To Love And To Cherish by Gene Ruffini

This Play is the copyright of the Author, and may not be performed, copied or sold without the Author's prior consent

Setting: The living room of the home of the West family in Dutchess County, a suburb of New York City.

Tbe front door of the home, leading into the living room, is at stage left front. In the living room, hanging from the flies is a television projector which can be played on to a large screen, angled at 45 degrees to stage front, and which can be pulled down from the ceiling at stage left center.

The screen reaches almost to the floor. The image projected on the front of the screen can also be seen in mirror reflection from the rear by the audience.

When not in use the screen remains rolled up or can be rolled down opaque and utlized as a screen for the environmental area.

A door leading to the rest of the house, bedrooms, etc. is at stage left rear. Another doorway is at stage right center, leading to the kitchen. Book cases and paintings line the walls of the living area.

There is a couch at stage center/rear/right angled toward the TV screen, also easy chairs. A stereo set is at stage right front, next to a bar along the “wall” of the dining room. At stage left center is a table with a telephone atop it.

At Rise: It is 1 p.m.

JOAN is lying bundled on the couch watching television on the big screen which is down. We see the figures on the screen in reverse image and hear what is spoken.

WOMAN ON SCREEN You don't love me. You never have.

MAN ON SCREEN You're paranoid. And I'm sick of your insecurities.

WOMAN ON SCREEN Of course. Heap abuse on me.

MAN ON SCREEN Ah! No matter what I say, you twist it.

Don and Elysse enter at stage left front. They carry gifts wrapped packages. Their dialogue melds with that on the screen. They are seen against the figures on the screen.

ELYSSE Oh, God. We just walked into our life.

WOMAN ON SCREEN I want a divorce. I can't stand you any longer

ELYSSE The marvelous thing is - it can be turned off. But I guess that is what we're doing, isn't it?

DON But not soon enough. (He calls out) Mom, we're here. Mom.

MAN ON SCREEN Good. I can't take you any longer either.

JOAN flicks her remote and the screen immediately goes dark.

JOAN I'm here. Just watching TV. Don and Elysse step into the living room and go toward Joan.

JOAN (Continued) So good to see you.

ELYSSE And you. Happy Birthday!

Joan and Don embrace.

DON Mother… Happy Birthday.

JOAN Thanks.

(Don places the packages on the coffee table.)

ELYSSE To call that a television set is to compare a row boat to the Queen Elizabeth.

JOAN I'll raise the screen.

She points a remote control baton toward the screen as Don places the gifts on the coffee table.

The screen rises to the ceiling and flattens against it unobrusively.

JOAN Are those for me? And are wonderfully expensive?

DON The answers are yes and yes.

JOAN Can't wait to open them.

ELYSSE Open them now if you like.

JOAN Don't tempt me. But Paul would like us all to wait until later when all the gifts are gathered.

DON Why not? The more the merrier, eh?

JOAN Well, sit… sit…

They sit in chairs. Joan calls out.

JOAN Paul! Paul! Don and Elysse are here!

DON So, how are you feeling, Mom?

JOAN Don't ask. My back has been killing me and I have a lot of pain in my knees.

ElYSSE What do the doctors say?

JOAN I have to go, I know.

DON You should mom.

JOAN I know.

Paul exits the kitchen at stage right and comes toward them. He is wiping his hands on a chef's apron.

PAUL Hello! Hello! Hello! I was just dicing some potatoes for dinner. Don rises. He and Paul embrace.

PAUL (Continued) Good to see you both. How are you?

ELYSSE Fine… fine..

PAUL So Don,—how are you? Putting on a little weight?

DON Fine. (pause) You think so?

ELYSSE My home cooking. He can't get enough.

DON Ha…!

ELYSSE We have a chef. Don sits and Paul bends to kiss Elysse.

PAUL And she's ....

ELYSSE He's ....

PAUL ...doing a terrific job.

ELYSSE His name Artur… He worked at Le Petit Eglise. We are lucky to induce him to work for us.

PAUL You're just irrestistable, Eylsse (Pause) Cost a fortune. EYLSSE Are you the sous chef, then? Dicing potatoes?

PAUL Well, he's off today, but I love to work in the kitchen.

JOAN He does.

DON That's my pop. EYLSSE Are we the first?

JOAN No.. Michael and Susan are here. They're unpacking. They're staying the weekend.

ELYSSE Oh, how nice. I wish we could do the same, but I have a breakfast meeting tomorrow with Carl Ryan.

DON And I won't be staying either. I've got a ton of work to do.

JOAN Sunday?

ELYSSE Speaking for myself, tomorrow is the only day Carl Ryan is in town. He's returning to Ireland tomorrow afternoon. And we had to finalize details on the film I want him to direct.


PAUL Well, you must tell us all about it. Drinks everyone? And Don - you?

DON What?

PAUL You have to work.

DON Meeting a client.

ELYSSE His girlfriend, that is.

DON No.. I have to work… (To Paul) You mentioned drinks?

PAUL Ah, yes..

ELYSSE He's starting earlier and earlier.

DON My business…

ELYSSE Drink yourself to death for all I care.

She stares at Don

PAUL Er… well… er.. So what shall it be?

DON Scotch. A double.

ELYSSE Any kind of juice for me.

DON She's become health conscious in her old age.

PAUL Orange juice?

ELYSSE That's fine.

DON I changed my mind. I'll have orange juice too. But with vodka in it.

PAUL Sure…

JOAN I'll have a wine. That nice Medoc.

Paul, Eylsse and Don look at her with concern, but say nothing. Paul goes to the bar, opens a small fridge and extracts the cans while the conversation continues. The Medoc is in a decanter on the bar.

PAUL So how's the new movie going, Elysse?


JOAN So, what's it about?

ELYSSE A woman abused by her father—fucked over by every man in her life —figuratively and literally. She is brutally raped. She wins in a criminal action, but then brings a civil suit against the New York City Police Department because they treated what happened to her as a domestic dispute. At least, the cop who responded did. She is interviewed by a magazine writer—male—and exploited by him. But he falls for her. Happy ending.

JOAN A nice family movie. Heartwarming.

Paul returns with a tray on which is a glass of Medoc, the orange juice and the Screwdriver. He puts the drinks and glasses in front of the appropriate people. He has a can of club soda for himself.

ELYSSE I wonder Paul, if you would be interested in writing it.

PAUL Really? Thank you. Sounds interesting. Is it based on anything?

ELYSSE Suggested by. But not real. Had been a play. I have the rights.

PAUL Well, we have to talk about it. I'm at the end of something now for Ray Donaldson, but I could get to this soon.

ELYSSE I need it in two months.

PAUL I can do that.

JOAN Thank God for screenplays. The books never paid for anything— except the ones that were sold to the movies.

ELYSSE What are you doing for Donaldson?

PAUL An adaptation of Ethan Fromme.

ELYSSE That potboiler? Whatever made him decide to do that?

PAUL His wife likes the story. That is all that is required.

ELYSSE He'll take a bath.

PAUL God forbid. He'll blame me.

DON Put in a lot of nudity and gratitous sex and violence. Be big in Christian countries.

DON So Mom, tell us, how are you really?

JOAN Well, I'm awaiting the results of new tests.

DON Really?

PAUL We're hopeful we'll have some good news. It's been so long.

JOAN God, it will be good to get back on my feet again.

DON You'll be fine, Mom.

ELYSSE Sure you will.

JOAN Please God. Anyway, I always have one thing or another. And I want to have a good time on my natal day. So I forbid everybody from thinking about my troubles.

DON My brave mom.

JOAN Just pray like hell.

She laughs and everybody laughs as well as Michael and Susan enter from stage left rear.

MICHAEL Hi - everyone.

DON Michael! Susan!

ELYSSE Early birds…

[end of extract]

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