The Ceremony of Innocence: Extract

The extract is taken from the opening of the play.

Christmas Day. The stage is covered in snow, Alec is laboriously making a snowman. Unknown to him, Trevor is sitting in one of the branches of the tree watching. He does not move and he seems at first to be part of tree. Alec is wearing a camelhair duffle- coat with a hood, short grey trousers, grey socks and smart black shoes. Trevor is wearing a dirty blue anorak, brown cord trousers and Wellingtons.

The first children’s chant is heard.

Children: Christmas is coming,
the geese are getting fat,
Please to put a penny in the old man’s hat.
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do,
If you haven’t got a ha’penny, God bless you.

Alex pats the snow against the sides of the snowman and begins to form the head, all the time grumbling and cursing to himself.

Alec: Why did I have to come outside? I hate outside. And I hate Christmas. And I hate my presents. And I hate God. And I wish that baby Jesus hadn’t been born. And I wish that I hadn’t been born. I wish I were dead.

He has shaped a basic head. He turns away to fetch more snow. Trevor from the tree makes a snowball and throws it at the snowman’s head. It falls off. Alec looks back and sees the headless snowman. He is horrified. He looks around. He looks up at the sky. He looks at the tree. But he sees nothing. He picks up the snow from the original head and examines it. He shrugs and remakes the head. He presses it on more firmly. He turns away to collect more snow, and Trevor knocks off the head as before. Alec turns round.


He runs back, looks round and very aggressively rebuilds the head. He thumps it into position and it hardens. He then winds off the scarf from round his neck and puts it on the snowman as if to protect it at its most vulnerable point. He then moves away to fetch more snow, turning back abruptly several times as if to satisfy himself that the head remains. Trevor is aware of these checks, and waits until he knows Alec is convinced, before lobbing a third snowball. The head shatters. Alec turns. He runs back to the snowman. He grabs hold of it, tearing his hands into its body, and slides down it.

No! No! No! No! No!

He lies at the bottom in tears. Trevor is perturbed. He has never before seen such a show of emotion. He swings out of the tree and looks down. Alec is sobbing. He ponders what to do. Then he decides to own up. He jumps down from the tree. Alec looks up startled.

Trev: Don’t cry. It was only me.

Alec: What?

Trev: Just a bit of fun. Christmas.

Alec: Who are you?

Trev: Trevor.

Alec: What are you doing here? It’s my garden.

Trev: Free country.

Alec: So?

Trev: I live down there.

Alec: No one knows this place except me.

Trev: And me.

Alec: Yes.


Why did you spoil it?

Trev: I’m sorry.

Alec: It was on purpose.

Trev: Just a bit of fun.

Alec: It was real. And you killed it.

Trev: I’m sorry. Look I’ll build it up for you.

He hurries to work and manages to put on a head much quicker than Alec. He puts on the scarf and coal for eyes, a. carrot for a nose and stones for buttons that Alec has already gathered; then finally he puts on the hat. It is finished.

There. See.

Alec: It’s great.

Trev: Would have taken you all day.

Alec: No, It wouldn’t. I take pains. Miss Oakley said my writing’s the best in the class

Trev: Who’s in the class then? Load of girls?

Alec: Boys too. It’s mixed.

Trev: So’s mine. Here, give us that (He points to Alec’s coat)

Alec: Why?

Trev: You’ll see.

Alec: No.

Trev: Go on. I’ll show you. Go on. Only for a sec.

Alec rather reluctantly takes off his coat. Trevor puts it round the snowman.

See. It really looks real now.

Alec: My coat.

Trev: Looks like you.

Alec: No. It doesn’t.

Trev: Yes. It do. Same conk.

Alec: It’s a carrot,

Trev: Carrot-conk! Carrot-conk! Carrot-conk!

Alec: Stop it!

Trev: Carrot-conk! Carrot-conk! Carrot-conk!

He jeers and darts back and forth at Alec. Alec starts to cry.

Come on. Turn off the tap. I didn’t say nothing.

(To the birds) Did I say nothing? (To the snowman) Did I say nothing? (To Alec) See. They agree.

Alec laughs.

That’s better. You’re too old to cry.

Alec: I’m not crying. I wear contact lenses. They hurt

Trev: Honest? Let’s see.

Alec: You won’t touch?

Trev: Promise.

Trevor looks into Alec’s eyes.

I can’t see nothing.

Alec: That’s because they’re so small.

Trev: Don’t you lose them?

Alec: No. I take care.

Trev: Ugh! I’d never. Bits of glass in my eyes.

Alec: I’m braver than you.

Trev: No, you’re not.

Alec: Yes, I am.

Trev: Prove it.

Alec: What?

Trev: Fight me.

Alec: Don’t be silly.

Trev: It isn’t silly.

Alec: It is too.

Trev: Our dad has fights and he isn’t silly.

Alec: Is your papa a soldier?

Trev: No. He’s a gardener.

Alec: Why does he have fights then?

Trev: Because … I don’t know. He has his reasons.

Alec: My grandpapa’s a soldier.

Trev: Yes. I know. He’s famous.

Alec: He’s a colonel.

Trev: Our dad hates him.

Alec: You shouldn’t say that.

Trev: He says he’s old and crabbed and he should hurry up and die.

Alec: Stop it!

Trev: He ex … he ex … he ex – somethings everyone else.

Alec: He does not.

Trev: He does too.

Alec: Your papa knows nothing about it.

Trev: He knows more than yours.

Alec does not reply.

Alec: I want my coat back. I’m cold.

Trev: Fight me then. That’ll warm you up.

Alec: I don’t want to hurt you.

Trev: Liar.

He dances around Alec throwing punches.

Come on. Put your mitts up. Are you yellow?

Alec: Stop it!

Trev: You’re yellow. Yellow. Yellow.

Alec: If you don’t give me back my coat, I’ll say you stole it.

Trev: What?

Alec: I’ll say you jumped on me and tied me up and tortured me terribly.

Trev: Where’s the marks?

Alec: Water torture. You can’t see.

Trev: They won’t believe you.

Alec: They will too. They’ve told me not to talk to rough boys like you.

Trev: I’m not rough.

Alec: Yes, you are.

Trev: No, I’m not.

Alec: You must be. You live on the estate. Everyone who lives down there is rough.

Trev: I hate you.

Alec: No, you don’t.

Trev: I do too.

Alec: You should never hate anyone. It’s wrong. Miss Oakley said so.

Trev: Piss on Miss Oakley.

Alec: (Horrified) Don’t.

Trev: And piss on you.

Alec: No!

Trev: Piss! Piss! Piss! Piss! Piss!

Alec is horrified but begins to giggle.

They chant together:

A & T: Piss! Piss! Piss! Piss! Piss!

They laugh and fall on top of one another.

Trev: If I’m rough, you should be scared of me.

Alec: I’m not scared of you.

Trev: I’m not rough then.

Alec: No. I’m sorry. I thought you must be stealing.

Trev: What?

Alec: From the woods.

Trev: I’m only eight.

Alec: My grandpapa says you have to catch them young.

Trev: Seems like he says a lot.

Alec: Oh he does. He talks and talks. Sometimes grandmama and I catch each other’s eye and laugh. And then I feel strange because you shouldn’t laugh at a grown-up. Not when he’s old.

Trev: I laugh at grown-ups all the time.

Alec: Honest?

Trev: Course.

Alec: I don’t believe you.

Trev: Cross my heart and hope to die.

Alec: Only when they’re not-looking.

Trev: And when they’re looking too. Our dad gave us the biggest belting once. Still got the marks. Want to see.

Alec: Really? Where?

Trev: Cross the bum. (He starts to undo his trousers)

Alec: Oh no.

Trev: What?

Alec: Please. You mustn’t.

Trev: Suit yourself. Next time cost you sixpence.

Alec is shivering.

You’re cold.

Alec: I’m alright.

Trev: Your teeth chattering! Like a ghost.

Alec: I’m real.

Trev: A spooky ghost. (He flaps his arms like a ghost and comes behind Alec. He blows on his neck)

Alec: Stop it!

Trevor continues to blow.

Stop it! Stop it please!

But he begins to giggle.

Trev: You like it.

Alec: No.

Trev: Liar. I can see you grin.

Alec: (Jumping up) No! Will you give me my coat please?

Trevor, a trifle hurt, fetches the coat from the snowman.

Trev: There’s your stupid coat.

Alec: It’s nicer than yours.

Trev: Mine’s not a coat; it’s an anorak.

Alec: I know that.

Trev: Well then?

Alec puts on the coat.

Alec: Oh it’s all wet.

Trev: Like you.

Alec: I’ll catch cold.

Trev: Bet you’re always ill.

Alec: I am never!

Trev: Be alright then, won’t you?

He sticks his tongue out at Alec.

Alec: I think you’re so rude.

He slides onto the ground at the base of the snowman. Trevor slides down beside him.