Callan Rose McCarthy earned her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Fordham University in NYC before moving to London to pursue dramatic writing, where she earned a Distinction in City, University of London’s MA programme for Plays and Screenplays. In January 2020 she participated in the ten-week Soho Theatre Comedy Lab for sketch comedy, and in March 2020 her ten-minute script SO I BLED was selected as one of seven for Theatre503’s Rapid Write Response night responding to Gill Greer’s play MEAT. Callan loves writing about dysfunction in families, horror, redemption, and LGBTQ+ narratives. In particular, she loves ‘epics in miniature’, where seemingly average characters face extraordinary decisions.
Twenty-something seamstress Irene needs to grow up and be less self-centered. She feels stuck emotionally and physically, dwelling on her biological mother’s abandonment while her gender nonconforming ex-stepmother Robbie depends on her to work at their small clothing shop. In their homophobic small town, the community worship of ‘American ideals’ threatens their success, but Robbie refuses to give up, turning to the Internet to generate most of their sales. When a local bigshot named Louise enters looking to sabotage Robbie’s business for personal reasons, it is her fifteen-year-old daughter Celeste who draws Irene’s attention. They are connected through pain and empathy when Celeste reveals an earth-shattering family secret. Irene must choose either to priotise her own escape from the stagnant town, or to oppose the forces that hold Celeste captive, risking backlash from the community.
A colorful basement-level clothing shop. Pieces crowd every corner of the room in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. A distinctly handmade – though professional – quality to them. One cluttered worktable. A beaten-up sofa. In the back, a separate room – The Room. Special and secluded. Inside it, a raised platform in front of a full-length mirror. Packed full of especially unique pieces. The rare finds. IRENE sits by the only window on a tall chair or stool, peering outside. A sun-faded dress hands as a makeshift curtain, pushed to the side. Sounds of a parade. IRENE watches quietly, smoking a joint. She speaks in slow motion: IRENE I… know… you… and… your… games… the… sun… is… too… bright… today… nice… try… She laughs. I will never. I will not. Good effort IRENE continues to mutter to herself. ROBBIE enters, dragging a suitcase and coughing. IRENE hides her joint. ROBBIE Smells like oregano. Shit, it’s dark in here IRENE … ROBBIE I’ll eat your breakfast, then IRENE The diner’s open? ROBBIE Just for the morning ROBBIE shakes a Styrofoam container. IRENE You don’t eat bacon ROBBIE I would IRENE … ROBBIE It’s getting cold IRENE begins eating. ROBBIE turns the lights on and tidies the room. ROBBIE Can I ask you— A splash. ROBBIE has stepped in a plastic basin of water. ROBBIE sees a handful more strewn across the floor. IRENE I’m washing those ROBBIE There’s a machine upstairs. The laundromat is around the corner IRENE (muttering) Something in me thinks I’ll burn. I’ll burn. I’ll burn it all down ROBBIE What? IRENE The laundromat was closed. A man came in with a pack of gum and chewed it all, and jammed pieces into all the coin slots. The whole room smelled like mint ROBBIE sits down to take off their wet shoes and socks. ROBBIE How can I help you? IRENE … ROBBIE How can I make your day easier? IRENE No, there was no man with gum, of course, it was a complete power short. A bird trapped in the wires – the lines – whatever they are – an explosion ROBBIE picks up one plastic basin, attempting to empty it. IRENE NO ROBBIE We have to move these IRENE I put bleach in there ROBBIE puts the basin back where it was and IRENE relaxes. She continues eating. ROBBIE There’s nothing in there IRENE I’m washing my clothes. Underwear. Socks. Bleaching out the stains ROBBIE Glad you’re hungry IRENE Yes, yes I am hungry, thank you IRENE eats very slowly. ROBBIE You didn’t answer me this morning IRENE startles. IRENE What? ROBBIE I said… you didn’t answer me this morning IRENE relaxes a bit. IRENE I don’t like when you summon me ROBBIE Just let me know you’re okay IRENE Pisses me off ROBBIE You won’t get up otherwise IRENE I am up ROBBIE You are ROBBIE moves closer to IRENE and holds her hand as if to say ‘great job.’ IRENE smiles faintly back: ‘thanks.’ ROBBIE notices a PACKAGE on IRENE’s worktable. Unclear what’s inside. ROBBIE You didn’t hang it? IRENE shrugs. Sounds of cheers and music from the parade. ROBBIE They’re still out there IRENE It’s only two ROBBIE How long have you been up? IRENE A while ROBBIE I didn’t hear you IRENE I’m not loud ROBBIE You ok?