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COWARD, Noël


Still Life
.....
SCENE I

Laura ( obviously in pain ):

I’m afraid not — o hi

(Alec rises from his table emd comes over.)

Alec: Can I help you?

Laura: Oh, no, please — it’s only something in my eye.

Myrtle: Try pulling down your eyelid as far as it’ll go.

Alber t: And then blowing your nose.

Alec: Please let me look. I happen to be a doctor.

Laura: It’s very kind of you.

Alec: Turn round to the light, please — now — look up — now look down — can see it. Keep still

(He twists up the corner of bis handkerchief and rapidly operates with it.)

There

Laura (blinking): Oh, dear — what a relief— it was agonising.

Alec : It looks like a bit of grit.

Laura: It was when the express went through — thank you very much indeed

Alec: Not at all.
.....



Private Lives
.....
ELYOT : Turn it off. It's driving me mad.

AMANDA : You're far too temperamental. Try to control yourself.

ELYOT : Turn it off.

AMANDA : I won't. [ ELYOT rushes at the gramophone. AMANDA tries to
ward him off. They struggle silently for a moment, then the needle
screeches across the record ] There now, you've ruined the record.

[ She takes it off and scrutinizes it. ]

ELYOT : Good job, too.

AMANDA : Disagreeable pig.

ELYOT [ suddenly stricken with remorse ]: Amanda darling, Sollocks.

AMANDA [ furiously ]: Sollocks yourself.

[ She breaks the record over his head. ]

ELYOT [ staggering ]: You spiteful little beast.

[ He slaps her face. She screams loudly and hurls herself sobbing with
rage on to the sofa, with her face buried in the cushions. ]

AMANDA [ wailing ]: Oh, oh, oh-

ELYOT : I'm sorry, I didn't mean it -- I'm sorry, darling, I swear
I didn't mean it.

AMANDA : Go away, go away, I hate you.

[ ELYOT kneels on the sofa and tries to pull her round to look at him. ]

ELYOT : Amanda -- listen -- listen --

AMANDA [ turning suddenly, and fetching him a welt across the face ]:
Listen indeed; I'm sick and tired of listening to you, you damned
sadistic bully.

ELYOT [ with great grandeur ]: Thank you. [ He stalks towards the door,
in stately silence . AMANDA throws a cushion at him, which misses him
and knocks down a lamp and a vase on the side table. ELYOT laughs
falsely ] A pretty display I must say.

AMANDA [ wildly ]: Stop laughing like that.

ELYOT [ continuing ]: Very amusing indeed.

AMANDA [ losing control ]: Stop--stop--stop-- [ She rushes at him, he grabs
her hands and they sway about the room, until he manages to twist her
round by the arms so that she faces him, closely, quivering with fury ]-- I
hate you--do you hear? You're conceited, and overbearing, and utterly
impossible!

ELYOT [ shouting her down ]: You're a vile-tempered, loose-living;
wicked little beast, and I never want to see you again so long as I live.

[ He flings her away from him, she staggers, and falls against a chair.
They stand gasping at one another in silence for a moment. ]

AMANDA [ very quietly ]: This is the end, do you understand? The end,
finally and forever.

[ She goes to the door, which opens on to the landing, and wrenches it
open. He rushes after her and clutches her wrist. ]

ELYOT : You're not going like this.

AMANDA : Oh, yes I am.

ELYOT : You're not.

AMANDA : I am; let go of me -- [ He pulls her away from the door, and once
more they struggle. This time a standard lamp crashes to the ground.

AMANDA , breathlessly, as they fight ] You're a cruel fiend, and I hate and
loathe you; thank God I've realized in time what you're really like;
marry you again, never, never, never... I'd rather die in torment

ELYOT [ at the same time ]; Shut up; shut up. I wouldn't marry you again
if you came crawling to me on your bended knees, you're a mean, evil-
minded, little vampire -- I hope to God I never set eyes on you again as
long as I live

[ At this point in the proceedings they trip over a piece of carpet, and
fall on to the floor, rolling over and over in paroxysms of rage. VICTOR
and SIBYL enter quietly, through the open door, and stand staring at
them in horror. Finally AMANDA breaks free and half gets Up, ELYOT
grabs her leg, and she falls against a table, knocking it completely
over. ]

AMANDA [ screaming ]: Beast; brute; swine; cad; beast; beast; brute;
devil

[ She rushes back at ELYOT who is just rising to his feet, and gives him a
stinging blow, which knocks him over again. She rushes blindly off
Left, and slams the door, at the same moment that he jumps up and
rushes off Right, also slamming the door. VICTOR and SIBYL advance
apprehensively into the room, and sink on to the sofa ]