London Boys – Short Play


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

GIRL: He’s

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

MAN: Androgyny

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

GIRL: Exactly.

MAN: And if he was playing and it had been publicised there would have been

GIRL: Thousands queuing.

MAN: Exactly.

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: Right


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

MAN: Exactly.

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.

MAN: What?

They watch. We watch them watch. Ten seconds

During a quiet bit in the song the MAN shouts



GIRL: Ok. That was embarrassing

MAN: I get married Saturday.

GIRL: Right.

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

They applaud

GIRL: See?

MAN: Yes. That was great. I liked it. I see.

GIRL: Good.

As they stand and cheer the lights fade to black


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