SMOKE… Act II/Scene 2

Age and youth. Their concerns are disparate. Where youth sees the promise of love and a bright future ahead, age has the wisdom of the past to forewarn of the dangers of such optimism. I wasn’t sure whether this was the right place to go. It may not be apparent in this scene as yet, but I am going back in time to revisit the theme of the first act, but from a somewhat different angle. This scene opens the door a little only. It announces without revealing. What do you think will happen next?

young-vs-oldSmoke… by Vic Briggs

SMOKE… Act I/Scene 1

SMOKE… Act I/Scene 2

SMOKE… Act I/Scene 3


SMOKE… Act II/Scene 1


Same room as scenes 2 and 3 Act I. Emma now fifty-two is sitting at the table typing away on her laptop. Laura, nineteen, is sitting on the bed reading a book. She is distracted, She keeps looking up from her book and towards her mother. Eventually she puts her book aside and walks to the window.

Laura. Mum?

Emma. (not looking up from her computer) Yes dear?

Laura. Mum, I need to talk to you.

Emma. (continues to type) I have a deadline. Can’t it wait?

Laura. I suppose.

Laura. Returns to the bed and takes up her book. Leafs it for a few moments as if searching for a specific page. Gives up and puts it back down. She fidgets trying to get comfortable then gives up on that too. She stands up and walks back to the window, looking wistfully towards the audience.)

Laura. (to no one in particular) What a beautiful evening.

Emma. (typing away) What did you say dear?

Laura. (turning her head towards her mother) It’s nice outside. I think I will go out for a walk.

Emma. It’s going to rain. (stops typing and looks in the direction of her daughter) They said it was going to rain tonight.

Laura. I’ll take an umbrella.

Emma. You lost our last one.

Laura. (sighs) Oh, never mind. I don’t think I’ll go. (turning towards her mother) Can you talk now?

Emma. Sure. I can talk now. (indicates for Laura to approach) I’ll take a break. Do you want some tea?

Laura. No, no. I just want to talk to you. (takes her mother’s hand and brings her to the bed. They both sit down).

Emma. Well?

Laura. Mum.

Emma. Observes her daughter. Begins to look apprehensive..

Laura. (exhales loudly) I met someone.

Emma. Is that all?

Laura. (tentatively) We’re in love.

Emma. (laughing) Already?

Laura. (stands up from the bed, looks offended). Yes, already. How else do people fall in love?

Emma. Fine. Fine. So who is he?

Laura. (sits back down.) How do you know it is a he?

Emma. (a little surprised) Isn’t… this person a he?

Laura. You don’t have to look so worried. Yes. A he.

Emma. It wouldn’t have mattered, you know.

Laura. I know.

Emma. (waiting) I’ll make us some tea…

Emma disappears through a lateral door into an adjacent room. The sound of a kettle being filled up and some clattering of china is audible. Laura paces from the bed to the door of the kitchen, peers through about to say something, but then changes her mind and walks back to the bed. She sits down. She stands up again. Emma appears in the frame of the kitchen door, leans against it and crosses her arms on her chest, watching her daughter. Laura smiles and sits down on the bed again.

Emma: So?

Laura. So what?

Emma. Well! Are you going to give me any details? Who is he? How did you meet?When do I get to meet him?

Emma walks over to the bed and sits down again, next to her daughter. They hold hands as Laura confides.

Laura. He is someone from uni. We met at a party. You won’t get to meet him any time soon.

Emma. What do you mean ‘someone’? What bloody party? You’ve never been to any!

Laura. (lets go of her mother’s hands and stands up, incensed) I knew it! You don’t like him already and you don’t know the first thing about him!

Emma. Laura…

Laura. Mother!

Emma stands up from the bed and faces her daughter.

Emma. (now sounding worried) Answer my question. What do you mean ‘someone’? Is he an OLDER man?

Laura. (laughing) What if he is?

Emma. Don’t play games with me. This is serious. Who is he?

Laura. Oh! Stop worrying for nothing. He’s a student.

Laura catches her mother’s hand and draws her near. Emma looks relieved and embraces her daughter. The sound of the kettle from the back room announces that the water is ready for tea, so Emma goes into the kitchen. The audience cannot see her, but they can hear her voice clearly as her conversation with Laura continues.

Emma. So why don’t I get to meet him?

Laura. Because you’re going to scare him off.

Emma. I’ll do no such thing.

Laura. Promise?

Emma, re-enters the room, two steaming mugs in hand. She walks over to the bed and holds one of them out for Laura.

Emma. (mocking) I solemnly swear!

Laura. On your job?

Emma. Do I have to?

Laura nods.

Emma. Alright then.

Laura. Takes the extended cup and sips from it. She burns her lip slightly.

Laura. I’m meeting his parents on Sunday for brunch. Wanna come with?

Emma does not answer. She takes her mug over to the window and sets it on the windowsill. She retrieves a pack of cigarettes from the inner pocket of her cardigan and opens it up slowly, all the while looking into the distance.

Laura continues to stand in the exact spot as when she asked her question, unmoving.

The light dims on the entire scene, with the exception of the window where Emma lights up a cigarette and draws the smoke deep into her lungs before exhaling. The lights go out.


SMOKE… Act I/Scene 3

Sometimes our silence speaks louder than words.

The third scene of this play explores the power of silence. I attempted to showcase the pause – give it power. By giving silence an equal share on the page, I hope to show rather than tell how each character feels about the situation, so that when they do speak – even without pause – the silence still runs between them as an undercurrent.

I would love to know which pauses spoke to you most.



By Vic Briggs


ACT I/ SCENE 2: SMOKE… Act I/Scene 2


The same room. Emma (thirty-two) sits on the bed, covered by a blanket. She looks worn out. Margaret (twenty-four) is occupying the only chair in the room. Emma’s approach to the conversation is direct and unhesitant. There is determination inscribed in her every feature. Margaret appears uncertain, discomfited by her presence in that room. There are long pauses before most of her lines.

Emma. What do you want?

Margaret looks away, fiddles with the handle of her purse, clearly struggling formulate what she is about to say.

Margaret. You know what I want.

Emma. I want you to say it to my face.

Margaret makes eye contact for the first time. She appears to be staring Emma down.

Margaret. You don’t think I can?

Emma. (derision in her every word) No. I think you are quite capable of it, but I want you to do it. Say it.

Margaret. Breathes in deeply and then exhales.

Emma. Not as easy as it seems, is it?

Margaret gives her a look. Breathes in and tries to get it over with as quickly as she can.

Margaret. I don’t want you to have Fred’s baby.

Emma. Stands up from the bed. The blanket falls to the floor. She does not look heavily pregnant, but there is a small bump, just noticeable. She looks triumphant and defiant.

Emma. And what do you propose that I do about it?

There is a long pause, when Margaret finally speaks, her tone is subdued to nearly a whisper. It sounds as if she is trying to persuade herself as much as her opponent.

Margaret. That is not my problem.

Emma covers the distance between her and Margaret in a few paces.

Emma. Then why the fuck are you making it yours?

Margaret. Fred never wanted your baby. You trapped him. You got pregnant on purpose!

Emma. (smiling) Fred never wanted anybody’s baby. He fucked me [over]. Sometimes women get pregnant when that happens.

Margaret. (standing up from the chair to face Emma) You trapped him. You trapped him! You… You…!

Emma. I what? What is that your little posh mouth can’t get out?

Margaret. (shaking her head) I won’t be brought down to your level.

Emma. I’m not the one asking a desperate woman to kill her unborn child.


Margaret. (horrified) That’s not what I said.

Emma. That IS what you meant.

Margaret begins to pace back and forth, every now and then looking up at Emma, who stands still, a protective hand over her bump.

Margaret. (pacing) Fred will not acknowledge your child.

Emma. That’s Fred’s business.

Margaret. You will have to bring it up on your own.

Emma. That’s my business.

Margaret. He will never change his mind.

Emma shrugs as if to indicate she does not care, or perhaps that she is not as sure of it as Margaret seems to be.

Margaret. (sounds desperate) I love him!


Margaret. I’m going to marry him.

Emma. That’s your business.

Margaret. Oh, for Christ’s sake! Is that all you can say?!

Emma. What do you want me to say?

Margaret. Shrugs. Sits down on the chair.

Emma. If that’s all, I’d like you to leave now.

Margaret. (standing up) I will. (pause) I will, but… you must promise that you will never contact him again.

Emma. Fine.

Margaret. walks towards the door. Emma follows her. Margaret turns around, looks at Emma one more time, hesitates

Margaret. And you must promise that your child won’t either.

Emma. You’ll have to ask her.

Margaret. You must promise.

Emma. I’ll make no bargains on behalf of Fred’s daughter.

Margaret. It is not Fred’s, it’s yours.

Emma. Not ‘it’ – her. And no. I won’t promise you that she won’t try to contact her father.

Margaret. Fred will never acknowledge her.

Emma. That’s his business.

Margaret. Bitch.