Or how I learnt to stop worrying and love the bubble

Act Two, Scene Seven

The Door. A free-standing door is to one side of the stage. Enter DR BUTLER, CUTHBERT and MELT. MELT is now just a chair, being carried by CUTHBERT.

Dr Butler: Well, here we are: the Door, the gateway out of the Bubble.

Cuthbert: You mean that’s it? Doesn’t look so difficult to go through.

Dr Butler: Well, it isn’t, it’s a door. It’s just why would anyone want to go through? It’s a nuclear wasteland out there.

Cuthbert: Fair enough. And we have to go through?

Dr Butler: Yes, if we’re to find Stock-town and a cure for Melt.

Cuthbert: Is there any hope for him?

Dr Butler: There’s always hope, he’s just a bit stiff, that’s all. There’s one sure-fire way to cure that.

Cuthbert: Right. That’s disgusting.

Enter MARY and ODR.

Mary: Cuthbert!

Cuthbert: Mary!

ODR: (brandishing gun). That’s quite enough of that, thank you. Business takes precedence over hormones. Right, then doctor, it’s over to you. I’ve brought you the girl, safe and sound, anything else you need?

Dr Butler: No, now all we need is time.

ODR: I’ll give you what I can. Right, that’s all; Mary, run to Cuthbert.

Mary: What?

ODR: Run to Cuthbert, slow motion, and pretend there are daisies or sunflowers or some such.

Mary: But, I thought you were going to kill us.

Cuthbert: Doctor, what is going on?

Dr Butler: The Representative is on our side, don’t worry.

Mary: But, he’s working for the DSU, he tried to kill us, he killed Butterwood.

ODR: An unfortunate eventuality, but a necessary one.

Mary: Unfortunate?

Dr Butler: To maintain his cover. You see, the representative has been helping us: finding documents, misdirecting the council, generally smoothing out our path.

Cuthbert: But, why did you try to arrest us?

ODR: I needed to get rid of the Trustees: they’re currently pursuing you through the bowels of Elvet Riverside.

Mary: So, you’re going to let us go?

ODR: Yes, and as I have full DSU authority, I empower you to go to Stock-town as ambassadors of Durham. Let us make this city great again.


Hilda: Cuthbert, dear, wait.

Lord Castle: Son, step away from those peasants and get over here. Stop this nonsense and come home immediately.

Cuthbert: No, father, I’m staying right here.

Lord Castle: What? Guards, seize my son.

Mary: (stepping in front of CUTHBERT). You leave him alone. Don’t you see? He isn’t going to take orders from you anymore.

Lord Castle: You dare talk to me in that manner, wench?

Cuthbert: (stepping in front of MARY). Don’t call Mary a wench. I’ve had enough of you, father, you and your ignorant, boozing, womanizing ways. I love this woman, and I intend to spend the rest of my life with her, with your consent or without it.

ODR: Well said. Now, Cuthbert, Mary, through the Door with you.

Lord Castle: And who, may I ask, are you to oppose the Lord of Castle?

ODR: I am the DSU.


President: Traitor.

ODR: (to MARY). You see, I’m on your side. Now, quickly, through the Door.

President: Don’t listen to him, he means to kill us all.

ODR: They’re mad with power. I’ll hold them back, you go.

President: Mary, listen: if you go through the Door, we are all doomed. The Representative here, and your friend, Dr Butler, mean to destroy Durham. You must believe me – even now an Oxbridge plane is circling overhead, waiting to bomb us at the first sign of someone leaving the Bubble.

Lord Castle: Oxbridge? What is this nonsense?

President: Not nonsense, my lord. The universities of Oxford and Cambridge also survived the bomb, but the rupturing of the land meant that they were physically fused together into one entity – Oxbridge – making them the top university in the country. Durham’s existence is tolerated, but only if no one ever tries to leave – Oxbridge views any rival academics as a threat. If anyone leaves, Durham will be bombed to oblivion.

Mary: Butler, is this true?

Dr Butler: Of course it is – it’s the only logical explanation.

Mary: But why?

Dr Butler: Why? She asks why. I’ll tell you why. How do you think it feels being stuck in this bubble? Me, a scholar at the pinnacle of her field, stuck in this decaying, claustrophobic little town. Do you know how many times I’ve crossed Kingsgate Bridge? Too many times. So I came up with the solution. It’s taken me years. Oh, the Representative helped but I was the brains.

Mary: Behind what?

Dr Butler: Isn’t it obvious? Doxbridge. The bomb will fuse Durham to Oxbridge, joining the country’s universities into one glorious institution where academia can thrive.

President: You’re insane.

Dr Butler: Really, or am I just the last sane person in this place.

Guard 1: Sounds insane to me.

Dr Butler: All we need to do now is leave. Representative, if you would do the honours.

ODR: (brandishing gun). Right, everyone out. Don’t worry, when the bomb hits, you’ll all be vapourised instantly, so there’s nothing to fear.

President: Butler, this is insane, you’ll destroy Durham. Representative, lower your weapon this instant.

ODR: You can’t order me, I am the DSU, remember? Nobody can stop the DSU!

Cuthbert: (picking up the chair-MELT). I beg to differ. (He hits the ODR, knocking him to the floor).

Lord Castle: Guards, seize him, and her (pointing to DR BUTLER).


Mary: Good work, Cuthbert, and you, Melt.

Cuthbert: Thanks. I guess there are some advantages to having inanimate friends.

CUTHBERT and MARY awkwardly embrace.

Lord Castle: (crossing over). Son, is this truly what you want? To spend your life with this scum?

Cuthbert: Not exactly in those words, father, but yes, it is.

Lord Castle: Very well, I guess I must … respect your decision. You have my blessing.

Cuthbert: Thank you, father.

Lord Castle: Yes, well, just so long as you don’t expect me to bankroll the wedding.

Everyone laughs.

Cuthbert: I love you, Mary.

Mary: And I love you, Cuthbert.

Dr Butler: I think I’m going to be sick. (She breaks free from the GUARD and runs for the door.)

President: Stop her!

DR BUTLER passes through the door, laughing maniacally. Exits.

Welfare: Oh no!

Societies: What do we do?

DUCK: Oxbridge will bomb us for sure.

President: (moves to the front of the stage). Maybe so, but I think what’s more important is that we have, all of us, here today, learnt some valuable lessons about love, tolerance and ambition. I believe it is safe to say that everyone has been transformed by this journey and that each of us, no matter where he, she, or indeed it, has come from, has learnt the value of …

Guard 2: (pointing up). Hey, look, a plane.

President: Do you mind? I’m trying to monologue.

Flash of light.


Sound of nuclear explosion.

That’s Amore plays.

End of Act Two.

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