PLAY #190: HOW’S YOUR HEAD? (JUNE 18)

Scotland.

Two lovers in bed – JACK and DOUG.

JACK is an artist.

At the head of the bed, an ivory bust of Adam Smith.

 

JACK and DOUG are kissing, JACK catching glimpses at the bust of Smith.

DOUG breaks away.

 

DOUG

You’re doing it again.

 

JACK

I’m not.

 

DOUG

Why are you blushing then?

 

JACK

It’s my complexion.

 

Little pause.

 

DOUG

Why can’t we put that in your studio?

 

JACK

Not with the rain. And it’s him.

 

DOUG

It’s on the fifth floor. It’s not going to get flooded.

 

JACK

You know how that building leaks. The exhibit is in a month. He’ll be gone soon.

 

DOUG

Can’t we put it under the bed or something?

 

JACK

Him.

(beat.)

You’re jealous?

 

DOUG

Freaks me out. Him watching us.

 

JACK

If he made the invisible hand why can’t he be an invisible head?

 

DOUG

I’m fine with him watching us invisibly. It’s sharing a bedroom with Adam Smith where I draw the line.

 

JACK

Ah, he’s lovely really when you get to know him.

 

DOUG

Just like capitalism!

 

JACK

Exactly. Good for a cuddle once you get down to it. And you know, he’s a more complex figure than Wealth of Nations makes out. If you read The Theory of Moral Sentiments you’ll-

 

DOUG

Fall asleep?

 

JACK

See that he really believes in moral regulation, that he’d probably be appalled by the system he patted along towards us.

 

DOUG

And how do you think he’d feel about your art project?

 

JACK

I’m sure he’d be thrilled. He could be the Marilyn Monroe of the 21st century.

 

DOUG

Not sure he needs your help, Mr. War-hole.

 

JACK

I’m only duplicating the original artwork. I’m sure he would have been happy with Watt’s likeness.

 

DOUG

Are you so sure that he’ll appreciate you shoving your cock around in it?

 

JACK

That’s not what the piece will be.

 

DOUG

You’re right. It’s art. I should say something else. Member? Penis?

 

JACK

I wish you’d take it seriously.

 

DOUG

I take it very seriously when you put your cock in another guy’s mouth.

 

JACK

Even when he’s been dead for 200 years?

 

DOUG

Especially when he’s been dead for 200 years.

 

JACK stands up, goes over to the head of Adam Smith.

 

JACK

I’m not sure it’ll work anyway.

 

DOUG

Too vulgar?

 

JACK

Not the right symbolism exactly. It would be better if it were the other way around.

 

DOUG

Not sure that’s going to work with that sculpture. You might need to work with David instead. I’d be happy to model…

 

JACK

Watt made the bust of Smith, which makes sense, because he was the one who was into machines. He was an artist really, Watt, all sorts of inventions that he played with. And Smith was very good to him when he was an apprentice in his 20s.

 

DOUG

I’ll bet. Older unmarried man tutors hot young engine.

 

JACK

Not like that. Smith was his supportive mentor. They were respectable family men.

 

DOUG

Always the ones you don’t suspect.

 

JACK

He didn’t make the bust of Smith until much later, 1809.

 

DOUG

Dirty old men.

 

JACK

When Smith was long dead.

 

DOUG

Are you going to have to put on old man make-up to be Watt?

 

JACK

The original isn’t dirty at all-

 

DOUG

I’m falling asleep-

 

JACK

It’s just another one of Watt’s tinkerings, a tribute, one man to another. But it’s the perfect-

 

DOUG

Head?

 

JACK

Symbol. The father of the industrial revolution, the man who invented the steam engine, glorifying the father of capitalism. In a form of art that’s all about reproduction. At first I thought I should just make a conveyor belt with lots of these, heads of Adam Smith going round and round…

 

DOUG

Not sure I could stomach more than one of them in here.

 

JACK

I’m not doing that.

 

DOUG

Because you remembered it wouldn’t really be conceptual art if you weren’t naked. Because conceptual art doesn’t leave many concepts up to the imagination when it comes down to it. Or when it comes to it…

 

JACK

I thought it would be the best symbol of the grossness of it all: the father of capitalism sucking off the father of the industrial revolution. Except…

 

DOUG

It should be the other way around?

 

JACK

Maybe. I’m not sure about it anymore. Not even sure if it will work.

 

DOUG

What do you mean, work?

 

JACK

I thought it needed an update. I mean there’s stuff we can do now that wasn’t at all possible in 1809.

 

DOUG

Like?

 

JACK flicks a switch on the head of Adam Smith. It starts to move, lips opening, tilting back and forth.

 

DOUG

Don’t even-

 

JACK

I’m not-

 

DOUG

Is that safe?

 

JACK switches the head off.

 

JACK

Of course.

 

DOUG

I don’t think I want to sleep with that thing in here anymore.

 

JACK

It’s just until the rain stops.

 

DOUG

It’s not stopping anytime soon.

 

DOUG starts to get dressed.

 

JACK

You’re not going out in that?

 

DOUG

I’ve got an umbrella.

 

JACK

Wait. I can’t take him back right now.

 

DOUG

You’re sure they’ll give you the grant for this?

 

JACK

Of course. Climate change isn’t just about ice-caps. If you want to trace it properly, you have to start the story with the industrial revolution. No better to place to begin than the inventor of the steam pump.

 

DOUG

That’s not what I’m talking about.

 

JACK

They can’t take it back now.

 

DOUG

I guess not.

 

JACK

You sure you don’t want to stay?

 

DOUG finishes getting dressed.

 

DOUG

This is too weird.

 

JACK

It’s…

 

DOUG

Art?

 

JACK

Life. This is the starkest expression I can think of it. But we’re at it all time-

 

DOUG

Letting capitalism give us a blow-job?

 

JACK

Or the other way around.

 

Pause.

 

DOUG

How many times have you practiced?

 

JACK

What?

 

DOUG

Seems like the machine’s trained pretty well.

 

JACK

You are jealous.

 

DOUG

I wish I was feeling something as simple as jealousy.

 

JACK

How many times have you kissed guys on stage for a play?

 

DOUG

That’s different.

 

JACK

Not really. Just your art-

 

DOUG

I’m not a porn star.

 

JACK

I’m making a statement.

 

DOUG

Consider it read.

 

JACK

Don’t leave. Not like this. Not when it’s still pissing out.

 

DOUG

Will you take that thing out of here?

 

JACK

Him. He identifies as he.

 

Pause.

 

DOUG

I thought not.

 

DOUG leaves.

JACK sits on the bed.

Waits.

JACK stands, looks at head of Adam Smith, fingers the rim of his boxers.

Blackout.

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