From the Play
The Candle’s in Your Eye
Since, in the original production, multiple roles were divided among one male and three females, with females playing some roles that seem more male-oriented, the script follows that original character designation. But most roles may be considered gender-neutral.
THE SCENE: The play is meant to be mounted simply, with the barest of props and set pieces.
THE TIME: The present, at Candlemas (Groundhog’s Day), six weeks after the Winter Solstice.
AT RISE: A kitchen, with a table set for three and another surface suggesting a stove, where Mom stands, stirring a pot. Enter Dad, home from work, carrying a brief case and a newspaper.
DAD: Hi, honey.
MOM: Hello, dear. (A peck of a kiss in greeting) How was your day?
MOM: Huh! Welcome to the club.
(Dad discards his coat and brief case, sits at the table.)
DAD: If that bastard Krebbs palms off one more piece of his job on me, I’m going to…. (He’s stuck. He fumes. He hardly knows what.) I don’t know what. Son of a bitch.
(He opens his newspaper, which he glances at intermittently throughout the rest of the scene.)
MOM: Your mother called today.
DAD: He said, “Bill, you’ve got this on file. I know you won’t mind giving me the percentages.” Meanwhile, I’ve already got the Shufflebottom speed-reading job to work on, and that’s giving me one big headache because I’ve already had it sent back twice to trim off the fat and I have to concentrate on it right now, even if I can’t stand the thought of one more Shufflebottom.
MOM: She has no respect for me at all. She knew I had the menu all picked out for my buffet on Sunday, and she calls me to tell me she’s finally found the recipes for the one she used twenty years ago, that she knows everyone will be sure to enjoy. Now, I call that interference.
DAD: I don’t know why it’s so damn hard to concentrate on that Shufflebottom job. I didn’t have this problem before the holidays.
MOM: I should never have told her I was having trouble deciding between ravioli and Swedish meatballs.
DAD: My desk is a mess. I can’t keep it clear. It has a life of its own. Papers, pens—they just pile up. I turn my back and all the stray scraps around the office go, “Hey, the coast is clear, let’s go lay on his desk!”
MOM: The women at the church want me to help with the auction and cake sale. I don’t see how I can say no, but I’m already behind with the house. I wanted to go through the closets after the holidays, but every time I open one of the doors the telephone rings. Isn’t that strange?
DAD: I keep finding myself staring out the window. But there’s nothing to see but this bare tree. Day in and day out, this same, brown, bare tree.
MOM: I’m behind with my mending, I’m behind with my ironing, I’m even behind with my car repair classes! All I seem to do all day any more is get behind. Get up and get busy getting behind!
DAD: I even fell asleep watching that tree today. Lucky the boss didn’t see me. I was staring at that damn tree and I nodded right off.
MOM: I’m drinking too much coffee. I have to cut back on my coffee.
DAD: What’s for supper, by the way?
MOM: Macaroni and cheese.
MOM: “Oh?” So what did you expect? Filet mignon?
DAD: No, I wasn’t expecting filet mignon. When did I ever expect filet mignon?
MOM: Well, you didn’t have to sound so disappointed.
DAD: Do you expect me to drool at the words “macaroni and cheese?”
MOM: Don’t talk so ridiculously! Who said anything about drooling? It’s just that you could have said, (Brightly) “Oh! Macaroni and cheese!” You didn’t have to make it sound like (With hearty distaste) “Oh. Macaroni and cheese.”
DAD: What can I say? I’m sorry. Sorry, sorry, sorry. But it just happens to be the honest truth that I don’t feel particularly hungry for macaroni and cheese tonight.
MOM: Well, you can always make yourself a peanut butter sandwich.
DAD: Not at all! I have just had a change of my appetite. I am so hungry for macaroni and cheese that I can hardly control myself until it’s served! I am going to eat three helpings! I am going to eat so much macaroni and cheese that I will turn into a big soft macaroni and cheese ball for the rest of the evening. People will say, “Who is that macaroni and cheese ball in the chair in front of the television?” And you will have to say, “That’s no macaroni and cheese ball. That’s my husband.”
Richard Sumerak’s Summer Vacation
Richard Sumerak, a clinical psychologist in his mid-thirties
Yodie, proprietor of the Restless Maiden Inn and part-time guide to the neighboring caves
Cayin, a salesman for a nuclear hardware manufacturer
Alphagan, a village simpleton
Hehnik, an inspector with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Zainy, an extroverted homosexual
Fredal, a middle-aged alcoholic woman of Restless Maiden
Stella Zaddi, an independent businesswoman in her mid-thirties and Richard Sumerak’s lover
Memmie, a resident indigent at the Restless Maiden Inn
THE SCENE: In the caves near Restless Maiden, Pennsylvania, a sleepy river village somewhere in the eastern foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, and/or in the taproom of the Restless Maiden Inn.
THE TIME: Early August, circa 1980
AT RISE: The set extends upward from the stage in tiers or levels, suggesting the cross-section of a cave, with various escapes. Eerie music creates an unsettling mood as lights rise to illuminate the scene only dimly. Characters, with the exception of Richard Sumerak and Yodie, enter and take places in the shadows of the tiers. They are waiting for Richard Sumerak’s arrival. Some may provide or enhance background sounds with instruments or voice.
(A flashlight beam advances through the darkness. Enter Richard Sumerak, outfitted for a minor caving expedition. He finds his way downstage as he shines the flashlight alternately on a map he carries, then into the darkness around him, trying to coordinate his position.)
RICHARD: God! It’s hopeless! I am totally lost! How could I have done this? (He sits on a downstage rock) I’ve got to try to keep this together. There’s a logical explanation. I’m somewhere on this map. I just have to figure out where. Carefully. Methodically. It’s all here. It has to be. (He peers at his map, trying to retrace his route) I remember coming into the cave this far. But then…. (He concentrates, as if working on a difficult puzzle. Then he crumples the map in frustration and throws it down.) I can’t trace it! I’m not on the goddamn map! How could this have happened? (He tries to get a hold of himself) It was when I slipped and fell down that one passageway and smashed my watch. (He retrieves the map, smoothes it out on his lap, and peers at it once more) That passageway just isn’t on the map! Why? But it isn’t. It just isn’t here. Why didn’t I turn back right then and there? Because I didn’t know I was off the map. How could I have known? I didn’t even consider it until…when? I don’t even know. How long have I been lost? An hour? Two? It could be night by now! But then I’ll be missed. But will they be able to find me? If I’m not on the map? What if no one even knows about this part of the caves! Jesus God, what am I going to do? (He jumps up, turns this way and that in a panic, then sinks back on the rock.) I better stay here. I don’t want to get any more lost than I already am. (A moment’s pause) It seems that by walking in passageways with upward grades, I should have come onto something familiar by now. But it all looks the same. For all I know, I am on the map! Oh, I don’t know! I don’t know! I need a miracle! Maybe Yodie will come. Why did I have to fight with Stella? What a lousy vacation this is turning into. I am going to lose my mind! (Bowing his head in despair) There’s no hope for me! (Suddenly aware of his flashlight, he shuts it off, leaving himself in near dark) Shit! I’ve got to save my batteries.
(Enter Yodie on the top-most tier, his manner more of a stage manager than a rescuer, though he carries a lantern. A spotlight picks him up. Regarding Richard, he descends a level toward him, but Richard is not aware of his presence.)