Love Doesn’t Die
by Curtis Scott Dunn ©2014 – all rights reserved
World Premiere produced by La Strada Ensemble Theater in Asbury Park NJ and New York City NY, by La Strada Ensemble Theater, AJ Ciccotelli, Artistic Director, Thomas Ryan Ward, Managing Director.
with original cast members:
Thomas Ryan Ward as “1”
Nadine Dunn as “2”
Sarah Osman as “3”
Doug Bollinger as “Tom”
Keri Costa as “Nina”
Dennis Gribben as “Waiter”
Directed by AJ Ciccotelli
1 – a male ghost, appears similar in age to NINA
2 – a female ghost, appears similar in age to TOM
3 – a female ghost, appears to be a teenager, but has been a ghost for a while
TOM – 30-50, a living man, used to be with 2 in life
NINA – 30-50, but not too far off from TOM’s age, a living woman, used to be with 1 in life
WAITER – young restaurant employee
various LIVING and DEAD, as per Director
This cast is divided into two major groups, the LIVING, who have names and should be dressed in normal clothes appropriate to the scenes; and the DEAD, who are only referred to in the script by a number. The DEAD are dressed in very simple, shapeless cloth (dresses or drawstring pants/vests in white). It’s important that the two types of characters, LIVING and DEAD, never interact with any character that is not their own type, except as indicated. There should be roughly as many actors playing DEAD characters as there are actors playing the LIVING. While the LIVING must only engage in reasonable stage business and blocking, the DEAD may be directed to enter the audience, to walk on and off stage, or to do any number of strange things, as the Director sees fit. They should not, however, ever touch an audience member or allow themselves to be touched. Similarly, DEAD should not interact with props, except as indicated.
Scene 1: A romantic restaurant. TOM and NINA are seated at a table for two, obviously on a date. There should be other diners present, and a WAITER taking orders and delivering food. Various DEAD, including 2, can be in and around the scene. Some should be interested in the LIVING, others not interested at all.
1: (addressing audience) Let’s understand this from the start. I am dead. And at least I know I’m dead, which isn’t always true of the departed. There are a lot of us still walking around not really sure what we are. But me, I’m sure. See, I died of cancer, so I got to see it coming. And after it was over, I mean after I PASSED – it’s never really OVER – I knew that I was dead. It’s a comfort, really. The folks who are dead but don’t know it really have it rough. I feel sorry for them. For them, the afterlife is like a big joke that no one let’s them in on. But for those of us who understand what’s going on, it’s a little easier. I mean, some of us choose to hang around anyway, to watch over loved ones, to haunt our favorite places, or in some cases, to try to right a wrong or get some kind of justice. Which is hard, because most of the living can’t see us or hear us. Sometimes, if we try REALLY hard, the living can FEEL us. But that’s a whole crapshoot, because you never know how they’re going to interpret it. Anyway, when one of us reaches the point where we have nothing else to do – when we’ve achieved whatever it is that kept us around the living, or we have just gotten fed up with ‘em, we can move on to the next life. I can’t really tell you any more about the next life, mostly because I haven’t gone there yet myself. I decided to hang around for a while. That
woman over there at table 3 – that’s my wife. WAS my wife. “Til Death Do US Part”, right? So, I have no claim on her anymore. But that’s OK, you know? I mean I KNOW I’m gone from her. And, I’m OK with her moving on. In fact, I WANT her to move on. She’s young…ish, and, well, she should. I want to make sure she finds the right someone. What? Well, yes, I still love her. Love doesn’t die, you know.
I have real hope for this guy she’s with tonight. He seems like a stand up sort, a little shy though. They’ve been dating for a little over a month. Took him the longest time to even kiss her, and he hasn’t gone any further than that. Maybe something will happen tonight.
2: Over my dead body. (pushes 1)
1: If you just touched ME, then that is pretty likely, figuratively speaking. You’re dead.
2: What are you, new? It’s a figure of speech. My body’s already gone. Cremated. Roasted. Torched. Right now, most of my ashes are on their way out to sea after floating down the East River. Bastard put me in the EAST RIVER! I said, specifically, in my will, to put my ashes in a beautiful flowing river. Christ, even the Hudson would have been fine – a little upstate of course, but the EAST? The man is a MORON!
1: I don’t know, he seems pretty Ok to me…
2: That’s because you are…were… male too, and devoid of any common sense whatsoever. CLEARLY, the lack of wit inherent in your deficient Y chromosomes persists after death.
2: So let me clarify things for you, dear. There is NO WAY they are EVER getting together. Not if I have anything to say about it!
1: I don’t think you do have anything to say about it.
(2 smiles condescendingly. A waiter is passing by the couple and 2 reaches out and tickles him. The Waiter drops the tray he is carrying, right on top of TOM.)
TOM: What the hell!?
WAITER: OH, my GOD! Sir, I am so sorry…. so, so, sorry. Are you all right? (fusses with a napkin, futilely trying to dry TOM off)
TOM: I’m fine, but I’m a mess. What IS this? (sniffs his clothes) Gym socks with butter and garlic?
WAITER: It’s bisque. (pause as he looks at the mess to identify it) And a plate of escargot. They’re both actually really good.
TOM: I’ll sample some when I get home, thanks. Nina, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to cut our date short. I can’t go to the film festival smelling like this.
NINA: My place is right around the corner. You’re three subway transfers away. (sniffs) And you might be attacked by feral cats. Come back with me, and we’ll get you cleaned up.
TOM: Nina, I’ve never… um… your place…
1: Just go, dumbass!
NINA: Don’t worry about it. But fair warning, I haven’t straightened up, so it’s a bit of a mess.
2: Don’t you…
WAITER: Don’t worry about your check, sir, I’m sure my manager… (Stops talking as TOM gives him one of those looks) ummm… (weakly) come again?
(TOM snorts, then reaches into his pocket and gives the WAITER a tip)
(TOM and NINA exit)
Scene 2: Nina’s apartment. There is a main living room, and a bedroom which should be visible. The bedroom should have a screen or something to mask an on-stage costume change. 1 and 2 are already inside. 3 is also present, dancing and spinning around the room and generally acting weird.
(As the lights come up, we hear the door being unlocked. TOM and NINA enter, laughing)
NINA: That poor waiter. The look on his face.
TOM: Yeah, I kinda felt bad for him. Though I think I might have to just throw these clothes away. This stuff STINKS!
NINA: OK. Let me find towels and a plastic bag or something to put your clothes in. The shower is that way, soap and shampoo are right there in the caddy. Rinse off your shirt and whatever else you can and hang those up on the shower rod, and I’ll find you a robe to throw on while I see if I can find sweats or something that will fit you.
TOM: Thank you. (They look as if they might kiss, then they both wrinkle their noses at the smell and pull away) I might be a little bit, washing my clothes and all.
NINA: No worries. I’ll be right here when you’re done.
(TOM exits into bathroom. NINA spends time collecting up a plastic bag and finding a robe in her closet. At one point, she knocks on the bathroom door and reaches in with one hand to set these inside. Then, she goes back to closet, and starts pulling out loungewear to change into. She should pull out a couple of choices, including one that is very sexy. Lying this one on a chair or the back of the sofa, NINA returns to her closet to look for others. 2, looking disgusted, knocks outfit to the floor with a flick and kicks it out of sight. NINA should look for it, find it, and put it back – 2 knocks it down again while NINA isn’t looking etc. NINA ultimately picks another outfit and goes to bedroom to change. While this stage business is happening..)
3: (Spinning around the room) WOOOOOOO! WOOOOOO! (spins by 2, who reaches out and stops her)
2: Would you stop that please? What ARE you doing?
3: I died in this apartment, so I’m haunting it!
2: Can you haunt it a little less? It’s annoying to us, and they’re not noticing.
3: Fine! (huffs to sofa and plops down in the middle)
1: Seems like things are about to progress with those two!
2: And you’re fine with that, I assume?
1: Ah, you used to be with him?
2: Ten years, then I had my accident.
1: How did you die?
2: I fell into an open hole in the sidewalk.
2: Well, yes, but that didn’t kill me. It was only 6 feet deep or so and I landed on a plumber.
(1 looks at her, half-unbelieving)
2: I twisted my leg pretty good, and my knee was swelling, so he tried to help me up to the sidewalk using a ladder. Unfortunately, the place where he rested the ladder was unstable, and we fell into a storage area in the subway. Fortunately for me, my fall was broken by a Port-o-Potty. The plumber missed those, and he died from the fall.
1: And you didn’t?
2: No, I was knocked unconscious and fell through the roof of one of the port-o-potties. It flipped me head down and I drowned in the tank.
2: Yes. I’m thankful I never came to consciousness. The plumber turned out to be quite nice. We spent some time together haunting my husband until he got bored and left. I can’t blame him, really. For a while it seemed like all my husband did was eat, sleep, work, and masturbate. (pause as she looks at 1) What, like you haven’t watched her?
1: Well, yes, but…(NINA has changed into a silk robe and is primping in the bedroom)
2: Mmmm hmmm…. Well, I had NO idea when I was living just how much time men spend with their own hands.
3: YEAH they do!
1: What do you know about that?
3: I’ve been dead 30 years. You see things.
(TOM emerges from the bathroom, wearing NINA’s bathrobe)
3: (noticing TOM) And there’s some things you can’t un-see.
TOM: Nina? I’m finished in the shower! I hung most of my clothes to dry, but the pants are wool. I think they’re probably toast.
NINA: (from bedroom) That’s fine! I was just changing! I’ll be right out! I thought maybe we could take some of my DVD collection and have our own film festival?
TOM: Sounds good to me! (Tom finds a seat on the sofa, next to 3. He does not see or react to 3)
2: My, Thomas, that IS fetching.
(NINA appears from bedroom. She strikes an unintentionally ludicrous pose in the door trying to be seductive.)
1: Very smooth honey. Very subtle.
NINA: Or we might find some OTHER way to occupy ourselves? (NINA sashays over to the sofa, sits on the other side of 3)
TOM: Ummm.. Nina… uh, I don’t want to take advantage of a situation…
2: Always the gentleman.
TOM: …but you do look wonderful, and I’ve wondered if we were ready.
NINA: What else could I have done to let you know?
2: Gentleman. Or just a little slow on the uptake. (addressing Tom) Still Tom, she’s not going to be like me.
(TOM and NINA begin to inch closer, sandwiching 3 between them. They go in for a kiss when 3 touches both their lips, and they jump back.)
NINA: Can you say static spark? Ouch! I’m sorry Tom, I must have built up a charge walking across the carpet.
(3 escapes from between them, but is intrigued now. TOM and NINA begin to move closer)
3: Ooh, I think they’re gonna kiss.
2: NO they’re not! (2 blows on the back of TOM’s neck, causing him to shiver and messing up the kiss)
1: What’s your problem?
2: She’s not right for him!
1: What’s wrong with her?
2: She’s not pretty enough.
2: Or smart enough.
1: What the hell would you know?!
2: (addressing her dig at 1) Or successful enough!
(TOM starts to move toward NINA again)
3: I don’t think they agree with you!
(1 and 2 turn to see TOM and NINA start to kiss)
3: This should be fun. (perches on the arm or back of the sofa, where she can see the action)
2: (upset) TOM! I’m right HERE!
1: He can’t hear you.
2: (beginning to cry) But I want him to hear me. (2 goes to sofa, near 3) Tom?
3: He’s busy. I don’t think you want to watch this. You know they’re both naked under their robes, right? (3 cranes her head between them to look down their fronts) Yup, naked.
1: (to 3) Why don’t you move out of there? You’re not helping.
3: I’m not hurting anything either. Cut me some slack. I died a virgin. This is all I have.
(2 moves onto sofa, in a position spooned against NINA, so that she can reach out and touch TOM in the same way NINA does. NINA and TOM continue kissing, not reacting to 2)
1: He can’t feel you.
2: He can! I know he can!
1: Okay, maybe you can make him feel you. But how? A thought in his head that he can’t shake? A distraction from the woman he is with? Aren’t you hurting him?
(1 walks over and gently pulls 2 away)
Let him go. The living need to live. It’s not fair to hold them back. It’s not fair to not let them heal.
(TOM and NINA become more passionate)
2: OH… (weeps, 1 enfolds 2 in his arms)
3: (lays on floor or some other position) They’re gonna do it! They’re gonna do it!
1: You’re really not helping, you know?
3: Sorry. (looks) Yup, they’re gonna do it! (NINA mounts TOM’s lap, facing him)
(2 collapses into 1’s embrace)
2: I’ve lost him.
1: No. (raises 2’s face to look at him) He lost YOU. A while ago. He didn’t stop loving you, and you didn’t stop loving him. But you have to let him live. Nina is a good person, and I think Tom is too. They’re going to be fine, now they’ve figured it out. As for me, I think I have what I need. I can move on to the next life and be in peace. Why don’t you come with me?
2: (disengages from 1, crosses to TOM and NINA. 2 strokes TOM’s face, which makes him pause for just a moment, then they continue) I don’t want to leave him.
1: Why would you stay? It’s true that love doesn’t die, but they are human, and alive. If all goes well for them, Tom will think of you less often as time goes on. Do you really want to stay for that?
2: I don’t know. No. But what else is there?
1: Something. Something is waiting for us. There’s only one way to find out what.
(2 sighs, and gazes at TOM and NINA for a moment)
NINA: Be gentle with me. It’s been a long time, and you’re bigger than my husband.
(3 Laughs, 2 stifles a smile, 1 looks just a little mortified)
1: OK, I’m REALLY done here. Will you come with me?
2: Yes. It’s better for everyone. (notices 3, who is really trying to get her head into the right position) And why don’t you come with us? No one here needs you around.
3: All right. OK. This is getting old anyway.
(1, 2, and 3 exit through the door. 2 reappears for a moment)
2 and NINA (at the same time) I love you, Tom.
TOM: (looks at door for something he cannot see, then at NINA) I love you too.
2: Be happy.
(lights fade as TOM and NINA continue)