The First Patient
Play the role of any character, read aloud to enjoy this amusing play, where the unexpected turn of events along with wild imagination add humour to the situation in a dentist’s clinic.
Men: 1−8 Nurse
Women: 1−8 Little Girl
Dentist Small Boy
Scene: When the curtain rises the following characters are seated in a dentist’s waiting room: Women 1−8 and Men 1−8. Some of them are reading magazines or newspapers. Man 4 has a rough bandage tied round his jaw. He is holding the bandage and groaning. Man 3, Woman 5 and Woman 6 are just entering the waiting-room.
Woman 5: We’ll have some time to wait before the dentist sees us, dear.
Woman 6: So I see.
Woman 5: But I’ll show you some of my holiday photographs to pass the time.
(Man 3, Woman 5, and Woman 6 sit. Woman 5 takes a packet of photographs from her handbag. Throughout the play she concentrates on showing her photographs.)
Man 5: What time do you make it, Jack?
Man 6: Almost eight-thirty. The dentist should be along any moment now.
Woman 6: Isn’t it a dreadful hour of the morning to see a Dentist! I’m not half awake yet.
Man 5: I hope he won’t be long. I’m going to be late for work anyway.
Man 6: Something should be done about dental hours. I’ve always said so and I’ll go on saying so.
Woman 6: Good, the dentist shouldn’t be long now.
Woman 5: And this is one of the boarding houses at Waddling-on-sea. Our boarding house. Those are the steps I fell up. We nearly died laughing.
Woman 6: It looks quite a nice place.
Woman 5: Oh, it was, it was. And the landlady was a dear.
(Woman 5 shows another photograph.)
This is one of hers. You can’t quite see her face.
You see, my finger got in the way, but she has such a nice face.
Woman 6: I’m sure she has.
(Enter Woman 7 and the Little Girl.)
Woman 7: Oh, do come along, Dorothea.
Little Girl: I don’t want to see the dentist. I won’t! I won’t!
Woman 7: Now, Dorothea, remember what your daddy said. If you won’t have your teeth seen to, no more ice-lollies.
Little Girl: I don’t want any ice-lollies.
(The Little Girl is dragged to her seat by Woman 7. She sits weeping. Man 4 groans loudly.)
Woman 4: Here’s the dentist.
Woman 3: And about time, too.
Dentist: Could I have the first patient, please?
(Exit Dentist into surgery.)
Woman: That’s you, Joe.
(Man 1 and Woman 1 stand.)
Man 1: Yes, that’s me.
Woman 1: Now, make sure he pulls out the right one, Joe.
Man 1: I will.
Woman 1: Good-bye, Joe, I’ll wait for you.
(Exit Man 1 into surgery. Woman 1 sits.)
Woman 2: I believe the Dentist is ever so good.
Woman 3: Yes, he took out six for Mrs. Johnstone, and she never felt a thing.
(Enter Woman 8 with the Small Boy.)
Woman 8: Now Maurice, there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Small Boy: I’m not afraid.
Woman 8: Just a little pull, and ever such a weeny tug, and all the pain will be gone.
Small Boy: There is no need to treat me like a baby. I’m not afraid of a dentist.
Woman 8: Now sit down quietly, Maurice, and I’m sure the nice dentist won’t be long.
Small Boy: I think I’ll get a magazine, I feel like reading.
(The small boy goes to the table and looks through the pile of magazines and newspapers.)
Woman 8: All right, dear, just as you like.
(Woman 8 sits.)
Man 5: I’m going to ask for gas. I’ll never forget the last time.
Man 1: I knew a chap once. He asked for gas. It was the last time he ever asked for anything.
Man 2: Is that a fact?
(Enter Nurse from the surgery. She walks across the stage and exits left.)
Man 4: I shouldn’t ask for gas, or any of these drugs either. It’s unnatural I say. Give me the old-fashioned methods.
Man 5:You can have them. I’ll have it without the pain.
Woman 5:And you’ll love this one, dear.
Woman 6: I’m sure I will.
Woman 5:It’s one of me riding a donkey along the sands.
Woman 6: Oh, I say!
Woman 5: Isn’t it a scream, dear? I sat on it the wrong way round, just for the laugh.
(Enter Nurse left, ferrying a large hammer. She crosses the stage and goes into the surgery.)
Man 6:Was that a hammer she was carrying?
Man 7:I’ve seen dentists use some queer tools.
Man 6:Well, if it wasn’t a hammer, I should be attending an eye specialist and not a dentist.
Woman 5:I hope he isn’t going to use it.
Man 3:It’s a peculiar thing to have in a surgery.
(The sound of hammering is heard from the surgery. Everyone looks at the surgery door and then at one another.)
Woman 1:Oh! Joe! My poor Joe! Oh, what will I do?1
Woman 2: I shouldn’t worry. The dentist probably knows what he’s doing.
Woman 1: Yes, but does Joe? Surely he’s not hammering on poor Joe’s tooth.
Woman 2: Now, sit down and don’t excite yourself. I’m sure Joe is quite all right.
(Woman 1 sits. There is more hammering from the surgery. Woman 1 is about to stand but Woman 2 restrains her.)
Woman 2:There, there, dear, do sit down quietly.
Man 5: I don’t like the sound of that.
Man 4:I shouldn’t worry. These dentists know what they’re doing. I hope.
(Nurse enters from the surgery and walks across the stage and out left. Everyone watches her in silence.)
Woman 7:She didn’t look very worried, anyway.
Woman 8: No, it’s the patient who worries.
Woman 7:I say let him worry. Worry is natural. It never did anyone any harm.
Woman 1:I wish you wouldn’t talk like that, with my poor Joe in there, may be writhing in agony.
(Enter Nurse left. She is carrying a large pair of pliers. She walks across the stage and into the surgery. Man 4 groans and everyone groans after him. Woman 1 watches in horror. She stands as the Nurse exits into the surgery.)
Woman 1: No, no, it can’t be true! They can’t do this to Joe. Not to my Joe.
(Woman 21 forces Woman 1 back into her seat.)
Woman 2:There, there, don’t upset yourself, dear.
There’s nothing to worry about.
(Woman 1 starts weeping and sobbing.)
Man 3: A bit big, wasn’t it?
Man 4:Nothing to what they used in the old days. I heard of a chap once the roots of whose teeth were wrapped round his jaw-bone. He was five hours in the chair.
Man 3:None the worse for it, I’ll bet.
(There is a sudden screech of metal from the surgery. Woman 1 gasps with horror and is about to make a dash for the surgery door when she is dragged back by Woman 2. Man 4 groans loudly. The Small Boy and the Little Girl at the table start a fight about a magazine they both want. Woman 8 and Woman 7 attempt to separate them. Through all this noise Woman 5 is still trying to show her photographs.)
Little Girl: It’s mine! It’s mine!
Small Boy:No, it’s mine! I saw it first.
Woman 7:Sit down, Dorothea. Sit down and be quiet. I’ll tell your daddy about this. Then there’ll be trouble. Really, it’s the last time I’ll bring you anywhere.
Little Girl: See if I care.
Woman 6:I wish some people would keep their children under control.
Woman 7: Well, really!
(At last the little girl and the small boy settle into their seats. They are both sulking.)
Man 2:There should be a special waiting-room for children.
(The metallic screech is heard again from the surgery. Fresh sobs from Woman1.)
Woman 1:I can’t stand it. Oh, Joe! Joe! Joe!
(Man 4 groans.)
Small Boy:What was that noise, Mummy?
Woman 8:Don’t ask awkward questions, Maurice.
Man 7:I’ll tell you, little boy. That noise was a man having a tooth out. That’s how it’s going to sound when you have yours out, only much, much louder, because then it’ll be inside your head.
Woman 6:What a thing to tell a small boy!
Man 6: Disgusting!
Man 7: It’ll do the lad good. Bring ‘em up natural, I always say.
Small Boy:Oh, Mummy, Mummy, take me to school!
Quick, take me to school!
Woman 8: Take you to school? What on earth do you mean?
Small Boy: I haven’t got toothache at all. I was only joking. I just wanted to get off school. Take me to school. Mummy, please.
Woman 8: I’ll take you to school all right (Woman 8 takes the Small Boy by the ear. She drags him out.) and I’ll get the headmaster to give you a good thrashing.
(Exit Woman 8 and the Small Boy. The Small Boy is yelling.)
Man 5: A little discipline, that’s what he wants.
(Woman 5 is still showing her photographs.)
Woman 5: This one should make quite an impression on you, dear.
(There is a loud hammering from the surgery.)
Woman 6: Yes, it does.
(Enter Nurse from the surgery).
Dentist’s Voice (off): Do hurry, Nurse or we’ll never get this thing shift.
(Nurse walks across the stage and off left.)
Man 6: Well, really, I don’t think I can wait.
Are You Ready (Standing.)
Man 5: Neither can I. I’ll be very late for work.
(Exit Man 5 and Man 6.)
Woman 6: But surely, they can’t really be using those tools to take out a tooth.
Woman 4: You heard what the Man said.
Woman 6: And those men have gone, too.
Man 7: Cowards, every one of them. They can’t take it.
Little Girl: Mummy, I was only joking about my toothache, too. I haven’t really got one. I was only trying to get off school.
Woman 7: Nonsense, Dorothea, you know your tooth is as black as the kitchen range. You’re only trying to get out of it.
(The Little Girl breaks into a howl.)
Man 2: I can’t stand howling children. I’m off.
Man 3: And I can’t stand them either. I’m coming with you.
(Exit Man 2 and Man 3.)
Woman 7:Now, see what you’ve done, Dorothea, you’ve chased those men away.
Little Girl: They’re lucky.
(The Little Girl howls again. The Nurse enters, this time with a hacksaw.)
Woman 1:Oh, Joe! Joe! He’ll never stand it. The sound of sawing always did put his teeth on edge.
Man 7:This time the saw will be on the edge of his teeth.
Woman 2: Oh, you horrible Man!
Man 7: Can’t I even make a joke?
Man 8: We need something to cheer us up.
Woman 4:Surely it’s against the law for a dentist to use a saw like that.
(The sound of violent sawing is heard from the surgery. Man 4 groans loudly.)
Woman 1: Oh no, Joe! No, Joe!
(Woman 1 makes a dash for the door but is prevented from opening it by Woman 2 and Woman 6.)
Woman 3:You really must control yourself.
Woman 2:There, there, dear. I’m sure it’s not as bad as it sounds.
(They place Woman 1 back in her seat.)
Woman 1:I’m not waiting to find out. I’ve heard enough.
Woman 3:I prefer to keep my toothache.
Woman 4:So do I. Me too. Those pliers would never fit my mouth, anyway. It’s better than being murdered, anyway.
(Exit Woman 3, Woman 4 and Woman 6.)
Man 7:Just watch them go, cowards every one of them.
Woman 2:It’s all very well you talking this way. You don’t seem to have any nerves at all.
Man 7:This is nothing to some of the things I’ve heard of. I could tell you things that would make your hair stand on end. There was once...
Woman 2:I’m sure we don’t want to hear it. My hair is standing on end already.
(The sawing is heard again, even louder and harsher this time. Woman 1 wails and Man 4 groans.)
Woman 5:Don’t you want to see any more of my holiday photos?
(Exit Man 8.)
Well, really, how rude!
(Woman 5 moves to Woman 7.)
Would you like to see some of my holiday photos?
Woman 7:Well, I don’t really…
Woman 5:Now, now, don’t be shy. Now, this one is a bit blurred, but down in the corner you can see my sister-in-law’s little boy.
(Woman 7 takes the offered photograph reluctantly and looks at it vacantly. The surgery door opens and the Dentist enters. He looks very hot and bothered. He stands in the doorway.)
Dentist: I’m fed up with this. I’m off to get someone who knows something about the job.
(The Dentist strides across the stage and exits left. For a moment Woman 2, Man 4, and Woman 5 sit gaping. Then Woman 1 wails, as Woman 2, Woman 7 and the Little Girl stand and make for the door left.)
Man 7: This is the end. I’m off.
(There are cries of “Me too”, “So am I”, “Here I go”, etc., and all except Woman 1 and Woman 5 go out in a hurry.)
Woman 5:Well, really, people are very rude.
(Woman 5 looks at the wailing Woman 1.)
Whatever is the matter, my dear?
Woman 1:It’s Joe! Poor Joe! Goodness knows what state he’s in now.
Woman 5:Joe? Who’s Joe? And what’s the matter with him?
Woman 1:I’m afraid to go in. I’m afraid to look. Joe’s my husband and that awful dentist has been working on him. He’s in there.
(Woman 1 points to the surgery.)
Woman 5:Well, I don’t suppose he has come to any harm.
(Woman 5 sits beside Woman 1.)
I tell you what, dear, you need cheering up. Here, you just have a look at my holiday photos. They’re ever so cheerful.
(Woman 1 breaks into fresh sobs.)
Woman 5:Oh, dear me! Where’s that very amusing one?
(Woman 5 looks through her photographs.)
I must have lost it. Ah, yes! It’ll probably be over there.
(Woman 5 walks across to her previous position and starts looking for the lost photograph. Woman 1 continues sobbing. Enter Man 1 from the surgery.)
Man 1:Why, whatever is the matter, Emily?
Woman 1:Joe, Joe, are you all right? Let me look at you, Joe!
Man 1:Of course I’m all right. Why shouldn’t I be all right?
Woman 1:But, Joe, all that hammering and sawing.
Man 1:Oh, that! That was only the dentist trying to force open his instrument cabinet.
Woman 1: His cabinet?
Man 1: Yes, you see he lost the key.
Woman 1:So he hasn’t done anything to you, Joe!
Man 1:Not a thing, and I can’t wait any longer this morning. I’ve made an appointment with him for this evening instead. The nurse gave me some pills to deaden the pain in the meantime.
Woman 1: Oh, Joe, I was so upset.
Man 1 :Well, it’s all right now, Emily, so let’s go.
(Woman 1 and Man 1 go out left. A moment later the Nurse enters from the surgery. She is walking across the stage when the Dentist enters left. The Dentist is waving a key.)
Dentist:I found it. Believe it or not, but it was under the telephone directory. What an awful waste of time!
Nurse:I’m afraid the first patient couldn’t wait. However, he made an appointment for this evening.
Dentist:Fair enough. I’ll take the next patient.
(Dentist goes into the surgery. Nurse turns to Woman 5 who is still looking at her photographs.)
Nurse :Now, madam, the dentist is ready.
(Woman 5 looks up.)
Woman 5: Do you mean me, Miss?
Nurse:Yes, would you step into the surgery, please?
(Nurse goes into the surgery.)
Woman 5:Dear me, that long queue did move quickly, didn’t it?
(Woman 5 follows the Nurse into the surgery.) CURTAIN
Christopher Victor Burgess is known as C V Burgess. He is a humorous playwright. His situational humour intensifies the emotions of the characters in the play. His plays usually accommodate a number of characters. His famous works are ‘Short Plays for Large Classes’, ‘Teach yourself Speech Training’ and ‘Classroom Playhouse Verse in Action’.
Given below is a list of tools and equipment. Associate them with the appropriate profession and complete the table.
plough hammer oven thermometer voltmeter wood chisel seed drill voltage detector cutting boards stone picker spatula cultivator nail puller wire strippers framing square fork flashlight
| Farmer | Carpenter | Electrician | Chef |
| plough | hammer | | |