My new play, From Ear to Ear, is a one-act that tells the story of Apocalypse Cabs (‘the last cab you’ll ever need’) and its connection to a mysterious death. Hannah is defending the alleged killer of Marco, of Marco’s Cabs but when she arrives unexpectedly at the offices of the firm, now renamed Apocalypse Cabs, she finds that’s she’s in very, very deep…
Here’s an excerpt from early in the play:
Hannah enters. She is a middle-aged woman, smartly dressed. She carries a business card.
Ray: [into phone] We’re closed. [he hangs up]
Hannah: Do you know you’ve got a waterfall over your front door?
Ray: It’s a feature. Took us years to get it just right.
Hannah: It’s unusual.
Ray: You’re not wet.
Hannah: The window was open so I climbed in through that.
Ray: [stands and extends his hand] Apocalypse Cabs, the last cab you’ll ever need, Raymond speaking, how can I help you?
Hannah: [doesn’t take his hand but holds out business card] The man in the newsagent gave me this.
Ray: What did you ask him for?
Hannah: Caffeine-free diet coke.
Ray: Yes. I understand.
Hannah: Do you?
Ray: Well, yes. We have an arrangement.
Hannah: I said ‘a caffeine-free diet coke please’ and he said ‘we don’t stock it’ and I said, ‘don’t stock it?’ and he said ‘no, but if you take this card two doors down and ask the man there he’ll be able to help you out’.
Ray: Help you out, yes.
Hannah: But you’re a taxi firm.
Ray: Apocalypse Cabs, the last cab you’ll ever need.
Hannah: So you said.
Ray: Yes, but I didn’t think you heard me. I’m Raymond.
Ray: This is the bit where you tell me who you are.
Hannah: I thought this was the bit where you gave me the caffeine-free diet coke.
Ray: Sorry, we’re out of stock.
Hannah: Oh. Well I’ll be…
Ray: That would be a shame.
Hannah: A shame?
Ray: He sent you here so I could help you out.
Ray: Ahmed. In the newsagents. Very discerning chap, Ahmed. Knows it when he sees it.
Hannah: Knows what?
Ray: What indeed, yes. What, by the way, is your name?
Hannah: Hannah. Hannah Robinson.
Ray: We’ll leave the Robinson where it is, shall we? I don’t think we’ll be needing it. Hannah will do just fine.
Hannah: Look, I don’t have long. I just popped in for…
Ray: …a caffeine-free diet coke, yes. And you don’t see the significance of that, do you?
Hannah: I was thirsty. I don’t drink anything with caffeine.
Ray: Nothing with caffeine, no. You see, to the trained mind, that says a lot. It sparks a train of thought, if that’s not mixing a metaphor. Ahmed now, he’s on the lookout for the signs. For potential customers for us. He’s on a small percentage. Helps to pay for the broken windows.
Hannah: He has broken windows?
Ray: Most nights. You may have noticed that it’s not the most middle-class of neighbourhoods around here. Why are you around here by the way?
Hannah: My car broke down a couple of streets away.
Ray: In need of transport. How appropriate. Anyway, the lack of caffeine now, a major signpost for us. Not conclusive, but definitely suggestive.
Ray: You like to be in control, yes? In control of yourself. No narcotics of any kind. You smoke?
Ray: You say potato.
Hannah: They don’t do you any harm and they might do you some good.
Ray: But nothing that, how can I put this delicately, nothing that might put you in a state of artificial stimulation where you might do something you regret, either alone or with another consenting adult?
Ray: I bet you do all your own ironing too?
Hannah: I like things done the right way.
Ray: I understand. I prefer just to wear lycra myself, but each to their own.
Hannah: Look, Mr…
Ray: Raymond, just Raymond. Ray to my friends.
Hannah: Look, Ray…
Ray: I think we’ll stick with Raymond for now, if you don’t mind.