Written by Frank Macaluso
(Lights up. JACK and DARLENE are sitting at the kitchen table. They’ve just finished eating, and an empty bottle rests in the middle of the table. JACK looks at the empty chair and notices something is amiss.)
JACK: Hey, Darlene.
DARLENE: Yeah, honey?
JACK: Where’s Mother?
DARLENE: (thinks for a second) I don’t know. She might be upstairs napping. I’ll go check on her. (exits)
JACK: (to the audience, just a tad overdoing it) Huh, that’s strange. Mother never was one for naps. I suppose when you’ve worked as hard and for so long as Mother, you’re due a little rest every now and then. But still, why would she nap during dinner?
(DARLENE enters, distraught. JACK gets up and walks to her.)
JACK: What’s wrong, dear?
DARLENE: Your mother…she’s dead.
(JACK and DARLENE embrace, comforting each other. The irate DIRECTOR runs in, shouting.)
DIRECTOR: Cut! Cut! Cut! (takes a deep breath) How do I put this nicely? THAT WAS CRAP!!! I DIDN’T BELIEVE A WORD COMING OUT OF EITHER OF YOUR MOUTHS! (points to DARLENE) You are so lucky I’m sleeping with you!
JACK: You’re sleeping with her, too?
DIRECTOR: She’s just a phase I’m going through; you’re the only one for me, Honey Bunch. (tries to caress JACK’s cheek, but JACK pulls away) Anyway, this scene is obviously not working as a melodrama. It’s absolutely laughable! (snaps fingers) That’s it! Try it like a comedy!
JACK: How is my mother dying funny?
DIRECTOR: Anything can be funny with the right approach! Just trust me!
(The DIRECTOR runs offstage. JACK and DARLENE sit back down.)
DIRECTOR: (offstage) ACTION!
JACK: Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm! Those had to have been the best steaks I’ve ever tasted!
DARLENE: Thanks! It’s a new recipe.
JACK: Hey, where’s Mother? She’d have absolutely loved them.
DARLENE: (nervously) Yes, I’m sure she would have.
JACK: You know, it’s not like her to miss dinner. I should go upstairs and check on her.
(JACK starts to get up. DARLENE quickly sits him back down.)
DARLENE: Honey…there’s something I think I should tell you.
DARLENE: Well…you know how hard times have been, and we…we really can’t afford another mouth to feed…
JACK: Are you suggesting kicking Mother out? After all she’s done for us?
DARLENE: No, not at all—
JACK: (overdramatically) She’s worked her fingers to the bone to make me the man I am today, and you’re thinking of just throwing her out on the streets to starve!
DARLENE: No, hon—
JACK: (even more overdramatically) Don’t you know how hard it is for a woman of Mother’s age to move?!
DARLENE: JACK, SHUT UP!!! (calmer) We aren’t throwing your mother out.
JACK: Then what was all that stuff about not being able to afford another mouth to feed?
DARLENE: Well…the steaks……they’re not exactly steaks.
(JACK quickly gets up and slowly backs away from DARLENE and the table.)
JACK: (coming to the realization that…) You killed and cooked my Mother?!
DARLENE: I’m so, so sorry, b-but I couldn’t think of anything else to do! Like you said, we can’t throw her out…
JACK: (incredibly overdramatically, bordering on Shatner-esque) So you KILLED HER and SERVED HER FOR DINNER?!
DARLENE: (meekly) With hollandaise sauce.
JACK: (without any control) DAMN THE HOLLANDAISE SAUCE, DARLENE! DAMN ALL THE HOLLANDAISE SAUCE THAT EVER WAS! YOU KILLED MY MOTHER!!!
DARLENE: (bursting into tears) I’m sorry!
JACK: (calmer, but still somewhat enraged) Couldn’t you have just cooked the cat instead?
DARLENE: What do you think was in the stew last night?
JACK: (disappointed) Oh, Darlene…
(The DIRECTOR runs in again.)
DIRECTOR: Cut! Cut! Cut! That was so beyond crap it would take a spaceship 200 years to get a telescope close enough to see the crap it was! Can’t you two do anything right?!
JACK: I don’t need this! I’m a Julliard-trained actor!
DIRECTOR: Oh, shut up! You haven’t even seen Julliard in a brochure! You’re lucky to have this job and if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t have it!
(The DIRECTOR turns around and begins to pace. JACK picks up the bottle and tries to hit the DIRECTOR with it, but DARLENE holds him back. JACK calms down and puts the bottle down.)
DIRECTOR: You two are way better at dramatic roles, but all that drama stuff gets boring. It needs more energy, more action. (snaps fingers) That’s it! Do it like an action film!
(The DIRECTOR runs offstage. DARLENE and JACK take their seats yet again.)
DIRECTOR: (offstage) ACTION! LITERALLY!
(JACK and DARLENE are calmly finishing their supper. Then, JACK suddenly grabs DARLENE by the collar.)
JACK: Alright, Darlene! Where’s my mother?!
DARLENE: What are you talking about, Jack?
JACK: (shakes DARLENE violently) YOU KNOW DAMN WELL WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!!! My mother, where is she? She never misses dinner, so I know something’s wrong. WHERE IS SHE?!
(A MAN dressed entirely in gray enters slowly.)
MAN IN GRAY: I can tell you where your mother is, Mr. Shaughnessy.
JACK: (drops DARLENE back onto her chair and runs to the MAN IN GRAY) Where is she, Dr. Blowfish?
MAN IN GRAY: My, my, it certainly is nice to have relatives for dinner, isn’t it?
JACK: (slaps the MAN) STOP TALKING IN RIDDLES, BLOWFISH!!!
MAN IN GRAY: Stop calling me “Blowfish”; that’s not my name. My God, are you dim. If you had any brains, you would have, based on my statement, come to the conclusion that you have been fed your mother’s carcass for supper.
JACK: (drops to his knees in shock) I…I…I…ate my mother?
MAN IN GRAY: With hollandaise sauce.
(JACK breaks down and sobs.)
MAN IN GRAY: And your darling little wife helped me.
DARLENE: (rushing to JACK) Jack, I’m very sorry. I—
(The MAN IN GRAY promptly takes out a gun and shoots DARLENE dead.)
MAN IN GRAY: There. I have no more need of her. Now, tell me where Mussolini hid his gold!
(JACK gets up. He has a vengeful look on his face.)
JACK: I’m not telling you a thing, Doctor…Whoever-You-Are!
MAN IN GRAY: Tsk, tsk. You damn fool. Don’t you know it’s foolish to disobey a man with a gun?
(JACK smacks the MAN’s gun away and proceeds to strangle him. The DIRECTOR runs in yet again.)
DIRECTOR: CUUUT!!! CUT! CUT! CUT!
(DARLENE gets back up, and JACK releases the MAN.)
DIRECTOR: I’ve seen black holes suck less than that! (points to MAN) And who the hell are you?
MAN IN GRAY: I’m the villain.
DIRECTOR: I’m not paying three actors! Get out!
(The MAN IN GRAY leaves in a huff.)
DARLENE: I was not expecting him to just jump into the scene like that, let alone shoot me!
DIRECTOR: Shut up! You were the suckiest of all!
(JACK goes to the gun the MAN left behind and picks it up. He walks to the DIRECTOR, fed up with his demands, and aims the gun at him.)
DIRECTOR: Action didn’t work for this scene either. It needs more pizazz. It needs more—
(JACK shoots the DIRECTOR down before he can make his next suggestion. He tosses the gun to DARLENE and runs. DARLENE stands alone—shocked, astonished, and appalled—looking at the gun in her hands, to the deceased DIRECTOR, and in the direction her former co-star ran. She drops the gun and runs offstage as well. Blackout.)
This is the first vignette in a play I am currently writing. It was inspired by an improv game played on Whose Line Is It Anyway? called “Hollywood Director”.