Feb 8, 2019

"This is like highway robbery, right?" -- Generation V -- teaser

Progress, progress. We are well into Act III, and have a clear idea how it all ends. Here's Scene 6 of Act I. Steve, having delivered Dolly, the prototype of his Generation V robot, returns unexpectedly, while the bailiffs Terentia Striker and Triple-X are trying to repossess Robert, the robot. Robert has donned a wig in the previous scene and, impersonating Eliza, has so far managed to convince the bailiffs that it is Dolly that they want as collateral.


There’s a knock on the bedroom window. The antenna (blinking) and then the head of the FOOTMAN (the utility bot) come into view. ROBERT heads to the window, opens it. The now-familiar din of the airborne transport drone announces STEVE’s return. The FOOTMAN has clambered through the window and helps STEVE to climb into the room. Robert walks over to greet him.

STEVE: I’ve forgotten my book…(Taken aback) Robbie. Robert? Who is this? Eliza? My god, you have changed! Eliza? Robert? Say something.
ROBERT (just imitating the sound, not speaking meaningful Assembler): Buzz, buzz.
STEVE (not understanding, replicating the sound with heavy American accent): Buzz, buzz. How do you mean?
DOLLY (still in its box, squeaky): Robert can’t speak Assembler.
STEVE (recognizing DOLLY’s voice, approaching the box): Dolly?
DOLLY (a cry for help): Master!
STEVE (distracted by STRIKER and TRIPLE-X): What is this? (To STRIKER, TRIPLE-X) Who are you?
STRIKER (in an aside to TRIPLE-X): The comedy of error continues. (To STEVE): I am Terentia Striker, the court-appointed bailiff, and this here is Triple-x, my wonderful assistant. The narrative of our visit is confidential, I fear…Reputations are so easily lost…few will trust the healing powers of an illiquid shrink. (Laughs lightly; to ROBERT) Apologies, doctor, I always put my foot in the mouth, you know.

"The comedy of errors continues."

ROBERT (to STEVE): Ms. Striker has come to re-establish a sense of equilibrium to the financial markets. (To STRIKER, in ELIZA’S character) Steve is a dear friend of the household. Please be entirely yourself.
STRIKER: Very well then, doctor. (To STEVE) The doctor has been so kind as to wrap the collateral for transport; we feel much-obliged.
STEVE (pointing at Dolly’s box): But this is Dolly, isn’t it?
DOLLY: Ye-es. Noo. They don’t want me. They want Robert.
ROBERT (a bit too quick): They want Dolly; only Dolly is up to the task.
STEVE: Which task?
ROBERT: Serving as the collateral of an outstanding debt of 676 million South-English Pounds.
DOLLY: Master! He is lying!
TRIPLE-X (with an eye on his paperwork): Six hundred seventy-six million pounds. The doctor is correct.
DOLLY: They don’t want me, master, since they CANNOT want me.
STEVE: I’m really in a hurry. I left my present for the Prime Minister behind. (Looks around, spots his book on the sideboard) Ah, there is the book. (Proceeds to fetch the book. Now to Dolly, as if he got distracted by the book) You okay, Dolly? Hanging in there?
STEVE: Drop that master shit, Dolly, and call me Steve.
DOLLY: They cannot want me since they do not know about me.
TRIPLE-X: Sure, we know about you…Dolly.
DOLLY: You know me NOW, but you did not know me when you did your paperwork. You wanted a different robot.
ROBERT (trying to sway DOLLY): No robot is up to the task of being worth 676 million South-English Pounds, except YOU, Dolly.
ROBERT (impulsive): I’m worth nothing…(realizing that he has shown his hand; now overdoing the ELIZA character)…I’m worth nothing as a fatally-indebted psycho…psycho…(almost tearful, his eyes on STRIKER)…shrink…But if…if I were Robert, I would be an absolete [sic], apart-falling FIRST GENERATION robot; I wouldn’t be worth the garbage container where they put me to rest, even.
STEVE: I have no time for this. (To ROBERT) Eliza, if this is you…This is about money right?
ROBERT: Regrettably, yes.
STEVE (to STRIKER): Bailiff. This is like a highway robbery, right? It’s … the money or Dolly, right?
STEVE: Let’s be democratic. (To Dolly) Dolly what do you want? You want to go with the repo-people, or you want to stay with the doctor here?
DOLLY: He’s not the doctor.
STEVE: Okay, no democracy, then. (He signals the footman) Buzz, buzz.
FOOTMAN: Buzz, buzz. (Produces a large cheque book out of nowhere)
STEVE: How much was it?
TRIPLE-X: Six hundred seventy-six million South-English Pounds.
STEVE (to the footman, translating the numbers): Buzz, buzz.

STEVE’s phone goes off with a scary ringtone, conspicuously resembling the distorted voice of the present Prime Minister uttering “Where are you, Mr. FrankenStein”, perhaps set to the opening of Bach’s Toccata and Fuge in D minor BWV 565. 

STEVE (looking at his phone screen, to STRIKER): It’s the Prime Minister. She is getting toccata. My handler will handle this. (To the footman, sketching the gesture of a signature with his hand) Buzz, buzz.

The footman’s antenna begins to blink, and the drone appears at the window.

STEVE (already on his way to the window, throwing kisses): We’ll connect later. (Exits through the window).
FOOTMAN (to STRIKER): Buzz, buzz.
STRIKER: Excuse me?
DOLLY: He’s asking for a pen, Ms. Bailiff.
STRIKER (hands a pen to the footman, imitating the ‘buzz’-sound, poorly): Buzz, buzz (laughs lightly).

FOOTMAN frown his brows at STIKER’s ‘buzz, buzz’. He signs the cheque and hands it to the bailiff.
STRIKER (to ROBERT): Dear Dr. Gillespie. Our mission is coming to its fortuitous conclusion, I fear. I have been delighted to make your acquaintance. If all our visits were only like this. I could say so many things to you…but…we should be going; bailiffs must not outstay their welcome. One thing, Doctor, at the risk of putting my mouth in my foot again: I can only hope you’ll re-default soon, so we have a chance to reconnect. Good bye.
ROBERT (not going into this, flatly): Good bye.
STRIKER (to TRIPLE-X, as an aside): Do you think she likes us?

Exit STRIKER and TRIPLE-X; FOOTMAN exits through window, as usual.

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