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I'd Rather Eat Glass
BILLINGS, an accountant
MADRIGAL, a movie starlet
PAUL, a lumberjack
LAUREN, a waitress
WOMAN, a housewife
TEDDY, an electrical technician
ALICIA, a businesswoman
SCENE: an elevator in an office building
AT RISE: BILLINGS is pushing the button and waiting impatiently for the elevator.
(BILLINGS looks at his watch.)
BILLINGS. I don't have time for this...
BILLINGS. Well, you see, I'm sort of in a hurry...
MADRIGAL. I beg your pardon, but I have already pushed
BILLINGS. I suppose.
(They turn away from each other. The elevator stops
BILLINGS. No! Isn't there any way to make this thing
MADRIGAL. No, I don't suppose I do. It is courteous to
(PAUL enters the elevator.)
PAUL. Why, hello there! How are all you folks today?
MADRIGAL. I'm doing splendidly, thank you.
BILLINGS. I'm in a hurry, sir, so if you don't mind...
PAUL. Oh, of course. Sorry to have troubled you.
(They ride a few moments in silence.)
So... where are you folks headed? That is, you two are
MADRIGAL. We most certainly are not!
BILLINGS. I don't even know the woman's name!
PAUL. Well, we'd better be making up for lost time
MADRIGAL. Madrigal. Madrigal Benchley. Perhaps you've
PAUL. Why no, I can't say as I have... but I
BILLINGS. Blast it! Does this elevator have to stop at
PAUL. And you sir, what's your name?
BILLINGS. My name is Billings...
PAUL. Right then. Mr. Billings, meet Miss Madrigal.
(LAUREN enters the elevator.)
PAUL. Hello there, ma'am. I'm Paul, and this is
LAUREN. Um, hello...
PAUL. They ain't married, if that's what you're
LAUREN. Well no, actually, I wasn't --
PAUL. 's all right, I made the same mistake myself.
LAUREN. I don't see how --
PAUL. Well, how peculiar! All you lovely people, here
BILLINGS. Hold on a minute now. I only said I wasn't
PAUL. Well, are you?
BILLINGS. Well... no.
PAUL. Miss Madrigal?
PAUL. Well then. It's all fine, then.
BILLINGS. Why are you so interested in whether we're
PAUL. I just wanted to see if these two lovely young
LAUREN. I hate to interrupt... but why aren't we
MADRIGAL. Did you push the button, darling?
BILLINGS. Of course she did. So did I.
MADRIGAL. Well, there's no need to bite my head off!
PAUL. Hold it, now. Why don't we just try again?
I'll completely miss my meeting!
BILLINGS. And you've got a better idea?
PAUL. Goshdarn it, Billings, you've plumb forgot about
PAUL. They always have a telephone in case of an
LAUREN. I'm in no hurry to get anywhere. Is it really
BILLINGS. It most certainly is!
MADRIGAL. Well, stop babbling and use the phone!
(BILLINGS picks up the phone.)
BILLINGS. There's no dial tone.
MADRIGAL. The power must have gone out.
LAUREN. I suppose we'll just have to wait.
(PAUL and LAUREN sit.)
PAUL. We might as well get to know each other. It
BILLINGS. They'll get us any minute.
LAUREN. Relax. You're not going to make your meeting,
PAUL. Who wants to go first?
BILLINGS. What is this, kindergarten? "Wait for your
LAUREN. Speaking of the bathroom...
=BILLINGS. I don't care if I know anything about you
-PAUL. Hey now, that isn't very nice.
-MADRIGAL. For goodness' sakes! I'll go first, if it
PAUL. Oh yes, ma'am. We'd be delighted.
(MADRIGAL strikes a pose.)
MADRIGAL. It was early on the morning of May
(PAUL and LAUREN, awestruck, applaud.)
Wait, wait, I'm not finished. Madrigal, known to her
(MADRIGAL bows. PAUL and LAUREN applaud wildly.)
There. Now you know all about me.
PAUL. Actually, I have a few questions, if you don't
MADRIGAL. Not at all. Go ahead.
PAUL. Well, where are you from?
MADRIGAL. I lived in Versailles, but I currently
LAUREN. Versailles... where is that?
BILLINGS. France! It's in France!
MADRIGAL. Yes dear, what Billings said.
PAUL. Kinda peculiar you grew up there, what with the
PAUL. I thought you were English or British or
LAUREN. No Paul, you're right. Why is that, Madrigal,
MADRIGAL. Well, uh... um... why, it's because I grew
PAUL. Well, I guess that explains it. Wait, I have one
BILLINGS. If you were a gentleman, you would know that
PAUL. I am simply being neighborly. After all, we are
BILLINGS. And just what do you mean by that?
LAUREN. He just meant that since we're in such close
MADRIGAL. And besides, Mr. Billings, I don't mind at
PAUL. Why ma'am, if I didn't know better I would say
MADRIGAL. What? What are you talking about? Why would
PAUL. I was just trying to pay you a compliment!
MADRIGAL. Oh. Right. Well, how flattering! Thank you
LAUREN. Well, I guess I should go next.
BILLINGS. Why do you think that?
MADRIGAL. I don't see you jumping at the chance to
BILLINGS. What is there to tell? I'm thirty-eight,
PAUL. What's your job?
BILLINGS. I'm an accountant.
LAUREN. I thought accountants made a lot of money.
BILLINGS. I make enough to live on reasonably.
MADRIGAL. Then why the scummy apartment?
BILLINGS. Let me repeat. I am divorced. My wife lives
LAUREN. I don't see why you have to be so sarcastic
PAUL. Lauren, I think you'd better tell us about
LAUREN. Well, I guess there really isn't much. I live
PAUL. I catch it.
BILLINGS. As do I.
MADRIGAL. Sorry honey, I guess I can't really relate
LAUREN. I don't expect you to relate. After all, how
LAUREN. Right... Austria. How could someone who grew
BILLINGS. Listen, kid, if we ever get out of here I'll
MADRIGAL. Give me a break. You're an accountant. She's
PAUL. I think waiting tables is just great. Don't you
BILLINGS. Wait a minute, I never said that there was
LAUREN. (to PAUL) I know, I know. Thanks. You're a
PAUL. Well, I try my darndest.
BILLINGS. Excuse me. I would love for this to all turn
MADRIGAL. We all do, Mr. Billings.
BILLINGS. If only the blasted phone was working...
PAUL. It's too bad my wife isn't here.
MADRIGAL. Your wife?
LAUREN. You're married?
PAUL. I sure am!
LAUREN. You're married?
PAUL. Why yes, honey, I just said that --
LAUREN. I can't believe you're married!
PAUL. My goodness, why not?
LAUREN. Well, you were... um...
PAUL. What is it, sweetheart?
LAUREN. Just that! You've been flirting with me the
PAUL. Oh, I don't think so. I've just been trying to
LAUREN. But.... but...
BILLINGS. I don't think so.
MADRIGAL. I'm sorry, dear, but I think he was just
PAUL. Gosh, ma'am, I certainly didn't mean to lead you
LAUREN. Yeah, well...
PAUL. But what I was saying is that if my wife was
MADRIGAL. How so?
PAUL. Why, she's got one of those cell-you-lar phones,
BILLINGS. A cell phone! Blast!
LAUREN. I guess that's too bad.
BILLINGS. Wait! What've you got in your bag there,
MADRIGAL. I beg your pardon?
BILLINGS. Give me your bag.
PAUL. Why, Miss Madrigal! You've got one too!
BILLINGS. Splendid, isn't it? I'm glad I thought of
MADRIGAL. I don't know what you're talking about. I
(Pause. BILLINGS, LAUREN, and PAUL stare at her
Oh. Well, then.
(She takes the phone.)
Who shall I call?
LAUREN. You've got an agent, haven't you?
MADRIGAL. Yes. In fact, I was on my way to see her
BILLINGS. Call her.
MADRIGAL. But... but what if she's busy?
PAUL. You were on your way to see her?
PAUL. And you certainly haven't arrived yet, so what
LAUREN. Call her.
BILLINGS. Go on.
MADRIGAL. But I --
LAUREN. Madrigal. Do you want to get out of here or
(She takes the phone.)
What's the number? I'll call, if you can't do it.
(She snatches the phone back.)
Er... I mean, no. I'll do it myself.
(She dials quickly.)
(Lights up on stage R. A table with a telephone on it
WOMAN. (out of breath) Grayson residence, Christie
MADRIGAL. Hello, Rita. This is Madrigal.
WOMAN. Excuse me?
MADRIGAL. Listen, I was on my way to see you... yes,
WOMAN. Ma'am, I think you have the wrong --
MADRIGAL. But you see, I was on my way up in the
WOMAN. That's terrible, but you see, my name is
MADRIGAL. The power seems to be out, Rita. I had to
WOMAN. Listen, lady, I don't have time for games like
MADRIGAL. Rita, could you please send somebody down
WOMAN. If you don't start making sense, I'm going to
MADRIGAL. Perhaps you could have them turn the air
(The WOMAN hangs up the phone and exits. The lights
MADRIGAL. What's that? I got what? Oh!
(She turns to the others.)
I've gotten a part in a musical!
(To the phone.)
What is it called again? Grease?
Yes. Grease, it's called.
Yes, Rita, dear, that's just wonderful. Now, remember,
(She hangs up the phone. Lights on Stage R slowly fade
It's all set. They'll be here in a few minutes.
PAUL. I guess we did just fine without my wife.
LAUREN. Your wife...
(Suddenly, elevator music begins to play.)
MADRIGAL. Lauren, please stop. You need to move on.
BILLINGS. Shut up!
MADRIGAL. I beg your pardon!
BILLINGS. I'm sorry. I meant, please be quiet. Listen.
(They listen. Their heads turn up toward the ceiling.)
MADRIGAL. I believe they call it Muzak.
PAUL. I reckon that means the 'lectricity's back on.
BILLINGS. Exactly. Now we can call someone.
LAUREN. But Madrigal already called her agent. Someone
MADRIGAL. Ah... you may want to call someone.
MADRIGAL. Well, what if my call didn't get through?
BILLINGS. You talked to her.
MADRIGAL. That's true. Um... but what if she forgets?
BILLINGS. What's her name? Your agent, I mean.
BILLINGS. Rita what?
MADRIGAL. Um.... Mansfield.
(BILLINGS picks up the elevator phone and listens.
BILLINGS. Hello? Information? Could you give me Rita
PAUL. Tell her we're stuck in this here elevator.
BILLINGS. I'm getting to that. She's put me on hold.
MADRIGAL. Ah, Mr. Billings...
BILLINGS. Yes? I'm still here. What? You don't have a
(He looks at MADRIGAL.)
Well then, do you have any listings for movie agents
(He hangs up.)
LAUREN. What are you doing? You just hung up!
BILLINGS. This building is all computer technician and
MADRIGAL. Well, I --
LAUREN. You called information, and you didn't even
BILLINGS. Why is that, Miss Benchley? Or is that your
PAUL. My goodness, what's this all about?
BILLINGS. Why don't you ask her?
LAUREN. Look. I don't see how you could be stuck in
PAUL. Miss Madrigal, what is this all about?
BILLINGS. Out with it.
MADRIGAL. Okay. Fine. You want to know the truth? I'm
(She pulls a brown paper bag out of her bag.)
Now he doesn't have any lunch and he's going to be mad
PAUL. Gosh, Miss Madrigal. Why on earth did you tell
MADRIGAL. Well, I... I mean... I guess I was just
MADRIGAL. My boyfriend. Like, yesterday I was a clown.
MADRIGAL. It's sort of an exercise. To practice my
PAUL. Well, ma'am, I think you did a mighty fine job.
=PAUL. Certainly. Why, I never would've guessed you
(He looks meaningfully at BILLINGS and LAUREN. LAUREN
LAUREN. Definitely not. You played the part
MADRIGAL. Why, thank you.
BILLINGS. You can lose the accent now.
PAUL. Mr. Billings, you seem angry.
BILLINGS. For God's Sakes, man! This woman has lied to
LAUREN. You could try feeling some compassion! This
MADRIGAL. I would appreciate it if you wouldn't talk
BILLINGS. It doesn't make any difference! She lied to
LAUREN. Billings, can I ask you something?
BILLINGS. Obviously nothing is going to stop you.
LAUREN. Why do you care?
BILLINGS. Excuse me?
LAUREN. Why does it bother you so much that a perfect
MADRIGAL. You're doing it again.
BILLINGS. Because lying is wrong and she shouldn't
MADRIGAL. I'm standing right here!
LAUREN. And when exactly did you become the high
PAUL. Ah, if I may cut in here...
BILLINGS/LAUREN. No, you can't!
MADRIGAL. All of you! Shut up!
(A stunned silence.)
Thank you. Now, listen to me. First of all, I lied to
PAUL. What exactly are you talking about, ma'am?
MADRIGAL. You're not really married. You're not
LAUREN. He isn't?
MADRIGAL. And you aren't really from Boston.
LAUREN. Oh? And how is that?
MADRIGAL. What's the name of the major university
MADRIGAL. See? You would have pronounced it "Hahvahd."
BILLINGS. That is all very interesting, ma'am, but I
MADRIGAL. I think you do.
=LAUREN. (to PAUL) You're not married?
LAUREN. (to MADRIGAL) He isn't married?
BILLINGS. Now wait a minute. How do we know that you
BILLINGS. Let me go over it slowly, so you can
LAUREN. No, don't bother. I think it's time we called
MADRIGAL. (worried) What? I mean, what I did wasn't
LAUREN. (withering) To get us out.
PAUL. Lovely idea, Miss Lauren, let's do that right
(BILLINGS picks up the phone and dials.)
BILLINGS. Hello? Yes, this is Billings Fairlane. I'm
(He looks at the numbers above the door.)
...the fourth and fifth floors. Yes.
There's four of us. Listen, I have a very important
(He hangs up.)
Well, I hope that you're all quite satisfied. I've
LAUREN. You hope we're happy? What is that supposed to
MADRIGAL. I hope you aren't trying to blame this on
BILLINGS. Of course I'm going to blame this on you!
PAUL. Listen here, all of you. We are going to be out
(Full Stage lights up. TEDDY enters Stage L, carrying
LAUREN. Maybe you could just shut your mouth and stop
(TEDDY pulls out a wedge and puts it in between the
PAUL. Miss Lauren, I believe that is uncalled for.
LAUREN. Do you! Would you mind telling me whether
(points to MADRIGAL)
-- says you aren't, because you're not wearing a ring.
PAUL. All right then. I'm not married. Does that
LAUREN. You know, I don't even care anymore!
(By this point, LAUREN is screaming at him.)
MADRIGAL. Why don't you just calm down, now.
BILLINGS. Don't tell her what to do.
MADRIGAL. I didn't ask for your opinion.
PAUL. You know, I don't see what my marital status has
(TEDDY finally begins hitting the wedge harder. The
LAUREN. That is so typical! You lead a woman on, and
MADRIGAL. It's just a male thing, dear. They all do
BILLINGS. And when did you become the authority?
MADRIGAL. Stop yelling at me!
PAUL. Why don't both of you stop yelling?
(TEDDY hits his thumb with the hammer.)
(All the passengers are immediately silent. After a
LAUREN. Hello? Is someone there?
TEDDY. I'm the technician. I'm here to get you folks
MADRIGAL. Teddy, it's me!
TEDDY. Marthy, I didn't know you were in there!
MADRIGAL. Okay, go ahead. (to others) He's going to fix
BILLINGS. We have ears, you know.
(TEDDY begins to exit. ALICIA enters, wearing a
ALICIA. Oh, I'm so -- Ted?
TEDDY. Oh... hello.
ALICIA. (affectionately) Don't play that game with me.
TEDDY. Actually --
ALICIA. How sweet! I never told you I work here, did
TEDDY. Alicia, I'm not here to see you.
ALICIA. Well, then. What are you doing?
TEDDY. I work here. The elevator is broken and I have
ALICIA. Oh, goodness! Well, I'm certainly glad I took
TEDDY. Your legs look fine to me.
ALICIA. Oh, you! How many people are inside?
TEDDY. Four, I think.
MADRIGAL. Teddy! Teddy?
ALICIA. Who's that?
TEDDY. Shh! Keep your voice down.
MADRIGAL. (to other passengers) He must have already
LAUREN. Maybe we should call someone.
BILLINGS. He said he'd come back, didn't he?
LAUREN. I don't know... I've learned not to trust any
(She looks meaningfully at PAUL.)
...especially if I can't see them.
(TEDDY and ALICIA move farther away from the
ALICIA. Who's that? And why do I have to keep my voice
TEDDY. Ah... it's my sister. And, um, I think it's a
ALICIA. Oh, Teddy! Is there really still an us for her
TEDDY. There is if you want there to be.
(TEDDY leans in and tries to kiss ALICIA, but she
ALICIA. Not here.
BILLINGS. Maybe the two of you could just stop
LAUREN. I'd rather eat glass.
MADRIGAL. I don't think there's any need to call
LAUREN. How can you be so sure?
PAUL. (to LAUREN) Well, maybe you're right. I think we
LAUREN. (surprised) Thank you.
MADRIGAL. Teddy said he'd be back, he'll be back.
TEDDY. Why not?
ALICIA. It makes me nervous. My husband was supposed
TEDDY. He won't.
ALICIA. But still...
PAUL. Just the same, I think it would be a good idea.
BILLINGS. Well, I am sick of using that blasted phone.
TEDDY. What does your husband look like? Maybe I've
ALICIA. (laughing) He's pretty hard to miss.
TEDDY. What do you mean by that?
ALICIA. I told you he's a lumberjack, didn't I?
(This description matches exactly what PAUL is
MADRIGAL. I'll call.
(She picks up the phone and dials.)
Hello? Could you give me the control room, please?
TEDDY. Why is someone like you with someone like him?
ALICIA. What can I say? College students do crazy
TEDDY. No, I think we're pretty safe.
MADRIGAL. (to phone) Hello, Teddy? Oh, I'm sorry! Who
Oh. Where is he, then? You haven't seen him? Well,
LAUREN. (to BILLINGS) I told you. He isn't even up
BILLINGS. Smugness is extremely unappealing in a
PAUL. I beg your pardon sir, but smugness in
BILLINGS. Thank you for sharing that brilliant theory,
ALICIA. I don't know, Teddy. It seems so wrong. Why
TEDDY. We are alone. Just you, me, and a broken
MADRIGAL. (to phone) Oh, really? I wonder why Teddy
ALICIA. I suppose so...
TEDDY. Don't be such a chicken.
BILLINGS. What green button?
MADRIGAL. (to phone) What green button? (to others)
ALICIA. I suppose a kiss can't hurt anything.
(ALICIA and TEDDY kiss just as BILLINGS pushes the
BILLINGS. Thank God!
MADRIGAL. Lauren, it's so good you --
(She stops. She has spotted ALICIA and TEDDY. ALICIA's back is to them, so PAUL doesn't notice it is her.)
(TEDDY looks up and sees MADRIGAL. ALICIA turns to see
(PAUL is stunned, standing there open-mouthed.)
LAUREN. Who is she?
PAUL. My wife!
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