Returning The Key

The stage is bare except for a wooden kitchen bench. The bench is made from yellow pine and has 2 cupboards with round brass knobs and no strong distinguishing marks. On the kitchen bench is a small silver key without a key ring. It should resemble a standard house key.

There is one direct light coming down from directly above. It should make no attempt to resemble household lighting. It should be a strong theatre spotlight.

The audience should be kept to a maximum of 5 or 6 and to witness this performance they must crowd around the bench beside and across from the actor. Audience members are welcome to peer over the actor’s shoulders or lean in for a closer look.

The actor should make no attempt to prepare for this role and should arrive at the performance wearing whatever clothes she already had on that day. She should also arrive carrying a bag of any description. The bag is not irrelevant but it’s appearance, size and purpose is.


Act One. Scene One.

The actor is already on stage with the audience a few paces away. She carries a bag and walks over to the bench at a slow pace, stumbling on her own feet a little. She looks down avoiding eye contact with the audience and with the bench. She walks slowly into the bench, allowing it to stop her (rather than stopping herself upon approaching it). Upon making contact with the edge of the bench, she drops her bag to the ground and looks at the key for the first time. She looks at it for several seconds without moving or making any sound. She looks at it for several seconds longer in the same manner. She reaches out and picks up the key and rubs it between her fingers hovering aproximately 30 centimetres over the bench. She inspects the key for markings on both sides. She silently holds the key and feels each groove and bend in it’s shape. She places the key back down on the bench, this time closer to herself. The key makes a clicking noise as it is placed against the bench. She looks at the key in silence for several seconds more.

- End Scene -

Returning The Key

Jo O'Brien

Melbourne, Australia

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