The vinceunlimited Dictaphone Sketch
Type: 5 minute sketch with 4 to 6 actors set inside a six person train compartment (or could be set elsewhere, such as dentist waiting room) with moving train sound effects continuously (unless at the dentist).
The sketch starts with the non speaking roles already seated (or one or two may enter and leave as required). One man in a mackintosh should be seated prominently, reading a newspaper. Another man enters and also takes a prominent position. A young lady is in the scene.
The second man looks about, then brings out a Dictaphone. The others take no notice. He clears his throat, switches on the machine and speaks.
"Letter please ..."
All the others look at him. The man in the mackintosh glances over his paper.
The dictaphone man continues. "Letter please. To go to John Fredericks Limited ..."
The others start to lose interest as he continues. "At Watford branch. For the attention of Mister J. Fredericks. Dear sirs, I have convened the meeting to discuss your proposals for the new block to be in my office on the twenty-first at ten thirty a.m. New paragraph. Please advise your budget costing to me beforehand by return. Signed, yours faithfully etcetera ... etcetera."
The man smiles sheepishly at the few passengers who have bothered to look up at him as he finishes. He puts the recorder away.
The dictaphone man looks around. He is clearly bored.
He again reaches for his machine. "Memo. please ..."
All passengers again look up. He continues unabated. "... to go to Sam Prendell, reference your planning application for the Woods Green Development. Sam, please forward your outline proposals showing the extension to the Cricket Club. Signed etcetera ... etcetera."
He again smiles sweetly as he puts the machine away.
Immediately he gets it out again and continues unashamedly. "Letter!" He bellows.
They all look. "To go to Richard Dickens in Shropshire. Dick, I placed the device in the cloakroom on the fourth floor. Stop. It should go off at about four o'clock when the lobby is full. Stop. Expected casualties could run into the hundreds. Signed etcetera ... etcetera."
The passengers start to get edgy. The man in the mackintosh's interest grows.
"Just kidding." He says. The others are visibly relieved.
He continues. "New letter. No, memo. To my wife Jane. Darling, I have some business to attend to early this evening. Won't be home until at least ten o'clock. Love. Etcetera ... etcetera."
He continues almost immediately. Letter to go to Mark Chalice. Mark the agreed time for the Securicor hit is eight thirty. Kevin estimates two hundred thousand but Peter thinks it could be more. Stop. New paragraph. Don't forget the cutting gear. Signed etcetera ... etcetera. Oh, and Mandy. Make sure this one's not on our headed paper and remember to use a stamp like I said, not the franking machine. See you later."
The tension in the carriage returns.
"Finally. Oh, what the hell. Letter to go to Scotland Yard, London. For the attention of Detective Inspector Robbins. To read. Robbins. You are useless. As you read this letter another poor victim lies with a slit throat ..." The young woman passenger stifles a shriek.
"... Try searching the tracks near ..." He looks out of the window. "Near Wolverton Station. Signed. The Slug. Train murderer."
He smiles at those who are now looking at him, incredulously. "End of dictation." He puts his machine away.
The man in the mackintosh calmly folds his paper and puts it down. He reaches inside his coat and pulls out his own dictaphone.
He says. "Internal memorandum please. To Chief Constable Maxwell. From D.I. Robbins, C Division. Sir, at last I think we have a break on that Slug character. I am hot on his trail and I expect a result any time now."
You are welcome to use this sketch, on stage or video but credit and royalties must be given to Vince Poynter as the author. An invite to see it performed would also be welcomed, along with requests for more sketches, which can be scripted on any subject. Contact me for more information. You may find yourself treated like a special friend or a Royal visitor. Unless you contact me after 10 p.m. in which case I'll be asleep. Not that an email will actually wake me up. I have learnt to switch off that irritating bleep. So it's safe to click away at your leisure.
Author: Vince Poynter
Version 5.053 8 Jan 2018
First Published: Version 1.02 in Mar 2004 [When dictaphones were still a bit of a thing]
The image depicts a classic British red telephone box and was added in Version 5.051 4 Jan 2018
Interesting fact: Dictaphone is a trademark owned by Nuance Communications in Massachusetts, following purchase of the rights from a company called Dictaphone which was originally founded by Alexander Graham Bell, the dude from the telephone invention trade. However, the term is now widely used to describe all micro-cassette type hand-held voice dictation recorders