Written by: Chen Jiulin (20-E1), Hana Razali (20-I1), Leia Ong (20-U1)
Designed by: Liew Yi Xuan (21-E1)
An empty, dark stage. Spotlight on a single chair in the middle, with TOMOKO, a teenage girl wearing a school uniform, standing behind it in darkness. As TOMOKO speaks, the stage lights gradually go up, illuminating her surroundings.
TOMOKO: I used to live, once. I used to live… everyone did. But no one else has lived since then. Some sort of plague, probably, that had made you die, and grow cold and unfeeling and steely. And everyone had died. No one laughed, no one sang, there were no voices because no one was kind anymore. I could not find you. I could not find you in this mess. One morning I woke up and everyone had become a piece of wood, some electrical appliance, some household item. Some thing.
No, no, this will not do. You — have to save me. Show me that you… still have a heart. You can’t expect me to be okay. You can’t expect anyone to be. I am drowning in a sea of bloody furniture. The world is like an IKEA store, and I can’t find a way out.
Can you believe it? No one ever says what they feel. I feel claustrophobic. They are not living, are they? Everyone is too courteous. Too lifeless. And please tell me you realise that, because I would be disappointed otherwise.
A pause. Someone taps TOMOKO’s shoulder and she turns. It’s a human boy, also in uniform.
TOMOKO [Aside]: Well, except for this guy.
Stage lights go up fully. TOMOKO and the boy, SOSUKE BOSUKE, stand in a school corridor in the early morning. Numerous pieces of furniture litter the stage, moving and talking.
SOSUKE BOSUKE [panting]: What’s good? I almost made it on time, but then the prefect at the door blocked me. Darn.
TOMOKO [knowingly]: That umbrella stand. Awful piece of work.
SOSUKE BOSUKE: Tomoko, you know that’s not true.
TOMOKO: Laugh away, Sosuke. I’ve been trying to tell you for weeks, but you know they have changed. You’re just in shock from everything that happened.
SOSUKE BOSUKE [sighing]: No, no. We’re not starting this again. Please, no one’s turned into furniture…
A pause. They stare at each other: TOMOKO unrelenting, SOSUKE resigned.
SOSUKE BOSUKE: Whatever. Anyway, did you hear about the assignment Ms Fan asked us to do?
TOMOKO: What! Well, to be honest, I couldn’t tell if it was her or the teacher’s table speaking, so.
SOSUKE BOSUKE: Tomoko…
Still bickering, they enter a classroom. It is filled with twice the amount of furniture and household appliances than usual.
Someone catches Tomoko’s eye — a tall and good-looking figure sitting at the back of the classroom.
TOMOKO [dramatically]: Oh! Oh. He’s here.
Spotlight on the figure. It is revealed to be a tall and good-looking refrigerator.
TOMOKO: Fridge Kun.
SOSUKE BOSUKE: Stop calling him that, you know his real name’s—
TOMOKO: Fridge Kun. God, Fridge Kun. [SOSUKE BOSUKE rolls his eyes, exasperated.]
TOMOKO goes over to the refrigerator, clearing her throat.
FRIDGE [falsely pleasant]: If it isn’t Tomoko Chan. How’s it been, a month or so?
TOMOKO: Fine, I guess. I mean, after the break-up, I was hoping we could still stay—
FRIDGE [interjecting smoothly]: Friends? Of course.
TOMOKO: That’s nice, that’s… great. [Her eyes dart around.] Who was that other… person who was with you the other day? I saw you across the street, opposite school—
FRIDGE: Oh. She’s my girlfriend. It was a real heat-of-the-moment thing. [He laughs.] She’s great, she’s really caring. Too soon?
TOMOKO [laughing uncomfortably]: It’s fine. I actually… just got together with someone a week ago, too. He’s… really mature. I’m a little naive so it’s great to have him by my side, I really… respect people… like him. [Aside] He’s gotten hitched already? How dare he?
FRIDGE: [chuckles politely] Wonderful. No hard feelings, I hope.
Pause. FRIDGE goes back to reading his textbook. TOMOKO doesn’t move.
TOMOKO: I don’t… understand. How are you — why are you — you’re still different. You are not who I knew you were. You really have… died, too. You are a refrigerator, and your heart is cold like any other empty… fridge.
Stage lights down as TOMOKO and FRIDGE are spotlighted.
FRIDGE [coldly]: Tomoko, I don’t follow.
TOMOKO [increasingly agitated]: Stop. Stop coming here and showing your face when this isn’t even your homeroom, when you just want to see your stupid new tool! What’s her name, now, huh? Daikin? Mitsubishi?
FRIDGE [controlling himself with an effort]: Tomoko, please. It’s Dyson. Besides, I have every right to be here. My next class is here; this has nothing to do with you.
TOMOKO: I don’t care. How can you come for class early — knowing I’m here — and not expect me to get mad at you? Especially after you rub it in my face that you— You know we made a pact to never see each other again. How could you break that?
FRIDGE: We made no such pact, Tomoko.
TOMOKO: Well, I just did, at any rate. And so should you. How can you just — sit there like that all cold and smug and lifeless, knowing what you did to me? And so quickly get attached again?
FRIDGE: Tomoko, it was for the best. We are clearly incompatible. Look at us. Now please honour your pact and never speak to me again. Good day.
TOMOKO [exclaiming]: How was I supposed to know that when we first met? I wish I’d never met you — no, sometimes, I feel like pulling your plug!
Horrible silence in the homeroom. The furniture-students have turned to stare at the altercation. TOMOKO whirls around.
TOMOKO: Yeah, you heard me! All your plugs, I’ll pull them! I’m insane! You’re plastic! [She laughs maniacally.]
SOSUKE BOSUKE: [going over] Tomoko, that’s enough!
They exit the classroom together, SOSUKE BOSUKE bodily tugging TOMOKO outside.
TOMOKO: Sosuke, why did you stop me?
SOSUKE BOSUKE: Tomoko, you can’t just say stuff like that! That was nuts and mean and probably socially unacceptable on every level. You’ll go viral for that.
TOMOKO: Why? They won’t care. They don’t even have feelings. They’re furniture!
SOSUKE BOSUKE: They are human people!
TOMOKO [in distress]: Not like you and me! You don’t understand! They’ve never been!
SOSUKE BOSUKE stares at TOMOKO, who is breathing heavily, and shakes his head.
SOSUKE BOSUKE: No — you don’t understand! What’s with the ‘us’ or ‘them’? There is no ‘us’ nor ‘them’! Please, can’t you try to be normal! Can’t you try to agree with me, just once?
A pause. SOSUKE BOSUKE laughs defeatedly.
You know what? You’re right. I don’t get it, and I don’t think I ever will. But now I don’t want to understand anymore. I can’t be friends with someone who says things like that to other people. You’ve gone too far.
SOSUKE BOSUKE turns around, back to TOMOKO.
SOSUKE BOSUKE: This is it. Bye, I guess. It was good while it lasted. [He picks up his things and walks off.]
TOMOKO stands alone in the hallway, silently watching SOSUKE BOSUKE disappear. As he nears the end of the corridor, he is replaced by a chair, moving in the same direction.
TOMOKO [whispering]: All of them, the same.
Some months have passed.
SOSUKE BOSUKE stands alone on a dark stage, a chair beside him.
SOSUKE BOSUKE: You really left. I didn’t think you would actually transfer out. I had kept hoping that that day had been an — an anomaly, that you were still the bright, imaginative Tomoko I used to know, but in the end I guess I really never knew you at all.
That day, I had hoped that that ‘you’ would return the next day. And yet… and yet… in the morning as I had gone for class, silence had wrapped about me like a virus. You never came back. Nothing had changed at all.
And I can’t say that you were wrong either. Everybody had indeed gotten colder after that day — though seeing them as furniture might have been going too far. If I ever saw you just once, I would make amends.
Stage lights up, revealing SOSUKE BOSUKE and TOMOKO standing in a train cabin, and the chair to be a passenger seat.
SOSUKE BOSUKE: Tomoko. It’s been a while. How’ve you been?
TOMOKO [shocked]: Sosuke.
A pause. The train jolts.
I’ve been… great, actually! After I transferred out, you wouldn’t believe how many desks and stools I’ve become friends with. Everyone there is so studious, so quiet, and they love to listen whenever I talk to them.
SOSUKE BOSUKE: Listen, about last time—
TOMOKO [interjecting]: You know how there’s a new movie coming out? I’m in it.
SOSUKE BOSUKE: What movie?
TOMOKO: The new movie, you know? I’m acting in it.
SOSUKE BOSUKE: Really? What’s its name?
TOMOKO: Well, I mean, I’m playing a side role. Not that spectacular, but still commendable if I say so myself, considering I’ll be the only human in it.
SOSUKE BOSUKE: …So what’s the name of the movie?
TOMOKO: Okay, maybe not a side character. An extra, but still…
TOMOKO’s voice fades away as the lights fade out, leaving SOSUKE BOSUKE alone onstage again.
SOSUKE BOSUKE: You haven’t changed, either. I wanted to make amends, but you’re not the Tomoko I knew before, before you told me people had turned into chairs. You’ve been so caught up in your own world, that I don’t know how to talk to you anymore. I feel so… distant.
Talking to you is like talking to… a piece of wood.
A few more stage lights go up, revealing a chair in front of SOSUKE BOSUKE. TOMOKO has disappeared.
SOSUKE BOSUKE: Well, I guess this is… farewell.