JACK HARTE





The Island of Love (sample) by Jack Harte

Dramatis Personae

N.B. Can be performed by six actors

Maura Thornton

    Joint owner of Thornton's Hotel

Sean Thornton
    Joint owner of Thornton's Hotel, Maura's brother

Tanya Hardy
    A research student, perhaps

Fergal
    A republican paramilitary

Rory
    A republican paramilitary

King
    Dan Scott, titular head of the island

Man


Paramedics


The location is the lounge of Thorntonís Hotel on the island of Innishgra (which translates as 'The Island of Love') off the coast of Co Sligo, Ireland. The decor is traditional, tasteful, well-maintained. There is a bar counter running along stage back, tall stools down stage of the counter, and small low lounge tables down stage left and down stage right. A door stage left opens to the front of the hotel, and another, stage right, leads to the interior. The main entrance to the hotel is to be imagined to the back of the stage, accessible internally from door stage right, and externally from door stage left. There is a window in the wall stage left. The time is the recent past.

Maura Thornton is behind the bar organizing glasses, bottles, etc. Sean Thornton enters with a pile of turf for the fire - which is located in the wall centre stage left. Maura suddenly stops working, looks out the window, stands thinking while Sean is fixing the fire.


    MAURA:
Is tonight the night of the new moon?

    SEAN:
I donít know.

    MAURA:
The September new moon?

    SEAN:
Well this is September, if that's any good to you. He presses a button on a radio/recorder over the mantelpiece and turns up the volume. It plays the song 'Ibizaí. He starts moving to the music and humming the words.

    MAURA:
Shouting. Go out and see if it is.

    SEAN:
Shouting. Go out and see what? If itís the night of the new moon there will be nothing to see.

    MAURA:
Shouting. Go out anyway and have a look at the sky, just in case.

Sean stops dancing, brushes the dust from his sleeves and exits, shaking his head. Maura goes over to the radio/recorder and knocks it off. In a couple of seconds Sean re-enters.

    SEAN:
No. No moon in the sky.

    MAURA:
Are you sure? Is the sky clear?

    SEAN:
As clear and empty as your head.

    MAURA:
Then itís the new moon alright. The sea, go out and look at the sea.

    SEAN:
Will you have sense. What does it matter what the sea is like?

    MAURA:
You know very well what it matters. Go out and see if the wind is rising, or if the sea is still as calm as it has been all day.

Again Sean goes out, shaking his head, and returns after a longer pause.

    SEAN:
The sea is like a sheet of glass, and there isnít a puff of air moving. I spat up into the sky and the spit fell straight back into my eye. Now are you satisfied?

    MAURA:
Donít be disgusting. After a pause. Itís going to be one of those nights so.

    SEAN:
So what? Youíre the only one who remembers. Apart from myself of course. And I remember only because I canít avoid it, listening to yourself and himself, night after night.

    MAURA:
Go on. Youíre all ears whenever I get him talking.

    SEAN:
Yeah, it might be hard to get him talking, but itís a hell of a lot harder to shut him up. And if I appear to be all ears, itís because Iím trying to work out when heíll dry up and go home, so that we can lock.

    MAURA:
Weíre lucky to have him here night after night. He adds something to the place. He draws a crowd.

    SEAN:
A crowd! What crowd? An odd nosey tourist who wants to spy on the quaint ways of the natives. If we had a big screen set there in the corner showing the soccer matches every night weíd have the place full. And weíd be making a fortune. We could pay people to do the work, and we could be going off on holidays, maybe to the Canaries, twice or three times a year, like the rest of them.

    MAURA:
What rest of them?

    SEAN:
What rest of them? All of them. Every one of them, except us.

    MAURA:
Thatís an exaggeration. I havenít heard of anyone going off to the Canaries, not to mind going off several times a year.

    SEAN:
Itís no exaggeration. Did you not hear about all the fellas and girls who did the Leaving in the Convent School this summer? As soon as they had finished their exams they all took off for Spain, for a bit of a holiday, just like that. Torremolinos was the place they went to. All together. Can you believe it? And they came back with such stories, stories that would put the hair standing on your head. Like the one about the two lads who went into a bar, a strip joint. As soon as they sat down, over came two doxies, and sat down beside them. He attempts a foreign accent. ĎHow did you do in the Leaving?í said one of the doxies to them. Can you believe it? ĎHow did you do in the Leaving?í Itís four years since I did the Leaving and already I feel like an old man, or like a man from another planet. The only proposal anyone made when I left school was that a few of us, lads mind you, should do Lough Derg. Three days fasting, without sleep, going around on our knees, doing penance.

    MAURA:
But you didnít go, did you?

    SEAN:
Of course I didnít go. It wasnít the same as spending a fortnight doing the knocking shops in Torremolinos.

    MAURA:
Donít be vulgar.

    SEAN:
Vulgar! What are you talking about? Itís exactly what we need. To get away from here. What age are you now? Twenty eight? And youíve never been on a holiday, a real holiday.

    MAURA:
What would I want to go on a holiday for, when the whole world is coming here for a holiday?

    SEAN:
No, Maura, the whole world is going to Torremolinos. Thatís where the whole world is going. An odd old fart turns up here.

    MAURA:
Thatís not true. We were booked out all summer.

    SEAN:
Yeah, all five bedrooms. Now itís into September, and weíre empty again.

    MAURA:
Not true. We have an enquiry for tonight.

    SEAN:
An enquiry! Gee, whiz! Business is booming.

    MAURA:
She sounded fairly definite. She said she'd probably be here sometime in the evening.

    SEAN:
Wonderful. Probably some ninety-year-old Yank looking for the cottage that her mammy lived in before she left for America at the time of the Great Famine.

    MAURA:
No one left the island during the Great Famine.

    SEAN:
No, there were probably no boats running. But theyíve been leaving ever since. And soon there will be no one left on the island, except us.

    MAURA:
Thatís not going to happen. There are dozens of families still living on the island.

    SEAN :
Living is not what happens here. And as for families, thereís a scattering of old pairs whose broods have flown, as we should have done. Why donít we sell up and buy a place in Torremolinos? A little hotel out there would make great money. And we could be lying in the sun, drinking wine all day, and hitting the discos as soon as the sun goes down. Or better still, we could have our own disco in the hotel, with the doxies hanging around waiting for the lads to come over from Ireland as soon as they had finished the Leaving.



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