Mr. and Mrs. Every – A Morality Play

Kate Bluett

A Morality Play

Kate Bluett

 

CHARACTERS

DEUS

EVANGEL

MAN

WOMAN

PRIDE; A sword in a scabbard hangs from his belt.

HUMILITY; She carries a long-stemmed red rose.

(Downstage left is the edge of an enormous wheel—like something Sisyphus might push up a hill. The actors should be able to descend easily into the audience.)

(DEUS stands alone, up stage center.)

DEUS

I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the goal of all. In the rising of the sun and in its setting, in the spinning of the world and in the stillness of the stars, I have written “A” and “O” for all who choose to read. I am your upspringing, just as I am your descent. I am your origin and your evolution. I am. “Alpha” and “Omega” I have inscribed indelibly on the hearts of all my creatures. These letters and a thousand, million more I have engraved in human minds. Oh, the glory of the words I’ve sent them! But to them alone I gave the gift of writing; to them alone I gifted pens and ink. And now upon their hearts and minds they’ve written reams, and when they look to read the “A” and “O” they find the letters smudged and indistinct. And then they call. How they call, no longer knowing even the letters of my being! They spin words, hoping to hit on the right pronunciation, or pronounce my death at the hands of time. Or accuse me of nonbeing. But I am. And I hear. And I always answer. Evangel!

(EVANGEL enters near DEUS.)

EVANGEL

Yes, my lord?

DEUS

Go. You hear desire, and you know my will.

(Spotlight up on MAN, standing alone stage right.)

MAN

Hello? Here I am; I came. I made it. I… Did you call, or was I hearing things? Hello? Where are you? Hey! Answer me. You’re not even here, are you? Because you wouldn’t just sit there if you were; you’d say something. So either you’re not here or you’re ignoring me. Of course, you wouldn’t ignore someone you cared about. So you must not care. Or you’re angry—What’d I do? I didn’t mean to offend you, you know. Whatever it was I did. And you know it perfectly well. All right, fine, I’m sorry. All right? I’m sorry. Truly, deeply sorry. I offended you, and I apologize. Now… Say something!

EVANGEL

To him alone?

DEUS

To each in due season.

MAN

Fine. Do you want me to go away? I’ll leave, then; I’ll go, and I won’t go singing your praises, either. Not that it’ll matter what I say; everyone will know. They’ll take one look at me and then they’ll talk. They’ll talk about you. They’ll tell each other what a bastard you’ve been. Do you want to prove them right? Throw me a bone—toss me a crumb—say anything!—and I won’t let them talk about you like that. Just give me one word. One. Don’t you know how I long for a word from you? That I long for you? If you’re not here, then what’s the point? I’m dying, here. You want me to leave? I’m not leaving. I demand an answer, and I’m going to stand here until I get one.

DEUS

Go, my good and faithful servant, and lead him.

EVANGEL

By what road?

DEUS

By one I will show you.

EVANGEL

Yes, my lord.

(EVANGEL crosses down to MAN.)
EVANGEL

Rejoice!

MAN

Who are you?

(Spotlight up on WOMAN, downstage left. She is learning against the edge of the wheel. EVANGEL notices her.)

EVANGEL

Go to her.

MAN

Excuse me?

EVANGEL

Go. To. Her.

MAN

Her who?

EVANGEL

(pointing) Her.

MAN

Oh.

EVANGEL

Yes.

MAN

Her.

EVANGEL

Bring her here.

MAN

Me?

EVANGEL

You.

MAN

I can’t. I don’t know who she is, and I don’t know where she is, so—

EVANGEL

I’ll take you to her, then.

MAN

Who are you?

EVANGEL

I’m speaking to you.

MAN

I’d noticed that.

EVANGEL

I’m answering.

MAN

You’re—what?

EVANGEL

Shall we go now?

MAN

Why do I have to go?

EVANGEL

So you can bring her here. Weren’t you listening?

MAN

Yes. Somewhat. But I don’t even know her. She doesn’t know me.

EVANGEL

Then I’ll introduce you.

MAN

I’ll make a fool of myself.

EVANGEL

Women like men who make them laugh.

MAN

She won’t come with me.

EVANGEL

Of course she will.

MAN

Says you.

EVANGEL

Which is worth something. She’ll come if you speak to her. You think you’re the only one waiting for a response?

MAN

No, but I’m not a good answer.

EVANGEL

Says you, which is worth little. Let’s go. Do you want to serve her or not?

MAN

I’m not much in favor of serving anybody.

EVANGEL

Then I pity you and bid you farewell.

MAN

But she seems—I don’t know. I’ll come with you. How do we get to her?

EVANGEL

(pointing to the audience) We must seek her out.

MAN

There’s too many of them—we’ll never find her.

EVANGEL

We will be shown the way. Have faith.

MAN

I guess we’d better go.

(MAN and EVANGEL descend into the audience to search. WOMAN straightens up from the wheel before speaking.)

WOMAN

I am tired. Weary in soul and body. I have worked. I have made my home. I have made my name. I have made myself sick with sleepless nights and days not eating. I have done all that is required, though, and in the morning I will rise and do it all again. The chain of necessary tasks has no final link. It goes on and on. But at one end is the anchor; at the other, I am told, rests the ship—if I lose hold the ship is lost. But there is no one who helps me; there is no one who will grant me reprieve from this endless toil. There is no peace; there are a million tiny panics. At least I’m strong; I have not faltered beneath this weight and I will not. But it would be nice to rest, perhaps in someone’s arms. To give comfort, instead of always longing for it. To be other than alone.

(From the audience, PRIDE approaches WOMAN.)

WOMAN

Who are you?

PRIDE

I’ve come to help you.

WOMAN

Thank you! But how did you know I needed help?

PRIDE

I heard your cries, my child; I heard the longing of your heart. You called out for assistance; you called out for a partner. Did you not?

WOMAN

And you have come to help me?

PRIDE

I suffer to see you suffer, dearest.

WOMAN

You have come to help me bear the burden?

PRIDE

I have come to give you strength.

WOMAN

I sorely need it.

PRIDE

As do all necessary links.

WOMAN

I am so glad to see you. Come and put your shoulder to the wheel with me.

PRIDE

Oh.

WOMAN

What?

PRIDE

I’d no idea.

WOMAN

What’s wrong? Too large?

PRIDE

I had not seen how weak you had become, sweet sister. I did not know your strength had faded so, so much.

WOMAN

It’s not so bad. It’s just that I’m tired.

PRIDE

And this is enough to stop you? Oh, my poor dear, do sit down and rest yourself.

WOMAN

Well, um, thank you.

PRIDE

Let me take these burdens off your withered shoulders while you sleep.

WOMAN

Withered?

PRIDE

Let me uplift the cares from your old, worn body.

WOMAN

Old?

PRIDE

You shall have nothing to trouble you in your fading years.

WOMAN

I’m not that tired.

PRIDE

No?

WOMAN

And I’m certainly not withered.

PRIDE

My mistake.

WOMAN

All I wanted was a little help, but if you’re going to be like that—

PRIDE

My darling, I meant no disrespect. But you had me worried. I thought things had gotten bad indeed if you would stoop to asking help. I know the burden is great, but surely for a woman such as yourself—I mean, it couldn’t possibly be beyond you.

WOMAN

It’s not. No, no, no. Not at all.

PRIDE

I’m so relieved to hear it.

WOMAN

You just looked like you wanted something to do.

PRIDE

I want to cheer you on.

WOMAN

Oh, by all means.

PRIDE

Excellent. I know sometimes it can be tempting to give in, to listen to the little voices that tell us, Let it go, put it down, seek refuge. But that is weakness calling to you. Fight the good fight, sister; don’t give in.

WOMAN

I wouldn’t dream of it.

PRIDE

I’m so glad to hear that. Now, put your shoulder to that wheel and show me what you’ve got!

WOMAN

Here goes.

(WOMAN once again leans against the wheel, pushing against it. It does not budge. Meanwhile, MAN and EVANGEL make their way through the audience toward the WOMAN.)

MAN

I thought you said we’d be shown the way.

EVANGEL

We’ve made it this far, haven’t we?

MAN

But we haven’t found her. We haven’t even come close.

EVANGEL

If you don’t know where she is, how do you know how far we are from her?

PRIDE

Give it another try, my lovely!

WOMAN

Give me a moment to catch my breath.

MAN

Did you hear that?

PRIDE

If you insist. But I’ve seen few things in my life as inspiring as the sight of you in full swing. Go on; give it another try.

WOMAN

Hold on to your hat; this time, I take no prisoners.

MAN

There! But who’s that with her? You didn’t tell me she had a boyfriend.

EVANGEL

My sources say she doesn’t.

MAN

I’ll get to the bottom of this.

(MAN climbs onstage and approaches PRIDE. EVANGEL makes his way onto the stage, down center, where he sits and waits for MAN.)

MAN

Excuse me!

PRIDE

Yes?

MAN

Friend of the lady’s, are you?

PRIDE

You could say that. Bosom buddies is more like it.

MAN

So, you’d probably know whether or not she’s seeing anyone.

PRIDE

As it happens, I do. And she is. It’s a shame, really. He’s not good enough for her. I mean, take a look, my friend.

MAN

She’s beautiful.

PRIDE

And strong. And smart. And talented. She’s no ordinary woman. And who’s she hooked up with? Some jerk who talks a good game but never keeps his promises, who’ll leave her in the dirt if something better comes along. Unfortunately for her, there is nothing better. He’ll never leave.

MAN

Why does she stay with him?

PRIDE

Why do women do anything?

MAN

Yeah, but you said she was smart.

PRIDE

Oh, she is.

MAN

Not that smart, apparently.

PRIDE

Well, everyone’s got her own little foibles.

MAN

If a better man came along, do you think she’d…

PRIDE

Go to him? I suppose that would depend on the man. Who did you have in mind? You’re doing great, honey!

MAN

If a better man came along, do you think she’d…

PRIDE

Go to him? I suppose that would depend on the man. Who did you have in mind? You’re doing great, honey!

WOMAN

Oh, I haven’t even gotten started!

MAN

Well, me, for example.

PRIDE

Let me take a look at you. Turn around slowly. Not bad, not bad at all. I’d even go so far as to say pretty good. Still, she’s sold on her current beau.

MAN

But I’ve got things going for me.

PRIDE

Anyone can see that. But she’s not looking.

MAN

I’m better than he is, you said so yourself.

PRIDE

You’re ten times better at least. You must have to beat the girls off with a stick.

MAN

Well, I don’t like to brag.

WOMAN

I’m having a breakthrough over here!

PRIDE

That’s incredible! I’m so proud of you!

MAN

What’s she doing?

PRIDE

She’s a busy woman, lots of responsibilities, thinks they’re important.

MAN

I’m standing right here and she hasn’t even seen me.

PRIDE

Up to her eyeballs in work.

MAN

Talk about self-absorbed.

PRIDE

She prefers the term “driven.”

MAN

And she expects me to just stand here waiting for her to notice me? Does she think she’s the only woman in the world?

PRIDE

She prefers the term “driven.”

MAN

And she expects me to just stand here waiting for her to notice me? Does she think she’s the only woman in the world?

PRIDE

Plenty of fish in the sea. And for a good-looking guy like yourself, fishing should be no problem.

MAN

You’re damned right it’s no problem!

WOMAN

You should really see me now!

PRIDE

Lookin’ good!

MAN

I won’t stand for this. You know, I was hoping to find a woman who could be my equal, but I’m not sure I could have a real relationship with a woman who doesn’t share my level of intelligence. Thanks, man. Thanks for keeping me from making the biggest mistake of my life.

PRIDE

My pleasure.

(MAN returns to EVANGEL.)

EVANGEL

You didn’t bring her.

MAN

She’s not worth it.

EVANGEL

Says you.

MAN

Which is worth quite a lot. Let’s go.

EVANGEL

What’s gotten into you?

MAN

You were wrong about her.

EVANGEL

Did you talk to her?

MAN

I didn’t have to. Let’s go back.

EVANGEL

Something’s gone wrong.

MAN

Yeah, your “guidance” never showed up, and we found the wrong woman.

EVANGEL

I don’t believe that. We are guided; we shall be shown what further steps to take. We shall ask, and we shall be answered.

MAN

I thought you were my answer.

EVANGEL

I don’t believe that. We are guided; we shall be shown what further steps to take. We shall ask, and we shall be answered.

MAN

I thought you were my answer.

EVANGEL

And where is hers?

(HUMILITY enters near DEUS.)

DEUS

Go to them and teach them, little one, the way of victory.

(HUMILITY bows and crosses downstage to EVANGEL and MAN.)

EVANGEL

Aha! I knew that help would come.

MAN

This can’t be the right woman. She’s too plain to be the one you showed me.

EVANGEL

Handsome is as handsome does. Look, she wants to tell you something.

(HUMILITY gestures to MAN to come closer. The closer he comes, the lower she shrinks, still beckoning, until he is at last forced to his knees. She straightens.)

MAN

Oh. I can see her now.

EVANGEL

Not so homely, huh?

MAN

Not in the least.

(HUMILITY points to PRIDE; MAN turns to look.)

EVANGEL

What do you see?

MAN

That I’ve been a fool. I should go to her and beg forgiveness, grovel at her feet until she spares one word for me. I have wronged her.

EVANGEL

Go, then, if you can get past her pride.

(MAN, on his hands and knees, crawls toward WOMAN.)

PRIDE

You are just incredible, you know that? The weight of the world is on your shoulders, and you don’t even break a sweat.

WOMAN

Impressive, isn’t it?

PRIDE

No one can compare to you; no one can even come close.

MAN

Forgive me.

WOMAN

What? Who are you?

PRIDE

Where did you come from?

MAN

I came in under your radar. Forgive me, dearest one, I have wronged you.

WOMAN

I’ve never even met you.

MAN

Because I refused to meet you. I thought you were beneath me. Now I want nothing more than to be lower than you.

WOMAN

That’s ridiculous. Stand up.

MAN

Not until you’ve forgiven me.

WOMAN

Why would I forgive a jerk? Stand up, and then go away. I have work to do.

PRIDE

Right on!

MAN

Allow me to serve you.

WOMAN

I don’t need your help; I don’t need anybody’s help.

MAN

I know. But accept it as my gift.

(Still on his knees, MAN puts his shoulder to the wheel.)

WOMAN

Now there’s no room for me.

PRIDE

Tell him to lick your boots while he’s down there.

WOMAN

I think that’s going a little too far.

MAN

You could sit down and rest.

PRIDE

He should be your footstool.

MAN

If you’d like.

WOMAN

That won’t be necessary. Where can I sit?

MAN

There’s nowhere but the ground. It’s not so bad, though.

PRIDE

It’s not good enough for you.

WOMAN

I’m tired of standing, and I want to sit down. So I will.

(She does.)

Oh.

MAN

I know.

WOMAN

He’s really awful, isn’t he?

MAN

Especially since he kept me away from you. If we stay down here, though, he might leave us alone.

WOMAN

What about my work?

MAN

I can take care of it for you.

(HUMILITY approaches PRIDE.)

PRIDE

What do you want?

WOMAN

What’s she doing? He’ll clobber her.

MAN

She’s stronger than she looks. /p>

PRIDE

Go away, little girl. I have bigger fish to fry.

(HUMILITY holds out her rose like a rapier.)

PRIDE

Don’t make me laugh.

EVANGEL

This is no laughing matter; you might want to defend yourself.

(HUMILITY flourishes her rose. PRIDE draws his sword.)

PRIDE

Very well. Let’s make this short.

(PRIDE strikes HUMILITY, who makes no move to defend herself. She is unaffected by the blow.)

PRIDE

The strong, silent type, huh? This will make you shout.

(The same thing happens again.)

That’s impossible—why isn’t she bleeding?

EVANGEL

She is Humility, and not a thing you do can touch her. She has no ego to bruise, no pride to wound. She is nobody, and your sword passes through her as through the air, harmlessly. She is nothing, and there is nothing you can do to her.

PRIDE

We’ll see about that.

(PRIDE lunges at HUMILITY to strike. She grabs hold of his sword and pulls him toward her, raising her rose. When he is in reach, she strikes him with the rose.)

PRIDE

Ow!

EVANGEL

You, on the other hand, being full of self are full of that which can be wounded.

(She strikes him again.)

PRIDE

I’m bleeding!

EVANGEL

And you are powerless against her.

(She strikes a third time; he drops his sword.)

PRIDE

You’re cheating! You’ve drugged me, or something. There’s no way she’s that strong. Look at her!

WOMAN

I am, and I see a strength I envy.

PRIDE

Do me a favor, darling. You’re sisters: go to her and get her to whisper the secret of her power in your ear. Then come and tell me what it is.

WOMAN

I already know it.

PRIDE

Tell me!

WOMAN

It’s not being you. (She turns to MAN.) I think it’s time to go.

PRIDE

But what about your work? Your glorious work? Your monument, that generations to come will look upon and call you blessed?

MAN

I’ll build it if you want me to.

WOMAN

It’s not that important. Come with me, and help me build anew.

MAN

I will.

(WOMAN and MAN crawl on hands and knees toward EVANGEL and HUMILITY.)

PRIDE

You can’t get rid of me that easily, you know. I’ll sneak back in when you’re not looking, and take a stronger hold than ever before. And even if I can’t have you, do you think I’ve lost? (He points to the audience.) There are still plenty of fish in the sea, and my nets are wide. I’ll still have a fine catch at the end of the day.

(PRIDE exits through the audience. HUMILITY places her hands on the heads of MAN and WOMAN.)

EVANGEL

She has won the battle for you, but you must fight the war. Never forget or abandon her, and remain faithful soldiers in her army; be conquered by her, and you will never be conquered by another. None of you fighting under her standard can fall.

(HUMILITY helps MAN and WOMAN to stand. Then she crosses toward DEUS.)

EVANGEL

And as surely as she will protect you from harm, she will lead you home.

MAN

My prayer has been answered.

WOMAN

And mine.

MAN

Come with me, beloved, and be always for me the face of God, a sign of the love that spoke to me, that bears with me and teaches me to bear.

WOMAN

I will, if you will be for me the hand that bears me up and the voice that speaks His love to me.

MAN

I will.

DEUS

Then go, my blessed children, and know that my name is Love, already written on your hearts in letters that glow humbly bright. Write not over them, nor erase them, but blow on the embers and burn thyself in sacrifice, one to another. And thou shalt be welcome home.

MAN and WOMAN

Amen.

(They exit stage left.)

EVANGEL

(to audience) And go you all with hearts as torches likewise burning bright. This dark and ink-stained world needs light.

(EVANGEL crosses upstage to DEUS.)

(Blackout.)

THE END