Book excerpt

If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet

A Play

Nick Payne

Faber & Faber


If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet had its U.S. premiere in New York City on September 20, 2012, at the Laura Pels Theatre of the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre.
GEORGE Brían F. O’Byrne
FIONA Michelle Gomez
ANNA Annie Funke
TERRY Jake Gyllenhaal
Creative Team
DIRECTOR Michael Longhurst
SETS Beowulf Boritt
COSTUMES Susan Hilferty
LIGHTS Natasha Katz

If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet had its world premiere in London on October 17, 2009, at the Bush Theatre.
GEORGE Michael Begley
FIONA Pandora Colin
ANNA Ailish O’Connor
TERRY Rafe Spall
Creative Team
DIRECTOR Josie Rourke
DESIGNER Lucy Osborne

GEORGE, male, 40s.
FIONA, female, 40s.
ANNA, female, 15. Anna is considerably overweight.
TERRY, male, 20s.
Ellipses following a character’s name indicate a desire to speak but an inability to know quite what to say.
GEORGE: When I was younger, I adored polar bears. My, my father used to subscribe to National Geographic, and for years I had polar bear paraphernalia all over the walls of my bedroom—I even had a pair of polar bear swimming trunks. But not long after my wife had given birth to our daughter, I insisted the three of us take a trip to Edinburgh Zoo to see the last two polar bears in Britain—a couple, Barney and Mercedes, would you believe. But when we arrived—and I’ll never forget this—when we arrived at the zoo, we were told that Barney had died: he had choked to death on a child’s toy that had been thrown into his pool. So, so, I suppose you could say that my interest in the fate of our little blue planet began with a love of all things Ursus maritimus.
School corridor, day. ANNA and FIONA. ANNA wears her PE outfit. ANNA dabs a tissue on her slightly bloody nose throughout.
FIONA: Why don’t we just start at the beginning? (Meaning tissue) Here.
FIONA hands ANNA a fresh tissue and removes the old one.
FIONA: Keep it pressed. Try not to dab it.
ANNA: I can taste it. The blood, in the back of my throat.
FIONA: I used to loathe PE, you know.
ANNA: What?
FIONA: The horror, my goodness, the horror of having to get changed in front of your peers. Everyone trying not to look at each other’s bits—or rather, everyone trying to look as if they’re not trying to look at each other’s bits. Because who knows how our bits are supposed to look when we’re that age?
ANNA: What on earth are you on about?
FIONA: I understand your frustration. But I just want you to know that in spite of all of that, it’s important to try and remember—
ANNA: No, I’m being serious, I don’t understand what you’re talking about. None of this has anything to do with PE.
FIONA: Oh. Really? Well, that’s strange, because I thought— Miss Clarke said to me that— If the fight wasn’t about netball, Anna, then what was it about?
FIONA: Anna?
FIONA: Anna, please, I promise you I’m just trying to help.
FIONA: Anna, they’re thinking of suspending you.
ANNA: What? How long for?
FIONA: At the moment it’s two weeks.
ANNA: What about Lucy Mitchell, everyone else?
FIONA: What about them?
ANNA: Are they gonna get suspended?
FIONA: Not as far as I know, no.
ANNA: This is such fucking bullshit.
FIONA: Language.
ANNA: Isn’t it, though?
FIONA: Well. Perhaps if you tell me what happened, I might be able to help. But at the moment I’m completely in the dark— And you can tell me and I promise, you won’t have to tell anyone else. You can tell me anything.
ANNA: They found out you were my mum.
FIONA: What did they say? Anna?
ANNA: They just called you lots of stuff.
FIONA: Like what?
ANNA: Just. Lots of stuff, all right.
FIONA: And is that why you lost your temper? As opposed to it being about netball—
ANNA: Can’t you talk to someone?
FIONA: How do you mean?
ANNA: Tell them it’s not my fault. Tell them it’s because you work here. Tell them what I’m normally like. That I’m not normally like this. I didn’t ask to come here, you know.
FIONA: Anna (doesn’t finish).
Beat. FIONA watches ANNA briefly.
FIONA: Why don’t we finish this conversation off at home? There’s soup in the fridge when you get in. And then I’ll pick something up for dinner on the way home.
ANNA: What time do you think you’ll be back?
FIONA: I might have to stop off at Granny’s on the way home, but not late.
ANNA: What about Dad?
FIONA: Wait and see. (Meaning nose) How is it? Can I see?
FIONA removes the tissue from ANNA’s nose, wipes it clean with a fresh tissue.
FIONA: Think it’s stopped.
ANNA: They called you a cunt. Lucy Mitchell and everyone. They said, “What’s it like having a mum who’s a full-time cunt?”
Family home, night. ANNA is watching television, eating from a large bag of crisps.
Doorbell, off. ANNA turns off the television, hides the crisps and exits. ANNA opens front door, off.
TERRY: (Off) All right? Hannah, right? Terry. How’s it going? All right to come in?
ANNA shuts front door, off. Enter TERRY with backpack. TERRY looks around the room. Enter ANNA.
TERRY: Wallpaper’s different.
TERRY perhaps finds this a little amusing, but ANNA remains stone-faced.
TERRY: ’S this a bad time?
ANNA shakes her head.
TERRY: Prob’ly shoulda rung or something, but. Phone was fucked and I thought, by the time I’ve arsed around getting change for the fucking. You know, the phone—and that, thought I might as well just. Anyway, sorry if all this is a bit out of the blue. Don’t remember me, do you?
ANNA: (Meaning yes) No, no. My name’s Anna. Called me Hannah—
TERRY: Right.
ANNA: But it’s actually Anna.
TERRY: Right. Sorry. Only asking cos, y’know, me and y’dad, sorta sound a bit different and that, but—mean, some people find it a bit. “Brothers”? Yeah, brothers. Have to fucking explain it to ’em. Moved about a bit and that, y’have to fucking say. Anyway, I’m saying. Cos I mean, you’re sort of looking at me as if we’ve never even fucking met. (New thought) Worked a treat, y’know. Whole niece thing. While I’s away. This one bird, right, told her about you, told her about being a fucking uncle and that, and she went fucking; seriously, she went fucking. We get back to her place and she literally starts fucking (demonstrates, stripping). Mean, I was like.
TERRY: So anyway, how’s things?
ANNA nods.
TERRY: Yeah?
ANNA nods.
TERRY: Still at school and that, is it?
ANNA: Yeah.
TERRY: How’s that going, then?
ANNA shrugs.
TERRY: ’S all right t’say y’fucking hate it, y’know. I did.
ANNA: It’s not like the most thrilling part of my life right now, no.
TERRY: Fair enough. Anyone else about?
ANNA: Dad’s out, but Mum should be back in a bit.
TERRY (meaning what was she doing before he arrived): Watching telly or something, was it?
ANNA nods.
TERRY: Any good?
ANNA shrugs.
TERRY: Put it back on if y’want.
ANNA: It’s all right.
TERRY: No, serious, ’s all right. Do with a shit, anyway.
ANNA smiles a little. Front door sounds, off.
FIONA (off): Hello. It’s me, anyone in?
ANNA: Yeah.
FIONA (off): Do you mind giving me a hand with the shopping please, darling?
Exit ANNA. TERRY is unsure quite what to do with himself while he awaits FIONA’s entrance. He perhaps takes out some Rizlas, rolling tobacco, etc.—but then thinks twice. TERRY puts the tobacco, etc., away and checks that he’s looking reasonably presentable. Enter FIONA. FIONA holds a number of sheets of sheet music and various other papers, also a shopping bag or two.
FIONA: Hello, Terry.
FIONA and TERRY kiss one another on the cheek during the following.
TERRY: Oh, hiya, hi, how’s it going?
FIONA: Very well, thank you. Yourself?
TERRY: Yeah, yeah, y’know. D’ya need a hand?
FIONA: Thank you.
TERRY takes shopping bags from FIONA and exits. FIONA, alone for a moment. Re-enter TERRY. FIONA and TERRY perhaps smile at one another politely for a moment, neither quite sure where to begin.
FIONA (simultaneously): Excuse the mess. If I’d have known you were—
TERRY (simultaneously): Sorry to just turn up unannounced, but—
FIONA: Sorry.
TERRY: No, no.
FIONA: Just apologizing for the mess.
TERRY: Don’t worry about it.
FIONA: Been roped into helping out with the school musical. One of the other teachers had to drop out.
TERRY: Oh, right. How’s that going?
FIONA: Busy.
TERRY: What y’doing? For the musical, which show is it—?
FIONA: War of the Worlds.
TERRY: Oh, right. Sounds good. No George, then?
FIONA: Is that a question or an observation?
FIONA: He’ll be back at some point, I’m sure.
TERRY: Listen, I’m sorry about. Turning up, but. Didn’t really have anywhere else to—
FIONA: Mustn’t apologize.
TERRY: Yeah, no, thanks, but—
FIONA: Honestly.
TERRY: Cheers.
TERRY: So how’s Rachel getting on these days?
FIONA’s cell phone begins to ring (the ringtone is a pop song).
FIONA: Shit, sorry.
FIONA answers the phone. TERRY perhaps does now roll a cigarette during the following. FIONA perhaps throws TERRY a knowing look or two during the following.
FIONA (into phone): Mum. No, it’s not on tonight. It’s not tonight, no. No, it’s on tomorrow night. Tomorrow night; that’s right. I’ve set the recorder to record it tomorrow night. No, you don’t have to do anything. That’s right. All you have to do is sit back and watch it. That’s right. Yes, it’s all very modern. (Cutting her mother off) Listen, Mum, I might have to … Yeah, that’s right, I’ve … Okay. Okay. Bye, Mum, bye.
FIONA hangs up.
FIONA: Sorry about that.
TERRY: How is she?
FIONA: Other than the fact she’s losing her fucking mind, fine.
TERRY: How d’you mean?
FIONA: Better just make sure Anna’s getting on all right.
TERRY: Sure.
FIONA: Can I get you something to drink?
TERRY: Beer’d be nice. Cheers.
Exit FIONA. Enter ANNA with beer.
TERRY: You not having one?
ANNA: I’m fifteen.
TERRY: Yeah, I know, was a. Was a joke. Don’t worry about it. Didn’t fancy being in y’mum’s musical, then? Tom Cruise innit? War of the Worlds. Aliens. Well. Here’s to it.
TERRY toasts, drinks.
FIONA (off): Will you being staying for dinner, Terry?
TERRY: If that’s all right, yeah?
FIONA: (off): We’re having mushroom Stroganoff, I hope that’s all right?
TERRY: Sounds lovely!
FIONA (off): Anna, would you mind giving me a quick hand, please?
TERRY: Been a pleasure.
ANNA smiles a little. Exit ANNA. TERRY sips beer.

Copyright © 2013 by Nick Payne
Nick Payne is the author of the plays Wanderlust, a new version of Sophocles’ Electra, One Day When We Were Young, Constellations, and Lay Down Your Cross. He is the winner of the 2009 George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright and the 2012 Harold Pinter Playwright’s Award. He is currently under commission with the Royal Court Theatre, the Donmare Warehouse, and the Manhattan Theatre Club. He was born in 1984.