BROKEN by Luke Thompson


 FADE IN:

0 INT. COMEDY CLUB – BACKSTAGE – NIGHT

GENTLY RIPPLING RED CURTAINS. SOUND OF THE FABRIC MOVING. RADIOHEAD, NUDE (INSTRUMENTAL), FADES IN.

PAN ACROSS TO:

1 INT. COMEDY CLUB – BACKSTAGE – NIGHT

Backstage is filled with equipment for the theatre. Chairs stacked in piles, microphone stands, ropes and cables hanging down from above. There is a hum of raised voices, indistinct. Blurred figures hurry in the foreground wearing black. They are stage hands and workers at the club.

PAN ACROSS TO:

2 INT. COMEDY CLUB – BACKSTAGE – NIGHT

A woman, early twenties with long hair and wearing a red dress is angry, shouting and gesticulating, her dress moves with her anger and resembles the dancing chaotic movements of an oxygenated fire.

Slowly, the back of JONATHAN, mid thirties, smartly dressed in tie and shirt with rectangular glasses resting on the bridge of his nose, is revealed, standing motionless in a dark jacket with firm shoulders.

There is a sense of calm that is almost dreamlike.

FADE TO:

3 INT. COMEDY CLUB – BACKSTAGE – NIGHT

The detail of the woman’s dress, the detail of her hands, JONATHAN watches closely, his eyes fixed on these points. The woman in red pushes JONATHAN and he stumbles back a step then draws himself forward, he is not as firm in the shoulder as he previously was.

FADE TO:

4 INT. COMEDY CLUB – BACKSTAGE – NIGHT

The detail of the woman’s mouth is watched by JONATHAN. He does not seem to be aware of the words or the sounds. He knows what she is saying yet responds only with a stoic front.

The woman’s anger builds and builds.

FADE TO:

5 INT. COMEDY CLUB – BACKSTAGE – NIGHT

A tear runs from the woman’s eye. It does not sparkle, but falls quickly from her jaw, hitting the plastic matted floor. JONATHAN watches it, eyes lingering on the splash left by the tear.

FADE TO:

6 INT. COMEDY CLUB – BACKSTAGE – NIGHT

JONATHAN appears to be at a distance. The blurred figures move around him, creating a feeling of detachment.

FADE TO:

7 INT. COMEDY CLUB – BACKSTAGE – NIGHT

JONATHAN’S eyes are closed. His jaw is set as though fighting back an outburst of emotion.

Linger here as the music becomes louder with the sound of roaring coming in behind it.

JONATHAN’S eyes open.

The woman’s voice cuts through the music, silencing it.

RED DRESS WOMAN

“…To Hell!”

CUT TO:

8 INT. COMEDY CLUB – BACKSTAGE – NIGHT

A wedding ring, gold and thin, falls onto the floor. It bounces on the soft plastic, rolling to a stop.

JONATHAN hears a sound of clanking metal. Heavier than it should be.

CUT TO:

9 INT. COMEDY CLUB – BACKSTAGE – NIGHT

JONATHAN is motionless, in shock. He looks up slowly and sees the swish of her red dress vanishing into the blurred moving figures, becoming like them.

The same music starts up again, continuing as though it had never finished.

JONATHAN picks up the fallen ring. He runs it over his palm, looking at it sadly. He raises the beer bottle that is so-far unseen to his mouth and drinks deeply.

As he swallows, beads of sweat shine in a crack of light coming from the stage.

FADE TO:

10 INT. COMEDY CLUB – BACKSTAGE – NIGHT

JONATHAN turns from the dark and the blurred figures and walks unsteadily into the white light coming from the curtains that he parts.

Carrying the bottle, he slowly vanishes, as though erased.

The white light glares as it swallows JONATHAN. The music comes to its conclusion.

JARRING CUT TO:

11 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

White light glares directly at the screen. Much stronger than before. The sound of searing heat can be heard.

JARRING CUT TO:

12 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

JONATHAN shields his eyes. There is a feeling of being under the glare of the desert sun.

The roar of voices gets louder and louder. Becoming unbearable.

JARRING CUT TO:

13 INT. COMEDY CLUB – AUDIENCE PIT – NIGHT

The pit is a small room, packed with tables and chairs and the people that fill them. Each table is a litter of glasses both empty and full. The chattering people are merely shapes to those that tread the stage. It’s almost a full house. They are silent and all their faces are turned to stare at JONATHAN like shop mannequins painted and dressed in grey clothes.

JARRING CUT TO:

14 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

JONATHAN opens his mouth. There is the overpowering sound of his breath gasping and his heart beating in his chest. He goes to loosen his tie then stops and clamps his hands to his side.

CUT TO

15 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

JONATHAN is standing on the stage. The stage itself is a short raised area, featuring only a microphone on a tall stand and a stool used as a table by every previous act. JONATHAN walks unsteadily to the microphone stand and breathes into it.

JONATHAN

“Good evening.”

(Muffled, to be only vaguely heard)

He stands. Silent for a moment. There is a sense of unsteadiness, that he may collapse or run at any moment.

JARRING CUT TO:

16 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

JONATHAN brushes sweat from his forehead. It glistens under the white light. The sound of roaring comes in earnest.

JARRING CUT TO:

17 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

JONATHAN still standing at the microphone in front of a silent audience. The curtain behind JONATHAN is shifting constantly, as though moved by people rushing behind it.

JONATHAN places the beer bottle on the stand set out for him. The sound of it settling is distinct.

He clears his throat away from the microphone and begins to talk into it. His words are muffled, heard by the audience but not by us. There are shifts in tonality away from the monotone drawl that seems to come from JONATHAN as he speaks.

CUT TO:

18 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

The curtains part slightly and unknown eyes stare out. They see the back of JONATHAN, the sweat beginning to form on his shoulders, under his jacket. The pit of the audience stretches out before JONATHAN like the endless fields of a faceless hell.

JONATHAN continues speaking, muffled and indecipherable. There are snatches where he pauses, waiting for laughter.

CUT TO:

19 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

No laughter. Everything quiet. JONATHAN swallows deeply. There is the loud sound of breathing. It becomes louder, almost like the sound of roaring.

JARRING CUT TO:

20 INT/EXT. JONATHAN’S CAR – FRONT SEATS – NIGHT

FLASHBACK to an hour before JONATHAN went on stage. Continued sound of roaring. We see the road through a car windscreen. Other cars and street lights become blurs that seem to mix together into a watercolour of light.

CUT TO:

21 INT/EXT. JONATHAN’S CAR – FRONT SEATS – NIGHT

Sound of roaring subsides. There are reflections of the blurred light in JONATHAN’S glasses.

The roaring becomes music. Same as heard before.

JONATHAN looks to his side and this time his glasses reflect red.

CUT TO:

22 INT/EXT. JONATHAN’S CAR – FRONT SEATS – NIGHT

JONATHAN stares at the red lips of his fiancée, the WOMAN IN A RED DRESS. There are droplets of water on them that quiver and fall with each mouthed word of anger.

JARRING CUT TO:

23 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

The music becomes silent. A dead stop.

JONATHAN is standing on stage, wavering slightly. He lifts the beer bottle and drinks. His glugging loud in the microphone.

The beer bottle is held to his chest, comforting.

JONATHAN speaks, telling another series of jokes that cannot be heard by us.

Waits for applause. Nothing comes. Waits longer. Uncomfortable to watch. The audience’s glare bores into JONATHAN and sears through his confidence.

JARRING CUT TO:

24 INT. COMEDY CLUB – AUDIENCE PIT – NIGHT

An audience member slams his bottle down on a table.

JARRING CUT TO:

25 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

JONATHAN places his beer bottle down on the side table. The sound of it hitting the wood is the same as previous, when the audience member did the same.

JARRING CUT TO:

26 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

JONATHAN looks out over the audience pit. Little can be seen. Just darkness punctuated by glints of light off bottles and glasses and jewellery. His gaze lingers.

The muffled voice comes again, joke after joke, all falling flat and instead seeming to incite a level of anger in the audience.

JARRING CUT TO:

27 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

JONATHAN standing on stage, wavering slightly. His voice cracks at the punch-line. He reddens and straightens his tie self consciously, shifting on his feet. The creak of his shoes and body like that of an old ship.

CUT TO:

28 INT. JONATHAN’S APARTMENT – BEDROOM – NIGHT

FLASHBACK. Inside a young professional’s flat, the bedroom. Walls white, bed white, a mirror the length of a man on one wall. The corners are shadowed and the only light comes from a lamp and a flickering TV set.

The view from the mirror is of JONATHAN straightening his tie. Behind him, sitting on the bed, is a woman in loose clothes. A red dress is on a hanger nearby, hooked on a cupboard door. There is an uncomfortable silence with the sound of rustling clothes.

JONATHAN reaches out of view and returns with a beer bottle. He pops the lid and drinks. Behind him the woman is obviously angered. She stands, switches on a stereo. Hiss of static. JONATHAN does not turn and drinks deeply.

CUT TO:

29 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

Back to the stage. The beer bottle coming down from JONATHAN’S lips.

He keeps hold of the now empty bottle. Looks at the lack of beer. Little seen in his expression.

He looks at the audience. Smiles.

This time JONATHAN’S voice is inflected to imply strongly that he is berating the audience. Mocking them and insulting them all.

In the audience pit, heads and faces can be seen turned to each other, featureless, shop dummy faces. An angry murmur starts up. JONATHAN’S voice becomes a shout.

The angry murmur becomes a roar of displeasure.

JONATHAN licks his cracked lips.

JARRING CUT TO:

30 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

JONATHAN brings the beer bottle down hard on the table, smashing it to a jagged edge.

The sound of the microphone buzzing and popping is heard. A silent audience.

The jagged bottle is held to JONATHAN’S throat by his own hand.

JARRING CUT TO:

31 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

A dark place, red in tone. Inside JONATHAN’S pocket. His fingers turn a wedding ring round and around.

JARRING CUT TO:

32 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

JONATHAN’S face is slick with sweat, beads of water shining on his throat. He smiles, but not with his eyes. Slowly he brings the bottle down from his neck.

JONATHAN removes his hand from his pocket. Everything feels slow, dreamlike and unnatural.

A wedding ring is on his wedding finger. The roaring comes back to him. Quiet to loud as his hand comes from his pocket.

JONATHAN is swaying. The spotlight that has been off him is angled on his face. It glows eerily and he smiles peacefully. The roaring gets louder and he closes his eyes and looks up. In a flash he slashes the bottle over his wrist. Roaring becomes laughter. Endless and mocking.

GENTLE CUT TO:

33 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

The broken bottle falls to the stage. We see it shatter as it bounces slightly. Everything still feeling slow. The music fades into the roar mixing jarringly.

GENTLE CUT TO:

34 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

JONATHAN is shaking. He has unfocused eyes. White light shines on him. He falls onto his knees. Tears run down his cheeks.

GENTLE CUT TO:

35 INT. COMEDY CLUB – STAGE – NIGHT

JONATHAN looks into the white light of the spotlight. It fills his vision. The laughter slowly becomes a woman’s voice. Caring, concerned, yet frantic. The name JONATHAN is repeated. The white light gets darker at the edges of his vision. The darkness closes in, part by part, until his vision goes fully black. The roaring and laughter fades to nothing and the last thing we hear is the voice of a young woman crying out his name before the heavy silence descends fully.

FADE OUT

END

©BROKEN by Luke Thompson (27.12.2010)

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