The Box

June 21, 2016

The stage is bare, aside from a table in the centre with chairs (appropriate to the amount of characters), and an acoustic guitar resting on a stand in the corner. The scene will begin with THE BOX on the table, within reaching distance of MATTHEW yet still the focus of the scene—the audiences’ eyes should immediately be drawn towards it.

HELOISE: So…are you going to enlighten us?

MATTHEW: About what exactly?

HELOISE: Well, you told us all to gather here and I’m not really seeing the appeal.

MATTHEW: Appeal?

WILL: There’s nothing here.

MATTHEW: Oh contraire…

WILL: ‘Oh contraire’, do people say that?

MATTHEW: Contrary to popular belief—

HELOISE: Right, I’m OFFICIALLY sick of this and would oh so desperately like something interesting to happen. 

WILL points toward THE BOX

WILL: Yeah, seriously, what’s that thing?

MATTHEW: That ‘thing’, you insolent buffoon…well, admittedly, I’m not entirely sure what it is.


MATTHEW scratches his head 

MATTHEW: I found it, this box, and I was interested. I thought you guys would be too, and frankly I’m disappointed by your enthusiasm.

WILL: …Interested in what? 

MATTHEW: What!? A box, unopened, its contents unknown…isn’t that just…just…

REBECCA: OK, I’ll admit, I’m intrigued. 

MATTHEW: Ah, the very reason I keep you around Rebecca!

REBECCA begins to question his phrasing, but quickly thinks better of it

WILL: So, um, why not just open it?

MATTHEW: Ah! Where’s the fun in that? 

HELOISE: ‘Where’s the fun in this?’ Ha! Good question.

MATTHEW: (examining THE BOX) It’s like, you don’t open the presents under the tree on the 22nd of December, do you? No, you leave them there, their shiny wrapping tempting, mocking, it’s unbearable…but that morning, when it finally arrives, that new bike or scooter or Xbox or whatever, it’s so—

WILL: Are you saying there’s a new bike in that box?

MATTHEW deflates after his heartfelt speech

REBECCA: Aw, shut up Will. I get it, Matt. 

HELOISE: So we’re going to sit here for three days and stare at your…that, ‘till someone actually gives a shit? 

MATTHEW: Fine. You want to go? Door’s open. 

WILL: (standing up, mocking) A very good point Matthew m’dear. Have fun! 

HELOISE: (following WILL) You coming Becs? 

REBECCA: So, what, we’re invited into his home and then we just insult him and leave? Heloise, you’re better than that. 

HELOISE considers this, and eventually silently sits down in her place        

WILL: (at the door) I’m not better than that, not at all. I could’ve been studying but I had to come all the way out to Matthew-freakin'-Butler’s to sit around a table and do, what? Look at a box? I can do that at home, maybe it’ll have biscuits in it! Bye!

MATTHEW: (suddenly regaining his composure) Your loss.

WILL: (turning around to face him) Can't you just open it!? You need the attention or something?

REBECCA: Just leave! 

WILL: Open the box, Matt.

MATTHEW: (mocking) Don't you have 'study' to do? 

WILL bolts across the room and wrenches THE BOX from MATTHEW's hand, and backs away, a safe distance from him. MATTHEW stands up, about to challenge him, but stays still, watching. WILL pulls on its top with obvious force, to no avail. THE BOX is unchanged

WILL: (exasperated) What the hell!?

WILL throws THE BOX at MATTHEW, just missing. HELOISE winces. REBECCA stands up

REBECCA: What are you doing!? 

WILL seems to realize what he's doing and stares at REBECCA for a moment. He then sits back down in his place in silence

Everyone sits and considers what has just happened.

WILL: It didn't open.

HELOISE: (slightly dazed) What? 

WILL: The box, I pulled and it didn't open.

MATTHEW: Oh. Right. There's a catch that I didn't mention; I don't know how to open it. There's no lid or latch or--

HELOISE: But...it's just wood, right? Smash it open. Easy.

MATTHEW: You think I haven't tried that? I've stood on it, thrown it down the stairs, I even drove over it. Nothing. It's not even dented. I thought you guys would have some ideas.

REBECCA: Exciting!

HELOISE: Have you tried bashing it with your thick skull--

WILL: Let me see it again. The box.

MATTHEW: (hesitant) I...what are you going to do?

WILL: You want us to open it right? Let me see it. (to HELOISE) Maybe then we can leave...

MATTHEW, still unsure, slides THE BOX across the table to WILL, who picks it up and examines it closely

HELOISE: All that crap about 'waiting until Christmas morning'...

MATTHEW: Yes, let's call it...hype-mongering. 


MATTHEW: I'd hoped that it'd, maybe, create a bit of...dramatic tension?

MATTHEW doesn't seem to realise that he caused WILL's outburst. He has almost forgotten it happened at all

HELOISE: (disbelief) Are you joking? 

REBECCA: Clearly it didn't have the...desired effect.

REBECCA glares at WILL, who doesn't notice; he is still looking closely at THE BOX

HELOISE: (moving on to avoid another confrontation) You said you 'found' that thing? How's that?

MATTHEW: Well, um--

MATTHEW does not appear to have an answer to this, but WILL interrupts before this is made clear to the audience

WILL: (still not looking up from THE BOX) You should be able to just pry it open.

MATTHEW: (surprised that he thinks he can open it, though the audience again doesn't know this) What? 

WILL: The box, keep up. Got a knife or something? 

MATTHEW: I...yes, I suppose.

REBECCA: (excited, though potentially faking it to keep MATTHEW happy)
And then you can open it?

WILL: Yeah, easy.

REBECCA: (nudging MATTHEW) Easy!

MATTHEW: (hesitant) There'll be some knives in the kitchen. 

MATTHEW stands up and walks to the door. He glances at and seems to think about bringing THE BOX with him but decides against it.

MATTHEW: I'll be a second.


WILL: (mock western voice) Y'all come back now y'hear! 

There is a brief silence among the three

HELOISE: Mother of God, I am uncomfortable. 

WILL: I can't possibly guess how that could be. Is it international-man-of-mystery Matthew Butler and his magic box of who-the-fuck-cares?

REBECCA: What's your problem tonight? Sure, Matt's not any of our first choices to spend the evening with...

WILL: First choice? I'd rather have dinner with Satan right now--

REBECCA: What the hell!? Why are you here so?

WILL: I was invited. Socially obligated. I guess we used to be friends but...people change, I changed, he didn't, that's life. This box stuff, perfect example.

HELOISE: He's so...fake. It's like he was made in a factory.

WILL: A boring factory.

REBECCA: He's sweet. Nice. You could learn from him actually, Will. Anyway, if you're so against this why do you want to open the box so much?

WILL: I don't. Why would I care? 

REBECCA: No, if you didn't care you would have left. But you didn't, did you? 

HELOISE: She's got a point, I'll admit. What was all that?

WILL: I...it was...

REBECCA: Ha! Admit it! 

WILL stays quiet, avoiding her gaze

HELOISE: I'll just say that I don't particularly care what's in the box...but if he opens it, you know, I won't complain.

REBECCA: Right? Think of the possibilities!

HELOISE: I'm hoping for the keys to a new car...

REBECCA: Or a really tiny cake!

WILL: Or a gun so I can shoot myself...

REBECCA: Look, Will--

MATTHEW enters with a large knife

MATTHEW: (gesturing towards the knife) Un couteau. 


MATTHEW:...that's French for knife.

WILL: What's the French for 'Hurry the hell up'?

MATTHEW: Em, entre-vite--

WILL: Just give me the knife.

WILL jams the knife in THE BOX again

HELOISE: How long'll this take?

WILL: I'm not exactly a professional.

HELOISE: (laughing, slightly) Professional...box opener?

WILL: I studied it in Harvard...

HELOISE laughs outright

REBECCA: Ah, get a room will ye? I couldn't help but notice the guitar, Matt.

MATTHEW: Oh, right. I'm an occasional guitarist I'll admit.

WILL: Occasional? Eric Clapton was once asked 'How does it feel being the best guitarist in the world?', and he said 'Ask Matt Butler'.

REBECCA: Will...just open the box.

WILL: (saluting) On it, boss. 

WILL quietly works on prying open THE BOX

REBECCA: How about a song while we wait?

MATTHEW: (clearly wants to) I dunno...

HELOISE: Jesus, get a room yourselves!

REBECCA stands and takes the guitar off its stand. She then hands it to MATTHEW

REBECCA: I'm just gonna leave this here and if someone starts playing it, hey, don't blame me.

MATTHEW tentatively plucks the guitar.

WILL: (not looking up from THE BOX) Taaake your tiiime.

REBECCA kicks WILL under the table

MATTHEW starts into an emotional rendition of 'Razor' by Foo Fighters

WILL shows irritation throughout the song, and eventually interrupts around halfway through by burying the knife loudly in the table

WILL: Just shut up. I didn't come here to listen to you fucking whine. In fact, I don't know why I came at all.

MATTHEW deflates again


REBECCA: We've been through this! 

HELOISE: What's your problem!? 

REBECCA: I thought it was beautiful, Matt.

MATTHEW: Thanks. 

He again seems to have immediately put WILL's outburst behind him

WILL: Well I'm terribly sorry to interrupt Dr. Good-Vibes but there's more pressing matters. The box. The box won't fucking open.

REBECCA: You said it'd be easy.

WILL: Thanks for the recap! 

WILL slides THE BOX back across the table to MATTHEW and sits back angrily

HELOISE: Well, there's a huge dent in it now.

MATTHEW: Yeah I think it was nearly open--you tried I suppose.

REBECCA: Are we just ignoring what Will just did!?

HELOISE: What should we do, analyse it?

REBECCA: I mean you, Matt. You're just...brushing that off?

MATTHEW: I know you don't like me, Will. Leave if you want to.

WILL: Just...give it here, alright? 


WILL: The box, give it back.

MATTHEW: But...you couldn't get it open...

WILL: Yeah, and now I'm gonna try again. I'm not leaving until it's open. Why are you so hesitant, this is why we're here right?

MATTHEW: R-right.

He passes THE BOX back to WILL

He again lodges the knife in THE BOX and continues to deepen the depression he made previously. Now, everyone watches him in silence.

WILL opens THE BOX. He tosses the top of it to one side, but begins to mock MATTHEW before looking inside—he is suddenly back to his previous, cocky demeanor

WILL: Finally! After being subjected to Butler themed torture we've made it to the end of the evening's entertainment. Why so distraught Matt? You wanted to be the one to open it, impress your girlfriend over there, right? I get it. A lot of people would call that...what's the word? Desperation? Yet, unfortunately, here we are, our new hero, Will, with the box conquered! 

REBECCA: Will...

WILL: And as Will looks inside with foolish old Matthew crying off in the corner somewhere--

MATTHEW stands and strides over to WILL. He stands close to and faces him, but WILL holds out his hand to stop him from coming closer. 

WILL looks inside THE BOX

WILL: (laughing, apparently at the absurdity of what is inside THE BOX) What--

MATTHEW pushes WILL's hand out of the way and pulls THE BOX off of him. He then repeatedly, silently, beats him over the head with it. WILL is now sprawled across the floor, dead.

HELOISE: Oh my god…

There is an extended shocked silence between the remaining characters. MATTHEW holds a blank expression, REBECCA is staring at him, HELOISE is staring at WILL

HELOISE begins crying and falls to her knees beside WILL. She bows her head and rests a hand on WILL, quietly sobbing

REBECCA is still focused on MATTHEW, who also, yet again, does not seem to realize the intensity of his actions

MATTHEW: The box…it’s empty.


MATTHEW: (almost laughing) There’s…there’s nothing in it.

REBECCA: Empty...

MATTHEW: I-I...I didn't know...

REBECCA: It's empty.

MATTHEW: (frantically reaching for words) I thought...I thought it would be fun, interesting, thought you'd like it, all of you, but, no, no, not them, no, you, Rebecca. I made it, I made the box, just stuck some wood together tight, to bring you...to get you to come...I just...wanted to be close to you! I wanted you to be here! Interested in...in the box...in me...in me...

REBECCA: Will is...Will's dead, Matt, you killed him.

MATTHEW: I know, I know, that doesn't matter, I still have the box, I can still...you can still...stay. You're...the best person I know Rebecca...

REBECCA: (fighting back angry tears) Matthew, Will is dead. 

MATTHEW: I know. I made the box...f-for you...

REBECCA: (Quietly) You killed him.

MATTHEW: (screaming) I know! 

There is, again, a brief moment of silence. REBECCA stares intently at MATTHEW, through him, contemplating how to react. She takes a step forward, looks deeply into MATTHEW's desperate eyes, then turns and promptly exits.

MATTHEW is left to stand alone. The light on HELOISE, still solemn, kneeling over WILL, gradually fades out. MATTHEW is now alone on the stage. He seems to silently reflect on the evening's events. He is unchanged from how he was at the beginning, unphased.

MATTHEW sits down slowly, picks up his guitar, and finishes his song. The stage darkens on its final note.


I originally wrote this with a few swear words here and there which I have just now censored, so if the use of 'hell' seems slightly out of place, that's why.

Some formatting may have been lost when I transferred it from where I wrote it originally as well.

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