Thursday 17 November 2011

Das Schloß - The Play (Act Three of Three)

A few hours have passed.  The short winter day is drawing to a close, and the sky is getting darker by the minute.  The Innkeeper is behind the bar, drying glasses and studiously not looking in Tony’s direction.  A barmaid is also behind the bar, using a rather dirty-looking cloth to wipe down the long, wooden surface. Tony is still sitting at the table nursing his beer, staring at the glass, concentrating on the dark remnants inside.  Suddenly, he looks up and, gesturing in the direction of the bar, tries to catch the barmaid’s eye…

Tony: Hello? Could I get another please?
 [The barmaid looks up, nods, and starts to fill another tankard with beer.  A few moments later, she walks over to the table and puts the tankard firmly down.  After picking up the finished drink, she goes to walk away.]
Sorry, could I ask you something, erm…?

Barmaid: Frieda, my name’s Frieda.

Tony: Frieda… could I ask you something about the castle, Frieda?
[Frieda sits down opposite Tony, her manner noticeably less hostile than before.  Tony pauses, smiles, and then continues speaking.]
I was wondering if you had…  if you had ever been up there…

Frieda: [Surprised] To the Castle?  What, of course not! [Giggles]  Why would I have been to the Castle? [She leans forward, and her face becomes more serious.]  I do know a man though, an official called Kramm… have you heard of him?

Tony: No…

Frieda: Well, he’s supposed to be very influential, knows a lot of people… [She pauses, looking Tony up and down.] Of course, he’s a lot older than you… [She smiles coquettishly across the table.]

Tony: [Nervously playing with his wedding ring] Actually, I think I should call my wife…

[The smile disappears from Frieda’s face.  She stands up and storms off in the direction of the kitchen.  A door is heard to slam in the distance.  From behind the bar, there’s a mutter from the Innkeeper.   The only audible words are “add” and “file”.  Tony starts to get up, as if to walk over to the telephone again, when a noise from behind stops him.  He turns around.  The door opens, and the darkness of late evening is framed within its outline .  A man’s figure emerges from the darkness and enters the inn.]

Man: [Looks around] Hello?  Could someone help me please?

[Frieda looks around, and her eyes light up when she sees the handsome face and strong build of the newcomer.  She rushes from behind the bar and addresses the stranger.]

Frieda: Welcome to the inn!  Are you looking for a place to stay?  Dinner?  Drinks?  Or… [She plays with her hair and sends an unambiguous look towards the man.]

Man: [Taking a step backwards] Erm, well, actually… I’m here on business as a Land-Surveyor, at the Castle, I believe, and I was looking for a place to stay tonight.  Do you have any rooms?

[The Innkeeper, who has been drying the glasses up to this point, looks up and speaks.]

Innkeeper: Sorry, no rooms.

[Tony looks up in surprise.]

Tony: But you offered me a room?  I won’t be needing it, so why don’t you let Mr…

Man: K.

Tony: [Sceptically to the man] K.?  [The man nods.] Really? [The man nods again.  Tony turns back to the Innkeeper.]  Why don’t you let Mr. K. have my room?

Innkeeper: No, can’t do that.  That room’s just for you.  And I’m adding that to your file…

Tony: [Jumping up and shouting] Will you stop saying that?!!

Frieda: [To K.] You can share my room…

[The Innkeeper’s face darkens, and he begins to walk around from behind the bar.  Frieda takes a step towards K., and K. takes two big strides back.  Tony takes K.’s arm, and guides him towards the door.]

Tony: Come on, let’s go.  You can’t even get into the castle anyway, so we may as well get out of this village while we can. [Points at the coach]  We’ve still got a seat on the bus if you want to join us…

K.:  Have you got toilets on board?

Tony: Toilets, coffee-making facilities, wide-screen television, extensive library, very comfy seats…

K.: Sounds good. [K. and Tony walk across the road to the coach.  Gary, Lizzy and Caroline, loitering on the pavement across the road, slip guiltily back onto the bus, Gary slipping what looks suspiciously like an empty whisky bottle into his coat pocket.  He says something to the driver, and the engine roars into life.]  So, where are we going anyway?  Anywhere special?

Tony:  Not really.  I’ve got a friend up north, and I thought I’d pay her a visit.

K.: [Hopefully] A friend… Pretty, is she?

Tony: [Thumping K. on the shoulder] Yes… and she’s married.  Anyway, Effi’s not like that…

[The two men get onto the coach.  There’s a loud cheer, and, moments later, the bus drives off down the road.  Very soon, it has disappeared into the darkness and the falling snow.

Back in the inn, Frieda is sitting in the middle of the floor, howling and tearing her hair out.  The Innkeeper is standing behind the bar again, polishing some glasses.  Suddenly, the phone rings.  The Innkeeper puts down a glass, walks over to the phone and picks up the receiver.]

Innkeeper: Hello? [Undecipherable sounds from the other end of the line]  That’s right, two visitors, not one.  And a bus. [More sounds] Understood.  Can you add that to the file?

Still confused?  Click through for a little enlightenment ;)