New Play Friday: FAR FROM PERFECT by Beverly Butler
Friday, May 1, 2015
About the playwright: Beverly Butler is an award-winning playwright and short story writer whose day job is senior vice president for Wells Fargo’s Treasury Management division at its headquarters in San Francisco. She began her career as a television news reporter and producer with the NBC affiliate in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, after receiving her BA in Theatre from Hope College in Holland, Michigan. She has worked in marketing, media relations, and communications for some of the countries’ biggest brands including The Gap, Inc., Hush Puppies, American Red Cross, Fireman’s Fund Insurance, Rockport Shoes, and American Cancer Society. Beverly is coproducing this season’s Playwrights Center of San Francisco Second Saturday Master Playwriting classes and serves on the boards of both Theatre Bay Area and PlayGround.
About the play: A friendship between two women is stretched to the breaking point after an incident sparks the realization they have different perspectives on the nature of fidelity, honesty and love.
Far from Perfect was given a staged reading in the Playwright Cabaret at the 2015 Theatre Bay Area Annual Conference. Original Playwright Cabaret cast: Genevieve Perdue (Joan) and Hilda Roe (Hope).
© 2015 Beverly Butler. The play cannot be performed without obtaining a license from the playwright. Inquiries about performance rights for Far from Perfect may be addressed to: Beverly Butler, firstname.lastname@example.org. All rights reserved. Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that performances of Far from Perfect are subject to royalty. It is fully protected under copyright laws of the United States of America, and of all countries covered by the International Copyright union (including the Dominion of Canada and the rest of the British Commonwealth), of all countries covered by the Pan-American Copyright Convention and the Universal Copyright Convention, and of all countries with which the United States has reciprocal copyright relations. All rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, video or sound taping, all other forms of mechanical or electronic reproductions, such as information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the rights of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved. Particular emphasis is laid upon the question of readings, permission for which must be secured from the author in writing.
Far From Perfect
Joan: 40-something woman in workout clothes, carrying a yoga mat and a water bottle, towel around her neck, sweating.
Hope: Joan’s best friend, also in her 40s. She is stretching on a yoga mat. Eyes closed.
An exercise room at a yoga studio. A mirror leans against one wall.
Hope is stretching on a yoga mat. Joan walks in.
Joan: Hey there, Hope.
Hope: Hi, Joan.
Joan: Whew. Good class. You, Little Miss Perfect, were late. And I’ve never seen you fall out of Half Moon Pose. Two yoga point demerits for you!
Joan puts down her mat and begins to stretch next to Hope.
Hope: Feeling a little off balance today, I guess.
Joan: You OK?
Joan: So...when are you going to tell Paul?
Hope: What? What are you talking about?
Joan: It’s a big city, Hope, but a small town. I saw you with a man last night that was, and I’m guessing here, um...maybe 20 years younger than your husband? He helped you out of your car on Battery Street. And I saw what happened next.
Hope: Well...wow. Small town indeed. Yah, it was amazing. (Smiling as if remembering) We caught each other’s eye while I was driving home. He was so handsome and tall; and he was just standing there when I stopped for a red light. We smiled at each other. I drove on about half a block. (Beat) And then I decided to go back.
Joan: Jesus Christ, Hope.
Joan gets on her feet, looking down at Hope.
Hope: I know. It sounds crazy.
Joan: It sounds like someone needs to get laid.
Hope: I pulled up to where I’d seen him and he was still there. He came up to the window and said, “Hello.” His breath smelled like peppermint and cigarettes. He asked me if I wanted to get a drink.
Joan: Who are you? And what did you do with my best friend? Remember her? The civil servant with two children, a husband, and a house in Pacific Heights? This is a joke, right? He’s really your nephew visiting from Des Moines. Tell me he’s a relative...
Joan sits down next to Hope.
Hope: He told me where to turn and where to park. That’s when you must have seen us. He took my hand to help me out of the car, and kept holding it as he led me toward the bar. And right before he opened the door, he drew me in to him and kissed me. It was a perfect kiss. The most perfect kiss of my entire life.
Joan: I can’t believe this, Hope. What were you thinking?
Hope: I was thinking how handsome and young he was and how the way he looked at me made me feel...I don’t know...like anything was possible. He ordered a bottle of Portuguese wine.
Joan: What did you talk about? Your kids? Your husband? That new PTA fundraiser you’re heading up?
Hope: We didn’t do too much talking. We drank and kissed. He told me I was beautiful. He had the softest, strongest hands. I felt like a teenager again. His touch was electric. My heart was pounding out of my chest. It was...God...I don’t know...just magical.
Joan: And so, I ask you again, when are you going to tell Paul?
Hope: (Confused) Why would I tell Paul anything? This has nothing to do with Paul.
Hope: No. Nothing at all. This is about me. And it’s mine. (Beat) It was stupid to tell you, but I thought you’d understand. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have said anything. Let’s just keep it at “visiting relative,” shall we?
Hope rises and begins rolling up her yoga mat.
Joan: Then I will tell Paul. This is not normal behavior and as your friend it’s my duty to step in when I think you need help.
Hope: Are you serious?
Joan: Oh, I’m dead serious.
Hope: Friends are supportive, happy for their friend’s happiness. Be happy for me. Be my friend. (Beat) Are you jealous?
Joan: Yah, right.
Hope: You are jealous. You wish you could have a little excitement in your life. But you’re too scared. You are jealous because I did something you want to do but won’t.
Joan: I love my husband. I don’t need what you need. (Beat) Jim and I are very happy.
Hope: And that’s why you read Fifty Shades of Gray over and over, because you feel so fulfilled? That’s why you record “One Life to Live” every day and watch it at midnight with your pals Ben and Jerry? Give me a break. Which one of us needs help? Hmmm...?
Joan: My guilty pleasures don’t involve a younger man, kissing, and wine.
Hope: But you wish.
Joan: I’m telling.
Joan: Yes. Paul has a right to know. (Beat) You may have a disease now.
Hope: It didn’t progress to the disease stage, Joan.
Joan: It doesn’t matter. You were unfaithful to Paul. You owe it to him.
Hope: Really? Why? What will that do? Make him feel bad, possibly make him not trust me...it could even damage our marriage, long term. So...explain to me exactly why I should tell him?
Joan: It’s the right thing to do.
Hope: Then prove it.
Joan: That it’s the right thing to do?
Hope: No, that it really happened. It’s just your word against mine.
The women pause, staring at each other. Hope finally throws her mat back down, and continues stretching.
Joan: Are you going to see him again?
Hope: Why? So you can follow me and take pictures?
Joan: I’m sorry. I just don’t want to see you get hurt. I don’t want your family to get hurt. If there’s an issue in your marriage, resolve it before you get involved with someone else.
Hope: It was a one-time thing. We finished the wine. I drove home. No big deal.
Joan: How can you be so sure?
Hope: He told me he’s always on that street. It’s his corner, so to speak.
Joan: What do you mean? (Realization dawns on her face.) He’s a hooker?
Hope: The male equivalent, yes. Do they call men hookers?
Joan: Oh, Hope. What did you do?
Hope: Well...I paid him.
Joan: What?! You’re joking, right?
Hope: I paid him for his time. And I bought the wine.
Joan: His time to drink with you or his time to...do...what?
Hope: I paid him for making me feel pretty again, okay? (Defensively) I paid him for making me believe I’m still desirable. I paid him for not asking my age and or whether I had kids or what kind of work I did. And I paid him for kissing me like I always wanted to be kissed. (She rolls up her mat and continues with more anger) I paid him because I needed so badly to feel something romantic and exciting again. And you know what? It was worth every penny. But remember, friend, none of this ever happened.
Joan: I don’t know you.
Hope: No, you don’t know me and you don’t know yourself.
Hope walks off, Joan looks after her and then in the mirror.
End of play.