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The Deciding Factor


 

John Tower is an outspoken judge on the hit talent TV show 'Star Potential'. As the play opens, he in his home at breakfast time. There is a report on the news about one of the contestants, Zoe Walker, who has committed suicide after appearing on the show and having been accused by John of 'being totally without a shred of talent'. A suicide note found beside the body suggests that his comments might have been the deciding factor.

His initial reaction however is to have a callous disregard for what happened, and he dismisses any thought of his comments having contributed to the event.

A few day's later John’s friend, Dan, comes round to discuss the new show they’re planning to pitch to the TV company. During the conversation we learn that John has been receiving hate mail and his initial arrogant confidence is starting to be shaken.

The balance is finally tipped when he gets a visit from a reporter who completely unnerves him (sample from this scene follows) and in his mind, he not only starts to accept responsibility for Zoe's death, but it begins to become an obsession. He collects photographs and, during a visit to her parents, steals some of her personal items which he keeps in a cupboard.

The TV company decide to rest him from the show until public antipathy towards him wanes - and this spurs him on to prove himself while, in his mind, making amends for Zoe's death at the same time. He plans to 'bring her back to life' by finding a lookalike he can nurture and train to become a major star. Amy is the same age and very similar in looks to Zoe. She goes along with his plan and starts to work with him to develop an act. He boasts that he can turn her from a nobody to a somebody in three months and has all the means he needs at his disposal. He also boasts that he has what it takes to influence some of the biggest names in show business. He has hundreds of contacts. He also knows who’s sleeping with whom, who is taking what drug-wise, who is into straight porn, gay porn, child-porn. Whatever there is to know, he has got it, so whenever he wants to call in a favour he can.

When his wife and other friends desert him, the obsession becomes complete. His determination to show the world the superstar he intends to create is all that matters. But, when Amy discovers, his 'shrine' to Zoe, there is a blazing argument and Amy too deserts him – but not before stealing his back up hard drive containing all the data he had boasted about. Knowing what it will mean in the hands of the media, what she has done to him is tantamount to taking his life.



Characters in order of appearance:

JOHN TOWER: Successful presenter and judge on TV Talent show 'Star Potential'. Big ego. Renowned for his acerbic comments on the contestants' performances. 35-40.

ANNA TOWER: His wife, loyal but whose patience is severely tested when faced by a sudden and unpredictable change in her husband's behaviour. Mid 30s

DAN: Colleague and long time friend of John's who is working on a new talent based TV show. Generally supportive, but like Anna gets exasperated by John. 35-40.

LUCY GLADSTONE: Newspaper reporter. Bright, sassy and very definitely planning her career path with little regard for who is in the way. 25-30.

AMY PULLMAN: Likeable young woman who gets caught up in the drama, not quite sure how she got there. Wants to succeed in the business, but rather naïve. 20-25.

In addition there are two short pre-recorded sequences with a weatherman and TV presenter