New Play Friday: THE INTERVIEW (OR) THE TRANSPLANT VENOM CALLED CLAUSTROPHOBIA by Chase Ramsey
Friday, May 15, 2015
About the playwright: Chase Ramsey is currently the casting director and artistic fellow at The Cutting Ball Theater in San Francisco. Founder of Warboy Theatre Projects, Connections Theatre Project and artistic director of FantasyCon. Past work has been seen recently with Berkeley Rep, Guthrie, Cal Performances, Campo Santo, Cutting Ball, Sundance, Salt Lake Acting Company, Hale Centre Theatre, Scera and Utah Valley University. Awarded 2014 SDC Observership. Chase is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and represented by Stars Management: San Francisco and TMG: Utah. Chase-ramsey.com.
About the play: The Interview (or) The Transplant Venom Called Claustrophobia is a tragicomedy in one act and absurdist play, in which Melrose and Bug discover the meaningless tragedy in having a job and its introduction to the satire of the mind at work. It will be a part of the 2015 San Francisco Fringe Festival showing in the Exit Theater.
The Interview (or) The Transplant Venom Called Claustrophobia was given a staged reading in the Playwright Cabaret at the 2015 Theatre Bay Area Annual Conference. Original Playwright Cabaret cast: Justin Gillman (Melrose), Paul Rodrigues (Bug).
© 2015 Chase Ramsey. The play cannot be performed without obtaining a license from the playwright. Inquiries about performance rights for The Interview (or) The Transplant Venom Called Claustrophobia may be addressed to: Chase Ramsey, email@example.com. 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.
The Interview (or) The Transplant Venom Called Claustrophobia
A man enters and we see streams of light fall on his dark and tired face.
Bug: In Greek mythology, Sisyphus the King was punished for what has been described as chronic deceitfulness. His punishment: to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, repeating this action day after day... Forever. And so it is...
We hear a knock at the door. Exit BUG. Voices are heard in whisper. A violin plays. A man sits in a chair center stage in a dark and silent space. A few moments pass before a sound is made. We hear the tapping of feet and crinkling of paper.
Melrose: I can't seem to find my pen... It was a good pen, one with character. Smart. Stylized. I can feel a tantrum coming. A stress bubble... Right here in my chest. Where does it come from I wonder. Nowhere I am sure.
The sound of shoes walking back and forth for a moment.
Melrose (cont’d): I'm missing many buttons. How can something hold without buttons. So it is with the dark.
MELROSE crinkles paper.
MELROSE finds a space in the room.
Melrose (cont’d): When the time comes.
Light fills the space.
MELROSE sits in the chair center stage. He waits patiently experiencing nerves and tics.
MELROSE taps his leg, looks at his watch, clears his nose and begins.
Melrose (cont’d): Will they like me? Will they let me in?
A moment of nerves.
Melrose (cont’d): And I wait.
A moment of nerves.
Melrose (cont’d): It is a test. I'm sure. But my pen. Where could it be... In a ditch, alone, hurt. Well, it's a pen.
A moment of nerves.
Melrose (cont’d): The surroundings are against me, I can feel that certainly... Oh... I can feel that certainly.
Melrose (cont’d): They... Took it. I believe they took it. A test it must be. As I said before it is a test. My first task is to seek the lost pen. I shall succeed as I need this spot more than all others present. They need nothing. They need but a proper place to feel stimulated... They need masturbation.
Melrose (cont’d): Where is it.
MELROSE paces the floor moving things. He looks in the most peculiar of places and has no luck.
Melrose (cont’d): Trouble, that's what this place is. Full of trouble. (A beat.) I'm sure I like trouble. If this is trouble then I'm sure I like it. Does it matter? Does it matter if I like trouble? I will be trouble soon I am certain of this.
A moment of thought.
Melrose (cont’d): The plant. The shrub. How could I forget nature. Although nature is often forgotten by us common troublemakers. It... Must... Be...
MELROSE searches the plant and finds the pen.
Melrose (cont’d): Yes. Here it is. The almighty pen. The pen, P.E.N. It is secured with me as I have said it would be. I never lie and yet I will not discuss honesty here. So the first test is a success. Should I stand and own it. Proceed down and out? No...
Melrose (cont’d): (Yelling) I HAVE FOUND IT. YOU COULD NOT KEEP IT FROM ME. I AM READY FOR THE NEXT...
BUG, a small man with big glasses and a simple cane meant to hold his weight scampers into the room nearly falling over his own feet. He is clearly flustered and uncomfortable. As he stops near MELROSE he attempts to quiet him. The dialog occurs together.
Melrose: TEST. I AM READY FOR THE NEXT TEST. I SAID I AM READY.
Bug: Please... Will you... If I can... Thank you for... I.
MELROSE sees BUG.
Melrose: Yes, are you...?
Bug: The man.
Melrose: The man?
Bug: Yes, the man.
Melrose: Do you...?
Bug: Know who you are?
Melrose: That seems rude.
Bug: It may. I mean nothing by it.
Melrose: Is this a place of trouble? I feel it is a place of trouble. Troubled rooms.
Bug: That seems rude.
Melrose: I mean nothing by it.
Bug: I may speak candidly but I don't know who you are. You could be a robber or a racist. We don't allow those here.
Melrose: I am neither of those things, and, I am a name. The option. I am here to decide whether I like trouble or not. Although it makes no difference whether I like trouble.
Bug: No need to dislike it.
Melrose: (Re: the cane) Is that yours?
Bug: It hasn't always been.
Melrose: So you’re crippled?
Bug: We are all crippled with time. It's these walls.
Melrose: Yes, I've been told that pink walls help for concentration. It must be hard to concentrate with... That.
Bug: It looks better if you close your eyes.
Melrose: As does it all.
Bug: So/to the task.
Melrose: (Excited now.) Will you ask me questions?/I feel it is important that you ask me questions.
Bug: The Interview? Such a silly word now that I think of it. I'm sure it was created by an ancient civilization that felt proud with their buoyant creation. I think we should name it something simple and skip the intellectual grandaunt of perpetual democracy.
Melrose: You have a lot of thought on the subject.
Bug: Well, I should shouldn't I? It is what I have come to devour each day as I am pouring my soul into continuous and continuous motion. Continuous. I do not want to sound blunt... But, the word interview is shit. We will now describe this experience we are about to have... Shit.
Melrose: I like it.
Bug: Of course you do. Now, to the shit. I will go get my chair. Sitting is important I hear.
Melrose: (A long pause; MELROSE is deep in thought.) Very Dangerous.
BUG walks back in the same way he came before and he is holding a folding chair and a clipboard. The chair is covered in rust and looks as though it is a hundred years old. The process of setting up his chair takes a long time. He is making sure it is perfect and that the environment is right. He clears his throat and fights through a moment of pain.
Bug: (Looking on his clipboard) Yes... So...
Bug: No. Stop...
Bug (cont’d): Shake hands...
They shake hands.
Bug (cont’d): Sit down.
They sit down.
Bug (cont’d): (Reading directly from the clipboard) What do you do? And where do you do it?
Melrose: This is a puzzling question. I don't often bill myself as a doer, although I like to do things when they should be done. Location is also puzzling because it is irrelevant to the activities in question. There is never a time I did something in a location I was specifically proud of and so discussing what I do and where I do it seems like an inappropriate question and I would answer it with a, NO. Thank you for asking.
Bug: (Nodding his head in agreement) Seems honest. (Clipboard) Has there ever been a time...
Melrose: You have done this for many years you said.
Bug: I will be asking the questions. That's what the paper says.
Melrose: Do you always do what the paper says. That seems like shit.
Bug: Exactly. As I said before... This is shit.
Bug: It says you get angry.
Bug: Why would it say that.
Melrose: Because I get angry.
Melrose: Outstanding question. Let me think... (A beat.) I get angry because of control.
Bug: Ah yes.
Melrose: It's common isn't it?
Bug: I'm not a doctor.
Melrose: Yes, but you have been angry.
Bug: Once or twice.
Melrose: Have you counted?
Bug: Four times.
Melrose: Then you are a master.
Bug: I try to stay in control. It calms me.
Melrose: You get to choose?
Bug: I decide when the lights go on and when they go off.
Melrose: Is that your job?
Melrose: -Would that be my job?
Bug: I ask the questions. It says that on the paper.
Melrose: Do you always do what the paper says?
Melrose: (A beat.) Make it dark.
Bug: It would be painful.
Melrose: Confusing. It would be confusing.
Bug: Confusion is painful... Is this your anger?
Melrose: It's everyone's.
Bug: Not mine.
Melrose: Are you sure? It must be.
Bug: Not mine. I saw a young boy pull an arm off a kitten when I was eighteen. Things were different then.
Melrose: (To himself) What did he say...? About...? The...?
Bug: You’re mumbling.
Bug: What is it?
Melrose: Grey... Grey told me something important. We were in the grass sipping wine like two old men who had passed the prime and settled in small breaths and cheap clothes. It was on a hill and under a tree.
Bug: I don't know a Grey.
Melrose: He said to me... He said... "The only form of suffering is non-acceptance." He said that.
Bug: So the darkness?
Melrose: Yes. It isn't so simple. Not simple no.
Bug: If I turn off the lights it becomes dark.
Melrose: I assume.
Bug: And the dark brings non-acceptance.
Melrose: It is so.
Bug: And non-acceptance brings...
Melrose: It's a symbol I suppose.
Bug: Of what Melrose?
Melrose: Of light and dark.
Bug: So it is.
Melrose: You know my name?
Bug: We shook hands.
Melrose: Ah yes. The paper is full of surprises.
Bug: You should know. You wrote it. It's your handwriting.
Melrose: Your name sir?
Bug: It's complicated.
Melrose: A symbol?
Bug: Not proud.
Melrose: Can you say it?
Bug: If you don't corpse yourself.
Melrose: Laugh? I can't promise.
Bug: I'll get the lights.
Melrose: Would that make it easier.
Bug: I don't know.
Melrose: Why must you do it?
Bug: To remain in control.
Melrose: That seems a contradiction.
Bug: Contradiction? How funny.
Bug: The word.
Melrose: Go ahead.
Bug: You're ready?
Melrose: No. But I never will be.
Bug: Then let's remain.
Melrose: Do it.
Bug: I can't.
Melrose: If I...
Bug: You can't.
Melrose: The rules are clear?
Bug: Certain. It says it here...
Melrose: ... On the paper.
Melrose: I found my pen earlier, as I had lost it.
Bug: Another symbol?
Melrose: A test.
Bug: Aren't they the same?
Melrose: Wait... The pen.
Bug: And the paper.
Melrose: Let me try.
MELROSE leans forward and begins to scribble on the page with his pen. BUG begins to panic and tries to stop MELROSE.
Bug: No. Stop. Please. Not that. I can’t. Why?
Melrose: You’re free.
Bug: (He takes this in for a moment.) Free? No.
Melrose: Stop looking at the paper.
Bug: I can't.
Melrose: You can.
MELROSE runs to the wall and we see a small light switch. BUG again begins to panic while holding tightly to his chair.
Bug: No... No. NO. NO. NO. DON'T!
MELROSE flips the switch and the lights go out. BUG begins to trail out of panic.
Bug: No... No...
A long beat ensues. After a moment we hear MELROSE speak.
Melrose: How did I do?
Bug: Leave ambition out of it.
Melrose: Oh. Yes.
Bug: You should stay.
Melrose: And work here I suppose.
Melrose: Thanks to the pen...
Bug: (A beat.) ...They call me “Bug.”
Melrose: I understand that.
Bug: Not funny?
Melrose: Very funny. You can't see me laughing because of the dark.
Bug: Get the lights.
MELROSE flips the lights and again reveals the space.
Bug: We should start.
Melrose: Yes, then we can end.
Bug: Let me send the rest away.
BUG walks towards the audience and begins to shew them away. He takes a few moments to try and get them to leave. BUG then turns back to MELROSE.
Bug (cont’d): They won’t leave.
MELROSE walks and stands next to BUG, staring at the audience. They both try to shew everyone out. They share a glance with each other. BUG clears his throat again and experiences a little more pain.
Melrose: I suppose we should pretend they're not here.
Bug: I suppose.
BUG walks, and begins to drag a large trunk on stage. He takes a moment to adjust it so it is perfectly straight.
Melrose: To work then?
Bug: A moment.
BUG again moves the trunk very slightly towards perfection.
Melrose: To work then.
Bug: (To himself) Unrepresentable.
Melrose: Is that a word.
Bug: Of course it is.
Melrose: In what dictionary?
Bug: Well... There are many dictionaries explaining many different words. It's a word cause I just said it. Does that not make it one?
Melrose: I suppose it does.
Bug: Such it is.
Melrose: Like Roses.
Melrose: Tap Dancing.
Bug: I feel frustrated with the fates that rule this room.
BUG begins to adjust in frustration.
Melrose: Does it matter?
Bug: I remember someone telling me it does.
Melrose: Then it must.
Bug: Or mustn't.
Melrose: (An offer.) Should I...?
Bug: You shouldn't.
Melrose: I seem to remember a...
Bug: -I can get it perfect...
Melrose: -A parable of sorts...
Bug: -Almost there...
Melrose: -About a blind man seeking...
Bug: -GOT IT. Perfect.
Melrose: Do you know this?
Bug: The parable?
Melrose: About the blind man who-
Bug: -Yes, I know it no need for repeats. (A beat.) Now, to open it.
Melrose: Allow me.
MELROSE opens it quickly, without a thought. He throws the lid back and gives us a "tah-dah."
Bug: We will be fired for this.
BUG quickly and gently closes the trunk.
Bug (cont’d): I shall teach you how.
Melrose: I'll try to listen.
Bug: Grasp the nose, pull gently up, release gently downward, then calm your hands... Like so.
BUG begins to cough and begins to breathe very heavily. He falls to the side of the trunk and begins to gasp for air. MELROSE goes to his aid. It ceases and they return to business.
Bug (cont’d): And so it goes.
Melrose: (In a gentle voice, like a child) Grasp the nose, pull gently up.
MELROSE gets nervous.
Bug: Release gently...
Melrose: Release gently downward, then calm your hands.
BUG repeats "calm your hands" motion with MELROSE.
Bug: (Still recovering) Bravo, Melrose. This is very important.
Melrose: It does seem important doesn't it? I wonder which governing power released the responsibility to us. Could there be any other life?
Bug: Not that I know of. This is life.
Melrose: Oh. The Import.
Bug: (Confused by his choice of word) Important.
Melrose: (Not quite correct) Importance...
Bug: Yes. That's the one. (A beat.) Now, our J.O.B.
BUG carefully reaches into the trunk and pulls out a paper kite and a marker. MELROSE is confused. MELROSE reaches in and pulls out the same.
Melrose: (Speculating) A kite.
Melrose: A pen.
Melrose: I already have a pen.
Bug: Not like this one.
Melrose: (A beat.) Exactly like this one.
Bug: Well... I don't make the rules here.
Melrose: Yes, I suppose you don't... (A beat.) But who does?
Bug: Ambition Melrose... Best we don't pry.
Melrose: It doesn't look like any boss types are about.
Melrose: You know... Our leader... The one who provided the pen.
Bug: I provided the pen.
Melrose: No... The one who told you to provide it.
Bug: Best we don't pry.
Melrose: I wonder where it lives... What it looks like...
Bug: It is a man.
Melrose: How can you be sure?
Bug: Because that's the way it goes.
Melrose: So it is... It's a confused business. It's just private parts that makes the judgment. But I guess that's one man’s opinion.
Bug: We shouldn't have opinions.
Melrose: Well, that's your opinion.
Bug: Round and round it goes.
Melrose: Yes, silly business.
Bug: To work then?
Melrose: For now.
Bug: Like I said.
Melrose: That does seem like a long time... Forever.
Bug: Yes... But it's who we are now.
Melrose: Our identities.
Bug: So... The kite.
Melrose: This kite?
Bug: It needs detail. Those deciding it is fit for play want to know fun resides. We provide strikes of joy to each part of this plan bringing it life and personality. Then it sells. Tiz a very important job, yes, one of the most important jobs man attends to. Without us there is not life.
Melrose: Oh, very important.
Bug: Let me teach you. And...
BUG chooses a corner of the kite and begins to slowly mark little lines almost like tally marks. After a moment he encourages MELROSE to join him. MELROSE begins.
After a long moment of work.
Melrose: (Repeating in whisper) Without us there is not life. No life... This work is very important.
After a few moments a MAN with a very sleek suit, clean-shaven and boss-looking, comes into the room. He is carrying a clipboard and briefcase. He stares for a moment, sets down his briefcase and starts to make his notes on the clipboard. MELROSE stares until BUG gets him back to work.
Man: Tell me what you know.
Bug: My times tables.
Man: Where does one begin and the other end?
Bug: South America.
Man: How many languages?
Bug: Three, sir.
Man: Give a formal greeting in these languages.
Bug: American: Hello, how are you today? British: Hello, how do you do? Russian: Hello, you are doing good, yes?
Man: Blow me a kiss.
BUG blows a kiss.
Man: (To MELROSE) You. What's today?
Melrose: Um... Wednesday.
Bug: It is today, sir.
Man: Correct, no need to be specific.
Melrose: Yes, sir.
Man: Paperwork, in the other place, over there tells me to speak gently in an encouraging way. It says to be honest in my compliments. So my honesty is this: You are not the boss and you are not free... That ends the compliment. Please get back to the most important thing and...
The MAN looks at his clipboard; doesn't finish his thought. After some time the MAN picks up his briefcase takes a big deep breath and exits.
Bug: That was him.
Melrose: You were right.
Melrose: It's a man.
Melrose: I aspire to that.
Bug: Being a man?
Melrose: He has passed many tests.
Bug: None to be proud of.
Melrose: I don't need to be proud.
Bug: I can't argue that. (A beat.) Many wish to be there.
Bug: They never seem to grasp it. Some are made for kites.
Melrose: Are you made for kites?
Bug: Happily, I am. Content. Scared. Content.
Melrose: It's either this or that.
Bug: Always this or that.
Melrose: Are you scared of that?
Bug: As I am scared of this.
Melrose: Like the dark.
Bug: Ah. You made it a symbol.
Melrose: It is.
Bug: Like the dark, yes.
Melrose: And yet... We live in both. The dark and the light. As it has always been.
Bug: I don't think we were made for both.
Melrose: And here we are. A couple of perverts reaching for the stars.
Bug: I never liked that saying.
Melrose: Have you been called pervert often?
Bug: Yes. Isn't that obvious.
Bug: The thing about the stars.
Melrose: They’re far away?
Bug: Who said?
Melrose: Someone famous.
Bug: Then it must be true.
Melrose: Yes, it must.
MELROSE begins to whistle a tune. BUG begins to enjoy as though he has not heard music in a long while. BUG begins to smile and thoroughly enjoy himself. He laughs and bobs along as the two taste the flavor of camaraderie. BUG experiences a small cough. The moment passes.
Bug: The moment passes.
Melrose: The trunk stays.
Bug: Yes, the trunk stays.
BUG walks over to the trunk repeats the steps and pulls out two small stacks of paper and one marker. He brings them over to MELROSE.
Bug: This is the most important job you can do.
Melrose: Is it?
Bug: Of course it is.
Melrose: No time to lose.
BUG again begins to cough as before and falls to the ground searching for his shallow breath. MELROSE rushes to him. It begins to pass. They return to business... As it always is.
Bug: (Ignoring the pain) Write a name at the top.
Melrose: (Re: the marker) We need two of those.
Bug: Today we have this. There were cutbacks.
Melrose: But it is of import that we do this.
Bug: That's what they tell us. (A moment of thought.) Start with a name.
Melrose: A name?
Bug: (Writing) A name.
Melrose: Which did you choose?
Bug: (Reading) Richard Column.
Melrose: Do you know this man?
Bug: Not so much.
Melrose: Was he in the war?
Bug: Yes. Like the rest of us.
Melrose: He has good language?
Bug: Very good language.
Melrose: Hand it to me. I will write his name as well.
A moment passes.
Bug: Then we make two boxes.
Melrose: Show me.
Bug: Four sides. A box.
Melrose: Very good. That's very good. You have done this before.
Bug: Oh yes. Many times.
MELROSE draws his boxes.
Bug: Above one write the word YES.
Melrose: As in?
Bug: As in: Yes, I shovel coal for cripples.
Bug: The other write NO.
Bug: As in: No, it doesn't feel good.
Melrose: Ah. Finished.
Bug: And it's over.
Melrose: Just like that?
Bug: The most important.
Melrose: Will I ever see this product.
Bug: Perhaps, if you are allowed to vote one day this will be your ballot.
BUG puts the marker in his pocket.
Bug: And again.
Melrose: And again.
Bug: And again.
Melrose: Ah yes.
They sit for a moment.
Melrose (cont’d): No more words. Now we are stuck.
Bug: Like marriage.
Melrose: What makes you say that?
Bug: I heard it said... From a man... Working by the sea. He wore a hat.
Melrose: A hat?
Bug: Yes. A sea hat.
Melrose: Ah yes.
Bug: He was sitting eating a sandwich from his lunch canister.
Melrose: What kind?
Bug: Mustard and Ham.
Bug: After a moment he paused and stared out to sea as I have often done when drunk on the stuff. He said in a man’s voice, "Marriage... I am surely stuck."
Melrose: I envy him.
Melrose: Oh no... Lunch.
Bug: (Spelling out) S.T.U.C.K.
Melrose: It's business isn't it?
Bug: Depends what you define as business...
Melrose: I have never researched it although some say "business is life."
Bug: Yes. I believe the opposite.
Melrose: Opposite of life?
Melrose: You believe this to be-
Bug: -Death. Yes.
Melrose: Surely this is a place of trouble.
Bug: (Looking around the room) I signed a paper. The paper told me to never speak of this. It is law.
Melrose: Law? To lie?
Bug: (It's all clear now.) It's suicide...
Bug: To tell truths. This work... Business... It's-
Something shifts as MELROSE has an idea. We begin to lightly hear sounds, voices, creaks. The lights begin to slowly dim around BUG and MELROSE. The sound will get louder as the intensity of the scene progresses. The lights dim as the intensity of the scene progresses. This happens until it no longer happens. Watch carefully.
Melrose: -I have a solution to our being... Stuck. If I follow my heart through that door there into the next room with the man; where others place their faith and seem to explore-
Melrose (cont’d): (Laughing with him) You’re right... Faith... I don't know why I would use profanity.
Bug: What a nasty word.
Melrose: (Fixated, changing) Yes... I will go into that door. I will make an attempt as I did earlier today... Or was it yesterday... When I was here searching for my pen and attempting to accomplish the test... I will go in there and search again, or surrender to whatever is needed. I think I feel a bit of energy today.
Bug: Careful now. They have pills for that.
Melrose: Pills, pills for everything.
Bug: And anything.
Melrose: Have you taken time to notice?
Bug: I try not to.
Melrose: The patterns that exist...
Bug: We have work to do.
Melrose: That door is a fossil...
Bug: (Referring to the trunk) Pesticides, braces.
Melrose: Detailed and scaled like a tree trunk.
Bug: Pennies, perfume.
Melrose: This room feels darker, and that one light...
Bug: Nope. The same. Bright as day.
Melrose: I think out is the way in.
Bug: Contradictions. Contradictions.
Melrose: On the way out... I should get the lights?
Bug: What for?
Bug: What about me?
Melrose: I can't think of that now. Two is too many to keep your eye on at once.
Bug: Aspirations seem to be changing you.
Melrose: Change... Yes. That's the word. Change, always change.
Melrose: The door is where I make change.
Bug: It comes at a price.
Melrose: Being stuck is the best possible thing.
Bug: I can't help you in there.
Melrose: I will stand taller.
Bug: Work to do...
Melrose: I will wear socks in there.
Bug: You don't need socks.
Melrose: That room will be filled with a hundred pens.
Bug: You only need one.
Melrose: And I will wear suits.
Bug: I don't control anything.
Melrose: And suits.
Melrose: And suits.
Melrose: (Yelling) I WILL BE THE MAN!
Melrose: I WILL BE HIM.
All sounds and intensity cease to one light from off stage. The sound of a door opening and MELROSE walks toward the light. He is changed now.
Bug: (Whispering) The boss.
MELROSE exits and it becomes light.
Bug (cont’d): I wasn't expecting that. Or... I was. Surprise! It happens at least once a day... Yes, we knew it all along I suppose. Contradictions, contradictions leaving each face to droop a little bit lower.
Bug (cont’d): I'm tired. I'm sure these bulbs need a change, a proper recycled trade in I suppose. When they flicker... I flicker. Now that made since, the first since I have heard since... Since...
Bug (cont’d): I'm tired. It feels as though my pants are loose. Not much food today... What was it the philosopher said about a loose belt...
Bug (cont’d): I am truly tired. Could use a cup of... What do they call the... The stuff to cure a tired morning... Or afternoon, I never really know. It doesn't need a name in order to drink.
BUG stumbles to the trunk and looks inside. He pulls out the kite and reaches into his pocket for the marker. As he pulls the marker out a piece of paper falls out with it. He unfolds the piece of paper to reveal there is nothing but a circle drawn on it.
Bug (cont’d): This... this paper... from... from Bug. Bug. The shape. The shape he spoke of before. "A symbol" he said. Always a symbol.
BUG looks for a long moment.
Bug (cont’d): Sisyphus... I understand. A circle. A boulder... He goes there. He comes here. I stay right where I was yesterday. Pushing... Uphill.
Bug (cont’d): It is a circle, a hill. I understand business. I understand work. If work is death then death is freedom. Without passion we are oysters in a can waiting for-
Just then we hear a knock at the door. Opposite side to where MELROSE ascended.
Bug (cont’d): What?
BUG waits for another knock. When it comes he begins to quickly clean up his things, put them in the trunk and hurry away. In the last moment BUG flips off the lights leaving us in darkness.
We hear someone enter the space with dragging shoes and loud breath. He sits down in a chair. He crinkles paper, taps his shoe, and it repeats.
Man: I can't seem to find my pen... It was a good pen, one with character. Smart. Stylized. I can feel a tantrum coming. A stress bubble... Right here in my chest. Where does it come from I wonder. Nowhere I am sure. I'm-
Just then the lights turn on and BUG enters the room. The MAN sitting is very familiar; we have seen him before but with cleaner clothes and a straighter back. This MAN is a deformation of what we saw. No longer the boss but the unemployed. On the contrary, BUG is reformed from what we saw.
Bug: I am the man.
Man: Yes, so am I.
Bug: I will match your posture and we will start.
Man: So you know me?
Bug: Yes, and you know me. From another life.
Man: Another. Yes.
Bug: Stay here with your ignorance a while. I must prepare... Something. I must prepare something. You have big shoes to fill.
Bug: Yes, I know it seems silly.
Man: But I'm here for-
Bug: Yes, I know. To contradict. To poison. To dream. (A change.) To change. While the walls stay the same. I am a wall. (A beat.) I don't know where to begin without the paper. I'll be back... Help yourself to... Uh...
BUG looks around and there is nothing to help himself to. He exits. He returns a moment later with the clipboard and the chair. He sets the chair down without a care as to its placement. He begins to take off his shoes.
Bug (cont’d): Do you like symbols?
Man: Symbols? Yes. I think I do? Do you have a definition?
Bug: Not today. Your name... Your name is “Bug” now.
Man: I don't think-
Bug: -Don't think, yes very good.
BUG's shoes are now removed. He stands.
Bug (cont’d): Now, Bug. Come sit here, on this piece of history.
Man: I want to-
Bug: -Come sit, please.
The MAN trades chairs.
Bug (cont’d): Take off your shoes and slip into mine.
The MAN hesitates and proceeds. BUG dresses MAN.
Bug (cont’d): Here is your hat, glasses, and most importantly... Your paper. Do what the paper says; it's important.
BUG breathes deep.
Bug (cont’d): This is a test. Stay here and see it through. You will know what to do... I am sure you will know what to do.
BUG turns to leave and then turns back. BUG hands the MAN his paper with a circle on it.
Bug (cont’d): This shape. A circle. It is a symbol. You will understand in time.
BUG exits. The MAN sits for a moment and then starts again.
Man: My first task is to seek the lost pen. I shall succeed as I need this spot more than all others present. They need nothing. They need but a proper place to feel stimulated... They need masturbation... I am-
A gunshot from offstage.
The MAN looks toward the sound for a moment. He contemplates. MAN slowly looks down at the paper and reads.
Man (cont’d): Step One: The-
We hear a knock at the door.
The MAN folds the chair and brings it out along with the trunk. He takes a moment to stare towards the direction of the knock.
We hear the knock again.
The MAN looks at the door and then down at the paper.
Man: “The Interview.”
The MAN walks over and turns out the light switch.
End of Play.