Full-Length Play

The Best Place We've Ever Lived

A Play in Two Acts and Four Realms by William Ivor Fowkes

How long can life keep getting better?

 

LENGTH: 1 hour 40 minutes (plus intermission)

CAST2M, 2F

 

SYNOPSIS: Life keeps getting better and better for one time-traveling family, but can it last? In 8th century Mexico, it's just another day in the life of Ivor the Warrior until he announces that his daughter's boyfriend is going to be sacrificed to the gods. In 18th century Paris, Ivor and wife Irene's relationship is strained when she confesses that she talked to a native and enjoyed his attention. In 21st century Scarsdale, NY, Ivor and Irene have mixed feelings about their newest community when daughter Iris becomes a superstar at school, son Ike appears to be stoned most of the time, and the parents engage in the local custom of extramarital affairs. In a future time and place, the family has finally found the best of all possible places. But what follows perfection?

 

SETTING & TIME: homes in 8th century Mexico, 18th century Paris, 21st century Scarsdale, NY, and a future time and place.

 

PRODUCTION NOTE: This play can be staged very simply or more elaborately. For a simple production, the set can consist of a blank stage with props as needed and noted in the script. For costumes, the cast can be dressed in casual black clothing throughout the play. Alternatively, each of the four “realms” presented can be fleshed out with scenery and/or clothing appropriate for its period.   

 

 


PRODUCTION HISTORY

 

2013: STAGED READING, presented by Love Creek Productions, the Producers' Club, New York City. With Sondra Hunt, Isaac Scranton, James Meneses, & Karen Sepulveda. Directed by Bradley LeBoeuf.

 

2012: READING (excerpt), Milk Can Theatre's COW Reading Series, New York City.

 

2009: READING, Northern Writes (3rd annual new play festival), Penobscot Theatre Company, Bangor, Maine, Scott RC Levy, Producing Artistic Director.

 

 


HONOR

 

Finalist, Cimientos, IATI Theater's new play development program, New York City, 2014.

 


EXCERPT

 

PROLOGUE

An image of an apple (the symbol of the clan) is projected on an empty stage.

 

VOICEOVER

Members of the clan, we once again call on your courage and resourcefulness as we prepare to conquer yet another new land. Be brave and remember that the gods are on our side—as always.

 

END OF PROLOGUE

 

 

 

ACT ONE

THE FIRST REALM: 8th Century – Mexico

Scene 1: Late afternoon. 

IRENE enters. Looks around.

 

IRENE

(to herself—plaintively)

Another move . . . Another brand new place . . . Will it never end?

(scolding herself)

Now, now, Irene. Mustn’t complain. No one wants to hear it. Especially not him. Just pull yourself together—they’re all depending on you!

(looking around)

So what do we have here? Hmm. Not so bad, I guess. Plenty of wall space, at least.

(more cheerfully)

Okay, let’s do this!

                                                (calling outside)

You can come in now, Ivor! It’s a good place!

 

IRENE exits. A moment later, IRIS charges in. 

 

IRIS

(looking around—disapprovingly)

Oh, no. No, no, no. Are you kidding me? This place sucks! The last one was so much nicer! Why’d we bother moving?

 

IVOR enters brandishing a club and carrying a rolled-up banner.  

 

IVOR

Iris—don’t run ahead of me like that! You don’t know who could be lurking around in here!

 

IRIS

There’s no one here—see? 

 

IVOR

Yeah, but you didn’t know that! We killed most of the natives, and the others ran away, but there could still be stragglers lurking around.

 

IRIS

But there aren’t any, right? I bet they couldn’t wait to get away from this awful place. It’s so lame!

 

IVOR raises his arm as if he might want to strike IRIS.

 

IVOR

                                                (angry)

Are you being cheeky with me?

 

IRIS

(scared—realizing she may have gone too far)

No, Dad! I’m sorry, Dad!

 

IVOR

Okay, then. Let me inspect this dwelling and see what’s so lame about it. 

 

IVOR looks around.

 

IVOR (CONT’D)

Good solid walls . . . Only one entrance—easy to defend . . . All in all—not bad . . . Not bad at all!

 

IRIS

                                                (disbelieving)

Really?

 

IVOR

It is decided.

                                                (announcing)

I claim this dwelling in the name of Ivor the Warrior!

 

IVOR unrolls the banner and hangs it in a prominent position on the wall. It contains a large but crude image of an apple.

 

IVOR (CONT’D)

                                                (calling offstage)

Okay, Irene! You can come back in now. I approve—it’s a good place.

 

                                                            IRENE enters with all the luggage.

 

IRENE

I told you! Why didn’t you believe me?

 

IVOR

Because I’m the one who has to make that decision.

 

IRENE

                                                (muttering)

Whatever.

 

IVOR

What did you say?!

 

IRENE

Nothing, sir.

 

IVOR

Good—then start unpacking and setting everything up.

 

IRENE

I need to rest first. I’m exhausted.

 

IVOR

You can rest later.

 

IRIS

I’ll be outside.

 

IRIS sneaks out. 

 

IRENE

Are you at least going to help for once?

 

IVOR

Warriors don’t do household chores!

 

IRENE

It wouldn’t kill you, ya know.

 

IVOR

Obviously! It would take a lot more to kill a warrior like me. But they’ve called an emergency meeting of the clan, so I’ve gotta go. 

 

IRENE

Wait—I’ll get my things and join you.

 

IVOR

Not you. It’s a meeting of the clan.

 

IRENE

I’m a member of the clan!

 

IVOR

Women don’t go to meetings! Where’d you get such a strange idea? Just stay inside and huddle with the offspring. We could get attacked any minute now.

 

IRENE

I didn’t see anyone.

 

IVOR

You and Iris seem to forget how dangerous these invasions are. Hey, what happened to Iris? And where’s Ike? The sun’s going down—get them in here!

 

IRENE

Cut them some slack, will you, Ivor? These moves are hard on them. 

 

IVOR

Get them in here now, woman!

 

IRENE

                                                (muttering to herself)

Whatever you say, Master.

                                                (yelling offstage)

Ike! Iris! Your father wants you in here now! I said NOW!

 

                                                            IKE enters excitedly.

 

IKE

Wow! This place is so cool! Did you see all those pyramids?

 

IRENE

Where’s your sister?

 

IKE

Helping the family next door move in.

 

IRENE

                                                (yelling offstage)

Iris! Get in here right now!

 

                                                            IRIS enters begrudgingly.

 

IRIS

Zooks, Mom! I was just hanging with Danny.

 

                                                            IRENE

Who’s Danny?

 

                                                            IRIS

That dreamy boy next door.

 

IRENE

Well, they seem like a nice family, but you’re my responsibility, young lady! If Danny wants to get eaten by a wild animal, that’s his mother’s problem. 

 

IKE

Hey, Dad! What’s with all these pyramids? I haven’t seen pyramids since we invaded Egypt in the way back days.  

 

IRIS

Oh, I loved Egypt! I miss all those beauty treatments. 

(acting it out)

Like rubbing almond oil into my hair. 

 

IKE

Yuck!

 

IKE pushes IRIS.

 

IRIS

Hey!

 

IRENE

No fighting, kids!

 

IKE

She started it!

 

IVOR

Ike!

 

IRENE

Your sister’s forgetting how difficult life was in Egypt. 

 

IRIS

I loved being a princess!

 

IRENE

You were a slave.

 

IRIS

                                                (shocked)

A what?!

 

IRENE

We all were. So be grateful for how far we’ve come.

 

IKE

                                                (tired of their conversation—urgently)

So who built these pyramids already? Dad?

 

IVOR

I don’t know.

 

IKE

Except these ones don’t come to a point. They’re like flat on top. What’s that about? You think they’re landing pads for star creatures or something?

 

IVOR

I have no idea.

 

IKE

I thought you knew everything.

 

IVOR

I know what I need to know—but I’ll ask them at the clan meeting.

 

IKE

And what about all these rooms? Sally says there are hundreds of them.

 

IRENE

Who’s Sally?

 

IKE

Just some girl I met during the migration.

 

IRENE

Ike, I don’t want you mixing with strangers. She might come from the wrong kind of people.

 

IVOR

Irene, she’s one of the clan. How bad can she be?

 

IRENE

Just because she’s one of the clan doesn’t mean she’s right for our son.

 

IVOR

He’s not talking about taking her. He’s just talking about having a little fun with her—right, son?

 

IKE

Right, Dad! Just like you taught me.

 

IRENE

Ivor! What’s he talking about?

 

IKE

Hey, Dad—you think these rooms used to be temples or maybe dwellings for the gods?

 

IRIS

Eww! What kind of gods would want to live in these cramped rooms?

 

IKE

Maybe little gods. Godettes!

 

IRIS

                                                (whining)

Ugh! The last place was so much nicer! Why’d we have to move anyway?

 

IVOR

                                                (getting angry)

Do I hear complaining?

 

IRIS

                                                (suddenly respectful)

Uh, no, Dad.

 

IVOR

(like a volcano about to erupt)

Do you kids have a beef about something? 

 

IKE and IRIS

                                                (in unison)

No, sir!!

 

IVOR

That’s better!

 

IRENE

Ivor, don’t be so hard on them. 

 

IVOR

                                                (angry)

They’re lucky to be alive! You’re lucky to be alive! We probably lost a third of the clan in this migration! Gone! Butchered! So don’t tell me about being hard!

 

IRENE

I know, but I just thought—

 

                                                            IVOR strikes IRENE. 

 

IVOR

                                                (erupting)

You don’t think! 

 

IRENE

                                                (meekly)

Yes, sir.

 

IRIS

Hey, don’t hit her!

 

IVOR raises his arm to IRIS.

 

IVOR

You want some of this, too?

 

IRIS

                                                (meekly)

No, sir.

 

IVOR

                                                (loudly—to everyone)

Who is the warrior?

 

IRENE

You are.

 

IVOR

Ike? Iris?

 

IKE

You are, Dad!

 

IVOR

I don’t hear you, Iris! Iris??

 

IRIS

                                                (loudly and defiantly)

You are, Dad!

 

IVOR

That’s better. And who’s lucky to have a warrior protector?

 

IKE, IRIS, and IRENE

                                                (in unison—obediently and fearfully)

We are!

 

IVOR

Okay, then! And don’t ever forget it! Or would you like to see what it’s like not to be protected? Just remember what happened to our next-door neighbors at the last place! No one ever did find their heads.

 

IRENE

Thank you for protecting us, Ivor.

 

IVOR

All right. I better go.

 

IKE

Can I come along, Dad?

 

IVOR

Not yet, Ike. Maybe someday soon.

 

IRIS

How about me? Can I come?

 

IVOR

Has your mother been giving you strange ideas? Now don’t let anyone or anything come in here while I’m gone.

 

                                                            IVOR exits.

 

IRIS

Mom, I’m frightened.

 

IRENE

I know, dear. So am I.

 

IKE

                                                (disgusted)

Women!

 

IRENE

Maybe things will be more peaceful here.

 

IKE

                                                (getting excited)

Don’t count on it! Sooner or later we’re gonna attack someone else. Or they’re gonna attack us. Man, I can’t wait till I’m old enough to go out with the warriors!

 

IRIS

But why does anyone have to attack anyone? The people who lived here before we invaded didn’t ask to be attacked. They were just trying to live their lives.

 

IKE

That’s how the world works, young lady! 

 

IRIS

You sound just like Dad.

 

IKE

Thank you. I’ll take that as a compliment.

 

IRIS

Why are you both so violent? I just don’t get it!

 

[END OF EXCERPT]