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Pitch Black

29 June 2011

Pitch Black is a radio script and a script for cabaret/live performance. Originally commissioned by Much Ado with the assistance of the Theatre Board of the Australia Council and Arts NSW, the radio version was produced by ABC Radio National, and first broadcast in March 2008. It was nominated for a 2009 AWGIE (Australian Writers’ Guild) Award.


A smoky basement someplace. Late night jazz. The spectres of Miles Davis, Chet Baker—and propping up the bar: Bruno McCoy. A drifter, a tour guide to the global city—a man on the brink.

A new take on the cabaret genre and a picture of Australian values at the beginning of the 21st century, Pitch Black is an idiosyncratic cocktail of music, song, spoken word performance, stand-up comedy, and philosophical rave. A rave that ranges from the uses of string to the idea of the German philosopher Nietzsche that we need lies in order to live with such an abhorrent reality. But as he drowns his sorrows, re-lives his joys and conjures up his various lovers—male, female, real, imaginary and electrical appliances—we can’t help but wonder just how reliable a narrator Bruno is. Is he a compulsive liar? A singer with a strange line in patter? Or simply an inebriated misfit looking for the real McCoy?

Excerpt 1:

Thank you. Добрый вечер (Dóbriy vécher). Good evening and welcome. Tonight’s topics are: Ironing—who invented it? And 2: gravity—don’t let it pull you down.
But first . . .
Physicists in a knot over string theory. Was there a String Boom before the Big Bang? Or did the universe simply unwind?
Yes, life is full of narrative loopholes,
But don’t worry, you can tie it all together with a piece of string.

The trio embark on another number.

Where is everyone?
Home, soaking up collateral damage on CNN.
And it’s over to you Bruno for the latest headlines:
Citrus farmers feel the squeeze;
70% of Australians missing the point.
9 out of 10 philosophers agree: Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.

Music continues.

Excerpt 2:

If a Frenchman riffs on sitcoms or the scars the medical profession can’t explain, he’s called an intellectual. Whereas I’m just a smartarse talking bull.
Then like now,
I found Australia an embarrassing place to live;
So I went to France to find my inner philosopher

Smoker’s cough.

And Yannik Brioche.

More smoker’s coughing.

A solid mind in a supple body—nature had given Yannik all the right equipment;
But nurture had given him a 3-pack-a-day habit.

Major coughing fit.

Look Frenchmen may be awesome fucks, but frankly, given their daily cigarette quota allows only 30-second breaks between each fag, it’s hard to see how they would find the time.
But never mind. As the poet Tennyson said: Men may come and men may go.

The sounds of the bar.

Cheers. Again. I know it’s a cliché but I drink to forget
And I do.
Occasionally I remember what I was trying not to remember
But by then I’ve remembered to drink in order to make myself forget
who won the war? And who won the hatchback and the hostess trolley?
When the bloke next door says he’s going to force the pumpkins, should we phone the cops?

Music. Something laid-back and bluesy in the background. Bruno jumps in.

On that note: (Sings or hums the note) Hmm—
What kind of jazz do taxpayers want? Hmm . . . (Fades out)

© Noëlle Janaczewska

From → Audio, Monologues

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