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 Ling 131: Language & Style

 Topic 13 - Shared knowledge and absurdist drama (Session B) > Applicant passage skip topic navigation

Topic Contents
Absurdist drama
Zoo Story
Getting to know Applicant
Assumptions in Applicant
Turn-taking in Applicant
Topic 13 "tool" summary
Useful Links
Applicant Passage

Applicant passage

An office. LAMB, a young man, eager, cheerful, enthusiastic, is striding nervously, alone. The door opens. MISS PIFFS come in. She is the essence of efficiency.

1. Piffs

Ah, good morning.

2. Lamb

Oh, good morning miss.

3. Piffs

Are you Mr. Lamb?

4. Lamb

That's right.

5. Piffs

(studying a piece of paper) Yes, you're applying for this vacant post, aren't you?

6. Lamb

I am actually, yes.

7. Piffs

Are you a physicist?

8. Lamb

Oh yes, indeed. It's my whole life.

9. Piffs

(languidly) Good. Now our procedure is, that before we discuss the applicant's qualifications we like to subject him to a little test to determine his psychological suitability. You've no objection?

10. Lamb

Oh, good heavens, no.

11. Piffs

Jolly good.

MISS PIFFS has taken some objects out of a drawer and goes to LAMB. She places a chair for him.

12. Piffs

Please sit down. (He sits) Can I fit these to your palms?

13. Lamb

(affably) What are they?

14. Piffs


15. Lamb

Oh yes, of course. Funny little things.

She attaches them to his palms.

16. Piffs

Now the earphones.

She attaches earphones to his head.

17. Lamb

I say how amusing.

18. Piffs

Now I plug in.

She plugs in to the wall.

19. Lamb

(a trifle nervously) Plug in, do you? Oh yes. of course. Yes, you'd have to, wouldn't you?

MISS PIFFS perches on a high stool and looks down on LAMB.


This help to determine my . . . my suitability does it?

20. Piffs

Unquestionably. Now relax. Just relax. Don't think about a thing.

21. Lamb


22. Piffs

Relax completely. Rela-a-a-x. Quite relaxed?

LAMB nods. MISS PIFFS presses a button on the side of her stool. A piercing high?pitched buzz?hum is heard. LAMB jolts rigid. His hands go to his earphones. He is propelled from the chair. He tries to crawl under the chair. MISS PIFFS watches, impassive. 'The noise stops. LAMB peeps out from under the chair, crawls out, stands, twitches, emits a short chuckle and collapses in the chair.

23. Piffs

Would you say you were an excitable person?

24. Lamb

Not - not unduly, no. Of course, I –

25. Piffs

Would you say you were a moody person?

26. Lamb

Moody? No, I wouldn't say I was moody - well sometimes occasionally I –


Do you ever get fits of depression?

28. Lamb

Well, I wouldn't call them depression exactly –

29. Piffs

Do you often do things you regret in the morning?

30. Lamb

Regret? Things I regret? Well, it depends what you mean by often, really - I mean when you say often –

31. Piffs

Are you often puzzled by women?

32. Lamb


33. Piffs


34. Lamb

Men? Well, I was just going to answer the question about women –

35. Piffs

Do you often feel puzzled?

36. Lamb


37. Piffs

By women.

38. Lamb


39. Piffs


40. Lamb

Oh, now just a minute, I… Look, do you want separate answers or a joint answer?

41. Piffs

After your day's work do you ever feel tired? Edgy? Fretty? Irritable? At a loose end? Morose? Frustrated? Morbid? Unable to concentrate? Unable to sleep? Unable to eat? Unable to remain seated? Unable to remain upright? Lustful? Indolent? On heat? Randy? Full of desire? Full of energy? Full of dread? Drained? of energy, of dread? of desire?


42. Lamb

(thinking) Well, it's difficult to say really…

43. Piffs

Are you a good mixer?

44. Lamb

Well, you've touched on quite an interesting point there –

45. Piffs

Do you suffer from eczema, listlessness, or falling coat?

46. Lamb


47. Piffs

Are you virgo intacta?

48. Lamb

I beg your pardon?

49. Piffs

Are you virgo intacta?

50. Lamb

Oh, I say, that's rather embarrassing. I mean - in front of a lady –

51. Piffs

Are you virgo intacta?

52. Lamb

Yes, I am, actually. I'll make no secret of it.

53. Piffs

Have you always been virgo intacta?

54. Lamb

Oh yes, always. Always.

55. Piffs

From the word go?

56. Lamb

Go? Oh yes, from the word go.

57. Piffs

Do women frighten you?

She presses a button on the other side of her stool. The stage is plunged into redness, which flashes on and off in time with her questions.

58. Piffs

(building) Their clothes? Their shoes? Their voices? Their laughter? Their stares? Their way of walking? Their way of sitting? Their way of smiling? Their way of talking? Their mouths? Their hands? Their feet? Their shins? Their thighs? Their knees? Their eyes? Their (Drumbeat). Their (Drumbeat). Their (Cymbal bang). Their (Trombone chord). Their (Bass note).

59. Lamb

(in a high voice) Well it depends what you mean really –

The light still flashes. She presses the other button and the piercing buzz?hum is heard again. LAMB's hands go to his earphones. He is propelled from the chair, falls, rolls, crawls, totters and collapses. Silence. He lies face upwards. MISS PIFFS looks at him then walks to LAMB and bends over him.

60. Piffs

Thank you very much, Mr. Lamb. We'll let you know.


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