Distorte is a collection of stories written by Pierce Gleeson

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A Short Play About Choice



An elderly man, invalided, sits upright in bed reading. The room is spartan: a floor lamp shines light from one corner, there are a few small bookshelves and a large old radioset hangs on one wall. An antique wheelchair occupies another corner. A few minutes pass and we see him being to tire — his head lolls upon his chest. Eventually he puts his book to one side, takes a sip from a glass of water on his bedside cabinet and settles himself beneath the covers. He reaches his hands clear of the blankets and claps twice, loudly and clearly. Instantly the lamp in the corner extinguishes itself, but in the same instant the radio on the wall bellows into life. It is playing a loud jig. There is a few seconds noise in complete darkness before we hear the old man clap again, twice, loudly and clearly. The radio is muted, and the lamp returns to life. We see the man sit up against his mounds of pillows, clearly agitated. He looks from the lamp to the radio, and then to the wheelchair. He pulls away the blankets, as if contemplating rising, but draws them back again after a moment. There is an anxious pause, and then the man claps again, doubly. The lamp goes out and the tune returns. Clap clap. The room is bright once more. The old man, near weeping with frustration, cranes his upper body in an attempt to reach the radio, but comes well short. He claps twice, slowly, and the room is black. We hear a quiet anguished moan beneath the lively music filling the darkness.


Written by Pierce Gleeson
Posted on the 07 Apr, 2009