3 Guys in Drag Selling Their Stuff by Edward Crosby Wells
This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent
BEST PLAY 2001
For Excellence in Off-Off Broadway Theatre
SETTING: The action of the play takes place in Diva’s front yard somewhere in Suburbia, USA. It is summer. The time is the present.
Three elderly women of means
As the title implies, men in drag should play these characters
NOTE TO THE DIRECTOR: Trust the dialogue. “Over-the-top” burlesque, buffoonery or “drag-queenery” will only turn your audience off and do disservice to the script, the author, and to the humanity of the characters
Handcuffs, vibrators, chains and whips mixed in with Tupperware, silver trays, crystal figurines, objets d'art and an endless assortment of odds and ends are piled into a child's red wagon
There are mannequins and dress forms covered with wigs, beads, feathers and fabrics
A card table holds yet more items for sale as well as a bowl of punch and a tray of glasses
There are pillars of marble and plaster supporting statues, busts and Chinese vases
There is more "stuff" scattered around DIVA'S front yard. There is a sign that reads "YARD SALE" and another that reads "FREE PUNCH.”
DIVA and LILLIAN are busy sorting through their sale items, marking prices, polishing and admiring
TINK is in a wheelchair with her back to the audience
DIVA looks up quickly as if someone had just yelled something out to her
She speaks directly to someone in the audience ...
DIVA: What!? What are you? Crazy? Can't you read, you silly shit? Punch! Punch! There's no such thing as a free lunch! Unless, you want Jesus along with your soup. Anyway, that's somewhere else. Another part of town. Certainly not in this neighborhood. No, I am not knocking Jesus. Don't get yourself all puffed up. I was referring to those good Christian missions somewhere down by the railroad tracks. Sir . . . sir, please. Please. Put your finger away. I don't like to be pointed at . . . Oh . . . well, it looks like a finger. Dear me . . . Really? With that? I can't imagine it being of much use to anyone . . . A name? What's that? Pokey? How quaint . . . It is? You do? With that little. . . ? You want me to what? Sir, the prizes in Cracker Jacks are bigger than that. Sir, please put it away while it's still amusing . . . Goodbye. Have a nice day.
She waves and we can see her eyes following this unseen man as he retreats down the street
LILLIAN: Oh, my! I hardly know what to say.
DIVA: Then stop drooling, Lillian! When one doesn't know what to say it is best to say nothing. It has always been a deterrent to hoof in mouth disease. (She shakes her leg frantically)
LILLIAN: (observing DIVA shaking her leg) Looks more like mad cow disease, Diva.
LILLIAN: Foam in mouth disease?
DIVA: (Still shaking her leg) Telephone! (Reaches up under her skirt to retrieve her cell phone from under her garter.) I have it on vibrate. (Answering her cell phone.) Diva Hollingsworth here and who might you be? Oh, hello, Carlotta. (To LILLIAN.) Carlotta Bean. (LILLIAN sneers. DIVA speaks into phone.) Back from Greece so soon? . . . Well, we must get together so you can tell me all about it. The splendor. The wine. The food. The . . . what? You did what? A tourist guide at the Acropolis? He what? Behind a pillar? Oh, no, dear. I wouldn't call that discreet at all. Some might, but most wouldn't – certainly not I. Fairly brazen, if the truth be known . . . What do you mean he doesn't speak English? When did you learn to speak Greek? . . . Oh. Well, a word or two does not a sentence make, now does it, Carlotta? He is? (To LILLIAN.) She brought home some stud she picked up off the streets in Athens. She put him up in the Paisley Room and he's teaching her a little Greek in exchange for rent. (Into phone.) I was sharing the good news with Lillian. Right next to me. We're having a yard sale. (To LILLIAN.) Carlotta says hello. (LILLIAN sneers.) Hello right back at you. I had a little Greek once – a sailor from Crete. A Cretan Greek . . . and a royal pain in the ass, as I recall. Yes. Well, I'm sure this one is the personification of perfection, dear heart . . . You don't say. Do tell. He's not? He is? In the kitchen? Doing what in the what? Well, you run right along. Yes, yes hurry. Don't let me detain you. One mustn't keep a naked Greek alone for too long with a pound of feta and a dozen grape leaves . . . I love you, too. Ciao. (Turns off the phone and puts it back under her garter.) She is such a slut!
LILLIAN: I never could stand the bitch.
DIVA: Me either. (Calling out to some passing cars) Free punch! Free punch over here! (To LILLIAN.) Is it time to turn Tink?
LILLIAN: (Takes a look at TINK) She's napping. Maybe we ought to let her be. You know how she likes her beauty rest. Although, at her age, beauty isn't really a major concern, is it?
DIVA: How would I know? And, since I cannot project myself that far into the future, it will - for the time being - remain one of life's many unsolved mysteries.
LILLIAN: I meant, that when you reach her age, just continuing to breathe must pretty much occupy one's mind. All those little synapses pulsating in out, in out, in out . . .
DIVA: Would you spare us the gory details!
LILLIAN: We'll turn Tink when the sun moves along a bit.
DIVA: Good idea. (Looking at building across the street.) That's where I've decided to put her, Lillian.
LILLIAN: Who? Where?
DIVA: Mother. There. (points) She's become too much of a burden. Last night she urinated on Uncle Sam.
LILLIAN: I beg your pardon?
DIVA: She wrapped her legs around him and took a whiz.
LILLIAN: On purpose?
DIVA: Does it matter?
LILLIAN: One would like to think so. How did he take it?
DIVA: Well, he wasn't happy, if that is what you mean. I dropped him off at the groomers first thing this morning. They'll fluff him up good as new.
LILLIAN: Poor Uncle Sam.
DIVA: Well, she's going in that home over there. I've already begun making arrangements. I will not have my mother urinating on whomever or whatever strikes her fancy. (Waving downstage to an unseen customer.) Oh, hello there. See anything you like? . . . Well, of course you can browse. Browse all you want. After all, life's just one big yard sale, isn't it? . . . Well, it can be . . . I guess it's all in how one looks at it, if you look at it that way . . . No. I suppose one doesn't have to look at it that way. No one is going to force you to. Unless, you live in China . . . Of course you don't . . . Of course this isn't China. I was simply making a figure of speech. (To LILLIAN.) Honestly! Dense and literal. Where, pray tell, do people like her come from?
LILLIAN: Just a few blocks over, Diva.
DIVA: She's not quite together, if you ask me. Missing some essential parts, no doubt. (To customer.) Just call me if you want anything, dear . . . Diva. Diva will do just fine. (To LILLIAN.) I hope she doesn't die in that condition.
LILLIAN: What condition is that?
DIVA: A total eclipse.
LILLIAN: I don't understand.
DIVA: Of course you don't. And that's because you've been doing too much left brain thinking for your own good.
LILLIAN: How can you tell?
DIVA: How can I tell what?
LILLIAN: Left from right.
DIVA: Simple. All I have to do is remember which hand I use for administering my douche.
LILLIAN: No . . . I meant . . .
DIVA: Oh, I know perfectly well what you meant. . . but, you're becoming quite tedious. (To customer.) What did you say, dear? . . . No. I wasn't talking to you. I was talking to Lillian here. I was telling her that it was she who was becoming quite tedious. Too much red meat. Whether you are or are not remains to be determined. (To LILLIAN, referring to customer.) The hearing of a bull elephant. The visage of one, too. (To customer.) What's that, dear? . . . No. Certainly not! My bathroom is off limits . . . Weak kidneys or not, I'm afraid you'll have to devise some other plan for your bladder. (To LILLIAN.) The nerve of that woman. Who does she think she is?
LILLIAN: Oh, that's Mrs. Something-or-other. You know the one who headed that concerned citizens' group for a better something or other . . . or maybe they were the ones who boycotted grapes. I just can't seem to remember. (To customer.) If you see something you like – anything you can't live without – don't be afraid to haggle. I'm sure we can come to some agreement . . . Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. We buried our husbands, too . . . Well, I did. Diva keeps hers in a jar. An old pickle jar, I think. That's why we're having this yard sale. So we can move him out of the pickle jar.
DIVA: And into a proper resting place.
LILLIAN: An egg. We're raising money to put Horace's ashes into an egg.
DIVA: By Faberge. Severely expensive. It would be in very bad taste were I to say exactly how much.
DIVA: Oui. Tres gauche. Suffice to say that it is a great deal more than the annual budget of some third world countries. However, due to my wealth and position, only an unremarkable sum in addition to what I've already accumulated is needed. I shouldn't want to dip into my retirement funds, now should I? Of course not. You understand.
LILLIAN: (To customer) What? No! Why would we joke about a thing like that? He died in his sleep . . . No, mine did. Diva's husband was doing something else altogether.
DIVA: (To customer) In the garden . . . doing sit-ups in the cucumber patch. Just keeled over . . . No. I haven't done any pickling since . . . You do? That's nice. Bread and butter or dill?
LILLIAN: They do? Try a half-teaspoon of cloves next time. Oh, yes. That'll brighten them right up . . . Well, you're very welcome . . You, too.
BOTH: (Watching customer leave) Have a nice day.
DIVA: (Pouring a glass of punch for herself and for LILLIAN) Cheapskate! Who did she think she was?
LILLIAN: Is that rhetorical? Or do you actually want me to go ahead and take a guess.
DIVA: Don't guess, Lillian. The odds are not in your favor.
LILLIAN: Neither are the planets.
LILLIAN: The planets. According to my horoscope this morning, the planets are not in my favor.
DIVA: What a shame.
LILLIAN: It sure is, Diva. Something terrible will happen if I venture forth into love or business today.
DIVA: Then don't venture forth, dear. Besides, the last time you ventured forth into love Johnny Mathis was on the Victrola and you were on your knees. Anyway, that's a lot of superstitious nonsense and I wouldn't worry about it were I you. You really ought to watch that left brain thinking, Lillian.
LILLIAN: (After a pause to sip punch.) So, who do you think she was?
DIVA: Who what was?
LILLIAN: She was.
DIVA: Who she?
LILLIAN: The woman who wanted to use your bathroom. The cheapskate. Who do you think she was?
DIVA: Someone who is directly responsible for the ruination of the American economy.
DIVA: Most certainly! One cannot go through life browsing without stopping to buy a thing or two. Do you know what makes our system work?
LILLIAN: I can't say that I do, Diva.
DIVA: Buying! Buying makes our system work. If people don't buy – people can't sell. And if people can't sell, guess what?
DIVA: Hello Tokyo! Some concerned citizen she is! She probably drove her husband to his grave.
LILLIAN: Oh, no. He shot himself in the foot, as I recall.
DIVA: You don't die from shooting yourself in the foot, Lillian.
LILLIAN: You do if you're being attacked by a bear in heat.
DIVA: (After an incredulous pause.) Do you make this stuff up as we go along?
LILLIAN: (After a pause to earnestly think) No. Not all the time. Only some of the time. I seem to recall there being some truth to this one though. Yes. It was a hot day in the Catskills and . . .
DIVA: Lillian! Stop it! I no longer have a reliable sense for reality. I don't know if I am coming or if I am going. The woman in the mirror has abducted what was left of an extremely attractive youth. I am losing what little faith I once felt I had in God - and, I am sure He doesn't pay me the attention I feel He ought to be paying one so dearly in need of Him as I. And, furthermore, eighty milligrams of Prozac, daily, has ceased to do its magic! So, please . . . Don't complicate my life any more than need be.
LILLIAN: (After a pause to assimilate.) That hardly has anything to do with me, Diva.
DIVA: It has everything to do with you, Lillian.
LILLIAN: Yeah? Well, I beg to differ.
DIVA: Don't you get it, Lillian? You're beginning to make sense to me and everybody we know knows you don't make one bit of sense to anybody about anything at anytime! So, where does that leave me? Huh?
LILLIAN: I don't know. I thought you were my best friend.
DIVA: I am your best friend.
LILLIAN: Then, what's the problem?
DIVA: Why am I your best friend?
DIVA: Absolutely. I am your best friend because . . . because . . .
LILLIAN: I'm the only one who puts up with your shit?
DIVA: Well, yes. But, not only that. Because . . .
LILLIAN: Because I know that under that reptilian exterior is a fragile little girl?
DIVA: I shall take comfort and interpret that as your unique little way of expressing affection.
LILLIAN: Whatever floats your boat, sister.
DIVA: That was totally uncalled for! You know how I hate popular vernacular! I'm suffering anxiety and you're dishing out nautical cliché.
LILLIAN: I was just getting in practice for our next meeting with Carlotta Bean. Sorry. Take deep breaths. That'll make you feel right as rain. In through your nose . . . out through your mouth.
DIVA: (Deep breathing) Ah . . .
DIVA: Much. (Hugs LILLIAN.) Thank you. You're such a treasure.
BOTH: (Calling to passing cars) Free punch! Free punch! Get your free punch here!
(Slowly, the wheelchair turns and we see that TINK is in some sort of distress.)
TINK: (Struggles desperately to speak.) Ja . . . ja . . . ja . . .
LILLIAN: Oh, hello, Tink. Did you have a nice nappy-wappy?
TINK: Ja . . . ja . . . ja . . .
LILLIAN: Japanese? Are you trying to say Japanese?
DIVA: Why on earth would she be trying to say Japanese?
LILLIAN: Well, how do I know, Diva? Everywhere you look you see something Japanese. Maybe she wants her hibachi – I don't know.
TINK: Ja . . . ja . . . ja . . . oow . . . ja . . . oow . . .
DIVA: Zsa Zsa! No, Raul! Oh, Raul. Do you remember Raul, Lillian?
DIVA: Raul. Tink's gardener. The one with the giant bushwhacker.
LILLIAN: Ooh . . . ah . . . oh, yes. He was something, wasn't he? Whatever happened to him . . . and his bushwhacker?
DIVA: They cremated him and it with him.
LILLIAN: He died?
DIVA: Requisite for cremation, Lillian. Of course he died!
LILLIAN: That's too bad. How sad. I think I'm going to cry.
DIVA: Lillian, what is wrong with you? Did you leave home without your head today?
LILLIAN: No. I don't think so.
TINK: Ja . . . ja . . . ja . . .
DIVA: Now, don't get yourself excited, Tink. Raul's no longer with us. In fact, he hasn't been with us since Reagan left office. (To LILLIAN.) Now, that was a man after my own heart.
DIVA: Sure. Why not? He could put his shoes under my bed any day. Besides, what did Nancy have that I don't?
LILLIAN: A red dress?
DIVA: I've got a red dress.
LILLIAN: Size two?
DIVA: I hate you!
LILLIAN: (Ignoring the last) Besides, I never understood a word he said. In fact, I don't really think old Ronnie actually ever said anything . . . just a string of words designed to put you to sleep. Heaven knows he put himself to sleep often enough. Poor thing, couldn't remember himself from one minute to the next. Bless his departed soul.
DIVA: You never liked any of my men, did you?
LILLIAN: Well, let me see. How many of your men did I have?
DIVA: Don't get smart!
LILLIAN: Diva, I hardly think Ronald Reagan qualifies as one of your men. More like an imaginary playmate, I should think.
TINK: Sa . . . sa . . . sa . . .
LILLIAN: Salt! She wants salt!
DIVA: I don't think so, Lillian. Has she had her insulin today?
LILLIAN: Of course. While I was waiting to pick her up, Margie was giving her the injection.
DIVA: Who's Margie?
LILLIAN: The new nurse the agency sent over. She's a bit of a bull, but I guess if she's with the agency she knows what she's doing. She says she's really a lady wrestler.
DIVA: What are you talking about? Who's really a lady wrestler?
LILLIAN: Nurse Margie the bull. She said she was between gigs – or something like that. Her husband's also a lady wrestler. He's between gigs, too. So, he stays home and cooks.
DIVA: How very perverse.
TINK: Ja . . . ja . . . ja . . . oow . . . sa. Ja . . . oow . . . sa.
LILLIAN: Joust! She wants to see a joust. Now, if you wanted to see a joust, Diva, where would you go?
DIVA: (Exasperated) For God's sake, Lillian!
TINK: (Obviously in a panic) Jaoowsa! Jaoowsa!
DIVA: JUICE! She needs juice. Quick! Get her some punch! (LILLIAN goes for the punch) Quick, quick, quick! Before she goes into shock! Hurry! Her eyes are beginning to roll back! (Takes glass of punch from LILLIAN.) Here you go, Tink. Drink up. (TINK drinks) That a girl. Drink it all down.
TINK: Mo . . . mo . . . mo . . .
DIVA: (DIVA takes Tink’s glass.) Here, Lillian. Get her some more.
[end of extract]