Note: If you’d like to produce this play, on stage or in a class, that would be a thrill for me and hopefully a fun time for all involved. However, a modest but fair royalty is in order. Please email me and we can discuss this.
Dodo of the Year had one reading, Aug. 18, 2002, at the Off-Tryon Theatre Company. I was really lucky to have an all-star director and cast and a great audience that Sunday afternoon. They did a great job. Julie Janorschke directed Jim Yost, Dana Childs, Carolyn Dempsey, Laura Depta, Chad Calvert, Marshall Case, and Stan Peal.
Dodo of the Year is a new, two act comedy about a family that holds an election on New Year’s Eve. They nominate and select the person who has done the stupidest thing that year. This year, there’s a guest, and a particularly strong slate of candidates.
Amy – 20’s, English, attractive, sweet, intelligent
Paul – 30, handsome, in love with Amy
Grigoriy – Russian, 30, handsome enough, but not overly charismatic, speaks no English
Kyle – 27, Paul’s younger brother, a brat who has reached adulthood
Lynn – 32, Paul’s older sister, another brat who has reached adulthood
Jack – 60, Paul’s father, blunt, sneaky
Joan – 55, Paul’s mother, short on self-knowledge, but she tries
a three ring binder
a pack of cigarettes and matches
a Russian-English dictionary
a half gallon bottle of wine
(A lovely mountain chalet. New Year’s Eve.
It’s been a long trip for PAUL and AMY. They’ve traveled from England and driven from the airport, through the mountains, in snow.
They stand at the door, moments before they enter the house. It’s snowing. They are in the throws of a long, romantic kiss. They separate. Physically, they continue to hold each other. Mentally, they brace themselves.)
AMY: Suddenly, I’m not tired anymore.
PAUL: You’re freezing.
AMY: I’m warm.
PAUL: Why are you shaking?
PAUL: Remember, you’re my protection.
AMY: I may be too nervous. Who’s my protection?
PAUL: You’ll do fine.
AMY: Are you sure?
PAUL: They can’t punch your buttons like they can mine.
AMY: I have buttons.
PAUL: We won’t be here long enough for them to find them.
AMY: Paul, I feel vulnerable.
PAUL: (from his head) You are vulnerable. I love that about you. We’re both vulnerable. Two, sensitive, vulnerable human beings.
(from his heart)
Very much in love.
(Another long kiss. Returning to his head…)
You don’t have the engrained response patterns I have.
AMY: Engrained response patterns?
PAUL: Yeah. With my family.
AMY: Oh yes. Arguing with your parents like a small child.
PAUL: It’s more complicated than that.
AMY: Of course. Patterns.
PAUL: I’ve been in therapy.
AMY: Of course you have.
It all sounds so alien. I’ve never seen you argue.
PAUL: Maybe I’ve licked it. But they’ll attack. They’ll try to suck me in. They’re just waiting.
PAUL: It’s complicated.
AMY: My family isn’t complicated.
PAUL: It probably is. You’ve just never looked at it.
AMY: We love to see each other.
PAUL: Your family keeps everything below the surface.
AMY: We do not. Aren’t they nice to you? Aren’t they nice to me? Aren’t we all nice to each other all the time?
PAUL: That doesn’t mean anything. The issues are still there. It’s cultural. We’re Americans. Jewish. We have our own unique psychology, based on our sociology. I’m the black sheep of my family. We’re open with our emotions. Your family is subtle — but no doubt, if you analyzed it — there’s probably a black sheep there also.
AMY: There’s no black sheep. Nothing is hidden, really. We enjoy being together.
PAUL: So do we. Underneath the response patterns, there’s love.
(as if he’s recounting notes for a test)
But I’m jealous because Kyle was born. He was a sick baby and got more attention. My mother felt guilty about this and compensated by giving me too much praise. My father tries to stop it. He fears that this will damage me. Sometimes this manifests itself as anger. My mother has to go along with that, to keep the peace. But then she feels guilty and overcompensates in the other direction. One minute, she gives me too much praise, the next minute, scorn. These alternating emotions cause what appear to be sporadic responses from my father. Conflict between my parents becomes inevitable, with me in the center. This confuses me and gets me rattled. The end result is that my father favors Kyle. My sister goes along with this because it gets her more positive strokes from my father. All this – despite the fact that Kyle is good for nothing. He’s a bum who gets away with anything. Of course, with everyone ganging up on me, my mother often comes to my rescue, which makes it a vicious circle that gets worse and worse. The end result can be a really nasty ordeal.
(Pause. From his heart.)
But this time, I’m protected. You’re with me.
AMY: You keep telling me I’ll protect you. I honestly don’t understand how I’m supposed to do that.
PAUL: Be who you are. Be with me. That’s my protection. That’s why it will be different this time.
AMY: What do I do if they don’t like me?
PAUL: They’ll love you.
AMY: I’m not so sure. The way you describe them…
PAUL: I know what it’s like. First of all, whoever I bring home – they like better than they like me.
AMY: They do?
PAUL: It’s always like that. When I was a kid, I had some friends who were real jerks. They loved ‘em. It was like I was Charlie Brown bringing Pigpen over, and they thought he was great. Besides, this is you. Everybody loves you.
(putting her arms around him)
AMY: There are some things about me you don’t know.
PAUL: Oh yeah?
AMY: A lot of things.
AMY: You’d have to ask my mum.
PAUL: Why not you?
AMY: I’d be embarrassed.
PAUL: They’re child things.
AMY: Well, sort of. I am a child, really. And my mum, well…she loves to talk about me. Keeping secrets just for her to tell you…they’re like little gifts…for when we get home.
PAUL: A gift to her, not me.
AMY: A very sweet gift to her. You already get your gifts.
PAUL: I love your mom. But she never told me any secrets.
AMY: In time. They’re good secrets.
PAUL: We should go in.
AMY: Happy New Year.
(Another long kiss. They enter.)