Sarah Hehir

MARCH

Synopsis
Susie is a Lance Corporal fighting in a contemporary war, far from home. She marches through a blizzard with Private Dominic; the only remaining soldier in her section. They are heading for Base Camp 4 where a letter from her husband is waiting.

 

SEAN: Dear Susie, since you’re out on the roads with no power, I thought an old fashioned letter might have more chance of finding your squad. When you make it to Base Camp 4, I hope this will be waiting to welcome you.


DOMINIC: I’m freezing my balls off, Lance Corporal.
SUSIE: And I’m freezing my tits off, Private Dominic.
SEAN: Ronnie’s fine. Thaddius died on Thursday but we decorated a little box and buried him under the Japonica. Ronnie burned incense and I wore my suit jacket. Did my Mum ever take him to Mass? He said not but it made me wonder.
SUSIE: Are you praying Private Dominic?
DOMINIC: Praying that bastard snow cloud holds.
SUSIE: (CHANTING) I don’t know but I’ve been told, Base camp 4 is full of gold.
DOMINIC: Gold’s no fucking use to me. I left my smokes in Base Camp 3.
SUSIE: Sound off!
DOMINIC: 1,2

SUSIE: Sound off!
DOMINIC: 3,4
SUSIE: Bring it on down
DOMINIC: 1,2,3,4
BOTH: 1,2...3,4
DOMINC: This whole filthy country looks the same. Where the fuck are we anyway?
SUSIE: It doesn’t matter. We’re heading East.
DOMINIC: I’ll believe it when I see it.
SUSIE: What does that mean? You don’t think East exists? It’s a fucking point on the compass, not Shangri-La.
DOMINIC: Susie...
SUSIE: Lance Corporal!
DOMINIC: Sorry. Lance Corporal. Look of that yellow sky. We need to find some shelter before we...
SUSIE: No! We need to keep moving.
DOMINIC: Who says? How do we even know that they’re still...
SUSIE: March, Private Dominic. March East. And that’s a fucking order.
SEAN: I’ve felt the warm winds from the South in the last week: the snowdrops are all but finished and the trees here are touched with green.

Remember that spring evening, almost six years ago, when we brought Ronnie home? I closed the curtains in our bedroom and hummed songs to him until he fell asleep? You kissed me that night and we lay together: skin to skin to skin.
DOMINIC: That morning I walked into the recruiting office; reeking of booze and with Frankie’s piss stains stinking up my new trainers. Shall I carry on?
SUSIE: If it makes you feel better.
DOMINIC: He says to me, ‘You look like a fine, upstanding fellow.’ And then I passed out (PAUSE) and I puked all over the floor...and shat my pants. (PAUSE) I blew his brains out with a semi-auto 12-guage and then he blew me. Are you listening to me?
SUSIE: Not really.
DOMINIC: Fuck you.
SUSIE: That’s fuck you, Lance Corporal. Want a smoke, Private Dominic?
DOMINIC: Fuck, yes!


DOMINIC HOLDS OUT HIS HAND FOR A CIGARETTE. SUSIE HOLDS IT AWAY FROM HIM.


DOMINIC: Fuck yes, Lance Corporal.
SEAN: We hear reports. We’re told you’re making progress. What does that mean? I lay awake Susie. I can’t stop myself from thinking.

SUSIE: What are you thinking about?
DOMINIC: Nothing.
SUSIE: Come on! There was so much noise and now...
DOMINIC: What?
SUSIE: It’s too quiet. I want you to talk to me.
DOMINIC: Ok. I’ll tell you a great story. Two arseholes are marching through this poor excuse for a country and everything is shitty and then it starts to snow and I don’t mean just a few little flakes – not what my Nan called a flurry. No! This is the dog’s bollocks. This is a fucking blizzard with a mean wind blowing through it. So, the arsehole in charge of this section - fuck it - can’t really call one soldier a section can you? Anyway, she gets out a cigarette because tea and smokes distract dumb soldiers from approaching death. This young fella always feels cheerful when someone hands him a smoke; nothing like a small act of kindness. But not this time. This time even the cigarette stinks of tragedy.
The snow is everywhere and even though they stop - they actually stop for the first time in what feels like weeks and turn away from the wind and press themselves together to make a shelter for the struggling flame - even though they each feel the warmth from another human body for a short, short time - even then, the cigarette’s are too soggy and the flame too weak against the wind. She stuffs them back in her kit and they march on. (PAUSE) So without a fag, there’s not really anything left at all. Is that enough noise for you?

SUSIE: Fuck you, Private Dominic.

DOMINIC: Your turn.

SUSIE: (CHANTING) I don’t know but I’ve been told, Base camp 4 is full of gold.

DOMINIC: No, Lance Corporal. That’s not good enough. I want a story.

SUSIE: (CHANTING) I don’t know but I’ve been told, Base camp 4 is full of gold.

DOMINIC: (RESIGNED) Gold’s no fucking use to me. I left my smokes in Base Camp 3.

 

SEAN: I took Ronnie to Chatham on Saturday. We got his feet measured this time. You were right! He’s grown again! Coming out of Primark, someone shouted my name. I spun around with a big, foolish smile but it turned out they were shouting to some other Sean. I feel lost without you, Susie. I’ll never get used to it.

 

SUSIE: It’s amazing what people get used to.

DOMINIC: Like what?

SUSIE: Cold showers. Blood. Small arms fire.

DOMINIC: When I’m on leave, I get used to my own bed the second my head hits the pillow.
SUSIE: Where’s your own bed?
DOMINIC: At my Nan’s.
SUSIE: What’s it like?
DOMINIC: A big four poster with black satin sheets.
SUSIE: Classy.
DOMINIC: A single bed in my old room with a soggy mattress: my lego, my posters, the smell of my Nan’s washing powder. Is that enough detail for you Lance Corporal?


BEAT


DOMINIC: Lance Corporal....Susie?
SUSIE: Look. The snow’s drifting off the fields.
DOMINIC: What’s wrong Lance Corporal? ...Lance Corporal come on...look... Did you see the hut back there? If we turn round it should only take us...
SUSIE: We’re not going back.


SEAN: When we got home from town, I lit the fire and Ronnie beat me at Scrabble. He said that you once used all seven tiles. You never told me that.


SUSIE: I did!

DOMINIC: You did what?
SUSIE: I did everything I could.
DOMINIC: Susie!
SUSIE: I tried.
DOMINIC: What is it? What’s wrong?
SUSIE: It’s getting cold. We have to....(DRIFTS OFF, LOSING THE THREAD)
DOMINIC: We have to what? Tell me what to do! For fucks sake!
SUSIE: You shouldn’t say that.
DOMINIC: What?
SUSIE: Come on. Keep up, Ronnie! It’s not much further. I promise.
DOMINIC: I’m not Ronnie. I’m Dominic.
SUSIE: We’ll light a fire when we get home and I’ll dry your boots. When your dad gets in, I’ll tell him how you’ve been a big strong boy. He’ll be so proud of you.
DOMINIC: Susie, please!
SUSIE: Stop whingeing! I can’t stand it. Whining and whining and whining. I can’t fucking stand it.
DOMINIC: Susie, it’s alright. I’m here. It’s alright. We’ll just keep marching. One foot in front of the other.

SUSIE: I didn’t mean to shout at you. I’m sorry.
DOMINIC: It’s ok.
SUSIE: It’s ok Ronnie. I’m here.
DOMINIC: Lance Corporal, look at me. I’m Private Dominic.


SEAN: Well...I’ll get this in the post and fetch Ronnie from school. It’s Mrs. Bridge’s Bring and Buy sale again today. I’ve been trying to come up with an excuse to get out of it but the village women are on a mission; they’ll be waiting for me outside the school gates. I despise milky tea and butter icing. I know what you’d be saying; that I’m a grown man and such is life!


DOMINIC: Don’t leave me. Susie. Look at me.


DOMINIC SITS DOWN. SUSIE CARRIES ON MARCHING.


DOMINIC: Susie.


SEAN: Yours, now and always. Forever and ever. Sean.


SUSIE STOPS MARCHING. MUSIC.

 

 

March was performed at Seasonally Effected, Rochester in March 2013 and the Park Theatre, London in June 2013

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