Act One – Scene One: Int. A suburban living room. Edmund enters. Gilbert is slumped in a chair. His head is back, his mouth is open. He snores loudly.
Edmund: So Gilbert, the plot thickens.
Gilbert: (Surprised) What the bloody…? What? Plot? What plot?
Edmund: (Remaining calm) Plot. This plot. The plot. The plot thickens…
Gilbert: Plot. Ok, plot. Against whom?
Gilbert: Against whom? Whom… What… Who are we plotting against?
Edmund: Us? No-one. We’re not plotting against anyone.
Gilbert: But you said…
Edmund: I said, ‘So Gilbert, the plot thickens.’ It’s the line.
Gilbert: The line?
Edmund: The line. In the play.
Gilbert: The play… What play?
Edmund: This play. The play.
Gilbert sits awkwardly, confused.
Gilbert: I’m confused. What do you mean ‘The line’? What play are you talking about?
Edmund: Look, come on, there are people watching. This isn’t funny now; just say your line. Let’s move on.
Gilbert: ‘Line?’ ‘Line?’ There you go with that ‘Line’ thing again. What is this with ‘Line’? You’re acting like you’re expecting me to say something.
Edmund: Of course I am. I’m waiting for you to say your line so that I can react.
Edmund: React. I say, ‘So Gilbert, the plot thickens’ and you say, ‘And we become more embroiled within it,’ and I react by saying, ‘Ay, there is no other way for us.’ I know it’s not exactly Shakespeare, but…
Gilbert: ‘And we become more embroiled within it’?
Edmund: Well, it’s not actually a question in the script, but it will…
Gilbert: Script? What do you mean, Script?
Edmund: Oh God! Have you been drinking?
Gilbert: Me drinking? Me? I’m not even called Gilbert. Why do you keep calling me Gilbert?
Edmund: In the play. Your character…
Gilbert: Here we go again. ‘In the play.’ What play?
Edmund: This play, for Christ’s sake. This play. The one that we are both in.
Gilbert: I’m not in a play.
Edmund gestures to Gilbert to look at the audience. Gilbert stands and walks to the front of the stage, peering intently into the auditorium. He returns to his chair and sits heavily.
Gilbert: I don’t understand. When did that happen?
Edmund: Oh come on, it’s a play. You’re just a character in a play. Stop messing about now and let’s get on with it. The audience are getting restless. They’ll be asking for their money back if we don’t get on with it.
Gilbert: But I don’t understand. I fell asleep over Doctor’s this afternoon, no biggy, often happens, but when I woke up… Is this Candid Camera?
Edmund: Candid Camera? How old are you?
Gilbert: Alright, Game for a Laugh. Are you Jeremy Beadle…? No, he’s dead isn’t he? Are you Noel Edmonds?
Edmund: No I’m bloody not. I’m Edmund and you are Gilbert. We are brothers.
Gilbert: Brothers? My mum’s not going to be happy with that. She thought that there was just me and my sister. Mind you, my sister’s not going to be too chuffed when she finds out that she’s you…
Gilbert: (Peering closely at Edmund) Is that a fake beard? It is, isn’t it? It’s a fake beard. Come on, who are you really? Is this for You’ve Been Framed? (He addresses the audience) It is, it’s a fake beard.
Edmund: The fourth wall. My God! You’ve broken the fourth wall.
Gilbert: The what?
Edmund: The fourth wall. It’s a theatrical conceit. The barrier between the actors and the audience.
Gilbert again looks out into the audience.
Gilbert: A theatrical conceit. What the…? There is no barrier. What would be the point in that? They wouldn’t be able to see us. There’d be no point. Unless it was glass or something. I suppose glass would work…
Panicking, Edmund looks to the wings. He strokes his beard nervously.
Gilbert: It is fake, isn’t it? Honestly, it’s a fake.
Edmund: (Under his breath) Yes, it’s fake. Obviously it’s a fake, alright. And so is yours.
Gilbert: But I haven’t got a…
Gilbert feels his chin.
Gilbert: …bloody hell. Where did that come from? I’m sure I didn’t have that this morning.
Edmund: I’ve just told you, it’s a fake.
Gilbert pulls the beard. It comes off. He tries to stick it back on. It is upside down.
Gilbert: Blimey… Right, just let me get this straight. I’m called Gilbert and you’re called…?
Gilbert: …Edmund. And… We are doing what exactly?
Edmund: In the play?
Gilbert: If it helps.
Edmund: I’m waiting for you to deliver your line.
Gilbert: Which is?
Edmund: Which is ‘And we become more embroiled within it.’
Gilbert: And we become more embroiled within it?
Edmund: Yes, but as I said, it’s not a question.
Gilbert: And we become more embroiled within it? But not a question?
Edmund: No. A statement. Not a question.
Gilbert: Right, so…
Gilbert: So shall I say it then?
Edmund: It’s a bit late now if I’m honest.
Gilbert: Bit late? It’s just a line. If you don’t want me to say it now, what’s the point in all the moaning? What have you been moaning about all the time? I thought…
Edmund: You didn’t! That’s just the point, isn’t it? You didn’t. You didn’t think anything. The writer did. You’re just reciting his lines.
Gilbert: Oh yes…? So, what’s with all this confusion then?
Edmund: Confusion? It’s just in the script.
Gilbert: What do you mean, ‘It’s in the script’?
Edmund: I mean it’s in the script. The confusion is in the script.
Gilbert: And the fourth wall thing?
Edmund: In the script.
Gilbert: And the thing with the beard?
Edmund: In the script. It’s all in the script. Everything. You, me, everything; all in the script.
Gilbert: Are you sure?
Edmund: Quite sure…
I come from a long line of actors. It’s called the dole queue – Alan Davies