Labyrinth: An exclusive extract from Beth Steel's new play

Posted on 11 August 2016.

Posted in: Main Stage

Labyrinth: An exclusive extract from Beth Steel's new play

We're thrilled to share with you an exclusive extract from Beth Steel's compelling new thriller, Labyrinth. The play is yet to be published, so this is your only chance of a sneak peek before the show opens on our Main Stage on 1 September. 
Image: Tom Weston-Jones (Charlie) and Sean Delaney (John) in rehearsals.


Act One, Scene 6


Golf course. Afternoon. Brazil.

Charlie is practising, his caddie offering him different clubs.

John, not dressed for the game, a little breathless and sweating, appears.


John                    Charlie…I’ve been looking everywhere for you.

Charlie                I said we’d meet after lunch.

John                    I need to talk to you. 

Charlie                I’m a little busy here.

John                   It’s about the loan. I’ve been –

Charlie               (to the Caddie.) Bring me a water. And make it cold.

                           The Caddie leaves.

Charlie               Babaca. Never talk business.

John                   Sorry. Babaca?

Charlie               It’s Portuguese for asshole.

John                   I didn’t know you spoke Portuguese?

Charlie                I make an effort to learn terms of abuse in all languages. What is it?

John                    I’ve been doing a little digging.

Charlie                Digging?

John                    Some research. Every power plant that’s ever been built here has overrun on costs. Some of these power plants aren’t even operational.

Charlie                When’d you find the time to do this?

John                   What?

Charlie               You’d look better with a tan. You know that? You should really hit the pool.

John                  Sure, okay, but…so, so these power plants aren’t even operational. Five, seven, eight years later, hundreds of millions over budget, and noteven operational. And here’s the kicker: Martin’s company has never constructed a power plant before, which makes it’s even more likely to overrun on costs!

                          Little pause. 

Charlie             That’s it?

John                 You don’t…think that’s a problem?

Charlie              Nope.

John                 Right. I mean, I know you want Martin to have the contract –

Charlie             Martin, Martin I don’t give a fuck about Martin. I do give a fuck about the loan.

John                 Exactly: this plant will be a black hole that swallows money. This loan is –

Charlie             Government guaranteed, asshole. That’s what it is. And all I care about. 

John                 You don’t care if it overruns by hundreds of millions?

Charlie              It overruns, it overruns.

John                 Or worse, never becomes operational? 

Charlie             What do you care?

John                 Because a loan has to fund an investment that goes on to create a cash flow.

Charlie             We won’t be left holding the bag.

John                That’s how a loan is repaid. Isn’t that text book lending?

Charlie            Textbook? You’re in the real world now. This is a country the size of a continent, not a factory in Cleveland. Countries don’t go bankrupt. Their infrastructure doesn’t go away, their natural resources don’t go away. Their assets always exceed their liabilities. The only thing left to do now is   write a rosy risk report for Howard and the committee that will push it through. Keep it brief and bland. The blander the better.

                        Charlie gets back to his golf.

John               You want me to write it?

Charlie           Consider it an opportunity.

John               Why can’t you do it?

Charlie           I can do it, John. The question is can you?

                       John says nothing.

Charlie          Just play by the rules, okay. That’s how the money’s made. Relax. Bottom line. We’re not evaluated on how accurate our reports are. We’re evaluated and paid on how many loans we make.

John              But then loans for millions of dollars are being approved on reports –

Charlie          Are you a moron? Or are you just out to piss me off? The committee doesn’t approve a loan on the basis of a report. The committee approves a loan because if they don’t, another bank will.

John             Then why bother writing reports?

Charlie         I’m not saying they don’t look at it. I’m saying me and you play less of a role in this thing than you think.

John             Then why are you asking me to manip –

Charlie         Be careful now. Be very careful. Do you want to use that word? Do you want to say that word aloud? Let me tell you something first. About the power of words. You know, the Egyptians believed that speaking and writing was an act of creation. That when they spoke something aloud or wrote it down they brought it into being. It became real. And though crazy, we haven’t really moved on from that. We do not speak of what we fear most, as we may articulate it into being. We do not speak of what we fear lest we bring it into being. We speak of our hopes as often as we can. To speak is to create. So think very fucking carefully about what you’re about to create.


End of scene

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