LENGTH: 1 hour 50 minutes (plus intermission)
CAST: 3M, 3F (9 characters)
Published by The Eddy, an online repository of plays, and sent to its subscribers in December 2017.
Presented in a reading at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, Manhasset, NY in November 2017.
Owen Griffith, a famous playwright whose career is on the decline, has a rude awakening that forces him to question his assumptions about fidelity and infidelity.
After an opening scene in Cleveland, OH, the play takes place entirely in Manhattan.
The recent past.
A Cast of 6
Owen Griffith. Playwright. Verbose. Pompous. Self-involved. Oversexed. Married to Valerie Clarkson. Age. 40s-50s.
Janine Fiorato. Owner of a corporate public relations firm. Practical. Sexy. Sincere, but a little calculating and secretive. Married to Norbert Metz. Age 30s-40s.
Valerie Clarkson. An international management consultant. Sophisticated. Witty. Wealthy. Generous. Married to Owen Griffith. Age 50s.
Norbert Metz. A lawyer. Competitive, punitive, and calculating, but sometimes generous and devoted. Married to Janine Fiorato. Age 30s-40s.
Linda. Owen’s mistress. Insecure. Jittery. Stressed-out. Sexually needy. Age 30s-40s.
Gretchen. Guest at party. Attractive and flirtatious. Age 30s-40s.
Interviewer. TV show host. A bit goofy, dense, and obnoxious. Any age.
Josh. A waiter. Solicitous. Observant. Any age.
Bobby. An actor. Hunky. Flirtatious. Age 30s.
Music plays. Lights up.
Scene 1: A few years ago. A cable TV studio in Cleveland, Ohio. A banner or projection displays a TV show logo: “CLEVELAND ARTS TALK. Exclusively on Cleveland Cable.”
OWEN and the INTERVIEWER sit on chairs and wear clip-on mikes. An interview is in progress.
And despite all that, it still went on to win the Tony!
Wow! Very funny story! . . . Now, let’s talk about your latest play, The Philanderer’s Commitment—provocative title. It got gushing reviews at Playwrights’ Horizons in New York. Same thing when it played at Steppenwolf in Chicago.
So I’ve heard.
But, alas, that’s no guarantee we’ll take to it here, is it? You see, you make a rather bold assertion in this play, don’t you, Owen? You say that, in the future,
everyone will decide it’s natural to have affairs—healthy even—and all hell will break loose!
I’m not making predictions. I’m simply exploring possibilities.
But do you think the audience here at the Cleveland Play House is ready for such possibilities?
I don’t write for the audience in Cleveland—or anywhere else, for that matter.
Careful, Owen! Can you really afford to take your audience for granted in this day and age?
I’m not some market researcher trying to figure out what the public will buy. I write from the heart.
But with the market for plays shrinking faster than the glaciers, shouldn’t playwrights care about what the audience wants?
(imitating the interviewer)
Shouldn’t you be encouraging your viewers to attend more theater rather than sounding its death knell?
Ah, yes! Touché. Touché. Owen Griffith always gets right to the heart of the matter, doesn’t he? That’s why he’s America’s most important playwright.
Let’s not go there.
Okay, then let me ask you this—do YOU cheat on your wife?
There’s no need to drag my wife into this discussion!
I think you already dragged her in by telling everyone to go out and cheat.
That’s not what I’m saying.
I think the audience will be the judge of that.
Look, I just think we place too much of a premium on marital fidelity. I mean, think of the careers and reputations that have been destroyed just because someone strayed outside their marriage—the celebrity rags are filled with this.
(to the audience)
NEWS BULLETIN: Owen Griffith reads the celebrity rags!
You’re missing my point. Our attraction to other people doesn’t stop once we enter into a long-term relationship. I’m just saying there’s nothing wrong with that—we’re sexual creatures!
But how is society supposed to function if everything turns into one big orgy? That’s what your play seems to be recommending.
I’m just asking—is there a better way than insisting on complete fidelity on the part of one’s spouse?
So, you DO cheat on your wife!
OWEN rips off his microphone. Throws it on the floor. Jumps up on his chair.
Okay, you want to get personal? I’ll get personal! My wife and I have an open relationship! Hear that, Cleveland?! We screw around, and we like it! It’s OUR choice and none of your goddamn business! So, get over it!
(to the Interviewer)
Now, why don’t YOU tell us all the intimate details of your private life? Do you still sleep with your wife? Or do you prefer your dog? You pathetic little shit!
OWEN storms out.
(to the audience—excitedly)
This is going to be big on YouTube!
[END OF EXCERPT]