Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Play's the Thing Wherein to Catch the Conscience of a King

And now for the first two acts of a play-in-progress, working title, The Three Year Deal.
Hope to workshop this in September.

Main room of Susan Abbott's small apartment, fridge, stove, kitchen table/chairs, cupboards, door leading to outside, another leading to other room.
Lights up on Susan who is on her laptop at the kitchen table
Enter Max Forman through door. (his presence immediately fills the room. He does not so much enter as he takes over.)

Act 1, Scene i

Max: (incredulously) Where's supper?

Susan: (wryly) Oh, aren't you going to cook it?

M: No, I don't cook for women any more.

S. (looks amused) You don't?

M: (sits down and lights a cigarette) Nope.

S: And why not? (picks up peeler and starts peeling vegetables)

M: I only want to eat. I just want food and cigs.

S: Is that so? And where does the rest come from?

M: (getting up and going to the fridge, opens it) This is my last cigarette and then I'll be
nicking out. D'ya got any cigs for me? (checks the butter keeper on the fridge door, gropes around)

S: No, I've given up smoking.

M: (closing the fridge door) You never smoked but you used to get me packs.

S: Well, you don't cook for me, I don't buy cigarettes for you. How's that?

M: Cook yourself. (sits down at the table ) I'm hungry! What's for supper? You sure you don't have any smokes for me? (butts out his cig and stands up) What about the rainy day fund? (walks to the entrance where there are shelves. Finds a container with change. Shakes it and does a few cha cha steps, puts it on the table)

S: (looks over apprehensively) That's my rainy day fund, not yours. Yours is empty.

M: (emphatically) I need smokes! (throws up his hands) If I don't get some, I'll be irritable and won't stay as long. You won't like me as much. (starts to open the container)

S: (puts down peeler, leaves sink and goes to table) OK, I want the big money (M dumps change on the table. S scrambles, along with him, to pick up loonies and toonies. He gets a few and seizes as many quarters as he can. Counts change in palm while S. puts coins back in container and puts it back on the shelf.)

M: (puts coat on and starts to leave) I'll be back in five minutes. (leaves)

S: (checks oven to make sure it's empty, turns it on, peels vegetables, sets table, sings under her breath, Did You Tell Her. Phone rings in other room, she leaves to answer it as M enters.)

M: (unwraps cigs and starts to smoke. There is a radio on the table and he fiddles with the dial and gets jazz station. Mac the Knife is playing and he dances a bit as he moves around the table and sits down at laptop)

S: (reenters room) Oh, you're back. Did you get what you need?

M: (ignoring her) Yup.

S: (resumes cooking while M pushes laptop aside and plays with items on a tray in the middle of the table. He handles various items and when he sees what he likes, he examines it)

M: This is mine. (he goes to pocket the item)

S: What? (as she turns to see what he has) Oh, you can have that.

M: (being sweet as pie)  Susan, remember when you said you'd bought me some things, did you really buy me something?

S: Yes, I'll get it for you after supper. Did you want to help?

M: No. (pulls laptop towards him and starts surfing the net)

S: What are you doing?

M: Noth-ing.

S: (somewhat exasperated) Here's my theory. Men used to come over and rearrange the stereo, crank up the bass, change AM to FM or they'd find some obscure program from overseas, some middle-of-the night Dutch news thing but now when they come over, they hack into your the computer and put down their favourites, bookmark their pages, change the wall paper. I had one friend who bookmarked all the stock exchanges. Barrick fucking Gold! What was that about? On my computer!

M: Supper ready yet? (as he continues to fool with the laptop)

S: (exasperated) Do I have to do it all myself?

M: Yes. (raises his head from the computer) I'll mash the potatoes.

Act 1, Scene ii

Same locale as Scene i, Couple sit at the table. M is finished eating, S, not yet. M gets ashtray and lights up a cig.

S: (look of distaste on her face, she does not finish her supper but starts to clear the table)
Would you like some tea or coffee, Max?

M: (testy) You know I never drink that here. You know this so why do you keep on asking me?

S: (looks at him but does not answer) Uh huh.

M: I need shampoo. Do you have any of those little bottles they give out at hotels? And what about canned goods. Do you have any soup I can have? Any ground coffee?
(he goes to shelves that form the pantry to one side of the room, finds a cloth grocery bag and starts to load it. Then he goes to the fridge and takes a pound of butter, salad dressing, eggs. Opens freezer and helps himself to steak and a whole chicken.)

S: (watching him, used to it) What is it about a younger man and an older woman's fridge?

M: (looks at her and smirks)

S: Do you need some potatoes? (goes towards a 10 pound bag on floor at side of cupboards, picks up some) mmmm, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, home fries.

M: No. But I'll need more smokes before the morning. Do you have ten bucks? I really need smokes.

S: No, I don't. Get your friends to give you cigarettes. It's time quit anyway.

M: (wheedling) I neeeeed smokes.

S: I don't care.

M: Please. I really, really need them.

S: Max, who put me in charge of your addictions?

M: You did!

S: I gotta go pee (exits through other door)

M: (starts going through change purses he finds in a basket on top of the fridge. He gets the change container and dumps the money into his hand.)

S (returns. He shows her the handful of change.)

M: I need four more dollars. This isn't enough. Where is there more? I've been looking but I can't find it. Bet you know where it is. Come on, you know where it is.
(he turns a bowl of fruit upside down, discarding contents on the floor. he empties 20-some pencils from a pencil holder onto the kitchen table as he pretends to look for money.)

S: (stares in disbelief, squeaks out) Stop. Stop it!

M: Don't you? I know you know where it is.

(he continues to pick up things and turns them over, emptying whatever's in them them either on the floor or couch or table. Takes spice bottles from above the stove and empties them into the sink. Takes side plates from the cupboard and puts them on the stove while pretending to look for money in between them, throws cushions on kitchen chairs to the floor. He starts to careen around the room, like a demented pinball. Topples the ironing board and almost the bookcase. As he caroms into the fridge, most of the magnets fall to he ground.

M: Oh, what have we here? (as a piece de resistance, he locates a can of pennies and slowly empties them on to the floor. Wicked smile on his face.) I told you.  I.  Need. Smokes.

S. (stricken. looks at him as light fades.)