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.

Gruesome Playground Injuries – Rajiv Joseph

gruesome

Received its world premiere at the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas on October 16, 2009; and premiered in New York at the Second Stage Theatre on January 31, 2011.

Original Cast:

Kayleen (ages 3-38)        Selma Blair
Doug (ages 8-38)             Brad Fleischer

Director:  Rebecca Taichman
Scenic Design:  Riccardo Hernandez
Costume Design:  Miranda Hoffman
Lighting Design:  Christopher Akerlind
Sound Design:  Jill BC DuBoff
Dramaturg:  Mark Bly
Stage Manager:  Elizabeth M. Berther

Publication:  Joseph, Rajiv.  Gruesome Playground Injuries. Samuel French. 2012.  Drama Library, PS3610. O669 G78 2012

in Joseph, Rajiv. Gruesome Playground Injuries; Animals out of paper ; Bengal tiger at the Baghdad Zoo: three plays. Soft Skull Press/Counterpoint, 2010.  Drama Library PS3610.O669 G78 2010

also available online in Joseph, R. (2011). Gruesome Playground Injuries. American Theatre, 28(4), 64-75.

Setting:  Various places; the play jumps forward and backwards in time over the course of 30 years.

Language:  Contemporary

DOUG

I’m not stupid. That’s really mean, you know? Everyone just thinks just because I’m awesome at sports and I always get hurt that I’m stupid, but I’m not stupid, I’m just brave, that’s all. I’m brave. Don’t leave.

Genre/Style:  Serio-comedic; a black comedy where the humor is less about one-line zingers (although there are some) and more about the absurd situations the characters find themselves in that result in their injuries.

Plot:  Over the course of 30 years, Kayleen and Doug’s lives intersect when one or both of them are hurt.  It doesn’t sound like a lot to base a play on, but Joseph succeeds in rendering two very real and relatable characters who, nevertheless, sustain very bizarre injuries.

 

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

p.30:  Doug explains how he recently hurt his leg investigating an explosion at their old school.  [Doug’s first two lines can be cut.]   

DOUG

[I know. But I got to go and investigate the wreckage.] I go over and the place is collapsed. So I hoist myself up there and I’m walking on the roof and then I stepped through a weak board or something and this upright nail went clear through my foot. It was about eight inches long. [Lines cut] All of a sudden, everything was clear…trapped up on that roof, impaled, surrounded by all the angels and saints…That’s my life up there, Leenie. That’s my life without you.

p.36:  Doug recounting at Kayleen’s dad’s wake how he stopped by the previous year to see her and her dad never told her.

DOUG

You know what, Kayleen? Jesus Christ, you know, I came to your house last year and your Dad was t here, and I know he hates my guts, he always has, and he’s like She is where she is.  I don’t know where the girl is. He said he didn’t care and didn’t care to know. And I was about to leave, but I didn’t. I didn’t and I said to that son of a bitch… [Lines cut] And then I told him I hoped he’d die alone. Which he did. So I feel a little guilty about that now. (Beat.) I can take care of you, Leenie.

 


Representative Scenes:   The play is a two-hander comprised of short scenes which can be broken down into sub-scenes.

p.11-12: Kayleen visits Doug in the hospital after he puts out his eye with fireworks. Starts with

DOUG

                The fireworks were awesome.

and ends with

KAYLEEN

                Fuck you. You know how I get. When you get hurt. You know.

p.38-39:  Kayleen and Doug meet at the ice rink where Doug now works; he is in a wheelchair now.  Starts with

KAYLEEN

I came here to lay my hands on you, Dougie. I’ve never believed it, but I have to do it… because if you believe it, that must be enough. (Doug doesn’t answer, doesn’t look at her.) I came and saw you when you were in the coma.

and ends with

KAYLEEN

God, I don’t know… We talked about everything. We talked so long, it was the latest I’d ever stayed up in my life. It was almost morning when we left the swings. It was cold, and you gave me your jacket to wear. The playground was so pretty just then. The sky was starting to be blue. (They look at the ice.)

 


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

Arnold, M. (2011). What’s in a Maim?. Playbill, 29(6), 20. [Review of the Second Stage Theatre production]

Brantley, B. (2011, Feb 01). Love hurts, and for some couples, that’s the point. New York Times. [Review of the Second Stage Theatre production]

Coffey, F. (2011). Two Plays by Rajiv Joseph: Gruesome Playground Injuries & Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. Ecumenica, 4(2), 89-92. [Review of the Second Stage Theatre production]

Drukman, S. (2011). Scar Stories. American Theatre, 28(4), 62-63. [Interview with Rajiv Joseph]

Evans, E. (2009, Oct 23). Taking risks pays off for gruesome playground GRUESOME: Injury-prone characters are made for each other. Houston Chronicle. [Review of premiere production in Houston]

Gardner, L. (2013). Gruesome Playground Injuries: Guardian. Theatre Record, 33(1/2), 33. [Review of the revival of the play at the Gate Theatre in London, 2013]

Marks, P. (2010, May 25). Complex friendship sustains ‘injuries’; vignettes explore a bond strengthened by sadness and pain. The Washington Post. [Review of 2010 Woolly Mammoth production in Washington, DC]

Maxwell, D. (2013). Gruesome Playground Injuries: The Times. Theatre Record, 33(1/2), 33-34. [Review of the revival of the play at the Gate Theatre in London, 2013]

Mountford, F. (2013). Gruesome Playground Injuries: Evening Standard. Theatre Record, 33(1/2), 33.

Newmark, J. (2011, Nov 02). ‘Injuries’ is more an exercise than a play; theater review; sad-sack couple are thrown together in times of crisis, mostly medical. St.Louis Post – Dispatch. [Review of Soundstage production, 2011]

Sheward, D. (2011). Gruesome Playground Injuries. Back Stage (19305966), 52(5), 49. [Review of the Second Stage Theatre production]

Siddhartha, R. (2012, Feb 08). Not so gruesome: Playground injuries. Eastern Eye.  [Review of the revival of the play at the Gate Theatre in London, 2013]

Soloski, A. (2011, Feb 02). Gruesome playground injuries-rajiv joseph’s scar trek. (open access) The Village Voice.  [Review of the Second Stage Theatre production]

Weinert-Kendt, R. (2009). Wounded By Love. American Theatre, 26(9), 22. [Review of original Houston production]

Reborning – Zayd Dohrn

dohrn

Premiered at the Public Theatre as part of the Summer Play Festival in June 2009.

Original Cast:

Daizy (male, 20s)                                           Greg Keller
Emily (female, 40s)                                         Ally Sheedy
Kelly (female, 20s)                                         Katherine Waterston

Director:  Kip Fagan
Scenic Design:  David Evans Morris
Costume Design:  Jessica Pabst
Lighting Design:  Matt Frey
Sound and Video Design:  Leah Gelpe

Publication:  Dohrn, Zayd. Reborning. Samuel French, 2013. Drama Library PS3604. O47 R43 2013

Setting:   A dollmaker’s studio in Queens, NY.

Language:  Contemporary.

KELLY

Yeah, I was kind of famous, for a while. In The New York Post. “The Dumpster Darling”. Sold a lot of papers for those assholes, which is probably my greatest regret…

Genre/Style:  Serio-comedic.

Plot:  A dollmaker has been commissioned to create a doll based on her customer’s dead child.  While some of the character details are a bit precious (Daizy is a boy named by hippy parents; a RISD graduate, he makes dildos for a living), the basic premise isn’t that far-fetched:  you can understand that grief over a lost child might drive a parent to do strange things.  Where the play loses steam is when it tries to conflate Kelly’s traumatic past with her present profession, and in particular, with her commission for Emily.

 

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

p.15: Daizy explains to Kelly why he finds her work disgusting.

DAIZY

Sorry. But it’s like—we’re on Oprah or something here, and these people think they’re buying some product that’s gonna make them feel better about like—(imitating Oprah) “You get a doll! And you get a doll! Everybody gets a fucking doll!” (picking up a doll) Look at this. Is this a perfect symbol for some kind of –post-feminist capitalist nightmare? “Realities of life too depressing for you, little lady? Go shopping! Who needs a career? Play with dolls!” I mean—women in Africa lose half their kids within a year, all right? To diarrhea! Know what they do? They get knocked up again. Right away. They don’t have time to raise a baby made out of plastic!

p.45:  Emily explains what happened to her to make her want a doll.

EMILY

But, right. Well, it wasn’t enough…for me. (beat) I weened Eva, you know, when she was six months old…I wanted to go back to work. To make partner. A year off would have killed my career. Put me in mom-limbo, permanently. And I couldn’t stand pumping in the restroom, like a cow. Having the secretaries walk in one me. The slurping sound. So, we switched to formula. [Lines cut]  Then last year, I started getting these hot flashes. And it all came rushing back. That need. I see babies in the park now, when I’m out jogging, and I want to touch them so bad, my fingers ache.

 

Representative Scenes: 

p.8-10: Emily examines the Eva doll for the first time.  Starts with

Emily

The little crust on her eyebrows. I haven’t thought about that for…God knows. I didn’t realize I still had that on my mind…

and ends with

KELLY

Not at all. Not at all. It’s a relief, actually. To be so straightforward. I thought I was being realistic.

p.22-23: Emily examines the doll for the second time.  Starts with

EMILY

The milia on the nose. So  alive. It just—Makesteh eyes feel a bit flat to me, that’s all.

and ends with

KELLY

Right. And I can’t sculpt your memory.

 

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

Healy, P. (2009, Sep 03). A playwright’s glimmers of a fugitive childhood. New York Times. (Review of The Public Theatre production)

Marchese, E. (2012, May 09). ‘Reborning’ swaddled in dysfunction, authenticity. Orange County Register. (Review of Chance Theater production in Orange County)

Reborning. (2011, May 10). Daily Variety. (Review of San Francisco Playhouse production)

The Gingerbread House – Mark Schultz

gingerbread

First produced at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in New York, opening April 11, 2009.

Original Cast:

Stacey (30s)                                                                              Sarah Paulson
Brian (30s)                                                                                Jason Butler Harner
Marco (30s)                                                                               Bobby Cannavale
Fran (40s)                                                                                  Jackie Hoffman
Collin (20s)                                                                                Ben Rappaport
Curtis (very young boy, son of Stacey and Brian)                     L.J. Foley
Maggie (even younger girl, daughter of Stacey and Brian)       Clare Foley

Director:  Evan Cabnet
Set Design:  John McDermott
Lighting Design:  Ben Stanton
Costume Design:  Jessica Wegener
Sound Design:  Zane Birdwell
Video and Projections:  Richard DiBella

Publication:  Schultz, Mark. The Gingerbread House. Dramatists Play Service, Inc. 2010. Drama Library, PS3619. C4784 G56 2010

Setting:  Various.  There should be a window floating somewhere onstage onto which images and titles can be projected.  Otherwise, the stage should be as bare and minimal as possible.  Time, the present.

Language:  Contemporary. People speak in staccato rhythms. Text in parenthesis is not spoken. (Note:  in the published play, the unspoken text is in brackets.)

BRIAN

It’s not oh, please, it’s true. It’s fucking true. And I feel bad. (A little.) I do. For even saying it. But. More than that. I feel. We have to be honest. With ourselves. Okay? Can we do that? Can we be honest? (Beat.) We’re shitty fucking parents. Stacey.

Genre/Style:  Dark comedy

Plot:  Brian and Stacey contemplate selling their children.  As hinted at by the title, this is a contemporary take on Hansel and Gretel, in which both parents are culpable for their actions.  There are no wicked stepmothers in this version, just two very selfish individuals who are tired of being responsible for their children.

 

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

p.14-15:  Darren is trying to convince Stacey that selling their kids, instead of putting them up for adoption, is a great idea. 

Brian

You don’t get paid. When you give up your kids. For adoption. No one pays you. For giving up your full-grown. Kids. but this isn’t about the money. (At least not entirely.) Because. Adoption? They’re put into some system. They get shoved into some system. Foster homes. It’s all dragged out. They get fucked. For life. And is that really what we want? For them? I mean this isn’t just about making us happy. This is about them. Too. ‘Cause I’ve given this a lot of thought. I may hate them. But I don’t wanna hurt them. [Lines cut]  We’ll think of something. When the time comes. If we have to. And. So. (Beat.) We can do this. It’s the best we can do. All things considered. (Beat.) I miss you. Is all. (Beat.) What do you think?

p.19:  Marco gives a sales pitch; Brian’s line can be cut.

Marco

Okay. These are the facts. Cold hard facts. A: Kids know when they’re a burden. They know. And it’s fucked up, I gotta say. And B: You got an opportunity here. To make things better. For everyone involved. Brian’s told me all bout it. (Beat.) Se, I know what’s going on here, Stacey. I’ve seen it before. Lots of people. Lots of moms. They settle. For whatever. Little. Crumbs. Life gives them. But you got a husband. Who’s willing to dream big for you.

[Brian

That’s right. That’s true.]

Marco

[Lines cut] Because I know you want to believe me. This is the truth. Simple as I can make it: They will be loved. By some very wealthy people. They’ll have a great time. Everybody wins. That’s all there is to it.

p.52-53:  Brian finds out that Stacey has kidnapped Marco’s children in an attempt to get their kids back.

Brian

You’re shitting on me. Let’s be honest. And you’re shitting on us. Which is worse. And it’s a really fucking horrible thing. It is. To realize. After all my work. After everything I’ve done. Tried to do. That you never. Never. Ever. Really. Wanted. Me. [Lines cut] You don’t deserve them. And frankly. Really. Quite frankly. your behavior here. Today. Recently. Shows. You don’t deserve me either. So. Let’s just say. That. The woman I married is gone. Right? Let’s just say that she’s gone. And let’s just say that. In here place. Is this old fucking hag. This child-selling fucking vampire hag. Who wouldn’t know what motherhood was. If you hit her over the head with it. (I mean. If you could do that. With motherhood.)

 

Representative Scenes:

p.9-10:  Brian brings up the idea of selling the kids. Starts with

BRIAN

(I) Got an idea.

and ends with

STACEY

It does.

p.22-23:  Stacey’s at work trying to sell a cruise ship vacation to a customer.  Starts with

FRAN

I’m really interested in the Fantasy Cruise?

and ends with

FRAN

The Fantasy Cruise. If there’s a cruise that’s more.  Fantasy. Fantastic. Whatever. If there’s a more Fantasy Cruise than the Fantasy Cruise, then it’s not really much of a Fantasy Cruise, at least not as much as the Cruise that’s more Fantastical (Pause.)

 

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

Isherwood, C. (2009, Apr 22). Chaotic household? sell the kids. New York Times. [Review of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater production in NY]

Rosenberg, David A. The Gingerbread House. Back Stage, 4/23/2009, Vol. 50 Issue 17, p29-29. [Review of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater production in NY]

Soloski, Alexis. No Kidding. Village Voice, 4/29/2009, Vol. 54 Issue 18, p33-33. [Review of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater production in NY]

The Gingerbread House. Theatre World, 2008-2009, Vol. 65, p175. [Review of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater production in NY]

Thielman, Sam. The Gingerbread House. Daily Variety, 4/21/2009, Vol. 303 Issue 11, p22-23. [Review of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater production in NY]

Voss, Brandon. Drama Queen. HX Magazine, 5/1/2009, Issue 921, p54.  [Review of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater production in NY]

 

Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them – A. Rey Pamatmat

pamatmat

Received its world premier at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in 2011.

Original Cast:

Edith  (12, Filipino-American, a girl, Kenny’s sister)                       Teresa Avia Lim
Kenny (16, Filipino-American, a young man, Edith’s brother)        Jon Norman Schneider
Benji (16, any race, a friend)                                                          Cory Michael Smith

Author’s Note:  The play should be performed by young-looking adult actors, not actual teenagers.  The adults in the play can be portrayed with puppets, projections, or something else non-human.

Director:  May Adrales
Scenic Design:  Brian Sidney Bembridge
Costume Design:  Connie Furr Soloman
Lighting Design:  Jeff Nellis
Sound Design:  Benjamin Marcum
Properties Design:  Joe Cunningham
Media Design:  Philip Allgeier
Fight Director:  Drew Fracher
Stage Manager:  Kimberly First-Aycock
Dramaturg:  Michael Bigelow Dixon

Publication:  Pamatmat, A. Rey. Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them. Samuel French. 2012.  Drama Library, PS3616.A3567 E35 2012

Setting:  A remote non-working farm outside of a remote town in remotest Middle America in the early 90s.

Language:  Contemporary

KENNY

I have this special glue that will keep a dress stuck on you for a week, and if you try to take it off, it will rip off your skin. So either put one on for a couple of hours, or plan on having one stuck to you for days.

Genre/Style:  Darkly comedic drama

Plot:  Edith and her brother, Kenny, try to survive on their own in a farmhouse in the country after the death of their mother and their father’s apparent abandonment.  The basic premise is a little shaky—that a father would abandon his school-aged children to live with his girlfriend in the same town—as is some of the plotting, but the characters are engaging and they draw you into the play.  Particularly affecting is the budding relationship between Kenny and Benji.

 

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

p.14:  Benji explaining why his mother has kicked him out of the house.  [Kenny’s line can be cut.] 

BENJI

I’m doing my chores—washing dinner dishes. I go in my room when I’m done and she’s sitting there holding the tape and the note. Her face is all twisted. Disgusted. And then she yells for my dad and brother, and when they come in, she shoves the note at me and goes:  “Read it. Aloud. To your father.”

And I read. And she shakes and cries. And my bother swears. And my dad just stands there. I get to the end and I hear this…this crack sound. And she snapped it in half. Your tape.

[Lines cut]

[KENNY

Don’t be sorry.]

BENJI

My dad goes, “I’m going to make sure Mom talks to you tomorrow.” But I don’t want to talk to her. I don’t want to go home, to…with her. I want her to leave me alone.

p.39:  Edith explaining to Benji how he needs to take care of himself and learn to be like her.  [Benji’s line can be cut.]

EDITH

[I just do.]

Sometimes I go to Dina Osheyack’s house, and her mom is always there. She teaches us how to do stuff, helps us do our homework. And it’s fun, even though Mrs. Osheyack can be really annoying. She wants to see Dina all the time and hear all about school and stuff. But Mrs. Osheyack? She’s always telling Dina what to do—pick this up and throw this out and show Tom some respect, he has cross country tomorrow! [Lines cut]

[BENJI

No.]

Right. You’re almost as smart as me, and I don’t need anyone. So just do what I do, and you’ll be fine. Show her you’re fine. Live here and be like me.

 

Representative Scenes:  (Note:  This play has a number of three-person scenes as well as the two-person scenes below.)

p.23-24: Kenny and Benji discussing words for various sex acts.  Starts with KENNY and BENJI in the barn, sitting in the hay. BENJI pulls a dictionary out of his bookbag.)   

KENNY

That’s what you brought?

and ends with

BENJI

That’s what I mean. There are words for it. And not just crass words or words they use at my mother’s church. These words…”fellatio” is scientific. It’s not—there’s no. It’s not condemning people who do it, and it’s not glorifying them either. No bias. There’s a scientific word for it, because it is a scientific fact that it happens. And since it happens it needs to be named. And so it is.

(KENNY kisses BENJI)

p.37-38:  Edith wants Kenny to ask Benji to come to her recital  [Starts with

BENJI

So…uh, what are you doing tonight?

and ends with

KENNY

Bye, whore. I’ll pick you up in twenty minutes, whore.

p.55-56:  Edith and Benji are sitting in an ice cream shop after Kenny has just stormed out.  The kids have been hiding out since Edith shot her dad’s girlfriend by mistake with her pellet gun.  Starts with

EDITH

I wouldn’t have shot her if I knew who she was.

and ends with

EDITH

Even if she loves you, her love doesn’t mean anything. When it matters, it doesn’t mean a thing.

 

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

Cox, G. (2011). Trio of shows shines at Humana fest. Variety, 422(10), 23. (Review of production at the Humana Festival)

Hubbard, R. (2012, Mar 18). Theater review: ‘edith can shoot things and hit them’ is rewarding but uneven. Saint Paul Pioneer Press.

Osborne, B. (2011, Nov 04). ‘Edith can shoot things’ targets hopeful audience: Unconventional but fairly functional unit formed by trio. The Atlanta Journal – Constitution.

Royce, G. (2012, Mar 19). ‘Edith can shoot things’ misses. Star Tribune.

Schneider, R. (2011). 35th HUMANA FESTIVAL OF NEW AMERICAN PLAYS. Plays International, 26(7/8), 48-51.

Sheward, D. (2011). Less Is More at Louisville. Back Stage (19305966), 52(15), 12-13. (Review of production at the Humana Festival)

Mercury Fur – Philip Ridley

First produced at the Drum Theatre, Plymouth, England, February 10, 2005; transferred to the Menier Chocolate Factory, London, on March 2, 2005.

Original Cast:

Elliot (19 year-old man with a bad knee)                 Ben Whishaw
Darren (16 year-old boy; a little slow)                      Robert Boulter
Naz (young looking 15 year-old boy)                        Shan Zaza
Party Piece (10 year-old boy)                                  Neet Mohan                                                                                     (Plymouth)
Party Piece (10 year-old boy)                                  Prem and Previ Gami (London)
Lola (19 year-old boy who lives as a girl)                Harry Kent
Spinx (21 year-old man)                                          Fraser Ayres
Duchess (38 years-old woman and blind)              Sophia Stanton
Party Guest (23 year-old man)                               Dominic Hall

Director:  John Tiffany
Designer:  Laura Hopkins
Lighting:  Natasha Chivers
Original Music and Sound:  Nick Powell
Fight Director:  Terry King


Publicatio
n:  in Ridley, Phillip. Plays, v. 2. Methuan Drama. 1997. p.71-202.  Drama Library, PR6068. I292 A6 1997 v.2
ridley


Setting: 
A derelict flat in a derelict council estate in the East End of London, after a biological plague has devastated England; a future gone horribly awry

Language:  Poetic but profane

ELLIOT

You’ve been acting like a kitten after a twirl in the microwave all afternoon and this microwave feline behaviour is eating up time faster than a peckish piranha on a freshly aborted foetus. Do I make myself cunting clear?

Genre/Style:  Serio-comedic and very, very dark in the vein of Martin McDonagh’s work.  If you like The Lieutenant of Inishmaan or A Behanding in Spokane, or Blasted by Sarah Kane, you’ll like this play–I love all of those (plus Pillowman) and I love this play.  Warning:  graphic violence and disturbing imagery; Farber and Farber refused to publish it when it was first produced, if that gives you any indication of its effect.

Plot:  Two brothers, Elliot and Darren, are getting ready to put on a party for a mysterious guest.


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.86-87:  Elliot talks about murdering his younger brother, Darren, in a bathtub full of acid, because he’s annoyed by Darren who has eaten a butterfly (which acts like a drug) and is dragging him down as they prepare for a ‘party’. 

ELLIOTT

Know what I’m gonna do? One night, I’m gonna fill the fucking bath with sulphuric acid. I’m gonna say, ‘Fuck me, you’re a bit whiffy tonight, brov. Why don’t you give ya bollocks a good soak.’ And you’ll jump in the tub and—oh, ya might think ‘Ooo, this is a bit hot,’  but, like the bloody remedial shit for brains you are, you’ll happily lay back for a soapy wank or something. [Lines deleted] You’ll cause the poor cunt so much fucking grief it’ll deliberately beach itself. Do-gooders’ll come rushing down to save it and the whale will say, ‘Fuck off! I’m better off dead! I’ve got Darren inside me like a million miles of Paki afterbirth!’ Jesus!

p.88:  Darren reminisces about watching The Sound of Music with his Mom and Dad and Elliott and eating pizza in the days before the disaster.  Elliot’s line can be deleted.

DARREN

Know what I liked the best? Watching telly late at night. That musical Mum and Dad liked.  The mountains and all those kids going, ‘Do, re, mi.’ Running up and down mountains and going, ‘Do, re, mi.’ Remember that, Ell?  [Lines deleted] Dad made sure each part had the same number of sausage bits so we wouldn’t argue. That’s right, ain’t it, Ell?

[ELLIOT

Yeah, that’s right.]

DARREN

We’d eat it with our hands. Really greasy. Mum would say, ‘Don’t wipe your hands on the sofa.’ Mum gave us a tea towel each. I loved the way the whole room was lit by just the light of the telly. [Lines deleted] And Mum on this side and Dad on that and—Where’re you, Ell?

p.109:  Naz recounts how his mom and little sister were killed in a supermarket by a gang with machetes.

NAZ

Yeah! Mum grabs me by the hair. Mum pulls Stace by the hand. We try to get out through the back of the supermarket. But some of the gang are already there. We rung back down the aisles. I slip in something. It’s red. Blood. There’s blood pouring from under the shelves. I look through the packets of cornflakes. I see a machete goin’ up and down. And someone’s hand goin’ up and down. Then no hand. Then no machete. But more blood. [Lines deleted] They all drink Coke. They fuck Stace and they drink Coke. I think Stace must be dead now. She ain’t moving. I get right to the back of the shelf. I stay there for ages.

Slight pause.

Is the ice-cream van and stuff yours?


Representative Scenes:

p.88-91:  Darren and Elliot pretend to be an outlaw in a shootout with a lawman. Starts with

DARREN

Bang!

Slight pause.

Bang!

and ends with

DARREN

I love you so much I could burst into flames.

p.96-98:  Naz appears and he and Darren get to know each other. Starts with

NAZ

Wotchya.

and ends with

NAZ

Cut me neck right now, me blood’ll spurt right across the room, I reckon.

p.115-117:  Darren tells Naz how he got a dent in his head. Starts with

NAZ

That’s horny.

and ends with

DARREN

I remember…Mum was hurt. She’s been hit with a hammer too. She’s on the floor and she ain’t moving. I drag myself over to her. I put my hand on her chest. I can feel her heart beating. I think, She’s alive. So long as I can feel that heart beating…everything is okay. I’m safe.


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

Bassett, K. (2005). Mercury Fur. Theatre Record, 25(5), 281-282. (Review of the Menier Chocolate Factory production of Mercury Fur)

Chappell, H. (2005). State of Confusion. New Statesman, 134(4732), 42. (Review of the Menier Chocolate Factory production of Mercury Fur)

Gardner, L. (2010). Guardian. Theatre Record, 30(4), 180. (Review of London revival at Picton Place)

Gross, J. (2005). Mercury Fur. Theatre Record, 25(5), 280-281. (Review of the Menier Chocolate Factory production of Mercury Fur

Harpin, A. (2011). Intolerable Acts. Performance Research, 16(1), 102-111.

Jette, D.  (2009). Mercury Fur at Imaged Life.  LA Theatre Review. [open access] (Review of LA production at Imaged Life Theater)

Logan, B. (2005). Mercury Fur. Theatre Record, 25(5), 279-280. (Review of London production at the Menier Chocolate Factory)

Lukowski, A. (2010). Time Out London. Theatre Record, 30(4), 180. (Review of London revival at Picton Place)

Malone, R. (2005). Mercury Fur. Stage, (6463), 12. [open access] (Review of original production at the Drum Theater in Plymouth)

Marchese, E. (2007). Mercury Fur Back Stage West, 14(11), 14. (Review of Rude Guerilla Company in Santa Ana, California)

Margolies, D. (2009). Mercury Fur. Back Stage (19305966), 50(24), 23-24. (Review of LA production at Imaged Life Theater)

More on Previous Productions. (2012). Theatre Record, 32(8), 429-430. (Review of London production at Trafalgar Studios)

Ridley, P., & Sierz, A. (2009). ‘Putting a New Lens on the World’: the Art of Theatrical Alchemy. New Theatre Quarterly, 25(2), 109-117. (Interview with Philip Ridley)

Shuttleworth, I. (2005). Prompt Corner. Theatre Record, 25(5), 265-266. (Review of London production at the Menier Chocolate Factory)

Smith, P. (2012, June 7). Mercury Fur, Trafalgar Studios, Review.  Daily Telegraph, p. 30. [open access] (Review of London production at Trafalgar Studios)

Spencer, C. (2005, March 5). A Vicious Kick in the Guts. Daily Telegraph, p. 24. (Review of London production at the Menier Chocolate Factory)

Stuff of Nightmares:  Mercury Fur @ The Ringwald. (2011, April 9). The Ferndale One-Fifteen News. [open access] (Review of Ferndale, Michigan production at The Ringwald)

Tripney, N. (2012). Mercury Fur. Stage, (6829), 18-19. [open access] (Review of production at Old Red Lion in London, England from March 27 to April 14, 2012)

Trueman, M. (2012). Mercury Fur: Time Out London. Theatre Record, 32(7), 346. (Review of London production at the Old Red Lion Theatre)

Sierz, A. (2010). Tribune. Theatre Record, 30(5), 273. (Review of London revival at Picton Place)

Wyllie, A. (2013). Philip Rridley and memory. Studies In Theatre & Performance, 33(1), 65-75.

Additional Information:

James Turner Designs:  Directed by Ned Bennett, Produced by Greenhouse Theatre, Old Red Lion Theatre, March 2012 and Trafalgar Studios, May 2012, Off-West-End Award 2013 winner, Best Set Design (Images of award-winning set design)