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Monday, March 31, 2014

"The Last Resort" by Richard Grossman

I know that most readers of this blog come here for commentary concerning foreign affairs and economics, but perhaps you also have time to read a 10-minute play. Have you ever read or seen a 10-minute play? Humor me, and have a look at Richard Grossman's work (of course, no familial relation between the two of us). I won't spoil the ending, but the message is relevant to all of us. Enjoy!


THE LAST RESORT

by Richard Grossman
___________________________

A Ten Minute Play in One Act


Cast of Characters


Robert: a man in his 30’s and “Host” of The Last Resort

Marla: Middle aged wife of Ken dressed in tropical vacation clothes

Ken: Middle aged husband of Marla dressed in tropical vacation clothes

Dr. Zeus (Felix Krakelbanger): 65-year-old founder of The Last Resort dressed in ancient Greek garb with a plastic sword attached to his belt

Resort Staffer: Man in his 20’s in ancient Greek garb

“Policeman”: Man in his 30’s in a crude police uniform

SETTING: Outdoors in a tropical patio garden

AT RISE: Robert stands in the patio garden, and Marla and Ken enter


ROBERT
Welcome to the Last Resort! As you know, this is the vacation destination for people who have tried every way possible to have a satisfying, loving relationship and failed. I presume the two of you fit that description.

KEN
(grumbling)
Of course we do. Why the hell else would we have agreed to fly for 17 hours to the middle of nowhere.

MARLA
Please stop being so negative.

KEN
Why is that negative? I’m just telling the truth. Weren’t we on 3 planes for 17 hours?

MARLA
You see, this is what I’ve had to put up with for 22 years. I look around…we’re on the southern tip of Greece, one of the most beautiful places on earth. And we’re here because we’re going to save our marriage. What could possibly be better!

KEN
You really believe that? That this place is going to save our marriage? The problem is you believe everything you hear: this will help, this will help, that will help…and guess what: nothing helps. It’s all been a load of bull.

MARLA
It’s not bull. It’s just that…what did the shaman say at the last place we went? You just won’t let any of it in.

KEN
I don’t let it in because it’s all bull!
(to Robert)
You see, I’m like a bloodhound. I’m an expert at sniffing out the truth. And once I’m on the trail…but still, being the good husband that I am, I go, I try.
(to Marla)
And I’ll give this “healing vacation” a chance too if Mr. Host—Mr. Guide—or whatever he calls himself stops with the Madison Avenue sales pitch and gets on with it. The Last Resort! You’re right. It will be our last resort because this place is so expensive it’s sucked away every last bit of our savings. And what the hell is “a healing vacation” anyway?

ROBERT
(holds up hands)
Don’t worry. Everything will be explained in good time. But please, first I have just a few questions. Now I assume you’ve tried every other treatment method available: couples counseling, individual therapy, tapping, connecting with the dead
(points up and down)
rebirthing, re-discovering past lives?

MARLA
All of them.

ROBERT
How about Sky Falls?

MARLA
That’s when you jump together from a plane holding hands, right?

ROBERT
Yes. That’s it.

KEN
And you don’t let go of your spouse’s hand and pull the rip cords until the last possible moment? What a bunch of bull. After the third jump, the instructor was lucky I pulled my ripcord at all!

MARLA
Actually, they told you the reason it didn’t work was because each time, you let go of my hand too soon.

KEN
And you believed that. If only I held onto your hand longer, everything would have been wonderful! You see, more bull!

ROBERT
Have you tried finger wiggling?

MARLA
(excited)
Finger wiggling? What’s that? I’ve never heard of it. Is there a web site I can go to?

KEN
Oh please, Mr. Host! Don’t get her started on more crap. I’ve wiggled a finger plenty of times in my life.
(Ken holds middle finger up and waves it around)

ROBERT
No, not like that. Like this.
(Robert holds hands out in front of him and wiggles his fingers)

KEN
(sarcastically)
And that helps.

ROBERT
When you do it with your partner, the energy goes back and forth and you feel connected in a new way. Let’s all try it!
(all three hold their hands out in front of them and wiggle their fingers towards each other)

MARLA
(excited)
Woo!

ROBERT
See!

KEN
(moves his hands so they are facing each other and flutters his fingers)

Wooooo!
(sarcastically)
It feels even better this way. Who needs a partner?

ROBERT
(puts hands down)
It probably wouldn’t work with the two of you anyway.

MARLA
Why not?

ROBERT
The two of you make for a difficult case.

KEN
OK, then why don’t the two of us just hop on a plane and fly the 17 hours home and call it a day. You’ll send us a refund, right?

ROBERT
Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound discouraging! Actually, you’re in exactly the right place. We’re not called The Last Resort for nothing. In fact, this is probably the only place in the world that can help you.
(reaches for walkie-talkie and speaks into it)
We have another tough one.
(listens)
OK.
(to Marla and Ken)
I’ve been asked to inform you that you’re going to receive our elite treatment. It’s the treatment reserved for our toughest cases. In fact we call it the “last resort of The Last Resort.” And the only person qualified to do this treatment is the founder of The Last Resort himself.

MARLA
(excitedly) Dr. Krakelbanger? You mean we’re actually going to meet Dr. Felix Krakelbanger?!!!

ROBERT
Exactly, but I strongly suggest you call him Dr. Zeus.

(Dr. Zeus enters, dressed like Greek god with sword in sheath at his side. Robert bows and motions to couple to bow. Marla bows, Ken does nothing)

KEN
(laughs loudly)
Oh, for Christ’s sake!
(to Marla)
Why didn’t you tell me we were going to a costume party?

DR. ZEUS
Silence!
(Pulls out sword and holds it in a threatening position)

KEN
(rolls eyes)
Yes, but weren’t you the one who wrote One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and The Cat in the Hat?

DR. ZEUS
(Puts sword up to him)
Not Dr. Seuss! Dr. Zeus!
KEN
Whatever.
(Ken wiggles fingers towards Dr. Zeus. Dr. Zeus holds up sword as if he’s going to cut Ken’s fingers off)

DR. ZEUS
You think I’m a fool, don’t you—that I don’t know what I’m doing. But the fact is I know exactly how to treat people like you.

KEN
Really?

DR. ZEUS
The world has two kinds of people. There are people who, in order to survive the hardships of life, comfort themselves with fantasy and dreams. And there are people who can only see what’s real and quickly become bored and miserable. It is clear that you are one of the latter.

KEN
(pointing to Dr. Zeus’s garb)
And it’s clear that you are one of the former. So, “the last resort of The Last Resort” amounts to an epic battle between fantasy and reality.

DR. ZEUS
Exactly! Tie him up!

(Staffer rushes on stage and with Robert’s help tie Ken up)

KEN
Wait a second, these are real ropes!

(DR. ZEUS)
(to the Staffers)
Of course they are! Put him in the rowboat by himself. He gets the full treatment.

KEN
What? What rowboat? I thought this was supposed to be some kind of fantasy game.

DR. ZEUS
Hardly! The only cure for someone stuck in reality is more reality—infinitely more reality, so much reality that the only thing left for the mind to cling to is fantasy and dreams. This is what Odysseus discovered on his long voyage home to Penelope.

RESORT STAFFER
How far should we tow him out before we cut the line?

DR. ZEUS
(authoritatively)
300 miles.

KEN
(in disbelief)
300 miles?

RESORT STAFFER
We’ve never taken anyone that far before.

DR. ZEUS
Make sure he has enough provisions in the rowboat. And throw in a sextant, a map with instructions, and the usual copy of The Odyssey.

(The staffer and Robert start dragging Ken offstage)

KEN
Wait a second. You’re not playing fair! That’s real water out there, and I don’t know how to swim…
(staffer and Robert drag Ken offstage)

MARLA
(concerned)
But what will happen to him? He’s not going to die out there, is he?

DR. ZEUS
He’ll find his way back. They always do. And I promise, he’ll be a changed man. He will be faced with so much reality and suffering, he will finally accept dreams and fantasy. And the two of you will be able to live happily in the same world.


(everyone onstage freezes. Staffer walks across stage with a sign saying “One Month Later”)

(Robert comes on stage and announces:)

ROBERT
He’s back!

(Ken comes crawling on stage wearing shredded clothing, clutching The Odyssey. Marla rushes over)

MARLA
Are you OK?!!!

KEN
OK? I’m better than OK! Oh my God! What a tale I have to tell!
(climbs to his feet and motions audience to sit. All sit except for Dr. Zeus. Ken begins to orate grandly)
At first, the same every day. The sea, the sky, the swell, the clouds. Every day, pulling with my oars for hours and hours. And then…

DR. ZEUS
(equally grandly interrupts)
and then dreams and fantasy began to emerge. Because when reality is so stark, dreams and fantasies are essential. Their presence allows us to live!

KEN
Exactly, Dr. Seuss!

DR. ZEUS
Dr. Zeus!

KEN
(ignores correction)
Yes, dreams and fantasy became real! In fact, after a week I was certain I was Odysseus himself!

DR. ZEUS
(solemnly)
It happens every time.

KEN
(still grandly)
I rowed the boat between Scylla, the 6-headed Golden Retriever and Charybdis, the colossal whirlpool bath. Then I tied myself to the boat and listened to the Sirens sing.
You’ll never guess what they sang: Mahler! They didn’t lure me at all. I hate Mahler.
And what did I see just before arriving back? The Cyclops! That vicious one-eyed giant! But I wasn’t scared, not after what I learned at The Last Resort! I wiggled my fingers at him—and you know what? He wiggled his fingers right back! We both felt mahvelous!

MARLA
(excitedly, to Dr. Zeus)
Oh, my God! He’s a changed man!

DR. ZEUS
(grumpily)
I’m not sure.

KEN
And the best thing: I couldn’t wait to get back to you, dear!
(whispers to Marla)
I’m so horney, honey, I want to have sex with you 3 times a day!
(wiggles fingers toward Marla. Marla holds her hands to her face in dismay)
And you know what I think, Dr. Seuss?

DR. ZEUS
Dr. …
(gives up in disgust)

KEN
You’re going to win the Nobel Prize for literature!

DR. ZEUS
(angrily)
Medicine!

MARLA
(whispers to Dr. Zeus)
Dr. Zeus, is it possible you over-prescribed?

KEN
(to Marla)
Over prescribed? No!!! You said this place would work…I didn’t believe you. But you were right, dear! Do you hear me? “You were right, dear.” How many times have I ever said that? Consider me cured!

DR. ZEUS
Cured? You’re not cured! You continue to belittle dreams and fantasy!
(holds sword up to Ken)
Tie him up and send him out again! He needs another dose of mega-reality!

(Staffer and Robert move towards Ken)

KEN
Stop!
(to policeman offstage)
Arrest that man!
(“policeman” rushes onstage and handcuffs Dr. Zeus)

DR. ZEUS
For what?

KEN

Blatant misuse of fantasy.

DR. ZEUS
Blatant misuse of fantasy? There’s no such crime!

KEN
Yes there is. I imagined it in the rowboat.
(takes Dr. Zeus’s sword and snaps it in half over knee)

DR. ZEUS
And this is no law officer!

KEN
OK, maybe not. A longshoreman I promised a hundred bucks to? Who cares! Take him away!
(“policeman” pulls Dr. Zeus offstage. Ken addresses Marla)
Darling, thank you so much for suggesting The Last Resort! You were right: There’s no place like it on earth!
(gives Marla a hug and kiss)
I can’t tell you how much better I feel!

MARLA
But what’s going to happen to Dr. Zeus?

KEN
He’s going to be towed out to the ocean in the same rowboat with a copy of Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea. By the time he gets back, I bet he’ll see reality in a whole different light.

THE END

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