- INT. PUB FUNCTION ROOM. NIGHT
Scene begins in the function room of an upmarket bar that has been hired for a speed dating event. Fifteen tables are arranged in a circular fashion- every table is numbered with two chairs facing each other seating a man and woman conducting their date. At the far corner of the room is the EVENT ORGANISER controlling the background music armed with a bell, stopwatch and microphone to oversee proceedings. Camera focuses on TABLE 8 where ALICE is sat, listening to her date speak.
Upon hearing the bell ring, her date says goodbye to ALICE, stands up and moves in a clockwise direction to the seat next to him. In the mean time, MARK walks over to the now vacant chair opposite ALICE with a half-full pint in hand and sits down.
Mark: (smiles) Hi, I’m Mark
Alice: Alice, how are you?
Mark: I’m good thanks and yourself?
Alice: I’m alright, very jealous of the drink you’ve got there.
Mark: You drink beer?
Alice: Oh no. I just meant that I regret not getting a drink before we started.
Mark: Oh (chuckles nervously) yeah I know what you mean, I came here straight from work and now I’m starving. I wanna get a few snacks from the bar in the break
Alice: Do you work near here then?
Mark: Yeah, well in Canary Wharf so it’s just a few stops on the on the Jubilee Line
Alice: Canary Wharf? Whereabouts?
Mark: Canada Square, it’s just past the shopping complex next to the tube station
Alice: I think I know the place, I’ve been there a few times. Do you work in one of those huge buildings then?
Mark: Yeah one of them.
Alice: You must get such a good view of the city.
Mark: I suppose I do yeah, my office is on the 35th floor so I can see The Shard from my window.
Alice: Aww I’m so jealous. All I see out of my window at work is one of the million Byron Burgers dotted around London.
Mark: (laughs) Yeah, it is pretty nice actually.
Alice: So what do you do then?
Mark: I’m a broker for a credit insurance company.
Alice: Oh right, that sounds pretty intense.
Mark: Yeah it is sometimes, we work with clients from lots of different countries so our days can get quite hectic
Alice: Do you get to do a lot of travelling for the job?
Mark: Sometimes. My boss usually goes on the overseas trips, but I’ve been to a few places. We went to Malaysia a few months back for a conference.
Alice: What was that like?
Mark: It was good. Very hectic, when we do client visits we don’t get that much time to explore the place we’re in. It’s very much get in and out again since we’re on the company’s dime.
Alice: oh I see
(MARK takes a sip of his drink)
Mark: What do you do?
Alice: I do PR for a theatre in the West End.
Mark: Which one?
Alice: The Duke of York theatre in Leicester Square?
Mark: Yeah I think I’ve walked past it a few times maybe. Do you like it? The job I mean.
Alice: Yeah it’s not bad, I really enjoy theatre so I don’t mind talking about it all day and I get to see a lot of shows for free… Do you go to the theatre much?
Mark: Not really, I think the last time I went was when I watched Avenue Q a few years ago.
Alice: Oh really? I’ve seen Avenue Q twice, I think it’s hilarious.
Mark: Yeah I thought it was good myself. I found a few of the songs quite funny.
Alice: Me too, that Schadenfreude song is my favourite.
Mark: Oh I remember that one! That’s the song where Gary Coleman is singing about taking pleasure in people’s pain right?
Alice: Yeah that’s the one. It’s so dark but so good at the same time.
Mark: (laughs) Yeah I agree. Does your theatre do many musicals then?
Alice: Oh no, not the Duke of York. I saw Avenue Q when I was at uni. We mainly do plays, we just ended one with Felicity Kendal that was quite popular
Mark: Felicity Kendal? Never heard of her
Alice: She’s been on TV a few times. She was in Rosemary & Thyme when that was on and I think she was in an episode Doctor Who
Mark: Oh right. Do you get many celebrities at your theatre?
Alice: We get the odd celebrity every now and then. Lenny Henry did a show there a few years ago, not the comedy stuff though. And I remember seeing Bob Geldof there for a show some time last year.
Mark: Oh cool
Alice: Yeah, he was really nice. Not stuck up or anything.
Mark: Ah that’s good then
Alice: Yeah it is
(Silence for approximately five seconds)
Alice: So have you been speed dating before?
Mark: Never. This was actually a secret santa present from one of my colleagues at work.
Alice: No way, seriously?
Mark: Yeah. There’s a running joke in my office because I’m the only one in my team that’s still single, so one of them bought it but no one will say who it actually was.
Alice: Oh, that’s annoying
Mark: Yeah, it’s the only secret that has ever been kept in an office
Alice: (laughs) Yeah, I bet it is
Mark: I wasn’t gonna come at first. But then I thought this would be better than sitting at home eating a Sainsbury’s meal for one.
Alice: (laughs) That does sound a little tragic.
Mark: (laughs as well) Yeah it is. Have you been to anything like this before?
Alice: I’ve been once before, it’s nerve racking at first but fun once you get into it. And it’s a good way to meet new people
Mark: Yeah, dating is really tough in this city
Alice: I know, I tried the whole Tinder thing for a couple of months but that didn’t really work out.
Mark: How come?
Alice: It just wasn’t for me. I didn’t have a good conversation with any of the guys I matched with, a few of them were creeps and the only Tinder date I went on was a disaster!
Mark: Why,what happened?
Alice: Well, after we matched we spoke for about a week or so and after going back and forth for a bit we decided to meet. We must’ve set about three dates and he kept cancelling on me.
Mark: Oh man-
Alice: Wait, it gets better. So after rescheduling for the umpteenth time, we finally met up in Bethnal Green because it was about halfway between where we both live. When we met he wanted us to go straight to his flat, but obviously I wanted to go for a drink to get to know him in person, so instead of taking me to a bar he took me to the Macdonalds on the high street!
Alice: Yeah, it was so awkward! And he had quite a thick Spanish accent so I couldn’t understand some of the things he was saying. I had to keep asking him to repeat himself, while he was slurping on a McFlurry.
Alice: So yeah, needless to say we chatted for a bit and I got out of there as soon as I could.
Mark: Oh my God that sounds horrible.
Alice: Yeah it was, you’ll be pleased to know that this date is going much better
Mark: (Laughs) Oh thanks. Although judging by how that date went, I don’t think I had that much competition
Alice: (Laughs) well, maybe not… Have you been on any awkward dates?
Mark: Err, well actually- one of the speed dates I just had was pretty awkward
Alice: really? I guess that’s to be expected in a place like this
Mark: Yeah, it wasn’t that bad I suppose. I just found her a bit boring.
Alice: Oh that’s a shame
Mark: yeah, I mean she’s a nice girl- I just didn’t find anything she said that interesting and I thought she was trying a bit too hard. Like laughing at my jokes before I finished the punchline you know?
Alice: That does sound a bit awkward
Mark: yeah, I dunno she kinda reminded me of Ugly Betty a bit as well. I think it was the glasses-
ALICE hesitates for a second.
Alice: Wait, who was this person?
Mark: (subtly gestures towards the woman at TABLE 5) Her, over there
Alice: What, you mean Julia?
Mark: Yeah, that was her name. Did you talk to her when she came in?
ALICE’S face instantly changes from one of amusement to to exasperation.
Alice: well yeah… I sorta came with her
Alice: Julia’s my sister.
MARK looks confused
Mark: What? You’re joking, surely you’re joking?
Alice: Erm… No. Julia ended a five year relationship recently and wanted to get back into dating, so I booked a place for us here and we actually had fun last time- so we came again
MARK’S face adopts a very embarrassed expression and he starts turning red
Mark: Oh my God I’m so sorry… I didn’t know.
Alice: it’s fine, don’t worry about it.
Mark: Oh God this is so bad, I didn’t mean to-
Alice: It’s fine
Mark: I’m sorry, I didn’t rea-
Alice: Mark, I said it’s alright. Just forget about it.
MARK takes a breath as if he were going to say something, but sighs and gives up. ALICE fidgets in her seat and looks around the room for the stopwatch. Both sit in silence and struggle to maintain eye contact for approximately 30 seconds.