By John McNeil
Guests in a TV gameshow can choose what kind of lifestyle they would like, from education to the car they drive. But there is a cost. (A takeoff of the British gameshow "Moment of Truth".)
Announcer - voice only
Cilla - female TV host
Caribda - male TV host
Tara/Tony - game show guest
Voices of T's parents
The set of the television game show, "Get a Life", hosted by the famous TV duo, Cilla and Caribda. The usual bad taste in flashing lights, fancy decor, glittering costumes.
Anncr: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls ... it's time to "Get a Life". And here to help you choose your destiny are your two hosts, Cilla and Caribda.
OHP: (Applause sign)
FX: Wild applause.
(The two hosts enter at the run, wave to the audience, embrace each other, generally carry on to psych up the crowd.)
Cilla: Thank you, thank you. What a wonderful audience we have tonight.
Caribda: And what an amazing time we're going to have .....
Cilla: As our contestants choose the life they'd like to live ... if they can ...
Both: GET A LIFE!!
OHP: (Applause sign)
FX: More wild applause.
Cilla: So without further ado, let's meet our first contestant in 'Get A Life'. Put your hands together for Tony/Tara Fry of Aranui.
FX: Yet more wild applause.
(Enter Tony/Tara, late teens/early 20s. This kid's media-savvy, and acts accordingly. Not much money to spare, but makes the best of what s/he has. Ambition on a low budget. S/he's greeted and hugged in turn by the two hosts. )
Cilla: Hi, T--, and welcome to the show. Tell us a bit about yourself and why you're here.
T: Hi, Cilla. Yes, I'm from Aranui, but I'm not staying there. I've seen what living on the benefit has done to my family, and I want better. I haven't had a proper job since I left school, and I'm fed up living with second-hand furniture in a run-down State house.
Cilla: Well, better is what we certainly offer you on"Get A Life," Tony/Tara. I'm sure you know how the show works, but run through it again, Caribda, for those who might be newcomers.
Caribda: Sure, Cilla. As usual, in a moment we'll offer you a list of lifestyle options, from which you can choose the life you want. You can choose as high or as low as you want - it's all there andit'syour call. But, of course, as usual, along with the choice goes the challenge. The more valuable the prize, the harder the challenge.
Cilla: All right, T--, are you ready to choose?
T: (Has been waiting desperately for this moment) Yes, I'm ready.
Cilla: Okay, Caribda, let's show T-- the first set of choices, and hear his/her calls on life.
(Caribda reads from a set of cards. As he calls the choices, images of them are seen on the OHP/video.)
Caribda: Let's start with education. For challenge scale 1, you are expelled from school before completing School Certificate.
T: (Anguished) No!
Caribda: For challenge scale 2, Bursary and Dux of your high school.
T: (Determined) No.
Caribda: For scale 3, a Polytech Diploma and Apprentice of the Year award.
Caribda: For scale 4, a Master's degree in Medical Science.
T: (Wavering) Nooo....
Caribda: And for challenge scale 5, a PhD from Oxford University and a Rhodes Scholarship.
FX: Cheering from audience.
Cilla: I can see you're a person who wants to go places, T--. And that's what we're here to help. But of course, with every choice goes a challenge. What is the challenge, Caribda, and who faces it?
Caribda: The challenge this time, Cilla, goes to T--'s parents. We have them on the line now. (Picks up telephone.) Are you there, Mr and Mrs Fry?
Parents: (Voices only. Photograph on OHP.) Yes, we're here.
Caribda: You've heard T--'s choice. Do you want to take up the challenge of meeting the cost? For you, Mrs Fry, it will mean a part-time night job as a cleaner for ten years while you struggle to bring up your three other children. And for you, Mr Fry, it will mean a 60-hour week for those same ten years, with no holidays, and seeing your family only every third weekend.
Parents: Ten years!? It's a lot, isn't it! But yes, we'll do it for our daughter/son. Education is more important than our comfort.
Caribda: Perhaps I should also warn you, that at the end of the ten years you'll probably also divorce because of the financial strain.
Parents: Oooh, hold on a minute. (Muttered conferring in the background.) No, we'll still do it. We love our daughter/son, and we want her/him to have the best we can manage.
Caribda: Aren't they wonderful!! A big hand for T--'s parents. (Puts down phone.)
Cilla: Well, T--, that's challenge number one passed. What great folks you have. But that's only the start. Where do we go to now, Caribda, in the lifestyle stakes?:
Caribda: Next on the list is houses. For challenge scale 1, a Housing Corp rental in Bexley ...
T: (Anguished) No!
Caribda: For challenge scale 2, a 3-bedroom home in Spreydon...
T: (Decidedly) No.
Caribda: For scale 3, a studio unit overlooking Hagley Park...
Caribda: For scale 4, a mansion in Fendalton, with swimming pool and double garage.
T: (Wavering) Ummm .... no!
Caribda: And challenge scale 5, a 10-acre lifestyle block at Rangiora, with three-storey homestead, heated indoor pool and sauna, and permanent butler and gardener.
Cilla: That's a big lifestyle leap you've chosen, T--. So let's hear from Caribda the challenge that goes with this level of prize.
Caribda: It's a dream home you've got your sights set on, T--. And the challenge this time has to be met by you. The cost at this level is first of all five years working your way up the ladder of an international corporation. You'll work a 72-hour week, do all the dirty assignments no-one else wants to tackle, and take a two-year stint in Uzbekhistan, where you'll be the only English-speaking ex-patriate. On your return, you'll be shunted to a different branch office every six months. When you're allowed to settle in one place, you'll have to reapply for your own job three times because of restructuring, and eventually fire the manager who first hired you.
T: It's a hard world out there. You have to do the hard yards, make some hard choices if you're going to achieve your goals.
Caribda: Oh, and one more thing. Your wife/husband will have an affair with your best friend. In the divorce, you'll get custody of the kids, but they'd rather be with your ex because they hardly know you.
T: They'll come round when they realise where the money is.
Cilla: This kid's got ba... courage, folks.
Cilla: Well, T--, here's your final lifestyle choice on the way to your chosen dream. Tell her/him about it, Caribda.
Caribda: Moving on to the car you'll drive. For challenge scale 1, we offer a second-hand 1979 Skoda, due for an engine recondition.
T: No, thank you!
Caribda: For challenge scale 2, you can have a 1985 Toyota, reliable but with a bit of rust in the boot.
Caribda: At scale 3, there's a 1995 BMW, only 2 owners.
T: Not bad, but no.
Caribda: At scale 4, a Rolls Royce, with log book autographed by Mel Gibson.
T: (Wavering) Ooh!
Caribda: And if you choose challenge scale 5, you could be driving the latest edition Ferrari sports convertible, fuel-injection, twin overheads, parachute braking, and you'll need it with a top speed of 350 kph ex-showroom floor.
T: Yes, I want that car.
Cilla: And you can have it! But first the challenge. And it's a very simple one this time. You must never, ever drink before driving, even if you're entertaining some high-powered corporate clients you're desperate to impress. And you must never, at any time, exceed the speed limit in your high-powered car.
T: I'm determined, man. I want that machine.
Caribda: But wait ... there is one more challenge.
T: Anything. I can handle it.
Caribda: The scenario is this. You unthinkingly have a drink before driving, and happen to slip just a little over the speed limit .... and taking the corner near your home you round the bend just a bit wide ... and a child steps out in front of you ... Who's is it to be? Your own child, or your next-door neighbour's?
(The growing realisation of the reality of the choice starts to dawn on T, who is left without words.)
Cilla: But, hey, you don't have to make the choice right now. Our time is up for tonight's show. So, T--, why don't you come back next week and tell us which one you choose. And along with you will be yet another lucky person who will also have the chance to ...
Cilla & Caribda: GET A LIFE!! (They shake T's hand, wave to audience, etc, as ...)
FX: (Audience applause, mingled with theme music.)
© John McNeil 1999
All rights reserved
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged.
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Or at: 36B Stourbridge St, Christchurch 2, New Zealand.