A short play written for performance at This Is Not Art 2003, in Newcastle, Australia with John Kachoyan as “Mervin”. Later performed at PACT Theatre Sydney as a part of  December “Zing” 2003, this short play explores the invisibility of Sue, a woman of indeterminable age: as her offers to Mervin go un-noticed, her conversations go un-heard and her iced vo-vos are uneaten. Published in 2008 by Affirm Press in an Anthology celebrating Australian Writing called “Herding Kites.”

The Comfort of Old Slippers
A short play by Augusta Supple

Mervin: man of indeterminable age
Sue: woman of indeterminable age

Blank Box. TV, 1 Armchair, remote control.

* Indicate the next line is spoken over the top of the speaker.

(Very dim light. Man (Mervin) sitting wide eyed motionless in a chair. Breathing heavily. Occasionally snorting and snuffling. In a dressing gown. The sound of a very slow clock. Woman (Susie) pale. Invisible to him. In white ugly shapeless dress. Blue light of the TV on Mervin’s face. Circles under their eyes. They haven’t slept.)

Mervin: I don’t know if baked beans are baked. They seem boiled. I think its Tuesday. Last Wednesday I went to the shop. Bought milk and milk and milk and bread and milk and butter. I couldn’t understand the girl that took my money. She spoke funny. That’s all. (Calling to the cat) Mittens! Mittens? Mittens? Bloody cat.

Sue: He got run over.

Mervin: Mittens?

Sue: He won’t come

Mervin: Mittens?

Sue: He won’t.

Mervin: Mittens?

Sue: He’s not a dog.

Mervin: Mittens?

Sue: And he’s dead.

M: Bloody cat!

Sue: Probably. Well since the car hit him.

(Soundscape: Price is Right. Mervin is watching. Sue walks in with a cup of tea and an iced vo-vo biscuit on a rattling tray)

Mervin: Thirty eight thousand! Move it there. Swap it with the holiday. No other way around! Moron! Nah you lost it. Can’t stand it. Bloody stupid.

Sue: Why do you watch it?

Mervin: Stupid people.

Sue: You should go on it, try your luck.

Mervin: I could do a better job than them

Sue Go on… win the Jet Ski.

Mervin: Or I might win a jet ski.

Sue: Or a trip to Townsville.

Mervin: I’d want the dryer more than a holiday.

Sue Your socks are damp again.

Mervin:Everything is damp. I can feel the mould.

Sue You should throw out those oranges. They are more blue than orange. The blueness is poison. It can kill *you

Mervin: *Mittens?

Sue Mervin!

Mervin: Oh that’s right. The cat’s on holidays. Townsville I think. Riding a Jet Ski.. Bloody Cat.

Sue Should change the channel it depresses you.

Mervin: The news is good. That Jessica Rowe really likes me. I know she does. But I am not ready for a relationship. She’s always really nice. Never tells me what to do. Always smiling. Smiles with all those teeth. She’s always smiling… except, of course, if a backpacker has been found somewhere they shouldn’t be*

Sue: *Like in the ground. (She drops the cup… it smashes)

Mervin: In pieces in the forest. But I’m not going to let her know. Not yet. Sometimes when I am about to… she says, “See you tomorrow and have a good night” I can’t let her down after that.

Sue The tea towels are damp.

Mervin: And who knows- it wouldn’t work out. Then she’d send me photos of her and mittens on Jet skis in Townsville. Best if I don’t mention it… keep her guessing. Women like men who are aloof. Unavailable. Strong. Makes them feel like they have to earn it.

Sue: There is Campbell’s Minestrone Soup on the boil.

Mervin: I hate celery.
Sue: I know you do.

Mervin: I hope I never have to eat it ever again*. People on their diets.

Sue: *But you have never eaten it.

Mervin: Baked Beans. Man’s Food.

Sue: Its spring outside. Everything is blooming. Remember those camellias outside your mother’s house? She’d be inside with an apron on … making dinner for the family… lipstick on… and a crystal vase full of flowers on the hat stand. That smell. Reminds me of you. You. Before that chair knew the shape of your… your. And I was a visitor in that house. I spent those times looking at the lino peeling up from the kitchen floor hoping you would make some sort of declaration.

Mervin: Fisherman’s friends. Look like kitty litter. Don’t taste like it. Not as crunchy. And a different shape.

Sue:I am going now. You’ll never see me again.

Mervin: (singing) Rowe Rowe Rowe Your Boat
Gently down the stream
*Jessica Jessica Jessica Jessica
You look good in green. (repeat X 2)

Sue * (trying to yell over Mervin) I am going now. Bye! I’m gone! You can’t see me! I’m not here anymore!


Sue: (Calling from outside the theatre in a small voice) I’ll see you tomorrow Mervin.