Late afternoon, winter 2003. Iris’ apartment, Pierre Fontaine Apartments, New York City. One-act play.
Author Jan Quackenbush comments: In the aftermath of the attacks of 911 the frightened residents of New York City were advised by officials to protect their apartments from airborne assaults, (notably poisonous gas), by carefully taping over any gaps in their window frames? The suggestion triggered this comic-serious play, my personal reaction to that absurdity. Hence, this play has several seemingly “absurd” moments.
We meet our apartment dwellers in Iris’ apartment one afternoon as they gather to hold what a retired-military resident, Tony, has determined to be a council of war with his “platoon,” comprised of their dearest friends, residing at the Pierre Fontaine.
Several fears and secrets (for example, a window that isn’t really a window) spill into the open; so-to-speak, Army food supplies will be trucked in, thanks to Tony’s connections with a certain PX (Post Exchange); fool-proof bubble-wrap suits will be displayed, and worn.
While Iris has the opportunity to escape out to the mountains of Pennsylvania, urged by her daughter who has come for her, Iris ultimately decides on loyalty to friends above all. Together, then, the residents will ride out this daunting and fearsome event in their lives – the perhaps-to-dome attack at the Pierre Fontaine.
From the Play
Iris’ apartment. Door buzzer. Iris enters from bedroom, carrying a strip of bubble wrap and scissors. She crosses to door, looks though peep hole, unlocks many locks, and opens door…
DIERDRE: Am I early?
IRIS: Not at all, come in.
DIERDRE: (Entering) I’m early, you’re being nice, but Iris before anyone comes I want to confide to you: I’m not in favor of this plan. I’d really have to be persuaded that the entire world is sick, sick, sick, not just the terrorists. And I don’t believe it…(Beat)…What are you doing holding scissors?
IRIS: I was cutting fabric.
DIERDRE: Oh. Do you know they confiscated my nail scissors at La Guardia?
IRIS: Yes, you told me, or you told Allison and she told me.
DIERDRE: No, I told Allison and she told Tony and Tony told you, that’s what Tony told me.
IRIS: Oh. That sounds right, Tony’s quite the “networker.”
DIERDRE: No, he’s quite the leader, ”in charge”…up here?…(pointing to her head).
IRIS: “Captain” Tony…he’s still in the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
DIERDRE: He told me he’s in favor of your plan, that you want us to “assemble” together if…we’re attacked!
IRIS: As a matter of fact, Dierdre, Tony has an idea about how we can all survive, that…
DIERDRE: Of course, of course…but, look at me, I’m all nerves, I don’t belong in groups. I don’t even attend our Co-Op meetings! But since this plan is YOURS, Iris, one my dearest FRIENDS! — I’m here. (checking her watch) : I’m crowding it in. But LOOK! a fast meeting, right? Here, I brought a hat, I put ballots in it so we can vote and get out early. Where should I put it?