(Around Lucy the circus characters should be acting in the background.) A younger version of the girl should be seen visiting the circus and her parents should be highlighted as being still and cruel)
Growing up all I remember was the circus. I recall the colours; yellow, red and blue, they were the colours of the tent, the clowns, the performer’s costumes. So dazzling and bold they were to me and so contrasting with my world which was perpetually gray and bleak. The circus was my ever present daydream, distraction and delight but most of all it was my haven, it was my sanctuary. A place where I could ride bareback, tame lions and soar across the ceiling on a piece of string, above my loneliness and beyond my fear. The seed of my imagination was sown from the moment I glimpsed the circus age 6, taken on a rare day of adventure and in that moment I saw my future.
Now I’m 15 and I’m leaving home. All my possessions are slung in pillow case on my back. I’m escaping, flying away to my haven, my sanctuary. The night will hide me and I should slip away unnoticed. I’ll be at the circus by morning. It never stops you see, it’s always travelling and moving from one land to another but I’ve tracked it down for sure this time and then I’ll finally be where I belong
Girl: Finally, I’m home. So beautiful, it’s so very beautiful isn’t it?
Good conscience: Keep your wits about you. You’re young and naïve still and you know this circus not. Be wary of every arrival and inmate.
Bad conscience: What rubbish is this? Look yonder child, I spy an entrance booth and a women waiting to grant you access to the circus.
Ticket Lady: Come over here girlie. Would you like a ticket inside? It’s a fine day for a viewing unless you’re looking to stay with us.
Girl: That’s what I’m here for. I want to be one of you.
Ticket Seller: Well think hard and think careful. I want you to listen to me because a lot depends on this: are you willing to give up everything, your name, your livelihood, your sweet innocent naivety perhaps? Be sure. I want you to be sure. When you are, you can do as you wish because lord knows I don’t want to force this thing on you, it can carry a heavy price. Do you want the ticket?
(The consciences say nothing but their expressions show that both are trying to sway the girl’s decision. They stare at her for a few moments before she answers)
Girl: (Softly) Yes.
(She hands it to her apprehensively with a stony expression.
It is later that day and the ring master is addressing the circus. He is a violent figure of authority and is currently introducing the girl to the crowd. All the circus members are enthusiastic and having a fun time.
Ring leader: (Shouted) Shut up and pay attention right now.
Clown 1: Don’t worry; she’s got our attention all right.
Ring leader: Quiet you little letch, I’ll have no lip from you. If you jump her right now I’ll cut you.
(He waits to hear any retorts and when he doesn’t he continues)
Ring leader: Furthermore there will be no trouble of any description as of yet. Until I get this show up to scratch there will be half rations to save on funds. I will work you like the mangy whining dogs you are until you roll over and do my bidding. And when you’ve been half flogged into insanity and are not fit to work for this circus any longer I will drown you in the horse’s water and sell the meat for sixpence.
Ring leader: (addressing the girl) you go and laugh a while with the others, I may see you later, my sweet adopted daughter. (Exits)
(Aside from the crowd the girl starts having an internal debate)
GC: I think you need to stop right now. Think this through. This is crazy, you’re acting crazy; fleeing to the circus in the middle of the night with no plan and no thought for consequences. What have you done? This place is strange and the characters here are erratic. That man is dangerous.
BC: No, why are you being so cowardly. I despise you for your lack of backbone. Trust in me, I can see in to your heart and you know this is the best place for you.
(The next few lines can mainly be improvised by the characters with whatever works humorously)
Clown 1: Hey there, what’re you drinking? Would you like me to show you round?
Clown 2: (tipsily) No, wait! I’ll show you round the tent. I know this place like the back of my hand.
Clown 3: (drunkenly) This place is awesome baby! And I’m the funniest guy you’ll find in this patch.
Girl: It’s so fun around here; do you guys like party every night?
Clown 2: Hell yeah!!! We’re wilder than the lions for real. Wahoo!!
It is late evening and the party is slowing down. The girl and another slightly older friend are bonding and having a conversation over mugs. (Circus members present are miming in the background, perhaps talking in groups and settling down for the evening)
Friend: So whatever brought you here in the first place precious? I tell you, we don’t get your type just joining up out of the blue very often.
Lucy: You don’t mind me being here though; I mean people have treated me all right so far it’s just i…
Friend: Don’t feel like I should be here. Well guess what kid I wouldn’t stay too long if I were you. I joined young as well, I was going to do everything and I suppose I’ve seen a fair few things travelling around the place with this lot but I tell you I’ve seen some other things as well, things that aren’t as delightful as the view you get from the circus gates. What I mean is darling, watch your back. Don’t trust too easily around here, it’s not all what it seems. There’s darkness as well as beauty and in my experience it usually raises its head at night.
Girl: Well thank you, I’ll be sure to look after myself. I’m fine though, this life has been my dream forever and it still is. Today was amazing, I’ve done things I never imagined I could ever do and I’m mighty grateful for it.
Friend: I’ve got your back sweetheart, you just mind yourself and I’m sure you’ll be fine. We should stick together you and me. We’re the same you and me.
(A performer goes to the friend and whispers in her ear to leave. The ring master is on stage and it’s clear that he wants her, seeing this she goes immediately, leaving the girl alone)
Member of circus: don’t worry she’ll be back soon. If she’s not back within the hour you come round to the back tent and come see us. We’ll keep you company.
(The girl waits for what seems like hours. As she falls asleep you can see in her expression that she knows in her heart the women won’t come back. She is tired and confused.)
The scene flashes back to when the women offers her the ticket the same lines are repeated and the piece finishes on the word ‘no’.
When she wakes the circus surrounds her and she jumps up. Her words come out in gibberish and she is terrified of them.
Girl: Why have you come here? You’re my dream not my nightmare, you’re my sanctuary not my hell. I hate this place, it’s miserable and beastly and I wish I’d never come. This air stinks of filth and though I couldn’t put my finger on it before I can see now that you are all twisted and evil. Go. Be gone, you frighten me to death, I know what you did to the women I spoke with last night. You killed her didn’t you? You probably drowned her in the horses bucket like you said you would and had done. (She steps away) I’m leaving, you scare me.