JODIE Mansfield: Pretty, skinny, blonde in her late thirties, in a posh, but casual outfit
JOSH Mansfield: Handsome, built up man in a doctor’s green surgery outfit, mid thirties
MIRIAM Mansfield: The Mansfields’ 4 year old daughter
MAX Mansfield: The Mansfields’ 2 year old son
ALTHEA Platt: Jodie’s mother. Late sixties. Messy hair.
SHARON: Sporty outfit in tennis shoes. Big puffy hair and tacky make up on. She is in her mid fifties.
Somewhere in Hawthorne in Melbourne in a family home.
The stage is divided by a kitchen bench: one half of the stage is a very posh, decorated stylish living room with a fire place, the other half of the stage is a kitchen. The decoration must reveal that the people who live here are wealthy.
Curtain is closed. Jodie and Max appear in front of the curtain. They walk across the stage hand in hand. They have spring coats on. Jodie is carrying a plastic bag with some groceries. We hear birds, dogs and people in the background. They are in a park. There could be trees or something pinned up on the curtain or fake grass to get more of the “park feeling”.
JODIE: (Stops walking and points to the distance.) Look Max! Look at that little puppy! Isn’t it cute how it’s pooping for his master? Look how adorable it is when it pushes it out! This is exactly how you should poop for Mummy when she takes you to the potty. See? Ohh..isn’t it cute?
They walk off stage. The curtains open up. Sharon is ironing front of the television, whilst Elmo’s song is on. It’s a DVD. Miriam is sitting on the couch watching the program. The DVD stops. The show ends..
MIRIAM: Play it again! Again! Again!
SHARON: Oh darling, we watched it already five times. Honey, Sharon’s head is really starting to hurt from Elmo and his little song.
MIRIAM: I want Elmo! Mummy always lets me watch Elmo.
SHARON: (Walks up to the TV and fiddles with it. She eventually turns it off.)
MIRIAM: MOVE Sharon! Your butt is so big! It covers the TV!
SHARON: What did you just say dear?
MIRIAM: Your butt is big! Mum said it so! It’s much bigger than hers or mine! Look!
SHARON: Oh dear, don’t you dare pull your pants down! I don’t want to get accused of anything! Listen, no more Elmo! It’s time to take a nap!
MIRIAM: NOOO! I want Elmo! You’re mean!
SHARON: Okay, you can stay here on the couch. Bring Nuisance and you can snuggle with him. And I will tell you a story. How about that?
Miriam brings a big plush cat into the living room and snuggles on thecouch.Sharon walks back to the ironing board and continues to iron.
SHARON: What should the story be about?
SHARON: Elmo, Elmo?! What about cats?
SHARON: So once upon a time, there was a mummy cat. She had four little kittens. They were soooo fluffy that you couldn’t see their eyes. One was called Cotton Candy, the other was called Furrball….
BREAK Lights fade. Ten seconds later the lights come back again.
SHARON: And Cotton Candy finally returned home! They all hugged him and the whole cat family was happy for ever and ever!
MIRIAM: Say it again!
SHARON: Honey, I’ve already said it twice… And look who’s home!
Miriam starts crying, but than gets distracted by seeing her mom and brother entering. Jodie takes off her coat. Sharon goes up to Max and helps him take of his coat.
JODIE: Hello, we’re back! The hairdresser was running late, so that’s why it took so long. How was Miriam? Did she go to the toilet?!
SHARON: Yes, we went together!
JODIE: Well that’s a step forward! Did you put up a sticker for her on the poopy calendar? You know Josh always forgets the stickers/
SHARON: Yes, I’ve put up a smiley face and Miriam promised next time she’ll go all by herself.
Jodie checks a calendar that hangs on a door, which supposed to lead to the toilet.
JODIE: Oh, okay. You did put a smiley up. Great. Look Miriam, you have already pooped 4 times this week! Good girl! I think you inherited Mummy’s good metabolism! I swear to God Sharon, that’s why I’m so skinny. I didn’t gain much during my pregnancies either. I’m really lucky like that.
SHARON: Yes, Jodie, you’re lucky indeed. Your life is a dream. So beautiful. The kids, the house. Everything is just perfect. You and Josh are like a Hollywood couple/
JODIE: Well, don’t think I won all this on the lottery. It’s hard work to be a wife of a doctor, I can assure you of that! Shoot! That reminds me! He’ll be home in a sec! Sharon put the kids down for a nap! You’ll have to leave in the next ten minutes.
Jodie folds up the ironing board and takes it off stage with the clothes. Sharon takes the kids out. Sharon comes back.
SHARON: Good bye Jodie! See you tomorrow!
JODIE: Oh, Sharon! I know it is the first day of the month, but do you mind if I pay you tomorrow?! How much do I owe you for April?
SHARON: 500 dollars.
JODIE: Oh, that’s a bit more than last month. Let me write that down! (She writes $500 on the blackboard in the kitchen.) Okay, I’ll give it to you tomorrow. I’m really sorry, it’s just that I don’t have any cash on me and you know, writing up a check might be a bit too suspicious.
SHARON: No problem my dear! See you at 10am tomorrow!
Jodie gets out a TV dinner from a bag she carried in. TV Chicken Pot Pie. She puts it into the oven. Whilst setting the table her mother arrives.
JODIE: Mum! How did you get in?
ALTHEA: The door was ajar…
JODIE: Mum, I’ve told you to call before you come/
ALTHEA: But this is important Jodie. I didn’t want to tell you on the phone. I have really bad news for you…
JODIE: Oh my God! What’s wrong? Is Dad alright?
ALTHEA: Your dad? The old fart! He’s alright/
JODIE: Jenny? Is she self-harming? Tell me!
ALTHEA: I didn’t know she’s self-harming. Is she?
JODIE: Nevermind, tell me the bad news! What happened?!
ALTHEA: Well, you know how Jenny always wanted Dad’s old rocking chair for her living room? So finally he fixed it up for her and painted it…
ALTHEA: Okay, so we put it on the trailer and drove it down to your sister’s and it was fairly hard to secure that old rocking chair, it was wobbling…
JODIE: AHHH! You are driving me crazy! What happened? Get to the point!
ALTHEA: Well, it’s Toby!
JODIE: What happened to him?
ALTHEA: Your Dad, he was trying to back into their driveway and Toby ran out and the car just crushed him, and the blood was up on the windshield /
JODIE: Oh, stop mother!
ALTHEA: And we could just hear his bones cracking!
JODIE: Oh yuck! Mother! Just shut up! Did Jenny see it or any of the kids?
ALTHEA: They must have. I’m sure one of them opened the door as they saw us pulling up and that’s how the dog got out. Should’ve seen the blood! Like a fountain!
JODIE: Ahhh, but it was an old dog, wasn’t it?
ALTHEA: Yes, it was. I don’t remember when she got it/
JODIE: When she graduated. About 13 years ago, I guess.
ALTHEA: Oh, did I tell you that Dad got the rocking chair fixed up?!
JODIE: Mother you really need to go now! Josh is almost home, and I still have to make dinner. Besides, you know he doesn’t like you popping in without any notice…
ALTHEA: It’s nice maroon colour. The rocking chair. Just like she wanted it.
JODIE: Hand me that casserole dish.
Jodie points towards a dish whilst she is getting out the chicken pot pie from the oven and she slowly peals off the aluminium tray from around it.
ALTHEA: What did you make?
JODIE: Well, I found this frozen chicken pot pie that perfectly fits my casserole dish. It’s the same size. Look! Perfect! But listen Mom…
Jodie stuffs the aluminium tray and the box of the TV dinner into a plastic bag and gives it to Althea.
Can you please take this with you and throw it out at your house?
ALTHEA: Alright dear. But did I tell you what happened to poor Toby?
JODIE: Althea! OUT!
Althea starts walking out.
JODIE: The bag! (She rans after her) Gosh, you almost got me into trouble by forgetting this here!
Jodie places the dinner on the table and makes the final touches. She places a vase of flowers on the table. She quickly puts some lipstick on and walks around the house, checking if things are perfectly at their place. She is aligning the books on the shelf when Josh arrives in a green hospital outfit. His green hat is still on..
JOSH: I’m home! Anyone here to greet me?
JODIE: Stop yelling! The kids are sleeping! You’re late!
JOSH: (Kisses Jodie on the cheeks) I took the car for a service after my last operation.
JODIE: Didn’t you do that last week?
JOSH: I took the Porsche last week, and I took the Ford today. Uhmm smells good in here. What’s for dinner?
JODIE: Your favourite.
Josh takes off his hat and statoscope and they sit down to eat.
JOSH: Yumm! Chicken pot pie! You’re amazing! I bragged about your pies at work and Brad and Katie invited themselves over for dinner. I booked them in for next Thursday.
JODIE: You should’ve asked me before you just booked them in.
JOSH: What for?
JODIE: Because I’m your wife and I might have something on, or I might not feel like it…
JOSH: (Eating) Oh come on babe! What would you have on? Baby-Mummy club nite?
JODIE: You’re an asshole. Besides you didn’t even ask about the kids?
JOSH: (Eating) Oh yeah, how are they?
JODIE: They are fine. I’m still struggling with this whole potty training business. I just wish it’d work. I am over dirty diapers.
JOSH: (Eating) Alright.
One of the kids start crying in the background.
JODIE: It’s Miriam.
JOSH: (Eating) Go and get her, so she can give Daddy a kiss.
JODIE: You go and get her and you can kiss her in her room.
JOSH: I just got home. I’m eating. You won’t make me get up. I had a hard day, my last patient died. You’re home all day, you should/
JODIE: Oh, you, don’t you dare…! Look at the house, it’s immaculate. All your shirts are ironed. You’re eating your favourite food and you dare to tell me…. Yes, I was home all day! Painting my nails and watching television. Go and get your crying daughter!
JOSH: I am not going to capitulate!
JODIE: What are you not….? Go and get her! Can’t you hear that she is screaming her head off?
JOSH: I’m inconvincible.
JODIE: What? And you call yourself a father?
JOSH: I’m inconvincible. I know that I am a good father, you can’t convince me otherwise.
JODIE: Being a good father isn’t based on knowledge. It’s a fact. Or not…
JOSH: Apropos facts! I’ve prepared a fact sheet, which will come handy right now! Let me just find it! There we go!
(He searches in his backpack and gets out a piece of paper.)
JOSH: So, it’s called: ‘Why am I a good father?’ written by Josh B. Mansfield
Point number one: When I’m home – on weekends and on my days off – I always make breakfast for the kids.
JODIE: You gotta be kidding. You chuck something in the microwave and you leave it there. For days/
JOSH: Number two: When we go somewhere as a family I always take one of the kids out of the car and I carry the kid in my arms until necessary.
JODIE: Ha! We don’t even have to carry Miriam anymore. She can walk by herself!
JOSH: Number three: When I’m home, I always change Max’s diaper and I never complain if it is shitty.
JODIE: (Laughs) You are scarring me!
JOSH: Number four: I take Miriam to gymnastics.
JODIE: Ha! You didn’t even notice that she hasn’t been to gymnastics since September!
JOSH: Number five: I always kiss and hug the kids when I get home and I snuggle with them when I am home with them.
JODIE: Yeah right. Last week you were home with the kids for two days and I couldn’t discipline Miriam afterwards for days. She was acting like a retard, said the F word like four times in one sentence!
JOSH: Number six: When Jodie isn’t home I discipline the kids.
JODIE: Oh for heaven’s sake! You’re giving instructions to them from the couch, like: Miriam, bring Daddy’s newspaper here!
JOSH: Number seven: I consciously set a good example for the kids.
JODIE: Like how to become professional TV-watchers or what did you have in mind?
JOSH: And number eight: In my free time I come up with programs which can also be enjoyed by the kids.
JODIE: Oh, God! I didn’t know that lifting weights at the gym and attending cocktail parties belonged to the favourite activities of children under three!? Can’t you hear that Miriam is screaming her head off? Go and prove that you are such an excellent father instead of reciting some ridiculous list that only makes you feel better about yourself but makes the rest of the family ashamed of your egoism.
JOSH: Watch my lips Jodie: INCONVINCABLE!
JODIE: You are disgusting. I think you’ve lost your mind. And the worst thing is that you didn’t even notice it.
Miriam’s cry can still be heard from the background.
JOSH: If I were you I would be very careful. It’s enough to take a close look at your mother, or sister with her cuts on her face to determine who is more prone to craziness out of the two of us.
JODIE: You make me barf! I’m going to leave you soon! You’ll see! I’m taking the kids! Once we are out of the house you’ll have time to admire yourself in the mirror and write a whole book about your glory!
JOSH: Ha! You leaving me? Who were you when I met you? A cashier girl in K-Mart? I can afford the best lawyers in town, but you? You think the court will let you take the kids? No chance babe, and I’m pretty sure you know that!/
JODIE: (turns her back to Josh) By the way, your brother called.
JOSH: Jimmy? When?
JODIE: This morning.
JOSH: Did he sound okay?
JODIE: Sounded high, as always.
JOSH: Did he ask for me?
JODIE: Of course he didn’t ask for you. He doesn’t want to talk to you. That’s why he calls when he knows you’re at work. He just wants money.
JOSH: How much did he ask for this time?
JODIE: Ohh, (She checks the blackboard in the kitchen.) 500 bucks.
JOSH: Bastard, that’s more than last time! Did he leave a number I can contact him on?
JODIE: No. He just told me to put some cash into an envelope and send it off to a PO BOX in Humpty Doo.
JOSH: Humpty Doo? You mean next to Darwin? How did he get up there?
JODIE: You know junkies. They go wherever the junk is…
JOSH: Did he say when he’s coming home?
JODIE: He just wanted the money, gave me the address, and hung up. He’ll probably call again next month.
JOSH: Maybe I’ll be home then. Here. (He hands her some cash.) Can you send this off to him tomorrow? Send it express. Who knows, he might need a doctor or something. He should just bloody come home. Ahh, this screaming is killing me!
He walks into the Miriam’s room – off stag. Jodie puts the money in her pocket. We hear the little girl screaming in the background.
MIRIAM: No Daddy!! No Daddy!
JOSH: Darling, it is okay, it is me Daddy! Jodie, come here to take a look! You won’t believe this!
Jodie enters the bathroom. Miriam sees her mother and continues screaming.
MIRIAM: No Mummy! No Mummy! I want Sharon!
JOSH: I found Miriam here all by herself. Guess what she was doing all by herself?
JODIE: (She looks into the toilet!) Oh honey! You pooped! That’s perfect! Such a good girl! John put a BIG smiley on the calendar under her name! She deserves the cutest sticker of all!! Or do you want to watch Elmo???
MIRIAM: I want Sharon and Cotton Candy!!!
JODIE: Not today baby, not today!
Jodie turns on the television and the DVD and Elmo’s song comes on again.