High Risk Factor

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The only one of the plays I’ve written so far that hasn’t been performed, High Risk Factor is a short one act play about the way the past can leak into the present. Simon buys an old warehouse with the idea of turning it into a trendy bar, but he’s in financial difficulties, and as he tries to persuade the insurance risk assessor that his idea is a goer, a terrible event from the building’s past begins to seep through.

Here’s an extract;

Assessor: I strongly advise you not to open that without taking proper precautions.

Simon: Precautions?

Assessor: What you have there is an unknown factor.

Accountant: A what?

Assessor: I shall go further, a high risk factor.

Simon: A high risk…

Assessor: …factor. Something which contains the unknown, the unaccounted for, something we haven’t bargained on, that we couldn’t anticipate, that we didn’t expect. To investigate it is a risk, a high risk. It is to enter the unknown.

Pause.

Simon: It’s a sack.

Assessor: A hidden sack.

Simon: Not any more.

Accountant: It’s going to have a finger in it, I just know it’s going to have a finger in it.

Assessor: Someone didn’t want that sack to be found.

Simon: Right, and that’s exactly what I’ve been looking for – the history of this place, the past, the secret past, this is it!

Assessor: I advise you not to open it.

Simon: Why?

Accountant: Because it’s got someone’s finger in it!

Assessor: Because you are not prepared for what you might find.

Simon: It isn’t very heavy.

Assessor: Take it from me, the finding of sacks in deserted buildings is a perilous occupation.

Simon: It seems to be tied shut.

Assessor: Over many years I have come to realise that all sorts of things may be unleashed by a cavalier approach to the risks involved in a simple action…

Accountant: Like chopping off someone’s finger!

Assessor: …like opening a sack. So many things may lie within, so many things. I recall a warehouse in Epping where I stumbled across a box in a cupboard. I was young and callow then of course, refreshingly so, I believe, and being wet behind the ears so to speak, I opened it, and it contained…

Accountant: A finger!

Assessor: …a stuffed halibut.

Simon: Now look…

Assessor: A stuffed halibut infected with a rare germ, a tropical illness carried by the dead owner of the warehouse and passed on by touch, passed on to the carcass of the halibut as he lovingly stuffed it, and as I lifted the halibut from the box an illness to which I…

Accountant: Oh my God!

Assessor: …was, as it turned out, immune. Unfortunately the residents of my local public house to which I presented the find were not so fortunate.

Accountant: I think I’ll just wilt quietly in a corner.

Assessor: I was absolved of all blame by the Chief Medical Officer, of course. She agreed that I could not possibly have known, but you see, I still blame myself, in a way.