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Click to read the letter from The Actors Theatre of Louisville

a two act play
Robert Red-Baer

CAST: 8 males, 5 females, and extras. With doubling the play can be done by five males and 4 females.

PLAYING TIME: Act one, 60 minutes. Act two, 30 minutes.

SET DEMANDS: With a realistic set, there are six major set changes. With suggested realism, the set demands are minimal.

MAKE-UP: Between acts, an old man has to change to a young man. Another old man (best played by a woman) has to change to a young woman.

LIGHTING: Demanding, but not outrageous.

NUDITY: The play can be done without it.

Copyright 1979 by Robert Red-Baer


FORENSO: Old man of about 70 that becomes a young man of about 20 in act two.

MacDODD: (Best played by a young woman) Old man of about 70 that becomes a young woman of about 20 in act two. MacDODD is Forenso's best friend.

CANDICE: A plain victorian type of woman until the end of act two, where she lets down her hair and becomes the Venus that she really is

DEATH: The typical hooded, cloaked "Grim Reaper" type.

WITCH: Young and nice looking, but has the typical witch's manner and garb.

LACKEY: A big, dumb goof.

HERMAN: Witch's husband. A well built man with a mean streak. He had a short affair with Venus a long time ago and is still insanely in love with her.

JAMES: Herman's ugly servant.

BESSIE BESSIE: A pleasant two-headed, three legged woman.

DICK DICK: Bessie's two-headed, three legged husband. His few lines are said off-stage.

CYRUS: A prancing waiter, chef and hotel manager.

TEMSIK: A chubby little man that actually represents "fate" or "destiny."

CONDUCTOR: Typical train conductor of trains of the past.

EXTRAS: Non-speaking, with period costumes. The more the better, but the parts can be doubled by regular cast members if needed.

The play itself is not set in any particular time period. However, some of the sets may suggest a period in time. The sets can be as simple or elaborate as the production allows. I believe the more realistic the set is, the better the production will be, but a bare necessity set will not necessarily hurt the production.


FORENSO'S ROOM: A plain low rent where an old man lives alone with an old black and white TV.

RECREATION CENTER: The only things really needed here are some tables and chairs. It is mostly made up of people holding drinks, standing around and talking. Its walls are formed by stage lighting.


HOTEL ENTICE: Made up of two separate parts. One is the restaurant with three or four tables with chairs-- all made of white marble. The whole thing should give the feeling of a Roman terrace peacefully overlooking Mr. Olympus. There is one door or entrance that goes to an unseen kitchen. A Roman style railing is the front border of the terrace. The other part of the hotel is the bedroom of Venus, which should give the feeling of beautiful seduction. In it there is a dressing table with a full length mirror, a large bed and a window that looks into outer-space.

TEMSIK'S CABIN: A Davy Crocket log cabin that has a lot of shelves filled with record books. In the center of the room, there is a wooden log table with wooden log chairs. There is a main door, a side door, and a rear door that is the entrance to a train platform.

TRAIN: Two reclining train seats and a window that looks out into outer-space.

PARADISE: Just the way you would picture the garden of Eden. The most important thing in it is the grape tree. If possible, the lighting should be able to give a barren feeling to this set.

NEUTRAL AREAS: Described in the script..


The curtain opens with old FORENSO sitting in his unkempt little room watching an old black and white TV. He empties the rest of a bottle of red wine into a glass, filling the glass about half full. The sounds coming from the TV are guns shooting and tires squealing. He is not interested in the program, just watching it. After a few seconds the door opens and a black hooded and gowned figure enters. This figure obviously represents DEATH.

FORENSO: What do you want? (Death doesn't answer.) What's the matter, you deaf?

DEATH (laughs and slaps his knee): That's a good one! Am I deaf?! (Laughs some more. Old Forenso just sits and looks. Death stops laughing and they look at each other in silence.)

FORENSO: What do you want?

DEATH: I just want to look you in the face. Let you know I'm in the neighborhood.

FORENSO: You don't scare me. (Stands, picks up a bottle.)

DEATH: You're not going to do something foolish now, are you?

FORENSO: A man can't be a fool if he's alone.

DEATH: You're a wise old man. (Forenso throws the empty wine bottle through the TV screen, smashing it. Death slaps his knee and laughs.) Whoever said old dogs don't learn new tricks? Old man, you've gained a lifetime of wisdom in a few seconds. Your old stagnant life-tasting buds are cracking open, preparing to take in all the life they can get. The cocoon has fallen away and the butterfly is opening its wings.

FORENSO: I don't need butterfly lessons.

DEATH (chuckles): You're a funny one.

FORENSO: Are you finished?

DEATH: I'm never finished.

FORENSO: Looking me in the face?

DEATH: Don't you enjoy my company, old man?

FORENSO: I seldom enjoy uninvited company.

DEATH: I am seldom invited, but I always come. (Pause. They look at each other.)

FORENSO: You must be very lonely.

DEATH (laughs): I'll be going now, old man. (Backs towards open door.) Until we meet again. (Laughs)

FORENSO: Is the next time-- the last time?

DEATH: The last time is when I bring the chains.

FORENSO: You don't scare me.

DEATH: I'm not trying to scare you. I'll give it to you straight, old man. I'm not out to scare people, that's not my purpose. But, to use a worldly expression-- when the time comes, you'll be scared shitless. (pause) Use your wisdom while its still intact. Remember the flight of the butterfly. Too-doo-loo. (Exits without closing door.)


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