A ten-minute script for ‘LitLive’, November 2016.
The climactic scene of The Great Gatsby in the Plaza Hotel. Enter TOM, DAISY, JORDAN and GATSBY.
Daisy: Oh gosh, Tom, it’s so hot! Open another window.
Tom: There aren’t any more.
Daisy: Then telephone room service for an axe.
Jordan: I love New York on summer afternoons when everyone’s away. There’s something very sensuous about it – over-ripe, as if all sorts of funny fruits were going to fall into your hands.
Gatsby: Beautiful, Jordan.
Jordan: Thank you, Gatsby. I was thinking about entering it into the East Egg poetry competition, but you need to pay an entrance fee of money over 300 years old for that.
Tom: Anyone for a mint julep?
Daisy: I would love one.
Jordan: I haven’t any cash on me.
Gatsby: That’s alright, Daisy’s voice is made of money.
Tom: I see you’ve been listening to my wife’s voice very intently.
Gatsby: You’ve gone a bit green, Mr Buchanan. I like looking at green things.
Tom: Don’t you dare suggest I’m one of those filthy green-skins, Mr Gatsby.
Daisy: I suppose I am a bit husky today-
Tom: Civilisation’s going to pieces. Have you read ‘The Rise of the Green Empires’ by this man Goddard?
Gatsby: Why, no?
Tom: Well, it’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be – will be utterly submerged. By the green people! It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved. Next thing you know they’ll throw everything overboard and have intermarriage between green and white.
Daisy: Tom’s gotten awfully green lately.
Tom: Mr Gatsby, would you care to fetch us some ice from next door?
Gatsby: I would be delighted.
Jordan: What on earth are you playing at, Tom?
Tom: As it happens, Jordan, I’ve made a small investigation of this fellow – a small investigation into his past –
Jordan: And you found he was an Oxford man?
Tom: An Oxford man! Oxford, New Mexico, he wears a pink suit!
Daisy: Listen, Tom. If you’re such a snob, why did you invite him to lunch?
Tom: Because, Daisy, I have something very serious to reveal about his past.
Tom: Oh, yes. I discovered something very, very sinister about this man, more sinister than anything I’ve ever encountered before.
Jordan: But what on earth is it?
Tom: Oh, just you wait, Jordan, just you wait. It’s going to blow your socks off.
Gatsby: They’re out of ice.
Tom: And out of luck as well.
Gatsby: Why, whatever do you mean, old sport?
Tom: Oh, nothing. By the way, Mr Gatsby, I understand you’re an Oxford man.
Gatsby: Yes – I went there.
Tom: (Under his breath) You bastard.
Daisy: Tom, darling, please –
Tom: Just one second, Daisy. I want to ask Mr Gatsby one more question.
Gatsby: Oh please, please go on, Mr Buchanan, go on.
Tom: What kind of a row are you trying to cause in my house anyhow?
Daisy: He isn’t causing a row, you’re causing a row!
Tom: Yes, he is! And I have evidence – irrefutable evidence that this man is a liar, and a cad!
Daisy: What on earth do you mean?
Tom: He’s a bootlegger, a swindler, a goddamn, no good nuisance to society!
Daisy: A bootlegger – a – a – swindler?
Tom: And that’s not all, oh no – there’s something much, much worse.
Gatsby: I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mr Buchanan.
Tom: You know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s one of the most terrible, most dastardly, most evil things a human being could do on God’s good earth!
Daisy: What is it, Tom?
Tom: Daisy – this man – (pause) – missold you PPI!
Gatsby: I – I –
Tom: Daisy, this man missold you PPI and I’m not having it.
Daisy: Tom, please, have a little self-control!
Tom: Self-control? I suppose the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr Nobody from Nowhere mis-sell PPI to your wife!
Daisy: But – Jay, you told me the PPI was secure? You promised!
Gatsby: Daisy, listen, I-
Tom: That’s it, Gatsby! The game’s up!
Jordan: What even is PPI?
Tom: You’re a no-good PPI mis-selling fraudster, and there’s nowhere you can run!
Gatsby: But, Mr Buchanan, you misunderstand me –
Daisy: Jay, is it true?
Gatsby: Of course it’s not true, sweetheart, I followed the letter of the law exactly –
Tom: You did not!
Gatsby: My PPI is authentic, I promise!
Jordan: I don’t know what PPI is?
Daisy: But how do I know if I’ve been missold PPI?
Tom: When you took out the loan for that star-spangled party Cadillac, was it made clear that the insurance was optional?
Tom: Did the adviser tell you about any significant exclusions under the policy – for example, the exclusion that says you won’t be covered for any pre-existing medical condition?
Tom: If you had to pay for the PPI as a single payment, did the adviser make it clear that you would have to pay for the insurance up front in one single payment?
Tom: Then you’ve been missold PPI!
Daisy: Oh my God!
Gatsby: Daisy, no, it’s not true!
Tom: I got you now, Gatsby!
Jordan: What is PPI!?
Daisy: This is the worst thing that’s ever happened!
Gatsby: It’s not true, I tell you, it’s not true!
Daisy: How could you!?
Gatsby: Oh God, the American Dream is so empty and pointless!
Tom: You should have stayed where you belonged, Mr Gatsby! The great American empire of PPI is too great a mountain for you to climb.
Gatsby: I just wanted to realise my dreams!
Daisy: On what, a pile of PPI mis-selling lies!?
Gatsby: Curse this mortal coil, this fresh, green breast of the new world that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes, this last place in history man was face to face with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder – genuine PPI!
Daisy: All my faith in insurance has been shaken!Tom: And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into bad PPI!
Jordan: What is happening!?
(Then, from offstage –)
(They freeze. Enter Nick.)
Nick: Have you been missold PPI? Has the American Dream crumbled before your eyes like Tesco value biscuits? Has the reinvention of yourself for the purposes of Romanticist realisation of dreams got you in a bit of a mess?
Then you need – Green Light Insurance Protection!
(TV audience cheers).
Thousands of families across the US have been hurt by the realisation they have been sold bad insurance.
(TV audience boos).
I’m Nick Carraway, and I’m here to tell you how to reclaim missold PPI.
(TV Audience cheers).
We helped Daisy Buchanan reclaim… money, and she said-
Daisy: I was delighted to earn all that money back, especially since I play the role of the passive feminine object, lacking in characteristic agency or autonomy and enacted largely as a bypassing tool for masculine self-actualisation!
Tom: What Daisy means to say is, we were delighted.
Daisy: Tom, please, I’m trying to expose the subaltern struggles of the feminine underclass in the emancipatory search for identity-
Tom: Hush now, sweet cheeks, otherwise you’ll wear yourself out before tonight.
(TV audience woos and wolf-whistles).
Nick: In recent years, our great nation of America has been going down the plughole. The total, singular cause for this is people like Jay Gatsby, people who are born into poor, working class families and have the goddamn nerve to believe they can do better.
Gatsby: But it’s the American Dream?
Nick: Sorry, what’s that Gatsby? I can’t hear you over the sound of my reclaimed money!
(Produces a wad of notes. Everyone but Gatsby laughs).
People like Jay Gatsby mis-sell PPI to honest, hard-working Americans, and wear pink suits. It’s a real mess, folks, it really is.
So, Nick T. Carraway is calling for a total and complete shutdown of all PPI-selling nobodies from nowhere, until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.
(TV audience and all onstage cheer wildly).
Jordan: How quaint.
Tom: It’s about time someone put their foot down.
Daisy: (To Nick) You resemble the advertisement of the man – you know the advertisement of the man?
Nick: (Laughs) I sure do.
(TV audience laughs).
Now, as it happens, PPI is not the only thing that Green Light Insurance Protection will reclaim for you. In the past 2 and 3/4 months, GLIP has helped people reclaim everything from the bones of lost puppies to the empty silence of a loveless marriage fluttering away down the M32. Just to give you one example, we helped Jordan Baker reclaim her sense of bored contemptuousness, and she said –
Jordan: Christ, this is awful.
Nick: – And you can see how well that worked out. Just to give you a second example, we helped Tom Buchanan reclaim his sense of fun, and he said-
Tom: It was amazing – I thought I’d lost my sense of fun in adolescence!
Daisy: Oh, Tom, I’m so happy!
Tom: Come on honeybunch, let’s go volunteer at the homeless shelter and then frolic in a meadow of flowers for a while.
(They skip offstage).
Nick: And we even helped Jay Gatsby reclaim his reclaimed money from his missold PPI. He said-
Gatsby: I was delighted to earn all that money back, especially since I’d already had it reclaimed from me! Maybe now I can buy Daisy’s love back! Daisy!
Nick: And the inversion of logic doesn’t end there! Green Light Insurance Protection can help you reclaim anything you can imagine: sports cars, tennis racquets, children, abstract nouns, sexual encounters, libido, a sense of purpose in the meaningless and futile void that we call existence, hair– you name it, we can reclaim it!
(To the audience-)
Has anyone here got anything that needs reclaiming? Anyone?
(To an audience member)
You sir/madam, you look like you need something reclaiming. Your dress sense perhaps? (Ad lib…)
(Enter English Student (Benjie dressed as a girl), clutching a copy of The Great Gatsby.)
Student: Oh my God, what are you doing?
Nick: What? Who are you?
Student: I’m an offended English Literature undergraduate, and I’ve come to complain about this, like, awful production! The Great Gatsby is, like, my favourite novel ever, and you are being totally not faithful to the original text!
(Re-enter Tom, out of character)
Eliot: Everything alright out here, Cameron?
Cameron: It’s fine, Eliot, we’ve just got a complaint.
Eliot: Oh, bloody hell – (to offstage) – guys, anyone who can be bothered, we’ve got a complainant onstage!
(Re-enter the cast, out of character).
Student: Oh my God, like, you didn’t have to get the whole cast out here, like, seriously, I’m just making a little complaint.
Nico: I’ve actually had it up to here with these bloody oversensitive girls complaining about the way we present classic novels –
Student: OH – MY – GOD, like, how dare you stereotype me by my gender, gender is a social construct and, like, if anyone employs reductive language on me again I think, I might, have, to SCREAM!
Cara: Well, what’s your complaint?
Student: Like, you turned the greatest novel of all time into an infomercial, like, that’s so not on, like I have the copy I used for my English A-level here and, like, all the notes I have got me an A-star, so, like, I think I know that you were totally not faithful to the writer’s intentions!
Tiggy: Benjie, what the hell are you doing?
Student: Benjie? Who’s Benjie? I’m an offended English Literature undergrad-
Tiggy: Benjie, seriously, we all know it’s you.
Student: I don’t know what you’re talking about-
Cara: Wait a minute – have you written yourself into your own play?
Benjie: No, Cara, I was trying to make the audience aware of the issue of representing the writer’s intentions, without being recognised. Hence why I’m in disguise.
Cameron: Isn’t it a bit ironic that you’re attacking us for not being faithful to F. Scott Fitzgerald, when you actually wrote this piece?
Benjie: Oh yeah, that’s right, lay into the writer for pointing out the inconsistencies in his own writing. I’m just trying to get ahead of the critics, Cameron.
Eliot: I can’t believe you wrote an entire script just to draw attention to yourself as a writer.
Tiggy: Honestly, guys, I know him and this is exactly the kind of dickhead thing he’d do.
Tiggy: He produced LitLive last year and he obviously wanted it to be all about himself again.
Benjie: That is so unfair.
Nico: I can’t believe I even took part in this play.
Cara: A whole script, just to big up your own ego. You’re disgusting.
Eliot: Let’s go!
(All but Benjie and Cameron make to leave -)
Tiggy: You know he emailed Ben Bridson just to ask if he could appear as himself in Gloucester Road?
Benjie: Well, I guess that just leaves you and me, eh Cameron?
Cameron: Have you been missold PPI?
Benjie: Oh my God, yes!