Extract from Enigmas
"ENIGMAS" - 2nd round Verity Bargate Award - Second Stage Workshop Week, organised Paul Sirett, Soho Theatre. Reading Actors and Writers Group, directed Harry Landis. 1hr 45mins | 5M 3F
A successful emigre businessman is accused of war-crimes. True or false and how does his family react to the man they know as father?
George CANTLIN - businessman - early 70’s – original name ASYL HUDYMA – known to his own family under previous name of Georgy Kracek
Rebecca CANTLIN - married to George - late 40’s
Lydia CANTLIN - George’s daughter - early 20’s
In this scene George Cantlin, the main character, talks to Rebecca Cantlin his wife. He tries to explain away newspaper articles which have appeared the previous day, accusing him of war crimes.
GEORGE IN LIVING-ROOM. GIN AND TONIC IN HAND.
REBECCA HAS A NUMBER OF PAPERS STREWN ABOUT THE LiVING-ROOM.
REBECCA: I wanted the ground to swallow me up. I kept reading and re-reading. ‘Am I going mad? Pinch yourself Beccy!’ (PICKS ONE OF PAPERS UP AND STARES AT AN ARTICLE)
GEORGE: Someone wants to break me, or the papers have made a mistake...
REBECCA: Some mistake!
GEORGE: I haven’t been off the phone since I read the article. (PAUSE) I gave them such a...! They were irresponsible! They’d written a pack of lies! They had to print a retraction! I’d take them through the courts...
REBECCA: And what did they say?
GEORGE: Would I give them my side of the story. How do you give a side to something that doesn’t exist?
REBECCA: Asyl Hudyma? It doesn’t even sound like Georgy Kracek!
GEORGE: Beccy, brace yourself.
REBECCA: For what?
GEORGE: One fact is true.
REBECCA: George, please!
GEORGE: My name is Asyl Hudyma.
REBECCA: Your name...? (GEORGE NODS IN AFFIRMATIVE) My god! Your...?
REBECCA: (SITTING IN CHAIR) Why?
GEORGE: Because it didn’t seem important
REBECCA: Not important? That I should know your name? (QUOTING PAPER) Asyl Hudyma, alleged...
GEORGE GRABS PAPER AND SCRUMPLES IT UP VICIOUSLY
GEORGE: Lies! Filthy lies!
REBECCA: …Date of birth, village, height...!
GEORGE: Member of this? Executioner of that? I fought for a free Ukraine! (SOFTER VOICE) If Trotsky couldn’t escape in Mexico what chance Hudyma in England? So not Hudyma but Kracek. And not Kracek but Cantlin!
REBECCA: And I couldn’t be trusted with this?
GEORGE: It’s not a question of trust little darling. You misread. The war happened before I met you! Meeting you made it seem a world away, a nightmare, unreal! You were my new start, the sun after a storm, the bud, the flower! Now d’you see? What point in digging up what was better left buried - and that I wish with all my heart had stayed buried!
REBECCA PONDERS THE INFORMATION
My intentions were good! To build a new life. To protect those I loved. (PAUSE. PICKS UP BATCH OF NEWSPAPERS) Newspapers? Let’s print any accusation so long as we stir something up! They must know one thing - the Russians don’t forgive people like me.
REBECCA: It was Lyddy who told me...
LIGHTS DOWN ON GEORGE.
LIGHTS UP ON LYDIA AND REBECCA AT A TABLE IN A BRASSERIE
LYDIA: Mum have you read the papers?
REBECCA: I don’t read papers Lyddy darling, you know that.
LYDIA: There’s an article about Dad.
REBECCA: There often is.
LYDIA: No this one is... (DEEP BREATH)... about the war. That he was a ...well a...
REBECCA: What are you talking about Lydia?
LYDIA: An article in my paper! (READS) “Asyl Hudyma, known as George Cantlin... voluntarily enlisted...
REBECCA: Asyl who?
REBECCA: That’s not your father.
LYDIA: ‘Now known as George Cantlin’! Look!
REBECCA: They must’ve got the names muddled up. Papers do.
LYDIA: D’you think that’s all it is?
REBECCA: That’s why I don’t read papers.
LYDIA: Well. Thank goodness for that. I was...
REBECCA: What else does it say?
LYDIA: Well just... what he did.
REBECCA: What did he do? (NO ANSWER) Lydia?
LYDIA: That he was in the S.S.
REBECCA: That he was what? My god, someone had better phone George. At once! It’s a terrible mistake. Which paper?
LYDIA: Well quite a few of them.
REBECCA: Think of all the people who’ll read it! And they never print apologies where you can see them. Dear that really is... ! We must talk to your father!
LIGHTS DOWN ON LYDIA AND REBECCA
LIGHTS UP. REBECCA AND GEORGE
REBECCA: Everyone will know! People will treat us like lepers!
GEORGE: No they won’t! They’ll rally round! I am going to fight this with... they must apologise!
REBECCA: When though? In six years time when some never-ending court case finally winds down?
GEORGE: However long it takes. In the end they’ll retract.
REBECCA: Well you must! And I must help. How will Lavals react? They’re Jews! Will they ask you to resign? If they do you mustn’t - that would imply you're guilty! You don’t think they’re behind it do you? (GEORGE SHRUGS) We’ll find out one way or another. We must talk to Max and Liddy! You’ll have to tell them... in such a way that you keep their trust.
GEORGE: I’ll tell them the truth!
REBECCA: Give them the details. The ones you’ve given me.
END OF EXTRACT