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Crowd a one-act play by Ruth Polleys

Characters: AMY MAX SAM, all 30s Setting: Scenes take place in suggestions of a caf, a park, and AMY and SAMs home.

Crowd 1 (MUSIC plays Pop Goes the Weasel. AMY, MAX and SAM skip around three chairs. MUSIC stops; they scramble for seats. AMY, with brown shopping bag, sits R; MAX, with gift bag, sits center; and SAM, with briefcase, sits L. SAM reads newspaper. AMY and MAX at a caf.) AMY (Takes scarf from gift bag and ties it around her neck.) Oh, thank you. I love it! MAX Happy birthday. It brings out your eyes. I saw it in the store window and couldnt help myself. AMY Youre so sweet. Hey, thanks for doing this. MAX No problem. Why the urgency? Do you want a latt? AMY Sam and mewere supposed to go to counseling. I told you, right? MAX Right. See if it will work. Or not. AMY Right. But Max, I have to tell someone. I met someone. MAX Oh, really? Does someone have a name? AMY He works in my building. Two floors up. We see each other in the elevator. MAX I love multi-level romance. AMY This is serious. MAX Im seriously listening. AMY Well, he comes to my office to meet my boss for lunch. Hes a client. We chat about the weather. He asks me to lunch. We have a lovely time, a little wine. It was all verycomfortable.

Crowd 2 MAX Like an overstuffed chair? AMY So we see each other in the elevator the next day. He asks if we can talk again. So we meet for lunch. And dinner the next night. And drinks the following afternoon MAX Did Comfortable spring for a room? AMY Max, please. I never planned to get involved. I like this guywe had a nice time MAX In bed. AMY Well. As a matter of fact MAX In bed. Youre always supposed to end those Chinese fortune cookie fortunes with in bed. Failure is the mother of Invention sounds boring, but add in bed, and that changes everything. Failure is the mother of Inventionin bed. Now its funny. Now, its true. AMY Are you changing the subject? MAX Not at all. Were speaking of sleeping, right? A nice time. In bed. AMY Im trying to confide in you. MAX I think its great. Good for you. You and Sam are over. Done. AMY Separated. Not over. Thats the MAX Problem. Face it, honey. Separated is the beginning of over. AMY We said wed try counseling. Since the baby. Now I dont know. Do I want to work it out? I really like this guy. He pays attention to me. He listens to me.

Crowd 3 MAX Oh, so now you have a substitute for me? AMY I could never replace you. MAX But you can replace your husband? Im only checking AMY I think Sam doesnt want to be married anymore. He goes through the motions. I think heI think he fell out of love. I dont know. Maybe its the baby. Or maybe hes met someone else. MAX Right. The baby. I cant stand this. AMY What? MAX Talk to him, Amy. He has plenty to tell you. AMY How do you know? MAX Sam and Iwe go out for drinks occasionally. AMY You do? He never told me. You never said MAX I promised Id keep it a secret. He knew youd get upset. AMY Upset? Secrets? I know were all friends, butever since the baby. Besides, you were mine first. MAX First love. First queer. AMY My Hamlet. MAX Even then you didnt get the message. AMY What message?

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MAX Get thee to a nunnery. Hamlet wanted nothing to do with girls. Mommy dearest screwed that up. AMY Cmon. It was all an act. He was teasing, pretending MAX He wanted Ophelia out of the way. He wanted her brother. He wanted Laertes. AMY Now youre making this up. MAX Whats the climax of the play? En garde! (MAX wields an imaginary sword, pokes at AMY.) AMY Stop that. Stop. I remember. Sword fight. Or was it fencing? MAX A fight to the death. Die is code for orgasm; sword fight is code for mad, passionate sex. (MAX deals AMY a fatal blow. He mimes for her to die. She does. Then quickly comes back to life, laughing.) AMY So they all die, unhappily ever after. MAX Or maybe with smiles on their faces. AMY Now that was changing the subject. MAX The subject is passion, love triangles, drama. What could be more Shakespearean? AMY Triangle. Right. I dont know what to do. Pinky swear: youll stay with me no matter what. If Sam leaves me. If I leave him. Promise. MAX Amy, for Christs sake, grow up. AMY Excuse me, Hamlet. What just happened here?

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MAX Youre still playing games, like a little girl. Playing house. Playing mommy. Playing undercoverlover? If you like this guy, go for it. You loved me once. You got over it. Then you married Sam. You told me youd had better in bedbut hey, hed be a good provider. You told me you had better dinner conversation with me over yesterdays pizza, but Sam was what? Solid. Stable. There for office parties. And funerals. He looks good on your arm. But dont fantasize, Amy. Dont pinky swear your promises. Vows are made. Vows are broken. Wives cheat. Husbands cheat. (pause) Friends move on. Babies AMY Dont MAX die. AMY What are you saying? MAX I cant promise Ill always be there. I cant promise that at all. AMY I brought you something. I found it in the babys things. From you. We never opened it. I thought you might want it. (AMY hands MAX the shopping bag) See you at the house tonight. And no, you cant miss my little birthday party. Im late for work. (Kisses MAX on the cheek.) (MUSIC, as before, only slower, strained. AMY and MAX move two chairs center. ALL play musical chairs as before. MUSIC stops, MAX and SAM sit on the two chairs as a park bench. AMY decorates table for a party with items from her gift bag.) MAX Did you want to grab lunch or something? (No response.) So when does counseling start? SAM (Engrossed in newspaper crossword.) Hmm? No, Im good. Next week. MAX Good. Thats good news. Right? (No response.) The pigeons, maybe, will talk to me? SAM Sorry. Yes. Good news. I guess. In theory were there to work it out. Talk. Marriage. Baby. MAX Or to figure out it cant work. To divorce or not divorce. Thats the question, right?

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SAM Right. The question. (pause) Whats a five letter word for defensive act? Begins with a p. (pause) I mean, if I say I want it to work out, I shouldnt want not to work it out. MAX A third party helps. To say its shot to hell. You have to tell her. SAM I know, I know. Pitch? Prank? Maybe its plead. MAX If it werent for the baby, youd be long gone. SAM If it werent for the baby, I might want to make this work. I wanted to be a father, Max. But I cant live like this. I cant let Amy live a lie. Pluck? You cant tell her. MAX You cant protect her forever. Its not right. She must know. You havent slept with her SAM No. Not since the baby. Not since before MAX Not since me. SAM Not since you. MAX She wont be surprised. SAM Shell be devastated. Plied. Is plied a word? MAX What? Yes. Past tense for ply? (pause) Thats a deep river, denial. SAM I dont want to hurt her, Max. Shes already hurting. MAX Shell be madder at me than you. SAM Im not so sure about that.

Crowd 7 MAX Husbands are expected to fail, to be deceitful. Its part of the code. Shell never speak to me again. Shes has to talk to you, about the baby. Let me see that. (Grabs paper) Parry. P-A-R-R-Y. SAM Whats parry. MAX A defensive act. SAM Where did you get parry? MAX Its a fencing term. (pause) Do it quick, Sam. Tell her. Otherwise, the pain will linger. Forget counseling. Talk to her tonight. SAM Maybe I will. MAX Hey, she gave me this. Said it was the babys. A present from me. Still wrapped. Im worried about her, Sam. Maybe I shouldnt come to the house tonight? It sounds like you two need time. SAM I want you there, Max. Ill need you there, after. Well need you. (MUSIC. Distorted. AMY sets one chair center. ALL walk slowly around it. MUSIC stops. MAX sits. AMY hands everyone party hats. MAX takes present out of bag, slowly begins to unwrap it.) AMY I ran into Max earlier today. He said you two had a drink last week. SAM Right. Yes. We did. AMY You never mentioned it to me. SAM Must haveslipped my mind. AMY Whats going on? You and Max meet and talk. In secret. Something is going on.

Crowd 8 SAM Keep your voice down, OK. AMY You can cut the crap. He told me. SAM He told you. AMY He told me you had drinks. A couple times. SAM He shouldnt have said anything. AMY Sam, were best friends. Of course hes going to tell me. We talk. Unlike us. SAM We talk. You and I. And well talk some more... AMY In counseling, right? What can you say there that you cant say to me now? SAM Things I needhelpsaying. AMY Is there another woman? If there is, please tell me. Right now. SAM Amy, please. We need to talk about the baby. About our marriage. There is no woman. AMY Then what is it? I dont believe you want to try to get back together. SAM Im the one who suggested counseling, didnt I? I want to explore our options. AMY I met a man. SAM What? AMY At work. We slept together. Whens the last time you even touched me?

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SAM Amy, pleasewe have a guest. AMY Did you hear me? I met a man. I let him touch memy breasts. I let him kiss mein bed. SAM And what do you propose I say? Good for you, Amy? Were separated, right? Christ. AMY We separated, not divorced. SAM We have to talk.about things. Maybe next week with the counselor AMY I dont want to talk. Lets tell Max to go home. Lets go make another baby, Sam. Do you want to? I need another baby. You need another baby. Lets make a new baby. (She straddles SAM.) SAM No. No. (He pushes AMY off.) No more babies. Im sorry. Theres no more us, Amy. Thats what we need to talk about it. Its not working. The baby is dead. The marriage is dead. Over. AMY Dead? Youve decided? Were over. I thought it was separation SAM The beginning of over. AMY Max said that. SAM What? AMY Max said that. Separation is the beginning of over. SAM He probably got it from Oprah. Or maybe he got it from me. AMY Did you tell him were over? SAM I dont recall exactly

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AMY But you talk to him about us. About the baby. SAM Of course, I do. AMY Hes my friend, Sam. SAM Hes my friend, too. Hes more than my friend, Amy. We arewe were AMY Youre Laertes. SAM What? AMY Max and his fucking codes. SAM I was wrong. Not to tell you. I didnt want to hurt you. But now I have toI have to tell the truth. I loved you, Amy. But I love Max too. We need a divorce. Wewe threewe need to end this. (pause) I loved the baby, too. (AMY slaps him in the face. He sits, head in his hands.) (AMY rocks an imaginary baby in her arms. Crosses to stand behind MAX.) AMY The beginning. Of over. I was drowning, Sam. (Pause) Yes. (Pause) We need to do this. We need to end this. We need to divorce MaxI meanwe need to tell Max. Its over. (Spoken in singsong:) Max and me. Max and you. Max and us. Were over. (MAX has unwrapped the gift. He winds the jack-in-thebox. AMY pulls scarf from her neck and suggestively toys with MAX as he continues to wind. The box pops. Silence. AMY yanks the scarf around MAXs neck. He struggles for a moment, drops the toy and dies. AMY picks up the jackin-the-box and winds it slowly, humming. Fade to black.)