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Californian Lives
two one-man plays, one one-woman play
"utterly convincing portraits of love" reviews


Produced: London 2013
Published: Arbery Books 2016



"How well do you know those closest to you?"

Set in the 1990s, the stories of very different Californians. In Los Feliz a young salesman in a diner tells how he met the woman of his dreams. In Ben and Joe's an older gay man relates how lives were disturbed by the arrival of a young stranger in a quiet bar. In Sunset a housewife remembers her first date, the man she married and their time together.
Extracts


Los Feliz opening scene
Freeways? Nothing you can tell me about freeways. I wrote the book on freeways. I know every mile of freeway in LA and Orange Counties. Go on, try me. Name me two cities and I'll tell you how to get from one to the other. La Cañada and West Covina? Come on, give me something difficult. Two-ten east then Ten west or Two-Ten east, Six-Oh-Five south and Ten east, depending on traffic and whether you want the Plaza or the Country Club.



Give me another. All right, I'll give you one. San Pedro and Montebello. Now most guys would tell you the One-Ten north and the Ten east. Sure, and get caught by all that traffic downtown. You listen to me and I tell you the One-Ten, the Ninety-One and the Seven-Ten. You get there half an hour before the other guy, you've time to put your feet up, grab a bite, call the wife.


How do I know? Because I drive the freeways, every freaking day of the week. Eight, ten hours a day.


more extracts from Los Feliz
Ben and Joe's opening scene
Did you ever go to Ben and Joe's?



It was a reasonably popular bar in the Valley at the far end of Van Nuys, beyond the radar of the West Hollywood crowd. Mostly locals, although a few would come from as far away as Pasadena or Silverlake.
Californian Lives by Martin Foreman
playscript
Californian Lives: post to:
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Performing rights
poster, King's Head Theatre, London



It wasn't everyone's idea of a trendy gay bar. I'm sure some people who drove up to the Art Deco front, with a tired flamingo on the door and peeling paint, did a quick u-turn, convinced that it held only a handful of solitary middle-aged men who no longer expected their prince to come.


They were wrong; most evenings the place was full. Twenty- to fifty-year-olds, half of whom had already found their prince and the other half too busy to look for him. Typical Valley men - supermarket managers and haulage contractors, IT technicians and flight attendants, and the inevitable studio wannabees, drinking, laughing, flirting and dancing till the early hours.


It wasn't my scene. I was one of the afternoon shift. We were the older generation who strolled in an hour or so after the daily routine of lunch, shopping or the gym. We'd perch on stools around the crescent-shaped bar, watch old films on the tv and pass judgement on politicians, film stars and anyone else in the day's news. Our favorite game was encouraging Richard, the impossibly handsome twenty-three year old barman, to invent outrageous cocktails. We would stay until the early evening, when we were surrounded by more strangers than acquaintances and the door swinging open showed that the last of the stores across the road had closed. Then by ones or by twos we drained our glasses and returned home to a lover, a pet or a memory.


more extracts from Ben and Joe's
Sunset opening scene
Another fine evening, David. A beautiful sky. Pale, pale blue with clouds like cotton candy.



Remember when we first moved here? Every evening I'd come in here to watch the sun go down. The first few times you joined me. Then you said one sunset was like any other and you had better things to do. I probably did too. But it's an old woman's privilege to do what she wants, especially if what she wants is to do nothing at all. Besides, why else had we moved here, if not for evenings like these? So most times I'd sit by myself and watch the day end. Only the last few months have been different, you beside me, holding my hand as the light fades and the mountains disappear.


Do you remember the first time we held hands? The Goldrusher at Magic Mountain. Our first date. I'd asked you to take me there and you were not impressed. You were a young lawyer going places and sitting on some damn roller coaster wasn't one of them. But you took it in your stride. "Sure," you said and took me there.


That day was so hot. You were sweating and trying not to show it. Kids all around us screaming, but I didn't hear them. All I saw and heard was you, five foot ten, slim and handsome, quiet and polite. Pigheaded too, though it took me time to find that out. Anyhow, you waited till I was seated with my skirt tucked under me, then you got in, pulled down the safety bar and, without even asking, took my hand.


more extracts from Sunset
A revised version of Sunset, set in the UK will be produced in the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2019. The script is available in pdf; contact me for details.




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