Campfire – Short Play


MAN – Late 30s

WOMAN – Late 30s

BOY – 16

_The action takes place in the garden of a family home._


_A MAN in his garden. He is quite excited. He is pacing. He sometimes claps his hands together very fast. Everything about him bespeaks gleeful nervous energy. There is a bench, and sometimes he sits on it. He often looks off to the right to check on his fire which is elsewhere in his garden. We do not see the fire._

_At least fifteen seconds of this._

_Enter WOMAN._



MAN: (indicating bench) Do you?

WOMAN: Do you?

MAN: Yes well let’s, now we’re here.

WOMAN: Yes let’s, now we’re out here.

They sit

MAN: Yes. Good. Good.

WOMAN: What’s this? (she points off to fire, right)

MAN: What?

WOMAN: This. What’s this? (she points again)

MAN: This? (sees where she points) Oh that? By this you mean that?

WOMAN: Yes. What is this? Or that if you like. What is that?

MAN: Ok right. Yes I can explain that, yes.

WOMAN: Good.

MAN: Good.

WOMAN: (losing patience) So what is it?

MAN: Oh yes. Right. Yes. It’s a fire. Actually that’s not quite correct actually. It’s a campfire.

WOMAN: A campfire.

MAN: Yes.It’s rather good isn’t it? I’ve done it to show to the boy.

WOMAN: It’s not very big.

MAN: What? What do you mean it’s not very big?

WOMAN: Well it’s hardly substantial is it?

MAN: What? What do you? How can you even say such a thing? I. Really.

WOMAN: I mean it’s a few twigs really. It’s derisory.

MAN: Look. I’ve. Derisory? Derisory? Is that? Are you actually using that word correctly? I’m not sure you are.

WOMAN: Pedant.

MAN: I am not a pedant. I.

WOMAN: No. You are not a pedant. (pause)You are the creator of fire.

MAN: Look I am not particularly delighted by the tone you are taking here. You seem to be. I am trying to. I am making the effort to re-engage with our boy.

WOMAN: I know you are. I know you are. And I love you for it, actually. It’s just it. The fire. Well it’s hardly arresting is it?

MAN: I don’t want it to be arresting. I want it to make a point. I want it to show our boy something. I want it to be/

WOMAN: Yes I know. I just wonder if he might mock it.

MAN: Do you think? Do you? Why will he mock it?

WOMAN: Because he is a teenage boy and there is always the potential to mock. It is a shield. Mockery is a useful weapon in the defensive armoury of the adolescent.

MAN: I think. I am not convinced. I think you underestimate our boy’s capacity for appropriate levels of seriousness.

WOMAN: So talk me through it then.

MAN: What?

WOMAN: The plan.

MAN: What plan?

WOMAN: The plan of action when he comes.

MAN: Who? Oh. When the boy comes.

WOMAN: When our lovely boy comes.

MAN: He is a lovely boy.

WOMAN: He is a lovely boy.

MAN: We mustn’t. We shouldn’t lose sight of that. He is of course a lovely boy. We raised him. I think we can take pride.

WOMAN: He is lovely. He has good people skills.

MAN: Yes.He is empathic. Do you think he’s empathic?

WOMAN: God yes. God yes. He has empathy.

MAN: He is empathic. So we can be proud. We just. Well, as we agreed, we just need to draw him away from…

WOMAN: Yes. Out of his…

MAN: Out of his room.

WOMAN: Yes away from his tribe.

MAN: Yes exactly his tribe. These…

WOMAN: These far-flung people

MAN: Well yes. These. Those.

WOMAN: Well yes.

MAN: Yes. So. That’s what. That’s what this is.

WOMAN: This fire?

MAN: Absolutely. This fire is a device.

WOMAN: I have to say darling. Do you mind if I just say?

MAN: Yes?

WOMAN: I think it’s. I think it might be going out.

MAN: No. No. Nonsense. I shall just. I just need to give it a little air. Underneath. There. (He goes off to blow the fire. He returns) It’s all about circulation. Fire. It’s magical isn’t it?

WOMAN: It is actually. I must say it’s making me a little, you know, it’s making me feel rather…

MAN: Is it? Is it really? Well I suppose we could. Shall we? We could always just. I mean the fire will be fine won’t it?

WOMAN: I hardly think our garden will be razed to the ground, I have to say. Well let’s then. Let’s nip upstairs.

They are about to go when BOY enters. He is sixteen.

BOY: Hello.

MAN: Ah hello.

WOMAN: Hello lovely boy.

MAN: Good. That’s very. Thank you. Thank you my boy for coming down.

BOY: You said you wanted me to. I know you think I don’t listen but you said 9pm so.

MAN: Have you left your game?

BOY: Yes.

MAN: Good. (to WOMAN).That’s good isn’t it?

WOMAN: Yes that’s …that’s excellent actually. So.

BOY 🙁 pointing at fire) What’s that?

MAN/WOMAN:( together) That’s a/It’s a…

BOY: Is that meant to be a fire?

MAN :(proudly) That is a fire. It is a fire. And, specifically, actually, a campfire.

BOY: Right. It’s not very.

MAN: Not very what?

BOY: Not very substantial.

WOMAN: No. That’s right. I said that. But it is, there is a point to it, isn’t there darling? (to MAN) Perhaps we should…

MAN: It is substantial enough for our purposes. I am using it to make a point. So. Now. I have marshmallows here.

BOY: Marshmallows.

MAN: And forks. Well, sticks really. Look. Marshmallows and sticks. So we will. You just. You place your marshmallow…

BOY: I know Dad. I have done this before. I am not a fool.

MAN: (to WOMAN) Will you have one?

WOMAN: Go on then.

MAN: We are looking for an even toasted coating here.

They toast marshmallows together

Ten seconds

BOY: So what’s with the fire Dad?

DAD: I am glad you asked son. It’s all about. It’s all about the difference between. It’s a metaphor.

BOY: A metaphor?

WOMAN: Shall I do this?

MAN: Well let’s do it together shall we? (to BOY) So I came up to your room the other day and you were/

BOY: Is this about? What is this about?

MAN: You were talking to four people. I could hear four different voices in your room. And only you were there.

BOY: So? I game with people. I talk to people while I play. They are my friends. So?

WOMAN: So they/

MAN: So they are your…socially they are your tribe. The people. People who like the things you like. They are your tribe. And the people who don’t are not in your tribe. So I built a campfire because/

WOMAN: Because then we can interact face to face by a fire.

MAN. Like a tribe. Because we are your tribe too.

WOMAN: We are your tribe. Your most important tribe.

MAN: Yes. We want to draw you free from the potential inertia of virtual communication and open up for you the panoply of opportunity offered by the real, tangible warmth of face to face conversation next to a real fire, giving off real heat, warming your face.

BOY: Dad.

MAN: Yes?

BOY: I think it’s gone out.

WOMAN: Yes. Yes it has.

BOY: I think your fire has gone out.

MAN: Really? No. Ah yes. So it has. Yes.

BOY: So there’s your metaphor right there.

MAN: How do you mean?

BOY: Well that’s…I don’t see how it could be clearer.

MAN: I don’t follow.

BOY: My campfire’s virtual. That’s what I mean. Doesn’t mean I don’t want to be round your fire sometimes. But these guys upstairs share my world view. Laters.

He goes

There is a pause.

WOMAN: Well.

MAN: Well indeed.


MAN: How do you think that went?

WOMAN: I thought rather well actually. All things considered.

MAN: Yes so did I.

WOMAN: Good.

MAN: Yes

WOMAN: Good. Well done. Good.


MAN: Shall we go inside?

WOMAN: Yes. Yes I think so actually.

MAN: Good. Lovely.

They leave


About the Author

Dick Bradnum

Dick is an actor and a writer. His acting credits in a career spanning 25 years include Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth for the English Shakespeare Company and Malvolio in Twelfth Night for York Theatre Royal. Television includes The Office, My Hero, High Hopes and Belonging (BBCTV) and Caerdydd (S4C). He has appeared in many Radio Dramas for Radios 3 and 4, and was for several years a compere on the comedy circuit. In 2016 his one-man show Dick Johns What Midlife Crisis? played to sell-out houses at Chapter, Cardiff; and the sequel Let’s Talk About Death, Baby will play at the same venue in September 2018. Dick is Lead Tutor at Young Actors Studio, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. He is a veteran pantomime Dame, most recently in Jack and the Beanstalk at Blackwood Miners Institute. Dick lives in Penarth with his wife and three children. As the writer Dick Johns he won the 2015 Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook Short Story Award for his story ‘Joy’. His short story collection Dignity and Other Stories is available to buy at