SHADOW IN THE DARK
written and directed by Joe Woodward
first presented at The Canberra Theatre Centre,
Courtyard Studio in December 1995.
Denise is a young teacher haunted by a shadow figure since her
childhood. She secretly lusts after a talented student from her
english class and records her thoughts in a diary which falls into
the wrong hands. After breaking up with the boyfriend, she is working
back one night in the school when a shadowy figure confronts her in
the staff room. Who is it? The dialogue is one way. The figure is
silent but will not let her pass. Slowly, she comes to understand
what the figure wants. But WHO it is confounds her. Her failure to
understand leads to a horrific murder. The chilling and horrific
result of this meeting forms the core of the play.
When first produced, audiences were sitting on the edge of their
seats and very "jumpy". In some respects, SHADOW IN THE
DARK defines the parameters of SHADOW
HOUSE PITS. The psychological, the erotic and the
boundaries between audience and performer are challenged in this
The play is in repertoire and the rights are available for any group,
amateur or professional, provided such groups are willing to explore
the extreme in production. It requires four actors (though it could
be performed with three) and lots of imagination. Running time is
approximately 75min. with no interval.
Denise moves from the table and straddles a chair as if it were a
man. She faces directly an individual in the audience.
DENISE: Ah Sam. You little turkey. I would like to fuck you.
Fuck you. Fuck you ... Sammy ... Professionals never think that way
... do they! Like I wrote in my diary: "Sam, I would love to
hear you recite your poems while I suck you 'till you come in my
mouth. Little boy Sam. Sammy ... Surprised Sam. Awkward Sam.
Sensitive Sam. Ah ... he's the one I like best. Sensitive Sam. Deep
Sam ..." Ah ... deeper Sam. Hmmm ... I could make you bleed Sam.
She begins to almost writhe on the chair.
DENISE: My diary!
Denise runs to the desk, picks up her bag and rummages through it.
She is trying to find her diary.
DENISE: My diary! If that little shit has ... I'll kill him!
She can't find it.
DENISE: Oh my god!
The external door is heard opening and closing again. She is
frantic. Foot steps come up the corridor. She suddenly goes still and
then rushes to search her desk. She finds it in her top drawer. She
is relieved. Then opens to some relevant pages.
DENISE: Oh I'm a terrible person. (She giggles)
She places the diary into her bag. The footsteps come closer.
DENISE: Oh Mells. What did you forget? Mells! (She calls)
Suddenly she remembers something.
DENISE: Wait a minute!
She grabs the diary again and opens to a key page and studies it.
DENISE: You bastard. How dare you! My diary ... Mells! Mells!
The footsteps are heard moving up the corridor towards the
entrance to the office. But they stop just prior to approaching the door.
The is a sharp cracking sound and a flash of light. Denise screams
in shock. The full light does not come back on. The room is now lit
only from the corridor light.
DENISE: Christ what was that? Damn.
She is aware of someone silhoetted at the door but can't make out
who it is.
DENISE: Ahhh ... You gave me a terrible fright. Did you see
what happened here? Was it some kind of electrical blow out or
something? Look, please don't play games. It's Sam is it? That's not
you is it Sam? Who are you? You're playing games. You want to play!
Is this what it's all about? Is it Sam? (She grabs the diary).
You couldn't resist. You came in here often enough to work out when
I'd be alone. When no other teachers were about. And when the place
was empty. And I was careless. Right! Right!
DENISE: Look, I don't care. It's late. I'm tired. I've had a
bit to drink. And I'm out of here.
She grabs her bag. Stuffs it with the bottle. The lemon and a few
of the papers. She then goes to pack in the diary.
DENISE: This is a serious invasion of privacy, you know. You
can't just go reading someone's private diary without their
permission. You might have thought you'd get away with it Sam. But
you made a mistake. The book mark. I never leave it in the last page.
She holds up the book mark.
DENISE: But you ... you didn't realize that did you! You're
going to be in heaps of trouble. You can't do this Sam. You've gone
She packs it into her bag.
DENISE: Now out of my way.
She goes to leave. But as she approaches the door, the Figure
moves towards her and she makes out its shape and form. She sees its
face covered in bandages, like one of those 1930s horror film mummy
figures. She freezes. Gasps and glares into the figure. The Figure
casts a shadow across the floor of the office.
DENISE: Ah! Who are you? Trying to frighten me! Okay! You
succeeded. I'm frightened. What do you want me to do? Try to rush
past you through the door way and out the building? You're blocking
my way. I'm alone; in an empty room, in an almost empty building ...
and there's you blocking my only exit. Yeah. You got me. I'm scared.
Now what? Do I rush to the telephone and call security? Triple
"0"? But of course, if all goes to plan, the phone won't
work. Right? (She looks around the room) Or worse! There ain't
DENISE: Pardon me for making light of the situation, but
somehow, it's all familiar isn't it! Alone woman with a bad guy. What
are you going to do? Slice me up. Get a hard on from my screams? Get
a fix on my fear? Huh ... I've read that script. So, dear shadow,
there's no surprises there.
She hurries to the essays on her desk.
DENISE: It's all in here. Unwholesome writing from year nine and ten
students. Here it is: "psychotic shadow in the dark rips woman
fodder for unseemly pleasure". So here we are. What's your
blurb? Your face is covered. But you just stand there. Got something
to hide! You see me. But I can't see you. You know something I don't.
You even set the scene. Lights out. Lights up. And you got me centre
stage. But now what? Huh ... huh!
She grabs her bag and goes to push past the figure.
DENISE: Whoever you are, I'm not happy. And you're going to be
in a lot of strife.
She walks right into the figure who suddenly reacts and throws her
back into the room.
DENISE: Who are you?
She grabs the knife and holds it defiantly towards the figure.
DENISE: Think before touching me again, you bastard.
DENISE: But you remain still. Watching me. Not letting me pass
... but watching. Are you waiting for something? (No answer) What
are you waiting for? Creep! What's going on inside your anonymous
head? Eh! What are you thinking of?
She tries to study the shadowy figure.
DENISE: I move ... (She moves) Your head moves. I go to
leave and you brace yourself for a struggle. (Pause) But
still, you don't come in. You just look. Look through hidden eyes.
Expecting a show: a performance! You want me frightened. You want me
to ACT frightened? Huh! You want the fear running through me so you
can pounce when you're good and ready! Is that it? You want some
naked little mouse squeaking aloud as you toy and poke it. Just like
in all those movies? Naked in the shower as you watch waiting to
strike. Is that it? Where's your chainsaw? You look pretty smug:
Knowing that no woman in my position will ever talk to you this way.
Hay! Has your video broken down? Who are you?
She is interrupted by a young voice calling her.
CHILD'S VOICE: (Off stage) Denise ... Denise ....