H. B. O’Neill
James Andrew McArthur (Jimmy Mack) is a gentleman thief; he has a self-imposed strict moral code: no violence and no jewellery (jewellery has sentimental value and a gentleman does not cause emotional pain). Now however he has a dilemma – his wife has been kidnapped by a gun-wielding Russian and Jimmy Mack must steal a priceless gem in order to save her life. His one hope of success and revenge is a £2 pineapple.
Here’s an excerpt:
James – 40’s
Elizabeth – 40’s
Dimitri – 20’s
1960’s Somewhere in London’s East End.
It’s dark and we see a torchlight. The actor walks toward the edge of the stage. He turns the torch off. The spotlight comes on (or torch is shone on his face) and we see JAMES. He is wearing a balaclava and gloves and carrying a leather bag.
JAMES: Ahh, good evening ladies and gentlemen.
He bows politely.
JAMES: Apologies for the attire, not quite theatre I know, but these are my work clothes. I guess you could call them my uniform. I’m on my way home from… well, let’s just say, from ‘putting in a shift.’ More on that later perchance, but first things first, how terribly remiss of me to forget formal introductions, James is my name, James Andrew McArthur. At least that’s my name during the day, and if I’m not mistaken dawn is rapidly approaching. James Andrew McArthur, gentleman, scholar and pillar of the community. By night however I’m best known as ‘Jimmy Mac’, notorious scallywag and tip top tea leaf. And SHUSH!!!
He switches the torch off and hits the floor. After a few moments we hear the sound of a police siren and see flashing blue lights. They pass by and it’s silent once more. The torch is switched back on and JAMES rises. The spotlight illuminates him once more.
JAMES: Sorry about that, bit of a false alarm, it’s not even the constabulary I’m a-feared of these days, not primarily at least. It’s a little more complex than that. I’ve been a very busy boy recently and I’m afraid I was forced to tempt fate. Still, fingers crossed, touch wood, rub the rabbit’s foot and what not, I think I’ve gotten away with it. You wouldn’t think one of these could help save your life.
He fishes in to his bag, removes and holds up a pineapple. He studies it for a few moments.
JAMES: Not that this one did. This one is for my breakfast, this one was bought at the all night grocery less than ten minutes ago, a gentleman appreciates the benefits of a healthy start to the day. Especially after a stress filled night shift. This one is nothing more than a red herring, pay it no attention. The other one … well, that’s a long story. It all happened over a year ago… but it seems like only yesterday…
Stage darkens and when it lights again we are taken back 12 months. Half of the stage is in darkness and the other half of the stage reveals JAMES sat a kitchen table. On the table in front of him is a large pineapple and some prepared pineapple chunks and cheese on cocktail sticks. He looks at his watch and frowns. His phone rings.
JAMES: Good evening. James Andrew McArthur speaking.
DIMITRI: Your wife would like to speak to you.
JAMES: I beg your pardon?
The other half of the stage is now lit and we see ELIZABETH gagged and tied to a chair. A Russian, DIMITRI, holding a gun, removes the gag and gives her the phone. He holds the gun to her head.
JAMES: Elizabeth? Are those your dulcet tones?
ELIZABETH: Yeah but cut the posh crap, I’m in the shit!
JAMES: Liz? What’s the matter? Liz? Liz!
DIMITRI takes back the phone.
DIMITRI: Your wife is right, she is indeed inside the shit.
JAMES: What? Who the fuck are you?
DIMITRI: I am Dimitri, we have spoken before, in the Crown and Rose.
JAMES: The Rose and Crown?
DIMITRI: Yes, the Crown and Rose. I have asked you to do a job. Many times. I made you an offer. The legendary Jimmy Mac, a job only you could do.
JAMES: Yes, I remember, and I told you to stuff it up yer hairy commy backside.
DIMITRI: Yes. That is correct. You did… And you all had very much laugh… but you are not laughing now Jimmy Mac.
JAMES: Why is my wife with you?
DIMITRI: She is helping me. Just like I helped her. You are going to do that job for me.
JAMES: Am I fuck! Let me speak to my wife!
DIMITRI: As you wish. But when we speak again, remember your manners, James Andrew McArthur. The choices are no longer yours.
He hands the phone back to Elizabeth.
JAMES: Liz? Are you ok?
ELIZABETH: Yes, I’m fine. So far.
JAMES: What happened?
ELIZABETH : One minute I’m preparing party food for Saturday night, you remember we’re having the twins and everyone over? It’s our anniversary, don’t tell me you’ve forgotten that too!
JAMES: Er, no… no, of course not, I’m very much looking forward to it.
ELIZABETH : Yes, good, well anyway, there I was preparing the cheese and pineapple, gonna make sure it’s a right posh do. And next minute he’s at the door with his gun cocked and a ‘come wiv me’ demand.
JAMES: What does he mean he helped you?
ELIZABETH : Oh that… He means he leant me money.
JAMES: What? What do you mean? How much!
JAMES: 20 fu… and you’ve borrowed this money from the Russian?
ELIZABETH: I had to; I had to pay off the McGanns.
JAMES: The McGanns?
ELIZABETH: Yes, I owed them the money. I borrowed from them to pay off the bookies… and the bingo hall… I’d gotten a bit carried away…
JAMES: But I know the McGanns! I could have sorted it with the McGanns!
ELIZABETH: I know you know the McGanns that’s why I had to pay off the McGanns. I was embarrassed…
JAMES: You were embarrassed so you went to the Russian?
ELIZABETH: He seemed nice… And he said he knew you…
JAMES: Oh he knows me alright, he’s been nagging me for months, he wants me to do a job for him. And I’ve always told him I’m not interested… I have my code… You know I have my code!
Pineapple Chance is a prize-winning short play previously produced and performed at Brockley Jack Theatre, South London and the Broadway Theatre, Barking East London.
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