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A one act play about the relationship between Genevieve and her boyfriend, Adam, who died of testicular cancer in 2000. First performed in Buderim (BATS), May 2010 and published by the Australian Script Centre in 2011.
You can hear the song written and recorded for the play here…
Adam and Eve
A True Story. In loving memory of Adam Humphries 14/3/78 to 12/11/00.
Cast of 5:
Mum – female 40–60
Doctor – male 50+
Eve – female mid to late 20s
Adam – male early 20s
“Cat” – gender and age not important (brief, non speaking role)
Setting: Brisbane, 1999-2000
Category: Drama (based on a true story)
Running time: 50 – 55 minutes
Set: The stage contains three “areas”. Action (and lighting) goes from one to another. During each scene change there is underscored music (soundtrack of original music composed and recorded by playwright is available) and a dimming of lights. No physical walls/barriers exist between the areas – no visual delineation.
Stage Right: hospital type bed and two chairs (medical area)
Centre Stage: two chairs (centre area) (one chair from medical area is moved to central area after first scene to make three chairs in a row)
Stage Left: lounge chairs x2 and coffee table (living room area)
Props: cricket bat, medical text books including “Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine”, patient medical charts, stethoscope, doctor’s white coat, hospital gown, beanie, teddy bear, box of chocolates, pizza box, cordless phone.
Soundtrack: Incidental music has been composed and recorded by the playwright, Genevieve Yates, to use during scene changes (see script references), based on the song, “Adam Smile”. Soundtrack is available on request. Sample can be found here. Use of music is optional.
(Opening music: Excerpt from “Adam Smile” (track 1) Lights up to see Adam is alone at front of stage with cricket bat “batting” in friendly cricket game. After a few bat swings he suddenly falls to ground as (imaginary) ball hits him in the groin. He writhes in pain)
Male voice offstage: Are you OK mate?
Adam: Yeah, yeah, just give me a minute. Next time try to aim the ball at the wickets, not my tackle, OK mate?
Male voice offstage: Sorry mate.
(Excerpt from “Adam Smile” (track 2). Lights dim then rise to see Adam sitting on a chair in medical area (stage R) in consultation with doctor (stethoscope around neck, no white coat). Adam has put a button up shirt over his T shirt)
Doctor: So how long did you say the lump’s been there?
Adam: About 8 weeks. Since getting hit in the balls playing cricket. Thought it was just bruising but it didn’t go away. In fact I think it has got a bit bigger. It’s not sore anymore though.
Doctor: Why didn’t you come in sooner?
Adam: I live out west, in Quilpie – that’s 12 hours that way (gestures). There’s only one doctor out there. She’s a middle-aged woman and a friend of my Mum’s. Didn’t want her feeling my private parts. Too embarrassed. Waited until I came to Brisbane.
Doctor: You shouldn’t have waited. This could be serious.
Adam: Serious? Did the cricket ball do some kind of permanent damage to my testicle?
Doctor: No, the lump has nothing to do with being hit.
Adam: But that’s when the lump came up.
Doctor: It had probably been there for some time already but you may not have noticed it.
Adam: That’s possible I suppose. I’m not exactly in the habit of feeling myself up. So what did cause it?
Doctor: Adam, the ultrasound scan we did yesterday was highly suggestive of malignancy.
Adam: What are you trying to say?
Doctor: Adam, we’ll need to do some more tests, but it looks like you have testicular cancer.
Adam: Cancer?! Am I going to die?
Doctor: No, no, that’s highly unlikely. Testicular cancer is very treatable and has a really high cure rate. More than 95%. We’ll need to do some more tests to see if it has spread anywhere, but even if it has, the odds are still in your favour. It’s a pretty good cancer to have, not that any cancers are fantastic.
Adam: Well let’s get going then. I’ll put my testicle in your hands. Just don’t drop the ball!
(Excerpt from “Adam Smile” (track 3). Lights dim then rise. Adam has put on a flannelette shirt and is holding a medical textbook- “Harrisons Principles of Internal Medicine”. He walks to centre stage and stands next to Eve who is standing centre stage, holding several medical journals/textbooks. She is dressed in slacks and a button up shirt and is wearing a white coat.)
Adam: Is this the line for the photocopier?
Eve: Yep. There’s not usually such a wait but its Medical Library happy hour here at the moment.
Adam: Without the cheap drinks. It sure is busy. Are you a medical student?
Eve: Final year. Not long now and I’ll be finished! Can’t wait! You?
Adam: Do I LOOK like a medical student? (mock intelligent/snobby pose)
Eve: (laughing) Med students come in all shapes, sizes and fashion senses.
Adam: Are you dishing my flannie?
Eve: Not at all. I have a few myself.
Adam: You look like a med student. I like to watch people as they move around the hospital. Med students are recognisable by their excited, eager to please expressions. Interns have the rabbit-caught-in-headlights look of terror mixed with sleep deprivation, and consultants have a slightly bored and arrogant air.
Eve: That’s very observant of you.
Adam: There is one thing that I haven’t been able to work out though.
Eve: What’s that?
Adam: White coats. Around here, med students all wear them while junior doctors never do, nor do registrars. On the other hand, senior consultants quite often wear them, especially those that have Professor in front of their name. What gives?
Eve: I’m not entirely sure myself. It’s one of medicine’s great mysteries. Us med students wear them because we have to – it is one of the rules. Junior doctors don’t because they don’t want to be mistaken for med students. Perhaps some consultants wear them because they think that the coat makes them look distinguished or maybe they wear them so patients don’t mistake them for junior doctors.
Adam: Who don’t wear them in case they are mistaken for med students?
Eve: (laughing) Exactly.
Adam: So while we are the topic of medical fashion, why do junior doctors always wear stethoscopes around their neck instead of carrying them in their hand or in a bag like most consultants do?
Eve: I reckon it is because they don’t wear white coats.
Eve: They need some accessory to tell everyone they are doctors.
Adam: Healing the sick and speaking in acronyms is not enough? I want an ABG, BCG, ECG and EEG for the PUO… stat!
Eve: Are you sure you haven’t studied medicine?
Adam: Quite sure. I think I’d have remembered obtaining a medical degree.
Eve: So Harrison is just bedtime reading? He is a great sedative, I’ll give you that. Safer, cheaper and definitely less addictive than valium.
Adam: Who’s Harrison?
Eve: (pointing to the book Adam has in his hand) Harrison’s Textbook of Internal Medicine.
Adam: Oh, I’m doing some personal research. On beta HCG.
Eve: The pregnancy hormone.
Adam: Exactly. My doctors keep talking about my beta HCG levels. I looked it up in a dictionary and it said that it was one of the hormones in early pregnancy.
Eve: It’s the one they measure in urine and blood to see if someone is pregnant. You wee on a stick and see if one line or two lines appear. (jokingly) You’re not pregnant are you?
Adam: I may not have a medical degree but I’m fairly certain that males haven’t got the necessary equipment.
Eve: So why are they measuring your beta HCG?
Adam: You’re the medical student – why do you think? Pretend I’m a case on your final exam.
Eve: Let me see. Young male, say around 25.
Adam: 21 actually.
Eve: Really? You look older. My sort of age. 24.
Adam: Too much hard living.
Eve: So serial beta HCGs in a young adult male… ummm… probably a germ cell tumour. Testicular cancer with metastases?
Adam: You got it in one. Well done! You’re not just a pretty face with an eager yet inexperienced med student glint in your eye.
Eve: Umm… thanks, I think.
Adam: The offending testicle is out but there were a few pesky little lesions in my lungs.
Eve: Oh I’m so sorry.
Adam: It’s not as bad as it sounds. They responded to chemo really well.
Eve: Chemotherapy is no picnic.
Adam: It’s rotten. Like having a series of really bad hangovers without the fun nights out. Did its job though. My beta HCG levels have gone right down to normal.
Eve: That’s great!
Adam: Technically I’m in remission now. They can’t say I’m cured quite yet but it is only a matter of time. I’ve lost a ball but gained back my life. Fair trade. Where are my manners? It’s not very gentlemanly to be talking about my genitals before introducing myself. I’m Adam.
Eve: Lovely to meet you. I’m Genevieve.
Adam: Genevieve… that’s an unusual name. Do people call you Jenny?
Eve: No. When I was a kid I once had a torturing babysitter called Jenny and I haven’t been able to shake the association.
Eve: I don’t mind being called Gen but my mother HATES it. Years ago, one of my friends rang up and asked “Is Gen there?” My mother replied, “I’m sorry but there is no one of that name here,” and hung up the phone!
Adam: I’ll stay clear of that one then. Always best to stay on the good side of mothers. So no nicknames?
Eve: Not usually, but my friend Larry calls me Eve. The last three letters in my name.
Adam: Eve. Adam and Eve. Corny but I like it. So, Eve, how about making an Adam very happy and going out for coffee with him?
Eve: I’d like that. Are you from around here?
Adam: I’m from Quipie, three hours west of Charleville.
Eve: That’s a long way to drive for a cup of coffee.
Adam: I’m living in a unit about five minutes walk from the hospital at the moment.
Eve: So do I! I live on Herston Road.
Adam: That makes us practically neighbours! So are you busy tonight?
Eve: Tonight? That’s pretty short notice.
Adam: Life is short. Got to grab opportunities when they come along.
Eve: Sure, why not? Tonight would be great.
(Excerpt from “Adam Smile” (track 4) Lights dim then lights rise to see Eve in lounge area (stage L) on the phone. She has taken off her white coat)
Eve: (on phone) And we went to the Gold Coast last weekend on a complete whim. He rocked up on the Saturday morning and said “This weather is so good, it would be criminal to waste it. Are you up for a weekend down the Coast?” Before I even had a chance to think about it, I was enjoying the weekend of a lifetime – a picnic in the rainforest, luxuriating in the spa, a moonlight walk along the beach. He sees the beauty and wonder in the everyday ordinary things the rest of us take for granted and is so deliciously spontaneous. It is damn infectious…. uh ha…. Well it’s hard to explain. A mixture of child-like wonder and optimism, and a wisdom it usually takes a lifetime to acquire. Having been faced with his own mortality he’s managed to work out exactly what is important and what’s not. Perhaps we all should have a brush with cancer…. Oh yes he’s fine now. In remission and hopefully likely to stay there.
(Knock on door (offstage))
Gotta go, they’re here. Chat later. Bye.
(Eve goes to the edge of the stage (stage L) and welcomes Mum and Adam into the lounge room. Adam has Ralph Lauren type button up shirt on)
Eve: Please come in. It’s lovely to meet you Mrs. Humphries.
Mum: Call me Carrol, love.
Eve: I’m Genevieve.
Mum: I know, Adam hasn’t stopped talking about his Eve. I haven’t seen him so happy for a long, long time. He’s like a lovesick puppy.
Adam: (embarrassed) Mum! Please.
Mum: I can’t believe my Adam is going out with a doctor! A DOCTOR!!
Eve: I’m not quite a doctor yet. Give me a few weeks.
Adam: She still has the eager beaver medical student look about her.
Eve: I’m sure I’ll have the overwhelmed, sleep deprived look soon. (to Mum) I start working as an intern at the Royal Brisbane in January.
Adam: Shall we make a move? We can all chat more over dinner.
Eve: Sure, let’s go. I’ll just get my bag.
(Adam exits and Eve picks up her handbag which is on the stage R side of the couch. Mum holds Eve back to have a private word)
Mum: Thank you so much for looking after Adam. It means a lot to me.
Eve: He’s the one looking after me! He’s brought a ray of sunshine into my life.
Mum: He’s had a very rough time this year and no one deserves happiness more than he does. You’re a Godsend.
Eve: Believe me, there is no charity involved. I really like him.
Mum: He’s a special boy.
Eve: He sure is.
Mum: I hope you and me can become friends too. Our family and friends are all so far away. They visit when they can but often it is just me and Adam lodging here in Brisbane. It can get quite lonely. I mean, Adam is a joy to live with and great company but, you know, he’s a young man and I’m his Mum. I think having a young woman in the mix would be good for both of us.
Eve: And for me too. I haven’t got close family nearby either. My parents live in Canada.
Mum: So many similarities. Speaking of which, I hear that you were born on exactly the same day as my Rebecca, Adam’s sister?
Eve: Quite some coincidence, that.
Mum: Coincidence or not, I make a great substitute Mum. Welcome to the family!
(Mum and Eve hug)
Adam: (offstage) Are you two coming?
Mum: We’re coming, we’re coming. Hold your horses.
(Lights dim and then rise to blue rinse. Fireworks sound effects (track 5) and video footage of fireworks projected on back curtain. Adam and Eve wander to centre stage, holding hands then sit. Lights rise on centre area, Sound of fireworks then dimmed so as to not to overpower dialogue but still audible)
Adam: The start of a New Year and a New Millenium!
Eve: Well technically 2001 is the start of the New Millenium.
Adam: Never let technicalities stand in the way of a celebration! We are here on the Brisbane River with about 4 million others and watching the most amazing fireworks display. What could be better?
Eve: A guarantee that Y2K isn’t going to send the world into freefall tomorrow?
Adam: (teasingly) Eve!
Eve: I love the fireworks. And the mood of the crowd is amazing – so much excitement and goodwill. Feels like anything’s possible.
Adam: It is. When I’m here with you.
Eve: Right back at you.
Adam: So let’s plan to have another massive celebration with fireworks next year, to celebrate the “real” millennium.
Eve: Sounds great. (Eve stands and walks to front centre stage. Adam follows) Talking about fireworks, there’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
Adam: What’s that?
Eve: It’s pretty stupid, just some teenage fantasy.
Adam: I love hearing about your fantasies, you know that.
Eve: It’s not THAT kind of fantasy. Every year the Brisbane Exhibiton, the Ekka, is on in August and has firework displays every night. I’ve always wanted to watch them with someone special, a boyfriend, but have never managed to do so. Will you watch them with me this year?
Adam: Absolutely. It’s a date.
Adam: Promise. (pause) Genevieve, there’s something I want to tell you.
Eve: It sounds serious. (suddenly worried) Have you got bad news?
Adam: No, no. Nothing like that. I’m fine. In fact I’ve never been better. I want to talk about us.
Eve: Go on.
Adam: Well as you know I’ve had other girlfriends before but it has never been like this. It was always about, well, you know, having a good time. I’ve never met anyone I really connect with. I don’t think I have actually been in love. Until now. I love you, Eve, I really do.
Eve: I love you too.
(Eve and Adam kiss.)
Excerpt from “Adam Smile” (track 6). Lights dim and rise to see Adam lying in the bed (stage R) with Mum and Eve next to bed. Doctor walks in holding chart.)
Doctor: (to Adam) You’ve had problems with your vision?
Adam: Yeah, when I was driving a few days ago. Flashes of light that shouldn’t have been there. I should have come in straight away and got it checked out but I was hoping it would just go away. Then I ended up having a seizure yesterday which landed me in here. So what’s the verdict?
Doctor: We’ve done scans and blood tests and I’m afraid the news isn’t good… Your beta HCG has gone up… a lot.
Adam: (to Eve) Are we having a boy or girl do you think?
Eve: You know… beta HCG… pregnancy… just a joke we have. Keep going…
Doctor: The CT scans have shown that the tumours in your lungs have become active again and there are some in your abdomen also.
Mum: I thought they had all disappeared.
Doctor: So did we, but it seems they have come back… with a vengeance.
Eve: But that doesn’t explain the visual symptoms or the seizure.
Doctor: No, it doesn’t. The CT scan of your head has revealed a solitary tumour, a metastasis, in the back of your brain. In the occipital cortex.
Eve: (to Adam and Mum) That’s the area responsible for vision.
Adam: So where to from here?
Doctor: Things are pretty bad but we think you still have a good chance at beating this. We’re going to hit it with the big guns… radiotherapy, then a bone marrow transplant followed by brain surgery.
Adam: I was planning to take a trip home to Quilpie soon. I expect that’s off.
Doctor: I’m afraid so, we have to get started right away.
Adam: Whatever you need to do. So I’ll be in hospital for a while then?
Doctor: Yes. Weeks, maybe months. The bone marrow transplant requires you to be monitored carefully for an extended period.
Adam: (to Eve) On the bright side, I’ll get to see plenty of you.
Eve: I’ll sneak in and visit whenever I can.
Adam: You always said I suck the marrow out of life. Now they’re going to have to suck out someone else’s marrow to give me life. Kind of ironic.
(Eve hugs him, teary. Doctor walks to centre stage and Mum follow. Lights up on centre area)
Mum: (to Doctor) Can I have a word with you?
(Lights down on hospital area. Adam and Eve exit.)
Mum: This bone marrow procedure. Is it serious?
Doctor: Very serious, I’m afraid. Adam is going to get sicker before he gets better. And it’s risky. Very risky. But without it he will die. It is as simple as that.
Mum: (upset) Oh…
Doctor: Adam is young and strong. A fighter.
Mum: We will all be praying for him.
Doctor: I’m sure he’ll appreciate that.
(Excerpt from “Adam Smile” (track 7) Lights dim, Doctor and Mum exit stage L. Lights rise to see Mum and Eve in the lounge room – stage L)
Mum: Is he going to be OK? The transplant has made him so sick.
Eve: I don’t know. I really don’t know. He’s doing pretty well though, all things considered.
Mum: I can’t lose him. I’ve already lost one son in a car accident. I don’t think I can cope with losing another. Especially not Adam. He’s my youngest, my baby. And my favourite. I know you shouldn’t have favourites but I can’t help it. He’s such a special boy. I know God has his reasons and it is not for us to question them, but I just pray that God’s plan is to have Adam come out of this.
Eve: You and me both.
(Excerpt from “Adam Smile” (track 8) Lights dim and then rise to see Eve sitting on a chair centre stage with a medical chart in her arm, making notes. There are a stack of charts on the chair next to her. Eve has a stethoscope around her neck. Adam is in a hospital gown and beanie. He sneaks up behind her, putting his hands over her eyes)
Adam: Guess who?
Eve: (loud whisper) What are you doing here? This is the doctors’ room. You should be in bed.
Adam: Come on, Eve. It’s 9:30 at night. You’re the only doctor left on the ward. I’ve been watching you buzz around all day. You need to relax.
(Adam starts rubbing her shoulders)
Eve: Mmmm that’s good. This neurosurgical term is killing me! 10 – 14 hour days. 12 days on, 2 days off.
Adam: I thought my conveniently getting a brain tumour and ending up in your ward would allow me to see you more often but firstly you refuse to be my doctor…
Eve: I can’t be, I’ve explained that. The other resident is looking after you really well.
Adam: Secondly, you refuse to pull strings to get me a window bed – one with a view.
Eve: I told you I tried but I don’t get to allocate beds.
Adam: And then you rush back and forth all day and we hardly get any time alone together at all.
Eve: (Eve stands up and walks forwards. Adam follows) Dante’s definition of hell – “proximity without intimacy”. OK, you can stay for a little while. Then you have to promise to go back to bed.
Adam: OK, I promise. Cross my heart and hope to die. (cheeky grin)
(Eve gives him a good-natured whack at this)
Adam: Help! You’re killing me!
Eve: You’re incorrigible.
Adam: I don’t know what that means but I’ll take it as a compliment. Death has to be laughed at, you know that!
Eve: You’re right. And anyway, I’ll be the one facing death if I get caught fraternising in here with a patient.
Adam: I’ll hide under the table if someone comes in.
Eve: I don’t think that’ll be necessary. I’ll just make up some silly excuse.
Adam: How about the truth? That your boyfriend is having brain surgery at 8 o’clock tomorrow morning and he needs to spend a little time with you.
Eve: Might work. Better than “the dog ate my homework” I suppose. Pull up a pew.
(Eve and Adam return to chairs. Eve moves the pile of charts onto the floor and Adam sits. Eve nuzzles into Adam’s chest and he puts his arm around her).
Adam: Not the most romantic of settings but better than not seeing you at all. Some stars would be nice though. I’ve been thinking about the birthday card you gave me “Reach for the moon because if you should happen to miss, you’ll still be among the stars.”
Eve: Let’s pretend we’re back at the Mt Cootha lookout. The lights of the city below and the stars above.
Adam: You can’t really see stars in Brisbane. Just wait until you come out to Quilpie with me. In the bush, snuggling in a swag, looking up at the sky. Now THAT’S living. You’ll see.
Eve: Sounds amazing.
Adam: And wait ‘til you see me shear a sheep. I’ll need to do some serious training if I’m going to compete at the Golden Shears World Championships.
Eve: How about we get through tomorrow first?
Adam: No, I need to focus on the big picture, hold on to my dreams. Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with exactly the same cancer as me – testicular cancer with Mets in the lung, abdomen and brain and he said that the thing that got him through was his unshakable belief that he was going to cycle competitively again. Last year, less than 3 years after his diagnosis he won the Tour de France. The same will be true for me, I just know it. Except it will be competitive sheep shearing, not cycling.
Eve: The Armstrong of the ovine world! Go for it babe! (pause)
Adam: Having a goal helps but it’s my faith in God which really keeps me going. It took cancer to make me listen to God, to get the wake up call, to embrace life and become a Christian.
Eve: Your faith has been a real source of strength for you, hasn’t it?
Adam: It is more than that. He has shown me what is truly important in life and I want to show others too. Take my friends in Quilpie. So many of them are ruining their lives with drugs and booze, wasting the gifts and opportunities God gave them. I’m going to talk to them about what they’re doing. Show them the beauty all around them and the potential to live each day to the full. Part of being disappointed with having to cancel my trip home was that I was so keen to start helping them. But I came to a realisation last night. I see now that I’m not strong enough to go back yet. God knew. His timing is perfect. I will get to go back when the time is right. In the meantime, I’m going to start on a book.
Eve: A book?
Adam: An autobiography. I want to share my experiences with others. I want them to learn what I’ve learned. I’m going to call it “Bad Boy’s Second Chance”.
Eve: That’s a great idea. Right now though, the Bad Boy needs to go to bed. He’s got a Big Day tomorrow.
Adam: He’ll be getting an anaesthetic. He’ll be sleeping the day away.
Eve: Goodnight, my Adam.
Adam: Goodnight, my beautiful Eve.
(Excerpt from “Adam Smile” (track 9) Lights dim and rise to see Adam lying in the bed with bandages around his head – stage R. Eve walks in with stethoscope around neck)
Eve: What’s this I hear about your walking out of intensive care?
Adam: That place is creepy. Full of really sick people. I figured it would be much better to be back on the ward. So I got up, grabbed my IV stand and walked back here.
Eve: You literally walked out?
Eve: But you had major brain surgery less than 24 hours ago.
Adam: Yes. So?
Eve: Last night we nearly lost you. Your blood pressure plummeted, your body temperature went to 39.8. You were shaking uncontrollably for hours.
Adam: Well I’m feeling a lot better now. I bounce well.
Eve: I just talked to the doctor in intensive care. He said he has never seen anything quite like it.
Adam: Thanks be to God.
Eve: The God of ICU, also known as the senior consultant, may not be able to explain your recovery but I’m sure he would be happy to share the credit. He’s not so happy about the rather untraditional mode and timing of your departure though.
Adam: It’s quite nice to be back in Neurosurgery ward 2B, despite not getting a bed with a view. Are you sure you can’t swap me with the bloke in bed 16? He’s in a coma. It’s like a vegetarian winning a meat tray in the pub raffle.
Eve: (laughing) I’ve told you. Interns have no power. We’re the lowest rung on the ladder.
Adam: I have to say that if you weren’t working in this ward I reckon I would’ve tried to gatecrash the cancer ward at the Children’s Hospital. The kids’ hospital is great – light and airy, murals, music, video games. I even heard a rumour that they get chicken nuggets and fish fingers for dinner. Not to mention all of the children’s charities like “Make a Wish Foundation”. What about MY trip to Disneyland? I’ve got cancer too. I just got it 5 years too late. Not that I think the kids don’t deserve it – just wish there was some left for us.
Eve: I’ve often thought that. Young adults with cancer are just not catered for adequately by the hospital system or cancer charities. They are stuck in depressing oncology wards which are painted in dreary colours, full of patients 60 years their senior…
Adam: And which are infused with the heady aroma of disinfectant and death. Not a clown or chicken nugget in sight. I can’t complain too much… having you here is better than fish fingers… just.
(Excerpt from “Adam Smile” (track 10) Lights dim and rise to see Eve on the lounge talking on the phone – stage L)
Eve: He’s doing amazingly well. It’s three days since the surgery now and he’s pretty much back to his old self. That boy is invincible. He convinced me to go for a walk around the hospital yesterday. Patients are supposed to be transferred by wheelchairs, for some legal reason, but Adam insisted not only on walking, but taking the stairs. And then, in the middle of a deserted stairwell, he asked me to marry him…. I said, he asked me to marry him…. Yes, totally out of the blue. He’s told me before that he’s not interested in getting married. I felt like asking him how much of his brain did they remove? but of course I didn’t. Instead, I told him that’s we’ll talk about it when the anaesthetic drugs were well and truly out of his system.”
(Knock on door – offstage)
Eve: Come in.
(Adam enters carrying a teddy bear and chocolates. Wearing beanie, jeans and flannelette shirt)
Eve: (on phone) I’ll have to call you back. (hangs up phone) What on earth are you doing here?
Adam: Lovely to see you too, sweetheart.
Eve: But you’re in hospital!
Adam: Not anymore, obviously. Got discharged this morning. I didn’t want to be stuck in there when you were on your only day off for two weeks. These are for you.
Eve: Thanks. You really shouldn’t have.
Adam: Left hospital or brought you gifts?
Adam: Aren’t you going to ask me to sit down?
Eve: Of course, of course.
(Adam and Eve sit)
Eve: So how are you feeling?
Adam: Wonderful, never better. Full of joy while being at peace. I feel like the battle has come to a head, pardon the pun, and that I’ve won. The bone marrow has been successful, the tumours in my body and head are gone and all I’ve got left to do is a little bit of radiotherapy. I worry about you though. They work you way too hard. It’s inhumane. You’ve definitely got the sleep deprived, overworked, crushed look of an intern now.
Eve: I worry about you more than I worry about this job. That’s what causes me to toss and turn at night.
Adam: Well there’s no need to worry. I don’t want you to worry.
Eve: I can’t help it. I love you.
Adam: I love you too. Well I guess we will just keep worrying about each other then.
Eve: I guess so.
Adam: About what I said yesterday… in the stairwell…
Eve: (teasingly) Asking me to MARRYyou?
Adam: (awkwardly) Don’t see it as a proposal as such. See it as a hypothetical. For something that could happen a long time in the future. When we are really old. Like 35.
Eve: (smiling) Ancient.
Adam: I’ve told you before that I’m not that interested in doing the whole marriage and kids thing. I’ve seen too many marriages fail and kids ending up in bad situations. Especially those that marry young. But I reckon you and I would be different. I still don’t want to rush into it but I was just wondering how you feel about it. (really embarrassed) As you know, I’ve got sperm frozen from before my treatment but I don’t know if it would, you know, work or even if you would WANT to use it.
Eve: Ummm… I’m not sure what to say. I definitely agree that we shouldn’t rush into anything. Let’s talk about it again in a few years.
Adam: Fair enough. (relieved) Sure. It’s a deal. So what are we going to get up to today?
Eve: Well I was going to go down to Mt Gravatt to ride my horse but…
Adam: Perfect. Grass, sun and manure. Just what I feel like. Let’s go.
(Excerpt from “Adam Smile” (track 11) Lights dim and rise to see Adam and Doctor in a consultation, Adam is sitting on the edge of the of hospital bed – stage R. Doctor is standing, carrying a chart. Eve and Mum present (standing or sitting beside Adam). Adam is wearing a beanie)
Doctor: It’s not good. It’s not good at all. Despite having 4 weeks of radiotherapy, your beta HCG has gone up from 5 to 19. That indicates that the tumours are still active. We’ve exhausted almost every treatment. The prognosis is very poor.
Mum: Isn’t there anything else you can do?
Eve: I don’t know that more treatment is going to help.
Doctor: Well, we can do a PET scan to see if we can locate where the active tumour cells are and then perhaps look at more surgery. There are also some new, experimental chemotherapy agents we can try.
Adam: Could it work?
Doctor: Unlikely but possible.
Eve: At what cost to Adam?
Doctor: Let’s organise the PET scan for next week and take it from there.
(Doctor exits. Eve, Mum and Adam are shell shocked).
Eve: It doesn’t look good.
Adam: You can’t give up hope. I’ve beaten the odds before, I’ll do it again. I need to try whatever might work.
Eve: It’s up to you of course. I just don’t want to see you suffer.
Adam: Hey, we’d better get a move on. We’ve got to get ready for Cats.
Mum: Do you still want to go? After this?
Adam: Absolutely. Grown men and women in lycra, jumping around pretending to be feline. Wouldn’t miss it for the world. (pause) What are we going to do otherwise? Sit around home and mope? We have tickets, we have transport, we have each other…
Eve: Are you sure?
(Light dim and rise to see Mum, Adam and Eve sitting in a row of seats centre stage. Adam is wearing a beanie. Music from the overture of the musical Cats is playing (track 12) and lighting effects to give impression of watching a stage show. Mum, Eve and Adam look numb and detached. A “Cat” dances around front of stage (spotlighted) and then around cast and playfully tries to lift Adam’s beanie off his head. Eve jumps up suddenly and lashes out physically, hitting the cat)
Eve: YOU LEAVE HIM ALONE!!
(Cat recoils in shock and horror and moves away quickly. Eve slowly sits. Adam and Mum look at her in disbelief)
Eve: (apologetically) He/ she was trying to take off Adam’s beanie. (use gender term appropriate to actor playing the role of the cat)
(Excerpt from “Memory” from Cats (track 13) Lights dim and rise to see Adam and Eve in the lounge – stage L. A pizza box is on the coffee table. Adam is wearing a beanie)
Adam: I don’t think I’ll have any pizza.
Eve: I thought you said you were hungry?
Adam: I am, but pizza’s not very good for me.
Eve: What’s wrong with it? You love pizza.
Adam: I’ve decided to start watching my cholesterol.
Eve: What on earth for?
Adam: Heart disease, strokes, all those things. You should know, you’re the doctor.
Eve: (frustrated) But they are very long term issues. You don’t have to worry about them. You can eat pizza and bacon and even pure lard if you want to. It doesn’t matter.
Adam: (defensively) Well it does to me.
Eve: I’m sorry, Adam. You’re right. If you don’t want to eat pizza, I’ll make you something else. A salad sandwich?
Adam: Nah, I think I’ll go back to Mum’s. She’s home alone at the moment and I think she would appreciate some company.
Eve: I’ll come along too if you want.
Adam: I don’t think so. Genevieve, there’s something I need to talk to you about.
Eve: That doesn’t sound good.
Adam: I can’t do this anymore.
Eve: Do what?
Adam: This. Us.
Eve: What?! You’re breaking up with me?! Where did this come from?
Adam: I need to focus all of my energy on fighting this cancer right now. I just don’t have enough for you as well.
Eve: You don’t have to do anything for me. I’m here to support you. I’m the wind beneath your wings, remember?
Adam: I can’t stand seeing how much being with me is hurting you.
Eve: Not being with you would hurt me more.
Adam: I can’t worry about you worrying about me. You need to not be involved, forget about me, forget about this.
Eve: There is no off switch when you love someone. I AM involved. Totally involved. That’s just the way it is.
Adam: I’m sorry Eve. It can’t be that way. You have to let go. I have to let go.
(Adam exits, Eve stands in stunned silence. Lights dim, Eve walks forward and is spotlighted. She sings excerpt from Adam Smile – unaccompanied)
Your smile’s holding my heart,
It’s holding my soul,
It’s holding my all,
Don’t let a frown show.
Oh Adam, please Adam,
Don’t let me fall.
(Spotlight dims. Eve walks back to couch. Lights up. Knock on door.)
Eve: Come in.
(Adam enters, wearing different shirt, visibly upset. Eve rises to meet and they clasp hands)
Adam: Eve, my darling Eve. Forget what I said yesterday. I love you. I need you. I can’t do this without you. Please forgive me. Please take me back.
(Adam and Eve hug with emotion. Adam exits. Lights dim. Excerpt from “Adam Smile” (track 14) Lights rise to see Eve on couch reading a medical journal)
(Knock on door.)
Eve: Come in.
(Adam enters, wearing a different shirt)
Adam: (looking awkward) I just wanted to say goodbye. I’ve decided to go back to Quilpie for a month or so. I don’t think we should contact each other again. It will be easier for both of us to make it a clean break this time.
Eve: Oh Adam.
(Adam exits, Lights dim. Excerpt from “Adam Smile” (track 15) Lights rise to see Eve lying on couch)
(Knock on door.)
Eve: (wearily) Come in.
Mum: Genevieve, I’m sorry to disturb you.
Eve: You’re not disturbing me at all. You’re always welcome, Carrol. Please come in and sit down. Can I get you a drink?
Mum: No thanks.
Eve: I thought you were in Quilpie with Adam.
Mum: We only stayed a fortnight. He was getting terrible headaches and they rushed us back to Brisbane.
Eve: Another tumour?
Mum: In the same place as before. They operated last week. Took out most of his occipital lobes. They say he’ll never be able to see properly again.
Eve: Oh Carrol, I’m sorry.
Mum: He hasn’t bounced back like last time. He’s really sick, Eve.
Eve: He’s been through so much. Why are they still doing these terrible things to him? Why can’t they leave him alone?
Mum: They’re trying to save his life.
Eve: I know. I’m sorry. It’s just so frustrating.
Mum: I miss you. You’ve been like a daughter to me. I know Adam misses you too… a lot… although he doesn’t like to talk about it. It was just all too much for him at the time, you know?
Eve: I understand. I really do. It hasn’t changed the way I feel about him at all. It is so hard sitting here not knowing what is going on though. Not seeing him. Not sharing the precious time he has left.
Mum: Will you go and see him? I think he’d like that.
Eve: Of course. Neurosurgery Ward 2B?
Mum: Bed 16.
(Lights dim. Excerpt from “Adam Smile” (track 16) Lights dim rise to see Adam lying in hospital bed. Bed has been moved forwards and chairs from medical area removed. Bandages around his head. Looks unwell. Eve approaches.)
Adam: (joy in voice) Eve? Is it really you?
Eve: It’s me, Adam. Hey, bed 16. You finally scored a window bed.
Adam: Yeah, after having surgery which has destroyed most of my vision. One of life’s cruel ironies.
Eve: I forgot. I’m so stupid. Please forgive me.
Adam: Nothing to forgive, Eve. How are you?
Eve: Getting by.
Adam: Still working those long hours?
Eve: I’m doing a term in general medicine now. Hours aren’t as bad as before. (pause) So, how are you going?
Adam: (speaking slowly and with pauses) Not great. There was no walking out of intensive care within 24 hours this time. I’m like the piece of elastic that has been stretched one time too many. The bounce… the spring is not there like it was. They say you grow the most through your hardest times. I must be having a growth spurt. But I gain strength from believing that God knows what is best for me and that there is a plan, a purpose behind all of this. God is bigger than cancer.
Eve: I’ve missed you. So much.
Adam: Just remember, my beautiful Eve, that life on earth is about this much (gestures with his hands a space of about 15 centimetres) while eternity is about this much (spreads arms as wide as he can). We will spend a lot more time together but now isn’t the right time for me, for us. I’ll be waiting for you.
(Noise of fireworks are heard – track 17 – started during previous dialogue)
Adam: What’s that sound?
Eve: (voice choked with emotion) Fireworks. It’s Ekka time. There’s a great view of them from up here.
Adam: I promised that I would watch them with you this year, remember?
Eve: I’ll never forget.
Adam: I can’t really see them but I’m with you. Promise kept?
Eve: (tearfully) Absolutely. Thank you, Adam. Thank you for everything.
(Adam holds out his hand to Eve. She takes it, then lays her head on his lap. Excerpt from “Adam Smile” (track 18) Black out).
SCENE 14 : CLOSING MONOLOGUES (optional)
(Doctor, Mum, Adam and Eve are standing spread out across the front of the stage with their backs to the audience. Each one turns and steps forward and then back for his/her monologue which is individually spotlighted.)
Doctor: Adam died at 3:30am on the 12th of November, 2000. He was 22 years old. Testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer in males aged 15 to 35. In the year 2000, 604 Australian men were diagnosed with testicular cancer. Adam was one of the 17 who died from it that year.
Adam: I was never really myself again after that second brain tumour surgery. It left me so weak, so tired. My faith in God remained strong, grew stronger in fact, but I lost sight of the world around me, literally. Within weeks, more tumours appeared, scattered throughout my brain. The doctors never gave up on me though, trying every possible treatment they could, trying to cure me. Did I want this? I don’t remember. Should I have said enough is enough earlier? Probably. I used to say that I would walk away… that I would go out bush and die out there, looking up at the starry sky. But when push came to shove, I couldn’t say no when offered a chance of cure. I couldn’t surrender while hope remained.
Mum: Adam is the second child I’ve buried. The death of a child causes a crippling grief. The death of two is indescribable. Seeing Adam’s prolonged suffering… his unspeakable pain and distress… his progressive decline… will stay with me forever. I don’t know why God chose to take Adam from us but knowing that there is a reason, that it was part of His plan, was the only thing that kept me going through those first dark months.
Doctor: I know we can’t cure everyone. I’ve been an oncologist for over 20 years. I’ve lost dozens of patients, hundreds perhaps. You try to remain detached while still caring about each patient and family but some cases find their way in through a chink in your armour. You find yourself getting a bit too personally involved, trying desperately to beat the malignant beast raging in your patient’s bodies, sometimes not seeing the bigger picture. The young patients are the hardest, especially those with cancers we think we should be able to cure. Like testicular cancer. Like Adam. Adam in particular. He had a spark, an energy about him that lit up the room. A favourite of all the nurses. A cheerful and loving larrikin in the face of adversity. He was the fighter of all fighters. He was the one who was supposed to beat the odds. I had a tough time letting go. We all did.
Eve: They told us in medical school that we would learn more from real life patients than we would ever learn from lectures and textbooks. Especially from patients we can’t fix. Patients who die. They were right. What they didn’t tell us was that watching a loved one struggle with and ultimately lose his or her battle against an incurable disease, would not only change us as people forever, but it would also change us as doctors, teach us things that years of medical training could not.
Adam gave me a very special gift. Through our journey together, I learned that treating cancer is so much more than trying to cure. It’s more than trying to alleviate symptoms when cure is not possible. It is more than whether the patient lives or dies. It is about how whatever life left is lived, and ultimately, how one dies. And as a doctor, you need to treat not only the patient, but the family and friends. The ones they love. The ones who love them. Those living through the illness with them. Those left behind afterwards. A patient’s death is not the end of the story.
Adam has helped me help countless others, and continues to do so. He’s made me a better doctor. He’s made me a better person. I owe him so much. I can’t pay it back but I am paying it forwards.
In August 2000, Adam asked me to share his story with others. I gave him my word that I’d do so. I’m sure that he’d be pleased if he were watching now.
Excerpt from “Adam Smile” (track 19) for bows.
Sample of Adam Smile (MP3) here
Original Words for Adam Smile:
Something lit up inside me when we first met,
I couldn’t let you just pass me by,
I felt a spark ignite when we started to talk
And looked each other in the eye.
I can usually conceal my feelings and thoughts,
I can take most things in my stride.
But your vibrant display of personality,
My reaction I couldn’t hide.
When you looked at me and smiled,
You picked me up like a child,
‘Cause when I saw your look,
My heart you took,
And it lifted me up so high.
Your smile’s holding my heart,
It’s holding my soul,
It’s holding my all,
Don’t let a frown show.
Oh Adam, please Adam,
Don’t let me fall.
I’ve never met a guy like you Adam,
Your strength and faith inspires me,
The wisdom you’ve gained is not easily found,
But I wish hardship would leave you be.
For I want to be there for all of your life,
I want to know you through and through,
I’ll stick by you and hold you when the going gets rough,
Just to your heart please be true.
You’re my friend, my four leaf clover,
And your lips I can’t get over,
When you hurt I break,
But when you smile you take
My whole breath away with you.
Do you believe the power,
Do you believe the power,
Of your smile?
Smile at me and choose me,
Don’t shut me out and lose me,
If you really don’t want me here Adam dear,
I’d understand though I’d be upset,
I’d respect your wishes and leave you alone,
But your smile I will never forget.
But please smile at me tonight,
And lift me up to that height,
And if you love me so,
Never let me go.
I’ll stay here Adam, at your side.
Your smile’s holding my heart,
It’s holding my soul,
It’s holding my all,
Don’t let a frown show.
Oh Adam, please Adam,
Don’t let me fall.