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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

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?


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?


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?


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.


HUSBAND and WIFE rise.

HUSBAND: Good luck with the market.

WIFE: Everything will be fine.


end of play

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