The Devil’s Due
a one-act psychological comedy
by Jean Klein
About the Play:
In The Devil’s Due, play, an artist, Eric Talmadge, confronts the decline of his aesthetic powers and the possible dissolution of his marriage. In a satiric tour de force, a visitor—possibly a neighboring psychiatrist and possibly a more fearsome presence—offers him a possible way out of his dilemma. A comic turn on both psychiatry and demonic powers, The Devil’s Due examines man’s choices in an uncertain world. It has received a staged reading and a full production as part of the Dog Days Festival at the Generic Theater in Norfolk, VA
Time: The present
Place: An apartment in New York City near Riverside Drive, probably West End Avenue.
Eric Talmadge: A painter in his middle forties
Alysha Talmadge: His wife, early forties
Dr. Boudreaux:: (Pronounce “Bood-row”) A somewhat
mysterious figure of a man of indeterminate age
A room in an apartment in New York City, near Riverside Drive, which has been converted into an artist's studio. On one wall, there is a partially opened window. The back wall is dominated by a half-finished canvas standing on an easel. The colors of the works are generally dark. A few suggest torment--a clenched fist, jagged lines, or sketches that resemble tombstone rubbings. Framed on the wall, however, are others that suggest visions of glory--an abstract figure praying or a glowing citadel in the distance.
From the Play:
(Boudreaux enters. He is a distinguished looking man who could be in his thirties or fifties. He has a cigar, something like Freud's, in his mouth. Chewing on it, he looks around.)
Boudreaux: You were, perhaps, expecting me?
Eric: Well, yes and no. You don't look exactly the way I'd pictured you.
Boudreaux: I try my best to be nondescript. In my business, it is often better than way, to appear as many different people. To one, I look like an insurance agent. To another, a lawyer. (He smiles.) Some personas are better than others. What do I look like to you?
Eric: I don’t know.
Boudreaux: That is probably best if we are to accomplish the task before us.
Eric: You have a rather odd accent. Are you from New York?
Boudreaux: Many people believe so. I tend to be comfortable here. But then I've had homes in many places. So, my way of speech tends to be somewhat unorthodox. So do my methods of treatment. I hope that won’t bother you, Mr. Talmadge.
Eric: You know my name?
Boudreaux: I know quite a bit about you. Your work. Your heartbreak. Your wife’s distress. I know many things. You needed help and I came. You do want help, don’t you?
Eric: Yes, but...I didn’t really think...
Boudreaux: No matter. I have some theories that might help you. As I said, they are most unorthodox. My name is Dr. Boudreaux. Some people simply call me Monsieur Boudreaux. Or just Boudreaux. You may call me that, if you wish.
Eric: Boudreaux will be fine. Uh, is this the way you usually arrive?
Boudreaux: Arrive? Oh! You mean through the door? I have my own methods. Did you expect me to come down the chimney like Santa Claus, perhaps?
Eric: Not really. But I was expecting something different. A little more dramatic, if you know what I mean. It’s hard to have faith in someone who needs a door to enter a room.