The Main Stage Murders

Alexis as Host:  Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome. You are about to embark on a backstage tour of the Eastern Guild Playhouse.  The company has been hard at work in mounting its upcoming main stage production of the classic Feiden Grapevine musical Blossom Time, while simultaneously preparing its annual murder mystery dinner show: Murder In Black and White.  If you paid attention during the cocktail hour you may have noticed that all was not as it should be… that something seemed askew. Even though all the actors belong to the same theatre company, the two show casts may have appeared somewhat resentful of each other.  In fact, if you had the opportunity to speak to any members of either troupe, you may have sensed an air of envy, antagonism and maybe even conspiracy. Take notice of your resolution form and make notes if you wish. Later on you may have the chance to get involved in an investigation. But for now, take heed ladies and gentlemen, for you are in for an evening of mystery, mayhem, and maybe even murder. And now…let’s join Eastern Guild Playhouse Artistic Director Ben Barker as he rehearses his cast for Murder In Black and White.

Music FX

Scene 1

Ben:  All right gang…we are quickly running out of time on this show. We open in three days.  We’ve got to get this together…and fast.

Uma: You’re right Ben…but it’s not totally our fault.  It seems like every time we start to make progress on this show, we get booted off the stage by the cast of Blossom Time.

Ben: Yes…I know that’s been a problem, but our main stage shows have to take priority over our murder mysteries. They just have too.  You know as well as I do that they generate big box office which the Playhouse desperately needs in order to survive.

Uma: I know. But it just doesn’t seem fair.

Al: Fair? Fair?  You want to talk about fair. What’s fair about what happened to my darling Pamela.

Clark: (sympathizing with Al)  I know fella…it was unbelievable.

Al:  I still can’t believe she’s gone.

Clark:  None of us can.  One day, Pamela is here with all of us….she leaves for work at the deli next door…and by some happenstance…locks herself in the freezer over Easter weekend.

Alexis: So sad…but on the bright side… her ice sculpture attracted people from all over. She had a lot of appeal. Lots of “Likes.”

Lacey: …until she started to melt.

Bobby: Yeah…she ended up in puddles all over the parking lot.

(Al lets out a horrific moan. The company members gather around and comfort him.)

Ben: It was horrible.  But, gang, you know what they say.

Bobby: Yes! (Very dramatically)  It’s the journey not the destination!

All:  Huh! (or similar bewilderments)

Ben:  I was going for….”the show must go on!”

Lacey: ( to Bobby)  Idiot!!!!

Bobby: Bite me!

Lacey: Not in your wildest dreams, Bobby!

Ben:  All right!…all right….so… lets take it from the top of the scene….

Al: (recovering) Okay…top of the scene.  Lacey, you start it.  

Ben: Action.

(Lacey portrays Betty and Bobby plays Arnie.  As usual Bobby is over the top.  Al follows the script as a prompter.  Music FX)

Lacey as Betty:  Oh, Arnie…could you wait a minute.  

Bobby as Arnie: Yes, Mrs. Buttock? (a big stiff gesture on each word)

Lacey as Betty:  C’mere.  I won’t bite……I promise. (giggle)

(Bobby as Arnie approaches her)

Lacey as Betty:  (She’s flirty and touchy) Listen…I’m sorry I yelled at you just now.  I didn’t mean anything.  It’s just that it seems I’ve always had to dig Billy out of trouble.  I don’t have anything against you.  Do you have anything against me?

Bobby as Arnie:  No.

Lacey as Betty: (ad libbing) Would you like to have something against me?

Bobby:  Huh?

Al wails

Ben:  Cut!  Lacey…what are you doing?  “Would you like to have something against me!?”  I don’t see that line anywhere in the script…Lacey!

Lacey:  Pretty funny though…right Ben?  Pret-ty funny!

Bobby: Ugh!  I can’t work like this!

Lacey:  Oh, c’mon…all of you.  Let’s face it.  The script is just a blueprint.  As actors it’s up to us to give it some life.  And believe me, this script needs all the life we can give it.

Bobby: You’re violating my process Lacey!  You’re violating my process ! Unlike you…I’m a professional!

Lacey: Oh, please, Bobby.  You can stick your process where the sun don’t shine.

(Bobby lunges at Lacey. The others take sides and a mini-brawl flies out of control…as only a dispute among theatre people can.  Al wails at the top of his lungs. Unseen by the group,  Sonja Sour-Cuntfurter enters and tries to catch the casts attention. Finally she is noticed by Alexis who points her out to Ben.)

Ben: Hold it.  Hold it everybody.  (Loudly)  KNOCK IT OFF! (Ben smiles. )  Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter!  Hello!  Welcome to the Eastern Guild Playhouse!  Sorry, I didn’t see you at first.

Sonja: Well, I’m not surprised.  How could you be aware of anything while surrounded by such chaos.  Disgraceful!

Ben: Sorry about that, Ma’am. (To the group)  Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter is the president of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.  Our theatre has applied for operating grant money through her organization.

(Group members smile and nod.)

Al: Did you hear what happened to my darling Pamela? (He wails.  Clark pulls Al away.)

Ben: I’m so sorry Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter.  Al’s been going through a rough patch.

Sonja:  Hmm! Well it appears it was a good thing that I popped in when I did.  Obviously, I can’t recommend public funding for such a flim-flam operation.

(Disappointment turns to anger on the faces of the members.  There are some audible unpleasant ad libs.)

Ben:  Please Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter,— we were merely engaged in the artistic process of give and take.  We are all very collegial…right folks?

(All agree as Lacey wraps her arm around Bobby in a pseudo-headlock.  Both Lacey and Bobby force smiles.)

Sonja: Hmm…well perhaps I was a bit hasty. Tell me a little bit about the project you’re working on.

Ben:  It’s called Murder In Black and White.

Alexis: It’s a murder mystery about a guy who get’s shot in the ass during a live 1940’s radio broadcast.

(Each of the actors starts talking about his or her character at the same time, surrounding Sonja.)

Sonja: STOP!  It sounds positively dreadful.  How can you expect to be funded for such drivel.

(Pricilla, Stuart and Marco have entered—)

Pricilla: Of course we don’t expect such a thing.  Our main stage production is the classic Feidon Grapevine musical, Blossom Time.  

Sonja: Oh…well… that’s a different matter entirely.  I adore Grapevine’s work.

Stuart: We all do. (He moves Pricilla away from the murder mystery actors.)  Well…. we all do.

Pricilla:  I’m playing the soprano lead.  I played Mabel in Pirates of Penzance last season.  I was wonderful.

Stuart:  I’m the tenor.  I have a slight headache.

Marco:  (Falsetto)  …and I’m the bass.  (He flits a bit.)  I’m a real swashbuckler!

Sonja: Well, that sounds more like what the Council is looking for.  (She moves in on Ben.)  Mr. Barker—(she grabs his ass)

Ben: (gasp) Aaeh

Sonja: Perhaps we could slip away to discuss the proposition in private.

(She leads a speechless Ben out.)

Pricilla:  All right. Stuart and I need to rehearse. (Others stare at her.) Which means it’s time for the riff-riff to clear the decks. (Still staring)  GET OUT OF HERE!

(Troupe members hop-to and start to exit. Uma pauses and then moves to Pricilla.)

Uma:  Hey…Mabel…or whoever you are!  I’m new to this racket.  It’s not really my thing…but Ben’s a good guy and he asked me to help out. So here I am. I have no idea who the hell you are or what gives you the right to think you can boss me around. (She backs her down)  But hear this…bitch…you don’t wanna mess with me. Believe me…you don’t wanna even think about it……because sure as God made little green apples… I’ll wrap your bra around your neck and swing you over my head like a sling shot.  Got it….Mabel!

Pricilla: (mousy) Uh-huh

(Uma exits.  Pricilla looks faint. She runs to Stuart for comfort.)

Stuart:  Ugh…I feel a little nauseous.

Marco:  Are you all right, dear?

Pricilla: I…I think so. (Coming out of it…releasing her wrath on Marco.)  A lot you care!  How could you let her talk to me like that!  That wench treated me like I was a nobody. And you didn’t do anything to stop her.

Marco: But darling…..

Pricilla: Get out of my sight…both of you!

(Marco and Stuart exit. Pricilla begins to cry.)  


FX Out

Scene 2

Clark, Lacey, Alexis, Bobby, and Uma are preparing to rehearse. Al is in charge.

Al:  All right people.  Ben texted me that we should start without him. He’s stuck somewhere with that arts council lady. I’ll take you through your scenes.

Bobby: No offense Al, but I’m not comfortable with you at the helm.

(Al starts to tear up.)

Bobby: It’s nothing personal, you just don’t seem like you’re in control lately.

Lacey: For once I agree with Bobby. I think we should wait for Ben.  Al’s just not with it these days.

Al:  Not with it?! Out of control?! You’re damn right I’m out of control.  The love of my life is still dripping all over the parking lot.  How would you feel (in Bobby’s face) or you (in Clark’s)

Clark:  Hey…I haven’t said a thing….

Al: Or you!  (He moves to get in Lacey’s face but only comes up to her chest.)  Oh…(whimpering) they remind me of Pamela. (He wails)

They all exit but Al who is alone on stage.  His cell phone rings.

Al:  Hello!  Yes, this is Al Spuddlesnug.  Yes….my ex-wife is Melinda Spuddlesnug.  What?  No…you can’t release her from prison! You just can’t! She’s dangerous!  She tried to kill me and my girlfriend!  Oh, it’s complicated.  You can watch it on YouTube.   What time is the hearing?  All right, if I leave right now I should be able to get there in time.  Don’t start without me! And, whatever you do, DON’T LET HER OUT! (He’s out.)

Scene 3

(Sonja and Ben enter.  Sonja is holding Ben’s arm.)

Sonja: So tell me, Mr. Ben Barker…you seem like a smart fellow.  How can you bring yourself to be involved with that tacky murder mystery, when you have the talent to produce Feiden Grapevine musicals.  Seems like a waste.

Ben: No…I don’t see it that way.  I think it takes just as much ability to pull off a show like Murder In Black and White as it does Blossom Time or any other theatre piece for that matter.

Sonja: (skeptical) Oh…please!

Ben: Really, it’s true.  It’s just different that’s all. It’s a different skill set. Murder mystery actors have to be sharp and focused.  They have to be ready to improvise on a dime.  Sure…the characters are larger than life and mostly unrealistic…..but suddenly breaking into song every few minutes is not exactly realistic either.

Sonja: Hmm….I never thought of it that way.  (She turns to embrace him.) You’re opening up a whole new world to me.  And I like it.  Like Frieden Grapevine says…

(She sings…gropingly encircling Ben)

I really love to  sing…

You make my heart go ding-dong-ding-dong-ding

Vibration…gyration….pulsation…inflation …..hydration…..libation….jactation….EEEE-lation

Ben: (Escaping and moving away…forced laugh) … well…lovely. Very nice.  Does that mean you’re going to approve our funding?

Sonja:  (Moving to him.)  Maybe.  Maybe not. We’ll see.  (She grabs him by his belt buckle and leads him out.) You be nice to me…and ……..we’ll see…(she starts singing again—they’re out)

Scene 4

Marco enters, looking around the playing area. Pricilla follows cautiously behind.  Stuart waits on the peripheral of the space.

Pricilla:  Are those freaky murder mystery people still here?

Marco: No dear…they don’t seem to be here.

Pricilla:  How about that Uma…she’s a sneaky one.  She might be hiding under one of these tables…waiting to attack me.

Marco:  Darling…I think you’re over-reacting.

Pricilla: Huh!  You think so?  She’s jealous of me is what she is.  She thinks she can just come in here off the street and boss me around. Ha!!  I’ll show her.  And you! (to Marco) You’re just useless.

Marco: But darling…

Pricilla: (She pushes Marco away from her.  She calls off for Stuart.)  Stuart…she’s not here.  It’s okay to come in.

Stuart: (enters tentatively)  Are you sure?  

Pricilla: Yes…she’s gone. (Stuart enters) Stuart I need you to protect me.  Marco is showing no testosterone…at all. (She steps behind Stuart speaks softly in his ear.) But you’re good in that department aren’t you, Stuart?

Stuart: Uhmm…(voice change) I guess so.

Pricilla:  (Smiling) I hope so. (To Marco)  Marco dear…I seem to have left my script in the car.  Please go out and fetch it for me.

Marco:  Yes, dear.

Pricilla:  And Marco…I’m absolutely parched.  Go next door to the deli and get me a bottle of water.  

Marco:  Yes, dear. (Marco starts out)

Pricilla:  And dear…take your time.  Don’t feel you have to rush.

Marco:  Yes, dear. (Marco exits)

Stuart: So should we rehearse our second act song, while he’s gone?  I woke up with a scratchy throat this morning so I don’t know if I’ll be able to hit the high notes…..

Pricilla: (She embraces him)  Forget the song! Forget the song! Stuart I’m mad about you.  I have been for years.  You know it’s true. And I get a definite sense that you’re crazy about me too.  Right?

Stuart: Well, I …

Pricilla: Of course it’s true.  

Stuart: Well, I guess—- (They embrace)   Oh…Pricilla!

(Marco re-enters unseen by Pricilla or Stuart)

Pricilla:  I can’t go on like this.  We have to do something, Stuart. We belong together.  But Marco will never give me a divorce…never… because he adores me so.  

Stuart: Oh?

Pricilla:  Of course…I mean…who can blame him?

Stuart:  True.  So I guess our love can never be.

Pricilla: Are you nuts!  I always get what I want, Stuart.  And you’re going to help me get what I want…by hook or by crook!


Scene 5

All the troupe members are in.  Clark performs a Chic monologue from Murder In Black And White.  Bobby, Lacey Alexis and Ben look on.  Also watching is Sonja.

Ben: All right, Clark, let’s take it from Chic’s commercial speech at the top of the scene.

Clark:  Okay Ben. (He takes a deep cleansing breath….shakes out his hands… and begins.  During the monologue the others respond with total enjoyment at Clark’s performance.)

Clark as Chic: (Announcer voice) We’ll return to our program right after this message from our old friend,,,, Henry Harmonica. (Applause sign)  Hello Henry.  What have you got for us today. (Different voice, punctuates everything with harmonica licks)   Oh, hello, there. (FX) You know with summer just around the corner, it’s not too early to start planning that family reunion picnic. (FX)  You’ll find all your cookout needs down to the Piggley Iggley on the corner of Third and Maple  streets in Curtainsville.  They have a great supply of  Uncle Harve’s favorite Baked Beans, (FX) Aunt Till’s Bread and Butter Pickles, (FX) and Grandma Mary’s Creamed Cabbage. (FX) Ummmmmm!   And after all that, you might want to pick up a bottle of Sister Daniel Marie’s Kaopectate. (FX) That’s the third street Piggley Iggley right smack-dab in the middle of Curtainsville. (Fancy final lick)\ (Announcer voice):  Thank you Henry.  Come and visit us again real soon. (Applause sign)   We’ll be back with more of our live broadcast from the Curtainsville Inn in Curtainsville, PA, right after these words from the Dumont Radio Network. (Drops character) Okay, we’re out.

(Troupe members applaud…as does Sonja.)

Ben:  That was great Clark!  Okay folks. Very nice. (Looks at his watch.) The Blossom Time cast will be here any minute so we’d better clear out.

(Groans from all.)

Ben:  But it was a great rehearsal.  I think we’ll be in fine shape for the opening.  See you all tomorrow.

(As the troupe members exit, each pauses to congratulate Clark on his performance.)

Bobby: Hm…not too bad, friend.  Not as good as me, of course….but not bad.

Uma: (Strong arm handshake )  Solid!

Lacey:  Clark….you surprise me.  You’re really getting better and better.  I’m impressed. (She kisses him on the cheek. Clark melts.)

Alexis:  Hey….Clark.  What a nice scene.  Really good.  I think the show’s gonna be great…mainly because of you. Wanna get together tonight?  Have a drink or something? (Clark is speechless but affirms.)

(All are gone now but Sonja.  She approaches Clark.)

Sonja:  Mr. …. Clerk is it?

Clark: Yes, ma’am. Clark Clerk.

Sonja: (She gets closer to him) No need to call me ma’am. I’m not your mother…unless you’d like me to be your mother. (She pulls his head to her chest.) Want me to be your Mommy, Clark?

Clark: (muffled) Hummina-Hummina-Hummina-

Sonja: I really like your acting Clark.  

Clark: (muffled) Thank you.

Sonja: I never thought much of the murder mystery genre, Clark.  But you just might convince me that Murder In Black And White is worth funding considerations.

Clark: (He lifts his head) Really?

Sonja: (She pulls his head back to her chest) Oh….yes, Clark.  Yes indeed.  Now…let’s find a quiet place where we can discuss it.

Clark: (muffled again) Okay.

(She leads him out.  Pricilla and Stuart enter as they exit.  They’re dumbfounded by what they’ve seen.)

Pricilla:  Amazing! I’ve got to say that doesn’t bode well for Blossom Time.

Stuart:  Not at all.

Pricilla:  Stuart…we have to come up with a plan. Let’s go! (She leads him out vigorously)

Stuart:  Oww!  I strained my heel!

FX out

Scene 6

(Alexis, Bobby, Uma and Lacey enter)

Alexis: What does Ben want to see us about?

Bobby:  I have no idea.  I thought we were done for the day.

Uma:  He just said we all needed to meet him here.  He had some news.

Bobby: Ugh….this place is getting more Mickey Mouse everyday.  I’m a professional…I tell you…I’m a professional!

Lacey: Oh…blow it out your butt Bobby!

Bobby: Don’t you start with me Lacey!

Lacey: Talk to the hand. (She gestures)

(They start arguing but pipe down as Ben approaches.)

Ben:  Hey folks…thanks for coming back.  I wanted you all to know as soon as possible.  I received a text from Sonja, saying the Council would only authorize funding for one of our projects.

Alexis:  That’s great.  That means Murder In Black And White is financially free and clear, right??

(Others nod with enthusiasm.)

Ben:   I’m afraid not. My guess is their decision will be to authorize the funding of Blossom Time…but not our show.


Lacey: That’s not fair Ben…I thought you were gonna sweep her off her feet so we’d get her money.

Ben: I thought that was the direction we were heading….but apparently something changed her mind.

Uma:  I’ll bet that Linda Ronstadt wanna-be has something to do with this.

(Pricilla, Stuart and Marco enter singing and dancing.)

“Climbing over rocky mountain,

Skipping rivulet and fountain,

Passing where the weeping willows quiver

Passing where the willows quiver,

By the ever-rolling river,

Swollen with the summer rain,

The summer rain.”

Uma:  I knew it. (She approaches Pricilla who hides behind Stuart…who hides behind Marco and on it goes. ) Why are you flakes so happy?

Marco:  We just heard the news about the arts council.

Pricilla:  Which means we’re in and you’re out.

Stuart: (a whimper) That’s right.

Ben: (Shaking his head.) I’m really sorry gang.  But I’m afraid they are right.  The council would never choose us over them….never.

(Off…we hear Clark’s muffled voice gasping for air. Clark ad Sonja enter.)

Clark: Ben…Ben…it’s all right.  I think it’s gonna be all right.

Ben: Clark. What do you mean?  What’s going on?

Clark:  I mean…Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter  (Sonja grabs his ass) …I mean Sonja…Sonja and I have been talking. And I think our show might be saved after all.

Pricilla: What!  You’re choosing this murder mystery twaddle over the work of Freiden Grapevine?!

Stuart: Absurd!

Marco: Oh… yay…I finally get to see a murder mystery.  I’ve always wanted to see one.

Pricilla: Marco!  Shut it!

Uma: (In her face) You shut it bitch. Or your Playtex is gonna make a snappy exit.

Ben:  You mean…you’ve chosen the murder mystery for funding…and not Blossom Time ?

Sonja:  Well, not exactly.  I’ll admit, at first I was leaning toward only funding Blossom Time.  I love the music and your performers seem quite capable. (Flirty to Pricilla…then snaps attention back to Clark)  But then I got to know Clark…I mean…I really got to know Clark.  He enlightened me as to the intrinsic value of the dinner theatre genre. He explained how such productions open up the world of the drama to citizens who would not normally partake in a traditional production.  He persuaded me to change my mind.

Ben: So we are going ahead with Murder In Black And White.

Clark:  Uhh… not exactly.

(Everyone expresses vocal confusion.)

(Clark yells for everyone to quiet down.)

Clark:  Shut Up! Sonja came up with an idea.  And I think it’s a good one. Explain it Sonja.

Sonja:  This group is very talented and has the potential to be a top shelf organization.  Unfortunately your main stage and your murder mystery troupes are diametrically opposed to one another.  This obvious polarization prevents either contingent from doing its best work.

Bobby:  So what’s your solution?

Sonja:  I’m here-by authorizing the funding of Black And White: The Opera.

(All blurt out their astonishment and dissatisfaction with the idea.)

Sonja:  Now, hear me out.  It will give you the opportunity to put aside your differences and engage in a totally innovative, collaborative and creative project.  I’m very excited about its potential.

Ben:  I don’t understand.  An opera?  A murder mystery opera?!

Sonja:  It’s perfect…. you can utilize the fine singing voices you’ve assembled to energize your grass roots murder mystery.

Ben:  But….

Sonja:  And I’ll contribute my musical expertise…(aside to audience) I’m a proud Phoenix! …. to assist in transforming the amusing Black And White libretto into lovely operatic arias.

(All groan.)

Pricilla:  You mean, I have to share the stage with her. (Indicating Uma)

Uma: You’d better believe it sister. Hey…maybe you’ll finally get your head out of your ass and be a real actor.

Pricilla: Why you low life!  (She attacks Uma.  Uma fights back. Everyone joins in the brawl. A bra goes flying through the air.)

(As the fight continues:)

Sonja: Oh, dear.  This is not exactly the reaction I was looking for.

Clark:  (Puts his arm around her.) I think it’s brilliant.  

Ben: It’s all part of the creative process! (He looks back at the fight…then front.)  I think.

FX…music - Transformation to rehearsal

Scene 7

Ben:  All right, folks let’s run it again.  Clark. let’s take it from the end of your commercial bit.

Clark as Chic: (Announcer voice) And now, it’s time once again for your favorite radio drama, Nancy Bright, Backstage Wife  (Music FX) In our last episode, Lance had accused his wife Nancy of engaging in an illicit affair with rival Dillon.

Stuart as Lance:Tell the truth Nancy!. Tell the truth now. You’ve been paddloodling  Dillon for months…..And you’ve been doing it in our bed…in our bed!

Pricilla as Nancy: How can you say that…say such a thing.  Yes, he’s pursued me.  But my love is true.

Stuart (as Lance):  Liar!  

Stuart (as Lance): I know you’re untrue.

Pricilla as Nancy: I’m true blue to you.

Stuart (as Lance): Your pants are on fire!

Pricilla as Nancy:  It’s you whose the liar. (Lance pulls a gun.  Aims it at Nancy)

Lance…what are you doing?  Lance…put that gun away.  Lance, don’t. Lance I love you. I love you.  I----

(Juan/Juanita…the sound technician…seated at the mm crew table….rises as if to fire starter pistol but he/she doesn’t follow through.  Silence and awkward reaction onstage.

Ben: Cut!  Where’s the gunshot?  (He moves to the tech table.) Juan/Juanita that gunshot sound effect needs to be exactly on cue.  Otherwise the scene doesn’t work.

Juan/Juanita: Sorry.

Ben: I‘m sure you’re sorry Juan/Juanita, but sorry doesn’t cut it.  It has to be exactly on cue or the bit will be ruined.   Clark….maybe you should fire the starter pistol yourself.  You’re already out here…and you know the script so you’ll definitely hit the cue.

Clark:  Sure, Boss.  No problem. (Clark takes the starter pistol from Juan/Juanita.)

Ben: All right.  Let’s take it again.  Just from the sound effect cue.  Pricilla…  “It’s you who’s the liar”

Pricilla as Nancy:  It’s you whose the liar. (Lance pulls a gun.  Aims it at Nancy)

Lance…what are you doing?  Lance…put that gun away.  Lance, don’t. Lance I love you. I love you.  I----

(Clark as Chic fires the starter pistol toward the ceiling.  Pause.  Suddenly Stuart reacts to the gunshot in his ass, staggers and dies—ass extended heavenly.)

Ben:  Great.  Perfect timing Clark.  Now lets try it with the music—-

Pricilla: Wait a minute Ben….This is a complete fiasco.  I really don’t want to embarrass myself. I don’t understand my character.  This play does not make any sense to me.

Uma:  It’s very simple…Mabel.  Your husband thinks you’re a whore bitch…which you are.  (She laughs)

Pricilla:  My name is Pricilla and I wasn’t asking you…you…you…slut.

They approach each other threateningly.

Sonja: (Moving between them) Now, that’s just the sort of disparity we’re trying to avoid with this project.  We must learn to work together. (She eyes Pricilla lecherously.  She runs her fingers through her hair.)  You’re not a whore-bitch, are you dear?

Pricilla: (Returning the flirtation. Laying it on thick, for Uma’s benefit)  Why, no Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter.  I’m just so frustrated. I’ve never been in a murder mystery before.  I need your guidance. I need your help.  I need…you. (A moment—- not missed by anyone, especially Stuart and Marco)

Ben: It’s all right, Pricilla.  You’ll be fine.  Remember…you’re in love with Lance.  You haven’t cheated on him, despite his suspicions .

Pricilla:  Okay, I’m trying.  

Lacey:  You sure are, Sister!

Ben:  And Pricilla.  Try to loosen up a little.  That goes for you too, Stuart.  You both seem stiff.

Marco: (Flamboyant) And not in a good way!

Pricilla: Stuff it, Marco!

Ben:  All right. All right.  Let’s try the scene again…but let’s add the music this time.

Pricilla:  Wait a minute…wait a minute…. I can’t! ( She bursts into tears.  Marco moves to comfort her, but she pushes him aside and goes to Sonja.)

Ben: What is it Pricilla?  What’s the matter?

Pricilla: I can’t do it Ben.  I can’t sing in front of these deplorable murder mystery people. It’s humiliating.

Clark: Deplorable!

Uma: Oh, for cryin’ out loud!

Bobby:  Highly unprofessional!

Alexis:  Geez!

Lacey:  Nobody better ever call me a diva again!

Pricilla: (Wails) See….see what I mean?! (More wails)

Ben: Come on, Pricilla.  You can do this.  I know you can!

(Sonja continues to comfort Pricilla.  The two are tightly entwined, executing a clearly sexual overlay. We hear some heavy breathing and moaning from both.

Stuart: (Fanning himself)  Whew…it’s getting hot in here!

(Pricilla whispers in Sonja’s ear.  Sonja moves to Ben.)

Sonja: Pricilla will rehearse the scene, as long as no one else is in the room.

Ben: Sonja…that’s kind of ridiculous. For the performance she’ll be in front of two hundred people.

Sonja: She’ll be fine during the performance…but for now she wants the room cleared.

Ben:  But what about Stuart and Clark.  They’re part of the scene.

(Sonja and Pricilla exchange glances.)

Sonja: They can stay….but everyone else has to clear out.

Ben:  Everyone?  Even me?

Pricilla:  Yes. Even you, Ben.  

Ben: (Shakes his head) All right gang.  You heard the lady.  Let’s clear out.

(All begin to exit…griping as they go. As Sonja is about to leave…Pricilla pulls her back.)

Pricilla: No…Mrs. Sour—….Sonja.  I want you to stay…please!

Sonja: Oh…(beaming) very well, darling.

(Nasty looks toward Sonja from all.)

Ben:  Okay, Clark.  As soon as we’re out, you can give them their cue.

Clark:  Okay, Boss.  Gotcha-

(Ben looks flabbergasted and appears to exit with the rest of the troupe. But he doesn’t really leave. He secretly seats himself at one of the audience tables.  Only Pricilla, Stuart, Clark and Sonja remain in the playing area.)

Clark (as Chic): (announcer voice) And now, it’s time once again for your favorite radio drama, Nancy Bright, Backstage Wife  (Music FX) In our last episode, Lance had accused his wife Nancy of engaging in an illicit affair with rival Dillon.

:23 (music elapse)

Stuart as Lance:Tell the truth Nancy!. Tell the truth now. You’ve been padoodling  Dillon for months…..and you’ve been doing it in our bed….in our bed!

:36  (music elapse)

Pricilla as Nancy: How can you say that…say such a thing.  Yes, he’s pursued me.  But my love is true.

Direct segue

Stuart (as Lance):  Liar!  

(Clark brings the starter pistol to Juan/Juanita at the tech table.  Pantomimes instructions to fire it on the script cue…then Clark quickly exits.  This move should be as unobtrusive as possible.  Don’t try to hide it, but keep it on the low-down.)

:50 (music elapse)

Stuart (as Lance): I know you’re untrue.

:52 (music elapse)

Pricilla as Nancy: I’m true blue  to you.

:55 (music elapse)

Stuart (as Lance): Your pants are on fire!

:56 (music elapse)

Pricilla as Nancy:  It’s you whose the liar.

(Stuart pulls the gun.  Aims at Pricilla.)

Pricilla as Nancy: Lance…what are you doing?  Lance…put that gun away!  Lance, don’t! Lance I love you. I love you.  I----

(Juan/Juanita rises and fires the starter pistol toward the ceiling exactly on cue. He/she smiles with satisfaction.  Pause.  Suddenly Stuart reacts to the gunshot in his ass, staggers and dies—ass extended as before.  But we suddenly become aware of Sonja also staggering…clutching her well-nuzzled bosom.  She collapses dead on top of Stuart.

(Pricilla circles the scene in disbelief.  Pricilla screams.  Stuart pulls himself out and up from beneath Sonja.)

Clark: (re-entering)  Help! Help!  Ben….Lacey…Bobby…Uma….Alexis…..everybody…get in here.  Help!

(Company enters)

Ben: What happened?

Lacey:  Oh, my God.  Is she dead?

Uma:  How could you tell?

Marco:  (at 10’s…with hands fluttering.) Oh…this is so realistic!

Pricilla: That’s because it is real, you idiot!

Stuart:  Ow!! I bumped my head.  

Bobby: Does that mean we don’t have to sing any more?  I hope not. Musicals are so corny…they diminish me.

Alexis:  So sad… one less bureaucrat in the world.  Just think about that.

(All start improvising their thoughts on the concept of “one less bureaucrat”)

(Suddenly Al enters.)

Al:  Good news everybody. My ex-wife lost her parole hearing.  She’s back in the hoosegow where she belongs. (Takes in the scene.) Oh, my!  What the heck happened here?

Ben:  Somebody shot Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter.  She’s dead.

Al:  She sure is.  (Realization)  Oh, my gosh…I got here just in time!

Alexis:  What do you mean?  Just in time for what?

Al:  After the suspicious demise of my beloved Pamela, I decided to go to detective school.  (He pulls document out of his YummyCake uniform)  This came in the mail yesterday.  It’s my official certificate of completion from the Hoboken School of Criminal Arts.

Ben:  That’s great.  That’s very nice Al, but I think we should call the police right aw—

Al: (Cutting him off) No need to call the police.  This document makes me an official representative of the State Police Homicide Unit.  I am hereby taking over this investigation.  Now…did anyone see anything?

(All troupe members improvise skepticism at Al’s proposal.)

Al: (Abruptly changing persona from milquetoast to Jack Webb cop)  Shut-up all of you.  I said…I’m taking over the investigation.  And that’s final.  Now….did anybody see anything?

(Al addresses any audience response)

Al: All right then.  I have a few calls to make, but then I’ll be back to begin my formal interrogation of potential suspects….and that means everyone present.  No one…and I mean no one is to leave the premises. Now lets get this Sour-Cuntfurter out of here.

(Sonja is conveyed out of the room.)

Alexis as Host: Ladies and gentlemen…there is a murderer among us.  Trust no one.  And please, enjoy your dinner.

After Dinner

Al: Ladies and gentlemen. I have just returned from the morgue. According to the medical examiner, Sonja Sour-Cuntfurter succumbed to one .38 calibre bullet to the chest area. Now..... did anybody see the shooter? Did anybody see anything at all? …. Very well. I will now proceed with my investigation. The following persons of interest will be called for questioning. (each suspect reacts when name is called) Marco Minicockio, Alexis Collins, Pricilla Princely, Stuart Swahvay, Uma Patchouli, Clark Clerk,  Bobby Barrymore, Lacey Watson-Davies, and Ben Barker. Now, ladies and gentlemen, these are not my only suspects, but merely the suspects I consider to be major at this time. I’d like to begin by calling…..

Pricilla: Excuse me….excuse me…are you kidding me right now?  You think you’re going to investigate me for….for murder?!  

Al:  Yes, ma’am.  That’s the plan.

Pricilla: That is the most preposterous proposition I’ve ever heard.  It’s absolutely ridiculous.

Al: How so?

Pricilla: How so? How so?  You are the friggin’ YummyCake delivery man.  How dare you propose to investigate me.

Al:  My credentials give me that jurisdiction ma’am.

Pricilla: What if we refuse?  What then?  

Al: Well, I don’t advise that….but in that case….I’ve been given the authority to place any uncooperative suspects under arrest.

Pricilla: I’m aghast.

Al: Good for you.  Now prepare for questioning or I’ll haul your aghast ass to the county jail.

Pricilla: (Gasp) You’re going to hear from my lawyer.

Al:  Oh, goody.  In the meantime.  Have a seat Miss Princely. (Pricilla seats herself on the interrogation stool.)

Al: Now…Miss Princely…how long have you been a performer with the Eastern Guild Playhouse?

Pricilla: (still haughty) This is my 10th season.

Al:  So I take it that you’ve been happy at the venue.

Pricilla: Overall yes….until recently.  I’ve appeared in some excellent productions and have had the opportunity to share my talents with many wonderful audience members.  I don’t believe it is boastful for me to attest I am well loved in this community…..very well loved.

Al: I see.  What has been your favorite role?

Pricilla: Oh…my….there’ve been so many…it’s so hard to choose a favorite….like children, you know?

Al: (sarcastic)  Oh…right…exactly how I feel.

Pricilla: You… you! (Laughs)  I don’t recall you ever appearing on our stage.

Al:  Well, maybe not on main stage, but I‘ve acted in several murder mysteries.

Pricilla:  Ugh!! That doesn’t count.

Al:  I see.  Well, it seems to me that you were actually performing in a murder mystery at the time of the crime in question.

Pricilla: Believe me!  I was only appearing in this monstrosity because I was forced.

Al: Forced….by Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter….the deceased?

Pricilla: Yes.

Al:  So…clearly you resented the fact that you were in this show and you resented the deceased for forcing you to do it.  Isn’t that true, Miss Princely?  Isn’t that true?

Pricilla: Well, it’s certainly true I resented being in it.  Totally.  But I didn’t resent Sonj—-  Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter.

Al: Hmm…you didn’t resent her.  In fact…you liked her…didn’t you?

Pricilla: Uhm…yes…I did like her.  She was a nice person.

Al:  You might even say there was a sexual connection between you and the deceased.  Isn’t that true?

Pricilla: You’re out of your mind!  I’m a married woman.  I’m a …. (coughs) happily…married woman.

Al:  Still….didn’t it seem obvious that Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter was sexually attracted to you?

Pricilla:  Well…she was only human,  I have that effect on a lot of people.

Al:  Of course you do.  Now…is there any truth to the rumor that you attempted to gain funding for Blossom Time from the deceased through sexual favors?

Pricilla: That’s absurd! Absolutely no truth at all.

Al: I doubt that, Miss Princely.  I seriously doubt that.  You were, in fact, so angry at Sonja Sour-Cuntfurter…for resisting your carnally motivated bribery attempts…that you shot and killed her in cold blood.  Didn’t you, Pricilla…didn’t you?

Pricilla:  You’re crazy….Mr. YummyCake.  Besides, I was standing right here in full view when she was shot. I couldn’t possibly have murdered her.

Al:  Hmm… are there any questions from the audience for Pricilla Princely.  (Audience questions Pricilla.)  Thank you Miss Princely…you may step down.

Pricilla: Thank God that’s over.  You haven’t heard the last of me, pal.

Al:  I’m not your pal…lady!

Pricilla: Huh!  I’m thirsty. (snaps her fingers) I need some water.

Al: Hey, it’s a free country.  Knock yourself out.

Pricilla: I want water…right now. (She stomps her foot.)

Al:  Miss Alexis Collins…will you come forward please.

Pricilla:  (She starts off.) I want water…and I want it now!  Marco!….Stuart!….I’m thirsty!  I want water!  (She’s gone.)  

Al:  Miss Collins.  Where were you at the time of the shooting?

Alexis: I was offstage waiting.  Pricilla insisted that everyone leave the playing area before she would rehearse the scene.  

Al:  Was anyone with you at the time.

Alexis:  Well, we were all scattered around.  I wasn’t standing right next to anyone….if that’s what you mean.

Al:  What was your role in the show, Miss Collins?  

Alexis: You know dog-gone well, Al.  You were the prompter.  I was the (gestures) quote unquote “Host”

Al:  So you essentially introduced the show… had a few lines here and there…and that’s about it.  Right?

Alexis: (Showing a touch of resentment) Yes.

Al:  Were you enjoying your participation in Black and White: The Opera ?

Alexis: Well, of course…none of us were happy about the conversion of the show to an opera.  That was just dumb.  

Al: Yes…and of course that idea was attributed to Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter, correct?

Alexis: That’s right.  She was a real wing-ding.

Al:  Sounds kind of resentful, Alexis.

Alexis: What are you suggesting?

Al:  Oh, well, I’m just suggesting that perhaps you were so angry at the “wing-ding”  that you murdered her.

Alexis:  That’s ridiculous.  I work for the public good as part of the government. Besides…Sour-Cuntfurter didn’t write this stupid script.  Her bad idea just made a bad script worse.

(Some murmuring among the troupe members)

Al: Oh…that’s right.  You had a very small part in this production didn’t you?

Alexis:  Yes…so what?  “There are no small parts…only small actors.”

Al:  Oh, c’mon Alexis.  You don’t really buy into that old cliche, do you?

Alexis: Well…sure…of course…(forced laugh) Now that you bring it up ….I’m used to being the femme fatal in these productions…major roles.…Last year I was featured as a Kunf-Fu Warrier.  (To the audience )  You can watch it on YouTube. I got 37 positive comments…and 77 thumbs up.

Al: So it sounds like you considered being assigned to merely being the “Host” this year was sort of a demotion..  

Alexis:  It was humiliating….if you want to know the truth.

Al: Who demoted you?

Alexis:  Well…I…. I suppose it was Ben.  He wrote the script…he cast the show…it was Ben.

Al: Hmm.

Alexis: Oh, stop! Don’t give me that look. Ben’s a good guy.  A really good guy.  It’s lonely at the top.

Al:  In fact….isn’t it fair to say you’ve had a little crush on Ben Barker, Alexis?

Alexis: Oh…no. That’s just silly.  Ben’s like everybody’s big brother.

Al:  So you didn’t mind it when Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter seemed to be making a romantic play for him?

Alexis: (pause) No…not at all.

Al: Are there any questions from the audience for Alexis Collins? (Audience questions Alexis.)  Thank you Miss Collins you may step down. Stuart Swahvay…will you come forward please. (Stuart takes the stool.)  Mr. Swahvay…how would you characterize your relationship with the deceased?

Stuart: That’s easy.  Zippo!

Al: Zippo?

Stuart: Zippo! None!  I had no relationship whatever with Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter.

Al:  Well, you did meet her, correct? ….along with all the other members of the troupe?

Stuart: Well, yes…of course…I met her.

Al:  What was your impression of her?

Stuart:  Hmm….well, she seemed kind of full of herself….if you want to know the truth.

Al:  (Approaches and gets in his face)  Don’t you just hate people like that, Stuart?

Stuart:  Well…as a matter of fact (realizing)  Hey!  What are you saying?  I’m not like that!

Al: If the shoe fits….

Stuart: Oh…please….I can’t believe I have to endure such nonsense with the likes of somebody like ….you!

Al:  Like me, huh?  You think you’re a cut above me…don’t you Stuart?

Stuart:  You’re correct sir!

Al:  Maybe you viewed Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter as rivaling your role as head narcissist at the Eastern Guild Playhouse!

Stuart: Ridiculous!

Al:  Really?  Well, exactly where were you at the time…..

(Pricilla staggers into the playing area, carrying a water bottle…weakly singing Poor Wand’ring One from Pirates of Penzance.)

Pricilla: Oh…there you are Stuart.  Where have you been.  I’ve been looking for you.  I’ve been….( She collapses and falls at center stage…in true diva style.)

Al: Somebody call 9-1-1. (Moving to her…examining…checking vital signs)  I think she’s dead! (Shocked reactions from the troupe members. Marco screams and runs to her.  Others follow.  Stuart rises. Al smells the water bottle.)  I believe this water has been tainted.  (He places the bottle in a baggy)   Let’s get it to the lab right away.  (Sound guy takes the bottle off.)  What a catastrophe!   All right…please move Miss Princely to the loading dock (Troupe members carry Pricilla off. Al returns to questioning Stuart.)  Please return to the stool, Mr. Swahvay.

Stuart: I’m shocked.  All the blood has rushed to my head.  I feel dizzy.

Al: Indeed.  You were “close” with Miss Princely…weren’t you?

Stuart: Well, we were colleagues.  We shared the stage together.  We enjoyed working together.

Al:  Anything beyond that?

Stuart: Well, of course in the theatre it’s very common to fall in love with your leading lady ….and vice versa.   It happens all the time.

Al:  Did that occur with you and Pricilla?

Stuart: Umm….let’s just say we were fond of each other…very fond of each other. I’ll admit that.  But she was married….

Al: Are there any questions from the audience for Stuart Swahvay?   (Audience questions Stuart.)  Thank you Mr. Swahvay…you may step down. Lacey Watson-Davies….will you please come forward.  (As always Lacey creates a buzz as she provocatively approaches the interrogation stool. Even Al is affected)  H-H-Hello, Lacey…

Lacey: (During the entire interrogation Lacey is more consumed by her phone than Al’s questioning.)  Hey Al…howzit hangin’?

Al: (a bit flustered) Oh…uh…fine…(awkward laugh.  Then he recovers) Now….Miss Watson-Davies…you and I have known each other for some time haven’t we?

Lacey:  Sure have.  For years I would see you delivering YummyCakes at the deli next door to the theatre.  I remember catching you checking me out on a number of occasions.

Al: (flustered) uh…hmm…now…Miss Watson-Davies..…I think you may have me confused with another delivery man.

Lacey: All right, Al. Whatever you say.  I suppose I didn’t really get to know you until you began dating my friend, Pamela.

Al: (beginning to tear up) …Pamela.  Yes…you were good friends with my Pamela. She was such a sweetheart….wasn’t she?

Lacey: She certainly was Al.  Her melting away in the parking lot was a terrible loss.

Al: (wailing)  I know!!!!!

Lacey: (Rises and moves to Al.  She hugs and comforts him.)  There…there…it’s all right Al.  She’s in a better place.

Al:  I hope so. (Regaining control. Lacey sits.)  Now…Lacey….where were you when Sour-Cuntfurter was shot?

Lacey:  After Pricilla insisted that we all leave during her (sarcastic ) “aria,” I stepped outside for some fresh air.

Al:  Did anyone see you?

Lacey:  I don’t know.  I was texting and I was totally oblivious to anything else.  You know how addictive these iPhones can be.

Al:  Uh..not really.  I’m still on my old reliable flip. (He demonstrates.)  Who were you texting…if I my ask?

Lacey:  That’s personal Al…and highly confidential.

Al:  I’m sorry Miss Watson-Davies….but this is a murder investigation.  You must answer the question.

Lacey:  Hm…well…if you must know…I was texting with Raphael Enaijed.

Al:  Who?

Lacey: Raphael Enaijed…the Crown Prince of the Sudan.

Al: (Looking flabbergasted)  All right… I’ll bite. Why were you texting the crown Prince of the Sudan?

Lacey:  I was letting him know…in no uncertain terms…that I would not…under any circumstances…marry him.

Al: Really?

Lacey: Absolutely…I wanted to assure him that no matter how much money or jewelry or how many palaces he wanted to give me,  I was not interested.

Al: Wow!

Lacey:  Well, you asked.  Listen Al…I’ve been married four times.  Each husband was worse than the previous.  If I ever take the plunge again, it’ll be for love and love only!

Al:  Love only! I know exactly how you feel.  Just like you…I, Al Spuddlesnug, am off the marriage market. (They hug) Now back to business….Lacey, did you kill Sonja Sour-Cuntfurter?

Lacey:  (She crosses her legs) No.  (We should probably plant some lascivious audience reactions to the leg cross. )

Al: (In a trance)  Of course you didn’t.  Are there any questions from the audience for Lacey Watson Davies? (Audience questions Lacey)  Thank you Lacey.  You may step down. Marco Minicockio…will you come forward please. (Marco approaches…obviously distraught. He sits on the stool with a slight flourish)

Marco: Is this really necessary….Detective.  I mean…after all it appears very likely that my beloved has just expired.

Al:  Yes…I’m very sorry for your apparent loss Mr. Minicockio

Marco: Cochio

Al:  I beg your pardon-

Marco:  Minicochio.  My name is Marco Minicochio…not Minicockio.

Al:  Oh…I apologize.  Now…Mr. Minicochio, how long—-

Marco: (Giggles) Oh, Detective….

Al: (Rolls his eyes) Oh, geez!  Sir…how long had you been married to Pricilla Princely?

Marco: About six years.  We played opposite each other in Cyrano…the musical version of Cyrano de Bergerac… Are you familiar with the show?

Al:  I can’t say I am.

Marco:  Ooo, it’s wonderful.  Fabulously lilting  score.  I played the sword-wrangling Cyrano of  course.  And Pricilla played the delicate Roxanne.

Al:  How did it go?

Marco:  Oh…magnificently…The Pocono Record called it “frothy!”

Al: “Frothy?”

Marco:  Oh…we were thrilled as you can imagine.  But we deserved it…damnit.  We worked our little buns off for that production.

Al:  I can just imagine. So during Cyrano, you got to know Pricilla pretty well then?

Marco:  Oh…yes.  We worked beautifully together.  It was love at first site.  Not long after the show closed, we decided to make it official and tied the knot….(remembering)  which makes tonight’s apparent events so tragic. (He begins to tear up.)

Al: Tragic.  Mr. Minicochio…to your knowledge…was Miss Princely ever…unfaithful to you?

Marco: Oh…good heavens no.  We were as tight as two peas in a pod.  Neither of us would ever be tempted to violate our vows.

Al:  Mr. Minicochio…I’ve been told by several witnesses that Miss Proudly did indeed appear to be involved in a romantic relationship with Mr. Stuart Swahvay.

Marco: (Gasp) Never!  No!  Impossible!

Al:  Well then, how do explain such assertions by so many?

Marco: (Laughs) Oh!  I understand that!  Absolutely I do.  Pricilla and Stuart were playing opposite each other.  They’ve done so in several productions.  Stage couples often connect in familiar ways…Detective…I’m sure you can understand that.  But I assure you…it was just an illusion. Collegial. Platonic.  Nothing more to it.  Not at all.

Al: Well, that’s certainly a compassionate point of view on your part, Mr. Minicochio…but were you aware that your wife had also suggested to Mr. Swahvay that “something had to be done” about you?

Marco: Hmm….yes..I heard her say words to that effect……but you must remember, Detective, that Pricilla is…was…very dramatic.  It was just her way.  I doubt she would have ever tried to hurt me.

Al:  Okay, then…but how about Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter?  Your wife also appeared to be involved in a sexual relationship with her.  

Marco:  Oh…poppycock, Detective.  Pure poppycock!

Al:  But you must admit, Marco, the “appearance” of Pricilla’s indiscretion presents a strong motive for you to be the murderer of Sour-CuntFurter.

Marco:  I categorically deny such a premise and (gestures) shame on you for suggesting it.

Al: Very well. Are there any questions from the audience for Marco Minicochio. (Audience questions Marco.)  Thank you Mr. Minicochio….you may step down.  Ben Barker…will you come forward please. (Ben takes the stool.) Ben…(realizing his formal role) Mr. Barker…how long have you been involved with the Eastern Guild Playhouse?

Ben:  About eleven years. But, I’ve been involved  in theatre since high school…many companies all across the country.  I saw online that Eastern Guild was seeking new directors…so I decided to make the move.  I had been previously living in the Atlantic City area.

Al:  Was it financially beneficial for you to make such a move?

Ben:  No…I’m afraid not.  Like most local theatres, Eastern Guild operates on a totally voluntary basis.

Al:  So why make the move?

Ben: Al…I mean…Detective… the theatre is a passion for me.  It’s never about money…it’s about engaging in a creative outlet with like-minded folks.  It’s stimulating and invigorating!

Al:  I see.  Well, you must have been quite invigorated to have stayed for eleven years.

Ben:  Oh…yes.  Eastern Guild is a great place.  I’ve been very happy here.

Al: Until tonight

Ben:   Yes…until tonight.

Al: How do you suspect tonight’s devastation came to be Mr. Barker?

Ben: Well, I’m sure I don’t know.  Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter was here representing the New Jersey Council on the Arts. Our understanding was that she was evaluating our programs for possible state funding.  But…she became significantly more involved than we had anticipated.

Al: In fact….Ben…she became significantly “more involved” with you personally than anyone had  anticipated.  Isn’t that correct?

Ben: Umm…..I’m not sure what you mean.

Al: C’mon Mr. Barker…she was seen leading you around by the belt-buckle.  Do you deny it?

Ben: Well, no…I don’t deny it.  All right…yes…she seemed to like me.  I knew the theatre needed her funding approval…so I went along with it.

Al:  Did you have sex with her?

Ben:  Oh…c’mon I’m not going to answer—-

Al: Ben—

Ben: All right…yes.  Happy now?

Al:  But in spite of your liaison with Sour-Cuntfurter…the state funding proposition didn’t turn out the way you had hoped.  Correct?

Ben:  That’s correct.

Al:  Why do you suppose that was?

Ben:  Well…she apparently engaged in another “liaison” with somebody else.

Al: And that was….?

Ben:  Clark. Clark Clerk.

Al:  I see. Are there any questions from the audience for Ben Barker.  (Audience questions Ben.)  Thank you Ben….you can step down. Bobby Barrymore….will you come forward please. (Bobby seats himself.) Now Mr. Barrymore…where were you at the time of the shooting?

Bobby: Well, (patronizingly) Detective Al…I was in the green room checking my email.

Al:  Oh?  That seems odd. Weren’t you due onstage directly?  Or was your presence relatively unimportant?

Bobby: (On his heels)  My presence onstage is always important…

Lacey:  Important to who? You?  Ha!

Bobby:  Shut up Lacey!

Lacey: Don’t tell me to shut up!  You shut up!

Bobby: I can’t shut up. I’m testifying.

Al:  All right.  ALL RIGHT! Now…Mr. Barrymore…weren’t you concerned that you might miss your entrance?

Bobby:  No…not really. Pricilla was being such a diva…it was unclear how long her little tantrum would continue.

Al:  So you decided to check your email.

Bobby:  That’s right.  I was expecting an important message from my agent.

Al:  Your agent! Now…Mr. Barrymore…it’s my understanding that your work in this theatre is voluntary…as is everyone’s.

Bobby:  That’s true…but the difference is that I’m a professional…sharing my talents with the community in-between my paid acting jobs.  That’s why it’s essential that I stay in touch with my agent.

Al:  So how many paid acting jobs has your agent secured for you?

Bobby: Well…to be sure…I’ve been up for any number of major Broadway and Off-Broadway roles

Al: That’s wonderful.  Broadway and Off-Broadway.  How many parts have you actually been cast in?

Bobby: Well….actually…none…so far. (Loud laugh from Lacey.  Bobby scowls at her.) But it’s just a matter of time.  They can’t keep a talent like mine stuck in the oblivion of the Eastern Guild Playhouse forever.  

Al: I see.

Bobby:  In may be time for me to move on.  Black And White: The Opera!  What nonsense.  This place is destroying my process, Al,….totally destroying my process.

Al: You resented the fact that the show was transformed into an opera…didn’t you?

Bobby:  “Resented” is an understatement.  I was furious.  My talent was being undermined.  My career was being threatened.

Al: And who did you blame for such a personal violation, Mr. Barrymore?

Bobby: Blame?  Blame?  Well,…Detective….there’s a lot of blame to go around.  But foremost in the blame department would have to be Sonja Sour-Cuntfurter.

Al:  Ah…yes… the murder victim.

Bobby:  That’s right.  She came in here and turned the place upside down.  Not only that…she played upon the sexual weaknesses of several of our company members. She was a beast.

Al:  So you killed her…didn’t you Bobby!  You shot her dead!

Bobby: That’s absurd.  I hated her….with a passion….but I didn’t kill her.  I’m a pacifist.

Al: Are there any questions from the audience for Bobby Barrymore?  (Bobby answers audience questions.)  Thanks Bobby.  You may step down.  Clark Clerk will you come forward please.  Now Clark…I know you must be quite upset at the sudden demise of Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter.  Isn’t that so.

Clark: Well, of course.  I would have been upset had such fate befallen anyone…but Sonja…Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter was very special to me.

Al:  Of course.  And was that because you and she were long time acquaintances?

Clark: Uh…well…uh… actually, as a matter of fact, I just had the pleasure of meeting her today.

Al:  Today! My…so then how did she become so special to you after so brief an encounter?

Clark:  Well, she seemed to really like me. She gave me great confidence. She encouraged me.

Al: She had sex with you!

Clark: She had- Hey…

Al:  C’mon Clark…it’s truth time. Wasn’t it a fact that you and Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter became intimate in the theatre’s green room this very afternoon.

Clark:  That’s a flagrant lie. (Beat)  It was in the prop room not the green room.

Al:  What’s the difference?

Clark: Well, the green room is where the actors wait before making their entrances and the prop room—-

Al: (Cutting him off) I know the difference between the green room and the prop room, Clark. The point is…you had sex with a woman you barely knew, didn’t you?

Clark:  Yes.

Al:  And following your encounter…she agreed to a compromise which merged the two rival factions of the theatre troupe….isn’t that true.

Clark:  Yes.  At first Sonja was totally against funding any aspect of the murder mystery production.  But I must admit…(uncharacteristically cocky) after I worked my magic, she assumed a new appreciation for the genre.  The poor thing was merely putty in my hands.

Al: I see.  Then how did you feel when it became apparent the Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter had developed an apparent sexual interest in Pricilla Princely.

Clark: Hmm…I was surprised.

Al: Were you hurt?

Clark:  Hmm…being hurt is a relative emotion, Al.  Yes. I guess I was hurt.… But, over the years,  I’ve had my heart broken many times.  

Al:  But this time was different, Clark…you actually got beyond second base.  You were in the clover.

Lacey:  (Loud laugh) In the clover?  I never heard it put like that before. (She becomes hysterical repeating “in the clover” several times among audience members.)

Al:  Lacey, please!  Admit it Clark…you were so angry about Sonja two-timing you…you rigged up the prop gun so that even though it appeared you were firing upward, you were in fact … lodging the .38 calibre bullet squarely between Sour-Cuntfurter’s 38 Double D’s.

Clark: You’re nutty as a fruitcake.  Even if that trick was remotely possible…I would never shoot Sonja.  She was nice to me…. for a while at least.

Al:  Are there any questions from the audience for Clark Clerk. (Audience questions Clark.)  Thank you Clark…you may step down. Uma Patchouli, will you come forward please. (Uma takes the stand.)  Miss Patchouli…

Uma:  Um…excuse me….but that’s Special Agent Patchouli…if you please.

Al: Oh…excuse me…certainly…Special Agent Patchouli…if I may ask…how did a highly decorated F.B.I. agent such as yourself ever become involved in the theatre.

Uma:  That’s a very good question Al.  As a matter of—-

Al: Um…excuse me…but that’s Detective Spuddlesnug…if you please.

Uma: (Smug smile) Oh… I see…a little tit for tat—

Lacey: Better your tit than mine! (Laughs)

Al: Lacey!

Uma:  All right—Detective Spuddlesnug…about a year or so ago, I was asked by my friend, Alexis Collins, to assist in investigating municipal corruption here in Curtainsville.  As you may recall…that investigation led to several arrests including that of the town’s police detective as well as your ex-wife… Melinda Spuddlesnug.

All actors drop character and face audience:  You can watch it on YouTube.

Uma: After the investigation I became quite friendly with all the troupe members.  Ben Barker thought I would be a natural for acting in a murder mystery and invited me to join.

Al: So you’re still a relative neophyte?

Uma:  Yes.

Al: No formal education in the theatre?

Uma:  No.  But I’m an honor’s graduate of the school of hard knocks, Detective.  I approach the theatre just as intensely as I approach my work with The Agency.  Nothing less than success!

Al: I see.  Now I understand that over the course of this evening you’ve exchanged some rather harsh words with Pricilla Proudly…who appears to have also been the victim of a murder.

Uma:  Who?

Al: Pricilla Proudly.  She was one of the main stage players who had been drafted by Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter to perform in Black and White: The Opera.

Uma: Oh…you mean Mable

Al:  Mable?

Uma:  Yeah… she was very quick to let Sour-Cuntfurter and everyone else know what hot crap she was…having played Mabel in Pirates of Penzance.  She’s dead huh?

Al:  Well…she certainly appeared to be dead when they carried her out.

Uma: Aww….to bad.  Couldn’t have happened to a nicer gal. (She laughs)

Al: So…I’ve got to say Special Agent…the fact that you find such humor in her death combined with your earlier confrontations with her…make you appear extremely guilty in what may have been her murder by poison.

Uma: Oh…c’mon…Detective.  That broad was an AFI….totally “asking for it.”  She thought she was above all of us.  She was badly in need of some wup-ass…and I was just the bitch to give it to her.  But I didn’t kill her.

Al:  But it appeared her water bottle had been tainted with arsenic or some other such toxin.

Uma: So…what has that got to do with me?

Al: I thought perhaps your background in special-ops may have prepared you to execute such a contamination.

Uma: Listen Detective Al, if I wanted that whiner eliminated, it would have been done in a snap. And there wouldn’t have been a trace of anything left behind. I didn’t do it.

Al: Are there any questions from the audience for Special Agent Uma Patchouli. ( Audience questions Uma.) Thank you Special Agent…you may step down. (As Uma is exiting…Pricilla enters and rushes at her with a vengeance.)

Pricilla:  All right, bitch!  You’re going down!

(She attacks Uma, who retaliates.  We see a full fledged cat fight…with perhaps even some of Uma’s marshal arts expertise on display.  Al gets in the middle and becomes the worse for wear.  The women are finally broken up by other members of the troupe.  All struggle toward the exit…save Al and Alexis.)

Al: (Nursing his wounds) Ladies and gentlemen,  I believe I now know the identity of the murderer of Sonja Sour-Cuntfurter.  I will return shortly with my resolution.

Alexis as Host: Ladies and gentlemen, it is now time for you to offer your solution to the crime which has been committed.  Please refer to the resolution form you received earlier.  Who do you think murdered Sonja Sour-Cuntfurter? Also, provide an explanation of the motive, method, and opportunity.  We will choose one winner from all correct solutions.  We will also choose one winner based upon the most creative solution.  May the best detective win!  And now, it’s time for dessert.

Act III  (After Dessert)

Ben: All right everybody…listen-up.  In spite of everything that’s happened here tonight…we are still scheduled to open our murder mystery/opera in just a few hours.  While we’re waiting for Detective Al, we might as well rehearse the act I finale number.

Bobby:  Wait a minute….we’re still going through with this opera nonsense?  I thought for sure with Sour-Cuntfurter out of the picture, we would go back to the original script.

Ben:  Sorry Bobby…I was hoping for that too. But I’ve been told that since tickets have sold and state funding has been committed for Black And White:The Opera, that’s what we’ve got to deliver.  Pricilla…are you feeling up to running the number?

Pricilla:  Well, I’m still a little nauseous, but when the stage calls…I answer.

Bobby, Lacey, Uma and Alexis: Coughing: Bullshit!

Pricilla: I’ll gladly sacrifice my personal well-being for the sake of my craft.

Bobby, Lacey, Uma and Alexis: (Again) Coughing: Bullshit!

Ben:  Great…Clark…let’s take it from your lead-in.

Clark: Right, Boss. (Announcer voice) We’ll return to our program right after this message from Smooth-Lax Mystery Man. (Mysterious voice) Good evening.  Welcome once again to the Smooth-lax mystery moment.  I’m your Smooth-lax mystery man with tonight’s mystery question.  What do you do when you become irregular and mother nature refuses to take her course. (Gomer/Goober voice) We’ll to tell ya’ the truth mystery man…I never really have that problem.  I’m usually just as regular as can be. My mamma says I’m blessed. (Mysterious voice) We’ll aren’t you special .(G/G Voice) Fer’ sure, fer sure! (Mysterious voice) You’re mamma’s right. But not everyone is as blessed as you.  Folks for occasional constipation try Smooth-lax ….those delicious little chocolate chunks.  Relief is on the way! That’s Smooth-lax ….regularity is nothing to take for granted.  This is your Smooth-Lax mystery man signing off for now.  Until next time….(Goober) Ya’ll stay loose, ya’ hear!

(Clark returns to his announcer voice.)

And now…ladies and gentlemen we return to the ballroom of the Curtainsville Inn for our live broadcast of Black and White: The Opera… featuring our studio ensemble led by mezzo-soprano Pricilla Proudly.

When the foeman bares his steel,

We uncomfortable feel,

And we find the wisest thing,

Is to slap our chests and sing,

For when threatened with emeutes

And your heart is in your boots

There is nothing brings it round

Like the trumpet's martial sound

Like the trumpet's martial sound

(Ensemble goes into a goofy marching drill on ta-da-ta-da’s)

(Al enters and breaks up marching routine.)

Al: All right…all right…enough.  Ladies and gentlemen…. I’m sorry to confirm what we’ve suspected all evening. Sonja Sour-Cuntfurter was maliciously murdered by means of a .38 calibre bullet to the heart. Now…the only questions—….by whom?…and why?   Well, I’m here to enlighten you. I’m sorry to say that the murderer is right here…among us. My investigation can come to no other conclusion that Sonja Sour-Cuntfurter was shot to death by a member in good standing of the Eastern Guild Playhouse Theatre Company. (Shocked reactions from the troupe) I know…it’s hard to believe that a group dedicated to creating art in such a beautiful way could include someone capable of such a dastardly deed. But it’s true.  Actors sometimes have difficulty in separating drama from reality….don’t they Miss Princely.

Pricilla: I suppose…we sometimes become so ensconced in our roles that real life becomes an annoyance.  It can happen.  I’ve seen it happen.  But not to me.

Al: Come now, Pricilla.  How can you be so sure?

Pricilla:  Because my training has prepared me for such distractions.  My dedication and focus as an actress could never cause me to waver in my real life experience.

Al: Yet…your life seemed torn in many ways.  You were heard to utter disparaging remarks about your husband.  And….you were clearly involved in a sexual liaison with Stuart Swahvay.  Also… you demonstrated a physical connection to the deceased herself.

Pricilla:  Listen Al…people fall for me.  They can’t help themselves.  It’s not my fault. I can’t help it if I’m so dog-gone irresistible.  It’s part of my DNA.  It doesn’t make me a murderer.

Al: Maybe not. But you couldn’t have been happy that Sonja Sour-Cuntfurter seemed to be receiving a lot of amorous attention around here. ….attention that might have otherwise been directed toward you.

Pricilla:  Oh…come on….Al.  You’re grasping at straws.  If that’s all you got..I’m off the list.  Cross me off.

Al: (Al does so.) All right for now, Pricilla…but the fact that you’re so “dog-gone” irresistible doesn’t go without pain and suffering for others.  Does it Mr. Minicochio.

Marco:  Well…no pain, no gain, Detective. Don’t you agree?  

Al: I suppose…but I guess it depends on the degree of the gain.  The fact that your wife made no secret of her sexual attraction to Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter couldn’t have set well with you.  In my eyes that gave you a strong motive for murder.

Marco: Well, that was just Pricilla being Pricilla.  You get used to it after a while, Detective.  Sonja wasn’t the first.  Even Stuart wasn’t the first. Pricilla was always falling in and out of love with somebody or other.   She enjoyed the adventure of romance…I understood that.

Al: But maybe this was the last straw.  You got tired of the humiliation …. always being taken for granted…and you snapped.  And in doing so you killed Sonja Sour-Cuntfurter.

Marco: That’s a tidy scenario Al, but it’s just not true.  In spite of all her encounters…Pricilla always came home with me. In her own way she was true-blue. I guess I’m sort of dog-gone irresistible myself! I had nothing to gain and everything to lose—no…it wasn’t me.

Al: I believe you, Marco.  I guess perceptions can be deceiving…can’t they Special Agent Patchouli.

Uma: Certainly.  Distinguishing between perceptions and facts—that’s the essence of true investigation.

Al: Indeed.  For example, you projected a perception that there was bad blood between yourself and Miss Princely.

Uma: Uhh…. that was no perception…Detective.  I didn’t like that bitch and she didn’t like me.  We both have the scars to prove it.

Al: In fact, there was a point in time when I suspected that you contaminated her water bottle.

Uma: Well, you were wrong about that Al.  She’s alive and well.

Al:  But that doesn’t mean you didn’t try to poison her.  And while you were at it, you figured you might as well also eliminate the woman who forced you to work with Princely….so you shot and killed Sour-Cuntfurter in cold blood.

Uma: That makes no f’ing sense. Boy…you must really think I broke bad.  Al—I’m a decorated Agent.  I’ve risked my life to uphold the law.  I’m not about to go rogue just to keep the local theatre percolating.

Al: No…huh?

Uma: No…! I mean I love the theatre but I’m not committing murder on its behalf.  That’s just batshit.  Al, I think you must have skipped a few days of detective school. You may want to stick to your day job in the YummyCake game.

Al: How rude! Well…I did attend detective school enough to understand how jealousy and resentment can change a person…. Wouldn’t you agree, Miss Collins?

Alexis: I guess that makes sense.  Human nature isn’t always as pleasant as we would like.  But why are you asking me about this? Do you suspect me of something?

Al: Well, it just seems you weren’t very happy about your role in this year’s murder mystery.  

Alexis: You’re right about that.  I’ve had the opportunity to play strong female characters in most of our shows.  I’ll admit it.  I was disappointed at having been relegated to relatively minor participation this year.

Al: In fact…you were really bugged about that…weren’t you Alexis?!

Alexis:  All right.  Yes. I was pissed.

Al: “No small parts…—-

Alexis:  Yeah…yeah …yeah….what’s your point?!

Al:   On top of that…it was no secret that you’ve had a crush on your director…Ben Barker…for some time.

Alexis:  (Showing some anger) Who told you that…who?!

Al: And when you saw him being seductively led away by Sonja Sour-Cuntfurter…your rage became exasperated.

Alexis:  You’re crazy!

Al:  You couldn’t bring yourself to kill Ben…who you continue to foster feelings for…but you had no problem in wasting Sour-Cuntfurter.

Alexis: Hold it!  Hold it right there!  You are way out of control!  First of all…I’ve had lots of good roles here.  And even though I was disappointed this time….I know there will be another show next year.  As far as Ben is concerned, he’s a good friend…nothing more. And if being nice to Sonja helped the theatre …so be it.  “Sometimes a man’s gotta do, what a man’s gotta do.”  

Al: But—

Alexis:  I didn’t do it, Al.  You’re barking up the wrong tree.

Al: Speaking of barking up the wrong tree….heard from your agent lately Bobby?

Bobby: No, I… Hey! What’s that crack supposed to mean?

Al:  Oh, nothing.  I just knew you’ve been concerned about the progress of your professional acting career and wondered how things were going.

Bobby:  As I told you earlier, I have lots of irons in the fire, Detective.  It’s just a matter of time.

Al:  You also said you believed the Eastern Guild Playhouse was damaging your quote “process” unquote.

Bobby:  Black and White: The Opera was a huge step backward for my career.  I mean really…you saw it…it was ludicrous.

Al: So…you decided to do something about it.

Bobby: Huh?

Al: You concluded that if you could eliminate Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurter…the opera would be abandoned and you could return to your previous prominence in the original script.

Bobby:  Well, I …—

Al: But, unfortunately for you, it didn’t turn out that way. The opera was still on, even though you shot Sour-Cuntfurter in cold blood.

Bobby:  No….

Al:  Admit it Bobby…admit it.  You’ll feel better.

Bobby: There’s only one problem…Al. I didn’t do it. I was in the greenroom at the time of the shooting.  I was signed-in with my exclusive user name…BroadwayBaby— and actively typing emails for the entire duration of the time in question.  The computer logs prove it.

Al: Really?

Bobby: Really!  Nice try…but no cigar.

Al: Hmm….well there’s no celebratory cigar for you tonight is there….Mr. Ben Barker!

Ben:  I guess that goes without saying.  

Al:  In fact, you might say the entire Murder In Black And White project turned out to be a complete disaster.

Ben:  Yes.

Al:  And your disappointment at such a miserable failure after eleven years with this troupe must be particularly mortifying.

Ben: All right.  It’s true.  It’s a catastrophe.  So what?

Al:  This.  You needed someone to blame.  

Ben:  As a director I’ve always assumed full responsibility… good or bad.

Al: But this time…it wasn’t your fault, was it?

Ben: I—

Al: Sonja Sour-Cuntfurter represented a path to success.  She tempted you with sex and you succumbed.  

Ben: Wait—

Al: But…she double crossed you.  She placed you in the impossible position of converting the show to an opera.  Just like Bobby Barrymore…you saw this fiasco as the end of your career.  So you took matters into your own hands and murdered Sonja.

Ben: That is absurd!

Al:  You had the motive and opportunity Ben.  It had to be you!

Ben:  Except…it wasn’t.  When Pricilla ordered me out of the room prior to the run-through…I only pretended to leave.  I actually took an open seat at the table right over there.  (He points.)  My new friend (audience member’s name) can attest to my being there when the shot was fired.  (Audience member nods in agreement.)

Al: Ah, va fungool! (Al paces impatiently…revealing his paramount frustration. He moves to Lacey who is texting on her phone.) Lacey!  (no response)  Lacey! (no response) (He walks away from her to center., turns to her and yells) LACEY!

(Lacey looks up from her phone and paces slowly to Al.  When she reaches him, she continues walking— backing him to the far end of the playing space. Al is totally intimidated by this.)

Lacey: What?

Al:  Umm….oh…sorry…sorry to bother you…I-I-I-I

Lacey:  (She leans and speaks quietly in his ear.) What is it Al?

Al: (shrinking badly) Oh…uh…uh…L-L-Lacey…y-your d-d-didn’t shoot that w-w-woman, did you?

Lacey: No. (With a sultry stride she returns to her original spot.)

Al:  I-I-I didn’t th-think so.  S-sorry to b-bother you, L-lacey.  I know you had n-nothing to do with Mrs. Sour-Cuntfurters murder. But I’m not so sure about you Mr. Swahvay.

Stuart:  Oh…please.  Here we go again.  I can’t understand why no one has called the real police to investigate this crime.  Why do we continue to entertain the whims of this quack?!  Why?

Al: Well, you seem to be feeling better, Mr. Swahvay.  Not nauseous any more?

Stuart:  Well…slightly…

Al:  Anyway…since my license provides me with total autonomy to investigate this case….I’ll repeat my reservations about your innocence.

Stuart: Ugh!!

Al: First of a whining narcissist yourself, you resented Sour-Cuntfurter’s elbowing in on your territory.

Stuart: Ridiculous--

Al: But beyond that… You were openly involved in an adulterous affair with Pricilla Princely. You certainly became embarrassed and humiliated by the apparent liaison developing between Pricilla and Sour-Cuntfurter.

Stuart: You’re exaggerating —

Al: Between unmanageable ego and unrelenting jealousy, you couldn’t refrain yourself from murdering Sonja Sour-Cuntfurter in cold blood.

Stuart: Wow! (Very sarcastic)  What an analytical mind! Perhaps I did underestimate you….Detective.

Al: Oh..well, thank you.

Stuart:  But you overlooked one small detail…..

Al: And that would be…

Stuart:  I was onstage….doing the radio scene…when Sour-Cuntfurter was shot.  I couldn’t possibly have been the shooter.

Al: What?

Stuart: Ding! Ding! Ding!  Fail!!!!

Al: Ohhhhh baloney!! (Pause…then visual enlightenment.) Clark….

Clark:  Yes.

Al:  You and I have spoken may times about our love-lives…haven’t we?

Clark:  Yes…Al…we have.

Al: In fact…it’s probably fair to say that…for the most part…we’ve both been fairly unlucky in the love department.  Isn’t that true?

Clark: Umm….yes.  Yes it’s true.

Al: And tonight we arrived at another similarity.  (As we’ve become accustomed…he begins to tear-up.)

Clark:  (Moving to comfort him)  Take it easy, Al.

Al: I’m all right.  But just as I tragically lost my darling Pamela to a puddle in the parking lot,  tonight your latest romance was the victim of a murderous tragedy.

Clark:(Solemn but in control) Yes.

Al: We’re twins. (The eye each other)

Clark: Right….(pause…reflect) well, not exactly.  Your Pamela was true blue to you right up until she melted away.  Sonja, on the other hand…

Al: (Rebounding and becoming accusatory) Oh…that’s right… Sonja actually dumped you didn’t she… for a sexual romp with Pricilla Princely.

Clark: (Still playing sad) Yes…I guess that’s true….but in spite of that…Sonja opened doors to me beyond my wildest dreams.  I miss her so.

Al: Do you Clark?  Do you really?

Clark: Of course!

Al:  I don’t think so!  After all your romantic miss-steps you thought you finally had found someone who appreciated you for you!

Clark:  Well, she did!  Of course she did!

Al: But it didn’t last long did it Clark?  She very quickly took you down that same dark road you had been down so many times before.  

Clark:  But—

Al:  Yes…but—-but this time you weren’t going to take it.  When she abandoned you for Pricilla you saw red.  You sought revenge.

Clark: No…

Al:  You murdered her, Clark.  You shot and killed Sonja Sour-Cuntfurter….admit it!

Clark:  Al…stop.  I was onstage rehearsing the scene when the murder took place.  It couldn’t possibly have been me.

Al: Were you?  It would seem  that way … wouldn’t it. But thanks to the ultra high tech-digital security cameras here at the Playhouse, we have an exact augmented reality representation of exactly what happened.

Clark:  What?

Al: Juan/Juanita…kill the lights. ( The lights dim.  Actors, including Clark, re-assume their positions prior to the murder)  All right play the AR file.

(Actors replay the the scene—slightly effecting the voices and movement—to provide an obscure reflection.)

Clark (as Chic): (vocal operatic improvising) And now, it’s time once again for your favorite radio drama, Nancy Bright, Backstage Wife  (Music FX) In our last episode, Lance had accused his wife Nancy of engaging in an illicit affair with rival Dillon.


Stuart as Lance:Tell the truth Nancy!. Tell the truth now. You’ve been padoodling  Dillon for months…..and you’ve been doing it in our bed….in our bed!


Pricilla as Nancy: How can you say that…say such a thing.  Yes, he’s pursued me.  But my love is true.

Direct segue

Stuart (as Lance):  Liar!  

(Clark brings the starter pistol to Juan/Juanita at the tech table.  Pantomimes instructions to fire it on the script cue…then Clark quickly exits. )


Stuart (as Lance): I know you’re untrue.


Pricilla as Nancy: I’m true blue  to you.


Stuart (as Lance): Your pants are on fire!


Pricilla as Nancy:  It’s you whose the liar.

(Stuart pulls a gun.  Aims at Pricilla.)

Pricilla as Nancy: Lance…what are you doing?  Lance…put that gun away.  Lance, don’t. Lance I love you. I love you.  I----

(Juan/Juanita rises and fires the starter pistol toward the ceiling exactly on cue. He/she smiles with satisfaction.  Pause.  Suddenly Stuart reacts to the gunshot in his ass, staggers and dies—ass extended as before.  But we suddenly become aware of Sonja also staggering.  She collapses dead on top of Stuart.

Al: Lights, please.  At the last minute you instructed Juan/Juanita to fire the sound effect gun and fled to a perfect vantage point to shoot and kill the woman who had betrayed you.  You’re a murderer Clark…and you’re going to prison for a long time.

Clark: ( pulls out a gun and grabs Pricilla as a hostage.)  Yes…I did it…and I’m glad I did it.  I’m fed up with always finishing last.  I have a lot to offer women.  I could be a great boyfriend…but no…not poor old Clark…they always found something better waiting around the bend.  Well the bend stops here.  I’m done being a supporting player….I’m the lead, baby—-  so clear me a path or Mabel here is gonna get it.

(Lacey has been texting on her phone totally oblivious to what has been happening .  She struts her Lacey stride across the playing area…totally distracting Clark who momentarily lowers his gun.)

Clark: Hummina-hummina-hummina-hummina

(Al, Ben, Stuart and Marco overtake Clark.  The gun fires)

Al:  It’s all over Clark.  Take him away.  My first collar!  Yay for me!  Pamela would be proud.  Good night folks.  Have a safe trip home.