A Starless Tree?!
A Starless Tree?!
Runtime ~ 40 mins
Time for a festive piece.
The play is set in an office on Christmas Eve. It is pathetically decorated with tacky tinsel, cheap stockings and the centrepiece of all this - a Starless Tree; the rest of the staff are home with their families.
Still in the office, there is Barry a typical blokey geezer, Nigel a straight-edge professional and Gill, who isn't smart or dumb, funny or boring - just a really simple lady of simple pleasures.
They all have their last little bit to finish whilst they're in the office. Nigel and Gill are closer to finishing than Barry and eager to get home to their families. Barry on the other hand is quite happy joking and playing around, offering them beer during working hours and procrastinating.
Gill and Nigel try and get Barry to continue with his work, whilst they finish theirs. Barry tells them little snippets of his homelife, of his brother and living with his mother when they were kids. How before she fell sick, she was always so good at Christmas with decorating and food, highlighting the fact that if she saw a Starless Tree, she would fix it instantly.
He tells of how his gay brother moved out of the country to marry his now husband, leaving Barry to look after his Mum all on his lonesome. In fact, he gets so fed up, he jokes he'd rather spend Christmas there with them! Nigel and Gill laugh it off.
As the story unfolds, Gill finishes her work and leaves. Barry gets slightly more serious and desperate in convincing Nigel to stay. Nigel says he has to be home with his family and that Barry should be home with his sick Mum. She can't be left alone on Christmas Eve after all.
It isn't until Nigel is about to leave the office that Barry confides in him that she passed away the day before. He's scared to go home, he doesn't want to be alone. Nigel, awkward at first has never seen Barry like this: scared and upset - he's usually throwing out bad joke after bad joke. Nigel invites Barry to spend the Christmas with him and his family, leaving the play to end on a bittersweet note.
Not a typical piece - uses Christmas as the circumstance that drives the narrative rather than making the narrative about Christmas itself.
Barry - Lives a very empty life. His office friends are his main source of socialising, even though, to them, he's just a colleague. He's not the brightest person but his heart is in the right place. Sometimes he is accidentally offensive, his jokes rarely land but he would never harm a fly.
Nigel - Clearly intelligent, scientifically minded, computer whizz. Works here even though he finds the work tedious and quite easy. Friendly yet sarcastic/witty.
Gill - Not the smartest, not the quickest; happily trots along in life with no greater goals.