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“I enjoyed it. Nice austere but riveting small piece.”
Jon Jory, The Actors Theatre of Louisville on HORST AND GRABEN IN THE CONTEXT OF THE UNFINISHED MAN
“Jeff Gold’s work is smart, original, surprising, and satisfying. He knows the theatre well, what it can do and what makes it exciting. He also has a nose for interesting characters in unique situations. His is a wonderful theatrical voice. No question about it.”
Award-Winning Playwright Julie Jensen (Two-Headed, White Money)
“FITCH TODD by Jeffrey Gold shows a playwright very much in command of the form—able to shape rich and dense content into a short play with mystery and humor. The payoff of this play is very strong. You know why you’ve been watching it with attention from its opening moment and feel the curtain pays all that attention off.”
David Kranes, Former Artistic Director, Sundance Playwright’s Lab
“Jeff Gold’s work has a unique and quirky feel about it. His plays get under your skin, get stuck in your teeth until you find yourself compelled to laugh... to cry. A welcome voice in the world of theater.”
Playwright Jeff Metcalf, Founder, Sawtooth Writer’s Conference
“I was truly affected by his well written concise work. In each play, the dialogue flowed naturally, the ending gripped me and the final irony left me entertained with strong emotions.”
Kristin Ettinger, Assistant Editor, Pioneer Drama Service on HORST AND GRABEN IN THE CONTEXT OF THE UNFINISHED MAN and FITCH TODD
“HORST AND GRABEN IN THE CONTEXT OF THE UNFINISHED MAN caught our attention as an unusual, interesting and well written piece... we’d like to include it in our annual Short Play Reading Festival.”
Dena Nathanson, Director, Boca Raton Theatre Guild
“HORST AND GRABEN IN THE CONTEXT OF THE UNFINISHED MAN takes the conflicts and hardships of daily life and presents them in the form of a Vaudeville routine, in the spirit of Samuel Beckett.”
Steve Mathews, Director, Just Off Broadway Theater, Kansas City, Missouri
“DEDEKIND by Jeffrey Gold... is sure to hit the mark with a Lab [Theatre] audience. You know, them artsy types.”
Craig Froehlich, Red Magazine
Plays by Jeffrey Gold
In the Pursuit of Svetla
Horst and Graben in the Context of the Unfinished Man Fitch Todd
Percolation Theory Dedekind
Horst and Graben at the Chateau Godot Candycane Hurricane
Execution at Paradais Island
Displacement: A Fish in Water Story Grieving at Doors Fair Shake
by Jeffrey Gold
New York • Los Angeles
Percolation Theory © 2002 Jeffrey Gold Percolation Theory is published by Dramatica Press New York (347) 788 0037 • Los Angeles (213) 787 6066 • www.dramaticapress.com All rights reserved. Except for short passages quoted in newspaper, magazines, radio, or television reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, or otherwise, including photocopying or recording (visual or audio), or stored in an information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from Dramatica Press. This material is subject to a royalty and is fully protected under the Copyright Laws of the United States and all other countries of the Berne and Universal Copyright Conventions. All rights, including but not limited to professional, amateur, recording, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio and television broadcast, and the rights of translation into foreign languages, are expressly reserved. Use of this material by educational institutions can be secured from the author’s publisher, Dramatica Press, or the author’s representative, Corpus Polymedia, or the author. Library of Congress CataLoging-in-PubLiCation Data Gold, Jeffrey. Percolation theory / Jeffrey Gold.—1st ed. p.cm. ISBN: 145153972X EAN-13: 9781451539721 Umbrella vector art courtesy of www.multimedia-stock.com (contributor: clown) Author photograph (Cover): Jennifer Arnold Author photograph (Interior): Benjamine Justine Hubert Cover design: Corpus Polymedia Text Design: Dramatica Press/Corpus Polymedia Text Font: Optima First Edition, April 2010
For my father, Nicholas Gold
I sometimes wonder where ideas for plays come from; in the case of Percolation Theory, I do not. It is a disturbing funhouse mirror reflection of my experiences during the rash of downsizings following that horrendous event of late 2001. This lupus in fabula comedy arrived at my mental doorstep in 2003—right between the fraud of Enron and the spectacular meltdown of the world economy perpetrated by American banksters. In addition to the lack of ethics, working at many American companies is a relinquishing of fundamental rights as a human being and as an American. The brutality so evident at the beginning of the industrial revolution has become, over time, more insidious—hidden so it will not stick out like a sore thumb among the other advances going on around it in society. The worker goes to work, but what if the company followed the worker home? What is it like to be touched by a corporation? I suspect the feeling is much icier than the frigid reception one gets from a trophy wife with PMS after asking her to monitor her allowance following the day’s particularly notable spending spree. In short, it can’t be pretty.
Sugarhouse April 8, 2010
FINALIST 2005 Theatre Publicus Prize for Dramatic Literature
TOM MORGAN – Father. Hard worker. Unfortunately the compensation for all this work has not been commensurate with the effort. To add injury to insult, he was recently downsized by the Glasgow Corporation about 7 weeks ago. ALATHEA MORGAN – His wife. Housewife. Strong, but knows when to step back and let Tom feel useful. LESLIE MORGAN – Their daughter of 17 years. A pregnancy waiting to happen. ANDY MORGAN – Their son of 20 years. Probably involved with drugs. Wears a T-shirt that proudly reads “Wiener Takes Fall”. SHELDON GLASGOW – The overbearing owner and chairman of the Glasgow Corporation, a Fortune 500 Company. A portly man who enjoys the best things in life, because he can afford them.
A standard middle class home. Evening.
A kitchen with an adjoining dining room and living room. The kitchen has a door and an access window into the dining room. The kitchen and dining room are on stage right while the living room is stage left. The kitchen is farther back on the stage, while the dining room graces the front of the stage.
A couch. A set of chairs. A dining table with overhead lamp. A coffee table with a “ring of peace” sculpture. A standing coat and hat rack.
A standard middle class home. The kitchen is situated on stage right and an adjoining dining room and living room are on stage left. TOM Morgan is fussing with the place settings in the dining room. He accidentally places a fifth plate, but quickly retracts it. ALATHEA is stirring a pot in the kitchen. ANDY, with headphones on, is looking at a magazine and going through the refrigerator.
Get out of there. We’re about to eat.
There’s nothin’ in there anyway.
Why don’t you make yourself useful and get your sister.
Are we putting up any lights this year, or what?
You’re not gonna put up the lights?
I’m not gonna put up the lights. You wanna put ‘em up?
Ok, then. Discussion closed.
ANDY leaves the stage.
You’re not serious, are you?
mom.. and we’re always at least five minutes off. LESLIE enters.. Leslie! Andrew! Dinner is ready. You’re always givin’ us a false start. it wouldn’t take so long. Geez. but I don’t care about school. I don’t want the added expense on the light bill. you’d be five minutes late anyway. This way everyone arrives on time. That’s why I’m bringing it up.Percolation Theory TOM Of course I am. ALATHEA Then I’ve trained you well. dad. ALATHEA Well. I’m already here. ALATHEA It’s going to be leaner all around. 16 . Besides. LESLIE I will. ALATHEA We want you to finish your education on time. if I called you after everything was on the table. It’s going be a lean Christmas this year. TOM Did you get your assignments done? LESLIE No. TOM I’m just saying. LESLIE Well. Much leaner than last year. And frankly. if you guys would help around here. You’re already a class behind everyone else. LESLIE I know what you’re sayin’. dad. They sit down at the table. for everyone. LESLIE (shouting) You always shout that dinner is ready. TOM I know you don’t. honey. TOM Make sure you finish them. I can tell you that.
ALATHEA Please. mom. Pass the mashed potatoes. But since you’re hardly in the system. dad. ANDY enters. no language at the table. ANDY sits down. you’ve forfeited your right to comment on it. dad. TOM It’s reality. Now sit down and eat.Jeffrey Gold LESLIE Thanks. ANDY I mean. All this education. You won’t know what that is until you file your first tax return. TOM I know. TOM What system would that be? LESLIE The penal system. TOM Sure. Where did that ever get you? TOM Got us this house didn’t it? Your room? ANDY Yeah. sweetie. 17 . ALATHEA Hush. A blatant failure of the educational system. but what about now? The system is fucking you. LESLIE They don’t teach that at school. look at you. ANDY Could there be other hidden flaws in the system just waiting to be revealed? ANDY hovers around the table. will you? ANDY (beatlet) I’m in the system.
TOM Hence education. and heads toward the door. GLASGOW steps in. The only difference is NOW you get to choose which king to work for. ANDY I’m just not gonna be somebody’s serf. GLASGOW pushes past him to enter. But you’re still working for a king. ANDY Hello? (startled) GLASGOW Good evening. TOM We’ll leave that responsibility to the young. TOM You want to get that. The system will stay the same unless everyone rebels at the same time. The door bell rings. But that would require you getting up before noon. He opens it. TOM There isn’t? ANDY Nothing has changed. And most of those are assholes. so you can go and create your own company and become your own asshole king. gets up. wouldn’t it? ALATHEA looks up and smiles. I don’t have the time or the inclination to take on such a thing. Andy? ANDY groans. LESLIE Why don’t you do that. dad? TOM It takes a lot to do that.Percolation Theory ANDY There’s no difference between the serf system and the system we have now. 18 . ANDY That’s why the system remains entrenched. as if he belongs here.
who has settled in nicely on the couch. Could you take my coat? GLASGOW hands him his coat.Jeffrey Gold ANDY closes the door. except for GLASGOW. I guess not. GLASGOW I don’t really like artificial fibers. TOM Tom Mor. GLASGOW Yes. (looks at ALATHEA again) Everyone looks a bit perplexed. How can I help you? Not much. Glasgow. sir. mildly shocked) No. Itches my skin. sir? GLASGOW Yeah. TOM Thanks. Mind if I stay a while? TOM (recognizes the name. TOM Sure. 19 . perplexed) Thank you. GLASGOW Nice couch. TOM Would you prefer this chair over here? GLASGOW gets up. GLASGOW (looks at ALATHEA. Gives me a bit of a rash sometimes. is this the Morgan residence? TOM Yes.. ANDY Can I help you. Can I help you? GLASGOW I’m Sheldon Glasgow. GLASGOW Mr.. That would be better.
Glass will be fine. GLASGOW Fruit drinks. GLASGOW You have anything to drink? TOM Sure. but I don’t have any of that either. TOM Alathea. what DO you have? TOM Let me see. 20 . GLASGOW In that case. GLASGOW Naw. TOM Here you go. ALATHEA Sure. Anything else? ALATHEA We’ve got some fruit drinks.Percolation Theory TOM tends the chair. I don’t have any of that. sir. I think I’ll have that fruit drink you offered. I’ll take some Grey Goose or Belvedere. TOM Sorry. GLASGOW On second thought. but I’ve got some Dramboui. TOM I’m sorry. can you get Mr. I don’t want any of that. GLASGOW Well. Hah. we don’t have much. please. TOM Alathea. ALATHEA Would you like that in a glass. Water will be fine. or from the bottle? GLASGOW Don’t trouble yourself. what would you like? GLASGOW Rum on the rocks would be great. ALATHEA leaves for the kitchen. Glasgow a glass of water.
Pretty nice place. A little dark.
GLASGOW looks around, and spies a table decoration.
Oh, ho, look at that, I’ve got an authentic one at my home. Very nice. They come from Ixatlan. I’ve actually been there. Very nice if you can find a good hotel. The heat is something else, of course. Prefer the coastal areas, so I wouldn’t go there again if I had to. But they’ve got nice souvenirs there. A bit overpriced for what they are, but some nice things to hold down a tablecloth. Of course, doesn’t really make any sense here, does it?
Then why have it?
TOM mumbles something. ALATHEA enters with the glass and bottle.
Here you go.
She pours it for him.
Frantic Fruits. Never heard of this brand before.
It’s something you can get at the ...
This doesn’t have any aspartame, does it?
I don’t think so.
. TOM Oh. 22 . GLASGOW is fixated on something in his glass. no. Wouldn’t want to upset the precarious balance. It’s made up of two amino acids.. GLASGOW Now. we wouldn’t.. You need to take your woman on a trip out of here sometime. GLASGOW Very nice. I’m 41. I reckon you’re about 46 years old? Isn’t that right? ALATHEA (to ALATHEA) Actually. TOM You’ve been there. GLASGOW Name a place I haven’t! TOM I don’t know too much GLASGOW about your travel habits . (trails off as GLASGOW interrupts) You’ve got to get out there more often. Lots of beautiful. take her to the Seychelle Islands.. TOM Well. You gonna keep your family cooped up in here? GLASGOW looks at his glass and swirls it around. Morgan. TOM (to TOM) Where are those? GLASGOW They’re in the East Indian Ocean. very nice. naked women there.Percolation Theory GLASGOW Good. sir. would we? TOM No. GLASGOW The only granite islands in the world. Gives me headaches. one of which is already present in the brain in natural quantities.
GLASGOW Ah. 23 . A bit too sweet. GLASGOW Thanks. TOM Couldn’t agree with you more there. No wonder kids are all wound up like tops. GLASGOW Much better. isn’t it. GLASGOW sips from the glass. ALATHEA approaches with the glass. good. Looks like there’s all kinds of stuff floating at the bottom too. ALATHEA (talking into his glass) Can I get you anything else? GLASGOW I don’t want you to make a fuss of it. there’s the diluted Frantic Fruits. GLASGOW sits down again. but better than before. Maybe a little bit too much water. GLASGOW (looks at the kids) Hard to disagree with the truth. They just put too much sugar in these drinks. We were just about to finish up. was I? TOM Oh. ALATHEA emerges from the kitchen. GLASGOW gets up to look around. you weren’t.Jeffrey Gold GLASGOW This isn’t too bad. I would appreciate it. He hands his glass to ALATHEA. no. If you could dilute it a bit. Morgan? TOM Sure is. Fantastic. GLASGOW I wasn’t interrupting dinner or anything. GLASGOW Good. ALATHEA Sure.
Percolation Theory GLASGOW Say. eh? Well. Kids. do you have a globe? ANDY Globe? GLASGOW Yes. it depends on what you’re having. boy. GLASGOW What about a map? LESLIE I have a map. globe. ALATHEA Yes. like dinner. what are you waiting for? Go fetch it for us. GLASGOW Like dinner. sir. But would you like something to eat? You know. ALATHEA Can I offer you something to eat? GLASGOW Dessert? ALATHEA No. GLASGOW Well.. A globe of the world. GLASGOW You don’t have a globe. ANDY (matter-of-factly) No. I mean. honey ham and mashed potatoes and gravy. we’ve got dessert too. GLASGOW Let me guess: A National Geographic map of the world? LESLIE Yes. ANDY No.. (to TOM) GLASGOW shakes his head. doesn’t it? TOM We’ve got some honey ham. 24 .
and gravy. I thought he was wanted for insider trading. TOM Why don’t you sit here at the head. In that case. TOM goes into the kitchen with some plates. GLASGOW Don’t trouble yourself. Quite a long interlude interrupted by: 25 . mashed potatoes. TOM What? ALATHEA (to ALATHEA) He’s here to give you your old job back. let me at it. isn’t he? TOM (whispering) I don’t know why he’s here. these chairs don’t have arm rests do they? TOM Here. Morgan. See. I told you they need you. (GLASGOW gets up to inspect) Let’s see what you’ve prepared here. ALATHEA Tom. or is it that provincial country gravy with those tiny cut-up ham cubes? ALATHEA It’s brown gravy. ALATHEA Why else would he be here? TOM Beats me. On second thought. a dark gravy. let me clear some of this out of the way. They embrace and kiss. GLASGOW Excellent.Jeffrey Gold GLASGOW Honey ham. TOM and ALATHEA are in the kitchen out of earshot of GLASGOW. I’m sure of it. It’d be great if he were here for the job. What’s the gravy? Is it a beef stock gravy.
TOM Yes. Morgan? TOM Tape or thumbtacks? 26 . You know. GLASGOW That’s alright. I can hardly taste the food. doesn’t it. TOM holds out the pepper to GLASGOW. pepper. ANDY Thumbtacks. GLASGOW Tape or thumbtacks? ANDY What? GLASGOW Tape or thumbtacks. Morgan. The conversation’s already moved on. salt and pepper. Things that come in pairs. TOM What took you so long? ANDY We had to take it off the wall.Percolation Theory GLASGOW Any pepper? TOM Pepper? GLASGOW Yes. It reveals something of the personality. we’ve got some pepper. GLASGOW We don’t need it anymore. You can put it down. Ebony and Ivory. LESLIE enters with the map. TOM Here you go. ALATHEA Is it not spiced enough? GLASGOW Not enough for me. It’s a simple question. LESLIE Here’s the map. GLASGOW I knew it.
Precisely? Thumbtacks reveal a certain... insecurity.
Come on, Morgan. If you use thumbtacks, you might as well use bolts.
What about tape?
Tape reveals vanity. The less tape, the more vanity.
You see what, Morgan?
I see... I see what you’re saying.
I wonder what a globe reveals?
LESLIE stretches out her arms to mimic an oversized head. GLASGOW turns around abruptly and sees LESLIE with her arms outstretched.
(under her breath, trying to avert disaster)
I know when I’m being insulted.
The guy invaded our house.
Our home. Your mother and I own the house.
(interrupting, with a sharp look at ANDY)
I’m leaving, Morgan.
GLASGOW gets up to leave. TOM follows him cautiously.
not raining. you mumbling brat? Enunciate! ANDY I didn’t say nothing. Glasgow. You used a double negative. And. Glasgow? GLASGOW I agree.Percolation Theory TOM I’m sure she meant that in jest. Andy. I know you’ve got homework. didn’t I? You gotta think quickly. GLASGOW I agree. Don’t you think? ANDY Yes. it’s always better to think first before blurting things out. you said something. ANDY (recovering) What if she meant it? GLASGOW What did you say. Surely you know how children are?! TOM shoots LESLIE a sharp glance. GLASGOW “When it is raining. TOM Leslie. ANDY It wasn’t important. sir? GLASGOW You don’t think? ANDY What? GLASGOW I got you. why don’t you put the map back up. TOM Don’t you two have better things to do than bother Mr. 28 . buster. it is not. ANDY (recites) Huh? GLASGOW Double negatives. If you didn’t say nothing. Mr.” a nun once told me.
I’d like to finish my meal. kids. Montrachet 1990.Jeffrey Gold GLASGOW That’s alright. Morgan. GLASGOW takes the map and places it on the dining room table under the light. ALATHEA Please do. Not interesting: Economical. TOM Are you going to show us where the Seychelle Islands are? GLASGOW No need to. ALATHEA Durban? Where’s that? GLASGOW South Africa. I want to show you something. right here in Durban. Morgan steps back and cranes his neck to see the map. Of course. if you don’t mind. Why don’t you leave the map with us. here’s where we were going to be building our next plant. More drink? TOM Frantic Fruits? GLASGOW No. GLASGOW It’s.. GLASGOW Either back off a bit or give us some more light. TOM and ALATHEA all huddle around the map. Morgan. GLASGOW looks up. TOM Interesting. 29 . GLASGOW No. Thank you. Go ahead and leave it. I hope it’s alright. ANDY and LESLIE leave. It seems to be the only thing you have. Frantic Fruits. TOM It’s ok. GLASGOW Here. Now. not too bad. Now.. I already told you where they are.
I’ll give you an example: Last year.. ALATHEA Did she get something else in exchange? GLASGOW You just don’t exchange cars the way you do ordinary gifts.. Mercedes only made seven colors last year. TOM So little? GLASGOW Yes. TOM Well. Morgan. TOM What did you do with them? GLASGOW I put them in storage and haven’t seen them since. Too painful to look at them. Guess what? TOM (interrupts) What? GLASGOW She didn’t like any of them. GLASGOW My wife could not live here. It would tax her enormously to survive under such spartan conditions. Much worse than Imelda Marcos and just as hard to please. They were the colors closest to her personal preferences.. ALATHEA What colors were they? GLASGOW It’s irrelevant now. I bought her 3 Mercedes.Percolation Theory TOM We just haven’t stocked up for a while. GLASGOW It never ceases to amaze me how people can survive on so little.. I get three of them. Anyway. you know what I mean? ALATHEA What about your wife? GLASGOW What about her? 30 . each one a different color. Your family seems to be satisfied with a modicum of luxury.
Jeffrey Gold ALATHEA What did she do? GLASGOW She left.. ALATHEA She left? GLASGOW She left on a year-long cruise. Glasgow will stay out in the car. Alathea. Glasgow to have waited so long.. Understood? TOM As you wish. ALATHEA Please invite her in. This way it’s more sane for everybody involved. TOM (corrects himself) It’s not fair to Mrs. Glasgow in. ALATHEA Where is she now? GLASGOW Now?! Oh. GLASGOW No. I’m going to have to caution you to not contradict me: Mrs. That’s alright. Do you have to ruin it? TOM No. sir. It would irk her to be disturbed.. Morgan. 31 .. she’s out in the car. GLASGOW Very good. ALATHEA (almost caught by surprise) What? Your wife is waiting outside? GLASGOW Yes. By herself. it would tax her. Like I said. GLASGOW Now. she. please. GLASGOW We were having such an excellent conversation. A consolation prize. go outside and bring Mrs.
GLASGOW She is a horrendous person to satisfy. where were we before we flew off on that tangent. let’s leave the subject of my wife. What makes you think that anything you do will mollify her. Morgan? ALATHEA No. Morgan? ALATHEA Yes. Morgan. The economy is not conducive to that kind of expansion. Glasgow? GLASGOW You don’t know who you are dealing with. 32 . Now. I will show you the way. GLASGOW So. ALATHEA Nothing. If you will follow me. are we? Mrs. (trails off) GLASGOW Then we are all agreed then. GLASGOW What about you. GLASGOW That plant will not come to fruition. Glasgow. GLASGOW Excellent. Yes. right? ALATHEA (beatlet) The bathroom is right this way. Of course. Mrs.Percolation Theory ALATHEA Can we take something out to her. Morgan? TOM Fine with me. Mr. correct? TOM and ALATHEA mumble each to themselves something denoting agreement with GLASGOW. Glasgow will no longer be central to our conversation. do you. Now. Mr. Mrs. TOM (continued) I think we were discussing the plant in South Africa. what do you say. there must be a restroom around here.
ALATHEA I guess not. ALATHEA and GLASGOW leave by way of a corridor. ALATHEA We don’t have any other options right now—with the economy the way it is. you go out there and get Mrs. at least offer her something to drink. ALATHEA Now. ALATHEA returns on stage with LESLIE.Jeffrey Gold GLASGOW By all means. TOM I’m not so sure I want to go back. LESLIE What if she doesn’t want to come in? ALATHEA If she doesn’t want to come in. ALATHEA You think he’s finished with his meal? TOM I wouldn’t make any assumptions. TOM Sure. Tom. leaving his wife in the car like that. Now. (resisting) ALATHEA What a horrible man. TOM is visibly relieved and slumps into a chair. LESLIE re-enters. LESLIE Where did you say she was? 33 . go! LESLIE Ok. if she wants it. Lead the way. if that’s what you’re asking. Glasgow. TOM (to TOM) What did I tell you? ALATHEA It boggles the mind.
Glasgow. ALATHEA Go out there and check again. Went right through me like a plumb line. then returns to clear other things off the table. TOM and LESLIE exit. ALATHEA looks out the window. something just didn’t agree with me all too well. TOM Didn’t you listen? LESLIE I checked in the car. GLASGOW Well. GLASGOW re-enters. dad. Tom? TOM Alright. young lady. ALATHEA What did you say. LESLIE I checked the street. holding a dishrag. Maybe she’s walking around. I didn’t see anybody. ALATHEA What do you mean she’s not in the car? LESLIE She’s not in the car. Mr. mom! She’s not in the car. could it be the Frantic Fruits? 34 . ALATHEA I’m sorry. you want me to check in the trunk? TOM Don’t get fresh with me.Percolation Theory ALATHEA In the car. She enters the kitchen. sir? GLASGOW The food and my stomach were not in general agreement. ALATHEA walks toward the kitchen door. LESLIE Gee. TOM Ridiculous.
that’s what you call money down the drain. GLASGOW You’d be surprised. Usually those bottles are sterile. My neighbors on Staten Island had one installed on their estate for half a million dollars. ALATHEA She had reason to. Glasgow. GLASGOW What do you mean? ALATHEA I guess she knew she would get off this crazy ride before the rest of us. GLASGOW I don’t. GLASGOW She smiles more than the rest. if you believe in those kinds of things. GLASGOW To use the backyard privy. GLASGOW The photo’s overexposed. Mr. ALATHEA We like to think it was her aura. Now. She’s no longer with us. 35 . GLASGOW starts inspecting a picture of the family. Who’s the young girl in the picture? ALATHEA (beat) Our daughter Justine. GLASGOW What crazy ride? ALATHEA Life. Life. Where’s Morgan? ALATHEA (beatlet) He stepped out for a minute. or what? ALATHEA Very funny.Jeffrey Gold GLASGOW I don’t think so.
ALATHEA returns to the room. but loudly) Pardon? ALATHEA Oh. but there’s no other explanation.Percolation Theory ALATHEA I don’t either. Glasgow? GLASGOW No. ALATHEA (to himself) What was that. Just a slip of the tongue. Mr. He gets up abruptly and sits back down uncomfortably in a tightfitting chair. sir? GLASGOW Nothing of consequence. Mr.. ALATHEA Try biting harder. everything’s fine. GLASGOW I have a daughter. GLASGOW Sure there is. GLASGOW (to herself. I’m biting my tongue about ninety-nine percent of the time. ALATHEA You know. He takes the opportunity to wedge himself out of the chair. 36 . they say one shouldn’t say anything if one can’t say anything nice.. ALATHEA heads back into the kitchen. ALATHEA makes a belated return. He finds himself lodged between two armrests. Glasgow. and irritated. realizes that he’s sitting on the artificial fiber couch again. ALATHEA Something wrong. bad photography. nothing. GLASGOW Believe you me. GLASGOW tries to sit down on the sofa again. ALATHEA returns to the kitchen. smug with her comeback.
37 . ALATHEA Perhaps I can get your mind off of it. Yes.Jeffrey Gold Why do you ask? ALATHEA (beatlet) No particular reason. GLASGOW Glad to hear it. ALATHEA Your daughter? GLASGOW No. Lots of things the missus doesn’t approve of. ALATHEA How old? GLASGOW We’re not that close. Would you care for some freshly baked apple pie? GLASGOW How fresh is it? ALATHEA Very fresh. of course. Never have been. Drove her to it. Did I hear you correctly in saying that you have a daughter? GLASGOW (beat) Yes. I’m sure. GLASGOW I only like certain kinds of crusts. the missus. I do. ALATHEA I’m sorry to hear it. Always meddled in her affairs. Mr. Glasgow. Drove her away. ALATHEA Why’s that? GLASGOW Drugs. Just how fresh? ALATHEA Made today. GLASGOW It’s her own damn fault.
So do I.
When you clean your oven, do you make sure the oven cleaner is good and gone? I have a real sensitivity to toxins that land on my food.
It’s clean enough for a cremation.
Why bring that up?
It’s just an example. You know, Mr. Glasgow, you don’t need to have any of my pie, if you don’t want any.
I’m afraid I might be offending you if I decline. Go ahead and cut me a slice.
ALATHEA grabs a large kitchen knife.
I’d love to. But one slice of pie it will be.
ALATHEA returns to the kitchen. TOM re-enters with LESLIE.
(wielding the knife)
Glasgow, have you been sitting here waiting all this time?
No, Morgan. Me and your missus have been talking. You’ve interrupted a perfectly good moment.
As you should.
ALATHEA re-enters with a slice of pie on a plate.
Alathea makes the best apple pie.
That’s what I hear. Couldn’t have missed it if I tried.
. Glasgow. A pregnant pause. Well. GLASGOW Well.. as you know. and I wanted to discuss with you what we need you to say to the exploratory. the hearings are coming up fairly shortly. Lord of the manor.. what Morgan? Do you mind sitting down and stop hovering over me like a vulture. GLASGOW raises a fork into the air.Jeffrey Gold TOM Well. TOM Sorry. ALATHEA (beat) Tom doesn’t work for your company any more. GLASGOW You can afford to quit in an economy such as this? TOM I didn’t quit. GLASGOW Do you always occupy your time doing nothing for so long? TOM Mr. GLASGOW Well.. GLASGOW Well. GLASGOW What were you doing in the garden? TOM Nothing. TOM (looks around. this is my house. I can do here what I so wish. GLASGOW A strong argument that can’t be refuted. with mouth full) (beat) You got it. I think that’s what the little woman was implying. Tom. 39 . you and the missus are probably wondering why I have paid a visit to your humble abode.
ALATHEA Here you go. you’d like another? (questioning herself) 40 . An awkward silence ensues until GLASGOW has finished his slice of pie. ALATHEA (with a tinge of resentment) Would you care for another slice? GLASGOW I could eat your whole pie. He was fired. ALATHEA So. GLASGOW Up until today it was. TOM looks over: alarmed. GLASGOW Oh. GLASGOW (to TOM) I have to admit. this pie is not too bad. ALATHEA (with mouth full) I thought it was just an expression. GLASGOW I wasn’t kidding when I said I could eat the whole pie. ALATHEA walks over with the pie tray and serves him another slice. TOM Downsized. ALATHEA Does it matter? They watch in contemptuous silence as GLASGOW continues to chow down.Percolation Theory ALATHEA Tom didn’t quit. GLASGOW cuts himself a piece with a fork and shovels it in. TOM I’m happy to hear it.
perplexed) GLASGOW Have a daughter. I surmise. I mean.. as if anticipating the next question) Do you have any idea where she might be? GLASGOW Best guess? Wandering the streets. GLASGOW uses his fork to emphasize. TOM I was unaware that you had a daughter. She ran away from home one day. never to return. TOM Have? (looks to ALATHEA. 41 . in comparison to your daughter. do you? ALATHEA No. Inasmuch as possession has nothing to do with it. TOM (nervous laugh) (with mouth full) Justine? With his mouth full. ALATHEA (beat. GLASGOW (perplexed) Here you go. Morgan. GLASGOW You don’t see me changing my mind.Jeffrey Gold GLASGOW looks up. impatient dog: a Jack Nicholson moment. like a hungry. Kind of like my daughter. Would you like it in the trough? I mean tray? I can’t get over how gloomy you all look in your family portrait. Of course not. GLASGOW That’s the one. TOM It’s been difficult to adjust to her absence. GLASGOW I know what you mean.. How did she die? GLASGOW Have.
? TOM It was very difficult. Morgan? Isn’t there more you could have done? TOM We tried. GLASGOW It was very difficult. We tried raising the money. Nowhere to be found. though. GLASGOW Tried raising the money.. GLASGOW It’s really interesting that you have picked up on this thing. What about your daughter. Reconnect with her: No.. It’s probably a bad habit picked up from the tabloids. (turns to TOM. slightly annoyed) GLASGOW Naw.. ALATHEA Don’t you think that she might want you to. GLASGOW (calms himself) And.Percolation Theory ALATHEA Have you made any attempt to reconnect with her? To find her? TOM Alathea? ALATHEA (quietly.. And now you resent anyone who has money. Morgan? TOM No.. Is that it. 42 . We tried raising the money for her treatments. Curious minds want to know. That’s quite alright. GLASGOW Tried what? TOM Tried raising the money. TOM (matter-of-factly) Yes. Find her: Yes. chiding) Tom.. That’s not it at all. That’s not it.
where in the hell did you ask? TOM Around. GLASGOW You asked around and no one came to your aid? TOM (matter-of-factly) No one came to her aid. Jesus. You’ve got it down to sixty-eight cents? Why didn’t you just ask for the money? TOM We did. GLASGOW And you asked around and you couldn’t find it? TOM Not where we were looking. GLASGOW And insurance didn’t cover it? TOM Not that kind of money. TOM That’s enough out of you! GLASGOW (to ANDY) Well. GLASGOW Around where? TOM All around. 43 .Jeffrey Gold It was very difficult to raise that kind of cash. Besides. she was uninsurable. GLASGOW And you didn’t ask me. GLASGOW (unnerved) How much are we talking about here. Morgan. Morgan? How much? ANDY Seventy-seven thousand three hundred and forty-six dollars and sixty-eight cents. GLASGOW Well.
Glasgow sit outside in the car? Why? Why would you try to fool us about your wife. Glasgow? TOM Why pretend something other than the fact that she left? Do you think we would judge you on those things? LESLIE You should go look for your wife.. greedy place. and you make Mrs. but because of the condition around her. GLASGOW Not much one can do about that. ANDY Yeah.Percolation Theory TOM You were the only one we knew to ask. Mr. GLASGOW What did she die of anyway? ALATHEA (beat) Justine gave up in the end. ALATHEA She gave up because she found the world a heartless. Mr. She died not because of her condition.. ALATHEA What Tom meant was. and your daughter. GLASGOW What do you mean? ALATHEA Mr. I resent that you would make a comment like that about someone you didn’t even know. TOM No one is questioning that. then stricken it from the record. GLASGOW Well. You’re such an asshole. ALATHEA She wasn’t spoiled at all. Those were her own words. GLASGOW Sounds like a spoiled child. all this time you are here. Mr. 44 . mister. I’ve got my own pain to bear. if that makes you any happier. Glasgow. Glasgow. Glasgow. A pregnant pause.
. GLASGOW Well.. A long beat of silence. interesting. and starts writing. I just hope you won’t make the same mistake with them as I did with mine. no. then you might be a bit more compassionate. I suppose. I thank you for your hospitality. uncaps a Mont Blanc pen. I don’t know what to say about your progeny. I found the crust. Morgan. I hope you didn’t trouble yourself too much in making it. When you’ve gone through what Mr. I’m appalled. forget it. I don’t know what to say. GLASGOW (beat.. almost as if to himself) 45 .. to ALATHEA) (beat. I thank you for your pie. Glasgow. For someone who always has had words at the ready. whose side are you on anyway? ALATHEA Justine would have been appalled at this. That didn’t come out right.. GLASGOW puts on his hat. dad. this is an uncomfortable situation in which to find oneself.. Glasgow’s gone through. Mrs. I’m not going to make a speech of it. I don’t know what to say. but I think you know what I mean. TOM Shut up! Andrew. ANDY Jesus Christ. to TOM) (aside) Thank you! Morgan: just one thing before I go. Seventy-seven thousand three hundred and what? GLASGOW pulls out a checkbook from his coat pocket. GLASGOW . and you know where I’m going.ah. pleasing. No! Interesting.Jeffrey Gold TOM smacks Andrew. (beat... You haven’t earned the right to be disrespectful of Mr. Maybe they won’t end up any worse than my own kid.. GLASGOW puts down his fork.. Morgan. so I’m going to reserve judgment until they grow up. Do you mind getting my coat? TOM helps him put it on and then hands him his hat. Morgan.
46 . TOM walks over to the door.Percolation Theory GLASGOW Forty-six dollars and sixty-eight cents. All your troubles down the drain as if by an act of Congress. The others just stand around: dumbfounded. slowly folds it—and what looks like he’s going to put it in his shirt pocket—transforms to TOM ripping up the check. GLASGOW The holidays are a lonesome season. GLASGOW There you have it. don’t you think? He looks at ANDY again. and LESLIE walk over. He places the check on the table. GLASGOW walks toward the door. you say? He points his pen at ANDY. TOM doesn’t know what to do. He tears the check from the checkbook. in a debonair fashion. They stand around it for a while. to look at the check on the table. glances at it briefly. The check is bathed in the light from the hanging lamp. ANDY. admiring it as if they were looking at a Christ-in-the-manger exhibit for the first time: a silent ooh and aah emanates from this still-life ensemble. GLASGOW Well. TOM slowly picks up the check. I think that is something we can manage. He stops. He pulls open the door and steps out. GLASGOW swirls his pen around with gusto as if he were signing the Declaration of Independence. and hands it to TOM while simultaneously. and winks. as if inspecting it. ALATHEA. Morgan. He turns around. looks at the family. He holds onto the door handle. he puts away the pen and then stows the checkbook back in his coat pocket. one by one. and walks over to the table. in silence. Slowly. except to slowly close the door.
ANDY What do we do now? ALATHEA (beat) We do what we always do. But the man ate it all. LESLIE (looks at ALATHEA. Dad? ANDY We could have bought a lot of things with that. he didn’t. knowingly) ALATHEA leaves for the kitchen. TOM But it will never bring her back. ALATHEA returns. TOM No. TOM (buoyant) I say we have some pie. did you? They all sit down at the table while ALATHEA serves the pie. END OF PLAY 47 .Jeffrey Gold LESLIE Why did you do that. A slow fade of lights. ALATHEA You didn’t think I’d bake just one.
Playwright Jeffrey Gold at Cambridge University/Benjamine Justine Hubert
Educated at Cambridge University, Westminster College, and the University of Utah, Jeffrey Gold was a member of the Playwright’s Group for more than three seasons, through the auspices of the Salt Lake Acting Company (SLAC) under dramaturg Mike Dorrell (BBC’s Soldier, Soldier, Pictures of a Floating World) and playwright-in-residence Julie Jensen (Two-Headed, Last Lists of My Mad Mother, Wait!). His plays IN THE PURSUIT OF SVETLA, HORST AND GRABEN IN THE CONTEXT OF THE UNFINISHED MAN, FITCH TODD, PERCOLATION THEORY, DEDEKIND, HORST AND GRABEN AT THE CHATEAU GODOT, CANDYCANE HURRICANE, EXECUTION AT PARADAIS ISLAND, DISPLACEMENT: A FISH IN WATER STORY, GRIEVING AT DOORS, and FAIR SHAKE have garnered numerous awards, readings, and productions, including the 2002 CrossCurrents Cultural Five and Dime Playwriting Competition, 2003 Boca Raton Theatre Guild Short Play Reading Festival, 2003 Ten by Ten in the Triangle (Finalist), 2003 Shorts in Winter Playwriting Festival, 2003 Experiments In Ink V Playwriting Competition, 2004 Women in Theatre Play Reading Series, 2004 New Voices/New Words Playwriting Contest, 2004 Moondance International Film Festival Stageplay Competition, 2005 Moondance International Film Festival Seahorse Award (Finalist), 2005 Theatre Publicus Prize for Dramatic Literature (Finalist), 2006 Silver Spring One-Act Festival, and more. Jeffrey Gold was the Best of State Medal Winner in Playwriting in 2005 and 2006, and 2007.
A Corpus Polymedia Company
Dramatica Press New York 347 788 0037 Los Angeles 213 787 6066 www.dramaticapress.com
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