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The Examination

by Penny Phillips

(Extract taken from "LAMDA Acting Anthology, Volume 1", Published by Oberon).

The stage is set with a row of chairs at a diagonal to the audience. ALEXANDRA enters carrying a musical instrument, stops and calls back off stage.

ALEXANDRA: I'll be alright, Mother. Really, don't worry - it'll be easy. Mr Jones will be here very soon.

(Puts music and instrument on the chairs and then looks across the room. She. knocks on an invisible hatch.)

Hello. Good morning I'm Alexandra Townsend.

(The ELDERLY LADY is deaf.)

Alexandra Townsend ...yes. I'm here for my clarinet examination... No I don't want the toilet! Grade four... Clarinet... Yes.

Four. No! - not which door. But my accompanist hasn't arrived yet... My accomp... It doesn't matter... (To herself.) I'll be alright.

(Crosses to chairs, unpacks instrument.)

I'll be fine. Out you come... One - two - three - four. No! Where's my reed? (Assembling the separate pieces of the clarinet.) I bet I've forgotten it... Here it is. Remember to lick it. Alexandra.

Remember reeds are 50p each... Now... Where's my music?... I bet I've forgotten it. Oh. There it is... Now, Alex - you are a very good clarinettist. You are brilliant. You are brilliant. You are brilliant!

(She blows and makes a feeble noise. She panics. She looks at her watch.)

No! Where is Mr Jones? My examination is in five minutes.

(She puts clarinet down - walks across to hatch - knocks on hatch - waits as an ELDERLY SECRETARY opens

Excuse me. Alexandra Townsend. Yes... I know my examination is in five minutes but my accompanist hasn't arrived yet. My accomp... Ohoo!

(Getting very frustrated, she mimes a piano being played.)

Look... the man who is playing the peeano for me! Yesi Piano. (Smiles with relief, then...) No! I'm not playing the piano -I'm doinga clarinet exam! I've lost my pianist. I'm not playing the piano, he is!

(Trying to cairn down.) Look. I cannot do my examination without Mr Jones... Because he plays the piano for me... (Almost in tears.) What? He's where? He's in there waiting for me? I'm sorry.

(Picks up clarinet and the music.)

I'm so sorry... I am really sorry...

(Picks up clarinet case and music, crossing to the door and knocking loudly.)

Hello Mr Jones.

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