My attempt to fix my play (main revisions in red) didn’t get too far:
Act 1, scene i: RACHEL, 15, and HENRY, 17, are in the living room of RACHEL’S one-story suburban house in Darien, Connecticut. They are rehearsing an experimental play. A tape-recorder (TAPE, for short) is also “participating” in the play.
TAPE, in a female monotone: Over come over come over come . . . (TAPE continues to repeat the preceding until otherwise indicated.)
HENRY: Babbo, the foaming cleanser.
RACHEL: Babble, the phoning censor.
HENRY: Baffle the stoning centaur. (Pause.) Rachel. That’s when you’re supposed to do the somersault.
RACHEL: I know.
HENRY: Well, do it, then.
RACHEL: Henry, let’s just do lines now, okay? I don’t have the energy for gymnastics.
HENRY: Come on, Rachel. We can’t get the timing down if you just do lines.
RACHEL: So what? Nobody will notice.
HENRY: Miss Zachery will. (He resets the tape-recorder.) Please do it right this time.
RACHEL: Henry, we’ve been going over this scene for ages! I’m really getting tired.
HENRY: Good grief, Rachel, we’ve barely gotten to the second scene and we should have the whole first act learned by now! (Pause.) Rachel, please. We have to get through this scene at least. (Pause.) All right. I’ll just tell Miss Zachery we need someone else for Plinx.
RACHEL: Oh, will you? And lose your only chance to spend any time with me at all? You can’t do that: I’m too important in your nerdy little life–even though I can’t stand you.
HENRY: You are important in my nerdy little life, Rachel–even though you can’t stand me; but Miss Zachery’s play is more important!
RACHEL: You can’t be serious.
HENRY: Rachel, I’m turning the tape-recorder back on. Either you do what you’re supposed to, or I’ll get you canned.
RACHEL, after a Pause: You rat. (HENRY turns the tape-recorder back on. Pause.)
TAPE: Over come over come over come over . . .
HENRY: Babbo, the foaming cleanser.
RACHEL: Babble, the phoning senator.
HENRY: Baffle the stoning senator. (RACHEL turns a somersault, sullenly.)
RACHEL: Raffle Trigger, the wonder horse.
HENRY, acting enraged: Old MacDonald had a farm! (RACHEL runs into the audience.)
RACHEL: Eeee eye. (She does a jumping jack.) Oh. (She pulls a spectator out of his seat and stands in it.) Oh oh oh.
HENRY, with extreme pathos, as RACHEL returns to the stage: Old MacDonald . . . had . . . a farm.
TAPE, in a male monotone: Yes yes yes yes yes . . . (And so on until otherwise indicated.)
RACHEL: Eeee eye.
HENRY, striking a weird, contorted pose: Come over mah house, Checker-Goat Freddy, and Zinc-Man will cobble your gaiters.
TAPE: Wail, winds, wail. (Pause.)
HENRY: The. Sky. Is.
RACHEL: Blue. (Pause.) The sky is the. (Long Pause.) HENRY, running to RACHEL: Plinx, you are as beautiful as a cement-mixer in July, or a newly-painted butterknife, or a farmer, nude among his cows. (He begins stiffly to play Pattycakes with her. At this point SUSAN, 19, and GEORGE, 20, enter the Gliss living room.)
RACHEL: Oh, nuts, Susan’s back–with that crumb George.
TAPE: Not bananas. (RACHEL turns the tape-recorder off.)
GEORGE: Rachel–and Henry! Hi! What are you two up to?
RACHEL: We’re rehearsing a play.
GEORGE: Wow, I didn’t know you were a thespian! What play is it?
RACHEL: Aah, it’s some stupid thing Miss Zachery wrote.
HENRY: It’s called The Other Dwarf’s Iron Petunia. It’s very good, actually, but it’s experimental, and you have to have a brain if you want to get anything out of it, so Rachel, of course, doesn’t like it.
RACHEL: Yeah, yeah. I’m really dumb.
GEORGE: Well, if you’re not genuinely in sympathy with the play, you probably shouldn’t be in it.
RACHEL: Aah, if I don’t stay in it, I’ll flunk Drama. Then Mom and Dad would cut off my allowance.
SUSAN: I just love your positive outlook, Rachel.
GEORGE: Maybe once you’ve familiarized yourself with the play, you’ll come to appreciate it after all.
RACHEL: I wouldn’t bet on it: it’s pure gibberish.
HENRY: Actually it’s not gibberish at all. It’s an assault upon dead modes of thought. It’s a trapdoor into buried subconscious truths! It’s an exit from the falsity of our capitalistic society!
RACHEL, cutting him off: So Miss Zachery is always lecturing us. But nobody but Henry believes her.
PLINX, suddenly appearing in a puff of smoke, center stage: Don’t move—anybody! (He has a gun.)
RACHEL: What the. . . !
PLINX: Shut up! (Pause.) My name, in case you don’t recognize me, is Plinx.
RACHEL & HENRY, simultaneously: Plinx?!!
PLINX: Ah, you are surprised. (He laughs.) That’s to be expected, I guess. We literary characters have been quite good at keeping our powers concealed.
GEORGE: Literary character?
HENRY: There’s someone in our play by that name but–
PLINX: Yes, indeed—there is a man in your play by that name whom you play as a freaking woman! (The stage goes dark except for a spotlight stage front that PLINX steps into.) Alas, my Mississippi upbringing cursed me with a preference for being a male that I can’t easily overcome sufficiently to recognize what an honor it is to be depicted as a member of the sex all rational human beings now recognize as the sole redeeming members of the white race . . . except for queerboys. (Pause.) Oh, Great God in Heaven, forgive me yet again, but my Mississippi upbringing prevented even my time as a student and then professor at Harvard from coming to terms with my incorrigible homophobia however much I’ve tried to overcome it, even sharing cupcakes with homosexuals at cooking classes. (The lighting returns to normal.)
GEORGE: You absolute jerk! Don’t think I, for one, don’t recognize your sarcasm!
PLINX, shooting him in the head: You demean my struggle, you swine! (GEORGE just stares back at him, apparently unharmed by the shot.) Damn, I forgot we can’t affect the stinking real world. Idiot! (He throws his gun angrily off the stage. Then he turns to GEORGE.) I really have struggled. You really think anyone in his right mind would be homophobic in my world (or yours) if not for his upbringing! Or, even worse, be upset to be depicted as a woman in a play?!
RACHEL: If it’s any solace to you, I was only playing you in the play because Miss Zachery could only get one boy screwed-up enough to act in it, and half the parts are male.
GEORGE: You really are a redneck by upbringing—in Mississippi?
PLINX: Alas, yes. They call me “Plinxy-Bob” back home.
GEORGE: We have to forgive him. Now that the UN has certified Islamic suicide bombers as a Victim Group, it can’t be too long before even rednecks are.
SUSAN: Even this one?! My God, have you not been watching him?! Look how he drools when looking at my comely breasts, fully-clothed although they are.
PLINX: Yes, yes, it’s true, horribly true! Your knockers turn me on! Oh, Lord, how I wish I’d been born in Connecticut or San Francisco! (He drops heavily down into an easy chair.)
RACHEL: So, how’d you suddenly appear, and why are you here?
GEORGE: Good questions. You can’t be a literary character, but real people don’t suddenly appear out of nowhere.
PLINX: Oh, please. This whole universe came out of nowhere. Why shouldn’t a simple literary character be able to do the same thing?
GEORGE: There have been a lot of books about literary characters doing just that. But only in novels.
HENRY: He’s wrong about the universe, too: the latest issue of Scientific American has an article about the big bang that is clearly accurate: a four-dimensional black hole in a universe this one is now in, exploded, and its three-dimensional interface blew off it to form our universe.
RACHEL: I remember that article. It didn’t make any sense to me.
HENRY & SUSAN, simultaneously: You!? You read something in Scientific American!?
PLINX: Ha, see! Even you dwellers of the noble liberal state of Connecticut are sexist!
SUSAN: Me, a woman majoring in interstellar hydraulic engineering, intimating that any female would not have the brains to appreciate a magazine like Scientific American!? You’re out of your mind.
GEORGE: You are making a mistake I fear too many liberals make: the mistake that only a sexist could contend that any woman might be unequipped to handle something scientific. Surely some women, just as some men, are. In this case, Henry was no doubt surprised by Rachel’s claim because she is only 15, and has never, so far as we are aware, shown any interest in science. I’m sure Henry would agree with me that if she had any interest in science, she would be capable not only of reading that magazine, but of writing for it. Although, I don’t understand why she thought the article in question, which I also have read, made no sense. Two of its three authors had Ph.D.’s in physics and the third, a woman, was working on a doctorate in that subject.
PLINX: Okay, okay: you got me. But it’s not my fault that my author gave me a rather unsophisticated sociopolitical attitude.
RACHEL: I read it at my dentist’s. There wasn’t anything else there to read.
HENRY: I’m curious about what didn’t make sense to you.
GEORGE: Right. As I said, its authors certainly had the right credentials. And two of them were professors, as I recall.
RACHEL: Okay, for one thing, I don’t see why inventing another universe for ours to come from is any help since that just means we have to explain where that universe came from. (Pause.) Something that seems even more daffy to me is the idea that the interfaces of black whole in our universe are two dimensional. I don’t see how anything in our universe can be two-dimensional.
PLINX: You never saw a piece of paper?
RACHEL: Not one with no thickness.
HENRY: Actually, that’s something that’s bothered me, too. I’ve been meaning to ask Mr. Shoffle, my physics teacher about it. Something two-dimensional would have length and width but zero thickness, and w times l times zero is zero.
GEORGE: Interesting observation. I’m not a science major, but I’m sure scientists can explain it.
RACHEL: As far as I’m concerned, scientists are nuts. They think anything that exists in mathematics can exist in the real world. But the real world has three spatial dimensions, no more and no less, and that’s that. The interface of a black hole is merely the surface of whatever three-dimensional matter happens to be there. The entirely three-dimensional black hole’s interface, like any face of anything material, is simply the last of its sub-atomic particles–which are pressed against the three-dimensional face of whatever is next to it. In the case of the black hole, that’s space. Which is some kind of material that can be curved but is otherwise beyond me.
PLINX: But as far as I can see, I am in this world immaterial. Am I therefore non-existent?red
RACHEL: Oh, you just did some kind of trivial magic trick.
GEORGE: But why?
SUSAN: Somebody’s practical joke is my guess. (She looks at RACHEL pointedly.)
PLINX: I assure you, I am no one’s practical joke.
RACHEL: Well, if you’re what you say you are, you aren’t a very bright literary character. We’re just actors following a script—a pretty ridiculous one to live in, I would say. We weren’t responsible for demeaning you, the author of the stupid play we were acting in was.
PLINX: Wait a minute. Just where in hell am I?! Something’s very wrong here.
SUSAN: You’re in the home of the Gliss family in Darien, Connecticut, as I rather suspect you are aware.
PLINX: A home? But it looks like some kind of auditorium to me.
HENRY: Well, Rachel and I were trying to rehearse a play, but here, not in an auditorium.
PLINX, gesturing toward the audience: Then what are those people doing here?
GEORGE, laughing: He seems to think he’s double-fictional!
SUSAN: Just what are you trying to pull? I don’t see any people; I just see our kitchen.
PLINX, laughing idiotically: Right! The people out there are real, but you’re fictional! It makes perfect sense!
GEORGE: I think I see your problem. If we’re fictional and don’t know it, we must be in some kind of fiction that includes the audience!
AUDIENCE MEMBER 1, standing up: Ridiculous. The explanation is obvious: all four of you are actors in a play that’s getting more and more stupid!
HENRY: All five of us.
AUDMEM1: Right, all five of you.
GEORGE: I must admit that I’m getting confused. How did this fellow suddenly get into the kitchen? Is he in the play you’ve come from, uh . . . (He is looking a PLINX.)
PLINX: Plinx, the name in Plinx, simply Plinx. And, no, he is certainly not from my world!
I stopped here because I have too much other much more important stuff to work on than this dumb play. (But if ten or more of you guys visiting it beg me to continue my revision, I will.)