The View from Upstairs (Screenplay)

CAST LIST:

Anita: twenties; middle eastern; introverted and polite

Tania: twenties; Londoner; blonde; brash extrovert

Dr O’Brian: forties; psychiatrist

Middle Aged Man: appears to be Tania’s father

Middle Aged Woman: appears to be Tania’s mother

Nurse: fifties; authoritarian; stern

Jamal: four; Anita and Faisel’s son

Amirah: four; Anita and Faisel’s daughter

Faisel: twenties; Anita’s husband; middle eastern

Girlfriend: late teen

Boyfriend: late teen

Mother: thirties

Son: six

Extra Patients

Extra Visitors

Extra Nurses

 

FADE IN

INT. PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL DORM ROOM. SUMMER. DUSK.

The only internal light is the lamp on the dressing table. TANIA sits on the end of her bed, brushing her hair. ANITA sits on the window sill in front of the large curtain-less window which she stares out of.

ANITA

They think they know everything’ that’s going on in our heads; but they don’t know anything. They talk in riddles.

TANIA

He sounded pretty damned clear to me.

ANITA

Clear? He’s never clear. What did he say that was so clear?

TANIA

You heard ‘im, you’re delusional You don’t get much clearer than that;

(Pause)

Tania moves from her bed to sit in front of the dressing table mirror on the other side of the room. She begins applying her make-up. Anita watches her.

ANITA

We.

(Beat)

We’re delusional.

TANIA

Same difference.

(Beat)

You still don’t exist.

(Silence)

We see Tania’s face in the dressing table mirror from Anita’s point of view. Tania is applying bright lip-gloss and smiling at her.

ANITA

He didn’t say that.

(Pause)

Anita turns back to the window. We see the view outside. Storm clouds glow red on the horizon in the light of the setting sun. Two birds continue to fly around the sky.

TANIA

He didn’t have to. You already know it.

ANITA

Don’t you tell me what I know.

(Pause)

Anita jumps down from the window sill and grabs a black hijab (Islamic veil) from her bedside table, putting it on and walking towards the door.

ANITA

And don’t act like you know me.

TANIA

(Shouting after her)

Know you? I am you. You can hide behind, that bloody veil all you want but I’ll always know what’s underneath.

INT. CROWDED RECREATION ROOM. POOR FLUORESCENT LIGHTING.

View of the crowded room; Nurses, patients, and visitors engage in indistinct chatter.

Anita enters silently and looks around before curling up in a nearby armchair on her own and watching the room.

Close ups on a number of EXTRA PATIENTS, EXTRA VISITORS, and EXTRA NURSES.

A GIRLFRIEND and BOYFRIEND chat solemnly in one corner of the room.

A MOTHER and her SON laugh whilst playing ‘Snap’ at a table.

A NURSE stands up from a chair in the centre of the room.

NURSE

(Shouts)

Okay, can you start finishing your visits please.

The Extra Patients and Visitors all glance up but continue talking. Gradually starting to stand.

The Girlfriend and Boyfriend stand and have a prolonged hug.

The Son starts to cry and clings to his Mother.

View of the room. Extra Visitors beginning to file out of the door. Others lag behind. The chatter begins to quieten.

The Nurse stops a MIDDLE AGED MAN and MIDDLE AGED WOMAN at the door.

NURSE

I’m sorry about this. We did try to get her down. Maybe if you try again next week?

The Middle Aged Couple nod, force a smile, and put an arm around each other as they silently leave. The Girlfriend and Boyfriend continue to hug.

NURSE

(Shouts)

Alright, say your goodbyes now please.

The chatter is very low. The Girlfriend and Boyfriend are the last to part. They blow kisses as the Boyfriend reaches the door.

View of the silent room. The Nurse tidies up and Anita, remains seated. No-one else is present.

As the Nurse leaves with a tray of empty plastic cups and crisp packets, Tania enters.

TANIA

You still sulking?

ANITA

I don’t sulk. I brood.

TANIA

(Looking around the room)

Whatever.

ANITA

You don’t have to worry.

TANIA

Hmm?

ANITA

Your parents. They already left.

TANIA

They were here again? Why didn’t you come and get me?

ANITA

(Confused)

What? The nurses told you. Didn’t they?

TANIA

(Raising her voice)

Do you think I’d have got all dolled up and then not come down if they’d told me? They didn’t tell me shit and you know it!

ANITA

But they said –

TANIA

I don’t give a damn what they said, they aren’t my mates.

ANITA

I’m sorry. I didn’t –

TANIA

You know what? I don’t give a shit what you think. The doc’ was right about you.

(Heading towards the door)

You’re not healthy, girl. And I need rid.

FADE OUT

FADE IN: INT. PSYCHIATRIST’S OFFICE. DAYTIME.

Anita and Tania sit side by side on a leather couch. DR O’BRIAN sits with a notepad on his crossed legs in a leather armchair opposite them.

Throughout the scene, Dr O’Brian cannot be seen looking directly at Tania at all.

DR O’BRIAN

How are you feeling today?

TANIA

Shit.

Anita reaches out and grabs the leaves of a tall artificial plant to her side, rubbing them between her thumb and forefinger.

ANITA

(Not making eye contact)

I’m alright, Doctor. I’ve just been feeling really trapped here you know?

DR O’BRIAN

Have you been thinking about what we spoke about last session at all?

TANIA

(Grinning)

About Anita being all in my ‘ead?

ANITA

About delusional thinking?

DR O’BRIAN

Do you know what I mean by the word “hallucination”?

Tania and Anita nod simultaneously.

DR O’BRIAN

Well, in psychological terms, we would say that you are suffering from what we call, complex hallucinations. That’s hallucinations which are more than just seeing something or hearing something which isn’t really there. Instead you hear it, see it, smell it, feel it, and you fully experience it. The only way you can tell that it’s a hallucination is because other people can’t see, hear, or experience it. Does that make sense?

(Silence)

The sound of Anita rubbing the leaves of the plant is slowly amplified.

Close up of her thumb rubbing the leaf. Then she stops rubbing and pauses.

ANITA

(Releasing her grip on the plant and sitting forward)

I’m sorry, Doctor. It’s all just a lot to process, you know?

DR O’BRIAN

Take your time.

TANIA

She knows what you’re saying. She just can’t acce-

DR O’BRIAN

How about a drink of. water?

(Silence)

Anita shakes her head.

ANITA

Tania thinks you mean that I don’t exist at all. She said I’m just a figment of her imagination.

TANIA

Anita’s my invisible friend, Doctor.

DR O’BRIAN

Is that what you think?

Tania nods.

ANITA

I don’t know what to think. I have memories, family, a life. That can’t all be imaginary, can it?

TANIA

We’ve both got memories and a family.

(Pause)

DR O’BRIAN

Hallucinations can often be deceptive. Your imagination can overlap into your memories until one feels like the other.

ANITA

But you said that the only way to tell the difference is because other people can’t experience the same things. So how does everyone else see and hear me if I’m not really here?

TANIA

It’s a good question, Doc. How do you talk to both of us?

DR O’BRIAN

They don’t. It only seems like they do. In reality, I can only interact with the person sitting in front of me. Does that make sense?

ANITA

(Sharply)

Alright. Be straight with me then. Which one of us are you working with?

(Pause)

Dr O’Brian flicks back through his notebook.

TANIA

(Grinning)

Go on. Tell her.

DR O’BRIAN-

I’m sorry?

ANITA AND TANIA IN UNISON

Which one of us is real?!

DR O’BRIAN

I can’t tell you that. You have to work through your experiences until you can tell the differences between reality, and your hallucinations. My job is to help you reach that point for yourself.

ANITA

Oh, forget it.

(Silence)

Anita sits back and reaches out for the leaves of the plant again.

DR O’BRIAN

You mentioned family, before. You don’t speak about them much. Tell me about them.

ANITA

My family or Tania’s?

(Pause)

TANIA

I don’t have any kids. I had a boyfriend before I came in ‘ere, but I haven’t heard from the shit since. It’s just me and my patents now. Unless you count Anita. (She chuckles)

ANITA

I’ve got two children, twins, a boy and a girl. They’re four now. Jamal and Amirah we called them And my husband’s. name is Faisel. We’ve been married since I was seventeen.

DR O’BRIAN

Do they visit you here?

(Silence)

Anita releases the leaves of the plan

Close up of a tear rolling across her cheek.

DR O’BRIAN

Can you tell me what you’re thinking about?

Anita begins to sob

ANITA

(Speech panicked by sobbing)

Tania’s parents have been here. I’ve seen them. I’ve seen the nurses talking to them. That means they must exist, right? Memory. My family haven’t been here. No-one’s seen my children.

DR O’BRIAN

You’ve seen her parents? When?

ANITA

Last night. They were waiting in the rec’ room for her but she didn’t come down.

TANIA

Because no-one shitting told me.

Dr O’Brian scribbles notes frantically.

TANIA

(To Dr O’Brian)

Is that your doing? Did you tell ’em not to let me see-

ANITA

(With a raised voice)

What’s wrong with you? Why has this always got to be about you? Don’t you care that I’m hurting too?

TANIA

All about me? You don’t even exist and you still moan like a bitch if you’re not getting all the attention. You’re not hurting girl, you’re dying. You know the truth now, so off you pop.

Anita looks back and forwards between Tania and Dr O’Brian, tears still flowing, and then runs from the room. Dr O’Brian watches her as she leaves.

FADE OUT

FADE IN:

INT. CROWDED. RECREATION ROOM. LUNCHTIME.

Patients sit around tables eating lunch. Tania sits with her back to a window. Anita sits opposite, pushing food around her plate with a fork but not eating. Tania shovels the food down eagerly.

TANIA

You need to get over it.

(Pause)

Anita gives Tania a prolonged look.

TANIA

No, really. Think about it. It’s not like you really lost anything if it wasn’t there to begin with.

ANITA

I had the best husband I could hope for and two beautiful children, and a warm home that I couldn’t wait to get back to. Imagine you lost all that. Wouldn’t you grieve too?

TANIA

You can’t grieve for something your never had.

ANITA

But I did have it. This was my reality. Don’t you understand that?

(Pause)

Forget it.

Anita stands with her plate to leave the table.

ANITA

They’re here now anyway. Shouldn’t you run away and hide? Or are you going to pretend you didn’t know they were coming again?

TANIA

Hmm?

ANITA

(Nodding towards the window)

Your parents?

View through the window. The middle aged couple from scene two file past in a queue of visitors.

ANITA

You should see them. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

TANIA

(Turning to look through the window)

They’re not my parents.

The door swings open and two children, a boy and a girl, creep in nervously. They make eye contact with Anita and pause. Then they break into a run towards her.

AMIRAH AND JAMAL IN UNISON

Mummy!

Anita looks down in shock, welling up.

FAISEL

(From the doorway)

They’ve missed you.

(Beat)

We all did.

FADE OUT

Performance Time: 14:19

1 Comment

One thought on “The View from Upstairs (Screenplay)

  1. Pingback: The View from Upstairs | Adam Mac

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