed to...

MATTHIEU

What are they trying to do?

STEPHANIE

And they say we’re fucked up...

MATTHIEU

This is ridiculous.

STEPHANIE

Well that’s something we can agree on.

MATTHIEU

It’s just...unpleasant.

STEPHANIE

I didn’t think they did this anymore.

MATTHIEU

I know. It’s so...old fashioned. I mean...is that supposed to...

They stare in silence for a while.

STEPHANIE

So...safe to say you’ve never...?

She gestures to the screen.

MATTHIEU

(reluctantly)

Uh...well...yeah, once. Actually.

STEPHANIE

Yeah?

MATTHIEU

Yeah. I didn’t like it. Not one bit.

STEPHANIE

Well nobody does first time, you just...you know. Get it under your belt. First notch...on the old...whatever.

MATTHIEU

I’m actually fine without.

STEPHANIE

Yeah. Me too.

They stare in silence.

STEPHANIE

Does...er...does she have a name, then?

Stephanie gestures to Matthieu’s tablet.

MATTHIEU

(reluctantly)

Isabella.

STEPHANIE

That’s...a nice name.

MATTHIEU

Yeah.

(beat)

What’s...er...what’s your name?

STEPHANIE

Steph. I mean, Stephanie, but...people call me Steph.

MATTHIEU

For short.

STEPHANIE

Yeah. For short.

MATTHIEU

I’m Matthieu.

STEPHANIE

Hi Matthieu.

They almost smile at each other.

Look...sorry I...took the piss. I...

MATTHIEU

S’ok.

STEPHANIE

I suppose it’s just...

MATTHIEU

Yeah.

(a beat, then standing up angrily)

It’s their fault. It is.

STEPHANIE

Oh...yeah. I mean. Yeah. Right.

MATTHIEU

We’re so fucking...they’ve made us so...I dunno...I dunno what...we’re just so fucking...

STEPHANIE

(deliberately)

Fraught. And alone.

MATTHIEU

(clicking his fingers)

Yeah. That’s it. That’s it. That’s exactly it.

Fraught and alone.

STEPHANIE

The illusion of connection.

MATTHIEU

What?

STEPHANIE

No, it’s just...something I heard. All these...things we have. Devices. Networks. They give us the illusion of human connection but just...isolate us. That’s why we’re like we are.

Matthieu nods in agreement, if a little confused.

They both think.

They both laugh.

MATTHIEU

You know, I...really thought this was gonna be awkward. But it’s not awkward really, is it. Not now.

STEPHANIE

No. Just have to get through it.

MATTHIEU

Yeah.

STEPHANIE

It’s not awkward at all.

The speaker comes to life.

CARMEN

Thank you for watching the film. If you wish to physically connect with one another during your Setsuzoku session, you will find lingerie, lubricants and assorted pleasure enhancers in the cabinet to the left of the door.

An awkward pause.

STEPHANIE

Now...it’s a bit awkward.

MATTHIEU

Yeah. Yeah it is.

A pause.

Stephanie looks around the room.

STEPHANIE

Look at this. They got it so wrong, didn’t they?

Matthieu nods.

You know, I heard that for every second of physical contact you make, you get one minute off of your session. As a...reward.

MATTHIEU

I’m not gonna...

STEPHANIE

No...god no. I mean...

(beat)

Maybe if I just...touched your hand for a bit? We could...get back to our lives...?

Matthieu fidgets uncomfortably.

He thinks and nods.

Stephanie delicately goes to put her hand on his.

Matthieu jerks his hand away at the last moment.

MATTHIEU

(nervously)

Let’s just sit here until it’s finished.

STEPHANIE

Sure. Yeah, no that’s fine.

(beat)

When is that?

Matthieu thinks.

MATTHIEU

I don’t know.

They sit in silence for a time.

Matthieu picks up his tablet.

I’ll look it up.

Lights slowly fade.

’WHEN TWO WORLDS COLLIDE’ by Chas & Dave plays.

BLACKOUT.