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To Free A Soul

by Sionarama

Setting: At a funeral. Dark green grass with rows of pristine white foldable chairs leading up to a coffin. The ceremony has almost ended when two people: a man and a woman, sit down together. There are people around the pair dressed in black holding an assortment of liquors and making small talk. The sky is dark grey and people assume it will rain in another hour.

Joe: Hello, Cheryl, It's been a long time. Sad to think that the time we get together would be over the death of our best friend.

Cheryl: David was such a great man, it's so awful to see him go [flinches at the sound of dirt being piled upon the coffin]

Joe: It is...But Cheryl, you have to accept the fact that David was human. He made mistakes---screwed up a lot. You must remember that he wasn't a god and I know you too had a special connection but people have a tendency of--

Cheryl: [laughs slightly] What are you babbling about, Joe? Special connection my ass. We were good friends, that's all. You know we met through Angela, right? Sure we went out in a group together some nights and hit the brandy hard, maybe picked up some people for the night, but we weren't close.

Joe: You were close, I was there, remember?

Cheryl: But we weren't! We could barely carry on a conversation alone.

Joe: On account of the other things you two were doing.

Cheryl: Excuse me--

Joe: Excuse me nothing. I know for a fact that when his wife Angela introduced you both, she wasn't just introducing two people who became bar buddies.

Cheryl: Stop. Just stop. Please. Whatever you're talking about, it's just wrong. I never...We never...

Joe: Cheryl, you can't deny that the two of you had feelings for each other. I was there, I was his best mate since the beginning and he told me everything. Do you think he would have hid one secret from me?

Cheryl: [gulps] ...Everything?

Joe: Look, Cheryl, David's dead now and Angela's also gone. You don't have to hide from the past. We're too old for such heavy secrets. They weigh our souls down.

Cheryl: Joe, Joe, Joe. [laughs slightly, drinks a sip of blood red wine and sighs] What a mess I've made. [Pauses for a moment and then lifts her eyes to meet Joe's, remembering something] Does anyone else know? Everything, I mean. David never seemed like a gossip but it's hard to read a man even after you've slept with him.

Joe: No one else, no one else but me. Though, some people do need to know...

Cheryl: Joe, you can't do this to me! We've been friends for ages and you know David started this whole mess and I--

Joe: Please, calm down. I'm not going to tell anyone. But that doesn't mean you aren't.

Cheryl: Oh, really? [takes a big swig of her wine] Why me, why now? It's been far too long. More harm would be done than good. Let them think of David well, and preserve his memory. We need to respect and honor him even more, now that he is in God's arms.

Joe: Pardon me, but we are old and we will die soon as well, and what then? "God's arms" might not be the place you end up.

Cheryl: [angrily] Are you saying that---

Joe: All I'm saying is that you need to start taking responsibility for your actions and apologize. Starting with telling Billie who her real mother is. She deserves to know that.

Cheryl: I-I agree, Joe. [the service is done and they stand up, ready to leave] Thank you for this.

Joe: [nodding slightly] My pleasure.

Cheryl: You had been such a good husband to me and a good father to our children. Sometimes I wish I hadn't screwed this whole thing up.

Joe: It's...in the past now. I'm willing now to say I forgive you, after all these years. [pause as they look into each others eyes. Flinching, he looks away and holds his hand out for her to shake] Goodbye, Cheryl.

Cheryl: Goodbye, Joe.

[They both turn, walk off in different directions and the stage turns black]

Is this a review?



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93 Reviews

Points: 184
Reviews: 93

Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:36 am
Sylar wrote a review...

This is a nice scene, but it could do with a few revisions.

First of all, this is not correct formatting-- even for a play. I actually think this would be better as a film scene, but it would take some reformatting. Try http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZszextv6yE for some help with that.

Second, the characters are flat and uninteresting. By the end, I didn't care for anyone, and in any scene, you should care and/or feel for the characters! Also, who was Angela? Is she dead, too? If so, how did she die? How did David die? Seriously, there are so many unanswered questions in this story.

Lastly, there are some weird bits of this story that confused me while reading. At the beginning, you say, "The sky is dark grey and people assume it will rain in another hour." Why did you need to put that in there? That's a detail for a NOVEL, not a SCRIPT! All you need to say is, "The sky is dark grey." The. End. Besides, that phrase makes no sense! People assume? Who? Why was there liquor being served at the burial? Wouldn't they be drinking and eating at the funeral reception?

One last question, why do they just walk off in different directions? Is the funeral over?

Overall, this scene was really confusing, and I think you should consider doing some revisions.

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184 Reviews

Points: 5411
Reviews: 184

Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:02 pm
veeren wrote a review...

Heyo Sionarama!
You've got a nice work going here, but there's just a few things that really hold it back from being a great script.

One, the characters feel a bit drab. When they speak, I can only seem to picture them doing so in monotone. More towards the end their personalities can be seen a bit better, but the beginning is where you really make your first impression, no?

And somewhere around the middle, you mention that Cheryl takes of sip or red wine from a glass. Now I haven't been to too many funerals, nor would I want to, but I've never heard of one that would serve wine to the people that showed up. Especially not in a glass, in the middle of a graveyard (where I assume they are since you mention the casket being buried).

The premise for your play, on the other hand, seems great. You're definitely a skilled writer when it comes to thinking of scenarios. Putting your characters in a position like this was great, and it was fun to see how you made them react.

Great job with your writing, and I hope to read more from you soon :D

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351 Reviews

Points: 19733
Reviews: 351

Sun Dec 16, 2012 10:19 pm
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ToritheMonster wrote a review...

Hey there!

So, I'm going to assume that you're new to the world of script writing. Your formatting here is very off and your stage directions are really unclear. However, I'll just put that aside and focus on the literary aspect of this.

I have to say, this needs a lot of work. First, there are huge numbers of grammatical errors. For example: "you too" should be "you two", "a tendency of" should be "a tendency to". There are many more throughout that a basic read over should catch.

A huge part of a script is dialogue. You clearly understand that. However, a conversation alone will not convey anything meaningful or give the audience even the slightest amount of entertainment unless it seems real. When read aloud, it should sound like an actual discussion between two people (assuming your actors have ability), not like a very awkward recitation of written words. You fail in that respect here for several reasons:

1. There is no timing. We as an audience have no idea how long this conversation lasts, when it is taking place, or what is going on around it. Sure, you mention it's at a funeral in the setting. But then, abruptly, you say that Cheryl is flinching as dirt if piled on. I had no idea that there was dirt being shoveled. Usually that takes place early in the funeral, not... at... the reception. In fact, the reception is very rarely right in the graveyard. Think about it. Are your characters really going to be boozing out right then and there the second the funeral's over--with the body still being buried in the background?! I hope not. Unless your setting is a completely dysfunctional world or strange society, in which case you need to give us a LOT more back-story.

The timing issue goes on. Read the first four lines aloud, or have two other people do it for you. I doubt it will take them more than a minute. But now look at the content of those sentences. Within the course of one minute, Joe and Cheryl meet. Cheryl is sad. Joe is sad. Sure, it's a funeral. Then, extremely abruptly, Joe starts talking about how the dead guy shouldn't be glorified. I mean, that's a pretty huge escalation. It's completely out of nowhere. And maybe if Cheryl was taken aback by that abrupt statement, it would work, but she doesn't. She just rolls with it and starts getting defensive. Not to mention the fact that Joe is essentially telling her to calm down when she has shown absolutely no great emotion up to that point. It's absurd. In the course of maybe ten seconds, they have each gone through a transition from mourning friends to insensitive acquaintances.

Do you see what I mean? There is no timing. Maybe if those four lines took place over the span of five or ten minutes, which you would need to indicate in your stage direction, it would be okay. But they do no and it's completely unbelievable. You whole script follows in that manner. I doubt the whole thing takes more than three minutes to read aloud, but you cram so much development into those three minutes that it makes no sense whatsoever.

2. Your characters have no personality. From what I gather reading this, Cheryl is a fan of sleeping around and Joe is a potato who likes to reprimand. They speak in straightforward, constructed lines. There is no inflection or emotion. We do not know if they have quirks, what they look like, where they are from. You give us exactly what you indicate in the setting: a man and a woman, absolutely generic. Cheryl uses the word 'ass' at one point and that's the closest we get to character. To build a strong script, your characters need to be absolutely compelling. We need to know their age, what they look like, if they lisp or have a German accent, if they're missing their left pointer finger, if they have red hair, if they're obese or seven feet tall, if they have a love of Italian loafers. These tiny things all add up to give us a very interesting and believable character with a personality that we connect to before they even open their mouth. Sure, it's not necessary to put that all down in writing. However, it should become apparent through their dialogue as it goes on. That's what development is. That's how you give someone a personality.

Currently, you have two paper dolls. Plain white. Maybe Cheryl is holding a glass of wine, because you did start to go somewhere with the way she drank it. Other than that, nothing. Give us something to look at! This is theatre. Maybe you can see it in your head, by your audience and readers don't have that ability.

3. Your plot is very weak. Okay, it's two people who reunite at a funeral. The girl used to sleep with the deceased. We find out the two have been married and had children. One of the children's fathers is unclear.

First, I had no conception of age when I read this untill the last bit about kids. I had assumed they were young and this totally threw me. Next, you have way too many things going on at once. Cheryl, Joe, David, Angela, Billie, the bar friends, the children... it's all too much for three minutes. This is stuff you find out over the course of three acts. You reveal the affair slowly over an hour, not a minute. You build up the funeral. You give the necessary backstory. By the time it all comes together like you tried to do in the last few lines, it's the end of the play and we know each character so well we feel like we've actually met them. You don't have that here. You have, as I said, two paper dolls in an unrealistic situation talking about events that are vague and honestly, nobody cares about since we don't care about the characters to start with.

I realise I'm being very harsh here, so I apologise. This is a good toe-dip into the ocean of theatre. I suggest you read some classic plays, watch some films, and do some research on script writing and formatting. Then, before you even start writing, develop your characters. Make them as complex and varied as a full length novel, even if you're only writing a five-minute script or screenplay.

Don't abandon Cheryl and Joe and the affair. Work with it. You have a lot of potential here for something awesome, it just needs a lot of work.

Keep writing!


Sionarama says...

Thank you so much Tori! This was something I have been just playing around with. I wrote beforehand another scene (you can look at it and review it if you wish) and I decided that I felt like I wanted to try another. Your review has really inspired me to really work hard on this piece. Thank you so much. I am sorry you had to read something that was not...anything. But I am really going to try and expand everything in the play over the break. Once again, thank you for such a great review.

ToritheMonster says...

No problem! I'm glad I could help. Let me know how it all turns out.

ToritheMonster says...

No problem! I'm glad I could help. Let me know how it all turns out.

Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.
— George Eliot