Libretto

(Excerpt)

Copyright © 2010 Francine Trester

Persons in the Play
SERGEANT MICHAEL O’HARE, a veteran policeman, 20 years of service
HELEN RINGWALD, well-meaning eccentric, really likes rabbits

TIME: The present

SCENE: NEW MEXICO, four hours northwest of ROSWELL.
To the left, the exterior of an isolated house. The yard is a flat expanse of alien landscape,
a dry stretch of dusty red and yellow nothingness. Nothing, that is, except for a multitude
of distant shadows dotting the fields, hopping with abundant enthusiasm.

Sergeant O’Hare surveys this Martian landscape, slowly shaking his head with disbelief.
He contemplates knocking on the door of the modest, somewhat rundown home.

SGT. O’HARE: This is crazy! Just completely nutty…

(Surveying the front yard again)

SGT. O’HARE: Twenty years on the force, and I’ve never seen anything like it.
Should have assigned this to Stevens or Smith –
They’re into this weird kind of thing…

(Sighing deeply)

SGT. O’HARE: Okay…let’s get this over with…
(Knocking on the door to his right)

SGT. O’HARE:
Mrs. Ringwald?
Mrs. Helen Ringwald?

(No answer, but flustered, panicky sounds from the interior)

SGT. O’HARE:
(More sweetly)
Mrs. Ringwald, perhaps you’re at home?
Won’t you please come to the door?

(More rustling and shuffling from the interior)

SGT. O’HARE:
Mrs. Ringwald,
We need to talk.
(Looking around the yard again)
I mean… we really need to talk about your…
Well, your situation…

HELEN:
My situation?

(HELEN runs from stage right, opening the door eagerly. Adjusting her mop of frazzled
hair, she smoothes her housecoat, re-attaches a slipper to her left foot).

SGT. O’HARE:
Ah, Mrs. Ringwald!

HELEN:
Officer, hello!
May I help you?

SGT. O’HARE
Um– yes, you may.
The name is O’Hare,
Sergeant Michael O’Hare.

HELEN:
Good day Sergeant!
Call me Helen.
(Extends her hand)
Forgive my delay in answering the door.
Was tending to the little ones, you know.
And we weren’t sure if we heard knocking.
Not used to hearing knocking
At the door…
(Somewhat accusingly)
…at this hour.

SGT. O’HARE
(Chuckling, a bit uncertain)
Well, let’s see, it’s eleven o’clock in the A-M
I suppose, if this isn’t a good time…

HELEN:
Oh no, it is!

SGT. O’HARE
I guess I could come back a little
later this afternoon…

HELEN:
Now don’t be silly!
Come in!
Come in Sergeant Michael O’Hare.

(With an inviting sweep of her hand, HELEN leads O’HARE stage right into the interior
of the house, a cluttered kitchen with a sticky linoleum table and two peeling vinyl chairs.
And everywhere…rabbits. On the floor, in the sink, under the table, behind the teapot.

Note: these rabbits may be stuffed animals strewn about the stage. The “warren” should
be animated and replenished from off-stage; additional stuffed bunnies will be
intermittently tossed from the wings onto the stage throughout the remainder of the
performance. No worries should one happen to collide with HELEN or SGT. O’HARE…)

HELEN:
Please, Sergeant,
Do make yourself comfortable.

SGT. O’HARE
Um…

HELEN:
Flopsie! Make room for Sergeant O’Hare!
(She shoves a bunny from the left-most chair. Hesitantly, O’HARE sits down)

SGT. O’HARE
Er– thanks ma’am.

HELEN:
I’m awfully sorry for the mess.
Been doing a touch of redecorating and,
We’re not that accustomed to entertaining these days.
(Laughs lightly, gesturing toward the bunnies)
We’re about all we can manage!

SGT. O’HARE
Yes…quite a handful.

HELEN:
That’s for certain!
Oh my, where are my manners?
Poochkins, let’s offer the nice man some tea!
Would you like some tea, Sergeant O’Hare?

(SGT.) O’HARE:
No, no that’s okay…

HELEN:
Iced tea, Sergeant.
Cool, sweet tea on a
Sweltering New Mexico morning.
O’HARE:
Really, I couldn’t…

HELEN:
But you look a bit peaked.

O’HARE:
I shouldn’t…
(Already pouring him a glass)

HELEN:
(Dreamily)
I’m known for my lemon, peach, raspberry, lime
Flavors that hearken to a simpler time
Genteel manners
And white washed porch swings
The banjo strums
And the flycatcher sings…

O’HARE:
Mrs. Ringwald–

HELEN:
Enough?
Well, then more for me!
(She pours herself a glass)

HELEN:
Of course, in China
Iced is not a traditional way to serve tea.

O’HARE:
(Impatient, wanting to get down to business)
That so?

HELEN:
Oh heavens no!
But some families make their own
Herbal types,
Black, green, oolong–
Isn’t that a marvelous word, Sergeant,
Oolong?

O’HARE:
What’s that?

HELEN:
Oolong!
Simply marvelous!
(Nuzzles a bunny in agreement)
Say it with me,
You’ll feel better!

O’HARE:
(Startled)
What?!

HELEN:
(Coaching)
Ooo–
Come now,
Together!

HELEN and O’HARE:
(O’HARE reluctantly)
OOOOOOLONGGGGGG…

HELEN:
(Beaming)
Ah, isn’t that nice?

O’HARE:
Um…

HELEN:
Oolong
From the Wuyi Mountains
In Fujian
(Sighs)
Oolong,
Fujian,
How distant!
Exotic!
Fills one with a sense of adventure, the unknown!
Have you traveled much, Sergeant O’Hare?

O’HARE:
No, not much.
Like it here just fine.

 

 

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