MAN – 32
WOMAN – 32
SYNOPSIS: On Thursday December 2nd 1999, David Bowie played a gig for 2000 people at The Astoria, Tottenham Court Road, London, as part of a promotional tour for his album The Hours. He played many of his biggest hits. The action of this play takes place at that gig.
Two fans of different ages, one male and one female,start a discussion during a ten minute interval in the show. We find that though both are undeniably aficionados, their perspectives on Bowie differ. The male character is about to get married on the Saturday following the gig. The piece explores what it is to be a fan, the proprietorial nature of what we feel for our idols, and the potential significance of the chance encounter.
We hear the last 30 seconds of Life On Mars. Then we hear a voice that sounds like Bowie, garbled through a PA system, saying
VOICE OF BOWIE: We’ll see you in ten. We just need the briefest of brief recuperations. Keep being lovely. It’s lovely.
The lights go up on two chairs placed next to each other centre stage.
In the chairs sit MAN and WOMAN. MAN is 32, dressed conventionally in jeans and T shirt. WOMAN is 25/26. She has dyed her hair and wears translucent make up suggestive of Scary Monsters-era Bowie.
MAN and WOMAN applaud enthusiastically as the music and the interval announcement end.
Throughout the entirety of what follows they are periodically interrupted by people getting up to go to the bar or to return to their seats. As at any cinema or theatre, this necessitates a lot of getting up and down, some polite nods, the occasional extra shift out of the way if the person coming past is especially large or clumsy. The actors should play the reality of this, and have fun with it. Also with the fact that they are at a gig, so voices are slightly raised, and atmosphere heightened.
MAN: He is unbelievable isn’t he?
GIRL: God yes.
MAN: Even. I mean I saw Glass Spider in 1987 and
GIRL: I saw Glass Spider
MAN: He didn’t play the. It was just too big for me, that.
GIRL: He’s just aged so beautifully
MAN: He is beautiful
MAN: And so simple
GIRL: Exactly. Just. Just a red.
MAN: I was going to say. He’s just in a red V neck and tight jeans and yet. With his hair. It’s just effortless.
GIRL: Well he’s still got that
GIRL: Androgyny. Yes. That’s. I was so lucky to get tickets. We just. I work for HMV and the boss was given them. And he couldn’t. They know I worship Bowie. So.You?
MAN: Yes. What? Oh. Yes. I’m getting married Saturday so.
GIRL: Ok. So.You. And?
MAN: I have a. My friend got me this as a kind of pre-present. He works for Radio One so
GIRL: Just round the corner
MAN: Well yes. Exactly. So.
GIRL: It’s invite only I think.
MAN: I guess. I think this place holds like 3000 so
MAN: And if he was playing and it had been publicised there would have been
GIRL: Thousands queuing.
GIRL: Thousands outside. Lots of disappointed people.
MAN: Though not. Yes. I agree. Though not as many as before he went into
GIRL: Into what?
MAN: Not as many people as. So I agree with you but not as many people outside as if
GIRL: There aren’t any people outside.
MAN: No that’s because it is invite only but I am saying that if they had publicised it then there aren’t. I mean there would be less people outside than there would have been before he went off the boil.
GIRL: Off the boil?
MAN: You know what I mean. Tin Machine.
GIRL: I love Tin Machine. I loved Tin Machine.
MAN: Oh my god. No. Although. I suppose for you. Is that all you’ve known? Wow. Ok.
GIRL: Did he say how long?
MAN: They said ten minutes. Probably needs a wee. He is 50.
GIRL: What do you mean, all I’ve known?
MAN: Well you are. How old are you? 22?
GIRL: Twenty Five.
MAN: So. So you can’t have. I mean what was the first thing you heard?
GIRL: By Bowie. It was. I can’t have what?
MAN: Well was it Tin Machine?
GIRL: Yes. Well. But I quickly worked backwards from there.
MAN: I suppose the only way was up.
GIRL: Why are you so down on? So nasty about? I.
MAN: I’m not nasty. I just. It’s not seminal. It’s like saying you like the David Jones stuff.
GIRL: I love. I love all that. The Decca stuff. London Boys. I love London Boys. When I Live My Dream.
MAN Laughing Gnome.
GIRL: Does not count. It’s a novelty record. Why are you so snippy about/
MAN: I just. For me he began with Letter to Hermione and ended with Ashes to Ashes. And even then you have to discount 1974.
GIRL: Discount 1974? In 1974 he released Young Americans
GIRL: Oh my god. You dislike Young Americans
MAN; I think. I believe Young Americans was an aberration.
GIRL: A. What? This is weird. Do you actually like him? Are you actually? This is. The stuff you seem to like is/
MAN: I mean I think he had to go through that process but/
GIRL: You don’t like Can You Hear Me? You don’t like Fame?
MAN: Give me Drive in Saturday. Give me Five Years, Queen Bitch. Sweet Thing. Any day of the week.
GIRL: Wow. You need to. You should open your mind. London Boys is a beautiful piece of music. Poetic. Evocative. Full of wistfulness and yearning.
MAN: Here he is. Here they come. He’s back. Let’s hope he doesn’t play anything after 1981.
GIRL: What’s wrong with Modern Love?
MAN: What’s right with Modern Love?
GIRL: You are a very prejudiced person.
They are both standing and applauding as Bowie and his band return to the stage. They watch. Changes starts.
MAN: It’s impossible to argue with this one.
GIRL: No. Yes. Changes is godlike.
MAN: It is. It is.
GIRL: Where’s your friend?
MAN: I don’t. Why?
GIRL: Well he’s deserted you. Maybe he wants to escape all that prejudice.
They watch. We watch them watch. Ten seconds
During a quiet bit in the song the MAN shouts
MAN: WE LOVE YOU DAVID.
GIRL: Ok. That was embarrassing
MAN: I get married Saturday.
MAN: What is London Boys about anyway? It doesn’t speak to me.
GIRL: It speaks to me. It’s about. It’s about longing. Being with the cool kids. It’s about yearning. Escape. What that is. What that means. It’s about beauty and unattainability and the yearning of adolescence.
MAN: Is it?
GIRL: Yes it is. So.
MAN: I need to give it another listen.
GIRL: You do
GIRL: Does your wife like him?
MAN: Who? Oh no. Not. God no. She. She’s not my wife yet. She. No. She’s more. She likes. She’s more The Smiths. The Cure. Sisters of Mercy
GIRL: She’s a goth. I didn’t know there still were goths
MAN: Not a goth as such. But. I mean
Changes ends. They applaud.
VOICE OF BOWIE: So we are going right back here. This is from 1967. You’ll remember it. Since we’re here. Seemed appropriate. London Boys.
We hear London Boys start
We watch them as they watch
MAN: Do you have a partner?
GIRL: You get married Saturday
MAN: Yes. I know. I mean.
GIRL: Let me listen to this.
MAN: I mean just out of interest.
They watch to the end of the song
MAN: Yes. That was great. I liked it. I see.
As they stand and cheer the lights fade to black