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MUCH MADNESS

by D. M. Larson

One Act Play

Copyright (c) 1992

*Freedrama scripts are FREE to use in a classroom, audition, competition, or workshop.  But ALL mentions and printouts of the script should include the author (D. M. Larson) and the source (Freedrama.net). You may add links to the scripts on your website, but do NOT repost the text of this script online, even for educational use. For more information, please see my blog post “How Plagiarism Hurts Authors.”



 

Cast of Characters

 

Janey: A patient in a mental ward

 

Dr. Reid: The doctor who tries to help her

 

Nurse: Assists Dr. Reid

 

 

Place and Time

A mental ward. Good Friday to Easter Sunday in the present.



 

Scene 1

 

(Lights black. A door opens R. The stream of

light from the doorway floods the stage and falls

across a young woman, JANEY, on her knees C,

hunched over. The light bothers her. Two shadows

from the doorway loom over JANEY. The first

figure, DR. REID, speaks:)

 

REID

(Only a shadow)

When did she arrive?

 

NURSE

(Also a shadow)

A few hours ago.

 

REID

She looks like she's barely alive.

 

NURSE

She refused to eat anything when she first came. I did get her to eat some bread and drink a little water though.

 

REID

Thank you, Nurse, that will be all for now. I'll update you later after I talk to her.

(Crosses to Janey - REID's shadow grows as she

enters the stage)

Hello, Janey. I'm Dr. Reid.

(No response)

We'll be working together from now on.

(Looks around)

What we need are some lights so we can see.

 

JANEY

(Meekly)

Please, no lights -

 

REID

Okay.

(Pause)

How are you feeling?

(JANEY glares)

I see you're not too good today.

(JANEY looks away)

Do you feel like doing any talking?

(JANEY shakes her head no)

I hear you're not eating well. Can you tell me why?

 

JANEY

(Pause)

Bread and water suit me - I want nothing else.

 

REID

I can have the nurse bring something by...

 

JANEY

(Angrily)

I don't want anything - and I don't want to talk anymore - can I please be by myself?

 

REID

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry.

 

JANEY

That's all they've done here - poke, prop, and pry - I've never felt so violated before - I just want to be left alone -

 

REID

We can try.

 

JANEY

(Softly)

Thank you -

 

REID

(Starts to leave. Stops)

Can I give you some light?

 

JANEY

(Long pause)

If you have to -

 

REID

(Smiles. Goes to pantomimed window DC and opens

the curtains - light comes through - the wood that

holds the glass in place falls across JANEY)

You can see the garden from here. The flowers are in bloom just in time for Easter Sunday.

(Turns)

I guess it's time to say good-night.

(Looks at JANEY a moment)

If you need anything this evening my office is right across the way.

(JANEY is silent)

Sleep well, Janey.

(REID starts to go, stops)

I'll be here tomorrow if you want to talk to me.

(REID wants to say more, but decides she

shouldn't. She exits and closes door R. Only the

light from the garden window shines in on a

motionless JANEY. The lights slowly fade -

darkness)



 

Scene 2

 

(Lights come up on JANEY sitting, looking out

window. REID enters - closes door. JANEY looks

down and away)

 

REID

It's a beautiful day today.

(Goes to JANEY)

Would you like to go outside?

(JANEY shakes her head no)

Could I at least open the window and let fresh air in? The rooms get stuffy on warm days.

(JANEY nods. REID goes to window - opens it)

There, it feels better already. I wish the windows opened wider.

(Goes to JANEY)

Then you could really feel the breeze come in.

 

JANEY

This is fine -

 

REID

It's Saturday. We have a lot of fun activities planned. Would you like to join us?

 

JANEY

No - I don't want to -

 

REID

You might enjoy meeting some new people. For most patients it's a must.

 

JANEY

I said no -

 

REID

I'm sorry, Janey. I'm just being friendly. I didn't mean to pressure you.

 

JANEY

I know -

 

REID

Would you like to come to lunch?

 

JANEY

(Pause)

I want to be alone - I don't like being around lots of people -

 

REID

We're a pretty harmless bunch.

 

JANEY

I get upset when I'm in a room that's full -

(Pause. Looks at REID, afraid)

I get really scared - I almost feel like I can't breathe -

 

REID

The cafeteria is quite big. There aren't usually that many people in there at one time.

 

JANEY

I just need to be alone, Dr. Reid -

 

REID

You can't be alone forever. With me you'll be fine.

 

JANEY

(Angry)

I can't be fine with anyone - you don't really care - you're simply doing your job - once I'm "better" you'll be though with me - then it's on to another patient - you're just like anyone else -

 

REID

That's not true.

 

JANEY

(Almost shouting)

I know it is - you probably haven't cared about any patient in years - that would be unprofessional - and a burden you don't need for yourself -

 

REID

You know that isn't something I would do.

 

JANEY

Please, just go - I know what I need better than you -

 

REID

I don't know about that.

 

JANEY

You're not God, you know - you don't have the powers to cure everything - I know what you can and can't do -.

 

REID

Janey, please calm down. Let's remember where we are at.

 

JANEY

Go on - get out now!

 

REID

Please, you need to relax.

 

JANEY

How can I will you in here bothering me all the time? If there's another way, I'd like to know how -

(Pause. Turns away)

Or is there anything else you wish to pry out of me?

 

REID

I think we have both had enough for the time being.

(Starts to go. Stops)

The garden will be free this afternoon if you want to take a look. We're going on a short fieldtrip...just a little countryside sight-seeing.

(Pause. JANEY looks away is silence. REID exits

and after a moment lights fade to black)

 



Scene 3

 

(Lights come up on a garden. JANEY is weeding the

flower bed)

 

REID

(Enters)

Hello, Janey.

 

JANEY

(Startled, unsure)

I thought you were leaving -

 

REID

I stayed behind. I thought someone around here might need me.

(JANEY returns to weeding nervously)

What are you doing?

 

JANEY

Killing weeds -

 

REID

Killing?

 

JANEY

Cultivate beauty by killing the ugly - it's an odd practice - I do it now to know I won't do it again - in reality its weeds on which the soil feeds -

(Stops)

But few people find the truth as fulfilling -

 

REID

Do you like weeds?

 

JANEY

Sometimes - If only you had planted something more useful - beans, or tomatoes, then the sacrifice might be worthwhile - but flowers, they're more difficult to justify -

 

REID

Don't you think they satisfy any needs?

 

JANEY

Frail beauty - that's all they are - cultivated for weakness - and has very little nutritional value - in the end they never can satisfy -

 

REID

Many would disagree. I believe their beauty is food for the soul.

 

JANEY

Frail and weak - a light frost would snap its neck -

(JANEY breaks the head off a flower)

 

REID

Janey, please, don't hurt them. We have so few flowers here.

 

JANEY

And so easily smitten by one little insect -

(JANEY holds up broken bud to a weed)

They choice is so easy - yet it's not -

 

REID

What do you mean?

 

JANEY

I suppose most people don't give it much thought -

(Looks up at sky)

I know a story of a man who had a plant which most called a useless weed - it turned out the weed was a cure for cancer - but the weed was nearly extinct so no one got the cure - do you believe in such a thing?

 

REID

I don't know. I suppose it's possible.

 

JANEY

But do you believe?

(Pause)

Oh, never mind - I guess to you most beliefs are only fables -

(Throws both plants down - upset)

 

REID

I didn't mean to upset you. If you want, I can leave.

 

JANEY

No one really cares, do they -

 

REID

Of course we do...

 

JANEY

They pay you to care - everywhere it's the same way -

 

REID

I wouldn't have taken this job if I didn't want to help people. And I wouldn't be here if I didn't want to help you.

 

JANEY

Do you think you can help me?

 

REID

Only if you want me to.

(Pause)

Do you want my help, Janey?

 

JANEY

People should only fix what's broken -

 

REID

(Pause)

Why did you lock yourself in your house? If someone hadn't found you, you might have died.

 

JANEY

(Pause)

I had to -

 

REID

Why?

 

JANEY

I - I needed to - I had no choice - I had to get away - I couldn't live like others anymore -

 

REID

Why not?

 

JANEY

(Angry)

What do you want to know all this for?

 

REID

I'm sorry, Janey. We haven't been able to talk a lot.

(Pause)

But I think it's time we did.

(Pause)

Did you lock yourself in the house because of your parents dying?

 

JANEY

(Furious)

I said I don't want to talk anymore! Leave me alone! I don't have to tell you anything! I'm not a little kid.

(Bends over and buries her face in her hands)

 

REID

(Concerned)

Are you crying?

 

JANEY

(Face still hidden)

No -

 

REID

You can't keep this inside you. You need to get it out in the open.

 

JANEY

There's so much you don't know -

 

REID

Please, Janey, talk to me. You'll be glad you did in the end.

 

JANEY

I just need to be alone -

 

REID

Okay, Janey, we'll talk later.

(Pause. Lingers. Leaves. JANEY remains hunched

over and upset. Lights fade to black)

 

Scene 4

 

(Lights come up on JANEY in the garden sleeping.

It's evening)

 

REID

(Enters with NURSE)

How did she get out here?

 

NURSE

I don't know. Someone may have left the door on her room unlocked. I wasn't on duty.

 

REID

That's fine. No harm done. How long ago did you find her?

 

NURSE

Not long ago. I just come on duty and realized she wasn�t in her room. I found her pretty quickly once I realized she wasn't where she was supposed to be.

 

REID

Thank you. That's all for now. I'll let you know if there's anything else you can do.

(NURSE exits. REID looks a JANEY a moment then

goes to her)

Janey?

 

JANEY

(Still down - eyes closed)

Mother? Mother is that you?

 

REID

It's Dr. Reid, Janey. Wake up. I want you to come with me.

(Touches her)

 

JANEY

(Sits up quickly - startled)

Mother!

(Breathing hard - sees REID - moves away)

Get away -

 

REID

Are you okay? We were worried about you? We didn't know where you were?

 

JANEY

I don't like my room - this is where I want to stay -

(Looks at REID)

You were worried? Why?

 

REID

We thought maybe we lost you.

 

JANEY

Too many locked doors for that - if only I could fly -

(She looks up at the night sky)

 

REID

I think the Earth is the best place for you to do things you need to.

 

JANEY

No, I'm leaving all the Earthly matters to you - I belong near a different sun -

(Points to a star)

I wish I were that star over there.

 

REID

Which one?

 

JANEY

The little one next to Orion - that way I'd never be lonely -

 

REID

Space would seem awfully lonely to me. I don't think it would be much fun.

 

JANEY

But it's so free - no one can touch you or hurt you - you can simply shine -

 

REID

You can shine here too you know -

 

JANEY

People don't like it when you shine - that's why stars are up there and not down here - humans think brightness is offensive -

(Pause - looks and smiles at the stars)

My mother is a star now -

 

REID

Maybe -

 

JANEY

She always seemed like one to me - but stars don't like it very well where they can't be stars anymore -

(Pause - grows sad)

 

REID

Is something wrong, Janey?

 

JANEY

I want to be a star... stars having meaning... stars I understand -

 

REID

I image we all would like to be stars sometimes, but we know we can't. Our only life is on this Earth. There's no where else we can go.

 

JANEY

Do you believe in an afterlife?

 

REID

(Pause)

Yes, I think so.

 

JANEY

Like heaven and angels and pearly gates - free of all Earthly strife -

 

REID

Maybe.

 

JANEY

I think it's a lot less defined than that - I think maybe we all end up a part of greater whole - a tiny molecule in a bigger being or a little star in a vast universe - we'll return to where we came from - whether it's God, the Great Spirit, or something else - but I know that's where we will be -

 

REID

Faith can be very comforting.

 

JANEY

Everything around me seems to point to the same conclusion - "ashes to ashes - dust to dust" - where we begin is where we end - the Earth gives us life through what we eat and we give her life when we die - the source is the finish - rain that feeds the river comes from the sea - to each beginning there is a definable end -

 

REID

I'm speechless - you've been holding back.

 

JANEY

There's usually no one to listen - at least no one who's willing to bend -

 

REID

Does someone have to change their ways to listen?

 

JANEY

What's the use of talking if it doesn't do anyone any good?

 

REID

When you talk to someone, some change doesn't always have to happen -

 

JANEY

But I would do something if I could -

 

REID

It doesn't always work that way -

 

JANEY

Then why did you become a doctor?

 

REID

(Long pause)

I haven�t thought about why in a long time.

(Looks at JANEY)

When I started I knew how difficult it would be.

(Slight pause)

But I wanted to help people. I wanted things to be better for people.

 

JANEY

That�s good, Dr. Reid. It�s good to remember why.

(They look at each other in silence - the lights

fade to black)

 

Scene 5

 

(Lights come up on REID in garden alone. NURSE

enters)

 

NURSE

I'm sorry, Dr. Reid. We can't find Janey anywhere.

 

REID

No one saw her?

 

NURSE

I asked everyone on the staff. And we've searched everywhere.

 

REID

We've never had anyone escape from here.

 

NURSE

I was on duty in her hallway all night. There's no way...

 

REID

She's gone. They're had to be a way. People don't just disappear.

 

NURSE

I'm sorry, Dr. Reid. We've been looking into every possibility.

 

REID

Then check the impossible. I want this place torn apart. She may be hiding somewhere.

 

NURSE

Yes, Dr. Reid.

(NURSE exits)

 

REID

(Wind blows. She shivers)

Such a cold Easter day.

(Pause)

Janey - wherever you are - I pray that you succeed -

(Looks to sky)

I realize sometimes we need do things our own way -

(Pause)

At times I think we all feel like Sisyphus - forever pushing our rocks up that mountain - only to have roll back down again -

(Slight pause)

But once in awhile we meet someone who may be strong enough to reach the top and push their rock over - and have the courage to win -

(Lights fade to black)

 

END OF PLAY

 


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