Friday, April 04, 2014

The Announcement

A three-act play.


Suzie: A professional-looking woman in her mid-forties, conservatively dressed and groomed.

Sadie: Suzie’s sister, younger by a couple of years. Sadie appears somewhat more casual than Suzie but is still quite conventional.

Sally: Suzie and Sadie’s sister, younger than Suzie by a couple of years. Sally is unconventional in appearance: her hair is dyed blue and she wears dark makeup; she has the look of someone who long ago dropped out of society to live a life of artistic and spiritual pursuits.

The Waiter: A young, male waiter dressed in black jeans and a black button-down shirt.

Andrew: A man in his late thirties, dressed casually—a bit young for his age—with longish hair and facial stubble. He looks like he might be in a band.


The present.



A nice bar, where people who don’t see each other often might meet for a drink. Suzie and Sadie are seated at a round four-top, each with a glass of white wine before them.

Suzie: Well, I’m not surprised.

Sadie [after a pause]: I’m a little bit surprised.

Suzie: You are?

Sadie: Well…

Suzie [shaking her head]: I’m telling you. It makes so much sense.

Sadie [wincing, unconvinced]: I guess it does. In a way… I don’t know.

Suzie: Can’t you see? It all adds up.

Sadie: Really?

Suzie [enumerating with her fingers]: The depression. The anxiety. The eating disorders.

Sadie [nodding in agreement]: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

Suzie: The mania. The problems with her jaw.

Sadie [with a wistful little laugh]: Yeah… I guess. I see what you mean.

Suzie: No, no, no, no. I’m telling you. I had it in the back of my mind.

Sadie: You did? Really?

[Suzie nods emphatically.]

Sadie: How? I mean, how did you know specifically?

Suzie [squirming a bit, equivocating]: Hmm… well, it’s not like I knew exactly.

Sadie: OK…

Suzie: It’s impossible to know.

Sadie: Right.

Suzie: But I’m telling you. It flashed in my mind.

Sadie: It flashed? Specifically?

Suzie: Yep.

Sadie: When? Why?

Suzie: Oh, I probably first thought about it at Mom’s funeral.

Sadie [with a double take]: Mom’s funeral?

Suzie: Yeah. She was acting super weird. There was something about her that day.

Sadie: Well. Mom died.

Suzie: Yeah! Yeah, no. Something else.

Sadie: What?

Suzie: Her face. Her energy.

Sadie: Her energy?

Suzie: Her hair. Her hair!

Sadie [dully, as though lost in her memory of that day]: Her hair was weird.

Suzie: I’m telling you, I had a good look at her. I was looking at her looking at Mom.

Sadie [shuddering]: Eesh. That’s weird.

Suzie [waving dismissively]: Whatever, whatever. It was just a moment. You know how tedious the whole thing was. I started to think.

Sadie: And?

Suzie: And I thought: There is a conflict in this person.

Sadie [with mild sarcasm]: Like we never saw conflict.

Suzie [shaking her head]: Not like that. Something else. Something new. Something deeper. Something left unsaid.

Sadie: Something left unsaid to Mom?

[Suzie nods and pensively takes a sip of wine.]

Sadie: And that’s when you thought…

Suzie: That’s when I thought it might be true.

[A few moments pass as Sadie and Suzie reflect silently on what’s been said.]

Sadie: Well it does answer some questions.

Suzie [pleased, feeling justified]: See?

[A moment passes as Suzie takes a sip of wine.]

Sadie: But don’t you think we would have heard of, you know—

Suzie [interrupting]: Sadie, there’s a million things she hasn’t said. A million things she doesn’t talk about. And that was one of them.

[Sadie sighs. A few moments pass.]

Suzie: Why do you think she wants to see us after all this time?

Sadie: Right. True.

Suzie: I’m telling you. She has something to say.

[A few more moments pass.]

Sadie: I guess it’s over for whatshisname.

Suzie [barking out a laugh]: Yeah!

Sadie: Whatshisname. Michael?

Suzie: Andrew.

Sadie: Andrew! I knew it was one of those fucking guys with boring names who don’t use their fucking nickname. Michael. Peter. Patrick.

Suzie: Andrew.

Sadie: Good riddance.

Suzie [leaning back and staring quizzically at Sadie]: Really?

Sadie: Well, I mean. He had his good points and his bad points. But you know, it’s been how long?

Suzie [conceding]: Years.

Sadie: It’s been years. On again, off again years.

Suzie: And you hold him responsible for that?

Sadie: Yeah, well. He could have, you know. Been more honest about what he wanted. He could have been a little bit less of a goddamned wallflower. He could have, like, not fled to India for six months.

Suzie: You’d flee to Mars if you were her boyfriend.

Sadie: I’m just saying, maybe he could’ve stepped up a little. Jeez, I don’t know.

Suzie: It takes two to fuck up a relationship, Sade.

Sadie: Yeah. Well. I guess it’s moot now.

[A few moments pass.]

Suzie [a bit smugly]: Sadie, I only wish the best for Sally. You know that. I’ve always supported her in her…

Sadie: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Suzie: You know, the years of, you know, transcendental fucking meditation.

Sadie [smiling]: Sheesh!

Suzie: And that fucking woman, what was her name?

Sadie: That fucking guru.

Suzie: That fucking nitwit cult leader. I thought we were never going to see her again.

Sadie: Seriously.

Suzie [shaking her head]: She lost so much money on her.

Sadie: And time.

Suzie: And time! She lost a lot of money and a lot of time. What was her name again? Mother something.

Sadie: Mother May I.

Suzie: Mother Fucker.

Sadie [after a guffaw]: Mother… Moonshine?

Suzie [urgently, holding out and waving her flat hand as though to get her words in]: No, no, close, no—

Sadie [triumphantly]: Mountain!

Suzie: That’s right! That’s right. Jesus Christ, Sade. That’s right. Mother Mountain.

[Sadie and Suzie laugh a bit. Then their laughter ebbs and they rest, sort of catching their breaths.]

Suzie: What a goddamned piece of work.

Sadie: Who?

Suzie: Both of them. Sally.

Sadie: Yeah.

Suzie: But anyway. You know. That’s what I’m saying. I—we—saw her through all that. [Thinking better of it] Helped see her through all that.

Sadie: Yeah. We did. You did.

Suzie: And now—today—she’s obviously in such a better place.

Sadie: We’ll see! Hope so. We’re about to find out.




Same as Act I.

[Sally barges in, full of manic energy. She engages in over-the-top greetings, kisses and hugs with her sisters. Through it all, Suzie and Sadie play along but appear a little bit stiff, a little wary. As Sally finally settles down, the Waiter comes by to take her order.]

The Waiter: What can I get you, ma’am?

Sally: Oh what do I want, what do I want, what do I want?

The Waiter: Would you like to see our—

Sally [waving him off a bit comically]: Get me a martini! With olives! What do you call it, a dirty martini!

The Waiter: Sure—

Sally [suddenly, gripping her forehead]: No! Wait! I’m not in the mood for that.

The Waiter: Do you need a minute to decide?

Sally [almost angrily]: No!

The Waiter [bemused]: Alright!

Sally: What do you have that’s sweet?

The Waiter: Well, let’s see, um, lots of things, a daiquiri, a—

Julia: Get me a daiquiri!

The Waiter: Strawberry? Banan—

Julia: Strawberry. No! Banana! Banana! Banana! Banana!

The Waiter: Great! [He turns to Suzie and Sadie and indicates their half-full wine glasses with a little gesture] Are you two…? [They nod and smile and the waiter exits.]

Julia [smiling]: So! Look at you two. [Suzie and Sadie stare back glumly. Julia’s smile turns into a frown of exaggerated concern. She ducks her head and peers quizzically at each sister in turn.] Who fucking died?

[Suzie and Sadie laugh nervously.]

Sadie [ingenuously]: No one died!

Sally: Honest to fucking God, did Mom die all over again? [Sadie rolls her eyes slightly] You guys look like you saw a ghost.

Suzie: We’re fine! We’re fine. How are—

Sally: Dad?

Suzie: Well, you know Dad.

Sally: What do you mean, I know Dad?

Suzie: You know, you know how he is.

Sally [appealing to Sadie with a grimace]: What do I do with that? What am I supposed to make of that?

Sadie [with a sigh]: Sally, I think Suzie is just trying to tell you that… well, nothing. She’s not trying to tell you anything. Dad is Dad.

Sally [her voice rising, indignant]: What the hell is going on here? Why are you guys acting so weird?!

[The Waiter returns with Sally’s banana daiquiri. She thanks him, takes a big gulp, and puts it down on the table a bit too hard, so it sloshes a little out of the glass. Suzie gives her a little reproachful look as the Waiter walks away.]

Sally [to Sadie]: Tell me. [Pause. To Suzie] Tell me!

Suzie: What? What? There’s nothing to tell.

Sally: Something’s the matter with Dad.

Suzie: There’s nothing the matter with Dad! That’s not it. Dad’s fine!

Sadie [quickly]: He’s just getting old, Sally. Not getting any younger. Getting old.

Suzie: His feet. You know he keeps complaining about his feet.

Sadie: He doesn’t like to walk so much. Which is terrible for him, really.

Suzie: Terrible!

[Sally is watching their conversation like a tennis match, mouth agape.]

Sadie: It is terrible! He used to love to walk. Remember the walks we used to take behind the house?

Suzie: I used to love those walks. Into the woods. Back out into the graveyard.

Sadie: By the falls.

Suzie: By the falls, and back up the road, past the haunted house. Remember the haunted house?

Sadie: That house terrified me!

Suzie: Dad used to make up scary stories about that house.

Sadie: I know!

Suzie: You used to get so scared. You’d beg him to stop.

[Sadie shakes her head and laughs.]

Suzie [breezily, laughing a little]: Sally, do you remember the walks we used to take? You were young. Were you too young? Were you too young to remember?

Sally [dead serious]: What did you mean by that, Suzie?

Suzie [her laughter stopping abruptly]: What do you mean, what did I mean?

Sally [a little louder, angrier]: What did you mean by that?

Suzie [sighing]: Sally, I don’t know what you’re talking about. What are you talking about?

Sally [pointing at Suzie reproachfully]: You said that’s not it.

Suzie [truly bemused]: Hmm?

Sally: When we started talking about Dad. You said that’s not it. There’s nothing the matter with Dad, that’s not it. So if that’s not it, what is it?

Suzie [groaning, covering her face with her hands]: Jesus, Sally! I don’t know! Maybe it’s, I don’t know!

Sally: What?

Suzie: Jesus!

Sally: What!?

Suzie: Maybe you could call him once in a blue moon! I don’t know!

Sally [almost choking on her words]: Oh please! For fuck’s sake, Suzie! Don’t give me that fuck—

Sadie: Stop! Sally, stop! Suzie! Stop! We don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t want to talk about it. Dad’s fine. No one’s blaming you, Sally. This isn’t what we wanted to talk about.

Sally: Huh. OK. Well then why don’t you tell me what it is you wanted to talk to me about, Sadie.

Sadie: Well, it’s not that—

Sally [almost to herself]: For fuck’s sake, Sadie. Why is there always an agenda with you? Why is there always a thing to discuss? You too, Suzie. [Looking to Suzie] You’re even worse than Sadie! We can’t sit down and have a fucking drink [by way of weird demonstration, Sally takes another big sip of her drink and plonks it down with the same force as she did before], have a fucking drink, have a nice conversation. With my sisters. Is that too goddamn much to ask?

Suzie [calmly]: No it’s not, Sally. Of course it’s not. I think what Sadie is referring to—
[Sally mutters under her breath, still distracted] Sally? I think what Sade is referring to is what I take to be a bit of good news. I assume to be a bit of good news. [Winningly] From you! Good news from you.

Sally [truly perplexed]: I beg your pardon?

Suzie: Well, come on. It’s big news, right? I mean, good news! Good news too! I assume?

Sadie: We have some questions, obviously, but—

Suzie: We are going to have some questions. Naturally. But it’s good news, Sally, I was happy for you. I am happy for you. And I—we [glancing towards Sadie]—want you to know that you have our fullest support.

Sally [with a double take]: Fullest support?

Suzie [nodding genially]: Regarding your, uh… what do you call it?

Sadie: Announcement?

Suzie: Announcement!

Sally: Guys. Announcement where? What the fuck are you even talking about?

Suzie [now beginning to grow confused herself]: OK. The announcement you made last night? [Pause] On Facebook?

Sally: On Facebook?! I barely ever fucking use Facebook!

Suzie [now really confused]: Well, uh… did you use it… last night?

[Sally grabs her phone, which she had placed on the table beside her drink, and frantically navigates to Facebook. After a few moments, she reads something and lets out a piercing, panicked scream. Curtain.]



Same as the close of Act II.

Sally [addressing both sisters]: How could you even imagine that was real?

Suzie [cowed]: I don’t know, Sally. I don’t know anything about hacking. What am I supposed to think? I don’t know.

Sally [shaking her head. She looks to Sadie]: I just can’t believe both of you would think that.

Sadie: I know. I know!

Suzie [to Sadie]: Oh come on! You believed it too.

Sadie [defensively]: I’m not saying I didn’t! I’m not saying anything. [Sadie covers her face with her hands, as though she wants to disappear.]

Sally: Guys, you make me laugh.

Suzie [embarrassed]: OK, Sally. OK. OK. We get it.

Sally: One little fucking stupid thing on Facebook and all of a sudden my own sisters don’t know me anymore.

Suzie [under her breath]: Oh we know you.

Sally [loudly]: You don’t know me for shit!

Suzie: We know you all too well.

Sally: Suze! God damnit!

Suzie: Forgive me for fucking speaking the truth for five goddamned minutes. Sorry. [She takes a sip of her wine.]

Sally: Oh you are such a cunt.

Suzie: That’s enough, Jul—

Sally [her voice rising, taking the opportunity to indignantly make a point]: No, that’s not enough, Suzie! You always do this! You always tell me enough. It’s not enough!

Suzie [quietly, with weary sarcasm]: It’s never enough.

Sally [loudly, proudly]: That’s it! That’s it, Suzie! IT IS NEVER ENOUGH. [Sally stands up and pounds her hand on the table for emphasis] I! WANT! MORE!

Suzie [facetiously]: More drugs?

Sally: YES!

Suzie: More love? More attention?

Sally: YES! YES!

Suzie: More food? More drink?

Sally: YES! YES!

Suzie: More chaos? More destruction?

Sally [standing up on her chair now]: YES!!

Sadie [cradling her forehead in her hand]: Sal, my God.

Sally [pointing at Sadie from her perch on her chair]: And you! You’re always fucking agreeing with Suzie!

Sadie [indignantly]: That’s not true!

Sally [leaning down toward Sadie’s face, tauntingly]: Grow a pair of balls!

Sadie: Get the fuck down from the chair!

[Sally stays up on the chair. She tries putting her hands on her hips in a somewhat defiant posture, but soon hangs them again at her side. A few moments pass and her position becomes increasingly ludicrous. Finally she clambers back down and sits on the chair. Sadie shakes her head and makes a dismissive sigh. A few more moments pass. Sally seems to calm down a bit, like she’s been satisfied.]

Sally [checking her watch]: You know the funny thing is?

[Suzie and Sadie peer at her warily.]

Sally: The funny thing is, it’s ironic. It really is! [She looks around genially.]

Suzie [sarcastically]: Uh-huh.

Sally: Suze, I know you’re upset right now, but I’m not kidding.

Suzie: Whatever.

[Sally nods very rapidly, grinning exaggeratedly, a bit cartoonishly. Suzie contemplates saying something reproachful for a moment but then her face falls and she starts laughing. After a moment Sadie starts laughing too. Bit by bit, Sally joins in the laughter. A few moments pass.]

Sally: Any minute now!

Sadie: What?

Sally: Any minute now. You’ll see.

[Sadie and Suzie look at each other, bemused. A few moments pass. Enter Andrew. Sadie and Suzie look up at him, surprised. They get up and greet him in turn, saying “Hi Andrew!” and making chit-chatty remarks about how they didn’t expect to see him here and what a nice surprise it is. Andrew sits down beside Sally and they hold hands, smiling widely.]

Sally: So!

Suzie: Here we are!

Sally: Here we are! And… [Sally looks toward Andrew and he looks at her; they gaze lovingly in each other’s eyes for a moment. To Suzie and Sally, trying to suppress some emotion in her voice] There’s a reason I wanted to get together with you two today. Andrew and I have an announcement. [A moment or two pass. Sally is visibly becoming more emotional; she can barely keep from crying. Looks of anticipation and wonder take hold of Suzie and Sally’s faces.] Andrew and I are getting married!