People enter the Lounge of the Park and Dare Theatre in Treorchy; they remain expectant as actors arrive. Young people comment on how much they have relished contributing to the soap opera, in recent weeks. A tutor has brought her pupils to see how such a project works, a grandmother and granddaughter enjoy each other’s company as well as that of the theatre company’s cast. Members of a jazz club were worried that an accident might result in a broken arm to combine with the broken leg of a past episode (which they thought was part of the script!)
“Welcome to Rhondda Road” Shane Anderson, the producer proudly announces
“The Fourth Wall Café” is open, as part time waitress Seren catches up with café owner Alex protesting that she has not been paid for the last fortnight, she has her own concerns, she cannot continue working, she has the promise of another job. Alex strains to find an answer as Seren storms out of the café unrequited.
A man in a dark suit struts into the café, he look intently at all the café’s fixtures and fittings; Alex appears nervous, as the man queries if Alex is Ok.
“It’s just one of those days, Dan” Alex answers “How can I help you?”
There is an air of irritability as the man demands that Alex pays the money owed to him by the next day. He repeats the amount he is owed at the percentage of interest it has gained. Dan absently picks up a bunch of drinking straws from the bar, and deliberately drops them individually onto the café floor as he repeats the amount, the interest and the time they will meet.
“Got the message?” he states as he leaves.
“Interesting character” Sion announces having witnessed the conversation, “Friend of yours?”
Alex replies that they have done business before.
Sion opens and reads from his iPad, he confronts Alex.
“Alex I have access to your accounts, stock and everything else. Why is your expenditure more than your income?” Alex tries to explain about new ideas, new brands but Sion is firm in his knowledge.
“There is a large amount of withdrawals. Are you in trouble Alex? What have you been doing, drugs?” Alex shakes his head.
“It’s not funny when money goes missing from a business. How much debt are you in?”
Alex is in denial as Sion, realising the situation, offers Alex the chance of clearing his debt; he will transfer the money owned into the café account.
“We can help each other out, I’ll scratch your back, if ……I think Megan will listen to someone who loves her”, as he outlines his plan. His son Ioan has gone off the rails and Sion needs Megan to talk to Ioan.
“I don’t want her to say anything about the past, the Past IS the Past” he warns. “Talk to Megan and your debt will be paid off”.
“What’s the catch?”
“Simple, there is no catch, talk to Megan, get her on side, I’ll give you the money to pay your debt. Make me the promise, no more gambling”
Alex remains at odds with the plan but can think of no other way out of his dilemma “OK yes” as Sion sets the transfer in motion via his iPad “Job done” he states as Alex shakes hands reluctantly with Sion.
Liam strolls into the café as Alex storms for him to use the side entrance to access the flat. Sion asks Liam how his job search is going, Liam can only answer negatively. Sion hits on an idea that Alex needs help with the café, and Liam is looking for work. Alex is astounded “I KNOW where you’re going, this is not happening. We had a deal!” he protests.
“Just hear me out” the estranged father of Megan continues, not wishing to be denied “You’re short staffed and Liam is looking for a job”
“You can’t expect me to pay his wages..” Alex shouts
“I’ll pay his wages” Sion answers.
Alex can find no answers as he fires questions like bullets at Liam. Alex offers Liam a temporary job, although the situation only feels like more salt is being rubbed into the open wound that is a nightmare of his own making.
Megan enters the café with Cerys; the mother of Seren, looking for Seren, Alex can only offer the excuse that Seren is out shopping.
“I’ll have a gin and tonic” Cerys repeats several times, as Megan demands from Alex what he and Sion were talking about, as Alex explains that all Sion wants is for Megan to start speaking to Ioan. Cerys moves erratically around the café “There’s a stage here, I used to be an actress” she informs Megan as she is negotiated back to her café table repeatedly requesting a gin and tonic.
Sion explains to Megan that he just wants to talk; he has a bottle of wine in his hand
“It’s not what you’re thinking, it is still sealed. THIS is what I WAS” he emphasises holding the bottle aloft, and then addressing himself states, “THIS is what I am NOW”
Sion reminisces about seeing Ioan on his first day at school and how he was dressed, how he has grown into a young man.
“I remember my first day at school with second hand clothes… “Megan begins
“Times were different then”, Sion changes his tactics “Do you remember Barry Island?, paddling, building sand castles, finding seashells …”
“Looking for mermaids ….” Megan remembers other things too “THEN you needed a drink … Don’t touch it!” she storms at Sion, as she retrieves the bottle and places it in the dustbin.
Charlotte, Megan’s sister brings a sombre looking Ioan into the cafe, as Megan asks him what he wants to know
“What happened?” is Ioan’s response.
“He drank, drink made him bad, he was bad to me. Speak to Sion” is all Megan can offer.
“MY Dad was my hero”
“MY Dad was not a hero”
Seren enters the café, she attempts to comfort Ioan as he leaves, but he shuns her. Megan is worried about Cerys “I saw your Mam in the street, I thought I’d bring her here” as Seren explains that she wants to see Alex about her unpaid wages. Megan can only agree to help her sort out the problem.
“Can you give me a hand?” a call comes from Ieuan, who appears in the café with donkey ears upon his head
“What do you look like?” Megan covers her laughter
“A donkey! I need you to go over my lines with me. ALEX! “his cry reaches the skylight and resounds “I need your help”
“What the hell do you look like?”
“I’ve got an audition later today” Ieuan explains as Seren tries to gain Alex’s attention, he in turn asks her for two minutes.
Ieuan, as Bottom from Shakespeare’s”A Midsummer’s Night Dream” continues his speech.
“Bless thee Bottom what angel wakes me from my spell?” comes the voice of Cerys as she serenades a shocked Ieuan as they continue to exchange the Bard’s words
“I love thee methinks you should have little reason for thee thou are wise as thee Cobweb and Mustard seed” Cerys recognising her daughter Seren, “I was Titania. I was an actress” then confusingly she continues “ I don’t know where I am. I want to go home. Home now” she demands of Seren. As they leave Alex assures Seren that her wages have been paid into her account, as she reminds him that other people have problems too
“What is he doing behind the bar?” Ieuan storms as he sees Liam
Alex tries to explain that it was not his decision that it is Sion who owns the building
“Sion is paying him?”
“You’re taking Sion’s money? You haven’t told her …!” Ieuan confronts Alex
“This is a very different situation”
“What haven’t you told me?” Megan questions Alex
“Everything is getting sorted” Alex digs himself further into the hole of his own making.
Abbie arrives in time to defuse the situation
“Don’t ask!” Ieuan warns his niece as she is about to ask about his donkey ears, as Abbie informs Ieuan that she has talked with her parents and there are no more problems with their marriage, as they both leave the café.
“Why are you taking Sion’s money? What is Ieuan saying? ALEX, LOOK AT ME, tell me the TRUTH! We said we would have no secrets ….” Megan states
“There are complications, he’s just trying to help” Alex flounders as Megan storms out,
Alex hits his head against the bar grill as Liam enters from the cellar and picks up various items from the tables.
“GET OUT!!! Just get out” Alex storms as Liam is bustled out. Alex cries out, as in his waterfall of life becomes a torrent of anguish and despair. The truth comes out like oil on water.
To conclude to quote the Bard
“No legacy is so rich as honesty”
Let’s hope it all ends well
Be sure to find out at the next live episode of “Rhondda Road”
As individuals, we are all unique there can be so many secrets deeply hidden; we can never walk in another’s shoes to realise just what they are going through.
Drink Wise, Age well as the Christmas Season approaches.
Let’s celebrate enjoy, be wise, drink aware, and take care.