Full-Length Play

The Hudson Guide to Table Manners

A Full-Length Comedy                                by William Ivor Fowkes

 

It's the company you keep.

 

LENGTH: 1 hour 45 minutes 

CAST: 2M, 3F (23 characters)

 


AWARDS

2015 NEW AMERICAN VOICES SEMI-FINALIST

(as A Field Guide to Table Manners)

The Landing Theatre Company's reading series, Houston, TX

2013 REVA SHINER COMEDY AWARD FINALIST

(as A Field Guide to Table Manners)

Bloomington Playwrights Project, Bloomington, IN

2012 W. KEITH HEDRICK PLAYWRITING CONTEST FINALIST

(as A Field Guide to Table Manners)

HRC Showcase Theatre, Hudson, NY

2011 NEW WORKS PROJECT RUNNER-UP 

(as Table Manners)

T. Schreiber Studio, New York City

 

 

PRODUCTION HISTORY

The following excerpts of this play have been presented, honored, and/or published:

 

“Table Manners in Buenos Aires”

PRODUCTIONS:

-- The Blue Slipper 10-Minute Play Festival, Livingston, MO, May 2012

-- Salve Regina Theatre Arts Program’s New Play Festival, Newport, RI, June 2012.

AWARD:

-- Semi-Finalist, 12th Annual 10 By 10 in the Triangle, Arts Center, Carrboro, NC, 2013.

 

“Table Manners in Chicagoland”

(including Table Manners in Chicago, Table Manners in Lake Forest, and Table Manners in Evanston)

PRODUCTION:

-- Catch a Star Theatrical (CAST) Players, Beaumont, CA, June 2012.  

STAGED READING:

-- Vermont Actors' Repertory Theatre, Rutland, VT, May 2017. 

AWARDS:

-- Winner, Nor'Eastern Play Writing Contest, Vermont Actors' Repertory Theatre, Rutland, VT 

-- Audience Favorite Award and Third Prize, National One Act Playwriting Competition, Cast a Star (CAST) Theatricals Players, June 2012, Beaumont, CA. 

 

"Table Manners in Evanston"

PRODUCTION (as "A Remarkable Man"):

-- Black Box One-Act Festival, Gallery Players, Brooklyn, NY, June 2017. 

 

"Table Manners in London"

HONOR:

-- One of 40 finalists out of nearly 1000 submissions for the Collective: NY 10-Minute Play Festival, 2014. 

 

"Table Manners in Mexico City"

PRODUCTION:

-- American Globe Theatre’s 15-Minute Play Festival, New York City, April 2012.

RADIO BROADCAST:

-- Spokane Radio Theatre, Spokane Public Radio (KPBX), Spokane, WA, April 2014.

AWARD:

-- Semi-Finalist. Hit and Run VII, Play-Makers Spokane, 2013

 

“Table Manners in Santa Monica”

PRODUCTIONS:

-- Artistic New Directions’ Eclectic Evening of Shorts, Theatre 54, New York City, March 2011

-- Turtle Shell Productions’ Summer Shorties 2010 Festival (as "Table Manners in NoHo"), Shell Theater, New York City, Aug 2010.

RADIO BROADCAST:

-- Shoestring Radio Theatre (KUSF in Exile, San Francisco) and the Public Radio Satellite System, March 2016.

AWARD:

-- Honorable Mention, Magnolia Arts Center's Seventh Annual Ten Minute Play Competition, Greenville, SC, October 2012.

-- Semi-Finalist, Little Fish Theatre's (San Pedro, CA) Pick of the Vine 2015.

PUBLICATION:

-- Clockhouse Review, the literary journal of Goddard College, October 2013.

 

“Table Manners in Tribeca”

PRODUCTIONS:

-- Turtle Shell Productions’ 8-Minute Madness Festival, Shell Theatre, New York City, April 2010.

-- Five Minute Mile Play Festival, Cone Man Running Productions, Houston, TX, November 2016.

 

 


SYNOPSIS

 

Come follow the Hudson clan—descendants of the founder of the Hudson Certified Vacuum Cleaner and Floor Care Company—as they play out their lives in restaurants, bars, and hotel lobbies all over the globe. From Chicago to London, Tribeca, Buenos Aires, and beyond, the tales of the Hudsons prove that people everywhere just want the same things—love and sex, respect and understanding.

 

 

AN EXCERPT

 

ACT ONE

 

SCENE 1: Table Manners in Chicago


Characters:

MICHAEL: Age 60s. The oldest Hudson brother. Charming. A "ladies' man."

KAREN: Age 40s. Sexy, flirtatious, and mercurial.


Scene: Michael and Karen are seated at a table in a restaurant having drinks. Karen is drinking a Singapore Sling in a tall glass with an umbrella. Michael is drinking Jack Daniels on the rocks.

 

MICHAEL

                                          (laughing)

I didn’t think anyone drank Singapore Slings anymore.

 

KAREN

It was my parents’ favorite drink. A classic, they always said. And it makes me feel like I’m on vacation.

 

MICHAEL

And where ARE you on vacation?

 

KAREN

I’m not really on vacation. I have work tomorrow.

 

MICHAEL

I mean in your fantasy. Where are you?

 

KAREN

Oh, I don’t know. … Hawaii maybe.

 

MICHAEL

Which island?

 

KAREN

Maui. … Or… No, wait—Greece!

 

MICHAEL

I don’t think that’s in Hawaii.

 

KAREN

                                          (laughing)

No, I changed my mind. The Greek Isles. I’m on Santorini sitting on the front terrace of my hotel.

 

MICHAEL

They drink Singapore Slings in Santorini?

 

KAREN

No—Ouzo. I’m drinking ouzo and watching the ships come in. 

 

MICHAEL

So how does a Singapore Sling make you think of Greece?

 

KAREN

Oh—maybe it doesn’t.

 

MICHAEL

You’re funny.

 

KAREN

Really? My friends think I don’t have a sense of humor.

 

MICHAEL

No, I meant…

 

KAREN

Oh, you didn’t mean…?

 

MICHAEL

I just mean you have a very…a very cute personality. Can I use that word? Cute?

 

KAREN

There’s no law.

 

MICHAEL

No, I don’t suppose there would be. Wouldn’t that be something if there were?

 

KAREN

I don’t follow.

 

MICHAEL

If there were a law against using certain words.

 

KAREN

You can’t say “fuck” on TV.

 

MICHAEL

                                          (impressed)

How easily you say the f-word!

 

KAREN

Fuck?

 

MICHAEL

See?

 

KAREN

I can say it HERE—we’re not on TV. At least I don’t think we are.

 

MICHAEL

See—I think your friends are wrong. You have a very good sense of humor.

 

KAREN

Maybe it’s just the Singapore Sling talking.

 

MICHAEL

Cute! The word certainly fits.

 

KAREN

                                            (goofy)

I think you’re cute, too.

 

MICHAEL

Well, but not in the same way, certainly—uh, what DO you mean by that?

 

KAREN

Good-looking. Cute. I mean for your age.

 

MICHAEL

Ouch!

 

KAREN

I don’t mean you’re an old man or anything. You seem quite vigorous.

 

MICHAEL

Thank you—I think. May I say something?

 

KAREN

Since we’re not on TV, you can say anything you like.

 

MICHAEL

I like you.

 

KAREN

Well, I figured you did when you came up to me at the bar. I like you, too.

 

                                                 Michael raises his glass.

 

MICHAEL

Cheers!

 

                                                  Karen raises her glass.

 

KAREN

Cheers! Hey, I forgot to ask. What do you do for a living? Or, wait—let me guess.

 

MICHAEL

I hate that game.

 

KAREN

Doctor?

 

MICHAEL

No.

 

KAREN

Lawyer?

 

MICHAEL

No—and not an Indian Chief either.

 

                                                   Karen laughs.

 

KAREN

Stripper?

 

                                                    Karen laughs again.

 

MICHAEL

Only on Saturdays.

 

KAREN

                                           (seriously)

Really—what do you do?

 

MICHAEL

Ever hear of Hudson Vacuum Cleaners?

 

KAREN

Sure—my mother had a Hudson.

 

MICHAEL

But YOU don’t?

 

KAREN

I don’t vacuum.

 

MICHAEL

That’s why our business is suffering.

 

KAREN

YOUR business?

 

MICHAEL

My grandfather started the company. My brothers have no interest in it, so now I run it.

 

KAREN

Wow—I’m having drinks with the Hudson Vacuum Cleaner Company!

 

MICHAEL

I’m sorry it’s not something sexier.

 

KAREN

Oh, I think vacuum cleaners can be very sexy. All that sucking!

 

MICHAEL

You can be naughty, can’t you?

 

KAREN

Maybe sometimes.

 

MICHAEL

And what do YOU do?

 

KAREN

                                           (deadpanning)

I’m a stripper—every day EXCEPT Saturdays.

 

MICHAEL

Oh.

 

KAREN

                                            (laughing)

Kidding!

 

MICHAEL

Your friends really don’t know you at all, do they?

 

KAREN

                                            (suddenly serious)

Before this goes any further—I’m a paralegal at a law firm.

 

MICHAEL

Interesting.

 

KAREN

Not really.

 

MICHAEL

What firm do you work for?

 

KAREN

It doesn’t matter—it’s one of the biggest in Chicago. Can we change the topic? I don’t like talking about my job.

 

MICHAEL

Sure. What would you like to talk about?

 

KAREN

What do you like to do for fun?

 

MICHAEL

What do you mean?

 

KAREN

I mean, if we kept drinking all evening, what would you like to do next?

 

MICHAEL

I can think of a lot of things.

 

KAREN

Pick one.

 

MICHAEL

Well, I’d want to go home with you.

 

KAREN

I like a man that knows what he wants and puts it right out there.

 

MICHAEL

All right, then I’m putting it right out there. I’d like to go home with you. …

                                           (suddenly self-conscious)

Uh…we don’t really have to do that. This is just hypothetical, right?

 

KAREN

You ARE cute. You’re the cutest vacuum cleaner president I’ve ever met.

 

MICHAEL

And you’re the most adorable paralegal I’ve ever met.

 

KAREN

Let me ask you something, Mr. Hudson Vacuum Cleaner. I won’t be surprised. And I’m not saying I’m expecting anything—but are you married?

 

MICHAEL

Guilty as charged.

 

KAREN

I figured you had to be—you’re a type.

 

MICHAEL

                                           (insulted)

What type?

 

KAREN

A little old fashioned. You like to run things—you run your company, right? So you want a wife to run the household.

 

MICHAEL

My wife had a successful career as a model for a while.

 

KAREN

And I bet you didn’t like that.

 

MICHAEL

I didn’t mind. But once we had kids…

 

KAREN

Right—once there was a household to run, you wanted her home running it.

 

MICHAEL

I suppose so.

 

KAREN

You’re a dying breed—a very attractive but dying breed.

 

MICHAEL

I think it’s my turn to ask us to change topics.

 

KAREN

I’m sorry. When you said you wanted to come over to MY place…

 

MICHAEL

I was just being hypothetical…

 

KAREN

Right, right—but your hypothetical scenario didn’t include my coming over to YOUR place—right?

 

MICHAEL

Well, no, that’s not really an option.

 

KAREN

See—that’s how I knew. So now we can change topics again. You choose.

 

MICHAEL

You see, we’ve been married for thirty-five years. She’s a wonderful woman.

 

KAREN

I’m sure she is.

 

MICHAEL

Not just beautiful. Sharp as a tack, too.

 

KAREN

I’d like to meet her some time.

 

MICHAEL

Well, I…uh…

 

KAREN

Kidding!

 

MICHAEL

Oh. You’d probably like her, though. Everyone does.

 

KAREN

I’m not judging.

 

MICHAEL

Judging what?

 

KAREN

Judging the fact that you have this wonderful wife waiting for you at home, but you like to pick up women and go back to THEIR place.

 

MICHAEL

Oh. … Right. … Well, I’m glad you’re not judging.

 

KAREN

I see that a lot—husbands with wonderful wives who still need to cheat on them.

 

MICHAEL

Hey, are you trying to break the mood?

 

KAREN

No, I’m just trying to be upfront. I don’t like to play games.

 

MICHAEL

Except for that doctor/lawyer game.

 

KAREN

Oh—right. You don’t have to feel guilty or anything. I don’t care how perfect the marriage—eventually men get bored and need other women.

 

MICHAEL

It’s not like that.

 

KAREN

It’s the law of the jungle. I know what you want, and I’m perfectly happy to go along.

 

MICHAEL

No, you don’t understand.

 

KAREN

No, I DO understand—that’s what I’m trying to tell you.

 

MICHAEL

Look, I don’t cheat on my wife because—I mean I don’t go with other women because I’m bored with my wife.

 

KAREN

Then why? Not that it matters.

 

MICHAEL

Because we don’t have sex anymore.

 

KAREN

Well, women can get bored, too.

 

MICHAEL

No, no—please. It’s not like that. I better explain.

 

KAREN

Men and their explanations. As if it matters.

 

MICHAEL

My wife can’t have sex.

 

KAREN

Wives and their excuses!

 

MICHAEL

She’s in a wheel chair—she’s wheelchair-bound.

 

KAREN

Oh, I’m sorry.

 

MICHAEL

Has been for years.

 

KAREN

What’s wrong with her?

 

MICHAEL

She has MS. Multiple Sclerosis.

 

KAREN

Poor thing.

 

MICHAEL

So we don’t have sex.

 

KAREN

Now I get it.

 

MICHAEL

It’s been hard.

 

KAREN

For her especially.

 

MICHAEL

Right, right. But for me, too. So, what can I do? Sometimes I need female companionship.

 

KAREN

You mean sex.

 

MICHAEL

Right.

 

KAREN

                                            (with disapproval)

And she’s home right now?

 

MICHAEL

Right.

 

KAREN

And you’re here?

 

END OF EXCERPT