The Lavenders

The Lavenders, written by former Clark Writes editor Emily Denny, is one of the shows being featured in this year’s New Play Festival, and the first-place winner of the 2016 Loring Holmes & Ruth Dodd Drama contest. Described by the playwright as “a drama that’s funny,” The Lavenders takes place in the 1950s and “explores the not-so-typical relationship between two people consigning themselves to a marriage in order to conceal their sexuality from their conservative friends, family, and neighbors” (CUPS Facebook page). Emily has also stated that “the play is not about the fact that they’re gay, it’s about the fact that they are two people in a relationship and there’s a problem in their relationship. That problem happens to stem from them being gay in the 50s, but the play isn’t about the problem, it’s about how they deal with it.” Read a scene from The Lavenders below, and be sure to check out its final performance, tonight at 7:30 in the Little Center!

lavenders.jpgThe Lavenders

Emily Denny

 

 He picks up his newspaper. She waits, something else on her mind.

GRACE
Did I ever tell you about Jimmy Peterson?

BEVERLY
Who?

GRACE
Guess not.

BEVERLY
What about him?

GRACE
He was…
(She stops short)
He was my…

BEVERLY
(On the edge of his seat)
Oh come on, now you have to tell me.

GRACE
He was my…

She waits. Building the anticipation.

BEVERLY
Spit it out for Christ’s sake the suspense alone will kill me.

GRACE
He was my boyfriend in High School.

BEVERLY
You never told me about this.

GRACE
For good reason.

BEVERLY
What do you mean? I mean, obviously you didn’t take to the fellow but…

GRACE
No, I didn’t.

BEVERLY
Why do you mention him?

GRACE
(Beat)
You asked if something was bothering me and…

BEVERLY
What about him is suddenly bothering you?

GRACE
Local section. Page 3.

He turns to the page in the newspaper.

BEVERLY
“James Peterson to run for office of Mayor.”
(He pauses)
I knew the name was familiar.
(He looks to Grace)
Well, that’s lovely he’s running for Mayor. What’s the problem?

GRACE
Nothing. I saw his name, it reminded me of him, that’s it.

BEVERLY
You wouldn’t bring it up if you didn’t have a reason to.

GRACE
Clearly I don’t want to talk about it.

BEVERLY
Why’d you bring it up then?

GRACE
(Beat)
He lives here. What if I… see him?

BEVERLY
What would be so bad about that?

GRACE
Clearly you never had this problem.

BEVERLY
What problem?

She sits down at the table.

BEVERLY
Grace, come on, tell me.

GRACE
My parents wanted me to marry him. And I guess there was some kind of arrangement going on that no one told me about and eventually he proposed and… I said no.

BEVERLY
Oh boy.

GRACE
You see the problem?

BEVERLY
I’m guessing he was none too pleased about it.

GRACE
I broke his heart in half then stomped on it. I was eighteen years old, I wasn’t ready to get married. He was… a nice boy but…

Beverly waits, thinking it over.

BEVERLY
He tipped you off didn’t he?

GRACE
What are you talking about?

BEVERLY
He’s the reason you figured it out. You had a relationship with a man who you were clearly fond of. But, when it came down to the particulars… you couldn’t do it. It was impossible, a byproduct of pure, unfiltered psyche and biology. And now… here we are.
(She’s unimpressed)
Grace, that’s a very special person in the life of a homosexual.

GRACE
All right, genius, you’ve figured it out. Now can we just drop it?

BEVERLY
Look, it’s not as bad as you’re making it out to be.
(Examining his picture in the paper)
And he looks like a nice enough fellow.
(He sparks an idea)
You should call him.

GRACE
What? Under no circumstances-

BEVERLY
Think of it as a form of closure. A testament to your new life.

He picks up the phone, she hits the receiver.

GRACE
Bev, this is my life. Pretending to be married, playing housewife. Not exactly something I want to go around sharing.

BEVERLY
But, you still want to see him.

GRACE
I don’t want to see him and he doesn’t want to see me. All he is to me is an empty meat-bag I held hands with for two years–

BEVERLY
Oh, certainly he wasn’t entirely empty, you said it yourself you liked him all right.

GRACE
Sure I did but that doesn’t mean-

BEVERLY
And you said two years?

She throws her hands in the air and walks away.

GRACE
Why do I tell you anything?

BEVERLY
Grace, I promise you’ll feel better if you just talk to him. Just once. Look into the eyes of the man who started it all and never look into another man’s eyes as long as you live.

GRACE
How do you know?

BEVERLY
Excuse me?

GRACE
How do you know I’ll feel better?

BEVERLY
(He clams up)
I… I don’t know. For sure, at least.

GRACE
Who was your tip-off?

BEVERLY
We are not having this discussion.

GRACE
Oh, someone of your intellectual stature probably didn’t need one. You probably had your own psychological wiring figured out by the time you were 13.

BEVERLY
Who’s to say I didn’t?

GRACE
I don’t buy it.

BEVERLY
No, no, no, no. Do not deflect away from your problem by making this my problem.

GRACE
If it’s such an important person just tell me. Who is she?

BEVERLY
This isn’t funny.

GRACE
You said it yourself-

BEVERLY
I don’t have to do this.

GRACE
Bev, it’s only fair.

Her gaze gets the better of him. She is right, as usual. He surrenders and sits back down.

BEVERLY
Her name was Sybil.

GRACE
I remember Sybil, you brought her to the Hamptons one summer.

BEVERLY
Wanna know why?
(Beat)
We were engaged.

GRACE
You were engaged?

BEVERLY
I’m not proud of it.

GRACE
What happened?

BEVERLY
(Lying)
She died.

GRACE
No, she didn’t.

BEVERLY
No, she didn’t.
(He waits)
I called it off. We were only engaged for two weeks. It wasn’t fair to her, wasn’t fair to me. We would have both been miserable.

GRACE
I can’t imagine you asking a girl to marry you.

BEVERLY
I got her a ring and everything. And it really hurt when she threw it in my face.

GRACE
You felt bad?

BEVERLY
No, it caught me in the eye.

He smiles, she smiles back. Silence a moment.

GRACE
How come you never told me?

BEVERLY
How come you never told me?

GRACE
(Beat)
I guess it just never came up.

BEVERLY
Besides, it’s embarrassing.

GRACE
(Beat, she’s caught off guard)
Did you sleep with her?

Beverly clams up.

BEVERLY
If you want to call it that, I had no idea what I was doing.

She sits down at the table with him.

GRACE
You know, I really think he was in love with me.

Beverly goes back to reading his newspaper.

BEVERLY
God, we’re monsters.


Don’t forget to check out the other upcoming Playfest performances:

playfest

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