FRIENDS & RELATIONS may be performed by a cast of as few as five or as many as 10.
About the Play:
From the Play:
Act I: Old Friends
LUISA: 65, widowed, friendly but a little more cautious than GRIFF. She too is lonely at times, perhaps more than he; but she retains an essential good humor and curiosity. A trifle plump, active; and at times a bit hyper.
THE SETTING: The west side of Central Park, just north of 72nd Street. Two or three park benches: For proscenium, suggested are benches left and right, downstage, angled up; and center, upstage, facing the audience, creating a "path" between them.
THE TIME: About 3:30 on a weekday afternoon in early May, during the mid-1980s.
AT RISE: GRIFF is seated, stroking his chin as he feeds the "birds" (whose SOUNDS are heard on tape) around him. HE talks to them as he does, interspersed with "tch"ing and kissing sounds.
GRIFF: Here y' are. That's it, eat it up. Come on, there's some more. Here it is. You want to grow up strong and healthy, don't you. Then eat your supper. (HE sighs.) Nice to have supper with your friends, isn't it.
(LUISA enters carrying a large shopping bag, tiredly. SHE stops and sets the bag on the nearest bench, then sits with a soft groan. SHE sighs, pulls a Daily News from the bag and tries to read. GRIFF continues to talk throughout. This distracts her and SHE periodically looks over at him. Finally, SHE lowers the paper and just stares.)
GRIFF: Sure is. Y' know what I'm doin' tonight? Having it with one of your cousins. I eat, and he sings to me. Pretty voice, too. Like this. (HE impersonates a canary.) We have supper together most every evening. (HE impersonates it again.) He does it better than that. C'mon, eat that piece. There's more inside when it's gone.
(HE is quiet a moment, then begins to scat Vesti la giubba, filling in an occasional phrase with the appropriate words.)
LUISA: What are you doing?
GRIFF: Huh? Oh, sorry, didn't mean t' bother you. (HE talks to the birds again, softly.)
LUISA: No. I mean with the birds. The pigeons.
GRIFF: Feeding 'em.
LUISA: Yes. How come?
GRIFF: They're hungry. (HE feeds one.) And I like to. They're friendly.
LUISA: You shouldn't, you know.
GRIFF: Why not?
LUISA: There's a law against it. You aren't supposed to feed the pigeons in the park.
GRIFF: Why not?
LUISA: They aren't clean. They carry disease.
GRIFF: Never diseased me. I've been doin' this for twenty years. . . You ever feed birds?
LUISA: Wild ones? Oh, no; I had birds at home some years ago. Well, a bird, actually. A little canary, he had the sweetest song. I fed him from my hand, he'd just perch there and peck. (Giggles) It felt very peculiar.
GRIFF: You got a canary?
LUISA: Had one. (Wistfully ) He died many years ago.
GRIFF: I'm sorry. I got one too. At home.
Act II: The Baby
FIRST NARRATOR - Male or female
SECOND NARRATOR - Male [or female, if the production prefers]
MEGAN - 20. Several months pregnant.
WALT - 22. Her husband.
MAMA - Late 50s to mid 60s. MEGAN's mother.
The NARRATORS may be combined into a single role
SETTING: In, and en route to, MAMA's house in a rural area of Wisconsin.
THE TIME: March, 1987.
AT RISE: There are the SOUNDS of RAIN FALLING and WINDSHIELD WIPERS. LIGHTS UP on the NARRATORS.
FIRST NARRATOR: There is a mist falling through the chilly Saturday afternoon sky, and the still-stark trees tilt from the wind.
SECOND NARRATOR: There are small pits, small swells in the old road.
(LIGHTS RISE on MEGAN and WALT, in the car. Now and then, the old shocks fail to cushion her and with one hand, she holds to the dash to keep from bouncing.)
FIRST NARRATOR: With the other, she touches her stomach.
(MUSIC UP: The middle of "Wouldn't It Be Nice" as from a radio. MEGAN sings two or three lines with it. Then:)
MEGAN: C'mon, Walt. Sing with me.
WALT: I don't remember that one.
MEGAN: You don't!
WALT: Unh-uh. I mean, I remember it, just, just I don't remember the words. B'sides, that's a real old song; where'd you ever pick it up?
MEGAN: ' don't know. I just did.
MEGAN: You know the tune, don't you?
WALT: I guess.
MEGAN: Well, then, just (To the melody of the phrase "Wouldn't it be nice") "dum-de-dum-de-dummmm."
WALT: (Without enthusiasm) "Dum-de-dum-de-dummm."
(HE continues to scat similarly through MEGAN's first sung line.)
MEGAN: That's it. (The song rises again, as from the radio. MEGAN sings along. Then:) Walt, you stopped.
WALT: I got to watch the road.
MEGAN: (SHE turns off the "radio.") All right. (Beat) Are you cold?
WALT: Me? No. 're you?
WALT: Turn up the heat.
MEGAN: (As SHE does) Seems chilly, even with it on.
MEGAN: We should get it checked again anyhow, huh?
(SHE sings the first line of the song again, but is interrupted when THEY hit a bump.)
Act III: Strangers in the Night
GEORGIA: A moderately well-to-do woman of about 55. A bit on the staid, matronly side, but only a bit; and that's basically because she's used to dealing almost exclusively with her own class of "polite society" and to being in control. She's a widow of many years.
SEALE: An itinerant and disaffected young man of 27 or 28, capable of most anything -- including charm. He is, however, in the wrong business, being highly opinionated, sardonic and prone to speaking without thinking.
LES: A waiter, and SEALE's friend. He is too sincere, to the point of almost transparent disingenuousness. He represents everything SEALE is supposed to represent: polish, poise, sensuality and charisma.
THE SETTING: The deck of the SS Sinatra, a recreational cruise ship, somewhere in the Caribbean.
THE TIME: A moonless, starless, windless spring evening, sometime during the mid-1990s.
As the houselights go down, there is the SOUND of a SHIP'S HORN. AT RISE, the stage is empty. There are the SOUNDS of A SHIP'S HORN, A BELL, and WAKE. As GEORGIA enters, from "below-deck," a sedate, Welk-like version of "Strangers in the Night" is heard, along with VOICES -- talking indistinctly and laughing. In faint light, GEORGIA stands by the rail, perhaps smoking, looking out.
GEORGIA: Wind! Come on; blow -- at least a little...
(SHE wets a finger, holds it up; pause; looks at it.)
So where are those g.d. gentle breezes they promised, huh? Hmh!
(Offstage VOICES, MUSIC up. SHE looks back at the source of the sound.)
Thanks; thanks, Nelda. Thanks so very much. It's a great cruise. Sensational music; wonderful shuffleboard games; and all those marvelous, gentle, bree-zes... Not to mention the absolute plethora of interesting men. All under thirty-five. (Sighs) Thanks so very much.
(If SHE has one, SHE flicks the cigarette "overboard" and sits
on a deck chaise, hidden in the dark.)
SEALE: (Approaching from off, singing to the tune of Strangers in the Night.)
Stranglers in the night
Two so weird people we were
Stranglers in the night
Up to the moment when we croaked our first hello
Little did we know...
(HE appears, slightly drunk and moves to the rail, unaware of GEORGIA's presence.)
SEALE: Oh, Lordy. (Sings; to the tune of the first verse of "Strangers")
Finger down the throat
And then we upchuck
Finger in the throat
And then it's: good luck
'Cause out come all the drinks, and appetizers, too... (Continues to hum)
GEORGIA: (As SEALE leans over the rail preparing to vomit, his finger in his throat, but still humming.) Oh my good--- that's disgusting!
SEALE: Wha--- Who's, who, is somebody there?
GEORGIA: Of course somebody's here. Unless you expect deck chairs to talk.
SEALE: You never know.