The Sugar Syndrome – Lucy Prebble

sugarsyndrome

First per­formed by Eng­lish Stage Com­pany at the Royal Court The­atre in Lon­don, Octo­ber 16, 2003.  First pro­duced in the US by the Williamstown The­atre Fes­ti­val, July 27, 2005.

Orig­i­nal Cast:

Dani Carter (17)                                               Stephanie Leonidas
Jan Carter (45)                                                 Kate Duch­ene
Tim Saun­ders (38)                                           Andrew Woodall
Lewis Samp­son (22)                                        Will Ash
Voices of the Internet

Direc­tor:  Mar­i­anne Elliott
Set Designer:  Jonathan Fen­som
Light­ing Designer:
  Chris Davey
Sound Designer:
  Ian Dick­in­son

Pub­li­ca­tion:  Preb­bles, Lucy. The Sugar Syn­drome. Drama­tists Play Ser­vice, Inc. Drama Library PR6116. R42 S84 2006..

Set­ting:  Eng­land

Lan­guage:  Con­tem­po­rary with British slang.

TIM

It’s only once you reach an age when you real­ize why you hate your par­ents that you become too polite to artic­u­late it.

Genre/Style:  Serio-comedy

Plot:   A 17-year-old girl meets two strangers (a 22-year-old tele­mar­keter and a 38-year-old con­victed pedophile) online and devel­ops rela­tion­ships with them in real life.  Man­ages to be funny while deal­ing with seri­ous issues; looks at pedophilia from the point of view of the pedophile.  Despite its sub­ject mat­ter, the play avoids being sen­sa­tional or puerile.

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mono­logues:  Mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.

p.25: Tim talks about his attrac­tion to a lit­tle girl in his building

TIM

I just want to hear what her voice sounds like. (Smiles to him­self.) She’s a lit­tle madam. At the week­end, she was sit­ting on the wall, with this cloth doll, she wasn’t even play­ing with it, she was watch­ing her broth­ers. [Lines cut] So he takes the doll and he holds it over the skip like he might just drop it any sec­ond, but she just sits on the wall. Isn’t even both­ered, so he’s got noth­ing on her. She just taught him a les­son and the doll can go hang.

p.33–34:  Lewis hasn’t been able to reach Dani for a while so he drafts an email to her, which he doesn’t send.

LEWIS

Dani. You absent bitch. I miss you. It’s been six days, man. I’m sound­ing a lit­tle bit men­tal, which I don’t like. I rang you again and no answer. I get the feel­ing you’re actively not ring­ing me now. What if you’re dead? [Lines cut]Will you not write just write a lit­tle? Just to keep me going? ‘Cause I just keep imag­in­ing what you could be doing and it’s send­ing me men­tal. I’m sorry but it is. I miss you. Obvi­ously in a manly, inde­pen­dent, not both­ered way. But I do. (He sighs.)

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Scenes: 

p. 13–15:  Dani finds out that Tim has been in prison and he tells her how he was sub­jected to aver­sion ther­apy. Part of Dani’s first line can be cut. Starts with

DANI

[Oh, well, that’s alright then.] You’ve got a nice voice. Let me guess, unem­ployed actor? Late-night DJ.

and ends with

TIM

(Con­sid­ers.) It made me want to elec­tro­cute kids.

p. 19–21:  Dani and Lewis are hang­ing out at his place and Lewis is try­ing to get Dani to have sex with him even though she’s hav­ing her period.  Starts with

DANI

She doesn’t think any­thing she doesn’t say. It’s like if she’s putting some­thing some­where she goes, “I’ll just put that there.” Who the fuck is she talk­ing to? Or she’s dri­ving and she’s just, “Ooh, what’s he doing? I think we’ll park over there.” Shut up. She’s like Cas­san­dra except her curse is to speak and have peo­ple want to beat her over the head with a hammer.

and ends with

LEWIS

(He squeezes her bum.) I’ll see your kiss and raise you a bum squeeze. Com on, one bum squeeze to stay in the game. (Dany squeezes his bum, play-reluctantly. Through­out, Lewis moves to be on top of her.) Oh, she’s seen it! She’s stay­ing in. Ques­tion is, is she bluff­ing? (Amer­i­can accent.) And here we can see, Marty, with our spe­cial under-the-table cam­eras that Dani the “D-Man” Carter has a pair she’s been hid­ing. (He puts his hand up her top.) Can she go all the way? Let’s find out with the rest of the flop.

p.24–26:  Tim talks about his attrac­tion to a lit­tle girl named Domino and his love affair with a boy named David.  Starts with

TIM

You’re going to read all those?

and ends with

DANI

Thing is with boyfriends, is even­tu­ally they’re going to want to take you out to dinner.

p.41–43:  Lewis goes to Tim’s apart­ment look­ing for Dani and threat­ens Tim with expo­sure if he does any­thing to Dani.  Starts with

LEWIS

Look mate. I know all about you and unless you want your neigh­bors to know and all I’d let me in.

and ends with

TIM

                I know, Lewis, you could. And I’m ter­ri­fied ’cause I’ve got just so much to lose.

 

 

Select Bib­li­og­ra­phy of Reviews and Crit­i­cism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

Billing­ton, M. (2003, Oct 21). Review: Last night’s show: The­atre: The sugar syn­drome: Royal court, lon­don 3/5. The Guardian, pp. 30.

de Jongh, N. (2003, Oct 21). Depraved new world ; THEATRE. Evening Stan­dard, pp. 46.

Macaulay, A. (2003, Oct 23). The sugar syn­drome royal court, lon­don. Finan­cial Times, pp. 19.

Nightin­gale, B. (2003, Oct 21). The sugar syn­drome. The Times, pp. 19.

Tay­lor, P. (2003, Oct 30). The­atre: Girls will be boys in a mixed-up world. The Inde­pen­dent, pp. 14.

Kurt & Sid – Roy Smiles

kurtandsid

First per­formed at the Trafal­gar Stu­dios by Sure­fire The­atri­cal Ltd., on Sep­tem­ber 9, 2009.

Orig­i­nal Cast:

Sid Vicious                             Danny Dyer
Kurt Cobain  
                        Shaun Evans

Direc­tor:  Tim Stark
Designer:  Cordelia Shisholm
Light­ing Designer:
  Mark Dou­ble­day
Sound Designer:  Mark Dunne
Stage Man­ager:
  Char­lotte Padgham

Pub­li­ca­tion:  Smiles, Roy. Kurt & Sid. Oberon Mod­ern Plays, 2009. Drama Library PR6119. M55 K87 2009.

Set­ting:  An attic exten­sion, Seat­tle, Wash­ing­ton, 1994.

Lan­guage:  Con­tem­po­rary. Some British slang.

KURT

I always wanted a tie-dye shirt, made from the blood of Jerry Garcia.

Genre/Style:  Serio-comedy

Plot:   The Sex Pis­tols’ Sid Vicious, who died fif­teen years before in 1979, vis­its Kurt Cobain, who is con­tem­plat­ing sui­cide.  Vicious may be a ghost or he may be a fig­ment of Cobain’s imag­i­na­tion.  As the Nir­vana frontman’s sui­cide is his­tor­i­cal fact, the play deals less with “will he or won’t he” and more with “why;” although, in the end, Kurt takes his rea­sons with him to the grave.

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mono­logues:  Mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.

p.19: Sid explains why he hates Eng­land. Kurt’s lines can be cut.

SID

It’s always been Tosser Cen­tral to me:  Eng­land, a mean lit­tle coun­try full of mean lit­tle men sit­ting in mean lit­tle pubs say­ing mean lit­tle things. The Pis­tols tried to blow all that way.  [Lines cut] But it’s all about try­ing, isn’t it?

[KURT

Oh yeah.]

SID

I’ve never got used to the pet­ti­ness of being Eng­lish. Know why the Sex Pis­tols rose to infamy? It wasn’t their songs of anar­chy and destruc­tion. [Lines cut] No, know what it was?

[KURT

Sur­prise me.]

SID

They swore on prime time tele­vi­sion; they used the ‘f’ word. A word you could hear daily in a thou­sand infant school play­grounds. [Lines cut] Can you think of any­thing more relent­lessly trivial?

[KURT

Not off-hand.]

SID

For the past twenty years one of the high­est rated pro­grammes on British tele­vi­sion is a show where a dog rounds up sheep and they time the lit­tle fucker. Twenty years; dif­fer­ent dog, same sheep; what kind of coun­try watches shit like that for twenty years? Easy: mine.

p.43–44:  Sid recounts the litany of rock star deaths.

SID

Every time; this whole rock and roll casu­alty crap is absurd don’t you think? Par­tic­u­larly for a young man of your intel­li­gence; look at your pre­de­ces­sors. Buddy Holly? Only died in a plane crash because he wanted to do his laun­dry, that’s why he hopped a flight in a rain­storm. [Lines cut] Jim Mor­ri­son? Passed out and suf­fo­cated in the tub after drink­ing Paris dry of Jack Daniels. What made Mil­wau­kee famous made a bloated corpse out of him. Janis ‘pug ugly’ Joplin only died of smack ’cause she’d been lay­ing off it. She mis­judged the dosage.

p. 47:  Kurt talks about how he used to pre­tend to be gay just to piss peo­ple off. Sid’s line can be cut.  

KURT

I really fought against all that macho crap. Once I was arrested for spray­ing ‘God is Gay’ and ‘Homo Sex Rules’ on cars. I was given a thirty-day sus­pended sen­tence; my fam­ily never lived it down. [Lines cut] He looked like Brezh­nev. He got colon can­cer. He deserved it.

[SID

Mr. Com­pas­sion.]

KURT

He should have died sooner, as far as I’m con­cerned death is just a pit stop for the after­life. It’s really self­ish to live to ninety years old unless you have some­thing to offer, you’ve got to live on the edge.

p.56:  Sid tries to con­vince Kurt of the value in liv­ing. Kurt’s line and part of Sid’s can be cut.

SID

Your music’s like a col­lec­tive howl for the dis­pos­sessed. for those who know that life shouldn’t come out of cash-point machines, but who don’t know what else there is. Only that every­thing stinks, TV stinks, pol­i­tics stinks, orga­nized reli­gion stinks; but there has to be some­thing.   [Lines cut] Find the answer, find the ques­tion: live.

[KURT

Fade away don’t burn out’?

SID

For­get that fuck­ing song, not even the bloke who wrote it believes it.] This is not a roman­tic end. There’s no romance in what you’re doing. [Lines cut] Your head will explode like an over-ripe melon. Live, maybe be unhappy but there’s worse things.

p.69:  Sid makes a last ditch effort to save Kurt. This is a really long mono­logue that can be cut.

SID

Look—I wish I could tell you it’s a beau­ti­ful world but it’s not. You want me to believe in all things bright and beau­ti­ful? I can’t. Like I said I don’t believe in any of it. Sun­sets, just some shit you can’t touch over there; flow­ers, get in the way of the pave­ment; the birds in the sky, winged wankers that crap on my shoul­der.  [Lines cut] Live and get to other peo­ple. Fight. Fight the good fight. Tear it down—whatever ‘it’ is. Fight the jocks and the cheer­lead­ers and the vac­u­ous and the dull; show them there’s more than the drab, grey lim­its to their tedious imag­i­na­tions:  please.

Kurt says nothing.

You can’t hear me, can you?

 

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Scenes: 

p.18–21:  Sid and Kurt bitch about their respec­tive coun­tries.  Sid’s last line can be cut. Starts with

SID

Maybe this is the Hotel Cal­i­for­nia, you can check in but you can never leave.

and ends with

SID

Good ques­tion; looks like they’ve gone down the crapper.

[Sid glances out of the window.

Put me out of my mis­ery, where am I? Brom­ley this ain’t.]

p.35–37:  Sid reads Kurt’s sui­cide note and chal­lenges him.  Starts with

SID

You’ve signed it with your surname.

and ends with

KURT

(Sneer.) And I thought that was you.

p.48–50:  Sid forces Kurt to talk about his daugh­ter and how he’s aban­don­ing her; scene ends with Kurt shoot­ing Sid. Part of Sid’s first line can be cut.  Starts with

SID

[Good. (Beat.)] So let’s dis­cuss the girl.

and ends with

SID

(In dark­ness.) You bas­tard.

p.54–57:  Sid gives Kurt ten rea­sons to live.  Starts with

KURT

Who cares what you look like when you’re dead?

and ends with

KURT

                (Johnny Rot­ten voice.)  Ever get the feel­ing you’ve been conned?

 

 

Select Bib­li­og­ra­phy of Reviews and Crit­i­cism(Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

(2009, Sep­tem­ber 22). Sid vicious’s sec­ond chance. The Daily Telegraph.

Coveney, Michael. (2009, Sep­tem­ber 15). Kurt & sid. [open access] What’s On Stage.

Gard­ner, Lyn. (2009, Sep­tem­ber 16). Kurt and sid. [open access] The Guardian.

Koenig, Rhoda. (2009, Sep­tem­ber 16). Kurt and sid, trafal­gar stu­dios, lon­don. Inde­pen­dent Extra.

Mar­lowe, Sam.  (2009, Sep­tem­ber 16). Kurt & sid; arts first night the­atre. The Times.

Sweet­ing, Adam. (2009, Sep­tem­ber 15). Kurt & sid. [open access]. The Arts Desk.

First Person Shooter – Paul Jenkins

firstpersonshooter

First per­formed at The Door, Birm­ing­ham Reper­tory The­atre on Sep­tem­ber 30, 2010.

Orig­i­nal Cast:

Mag­gie                                               Freya Copeland
Ade                                                     Bradley Hall
Cap­tain Jones/ Nugget                    David Houn­slow
Tom                                                     Ben Jones

Direc­tor:  Robert Shaw Cameron
Design:
  Jess Cur­tis
AV Design:  Bar­ret Hodg­son
Light­ing Design:
  Richard G. Jones
Sound Design:
  Dan Hoole
Dra­maturg:
  Car­o­line Jester
Stage Man­ager:  Paul South­ern

Pub­li­ca­tion:  Jenk­ins, Paul. First Per­son Shooter. Nick Hern Books, 2010. Drama Library PR6110.E554 F57 2010.

Set­ting:  UK; the present

Lan­guage:  Con­tem­po­rary, lots of gamer and mil­i­tary lingo

CAPTAIN JONES

Good news first—we got a mil­i­tary coup in North Korea, pro-democracy rebels have stormed the people’s palace. Happy days—if it weren’t for the miss­ing war­heads on the black mar­ket. Then there’s Mohammed Zarqawi—the new pin-up beard for Al-Qaeda. Intel reports he’s shop­ping for a suit­case nuke to go walk­a­bout. Just another day at the office. Bad news is we got a new­bie, fresh out of training…

Genre/Style:  Serio-comedy

Plot:  A sin­gle mother enlists the aid of a com­puter geek to try to help her recon­nect with her 17-year-old son who’s addicted to first per­son shooter mil­i­tary games.  Although the play tack­les seri­ous issues, there is humor, which pri­mar­ily emerges from the col­li­sion between gamers and non-gamers and the single-mindedness with which Ade pur­sues his gam­ing.  How­ever, in a world where unmanned, remotely con­trolled drones can attack and kill tar­gets, the image of a lonely boy play­ing video games takes on sin­is­ter overtones.

 

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mono­logues:  Mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.

p. 21–22:  Cap­tain Jones, the com­man­der in a mil­i­tary first-person shooter game,  defines key terms in the world of first per­son shooter games.  

CAPTAIN JONES

Pwn.
To own—verb, spelt P,W,N… To kill, to anni­hi­late, to totally dom­i­nate your oppo­nent. Pro­nounced as O but spelt with P, what orig­i­nated as a typo by chronic gamers, is now leg­endary in the gam­ing lex­i­con. If you have pwned another player—the pwnage unleashed upon them may be due to the fact that they are a n00b.

[Lines cut]

Respawn.
A freshly cloned cyber-warrior, with laser-sighted AK-47 and frag grenades, will mate­ri­alise at a por­tal nearby. In short—find the n00bs, pwn the n00bs, tea-bag them, get pwned, get tea-bagged, respawn. In no event resort to camp­ing—I repeat, under no cir­cum­stances go camp­ing. Now you’re ready to play.

p. 47–48:  Cap­tain Nugget describes an attack he sur­vived in Afghanistan.  

NUGGET

I was escort­ing a relief con­voy, get the paras out of Musa Qala. It’s get­ting dark and two mul­lahs rock up push­ing a rusty Volvo. We stop to let them cross, when the boot opens and out pops a grand­dad in a dress with an RPG. The rocket slams into the side of our Viking and all hell breaks—tracer fire from umpteen Tal­iban posi­tions. [Lines cut] Just then we hear the rum­ble of a AC-130 gun­ship, it’s the Yanks but who cares—next thing the trees are a wall of flame, the smell of burn­ing flesh. Chi­nook came in an air­lifted the casu­alty back to base… he made it. That’s no UAV did that. That was real sol­diers, real pilots, fight­ing to save each other’s lives.

p.83–84:  Cap­tain Nugget tells Ade about the time he almost had to kill someone.

NUGGET

Wouldn’t call it fear. This old mul­lah and a boy come up to the check­point once, the old fella’s wav­ing his arms and the lad’s grin­ning, but mad like, push­ing a wheel­bar­row. There’s a body, young woman, kid’s mum by all accounts and she’s had her foot blown off by a mine. Must’ve seen me com­ing, eh? [Lines cut] I was two-inches in tomorrow’s news­pa­per… but it was beau­ti­ful. Apart from the unholy stench. Stood there like that… felt like fif­teen years. The old boy coughed—something come up out of his lung, spat it on the floor, put his pis­tol in his pocket, sad some­thing to the boy, turned his wheel­bar­row… and walked way. Can’t explain that to this day.

 

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Scenes:  

p. 9–12:  Tom vol­un­teers to talk with Maggie’s son, Ade, when she expresses con­cern about him always play­ing alone.  Starts with

MAGGIE

Leave this to me—not got MBA after my name for nothing.

and ends with

TOM

Let me know how it goes—want a Snick­ers on my desk by the end of the week.

p. 29–32:  Ade explains to an Army recruiter why he wants to enlist.  Starts with

NUGGET

Play a lot of com­puter games?

and ends with

NUGGET

I’m ready for lunch.

p.42–44:  Ade lies to Tom about his father, tells him he was a sol­dier in Kosovo and now he’s in a men­tal hos­pi­tal, when, in fact, he’s an attor­ney.  Starts with

ADE

That’s my dad’s mug.

and ends with

ADE

Tell him your­self, when he gets back.

 

 

Select Bib­li­og­ra­phy of Reviews and Crit­i­cism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

(2010, Octo­ber 7). Grim real­ity is right on tar­get. Birm­ing­ham Post, The (England).

Hick­ling, A. (2010, Octo­ber 7). First Per­son Shooter Birm­ing­ham Rep 2/5. Guardian, The (Lon­don, England).

Jack­son, L. (2010, Sep­tem­ber 26). Real life war is more like a kids game. Sun­day Mer­cury (Birm­ing­ham, England).

 

Belongings – Morgan Lloyd Malcolm

belongings

First per­formed at Hamp­stead The­atre, Lon­don, on May 19, 2011.  The pro­duc­tion trans­ferred to Trafal­gar Stu­dios on June 16, 2011.

Orig­i­nal Cast:

Jim                                        Ian Bai­ley
Deb 
                                     Joanna Hor­ton
Jo 
                                        Kirsty Bushell
Sarko                                   Calum Callaghan

Direc­tor:  Maria Aberg
Designer:  Naomi Daw­son
Light­ing:  David Holmes
Sound:
  Car­olyn Down­ing
Stage Man­ager:
  Sarah Cowen

Pub­li­ca­tion:  Lloyd Mal­colm, Mor­gan. Belong­ings. Oberon Mod­ern Plays, 2011.. Drama Library PR6113. A43 B4 2011.

Set­ting:  A home in Chip­pen­ham; a British Army camp in Afghanistan; dur­ing the war.

Lan­guage:  Con­tem­po­rary; a few Eng­lish slang terms but noth­ing that impedes under­stand­ing; how­ever, the odd turn of a phrase might be chal­leng­ing for some

JIM

Yeh alright. Chucked it didenI?

Genre/Style:  Serio-comedic

Plot:  Deb, a young les­bian sol­dier, returns home to Chip­pen­ham from Afghanistan, and attempts to make a place for her­self while deal­ing with mem­o­ries of the war and unre­solved feel­ings for her par­ents and an old love—who just hap­pens to be her dad’s new girl­friend.  Through the char­ac­ters of Deb, Jo, and Deb’s absent mother, the play deals with the role of women in the mod­ern world as moth­ers, lovers, daugh­ters, sol­diers, etc.  Although the issue are seri­ous, there is humor in the grimmest of places.  A late in the play act of vio­lence seems both inevitable and yet unnecessary.

 

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mono­logues:  Mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.

p. 39–40:  Deb responds angrily to her father’s asser­tion that women don’t belong in the mil­i­tary because men can’t cope with women get­ting hurt.  

DEB

Hold up—male sol­diers ‘can’t cope’ with seein’ us injured? ‘Can’t cope?’ Oh fuck off. I’m sorry but if we’re in a bat­tle situation—which by the way I have been in; I have been shot at and I have shot back. Just because it aint the offi­cial line don’t mean it don’t hap­pen. [Lines cut] And I was car­ryin’ 50 pound of kit in 50 degree heat. Can you do that you fat bas­tard? Course you can’t ‘cos you aint trained. But I am. And some­one gave me that chance and I took it and I proved that I was capable.

p. 49–50:  Deb tells Jo how she used to won­der about the women in Afghanistan and what kind of sex they must have had with their hus­bands. Jo’s line can be cut.

DEB

When I was out there I would have to search the women. On patrol. I would do this and I never once found any­thing other than what you’d expect. A body. Arms. Legs. Breasts.  [Lines cut] What kind of sex must they have with their husbands?

[JO

You’re inter­ested in everyone’s busi­ness, aren’t you?]

JO

Like. I’m look­ing at this woman and thinkin’ it must be pretty shit livin’ under all that cloth all the time. I’m thinkin’ her hus­band must be keepin’ her under lock and key. That their sex must be hor­ri­ble. [Lines cut] Right there. In that moment. The two of them. Or am I assumin’ right? Is it cold, mechan­i­cal, brutal?

p.57:  Jim defends his involve­ment in the porn busi­ness. Deb’s line can be cut.

JIM

Oh come on Deb. You’ve seen it. You’ve seen how dark it is out there. I’m on the sur­face of it. Not even scratchin’ it. I’m the tip of the flip­pin’ ice­berg what’s gonna send us right down into the pits of hell/

[DEB

/dramatic/]

JIM

/There are peo­ple out there with things in their head that you don’t even want to glimpse. The major­ity of peo­ple have thoughts every fuckin’ day that, if they ever acted on them, you’d be yellin’ for the return of cap­i­tal fuckin’ pun­ish­ment. [Lines cut] We like the base, the dirty, the wrong. We  fuckin’ lust after it every wak­ing hour. So why, when we’re all thinkin’ it, can’t we indulge in it? Just a bit? Just to relax? No hurtin’ no one. Just a man and his computer.

p.61–62: Deb talks about how when you get your kit, they take a death photo of you, the pic­ture they send to the press if you’re killed in action, and make you write let­ters to your loved ones in case you don’t make it back. She talks about the let­ter she wrote to her mother. This extra long mono­logue ends the play.

DEB

When you go out you get your kit and they take your photo. We call them the ‘death pho­tos’ because they’re the ones they will use to send to the press when you’re injured or killed. In my last tour they took the photo and I was blinkin’. Fuck­sake. They were in a rush so they wouldn’t let me do another and they were all like ‘bet­ter make dou­bly sure you don’t get killed then hadn’t you?’ [Lines cut]

What I didn’t write. And what I should have. Was. That I think that she has this, like, mas­sive heart inside her and that no one’s let her use it prop­erly. And that I’m sorry for not. For not standin’ up for her more.

She puts the let­ter back in her pocket.

I’ve been cov­ered in this thin film of dust see? Not just in the desert. I’ve felt like my skin hasn’t been able to breathe.

 

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Scenes: 

p. 19–22:  Sarko dis­cusses his the­ory of the desert with Deb in Afghanistan, about how it’s insane to be killing peo­ple in a place where there’s so lit­tle life.  Starts with

SARKO

I’ve got this the­ory about the desert.

and ends with

DEB

Sweet dreams.

p. 38–40:  Jim expresses dis­be­lief that Deb might have actu­ally enjoyed being a sol­dier, doesn’t believe that women should be sol­diers at all.  Starts with

JIM

You sayin’ you actu­ally wanted to do the stuff you did out in Afghanistan?

and ends with

DEB

Sud­denly I’m really tired.

p.105–108:  Jo apol­o­gizes to Deb for the less than stel­lar home­com­ing and they play word asso­ci­a­tion, a game they have played many times before.  Starts with

JO

Sorry.

and ends with

JO

Kiss.

A pause.

JO

Kiss.

 

 

Select Bib­li­og­ra­phy of Reviews and Crit­i­cism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

(22 June, 2011). Army debut ranks high. The Evening Stan­dard (London).

Billing­ton, Michael. (23 June, 2011). Review: The­atre: Mul­ti­fac­eted women grap­ple with one-dimensional men: Belong­ings Trafal­gar Stu­dios, Lon­don 3/5. The Guardian (London).

Cavendish, Dominic. Grip­ping tale of skir­mishes on all fronts. The Daily Tele­graph (London).

Jones, Alice. (20 June, 2011). On the front­line in the bat­tle of the sexes; Mor­gan Lloyd Malcolm’s first West End play, ‘Belong­ings’, will con­firm her as an excit­ing new tal­ent, says Alice Jones. [open access] The Inde­pen­dent.

Purves, Libby. (23 June, 2011). Heart of dark­ness for a woman in male worlds; The­atre. The Times (London).

Hot Mess – Ella Hickson

hotmess

First per­formed at the Hawke & Hunter Below Stairs Night­club, Edin­burgh, on August 6, 2010, as part of the Edin­burgh Fes­ti­val Fringe.

Orig­i­nal Cast:

Twitch             Gwen­dolen Chat­field
Polo                 Michael Whitham
Jacks               Kerri Hall
Billy                 Solomon Mousley

Direc­tor: Ella Hickson

Twitch: Twenty-five, gamine—Polo’s twin sis­ter
Polo: Twenty-five, cool and caustic—Twitch’s twin brother
Jacks: Twenty-six, well-tanned and big-breasted
Billy: Twenty-four, Amer­i­can, good-looking

Pub­li­ca­tion: Hick­son, Ella. Pre­cious Lit­tle Tal­ent & Hot Mess. Nick Hern Books, 1011. Drama Library PR6108.I32 P74 2011.

Set­ting: Hayling Island, an island in the Solent, the strait that sep­a­rates Eng­land from the Isle of Wright; the present

Lan­guage: Con­tem­po­rary and graphic at times, but rich and poetic ; a few Eng­lish slang terms but noth­ing that impedes understanding

POLO

Come on then, Jaque­line! Get some bloody crotch-swatches out. It’s not a cel­e­bra­tion unless half the island can see your ovaries!

Genre/Style:  Comedy

Plot:  Polo and Twitch are twins who were born with only one heart between them; the physi­cian gave it to Twitch, so she can’t stop falling in love and Polo was left heart­less:  a fit­ting metaphor for the split between exces­sive roman­ti­cism and cyn­i­cism.  Over the years Twitch has had a series of unhappy rela­tion­ships and hor­ri­ble things keep hap­pen­ing to the boys and men she falls in love with.  The play, which unfolds like a pecu­liar thriller, does not make clear who is respon­si­ble for the hor­ri­ble things hap­pen­ing:  Twitch or Polo.  Rather than pro­vid­ing any answers about any­thing:  either the mys­tery of the deaths or whether it’s bet­ter to love openly or to keep your heart to your­self, the play­wright seems more inter­ested in just explor­ing ideas with­out com­ing to any conclusions.

 

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mono­logues:  Mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.

p. 111:  Polo tells the story of how the first boy who ever made out with Twitch ended up being elec­tro­cuted the night of the school disco.  

POLO

Peter Har­ris, six­teen years old, behind the bike shed of the Island Acad­emy. It was the day before the school disco. I’d spent two weeks look­ing for the right dress for you, the right shoes, the right hairband.

[Lines cut]

–two hun­dred and thirty volts, saw our Petey fly­ing through the air—quite the spec­ta­cle, turned his hair into the short and curlies that he’d so enjoyed explor­ing the day before. And try as they might, they just couldn’t make it straight again.

p. 129:  Polo tells the story of Nathan Har­vey, a col­lege boy who broke Twitch’s heart and ended up scald­ing his foot in the bath.  

POLO

Nathan Har­vey, uni­ver­sity. No place for some­one with a heart like Twitch’s. There was no fresher fresher; she was a cer­ti­fied first-timer. Nathan, poor schmuck, had no idea what he was unlock­ing.  [Lines cut]

The sole of his right foot:  scalded, scarred, third-degree. Freak acci­dent, should have tested it with his toe, no one knows how it happened—but Nathan Har­vey never walked the same again.

p.136:  Jacks spies on her father who has just got­ten a blow-job; the woman who gave it to him has scraped her knee.

JACKS

There’s a trickle of blood run­ning right the way down the front of her leg. Dad’s lick­ing the cor­ner of a nap­kin, bends down and wipes her knee. She must have been kneel­ing on some glass or some­thing.   [Lines cut]

Mum always says you can’t afford to have bare legs after thirty. Mum says he’ll still be hers, what­ever hap­pens. Doesn’t mat­ter how long it is or who he’s with—says she’ll always be his wife and he’ll always be her hus­band. She says there’s hon­our in it. She’s a mug, my mum.

p.140:  Twitch tells Polo about how she found Billy lying at the edge of the sea, pre­sum­ably dead; this is after Billy has made it clear to Twitch that he’s not inter­ested in love.

TWITCH

His eyes are still, in the dark all their colour has gone. The moon reflects in a sin­gle spot in each one, like someone’s frozen stars into the mid­dle of mar­bles. I slide my hand into his palm and it’s cold. [Lines cut] It looks like half his body is danc­ing. I can’t move him, he’s too heavy, it’s like he’s full of sand. I lay my head on his chest and I can hear the stones mov­ing beneath him. I put my ear to his lips but the oly thing mov­ing is the sea.

 

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Scenes:  The play is com­prised of short scenes, usu­ally with two char­ac­ters, so there are a lot of scenes to choose from.

p. 85–87:  Polo and Twitch recount the cir­cum­stances of their birth.  Starts with

POLO

They didn’t know that they were in for a duo.

and ends with

TWITCH

Love.

p. 90–93:  Polo returns to the island after being away for a year.  Starts with

JACKS

Pooooolooooooooooo!

and ends with

POLO

(with aggres­sion). Neon cunt­ing whore!

Silence descends for sev­eral seconds.

Come on! It’s fuck­ing party time!

p.105–108:  Polo and Twitch’s reunion.  Starts with

TWITCH

Hello, Polo.

and ends with

POLO

(jolts his head away, they do not touch). Come on!

p.123–126:  Twitch con­fesses to Billy that she loves him.  Starts with

TWITCH

I get very—attached. I have trou­ble— let­ting go.

and ends with

BILLY

Twitch, I’m leaving.

 

 

Select Bib­li­og­ra­phy of Reviews and Crit­i­cism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

Gard­ner, Lyn. (2010, Fri­day 13). Hot mess. [open access] The Guardian.

Jones, Alice. (2010, August 11). Hot mess, hawke & hunter. [open access] The Inde­pen­dent.

McMil­lan, J. (2010, Aug 28). Review: Hot mess. The Scots­man.

Rx – Kate Fodor

rx

Received its world pre­miere at 59E59 The­ater in New York City on Feb­ru­ary 7, 2012.

Orig­i­nal Cast:

Meena Pierotti                                                  Marin Hin­kle
Phil Gray                                                            Stephen Kunken
Alli­son                                                                 Eliz­a­beth Rich
Simon                                                                 Michael Bakkensen
Frances                                                              Mary­louise Burke
Richard/Ed                                                         Paul Niebanck

Direc­tor:  Ethan McSweeny
Set Design:  Lee Sav­age
Cos­tume Design:  Andrea Lauer
Light­ing Design:  Matthew Richards
Music and Sound Design:
  Lind­say Jones
Stage Man­ager:  Jen­nifer Rae Moore

Meena Pierotti:  Man­ag­ing Edi­tor, Pig­geries, Amer­i­can Cat­tle & Swine Mag­a­zine
Phil Gray:  Schmidt Pharma researcher
Alli­son Hardy:  Phil’s boss
Simon:  Meena’s boss
Frances:  A widow in need of new under­wear
Richard:
  Mar­ket­ing exec­u­tive
Ed:
  Schmidt Pharma researcher

Pub­li­ca­tion:  Fodor, Kate. Rx. Drama­tists Play Ser­vice, 2012. Drama Library PS3606. O36 R8 2012.

Set­ting:  A Mid­west­ern city; the present

Lan­guage:  Contemporary

ALLISON

You know how I know that peo­ple don’t hate their jobs because of cor­po­rate crap? Because I have been through every piece of cor­po­rate crap there is. I could pull a mile of red tape out of my ass and use it to tie a bow around all the forms I have to fill out today, but I love my job, Phil. And that’s just in my blood—

Genre/Style:  Comedy

Plot:  The Man­ag­ing Edi­tor, Pig­geries, of Amer­i­can Cat­tle & Swine Mag­a­zine signs up for the clin­i­cal trial of a drug to treat work­place depres­sion.  A funny and pointed stab at Big Phar­macy and our drug-dependent cul­ture and its quest for hap­pi­ness in the form of a pill.  And, sur­prise, sur­prise, this play actu­ally made me laugh out loud.

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mono­logues:  Mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.

p. 10:  Alli­son addresses the annual Schmidt Pharma stock­hold­ers meeting.  

ALLISON

Wow, great pre­sen­ta­tion. Thanks, Carl. It’s always good to hear about what’s going on in the Car­di­ol­ogy Busi­ness Unit. They’ve got a lot of heart over there. For those of you who haven’t heard me speak at a share­hold­ers’ meet­ing before, I’m Alli­son Hardy, MBA, team leader of the Neu­rol­ogy Busi­ness Unit here at Schmidt Pharma. [Lines cut] I assure you that Intend to per­son­ally see to it that all goes well. Now ask me some ques­tions so I can stay up here a lit­tle longer. I love it up here.

p. 25:  Phil tells Meena he had a dream inspired by read­ing her pub­lished prose poem on feet.

PHIL

Actu­ally, I had a dream after I read it. I was back in Chicago, in the emer­gency room at Hart­nett Hos­pi­tal, which is where I did my intern­ship. And I walked out into the wait­ing area and I looked at all the peo­ple.  [Lines cut] But in this dream I was back at Hart­nett and the wait­ing room was really crowded, and every­one in there was bare­foot. Like in your prose poem. And some­how see­ing their feet, it made me feel some com­pas­sion again. It made me want to be of ser­vice to them.

p.40–41:  Alli­son explains why they’re pulling the plug on a heart­break pill study and how they’re already plan­ning the long-term rev­enue stream for the work­place depres­sion pill.

ALLISON

Any­way, they’re going to pull the plug on that study and I’ll tell you why: because there’s no long-term rev­enue stream. Ed Mor­gan has no fore­sight. [Lines cut] Oh my God, Phil, are you cry­ing? Stop. Who broke your heart? I’ll wring her neck. Aw, Phil. C’mere. Buck up. (Alli­son gives Phil a hug with a few good slaps on the back. She notices the vial in his hand.) What’s that?

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Scenes:  

p. 13–14:  Alli­son explains to Phil why he can’t take his doc­u­ment hutch (shelf) off his work mod­ule (desk).  Starts with

ALLISON

Hey! Phil!

and ends with

ALLISON

I took it off. (She shrugs.) I’m man­age­ment. My life isn’t easy, Phil, but it really has its satisfactions.

p. 42–44:  Ed acci­den­tally gives Phil a poten­tially fatal drug they’re devel­op­ing to cure heart­break.  Starts with

ED

I’m late.

and ends with

ED

I’m going to call an ambu­lance. I think that’s the right thing to do.

p.46–48:  Alli­son tells Phil that the com­pany is pulling the plug on the work­place depres­sion drug and that he’s fired.  Starts with

ALLISON

Oh look. You didn’t die.

and ends with

PHIL

              OK.

 

Select Bib­li­og­ra­phy of Reviews and Crit­i­cism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

DZIEMIANOWICZ, J. (2012, Feb 08). Look­ing for a fix: Two atires send up pill-popping & beauty-chopping. New York Daily News.

Fein­gold, M. (2012, Feb 15). Rx: A pre­scrip­tion for laugh­ter. [open access] The Vil­lage Voice.

Ish­er­wood, C. (2012, Feb 08). Dr. feel­good isn’t feel­ing quite like him­self. New York Times.

Vin­cen­telli, E. (2012, Feb 09). Just what doc­tor ordered. New York Post.

All-American – Julia Brownell

all-american Received its Off-Broadway pre­miere at the Duke on 42nd Street by Lin­coln Cen­ter Theater/LCT3 on Novem­ber 7, 2011.

Orig­i­nal Cast:

Mike Slat­tery (44)                                            C.J. Wil­son
Aaron Slat­tery (17)                                          Harry Zit­tel
Natasha Gor­don (17)                                      Sarah Steele
Katie Slat­tery (17)                                           Mered­ith For­lenza
Beth Slat­tery (42)                                            Rebecca Creskoff
Jake Myers (17)                                               Brock Har­ris

Direc­tor:  Evan Cab­net
Set Design:  Lee Sav­age
Cos­tume Design:  Jes­sica Wegener Shay
Light­ing Design:  Japhy Wei­de­man
Sound Design:  Jill BC DuBoff
Stage Man­ager:  Charles M. Turner III

Pub­li­ca­tion:  Brownell, Julia. All-American. Drama­tists Play Ser­vice, 2012. Drama Library PS3602. R745 A44 2012.

Set­ting:  A town in California

Lan­guage:  Contemporary

NATASHA

Nobody comes down dur­ing assem­bly. Except one of the jan­i­tors, this guy Eddie, but he’s got slight brain dam­age, so I just give him a blow job every now and then to keep him quiet. (Aaron pre­tends not to have a reac­tion.) Oh my god. You totally thought I was seri­ous, you thought I gave him blow jobs.

Genre/Style:  Comedy

Plot:  A for­mer NFL star dri­ves his teenage daugh­ter to become a star high school quar­ter­back while ignor­ing her twin brother and his wife.  If you like Fri­day Night Lights, you’ll prob­a­bly like this play although some of the char­ac­ter­i­za­tions are thin­ner than oth­ers and the res­o­lu­tion comes quick and rel­a­tively pain­less, give or take a con­cus­sion or two.  Aaron and Natasha are the most fully-realized and inter­est­ing char­ac­ters, and sur­pris­ingly, Katie, the female foot­ball player, is the least real­ized char­ac­ter, although she is the tit­u­lar, All-American.

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mono­logues:  Mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety. This play only has a small num­ber of brief monologues.

p. 37–38:  Natasha explains why she tried to kill her­self.  Aaron’s line can be cut.  

NATASHA

That’s the thing that’s so fucked up. It was so NOT about Jake Myers. It’s just—ugh—nobody gets it.  I took a bunch of pills and it was lame, okay? [Lines cut] And that actu­ally made me the most sad, that I was six­teen and I should be car­ing about my stu­pid foot­ball player boyfriend dump­ing me but instead I was like, wor­ry­ing about my mom being in a wheel­chair. But nobody knew about that, so every­body assumed I like, took all these pills and had to get my stom­ach pumped because—

[AARON

                –Because Jake Myers dumped you.

NATASHA

Exactly.] Because not being able to give crappy head to Jake Myers any­more is obvi­ously the biggest tragedy of my life.

 

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Scenes:  

p. 7–9:  Aaron and Natasha meet while cut­ting a school assem­bly.  Starts with

NATASHA

Hey. (Aaron nods his head.) You’re new, right? You’re in my cal­cu­lus class.

and ends with

NATASHA

I thought you didn’t like it when peo­ple asked questions.

p. 20–22:  Katie con­fesses to Aaron that she wants to quit play­ing foot­ball.  Starts with

AARON

I can’t really imag­ine any world where play­ing foot­ball is fun.

and ends with

KATIE

Yeah.

p.36–38:  Natasha con­fesses to Aaron the real rea­son why she tried to kill her­self.  Starts with

AARON

I don’t feel like playing.

and ends with

AARON

Yeah. Con­stantly. (Beat.) But hon­estly? The fact that you’re… you are smarter and cooler and bet­ter than any­one at this school… That’s not some­thing to be embar­rassed bout. I think it’s pretty awe­some. Because I mean… you say that nobody gets it but… I get it. (Natasha kisses him.) You know, there’s no bet­ter turn-on than say­ing you give crappy head. (Natasha smiles. A beat. They start to make out.)

 

 

Select Bib­li­og­ra­phy of Reviews and Crit­i­cism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

All-american. (2011). Daily Vari­ety, 313(29), 10.

Ish­er­wood, C. (2011, Nov 08). A grid­iron fam­ily: The star quar­ter­back is just daddy’s lit­tle girl. New York Times.

She­ward, D. (2011). All-american. Back Stage (19305966), 52(45), 40.

Sick – Zayd Dohrn

sickPre­miered at Kitchen Dog The­atre in Dal­las in May, 2008.

Orig­i­nal Cast:

Sid­ney Krebs (49)                    James Craw­ford
Max­ine Krebs (46)                    Lisa Has­sler
Sarah Krebs (19)                      Martha Harms
Davey Krebs (17)                     Lee Helms
Jim (26)                                      Lee Trull

Direc­tor:  Chris Car­los
Set Design:  Michael Sul­li­van
Cos­tume Design:  Christina Dick­son
Sound Design:  Emily K. Young
Props:  Judy Niven and Jen Gilson-Gilliam

Pub­li­ca­tion:  Dohrn, Zayd. Sick. Samuel French, 2012. Drama Library PS3604. O47 S53 2012.

Set­ting:  A Safe Haven on the Lower East Side of Man­hat­tan, present day

Lan­guage:  Contemporary

SIDNEY

He had to have a schnozz cast in bronze strapped to his head with a leather belt just to show his face in pub­lic. But he kept writ­ing until his brain was liq­ue­fied. And screw­ing too, appar­ently. Dead at 33. It’ll inspire you, I guar­an­tee. Or at least turn you on.

Genre/Style:  Serio-comedic

Plot:  A poetry pro­fes­sor brings  one of his grad­u­ate stu­dents home to meet his dys­func­tional fam­ily of germa­phobes.  His wife is obsessed with clean­li­ness and never leaves home; his son was diag­nosed as being aller­gic to 94 out of 99 house­hold cleansers and never leaves home; and his 19-year-old daugh­ter has just been accepted into a poetry pro­gram at St. Johns but isn’t sure if she should go.  Although the play deals with para­noia brought on by Mul­ti­ple Chem­i­cal Sen­si­tiv­ity, it isn’t dif­fi­cult to see it as a para­ble for any sit­u­a­tion where unrea­son­ing fear takes hold of lives and warps them out of true.  How­ever, the sec­ond act feels rather anti­cli­mac­tic, with the cen­tral ten­sion in the play becom­ing, “Will Sarah break free of her fam­ily or not?” once the play reveals the truth of the family’s condition.

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mono­logues:  Mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.

p. 45:  Sid­ney explains why he snuck poten­tially fatal clean­ing items, that caused a severe reac­tion in Davey, into the apartment.  

SIDNEY

I was going through our files, last month… I found our wed­ding pic­tures, sit­ting in an enve­lope. Prob­a­bly in there since we moved. Those old prints are full of photo fixer. That’s sup­posed to be one of Davey’s worst reac­tors. So I got rid of them. Scanned them at work, and then threw the prints away.  [Lines cut] I started—picking out other things, from the gro­cery store. Bleach. Oven cleaner. I got more and more excited, with every piece I brought home. Felt like I was—curing him, somehow…

p. 52–53:  Jim tells Sarah how he used to wish his father would abuse him so that he could suf­fer for his art like all great poets. 

JIM

Please. By the time Keats was my age, he was dead. I’m not blind. I do have a shred of self-perspective. (He chuck­les.) You know, when I was lit­tle, I used to have this fan­tasy… I’d pre­tend my dad hit me… Abused me, some­how. I’d lie awake at night, imag­in­ing I had black eyes, busted lips, blood in my mouth, that kind of thing… [Lines cut] And he hit me. Finally. Right across the face. Lit­tle back-handed karate chop. I was com­pletely stunned. Too shocked to feel it, even. And we both stood there, qui­etly. And then he started to cry…

p. 57–58:  Max­ine tries to defend her rea­sons for shel­ter­ing the chil­dren in iso­la­tion away from the world.

MAXINE

It is. I ran track in high school. Used to love to jog… Even after Sarah was born. Marathons. Down to Bat­tery Park. The Hud­son River. It should be throb­bing, you know, neon pink, with all the sludge they dump in there. But it’s sparkling and beau­ti­ful some­times, like a post­card… [Lines cut] That’s why it’s lucky she’s here. Exposed to great art, you know. Music. Poetry. Not to all the vio­lence, pornog­ra­phy, the sewer of pop cul­ture we all take for granted these days. Unlike the rest of us, she had a chance to develop a healthy mind.

 

 

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Scenes:  

p. 24–25:  Jim gets Sarah to let him read one of her poems.  (Part of a longer scene that can be divided in dif­fer­ent ways from p.23–29.) Starts with

JIM

Tell me some­thing at least, so I can say I–

and ends with

SARAH

I know, isn’t it? I felt so bad for the frog though. Don’t you think? Down there, all alone, with those things? This for­eign species? But I don’t know, maybe he was happy. Maybe they were friends. Maybe he felt taken care of… (beat) So, I wrote a poem about it.

p. 33–34:  Jim and Davey have a “guy talk”. (Part of a much longer scene which can be divided in dif­fer­ent ways from p. 31–35.)  Starts with

DAVEY

Does it feel the way it looks?

and ends with

JIM

No.

p.49–51:  Jim and Sarah talk and clean up the blood from Davey’s severe aller­gic reac­tion brought on by Sid­ney delib­er­ately sneak­ing chem­i­cals into the house. (Part of a longer scene which can be divided in dif­fer­ent ways from p.49–56.) Starts with

JIM

You okay?

and ends with

SARAH

                It’s not your fault. You just. Can’t.

 

Select Bib­li­og­ra­phy of Reviews and Crit­i­cism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

John­son, Ryan E. (20 Novem­ber, 2009). Sick: Cap­i­tal t brings dohrn’s world to life with bril­liant per­for­mances. [open access] Examiner.com

Mac­Don­ald, Sandy. (29 August, 2009). Charm of ‘Sick’ lies in the dys­func­tion. [open access] Boston Globe.

Ren­dell, Bob. Sick: Amer­i­can para­noia returns to new jer­sey reper­tory. [open access] Talkin’ Broad­way.

Siegel, Naomi.  (22 Feb­ru­ary, 2009). Ill­ness, illu­sion and dark com­edy in long branch. [open access] New York Times.

The Columnist – David Auburn

columnist

Orig­i­nally pro­duced by the Man­hat­tan The­ater Club, April 25, 2012.

Orig­i­nal Cast:

Joe Alsop (40s-50s)                                         John Lith­gow
Susan Mary Alsop (40s)                                  Mar­garet Colin
Stew­art Alsop (late 40s)                                  Boyd Gaines
Andrei (Young Man, Man) (20s-30s)              Brian J. Smith
Abi­gail (16-20s)                                                Grace Gum­mer
Hal­ber­stam (late 20s-30s)                               Stephen Kunken
Philip (early 20s)                                              Marc Bonan

Direc­tor:  Daniel Sul­li­van
Set Design:  John Lee Beatty
Cos­tume Design:  Jess Gold­stein
Light­ing Design:  Ken­neth Pos­ner
Orig­i­nal Music and Sound Design:  John Gro­mada
Pro­jec­tion Designer:  Rocco DiS­anti
Hair and Wig Designer:  Charles LaPointe
Pro­duc­tion Stage Man­ager:  Jane Grey
Stage Man­ager:  Denise Yaney

Pub­li­ca­tion:  Auburn, David. The Colum­nist. Faber and Faber, 2012. Drama Library PS3551.U28 C65 2012.

Set­ting:  Var­i­ous from 1954 through 1968

Lan­guage:  Per­sons in the play are gen­er­ally upper-class and intel­li­gent; their speech reflects their status

JOE

My boy, pol­i­tics is life! Pol­i­tics is human inter­course at its most sub­limely ridicu­lous and intensely vital. You may as well say you don’t care very much for sex.

Genre/Style:  Serio-comedic

Plot:  The play was inspired by the life of Joe Alsop, a news­pa­per colum­nist who dom­i­nated the Wash­ing­ton polit­i­cal scene dur­ing the years between World War II and the Viet­nam War.  Most peo­ple won’t know who Joe Alsop is and most young audi­ences will have a hard time believ­ing that jour­nal­ists ever held that much power con­sid­er­ing the rel­a­tively weak posi­tions of most jour­nal­ists today, par­tic­u­larly in the Wash­ing­ton press corps.  The only real ten­sion in the play comes from the vague threat of Alsop being exposed as a homo­sex­ual after being entrapped by the KGB in 1954.  How­ever, despite the poten­tial for dam­ag­ing his career, the threat ulti­mately has no effect on him.  Instead, what dam­ages Alsop’s stand­ing is his unbend­ing posi­tion on the Viet­nam War.

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mono­logues:  Mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.

p. 34:  Hal­ber­stam, a young New York Times news­pa­per colum­nist, sta­tioned in Viet­nam, is furi­ous about Joe’s col­umn blam­ing war cor­re­spon­dents for the poor show­ing of Viet­namese Pres­i­dent Ngo Dinh Diem.  

HALBERSTAM

He doesn’t know the coun­try, he breezes over here for a week, he stays with Lodge at the embassy, he gets his army car and dri­ver, Harkins puts a heli­copter at his dis­posal, he gets what­ever he wants… [Lines cut] –he notices that this man is not only a cor­rupt and incom­pe­tent and hope­less loser and dope, as the rest of us have been say­ing for months if not years, but also, by the way, actu­ally insane—He notices this… and then blames… the press! We did it! It’s all our fault!

p. 44:  Joe calls the edi­tor of the New York Times to explain why he wants him to fire his star reporters in Viet­nam. (less than a minute long)

JOE

Scotty. I’m sorry, I think we were acci­den­tally dis­con­nected. Well, why would you do that? (Pause.) All right, I’ll tell you pre­cisely where I get off call­ing the edi­tor of a rival news­pa­per and telling him to fire his “star” reporters. {Lines cut}

They are boys, god­damnit, they are boys! Does Shee­han even have his driver’s license? And if you let me know the date of Halberstam’s bar mitz­vah, I’ll be sure to send him some­thing nice—

Hello?

Shit.

p. 47:  Joe, on the phone with his brother, Stew­art, reacts to the news that Ngo Dinh Diem has been assas­si­nated by South Viet­namese generals.

JOE

How dare you hang up on me twice in a row, you mis­er­able son of a bitch, when all I am try­ing to do is help you? You—

Oh, hello, Stew­art, I’m sorry. Wel­come back. No, it’s—

Con­grat­u­la­tions for what?

[Lines cut]

He is not look­ing for an excuse to get out. That is a ludi­crous mis­read­ing of both the sit­u­a­tion and the man. Promise me you won’t write that any­where, you’ll just embar­rass your­self. He’s far more tough-minded than you give him credit for, or than you your­self seem to be at the moment, if you don’t mind my say­ing so.

Fine, I’ll set you straight over din­ner. Love to Tish.

 

 

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Scenes:  

p. 6–7:  Joe lies in bed, talk­ing with a man he picked up in a bar in Moscow. Andrei tells Joe about his sis­ter, a laun­dress, and how she had once been a great ath­lete.  Starts with

JOE

Your Eng­lish is extremely good, you know that?

and ends with

JOE

That’s awful.

p. 17–18:  Joe and Porter on the night of Kennedy’s inau­gu­ra­tion.  Starts with

STEWART

You are feel­ing good

and ends with

STEWART

I have enough sense of his­tory to know that when a man in a tuxedo smok­ing a cigar announces “This is our moment,” he’s gen­er­ally fucked.

p.37–38:  Stew­art con­fronts Hal­ber­stam about some scur­rilous rumors cir­cu­lat­ing about Joe.  Starts with

STEWART

David, take my advice. Don’t go pick­ing fights with Joe Alsop.

and ends with

STEWART

                My brother’s “com­pro­mised” so he’s harder on the Soviets?

Gos­sip. Spite­ful, envi­ous sleaze that doesn’t even make sense on its face. I thought you were a bet­ter reporter than that. (STEWART puts down his drink.) Do you know, for a moment there I was actu­ally going to defend you to Joe? But now I think I’d bet­ter just say good after­noon, and go fuck yourself.

 

Select Bib­li­og­ra­phy of Reviews and Crit­i­cism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

Feld­berg, R. (2012, Apr 26). Por­trait of a power bro­ker. The Record.

Fein­gold, M. (2012, May 02). The colum­nist: Neo­con job. [open access] The Vil­lage Voice, pp. 1

Jones, C. (2012, Apr 26). Engag­ing ‘colum­nist’ can’t get beyond bio­graph­i­cal. Chicago Tri­bune, pp. 4.6.

Sta­sio, M. (2012). The Colum­nist. Vari­ety, 426(12), 16.