Vanishing Act

Vanishing Act $13

Richard Greenberg

Published by Dramatists Play Service

5 Male 3 Female

Young Anya's hair must be brushed exactly one hundred times (if it's stroked even one hundred and one, she is convinced that she may die)

The task falls to her older sister, Minna, who, as she brushes, tells a dark tale of a woman who murdered her neighbor

Meanwhile the other members of the family are engaged in their own pursuits - their brother, Spence, contemplates suicide; their mother is occupied with various hobbies (including architecture); and their grandfather deliberately feigns decrepitude. When Minna's shiftless fiance, Sky, fails to help her escape the madness which she sees growing in her family, she apparently wills her own death-and is replaced onstage by Carla, the woman who figured in her macabre bedtime story

And Carla, in turn, brushes her own daughter's hair and spins her own tales of evil deeds and gnawing guilt

Moving from a starlit dock to a languid summerhouse, the play captures a sense of consuming ennui and futility; of people whose self-absorption robs their lives of purpose; and, in the end, conveys the simple truth that while individuals may be replaceable (and often slightly ridiculous) the family unit remains-and prevails-and embodies what meaning life can offer

Successfully produced as part of its One-Act Play Marathon by New York's prestigious Ensemble Studio Theatre, this surrealistic "family album" offers a dreamlike, often comic exploration of the spiritual malaise of the leisure class. Rich in mood and sudden flights of bizarre comedy, the play captures the irony of people too concerned with themselves to realize how pointless they, and their lives, really are

"... a post-Absurdist comedy about a normally insane American family" ~ NY Times

Browse Library

About Stageplays

Stageplays offers you the largest collection of Plays & Musicals in the world.

Based in the UK and the USA, we’ve been serving the online theatre community since the last century. We’re primarily a family-run business and several of us also work in professional theatre.

But we’re all passionate about theatre and we all work hard to share that passion with you and the world’s online community.

Subscribe to our theatre newsletter

We'll email you regular details of new plays and half-price special offers on a broad range of theatre titles.


We can deliver any play in print to any country in the world - and we ship from both the US and the UK.

© 2010 - 2024 Stageplays, Inc.