Tag Archives: shaun charles

14: Rio Saki and other falling debris

4 Apr

I’ve seen most of Shaun Charles’ plays, but somehow managed to miss Rio Saki and other falling debris, so was glad to finally get a chance to read it. (To be honest, I’ve had it in my bookshelf for ages but I bought it in a compilation with Last Drinks, a later play of Shaun’s and had forgotten I had it.)

play on desk with headphones

Rio Saki and other falling debris was written just before the millenium and first produced in 1999 at La Boite. It’s Shaun Charles’ first play and is about six young people, trying to live, love and get high four days before the end of the world. There’s a rock the size of Greenland heading for earth and no one will survive when it hits. This isn’t a play about trying to find a way to escape or to protect the earth. There are no heroes.

As you might expect, with no hope and a countdown for annihilation, order has dissolved into anarchy. Sirens blare in the background, there are screams and gunshots. People are mugged, raped and murdered but bars stay open and characters talk about mundane things amid the chaos.

The play is messy and violent: someone is poisoned and vomits blood, someone is strangled, there’s a lesbian rape scene, but none of it quite connects. The most visceral moment for me was one described happening off stage. Cathy looks out a window and watches a parade. She says:

CATHY: There’s music. Strange, weird music. Can you hear it? There’s a man holding what seems to be a dead body. A dead child I think. And I’m not sure why, but I think the child doesn’t belong to him. It isn’t his. He’s just, looking after it for awhile. And beside him there’s this woman, an old, old fat woman. (She laughs) And she doesn’t have any clothes on. And her breasts are like these two huge crusty sacks of wheat, just dangling there, useless. She’s beautiful.

I would have liked to follow these people in the parade and find out why they were there and what they were doing, rather than the rather empty main characters. The glimpse we were given of the world outside the apartments and bars was much more shocking and tantalising than the stories taking place on stage.

Publisher: Playlab Press

Cast: 3M, 3F