Panic Attack

Note: If you’d like to produce this play, on stage or in a class — please email me and ask permission. It will be granted, but I’d really like to know about it.

Panic Attack was produced at Off-Tryon Theatre Company, in Charlotte, September 16 and 23, 2002, as part of the Noda New Play Festival. Bradley Moore directed.

Panic Attack
Copyright 2002, by Samuel M. Post

Characters
Husband
Wife
Doctor (a psychiatrist)

Setting:  Doctor’s office

DOCTOR, WIFE, and HUSBAND sit in the psychiatrist’s office.

DOCTOR: (to HUSBAND) So you disagree.

WIFE: Yes.

DOCTOR: I’d rather him answer.

WIFE: He can’t describe it.

DOCTOR: Let him try.

HUSBAND: I don’t disagree, but I don’t think I needed to come here.

DOCTOR: You feel that your anxiety is within the normal range.

HUSBAND: Absolutely.

WIFE: It’s not normal.

HUSBAND: Everybody has anxiety.

WIFE: Not like yours.

DOCTOR: Does he have panic attacks?

HUSBAND: No.

WIFE: What!

HUSBAND: I don’t.

WIFE: You panic all the time. About everything. About anything!

HUSBAND: I don’t have attacks.

WIFE: You panic.

HUSBAND: Sometimes I panic. But they aren’t attacks.

DOCTOR: Do you get short of breath?

HUSBAND: No.

WIFE: Remember when we ran out of hot water?

HUSBAND: I wasn’t short of breath.

WIFE: You were clutching your chest.

HUSBAND: I was freezing. That wasn’t a panic attack.

WIFE: You screamed for an hour. It took an hour for you to catch your breath?

HUSBAND: I was not screaming.

WIFE:  (to the DOCTOR, explaining) I ran the dishwasher and washer and then he ran out of hot water while he was in the shower.

HUSBAND: I still had soap in my hair.

WIFE: He got out and waited until we had hot water again. You would have thought his head would fall off.

HUSBAND: That feels really slimy, having soap in your hair.

WIFE: You should have felt the hot water running out and rinsed. Who needs to take showers that long?

HUSBAND: It was not a long shower!

WIFE: What do you do in there?

HUSBAND: (exploding) I shower!

WIFE: Easy.  (to the DOCTOR) See what I mean?

DOCTOR: Does he worry a lot?

WIFE: That’s all he does.

HUSBAND: For good reason. DOCTOR. What’s the reason?

HUSBAND: I hate my job. My kids are driving me crazy. I’m broke. And my body’s falling apart. Plus I have goals. Real, lifelong goals – and there’s no time for those. So I’m sort of an unfulfilled person.

DOCTOR: What goals?

HUSBAND: I’m an artist. Pottery.

WIFE: Nobody’s stopping you from making pots.

HUSBAND: Where in that house am I suppose to work?

WIFE: Clean up the basement. It would make a nice studio.

HUSBAND: We don’t have the money for that.

WIFE: It doesn’t cost much to sweep and paint.

HUSBAND: Where am I supposed to get the money for a wheel?

WIFE: Buy the damn wheel!

HUSBAND: You expect me to buy something when you say it like that?

WIFE: (to the DOCTOR) See what I mean? He whines and complains all the time. He’s always irritable. Always tense. You wouldn’t have known this if I hadn’t come here with him. Don’t you think it was a good idea for me to be here.

DOCTOR: I think so. Do you have trouble sleeping?

WIFE: Always.

HUSBAND: (conceding this) I’ve always had a problem with insomnia.

He writes a prescription and gives it to him, along with a box of samples.

DOCTOR: Here. Why don’t you try this for a couple of weeks and see if it helps.

HUSBAND: Side effects?

DOCTOR: There might be some in the beginning, but why not find out for yourself? I’m afraid if we focus on that – that is…suggest what they will be – you’ll experience those. Everybody’s different.

HUSBAND: Jesus, I wish I had stock in these pharmaceuticals.

DOCTOR chuckles.

HUSBAND: I don’t have any stock. Never could save enough money to get started. Of course, I should be thankful after today.

DOCTOR: Why, what happened today?

HUSBAND: You didn’t hear?

DOCTOR: Hear what? I’ve seen patients all morning.

HUSBAND: The market tanked.

DOCTOR: It did?

WIFE: Oh God. They say Black Monday was a picnic in the park compared to this. You know, I guess that is one thing we can be really, really thankful for.

HUSBAND: You’re right. Everybody lost their shirt and we didn’t have one to lose.

DOCTOR: How much did it drop?

HUSBAND: The DOW lost, what was it? I don’t keep up with it. Three hundred?

WIFE: Three thousand.

DOCTOR: Three thousand!

HUSBAND: I think that’s what it was.

DOCTOR begins to tremble. His breathing becomes short. He gasps for air. He stumbles to the sink and pours himself a glass of water. Wiping sweat from his brow and loosening his tie, he’s barely able to drink it.

DOCTOR: I, uh, excuse me…I’ll be all right in a second.

HUSBAND: Sounds like you own some stock.

WIFE: He is a doctor.

DOCTOR: Of course I own shares, you moron!

HUSBAND: Well, damn. I didn’t do it.

DOCTOR: (still gasping) I’m sorry. Terribly sorry. I’ll be okay. I’ll be all right. I’m the moron.

DOCTOR: (muttering to himself) Real estate’s always safer. First thing they told us in med school. Buy houses. Get a beach house. Get a mountain house. Get a lake house. Live in a mansion. Buy land. And here I went my own way, thought I could put it in the market. I don’t make a killing, you know. Psychiatrists don’t make the kind of dough other doctors make. I’m an idiot!

HUSBAND: I’m sure it will go back up.

WIFE: Of course it will. It always does.

HUSBAND: It’ll take awhile.

DOCTOR: Three thousand!

WIFE: Don’t worry so much. They closed the exchanges for the day.

DOCTOR reaches for the samples he just gave him.

DOCTOR: Give me those.

HUSBAND: I thought you gave these to me.

DOCTOR: Use the prescription.

HUSBAND: Don’t you have more samples?

DOCTOR: No!

HUSBAND: That’s not really fair. This could save me a few bucks.

DOCTOR: Give me the damn pills! You think these things grow on trees!

He tries to snatch them away from him. They struggle. The

DOCTOR: knocks him to the floor, gets a pill, and swallows it.

DOCTOR: Come back in two weeks.

HUSBAND: Don’t you have some paperwork for me to give the receptionist?

DOCTOR: Just go. I’ll give it to you next time.

WIFE: Will she make the appointment without it?

DOCTOR: She will if I tell her to!

He goes to the door and screams.

DOCTOR: Give this dumb ass an appointment in two weeks!

He collapses in the chair and shuts his eyes.

DOCTOR: Go!

HUSBAND and WIFE rise.

HUSBAND: Good luck with the market.

WIFE: Everything will be fine.

DOCTOR: Go!

end of play

39 Replies to “Panic Attack”

  1. It was good until you started talking about the market. I was rather enjoying the panic attack conversations with the husband and wife, but if you make them longer it will just seem to drag on.

  2. Well, I liked it a lot. It was very funny how the doc ended up panicking. cute. I can’t wait to have my high school students do this play. Thank you so much for letting us use these plays for free. You are wonderful. I will let you know how it goes. =)

  3. Hello sam, my name is Luis Aguilar and i’am a student currently attending Elac (East Los Angeles College). i’m required to find a 10 min play to stage for my directing class. i came across your play that i ejoyed reading. would like to get your permission to use this play for my class project! please feel free e-mail back. thank you!

    1. Thanks, Rowan. I’d be delighted for you to use Panic Attack. Where is Secondlife located? I’d love to see a production photo, if you take any.

      Sam

  4. Hi Sam, thank you and sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Secondlife is a virtual world. I have posted the link to our theater group in the link. Every Friday we do an hour of experimental theater and improv in the virtual world of secondlife http://secondlife.com/

  5. I think this is just mean, I get panic attacks and this is just outrageous! I am reporting this. Panic attacks are compleatly different, you vomit and shake and cry when you have a panic attack, this is simply a mickey take. You might say I don’t get a joke but this is just not funny.

  6. Hello Sam,

    I was wondering if I could have your permission to use this play as a Humorous Interpretation piece for my school’s DSD season next year. If you would be so kind, please email me at bpasbrig3359@gmail.com letting me know either way. I will, however, need to get absolute proof that this is a published play, so if you could give me all of that necessary information that would be beyond fantastic. Thank you very much!

  7. Hello,
    I am required to read a 10 minute scene for my acting class and I absolutely love this scene! May me and my friends use this?

  8. Hi,
    With your permission, I would love to use it for my final project in my directing class at Lamar University. I enjoyed reading this piece and feel that with the actors I have at my disposal, this would be perfect.

  9. Hello!

    I’m a junior theatre major and was hoping to use your play for my final project in my directing class? I really like it!

  10. Hi Sam,
    Cute. However, do you really think mental health professionals could possibly have panic attacks? Terry Roberts Greenberg, LCSW,LOL

    1. Hi Terry,

      Thank you for your comment. Sorry for the LONG delay in response time! I just saw this.

      Yes — I know for a fact that mental health pros have plenty of panic attacks 🙂

      Sam

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