One-Act Play

Sisyphus & Icarus: A Love Story

A Play in One Act by William Ivor Fowkes

Opposites attract, but can this union survive?


Earthbound Sisyphus and flight-obsessed Icarus meet and fall in love. Two years later, they find themselves in couples therapy.

LENGTH: 20 minutes.

CAST: 3 (2M, 1F)


Scene 1: Sisyphus's workplace

Scene 2: Libra's office



Scene 1: Once upon a time.

Scene2: Two years later.



Sisyphus. Male. 37. Hard working. Earnest

Icarus. Male. 29. Beautiful. Exhibitionist.

Libra. Female. 40. Marriage counselor.



2019. LaBute New Theater Festival, St. Louis Actors' Studio, St. Louis, MO, July.

2020. Livestream production: Digital Dionysia Festival, Third Citizen Company, December.



SCENE ONE: (Projection or announcement) “Once upon a time.” 


Sisyphus enters stage right pushing a giant round rock slowly and with great effort. (If preferred, this can be staged minimally—and comically—perhaps with a stagehand carrying a drawing of a large rock.)



Cursed boulder! Hast thou gained weight? Or do I with each day’s labor feebler grow?


ICARUS flies in from stage left, hovers over SISYPHUS for a moment, and then flies off stage right. (If preferred, this, too, can be staged minimally—and comically—perhaps with SISYPHUS, wearing wings, carrying a chair on stage, standing on the chair momentarily, and then carrying the chair offstage.)



(without looking up) 

And now my sense of hearing is askew, for I do the flapping of birds’ wings so strangely hear, as if their size to mammoth extent hath grown.


ICARUS flies back in stage right (or carries his chair back in and stands on it.) Hovers again. 



(still not looking up) 

Alas, the sound grows louder still. Methinks my labors suit me not and will the end of me cause. Or perchance, I have the spiral to death already begun and angels now do hear.


SISYPHUS finally looks up.



By Zeus, tis no angel! 




Well, hello there.





Tis a god! A god with a body most beautiful and wings most monumental! 




Please cease thine effusions, lest the blood surging through my muscle-toned body most suddenly my visage flood!  



I am sorry, your godship.



Thou needst not apologize. And I like thee am just a mortal.



Alas not just like me, for I be but a simple laborer.



Thy humility is most pleasing and doth my interest in thee greatly justify. For in truth, twas my intention to attract thine attention. 



Wherefore wouldst thou my attention pursue?



Thy fortitude in tending to thy labors doth me most impress. Forsooth, no creature hath e’er touched my heart in quite this fashion. 



Thy skill in flight doth likewise my soul excite. No mortal or god hath e’er so moved me. 



That is why I did a strategy of flight in these environs pursue. Around thee have I soared; have I hovered; have I glided—but thou with nary a glance at me thy work did continue so to practice. I would this futile pursuit cease and off to lesser objects of potential affection fly, but thou didst all at once look upward. 


THEY stare longingly at each other.



And now our eyes do like two pieces of magnetite lock.



Thy tongue is most lissome. Thy words most gilded. But thou speakest truth—methinks henceforth our eyes shall ne’er be unglued.



Tell me thy name, earnest laborer. 






(hissing the name luxuriously in all its ess-ness) 

“Si-sy-phus.” Tis like a breath of air cleansing the mouth. My name is Icarus. 



(pronouncing the name with great strength)

“Icarus.” A name as imposing and monumental as its bearer.



Pleased to meet thee, Sisyphus.


ICARUS extends his arm down as if to shake hands. SISYPHUS lets go of the rock and reaches upward. Before their hands touch, the rock rolls backwards offstage. We hear a thunderous crash.



Woe be me! Look upon it and weep’st! The gods have cursed me for letting loose my work, like a distracted seagull letting drop the day’s catch of fish.



No, the fault tis mine. To see this mammoth orb of granite, the very one against which thou hast toiled and up that steeply tilted mound of earth pushed for hours of the day all at once backwards roll and with a crash come to a halt is most deflating.



Berate thyself not. If to meet thee be the outcome, I suffer this setback most gladly.



Oh, extraordinary Sisyphus. I feel a pang of contrition more extreme than any here before in my luck-kissed short life.


ICARUS flies down. Lands beside SISYPHUS.



Let me make amends for this most perturbing consequence. Wouldst thou dine with me this evening?



Most happily, fairest Icarus.


SISYPHUS and ICARUS exit arm in arm.