By Ahmed Latif
“What do you do?” She began.
“I do everything wrong.”
She looked intrigued, “Everything wrong or everything badly?”
“I do everything wrong but I do it badly,” I replied instantly.
“Seriously what do you do?” She advanced.
“I correct people’s grammar.” I retreated and not playfully either. That’s when the theatre director and my agent walked in. They saw me and made their way toward us.
“Mr. Playwright,” the arrogant and mindless baboon of a director started.
She smiled and said softly as she left. “See you later Mr. Playwright.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be dead by the time I am done talking to him.” I said to her while pointing to the already sweaty director.
They sat down on either side of me at the booth in the Savoy Hotel Bar. The director then proceeded to lather me in butter before announcing his plans for destroying my work.
“First off, I loved the play. It was a magnificent read, and is certain to cause quite an uproar in the theatre scene. I do, however, have a few notes if you don’t mind.” I looked at him and wished he were dead. He took my silence as a cue to carry on talking with his drawl and dreadful way. “So I love your use of double entendre, but…”
“I don’t use double entendre.” I shot back.
“Right, right. I mean the hidden connotation.”
“I don’t believe in connotation.” Now I was just pestering him. This was too easy.
“Right, right. I mean the irony in this tragedy.”
“It’s a comedy and that’s not irony, that’s poetic justice.”
“Certainly, certainly. I just think that maybe we could work on the scene in the atrium.”
“The atrium stays, it’s a reference,” I said commandingly in low and gruff whisper befitting an action film franchise star. I pulled on my cigarette like it was giving me life. But it didn’t.
“Yes, brilliant, I noticed that. A reference to Plato on Socrates.”
“No, it’s a reference to Aristophanes on Plato on Socrates.”
“Right, but my point is that no one will get it.”
“They’re not supposed to, it’s an obscure reference that honours the original work, not a heavy-handed pastiche that butchers the original by attempting to relay it to the dumbfounded masses.” My explanation was of no use to such a man.
He seemed frustrated by my filibustering. Yet he continued. “What about the scene where they discuss the meaning of love next to the corpses of sophists? Can’t they be sitting in something like, maybe a garden?”
“No, I despise the outdoors and sad clichéd uses of the outdoors in the arts.” I said to a sad cliché of a man in the arts.
My under-zealous agent decided to join this pseudo-artistic façade. “You can’t just criticize all the ideas; try to be accommodating.”
“Well, I am trying to accommodate my inner critic,” I responded bitterly.
“Are you always this bitter?” My agent shot back.
“I am only ironically bitter. And only because it’s fashionable.” I said condescendingly which if we’re being honest I deserve to be.
The director’s eyes, desperate to avoid awkwardness, squirrelled away every time I looked at him. In all likelihood I was looking through him and not at him. That’s how imaginatively unimpressive he was.
I sighed. “Mr. Director, the play is all yours. The scenes, the characters, and the script are all at your discretion.” I said surprising these hyenas. They both smiled whimsically.
“Now that’s better.” My agent added.
“No, now I am being bitter. Genuinely bitter.”
The director asked, “Why all this?”
“So I can criticize and rail against the final product from my high horse. And absolutely destroy you in the press and the so-called theatre scene.” I said gruesomely. The director looked nauseous and nauseating.
“He’s joking.” Facilitated my agent. The director laughed nervously. Then they got up and left. They got what they wanted so meaningful conversation was of no use to these utilitarian men of the world.
She came back and sat next to me. “Is it a comedy or a tragedy your play?”
“You know, I am not sure.”