Maisie’s Dead: A Comedic Tale of Love and Marriage
Copyright © 2007 by William D. Coffey, All rights reserved
Act Two, SCENE 7: Sunday night, the kitchen
SUNDAY EVENING. The kitchen. John sits relaxed at the table, Frieda putters about.
I thought Clyde never was going to leave.
He missed that first bus on purpose, you know.
I know. I think he liked being here. I know he liked living in our barn.
It was more than that. Of all four of them, Clyde was the one who truly grieved when he thought she was dead.
Yes, but they all held deep feelings. Amazing, isn’t it. Smokey, Preach, Herb and Clyde. Each one in his own way went to a lot of trouble just to get here.
I know. They really are good old souls, you know. There’s no harm in them.
Four good old boys. Each harboring his own version of sweet memories from the years he lived with Maisie. … By the way, thanks for finding my divorce papers. You do understand now, don’t you, that their memories of her are not a thing like my memories?
Yes, my John, I understand. I’m sorry I got so mad at you.
Hmph. About time…
[phone rings, Frieda answers]
Hello…? [pause] …Oh… [turns away; loud whisper] I told you never to call here!
[John notices. Frieda resumes in a forced, artificial tone]
Well, yes, I suppose… I might come… Are spouses invited too?…
…But why not?… …oh – I see… …No spouses at all?…
…How many of us?… That’s all? Why didn’t more sign up?
Well… I guess maybe… yes… Yes, I just believe I will!…I need a getaway like this!
[John’s attention is now focused]
It does sound like fun… But why way off there? Why not here in the old home town?
Oh… right. It just seems so far away, that’s all…
Already reserved?… Really!? Which airline?… Okay, how do I confirm?
[John squirms and fidgets]
Why, how easy! Really…the hotel too? Ooh…what a package!
How long will we be there?… …Sure, three days and nights will be just fine.
It sounds like a grand reunion! …Moonlight dance and all?…wow!
[John stands, focused on Frieda]
It’s been so long since we saw each other… or the others, of course…
Oh, yes! Kinda like a…celebration…after all these years…
…You’re sure there’s no exception for spouses to attend?…
Well, if that’s how it must be… [she laughs] We’ll just have to enjoy it as best we can!
[John moves beside Frieda, leans against wall, arms crossed, glaring]
You Bet! [she laughs louder] We’ll make it a real mid-life celebration! Crisis and all!
You are not going away anywhere on an airplane for three nights without me!!
I guess you heard that, hm?! Yep, I’d say it worked! Goodnight, Mama. [hangs up]
[John shows astonishment, then vast relief. They hug passionately, laughing]
* * *
- [LIGHTS DOWN just long enough for John and Frieda to exit ]
- LIGHTS BACK UP FULL ON …then… [pay attention now…]
ENTERING FROM UPSTAGE OPPOSITE SIDES, MEETING AT CENTER,
THEN MOVING TOGETHER DOWN CENTER, in turn…
- MAUD & SMOKEY to front, part to sides
- GERMAINE & PREACH to front, part to sides
- JESSIE & HERB to front, part to sides
- CLYDE to front, move to men’s side
- FRIEDA & JOHN to front
ALL NINE JOIN HANDS AND BOW, then…
…JOHN & FRIEDA PART, TWO LINES SEPARATE DIAGONALLY…
…ALL RAISE ARMS IN PRESENTATION TO UPSTAGE LEFT…
…ALL LIGHTS DIM…
MAISIE, DRESSED TO THE NINES AND SEXY WITH BOA,
DRAMATICALLY CROSS UPSTAGE LEFT TO RIGHT, EXIT WAVING
…ALL LIGHTS UP…
ALL NINE AGAIN JOIN HANDS AND BOW
* © *
NOTES TO DIRECTOR
NINE CHARACTERS: five men and four women of mature to senior appearance.
1) John, age 54, and 2) Frieda, age 52: An average “normal” American couple.
3) Jessie: Frieda’s mother, age 74, a tad feisty. Lives at Mayflower Senior Apts.
4) Maud: Jessie’s friend, age 75, also a resident. Quietly alert.
5) Germaine: Jessie’s friend, age 80, also a resident. Taciturn…laconic…a bit of a character.
6) Clyde: a classic good ole boy, age 55. Speaks entirely in good-ole-boy vernacular.
7) Smokey: a good ole boy of varied background, age 75. Less vernacular, but some.
8) Preach: a good ole boy country preacher, age 70. A bit more vernacular than Smokey.
9) Herb: a good ole boy small-time politician, age 65. Almost as good ole as Clyde. Herb is from northeast Mississippi and may have regional accent accordingly.
Smokey, Preach, Herb and (especially) Clyde are good ole boys who make this fact evident through idiom and mannerisms. Actors in these four roles should cultivate subtle differences to ensure that 1) they don’t all sound alike and 2) their characters develop uniquely so that each stands out in his own way.
FOUR SUGGESTED SETS (minimal representations may substitute)
1) Apartment …. DOOR is upstage. Left side wall is assumed here:
- Card table with 3 chairs at USR (Jessie sits at center; Maud is back to wall, Germaine faces Maud)
- Small table with telephone at “stretching” distance from Jessie
- Optional: a stuffed chair DSL
2) Kitchen …. DOOR is upstage. Right side wall is assumed here:
- “Sink” is in corner at USL
- To right of sink (CSL) a small counter sits against the wall, coffeepot on counter
- Between sink and counter is out-of-sight “refrigerator” which Frieda uses
- Upstage wall: a radio sits on small shelf near sink; a wall phone is on R wall
- Kitchen table with three chairs sits DSCenter
3) Social Room …. DOOR in upstage wall. Left end is assumed here:
- Sign “MAYFLOWER Senior Apartments” hangs high on center upstage wall
- Eight folding chairs lean against R end of upstage wall
- Lightweight podium stands against wall at DSR
- Lightweight wooden table with three chairs is DSL
4) Barn …. DOOR in upstage wall. Right end is assumed here:
- Couch (hide-away bed length) is backed against L upstage wall
- A rug is centered on floor
- Two chairs randomly placed afford talking with each other and couch
SOUNDS Recorded sound requirements are as follows:
Scene 1 (apartment): Cascading “mysterious” music at end of scene.
Scene 2 (kitchen): Pleasant radio music (twice); telephone ring.
Scene 4 (apartment): Telephone ring + speakerphone + buzzer
Scene 1 (apartment): Telephone ring + speakerphone + buzzer
Scene 5 (kitchen): Telephone ring
GEOGRAPHY The play takes place in a moderately small unnamed town anywhere in the American midwest. The town is at a considerable distance from Chicago, which is mentioned several times.
* * *
A Comedic Tale
of Love and Marriage
William D. Coffey
* © *
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