The Actor’s Wife

By Quinn Biever

*Note: Tom has mood swings, and at times certain lines will have emotions denoted to inform the actor about a mood swing*

Act 1

Scene 1

(The scene opens with Tom, a friendly, loving husband coming home from work. He is whistling a tune and swinging a briefcase.)

Tom: Boy, what a pleasant day. The sun is shining, the birds are out, and my digestive system has been great all day.

(He arrives home)

Well, good afternoon, honey, it’s so nice to see you at the end of a long day.

Melissa: It is a nice afternoon, sweetheart. (pleasant sarcasm) Where’d this good mood come from?

Tom: Do I need a reason? It’s just one of those days where everything seems lovely. Even the mailman asked how I’m doing.

Melissa: I’m glad to hear it.

(He kisses her)

Melissa: So how was everything, you know, after work?

Tom: (getting settled) Fantastic. And how was your day?

Melissa: Pretty good… I’ve been thinking about your new hobby. (Continues preparing dinner)

Tom: I wouldn’t call it a hobby; I mean sure, it’s not making any money yet, but acting is an art. It’s not about the money.

Melissa: I didn’t say it was…

Tom: …besides, I’m not even equity yet.

Melissa: Well I think acting is an assuaging form of expression, so I’m happy for you.

Tom: I don’t need to be assuaged.

…And another thing.

Melissa: Yes?

Tom: What does that mean?

Melissa: All I’m saying is that everyone needs an outlet, and I’m glad you found one. Sulking around like you were is never good for anyone.

Tom: I mean I can do whatever I want with my time.

Melissa: Yes you can! You’re a big strong man and no one’s gonna tell you what to do. (again, nice sarcasm)

Tom: Don’t patronize me. (Stern)

Melissa: You know I’m behind you, Thomas.

Tom: You’re going to have to start using my stage name once rehearsals get going. I’m trying a new approach to my character. It’s very method.

Melissa: And what method would you like me to use on your chicken, Bert.

Bert: Whatever you did last time is fine by me.

Melissa: You got it.

**Fadeout**

 

Scene 2

**Fade in**

(The scene opens with Tom bursting through the door, excited. Melissa is reading)

Tom: Mel, this is the best day of my life. (He kisses her)

Melissa: Why? What happened?

Tom: I got a promotion!

Melissa: At work?!

Tom: Remember the role I was telling you about? Now they want me to play the lead!

Melissa: Oh. Really? That’s what they said?

Tom: You could be a bit happier for me! (Frustrated)

Melissa: I mean congratulations, I just, um, wondered. What about all the effort you’ve put into Bert?

Tom: No no no, forget about Bert.

Melissa: Forget about him, huh?

Tom: You can call me Stanley, now! (Happy)

Melissa: What if I want to call you Tom?

Stanley: I really prefer Stanley.

Melissa: Even more than Bert?

Stanley: Yes. Much more dynamic.

Melissa: Well I much prefer Tom to all three.

Stanley: Of course, of course. But I need to explore Stanley. Get in touch with who he really is. Discover him, as an actor would, so that I can know him.

Melissa: One must do one’s research I suppose…

Stanley: Yes, yes exactly. Research. I am a scientist who observes humanity.

Melissa: And what is a mad scientist without his assistant? (cozying up to him)

Stanley: I knew you would help me!

Melissa: I’ll always be there for you.

(A knock at the door)

Stanley: And who is that? (Confused)

Melissa: That’s probably the mailman.

Stanley: Who?

Melissa: The nice mailman, remember? He delivers our mail from the post office right to our door. Isn’t that convenient. His name is Barry.

Stanley: Why is he knocking on our door at this hour?! (Angrily)

Melissa: It’s quarter after six.

Stanley: And?

Melissa: And the mail is here.

Stanley: So?

Melissa: So he is knocking to notify us of that, so we can put it inside before anyone messes with it.

Stanley: And how do you know him by name? (Suspiciously)

Melissa: Because he delivers our mail, to our house, everyday.

(pause, Stanley looks less than amused)

…and he’s introduced himself.

Stanley: Why?

Melissa: Because we are fortunate enough to have a nice mailman. …Is that alright?

Stanley: Is it alright that he’s introduced himself or that he’s a nice man? Or that he’s a nice man who introduced himself?

Melissa: Um, all of the above.

Stanley: Or, that he introduced himself AS a nice man?

Melissa: …yes. (Bringing in the mail)

Stanley: Whatever. (Removing several items from his briefcase)

Melissa: Is that another script?

Stanley: It sure is! (happily)

Melissa: Why would you need another script if you’re only changing characters?

Stanley: This one is for you! (handing her a script)

Melissa: Well thank you.

Stanley: Perhaps we can go over lines before bed tonight?

Melissa: I think that’d be fine, Tom.

Stanley: Stanley.

Melissa: Stanley.

**Fade out**

 

Scene 3

**Fade in**

(The scene opens with Tom sitting on top of the covers on his bed, waiting. A faucet is running and dishwashing sounds are heard in the background)

Tom: Melissa!

Melissa: (from the other room) Yes dear?

Tom: Come on!

Melissa: What?

Tom: Are you ready for our role-play?

Melissa: (pops into the room, wearing wet, yellow rubber gloves) What did you just say?

Tom: (holding up his script) Are you ready?

Melissa: Oh, that, yes. One minute. (leaves the room)

Tom: (half yelling) You know, I really appreciate this. Not everyone would give their own time for someone else’s interests. But then again, I knew you were that type before we were ever married. (The faucet stops) And nothing has changed at all.

Melissa: (entering the room) What were you saying?

Tom: I just appreciate your commitment to my dreams.

Melissa: We’re a team. And that’s what teammates do. I’m sure you’d do the same for me.

Tom: If you had a lifelong dream, I’m sure I would too.

Melissa: I have dreams. And some of them are actually lifelong. This acting thing has only been going on for a couple weeks.

Tom: Yes, but it feels like I’ve wanted it all my life.

Melissa: I’m glad you feel that way. I’m just saying there are other people in this world of yours. And some of us want things too.

Tom: You always wanted to be with me…mission accomplished!

Melissa: But besides that, there are…

Tom: Alright listen darling we have to get through some of this while we can still hold our eyelids open. Okay?

Melissa: (long pause) Okay. (grabs her script) Where are we…

Tom: I’ll start. (without opening his script)

Melissa: Okay but where are we starting, Tom? (Looking through her script)

Tom: Stanley.

Melissa: Where are we starting, Stanley?

Stanley: (without looking at his script AND in a different, pronounced, actor-voice) “What’s it like out today?”

Melissa: “Very nice.”

Stanley: “Warm?”

Melissa: “Well, there’s a good breeze blowing.”

Stanley: “Cold?”

Melissa: “No, no, I wouldn’t say it was cold. What are the cornflakes like, Stanley?”

Stanley: “Horrible.”

Melissa: “Those flakes? those lovely flakes…?” You know, I wonder sometimes about whether or not this is a good hobby to have.

Stanley: What?? (still in the voice)

Melissa: Just…maybe a physical activity or something less mentally straining would be better to clear your head. And more healthy.

Stanley: But this is what I love. And if it’s what I love, it must be good for me.

Melissa: Perhaps…

Stanley: So can we continue the scene?

Melissa: Stanley, I feel pretty tired…would it be alright if we did more tomorrow.

Stanley: (groans) We’re never gonna get through this, are we?

Melissa: I’m sorry…we can do the whole thing tomorrow… I’ve just had a long day.

Stanley: Oh really? And how exactly was it so long?

Melissa: Well… I worked all day. …And then I got off a little early and went down to that career center.

Stanley: What? Why?

Melissa: Just to…look around, you know?

Stanley: Sure. As long as you’re home when I am.

Melissa: I was. You didn’t wait a single second did you?

Stanley: No Mel.

Melissa: See? (Scooting in close to him) We didn’t have to miss each other any longer than we already do. (Putting a leg over his and an arm across him)

Stanley: (smiling) I’m glad to hear it, because I don’t know what I would have done otherwise.

Melissa: (kisses him) Oh, Tom…

Stanley: Stanley…

Melissa: (smiling and rolling her eyes) …Stan.

(She reaches over and turns off the light)

 

Scene 4

(The scene opens with Tom arriving home the next day, as always, briefcase in hand and smile on his face)

Tom: (coming in the door) Baby, I don’t know what it is, but I guess this is just my week!

Melissa: Really, what happened?

Tom: You remember how I was so happy about that promotion to the lead?

Melissa: Yes?

Tom: I was pretty happy, anyway. But not as happy as I could have been.

Melissa: What do you mean?

Tom: Well, I was thinking about our conversation… how acting has become my slightly recent lifelong dream…

Melissa: …mhm.

Tom: …And I realized that I need something more than just Stanley- I need a role where I can really flex my acting muscles; a role that goes to the edges of my range and then some! Something more vigorous, something more… inspired. (a knock at the door)

Melissa: Inspired, huh? (she opens the door and brings in the mail)

Tom: Precisely. So I went to a new theatre, a good theatre. I didn’t think I had it in me, but I auditioned somewhere else!

Melissa: What?! Tom I don’t think…

Tom: It’s Lenny now. He’s not the lead, but he’s better than the lead from the other play. Much better.

Melissa: You can’t just quit and go to another theatre. We picked this one out together. We said it was right for you, remember?

Lenny: I found one that’s more right for me.

Melissa: How and why is that?

Lenny: It’s not the theatre really, it’s the role!

Melissa: The role…

Lenny: Yes!

Melissa: What about it?

Lenny: Just…the sheer level of intensity.

Melissa: Tom, I don’t…

Lenny: Lenny.

Melissa: Lenny, I don’t think this is a good idea. At all. I wasn’t even sure this was a good idea when it was at a theatre with a director that was… familiar…with your…acting style.

Lenny: And what in the hell is wrong with my ‘acting style?’

Melissa: Nothing… okay, everyone has a style, right? And the director we met with… he seems to know how to help make yours work for you. Plus, even good actors have weaknesses. He can help you identify them so you can have total control of your character…

Lenny: I don’t need someone pointing out what to work on.

Melissa: You don’t? Because…

Lenny: No! Alright?! I’m finding opportunities for myself. This is the best outlet for my talents and you should be glad for me. Not nagging at me about my weaknesses.

Melissa: I’m not nagging…

Lenny: There you go again…

Melissa: Hey! I’m not trying to nag at you, DEAR. I’m just looking out for you. From another angle.

Lenny: Well don’t! I can feel when something is right for me like no one else can. Either you can swallow that or you can’t!

Melissa: I can swallow it, if it makes you happy.

Lenny: Oh you can? (smiling and approaching her)

Melissa: Yes, baby. (seductively) But you have to promise me something…

Lenny: Anything…

Melissa: Remind yourself that it’s me. Don’t forget who’s got your back.

Lenny: …and my front.

Melissa: And everywhere else. (They kiss, a lot)

**Fade out**

 

Scene 5

(The scene opens with Melissa and Tom under the covers, after a romp in the bedroom)

Melissa: Stay here, stay with me forever.

Tom: Sure.

Melissa: (nuzzling into him) I mean it, you have to take in moments like this…

(Tom gets up from the bed, heading to the bathroom)

Melissa: Where are you going, love?

Tom: Gotta pee.

(Melissa is thinking, playing with her hair, the covers.)

Lenny: (in an acting voice) “Do you want a cigarette?”

Melissa: What?

Lenny: (Walks in, holding his script in one hand, a bottle of whiskey in the other) “A cigarette. Do you, want one?” (takes a swig)

Melissa: Oh, this is from the scene, right?

Lenny: “I asked you a question.”

Melissa: I don’t know the lines…

Lenny: (yelling) “A cigarette!” (takes a swig)

Melissa: Hey! Stop…

Lenny: “Do you understand me or not?”

Melissa: Not! I don’t smoke?!

Lenny: (inquisitive) “So you don’t want one? (takes a swig) Have you ever smoked a cigarette?”

Melissa: Um, maybe once or twice, but not really…

Lenny: “So you’re a liar.”

Melissa: No.

Lenny: (takes a swig) “You said you don’t smoke. Now you say you do.”

Melissa: I did, like one time. But I haven’t since. This…this is your character isn’t it? This isn’t funny, Lenny. And you need to slow down on the booze. (grabbing the bottle from him)

Lenny: “I’ve got nothing to do with this.” (Takes out a pack of cigarettes and lights one)

Melissa: What are you doing? You can’t smoke that in here?!

Lenny: “I can do what I want in my house.”

Melissa: Absolutely. (sarcastically) You are the king of the castle. Now will you do one little thing for your queen?

Lenny: Hm..?

Melissa: Come back to bed. (She kisses him, taking the cigarette out of his hand)

Lenny: “Hey…”

(She takes a drag, puts out his cigarette on the nightstand, climbs into bed, pulling him around her)

 

Scene 6

(The next day, Tom is practicing his lines as he walks around the living room, occasionally glancing at his script to remember a line)

Tom as Gus: Takes a few cooks, eh?

(Mimes putting a revolver in its holster)

The sooner we’re out of this place the better. Why doesn’t he get in touch? I feel like I’ve been here years.

(He takes his revolver out of its holster to check the ammunition.)

We’ve never let him down though, have we? We’ve never let him down. I was thinking only the other day, Ben. We’re reliable, aren’t we?

(He puts his revolver back in its holster. Melissa enters, carrying groceries)

Tom: (without moving) Do you need help?

Melissa: No, thanks, I think I’ve got all the groceries, but the mail is just sitting there. Could you bring it in and put it away?

Tom: Certainly. (he walks past her, gets the mail from outside the door, and walks into the bathroom)

(Melissa puts away the groceries. Tom reappears without the mail)

Melissa: You know I’m only joking when I say we should flush our bills down the toilet, right?

Tom: Yes?

Melissa: So you brought all the mail to the bathroom?

Tom: Yeah, what’s wrong with a little light reading? (smiling) So how was the store?

Melissa: Fine. I saw my friend, Dee. She’s doing well. She had her three kids with her. Well, kind of. They were actually just running around, driving her- and everyone else crazy.

Tom: Sounds terrible.

Melissa: A little. But it was also adorable, in it’s own chaotic way.

Tom: Mel…what are you saying…

Melissa: Oh Tom, relax. Trust me, I’ve got enough chaos in my day to day.

Tom: And what’s that supposed to mean?

Melissa: It means one big cry baby is enough. Two, plus a round of diaper duty is not what I signed up for.

Tom: I’m no cry baby, I’m a man!

Melissa: Am I supposed to just take your word for it?

Tom: No, ma’am (spanks her, she giggles) Not now, not ever.

 

Scene 7

(Here, Melissa’s lines are all delivered with more confusion and frustration as she notices the repeated dialogue, as if she is experiencing terrible deja-vu)

(The scene opens with Melissa and Tom under the covers, after a romp in the bedroom)

Melissa: Stay here, stay with me forever.

Tom: Sure.

Melissa: (nuzzling into him) I mean it, you have to take in moments like this…

(Tom gets up from the bed, heading to the bathroom)

Melissa: Where are you going, love?

Tom: Gotta pee.

(Melissa is thinking, playing with her hair, the covers.)

Lenny: (in an acting voice) “Do you want a cigarette?”

Melissa: What?

Lenny: (Walks in, holding his script in one hand, a bottle of whiskey in the other) “A cigarette. Do you, want one?” (takes a swig)

Melissa: Oh, this is from the scene, right?

Lenny: “I asked you a question.”

Melissa: I don’t know the lines…

Lenny: (yelling) “A cigarette!” (takes a swig)

Melissa: Hey! Stop…

Lenny: “Do you understand me or not?”

Melissa: Not! I don’t smoke?!

Lenny: (inquisitive) “So you don’t want one? (takes a swig) Have you ever smoked a cigarette?”

Melissa: Um, maybe once or twice, but not really…

Lenny: “So you’re a liar.”

Melissa: No.

Lenny: (takes a swig) “You said you don’t smoke. Now you say you do.”

Melissa: I did, like one time. But I haven’t since. This…this is your character isn’t it? This isn’t funny, Lenny. And you need to slow down on the booze. (grabbing the bottle from him)

Lenny: “I’ve got nothing to do with this.” (Takes out a pack of cigarettes and lights one)

Melissa: What are you doing? You can’t smoke that in here?!

Lenny: “Tell me what I can and can’t do.” (takes a swig)

Melissa: What? Hey, slow down on the booze…

Lenny: “Tell me again what I can and can’t do!”

Melissa: I’m not…

Lenny: “…a controlling bitch?” (puts out the cigarette on the nightstand)

Melissa: Excuse me?!

Lenny: “Yes! Excuse you!” (takes a swig)

Melissa: Thomas?!?!

Lenny: (screaming) “Don’t call me that!” (He raises his hand to strike her, and brings it down slightly but stops himself) “You know I hate when you call me that.”

Melissa: Oh my god…were you going to…

Lenny: “I’ve told you that. Don’t you remember that I told you that? You don’t remember. Why don’t you remember? Is it because you don’t love me? Did I do something? Did you? Did you fuck someone else? Do you love someone else? Please don’t cheat on me, I love you…” (climbs in bed close to her)

Melissa: (trying not to cry) Lenny… please, calm down.

Lenny: “There you go, telling me what to do again! Are you aware you have a problem? (takes a swig) You’re a crazy bitch with a problem and I won’t be around while you figure it out.” (He goes to the coat rack and gets his coat and shoes on)

Melissa: (crying) Thom-erm-Lenny, Where are you going? Come back here… Please…

Lenny: “If I can’t smoke in here, I’ll go somewhere else!” (Slams the door, lights go out)

 

Scene 8

(Tom is walking to his house from where he parked. He is swinging his keys around his finger. He notices the mailman walking away from his house. As they approach each other to cross paths…)

Barry: Hey there Tom, how’s life treatin’ ya?

Tom: Bar, bare, Barry? Right? Good, man, just living the dream, you know.

Barry: I hear ya.

Tom: Thursdays, amiright?

Barry: Heh heh, one day from the best day. Although, earlier this week you were damn near skipping to yer door. I was happy just seein’ someone that happy.

Tom: Yeah, that was a good day. Things have been going my way lately.

Barry: Well I’ll have what you’re havin’, heh heh. (pause) Uh, I jus leff yer mail an’ package up ‘ere with yer wife.

Tom: Great, thanks. How’d she seem? Mood-wise I mean…

Barry: Pretty much normal. She sweeter than a watermelon, that woman. You a lucky guy.

Tom: Yeah she’s alright. Better from your angle probably.

Barry: Howzat?

Tom: Oh you know, women… (Slightly awkward pause) Can’t live with ‘em, right?

Barry: Some of ‘em harder to live with than others. S’why I say you’re lucky- she’s a catch. I been tryin’ to find myself a girl like that for a while….

Tom: Yeah?

Barry: And cousin, I’m still lookin’! (Laughs)

Tom: (moving toward the door) Well, let me head in and I’ll see if she has a sister or something I don’t know about… (Jokingly)

Barry: Heheheh alright friend, take care now. I’ll see ya tomorrah.

Tom: Yepp (waves)

 

Scene 9

(Again, Melissa’s lines are all delivered with more confusion and frustration as she notices the repeated dialogue, as if she is experiencing terrible deja-vu)

(The scene opens with Melissa and Tom under the covers, after a romp in the bedroom)

Melissa: Stay here, stay with me forever.

Tom: Sure.

Melissa: (nuzzling into him) I mean it, you have to take in moments like this…

(Tom gets up from the bed, heading to the bathroom)

Melissa: Where are you going, love?

Tom: Gotta pee.

(Melissa is thinking, playing with her hair, the covers.)

Lenny: (in an acting voice) “Do you want a cigarette?”

Melissa: What?

Lenny: (Walks in, holding his script in one hand, a bottle of whiskey in the other) “A cigarette. Do you, want one?” (Takes a swig)

Melissa: Oh, this is from the scene, right?

Lenny: “I asked you a question.”

Melissa: I don’t know the lines…

Lenny: (yelling) “A cigarette!” (Takes a swig)

Melissa: Hey! Stop…

Lenny: “Do you understand me or not?”

Melissa: Not! I don’t smoke?!

Lenny: (inquisitive) “So you don’t want one? (takes a swig) Have you ever smoked a cigarette?”

Melissa: Um, maybe once or twice, but not really…

Lenny: “So you’re a liar.”

Melissa: No.

Lenny: (takes a swig) “You said you don’t smoke. Now you say you do.”

Melissa: I did, like one time. But I haven’t since. This…this is your character isn’t it? This isn’t funny, Lenny. And you need to slow down on the booze. (grabbing the bottle from him)

Lenny: “I’ve got nothing to do with this.” (Takes out a pack of cigarettes and lights one)

Melissa: What are you doing? You can’t smoke that in here?!

Lenny: “Tell me what I can and can’t do.” (takes a swig)

Melissa: What? Hey, slow down on the booze…

Lenny: “Tell me again what I can and can’t do!”

Melissa: I’m not…

Lenny: “…a controlling bitch?” (puts out the cigarette on the nightstand)

Melissa: Excuse me?!

Lenny: “Yes! Excuse you!” (takes a swig)

Melissa: Thomas?!?!

Lenny: (screaming) “Don’t call me that!” (He raises his hand and strikes her)

(Melissa is shocked, holding her face, staring at him, confused. He advances toward her again- She throws the covers off of her and backs off of the bed, away from him)

Melissa: Get away from me…

Lenny: “Why? Because I smoke? You can’t accept me for who I am…” (He takes out another cigarette and lights it.”

Melissa: Get. Out. I don’t know who this character is but I want him out.

Lenny: “Excuse me…”

Melissa: Get out! (moving toward him) You can’t smoke that in here! (slaps the cigarette out of his hand)

Lenny: “Fine. That’s fine. You can push me around, keep me from living how I want to live, but this marriage won’t work. (steps on the cigarette, rubbing it into the ground)

Melissa: Stop it. Whoever you are, just stop.

Lenny: “And why should I?” (getting closer to her)

Melissa: You’re the liar. You’re stuck on Lenny or whoever the fuck you think this person is supposed to be. (starts crying) You let him takeover, you let him hit your wife. You know I’m your wife, don’t you? (reaches for the bottle)

Lenny: (pulling the bottle away from her) “You know, for someone who claims to be my wife, you don’t seem to care about me very much. You keep trying to control me. It’s like, I get that I’m a fuck-up okay? I probably wouldn’t care about me either. Some self-medicating (takes a swig) guy who can’t even handle himself. But you know, you married this piece of shit, so why don’t you try to be a bit more accepting of who I really am. I smoke, I drink, and if I ever decide to get married, she wont care.” (getting his shoes on and coat from the coat rack)

Melissa: Where are you going?

Lenny: “For a drive.”

Melissa: You can’t! (grabbing at his coat)

Lenny: (shoving her off of him. She falls back to the ground) I can. (he leaves and slams the door, lights go out)

(small pause with lights out)

(The lights come back on. Melissa is still on the floor, crying. There is a knock at the door)

(Melissa looks up and heads to the door, curious of who it might be. She opens it and looks out)

Melissa: Lenny?!

Barry: (from a distance) Oh, hey, no, just…ya know…dropping off a package.

Melissa: Oh. I’m sorry. I thought you were my husband.

Barry: No problem… (she starts to close the door) Hey, are you alright?

Melissa: (Wiping her eyes) Yeah. Yeah I’m fine.

Barry: Melissa, right? (coming to the door)

Melissa: Yeah. You’re Barry.

Barry: That’s me.

Melissa: Why are you working so late?

Barry: I got done with my route and noticed a package in the back of the truck. So, I figured I’d just run it out to ya.

Melissa: Well, that’s sweet. Thank you.

Barry: Ma’am, I know it’s none of my business, but what’s got you cryin’? If you don’t mind me askin’.

Melissa: Nothing, nothing. Just relationship stuff. I’m sure you know…

Barry: No, not really. Not much of a ladies man, myself.

Melissa: Oh, stop it. Sure you are. You just haven’t found her.

Barry: I s’pose.

Melissa: Well, I appreciate this. Thank you.

Barry: Just doin my job ma’am.

(awkward pause)

But then again, you wanna return the favor?

Melissa: Sorry, what?

Barry: Can you do something for me?

Melissa: Um, no?

Barry: Make sure Lenny’s takin care of you.

Melissa: Who? …Oh, right.

Barry: I oughtn’t think a pretty lady like yourself should be cryin like ya are.

Melissa: You know, you’re right. I shouldn’t. But… relationships they’re… you know? …I guess you don’t know. Well let me tell you, they aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. I mean, sometimes they’re great, but sometimes they’re…not. We ’re conditioned to find someone and love them and make babies and be together forever and grow old and read the paper and bitch at each other about kids these days. But, its like we’re also conditioned not to. You know, when I was young, I thought I had the coolest parents. I mean, kids were constantly bitching about “my mom wont let me do this and my dad made me do that…” and I was all like “yeah, totally,” but actually my parents were pretty friendly and helpful. Then everyone’s parents started getting divorced. But mine didn’t. Every time I’d ask about how things were going or how one felt about the other, they’d have their complaints, but it would always end with “but I love him, or her.” But then I got even older, and I watched their interest shrivel. I watched them nag and jab at each other until it seemed like they hated being in the same room. And neither of them ever considered divorce. Not for religious reasons, just, honoring a commitment or something. It got to the point where I almost sat them down and said “Guys, I think it’s time you considered a divorce.” And in my head they would start crying and I’d have to reassure them like “Don’t worry, it’ll be okay. I promise, this has nothing to do with me, this is just something between you two.” How sad and dumb is that? I mean maybe I was right though, maybe we’re only meant to be around each other, like in couples, enough to have and raise children to be well-adjusted members of society. Then we should just shake hands and end things before they get ugly. I don’t know. I don’t know why I feel like this already, we haven’t even been married 7 years. And Tom has always been Tom. And he’ll always be Tom. And I know I’ve always loved him. I guess it’s just hard not to wonder…or…let the heart stray…or whatever. You know?

Barry: Uh…who’s Tom?

Melissa: What?

Barry: Um… (nervously looks around and, unable to think of anything helpful to say, leaves awkwardly)

(Melissa looks confused as she watches him leave, then closes the door)

 

Act 2

Scene 1

(The scene begins with Melissa stumbling down a sidewalk, on her way home from a bar, drunk. A man, who is helping her walk, accompanies her but we can’t tell who he is. Oh, and it’s raining.)

Melissa: (slurring a lot) You know, it wasn’t always like this, you know.

Man: I know, I know. Don’t worry.

Melissa: It’s juss like, shit’s hard sometimes, you know?

Man: (laughing) Yeah, I think I know.

Melissa: I am married, okay buddy?

Man: You mentioned that. It’s fine.

Melissa: Mentioned what?

Man: Nothing. Are you still feeling okay?

Melissa: Yeah! I feel great.

Man: Really?

Melissa: No!

Man: Oh, I’m… I’m sorry. What’s wrong? I don’t have to walk you home…

Melissa: Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey… I’m MARRIED, okay?

Man: (pause) Really?

Melissa: Yes, his name is Tom, and most of the time he’s wonderful.

Man: Most of the time? I thought his name was Lenny?

Melissa: How do you know that?

Barry: You were calling for him the other night…

Melissa: Hey! You’re my mailman! (taking off his hood/whatever is concealing his identity)

Barry: That’s me.

Melissa: So tell me Larry…

Barry: Hehehe… (knowing she mispoke)

Melissa: Sure. So you saw me in the bar, how did you know it was me?

Barry: You, uh, look like yourself from earlier?

Melissa: Oh… thank you! You’re too sweet.

So how do you know where I live, Gary?

Barry: Yes.

Melissa: Well that’s pretty damn nice of you.

Barry: How many guys walk you home and already know where you live?

Melissa: None! Well…(looking at him)…one. What are you trying to say? I’m a married woman…

Barry: Nothin, nothin. I mean, you said Lenny was yer husband, so naturally I figured Tom was a… different person, I guess.

Melissa: Nope, nope, nope, same guy.

Barry: Alrighty.

Melissa: It’s a long story.

Barry: We still gotta handfulla blocks…

Melissa: If you say so… I’ll try to keep it short for you, Harry.

Barry: Why don’t we stick with Barry from now on (smiling)

Melissa: Right, yes, I’m sorry.

Barry: S’alright. Go ahead.

Melissa: (still slurring) So… it’s kinda like I was telling you the other day… relationships, man… (pause) They’re hard. You can be like a super genius and still not understand love. You can be on your first date or have a thousand years of dating experience and still make mistakes. The important part is that you are true to yourself and honest to your partner… But even then things can get all fucked up! That’s mostly the part I don’t get. So you gotta think, is it something we are all doing wrong? Cause how are we all so bad at it? Besides the occasional pair of old farts that have loved each other for forever, the rest of us are having a less-than-perfect time, here. Single people are lonely and sad, people in relationships are fickle and sad, and married couples are bored and sad. I’m not saying I’m bored and sad, but… I know I said Tom has always been Tom…but that’s not necessarily true. I mean, people change, that’s normal. If people didn’t change- now THAT would be frustrating… but think about it. If you commit yourself to someone forever, and everyone’s changing, you’re eventually gonna end up with someone who’s much or completely different than the person you agreed to. And what if you don’t like that person? I suppose it’s more about agreeing to all the potential versions of someone, but that sounds pretty crazy doesn’t it? It feels crazy anyway…but like I said, I love my husband, whoever he is. And you don’t just walk away from the people you love. But…that’s easier said than done. Oh gosh look we’ve been standing here all wet and I’ve been keeping you here with my rambling. I appreciate you walking me home, really. You’re a sweet guy, Jerry.

(She has been getting closer and closer to him, and at this point is leaning in to kiss him, but at the last second she pulls back, turns away, then turns back to him holding a small piece of paper)

Here. This is my number. If you want to stop by, say hi or whatever, or if you need anything, give me a call. It’s always good to have friends nearby. Goodnight. (she runs inside, leaving him standing there)

Barry: (looking down, smiling at the piece of paper, he is cheerful and touched) Thanks.

(He stands there for a minute, realizes no one is around, and awkwardly turns and leaves.)

Scene 2

(scene opens in the kitchen/living room area in Tom and Melissa’s home. Tom is following Melissa around, persistently)

Tom: Come on, Mac!

Melissa: NO! Leave me alone. And stop calling me that.

Tom: Are you kidding me? You were so supportive…

Melissa: I still am, but I’m done with that script. You can ask me questions and we can still talk things over, but you will just have to run your lines in your rehearsals.

Tom: There isn’t enough time, we have to be memorized by Monday. Mac, I need your help.

Melissa: You don’t need my help. We’ve done this before, and you remember how than ended.

Tom: That wasn’t me!

Melissa: Well that WAS me! I’m not a character Tom, I’m your wife. I’m Melissa Walker, that’s all. If you want someone else, you’ll have to find someone else.

Tom: But, you always said you would help me! (angrily) This isn’t helping me!

Melissa: I said I’d do whatever I can to make you better. You aren’t better. Learning to act is about controlling your mind and your body. If anything you have less control than ever…

(pause)

Tom: Take it back…

Melissa: No, Tom.

Tom: It’s Mick.

Melissa: NO, TOM. I’m not saying this to hurt you, I’m saying these things because I love you enough to be honest with you.

Tom: Okay, I get it.

Melissa: I want you to remember that I love you. I feel like sometimes you get so caught up in what you’re doing that you forget I’m here. And I’m here for you.

Tom: I remember.

Melissa: Don’t forget.

Tom: …to remember?

Melissa: Don’t forget any of it (smiling)

Tom: So, we can talk about the character at least?

Melissa: Absolutely. Are you hungry? I can grab us something to nibble on while we go over it.

Tom: Sure. Whatever you want, I’ll have some too. (she leaves to the kitchen and Tom sits at the kitchen table with his script)

**Fade out**

 

Scene 3

(Again, Melissa’s lines are all delivered with more confusion and frustration as she notices the repeated dialogue, as if she is experiencing terrible deja-vu)

(scene opens in the kitchen/living room area in Tom and Melissa’s home. Tom is following Melissa around, persistently)

Tom: Come on, Mac!

Melissa: NO! Leave me alone. And stop calling me that.

Tom: Are you kidding me? You were so supportive…

Melissa: I still am, but I’m done with that script. You can ask me questions and we can still talk things over, but you will just have to run your lines in your rehearsals.

Tom: There isn’t enough time, we have to be memorized by Monday. Mac, I need your help.

Melissa: You don’t need my help. We’ve done this before, and you remember how than ended.

Tom: That wasn’t me!

Melissa: Well that WAS me! I’m not a character Tom, I’m your wife. I’m Melissa Walker, that’s all. If you want someone else, you’ll have to find someone else.

Tom: But, you always said you would help me! (angrily) This isn’t helping me!

Melissa: I said I’d do whatever I can to make you better. You aren’t better. Learning to act is about controlling your mind and your body. If anything you have less control than ever…

(pause)

Tom: Take it back…

Melissa: No, Tom.

Tom: It’s Mick.

Melissa: NO, TOM. I’m not saying this to hurt you, I’m saying these things because I love you enough to be honest with you.

Mick: (In a very different and menacing voice) No. It’s. Mick.

Melissa: No it’s not…

Mick: (getting closer and closer to her) I don’t look like Mick to you? (she’s backing away from him but he’s pursuing her around the living room and kitchen with an evil look on his face) I don’t… sound like Mick? (getting in her face) I don’t… smell like Mick?

Melissa: This isn’t funny… why don’t we think about dinner?

Mick: You know what I’d like to think about? I like imagining you picking up that script and letting me be Mick, how’s that sound? Wouldn’t that be fun? If you allowed the person whose house you’re in to be themself? Wouldn’t that be…nice?

Melissa: You’re scaring me. Don’t do this.

Mick: Don’t do what, exactly? I just want to make sure I’m clear on the rules.

Melissa: There aren’t rules, I just can’t be around for this again… (backing toward the door)

Mick: Pick up your script.

Melissa: No…

Mick: PICK IT UP!

Melissa: No…

Mick: (grabbing the script from the table) As soon as you pick it up, you can join me. And once you do that, we can play. I promise to play by the rules.

Melissa: I’m not playing this game.

Mick: Play with me.

Melissa: No…

Mick: Join me…

Melissa: Tom.

Mick: You know, you keep saying the name Tom, like somebody’s gonna come strutting into the room. Well guess what? This is our room. Ours. Not mine, not yours. And you know what else? I think it’s about time you started acting like it. Now take this (pushing the script at her) and show me your tricks.

Melissa: It’s not mine.

Mick: It’s yours. (he starts chasing her again, circling her around the island)

Melissa: I don’t have any tricks.

Mick: I’ll show you.

Melissa: I don’t want to be shown.

Mick: You don’t have a choice!

Melissa: Yes I do.

Mick: It’s my choice now. And I’ve decided. Now sit.

Melissa: Absolutely not.

Mick: Absolutely yes.

Melissa: No.

Mick: Yes. Sit down.

Melissa: (looking around) Not while you stand.

Mick: What?

Melissa: Sit, and I will.

Mick: Alright. (grabs a chair, pushes it to her. Grabs another chair, pushes it in front of himself)

(He looks at the seat, and slowly sits. He looks at her with anticipation. She looks at the seat, looks up at him, turns and grabs her keys as she makes a B-line for the door)

Mick: You fucking bitch! I shoulda known you’d pull some shit you miserable fucking cunt!

(door slams, lights go out)

 

Scene 4

(After some time with the lights out, the door cracks open. It is hours later, the middle of the night. Melissa sticks her head in the doorway, looking around. The apartment is still)

Melissa: Tom?

(Turning on a light) Tom? (she sets her keys down) Are you here? (she picks them back up)

Tom?

(a light clicks on. Mick is sitting in an armchair, smiling)

Mick: Welcome to our lovely home.

Melissa: (still cautious, but a little relieved) Thank you… are you…feeling better?

Mick: Better than when?

Melissa: Earlier…you were…very upset….

Mick: Everyone gets upset from time to time.

Melissa: (setting her keys and phone down) Yes, but, you were being pretty hurtful.

Mick: I can have a terrible temper. I apologize.

Melissa: Oh, um, it’s okay. Um, I mean, actually it’s not…you can’t treat me like that. If you do, I can’t be here…

Mick: I know, my actions were…inexcusable. Sometimes I wonder where I’d be if I didn’t have my wife calming me down and steering me back on track.

Melissa: Oh, gosh. It’s so nice to hear you say that. (takes off her coat)

Mick: Why?

Melissa: I mean, I usually feel like I do a lot, but I don’t always feel like you notice.

Mick: Notice what?

Melissa: Me?! Calming you and steering you back on track? Like you said?

Mick: I’m sorry, I think I’m confused.

Melissa: You said you wonder where you’d be without your wife…

Mick: Yes, my wife. She’s just in the other room.

Melissa: No, she’s here…I’m your wife.

Mick: What? No, you’re not. My wife is in the other room. She’ll be back in a minute. And she won’t like you referring to yourself as my spouse, so I’d prefer that you stop.

Melissa: What? Do you actually have another woman in our house?!

Mick: My house. And yes, definitely.

Melissa: (breaking up) Are you…

Mick: What?

Melissa: Are you…

Mick: Am I what?!

Melissa: Do you know where I can find my husband Tom?

Mick: I’m not sure, have I met him?

Melissa: You used to be him.

Mick: I don’t understand.

Melissa: Are you Mick?

Robert: Mick? Interesting, I’ve never met anyone named Mick. I’m Robert.

Melissa: Well ROBERT, do you think you could help me?

Robert: With what?

Melissa: I’m just trying to figure out why you let strangers into your apartment.

Robert: You let yourself in, and I was actually just wondering if I had seen you somewhere.

Melissa: You’ve seen me everyday. I live here. I’m your wife. We picked out this apartment together. My name is on the lease. I’m Melissa.

Robert: I wish I could say it’s a pleasure, Melissa, but I think you’ve overstayed your welcome. My wife will be back any minute now… here she is… (he gestures to an empty doorway) You see?

Melissa: Goddammit…(trying not to cry)

Robert: What, do you have a problem with her?

Melissa: Who?! Who?!?

Robert: My wife. She’s right there.

Melissa: No.

Robert: What?

Melissa: She’s not there. She’s standing right here.

Robert: Stop. That’s enough! I won’t have any more of this.

Melissa: Tom, I know you’re in there. You wouldn’t have let me stay this long if you weren’t. Please. Remember.

Robert: Enough! Get out! No more of your mind games! Get out now!

Melissa: (approaching him) Tom… please… remember like you said you would. It’s me, it’s Mel. It’s your Mel…

Robert: My WIFE has gone back in the other room, thanks to you. Now kindly show yourself OUT!

Melissa: I’m your wife! Our wedding was 6 short years ago. (getting closer to him) I fell in love with you. The real you. (Kisses him. Long and passionate. He kisses her back at first, but then breaks away)

Robert: Stop…STOP IT! NO MORE! You will not barge in here and try to ruin my marriage. I tried to be nice, but you refused to respect that. (going to the door) I’m not sure who you are, but if you’re a filthy home wrecker, you can get fucking lost! (holding the door open)

Melissa: No.

Robert: What?

Melissa: I said no. I hate this. I hate the way you’re looking at me, like you don’t know who I am. I hate feeling like a stranger in my own house. But I’m not walking out anymore. I’m not climbing the steps to our apartment, wondering who’s gonna answer the door. This is where I live. I live here. I’m inside my home. And once I’m in, I’m in.

Robert: No, you’re out!

(grabbing her arm, pulling her towards the door. There is a struggle. She breaks free, he flies backward and maybe even falls down, and she runs to the bathroom. He chases after her but the door is locked. He bangs his fists and kicks against the door)

Open this fucking door now! Get out of my house!

(we can hear Melissa start sobbing loudly and painfully. As she sobs, Robert is screaming and pounding at the door, doing anything to open it. During all this noise, her phone starts ringing)

(After the ringtone ends, a few moments later, her crying stops too. He hears this, and he stops, curiously.)

Robert: What…What’s going on? What are you doing?!

Hey?!

(The door unlocks, and swings open. She walks out with a sullen face, holding something. She walks to the middle of the room, stops, turns, and looks him in the eye.)

Melissa: Why?

Robert: Why what??

Melissa: We agreed. We had a plan. We were going to have things under control.

Robert: What are you talking about?

(she unfolds her hands, revealing an orange prescription bottle, full of pills)

Melissa: Why are these here?

Robert: What? Some medicine?

Melissa: Not some medicine, your medicine…your Clozapine. Why is it here?

Robert: That’s not mine…

Melissa: (shaking the bottle angrily) It’s yours! They’re all yours! Every bottle, every pill…they’re all yours! (Unscrewing the cap) And why… (starts throwing them at him one by one) are…there…so…many!

(after throwing about 5, her anger turns to sadness at the sight of his confusion)

They’re…They’re all still here… (hands shaking, holding the bottle, but never taking her eyes off his, she turns it upside down, spilling hundreds of pills all over the floor. A long silence hangs in the air, for exactly 20 seconds)

Melissa: My name is Melissa, I’m your wife. You are sick. When you got sick, we saw a doctor. He gave you these. These pills are a safe antipsychotic medication that we agreed you would take. They were being delivered here regularly. They help you.

Robert: Help me what?

Melissa: Find your true character. You’re real character. Because you’re sick, it’s harder for you than most people. You have personalities. Most people just have one. I left our home this evening because one of them pushed me out. But I shouldn’t have left- I won’t leave again. This is our home and I’m staying. If I die trying to get you to figure that out, then so be it. You used to take these, and you’d be a lot more of Tom for a lot longer. They’d help you be the man you were before. Those big brown eyes used to gaze into my heart. You knew me better than anyone. Then you started coming home and eventually you didn’t know me at all. Pills and talk therapy, they said. I knew you wouldn’t like feeling like a patient, so we found a hobby that allowed you to control your characters…turn them on and off voluntarily…But, but it’s not acting anymore. You lost control. Now I know why.

Robert: Why what?

Melissa: For some reason, you stopped taking them. Maybe you thought you didn’t need them anymore. They were working for a while. But they can’t help you if you don’t take them. And neither can I. Not if you don’t remember me. (she picks up a pill, and holds it out to him) I need you to remember me. Please.

Robert: Okay. (he takes the pill and swallows it)

But what about my wife?

Melissa: I’ll take care of her, don’t worry.

Robert: Okay. Thanks. (yawns)

Melissa: Yeah, it’s late, isn’t it?

Robert: Yes, you decided to visit at a very irregular hour

Melissa: I’m sorry.

Robert: That’s alright. I’m glad you’re back.

Melissa: Me too, sweetheart.

(Robert yawns again)

Melissa: Okay, let’s get ready for bed, huh big guy?

Robert: We can’t leave the floor like that.

Melissa: Don’t worry, I’ll clean them up.

(He gets up, puts an arm around her, she turns and hugs him. They have a long, emotional hug. They then walk to the bathroom, she brushes her teeth, walks back out into the kitchen area while brushing)

Tom: Mel?

Melissa: (she looks up and smiles brightly to herself) Yes?

Tom: Where’d you put the toothpaste? It’s always in a different spot!

Melissa: Top drawer, goofy.

Tom: (comes out brushing his teeth) Oh yeah, I’m the goofy one for playing along with your “hide the toothpaste game.”

(Melissa turns and give him a foamy kiss)

That’s real nice. Weirdest kiss ever. (smiling)

(They go back to the bathroom, get done brushing, and head to the bedroom)

(he reaches to set the alarm clock, but she grabs his hand, gently)

Melissa: It’s been a long day. I’ll email your director and tell her you need some good rest. You can go back to rehearsal totally refreshed on Tuesday.

Robert: Thank you.

(She smiles and tucks him in, then goes to leave. When she gets to the threshold of the door…)

Tom: Hey… (softly)

Melissa: Yes?

Tom: I know you just tucked me in and all…

Melissa: (smiles, and walks back to the bed, climbing into bed with him. They hold each other as their eyelids become heavy)

(each time their eyes begin to close, the lights start to dim. Slightly at first, then halfway, then they fade to black)

(Shortly after fading to black, the song “Boats and Birds” by Gregory and the Hawk fades in, followed by the lights fading back up to halfway as Melissa half opens her eyes. She looks over at him, smiles and pushes his hair off his face, gets up from the bed, and with the song playing and the lights half-dimmed, she cleans up the pills, writes the email, and looks at him. She stares at the pill bottle and then back at him. She then proceeds to pack her things for the duration of the song. She grabs her coat, and slips out the door. Just before leaving though, she stops, sets her bags down, goes to his bedside, and kisses him on the forehead before going back to and through the door, with it closing and the lights fading out again just as the song ends.)

End of Play

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