History of Western Theatre: 17th Century to Now/American Post-WWII
Important American playwrights writing mostly or completely after World War II include Tennessee Williams (1911-1983), William Inge (1913-1973), Arthur Miller (1915-2005), Sam Shepard (1943-?), and David Mamet (1947-?). Important plays by Williams include "The glass menagerie" (1944), "A streetcar named desire" (1947), and "Summer and smoke" (1948), by Inge "The dark at the top of the stairs" (1957), and by Miller "Death of a salesman" (1949) and "The crucible" (1952). Noted plays by Shepard include "Buried child" (1978), "Curse of the starving class" (1978), and "Fool for love" (1983), by Mamet "Sexual perversity in Chicago" (1974), "American Buffalo" (1975), and "Glengarry Glen Ross" (1984). The latter's language is rough with a Pinter-like style, in which characters needlessly repeat themselves, or speak while conveying little new information; but it is also new in that crude speech attains some degree of elevation because of the emotional impact of the context.
Of interest as well is the social comedy turned sour, "The cocktail party" (1949) by T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) and the "The member of the wedding" (1950) by Carson McCullers (1917-1967), in which the main part of the dialog is included from the novel with one important change: there is no meeting with the lusty soldier, whose head the protagonist strikes in defense.
Also of note: "Tea and sympathy" (1953) by Robert Anderson (1917–2009), Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) with "A raisin in the sun" (1959), William Gibson (1914-2008) with "The miracle worker" (1959), based on the life of Helen Keller (1880-1936) and Annie Sullivan (1866-1936), Edward Albee (1928-?) with "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1962), Paul Zindel (1936-2003) with "The effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds" (1964). "The boys in the band" (1968) by Mart Crowley (1935-?) is a boulevard-type comedy turned into deeper insight. Also of note: John Pomerance (1940-?) with "The elephant man" (1977), based on the life of Joseph Merrick (1862-1890), John Pielmeier (1949-?) with "Agnes of God" (1979), Beth Henley (1952-?) with "Crimes of the heart" (1979), Marsha Norman (1947-?) with "'Night, Mother" (1982), August Wilson with "The piano lesson" (1987), Donald Margulies (1954-?) with "Dinner with friends" (1998).
- 1 "The glass menagerie"
- 2 "A streetcar named desire"
- 3 "Summer and smoke"
- 4 "Death of a salesman"
- 5 "The crucible"
- 6 "The dark at the top of the stairs"
- 7 "Buried child"
- 8 "Curse of the starving class"
- 9 "Fool for love"
- 10 "Sexual perversity in Chicago"
- 11 "American buffalo"
- 12 "Glengarry Glen Ross"
- 13 "The cocktail party"
- 14 "The member of the wedding"
- 15 "Tea and sympathy"
- 16 "A raisin in the sun"
- 17 "The miracle worker"
- 18 "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
- 19 "The effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds"
- 20 "The boys in the band"
- 21 "The elephant man"
- 22 "Agnes of God"
- 23 "Crimes of the heart"
- 24 "'Night, mother"
- 25 "The piano lesson"
- 26 "Dinner with friends"
"The glass menagerie"
"The glass menagerie". Time: 1940s. Place: St. Louis, USA.
During an evening at home with Tom and Laura, their mother, Amanda, recalls her youth in the south, at Blue Mountain, when young women knew how to talk and gentleman callers were plentiful. She chaffs her daughter about the absence of gentleman callers this evening. "What, not one?" she asks. The folloz*wing day, Amanda is astonished, abashed, and humiliated on learning that Laura, whom she thought a student at a business college, has been spending all that time walking around the city. She vomited during a typing speed test and never returned. On his part, Tom often goes to the movies after drudging all day in a warehouse to support the family. Amanda asks him to find a man his sister may date. As her brother, he should be willing to help, because Laura does not appear to be apt to work, nor is she competitive for men's attention. She only seems interested in attending to her glass menagerie and listen to phonograph records. Tom asks a shipping clerk at the warehouse, Jim O'Connor, to come over to his house for dinner without mentioning Laura. Jim already makes more money than he does and appears to have a good future. Amanda queries Tom about O'Connor's habits and is at length is satisfied. On the alley-way landing, "a poor excuse for a porch" according to Amanda, she hopes for the best. Before Jim arrives for dinner, Amanda tries to stuff her breasts with a "deceiver", but Laura declines ot use it. She recognizes Jim as the boy she once loved in high school and has often thought about ever since. As he enters the house, she leaves precipitously in fear. Amanda does most of the talking. She has prepared salmon but pretends it is Laura's work. When Laura is compelled to come back in, she feels faint and rests on the sofa. The lights go out, because Jim has neglected to pay the light bill, paying instead for a shipman's union dues as a first step in moving away, because he does not want to be like those who look at movies instead of moving. After dinner, Laura is left alone with Jim. At ease with the world, Jim thinks she obviously lacks self-confidence. Laura shows him her glass menagerie. When hearing music from the dance hall across the alley, Jim proposes that they dance. He clumsily bumps against the glass animals, knocking the unicorn to the floor and breaking off its horn. Jim is very sorry, but Laura says it does not matter. "Now it's just like the other horses," she concludes. As they grow friendlier, Jim tells her in passing he is engaged to be married. Amanda is outraged at her son for not knowing in advance about Jim's engagement. After leaving the family and remembering that night's events, Tom advises his imaginary Laura to blow out her candles.
"A streetcar named desire"
"A streetcar named desire". Time: 1940s. Place: New Orleans, USA.
Blanche DuBois, arrives at the house of her sister, Stella Knowalski, to say she lost their ancestral home in a mortgage, and so she must stay with her awhile. Stella's husband, Stanley, is suspicious of his sister-in-law's version, promising to investigate. Blanche meets Mitch, a friend of Stanley, at a poker game, and they sympathize. During the night, as the women listen to music, a drunken Stanley tosses out the radio in the street and hits his wife, who first seeks refuge with a neighbor but then, to Blanche's amazement, returns to him. He confronts Blanche wafter discovering that she was a regular at the Flamingo Hotel in Laurel, a brothel, but then pretends to believe his informer must have been wrong. Alone in the apartment, Blanche lets in a young man, collecting money for a newspaper, and flirts with him. Despite this interlude, it is obvious that she and Mitch are fond of each other. She tells him an episode from her youth, when she married a man only to discover he was a homosexual, who then killed himself, she feeling guilty of the event. Mitch needs someone because his cherished mother is near death. On Blanche's birthday, Stanley informs Stella about her sister's wanton behaviors in Laurel. Stella calls her merely "flighty" and blames men for them. Not to be deterred, Stanley gives Blanche a one-way bus ticket as a birthday gift. Having learned from Stanley of Blanche's misrepresentations, Mitch does not show up at her party, but then arrives later, attempting to sleep with her, what he "has been missing all summer", but she cries out till he goes. Although his wife is in a hospital bed soon expected to give birth, Stanley moves towards Blanche in his silk pajamas and carries her off to bed. The Kowalskis, knowing Blanche has no place to go, alert a psychiatric institution of her plight. A doctor and nurse arrive. She is disoriented and begs for sympathy. "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers," she says. She is led away.
"Summer and smoke"
"Summer and smoke". Time: 1910s-1920s. Place: Glorious Hill, USA.
Alma is seeking to attract the eye of her neighbor, John, a medical doctor, arriving from a prestigious university. She is mocked at by her demented mother, who waltzes before her and chants: "Alma's in love, in love". Alma manages to get John to a culture club, but he stays only briefly. Alma has difficulty sleeping. She comes over to consult with Dr Buchanan, John's father, at 2 AM, but the John prevents her seeing him, diagnosing loneliness as her main trouble. One day, they go out near a gambling casino, where he suggests that the two retire inside a rented room, but she coldly asks him: "What made you think I might be amenable to such a suggestion?" She hears a rumor on how John intends to marry the daughter of the owner of the casino, Rosa Gonzales, after having lost a good deal of money, that being the only way to recuperate his losses. A desperate Alma calls Dr Buchanan on the telephone to warn him of his son's intention. He arrives in time, orders Rosa and her father out of his house, and insults them. The angry Gonzales shoots him to death. Alma confesses to John that she was the person who made the call. Though recognizing that Alma loves him, John dismisses her, specifying that to him she represents "nothing but hand-me-down notions, attitudes, poses". He leaves town to pursue medical research and succeeds in notable discoveries. He returns to be engaged to Nellie, a musical student of Alma's. Nellie is grateful to Alma, for her future husband told her of the fortunate influence she had on him. Alma seeks him out one more time, now willing to experience life in the flesh. Reminded she once refused him, she now says: "But now I have changed my mind, or the girl who said "no" she dosn't exist any more, she died last summer- suffocated in smoke from something on fire inside her." But it is too late. While Alma has come round to his way of thinking, he has come round to hers. In a winter park, she initiates conversation with a stranger and they head together towards the casino.
"Death of a salesman"
"Death of a salesman". Time: 1940s. Place: USA.
After an unfruitful venture as a traveling salesman and feling old, Willy Loman returns to his house, where his wife, Linda, proposes that he should ask his boss to work locally, which he agrees to do. Despite showing early promise, their sons, Biff and Happy, have yet to succeed financially, in Willy's view of utmost importance. Biff and Happy are worried about their father's mental condition, often muttering to himself with possible thoughts of suicide. When Willy accuses his sons of shiftlessness, they tell him Biff is about to obtain an alluring business proposition. Willy is not only unable to convince his boss, the son of the man who first hired him over thirty years ago, of his need to remain in a local position but is fired by him. Meanwhile, Biff is unable to convince his supposed friend of the necessity of hiring him. In frustration, he steals his expensive fountain pen. Willy meets Bernard, a childhood friend of Biff's, who tells him that Biff was never the same after going to Boston. Willy knows why. It was there that the disillusioned son beheld his father in the company of a strange woman at a hotel. After a trying day, Willy meets his sons at a restaurant to hear news and perhaps celebrate. Unwilling to hear of any sort of bad news concerning Biff, the brothers feel constrained to lie about Biff's success. While Willy washes up in the washroom, Biff suddenly leaves, unable to tell him, while his brother leaves to pursue the alluring company of two women. Angry and aggrieved on learning about this, Linda accuses her sons of heartlessness. In grief and frustration on learning the truth about Biff's day, Willy accuses him of failing out of spite. Biff angrily shows him the electric cable he used in attempting suicide awhile ago, asking him whether that was meant to inspire pity for him. Willy pretends not to know anything about it. Biff divulges he was imprisoned for a few months for theft and lost other jobs because of it, a result of being unable to take orders from anybody because of his father's tendency of "blowing me with hot air". "I'm a dime-a-dozen, and so are you," he shouts. Willy retorts: "I'm Willy Loman and you're Biff Loman," still believing that since he is a Loman, he must necessarily succeed. Conscious of his bad mental state, he nevertheless drives away in his car and incurs a fatal accident. At the funeral, Biff refuses to use the insurance money for a business career, but Happy decides he will follow his father's wishes.
"The crucible". Time: 1690s. Place: Salem, Massachusetts.
Reverend Parris' daughter, Betty, is lying in her bed, unresponsive. Her father has caught her dancing in the forest with her friends and she fears punishment while he fears his enemies will use this incident to bring him down, should they have called forth spirits. He questions Abigail, his niece, about this, who admits only to dancing. Thomas and Ann Putman are convinced there is witchery about, because their daughter, Ruth, is afflicted with the same condition as Betty. "It's death, y'know, it's death drivin' into them, forked and hoofed," says Ann. She is convinced a black slave, Tituba, has conversed with the dead to find out who murdered her seven babies while she was in childbirth. Reverend Hale arrives from out of town to investigate the rumors of witchcraft. Abigail seizes this opportunity to accuse Tituba of conjuring. Giles Corey reveals that his wife reads books at night. "I'm not sayin she's touched the devil, now, but I'll admire to know what books she reads and why she hides them," he says. The deeper the investigation goes, the more suspects are discovered. John and Elizabeth Proctor learn from their servant Mary Warren that 34 women have been arrested and one at least, Osburn, will hang, accused by this servant, for after being turned away empty while begging for bread, she mumbled and then Mary says: "my guts would burst for two days after". When John raises the whip to her for disobediently leaving the house, Mary cries out that she saved her wife from suspicion when she had been accused by Abigail, their former servant, because, according to Elizabeth, she wants to take her place. Officials arrive to say Elizabeth is charged after all, a doll being found in her possession with a needle in it, after Abigail had been stuck that very night with a needle in her belly. In the Salem court-house, Corey pleads his case before Deputy Governor Danforth, defending his wife accused of witchcraft, far from his original intentions, for he only wanted to find the cause why his wife reads books. Corey, John, and Francis Nurse, all three whose wives are charged with witchcraft, accuse on the basis of Mary's confession Abigail, Betty, Ruth, and others of fraud. Afraid of what may happen to his daughter and himself, Parris immediately disbelives it. Although Hale, having signed 72 death-warrants, nervously wishes this accusation to be seriously examined, Danforth resists, and Mary is not believed. When Danforth examines Elizabeth's case, the Proctors contradict themselves, he admitting copulation with Abigail, she defending his name, so that she is condemned. Weakening, Mary now points to John as "the devil's man" and joins her friends in crying out with fits of further accusations. Later, Danforth is deeply troubled on learning that Abigail and Mercy Lewis robbed Parris and escaped in a ship. Twelve witches have already been hanged, based in part on their accusations, yet he decides to continue the examinations. Since Elizabeth is pregnant, her hanging is delayed. She is asked to plead for her husband to confess to witchcraft, but he refuses and is hanged.
"The dark at the top of the stairs"
"The dark at the top of the stairs". Time: 1920s. Place: Oklahoma, USA.
Before going to work as a traveling salesman, Rubin discovers that his wife, Cora, bought their daughter, Reenie, an expensive party dress. As they quarrel, he hits Cora and threatens never to come back. She considers moving in with her sister, Lottie, but the latter considers this impractical. She has her own troubles, including the troubling fact of her not making love with her husband, Morris, for over three years. "I never did enjoy it as some women say they do," she admits. Reenie is anxious about going on a blind date with a stranger, Sammy, to the point of vomiting. Because her mother is a movie actress, Sammy has been living in military academies throughout his life. He is very friendly with her brother, Sonny, as they head to a party given by the rich Ralston family. As they leave, Cora asks her son to walk upstairs, but he is afraid of the dark, though not when someone is with him. The next day, Reenie lies to her mother by saying she left the party because Sammy went off to court other girls. When asked whether she would she have done as others do, she responds that Sammy "would not have liked me that way". "I'm just not hot stuff like the other girls," she adds. Sonny bursts into the room in an excited fashion, announcing that he won $5 for reciting at a tea-party. When his mother places the money in his piggy bank, he is offended and says he hates her. The family is stunned on learning that Sammy committed suicide. Cora insists that her daughter tell her what really happened. Reenie danced three straight times with Sammy, until she was ashamed of having no other boy ask her to dance. "I just couldn't bear for Sammy to think that no one liked me," she confesses. She introduced him to the daughter of the house, but Mrs Ralston interrupted them, exclaiming that she will not tolerate a Jew dancing with her daughter. Rubin returns home to say he lost his job. He is sorry for hitting her, but becomes impatient again when she strongly suggests a position he may apply for in town, instead of traveling again. Nevertheless, they are reconciled. With a view of going to bed with his wife, Rubin gives his son money to go to the movies. Ashamed at the selfish way he has treated her, Sammy smashes his piggy bank to treat his sister to the movies. With her husband waiting for her at the top of the stairs, Cora ascends slowly, as if she were a shy maiden again.
"Buried child". Time: 1970s. Place: Illinois, USA.
In a neglected farm-house, Tilden surprises his father, Dodge, by showing him corn picked from their field, though none has been planted there for many years. Dodge sits around doing nothing, but complains that his son does nothing either at his expense. Dodge's wife, Halie, is worried about his drinking habits. "You sit here day and night, festering," she accuses him. She is offended to hear him insult Bradley, their other son. "My flesh and blood's out there in the backyard," retorts Dodge. While he is asleep, Bradley cuts his hair. Tilden's son, Vince, arrives unannounced after six years of absence, along with his girl-friend, Shelly. To Shelly's growing concern, Dodge seems to confuse Vince with a younger Tilden, who enters this time laden with unplanted carrots. She is all the more anxious when Tilden keeps staring without speaking at Vince. Dodge asks Vince to buy him another bottle of liquor. Tilden seems only vaguely aware of who Vincent is, saying: "I had a son once, but we buried him," for which Dodge admonishes him. Shelly wants to help Tilden prepare and cook the carrots, but Vince considers this a distraction. To jog Dodge's memory, he drums tunes on his teeth with his fingernails, but that does not help much. While Dodge dully watches television, Tilden strokes Shelly's coat and puts it on himself. Dodge is concerned of the growing rapport between Tilden and her. "Don't tell her anything," he advises, "She's an outsider". The following morning, Shelly is more relaxed, quite the lady of the house, offering Dodge beef bouillon. On entering the house, not knowing who Shelly is, Halie expresses worry about where Tilden is. Shelly playfuly takes Bradley's wooden leg from him. She feels there is a family secret that should be known. Bradley tries to reassure her. "Everything is all right here," he says. But Dodge does not agree. He starts to tell her a secret, but Halie interrupts him. "If you tell this, you'll be dead to me," she warns, but yet he goes on to confess that Halie was once pregnant with another boy. Tilden was often seen to talk with that baby. "I drowned it," admits Dodge. Suddenly, a drunk Vince crashes through the screen door from outside to the porch and starts smashing bottles. He then cuts through the second screen door and enters the house. Starting to take charge, he amuses himself by pushing Bradley's wooden leg out of his reach. Feeling suddenly sick, Dodge declares his last will and dies. Looking outside Halie finally admits: "Tilden was right about the corn," while seeing him carry inside the house the bones of a long-buried corpse.
"Curse of the starving class"
"Curse of the starving class". Time: 1970s. Place: USA.
On the previous day, an angry Weston had broken down his own front door, forcing his way in to threaten his wife, then left without hurting her. His son, Wesley, clears up the debris. To her astonishment, Wesley's sister, Emma, does not find in the refrigerator the chicken she meant to use to demonstrate the correct way of cutting up the animal in 4-H class, likely because her mother, Ella, ate it. Considering such courses useless, Wesley urinates on her anatomy charts. Though her son complains of hunger, Ella resolutely points out: "No one's starving. We don't belong to the starving class." To improve their lot, without consulting her husband, she hired a lawyer, Taylor, to sell house, livestock, tractor, and land, though Wesley points out the mortgages are still unpaid. Emma, too, is hungry, staring into the refrigerator while desperately asking: "Any corn muffins in there?" In an attempt to save a lamb infected by maggots, Wesley carries it into the kitchen. Weston returns carrying a bag of groceries, though only containing desert artichokes, together with dirty laundry. The following day, he learns that the laundry is not done, since his wife did not return for the night. He informs son and daughter he has sold house and land. Shocked at these news, Emma suddenly leaves. Wesley informs his father that Ella had the same intention and for this purpose left with her lawyer. Weston threatens to kill both. He considers his action reasonable, in view that he owes money and intended to escape to Mexico with the new-found cash. He raves and falls unconscious on the kitchen table. Ella returns with a bag of groceries, throwing out the artichokes out of the refrigerator. Wesley discovers that his mother's lawyer is the same man who once sold his father useless desert land. He informs her that her plans are fruitless, since her husband has already sold house and land. The buyer, Ellis, enters with the money, enough to pay Weston's debts, followed by Taylor with the final draft of his arrangement with Ella. They are interrupted by a police officer, who informs them of shocking news concerning Emma. "It seems she rode her horse through a bar downtown and shot the place full of holes with a rifle," he says. The bar in question is Ellis', who grabs the money away from Wesley and leaves while Taylor sneaks away. Ella follows the officer to get her daughter out of jail, after which Weston wakes up refreshed, with a new feeling of ownership. He has changed his mind, no longer interested in selling his property. Wesley tries to enter into his father's sentiments of ownership, but is unable to. In the throes of hunger, he butchers the lamb and eats ravenously his mother's groceries, imploring his father to run away, afraid that his debtor intends to kill him. Weston dismisses such warnings. Emma obtains her release from jail by means of sexual overtures towards the police officer in charge and declares to her brother she intends to pursue a life of crime, since that alone pays off. Wesley's fears are all too justified when they hear a loud explosion outside as a result of their father's car being blown up by the debtor's henchmen, together with the lamb he meant to eat.
"Fool for love"
"Fool for love". Time: 1980s. Place: USA.
Time: 1980s. Place: Near the Mojave desert.
In a drab motel, May receives the visit of her old lover, Eddie. Although his fingers smell of a woman's cunt, she asks him to stay. He promptly threatens to stab both her and him "systematically, with sharp knives". She embraces him in apparent tenderness then knees him in the groin. Recovering from this, he nevertheless wishes to remain with her, though for a single night. However, his own anger is aroused on learning that she expects the visit of a man called Martin. He takes from his horse trailer a shotgun while waiting for him. He also practices roping inside the room. Suddenly, a car's headlights appears at the window. When May informs him a woman is in the car, he immediately drops to the floor and warns her to get away from the door. A pistol shot is heard outside, followed by the sound of shattering glass and the blaring of a car horn. The headlights menacingly reappear as the couple get down on the floor. May guesses that the woman with the gun is Eddie's "countess". She yells at her in the dark, at which time Martin bursts in. Thinking she is in danger, he attacks Eddie until May asks him to stop. On hearing what they have to say, Martin becomes uneasy and starts to go, but Eddie pulls him back. He offers him a drink, at the same time pouring some in his father's cup, a man invisible to everyone except him. He explains to Martin their situation. He and May are lovers from the time of adolescence, though she is his half-sister, their father having lived in an alternating fashion with two women unknown to each other. It was at the other woman's house when he followed his father that he first saw May. Eddie's mother never found out: about this adulterous relation. "He'd disappear for months at a time and she never once asked him where he went," Eddie explains. "She was always glad to see him when he came back." May adds that her mother often attempted to track him down, going from one town to another. Eventually, she found him at his house, but two weeks later he left and was never seen again. "And my mother just turned herself inside out," explains May. "I kept watching her grieve, as though somebody'd died. She'd pull herself up into a ball and just stare at the floor." "She's gettin' way out of line here," The old man comments to Eddie. Noticing her daughter's infatuation with Eddie, May's mother begged Eddie not to see her anymore, but he ignored her wishes. Then she went to Eddie's mother for the same reason. In her own grief, Eddie's mother shot herself to death. The old man is stunned, unaware that this had happened. "Speak on my behalf," he cries out to Eddie. "There's no one to speak for me now. Stand up." "It was your shotgun," answers Eddie. Eddie and May begin to move towards each other. Their father is shocked. "Stay away from her," he warns. "What the hell are you doin'? You two can't come together." Nevertheless, they embrace. The headlights return from outside. There is the sound of a collision, an explosion, with horses screaming, followed by a gasoline fire. Martin informs Eddie that his horse trailer is on fire and the horses are loose. Eddie goes out to see while May packs her suitcase, certain that he will return to the countess.
"Sexual perversity in Chicago"
"Sexual perversity in Chicago". Time: 1970s. Place: Chicago, USA.
Bernie tells Danny about last night, when, sitting in a pancake house, he paid a pack of cigarettes for a twenty-year-old girl. "Come up to my room and I'll play you back for the cigarettes," she said. "No!" exclaims Danny, amazed at this story. After showering that night, Bernie thwacks her with a towel, throws a radio on her shoulder, and copulates with her while she is wearing an old Flak suit, but suddenly he leaves after she throws a can of gasoline on the walls and sets them on fire. Later, Bernie attempts to seduce Joan, whom he has just met, but is unsuccessful, while Danny has better luck with her roommate, Deborah. In bed, she says: "The last time we made love, I fantasized about other women," to which Danny responds: "The last time I masturbated, I thought about my left hand." In the nursery school where she works, Joan catches two boys fondling each other's genitals. Meeting Danny again, Bernie tells him a man once touched his penis reaching over another man at a cinema. Seeing Danny entrenched in his relation with Deborah, Bernie advises him to drop her. Refuses to heed this advic, Danny moves in with her. "I give you two months," comments Joan on learning of this matter. While viewing a pornographic movie, Bernie has another warning for Danny. "They got a lot of scum here now," he says. Danny and Deborah's relationship begins to unravel. On learning that Danny and Deborah will separate, Bernie advises his friend not to lose his sense of humor. Back at the apartment with Joan, Deborah considers that the break-up was all her fault, which Joan does not believe for one moment. On a beach, Bernie and Danny gaze at women walking by. "I see no reason to go on living," says a suddenly depressed Bernie. "To think I gaze upon the highest man can wish for." Looking at a particular one, Danny comments: "I can see her fucking snatch." When Bernie says hello to another, she silently walks off. "Deaf bitch," comments Danny, now sounding more like Bernie.
"American buffalo". Time: 1970s. Place: Chicago, USA.
Don, owner of a resale shop, asks Bob to spy on a client who bought from him an antique nickel for a surprisingly large amount of money. Bob informs him that the man left his house with a suitcase. Don's other friend, Teach, informs him he can safely break into his house and rob him of his coins and for this, he does not need Bob. Don hesitates but, in the end, agrees with him. When asked how he will break inside the house, Teach is alarmingly vague, so that Don imposes a man named Fletcher to accompany him during the heist. That very night, Bob arrives with a nickel-head which he believes to be valuable and proposes to sell it to Don. The latter gives him some money, both agreeing to consult a catalog later to ascertain its value. Teach arrives late, but Fletcher is not yet arrived. Teach is unpleasantly surprised to find Bob there, who at last leaves. Don and Teach nervously wait for Fletcher and are unable to reach him by phone. Don is all the more unnerved when informed that Fletcher cheated Teach at cards the previous night. Finally, Bob returns with news that Fletcher is lying in a hospital bed after being mugged. When Don calls up the hospital Bob mentions, he is told no such man is registered. Don and Teach immediately become suspicious of Bob, who is unable to identify the name of the hospital and is very vague as to how he obtained the nickel. Exasperated by such answers and fearing that he and Fletcher might have already robbed their intended victim, Teach strikes Bob on the head, so that his ears begin to bleed. He also flails violently about the shop, destroying a good part of Don's property. They then learn that Bob spoke the truth about Fletcher. Teach agrees to carry Bob in his car to the hospital while Don sadly watches over him.
"Glengarry Glen Ross"
"Glengarry Glen Ross". Time: 1980s. Place: Chicago, USA.
Shelley, a real estate agent, tries to convince an office manager, John, to give him leads (coordinates) of promising clients. John is willing to accomodate him but asks for money he cannot provide. Two other agents, Dave and George, complain of the pressure tactics used by management to succeed. Dave suggests stealing leads and selling them to a competing company. George at first refuses but is intimidated into accepting the scheme. Meanwhile, the most successful among them, Ricky, happily concludes a deal with his client, James. Shelley has also successfully completed a deal. The burglary is committed, after which the police are notified. James returns to tell Ricky he has changed his mind, who attempts to trick him into not canceling, but John inadvertently reveals the hoax. Ricky and Shelley have now ample reason to insult John, who tells Shelley he suspects him to be the thief. Shelley admits that he and Dave are the culprits. When the detective arrives, John tells him what he knows. Ricky proposes to Shelley that they form their own partnership. He ironically accepts, knowing about his imminent arrest. Ricky then happily joins John, his collaborator in obtaining promising leads and also in giving Shelley unpromising ones, to crush his competitor.
"The cocktail party"
"The cocktail party". Time: 1940s. Place: England.
Lavinia suddenly leaves her husband, Edward, just before a cocktail party at their house, when an uninvited guest appears, who says to him: "There's ground for hope she won't come back." "But I want my wife back," protests Edward, who finds his speculations offensive. "You are nothing but a set of obsolete responses," the guest counters. "The one thing to do is to do nothing. Wait." But since he will not, the guest promises she will be back within a day. When Edward's lover, Celia, arrives, wishing to be assured that everything is all right between them, he retreats. "This can't go on," he says. The next day, Lavinia returns, and they immediately voice mutual grievances. He accuses her of always trying to turn him into what she wants him to be, to the extent that he has the impression of having lost his personality. "Hell is oneself, hell is alone, the other figures in it merely projections," he tells her. In return, she accuses him of not troubling to understand her. He agrees to consult a psychiatrist, Dr Henry Harcourt-Reilly, who turns out to be the uninvented guest. To Edwrad's surprise, Lavinia shows up during the first session, who reveals that she, too, has had an adulterous relation. After listening to their complaints, Harcourt-Reilly concludes that there is common ground to work on: he suffering from loving no one, she of not being loved. Their session is followed by Celia's, suffering in her state of loneliness with a horrid sense of emptiness. "Can we only love something created by our own imagination?" she wonders. To escape such feelings, she leaves for a foreign country as a nurse, but falls as a victim to an uprising of the natives.
"The member of the wedding"
"The member of the wedding". Time: 1945. Place: Southern part of USA.
"The member of the wedding" text at ?
Jarvis, a soldier, is about to marry Janice. His sister, 12-year-old Frankie, feels jealous. "I bet they have a good time every minute of the day," she comments to Berenice, their black servant. Frankie is also frustrated at being rejected from joining a girl's club. When Berenice teases her, she snatches a carving knife and threatens her with it. They are interrupted by the arrival of T.T., Berenice's suitor, and Honey, her foster-brother, whose head has been struck by a policeman following an altercation with a soldier. Tired of living at her house, Frankie wants to leave her father and join her brother with his bride. "I love the two of them so much because they are the "we" of me," she confides to her 7-year old friend, John Henry. For the wedding ceremony, she buys for herself an orange satin dress with silver stockings and shoes. Berenice and T.T. consider it too grown up, but since it cannot be returned, she is determined to fix it. Berenice is aware that Frankie is paying too much attention to the to-be-wedded couple, warning her of the dangers inherent in loving too intensely, in her own case Ludie, the first of four husbands. "What I did was marry off little pieces of Ludie whenever I came across them," she explains. "It was just my misfortune they all turned out to be the wrong pieces." During this conversation, John Henry feels sick, but the two ignore his complaints. During the wedding ceremony, after much hesitating, Frankie informs her brother she wants to follow him and his wife, but he refuses. Sick at heart, she leaves the house with her father's gun. He and T.T rush after her, but cannot find her. Eventually, not knowing where to go, she returns on her own. Honey also comes back after being involved in an altercation with a white man who would not serve him in a restaurant. He drew out a razor and cut him. Although Berenice gives him money to facilitate his escape from the police, he is caught and hangs himself in a jail-cell. John Henry is diagnosed with meningitis and dies. When Frankie's father decides to move with his sister to another house, Berenice quits his service. Though Frankie promises to visit her, Berenice doubts she will.
"Tea and sympathy"
"Tea and sympathy". Time: 1950s. Place: New England, USA.
"Tea and sympathy" text at ?
Laura, wife to one of the housemasters at a boy's school, Bill Reynolds, prepares a costume for Tom, a student boarder at their house about to play a woman's part in a play. Their fitting is interrupted by a teacher, David Harris, worried that his contract will not be renewed because Tom has revealed the two went swimming down off the dunes last Saturday evening. Tom denies having said anything to the dean. Soon afterwards, Bill tells Laura that two boys from the varsity club saw the man and the 17-year-old boy lying naked on the dunes. Laura is upset that Tom, whom she has befriended, may be expelled. Bill replies he should be and that Laura should not become emotionally involved with the students but, as the headmaster's wife suggested, only offer them "tea and sympathy". Although there was no sexual intercourse, David is fired but Tom presumed innocent. Nevertheless, Tom's father, Herb, an old school-friend of Bill's, insists that his son quit his role in the play and Laura invites a girl over so that she can be his party date instead of herself. As a result, Tom is flustered and hurt. Pressure mounts as boys walk out of the shower-room when he walks in after gymnastic practice and tennis, while Bill adopts a cold, contemptuous attitude. Moreover, Tom's roommate, Al, harassed by his father, moves to another house awway from his influence. To restore his reputation, Al suggests he meet Ellie, a waitress in a soda shop known to be free and easy with the students. Tom sets up a date with her on Saturday night on the telephone, a conversation overheard by Laura, who, on that night, tries to prevent the meeting by stalling for time. As she is teaching him to dance, he kisses her passionately. When she rejects him, he escapes to Ellie. An overwrought Tom is unable to have an erection with her. In a confused state, he tries to kill himself, but Ellie prevents it. However, the noise of their struggle attracts the attention of the campus police and Tom is eventually expelled. Incensed and hurt at her husband's involvement in the goading Tom suffered from, Laura says she wants to leave him. "Did it ever occur to you that you persecute in Tom, that boy up there, you persecute in him the thing you fear in yourself?" she asks him. After hearing that, he wants her out. She enters Tom's room to offer words of encouragement, but he is still disheartened, certain he is no man. But when she unbuttons her blouse, he begins to respond. "Years from now, when you talk about this- and you will-, be kind," she pleads.
"A raisin in the sun"
"A raisin in the sun". Time: 1950s. Place: Chicago, USA.
After the father’s death, the rest of the Younger family receive benefits of his life insurance premium. Mama wants to buy a house to fulfill a dream previously shared with her husband, but Walter Lee, her son, would rather invest it in a liquor store. His wife, Ruth, agrees with his mother, to provide a better home for their son. Walter Lee’s sister, Beneatha, wants her mother to use it as he wants. In addition to the house, she will use it for Beneatha's medical school tuition. Ruth discovers she is pregnant and fears the financial pressure a child will bring. Walter Lee says nothing when she admits to considering abortion. Mama soon places a down payment on a new and bigger house in an entirely white neighborhood. Learning about this, white people living in that neighborhood send over a man named Lindner from the Improvement Association to buy them out. Although Walter Lee loses his part of the money to a supposed friend who stole the investment money and despite some hesitation, the Younger family refuse Lindner's offer. Beneatha rejects her suitor, George, whom she considers to be too shallow to the problems facing the black community, and rather looks favorably on Joseph, who wishes her to obtain a medical degree and move away with him to Africa. The Youngers move to their new neighborhood, fulfilling part of the dream, though the future seems very uncertain.
"The miracle worker"
"The miracle worker". Time: 1890s. Place: Alabama and Massachusetts, USA.
Annie Sullivan is hired by the Keller family to develop their child, Helen, deaf and blind from birth. With her finger, Annie writes on her pupil's hand the name of objects, such as "cake" and "doll", to be obtained as a reward provided she imitate the writing on her own hand. Helen gets the cake and crams it in her mouth. She partly spells back "doll", then hits her teacher's face with it and locks her inside the room. Captain Keller, the father, retrieves her through the window by means of a ladder. Annie next attempts to improve Helen's table manners, since she is in the habit of picking food from everybody's plate with her fingers. A difficult struggle ensues, with the end result that Helen is at last able to eat from her own plate with a spoon and fold her napkin. But to achieve a higher level of comprehension, Annie insists on being left alone with Helen in a garden house, away from the family's distracting and overly tolerant influence. Helen succeeds in imitating 18 nouns and 3 verbs, but to her it is still a "finger-game", with no understanding of the fundamental concept that each thing has a name. At the end of a two-week period, Helen's mother, is unable to tolerate a longer period of separation. When Helen returns at table with the family, she seeks to test their level of tolerance, cramming food in her mouth with her fingers, which the family is inclined to tolerate as a sort of homecoming, but not Annie. Exasperated, Helen drenches Annie with a pitcher-full of water. An even more exasperated Annie drags her pupil to the pump, where she seizes at last the connection between the sign on her hand and the water on her hand. She eagerly touches various objects, asking Annie to spell everything. Annie ends the day's lesson by triumphantly spelling on Helen's hand the word "teacher".
"Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
"Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?". Time: 1960s. Place: USA.
George, a college teacher, and his wife, Martha, return from a faculty party to their house, where she exclaims: "What a dump!" in imitation of a movie scene. The night is not over, as she has invited over a younger couple, Nick and Honey. The after-party develops obnoxiously, as Martha taunts George for his many failures. George leaves, returns with a gun and fires it, but it is only a stage one with an umbrella popping out. Nick and Honey grow uneasier as the verbal abuse. At last she runs to the bathroom to vomit. The men discuss their life-experiences, Nick about his wife's false pregnancy of hysterical origin and George about a friend who had accidently killed his father and mother. When the women re-enter the room, Martha mentions George's unpublished autobiographical novel, inclduing the story he had previously told. An angry nearly George chokes her to death, but then they both decide to play a game called "Get the guests". George tells the story of a "mousie", to Nick's shame, the very tale the latter told about his wife. She feels sick again and rushes out. Martha immodestly attempts to seduce Nick before George's very face, who, undeterred, calmly reads a book all the while. But as Martha and Nick walk upstairs, George throws his book down in anguish. Later, Martha reappears alone, shouting at the others to come out from hiding. She is joined by Nick and then George with flowers for the dead. Martha and George trade insults again, but this time against Nick, too drunk to have copulated with Martha. The final game is "Bringing up baby," whereby they talk about their son, Martha accusing her husband of destroying him while he recites parts of a requiem. He then informs her he received a telegram about their son's death, matching his earliest story. Though Martha screams and collapses, George explains to the bewildered couple that they never had a son. After Martha recovers and George sings: "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?" she anxiously replies, "I am, George... I am."
"The effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds"
"The effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds". Time: 1960s. Place: USA.
Over the telephone, Beatrice denies to a teacher that she voluntarily keeps her daughter, Tillie, away from school, though she occasionally does so, to help her at home under difficult circumstances. Beatrice complains of rabbit droppings throughout the house, which Tillie promises to take care of. Her other daughter, Ruth, informs her that Tillie was laughed at for appearing with her hair standing on end and "that old jumper with the raggy slip" during a school presentation on the atom. "Matilda, if you can't get yourself to dress properly before going to school, you're never going to go again," the irate mother declares. Far from being discouraged, Tillie participates in a science competition by taking care of marigold seeds exposed to various levels of gamma rays from cobalt-60 radioactivity at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "If you want to know what half-life is, just ask me," Beatrice comments. She nervously consults school authorities to make sure exposure to the plants will not cause sterility among the occupants of the house. Their main income is to take care of sickly old persons, at this moment a demented woman surnamed Nanny. There is an added difficulty in ensuring the safety of Ruth, subject to epileptic seizures. Though planning to open a tea-shop, Beatrice is subject to despairing thoughts: "What's left for me?" she asks Ruth. One day, unnerved about the rabbit in the house, she tells Tillie: "So, by the end of the week, you get rid of that cottontail compost heap and we'll get you a job down at the five-and-ten cent store." But she is interrupted by Ruth, announcing that Tillie has been chosen among the five finalists at the science competition. Uninterested, Beatrice tells the school principal she does not wish Tillie to participate, "because she is not as careful in her home duties as she is with man-in-the-moon marigolds", but yet eventually yields. On the day of the finals, Beatrice orders Ruth to remain at home with Nanny. Angry at this Ruth calls her mother by the name she was known by in her school-years: "Betty the Loon". Beatrice suddenly freezes and decides to stay home herself. With her daughters away, she cancels her agreement with Nanny's mother, the "career woman of the year", and kills the rabbit. During her presentation, Tillie explains that the shape of the marigolds differs because of mutations arising from their exposure to various levels of radioactivity. When Ruth announces to her mother that Tillie won first prize, she sees the dead rabbit and begins to convulse. Intending to open the tea-shop, Beatrice refuses to call a doctor in for her daughter. "We're going to need every penny to get this place open," she specifies. Tillie reflects on the conclusion of her project: "For one thing, the effect of gamma rays on man-in-the moon marigolds has made me curious about the sun and the stars, for the universe itself must be like a world of great atoms- and I want to know more about it...atom...atom...what a beautiful word!"
"The boys in the band"
"The boys in the band". Time: 1960s. Place: New York, USA.
"The boys in the band" text at ?
Michael is unemployed but skillful at dodging creditors. His homosexual partner, Donald, is a maintenance man and consults a psychiatrist for depression. The experience has helped him gain insight into his mental condition. Every time he fails, his mother responds with love, so that he associates the two together. "Failure is the only thing with which I feel at home," he despondently concludes. At Michael's apartment, they are preparing a birthday party for Harold and have invited homosexual couples: Hank and Larry along with Emory and Bernard. While several dance with abandon, the door buzzer sounds and Hank lets in Alan, a friend of Michael who has sought to prevent him knowing his sexual orientation. To tease Michael, an effeminate Emory goes out of his way to show it. Knowing Alan to be upset, Michael retires with him in his bedroom while Donald and Larry, eying each other after having met in the baths once and slept together, talk quietly apart. Alan does not disclose the reason why he is upset and prepares to leave. As Emory continues to joke equivocally, an exasperated Alan hits him on the mouth, Emory shrieking as he bleeds. After vomiting and missing the dinner and the gift distribution, Alan prepares to leave but is intercepted by Michael, who proposes a social game: "affairs of the heart", when the player must call by phone "the one person we truly believe we have loved". Hank does not want to play, but Larry insists he must. Bernard nervously calls an old flame of his, but cannot reach him. He bitterly regrets the call and tries to dissuade Emory from doing the same. Nevertheless, Emory reaches his high-school love but is unable to reveal his name. Hank takes the phone from the gypsy-footed Larry and calls up their answering service. To return the favor, though it is understood he will always seek other lovers one at a time, Larry calls up Hank on the apartment's other phone. It is Alan's turn. Michael suggests a friend's name with whom Alan had sexual relations twelve years ago, but he denies being a homosexual and calls his estranged wife instead. Harold wearies of Michael, knowing his aggressive behavior is the result of self-disgust at being a homosexual. Fearing a panic attack, Michael leaves to hear a midnight mass.
"The elephant man"
"The elephant man". Time: Late 19th century. Place: England and Belgium.
Treves, a surgeon who works at a London hospital, goes to a freak show starring Joseph Merrick, the "Elephant Man". He wants to study his pathology, consisting of abnormally large bone size. The owner of the show, Ross, agrees to sell his star to him. After being examined, Merrick returns on stage but is not allowed to present himself in Brussels, bcause the sight of him is judged to be indecent. Ross sends him back to London, where Treves can study him further. He is about to hire a nurse when she sees Merrick naked in a bath and refuses the position. When Bishop How learns of his existence, he decides to teach him the Christian religion. Due to his letter printed in a newspaper and subsequent donations, Carr-Gomm, administrator at the hospital, has secured his case for life. Treves protects Merrick in various ways, including firing an attendant for peeking inside his room. He hires Mrs. Kendal, an actress, more capable than most at hiding the revulsion his sight inspires, to converse with Merrick as a companion. She is surprised on hearing him discuss with sensitivity Romeo and Juliet despite having no practical experience in matters of love. Under the bishop's influence, he builds a model church. He tells Kendal he longs for a mistress. In sympathy with his desires but unwilling to sleep with him, she undresses so that he can at least see a woman's naked body for the first time, but they are interrupted by the shocked Treves, who dismisses her. Ross wants Merrick back, but his medical condition is worsening and he refuses to go with him. The more normal Merrick pretends to be, the worse his condition becomes, and yet he is able to finish his model before dying. Carr-Gomm reads to Treves another letter meant for the newspaper, which describes Merrick’s stay and death at the hospital. After asking him whether he has anything to add, a distressed Treves at first can find nothing. When he returns to say he has found something at last, the letter has already been sent.
"Agnes of God"
"Agnes of God". Time: 1970s. Place: USA.
"Crimes of the heart"
"Crimes of the heart". Time: 1970s. Place: Hazlehurst, Mississippi, USA.
Babe is out on bail after shooting her husband, Zackery, a senator, in the stomach, who lies in critical condition at the hospital. "Don't worry, Meg, jail's going be a relief to me, she assures her older sister. "I can learn to play my new saxophone." She further reveals she had an adulterous relation with a fifteen-year old black boy, Willie Jay. Her husband had pushed the boy down a staircase, after which she shot him, made a pitcher of lemonade for herself, and offered him some as he was bleeding. She had at first thought to shoot herself, but then was reminded of her mother's suicide by hanging herself with the family cat after her father left them. She cuts out and pastes newspaper articles of her case. She is considerably more upset, to the extent of banging her body against the furniture, on learning from her lawyer that, suspicious of her, Zackery's wife hired a private detective who took pictures of her and Willie Jay copulating in her garage. However, her lawyer has obtained compromising evidence of Zackery's adulteries and is confident of striking a deal so that she gets off with a lighter sentence. Nevertheless, Willie Jay, being subject to possible violent retributions on the part of white racists, must leave town. The thought of losing Willie Jay and her husband's threat of committing her to a psychiatric institution are sufficient reasons for her to hang herself, but the rope breaks. During her next attempt, Meg arrives in time to remove her head inside a turned-on gas oven. The eldest sister, Lenny, announces she may renew relations with an old flame of hers. Her two sisters buy Babe a birthday cake, though one day late. The three of them enjoy each other's company, though Babe's fate is still uncertain.
"'Night, mother". Time: 1980s. Place: USA.
Jessie announces to her mother, Thelma, that she intends to commit suicide. Knowing Thelma to be helpless over most household matters, she has written down notes on how to manage food deliveries and laundry and where everything is. To dissuade her from doing it, Thelma promises to change the nature of their relation, in particular not rely so much on her. She acknowledges that allowing Jessie to come back to her house after the latter's divorce from Cecil was a mistake. In desperation, Thelma probes into possible reasons Jessie might want to kill herself, hoping to counter them and not be left alone. Jessie hates the state of the world, feels she cannot work at anything worthwhile, is tired of it all. Thelma probes into the past, admits she never loved her mostly silent husband, now dead, though he appeared to have loved his daughter. Jessie is aghast on learning that her mother never sought medical help for her husband's absence seizures or her daughter's while still a child. To encourage her to lead a healthy outdoor life, Cecil and she took up horse-riding, but she fell off of one and has been subject ever since to generalized seizures, though well controlled. Thelma blames Cecil for leaving her, to which Jessie replies: "Mama, you don't pack your garbage when you move." More desperate than ever, Thelma attempts to distract her daughter by talking about mutual acquaintances and food items once liked, with poor results. She next tries pity as a motivation to shake her resolve. "Jessie, how can I live here without you?" she asks, and lets her know about her overwhelming feeling of failure as a mother. "How can I live with myself after this, Jessie?" she asks. But Jessie does not bother to argue about any reason to remain in this life or feebly changes the subject. She has arranged for her widow's dress to be cleaned, the one she looked so well in. Thelma starts to give up, especially after hearing her daughter consider matters relating to the funeral ceremony. "You'll probably see people you haven't seen for years, but I thought about what you should say to get you over that nervous part when they first come in," Jessie says, always the practical one. Jessie next instructs her on how best to handle the aftermath. "Now, when you hear the shot, I don't want you to come in," she says. "First of all, you won't be able to get in by yourself, but I don't want you trying." She then tells her mother that she will leave her brother a list of Christmas gifts meant for her, spread over many years, and shows her boxes containing her belongings to be distributed to her drug-dependent son and to herself. Thelma calmly looks over the stuff, but when Jessie rises to go, she panics and tries without success to prevent her. Jessie says: "'Night, mother," locks the door in her room, and shoots herself.
"The piano lesson"
"The piano lesson". Time: 1980s. Place: Pittsburgh, USA.
Boy Willie and Lymon arrive in town to sell a large load of watermelons. Boy Willie also wants to sell a piano he own along with his sister, Bernice, so that he can buy some farmland owned by the brother of a man who has recently died, Sutter, once the slave-owner of their grandparents. Though she has not played on it for many years, Bernice refuses, because she considers the instrument a family heirloom, their grandfather having pictures of their family history carved on it. Feeling that as long as Sutter owned the piano, they were still his slaves, Boy Willie and Bernice's father along with Boy Charles stole it from him. When Sutter discovered the theft, he was so angry that he burned the father's house down. On finding him inside a box-car in the company of four hobos, he and the sheriff set it afire with them in it. Over a period of many years, several men involved in the murder have been killed by being thrown down wells, the exploit, according to legend, of the Yellow Dog ghosts, the name originating from the train because of the sound of its whistle and the yellow color of its box-cars. Bernice suspects Boy Willie himself pushed Sutter down his well. That is the supposed reason why she, her daughter, and Doaker, the brother of her deceased husband, have been haunted by Sutter's ghost. After selling most of their watermelons, Boy Willie and Lymon celebrate. Late at night, Boy Willie comes back to his sister's home accompanied by a newly found girl-friend, but Bernice sends them away and repulses Lymon's sexual advances. The following day, Boy Willie and Lymon are puzzled as to why they cannot move the piano anymore. They use a wheeled board and rope, but Bernice interrupts their endeavor. Boy Willie feels that owning farmland will make him equal with the white man. Throughout his life, he has felt unwelcome everywhere. "The world ain't wanted no part of me," he says. But when he tries to move the piano despite Bernice's threats and despite knowing that his sister carries a gun, he is inexplicably thrown back from it. Content, she sits down to play on it.
"Dinner with friends"
"Dinner with friends". Time: 1980s-1990s. Place: New England, USA.
While entertaining Beth over dinner, Gabe and Karen receive the unpleasant news that she and her husband, Tom, are divorcing. Tom is upset that she revealed this information alone instead of accompanied by him, thereby precluding a biased version of the events. A distressed Gabe tries to determine whether the divorce may be prevented, but he finds Tom adamant. This is no act of madness. Instead he says: "I've gone sane." Because it is Tom who rejects Beth for the sake of another woman, Karen takes her part, finding his behavior typical of men. "It's like men get by for years without really talking to you and then, one day, when they finally do, it's to tell you they're leaving," she declares. But then she is stunned and much less sympathetic on learning that Beth quickly finds another man, an old colleague of Tom's. When she further learns that she intends to marry him, she mentions that her friend might give the matter more time. However, Beth has no wish to reflect further on this matter and resents her friend saying that. "I'm finally feeling whole, finally feeling I'm on the right track for the first time in my life, and what do you do? You undermine me," she says. She further accuses her friend of being unhappy at not having a chance to feel superior at all times. "I was the Mess, the Ditz, the Comic Relief," she says. "You got to be Miss Perfect: everything just right." Gabe's view of his friendship with Tom is given a serious blow on finding out that all that time he was never really happy with Beth. "Wait a minute," says an irate Gabe. "You were faking it? You mean to tell me that all those years- all those years, Tom!- the four of us together, the dinners, the vacations, the hours of videotape, you were just being a good sport?" When Gabe tells Karen that soon after their marriage Beth engaged in an adulterous relation with her "new man", she is dejected. "What does this say about our friendship?" she wonders. "What were all those years about?" Both consider that they are unlikely to remain close friends with them. Instead, they settle in to concentrate on their own relation.