A Tragic Comedy in One Act
by Jonathan Prykop
March 6, 1997
Violet Bledsoe - a widow
Diago - Her houseboy
John Baker - a student of Violet's husband
Cynthia Hawthorn - an actress
Quentin Black - a prominent politician
Emmanuel Newton - a colleague of Violet's husband
(It is a dark and stormy afternoon. It is a living room. Door to bedroom left, to kitchen
right, front door center. Sofa and coffee table center. Diago is busy dusting. He is
very stiff and proper, and wears pants and a vest. As he dusts, he sings...)
Diago: It's a rainy day, it's a rainy day, it's raining outside and I can't go out and
play, why do we need the rain anyway?
(Violet enters from kitchen, carrying a tray of cookies.
She is dressed for a dinner party.)
Violet: Diago, what are you doing out here! The guests may arrive at any minute, and
just look at you! Flouncing around and singing like a canary.
Diago: I'm sorry, ma'am. I'm sorry. I was just - dusting the walls.
Violet: Well, go change. You're hardly presentable in that outfit.
Diago: Yes, yes ma'am. (he leaves)
Violet: My, it's so difficult to find good help these days. (Walks center, and
inhales deeply the scent of the cookies.) Ah, cookies! What lovely cookies! I have
baked you each special, my little friends. (She sets the cookies on the coffee table)
Ah, yes, look at you. You're so cute and adorable, no one would ever guess what you have
inside. Oh, aren't you cute. Silly little baby cookie babies... (There is a knock at the
door). Ah ha! There is a knock at the door! (She shuffles over and opens the door.
It is raining loudly outside. A man with an umbrella stands outside.) Good evening!
Do come in from the cold wet night, it is plenty warm in here. (Baker enters)
Baker: Good evening. Is this the house of Mrs. Bledsoe?
Violet: Miss Bledsoe. Violet. That would be me.
Baker: Ah, yes, _Miss_ Bledsoe.
Violet: My name is Violet. Please, call me Violet.
Baker: Oh, yes, Violet. Terribly sorry.
Violet: It's alright. Let me take your clothes.
Violet: You're all wet. You would drip on my floor and it would be horribly messy.
Baker: Oh, oh, yes, of course. (He begins to remove coat, hat, and golashes) I do
hope I'm not late. The directions to your house were a bit confusing.
Violet: On the contrary, you're early. But it doesn't matter, it shall simply give
us time to get to talk a bit, get to know each other, before we get down to business.
(She takes his wet clothes and carries them into the kitchen)
Baker: Yes, business. (He wanders over and begins to examine a painting on the wall
stage right.) I must say that you sent a most curious invitation.
Violet (from off stage): Yes, well, I'm sure you'll understand the need for vagueness
and utmost secrecy shortly. I'll tell you all about it when the other guests arrive
and we've settled down to nice cold glasses of milk and--
(Diago enters during last line, wearing a white waiter's outfit with a red rose
in the lapel and singing)
Diago: It's raining, it's pouring, the old man - (Cuts off as Violet enters.
Noticing Baker) Oh, ma'am, I _like_ this one!
Violet(rushing over): Diago, leave him alone! Back in your room! Back in your room!
(she chases him back into bedroom, and shuts the door). Sorry about that.
Baker: Oh, that's alright.
Violet: Why don't we have a seat on the sofa?
(They sit on the sofa, opposite ends. Violet sits grinning at Baker, waiting for him
to start a conversation.)
Baker(finally): Say, these cookies smell excellent. Do you mind if--
Violet: NO! No, I mean, you couldn't possibly eat them. Not yet.
The guests have not all arrived.
Baker (slightly puzzled at her emotion): Oh, of course...
(he stands up and walks over and looks at the painting again) Who is this a painting of?
Violet(standing to join Baker): Oh, her. That is...Estelle Bledsoe, my mother.
In her youth.
Baker: I must say your resemblance to her is striking.
Violet: Yes, well, she was an enchanting woman.
Baker: Say, would your father happen to be Professor Edgar Bledsoe, who once taught at
the Institute of Higher Learning in the city?
Violet: Why, yes he was.
Baker: Was? So he's deceased?
Violet: Yes, both of my parents passed away awhile ago.
Baker: Oh, that's too bad. He taught me chemistry, when I went there. Great teacher,
he was. Though I can't say I remember much of what he taught me. I'm just a bank teller
Violet: Yes, yes, well, you're very boring, too. (There is a knock at the door)
Oh, another guest! Oh, good! (She runs and opens the door) Good Evening! Do come in
from-- (Cynthia struts in, in a long black rain coat and sunglasses.)
Cynthia: I am here.
Violet: Ah, you must be Cynthia Hawthorn. Do come in! (Violet shuts door.)
Cynthia (removing sunglasses): Charming house. Three stories. Small, but charming.
Violet: Miss Hawthorn, I am Miss Bledsoe. But please, call me Violet.
Cynthia: It is so good to meet you, Violet. And you may call me Cynthia.
That is my name, you know.
Violet: Yes, Cynthia. And this is Professor Baker.
Baker: It's a pleasure.
Cynthia(disinterested): The pleasure's all mine, Mr. Backer.
Baker: Cynthia Hawthorn? As in, the world-famous film actress?
Cynthia: Hmm? Oh, yes, quite. Here, take my coat.
(Cynthia and Violet walk down stage, leaving Baker standing with coat.
Cynthia is wearing a lavish evening gown.)
Violet: My dear Cynthia, it has positively been too long.
(Baker brings coat into kitchen)
Cynthia: But Violet, we've just met.
Violet: What? Oh, yes, how foolish of me! Ha ha ha! Imagine that, I'm such a
ninny, oh my...(trails off giggling. There is a crash of thunder.) Oh, it is a
horrid night out, isn't it?
Cynthia: I suppose...an unpleasant night.
Violet: Yes, a dark night.
Cynthia: Not a night I'd like to be alone.
Violet: A grave night.
(There is a pause)
Cynthia: Oh, well, you know that November weather!
(There is another, more distant rumble of thunder)
Violet: Please, sit down. (They sit on the couch). So, tell me about yourself.
Cynthia: Oh, none of that, Violet. I want to get right down to the nitty gritty.
Violet: The nitty gritty?
Cynthia: Yes, I simply _must_ know why you have invited me here tonight.
Your invitation was most vague.
Violet: Ah, yes, well, it was meant to be vague.
Cynthia: And confusing.
Violet: It was meant to be confusing.
Baker (off stage): OH MY DEAR GOD NO!
Cynthia: What was that?
Violet: I don't know. It sounded like a desperate cry for help.
Cynthia: Perhaps you should go see what it was.
Violet: Yes, but what if another guest arrives while I am gone.
Cynthia: But--oh, I think I see your point...
(Pause. A horrific Baker-like scream is heard, followed by three loud thuds.
Cynthia is about to say something, but Violet throws her one of those "I thought
we went through this" looks.)
Cynthia: You know, when I was in Dark Moon Rising over Egypt there was a scene
just like this. (There are more yells and the sound of violent wretching. Cynthia
ignores them) I remember it quite clearly. Hubert Baumgart played this businessman
trapped in an old mansion, and- (There is a knock at the door. Violet stands up and
walks into the kitchen, leaving Cynthia midsentence. Flustered, she looks around.)
Oh, are these cookies?
(She picks one up and nibbles. There is another knock. Diago comes skitting in wearing
Southern Belle drag. He opens the door. There is a man in a long black coat with a black
Diago (in a heavy effeminate southern accent): Why, hello there!
(The man comes trampling in, angrily closes his umbrella and shakes it out.)
Black: Are you Miss Bledsoe?
Diago: Why yes I am. Whom may I have the pleasure of addressing.
Black: Quentin Black. A very irate Quentin Black.
Diago: Why, it's a pleasure to meet you, Irate.
Cynthia: These cookies are delicious!
Black: Miss Bledsoe, I would like for you to kindly and concisely explain to me
the meaning of - this! (he tears out invitation from his coat)
Diago: Why, it says here "Dear Mr. Black, You are respectfully requested to attend an
important gathering at the house of Miss Violet Bledsoe on the night of November such and
such. She has information that she would like to share with a small number of people,
which you would find of great value to know. She is aware that your position as a
prominent politician makes it difficult for you to attend on such short notice, yet she
regrets that she can hold this event on but one night. Therefore, you will find it highly
useful to arrive at her house at such and such time, on such and such road..."
(Violet enters, covered in blood)
Violet: Quentin Black! So glad you could make it!
Black (spinning around): I am a very important and prominent politician! I do not have
time to be wasting time, I am far too busy. If any of this turns out to be of minimal
Violet: Oh, hush up and come in. Why, you're just in time to hear about my plan.
Black: You're plan?
Cynthia: Such delicious cookies!
Violet: Yes. You'll love it! You'll all love it! It's a plan to take over the world!
(She clasps her hands gleefully)
Diago: Oh, yay!
Cynthia: My dear Violet, what did you put in these cookies?
Cynthia: I suddenly feel rather queer...
(A match is struck, and a candle lit. Violet and Black hunch over the candle)
Violet: You see, it's light.
Black: Yes, I see.
Violet: And if we spread the light, then you will see more.
Black: Of course. (Violet walks to mantle and places candle down. Lights begin to
rise. It is late afternoon - no longer raining outside. She is no longer covered in
blood. There are no more cookies. Cynthia is passed out on the couch. Black looks
over to Cynthia.) What are we going to do with her?
Violet: She will awake shortly. Come.
(They exit right. Shortly, Cynthia awakes.)
Cynthia: My, what an odd dream. (Looks around) Oh, I did come to this house.
Though I can't for the life of me remember how. (She stands) I really ought to get home.
(She starts to walk to the door, but is distracted by the candle.) Oh, what's this?
A candle. A single candle burning in the darkness, so that I may see. Come, let me
(She grabs the candle and sits on the couch to stare at it. Diago enters
from bedroom, dressed in his vest again, carrying a journal.)
Diago: It makes no sense ma'am.
Diago: The writings. They make no sense. They used to, I know they did, but they
don't anymore. (He sits next to her)
Cynthia: Hmm. Oh, yes, of course. The writings. I wonder where I put my coat.
Diago: Why are you staring at that candle?
Cynthia: Tiny little gnome-monsters dance on its tip, a theatrical presentation of
sexual excitement and religious fervor. The beating in my heart tells me it's time to
leave, and yet I cannot go. I get drawn in further and further into the candle's flame.
A thousand tiny gnome-monsters, showing me the world...
Diago: Ma'am, I don't know what you're talking about. (He stands again, leaving book
on coffee table) The carpet is so brown. (He begins to dance around, tra-la-laing to
himself.) A Tisket, a tasket, your eggs all in one basket, I wish you well to rot in
hell... (His dance picks up in fervor until he dashes over to the front door and throws
it open) Oh, ma'am! It's stopped raining! Really, we ought to go out and play!
(He runs out of the door.)
Cynthia: What? Oh, yes. (She blows out the candle, sets it carefully on the table,
and walks into the bedroom. Newton appears in the doorway, peering cautiously inside.)
Newton: Edgar? Estelle? Is anybody home? (He walks inside) Hello?
(He shuts the door behind him and looks around. He sees the candle still
smoking and walks over to it.) Hello? (Violet walks in, sees Newton,
and turns her back. He sees her.) Estelle? Estelle, your door was open,
I came in. Is anything wrong?
Violet (turning around slowly): Why, Emmanuel Newton, what a pleasant surprise!
Whatever brings you to our home?
Newton: Estelle, if something's wrong...
Violet: NO! No, nothing's wrong, why would anything be wrong?
Newton: Where's Edgar? I've got to speak to him regarding the formula.
Violet: Edgar? Edgar is, um, he's not here right now. He's out. Shopping.
Newton: Shopping? But don't you have a houseboy for that?
Violet: Houseboy? Oh, yes. (Calling out) DIAGO! Did I say shopping?
Oh, my, how foolish of me. Of course he wouldn't be shopping, a distinguished
professor like Edgar. No, of course not. He is, however, taking care of
some financial matters. At the bank. Yes, the bank.
Newton: Estelle, are you ill?
Violet: DIAGO! Where is that houseboy?
(Cynthia walks in from bedroom. She wears pants and a vest identical to what Diago
wore in the first scene. If she's shy, she may also wear a bra underneath the vest.
She is covered in far too much makeup, she looks like a three year old who has gotten
into her mother's purse.)
Cynthia: Diago is not here anymore. I am here now. Behold!
Newton: Pardon me, but who are you?
(Black enters from kitchen, wearing a ruffled apron and carrying a tray of cookies)
Black: Violet, I thought I heard voices.
Newton: Quentin Black?
Cynthia: Yes, Violet?
(Diago runs in through center door)
Diago: It is beautiful outside!
(He notices everyone else. Everyone just kind of stands there staring at each other
for a moment.)
Cynthia: Violet. Her name is Violet. I'm sure if you'll just sit down, you can have
a cookie and we'll explain it all to you. You see, it all started with this candle...
Newton: Get your hands off of me! Estelle, I demand an explanation for all this!
Does Edgar know what's going on in this house?
Violet: Oh, he knows...Diago, Cynthia, go play in the alley. (They both run out the
center door) Now, Emmanuel, if you could just sit on the couch, I'll explain what's
going on. I know it must seem very out of the ordinary. (The three sit on the couch.)
Black: Have a cookie.
Newton: Estelle, who is this man?
Black: I'm Quentin Black, prominent politician. Have a cookie.
Newton: I do not want a cookie. Estelle, is this man really Quentin Black?
Violet: Well, uh, yes, he is, sort of...
Newton: Sort of? What do you mean sort of? (Black enthusiastically offers a cookie)
Never mind. (Black begins chomping on the cookies himself)
Violet: So, Emmanuel, you said you were here about the...formula.
Newton: What--oh, yes. I'm sure he's told you about it. We've been working on it for
months now. We may have finally stumbled on the secret for eternal youth.
Newton: What? No, thank you. As I was saying--
Newton: What? No! Estelle, what is going on?
Black: Cookie! Coo-oo-oo-oo-ookie! (he throws a cookie across the stage) COOKIE!
(he runs, screaming, into the kitchen)
Newton: Estelle, your home has become a madhouse. You must tell me, immediately,
what's wrong? Where's Edgar? Who are these people?
Violet: I--I don't know. Emmanuel, Edgar, he hasn't-- (she begins to cry) --he hasn't
been home in almost a week. He left me, Emmanuel. (sobs)
Newton: Oh, oh my. Oh, I'm terribly sorry. I didn't know.
I must look horribly insensitive.
Violet: And then, Diago, the houseboy. He's taken advantage of me. Not sexually,
mind you, but - advantage of my hospitality. Him with all his friends, their odd games...
Newton: Why, that bastard! He can't treat you like that!
Violet: But what am I to do? He's the only one I have left now that
(breaking down sobbing) Edgar's gone.
Newton: This is so unlike Edgar!
Violet: No, no. I'm glad I know (sniff) now (sob) that he never (sniff) really (sob)
Violet(suddenly violent): I JUST WISH HE'D TOLD ME BEFORE I CAUGHT HIM WITH THAT
CHEAP FLOOZY OF A SECRETARY OF HIS! (she leaps to her feet and throws the
tray of cookies to the floor)
Newton: Estelle, let me stay at your house for a few days. I'll keep you company,
and help you get rid of that houseboy's friends. You shouldn't be here with them.
I believe they are mentally unbalanced.
Violet: Come again?
Newton: Mentally unbalanced. Deranged. Insane. They're not normal. Trust me,
I'm a psychology professer. Schizophrenics. They don't see the world like you and I
do. They're not quite...right, if you know what I mean.
Violet: I think I know exactly what you mean!
Newton: I'll do my best to help them, and you. Everything is going to be all right,
I promise you.
Violet: Thank you, Emmanuel. (they hug) You don't know how much this means to me.
Newton: It's the least I can do.
Violet: Oh, my cookies! Look at the mess I've made. (she bends over and begins
putting cookies back on tray.)
Newton: Here, let me get that.
Violet: No, no, you're still my guest. Let me do it myself.
(standing up with cookies) I'm an independent woman now, I must act like it.
You sit in here for a moment while I go get a vacuum. (she takes two steps to
leave, then turns) Oh, here, have a cookie while you wait. (she tosses him
a cookie and leaves)
(Newton looks around for a moment, then sighs and sits back in the sofa.
His attention is suddenly caught by the journal on the table. He picks it up,
glances through it quickly, and cautiously tucks it into his jacket pocket.
Baker suddenly peeks his head out of the bedroom door. He looks at the audience,
then sprints towards the front door.)
(Baker spins around, pressing himself flayed out across the front door)
Baker: I'm not dead!
Newton(rising): I beg your pardon?
Baker: I'm not dead. I'm not insane either. None of us are insane here!
(He dances around, tra-la-laing and acting as insane as he possibly can).
Newton: I wasn't going to accuse you of either count, though now perhaps I'm
reconsidering (Baker freezes at this). Are you a friend of Diago's?
Baker: Wait. (He shuffles over really close to Newton) Have you eaten a cookie yet?
Newton: What is this fascination with cookies all of a sudden? No, I haven't eaten
a cookie. Why do you ask?
Baker: Oh...(overcome with emotion, happiness mixed with hopelessness) Oh, you're
Newton: Young man, I'll have you know that I will be spending the next several days
at this estate, and I shall not permit you or your friends to harass me or Mrs. Bledsoe,
is that understood?
Baker: So you would have absolutely no problem with me running out that door right now?
Newton: Sir, I would encourage it.
(Baker gleefully runs towards the door. As he's almost out he's caught by Violet).
Violet: I can't seem to find the vacuum - John Baker, where do you think you're going!
(Baker spins and resumes his insane aura)
Baker: Ma'am, the sky! It's bananas! I must go, um, um...(snaps) lace it with
fish so it doesn't' fall. I'll be back in a moment.
Violet: You'll do no such thing. Come sit down and meet our new friend. Come
Emmanuel, sit, sit. (They sit) Emmanuel Newton, this is John Baker. John, this is
Emmanuel Newton. He's a famous professor like my hus-- father.
Newton: It's a pleasure to met you, Mr. Baker. Or do you prefer John?
Baker: I prefer nothing.
Newton: Of course. He's not one of Diago's friends?
Violet: John has been keeping me company in Edgar's absence. Haven't you, John?
Newton: Well, John, I shall be staying here for the next several days to attend
to Estelle, so I really see no reason why you should feel the need to stay as well.
Feel no guilt if you want to leave.
Baker: Well, as a matter of fact, I do have to--
Violet: No! I could really use all the company I can get. What with my situation
and all (sobs. Baker looks confused)
Newton: Of course. We shall stay here, all three of us, together.
Violet: Yes, together. (She smiles ear to ear, lots of teeth, schmarm. Suddenly,
jumping up) Oh! Cookies! Emmanuel, you have yet to try one of my fabulous cookies!
Violet(Jumping up and running over to, but not into, kitchen): Quentin? Quentin!
Baker(in a shout/whisper to Newton): Don't eat the cookies! Whatever you do, don't eat
Violet: Quentin, would you be a dear and bring out the cookies?
Baker(seeing no reaction from Newton): Um, uh, oh, my, God is speaking to me! What is
it God? Oh, I really must go find out, excuse me...(bolts for the bedroom.)
(Quentin enters, carrying a fresh tray of cookies. Violet follows him, they sit by Newton)
Violet: Alright. Here we are.
Newton: They smell delicious.
Violet: Yes, but, you know, Newton, these are not ordinary cookies.
Violet: Really. These contain a _special_ingredient_.
Newton: Really. (Quentin suddenly becomes overly excited and jumps up and down clapping.)
May I ask what kind of special ingredient?
Violet: Ohp, not until you try them first! It's a family secret, you know.
Newton: Well, I must try one then, mustn't I.
Violet: Oh, yes. Yes.
(He lifts cookie to his mouth. Blackout before cookie reaches his lips.)
Newton(after black): Mmmmmm, delicious...
(Spotlight on Diago, center stage, holding a candle, about to perform for us a poem
with interpretive dance)
Diago: Ladies and Gentleman, I would now like to perform for you a poem with
interpretive dance. (he sets the candle on the floor and begins.)
I awake at dawn, contemplating a slight rise of the oyster sunset
Feigning the brush of a cool wind down my back
And still the locust gnaws at my ankle
Beckons the dieing fetus in my spaghetti
For, alas, the Jabberwocky lives here yet
I can up to my knees in chocolate pudding
I am a sinful tuna, caught in a net
I gasp and swim for the surrealistic scribblings of an incoherent god
For four years the groans of a mystical orgasm have had no match
For the goat on my stomach
The blue cheese madman silenced all of my hamsters
Before I could once bury them at sea
When the dark wind blows, they say I am sad
I will still go on, laughing in the leaves of the night.
(He stands erect, bows, picks up the candle. Spot cuts. He begins to leave by
candlelight into the bedroom. As he passes, we see Newton standing just outside the
bedroom. Diago stops.)
Diago: Mr. Newton, what are you doing up at this hour?
Newton: I can't sleep.
Diago: Are you sick?
Newton: No, no. Don't worry. This happens to all men in my profession from time
to time. Insomnia, we call it.
Diago: Oh, I see. Well, take care not to disturb the monkey. He was misbehaving,
so we had to chain him to the wall.
Diago: Well, nighty-night!
(Diago exits. Lights rise. Right, we see Baker, chained to the wall. He starts when
Newton enters, carrying the journal.)
Baker: Oh, Mr. Newton, you missed it! There were trolls, and I'm certain if you
don't unchain me now, they'll eat me and tear out my intestines and--
Newton(moving to couch and sitting): You can cut the act. You haven't eaten a cookie.
Baker: Wait, you're not---
Newton: No, I'm not.
Baker: But you ate the--
Newton: No, I didn't. I did the same thing you did. I didn't swallow.
(Newton begins reading the journal)
Baker: Wait! If you didn't eat the cookie, if you haven't gone insane, then
untie me! We can go call the cops, get help--
Newton: If we even make it off this estate, do you want to give these four a chance
to escape before we get back with authorities? Hush up, I know what I'm doing.
Baker: Could you at least untie me?
Newton: Of course not! Anyone could walk in at any second, and our whole cover would
be blown. Patience.
Baker: I saw, you know, in the Kitchen. What they did to Professor Bledsoe.
(nauseating sob) It was...too horrible for words. I open a cupboard to get a glass
of water, and an arm falls out.
Newton(to book): Fascinating.
Baker: His ribs in the refrigerator, like so much meat.
Newton: Of course!
Baker: And his head...in the sink...
Newton: Listen to this! "October 12th. Told Estelle about the formula today.
Perhaps I shouldn't have. She was a bit too enthused. I attempted to explain to her
about it's side effects, that we had yet to discover an antidote. She grew angry,
accused me of hiding it from her. Of course I wouldn't do that, but I think that it
might be best for me to keep the trial formula at the laboratory." Do you know what?
That part's circled in red ink--at the laboratory. There are many things in here
circled in red ink.
Baker: What's going on? What is that?
Newton(standing): This, my friend, is the journal of the late Professor Edgar Bledsoe,
a dear friend of mine. Together he and I were working on a formula for the fountain of
youth itself. Imagine the good we could have done--eliminating death, disease, and
old age for all time! We were so close! Unfortunately, there was a side effect.
The chemicals involved cause the rapid deterioration of the brain. One becomes, quite
simply, insane. Our friend Estelle seems to have taken the formula prematurely, before
we could develop an antidote for the insanity.
Baker: Estelle? Do you mean Violet?
Newton: No, I mean Estelle. Who's Violet?
Baker: The deranged woman with the cookies?
Newton: Fascinating. In her insanity, she must have changed her name. Very well,
Violet. Regardless, she's off her rocker. When her husband found out, she must have
Baker(weakly): And chopped him up into little itty bitty pieces.
Newton: And hid him in the kitchen! Exactly.
Baker: But why would she invite us here, why the cookies?
Newton: That, dear John, is a mystery to me. I had simply dropped by to tell Edgar
about the (catches himself about to say something else) new findings I had made with
regards to the formula. What drew you, and presumably the others, here?
Baker: She invited us. For what reason, she never told me. When she found me with
the corpse, she stuffed me in the broom closet until I promised to eat a cookie.
Newton: And the others?
Baker: I don't know. Cynthia has always been too spacey for me to learn anything
from, and Diago frightens me, rather.
Newton: Quentin Black?
Baker: Well, you know. (imitates Black) Coooookie! Cookie cookie coo-oo-ookie!
Newton: Of course.
(Pause as Newton thinks).
Baker: So, what are we going to do?
Newton: Well, the only viable option I see right now is to do away with the lot of them.
Baker: Excuse me?
Newton: Kill them, of course.
Baker: Kill them? You can't just kill four human beings because they've gone insane.
Newton: One of them is a murderess, and the others have the potential. I've worked
with this drug, I know what it can do to one's mind. This is our only choice.
Newton: You do want to leave this place, do you?
Newton: Good, it's settled. Now, I think I have a plan, but I'm going to need
your help. We should make every attempt for it to be as humane a death as possible,
but... (as he speaks, Cynthia enters from bedroom. She is in her pajamas. Newton
does not notice, so Baker interrupts his conversation)
Baker: Oh, oh--OLD MACDONALD HAD A FARM, EE EYE EE EYE OH! AND ON THAT FARM HE HAD
A GIRAFFE, EE EYE EE EYE OH! WITH A--
Cynthia: Mr. Newton, what are you doing up so late.
Newton: I'm afraid the screams of this deranged lunatic kept me from falling asleep.
Baker: AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH! (twitch)
Cynthia: Yes, well, we've found it's best to tie him up during the night. He attempts
to escape, and men of his type shouldn't be allowed on the streets without supervision.
Newton: Of course.
(Cynthia grabs a pillow from the couch and moves to the front of the stage and sits
down indian style. She begins to fidget with a pillow, crying lightly.)
Cynthia: I have...
Cynthia: Of late, lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of excercises. And indeed
it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me
a sterile promontory. This most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave
o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire--why, it appears
no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors.
(after a brief moment of sadness, Diago enters wearing a diaper, bunny ears,
and big fuzzy bunny slippers)
Diago: I heard a noise. What's wrong with Cynthia?
Cynthia: Oh, nothing. Just reciting some lines from a play I was once in.
(Seeing his slippers) Oh, I just love your feet! They're so--hairy!
(She leaps down and grabs his leg, a la "bonding")
Baker(suddenly wailing): NOOOOOOOOOBODY KNOWS THE TROUBLE I'VE SEEN!
NOOOOOOOOOOOBODY KNOWS BUT GEEEEEEEEEEE-ZUS!
Cynthia: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOBODY KNOWS MY SORROW!
Baker, Diago, and Cynthia: NOOOOOOOOOOOOBODY KNOWS THE TROUBLE I'VE SEEN!
NOOOOOOOOOOBODY KNOWS BUT JESUS!
(During the racket, Violet and Black enter from the bedroom. Violet is dressed in a
red velvet robe and carries a pipe. At her arm, Black stands wearing a pink ruffled
nightgown and matching nightcap.)
Violet: Good heavens, what is all this racket?
Newton: It appears that Ms. Hawthorn is having a bad night.
(Cynthia wails and begins to roll around the ground in fetal position,
Violet(rushing over): Oh, Cynthia. Oh, there there. I told you. There are no
dragons between your toes. None at all.
Black: I was having the most pleasant dream. We were all eating cookies!
Violet: Diago, run and get us a glass of warm milk, will you, dear?
(Diago runs into kitchen)
Violet: Now, Cynthia, come and sit on the couch and tell Auntie Violet about all of
Black(to Newton): Would you like to hear my dream?
Cynthia: It's just, I was terribly afraid that....no, that's not it. Well, you see,
I dreamed that...no, that's not it either. But I was walking through the house and
I thought I saw a....funny, for the life of me I can't remember what it was.
Black(to Baker): Would you like to hear my dream?
Baker(jumping up and down): AAAAAAAAGHAAAAAAAAAGHGLH... (He continues shouting
as Diago enters).
Diago: I couldn't find any milk, ma'am. Just this cheap booze.
Violet: Well, give it to Quentin. He's upsetting the monkey.
(Diago gives booze to Black, who begins to chug shots. Baker still screams)
Newton(to Baker): Shut up! (he slaps Baker. Everyone freezes. Then Violet
turns back to Cynthia.)
Violet: Cynthia, dear, I think we must conjure up some activity to cheer you up.
Diago: A picnic!
Newton: A party?
Baker(crying): I wanna go home...
Cynthia: An English Test!
Diago: Group enemas!
Black(starting to get tipsy): Bake cookieth!
Violet: No, no, I've got it. We shall have a wedding!
Various: A wedding?
Oh, I love weddings!
What a good idea!
Diago: Wait, who shall get married?
Violet: Oh, I hadn't thought of that. (they think)
Black: Y'know, I dreamed we had a wedding.
Violet: Oh, I know!
Black: We ate cookies.
Violet: Diago and Cynthia will get married. Cynthia, what's your favorite
type of cheese?
Diago: Why, that's _my_ favorite type of cheese!
Violet: See! See! A perfect match. (She stands, pulling up Cynthia with her.
She joins their hands) Oh, it will be beautiful. We'll paint the walls fuscia,
and we can all wear aluminum foil! We must do it tomorrow!
Diago: Oh, I've always wanted to be married!
Cynthia: I'm keeping my maiden name.
Black: We should have cookies!
Violet: Oh, yes, of course! What is a wedding without cookies? I shall bake
Black: Wheeeee! (He falls unconcious)
Newton: No! No, please, let me. You've done so much already--
Violet: You're my guest, I only do what is proper for a hostess.
Newton: Tomorrow is going to be a very big day, you need your sleep. I am
suffering from a drastic case of insomnia right now. I believe baking cookies
will do me some good.
Violet: Well, if you insist.
Newton: I insist.
Violet: Very well. Come everyone! To bed. We must leave Mr. Newton to bake us
some cookies. And tomorrow--the wedding!
(The all shuffle back into the bedroom, Diago dragging Black, except Newton and Baker.)
Baker: What are you going to do?
Newton: Isn't it obvious? I'm going to poison the cookies. You and I have kept
from eating them this far. Tomorrow, come time for the wedding, we shall simply
have to continue. Not. Eating. Them.
Baker: I see. Where will you get the poison?
Newton: Why, in the kitchen, Mr. Baker. Well, good night. (He exits into kitchen.)
Baker: In the kitchen? What's in the kitchen? Oh, god...Oh my God! Nooooooo!
Aaaaaaaaaaaaglghgh! (He continues screaming as lights fade to black)
(Wedding march starts to play. Violet is on stage, dressed very nicely, painting
the couch veridian. Quentin Black is standing on a chair in back, dressed as a
girlscout, hanging garlic on the walls. Baker, Newton, and Diago enter from kitchen,
Diago: Oh, I'm so nervous! I've never been married before!
Newton: I'm sure you'll be just fine. Thousands of people get married every day.
Diago: Yes, but you know what happens to them!
Diago: Eventually, they die.
(Music stops. Violet walks over)
Violet: Well, the couch is ready. How's the garnishing coming, Quentin?
Black: I can't find my head!
Violet(to Diago): Come here, you've got something on your face. (She paints a
veridian stripe across his face) That's better. I'm going to go see if Cynthia's
almost undressed. (She goes into bedroom)
Diago: My, people come and go so quickly here.
(Quentin picks up Bear Head Mask from behind couch)
Black: Oh, here it is. (calling out loudly to Violet in next room) Never mind!
(He puts on the head and stands on the coffee table)
Diago: Mr. Newton, you've done so much for me and my mistress. As I enter into
this state of holy macarena, I realize I must give up some of the possessions of my
bachelor life. Therefore, I would like you to have my Octopus. (He pulls from his
pocket a real dead octopus and gives it to Newton. Or, if you're feeling saucy,
a real live octopus)
Newton: Why, thank you...(he places it carefully, somewhere)
Violet(peeking out of bedroom): Okay, okay everyone! We're ready! Start the chant!
Black(not moving, chanting a la Gregorian): Quid quid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.
Quid quid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.
(Newton and Baker join in the chant. Violet enters first, with a HUGE bouquet of
flowers, which she tosses over her shoulder one flower at a time. Cynthia follows.
She is wrapped in plastic wrap. If she's shy, she may also wear a bra and panties
underneath. The reach the coffee table. Diago is immediately SR of Black, Cynthia
immediately SL. The men stand right and Violet stands left. Violet throws the last
of the flowers violently to the ground. The chanting stops)
Black: Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the marriage of--
Diago: WAIT! (He runs, grabs the octopus, and chucks it over the heads of the
audience to the back of the auditorium) Okay, that's better. Please, continue.
Black: If anyone here sees any reason why these two should not be wed, speak now or
forever hold your penis.
Black: The rings, please.
(They stand there for a moment. They have no rings.)
Violet: Oh, yes, of course! (She takes her ring off of her finger and gives it to
Black. He removes the bear head)
Black: We need two.
Violet: What? Hmmm. Oh, wait, I know. (She runs into the kitchen.)
Diago: Pardon me, I'll just be a moment. (He leaps off of the stage, runs to the
back of the auditorium, and retrieves the octopus. While this is happening, Cynthia
begins scratching at her plastic wrap, annoyed, and Black turns to the other two men
Black: Would you like a cookie?
(Newton stands with a blank face. Baker starts to do his little twitching thing, but
subtly. From off stage we here a loud chop, as of a butcher knife falling over meat.
Diago runs back on stage.)
Diago: If you didn't want it, you could have just told me. (He tosses octopus behind
couch, and resumes his position. Violet enters.)
Violet: Well, here we are! (She reveals a severed finger wearing a ring) Oh, yes,
of course. (She removes the ring and sets finger on table. She gives ring to Black)
Black: Very good. (He places bear mask back on, and hands Cynthia a ring) Say "With
this ring, I thee wed"
Cynthia: With this ring, I thee wed. (She puts the ring down Diago's pants)
Black(giving ring to Diago): Now say "Bless me father, for I have sinned."
Diago: Have a ring. (Cynthia takes ring and swallows it)
Black: I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.
(Diago spins and kisses Baker.)
Baker: Excuse me!
Newton: Ahem. Perhaps now is the time for the eating of cookies.
Violet(loud, staccato): Oh yes, the cookies. I will go get them right away.
(She shuffles into the kitchen. Baker, Newton, and Black sit in the couch.
Diago and Cynthia stand L, holding hands and swooning over each other. Violet enters,
carrying a tray of cookies.)
Violet: Well, here they are! (she sets them on coffee table)
Diago: Wait. There's something different about them.
Violet: Of course. I frosted them.
Black: FROSTED COOKIES! (he lunges forwards)
Violet: No, no, wait until everyone has one. (She grabs a cookie and walks behind
the couch while everyone else takes one. She leans her head between Baker and Newton
and whispers) Don't eat the cookies.
Violet: Well, dig in, everybody! (She lifts the cookie to her mouth and tosses
it over her shoulder. Baker and Newton sit there looking confused, almost but not
quite eating the cookie. Cynthia and Diago feed each other the cookies. Black stuffs
his face. After a moment, Cynthia and Diago's expressions drop. Black clutches his
throat. They die, each death reflecting the character, all comic but shocking deaths.)
Baker: Oh my God! (Baker and Newton stand up from the sofa to get away from the corpse.)
Violet(suddenly very casual): HA! It worked. It worked! (Violet walks over and
kicks one of the bodies.) Oh, what a rouge and peasant slave I am!
Newton: Estelle, what did you do?
Violet: Oh, don't use that old name. Use Violet--I need a new name if I'm to be
Baker: They're dead. You didn't eat the cookie. You're not dead.
Violet: Of course I didn't eat the cookie! I poisoned the frosting.
Baker: _You_ poisoned the frosting?
Violet: Yes! It was the only way to get rid of them. They were no longer useful to
Newton: Your plan?
Violet: Yes, my plan to take over the world. Oh, I never did properly explain it
to you, did I?
Newton: No, indeed, you didn't.
Violet: Well, sit down then, (she shoves Black's corpse to the floor and sits) and I
shall explain it all. (Newton sits)
Baker(sitting as well): But why did you kill them? I thought you liked them.
They liked you.
Violet: Oh, they didn't like me. They never liked me. They were mentally unbalanced.
Newton: Oh, dear...
Violet: You said so yourself, Emmanuel. Deranged. Insane. Not Normal.
(to Baker, explanatory) They don't see the world like you and I do.
Baker: Of course.
Violet: And how can we expect insane folk to be a productive part of an
international conglomerate of immortals who control the world's governments?
Violet(leaping up to pace as she explains): An international conglomerate of immortals,
to control the world's governments. Surely by this point, Mr. Newton, you've realized
that the cookie's I've been baking contain your secret formula for eternal youth?
Newton: I had realized that.
Violet: Well, don't you see? I invited society's very best over one night, to serve
them cookies. Mr. Baker, I'm sorry I never told you this, but you seemed to be reacting
a bit...harshly to the drug. But I suppose you can know now. (crescendo) Between the
three of us, with our eternal youth, we can control the world! (subito piano) Provided,
of course, we aren't poisoned.
Baker: You're insane!
Violet: Ah ah ah, no I'm not! Edgar thought I'd go insane. He told me the formula
caused insanity, that an antidote hadn't been developed yet. But I read about the
antidote in his journal, I found where he was hiding the formula!
Newton: And you killed him.
Violet: Well, what was I supposed to do? He was standing in the way of my success.
He was jealous, that was all. All the years we had been married, he never wanted to
see me be successful. He had to hog all the glory for himself. So yes, I killed him.
Baker(really quietly): and chopped him up into little pieces and hid him in the kitchen.
Newton(rising): Mrs. Bledsoe, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to eat one of
Violet: Emmanuel, what are you talking about?
Newton: Your cookies. Eat a cookie. (he counters to the other side of her)
Violet: No. They're poisoned. You're insane.
Newton: I'm not insane, Mrs. Bledsoe. Estelle. Eat one of the cookies.
Violet: Today has been stressful for you, Emmanuel. Perhaps you should sit down.
Newton: Estelle, I'm losing my patience. Eat it.
Violet: Mr. Newton--
Newton(shouting): Eat it!
Violet(after a pause): I'm calling the police. (turns for kitchen)
Newton(drawing a handgun): Estelle!
Violet(turning back): Mr. Newton, I'm not going to eat a (noticing gun, slower)
(He shoots her. she falls to the couch, clutching chest. her hand is bloody.
there should be nothing funny about this whatsoever)
Violet(looking at hand): Oh my God. . .(looking out) Edgar? (she dies)
Baker(nervously): Well, what should we do with the bodies?
Newton(to Estelle): She should have eaten a cookie. Being shot is a far more
painful way to die.
Baker: Yes, I suppose so. (grabbing Black's legs) I'll just bring him to the kitchen.
Newton: Being shot is a far more painful way to die.
Baker: I heard you the first time.
Newton: You wouldn't want to die that way, would you, John?
(Baker pauses a moment, then drops Black and sprints for the door. Newton cuts him off.)
Newton: Eat a cookie, Mr. Baker.
Baker(crying): No! No...(he stumbles to the couch and sits down)
Newton: There's no way out, Mr. Baker. Go ahead, it's painless, I assure you.
Baker: I don't understand, you never ate a cookie, you're not insane. Why?
Newton: Mr. Baker, you've just witnessed me murder four people, three by poison and
one by gunshot. I can't leave witnesses. I have a reputation to protect, you know.
Baker: I won't tell. I won't breath a word. I promise.
Newton: How can I believe you? You would have reported Mrs. Bledsoe for the murder
of her husband.
Baker: Well, yes, but...
Newton: As you can see, you leave me no choice. I offer you a better end than Estelle
had. Than Violet had.
(sobbing, Baker picks up a cookie)
Baker: Give me a moment?
Newton: Of course. (pause. Baker shuts his eyes, holding the cookie below him like
a priest blessing the host) Have you made peace with your God?
Baker(eyes still shut, whispering): You're as mad as the rest of them.
Newton: You're mad, too. We're all mad. If I told you that there never needed to
be an antidote, that the cookies were just fine, that there was no formula, would you
Newton: Eat the cookie, John. (Baker lowers the cookie. Newton lifts up the gun.
Baker lifts the cookie back up to his mouth. As he's about to bite down, Newton fires.
Baker flies back hanging over the side of the sofa, presumably shot in the head.
Newton pockets the gun, walks over to the coffee table, and picks up the finger.)
Well, Edgar, I'm truly sorry it had to end this way. I had hoped to tell you about the
antidote. It worked wonders, I must say. I feel younger already. You needn't
worry about our secret. It's safe. The secret of eternal youth is safe. The world
is safe. (He places the finger back on the coffee table.) La comedia et finito.
(He grabs his coat preset on a coat rack, and leaves the house. Lights dim to blackout.