Playing Shostakovitch – an extract
Jennifer sees Paul hurrying through Soho market. Having encountered a policewoman calling his name and believing she wants to arrest him he has hotfooted it there.
Paul last saw Jennifer twenty-one years ago when she was pregnant. He always believed he is her son’s father, but she is adamant it is a Hungarian sculpture. She is wrong.
Her blind belief denied them love, but it seems they may be given a second chance. However, the policewoman eventually finds Paul and he is shocked to discover she is not a policewoman but his ‘Life Manager’. She has come to collect him, albeit tardily. He negotiates extra time but it’s too late to experience anything except a bittersweet taste of what could have been.
PAUL: But the child could have been….
JENNIFER: No Paul. (BEAT) He couldn’t.
(SILENCE 3 SECONDS)
PAUL: I always thought it was something I had said. Maybe I’d mentioned that you were putting on weight and that you should ease up on the cheese sandwiches…
JENNIFER: No! It was just the mediocrity of it all. With Gabor I had never felt so… had never felt… I could feel my blood racing, my heart pounding in my chest, my sweat prickling. (PAUSE) I hate to say it, but you seemed so boring by comparison. (BEAT) Always playing the same old Shostakovich!
PAUL: What happened to him, to Gabor?
JENNIFER: I couldn’t find him. I tried contacting everyone I could think of who would know – I even travelled out to Hungary after the end of the Cold War… nothing. But I never gave up hope that one
day we would meet again.
Playing Shostakovitch, 2007. Awaiting production. Copyright Bridget Atkinson.