The Health Centre

By Trevor Fletcher


A new health centre manager  is doing the rounds with his assistant manager, Barry.  There is some tension between them and it emerges that Barry has been passed over for the job of manager and the new man is been brought in over his head. Theme: Belonging, commitment – you can't play at being part of the family of God.


Sidney Golightly – Health Centre Manager
Barry – Assistant Manager
Tracey – An air-headed bimbo
Stacey – Another air-headed bimbo
Mona Lee – A pain in the neck
Porky McScratching – a glutton
Muscles Malone – A man living on past glories
Steroid man – a fake
Mona Lee's Victim 1 – a weightlifter
Mona Lee's Victim 2 – a man on a running machine
Gloria – a Secretary
Pete - the only one working out


(Scene: A health centre where a number of members are engaged in various activities.  The new health centre manager, Sidney Golightly is doing the rounds with his assistant manager, Barry. Each is equipped with a clipboard to make notes as they make the tour.  It is clearly a familiarisation exercise and they give a running commentary on the activities of each member.  As the action starts each member or pair of members is frozen in an appropriate action and only unfreezes as Sidney turns his attention to them.)
(Enter Sidney and Barry.)
Sidney: You know, Barry, I've always dreamed of this day – my first day as manager of a health centre!  I've worked my way up through the ranks, you know; junior hygiene technician…
Barry: Cleaner you mean?
Sidney: (Piously) Hygiene technician, Barry, hygiene technician!  I'm a stickler for correct titles, you'll find – 'accuracy is the watchword of the well-run health centre', as my old Boss used to say.  Yes, I've gone from junior hygiene technician through to hygiene technician, senior hygiene technician, chief hygiene technician, deputy assistant under manager, assistant under manager, under manager and now this – Manager!  And all in only 30 years!  (With a flourish) Sidney Golightly, health centre Manager!
Barry: (Aside) Should have been my job.
Sidney: What did you say Barry?
Barry: I said 'Best man for the job' Mr Golightly.  (Between clenched teeth)  Best man for the job.
Sidney: Well let's get on with the tour, Barry.  'Procrastination is the thief of time', as my old Boss used to say.  Now, what have we got here?  This looks very impressive – look at those well-toned muscles – a picture of health and fitness!
Barry: Steroids.
Sidney: I beg your pardon?
Barry: It's all steroids.  The rest of it is all for effect.  As soon as we turn our backs he'll be loafing around, smoking a cigarette, eating sweets… he's a complete fake.
Sidney: That's appalling!  Do you mean he's here for effect?  The rest is completely fake?  He'll have to go you know – cancel his membership.  'There's no room for passengers and fakes in the well-run health centre', as my old boss used to say.  Now, what's next?
Barry: Ah now, these two are always in here, although for some reason they don't seem to get any fitter.
Sidney: I see, well let's just watch and see what happens.
Stacey: Right, that's our nails done Tracey, shall we have 5 minutes on the pedal-master?
Tracey: You've got to be kidding, Stacey!  5 minutes on that and I'll be sweating like a pig on a sun bed!
Stacey: Glowing Tracey, not sweating.
Both: 'Horses sweat, men perspire, women simply glow.'  (Both giggle)
Tracey: OK then, after 5 minutes on that I'll be simply glowing, and my mascara always runs when I glow.
Stacey: (Cheesily) Well Tracey, you should try this (holds up mascara).
Tracey: (Equally cheesily) What's that Stacey?  It looks like mascara.
Stacey: Not just any mascara, Tracey, this is "Grimmel" sportswoman's waterproof mascara – 'never runs no matter how much you do!'
Tracey: But that must be expensive, Stacey.
Stacey: No Tracey, it's only £19.99 from all good chemists and drug-stores! (Holds mascara out to audience as both grin cheesily)
Sidney: But this is dreadful!  These two are more concerned with their personal appearance than with health and fitness!  That's not what a health centre's about at all!  'Woman looketh on the external appearance but the health centre manager looketh at the muscles', as my old boss used to say.  Those two will have to go.  Isn't there anyone who uses this health centre properly?
Barry: There is Mona, I suppose – she seems to know a lot about health regimes and is always offering advice to other people.  Her name is Mona Lee but we call her "Only Me".  Here she comes now.
(Enter Only Me, who approaches Victim 1, a man working out with weights.  She watches him for a moment then steps in)
Only Me: Only me!  I don't think you want to do that.  You want to put a bit more weight on those. (adds more weights, leaving him trapped under the bar, struggling)  There, that's better.  That'll do you much more good!! (Goes to Tracey and Stacey who are touching up their mascara) Only me!  Now you don't to use that expensive stuff!   You want to use this – much cheaper.  Never tested on animals, never tested on anything!
T & S: Oh, thanks, Only Me
Tracey: Ow my eyes!!  It's burning my eyes!
 (Only Me goes up to Victim 2, a man on a running machine.  He is jogging slowly.)
Only Me: Only me!  You don't want to do it like that!  You'll never burn off those extra few hundred pounds at that sort of speed – you want to do it faster, like this… (Victim 2 has to run faster to keep up) …or better still, like this! (Speeds up machine till Victim 2 stumbles then eventually falls off)  I really don't think you wanted to do that!
Sidney: No, no, no – that's not right at all!  Instead of looking after her own health she spends all her time criticising the other members!  She'll have to go before she ruins the health centre for everyone else. (Porky McScratching enters eating a large chocolate bar) What's this man doing?
Barry: That's Porky McScratching, another of our members.  He only comes for the cafeteria really - I've never actually seen him using any of the equipment.
 (They watch as Porky walks offstage and back on again, each time with more padding under his jumper.  As this is going on Barry and Sidney watch in amazement)
Sidney: It can't be doing him any good – look, he's put on about 15 stone just while we've been watching!  This is turning into the worst day of my life instead of the best!  Look at this one – he can hardly fit through the door!
Barry: Ah yes, that's Muscles Malone, the Fitness Freak.
Sidney: Fitness freak?!  Fatness freak more like!  Excuse me Mr Malone…
Malone: Yeah?
Sidney: Can we have a quick word?
Malone: (Approaches slowly, wheezing)  Yeah?
Sidney: I hope you don't mind my mentioning it but I couldn't help noticing that you're a little out of cond… well shall we say, a trifle overw… Well, not to put too fine a point on it… you're fat.
Barry: (Shocked)  Oh no, Mr Golightly, Muscles is in peak physical condition!
Malone: Yeah, s'right – I work out every day – twice on a Sunday.  Lean and mean machine, me.  I'm a legend round here.
Barry: That's right, Mr Golightly, everyone talks about his dedication.
Sidney: And how long is it since you actually used any of the health centre equipment?
Malone: Well, a couple of weeks, maybe.  I've not been feeling quite myself you see.
Sidney: A couple of weeks?
Malone: Well, a couple of months, then.  (Sidney coughs meaningfully)  Years.  (Sidney coughs again)  Oh all right then, it's been 10 years since I really worked out. But I'm still here every day though!
Sidney: Look, this is a health centre not a social club; mere attendance won't make anyone healthy – just being here isn't enough!
Barry: (Innocently) As your old boss used to say?
Sidney: No, as I'm saying now, Barry.  He'll have to go.
Barry: (Resigned)  I know, cancel his membership (Aside to the audience)  He's doing well – from a membership of 200 down to 3 in one morning!  (To Sidney)  You wanted to see the membership roll, Mr Golightly – I'll just give Gloria a call.  Gloria!  The membership roll for Mr Golightly please.
(Enter Gloria)
Gloria: Here it is, Mr Golightly.
Sidney: Excellent, Gloria (Scans list) Well, that looks very healthy! (Looks round for a laugh and Barry and Gloria manage complete forced laughs)  Very good indeed – must get very crowded at times.
Gloria: Not exactly, Mr Golightly.
Sidney: What do you mean, not exactly, Gloria?  There must be 200 names here!
Gloria: (Embarrassed)  Well, Mr Golightly… the thing is… most of them don't… er… well… um… (quietly) turn up very often.
Sidney: Don't turn up very often?  How often do they turn up?
Gloria: Well… never really – most of them – the odd special event maybe.
Sidney: This is outrageous, Barry.  You can't be a member of the health centre and not turn up!  It's just not on!
Barry: Cancel their membership, Mr Golightly?
Sidney: Too right, Barry!  Does no-one use this health centre properly?  (Sees Pete working out and watches for a while)  Ah that's more like it – single mindedness, dedication – commitment!
(All exit and as they leave Sidney turns to Barry with words of encouragement.
Sidney: You know Barry, if you smarten yourself up a bit and mould yourself on me you could make it to manager – when I retire, of course, in about 20 years' time.
Copyright Trevor Fletcher, all rights reserved.
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