2 Up, 2 Down, 1 Back by Jarek Adams

This YPT play was first performed by the Youth Theatre at the Everyman in Cheltenham as part of their Autumn Plays in November 2011.

It was then developed and taken on tour by Midsummers Theatre Company, where it received a ‘sell-out’ laurel at the Edinburgh Fringe.

I am happy for school or youth groups to perform this piece free of charge, but please do let me know about your performances so I can add them to my CV. I am also happy to explore writing new pieces for Youth Theatre Groups.

Feedback from the cast: Thank you so much for 2 up, 2 down, 1 back – it’s such an amazing play and we really enjoyed performing it!

OBJECTIVE: A short sketch to stimulate a discussion about consequences of actions.
THREE GIRLS AND TWO BOYS ARE ALL ASLEEP ON THE FLOOR WHEN THE LIGHTS GO UP.  THEY ARE FROM STAGE L TO R – JESS & TIA, THEN 2 BOYS, JOSH & DAZ AND THEN KJ.  CENTRE STAGE IN FRONT OF THEM IS A BOX MARKED 2 UP, 2 DOWN, 1 BACK, WITH THE WRITING FACING THE AUDIENCE.

JESS LIFTS HER HEAD AND LOOKS AROUND.

KJ WAKES UP AND THEIR EYES MEET.

KJ:         Who are you?
JESS:         Who are you?
KJ:         I asked first.
JESS:         Where are we?
KJ:         And who are they?
TIA WAKES UP
TIA:         Who are you?
KJ:         Not you as well.
TIA:         What do you mean?
JESS:           I think we’re all a bit confused.
THE TWO BOYS ROLL TOWARDS EACH OTHER AND WAKE UP WITH THEIR FACES ALMOST TOUCHING.
JOSH:         Aargh, get off me.
DAZ:         What are you doing?
JOSH:         I’m not doing anything.
DAZ:         You’re in my bed.
JOSH:         No I’m not.
DAZ:         (LOOKS AROUND) And neither am I.  (HE TURNS TO KJ) Who are you?
KJ:         I’m confused, so stop asking me questions.
JESS:         I think we’re all a bit confused.
TIA:         Do you lot know each other?
THEY ALL LOOK AROUND AND SHAKE THEIR HEADS
JOSH:         So none of us know each other.  Well OK, my name’s Josh. (TURNS TO KJ)
What about you?
KJ:         Kelly Jane, but everyone calls me KJ (JOSH AND KJ TURN TO DAZ)
DAZ:         My mates call me Daz
KJ:         Why?
DAZ:     Cos my mum’s always doing washing and my shirts are always really white. (HE TURNS TO TIA) What about you?
TIA:         Tia.
DAZ:         What, because you cry a lot?
TIA:         No, that’s just my name.
THEY ALL LOOK AT JESS
JESS:     My name’s Jess, so now we all know each other’s names, does anyone know where we are?
JOSH:         There’s nothing here, just us five.
TIA:        (POINTS TO THE BOX) And that.
THEY ALL GET UP AND STAND AROUND THE BOX
DAZ:         (NUDGES JOSH) Go on then, open it.
JOSH:         Why me?
KJ:         I’ll open it if you’re too scared.
TIA:         No wait!
KJ:         Why?
TIA:         We don’t know what’s in there.
JESS:         Isn’t that a good reason to open it up then.
JOSH:         No, she’s right, it could be anything.
DAZ:         It could be a bomb.
JESS:         So we don’t know where we are, or why we’re here, or what’s in the box.
DAZ:         I’ve got it.
ALL:         What?
DAZ:     We’re on a TV show.  It’s a test, and whoever opens the box wins a million quid.
KJ:         Let me open it then.
JOSH:         No wait!
DAZ:         What now?
JOSH:     We don’t know what the game is yet.  We could lose a million quid if the game is not to open the box.
TIA:         Perhaps we’d know what the game is if we just open the box and see what’s
inside.
DAZ:         She’s right.  There might be instructions.
JESS:         (WALKS AROUND THE BOX AND READS) Two up, two down, one back.
KJ:          What?
JESS:         That’s what it says.  (THEY ALL CROWD AROUND AS SHE READS IT OUT
AGAIN).  Two up, two down, 1 back.
DAZ:         OK, me and you Josh, we can crouch down, you two Tia and thingy…
JESS:         Jess
DAZ:         Yeah, you two get on top of us.
TIA:         What?  No way you kinky sod.
DAZ:          No, I mean stand on our backs.  Then we’ll have two of us up and two of us
down.
KJ:         And what about me?
DAZ:         You stand behind us, so you’re back a bit.
JOSH:         And then what do we do?
DAZ:         I dunno, perhaps a voice will tell us we’ve won the million quid.
JESS:         Wait a minute.  Do any of you remember how you got here?
KJ:         Why does that matter if we’re going to get a million quid?
JOSH:         Who says we’re going to win a million quid?
KJ:         You said we were on a game show and we were going to win a million quid.
JOSH:         I didn’t say that, he said it (HE SHOVES DAZ).
DAZ:         (SHOVES BACK) Well you got any better ideas about why we’re here?
JESS:         Stop it.  If we all start fighting we’ll never figure out what’s going on.
KJ:         OK, so what do you suggest we do?
JESS:         Like I said, can any of you remember how you got here?
THEY ALL SHAKE THEIR HEADS AND STAND IN SILENCE FOR A FEW MOMENTS
TIA:         I don’t remember coming here, I just remember…
KJ:         What?
TIA:         Nothing, it’s not important.
JESS:         It might be important.  If we all say what we remember doing last, then
maybe we can work out what we’re doing here.
JOSH:         Sounds like a plan to me.
DAZ:         OK then, you start.
JESS:         Me?  OK, well the last thing I remember I was sitting on the sofa.  Maybe I fell
asleep and this is some sort of weird dream. (JOSH PINCHES HER). Ow!  OK, so I’m not dreaming, but it’s hard to remember.  I think I was babysitting my little brother.  I got bored, and I lit up one of my mother’s ciggies
TIA:         Smoking’s disgusting.
DAZ:         No it’s not, it only kills old people.
JOSH:         Let her finish.
JESS:         That’s all.  I was sitting on the sofa smoking a ciggie, and then I woke up here
with you lot. (TO JOSH) What about you?
JOSH:         Me, I was with my mates in a car.  We were going somewhere.  I can’t
remember where.  (HE TURNS TO KJ) What about you?  You’ve gone quiet.
KJ:          I think I was ill.  All I can remember is lying in a bed with tubes all around me
and a machine that made a sort of clicking sound.  (SHE PULLS A LOCK OF HER HAIR AND LOOKS AT IT) This doesn’t make sense.  I didn’t have any…
DAZ:     (CUTS IN) I remember!  I was with my mates at the lake.  We were taking turns to jump off the rocks and to see who could jump from the highest one.
TIA:         (STARTS CRYING) I know where we are.
JESS:         Where?
TIA:         I know what I did, and I think I know what happened.
KJ:         Well tell us then.
TIA:     I was at a party with my friends.  We’d been drinking.  Then someone offered me something.
JESS:         You mean drugs.
TIA:         I don’t know.  He said I’d like it.  He said it would be fun.
KJ:         Stupid cow.
JOSH:         Wait, I thought you said you know where we are.
TIA:         I think I do.
DAZ:         Well don’t keep us in suspenders, where are we?
TIA:         I think we’re in…(SHE DOUBLES OVER) I feel sick
KJ:         Serves you right.
JESS:     Leave her alone.  (SHE HOLDS TIA’S HAIR AND RUBS HER BACK, WHILE TIA STEADIES HERSELF).
DAZ:         Girls are always puking up at parties.  They can’t hold their drink.
JOSH:         Wait…I’ve remembered something else.
DAZ:         What?
JOSH:         What you just said…
DAZ:         That girls are always puking at parties?
JOSH:     No, what you said about someone not being able to hold their drink.  My mates were joking around.  We weren’t on our way somewhere, we were on our way back from somewhere.  We’d snuck into the pub, and my mate, Dale’s brother was driving us home.  He was cussing us out because we were all mucking about.  I think I was in the back, but I reached over and was trying to grab the steering wheel…
TIA:         (FALLS TO THE GROUND) Ow, it hurts.
JESS:         What’s wrong?
TIA:         My chest.  Tell them to stop thumping on my chest.
KJ:         No one’s thumping on your chest you nutter.
TIA:         (FIGHTING OFF UNSEEN HANDS) Ow, stop it, you’re hurting me.
JESS:         Tia, no one’s touching you.
TIA:         (STANDS UP) They won’t let me stay here.
JESS:         What do you mean?
TIA:         I can hear my mum calling me.
JOSH:         I didn’t hear anything.
DAZ:         That girl’s losing it big time.
KJ:         Drugs have fried her brain.
JESS:         No wait, look. (A CLOUD OF SMOKE APPEARS UPSTAGE)
TIA:         (JERKS HER BODY) They’re calling me back.
DAZ:         I can’t hear nothing.
JOSH:         If you can’t hear nothing then you can hear something, cos that’s a double
negative.
KJ:     Great, drugs girl is going loony, and all you two want to do is discuss your English homework.
JESS:         (TAKES TIA’S HANDS) Hold on to me.  I won’t let you go.
TIA:     (SHAKES HER HEAD) I have to go back. (SHE LET’S GO AND DISAPPEARS THROUGH THE SMOKE).
THE OTHER FOUR STAND IN SILENCE FOR A FEW MOMENTS STARING INTO THE SMOKE.  THEIR EYES GRADUALLY FALL ON THE BOX
JESS:         She went back.
DAZ:         Back where?
JOSH:         One back
KJ:         One back what?
JOSH:         Two up
JESS:         And two down.
JOSH AND JESS OPEN THE BOX AND TAKE OUT TWO HALOS AND TWO SETS OF HORNS
JOSH:         Two and two makes…
DAZ:         Four.  What are we doing your maths homework now?
KJ:         No, I get it.  There are four of us.
A RED POOL OF LIGHT SHINES STAGE LEFT AND A GOLDEN LIGHT SHINES STAGE RIGHT
JOSH:         This is no game.
JESS:         But we have to decide.
DAZ:         Decide what?
KJ:         Who goes where.
DAZ:     (LOOKS AT THE HALOS AND HORNS AND GRABS A SET OF HORNS) There’s no way I’m going to be a girly angel.  I’m off to where it’s warm and bright, and I can be bad all through the night.
ALL:         No!  (THEY STOP HIM)
JOSH:         Don’t you get it.  This is serious.
DAZ:         What, we have to decide which two of us are the baddest?
JESS:         And which two of us deserve to go up.
KJ:         But how come drugs girl got to go back?
DAZ:         Yeah, if anyone should have gone down it should have been her.
JOSH:         Maybe it just wasn’t her time.
KJ:         But it is our time?
JESS:         So how do we decide?
JOSH:          Well I caused a crash, so I should go down.
JESS:         And I started a fire, so I should go down.
DAZ:     (SHRUGS) Well I hit my head on the rocks and drowned trying to show off to my mates, but that hardly makes me evil, does it?
JOSH:         No, just incredibly stupid.
DAZ:         And causing a car crash was smart was it?
JOSH:         I didn’t mean to do it.
DAZ:         No, but you did do it, so you definitely deserve to go down.
JOSH:         But it was just a stupid mistake.
JESS:         Shut up you two.  Both of you did stupid stuff, and so did I, but only two of us
have to go down.
DAZ:         (STICKS A HALO ON KJ’S HEAD) Well you were just a sick kid, so you obviously
go up. ( HE STARTS PUSHING KJ TOWARDS THE GOLDEN LIGHT)
KJ:         No wait!  (SHE PULLS AWAY FROM HIM AND THROWS DOWN THE HALO).
Just because I was ill, that doesn’t make me good.
JESS:         But you didn’t do anything stupid like the rest of us.
KJ:     No, but I made my sister’s life miserable.  There were so many things she had to give up because of me.  I was jealous of her because she was healthy, and I was happy when my parents ignored her and did things for me.  (SHE THROWS THE HALO ON THE FLOOR) So I don’t deserve this.
JOSH:         So perhaps it’s nothing to do with how we got here, but it’s all about what we
did before.  (HE TURNS TO DAZ) Come on then, what were you like before you got here?
DAZ:     Me, I was a lovely kid.  I was nice to my mum, I always did my homework, and I never ever used foul language.
KJ:         Is that true?
DAZ:         Not exactly.
JESS:         This is hopeless.  We’re never going to work this out.
JOSH:         So how do we decide who goes where?
KJ:         Maybe we don’t.
JOSH:         But we can’t stay here.
DAZ:         We can if we decide not to play the game.
JESS:         We already did play the game, and we’ve already lost.
KJ:         No, I think I know what we have to do.
JESS:         What?
KJ:         We put these back in the box and close our eyes.  Then we all reach in and
whatever we deserve is what we’ll pull out.
THEY ALL LOOK AT EACH OTHER THEN PUT THE HALOS AND HORNS BACK IN THE BOX
JOSH:         OK, we do this on three.
ALL:         One, two, three.
BLACKOUT
CURTAIN