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Bright Lights sample

Rachel is recalling the price she paid for spurning Gerald's advances twenty years ago.

RACHEL That man ended my career.

GERALD You never had a career.

RACHEL You made sure of that. I could have been a big name in television, Hollywood, walking the red carpet at award ceremonies, courting the paparazzi. (Rounding on Gerald) But no, you had to spoil everything, consigning me to a dismal career flogging cosmetics at a department store. You ruined my life!

GERALD At least you’re not bitter.

RACHEL Every caustic word you wrote is branded on my memory. Like your first hatchet job on my Cleopatra.

GERALD I’ve long forgotten.

RACHEL Bet you haven’t. “One felt sorry for the asp”. Despite that, I somehow managed to get the title role in Bernard Shaw’s “Saint Joan”. His comment? “Rachel Howard’s tiresome Joan of Arc made one want to jump up and shout “how would you like your stake?”. Then your coup de grace.

GERALD (proving he does remember) The only way Rachel Howard will see her name up in lights will be when she changes it to “Emergency Exit”.   

SALLY You rotten…  How did you become so despicable?    

GERALD Dedicated practise. Let’s face it, nobody remembers the “nice” reviews, but everybody loves the scathing ones.

RACHEL  Not when you’re on the receiving end.

SALLY I must admit I sometimes read them for a laugh.

RACHEL You wouldn’t have been laughing at yours tomorrow.   

GERALD Label me “Mr. Negative” if you like, but many actresses earn well-deserved plaudits. Thanks to me, careers have blossomed.

RACHEL Not mine.

SALLY If the actress is the genuine five star article, credit where credit is due and that’s fine. But there are all those other actresses who aren’t. You lie with them, and then you lie about them.

GERALD The many who should have sought their true vocation at a fast food outlet? Auditions usually weed them out, although I do occasionally get grief from casting directors. I simply smile and explain that I must have reviewed them on their one and only good night. Which brings me neatly to my imminent departure.  

RACHEL Not yet. Not until you’ve done something for my daughter.

GERALD Why should I?

SALLY Yes, that’s what I was wondering. Why should he?

RACHEL Because, Sally dear, I haven’t been entirely truthful about what happened back then.

SALLY You told him to get lost… (No reply from Rachel) Didn’t you?

RACHEL I really wanted to make it big on the stage, just like you.

SALLY Mother…

RACHEL  His first review sang my praises.

SALLY You didn’t? You gave in to him!

RACHEL I wasn’t his first, or his last.

SALLY (to Gerald) Is this true?

RACHEL He can’t deny it. He was there.