Full-Length Play

Couple of the Century

A Romantic Comedy                                     by William Ivor Fowkes

Looking for love, marriage, and therapy on Central Park West.

 

 

 

LENGTH: 90 minutes (no intermission)

 

CAST: 2M, 2F

 


 

“…an intriguing play about the dynamics of modern relationships. The structure, moving back through time to the couple’s meeting, is compelling…a funny & accessible play that speaks to the difficulties of connecting with our loved ones.”

- Trinity Repertory Company, Providence

 

“It is an engaging, amusing, touching tale.”

- White Horse Theater Company, NYC

 

What with the state of current events, the world needs all the romance and comedy it can get…”

- Penguin Repertory Company, Stony Point, NY

 

Fowkes…is developing as a playwright, and this one contains at least 4 scenes that engage, inform, surprise - scenes that allow his actors to probe, seek and find subtleties in their characters. His dialogue is rich and stageworthy. … It’s always a joy to see talented writers stretch and grow.”

- Richard Seff’s NY Theatre Buzz on DCTheatreScene.com (7/14/08) 

 

 


PRODUCTION HISTORY

Presented at the Downtown Urban Theater Festival ’08, Cherry Lane Theatre, New York--directed by Wendy Peace & Nic Tyler; starring Wendy Peace*, Jerry Ferris, Janice Mann*, John Blaylock* (*Member of Actors’ Equity Association)

 

Couple of the Century is an expanded, full-length version of my one-act play, The Session, finalist at the Strawberry One-Act Festival 2005 at the Bernie West Theatre, New York; published in The Distillery; and nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

 
This play was licensed and e-published by Yes Plays 2014-2015.
 

AWARD

Semi-finalist in the Open Book’s 8th National Readers Playwrighting Competition, New York City, 2006.

 

SYNOPSIS

Nick Turner and Diane London are a mismatched couple looking for love, marriage, and therapy on Central Park West. After an opening scene in which we discover them at a point of crisis, the play moves backwards to explore the evolution of their fumbling relationship. Along the way we see what happens when people can’t even discuss what’s wrong, when old friends don’t help matters any, and when achieving sexual intimacy seems to require advanced acting skills. In the final scene, we’re back in the present, wondering if things can possibly work out.

 

CAST OF CHARACTERS

NICK TURNER. Age: 33–44 (44 in opening scene). Attractive, self-confident, charming and in good physical shape. College dropout from Flatbush (Brooklyn) turned successful contractor. Part Italian. (Appears in 7 scenes.)  

DIANE LONDON. Age: 31–42 (42 in opening scene). Attractive, articulate and reserved. Yale graduate from Short Hills, New Jersey turned therapist. (Appears in 8 scenes.)

ED. Age: 34. Pompous, competitive, “aristocratic” and stiff. A lawyer from Greenwich, CT. Married to Caroline. Former classmate of Caroline and Diane at Yale. (Appears in 1 scene.) 

CAROLINE. Age: 32-34. Friendly, funny, easygoing, and easily distracted. Married to Ed. Diane’s best friend. Former classmate of Diane and Ed at Yale. (Appears in 2 scenes.)

 

THE SETTING

The play begins in a therapist’s office at The Century, a large, twin-towered, pre-war apartment building on Central Park West in Manhattan, and continues in other settings in and around The Century.

 

THE TIME

The play begins in April 2005 and then moves back in time from scene to scene until it reaches May 1994. The final scene jumps forward to June 2005, two months after the opening scene.  

 

SCENES

Scene 1: April 2005. A therapist’s office at The Century.  

Scene 2: 3 months earlier (January 2005). The Turners’ bedroom at The Century. 

Scene 3: 10 months earlier (March 2004). Same setting.  

Scene 4: 7 years earlier (April 1997). The Turners’ dining room at The Century. 

Scene 5: 18 months earlier (October 1995). A restaurant. 

Scene 6: 16 months earlier (May 1994). A coffee shop.   

Scene 7: 11 years later (June 2005). The Turners’ bedroom at The Century.

 

 


AN EXCERPT

 

SCENE 2. Three months earlier (January 2005). Nick and Diane's bedroom. 

 

Nick is preparing the room for a special love-making session--lighting candles, lowering the lights, plumping the pillows, holding a rose, etc.

 

NICK

(calling offstage)

Honey, come to bed! It’s late!

 

Diane enters carrying a book.

 

DIANE

I know it's late, but I've got to finish this book.

(looking around)

What's all this?

 

NICK

Welcome to Nick Turner's love chamber! You've been chosen from thousands of contestants to spend a night in the arms of that master of love, Nick Turner!

 

DIANE

Nick, not tonight, please. I told you I've got to finish this book.

 

NICK

You can read your book any night, but a night with Nick Turner is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

(as an aside)

Especially at the rate we've been going lately.

 

Nick touches Diane--massages her, perhaps.

 

NICK

Come on--let me relax you. You'll forget all about that big nasty book.

 

DIANE

(tempted)

I don’t know. … It’s very sweet of you. … The candles are nice.

 

Nick starts to kiss her. After a few moments, she finally breaks it off.

 

DIANE

It’s just not a good time, Nick.

 

She moves away and gets into bed or sits on the loveseat. She opens her book, suddenly all chipper.

 

DIANE

Come here! Why don’t you sit next to me? You can read something, too. I won’t be long.

 

She looks around.

 

DIANE

You haven’t seen my reading glasses, have you?

 

Nick ignores her question. She starts to read, holding the book at arm’s length. He sits down in the armchair, bored and frustrated.

 

NICK

Hey, I’m sorry to interrupt your reading—I want to ask you something.

 

DIANE

Nick.

 

NICK

You can get back to your book in a minute and read for as long as you like. I can even go sleep out in the living room.

 

DIANE

Honey, don’t say that! I’m not trying to throw you out of bed.

 

NICK

Are you sure? Because I think maybe that’s what this is all about. If I didn’t know better, I’d think maybe you were having an affair with somebody, ’cause you sure don’t seem to have anything left over for me.

 

DIANE

Nick!

 

NICK

Where’s the sugar? I know you got sugar—you’ve given it to me before. I mean, we have two kids—that didn’t happen by reading books. So maybe you’re giving it to someone else or— I don’t know—maybe you used it up on yourself, but there’s definitely a shortage here. So, I wanna know… Where’s the sugar?

 

DIANE

There’s plenty of sugar in the kitchen.

 

NICK

O.K., I can be direct, like one of your patients.

(mocking)

“My wife doesn’t like to have sex with me anymore. What am I gonna do, doctor?”

 

DIANE

That’s not true! We have sex all the time.

 

NICK

Like when? When was the last time?

 

DIANE

I don’t know. Just recently. New Year’s Day. Remember?

 

NICK

Yeah—I remember.

 

DIANE

Nick, you’re making a big fuss about nothing.

 

NICK

My point exactly. Nothing. Nada. That’s what I get.

 

DIANE

Are we going to go all over this again?

 

NICK

I’d say that’s a good idea, don’t you think? You can’t just ignore these things and hope they go away.

 

DIANE

What things?

 

NICK

Look, honey, I know you’ve been very busy lately. The kids. Your practice. Shopping for shoes. Filing your nails. Flossing your teeth. Reading this goddamn book you claim you have to finish or else—I don’t know—or else life won’t be worth living. But what about me, for god’s sake? We’re in crisis, baby, whether you want to admit it or not!

 

DIANE

You keep saying that! We keep having this discussion! There’s nothing wrong with us. We’ve got a great marriage!

 

NICK

But we don’t have sex!

 

DIANE

We have sex! Don’t make things up!

 

NICK

Hand jobs don’t count! I want a physical relationship with my wife. Is that so wrong? I want to touch you, squeeze you—lick you all over. And I want you to do the same to me—the way we used to. And, yes, every now and then, preferably more than once a month, I want to lie on top of you—or under you or next to you—and enter you.

 

DIANE

How poetic!

 

NICK

You weren’t always like this.

 

DIANE

Like what?

 

He goes to hold her. She stiffens up.

 

NICK

Like this! See—you can’t even stand my touch!

 

DIANE

No, no! You just caught me off guard, that’s all.

 

NICK

(releasing her)

O.K., I’ll try again. I’m giving you plenty of warning this time. Are you ready?

 

She nods.

 

NICK

Sure?

 

She nods again.

 

NICK

No surprises here. I’m about to touch you. Here I come!

 

He goes to hold her, and she stiffens up again.

 

NICK

Jesus Christ! Your skin recoils! You’re allergic to me!

 

Diane gets up and goes over to the vanity table.

 

DIANE

No, no! I’m just distracted. It’s the book. I really have to finish it.

 

NICK

Why? Are you having an affair with someone who gives you reading assignments? Tell me what’s so special about the goddamn book!

 

DIANE

Don’t be vulgar!

(putting the book down)

Nothing. There’s nothing special about the book. It’s not the book per se.

 

NICK

Per se?

 

DIANE

It’s not the book.

 

NICK

Good. We’re making progress. What is it, then?

 

DIANE

I honestly don’t know.

 

NICK

Yes, that’s honest. Now let’s talk about it.

 

DIANE

I don’t want to talk about it. I can’t.

 

NICK

You can’t? A therapist who can’t talk about sex? Now THAT’S a problem. We’re not just talking about our marriage being in jeopardy—your very livelihood may be at stake!

 

DIANE

Is everything a joke with you?

 

NICK

Well, if I can’t have sex…

 

DIANE

Well, the joking’s not going to get us back on track.

 

NICK

(dryly)

I can be as humorless as your father, if that’ll help.

 

DIANE

Don’t drag my father into this!

 

NICK

No, I don’t imagine he’d be much help. Your mother, on the other hand—SHE must have a sense of humor. She laughs at ME all the time. You ever wonder about THEIR sex life?

 

DIANE

Can it!

 

NICK

I can't help being curious. Aren't you?

 

DIANE

Nick!

 

NICK

Okay. Look, we’ve both admitted we have a problem. That’s a great start. Now let’s work on that.

 

DIANE

I don't admit we have a problem. This whole thing is making me uncomfortable.

 

Diane gets up and crosses the room.

 

DIANE

If you really think there's a problem, why don't you go talk to a therapist about it?

 

NICK

Isn't that what I'm doing right now?

 

DIANE

No, seriously...

(brightening at a thought)

Hey, wait--that's a great idea! Why don't you come see me in my office downstairs?

 

...

 

END OF EXCERPT