BREATHE was my entry for the annual One-Page Play competition at the 2015 HOTBED festival at the Junction, Cambridge. The idea is to produce a piece of theatre which fits onto one side of A4 and is a genuine play rather than a sketch. The situation (from a medical point of view) is plausible,
See what you think.
BREATHE by Sean Lang
A Bedroom. EMMA in bed, a baby next to her. She is in a lot of pain. HELEN, a midwife, attending to her. There is a lot of blood.
HELEN: Stay with me, Emma. Stay with me. Mark! Have you got through yet?
MARK: They’re sending an ambulance. Will it be in time?
EMMA: What do you mean? What do you mean?
HELEN: Nothing, Emma. It’s going to be all right. (She and MARK exchange looks.) Now, breathe, Emma. Nice deep breaths. That’s it.
EMMA: Mark, I’m frightened.
MARK: You’re going to be fine.
HELEN: Oh, my God, she’s stopped breathing!
HELEN: The baby: she’s stopped breathing!
(Scene changes. HELEN and MARK in a pub.)
HELEN: What will you do? You don’t love her. You know you don’t.
MARK: Don’t I?
HELEN: If you did, you wouldn’t be here with me. Now, would you?
MARK: It’s not her fault.
HELEN: No. But you’re not happy, are you? I mean, are you? You’ve always said how she stifles you, how you can’t breathe –
MARK: Helen, I can’t do anything now. She’s due in two weeks.
HELEN: You know what will happen, don’t you? I’ll be on duty when it comes. I just know it. Why the hell does she want a home birth? And why the hell can’t you live somewhere easier to get to? With a bit of mobile coverage? I tell you, you and I are getting somewhere in the suburbs.
(The bedroom again. HELEN is attending to the baby, applying an oxygen mask.)
HELEN: Get on the phone again. Tell them to get a fucking move on.
EMMA: Mark, don’t leave me!
MARK: I’m just going to the phone, love. I’ll be right back. (He goes out)
EMMA: It’s getting worse. Oh God, it’s getting worse.
HELEN: (To the baby) Come on, darling, come on, sweetheart. Breathe for me. Breathe for me.
EMMA: Helen, it’s getting worse. Helen – Mark – Oh God…
HELEN: Where is that fucking ambulance??
(MARK standing at the hall telephone. HELEN stands at the back – she is a memory in his head.)
HELEN: You don’t love her, Mark. You never did.
MARK: Ambulance. – Yes, it’s really urgent. – I phoned a few minutes ago –
HELEN: You love me, Mark. You love me. A new start. A new baby, a new life. You can breathe again.
MARK: Yes, that’s right. – Yes, Hill Farm. – But now the baby’s stopped breathing. – The midwife is with her. – As soon as they can get here. Please, it’s really urgent.
HELEN: (Runs to him – this is her in reality now) I can’t do it, Mark. I can’t save them both.
MARK: What? What do you mean?
HELEN: Emma’s haemorrhaging and baby’s got convulsions. I can’t save them both. Not on my own. I can save one; not both.
MARK: The ambulance –
HELEN: Forget the sodding ambulance! Emma says to save the baby. What about you? Tell me, Mark! Who do I save? Your marriage or your baby? I mean – Emma or the baby?
MARK: (Pause. Then – ) The baby. Save the baby.