Rehearsal

Kathy: A woman age 30.

Josh: Her brother, a year or two older.

The living area of a house in Hollywood.

Lights up slowly. Josh and Kathy enter and remove their jackets without speaking. Josh carries a tightly rolled script. He sets it down. When he sees that Kathy can’t decide where, or how, to hang up her jacket, he does it for her. She remains silent.

JOSH
What’s wrong?

KATHY
Nothing.

JOSH
Not nothing. What?

Quiet. She appears shaken.

KATHY
I saw Woody.

JOSH
Uh-huh. At the restaurant.

KATHY
Woody. From "Cheers."

JOSH
Right. So?

KATHY
So? My medication’s not working. Again.

JOSH
Because you saw Woody?

She nods.

JOSH
Kathy, he was at the table next to us.

KATHY
He was?

JOSH
We’re in Hollywood. You and mom insisted on coming out to see my latest theatrical disaster. Remember?

He turns away to get a beer.

KATHY
Mom’s here?

JOSH
Yes. Upstairs. Silently looming. Are you taking your Mellaril?

KATHY (shakes head)
My blood pressure got nuts.

JOSH
Blood pressure doesn’t get nuts. It goes up or down. What was it?

KATHY
190 over a hundred. My pulse was 98. Sitting.

JOSH (beat)
This is from the Mellaril?

She nods.

JOSH
So now you’re on nothing?

KATHY
Seroquel.

JOSH
That isn’t a Thorazine deriviative. It stops the psychosis?

She shrugs.

JOSH
It does or it doesn’t?

KATHY
I can’t do Haldol any more. My hands shake.

JOSH
I’m not asking you to take Haldol.

KATHY
But I can’t sleep.

JOSH
Are you taking the Ambien?

KATHY (beat)
Tylenol P.M.

JOSH
What is it with the fucking Tylenol P.M.? You have stock in the company? You’ll be taking Bayer aspirin for children next. Christ. How many times do I have to tell you? Stay with the heavy-duty stuff.

He opens his beer, drinks, then grabs his copy of the PILL BOOK. He holds it up.

JOSH
I bought you this. The Pill Book. Three times, right?

KATHY
You shouldn’t be drinking with Prozac.

JOSH
I’m not.

KATHY
You stopped taking it?

JOSH
Forget me. What’s your Seroquel dosage?

KATHY
I knew you seemed angry.

JOSH
You also thought Woody was an appartion.

KATHY
You get mad all the time, like dad.

JOSH
Dad’s dead.

KATHY
So you’re not taking anything?

JOSH (reading)
Some Buspar, maybe. Some Xanax. I don’t know.

KATHY
They’re for anxiety, not depression.

JOSH
Maybe I’m not depressed. Maybe I’m just fucking angry! Tired of treating my head like a chemistry set. What’s your dosage?

KATHY
300 milligramas.

JOSH (reads)
Any blurred vision?

KATHY
Some.

JOSH
And you’re still not sleeping at that dose?

KATHY
No. A little.

JOSH (reads)
Cut back to 150 mils. Go off it if your vision gets worse.

KATHY
My shrink told me I should go up.

JOSH
You want cataracts?

KATHY
No.

JOSH
Then tell your shrink to fuck off and take 150 milligrams. And the Ambien.

Quiet.

KATHY
Have you tried fish oil?

JOSH (exhales)
Kathy. Do you think. That if anything could cure depression. Or anxiety. Or mania. Or borderline schizophrenia, which includes guest appearances by former sitcom stars. That the beneficent pharmaceutical industry would let some Zen hermit fish oil peddler profit from it? I don’t think so. I think they’d be selling Tylenol P.M. ­ with fish oil!

He grabs his script and unrolls it, pounding it to smooth out the pages. He calms down and begins to read. She watches him.

KATHY
Can you write without Prozac?

JOSH
Who said I could write with it?

KATHY
Is the Buspar better?

JOSH
Than drinking? No.

KATHY
But if you drink, you wake up at night.

JOSH
And if I don’t drink, I don’t go to sleep. Now, ask yourself.
What would Jesus do?

KATHY
Is that when you write? When you wake up?

JOSH
I write whenever I start to think. It’s the only thing that
stops me from doing it.

KATHY
Better than pills.

JOSH
Infinitely better.

Quiet.

KATHY
Think mom’ll wake up?

JOSH
If the gods want to punish us.

Quiet. He keeps revising his script.

KATHY
I know it’s only rehearsals, but I don’t understand the play.

JOSH
That’s because the actors haven’t found themselves
yet.

KATHY
Because the characters aren’t clear?

JOSH
No. Because the actors are forbidden from wallowing in sodden, melodramatic over-expression from the instant they hit the stage until the moment the lights go mercifully black.

KATHY
Forbidden by what?

JOSH
My coherent dialogue.

KATHY (hesitates)
Couldn’t you get new actors?

JOSH
You mean, like Woody?

She laughs.

KATHY
Yeah.

JOSH
Because he owes you. Because you two are such close friends.

She laughs harder.

JOSH
He was lost in the wilderness of a four star restaurant, and
you guided him. You took his hand. You bonded.

She laughs even harder.

JOSH
He smoked a joint, your medications weren’t working, and your psyches fused in a Vulcan mind meld. Classic. He becomes imaginary people for a living. You see imaginary people and take sea otter extract to make them go away.

KATHY
Well, you make them up — people.

JOSH
Whatever works.

Quiet again. She grows very still.

JOSH
Don’t.

KATHY
What?

JOSH
Start thinking about dad.

KATHY
I wasn’t.

JOSH
You were. Don’t.

Quiet. He returns to his script.

KATHY
What part are you rewriting?

JOSH
The speech–The speech about suicide.

KATHY
You can’t write a speech about suicide.

JOSH
Well, maybe that’s why it sucks.

KATHY
No, I mean, you can’t ever explain why. You can’t even leave a note.

JOSH
You tried to.

KATHY
Yeah. But as soon as I started to, you know, vanish, I wanted to change it.

JOSH
You wanted to revise your suicide note?

KATHY
You’re revising.

JOSH
This is a play. It’s made up.

KATHY
It still happens.

JOSH
It’s fake!

KATHY
The actors believe what they’re saying.

JOSH
No. The actors are wishing their parts were bigger.

KATHY
The audience believes what it hears.

JOSH
If the writer’s lucky. If the writer’s good.

KATHY
So. It happens.

JOSH
Kath, happening and "real" aren’t the same thing. When you were manic, did you have lunch with Jack Nicholson?

KATHY (beat)
No.

JOSH
No. Lunch happened in your head. It wasn’t "real." It wasn’t a consensual happening. I’m sure Jack never jotted it in his date book.

Quiet. He goes back to the script again.

KATHY
You know, you’re nicer to your characters than you are to real people.

JOSH
That’s because my characters might actually, one day, change their lives. It’s called hope.

KATHY
You hardly talk to me.

JOSH
We’re talking now. We’ve been talking. If we don’t shut up, we’ll talk ourselves to death.

KATHY
I had to leave the kids.

JOSH
Fine. You’ve explained that. Ten million times.

KATHY
Was I supposed to stay home and risk hurting them?

JOSH
Ask Medea.

KATHY
See? You don’t listen.

JOSH
Believe me. I hear everything.

KATHY
Except me.

JOSH
You don’t need me. You have Jack and Woody.

Long quiet.

JOSH
I don’t think you should have gone to live with mom.

KATHY
She took me in when they let me out of the hospital.

JOSH
She took you in because she didn’t want to be alone after dad died.

KATHY
He didn’t die. He killed himself.

JOSH (exhales)
He had a heart attack.

KATHY
Because he stopped taking his medication. On purpose.

JOSH
Oh, you can read his mind now? He. Did. Not. Molest. You. He did not kill himself because he felt guilty about it.

KATHY
You don’t know.

JOSH
He barely touched me in eighteen years. Trust me, touching people was the least of his flaws.

KATHY (beat)
It wasn’t so much that he touched me.

JOSH
No?

KATHY
No.

JOSH
Then it was like lunch with Jack, wasn’t it? A delusion.

KATHY (beat)
I heard his voice.

JOSH
I hear voices all the time.

KATHY
There was something in it.

JOSH
Or, maybe, there was only something in the way you heard it. Big difference.

Quiet.

KATHY
Sometimes I think the kids refuse to see me because it’s their way of killing me.

JOSH
They found you. The second time. With knives. What do you think that said to them? What do you think the voices in their heads are like after that?

Quiet. He goes and opens another beer. She opens a bottle and takes a pill. After a moment, he picks up his script again and looks at it.

KATHY
I thought the actress doing the suicide speech was better when she didn’t act so much.

JOSH
She’s just trying to feel and show what most of us can’t. Or won’t.

KATHY
Then, maybe, have her talk about that in the speech. Like, make what she’s trying to say almost silent. Make her words talk about how she doesn’t know why she’s doing what she’s doing. Because words can’t explain what she feels anyway.

JOSH
Which is why she’d always be revising her note. Because it can never say exactly what she wants it to say.

KATHY
No. Because maybe at the last second she…

JOSH (beat)
Yeah?

KATHY
Hears things differently…and changes her mind.

Quiet. Lights down.


END

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