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Dream Sequence

This play premiered at Theatre Babylon's Nine Holes Festival 1999 in Seattle, and was later revised and performed as part of Annex Theatre’s cabaret, Spin The Bottle, in May of 2002.

(The play is intended to be performed not as some kind of ethereal, "dreamy" thing, but with exquisite precision, a rapidity of pacing, overlapping of lines, a definite sense of progressing from point A to point B. Scenes Two, Three, and Four in particular can and should be staged with a significant amount of overlapping and simultaneous dialogue.)

Scene One.
(A dark bedroom. MAN and WOMAN are asleep in a double bed center stage, in a cool, dim blue light. Suddenly the MAN comes wide awake in a fit, and reaches for the lamp at the end table, quickly switching it on. He shakes the WOMAN, attempting to stir her.)

MAN: Honey? Honey, are you awake?

WOMAN: (groggy) What?

MAN: Sorry, I just… I just need someone to talk to. I just had a horrible dream.

WOMAN: Oh… a bad dream…

MAN: A really bad dream. I dreamt that I was at work, in my office, working at my computer. I was doing a spreadsheet for the new fiscal year. It kept getting bigger and bigger. I kept having to scroll to the left and scroll to the bottom, and there were more and more rows and more and more columns, an endless array of figures and sums and formulas. Eventually these figures and sums became conscious and I realized that I was not navigating this spreadsheet at all; rather, the spreadsheet was wrapping itself around me, one row at a time, strangling me, plastering itself all about my body, wringing the life from me. And I watched the lifeblood pour from my mouth, collect in a puddle on the floor, a puddle of numbers and mathematics.

WOMAN: Wow… creepy. Then what happened?

MAN: That's when I woke up.

WOMAN: Oh. (sleepily) That's interesting. You know, I was having one of those end of the world dreams, where we were back in my old college town, my old college friends and I, and the students were all rioting against the government, and it was getting pretty bad. They were throwing Molotov cocktails and bricks through windows, and people were getting hurt. I remember seeing this one guy try to pull down a street lamp, and I remember telling him to stop but he wouldn't listen, and the thing came down and crushed another guy's skull, and I saw it all happen. Pretty soon I started to realize that this wasn't the government at all and those weren't the cops we were fighting. Those were archangels, and these were the last days, and we were being herded. Into our berths, you know? Into our spots in hell.

MAN: Goodness. Then what happened?

WOMAN: That's when you woke me up.

MAN: Oh. (sleepily, laying back down in bed a bit) You ever get in one of those stupid hippie time loops where you start to wonder if your whole life isn't just a stupid dream that some asshole has been having?

WOMAN: Like a bad episode of Star Trek?

MAN: Yeah.

WOMAN: Fuck no. I hate stupid hippie time loops.

MAN: (switches off light) Well, good night, sweetie. Sorry to wake you.

(They kiss. Blackout.)

(Scene Two. Same as above. MAN switches on the light.)

MAN: Good God, what a dream.

WOMAN: (groggy, coming to life) A dream…
MAN: I was in a small industrial town somewhere, gray and lifeless and miserable, and we were within thirty minutes of the bombs dropping.

WOMAN: Yes, I was dreaming, wasn't I…

MAN: The nuclear bombs, I mean. Someone had launched the missiles somewhere I guess. I was driving around in a car with my father, a man I haven't seen in years, a man I don't particularly care for.

WOMAN: It was a telethon. I was answering phones at a telethon. Except people weren't calling in to donate money. They were calling in to have their lives saved.

MAN: I didn't have anything to say to him, we were just driving around, waiting, wondering where ground zero was going to be.

WOMAN: It was twenty-four hours to judgment day, and lucky callers could be saved.

MAN: Are you even a Christian any more?

WOMAN: Suddenly there was a flood and I was riding around in an underwater submarine. The flood was part of the end, and I was being swept away, but I was given enough air in the submarine so that I could survive long enough to see that it was happening.

MAN: Well, soon enough I could feel that the missiles were on the horizon. I can't describe the way my knuckles wrapped themselves around the steering wheel, but they did, and all I could think of was that I really desperately wished this man next to me would just get out of my car. (pause; he sits back) I think we're watching way too much USA Network before going to bed.

WOMAN: Too much fucking cough medicine.

MAN: That's what it is, you're right.

(He switches off the light. Blackout.)

(Scene Three.)

MAN: (sits up, turns on the light; he is more visibly disturbed than he has been in the previous two scenes) Holy shit.

(WOMAN moans softly.)

MAN: I was at this donut shop and I was at the end of the line, and I was incredibly hungry, and the lady at the front just couldn't make up her mind, and I had this weedeater with me, so I just whipped it out and started whacking everybody in the place with it, while singing one of my beloved favorites from the hit musical La Cage Aux Folles and balancing a large bowl of pig's blood on my head, and when everyone was dead, I ate every damn donut in that donut shop, even the ones with amphibian scales and some of my favorite silicate minerals, including feldspar and quartz.

WOMAN: (rousing herself) I don't fucking believe it. I'm not even a Christian any more.

MAN: What? What? What?

WOMAN: Well, I was sitting in our bedroom with Jesus Christ, and we were talking about something fairly inconsequential as I recall, when suddenly these three giant McDonaldland Fry Guys burst into the room, with huge gaping maws filled with row after row of razor sharp incisors, and they shouted “Mmm, Jesus, yummy!” and flew across the room and sank their teeth into His neck, and I just started laughing like crazy. The Lord's head came off and bounced across the bed.

MAN: Are you serious?

WOMAN: Yeah, I'm serious.

MAN: That's fucked up.

WOMAN: So wait a minute, you ate all the donuts?

MAN: Yeah. Then suddenly I was competing in the esteemed Olympic luge event -- naked, of course -- and I accidentally skipped the track and started plowing through the crowds, severing limb after limb, I mean, the air was literally filled with flying body parts, and eventually I gained so much momentum that the last row of people I smashed into were pulverized into tiny particles of blood and tissue, and suddenly little elves appeared and started making pink snowmen out of the blood-stained snow, attaching the severed human limbs for added realism, and the snowmen came to a horrible kind of half life and began singing and dancing a tuneful jig before destroying the city in a sudden huge burst of satanic vigor.

WOMAN: Well, after that I was in a big time rock band, and we toured the nation singing nothing but power ballads, abusing ourselves with drug after drug, taking horrible advantage of innocent young groupies, making them perform horrible stunt shows with animal fat and solid gold shrimp forks, until one day the aliens showed up and decided to use me as a birdie in an interstellar game of badminton.

MAN: How much cough syrup are you drinking anyways?

WOMAN: It's all slippery, and it's not something I understand, or care to understand. I just want sleep.

MAN: Well, after that I realized that I actually cared about something. I realized that there was a point to what I was doing, and some kind of underlying meaning to the situation.

WOMAN: Oh shut up already.

MAN: No, I'm serious. I realized that I had a purpose, and some kind of significance from a universal perspective. I realized that I had found an escape hatch from my bleak nine to five existence.

WOMAN: Once I discovered that I was in a man's body, and all I wanted to do was touch myself over and over again.

MAN: I realized that there was somebody tending some higher dimension, where everything made sense.

WOMAN: And I don't know how my imagination did it, but it did, it generated sensations in a part of my body that wasn't really there, and I can still feel the orgasm as plain as day.


MAN: Wait a minute, would you say that again?

WOMAN: Absolutely not. Now go to sleep. I have to work tomorrow.

(After a beat, the MAN shuts off the light. Blackout.)

(Scene Four.)

MAN: (sits up, turns on the light.) How will I be able to tell if I am awake or dreaming, and does it matter? What about the sensation of being awake is so unique that I will know beyond a shadow of a doubt? Am I surfing some hypnogogic wave or am I alive, am I real?

WOMAN: Careful, sweetie, you're starting to sound like a hippie again.

MAN: I have to know!

WOMAN: Tonight I was the embodiment of sin itself. Do you have any conception of what that feels like?

MAN: I don't.

WOMAN: Think about it, then. I was the embodiment of sin itself. I lived and breathed as the embodiment of sin, and where I walked, everyone who encountered me knew that I was sin. I spread sin in my wake, and the path before me washed itself clean in anticipation of the arrival of sin.

MAN: Whoa, that's pretty heavy.

WOMAN: You're not listening, you fucking hippie. It's not so simple as "am I awake" or "am I asleep." Awake or not, I now know that my mind contains all kinds of possibilities, and that somewhere lurking deep within me is a monstrous well of sin. I know what it feels like down there, and I know what it feels like to wear it like a cloak.

MAN: (rises from bed) A monstrous well of sin, and that's what I'm sleeping with at night. Well, tonight I was in a position to make changes to the political situation. Tonight I was capable of standing up and making a difference, tonight I was able to take hold of all kinds of power and enforce my vision on a nation of people. And I eliminated injustice and unfairness, at the expense of a specific amount of personal freedom, the freedom of people who by and large did not deserve it to begin with. And now I know what power feels like, inside my head I know I have it in me to tell people what to do. To make them listen.

WOMAN: Once I was with someone I hated, and I plunged a knife deep into her chest. I can remember as vividly as anything I've ever experienced in life the way that knife sunk deep into her flesh. I can remember the sound it made; I can remember the way the flesh resisted only a bit before giving way to the blade. I remember the satisfaction I felt when I awoke.

(Long pause.)

MAN: I don't know that we should be sleeping together.

WOMAN: Shut up, you fucking hippie, and come to bed.


(Scene Five.)

MAN: (sits up, turns on the light) This is not what I expected.

WOMAN: (wakes up groggy) Oh man…

MAN: I didn't expect this at all.

WOMAN: I just expected a solid night's sleep once in a while, but you never shut up.

MAN: No, no, you don't get it.

WOMAN: It's always the same.

MAN: I was running through a crowded mall, and there was a gunman in pursuit.

WOMAN: I was sitting in a large bowl of ice cream, covered with whipped cream, giggling with delight as a huge amount of hot fudge rained down from above.

MAN: He was this squirrelly fellow, with glasses, a moptop haircut, but dammit, he had a gun, and he was shooting people, and he was chasing me.

WOMAN: I was sitting on top of this ice cream, mind you, and my ass was absolutely frozen.

MAN: We were on this escalator in the mall, and I remember diving down to avoid this bullet, and I landed on this doctor friend of mine who sort of squealed like a stuck pig and spit up black bile all over me.

WOMAN: So then I'm covered in this warm chocolate fudge, right, and suddenly everything is right with the world, because, you know, it's not just chocolate, it's amniotic chocolate.

MAN: I just wonder what that means, that people are shooting at me in crowded malls.

WOMAN: Of course, moments later some giant toddler person comes along with a spoon, and I realize I'm the cherry on top, and my ass was history!

MAN: Whoa!

WOMAN: You know it! Fuck your little gunshot fantasies, man, those were big fucking teeth cutting me in half. This enormous toddler person was shouting "Now I eat you!" and then chomping me in half.

MAN: But what does it all mean?

WOMAN: What are you, an asshole? Who fucking cares? I mean, look, do you remember when you used to dream about getting away from that nine to five grind, when you dreamt about a life that exceeded your cubicle and whatever excuse you currently have for a career? Do you remember that dream, about a life that was completely extraordinary or at the very least unusual, and things would happen that you couldn't explain and they would be interesting and remarkable, do you remember that dream? Or did you ever wake up from that dream? Are you perhaps asleep right now with your head down at the desk, in between spreadsheets, in between being beaten down by the Man and coming home to me and having to deal with my pettiness and my own bad karma from a life that I also despise? Is that what's going on here?

MAN: You don't understand…

WOMAN: Let's talk about "arbitrary." Let's talk about "if you were born clear on the other side of the world, you might still be an asshole."

MAN: (pause) I'm starting to think you don't like me so much.

WOMAN: (smiles) Aren't you just cute as a button.

MAN: This is senseless…

WOMAN: I have to work really early every morning, and that's the senseless part. (pause) Just relax. Incorporate more cynicism into your diet. Ignore your dreams, because they are selling you out. Distracting you from reality. Don't aspire. Don't stress. Just sleep for a while, just sleep for a while.


(Scene Six)

(Lights come up on empty bed. For once, the MAN is asleep. After a long pause, the WOMAN enters with a bowl of ice cream and some assorted condiments on a tray – a midnight snack. She sets the tray down on her side of the bed, and then climbs in next to the MAN. As quiet lullabye music plays in the background, she takes a canister of whipped cream and begins spraying it on the MAN's oblivious head.)

WOMAN: I just want you to get some quiet sleep for a change. Some kind of peace.

(As she finishes the can of whipped cream, she next takes a canister of hot fudge and pours it on the MAN's oblivious head.)

WOMAN: One more day, one more dollar. It's not as bad as all that, is it?

(After a long long pause, she drops a cherry on top of the mess she has made.)

MAN: (groggy) What's going on?

WOMAN: (softly) Now I eat you.

(slow fade to black)

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