Koreo Prize Final Submission, Francessca Charlemagne/Eliana Agnew

Abstract:

Paradise, formerly The Demon of Dunsinane, centres around social housing and life on council estates. Set in Croydon, South East London, the play follows the lives of Eve, PC Adams and Lucien as they tell their stories — each connected to council housing in some way. Paradise attempts to stop the demonization of those who rely on social housing by shedding light on the severity of the housing crisis. While the play suggests some ways the crisis can be resolved, it makes no attempt to simplify the issue. Instead it is trying to bring attention to the horrific consequences of what happens when social issues are ignored.

Paradise is divided into four parts, each part separated by a short video which will be projected for the audience to see. The play is a facts and figures show, designed to educate and stimulate the audience into forming an opinion around the subjects it discusses. While the play is highly political, it is not trying to advocate a particular viewpoint. Instead it is trying to make clear how complex the issue of housing is, and how this social issue connects to others such as homelessness and poverty.

Video:

Script (block capitals denote stage actions, [X] denote footnotes):

PART I: EVE

AS THE AUDIENCE TAKE THEIR SEATS THEY ARE GREETED BY THE SIGHT OF EVE, ALREADY SAT WITH HER HEAD BOWED AND HOODIE COVERING HER FACE. ONCE THE AUDIENCE ARE SEATED THE LIGHTS ARE RAISED AND EVE IS GLARING INTO THE CROWD. IT’S TIME.

Eve: I know why I’m here. You don’t need to tell me. Let me guess, you think I’m some kind of thug don’t you? Go on fam, admit it. You think I’m some kind of wasteman, a hoodrat — lurkin’ ‘round trash, scamperin’ into trouble. A product of a broken home: uneducated, rowdy…

Well you’re wrong. I got into Oxford to study PPE. That’s right. Oxford. Did you? Didn’t think so. So stop lookin’ at me like that. You don’t really know what it’s like — in Paradise Place — on any estate for that matter. I’ll tell you though. Maybe then you might change that charge.

There’s five types of mandem on an estate. First you got your Lurkers — you know, the ones that hang ‘round in the stairwell. Your Lurker can range from the “alright darlin’?” type to the ones tryin’ to sell you their latest EP. Harmless really. Then you’ve got your Roadmen. And I mean actual Roadmen — not the fake ones who wear puffy bomber jackets and walk like this like they’ve just been shanked. I mean the ones that legit hang out on the road — or on the corners of roads, or on their bikes… on the road.

Then you’ve got your Usuals. You know, the ones that are here long-term. You get accustomed to ’em. Whether it’s Mr. Smith at number ten who likes to have showers at three in the mornin’, or the Bradys at number twelve who are always fightin’, or even Mrs. Brown who lives above at number twenty-one and talks incredibly loud for a little old lady of that age.

Then you’ve got your Movers: the ones that don’t last long on the estate. That’s quite common really. Most people are just temporary ‘round here and once they’re in a better place they move on. Very rarely does anyone leave ’cause of stuff like benefit fraud or somethin’. In fact, I think that’s only ever happened on TV…

But do you know who keeps breakin’ the lift? The one causin’ a nuisance? The fifth type of mandem: the Wasteman. You know, the idiot who pees in the stairwell, throws eggs at number two’s door, hotboxes the rave flat and thinks they’re so bloody cool doin’ parkour and shit until they jump and land on their (MAKES A GESTURE TO THEIR GENITALS). Yes, that silly prick.

Point is, I don’t really get how people on the estate got lumped into this one… group. You know: The Council Aesthetic. The joggin’ bottoms are for comfort and the hoodies are for the cold, but you know we’re not all unemployed scumbags, livin’ off of the dole. In fact 41% of us are employed[1] — like my Mum, who works nightshifts as a security guard. Really only 8% are unemployed — which is lower than it was in ’79 when 42% were. And you know the rest… well… they can’t work. They live in social housing because they’re old and can’t manage up the stairs or…

My Mum works so hard. Despite being on less than the minimum wage — almost half the London Living Wage, might I just add — she works tirelessly. Eight hours, six days a week, from five to one in the mornin’. We barely see each other, but that’s okay. I understand. She never takes a day off — not that she can afford to really. Because… well… my Dad.

My Dad’s uh… my Dad’s how we got our flat. He’s got MS. You sent us to Paradise so we could cope. We’re lucky though, most people who need social housing don’t get any. The waitin’ list stands around 1,250,000 in England alone — roughly 255,000 in London.[2] You say there’s not enough social housing for everyone, and this shows ’cause only 12% of registered needs are met annually.[3] I think that’s ridiculous. ’Cause there’s loads of “long term empty” buildings knockin’ around. 610,123 in England in fact.[4] So why not use those?

ENTER PC ADAMS FROM THE AUDIENCE. THEY ARE THE OPPOSITION.

Adams: It’s not as simple as that. You see a lot of council housing was bought under Thatcher with the Right-To-Buy Scheme and so were resold privately. Between 1979 and 2013, 1.6 million homes were sold. You can’t just ask for those buildings back if they’re not being used. They’re not yours anymore.

Eve: But that means there’s never going to be enough housing for people. The government seems to be attacking social housing instead of helping it.

Adam: Where’s your proof?

Eve: My proof? Okay, well how about we start with Blair’s government? From ‘997 to around 2010 only 7,870 new council homes were built. Then under the Tories investment in social housing was cut by two-thirds. Now let’s talk about the fall in social housing too. In the last twenty years a third of council homes have been demolished — most to make way for luxury apartments which are the literal antitheses of affordable housing.[5]

Adam: But the government has promised to build more homes in the future…

Eve: That’s great and all don’t get me wrong but… what about now?

Adams: I’m sorry?

Eve: There’s people on the street right now, cold, starvin’, aging, disabled. They need homes now. They can’t wait for the future. They can’t afford to wait. They can’t afford anything. Imagine: not havin’ somethin’ as a simple as a place to call home. You lot take it for granted. A roof over your head, somewhere warm and safe to sleep. Imagine the fear and humiliation you would feel havin’ to haul your few belongings around in black bin bags; being sneered at because you smell or haven’t washed; waitin’ all day in an office, reduced to a case number where someone else decides whether you get the right to shelter or not. Imagine that: being utterly helpless.

Bet you can’t. Because you go around sayin’ people who live on estates are cheatin’ the system — that they’re too lazy to work. Trust me, no-one works harder than a single parent livin’ in Paradise. No-one. You call us “scroungers”, think we’re stealin’ from the state, think we get benefits that we don’t deserve if we don’t look like a Red Cross Appeal.

Well screw you. Blamin’ people for their difficulties does nothing. If you really want to help, do somethin’ about what got us here to these concrete dumps. You leave us here to rot in these rundown, scruffy blocks but have the cheek to say it’s our fault.

PAUSE.

Adams: So what would you propose as a solution?

PAUSE.

Eve: Stop… demonising us.

Adams: Demonising?

Eve: Yeah, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Stop ignorin’ the fact that social housing is a good thing, that it helps people. You think it’s an insult to public purse, but I’ll tell you what’s an insult: the cutting of ESA.

Adams: ESA…?

Eve: Employment and Support Allowance. The main benefit for those with a health condition which means they can’t work. ESA’s been cut by 30 quid week which means claimants only receive £70 or something to live on.[6]

Adams: But surely that’s necessary to remove the financial incentives that could otherwise discourage claimants from taking steps back to work?

Eve: What? Goin’ by that logic the more you cut benefits and push people into poverty, then the greater incentive for them to work? My Dad can’t work. He can barely walk without shaking.

Adams: But think of the long-run. Won’t it save money?

Eve: At the expense of the most vulnerable, yeah possibly. The government say it will save £450 million a year by 2020. But what it will also mean is that by 2020 over 100,000 people with mental health conditions will be worse off and in deeper poverty. Brilliant.

Adams: We’re digressing — let’s get back to the —

Eve: And another thing: why are house prices so high? Even if my family wanted to leave Paradise we couldn’t because we won’t make in one lifetime even half of what some of the houses today cost.

Adams: Well that’s to be expected in big cities like London. Now —

Eve: But then why are wages so low? If you want to play that card then shouldn’t wages be raised and employment elsewhere boosted? If not then house prices should be lowered. ’Cause otherwise you’re going to end up with a situation where millions flock to the Capital to work because there’s no jobs elsewhere, but can’t stay because there’s nowhere to live… oh wait.

Adams: I think you’ll find that actually house prices have dropped for the third consecutive month since 2009.[7]

Eve: Oh yeah? How come?

Adams (EMBARRASSED): … Income pressures apparently.

Eve (SMIRKING): Of course. Inflation’s outpaced salary growth.

HER SMIRK DROPS.

Eve: What does it matter though? Under Tory plans the value of family properties will now be taken into account when working out social care costs.[8] I mean seriously?

Adams (OFFHANDEDLY): Well, it’s not like that’s going to affect you is it?

SHE SHOOTS THEM A DIRTY LOOK.

Eve: No, you’re right. It won’t. But given the plans to demolish Paradise Place, we won’t even have a home to take into account. The Tories are keen to replace permanent council tenancies with arrangements like dot, dot, dot: luxury flats. Because while Cameron made a statement sayin’ that for every high value council house sold in London two ‘affordable’ homes would be built, in reality only one was being replaced with every nine sold.

It’s all a mess. There are still around 3.3 million needin’ to claim housin’ benefits and only 4.1 million social houses in the UK. And now guidelines to getting a council house are becomin’ harsher. So think of how many people are left in limbo? How many people this country is failin’? None of this is fair.

Look, what I’m tryin’ to say is that there isn’t a simple answer to this. The problem roots are deep. But what I am sayin’ is that people like you need to start listenin’ and start doing somethin’.

SILENCE.

Adam: You surprise me.

Eve: How come?

Adam: You explain yourself pretty well. It’s a shame really.

Eve: What is?

Adam: That you did what you did.

Eve (SIGHS): It was Lucien’s idea actually. God that boy, he’s always gettin’ me into trouble. It all started on a normal day: college in the mornin’, work in the afternoon. I was just about to head through my front door when the phone rang.

SHE PICKS UP HER MOBILE.

Eve: Hello?

ENTER LUCIEN.

Lucien: Have you seen that dead ass leaflet?

Eve: Hello Lucy — (TO ADAMS) my nickname for him — (TO LUCIEN) how’re you?

Lucien: Bruv quit the chit-chat. Look at what the demons have put under your door.

Eve: What?

Lucien: Just look!

Eve: Well I did… and there was nothin’. (TO LUCIEN) Sorry Lucien I don’t know what —

Lucien: They’re going to knock us down.

Eve: What?

Lucien: I said: they’re. Going. To. Knock. Us. Down.

Eve: Who? Who?

Lucien: The council, you owl! They’ve just slid this leaflet under our doors. Fam, it’s an eviction notice.

Eve: Now I’m not callin’ Lucy a liar but I know that he can exaggerate. So I went to the kitchen and said “hey Mum you heard this nonsense about the council evicting us? Mum? What are you readin’?”

ENTER GRACE (AS EVE’S MOTHER).

Grace (AS EVE’S MOTHER): The nonsense about the council evicting us.

Lucien: SEE I TOLD YOU!

EXIT LUCIEN.

Eve (TO LUCIEN): Alright, Lucy I get it. (TO GRACE) So what, Mum? They goin’ to move us elsewhere?

Grace (AS EVE’S MOTHER): They said they’ll buy the flat from us, but not relocate us.

Eve: How much is it worth?

Grace (AS EVE’S MOTHER): Not enough.

Eve: Mu —

Grace (AS EVE’S MOTHER): I need to go. Look after your Dad. Make sure he don’t hear any of this, okay?

EVE NODS. EXIT GRACE.

Eve: Once Dad was tucked into bed I managed to get round to Lucy’s. Somethin’ had changed in Paradise. There were no Lurkers, no Roadmen, none of the Usuals smokin’ a fag or Movers makin’ a runner in the night. Even the Wastemen were a no show.

ENTER LUCIEN, PACING FURIOUSLY.

Lucien: I say we kill ‘em.

Eve: Woah there, Lucy.

Lucien: I mean it. This is a joke.

Eve: I know… Oh, Lucien, are you crying?

Lucien: No — course not. I just don’t know why they’d do this to us. Where will we go? What will happen to Lil’?

Eve: We’ll figure it out. Somehow… there’s got to be somethin’.

SILENCE.

Eve: I know.

Lucien: What?

Eve: We should start a petition!

EXIT LUCIEN.

Eve (TO ADAMS): We did that first. Spent a whole Sunday knockin’ ‘round the estate. Most thought we were tryin’ to sell ’em somethin’, but remarkably a lot did take the time to sign…

… But it didn’t work. We got no reply from the council when we sent it off and soon fancy people in fancy cars came cruisin’ up to survey our land.

ENTER LUCIEN.

Lucien: So what now?

Eve: Ain’t it obvious? Protest!

EXIT LUCIEN.

Eve (TO ADAMS): It was a brilliant idea. We found out the next stakeholders meetin’ and organised a peaceful protest. We made signs and rallied a crowd of passionate residents. What could send a clearer message that we were here to stay?

ENTER LUCIEN HOLDING A PICKET SIGN.

Lucien (CHANTING): Fuck off you skets!

Eve: Not the message we’re going for, Lucy.

Lucien: ‘Kay, what do you suggest?

Eve: How about “Keep Your Hands off of Our Homes”?

Lucien: Yeah, fine. That’ll do… I guess.

EXIT LUCIEN.

Eve: But what did that achieve? Nothing. Weeks later Step Two was initiated: we were given our booting out date. I couldn’t bear listening to my mother cry herself to sleep with worry.

ENTER LUCIEN.

Lucien: I have an idea.

Eve: What?

Lucien: Don’t worry about it. Just meet me in the park at twelve.

Eve: But I’m meant to be revising…

Lucien: For God’s sake Eve, just come and meet me. Tell no-one. And wear black.

Eve: Lucien what are we —

EXIT LUCIEN.

Eve: He stalked off. He could be dramatic like that. I barely had time to wash the protest warpaint from my face when midnight approached. I did what he said, meeting him in the park in between our two blocks. Paradise looked so pretty under streetlamps… like an urban paradise. And to think it would be knocked down soon and replaced… all those memories… gone.

ENTER LUCIEN WEARING A BALACLAVA.

Lucien: There you are.

Eve: Alright Lucy what is this? Wait, are you wearin’ a balaclava?

Lucien: Say nothin’, blud. You ready?

Eve: For what?

Lucien: To protest.

Eve: How?

Lucien: Just follow me.

Eve: He more rather grabbed me, draggin’ me into his crappy Volvo. I sat in the passenger seat as he swerved and skidded ‘round every corner — definitely going over the recommended twenty miles an hour. We travelled for about ten minutes into town before I asked “what the hell are we doing, Lucy?” But I didn’t get a reply. He just kept going until —

Lucien: Here we are.

Eve: And where is here, by the way?

Lucien: Doesn’t matter. Come on, get out.

Eve: I followed him and he turned to hand me a balaclava.

Lucien: Well go on, put it on.

Eve: Uh, drop me out.

Lucien: Fine, suit yourself. Just don’t get caught, okay?

Eve: Caught doing what? (TO ADAMS) He handed me a can of spray paint. I saw what he meant by protest then. We had ended up in Central London, by a big fancy glass building which I imagined belonged to some stakeholder trying to take over Paradise. He was mental. (TO LUCIEN) Are you mad?

Lucien: Come on, Eve!

Eve: No, I am not going to vandalise a building. What kind of protest is that?

Lucien: The best kind.

Eve: What will it achieve other than getting us arrested?

Lucien: It will send a message! Come on. Are you honestly gonna let ’em just take and take and take from us? Are you gonna let ’em get away with this? Let’s give ’em a taste of their own medicine!

LUCIEN CROSSES THE STAGE.

Eve: And before I could respond he was gone. Well I wasn’t goin’ let him get arrested, obviously. I was goin’ to talk him out of it. He had scaled the building and jumped onto a ledge and I followed. I managed to catch him by his arm before he sprayed “Scheming Bastards” in block capitals on the first floor windows. (TO AN UNSEEN LUCIEN) Stop it, Lucien! This isn’t the answer.

Lucien: Even if it isn’t, it feels pretty damn good. Oh give in, Eve. I’ve already sprayed the cameras. No-one can see us. Just give it a go.

LUCIEN BEGINS TO SPRAY PAINT.

Eve: It was so tempting. I tried to resist it, but watchin’ him… the delight in his eyes… the thrill in his laugh… I could see the release he was gettin’ from it… no more being let down… no more being ignored…

Lucien: Come on, Eve! You’re missin’ out on all the fun!

Eve: And I didn’t want to miss out anymore. I don’t remember what I felt, raisin’ my arm, slowly pressin’ the trigger, hearin’ the hiss of the paint leave the can. Only when I looked at my masterpiece did I feel somethin’ — an overwhelming sense of pleasure at the giant “SCREW YOU” written on the wall. Lucy laughed.

Lucien (LAUGHING): Nice one, Eve!

Eve: And I laughed back. And before long I was taggin’ more, the writing gettin’ sloppier and sloppier, the message more and more incoherent. But that wasn’t the point. The point was to wreak havoc. We laughed more. Sprayed more. Howled more. Jumped more. Then Lucy took a swing at one of the glass panes, and the shatterin’ sound sent us over the edge. It was glorious! We smashed and smashed and smashed until —

SIRENS SOUND.

Lucien: Shit!

Eve: Our high crashed. I suddenly realised what in God’s name we were doin’. Lucy legged it, leavin’ me on the rooftop… sweat drippin’ down my forehead… my knees weak… my stomach tumblin’… what was I goin’ to do?!

A SPOTLIGHT APPEARS ON HER.

Grace (AS A POLICE OFFICER, OFFSTAGE): STOP RIGHT THERE! YOU ARE UNDER ARREST!

Eve: Nothin’. It was too late. I was caught red-handed.

SILENCE.

Adam: You could time for this, you know that?

Eve: I know.

Adam: Don’t you care? What about your mother, your father, your place at Oxford?

Eve: Of course I care.

Adam: Then why did you do it?

Eve: You… Martin Luther King said that a “riot is the language of the unheard”.[9]

BEAT.

Eve: You left me with no choice.

BLACKOUT

PART II: PC ADAMS

CONT. FROM PART I: THE POLICE STATION. PC ADAMS IS SAT AT THEIR DESK DOING PAPERWORK. EVE IS SAT IN A CHAIR, GRUMPILY FIDGETING. THIS CONTINUES FOR A MOMENT UNTIL EVE BEGINS TO STARE AT ADAMS.

Eve: You look familiar.

Adams: Do I?

Eve: Yeah? Have we met before? I never forget a face.

Adams (SCOFFING): Unlikely.

Eve: Oh.

SILENCE.

Eve: Let’s play a game.

Adams: In case you’ve forgotten, this is not a party but a police station. And I am not your friend but your arresting officer.

Eve: Alright, Jesus, calm down. I only suggested it to break the ice.

Adams: Break the ice?

Eve: Yeah.

Adams: I don’t have time to be playing games as I’m filling out the report which will probably land you an ASBO.

Eve: No-one else around to do it?

Adams: No.

Eve (CHEEKILY): Hmm, didn’t know the Tory cuts to the police force where that bad.

Adams: Young lady —

Eve: I just wanted to play a short game to pass the time. You could do it as you write. It’s not very hard.

ADAMS SIGHS.

Adams: If it’ll keep you quiet —

Eve (FLIRTY): Certainly, officer. It’ll shut me up for the rest of the night.

Adams: We play one game. Just one.

Eve: Sure.

Adams: Well? What is it that you want to play?

Eve: Word association.

Adams: Okay.

Eve: I’ll say a word and you have to say the first thing that comes to your head.

Adams: I know what word association is.

Eve: Good! Remember you have to think fast though. Any stallin’ and I’ll gain a point.

Adams: Alright and how do I gain a point?

Eve: I’ll time it. You get one minute to answer and then we switch.

Adams: Fine.

Eve: Ready?

Adams: Yes.

Eve: Okay. Three… two… one… Blue:

Adams: Water.

Eve: Red:

Adams (HESITATING): … Lips.

Eve: Hesitation, one point to me.

Handcuffs:

Adams: Work.

Eve: Holiday:

Adams: Rare.

Eve: Croydon:

Adams: Mess.

Eve: Westminster:

Adams: Parliament.

Eve: Labour:

Adams: Stupid.

Eve: Conservative:

Adams: Rational.

Eve: Social:

Adams: Avoid.

Eve: Disabled:

Adams: Wheelchair.

Eve: Mother:

Adams: Caring.

Eve: Single mother:

Adams: Mistake — wait that wasn’t one word, that was two.

Eve: No interruptions, another point to me.

Homeless:

Adams: Unfortunate.

Eve: House:

Adams: Home.

Eve: Home:

Adams: Paradise Pl — wait.

Eve (JUMPING OUT OF HER SEAT): I knew it!

Adams: Now wait a minute —

Eve: You lived in Paradise Place, didn’t you? Ages ago, in Block C weren’t it? I must have only been a kid but I told you I never forget a face. It’s you, isn’t it? “Antisocial Adams” with the bad breath and scruffy hair. You’ve changed —

Adams (EMBARRASSED): Please shut up.

Eve: What did you just tell me to do?

Adams: Be quiet. Please.

Eve: Why? Is havin’ lived in Paradise shameful?

Adams: Yes.

Eve: But you just called it home!

Adams: No I didn’t.

Eve: Yeah you did. I said home and you said Paradise Place!

Adams: It was a slip of the tongue.

Eve: No it wasn’t.

PAUSE.

Eve: How did you even end up there?

ADAMS GOES SILENT.

Eve: Personal, huh?

Adams: Yes.

Eve: I get it.

Adams: Good.

SILENCE.

Eve: The Lurkers round your block used to say you used to kill people for money.

Adams (CHUCKLING): Did they?

Eve (LAUGHING): Yeah, said you was an assassin from Romania or something.

Adams: Well they’re half right…

EVE LOOKS CONCERNED.

Eve: Wait what? Which half?

Adams: I’m from Romania.

Eve: Oh thank God. Wait, o you’re an immigrant?

Adams: Don’t tell me you’ve got something against immigrants now. I didn’t come here and steal anybody’s home.

Eve: I never said you did.

Adams: Good. (PAUSE) Nobody here knows about my past. If they did I don’t think I would be treated the same. You know… given the stereotype about immigrants.

Eve: I come from Croydon. It’s full of immigrants. I wouldn’t know about any stereotype.

Adams: Well, people think that immigrants come over here and steal jobs and steal homes. I remember one report saying that 30,000 social lettings went to immigrants in 2015 instead of 9,000 homeless UK servicemen.[10]

EVE SNORTS.

Adams: What?

Eve: Oh miss me with that bullshit, fam. That’s just another excuse people say to explain why there’s no homes. 93% of social lets between 2007 and 2015 were to British nationals. Only 3% were given to EU nationals and the rest to others. Don’t be so gullible.

ADAMS LOOKS UNIMPRESSED.

Eve: Sorry.

SILENCE.

Eve: Looks like I was wrong about you then.

Adams: Really?

Eve: When we got talking I thought you were just another Tory-loving toff born and raised in Bromley or something — possibly from a middle-class family. Now I learn you’re actually an immigrant who somehow ended up living in Paradise Place…

Adams: Your point?

Eve: Well, you’re a walking contradiction, aren’t you? Spewin’ all this nonsense about the welfare system when actually, PC Adams, you’ve benefitted from it.

ENTER GRACE.

Adams: It’s complicated.

Eve: Oh I’ll say. Your head’s pretty complicated — pretty deluded too if you ask me.

Adams: I beg your pardon —

Grace: Just tell her.

ADAMS ACKNOWLEDGES GRACE, BUT EVE CANNOT SEE HER.

Eve: What? Can’t you see how ironically ignorant you sound? (MIMICKING ADAMS) “You can’t just ask for those buildings back if they’re not being used. They’re not yours anymore.” Well at some point they weren’t yours either.

PAUSE.

Eve: Hello? Got a comeback yet, PC Paradise?

Grace: Go on, tell her. It’s okay. She can know.

THE MOMENT LINGERS. THE TWO WOMEN STARE AT ADAMS INTENTLY UNTIL —

Adams (TO EVE): I was homeless. That’s how I ended up in Paradise. Well, in short.

Eve: And what’s the long version?

Adams: You really want to know?

EVE NODS. GRACE CROSSES THE STAGE AND STANDS BY HER. ADAMS SIGHS, PREPARING TO TELL THE STORY.

Adams: I wanted to be a pianist.

Eve: You, a pianist?

ADAMS NODS.

Adams: From a young age I displayed an exceptional level of talent. Well, that’s what my teacher in Vaslui said.

Eve: Vaslui…?

Adams: Romania. (PAUSE) I was so good that after my conservatoire training I was granted a scholarship at a London university. And well… there’s nothing in Vaslui. Nothing for me at least.

Eve: That’s how you came to London?

Adams: Yes.

Eve: So where did it all go wrong?

Adams: I was getting to that before you interrupted me. Although I had been granted a scholarship, I still had to make ends meet. At first that didn’t bother me too much, but by third year the realisation that I had loans to pay off came crashing down. I worked three jobs but it wasn’t enough. In desperation to make money, I started hanging around in the wrong crowd.

Eve: Like roadmen?

Adams: Worse.

Eve: Wastemen?

Adams: No, worse. Gangs, drug dealers, pimps. All sorts of evil. I started dealing and carrying, but soon enough became an addict myself. I barely graduated, and soon enough ended up sobering up on the streets.

SILENCE.

Eve: And then you came to Paradise?

Adams: Eventually. I spent a long time on the streets, around East Croydon station and under the flyover, until one day:

Grace: My name’s Grace.

TIME UNRAVELS. THIS IS ADAMS WHEN THEY WERE STILL HOMELESS.

Adams: Nice to meet you.

Grace: Would you like a seat? Some tea or coffee?

Adams: If you don’t mind…

Grace: Of course not. What would you prefer?

Adams: A-anything. I’m not fussy. Haven’ had tea or coffee in a while.

Grace: Sorry, of course. (PAUSE) Feel free to make yourself comfortable.

Adams: I don’t want to dirty your nice office.

Grace: You won’t. Trust me.

ADAMS SIT. GRACE BRINGS THEM A DRINK.

Grace: So, tell me about yourself.

Adams: There’s not much to say.

Grace (KINDLY): I don’t believe that for one second. Where did you grow up?

Adams: Vaslui.

Grace (SINCERELY): Oh how lovely.

Adams: Not when I left it.

Grace: Of course. (PAUSE) And when did you come to England?

Adams: About a year ago.

Grace: Do your parents know where you are?

Adams: They know I’m in the UK.

Grace: But do they know that…?

ADAMS SHAKES THEIR HEAD.

Grace: Right. Would you like me to try and contact them?

Adams: No. They wouldn’ care.

Grace: Well you know I care, right? Here at Crisis[11] we care very much so about supporting rough sleepers.

ADAMS DOESN’T RESPOND.

Grace: Let’s review your case.

SHE FLICKS THROUGH SOME PAPERWORK.

Grace: We found some traces of drugs in your bloodstream, but you passed the health test.

Adams (TEARFUL): I promise: I haven’ touched anything for ages.

Grace: I believe you. I was going to congratulate you actually. (PAUSE) Now, let’s look at your resume. At Crisis we want to help you take the necessary steps to getting back on your feet, such as helping you find work. Hm… well I think you’re overqualified to be a cleaner…

Adams (DESPERATELY): I’ll take anything.

GRACE THINKS.

Grace: … You ever thought about being a police officer?

Adams: No. (QUICKLY) But like I said —

Grace: I’ll contact the local Met. I’ll also send out some other applications as backups. Just in case.

Adams: Anything, anything.

Grace: In the meantime, we better set you up with somewhere to live temporarily. Until you’re ready to go it alone.

Adams (TEARING UP): Really?

Grace (MOVED): Yes.

SHE PUTS HER HANDS ON THEIRS.

Grace: Hey, listen to me. It’s okay now. It’s all going to be okay. You’re safe.

SILENCE.

Adams: I was lucky. Apparently street homelessness had increased dramatically since 2010[12]. Grace said that more than 8,000 people had slept on the streets of London last year and that —

Adams and Grace: was double the number in 2009.

Grace: And we’re expecting that to increase by 132% across England. Shameful really.

Eve: You kept in touch with her?

Adams. Yes. She was my friend.

EXIT GRACE.

Eve: Friend?

Adams: Yes. She and her girlfriend lived in North Kensington.

Eve: Interesting. She sounds incredibly compassionate. How come you’re not like that?

Adams: I’m sorry?

Eve: Well you seem to hate council estates.

Adams: Hate…? You think I hate council estates? Now I get your anger…

Eve: You don’t?

Adams: I thought we just established how I possibly couldn’t.

Eve: But your attitude —

Adams: I just don’t agree with your politics. Believe me, I recognise that things are hard, but I believe the Conservatives are trying to help. In the election they promised to halve rough sleeping in the next Parliament.[13]

Eve: Yeah, doing nothing more than undoing the harm they caused. Rough sleeping doubled under the Tories.

Adams: And what? You think Corbyn and Labour could do better? They promised to build what, 4,000 homes for the homeless in the next Parliament? Now let’s just pretend Labour got into power, and they built those houses. Their plans to deal with the housing crisis wouldn’t be going far enough given they also planned to continue the Tory “help-to-buy” policy which you openly despise.

EVE IS SILENT.

Adams: No comeback, eh? See Labour isn’t all sweet-smelling roses either, and the housing crisis isn’t just happening here. I fully agree with Ben Carson’s view that poverty is largely just “a state of mind”.[14] The system helped me perfectly well, so I don’t understand the incessant criticism of it. Labour doesn’t just want to help the lives of the disadvantaged; it wants to damage the lives of people, like me, who have worked hard despite the setbacks.

Eve (SCOFFING): Oh yeah? How?

Adams: Corbyn’s inheritance tax policy: if he had gotten elected he would have dragged an extra 1.2 million homes into the grip of inheritance tax.[15] You’re scoffing but think about all those hard working people whose savings that would be lost as a result. Families, who strive to pass something onto their children and safeguard their futures. Under Labour, the threshold would have been reduced from £850,000 to £650,000 just to fund the implausible solutions they had to pretty much everything. Gavin Barwell put it best if you ask me: the Labour manifesto contained a ”£58 billion black hole” and Labour attempted to “fill it using damaging taxes on family homes”.

EVE STARTS LAUGHING.

Adams: What?

Eve: You just don’t get it, do you? Fucking hell, bruv, what would your friend have said to that? The people who rely on Paradise don’t have a pot to piss in. They can’t safeguard their children’s future. And you’re defending a party which even revealed that May’s promise to fix the broken housing market by introducing new council housing deals is built on sand. Actually I think it was also Barwell who did that, by saying the homes would just be at “affordable rents”.[16]

Adams (NOT UNDERSTANDING): …Precisely. And?

Eve: But the Conservatives don’t understand what is affordable!

Adams: And Labour does? In case you’ve forgotten, the Mayor of London actually managed to land a £3.15 billion affordable housing deal from the government, but watered down promises of 50% of 50,000 houses a year being affordable to only 38%.[17]

Eve: At least he’s trying!

Adams: What, by investing in radical solutions like “no-frills” homes?[18] Would you want to live in a Naked House? Or what about those micro-flats they’ve put forward in Croydon?[19]

Eve: In the long-term they may be better. Anything is better than not building affordable homes. Housebuilding rates never recovered after council building collapsed in the eighties.[20] And affordable housebuilding has sunk to a twenty-four year low with fewer than 1,000 government-funded social homes being built.[21] You can pass around the blame all you want, but a big answer to the homelessness and housing crisis seems simple to me: let councils build more homes. And to do that we need to remove the unwarranted restriction on council’s capacity to do what private developers do and borrow to build. It’s what every council does successfully and sensibly for all capital investment other than housing![22]

Adams: And that’s what you were trying to say when you scribbled “SCREW YOU” on private property, was it?

Eve: Like I said in the statement you took: I just got caught up in the heat of the moment. I have a lot to lose. Surely you can understand that?

SILENCE.

Adams: We’re still looking for your accomplice, Lucien. Any idea where he may be?

Eve: No.

SILENCE.

Adams (SINCERE): I do understand what it’s like to lose something.

Eve: Oh yeah?

Adams: Yes. (PAUSE) I wish I could help you, Eve, politics aside. But you broke the law.

Eve: Can’t you just let it slide? Caution me instead?

Adams: I would, but the amount of damage you caused and who you caused it to… they’ll sue if we don’t get you and your friend down to court.

SHE TAKES A MOMENT TO ACCEPT HER FATE.

Eve: Well, shit…

NOTHING. A SHORT WHILE PASSES.

Adams: Eve, I am sorr —

BUZZING SOUNDS. ADAMS CHECKS THEIR PHONE.

Eve: Who was that?

Adams: My colleague. We found your friend.

BLACKOUT

PART III: LUCIEN

SOUNDS OF POLICE SIRENS. A DOOR SLAMS. FROM STAGE LEFT LUCIEN ENTERS RUNNING, PANTING AND PANICKED. HE NEARLY SLIDES INTO THE AUDIENCE AS HE RUSHES FOR A PLACE TO HIDE. HE BARRICADES THE DOOR. FIVE… FOUR… THREE… TWO… ONE… HE TAKES A MOMENT TO ACTUALLY WORK OUT WHERE HE IS: AN ABANDONED CHURCH. HE RUSHES TO KNEEL AND PRAY, BUT AFTER SOME ADLIB WHISPERS —

Lucien: Yeah, this is doing nothing for me.

HE GETS UP, CIRCLING THE SPACE WITH HIS HANDS ON HIS HEAD. THEN HE SITS AND CONTEMPLATES HIS OWN DEFEAT. SUDDENLY —

Lucien (AT GOD): This is all your fault anyway!

PAUSE.

Lucien (GRUMBLING): Fucking pigs, fucking no-good, jobs-worthy pricks…

HE FALLS SILENT, LOOKING AT AN UNSEEN HANGING CRUCIFIX.

Lucien (TO GOD/AUDIENCE): Why did you create rich and poor people? Like, in the grand scheme of things, what was that difference meant to do? Spice things up a bit? Stir the pot a little? ’Cause I just don’t understand it. Maybe Mum was right: it’s a test. A test of what though…? Patience? Humility? Charity? Pfft, don’t make me laugh. It’s all a bunch of bollocks, innit? It’s not a test, it’s a punishment.

I don’t see the rich getting tested. Dem banker wankers up in Central linkin’ with their mates and banging prossies at a champagne and coke party. They ain’t getting tested are they? Not like me, waiting in line at foodbanks. And what about those politicians, eh? What’s up with that? How come Theresa May can spend hundreds of the people’s money on her shoes and yet I can’t even afford new Jordans?

And what about David Cowans? How comes he can earn £434,000 a year and I’m barely getting enough to eat?[23] Or did you forget about him? You know, the Chief Executive of Places For People, one of the largest housing association in the country, probably built Paradise Place- actually they probably didn’t given they only built 792 homes in 2015. And only 316 of those were affordable.

HE LAUGHS TO HIMSELF CYNICALLY.

Lucien: See that’s what I’m on about. People make the poor out to be crooks but really it’s the rich. ’Cause the difference between our crimes and theirs is that we’re desperate.

PAUSE. HE BREAKS.

Lucien: There, I said it.

BEAT. HE’S TOGETHER AGAIN.

Lucien: I’m desperate.

HE PUTS HIS HEAD IN HIS HANDS. HE’S BROKEN AGAIN.

Lucien: I’m so fucked it’s a joke.

HE LOOKS UP. SIRENS SOUND AGAIN. HE JUMPS UP IN ALARM. THE SIRENS FADE. HE CALMS.

Lucien: They can’t find me. I can’t get in trouble. I can’t get arrested and I most definitely can’t go prison. What would happen to Lil’ if I did? That’s my daughter you know, Lilith. Odd choice for a name, I know, but she just looks like one. Propa’ mischievous that one.

Like, when we go to the park together I can’t take my eyes off of her. Nah, not for one second. I made that mistake once — never again. I just when to check my DMs and then —

(TALKING TO AN UNSEEN LILITH) Lil’! Lil’! Lilith! Get down from there — ! No I mean it — ! You can’t just — ! No, I know you think he deserved it but you can’t just bite other kids! Y’what? Y’didn’t like ‘im ’cause he’s smelly? Fam, you can’t just bite people ’cause they smell — Lilith no!

Like I said: never again. “It’s just the Troublesome Twos” people say. Yeah, well I’m waiting ‘till her hormones kick in. Then she’ll be real trouble.

She’s bare smart, tho, my Lilypad. She’s already talking propa’. Knows so many words like salubrious and redoubtable. Apparently I’m doltish. (MIMICKING LILITH) “Daddy Doltish”. Not sure what she means there. Must have got it from somewhere. Possibly her grandfather. He’s a teacher. Not my dad, tho, nah, my Mum and Dad work as cleaners for the NHS. Nah, it must be from her mum’s dad. He’s a neak that one.

Funny tho, Lil’s mum ain’t a neak… When I first met her — at a party in the rave flat — I thought she was from Paradise Place too. She swaggered in with her mates in her trackies and trainers and —

ENTER GRACE (AS LILITH’S MOTHER). HE LICKS HIM LIPS IN DELIGHT, AS IF REMEMBERING THE VERY MOMENT.

Lucien: What a peng ting. Propa’ thick too, if you know what a mean. Thighs like this and an ass like this. Now at that moment I was licked off of my face, but when I saw her in the haze I was hers there and then. All the other dick’eads at the rave had their eyes on her, but she kept looking at me across the room and I knew, I knew, she was mine! So then I thought I’d give her the classic sweet-talk. Y’ know what I mean — (TO GRACE) Y’aite buff ting?

Grace (AS LILITH’S MOTHER): I’m aite, you?

Lucien: Yeah…

HE SAYS NOTHING THEN. IT BEGINS TO GET AWKWARD.

Lucien (STILL TRYING TO BE COOL): So… you like… cheese?

Grace (CONFUSED): Yeah, I guess…

Lucien: Yeah, same — (TO GOD) bruv, I was fuckin’ smooth. Smashed that night and got her number.

EXIT GRACE.

Lucien: But she never returned my texts. No big deal really, I had more chicks on the side… until… you know… nine months later I got a knock on the door.

ENTER ADAMS (AS LUCIEN’S PARENT) WHO SITS AND READS A NEWSPAPER.

Adams: Son, get the door!

Lucien: I can’t — I’m busy!

Adams: Doing what?

Lucien (MIMING MASTURBATING): Uh… having a shower?

ADAMS (AS LUCIEN’S PARENT) HUFFS, GETS UP AND ANSWERS THE DOOR. ENTER GRACE (AS LILITH’S MOTHER) HOLDING LILITH.

Grace (AS LILITH’S MOTHER): Is Lucien here?

Adams (AS LUCIEN’S PARENT): … LUCIEN!

LUCIEN CROSSES THE STAGE. HE STOPS WHEN HE SEES LILITH’S MOTHER.

Grace: I think you’ll find that this is yours.

SHE THRUSTS LILITH INTO LUCIEN’S ARMS BEFORE EXITING FAST.

Lucien: Apparently her mum and dad were gonna chuck her out if she kept Lil’. Like I said she’s not like Eve and I and us Paradise lot. She’s from Addington Hills — you know — the big houses with the big people who have big dreams? She said Lilypad was gonna ruin her life. That Lilypad would stop her going uni. That Lilypad would mean she’d have to give up on her future. She called Lilith a mistake. That “it” was an inconvenience more than anything else.

(TO LILITH) She was wrong though, wasn’t she? Lil’ didn’t ruin my life. She is my life.

HE HANDS THE BUNDLE TO ADAMS WHO THEN LEAVES.

Lucien: Mum and Dad took some time coming round. I mean a dad at sixteen: it wasn’t going to be easy. But you know being a dad changed everythin’ for me. No more smokin’ herbal cigarettes or stealin’ bikes or being a fuckboy. I stopped all that shit.

Everything is now for Lilith.

PAUSE.

Lucien: I hope she’s not like me. Nah, I’m dead serious. I hope she doesn’t follow the same path as me. One time when we was hanging out, Eve read out something from the newspaper and it stuck. Think it was the Guardian or some shit like that. Said that people are “so damaged by their upbringing, their experiences or by the impact of discrimination that they cannot just be pushed into work or self-sufficiency.”[24] And not to sound like a self-pitying wank but… it’s true. All of that applies to me…

Before Lilith I’d fucked around in school. Never did nothin’, used to sit in the back and cause a nuisance. All the homework I found difficult I just didn’t do and all the homework I thought was piss-easy I thought was a waste of time. I left with barely 5 A-Cs (… okay, mostly Cs but you know…)

I can’t blame anyone but myself. I take full responsibility over my past. But when Lilypad arrived I genuinely wanted to excel. Not for me, but for her.

But I couldn’t. A-Levels were so much harder. I only got one BTEC. No university would take me and every apprenticeship in Croydon thought I was a joke.

If I could go back in time and do it all again, I would. I wouldn’t stop Lil’ being born, but I would certainly give a shit this time. That way I’d be able to provide for her. ’Cause as it is I can barely find work. Gingerbread research found that over a fifth of single parents starting a job end up returning to jobseeker’s allowance within twelve months.[25] Why? ’Cause their jobs pay so poorly that around a quarter of children with working single parents live in poverty. Poverty?! Where are we, in a third world country? We’re in the UK cuz, and shockingly poverty exists here. Like going-to-bed-hungry poverty, no-heating-in-December poverty, just-above-dysentery poverty! And unfortunately ’cause of this children from 300,000 workless families will potentially be held back in their life.[26] Now yeah, don’t get me wrong, the Tories announced a £30 million programme to help arguing disadvantaged families resolve their differences, but what if that isn’t enough?

I can’t let that happen to Lilith. I want her to be whatever she wants in life. Right now it’s a princess, but what if she wants to be a doctor? Or an astronaut? I can’t hold her back because my parents and I fight constantly. We fight about everything and anything: the fact I can’t find work, the fact I can’t move out of their flat… I don’t think I will ever be able to leave Paradise to be honest.

BEAT.

Lucien: I’m trapped in this cycle — this never-ending, vicious cycle: My parents and I argue about work. I then go and find a job, usually a zero-hour contract. My parents and I then argue about moving out. I then take on more shifts. My contract then gets terminated suddenly. I then can’t find work. It goes on and on and on and I feel like I’m losing it.

I don’t think people realise how important poverty is to housing. If people don’t think about the connection between poverty and housing, they are less likely to support ideas that address either issues or both of ‘em.[27] Take Katie Hopkins for example, yeah that hoe. She don’t get it, you can tell. You know what she wrote about people needing support like housing — people like me that are that poor they can’t afford milk? She said that we “share a sense of entitlement as thick as the smell of smoke clinging to our clothes”.[28]

HE LETS OUT A BITTER LAUGH.

Lucien: She said she “fails to understand how these individuals are given a choice”. That “choice is a feature of the free market enabled by buying power”. That “choice is something you earn” and that “without buying power you do not have a choice”. This supposedly justifies the fact that she thinks that people living in poverty should take any ol’ shithole they’re given and if they don’t want to live in a cage, they should return to the bottom of the waiting list.

Well I’ve got news for you Katie Hopkins: you’re a pagan. ’Cause some of us actually want to live somewhere safe and not smelling of damp. Katie Macintosh, who was responsible for a lot of local authority housing in the sixties and seventies, used the phrase “ostentatious parsimony” to describe spending on homes.[29] In English that basically meant going beyond thrift, and anything beyond the bare minimum like balconies and windows was seen as an unnecessary extravagance. But you know what that has led to? Rabbit hutches for homes. So sorry, Hopkins, but some parents don’t want to rear their children like animals.

SIRENS SOUND AGAIN. HE PANICS. THEY PASS. HE CALMS.

Lucien: I wish I hadn’t left Eve. That was a mistake. It was just a reaction — fight or flight. Eve’s always been fight… and I’ve always been flight. But once again it was my mistake, all my fault. Eve’s a good girl. She don’t need to be dragged into this mess. I just wanted to make a statement, get people to realise that by destroyin’ Paradise Place, they’re destroyin’ us too. But look how that turned out.

HE CHUCKLES, REMEMBERING SOMETHING.

Lucien: Eve’s a bit of a neak. Was always top of the class. If she were here right now she’d probably have started lecturin’ me. She’s always doing that. Got a mouth that never stops. Always has an opinion, always has an answer. Like one day we was having a conversation about how to solve the crisis, and I suggested UBI and Eve said —

ENTER EVE. AS THEY TALK SHE DOES HER HAIR AND MAKEUP.

Eve: UBI?

Lucien: Yeah. Universal Basic Income.

Eve: Where did you pick that up?

Lucien (PROUDLY): The internet. It would be a simple solution to poverty. Everyone would get a lump sum of money from the government every year. Boom: solved.

Eve: Oh yeah?

Lucien: Hell yeah.

Eve: Did the internet not also tell you that the lure of simplicity is a false one?[30]

Lucien: What?

Eve: UBI would not be as simple as you make it sound. Think about it: if everyone got a basic income then the government could potentially see no need for specific benefits. Disabled people who rely the most on the welfare state would lose out.

Lucien: How?

Eve: Someone on the higher level of PIP disability support receives around £7000 per year directly, and that’s without taking into account the housing allowance, carer’s allowance and support to work. Take that away and replace it with UBI and they miss out. And then this seemingly new “simple” system looks rather like the old, messy one.

Lucien: Oh.

Eve: You would suffer too.

Lucien: How?

Eve: You’re a single parent. The problems would multiply. Couples would provide more money universally, so you would be penalised financially.

Lucien: But what if we worked those issues out?

Eve: Then maybe UBI would work, but really it’s all down to housing. A reform in social and affordable housing would do wonders for reducing poverty.

SHE SIGHS.

Eve: But can we stop talking about this now? We’re going to be late for the party — come on!

EXIT EVE.

Lucien (TO GOD): See what I mean? You made a smart one there. You know, if you did make her. She’s going to waste in Paradise though. I hope she makes it okay after it gets knocked down, ’cause you know it was Eve who got me into politics and that. Before I had never given a fuck — didn’t even want to vote. Then I realised how political my life is, and suddenly I was reading up on everyone’s manifesto this election. Labour promised to abolish the Tory policy denying housing benefit to eighteen to twenty-one year olds.[31] They also promised to build a million homes in the next parliament, with 100,000 council homes at local wage levels. Sounds great, don’t it? Only thing is, Labour didn’t win… and I don’t know about you, but it all seems like… wishful thinking. Don’t get it twisted: I’m not a Tory, they’re just as bad. Their industrial strategy to help the unemployed and poor focuses more on businesses than employees, with employment growth and quality taking second place.[32] They want to focus on R & D and their National Investment Fund is less than a tenth of the value of Labour’s.

This ain’t just happening in Croydon or London after all. It’s a national — worldwide issue: poverty, unemployment, housing. Take Scotland for example, 420,000 working age people in poverty there are in working households.[33] And in the US, proposed $6 billion cuts to housing agency budgets are going to lead to people losing housing vouchers, becoming homeless and even dying.[34] No-one is safe. And when Scottish Labour says that there are over £2 billion worth of unclaimed benefits — over £250 million being housing benefits — it all seems so peak…

But I’m goin’ off topic. ’Cause let’s be real, though this may be a political issue, not one political party has the answers — or a perfect track record. Don’t matter if you’re a Conservative, Labour, Lib-Dem, Green, UKIP, SNP or DUP member. Solving this mess, getting to a point where people have homes and a “living wage” is not a figure, it’s a process.

We are all a part of that process. Politicians need to do their bit, so do housing associations, so do employers and so do you. I did mine: I work hard, I don’t give up and I let my anger be known. We’ve all got to do our bit — for the next generations. Kids, like my Lilith, who deserve a brighter future.

HE CHECKS THE DOOR. THE COAST SEEMS CLEAR.

Lucien (TO GOD): No-one’s gonna stop me. Not Mum and Dad, not the jobcentre, not the council, not the police and definitely not you. Just you wait and see. I’m going to get my little girl a better life. I’m going to get her somewhere propa’ to call home. I’m going to —

THE LIGHTS CHANGE. SIRENS SOUND. THE DOOR BANGS. OFFSTAGE, ADAMS, EVE AND GRACE AS POLICE OFFICERS SHOUT:

Adams: It’s the police! Come out with your hands above your head. Do not resist arrest. I repeat, come out with your hands above your head. Do not resist arrest!

Eve: Lucien Jones, we know you’re in there. Please vacate the church and come with us. If you have any weapons please leave them on the ground. Do not try to escape.

Grace: Lucien Jones you are under arrest for vandalising private property. You have the right to remain silent but anything you do say may be used against you in court.

THEY AD-LIB AS LUCIEN REMARKS TO GOD.

Lucien: Awh, drop me right out.

BLACKOUT

PART IV: GRACE

THE POLICE STATION. EVE IS SEATED. AFTER A MOMENT, ADAMS ENTERS, FOLLOWED BY A GRUMPY LUCIEN.

Adams: I believe you two know each other…

EVE SHOOTS LUCIEN A LOOK OF SMUG-SURPRISE.

Eve: Well it’s about damn time.

Lucien (SOFTLY, BUT WITH FEELING): Don’t.

EVE PUTS HER HANDS IN THE AIR IN MOCK-DEFENCE. LUCIEN SITS NEXT TO HER. ADAMS TAKES THEIR PLACE BEHIND THEIR DESK.

Lucien: So what happens now?

Adams: You wait.

Eve: … Until?

Adams: Until the prosecution decides whether or not they want to press charges.

Lucien: Fuck — and if they do?

Adams: Do you have a lawyer?

Eve (DEADPAN): Do we look like the sort of folk who have lawyers?

Adams: I’ll phone for a public defender. Wait here. Do not touch anything.

EXIT ADAMS. THE TWO TEENAGERS ARE SILENT.

Lucien: On a scale of one to ten, how fucked do you think we are?

Eve: Honestly?

BEAT.

Eve: Eleven.

Lucien (BREAKING): Oh Jesus.

Eve (SARCASTICALLY): Yeah, he’s not going to be able to save us from this one…

Lucien: I need to tell my parents.

Eve: Same. (SARCASTICALLY) I need to tell them how I won’t be going to Oxford now given my supposed friend got me arrested.

Lucien: Listen Eve, I’m sorry —

Eve: No you’re not. I warned you. I warned you what would happen — even pleaded with you to stop. And you didn’t. Now look what’s happened!

Lucien: Not to turn the tables but, uh… you did join in.

Eve: Only because — (!)

ENTER ADAMS. THE TEENAGERS WATCH THEM AS THEY SIT. THEY LOOK DEFLATED.

Eve: What’s wrong?

Adams: It’s not… looking good for you two.

Lucien: What do you mean?

Adams: Not only does the prosecution want you at court for damages to private property, but they’re looking to want you to reimburse them for the damages.

Lucien: But there’s no way we can afford that. That buildin’s worth more than I am!

Adams: Or… you could do a short spell in juvie.

Eve (BREAKING): Oh God.

Adams (SINCERELY): Sorry, kids. I’ve called the public defender. They’re on their way.

Eve: Can they stop this?

Adams: I-I’m not sure. At least they’ll try to stop the company from using this incident as further evidence that Paradise should be demolished…

EVE STARTS TO SOB. LUCIEN IS STILL.

Lucien: I’m so sorry, Eve… (TO ADAMS) Come on, man. There’s got to be something.

ENTER GRACE. AS ADAMS AND LUCIEN TALK, SHE WALKS CLOSER.

Adams: There’s nothing I can do. Overriding the case would reflect very badly on me and the department.

Lucien: But there are lives at stake!

ADAMS FLINCHES.

Adam: I understand that —

Lucien: Hundreds of people depend on those blocks. They’ve got nothing else. Take that from them and you’re practically killing them.

Adams: Young man —

Lucien: No I mean it. Where will they go? There’s nowhere else is there? Paradise ain’t even that safe or secure but at least it’s better than sleepin’ on the streets. I thought after Grenfell people, would have some empathy!

THE LIGHTS DARKEN. GRACE TURNS TO FACE THE AUDIENCE AS ADAMS STANDS.

Adams: I do — (!)

EVE AND LUCIEN LOOK SHOCKED. EVERYONE IS STILL AS THE LIGHTS RAISE SLOWLY AND GRACE LOOKS SADLY AT EVERY MEMBER OF THE AUDIENCE.

Lucien: Sorry, fam. I didn’t mean to —

Adams: You didn’t do anything. It’s not you. It’s…

THEY CAN’T FINISH THE SENTENCE.

Eve (UNDERSTANDING): Your friend… the one you told me about: Grace. You said she had lived in North Kensington.

ADAMS NODS.

Eve: Lived? Not… lives…

ADAMS NODS. EVE AND LUCIEN EXCHANGE LOOKS.

Lucien: Did she…?

Adams (TEARFUL): She’s missing but she lived near the top. There was no way she was going to make it.

Eve: [Sir/Madam] I —

Adams: She tried to call me to say goodbye, but I was asleep. I only got her voicemail when it was too late… (PAUSE) Sorry. That was unprofessional of me to tell you that.

Lucien: No, I’m sorry for bringing it up. I was just being stupid.

Adams: No you weren’t. It’s affected us all, hasn’t it? I mean 79 dead… [35]

Grace: It’s more than that.

Eve: The death toll’s expected to rise. They don’t really know how many were killed ’cause they can’t get into the building…

Lucien: I heard a five-year old’s among the victims…

Adams: Disgraceful.

Grace: Preventable.

Eve: The residents did try to warn them.

Lucien: Did they?

Adams: Grace told me they did try to warn the management organisation.

Grace: But they didn’t listen. They didn’t believe that we were concerned. Not even after 90% of us signed the petition asking for a investigation.[36] The council turned us down — threatened us with legal action.[37]

Eve: I think there was a cover-up.

Lucien: Yeah it’s all too suspicious. So many unanswered questions.

Adams: Like how did no-one see this happening?

Grace: We did. There were loads of concerns — over placement of boilers and gas pipes, the absence of a building-wide fire alarm and sprinkler system, and piles of rubbish being dumped, causing a fire risk.

Eve: The amount of negligence is murder.

Adams: Is murder the right word?

Eve & Grace: Yes.

Eve: I’d say so: there were so many opportunities to prevent this. Barwell failed to act on warnings[38], Javid and Cameron voted against the 2016 housing bill, and cuts to Legal aid meant the residents didn’t have a hope in hell against the big guys.[39] Grenfell was murder. Murder by political decisions.[40]

Lucien: It always comes back to politics, eh…?

Adams: I try to take comfort in May’s support for the survivors.

Eve: … What support?

Lucien: Oh you mean that 5 mill, don’t you?

Adams: That’s right. She’s pledged that every household left homeless would receive at least £5,500.

Eve: Really? I heard they were only given a tenner.

Lucien: I guess you can’t trust what you read in the news.

Grace: You can’t trust anyone anymore.

Eve: Trust is at rock bottom.[41] At least the community have rallied together on that one.

Adams: Except they haven’t.

EVE AND LUCIEN STARE AT ADAMS.

Adams (ASHAMED): Did you uh, not see the article…? Some of the Grenfell families who were moved into luxury flats have been greeted… unkindly.

Grace: They don’t want us there. They feel resentful[42]. They’re threatening to leave.

Adams: They’re saying it’ll degrade things. Open a can of worms in the housing market.

Eve: You’re joking.

Lucien: That’s sick.

Adams: Agreed.

Lucien: I heard several disabled people were unable to walk down the fire escape and died.

Eve: Lucy, don’t. You know I can’t bear it —

Grace: It’s true though.

Adams: I heard that too.

Lucien: Have they finally decided who’s responsible?

Grace: No.

Adams: No.

Lucien: Will they ever?

Grace: No.

Eve: No. They’re going to get away with it. The big people — the government, the councils, the developers. They always get away with it. They’re always going to get away with it. They always win.

Grace: Do they?

SILENCE. ADAMS NOTICES THE VISION OF GRACE AS SHE WALKS BY THEM AND PUTS HER HANDS ON THEIR SHOULDER.

Grace: It’s okay now. It’s all going to be okay. (PAUSE) You know what to do.

AS GRACE WALKS AWAY, ALMOST OFFSTAGE, ADAMS SPEAKS —

Adams (ANXIOUS): If I do this, will you two promise to behave?

Eve: Do what?

Adams: Write you off. Caution you only.

Eve: But you said it’ll reflect —

Adams: I know what I said. The prosecution’s case is almost crystal clear, but there are a few things that would make charging you two uncertain.

Eve: Which are?

ADAMS LOOKS AT LUCIEN.

Lucien: I spray-painted the CCTV cameras…

Adams: Try to keep that to yourself, maybe? Also, on any CCTV images we do have, we can’t see your faces clearly. (TO EVE) You because of your hoodie, and (TO LUCIEN) you because of what seems to be a balaclava…?

Lucien (PROUD): Knew it would come in handy.

Adams: There is something else. Although I don’t know how you managed this one. The Volvo abandoned at the site isn’t registered to either one of you…

Eve: What? (TO LUCIEN) It’s your car.

LUCIEN LOOKS EMBARRASSED.

Eve: Lucien! You said you gave up stealing.

Lucien: I did, I did. I just found it and fixed it up. There’s a difference.

Adams: Maybe try to also keep that to yourself.

Eve: So what does this mean? We can go free?

Adams: With a caution. A severe one. Possibly. If I can convince my colleagues…

Eve: But my statement? That in itself was damning.

Adams: True.

THEY THEN PROMPTLY RIP UP THE PAPERWORK.

Adams: We’ll have to take new ones then, won’t we?

LUCIEN AND EVE CAN’T BELIEVE THEIR LUCK.

Lucien: Fam this is propa’s wavey.

Eve (SINCERELY): Thank you, PC Adams.

ADAMS LOOKS TO GRACE.

Adam: Don’t thank me. We all have to do our bit, don’t we?

ADAMS, EVE AND LUCIEN FREEZE. GRACE STANDS CENTRE-STAGE.

Grace: Of course, real life does not always work out like that. One person cannot magically solve another’s problems. But at the same time, we are not powerless against the weight of these issues. Lack of housing, poverty and homelessness in the UK and across the world can be eradicated, but everyone does need to do their bit. It is not just up to the big guys — the governments, the councils, the developers and associations — we can make a change too. We, as ordinary people, can stop children going hungry, and servicemen sleeping rough and we can and must prevent another tragedy. Be it that fiver you donate to charity or the spare change you put in the lap of a beggar. Be it your signature on a petition or your presence at a protest. When we unite, we are powerful. We are mighty.

So do not wait for others to do it. Go out and make a change. Don’t hold back. Don’t say it doesn’t concern you. In the words of Shola Amoo, we are all “complicit”.[43] Do the right thing: for the poor, for the disabled, for the elderly, for the homeless. For those who need refuge, for your neighbour, for your children, for your parents. For Grenfell. Do something — anything at all.

The solutions to these issues aren’t clear yet, but the path ahead is. And we need to take our first step towards a time when all of this…? is a thing of the past.

Because if you do not do it, who will?

Who will listen to the language of the unheard?

BLACKOUT

Footnotes:

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2015/nov/18/who-lives-41-million-social-housing-homes-england-wales

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-34930602

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2014/jun/10/social-housing-stigma-stereotype-tenants

[4] Let’s not forget about the rest of the UK too: In Scotland, according to the same source, there are 31,884 houses empty and 173,587 people on the waiting list. Wales has 23,171.

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e28apcPyRAo&t=86s

[6] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/joe-dromey/cutting-employment-and-su_b_15783470.html

[7] http://www.homesandproperty.co.uk/property-news/buying/house-prices-will-the-election-impact-the-property-market-a111031.html

[8] http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/dont-bet-your-house-on-it-lib-dems-attack-tories-dementia-tax-with-new-campaign-poster-a3556221.html Under the Tories’ plans, the value of the family property will for the first time be taken into account when working out how much an individual must pay towards social care in their own home, as it is for residential care. Tories would introduce a new guarantee that no-one’s assets will be depleted below £100,000 due to the costs of care, more generous than the current floor of £23,250. But following criticism of the package, dubbed the “dementia tax” by opponents, Mrs May performed a swift U-turn which saw her commit to a cap on the total costs people would face — but the level of that cap will not be determined until after the election.

[9] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_ehNV2IwjE

[10] http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/727143/UK-housing-prefabricated-homes-Government-social-migrants-council-homeless-veterans

[11] One of the charities we are hoping to support through play profits. Website: https://www.crisis.org.uk/

[12] https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2017/may/23/homelessness-evidence-housing-first-rough-sleeping

[13] https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2017/may/19/party-manifestos-conservative-victory-housing-crisis-continue

[14] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-4561578/Housing-chief-steps-public-profile-coming-weeks.html

[15] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4564588/1-2m-homes-hit-Labour-plan-slash-inheritance-rate.html

[16] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/conservatives-quietly-u-turn-big-10553205

[17] http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/sadiq-khan-how-the-mayor-of-london-fares-on-issues-facing-capital-after-a-year-in-job-a3531671.html

[18] http://www.homesandproperty.co.uk/property-news/naked-homes-mayor-of-london-pledges-500k-for-no-frills-north-london-affordable-housing-scheme-with-a110771.htm No-frills homes could be the answer to London’s housing shortage. It’s an idea dreamed up by four friends, all priced off the housing ladder in the capital and unhappily stuck in Generation Rent. In 2013 they founded Naked House, a not-for-profit developer set up to build habitable but only part-finished homes at low cost. With financial support from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, on land supplied by a north London council, Naked House will provide 22 homes priced from £150,000. The homes, which will range from one-bedroom flats to family-size terrace houses, will be watertight, have heating, electricity, a working bathroom and a kitchen sink — but not much else. Owners finish the fit-out themselves, at their own pace and to suit their pocket, including deciding where partition walls go and designing a kitchen. This means buying costs are cut to the bone. Some properties are being built with the potential to extend, adding to their value, and all will be highly energy efficient, cutting fuel bills. They are intended to be affordable to people, or households, earning about £30,000. Enfield council has provided three small sites to build the homes, and the Mayor has provided the £500,000 necessary funding. Work is expected to start next year, to a design by London-based OMMX Architects, and the homes will be completed by 2020.

[19] http://www.homesandproperty.co.uk/property-news/buying/micro-flats-in-croydon-sutton-and-epsom-for-sale-for-235k-400sq-ft-homes-qualify-for-the-lowdeposit-a109811.html Micro flats are touted as a solution to the affordable housing crisis. Smaller is cheaper, it is argued. But due to regulations covering minimum space standards, new-build blocks of micro flats struggle to get past planners. The Government is reviewing whether the rules are an obstacle to affordability. Meanwhile, developers are exploiting a loophole that lets them convert office buildings into micro flats. So if you want to own your own home no matter how small — and you are a tidy non-hoarder — read on. Inspired Homes, which has schemes in Sutton, Croydon and Epsom, claims design innovations mean its flats, typically less than 400sq ft, feel roomier than that, and are practical. These hallway-free homes have full-height glazing, a balcony, concealed storage, solid wood floors, high-speed hyperoptic broadband and smart-control heating and security. At Croydon, there is a communal roof terrace with seating areas, a second-floor garden with table tennis tables, residents’ lounge, yoga and exercise room, bike storage and tool station, concierge lobby with cupboards for deliveries, plus a residents’ website.

[20] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/12112878/The-UK-doesnt-need-more-social-housing-but-we-do-need-to-build-more-homes.html

[21] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/14/spin-no-substance-labour-dismisses-tory-social-housing-pledge

[22] https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/uk/john-healey-mp-theresa-may-use-housing-white-paper-build-council-housing/

[23]https://www.spectator.co.uk/2015/07/housing-associations-have-failed-to-build-houses/#

[24] https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2014/jun/10/social-housing-stigma-stereotype-tenants

[25] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/sumi-rabindrakumar/child-poverty_b_15358792.html

[26] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/caroline-nokes/life-chances-social-mobility_b_15940252.html

[27] https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2017/may/29/link-housing-crisis-poverty-message

[28] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/katie-hopkins/katie-hopkins-how-to-get-a-council-house_b_3731183.html

[29] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/22/social-housing-labour-tories-manifestos-homes

[30] https://inews.co.uk/opinion/columnists/want-solve-housing-crisis-universal-basic-income-isnt-answer/

[31] https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2017/may/19/party-manifestos-conservative-victory-housing-crisis-continue

[32] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/nick-stephenson/labour-policy-welfare_b_16775646.html

[33] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/kezia-dugdale/scotland-poverty_b_15829974.html

[34] [CONT. from previously referenced article] … “Carson’s vision could become clearer when he testifies about the administration’s proposed $6 billion cut in the agency’s $47 billion budget. Slated for elimination in the Trump budget are several housing support and community development programs, such as the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program. The plan also would cut about $2 billion from the department’s rental assistance programs, to $35.2 billion. Rental assistance programs comprise about 80 percent of the agency’s total funding. New requirements to encourage work and self-sufficiency are part of the plan. One proposal would increase the tenant contribution toward rent from 30 percent of adjusted income to up to 35 percent of gross income. The cuts would be devastating, Pendall said: “People will lose housing vouchers. They will become homeless, and some of them will die.””

[35] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/26/grenfell-tower-victim-isaac-paulos-five-choked-to-death-on-fire-fumes

[36] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/14/fire-safety-concerns-raised-by-grenfell-tower-residents-in-2012

[37] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-london-40239008

[38] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/25/grenfell-tower-tragedy-shows-social-housing-system-has-failed-uk-citizens

[39] https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2017/jun/26/legal-aid-cuts-sub-standard-housing

[40] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/25/grenfell-victims-murdered-by-political-decisions-says-john-mcdonnell

[41] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/25/revealed-60-towers-across-england-found-to-have-unsafe-cladding

[42] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/if-grenfell-families-move-ill-10679395

[43] http://www.standard.co.uk/showbiz/london-filmmaker-shola-amoo-gentrification-could-make-the-city-superelitist-but-we-re-all-complicit-a3520351.html