Entertaining Mr Bones (excerpt)


Entertaining Mr Bones

A play by David Barton



Act One

(MERRILL’s front room. Knock at door; MERRILL answers it to a smartly dressed man, MR BONES, who has the appearance of a zombie).


MR BONES: I’ve come about the room.

MERRILL: The room?

(She looks him up and down).

MR BONES: Yes, the one that was advertised.

MERRILL: Oh that room.

MR BONES: Is it still available?

(MERRILL just stares at him).


MR BONES: Is it still available?

MERRILL: Yes … I … suppose it is.

MR BONES: May I come in, then?

MERRILL: Oh … yes … I suppose you’ll have to.

(She lets him in).

MR BONES (giving the room the once over): I’m afraid my appearance is a bit much for people upon first meeting me.

MERRILL: What in God’s name are you?

MR BONES: Not in God’s name. I am not a godly thing. I am neither living nor dead, I’m what you’d call, undead.

(MERRILL stares at him some more).

MR BONES: A zombie.

(He smiles).


MERRILL: You’re pulling my leg, it’s fancy dress or something, that and …

(She peers closer at his face).

… makeup.

MR BONES: No, I am a zombie.

(He holds his hand out for her to shake).

Mr Bones.

(MERRILL reluctantly shakes his hand).

MR BONES: Do you charge extra, for the undead?

MERRILL: Well, I’ve never really thought about it.

MR BONES: I can afford it, if that is the case.

MERRILL: I’ll be charging a hundred pounds a week for the room.

MR BONES: It said eighty pounds a week in the paper.

MERRILL: It was a printing error.

MR BONES: A printing error?

MERRILL: Yes, sorry about that, you know how shoddy these cheap local rags are?

MR BONES: I know just what you mean, I put an ad in a local paper once and they put my name as Mr Boner.

(Embarrassed silence).

Don’t you get it? Mr … Boner.

MERRILL: Is that rude?

MR BONES: It’s extremely rude, you see when a gentleman has a boner, it means …

MERRILL: Yes, yes, I know what it means. No need to spell it out.

MR BONES: Don’t you find that amusing?

MERRILL: It’s smutty; I don’t wish to know of such things.

MR BONES: Funny, you don’t look the type to be a prude.

MERRILL: I’m not, but when a gentleman starts talking about his boner …

MR BONES: I wasn’t talking about my boner, I was just saying about the spelling mistake in the paper. My boner didn’t enter into it.

MERRILL: Well let’s keep it that way; I don’t want your boner entering anywhere.

MR BONES: Forgive me if you think I was being rude, but it’s just that I find it amusing and thought you would too. I was just making conversation really. Now, about this room …

MERRILL: Thing is, I don’t think the room would suit you.

MR BONES: Why is that?

MERRILL: Well … it’s the view … it overlooks the gasworks.

MR BONES: I don’t care about the view.

MERRILL: And it doesn’t get much sun.

MR BONES: Perfect.

MERRILL: It gets very cold in the winter; it’s a very draughty room.

MR BONES: I prefer the cold, and I don‘t mind a draught.

MERRILL: Well in that case I really don’t think it would be suitable, because it gets quite hot in the summer.

MR BONES: I’ll open a window.

MERRILL: The window jams sometimes.

MR BONES: I’ll force it open.

MERRILL: Now as I come to think about it, I think someone nailed the window shut once, to prevent burglars.

MR BONES: In that case, I’ll wrench the nails out. Have you a claw hammer, or some pincers?

MERRILL: No, I haven’t.

MR BONES: Then I shall purchase something to wrench the nails out.

MERRILL: But there isn’t a DIY shop for miles around, so you‘re out of luck really.

MR BONES: I thought I saw one on the corner, as I arrived.

MERRILL: They keep unusual hours.

MR BONES: It was open when I passed.

MERRILL: I can’t have you wrenching nails out of the window frame, Mr Bones; you might damage the woodwork.

MR BONES: I’ll be very careful, I assure you.

MERRILL: I’m sure you will, but I’m not sure I want the tenant wrenching nails out of the woodwork willy-nilly. So I really don’t think it’s worth your while considering the room.

MR BONES: That is a pity; I’ve travelled quite a distance across town to come here. I saw the room advertised in the local paper and I thought to myself: that sounds like just the ticket.

MERRILL: Well I’m sorry to have inconvenienced you. Where are you currently boarding?

MR BONES: I am sleeping on a friend’s settee at the moment, not the prefect arrangement, and before that …

(He stops dead without finishing his sentence and stares into the middle-distance).

MERRILL: Before that?

MR BONES (looking to her): I’m sorry?

MERRILL: You were going to say something else.

MR BONES: No, I’d finished.

MERRILL: No, you were definitely going to say something.

MR BONES: No, I wasn’t.

(MR BONES looks at his watch).

MR BONES: There’s not a bus until three. Do you mind if I wait here; pass the time of day with you, until nearer the time?

MERRILL: Well, I’m very busy.

MR BONES: Not hospitable enough to offer a weary traveller a drink, if he’s had a wasted journey?

MERRILL: I’m sorry you’ve had a wasted journey, but as I say …

MR BONES: It’s okay, I’m used to it. People always want to get rid of me once they’ve set eyes on me.

MERRILL: No, it’s not that. It’s just that I’m …

MR BONES: Busy, yes you said.

MERRILL: What bus did you take, maybe there’s another that you could catch?

MR BONES: The number thirty-six.

MERRILL: That goes past the cemetery, doesn’t it?

MR BONES (lost in thought again for a moment): The cemetery, yes I believe it does. I didn’t really notice.

MERRILL: I don’t like driving past the cemetery, especially at night. It gives me the creeps. Sometimes I think I see things moving about in there.

MR BONES: Really? Fancy that.

MERRILL (suspicious): Things that shouldn’t be moving about. Friends of yours, are they?

MR BONES: Your imagination can play tricks on you sometimes, I’m sure you imagined what you thought you saw. There’s not that many of us. Zombies are very rare.

MERRILL (still suspicious): Are you sure?

MR BONES: Yes of course, we’re not taking over or something. You’ve been watching too many horror movies, I can tell.

MERRILL: I don’t care too much for horror movies.

MR BONES: Still, you must have seen, Night of the Living Dead, and the like?

MERRILL: I can’t say I have.

MR BONES: Pity, my cousin was in that, the original.

MERRILL: They used real zombies in that film?

MR BONES: Yes, some, for authenticity.

MERRILL: I never knew that.


So, you have a cousin in America?

MR BONES: Yes, he went over there when he was living. In the sixties. Married an American woman, corresponded with her for a while first.

MERRILL: That’s sounds so romantic, people falling in love like that.

MR BONES: Yes, two people from two different cultures.

MERRILL: Is the American culture much different to our own though?

MR BONES: Yes, everything’s bigger and more advanced in the States; you should go sometime. I used to visit it a great deal when I was … still in the land of the living.

MERRILL: I’ve always found Americans loud and rude, the few I’ve come across.

MR BONES: Yes, they can be a bit like that.

MERRILL: Was your cousin’s wife, loud and rude?

MR BONES: Oh, very loud, and very rude, I didn’t much care for her myself. She had a really irritating laugh.

MERRILL: I can imagine.

MR BONES: I felt like gagging her sometimes, to stop her making that dreadful noise.

MERRILL: I expect you did.

MR BONES: On and on she went, laughing inanely.


MERRILL: Is she a zombie too?

MR BONES: No, still human. But my cousin and she are very happy together.


Are you married?

MERRILL: No, I’ve never been hitched.

MR BONES: Me, neither.

MERRILL (staring into the middle-distance): No, I’ve never found the right man, I suppose.

MR BONES: Does a person like that exist?

MERRILL: What, the right man? I live in hope, that one day …

MR BONES: Your prince will come?

MERRILL: A prince? I’d settle for just a normal, decent man.

MR BONES: As opposed to an indecent man?

MERRILL: Mr Bones, you’re bordering on being rude again. You worry me how you keep trying to force rudeness into the conversation. You worry me a great deal.

MR BONES: I have a playful spirit, that is all.

MERRILL: There’s playful and there’s vulgar though.

MR BONES: Do you think I’m vulgar?

MERRILL: It seems like you’re trying to be sometimes. It seems like you’re trying to introduce things into the conversation all the time. Rude things. I don’t know what you’re suggesting.

MR BONES: My good lady, I’m not suggesting anything. What is it you think I’m suggesting?

MERRILL: Well, I’m a woman … alone … with a man.

MR BONES: Would you like me to be suggesting something; is that it? Do you secretly want me to suggest something? Is it Freudian; is that it? Are you in denial of your feelings?

MERRILL: What feelings? I don’t have feelings for you, I only just this minute, met you Mr Bones. I don’t have feelings for someone just like that.

MR BONES: You must have formed an opinion about me?

MERRILL: You don’t want to know my opinion of you.

MR BONES: That bad, eh?

MERRILL: No … I … er … haven’t formed any opinion of you. I don’t … er … know much about you. I know … nothing really.

MR BONES: I am making you feel uncomfortable, I’m sorry.

MERRILL: No … you’re not, honestly.

MR BONES: I am and I apologise.

MERRILL: No need to apologise.


Anyway, why have you never married?

MR BONES: The same reason you gave, I never found the right woman.

MERRILL: People must think there’s something wrong with the two of us, at our time of life and still not hitched.

MR BONES: People always say that there must be something wrong with you if you’re not married by a certain age, don’t they?

MERRILL: They do, Mr Bones. I mean, just because you haven’t taken a husband by a certain age, doesn’t mean you’re a dyke, does it?


MERRILL: Yes, women who delight in the pleasure of the flesh …

(She lowers her voice).

… with each other.

MR BONES: Are you homophobic?

MERRILL: No, each to their own.

MR BONES: Do you frown on homosexuality?

MERRILL: Well, it’s not … natural is it Mr Bones? Two people of the same sex doing … things with each other.

MR BONES: Doing things?

MERRILL: Yes, what they get up to, it makes me feel queasy. I mean, rubbing each other … and … that. Can you imagine that? Two women, rubbing each other?

MR BONES (losing himself in thought, smiling to himself): Yes … I can. I can, most vividly.

MERRILL (ignoring his remark): It’s everywhere; everywhere you turn there are lesbians or homos, cavorting … touching each other, in an inappropriate manner.

MR BONES: It is? Everywhere? What sort of circles do you move in?

MERRILL: I mean on the television, in the papers, everywhere! I think that’s why there’s so many people turning gay, because it’s everywhere. They pick these things up you know? They see something on the television, and they imitate it, no matter what it is, just to be fashionable.

MR BONES: I don’t think people turn gay; I think they’re born that way. And I hardly think they do it as some kind of fashion statement.

MERRILL: Well, I don’t understand it, but as I say, each to their own.

MR BONES: That’s exactly what I say. I mean, I have wondered myself whether I might be …

MERRILL: Oh no, Mr Bones, don’t say that.

MR BONES: What am I to do though, to make sure one way or the other?

MERRILL: I don’t know, Mr Bones, you could try joining a dating agency, try to meet a woman. I’m sure there must be … someone out there who would …


MERRILL: Well there must be someone who … would be willing …

MR BONES: I don’t think I fancy joining a dating agency.

MERRILL: Or a personal ad. Why not put an advert in the paper, Mr Bones, and date that way?

MR BONES: What would I put? Zombie seeks woman for friendship and companionship? They’d run a mile!

MERRILL: Or, what are your interests, you could join a club. That’s a good way to meet people. How about badminton?

MR BONES: Badminton?

MERRILL: Yes, Mr Bones, I’ve heard badminton is quite popular, or bowls.

MR BONES (Suggestively): Or maybe I could meet someone by chance one day … just meet someone as I go about my normal day to day activities.

MERRILL: But that hasn’t happened yet, has it?

MR BONES: Well, we shall see.

MERRILL (not realising he‘s on about her): Oh Mr Bones, you’re being very cryptic. Is there someone on the horizon? Have you met someone?

MR BONES: You know, I think I may have.

MERRILL: Is she nice?

MR BONES: She is a wonderful lady.

MERRILL: Well I hope you’ll be very happy with this woman, I really do.

MR BONES: I intend to be.

MERRILL: But let’s have no more talk of that suspicion that you might be a shirt-lifter. The fact that you’re attracted to this woman proves the contrary, doesn’t it?

MR BONES: It does, it certainly does.

MERRILL: Well, as I say … I’m sorry you’ve had a wasted journey, but …

MR BONES: Can I see the room?

MERRILL: I … er …

MR BONES: Are you prejudiced? Is that what the matter is?

MERRILL: No … no, not at all.

MR BONES: It’s just my appearance that … shocks you, is that it?

MERRILL: I never had a conversation with a dead thing before.

MR BONES (feigning hurt): Charming.

MERRILL: I didn’t mean to offend you, I …

MR BONES: I don’t offend easily; I have thick skin. At least I used to have thick skin before decomposition set in.

MERRILL (peering closer at MR BONES‘ face): Can’t you get ointment for that?

MR BONES: I’m afraid not.


Do your prejudices stretch to a dislike of mixed relationships?

MERRILL: No, not at all, my niece married a blackie.

MR BONES: Your niece married a – what?

MERRILL: A black man.

MR BONES: That’s not what you said the first time.

MERRILL: And I’m sure that if one of my nieces were to marry a … zombie, then I’d raise no objections. Although I haven’t another niece.


I suppose my niece could get divorced, but that’s not likely, she’s happy with the blackie.

MR BONES: There you go again. You’re a bigot.

MERRILL: I’m not a bigot.

MR BONES: Just choosey who you associate yourself with?

MERRILL: No, that’s not true. I have many black and Asian friends. And I like to eat Chinese too.

MR BONES: You’re a cannibal?

(MERYL laughs).

MERRILL: No, their food I mean.

MR BONES: I made you laugh, that’s a start. Are you beginning to feel more at ease with me?

MERRILL: I suppose.

MR BONES: But still a little wary?

MERRILL: I’m not used to mixing with your kind.

MR BONES: My kind? And would you not rent out the room to my kind?

MERRILL: Yes, of course.

MR BONES: Very well, I’ll take the room.

MERRILL: But you haven’t seen it, you might change your mind when you see it.

MR BONES: I won’t, I’ll take the room.

MERRILL: Think of the cold in the winter, it’s brass monkeys in there in the winter.

MR BONES: Then I’ll keep the brass monkeys company.

MERRILL: Like a hothouse in there in the summer, remember I told you, Mr Bones, how warm it gets in the summer?

MR BONES: Then I’ll take off all my clothes to keep myself cool and purchase a fan.

MERRILL: I can’t have my tenants naked about the place, I might walk in on you unexpected. And wouldn’t that be a shock for me?


Especially in your condition.

MR BONES: I’ll lock the door.

MERRILL: There’s no lock on the door.

MR BONES: Then I’ll have one fitted, at my own expense.

MERRILL: There’s not a locksmith for miles around.

MR BONES: There’s one next to the DIY shop.

MERRILL: I … er …

MR BONES: You don’t want to rent the room out to me do you? All this because of your inbred prejudices.

MERRILL: No, no, as I’ve said …

MR BONES: That must be the case; you keep putting me off about the room.

MERRILL: All right, you can have the room. There, see, I’m not a bigot am I?

MR BONES: I’m still not convinced.

MERRILL: I don’t know what I can do to convince you, Mr Bones, I’ve given you the room.

MR BONES: All right, let’s try this example … Let’s say then … that you and I … were to have a relationship.

MERRILL: Are we likely to?

MR BONES: It could happen.

MERRILL: Well I’m not looking for anyone.

MR BONES: You mean … you’re not looking for anyone of my “persuasion”?

MERRILL: No, no … I’m not looking for anyone.

MR BONES: So it wouldn’t bother you if you were looking, and you and I …

MERRILL: No, not at all.

MR BONES: That wouldn’t bother you?

MERRILL: No, I’ve said.

MR BONES (stepping up to her): Kiss me then.

MERRILL: I’m sorry?

MR BONES: Kiss me.

MERRILL: I hardly know you, Mr Bones.

(MR BONES kisses her passionately).

MR BONES (after pulling away from the kiss): I’m sorry; it must be sickening to kiss a corpse.

MERRILL: No, not at all, Mr Bones. Actually, it was quite pleasant.

MR BONES: So if I asked you on a date, for instance, you’d accept my offer?

MERRILL: I don’t know; it’s a long time since I entertained a gentleman.

MR BONES: Well then it’s about time you got back into action. Entertain me now, here. Have you got anything to drink?

MERRILL: Well, there’s tea … coffee.

MR BONES: I was thinking of something a little stronger than tea or coffee.

(She goes over to the sideboard, opens it, and gets out a bottle of wine).

MERRILL (raising it up so he can see it): How about this?

MR BONES: Excellent, give it to me and I’ll pop your cork.

MERRILL: Oh you are wicked, Mr Bones.

MR BONES: (grinning): Yes I am.

Copyright David Barton 2005


If any theatre company or anyone connected with the theatre is interested in reading the rest of the script or in producing and performing the play, please get in touch via my email address lostboy666vamp@hotmail.com

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