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I'd Rather Eat Glass [Part I]


CHARACTERS:
BILLINGS, an accountant
MADRIGAL, a British movie starlet
PAUL, a lumberjack
LAUREN, a waitress
WOMAN, a housewife
TEDDY, an electrical technician
ALICIA, a businesswoman

SCENE: an elevator in an office building

AT RISE: BILLINGS is pushing the button and waiting impatiently for the elevator.

(BILLINGS looks at his watch.)

BILLINGS. I donít have time for this...

(The elevator arrives and he steps inside. BILLINGS pushes the button for the floor he is going to. He sighs in frustration when the elevator stops at the next floor. MADRIGAL enters the elevator. She pushes a button also.)

Um, maíam?
MADRIGAL. Yes?
BILLINGS. Well, you see, Iím sort of in a hurry... would you mind waiting until I get off?
MADRIGAL. I beg your pardon, but I have already pushed the button. I canít stop it now.
BILLINGS. I suppose.
MADRIGAL. Really!
(They turn away from each other. The elevator stops again.)

BILLINGS. No! Isnít there anyway to make this thing skip a floor?

(He jabs at the button.)

Iím terribly late for my meeting already. You understand.
MADRIGAL. No, I donít suppose I do. It is courteous to wait for other passengers. Besides, the elevator has already stopped.
(PAUL enters the elevator.)

PAUL. Why, hello there! How are all you folks today?
MADRIGAL. Iím doing splendidly, thank you.
BILLINGS. Iím in a hurry, sir, so if you donít mind...
PAUL. Oh, of course. Sorry to have troubled you.
(They ride a few moments in silence.)

So... where are you folks headed? That is, you two are married, ainít you?
MADRIGAL. We most certainly are not!
BILLINGS. I donít even know the womanís name!
PAUL. Well, weíd better be making up for lost time then! Iím Paul, and you are...?
MADRIGAL. Madrigal. Madrigal Benchley. (hopefully) Perhaps youíve heard of me?
PAUL. Why no, I canít say as I have... but I mightíve...
BILLINGS. Blast it! Does this elevator have to stop at every floor?
PAUL. And you sir, whatís your name?
BILLINGS. My name is Billings...
PAUL. Right then. Mr. Billings, meet Miss Madrigal. Miss Madrigal, Mr. Billings.
MADRIGAL. Charmed...
(LAUREN enters the elevator.)

PAUL. Hello there, maíam. Iím Paul, and this is Madrigal and Billings.
LAUREN. Um, hello...
PAUL. They ainít married, if thatís what youíre thinking.
LAUREN. Well no, actually, I wasnít--
PAUL. ís all right, I made the same mistake myself. (Pause.) Are you married?
LAUREN. I donít see how--
PAUL. Well, how peculiar! All you lovely people, here together in this elevator, and not a one of you attached!
BILLINGS. Hold on a minute now. I only said I wasnít married to her. How do you know Iím not married to someone else?
PAUL. Well, are you?
BILLINGS. Well... no.
PAUL. Miss Madrigal?
MADRIGAL. No.
PAUL. Well then. Itís all fine, then.
BILLINGS. Why are you so interested in whether weíre married or not?
PAUL. I just wanted to see if these two lovely young ladies had been snatched up yet. You? Just curiosity, I guess.
LAUREN. I hate to interrupt... but why arenít we moving?
MADRIGAL. Did you push the button, darling?
BILLINGS. Of course she did. So did I.
MADRIGAL. Well, thereís no need to bite my head off!
PAUL. Hold it, now. Why donít we just try again?

(He pushes the button. Nothing happens.)
BILLINGS. Blast! If this thing doesnít get moving, Iíll completely miss my meeting!
(He begins pounding on the walls.)
Help! Somebody let us out!
LAUREN. Nobody can hear you.
BILLINGS. And youíve got a better idea?
PAUL. Goshdarn it, Billings, youíve plumb forgot about the telephone.
BILLINGS. What?
PAUL. They always have a telephone in case of an emergency. Even a country boy like me knows that.
LAUREN. Iím in no hurry to get anywhere. Is it really an emergency?
BILLINGS. It most certainly is!
MADRIGAL. Well, stop babbling and use the phone!
(BILLINGS picks up the phone.)

BILLINGS. Thereís no dial tone.
MADRIGAL. The power must have gone out.
LAUREN. I suppose weíll just have to wait.
(PAUL and LAUREN sit.)

PAUL. We might as well get to know each other. It looks like we might be here for awhile.
BILLINGS. Theyíll get us any minute.
LAUREN. Relax. Youíre not going to make your meeting, so why worry about it?
PAUL. Who wants to go first?
BILLINGS. What is this, kindergarten? ďWait for your turn.Ē ďShare the blocks.Ē ďRaise your hand if you need to go to the bathroom.Ē
LAUREN. Speaking of the bathroom...
BILLINGS. I donít care if I know anything about you people. In fact, I already know more than I want to about you.
PAUL. Hey now, that isnít very nice.
MADRIGAL. For goodnessí sakes! Iíll go first, if it will make you all happy.
PAUL. Oh yes, maíam. Weíd be delighted.
(MADRIGAL strikes a pose.)
MADRIGAL. It was early on the morning of May seventeenth, nineteen eighty-three. Dawn was just breaking. All was quiet until...

(She screams.)

A cry shattered the silence. And into the world came Madrigal Eloise Benchley!

(PAUL and LAUREN, awestruck, applaud.)

Wait, wait, Iím not finished. Madrigal, known to her closer friends as Maddy, grew up in an upper class family. When she was seven years old, she went to see a play. Immediately she knew her destiny: to be an actress, a star of stage and screen! ddy worked feverishly to achieve her dream. At last, one day, she got her big break: a film called The Yellowbird Gang. After that, she was in constant demand. She is currently working in a picture called Fredaís Riddle. Ladies and gentlem -- well, actually, ďladiesĒ should probably be in the singular, but nevermind that-- may I present to you, Miss Madrigal Benchley!
(MADRIGAL bows. PAUL and LAUREN applaud wildly.)

There. Now you know all about me.
PAUL. Actually, I have a few questions, if you donít mind.
MADRIGAL. Not at all. Go ahead.
PAUL. Well, where are you from?
MADRIGAL. I lived in Versailles, but I currently reside in Hollywood. After all, the place has made me a star.
LAUREN. Versailles... where is that?
BILLINGS. France! Itís in France!
MADRIGAL. Yes dear, what Billings said.
PAUL. Kinda peculiar you grew up there, what with the accent you got.
MADRIGAL. Accent?
PAUL. I thought you were English or British or whatever the term is they use. But I guess I could be mistaken. I ainít the most worldly of fellows, if you catch my drift.
LAUREN. No Paul, youíre right. Why is that, Madrigal, that you have a British accent, but you come from France?
MADRIGAL. Well, uh... um... why, itís because I grew up in London! Yes! I grew up in London and then I moved to France. And then I moved here. And please, call me Maddy.
PAUL. Well, I guess that explains it. Wait, I have one more question.
MADRIGAL. Yes?
PAUL. How old are you?
BILLINGS. If you were a gentleman, you would know that you never ask a woman her age.
PAUL. I am simply being neighborly. After all, we are practically neighbors.
BILLINGS. And just what do you mean by that?
LAUREN. He just meant that since weíre in such close quarters, it is kind of like being neighbors.
PAUL. Right.
MADRIGAL. And besides, Mr. Billings, I donít mind at all. Iím twenty-five.
PAUL. Why maíam, if I didnít know better I would say that you werenít but seventeen.
MADRIGAL. What? What are you talking about? Why would you say that?
PAUL. I was just trying to pay you a compliment!
MADRIGAL. Oh. Right. Well, how flattering! Thank you very much.
LAUREN. Well, I guess I should go next.
BILLINGS. Why do you think that?
MADRIGAL. I donít see you jumping at the chance to tell your life story.
BILLINGS. What is there to tell? Iím thirty-eight, divorced, living in a scummy apartment on the Lower West Side... who could ask for more?
PAUL. Whatís your job?
BILLINGS. Iím an accountant.
LAUREN. I thought accountants made a lot of money.
BILLINGS. I make enough to live on reasonably.
MADRIGAL. Then why the scummy apartment?
BILLINGS. Let me repeat. I am divorced. My wife lives in Chicago with our two teenage daughters. Itís a little thing called ďalimonyĒ.
LAUREN. I donít see why you have to be so sarcastic all the time. It isnít our fault the elevator stopped.
PAUL. Lauren, I think youíd better tell us about yourself.
LAUREN. Well, I guess there really isnít much. I live in Boston. Iím a waitress. I deal with perverted old men trying to look down my blouse and messy three year old children throwing food down it. Not exactly a barrel full of monkeys, if you catch drift.
PAUL. I catch it.
BILLINGS. As do I.
MADRIGAL. Sorry honey, I guess I canít really relate on this one.
LAUREN. I donít expect you to relate. After all, how could someone who grew up in... where did you say you grew up?
MADRIGAL. Austria.
LAUREN. Right... Austria. How could someone who grew up in Austria know what Iím even talking about?
BILLINGS. Listen, kid, if we ever get out of here Iíll take you to my place and show you what real poverty is.
MADRIGAL. Give me a break. Youíre an accountant. Sheís a waitress.
PAUL. I think waiting tables is just great. Donít you listen to what theyíre saying, sweetheart, there isnít a more honorable profession in the world.
BILLINGS. Wait a minute, I never said that there was anything wrong with--
LAUREN. (to PAUL) I know, I know. Thanks. Youíre a nice guy.
PAUL. Well, I try my darndest.
BILLINGS. Excuse me. I would love for this to all turn into a lovely made-for-TV-movie scene, but I really just want to get out.
MADRIGAL. We all do, Mr. Billings.
BILLINGS. If only the blasted phone was working...
PAUL. Itís too bad my wife isnít here.
MADRIGAL. Your wife?
LAUREN. Youíre married?
PAUL. I sure am!
BILLINGS. Interesting...
LAUREN. Youíre married?
PAUL. Why yes, honey, I just said that--
LAUREN. I canít believe youíre married!
PAUL. My goodness, why not?
LAUREN. Well, you were... um...
PAUL. What is it, sweetheart?
LAUREN. Just that! Youíve been flirting with me the whole time weíve been in here!
PAUL. Oh, I donít think so. Iíve just been trying to be friendly.
LAUREN. But.... but...
(She looks to BILLINGS.)

You heard him. He was flirting, wasnít he?
BILLINGS. I donít think so.
LAUREN. Maddy?
MADRIGAL. Iím sorry, dear, but I think he was just trying to make you feel welcome.
PAUL. Gosh, maíam, I certainly didnít mean to lead you on or anything like that.
LAUREN. Yeah, well...
PAUL. But what I was saying is that if my wife was here, weíd all be fine.
MADRIGAL. How so?
PAUL. Why, sheís got one of those cell-you-lar phones, or whatever you call íem.
BILLINGS. A cel phone! Blast!
LAUREN. I guess thatís too bad.
BILLINGS. Wait! Whatíve you got in your bag there, Miss Benchley?
MADRIGAL. I beg your pardon?
BILLINGS. Give me your bag.

PAUL. Why, Miss Madrigal! Youíve got one too!
LAUREN. Oh.
BILLINGS. Splendid, isnít it? Iím glad I thought of it. Now, there must be somebody you can call. Who?
MADRIGAL. I donít know what youíre talking about. I never use the phone except in an emergency.
(Pause. BILLINGS, LAUREN, and PAUL stare at her meaningfully.)
Oh. Well, then.

(She takes the phone.)
Who shall I call?
LAUREN. Youíve got an agent, havenít you?
MADRIGAL. Yes. In fact, I was on my way to see her right now.
BILLINGS. Call her.
MADRIGAL. But... but what if sheís busy?
PAUL. You were on your way to see her?
MADRIGAL. Yes.
PAUL. And you certainly havenít arrived yet, so what could she be doing?
MADRIGAL. Um...
LAUREN. Call her.
BILLINGS. Go on.
MADRIGAL. But I--
LAUREN. Madrigal. Do you want to get out of here or not?
(She takes the phone.)
Whatís the number? Iíll call, if you canít do it.
MADRIGAL. No!
(She snatches the phone back.)
Er... I mean, no. Iíll do it myself.
(She dials quickly.)
(Lights up on stage R. A table with a telephone on it is next to an easy chair. The phone rings. A WOMAN in a bathrobe with curlers in her hair runs in, and lunges for the phone.)
WOMAN. (out of breath) Grayson residence, Christie speaking.
MADRIGAL. Hello, Rita. This is Madrigal.
WOMAN. Excuse me?
MADRIGAL. Listen, I was on my way to see you... yes, yes, I know Iím terribly late.
WOMAN. Maíam, I think you have the wrong--
MADRIGAL. But you see, I was on my way up in the elevator, and it got stuck!
WOMAN. Thatís terrible, but you see, my name is Christie, not--
MADRIGAL. The power seems to be out, Rita. I had to use my cellular phone. The phone in the elevator isnít working.
WOMAN. Listen, lady, I donít have time for games like this.
MADRIGAL. Rita, could you please send somebody down for this?
WOMAN. If you donít start making sense, Iím going to hang up. I swear.
MADRIGAL. Perhaps you could have them turn the air conditioning on, as well. Itís getting rather warm.
(The WOMAN hangs up the phone and exits. The lights remain on.)
MADRIGAL. Whatís that? I got what? Oh!
(She turns to the others.)
Iíve gotten a part in a musical!

(To the phone.)
What is it called again? Grease?
(To others.)
Yes. Grease, itís called.
(To phone.)
Yes, Rita, dear, thatís just wonderful. Now, remember, send someone from security down to fix this elevator. I canít wait to see you either, darling. Kiss-kiss!

(She hangs up the phone. Lights on Stage R slowly fade out.)
Itís all set. Theyíll be here in a few minutes.
BILLINGS. Wonderful.
PAUL. I guess we did just fine without my wife.
LAUREN. Your wife...


I'd Rather Eat Glass [Part II]