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Beneath the Surface (8-18s)

By James Beagon

Carpe Diem, so the saying goes.

Trapped by boredom, 5 friends explore a nearby cave in search of adventure and to leave their worries behind. However, the darkness provides no respite; their fears are drawn out in new and tangible ways, and to make things worse, something is now following them.

Beneath the Surface explores the pressures on young people today, in a world where life is treated like a scorecard. When you are constantly pressured to live life to the full, how do you deal with the pressures you already have?


An underground network of caves

First produced

June 2022; directed by James Beagon


Drama, Horror, Mental Health

Cast Size


Recommended for performers aged


Running Time

70 minutes

Recommended for audiences aged


Script Extract:

A half hour passes by. A dance of exploration as they move through the space and light up every corner. Then to end it, ROBIN pounces on FRAN, who screams.

ROBIN:                       Rargh!

FRAN:                         Go away, Robin.

ROBIN:                       Sorry.

FRAN:                         You don’t sound sorry.

ROBIN:                       Oh, come off it. It’s just a bit of fun. You remember that thing? Fun? You used to have it every now and then.

FRAN:                         Can we take a break? We’ve been walking forever.

ROBIN:                       Fine. Just don’t sit on any spiders.

TIM:                           What?!

LIZZIE:                      Ignore Robin. It’s Scotland. There’s nothing in here that can hurt you.

TIM:                           Then why did Robin say-

LIZZIE:                      To wind you up! Just…go back to whatever it is you do.

TIM returns to moving and watching the lights, seeing them slowly changing colour like Christmas tree lights.

ROBIN:                       So? What do we think?

LIZZIE:                      It’s alright.

BAILEY:                     Pretty cool.

ROBIN:                       See!

BAILEY:                     Got some photos of those things hanging off the ceiling back there. Like great big swords.

ROBIN:                       Stalagmites?

FRAN:                         Stalactites.

ROBIN:                       Whatever.

FRAN:                         There’s a difference.

BAILEY:                     Can’t wait to show my dad. He’ll be well impressed.

LIZZIE:                      Impressed you went exploring some cave?

BAILEY:                     Exploring – you said it yourself. That’s what he did all the time.

LIZZIE:                      Haven’t heard shooting people called that before.

BAILEY:                     That’s not the only thing the army does-

ROBIN intervenes.

ROBIN:                       No, NO. You’re not having this fight again. We’re having fun, remember?

LIZZIE:                      I’m sorry Robin, is the slaughter of innocent people-

Everyone groans. ROBIN quickly goes back to FRAN.

ROBIN:                       Enough! Fun! F-U-N. It’s summer. We’ve finally managed to have some sort of proper adventure for once, like you’re meant to. Don’t ruin it now.

LIZZIE:                      Like you’re meant to?

ROBIN:                       Yeah.

LIZZIE:                      What does that mean?

ROBIN:                       Well, it’s what you see people do, isn’t it?

LIZZIE:                      Where?

ROBIN:                       TikTok, TV, books. You know, they have stories. That’s what we’re doing right now.

FRAN:                         I don’t think my mum would like me having this particular story.

ROBIN:                       Then don’t tell her. Just tell everyone at school when we get back. Speaking of which…smile!

ROBIN gets out their phone. BAILEY and FRAN join in the photo.

LIZZIE doesn’t care. TIM is still watching the lights.

LIZZIE:                      I’m not telling anyone.

ROBIN:                       Why not?

LIZZIE:                      Cause I don’t need to. This was my adventure.

ROBIN:                       Our adventure.

LIZZIE:                      Whatever. I don’t need to immediately stick it online.

BAILEY:                     No signal down here anyway.

LIZZIE:                      Tim, what the hell are you doing?

Everyone else remembers TIM is there.

The pattern of lights and their frequency of changing has become more prominent.

 The amount of light is growing and Tim is handling them, moving them around.

BAILEY:                     Woah, what even are these?

FRAN:                         There were bunches of them the whole way down, didn’t you see?

ROBIN:                       Some explorer you are.

LIZZIE:                      Don’t touch them!

TIM:                           It’s fine!

LIZZIE:                      You don’t know that. Here, use my hand sanitiser.

TIM:                           But I need to move them so that we can-

ROBIN:                       Get a video of it.

FRAN:                         Or you could just watch it, like a normal person.

TIM:                           Look, they keep changing…but not all the time.

They all watch, but now that they are, the lights stay the same colour – white. ROBIN turns away.

ROBIN:                       Well, that got old quickly.

As ROBIN turns away, the lights change colour multiple times again.

TIM:                           There, they did it! And again!

FRAN:                         Turn out our lights! Let’s see it properly.

They all turn off their phone torches and stare at the lights. Once again, they just stay the same colour.

ROBIN:                       Come on, change.

TIM:                           You can’t just make something happen.

ROBIN:                       How do you know?

TIM:                           You have to be patient.

ROBIN turns their phone light back on.

ROBIN:                       We’re wasting time.

TIM:                           What time?

ROBIN:                       Time we could spend exploring.

FRAN:                         Just wait a second, Robin. You don’t need to rush everything.

BAILEY:                     I know how we can pass the time.

BAILEY rummages around in LIZZIE’s bag. There is a clink of glass.

LIZZIE:                      Hey, get out of there!

BAILEY withdraws a bottle.

BAILEY:                     Wehey.

LIZZIE:                      Give it back!

BAILEY shines his own light on it.

BAILEY:                     Sainsbury’s Basics gin. Classy. 40%…

LIZZIE turns her own light back on.

LIZZIE:                      Bailey.

BAILEY:                     Where did you get this?

LIZZIE:                      I bought it.

BAILEY:                     Without ID? Try again.

LIZZIE:                      It’s from…from my mum. And Tim’s dad.

TIM:                           You could just say Stepdad.

LIZZIE:                      No, I couldn’t.

ROBIN:                       They gave it you?

LIZZIE:                      I took it.

BAILEY:                     Well then, I’m sure they won’t mind if I-

FRAN:                         You’re going to start drinking in a dark cave? That’s incredibly stupid.

BAILEY:                     Don’t call me stupid.

LIZZIE:                      What else do you call someone who fails the army admission?

LIZZIE snatches the bottle and bag back from BAILEY. BAILEY approaches LIZZIE.

BAILEY:                     Yeah? Well, that bottle isn’t full. I’m not the one carrying this around with me and sipping from it all day like some jakey.

LIZZIE:                      What did you call me?

ROBIN:                       Guys, this isn’t-

BAILEY:                     You heard me. You got problems.

LIZZIE:                      You don’t know anything about me-

TIM:                           The lights!

BAILEY:                     We don’t care about-

TIM:                           Look!

The lights are now bright red.

ROBIN:                       They weren’t like that before.

TIM:                           When you were shouting, arguing, they-

Before he can finish the sentence, there is a distant rumble and roar.

The red lights from the corner of the cave suddenly snap out.

ROBIN:                       Tim, did you do that?

TIM:                           No. Why did you think I did?

FRAN:                         It was thunder.

LIZZIE:                      This far down?

Another rumble. The phone lights of those who switched them back on suddenly flicker out.

ROBIN:                       Shit!

BAILEY:                     I was on 50%.

TIM:                           The storm-

FRAN:                         Thunder doesn’t turn off phones.


LIZZIE:                      That’s not funny.


TIM:                           Robin, stop it.

ROBIN:                       It’s not-


FRAN:                         Get a light!

BAILEY:                     I’m trying!

SNORT. A silence. The five remain still.

Then a thunderous BELLOW.

ROBIN:                                   RUN!

The five scramble away desperately in the dark in different directions.

LIZZIE:                                  Not that way, THIS WAY!

FRAN:                                     Where are you?

Thunderous BELLOWS, SNORTS and STOMPS echo all around.


James Beagon

Youth Theatre Manager & Director: Monday 8-18s & Wednesday 11-14s

James is a director, playwright and creative learning facilitator who has lived and worked in Edinburgh for over a decade.

He has worked with Strange Town since 2015 and has written and directed a number of Strange Town productions including Stolen Futures (Traverse Theatre, June 2019) Beneath the Surface (Traverse Theatre, June 2022), Heart of the Storm & Something Special (Scottish Storytelling Centre, Dec 2021) and Over the Waves (Traverse Theatre, June 2023). In addition to his role as Youth Theatre Manager, he leads the Monday and Wednesday youth theatre groups.

Previous credits with his own group Aulos Productions include the award-winning Fringe productions First Class (2014) and Gobland for the Goblins (2017) and the award-nominated Women of the Mourning Fields (2015) and Antigone na hEireann (2018).

James has worked extensively as a freelance drama practitioner with companies including East Lothian Youth Theatre, Lyceum Youth Theatre, Youth Theatre Arts Scotland, Theatre Sans Accents and Acting Out Drama School.

He holds an MFA in Directing from Edinburgh Napier and an M.A. (Hons) in Ancient and Medieval History from Edinburgh University and has run workshops and guest-lectured at both institutions.

If you are interested in this script, please email James at james@strangetown.org.uk