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The Dream Sweeper

THE DREAM SWEEPER

The Sweeper enters from the right, pushing an enormous broom. The brush is about the size of a man and the stick proportionately huge. The broom can be seen long before the Sweeper is all the way on stage.

When he does enter, he is a shabby figure. He pushes the broom with one hand and with the other smokes a hand-rolled cigarette.

When the broom has passed halfway across the stage, an addled lady in a dressing-gown appears from the back. She’s dragging several large black plastic bags.

By the time the lady, Nora, has dragged the bags to centre stage, the broom has passed.

NORA:  Wait!

The Sweeper stops. He stubs out his fag. He turns slowly. Nora is nervous. The Sweeper is without expression.

NORA: I mean – what did you make of the game, Mr Sweeper/ A good result for the boys in red.

 

The Sweeper does not answer immediately. He lays down his broom, takes a pouch of tobacco and rolls a cigarette. Nora’s apprehensive.

SWEEPER I had my doubts about putting Perry at centre-half but the manager’s gamble paid off/ In the final analysis the six-foot tornado proved a good advertisement for the game./ If the current run of success continues I can see this outfit gatecrashing the top four/ But it’s early doors yet, seasonwise, and with upcoming challenges against two of the top sides in the division it’s certainly all to play for.

While the Sweeper sings and rolls, Nora drags the plastic bags to the front of the broom. They are heavy.

If the Sweeper notices he doesn’t let on. The Sweeper finishes rolling, lights up. Unhurried, he takes up the broom and begins to push again.

Nora has one bag left. She hurries to place it in front of the broom. The Sweeper offers neither help nor resistance.

Nora fades back to the back and the Sweeper continues. A man, Tony, still dressing, comes out with more plastic bags. The broom has not yet reached his bags.

TONY:  Dream Sweeper, Dream Sweeper, sweep up my dreams!/ A bag full of nightmares, a sack full of screams/ This one’s a stonker with devils and snakes/ And I’m naked and can’t even manage to wake. Here’s one where I’m sitting an exam/ Can’t write and I’m trying to stay calm/ Sweating in panic and shame/ Can’t even write my own name/

 

As he says this he dumps the dreams in front of the Sweeper. Tony gets another bag.

The Sweeper is moving away.

TONY:  Hang on, here’s another one, this one’s a scream/ It’s a solid-gold knuckle-ride prize-winning dream/ I can fly and I’m feeling the sun on my face/ And I’m king of an island, a magical place/ And I’m leading an army of beautiful girls/ And we’re kissing and laughing, invading new worlds/ And one’s Miss Jones this teacher I once had/ And we’re fighting this huge monster made of iron/ And I’m Barack Obama and Lord Byron/ And the giant robot monster is my dad!

The Sweeper has moved on. Tony chases after him. He taps the Sweeper on the shoulder. All music stops. The Sweeper turns around slowly, angrily. Tony stumbles back in alarm.

TONY Please don’t be annoyed. You can’t argue with Freud…

The Sweeper returns to his sweeping. Tony knows he’s done something wrong. He comforts himself and addresses the dream in the bag.

TONY I s’pose I’ll just have you again then tonight/ My beautiful girls made of Turkish delight!

He withdraws inside with the plastic bag.

The stage grows dark.

A chorus of Dream Figures emerges and dances.

CHORUS I am the time that you wet yourself at school./ I am the colour of a childhood swimming pool/ I am the dream of a dream that you had/ I am that big robot monster, your dad./ We are the women of fear and desire/ We are the rose and the cross and the fire/ The shadow, the mirror, the twin silhouette/ The pencil, the shotgun, cigar and baguette/ The arm lying dead in your bath, and the blood/ Of the worms in your chest and the nuns in the wood./ We are the brain’s digestive tract/ We are the projection of the act/ The trails of light your racing neurons leave/ In streetlight in the city of your head/ The lacy shapes that your ideas weave/ And drop in veils above your sweaty bed.

The chorus leaves, day comes up.

Tony, pale and dishevelled, drags his black plastic bags out as the Sweeper comes on. The Sweeper finishes a cigarette and stamps it out.

Tony lines the bags up neatly and stands back respectfully as the Sweeper approaches.

TONY:  What about those reds?

The Sweeper continues unhurriedly, past Tony.

TONY: Did you see that disgraceful display last night?

There is an air of desperation about Tony’s efforts to engage the Sweeper, so he’s relieved when the Sweeper stops.

The Sweeper pulls out his tobacco and begins to roll a cigarette.

TONY: The ref needed glasses!

The Sweeper rolls.

Tony tries again. He places the sacks in front of the broom.

TONY: Tripped? This new Italian is the greatest diver since Jacques Cousteau!

The Sweeper lights his cigarette and moves on, deliberately avoiding Tony’s bin-bags.

TONY: Please! It does nothing for the reputation of the beautiful game….!

But the Sweeper’s gone.

TONY: No!

Night falls.

The chorus of Dreams comes out. They surround Tony.

CHORUS: We are the brain’s digestive tract/ We are the projection of the act/ The trails of light your racing neurons leave/ In streetlight in the city of your head/ The lacy shapes that your ideas weave/ And drop in veils above your sweaty bed./ We are the brain’s digestive tract/ We are the projection of the act/ We are the brain’s digestive tract.

TONY: We are the projection of the act…

CHORUS: The trails of light your racing neurons leave/

TONY: In streetlight in the city of your head

CHORUS: The lacy shapes that your ideas weave/

TONY And drop in veils above your sweaty bed

CHORUS AND TONY: We are the brain’s digestive tract/ We are the projection of the act.

The chorus leaves. Tony is left mumbling the refrain, over and over to himself. He’s a wreck.

As he shuffles across the stage, the Sweeper enters from right. He is without a broom but has his girlfriend with him.

Tony sees him and goes to plead with him.

TONY: Please, Mr Dream Sweeper, sweep up my dreams…

He is cut short when the Sweeper shoves him roughly aside. Tony falls.

The Sweeper rushes his girlfriend off.

GIRLFRIEND: Oh, Charlie, did you have to be so rough?

SWEEPER: Dirty bloody dreamers. Heads full of filth.

He leaves.

Tony sobs on the ground.

END

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