Burn, a new play by James Graham – read the script

Burn, a new play by James Graham – read the script

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‘Go on you bugger, take the bait’ … Joanna Scanlan as Carol

Ext. Establishing shot of the street – Morning.

A long line of red-brick terraced houses in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. We focus down on one house – the curtains of the main window drawn almost closed.

Int. Carol’s house – continuous

A cluttered front room in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. The curtains are mostly drawn so it feels like evening. Carol, early 40s, is at her computer at a table, surrounded by notepads and Post-it notes, tapping away furiously. She uses a desktop computer and an Android phone interchangeably (rhythm is key here). Carol talks at a hyperactive, stream-of-consciousness pace. She sips from various cups and eats crisps.

Carol (at her screen): Go on you bugger, take the bait, that’s it, take it, take it, take it. (A notification). YEEUUS! We have got a live one here…

(To us, as she types): Started tracking this one yesterday – “@GreenGenie” – proper fundamentalist Remoaner, without the “fun” part of course, zero sense of humour. I can smell ’em a mile off these days. Largely because that’s Most People these days, that just is the internet.

She first appeared in the @ replies of Hannan, MEP, who was talking about growth, business being strong and forecasts were just scaremongering. And she was like “well we haven’t fucking Brexited yet” – she has got a point, but.

I’ve put her on the radar of one of my most frothy-mouthed Leavers, “Dean”.

I do wish that “troll” didn’t conjure – you know, fat, ugly, festering under a bridge in the dark. I know it’s dark in here, but I’m on nights this week if you must know.

Dean ran the “Mansfield Vote Leave” page, which was somewhat preaching to the … We’re the town with the 7th biggest vote for Leave in the country, 70.9%.

He’s actually a massive leftie, which is the most fun to torment ’cause they’re the most “tortured”. To find themselves on the same side as the ’kippers. All I have to do is mildly suggest he’s an anti-progressive racist and – buttons pushed.

Right I’m going to tag …

We see a chart on the wall next to her – some profile photos, names, Post-its, scribbles … a map of people and profiles connected together with lines and strings.

Who’s a nasty piece of work? Luke Morris, formerly BNP – where did they all go, eh? We know where they all went, don’t we. Luke’s a long-term project of mine. He’ll lob a couple grenades into this, get it going. I just know Luke is going to go off any second – so easy.

Clicks tweet, smokes, clicks on iTunes, a brief burst of music plays. She closes her eyes, disappearing into the music, just for a moment …

before clicking stop again.

My mum, she stood for the seat, round here, yonks ago, after the strike, ’84. That other little “civil war”. Proper mobilised her; dad a total waste o’ space but she … she was there, soup kitchens, picket lines, speeches, started reading “lit-e-ra-ture”. Gran were the same, during the war, saw an opening, an opportunity, got stuck in. I’m like that … well, I’m a warrior who’s been waiting for a war. This is it. This is my time.

Looking into webcam.

I am the agent of chaos and this is my weapon. (Referencing her computer, firing off posts) Peeow, peeow, peeow!

And my God, are you lot easy to anger …

Tucked away, in your little bubbles, where you say you’re enlightened and in touch but then are like, “I don’t understand, everyone on my timeline voted to stay, who are these people?!”

Well I’ll show you, shall I? Let me introduce you. The blockers to the blocked. Great Britain, ladies and gentleman, ladies and gentlemen it’s about time you said hello to one another …

Now she looks at us, directly into the lens. Hard and unflinching …

Because if you want the truth …. I get it. I get why it happened. “Think of all the things you might lose” – Oh right, really? What are those “things”, exactly? Round here?

Your one single unpickable argument was “beware the chaos you might cause”, and that’s why you failed, OK? That was the point …

Chaos. Is. The point.

A notification catches Carol’s eye. She frowns, confused at first …

Insert – a news story, shared on social media. “Luke Morris” and his social media profile.



Carol’s eyes shoot to her board – we see the same profile of Luke Morris, as new notifications ping, the story rolling in. And another, and another, and another …

Carol panics, moving from window to window on screen …

Carol starts to disconnect everything she can find – her computer, yanking the internet cable out, turning off her iPad, even turning off the lights …

She sits there, quietly for a moment, catching her breath in the semi-darkness …

Cut to black.