Serial Play-introduction and entry #1: Where's my shirt?

In 2012, I wrote a series of short plays on this blog, and I tried to keep that going for as many weeks as possible. It ended up being a productive way to keep writing, and six of those plays were produced earlier this year.

In September I was writing in my journal, and I started to get an idea for a longer play. I decided that in order to get it done, it might be fun to serialize it on my blog, with the idea that a new entry to the play will come out each Monday between Noon and 1:00pm (EST). I finally got myself to sit down and write the first entry, and here it is. My goal is to have an entry each Monday until the play is done. Stay tuned, read the play, and send me feedback. You never know when I might need some inspiration. And thanks for reading!

Serial Play, entry #1: Where's my shirt?

Music begins to play as lights fade to black.  Music swells in the blackout and then lights up on an apartment on New York’s Upper West Side, mid 90s and Broadway. It’s a modern apartment with up-to-date furnishings. Not particularly warm, but fashionable.  There is a round dinner table center stage, a doorway to the kitchen stage right and a couch, coffee table, arm chair, and a television stage left.  Downstage left of the living room area there is a door to a hallway leading to the two bedrooms and bathroom.  Upstage of the living room area is the door to the apartment. Light for the dining room table comes from an overhead fixture. The apartment is high enough in the building that the view out of its windows is basically across Broadway and into the rooms of other people’s apartments. The music playing comes from a speaker that is near the armchair in the living room, and it’s a mix of jazz, classical, and the occasional soft pop tune.

GARY is setting four places at the dining room table. He is fairly meticulous about it, making sure the plates are centered on placemats, forks and knives are parallel, etc. He is in his early forties, dressed simply but elegantly. His clothes aren’t flashy, but they’re expensive. The last things Gary sets on the table are four wine glasses, and as he goes to set the last one, he notices a spot. He attempts to remove the spot with his sleeve, but it just smears.  He sighs and exits into the kitchen.

ALEX enters the apartment carrying a grocery bag from a local supermarket. He is also in his early forties, dressed in jeans and a hoodie, no t-shirt under the hoodie, zipper open just enough. He sets the bag down on the coffee table and exits towards the bedrooms.

GARY (offstage)
Alex, is that you? . . . Hey? . . .HELLO? (He enters from the kitchen, carrying a wine glass.) ALEX? Did you come in? (He goes to the front door, opens it, looks out, comes back in. As he turns, he notices the bag on the coffee table, shakes his head.) ALEX!

ALEX (offstage)
WHAT?

GARY
WHERE ARE YOU?

ALEX
I’M IN THE BEDROOM.

GARY
YOU LEFT THE ICE CREAM OUT HERE ON THE COFFEE TABLE.

(Alex enters, the hoodie unzipped.)

ALEX
I know, I was trying—

GARY
Please tell you’re not wearing that for dinner.

ALEX
--to change my shirt, and you started yelling.

GARY
You left the ice cream on the coffee table.

ALEX
Gary, I just got here.

GARY
But it’s melting!

ALEX
Didn’t you hear me come in?

GARY
No, I didn’t hear you come in. I was running the water cleaning this glass—

ALEX
And it’s not melting in the two minutes—

GARY
What flavor is it?

ALEX
It’s Vanilla.

GARY
Vanilla or Vanilla Bean?

ALEX
It’s Vanilla, why?

GARY
I told you to get Vanilla Bean. That’s the better—

ALEX
All they had was Vanilla. I can’t tell the difference.

GARY
I can, and they might be able to.

ALEX
Well, we’ll tell them that they were out of Vanilla Bean.

GARY
It goes much better with the fresh berries. Are you sure they were out of it?

ALEX
I checked the freezer, I asked the sales girl who then asked her manager when I told her that my husband was not going to go for Vanilla, and they told me that the Vanilla Bean won’t be in until tomorrow.  OK?

GARY
Did you try—

ALEX
Yes, I tried the bodega on the corner, because I knew you’d ask, and they were out too. Maybe there’s a run on Vanilla Bean or something. I did the best I could.

GARY
My berry crumble won’t be the same, but it’ll have to do. (suddenly noticing Alex’s bare chest) God, you look good in that hoodie. 

ALEX
I thought you just said that I should change my shirt. 

GARY
Yeah, you should, but only after I take another look.

(Gary moves in to kiss his husband, and it’s clear from the kiss that they love each other. The bickering over the ice cream is just part of their routine. Just as the kiss starts to get distracting, a bell goes off in the kitchen. Gary breaks the kiss.)

GARY
That’s the crumble! Change your shirt! (Gary grabs the bag and runs into the kitchen.)

ALEX (calling after him)
What time are they coming?

GARY (offstage)
6:30!

ALEX (checks his phone)
Shit!

(Alex runs into hallway towards the bedroom. Suddenly the music bumps up to a much higher level. It's as if somebody hit the volume by accident.)

ALEX (offstage)
GARY, TURN IT DOWN.

(No response from Gary. The apartment buzzer goes off. No response. It buzzes again. ALEX comes back in with a toothbrush in his mouth, still unzipped hoodie.)

GARY! (Spewing toothpaste everywhere)

GARY (running in)
What?!?!

ALEX (with toothpaste)
Turn the music down!

GARY
Who turned it up?

ALEX (taking out the toothbrush)
It runs through your phone.

GARY
Oh shit, where’s my phone?

ALEX
Turn it down!

GARY
Stop spitting and change your shirt!

(Alex groans and exits and Gary tries to wipe up the toothpaste spittle. He's starting to get a little disheveled. The buzzer goes off again, and Gary hears it this time and hits a button next to the front door.)

GARY (exiting to kitchen)
They're here!

ALEX (offstage)
WHAT?

GARY (sticks his head out of the kitchen)
THEY'RE ON THEIR WAY UP!

ALEX (offstage)
NOT UP, DOWN!  TURN IT DOWN!

(Both men are offstage, the music starts to come down in volume, and there's a knock at the apartment door.)

GARY (offstage)
JUST A SEC!

ALEX (offstage)
WHAT?

(Gary enters and goes to the front door.)

GARY
Wasn't talking to you!

(He runs his hands over his shirt to smooth out the wrinkles, opens the door to reveal LORI and JENNIFER. LORI is in her late 30s, dressed in jeans, boots, and a simple sweater. She holds a bottle of wine.  JENNIFER is slightly younger than LORI, in her mid-late 30s.  She wears a skirt with leggings and a nice blouse. Her long hair is pulled back tightly. She is holding a bunch of Gerber daisies.)

GARY
Lori! C’mon in!

(Lori and Jennifer enter the apartment.)

LORI
Hi Gary! Thanks for having us! 

(Gary and Lori kiss each other on the cheek and Jennifer looks on, a bit confused.)

GARY
It’s so nice to see you! And you must be Jen. (He goes to give her a kiss on the cheek.)

JENNIFER (sticking out her hand before he can reach her)
It’s Jennifer.

GARY (awkwardly shakes her hand)
Oh, sorry. Lori kept calling you Jen when we—

JENNFER
It’s Jennifer.

LORI
I’m the only one who calls her Jen.

GARY
Sure. Ok. Got it.  Well, welcome, Jennifer.

LORI
These are for you and Alex. (They hand him the wine and the daisies.)  I remembered from our dinner in the hotel that Alex likes Pinot Noir and you loved those Gerber daisies we saw in the train station.

GARY
Great memory! These are lovely. Let me get this in the fridge and get a vase for the flowers. Alex should be out in just a minute.  Have a seat.

(Gary exits into the kitchen but continues to yell in from there.)

GARY
I HOPE YOU’RE HUNGRY. WE’VE BEEN COOKING ALL AFTERNOON AND—

ALEX (entering from the hallway in just a pair of boxer briefs)
BABE, WHERE’S MY GREEN POLO?  I CAN’T FIND—OH, SHIT!

(When he sees the women in his living room, Alex covers himself with his hands, or tries to, while Jennifer gasps and turns away and Lori just laughs.)

LORI
That’s certainly a way to make an entrance.

ALEX
Uh, yeah, sorry.  I had no idea you were here. Hi Lori.  Nice to see you again.

GARY (entering)
What can I get you to—ALEX, what the—

ALEX
Why didn’t you tell me they were here?

GARY
I said that they were on their way up.

ALEX
You said something about the music and I—

GARY
No, I said they were on their way up, and you just didn’t pay—

LORI
It’s ok, guys, but why don’t you put on some pants, OK?  And a shirt too.

GARY
How embarrassing.

ALEX (sticking out a hand)
You must be Jen.  I’m Alex.

GARY
It’s Jennifer.

ALEX
But Lori always called her—

JENNIFER
It’s Jennifer. Hi. Handshakes after the pants and shirt would be great.

ALEX
Right. God, I don’t even know you. Sorry. I’ll be right back. (to Gary) Get them a drink or something. And where’s my green polo?

GARY
I was trying…  It’s hanging in your closet, with the other polos.

ALEX
I looked there.

GARY
Try again. And put some pants on while you’re at it.

ALEX
I’ll think about it.

(Alex exits back down the hallway.)

GARY
Sorry for that. Alex can be a little, well, you know, Lori. You saw it before.

LORI
Oh, saw it. I know how he can be.

(The two of them laugh together. Jennifer is silent.)

GARY
You’ll see what we mean, Jennifer.

JENNIFER
I'm sure.

GARY
Now, what can I get you to drink?  We’ve got the wine you brought which is chilling.  I’ve got another bottle of white already cold, a red that’s very good, or I can mix a cocktail.