Pulp Ibsen

SCENE - A room, sparsely furnished. The walls haven't been washed in months; dust clings to them like stink to a corpse. There are two walls on the rear wall; the one on the left has a Chris Isaak poster loosely tacked onto it. His face is staring out from an abstract blackness. "Baby did a bad bad thing," it reads, in oblique type. The door on the right leads to Torvald Helmer's "study"; its doorframe is riddled with cigarette marks.

Between the two doors sits a battered acoustic guitar, perched askew on its stand, its neck leaning dangerously towards the floor. The strings are rusted up and will break the next time a finger touches them. Not that it matters, because it probably never gets played.

The wall on the right has graffiti scrawled across it, running at odd angles. Some of it has been carved; other inscriptions are written in ink. They've been left there by Nora and Torvald's three children, under the influence of some drug or other. An empty aerosol can has been cast aside on the floor nearby, and sits at a ninety degree angle from a half-empty bottle of scotch.

A Christmas tree sits in the top left corner, flashing its red lights about once every two seconds. A grubby angel sits on top. A handful of presents sit underneath it; one of them has been wrapped in a brown paper bag.

Two chrome folding chairs sit front of stage, facing each other.

Nora and Torvalds' dealer, Doctor Rank, has just exited through a third door, on the left wall. At its base is a doormat in the shape of a naked blonde clutching her breasts provocatively. Her nipples are obscured by cigarette ash.

Nora is dressed in jeans and a leather jacket, having just changed out of the slinky red dress she was wearing to the party. Torvald, on the other hand, is still wearing his zoot suit. His face, though emotionless, is awash with trouble. He doesn't like this situation. Not one bit.

NORA: Yeah, Torvald. I've fucking changed.
HELMER: But why now, baby? Come on now. Don't shit me about. It's late, baby.
NORA: I'm not gonna be doing any sleeping tonight.
HELMER: But, baby -
NORA: It ain't that late, you lightweight fuck. Sit down. You and I have a lot to talk about.
HELMER: Nora, what do you mean? Christ, baby, you look tired. You and I should go to bed, smoke a bowl -

Nora takes an automatic pistol from her jacket and shoots five times at the Christmas tree.

HELMER: What the fuck? What the fuck?
NORA: Just fucking sit down. I've got a lot to say.
HELMER: Don't shoot the Christmas tree, baby! Think of the kids! They love Christmas! Think of the kids! I don't understand you -
NORA: No, that's just it. You don't understand me. And I've never understood you. Not 'til this evening.

Helmer starts to speak again; Nora shoots the tree another time. Helmer sits down like a bolt.

NORA: Don't interrupt me. Just listen to what I have to say, you fuck. You and I gotta face facts.
HELMER: What do you mean, baby?
NORA: You notice anything funny about this? About you and me, here right now? What we're doing?
HELMER: Aside from you shooting the fucking Christmas tree, baby, no, not really -
NORA: We've been married for eight years, Torvald. Eight years. Does it strike you - does it occur to you that this is the first time that you and I, husband and fucking wife, have ever had a serious talk together?
HELMER: Serious talk? Nora, baby, we've had lots of talks, you're my baby -
NORA: In eight whole years - no, ever since we first met - we have never exchanged a serious word on a serious subject. Not one single sentence.
HELMER: Of course, baby ... My sweet baby ... I got worries, baby. Did you expect me to drag you into all my worries? You can't help me with my worries, baby.
NORA: I'm not talking about your fucking worries. I'm simply saying that we have never sat down seriously to try to get to the bottom of anything.
HELMER: Okay. Maybe you're right, baby. Maybe. But what does that have to do with not understanding you?
NORA: You're not fucking listening to me.

She shoots again, this time hitting the door to Helmer's "study".

NORA: You have never fucking listened to me. You have never fucking understood me. I've been done wrong, Torvald. Done wrong. First by Big Papa, and then by you.
HELMER: Baby, Big Papa thought the world of you .. and I .. I love you, baby -
NORA: No no no no no. You never loved me. You just thought it was fun to be in love with me. You used me, you misogynist prick. You've been using me since the day I first met you.
HELMER: Nora, what the hell are you talking about?

From the opposite side of her jacket to where she kept her gun, Nora produces a length of nylon rope and slowly starts tying Helmer's hands behind his back.

NORA: It's the truth, Torvald. When I lived with Big Papa, he used to tell me what he thought about everything, while we were hitting up, so that I never had any opinions but his. My fucking mind was his. And if I did have any thoughts of my own, I kept them quiet, because he wouldn't have liked them. He was in full control, always. He called me his little doll, and he played with me, Torvald, just as I played with my dolls. And then you came along, and I came here to live in your house - I passed from Big Papa's hands into yours. I performed tricks for you, and you kept me hooked up. Nothing fucking changed, Torvald. But that was how you wanted it. You and Big Papa have done me a great wrong. It's your fault that I have done nothing with my life. All of this .. is your fault.

She's finished tying his hands up now, and has turned towards the rear of the stage to collect the present wrapped in the brown paper bag.

HELMER: Nora, baby, I thought you were happy here ... Yeah, I kept you hooked up. But I thought you wanted that. Haven't you been happy here? You said you were happy, baby.
NORA: Not for one fucking second. I used to think I was; but I haven't ever been happy.
HELMER: Not happy? You were high as a fucking kite, baby, laughing and smiling and giggling -

Nora turns round with the present, which is a can of gas. She walks very slowly, gleefully, almost dancing, back towards Helmer.

NORA: But I wasn't happy, Torvald. I've just had fun. You've always been very kind to me. Giving me all the fucking drugs and booze I wanted. But our home, our marriage, has never been anything but a playroom. I've been your fucking doll-wife, just as I used to be Papa's doll-child. And the children have been my dolls. I used to think it was fun when you came in and played with me, just as they think it's fun when I go in and play with them. That's all our marriage has been. Fucking and playing. Playing and fucking and shooting up.

She starts delicately spraying the gas on Helmer.

HELMER: Okay, baby, maybe you're right. Maybe you're right. There may be a little .. truth in what you're saying to me. But from now on it'll be different, baby. Fucking .. playtime is over. Now the time has come for education.
NORA: Whose education?
HELMER: Yours and the childrens', baby, if that's what you want.
NORVALD: Oh, Torvald. You're not in any position to educate me.
HELMER: Nora, of course I can -
NORA: And what about the fucking children? Do you think I'm fit to educate the children, Torvald?

Nora takes a box of matches from the back pocket of her jeans.

NORA: Weren't you yourself saying a few minutes ago that you dare not leave them in my charge?
HELMER: I was mad .. pissed off, baby. You don't think I was serious, Nora? You can educate the children .. you're my fucking wife -
NORA: Well you know, Torvald, you were right. Perfectly right. I'm not fit to educate them. There's something I gotta do. I gotta educate myself. And you clearly can't help me with that. That's why I'm leaving you.
HELMER: What? Fuck! What -
NORA: I must stand on my own feet if I am to find out the truth about myself, and about life. So, you see, I just can't go on living here with you any longer.

She strikes a match and holds it, tantalisingly, over his head.

HELMER: Nora! Nora!
NORA: I'm leaving you now, at once.

Nora leaves through the left door, dropping the flame at Helmer's feet; it slowly begins to crawl up his leg. Just as it begins to envelope him, the front door slams outside.

What do you think, did we get it right? Comment here...