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Okay guys... here we go... wish me luck. #puppetgate #allinarowplay #livetweet #amreading #ActuallyAutistic

Image Description: a copy of the play “All in a Row” lying on a blue pillow.
TW: #puppetgate

Okay, let’s start with the cover. My husband pointed out that the image has three upright cakes neatly lined up and the one blue cake that is fallen over. I assume that since there are four characters, the blue one is the autistic character. Out of place.
TW: #PuppetGate

Next you have big bios of all the cast and crew. Then there’s a two page preface written by Alex Oates and by golly he is TRYING. He uses identity first language (brownie points for that) and tries to explain everything including the puppet.
TW: #PuppetGate

But you can tell that after all this he still doesn’t really understand why we were upset. He talks about how as an NT he can only write things from an NT point of view (true enough) and how autism looks from that point of view (and there’s our problem)
He talks about how hard it is for families whose kids have behavioural challenges and the lack of support they get from the system. And I’d have more sympathy if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve already skimmed through this play and... yeah. No. That’s not the point. Really.
TW: #Puppetgate

“In telling their story I knew there was no way I could leave out their son, Laurence. While in the dialogue Tamara and Martin may voice their darkest worries and fears for Laurence...”
TW: #PuppetGate

“...I was certain that having his presence on stage would leave the audience in no doubt about their absolute love for him.”

Good. Because nothing relieves my doubt like people airing their darkest concerns right in front of their child.
TW: #PuppetGate

“Laurence is one autistic character with an extremely profound learning disability and set of behaviour including violence.”

Oh, he has a learning disability diagnosis on top of his autism diagnosis? I didn’t know that. I only ever saw autism mentioned.
TW: #Puppetgate

“I believe people with learning disabilities should be given the chance to tell their own stories.”

Wait. Alex Oates knows that autism isn’t a learning disability... right?

He was a carer for ten years.

The rest is all stuff we’ve heard before - why he picked a puppet, how sad he is that we didn’t like it, etc etc.
TW: #Puppetgate

“I hope this play can add to the conversation about the parenting of a severely autistic child.”

Ohhhh it has alright.
TW: #Puppetgate

Image: screenshot of opening of scene one. “Laurence jumps onto the sofa and starts bouncing; he makes shrieking happy sounds.”
TW: #puppetgate

Scene one starts with Gary the young carer and Laurence. Laurence keeps asking for more pizza by going to the fridge but Gary keeps saying no saying he has already had two. Kid is obviously still hungry. Not sure why he can’t have more?
TW: #puppetgate

My three year old has been known to scarf down four or five slices of pizza. An eleven year old boy could easily eat more than that.

But Gary the carer insists that dinner is over. Laurence chooses to watch Finding Nemo on his iPad.
TW: #puppetgate

Gary tries to get Laurence to say “film” with no success. Stage direction reads

“Laurence shows no interest in speaking and pushes the iPad toward Gary.”
When Finding Nemo starts up it is way too loud. Gary the carer says “too loud” and Laurence turns the volume down.

So we have now established clearly that Laurence can process spoken language and can interpret “too loud” to mean “turn the volume down” and he knows how.
TW: #Puppetgate

The opening of scene two has me baffled.

“Martin is in the space, lost in thought of what he’d say to Tamara if he had the courage...”

“Imprints. I’m thinking as I’m running after him. Imprints.”

What are imprints? Is this UK lingo I don’t know?
Okay I think I’ve figured out what is going on. Martin and Tamara are both monologuing. The imprints thing seems to refer to memories that he thinks of when he goes back to this park. He and his wife are both thinking/talking about when they first met. Before Laurence happened.
TW: #puppetgate

Now Tamora is talking about her invention, a heartbeat monitor that transfers the pulse of your loved one’s heartbeat to you. She calls it her “brain child”. Turns out she’s been flogging prototypes to investors for ten years.
TW: #puppetgate

Martin is remembering Laurence trying to take a child’s hula hoop and melting down and biting when the child doesn’t share. Martin ends up pinning him.
TW: Abuse, restraint, #puppetgate

“I kind of get him in the floor and hold him down. Press his arms by his side. The kind of restraint they call child abuse, the only kind that stops him biting you.”

...The kind that killed Max Benson two months before this play debuted.
TW: #puppetgate

When Martin finally releases his son,

“The adrenaline goes and he shits himself.”

He walks his son home, ruffles his hair, showers him, puts him to bed.

Doesn’t say if he talks to him.
TW: #puppetgate

“It was about a week after this that I started shitting on your pillows.”

Wow so that’s not even a plot twist, huh? Told us outright in the opening scenes.
TW: #puppetgate

“Actually I started pissing on your books. In the battery port of your iPad. Your makeup table. Why? A break from playing Xbox. Because I could. Because if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em. It feels good. I can see why he does it.”

Holy hell, Martin needs a doctor.
TW: self harm #puppetgate

“I started biting myself. To see how it feels.”

Seriously this is not the behaviour of a mentally well man.

Was all this BEFORE social services started investigating?
TW: #puppetgate

“But I didn’t do it. There’s no way I ever would have done it. I love him too much to risk losing him.”

Well now I’m confused. Is he urinating on things and biting himself or not?

Allistics make my head hurt.
TW: #puppetgate

Okay, now that we’ve met all the main characters it’s time to get this play started. Martin the pillow pooping dad has walked in and started joking to Gary that he wishes Laurence would watch cartoons with “more fuckable characters”. Gary is uncomfortable.
TW: #puppetgate

Laurence is leading his father to the fridge. His father agrees with Gary that he had had enough dinner, what with having seconds and all.

Again, I just want to say that in my household my kids can have as much dinner as they want. Is that not normal?
TW: #puppetgate

Martin distracts his son from the thought of pizza by redirecting him back to Nemo.

Now he’s talking about Disney porn. “The thing about the seven dwarfs is they have normal size cocks.”

...I don’t even know how to address everything wrong with that sentence
TW: #puppetgate

Martin has, in the space of a few lines, discussed bukkake, felatio, and pornography in the presence of his son.

His employee is understandably uncomfortable.
TW: #puppetgate

Martin has now switched gears and is accusing Gary the carer of “making the call.” Ah, maybe that’s what he meant earlier when he said he “didn’t do it”. “It” is the call to social services I think.
TW: #Puppetgate

Gary the carer says he didn’t make the call, even when Martin points out that he was legally and professionally obligated to report the bruises.

Gary says “I wouldn’t want to put myself out of a job.”

Don’t we feel warm and fuzzy about all these people.
TW: #puppetgate

“You understand bruises are normal with a kid who turns into a pittbull when he doesn’t get an extra pizza.”

...I was told explicitly in the Q&A that Laurence is not made fun of in this play. Explicitly.
TW: #PuppetGate

The conversation has turned now to Tamora’s attempts to cure Laurence - toxoplasmosis comes up and Martin is enjoying freaking out his cat-owning employee with toxoplasmosis facts. Such a sweet man.
TW: #PuppetGate

Now Martin is comparing his wife to a parasite because she has never sold her Heart2Heart gadget just keeps getting investors to give her money. Fair comparison really.

Don’t forget his son is sitting right there through all of this.
TW: #PuppetGate

“Laurence is getting increasingly unsettled. He gets up and walks around.”

Even though he didn’t ask for pizza again they keep telling him he has had enough. Doesn’t seem to occur to them that he might be unsettled by the conversation.
TW: #PuppetGate

Laurence is now making a “Makaron” sign for cake. I looked up Makaron and it looks like it uses BSL in a simplified way.

“No cake, you’ve had enough”

Can anyone explain to me why they don’t want to feed this child?
Okay, back from a sanity break. The dogs decided they needed to go out at midnight so we had a walk.

TW: #puppetgate

Laurence is heading for meltdown demanding cakes. They assume he wants something called Mr Kipling which I assume has nothing to do with the jingoist doggerel
TW: #PuppetGate


Gary: "Time out. Down. Larry. Time out. Stop it now. Naughty. Naughty."

Is that really their go-to to diffuse a situation like this? REALLY?
TW: Restraint, #puppetgate

"Laurence screams and goes for Martin, trying to bite, scratch and pull hair. Gary gets in between them and pulls Laurence away. They tussle in the living room for minutes until Gary manages to get him on the sofa with a cushion holding him down."
TW: #puppetgate

Laurence has calmed down a bit or at least stopped fighting, and Martin and Gary are still discussing him as though he can't hear them.

Gary: It's not personal, he just rages.

Martin: He's my kid, not the fucking Incredible Hulk. For fuck's sake.
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora has arrived on the scene. Laurence immediately leads her to the fridge. She surprises him with a takeout pizza from her bag and Laurence is delighted. Martin is pissed because he feels undermined.
TW: #PuppetGate

Martin: "Mummy is spoiling you, yes she is. Is Mummy on the wine again? Yes she is, yes she is."

I have lost any sympathy I might have once had for this man.
TW: #Puppetgate

Tamora: "Half now and half in twenty minutes. Mummy will set a timer. Gary, do you have the iPad?"

Gary: "I'll set a timer. Plate, Larry. Plate."

Laurence puts half the pizza on a plate and eats it.
Tamora and Martin are sniping at each other in that fake-nice with menacing sarcastic undertones that are so very uncomfortable to be around. Tamora asks Gary to take Laurence into another room to eat.
There is no stage direction saying that Gary and Laurence exit, and Gary continues to participate in the conversation so the "other room" must be onstage and nearby.
TW: #puppetgate

Conversation quickly flickers from bitching about Mr Kipling cakes to snarking at each other about their day to discussing the move to Ridgemount, presumably the institutional school.
TW: Puppetgate

Tamora mentions that Laurence keeps unpacking his bag. There's a social story that Gary has read to him about the move.

Tamora: "Social story. Of course,. I'm sure it will help, he's bright you know. He is bright."

What does that have to do with anything.
TW: #PuppetGate

With Tamora out of the room, Martin begins badgering Gary about whether he thinks the move to school is a good idea. I assume Laurence has not been left unattended and can therefore hear the following conversation.
TW: #Puppetgate, restraint, institutionalization

Gary expresses hope that the move will be good for Laurence, but also expresses concerns about the rules around restraint.

"They have to comply with all these regulations we don't...."
TW: #PuppetGate, restraint, institutionalization

Gary: "It's not easy to get him into a proper hold is it?"
Martin: "They can just put him in his room."
Gary: "They aren't allowed to hold the door."
TW: #puppetgate

Martin and Gary discuss the risk of Laurence being sectioned, sent to a psychiatric hospital and sedated/drugged if he can't be kept calm in his new school.

Keep in mind Laurence is listening to all this but it's okay they have a SOCIAL STORY!
Oh God I just saw what's coming and I need to tap out for the night. I'll be back though tomorrow...
Okay folks. It’s morning, my kids are watching power rangers, I have my Diet Pepsi and the strength to continue.
And my stim blanket. Decided to grab that to. You understand.
Tamora discovers feces on her pillow. She blames Laurence. We already know it was his Dad. Martin “barely contains his grin.”

He’s delighted his son is being blamed. I’m so glad Alex Oates wanted us to feel the absolute love for their son.
TW: #puppetgate

Tamora re-enters the room.

“You bloody little monster. I won’t miss this.”

Imagine being Laurence. You didn’t do it. Your father did. And your mother says this to you.
TW: #PuppetGate

Okay. This next page is so dense with awfulness that my instinct is just to photograph and quote the whole page. But I can’t just screencap the whole play and besides this deserves to be broken down.
TW: PuppetGate

The carer is very apologetic because he feels responsible and yet he can’t imagine when Laurence committed the offence because he kept such a close eye on him.

He offers to pay. The mother declines. She puts the blame squarely on Laurence.
TW: #PuppetGate

Martin feigns sympathy asking if it was her good pillows and commenting on how hard they are to clean.

Tamora: “it’s like he knows!”

This illustrates how oblivious they think he is for all she says he is so “bright.”
TW: #puppetgate

They do not sit down with Laurence and try to talk to him about the behaviour. They continue to talk about him as if he is not in the room. There is no stage reaction as to how the puppet should behave during this scene.
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora remarks that in some ways it is fitting that this happened on Laurence’s last night.

“Reminding me there are some things I won’t miss. Isn’t that awful. Can a mother say that?”

Look, parenting is hard. I get together with my mom friends and we beef about our kids’ behaviour. It’s good to vent and problem solve together. We do it when the kids are OUT OF THE ROOM.
TW: #PuppetGate, alcohol

Martin is now drinking beer and pressuring Gary to have one. Tamora reminds him that Gary is responsible for Laurence. Probably fretting about her pillows or something.
TW: #PuppetGate

Ah! Stage direction for the puppet. Laurence is beginning to shift about “making noises”.

Tamora: He looks tetchy, is he? Tetchy?

Martin: It’s the cake.
TW: #puppetgate

There is so much to unpack here. Is Tamora aware that her son may be upset about being called a monster and hearing that his mother is at least partially glad he’s leaving?

Is Martin feeling guilty that his son got unfairly blamed?

Or... no?
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora is wondering if all the wheat in the pizza has upset his stomach. Yeah, that’s obviously the problem.
TW: #PuppetGate

Gary announces that he managed to get Laurence to eat some melon earlier.

Tamora: “You did! Good boy! Who’s a good boy eating melon for Gary. How did you do it?”
TW: #PuppetGate

Gary reveals he achieved The Melon Miracle by using stim play - balling the melon, making it in into shapes, arranging it by size.

Tamora dubs this “genius”.

In 11 years they never tried this?

Seriously autism parents. You need us #ActuallyAutistic people.
TW: #Puppetgate

Martin has left to get the Mr Kipling cakes. You’d think they would stockpile the things or at least bring some for Laurence’s last night. You can tell it’s a thing.

Tamora pours herself some wine.
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora and Gary are making polite conversation in that way that allistics do. He asks about her gadget. She asks about his cat.

Martin and Tamora keep bringing up Gary’s cat but they don’t seem to know its name. Gary = has a cat, to them.
TW: #PuppetGate

Oh Jesus H Merciful. Tamora is now wondering if “they” will “revoke” her “special parent card”. If “they” will judge her because she “couldn’t cope”.

This is SUCH an allistic kind worry that I can’t even.
TW: #PuppetGate

Just to be clear, her child is moving 200 miles away to an institution and she is worried about how it will affect her standing in society.
TW: #PuppetGate

She is now talking about how “depressing” it is that she and the other “special parents” talk about different milestones than other parents.
TW: #puppetgate

By the way if anyone wants a screenshot of a particular exchange just ask me. I want to keep it accessible to text-to-speech folks and avoid copywrite violations so I’m summarizing big swaths but I’ll understand if some of you need to see go believe.
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora is now expressing envy of a friend whose daughter is in a wheelchair because “she can’t eat actual food, can she? So at least you can control that.”

She says she could handle high care needs it’s the behaviour problems she can’t cope with.
TW: #PuppetGate

Sigh. Okay. They talk about a photo book that his school made for him as a going away. Tamora asks if Gary thinks Laurence can recognize people in photos.
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora: “I do wonder about that. If I Skype him. Will he recognize me or bat the iPad away. Stare blankly like I’m a Space Invader or Tetris piece.”

Gary: “He did seem to.”

Tamora: “At least he didn’t piss on it.”
TW: #puppetgate #allinrowplay

It is at this point that I would once again like to point to the Q&A where I was directly assured that no one makes fun of Laurence, let alone in his presence.…

Image Description: screenshot of the previous quote.
And now I need to pause again because the household is getting livelier and I keep getting interrupted which makes me punchy so ima go be a parent and I’ll come back to this in the evening.
Okay guys! I’m back! And #puppetgate readthru of #allinarowplay continues...
TW: #puppetgate

When we last left our zeros, Martin the literally shitty father was out buying French fancies and the mother is chatting with the carer over whether her son can tell his mother from a lego figure.
TW: #puppetgate

Gary the carer reassures Tamora that he did not make he call to social services.

“I know there’s procedure, I know. But my loyalty is to you guys and I’d never have dropped you in it.”

Okay, but you should have because procedures exist for a reason.
TW: #puppetgate

Tamora offers Gary wine. He reminds her that he’s responsible for Laurence.

“Oh, Martin’s right, it’s your last day.”
TW: #puppetgate

It’s becoming obvious that Gary, being only twenty years old and perhaps rather timid by nature, has no idea how to stand up to his employers. He doesn’t say yes to the wine but Tamora pours him a glass and he doesn’t object.
TW: #puppetgate

Tamora confesses that sometimes she wonders if she should give Laurence alcohol. “Then he’d at least be sleepy.” Then she begs Gary not to tell anyone she said that. I can almost sympathize with her. Most parents I know have made that joke when baby is teething.
TW: Puppetgate

Tamora starts asking Gary how the police treated him. Gary is vague and evasive. Actually, that’s Gary in a nutshell right there. Vague and evasive.
TW: #puppetgate

Gary points out that “a few bruises” are nothing compared to the bite marks Laurence inflicts and muses on the fact that he scraped his knee a lot as a child and no one ordered a review. Tamara agrees that it isn’t fair and they beef about the system.
TW: #puppetgate

Tamora is pissed that the authorities ranked them “2/5” on “warmth of family bond.” I’m shocked they got that high.

Now she’s boasting about how much money she donates to “the special kids”. What does that have to do with family bond?
Side note: I don’t understand the finances of this family. Martin doesn’t appear to have a job, even though Laurence goes to school. Tamora lives for this heart gadget of hers, which is not yet for sale and is funded by investors.
Now I’ve watched enough Dragons Den to know that when people invest in a product, that doesn’t usually include paying a big salary to the entrepreneur. Yet Tamora can pay for the house, Gary, and “donate thousands of pounds”.

Is she... committing fraud with investment funds?
I mean, she obviously also does motivational speaking because she was speaking at a school during her opening monologue but Martin implies that it’s an occasional gig not a streaky paying job.
TW: Puppetgate

Apparently the authorities ranked them 1/5 on “identity” because they don’t have a religion.
Tamora: “He is a fully paid up member of the arranging objects in a straight line society. Chairman of the smooshing pizza into carpet and Vice President of shitting on pillows covenant.”

Image Description: screencap of the Q&A where they say no one makes fun of Laurence.
TW: #PuppetGate

I’m beginning to realize that the unspoken end to the trailed off “they haven’t seen it so....” is “...we don’t have to admit how much crap they say in front of this poor kid.”
TW: #PuppetGate

Gary: “It’s only because he can’t speak.”

Tamora: “sometimes I think he can but chooses not to.”
TW: #puppetgate

Tamora says she dreams of Laurence talking. Reciting Ode to a Nightengale.

“No shitting on my bed, no biting, no demanding pizza, just talks.”
TW: #Puppetgate

She talks about things she’s tried to change him. “Get him a cat, get him a horse, get him an iPad, take him to Lourdes.”

Everything except treat him like a thinking feeling eleven year old, eh?
TW: #puppetgate

They make jokes about Lourdes for a while until the pizza timer goes off. Laurence jumps up and gets excited because he knows he will get pizza BECAUSE HE UNDERSTANDS ENGLISH and remembers what his mother told him twenty minutes ago.
TW: #puppetgate

This is one of those quotes I feel the need to document because it’s so unbelievable.

Image Description: photo from script. Gary: Get a plate.
Tamora: You’re so good with him.
Gary: Plate.

Gary is the autist whisperer because... plate.
TW: #puppetgate

This is where @emccoy_writer gets a cookie for calling it.

Because Tamora is now topping up Gary’s wine and pressing him for details of his love life.
TW: #PuppetGate

Gary escapes the uncomfortably personal questions from his married employer by saying he thinks Laurence needs the bathroom. He goes to Laurence and signs “toilet” in Makaton and the exit. Laurence is offstage for the first time.
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora downs her wine and pours more. She tries to look at the social story but can’t. Martin returns with Me Kipling cakes and beer. Tamora immediately comments on the fact that he has smoked up and they snipe wittily at each other for a while.
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora has no fear of hypocrisy since the woman who has had several glasses of wine points out to Martin that being stoned “won’t make it easier.”
TW: #Puppetgate

Tamora says she hates the fancies because they have E colouring in them. Martin jokes that they wouldn’t have left Laurence with them tonight if they knew about the E colouring.

Tamora doesn’t appreciate the joke. “Don’t.”
TW: #PuppetGate

Martin: “if we’re not fit parents...”
Tamora: “We are fit parents.”

No, dear. You really aren’t. No one in this house is sober. You have called your son a monster, joked about him in his presence, and flirted with his carer all within 20 minutes.
TW: #puppetgate

Conversation turns to the social story.

Martin: we have to read it to him together. He has to know from both of us.

Tamora: He knows already. He keeps unpacking his bag.

Martin: Smart as a whip.

I cannot understand these people. How could he NOT know?
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora and Martin talk about who made the call. They agree it wasn’t Gary. Tamora suggests the school. Martin is surprised. “After all you donate?” (Seriously where does she get it?) but then reveals he sent an angry accusatory email to the school already.
TW: #puppetgate

And a rare heartwarming line finally comes when Laurence is out of the room.

Martin: “if you didn’t want him you could have just told us and we could have kept him. At home. Our home. Or words to that effect. Because we do. We want him.”
I’m tapping out again guys. Sorry it’s taking so long but it’s late and there’s only so much I can take at once.
Okay, let’s get back to #allinarowplay.

When we last left our zeros Martin had just said something somewhat touching about wanting Laurence, so obviously Laurence wasn’t in the room for once.
TW: #PuppetGate

Laurence re-enters from his bathroom break with Gary his carer. Tamora swoops down on him and shoes him the cakes his father just brought home.

“There’s my favourite boy. Look what Mommy got you.”

Martin is understandably annoyed. Laurence is happy ‘cuz cake.
TW: #PuppetGate

Laurence rips into the Mr Kipling cakes and lines them up. The grown ups watch and wonder why he always does that. Is it because he likes things tidy? But then why does he always mash them into the carpet?

Someone explain stims to these people.
TW: #PuppetGate

Now Martin is telling a story about Laurence arranging scrabble letters to say Brad Andalman.

Tamora: “For weeks we had no idea what that was about.”

Martin: “We asked at school. Brad?”

For weeks they didn’t think of Google.

TW: #PuppetGate

Then Martin finally spotted @bradandalman’s name in the Finding Nemo credits.

Gary is amazed. Apparently they never asked him about Brad Andalman either.

Martin: “See, he is so clever in so many ways.”

Yeah but his parents? Not so much.
TW: #PuppetGate

Everyone agrees that Laurence is clever in many ways. Not clever enough for them to talk to directly, though, obviously.

Tamora starts talking hopefully about the care home. They have horses there apparently so it’s obviously very fancy and fantastic.
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora: “And you never know, they could make a breakthrough.”

Yeah. They could give him AAC and try talking to him instead of about him.

Martin: “there won’t be a breakthrough.”

Tamora: “Miracles could happen.”

They start talking about Lourdes again.
TW: #PuppetGate

Martin, as always trying to be as cynical as possible, talks about the risks of getting herpes from sharing a communion goblet.

Tamora is appalled.

“In front of Laurence!”

THAT was her line? REALLY? Herpes??? Not “little monster” or “shit” or “fucking.”
TW: #PuppetGate

Martin escalates by talking about nuns contracting herpes from fellating priests and Tamora apologizes to Gary the carer. Her concern for Laurence’s tender ears seems to have disappeared as quickly as it appeared.
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora storms out after urging the carer to drink more wine.

The moment she is out of the room Laurence pops up and leads Martin to the fridge. Martin says no to more pizza but Laurence accepts this when his Dad sits down and watches Finding Nemo with him.
TW: #PuppetGate

Laurence is hugging his father so tight that Martin can’t get up for a beer so Gary hands it to him, in the second somewhat-touching moment in this entire play so far.
TW: #PuppetGate

Gary: He loves this bit. Did you ever think about getting him a fish?

Martin: We did. He smashed the tank.

Maybe they should actually WATCH Finding Nemo to figure out how Laurence might interpret a fish tank.
TW: #PuppetGate

“Gee, he loves this movie about a concerned and controlling father who adores his son and let’s nothing come between them. Do you think he’d like a fish?”

(My parody not actual quote)
TW: #PuppetGate

The discussion of dead fish leads to the topic of reincarnation. guys know what’s coming right? You’ve read the reviews. I’ll let you brace yourselves.
TW: #PuppetGate

Aaaand there it is.

Gary: “...If people with special needs are animals wrongly reincarnated into human bodies.”

Nope, you know what. I have no comment to make on this. It’s too big.
TW: #PuppetGate

Martin reacts with amazement and sarcasm, encouraging Gary to elaborate on his theory.

Gary compares Laurence to a puppy.

Gary: “He jumps around excitedly when he’s happy to see you. He bites things.”

Martin: “Shits wherever he wants”

Pot, meet kettle.
TW: #PuppetGate

Martin: “And does this theory extend to all people with learning disabilities?”

Seriously what the eff. Is autism classified differently in the UK or something? Because it’s not a learning disability on my side of the pond.
TW: #PuppetGate

Martin’s sarcasm is waxing eloquent indeed as he pushes Gary, asking if quadriplegics are really slugs.

It’s awful but it is obviously pointed and not what Martin really thinks.

“Word of advice. Never say that in public.”

In front of Laurence is ok though?
TW: #PuppetGate

Martin tells Gary his theory is “possibly the most idiotic thing anyone has said since someone told Mr Kipling he could bake.”

To change the subject he pulls out Tamora’s heartbeat gadget to show Gary.
Martin: Hey Larry. Can Daddy have your hand?

Laurence ignores him.

Martin: Can you get me his hand, mate?

Gary: I’m not sure...

Martin: Give me his hand, Gary.
TW: #PuppetGate

With the heart2heart connecting Martin and Laurence, Martin reflects the he doesn’t know how to live without his son.

The NTs will remember the sweetness of that line and won’t even notice the hand moment.
TW: #PuppetGate

Talk turns to the care home again. Gary tries optimism and it goes over poorly.

Gary: I think in time you’ll realize...

Martin: Realize what? That he’s fucked. That he’s expelled, sectioned, chemically lobotomized?

In front of Laurence IN FRONT OF LAURENCE
TW: #PuppetGate

Martin is still pissed that the staff can’t restrain his son or lock him in a room for safety.

Gary: it’s red tape isn’t it.

Martin: It’s bollocks.
TW: #PuppetGate #abuse #institutions #rape

Gary says he worked with a woman who spent 40 y in an institution.

Gary: Back then, if kids bit then they pulled their teeth out. And she was sterilized so she couldn’t get pregnant.

Martin: by other patients?

Gary: Or by the staff
TW: #PuppetGate

Martin: How do we know this school is any better?

Gary: Red tape.

The play makes its first (possibly only) important and valid point - regulations exist for a reason.

Martin: Yeah but if that gets him kicked out.

Gary: I didn’t say there was an answer.
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora enters and Martin immediately rats on Gary, telling her the reincarnated puppy theory.

Tamora isn’t as horrified.

“Really? Wouldn’t that be strange. Never say that in public.”

I don’t need to be NT to read a subtext of “taboo thoughts everyone has”
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora uses Gary to make Martin jealous by talking about Gary’s love life.

Martin asks Gary if he is scared to start a family. “There’s no tests you know.”

“I wouldn’t mind” says Gary.
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora fusses again over Gary getting called in by the police. Martin wants to know what Gary told them. Gary said he told them he didn’t know what was best for Laurence.

Martin: Gary has concerns about the residential schooling, don’t you, Gary.

What an ass
TW: #PuppetGate

Gary changes the subject to the heart2heart prototype. Asks Tamora if she’ll put it on Laurence so she can feel his heart beat at school.

Tamora says no. “I’ll hear it pound when he’s upset and think he’s in trouble or something.”
TW: #PuppetGate

Martin and Tamora snipe at each other about her heart2heart gadget for awhile.

Tamora: They still give me grants don’t they?

And she uses those grants to spread largess and make herself more important to her son’s school.
TW: #PuppetGate

Gary remind them about the social story. Because a social story will help at this point.

Tamora wants another drink first. Martin goes to make Laurence’s bed.

With Martin out of the room Tamora confesses to Gary that she’s a little excited Laurence is going.
TW: #PuppetGate

Gary reassures her that it’s not wrong to feel that way. And it isn’t. But it IS WRONG TO SAY IT WHERE THE CHILD CAN HEAR YOU.
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora worries she might hate Laurence though she distances herself from it by using second person.

“Because he’s something you can’t control.... he’ll always need looking after, even after you’re dead...”
TW: #PuppetGate

“...he’ll be there on his own and he’s vulnerable. How do you think that makes me feel?”

How do you think it makes Laurence feel to hear it? It’s okay to voice these thoughts but NOT AROUND THE CHILD.
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora is distracting herself by flirting with Gary again.

“Do you think I’m attractive?”

...Make that actively hitting on Gary.
TW: #PuppetGate

And suddenly we are in an office drama? 36 year old boss hitting on awkward 20 year old employee.

Tamora: On internet dating, Gary. Would you click me? Do you want to click me?

Gary: This doesn’t feel appropriate.

...I’m photographing this for you.
TW: #PuppetGate sexual assault


Tamora: Kiss me. I’m your employer. Kiss me.

She forces herself on him. He stands frozen.


@emccoy_writer you called it!!
TW: #PuppetGate

Gary tries to the hell out of there as he should while Tamora apologizes babblingly.

Martin re-enters and Gary announces that he is leaving.

Martin: Thanks for everything.... and having our son taken off us.

Gary: Sorry?
TW: #PuppetGate

Cue nearly a page of “don’t lie!”
“I’m not!”
“You are!”
“I’m not!”
“You are!” Interactions.

Martin says the social worker told him it wasn’t the school. But then why did he write the school an angry email?? What is the truth with this man????
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora, perhaps feeling guilty about sexually assaulting an employee, interupts the childish bickering with

“I called them. It was me. Now leave him alone.”

Everyone is stunned.
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora and Martin argue over the quality of Laurence’s life at home and whether they are coping as parents.

Tamora’s points include the atmosphere of resentment so props to her for acknowledging that he can pick up on that.
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora: “I am sick of looking after him and feeling guilty because I can’t look after him.”

Again, valid feelings to have. NOT OKAY TO EXPRESS IN FRONT OF THE CHILD.
TW: #PuppetGate

Martin: I love him how he is.

Tamora: So do I, he is the light of my fucking life! The absolute light.

Martin: We are a family.

Tamora: Yes. We are - but that’s not enough.

Stage direction: Laurence is becoming unsettled.
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora and Martin continue to argue. The heart gadget starts to beep as Laurence’s heart rate goes up.

Tamora is furious with Martin for putting it on.

They keep fighting.

Gary steps in after two pages.

“Guys it’s upsetting Laurence.”

You think???
TW: #PuppetGate

Martin tells Gary to stay out of it.

Tamora: “At least he has a job, at least he can get laid, at least he can control Laurence.”

Martin: I shat on your pillows.

(As a side note I have always loved the past tense of the word shit.)
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora is shocked that her husband has been shitting on her pillows. She says he doesn’t deserve her. No one points out the awfulness of Laurence getting the blame.

No one mentions Laurence at all.

Laurence attacks Tamora.
TW: #PuppetGate

According to stage directions it takes a “long time” to wrestle Laurence off of Tamora.

When it’s done they ask her if she’s alright. Still no one addresses Laurence directly.
TW: #PuppetGate

We’re nearly at the end guys, so I’ll give you a spoiler. I’ve read the final pages.

Tamora never apologizes to Laurence.

Martin never apologizes to Laurence.

No one talks to Laurence about his feelings.

No one acknowledges that he HAS feelings.
TW: #PuppetGate

With the exception of the herpes “in front of Laurence?” moment, no one in this play addresses the possibility that Laurence may understand the conversations that went on around him.
TW: #PuppetGate

We are now in the denouement. Gary offers to stay if Laurence is still upset but they shoo him away and Tamora slips him money for a cab.

Tamora and Martin forgive each other and Tamora ices a cut on Laurence’s lip.

Still speaking about him in the 3rd person
TW: #PuppetGate

When Gary leaves he says “Bye, little man, I’m gonna miss you.” And Martin prompts him to “say bye bye.”

Of course Laurence doesn’t respond because he’s fucking traumatized and recovering from a meltdown and his lip is bleeding.
TW: #Puppetgate

Image Description: a photo of the script where Gary says goodbye to Laurence and Tamora ices Laurence’s lip.
TW: #PuppetGate

Martin: I know you love him.

Tamora: More than anything in the world.

Martin delivers the infamous line about how you can love someone and also wonder what it would be like if they were someone else.
TW: #PuppetGate

Tamora picks up the social story. Martin says reading it to Laurence will “kill me”. Tamora says, “it’s not about you.”

Why Martin can talk about being sectioned, “chemically lobotomized” etc in front of Laurence but not read a cute story I do not know.
TW: #PuppetGate

They reminisce about when they met, when Laurence was born. They talk hopefully about the school. Martin lies and says Gary thought the school would be “the making of Laurence.”
TW: #PuppetGate

They cuddle on the couch with Laurence who is calm now and they read him the social story which is written in very simple language. Then they finish Finding Nemo.

And that’s it. It’s over. Final thoughts:
TW: PuppetGate

As the playwright has said from the beginning, this is the story of the parents, not Laurence. He didn’t have to be present for most of this.

That fact that he WAS present and this wasn’t considered to be concerning is a bigger problem than the puppet is.
TW: #PuppetGate

Maybe Laurence can’t comprehend a lot of the words the adults around him use. But very probably he CAN. There is no reason given to assume he can’t - he understands directions including “when the timer goes off you can have more pizza.”

Presume competence.
TW: #PuppetGate

This play spends a lot of time advocating restraint and addressing the decision between a bad home life and institutional care.

It includes ableism, lies, verbal abuse of a child, and sexual assault none of which are treated like big deals.

And NTs love it.
An allistic person watching this play would come away believing that it is okay to speak in the 3rd person about an autistic child who is in the room with you.

They would think that restraint is the only answer for dealing with meltdowns. That meltdowns are unpreventable.
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