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Peter Lobdell

Location: Amherst, MA
Date of Birth: 8/18/46
Email: ptlobdell@amherst.edu
Performed in: New York, at regional theaters about the country, in Japan, England, Scotland, the Netherlands, and Switzerland
Other: Senior resident artist in the Department of Theater and Dance at Amherst College.


LUGNUTS OF THE SOUL


[Three characters: Dave, about 40. Denise, about 30, loves him. A female voice, later revealed to be Angel, about 20. A kitchen with a large window upstage. A sofa downstage. Daveís on the sofa. Denise is working the vacuum cleaner in the kitchen.]

DAVE
The phoneís ringing!

DENISE
(vacuuming floor with walkman playing)
Sorry, love ó I canít hear you.

DAVE
I said the phoneís ringing!

DENISE
What, dear?

DAVE
I said the damn phone is ringing!

Denise is singing along to the walkman.

DAVE
Iím losing my mind!

DENISE
What, dear?

DAVE
Nevermind! (answering phone) Hello?

VOICE
Hello.

DENISE
Salmon tonight.

DAVE
Great!

VOICE
What did you say?

DAVE
Not to you. Excuse me, I was talking to my wife. Who is this, please.

VOICE
What?

DAVE
Who is this, please. Who do you want.

VOICE
Great! Thatís what you said.

DAVE
That was to my wife. Who are you?

DENISE
(taking off the Walkman)
What were you saying, love?

DAVE
I have some wacko on the line.

VOICE
Hey, Dave.

DAVE
Yeah?

VOICE
Who you calling a wacko, you dimbulb nitwit.

DENISE
Who is it?

DAVE
Someone playing cute. Iím calling you a wacko. If you donít tell me who you are, Iím hanging up.

DENISE
They wonít say their name?

VOICE
Not if I hang up first!

DAVE
(pushes the button on the phone)
Fuck you.

VOICE
(as before ó like the phone was not shut off)
I heard that, Dave.

DAVE
(pushing at the phone button ó it beeps each time)
Damn thing. What a piece of crap.

VOICE
(as before ó like the phone was not shut off)
Dave. Daaave. Yoo hoo. I heard you.

DENISE
(Kitchen tasks ó she always has an activity)
Who was it, hon?

DAVE
This piece of crap wonít let go the line. Sheís still on. Listen

VOICE
(as before ó like the phone was not shut off)
Dave. Daaave. Yoo hoo. Dave.

DENISE
Why donít you speak with her?

DAVE
The wacko?

DENISE
Dave, give it to me.
(takes the phone)
Hello? Hello?

VOICE
Hello, Denise. You donít know me. May I speak with Dave?

DENISE
May I ask who is speaking?

VOICE
Let me talk to Dave.

DENISE
(handing him the phone and returns to task)

DAVE
Who the fuck is this!!!

VOICE
(at first as loud as before, but as Dave becomes more and more involved the volume dims out to silence.)
You donít recognise my voice, Dave? Now just listen. Shut that ignorant mouth of yours for one minute ó or give the phone back to that lovely Denise of yours. Go on. Iíd love to talk to Denise. I would like to.

Silence.

Dave moves about the space. He interacts with furniture and objects. The dance he makes gets more and more agitated. The humor of the dance is the virtuosity of his attempts to cover his dismay. At times he tries to bluster, but she has him. He slowly becomes still. Standing or sitting ó silence.

In direct contraposition, Denise has been listening. At first her activity is slightly smaller than habit. It slows to stillness. She watches. As Dave becomes still, her agitation increases. Her curiosity., driven by suspicion and imagination, leads her to him. At first with excuses made by the activity which has grown to a kind of frenzy. She is revealing all her anxiety. No cover at all.

DENISE
(During her acceleration she says)
Dave? ... Who is it, Dave. ... Dave? Whatís going on, Dave? Dave, my chocolate pie needs me to whip it. ... (She writes him a note. He shakes her off. He can move about the space.) ... Dave! God dammit, Dave.

DAVE
Itís nobody. Some nut. Just spouting. Talk, talk, talk ódonít understand a word.

DENISE
Youíve been on for minutes.

(As she is speaking Dave hangs up the phone ó the button seems to have worked.)

DAVE
Look at that. The piece of crapís working again.

DENISE
(snatches the phone from Dave) Hello? Hello? (spins back at Dave) Who was that, Dave?

DAVE
Uh. I donít know, Denise, honey. Hey, I swear.

DENISE
Iím supposed to believe that. She knew my name. She said I didnít know her. She knows me. She knows my name and she asked for you. Who is she, Dave?

DAVE
Hey, I swear. I donít know. Some nut. At first I thought maybe it was your mother.

Denise turns her back to him at "swear" and at "mother" she attacks him with chocolate pudding pie filling. He gets gooed.

She turns from him in loud tears

DAVE
Denise, honey, please, baby, please! Nobody, I swear. Baby, baby, please, honey. Look at me. Look what you did. SSSHHHHHHHHH, oh, baby. Hush, Baby. Nobody. A joke. Oh honey. Itís me, Baby. Iíd tell you. Somebody playing a shitty joke. Honey, please honey. Hush now Baby.

Denise calms slowly and, suddenly in the midst of Daveís comforting, she kisses him furiously ó getting the goo all over her face ó major goo.

The telephone rings.

Slow turn ó goo faces front. A look to each other and slowly, together, they creep up on the phone.

Denise takes it off the charger and pushes the button. It beeps.

VOICE
Denise, look at yourself. You have chocolate pie all over you.

DENISE
(With a little shriek she drops the phone.)

VOICE
Ouch. Denise, you klutz.

DAVE
(with extraordinary dignity and control)
Excuse me, whoís speaking please.

DENISE
No! Dave! Donít. Get down!

Denise leaps on Dave. She is saving his life from a sniper. They fall behind the sofa. The telephone is in full view center.

DENISE
She is watching us. Whoever she is, sheís watching us.

DAVE
The crazy bitch! ... Denise, honey, move off my thigh. My footís going to sleep.

DENISE
Sorry. What are we going to do? She might have a gun or something.

VOICE
Or Something. Iíve got SOMETHING. Thatís for sure. Iíve got two cowering jerks covered with pie filling .

DAVE
Talk to her.

He crawls into view and then out of view again by the sink.

We hear water running.

DENISE
What do you want? Youíre scaring me. What do you want from us? You canít do this to people.

DAVE
Talk to her. Baby, keep talking.

VOICE
I love the sound of your voice, Denise.

DENISE
Dave, Iím scared. I donít know what to say. Sheís scaring me. Donít you know who she is? Dave, Dave, what are you doing? Make her stop.

Suddenly Dave rises and dashes a bucket of water onto the telephone.

The lights go out. Denise makes a little scream of surprise.

DAVE
Crap.

DENISE
What did you do, Dave? What happened?

DAVE
I donít know. I just doused the phone ó I fucking shorted her out, but the lights shouldnít have gone too. Wait. Iíll get the flashlight.

DENISE
Dave, tell me the truth. Was that your ... ? You know who it was, donít you?

DAVE
Damn it, Denise, where did you put the flashlight. Itís not in the drawer.

DENISE
Try one down.

DAVE
Oh. OK.

Dave shines the flashlight about and stops on a woman down center exactly where the telephone used to be. Sheís wearing an evening dress, but she is soaking and the dress clings closely to her body.

ANGEL
Nice shot, Dave. Way to go. She is the voice on the telephone.

DENISE
Itís her!

DAVE
Holy shit!

ANGEL
Denise, be a dear and get me a towel. And while youíre at it you might wash your face.

DENISE
Dave????

DAVE
Get her a towel, Denise.

With a frustrated squawk Denise goes to the drawer and pulls out another flashlight and exits.

Angel remains in the light of Daveís flashlight. Simply, without any provocation, she takes off her dress and gives it to Dave. She is wearing a bra and panties.

Denise returns with two towels. Her face is clean. She gives one to Angel and the other to Dave. She keeps her light on Angel as Dave cleans his face. Angel wraps the towel around her after drying her hair. She takes off her bra and panties from under the cover of the towel, throwing each onto the sofa.

Angel picks up the telephone, dries it on her towel, and replaces it on its cradle. The lights come on.

ANGEL
Nice home you have here.

DENISE
Ahhhhhhhhhhhh ó

She drops to the floor slowly and writhes very slowly ó hands clenching and unclenching. Almost child-like, frantic autism.

DAVE
Denise, oh honey. Itís ok, Baby. Daveís here. I wonít leave you. SHHHHHH Honey. Just breathe. Breathe, Baby. In and out. In and out. Címon, Baby.

Angel walks about the kitchen inspecting the place. She opens the refrigerator and takes out two beers.

DAVE
Honey. Just breathe. Breathe, Baby. In and out. In and out. Címon, Baby. Itís ok, Baby. Daveís here.

Angel leaves the beers on the counter. She picks up an aluminum frying pan, walks over to Dave and Denise and bashes Dave over the head. With a great clang he falls over unconscious. Denise is quiet. Angel gets the beers and pops the tops. She gives Denise a beer.

ANGEL
Hi.

DENISE
Hi.

ANGEL
Iím Angel.

DENISE
Iím Denise.

ANGEL
I know. Heís alright. Head like a bowling ball.

DENISE
How do you know? Youíre a friend of Daveís? Oh dear. Heís unconscious. Wow. Heís ok?

ANGEL
Heíll be fine. Heíll have a headache, maybe. Not as bad as last Sundayís hangover. Drink your beer.

DENISE
Dave doesnít like me to drink.

ANGEL
Why? He drinks.

DENISE
He says I get silly. I canít hold my beer, he says. I can so. Look!

She holds the beer up in one hand like the Statue of Liberty. She drinks. In the next few minutes she will drink another two beers.

ANGEL
Thatís the spirit, Denise!

DENISE
Whatís going on, ah Angel? How did you get in? Why did you hit him? The phone? The lights? I was just about to cook some salmon. Iíve got it marinating in orange juice, and ketchup, and herbs, and ....

ANGEL
I just called to say "Hi" to Dave.

DENISE
Look at him. Wow ó heís snoring. Angel, are you ... Oh dear, are ... Is this a visitation?

ANGEL
You are sweet. No, I was just in the neighborhood and I thought Iíd call.

DENISE
Youíre sleeping with him.

ANGEL
That lug?

DENISE
Yes, you are. I know ó I mean, Iíve had a feeling. Jesus, Daveís been sleeping with an angel. Excuse me. The Lordís name, I mean.

She gets another beer, walking very carefully, a little tipsy, not wanting to wake Dave.

ANGEL
My nameís Angel ó Iím not an angel, See ó no wings. Practically naked.

DENISE
Want another beer? Oh, do angels drink beer? Youíre drinking a beer. I donít understand this at all. OK, Daveís not, heís not having an affair with you. Youíre not an angel. Youíre sitting on my sofa drinking Daveís beer. Iím drinking Daveís beer. You just appear. You make Dave crazy on the phone, and appear here somehow, and smack my Dave with my best frying pan, and now weíre talking just as nice as nice, and I donít know who you are or why youíre here. Stop me when I say something new to you. (Gets another beer.)

ANGEL
Iím his cousin. On the phone, I just got him caught up with family stuff. He drenched me with water so I hit him with your frying pan soonís I could. Itís our way.

DENISE
You called us "jerks". Thatís not family.

ANGEL
Denise, sure it is. Who else calls you a jerk?

DENISE
(She is getting very tipsy ó pre-drunk.)
You got a point. Well, Dave does, too, but, heís family. Weíre married. Doesnít he look sweet. So quiet and dear. I love watching Dave in the morning before he wakes. I see the boy in him breathing.

ANGEL
Iíve got a bone to pick with you, Denise.

DENISE
Oh boy ....

ANGEL
First, letís get him comfortable.

DENISE
Oh dear, yes. Oh, I should have thought of that. He looks a little cramped.

They pick him up and put him on the couch. Denise has to do most of the work. Angelís towel isnít too secure and Angel is supervising.

ANGEL
He always was one awkward, heavy lug.

DENISE
I think he might be more comfortable ... (She adjusts him on the sofa.)

ANGEL
What if ... (She changes Daveís pose to something more comical.)

DENISE
What about ... (She changes Daveís pose.)

ANGEL
Very good. Iíve never seen Dave look so ... so intent.

DENISE
(laughing)
Wait. Wait. Iím going to ó (She gets on the couch with him joining the gesture. It is comical, but it is sexy.)
Howís this?

ANGEL
Good, good, Open his legs more.

Denise is sprawling all over him and moves his legs to settle in. Itís more hot.

DENISE
(laughing)
Oh,You devil, Dave. my devil Dave. I love you. Iím crazy for you, devil Dave. You make me crazy. (She arches up and back giving Dave a slap on the face) You son of a bitch! Youíre cheating on me, you son of a bitch! Youíre doing it with Angel! I know it! NO excuses, NO lies, and NO "ditsy Denise"s. Angelís right here, you son of a bitch!

Denise begins to pelvis Dave. Sheís working herself into a sexual heat on Dave as Angel watches. Angel gets up to go to the refrigerator. A pause then as she opens the refrigeratorís door.

DENISE
You devil! Prove to me youíre not fucking an angel. You devil. Come on, Dave!

ANGEL
Is Dave good in bed?

Angel comes back with a can of aerosol whipped cream

DENISE
Good? Dave makes me crazy. He doesnít do it for you? Serves you right! Devil, darling Dave, make me. Make me, you, you, you darling you.

Angel reaches over the sofa and gives the whipped cream to Denise. She ejaculates it. She covers Daveís face with it

DENISE
Youíre nuts! Youíre completely totally nuts. Awesome. Oh my god. Iím nuts! (She tastes a finger of whipped cream.) You taste good, Dave. Oh dear, I better clean him up. Angel, pass me a dish towel, please.

ANGEL
Iíve got a bone to pick with you.

DENISE
So pick away.

Denise begins to struggle with Dave getting herself off the couch.

DENISE
You prick, bastard! And you, you slut! Youíre fucking my husband!

ANGEL
OK.

DENISE
OK?

ANGEL
OK. Iím fucking him.

DENISE
Oh....

ANGEL
Thatís what youíve been wanting to know. Thatís what youíve been thinking these last months ó that some one like me was sleeping with your husband. The Dave. So now you know.

Angel walks downstage and opens her towel to flash Denise on the couch.

ANGEL
Now you know.

DENISE
Oh ..... Oh, I think Iím going to be sick.

She gets up and then slowly collapses beside the sofa. Drunk, but graceful.

ANGEL
You arenít silly. Not one bit.

Angel inspects the place. She turns on the radio on the counter.

ANGEL
OK. Letís wake you up, Dave.

Angel goes to the sink and comes back with a bucket of water.

She dashes it on Dave. He comes to.

DAVE
What the!

ANGEL
Hi.

DAVE
Iím soaking!

ANGEL
Hey, you did me first.

DAVE
Ow. My head hurts. Whatís happened to Denise? Hey, Baby ó sheís out like a light. Did you do this.

ANGEL
Nope, she did it herself. Three beers.

DAVE
Denise doesnít drink beer.

ANGEL
Smell her breath.

DAVE
Beer.

ANGEL
Right.

DAVE
She is out. Sheís snoring. OK. I have a little money I was saving secret-like. Itís yours. Just leave.

ANGEL
Dave, Iím not looking for money. Iíll be going soon enough. You want to hurry me along? What else can you offer?

DAVE
You donít want money, what can I offer?

ANGEL
Secrets, Dave? Got any private thoughts?

DAVE
I donít get you.

ANGEL
Sure you do, Dave. Soonís I asked part of you flashed over to that secret place to make sure it was secure. Like a Mission Impossible script where they fool the President of the Banana Republic that the secret hoard of gold has been highjacked and he runs to open the vault to check ó and then they highjack it.

DAVE
Mission Impossible?

ANGEL
Come here, Dave. Get up. Címon big guy, Iím not going to hurt you. Look, no frying pans. You have a secret life, Dave. You have fantasies, right Dave? You sneek the Personals, donít you? You ogle the Net at night, right? Dave, Iím your secret.

He stands and walks over to her. Itís an awkward shuffle, partly because his head hurts, partly because heís all wet, and partly just his physicality. Angel cups his face in her hands and gives him a gentle kiss. The next moment is very important. The kiss is like a jolt of electricity for them both. Dave struggles and Angel struggles. Slowly ó so that it is quite apparent ó they swap physicalities. Angel takes on Daveís lumbering and Dave develops Angelís grace and ease. ANGEL(Dave) falls into the couch, not quite unconscious, but not at all with it. DAVE(Angel) goes off to change into dry clothes.

Note: Actual body is in caps and dominant personality (physicalization) is in parentheses to identify speakers

DENISE
(Sort of struggling to consciousness)
I donít feel too good. Hey, Angel, you donít look so good either. Bad beer. Serves you right. You cruise about and you find my Dave. You made him cheat on me. You bitch. Dave, never had a chance.

ANGEL(Dave)
(struggling to orient)
Denise, Baby. Iím not feeling right.

DENISE
Serves you right.

ANGEL(Dave)
Honey, you got it all wrong. I love you.

DENISE
Horrified! Evil lesbian seduction! God! (calling to husband) Dave! No! Stay away from me! Dave!!!

ANGEL(Dave)
(Pursuing her about the kitchen)
Honey, Baby, Denise, honey, please, baby, please!

DENISE
Stay away from me, you slut!

ANGEL(Dave)
What? Denise, honey, I never touched her I swear. Címon, Baby. Denise, honey, please, baby, please!

Denise wheels about from upstage and whacks ANGEL(Dave) with frying pan. Down SHE(he) drops.

DAVE(Angel)
(entering in dry clothes)
Looks like fun, Denise.

Denise runs to DAVE(Angel) and feverishly kisses HIM(her). Again there is the electric jolt of personalities shifting locales. DAVE(Denise) pulls back to look DENISE(Angel) in the eyes. DAVE(Denise) slowly begins to see what has happened. The shift doesnít knock HIM(her) out ó quite. It makes HIM(her) hysterical. Aimless running and high pitched sporadic screaming ó especially whenever HE(she) catches sight of HIM(her)self in a reflective surface. DENISE(Angel) goes to the refrigerator and gets herself another beer. ANGEL(Dave) comes to. Groggily SHE(he) sizes the situation up. SHE(he) gestures to DENISE(Angel) who blows HER(him) a kiss óthen ANGEL(Dave) winds up and clobbers DAVE(Denise) with a right cross.

FADE TO BLACK ó PAUSE

Lights up upon the three people sitting on the couch staring straight out:

Angel inhabited by Daveís personality

Dave inhabited by Deniseís personality

Denise inhabited by Angelís personality

Phone rings.

ANGEL(Dave)
The damn telephoneís ringing.

DAVE(Denise)
I hear it. Should I answer? I donít think I want to answer it.

DENISE(Angel)
Iíll get it. Itís probably for me. Itís usually for me. Ring. Ring. What a sound. Have you two ever really listened to the phone ring?

As DENISE(Angel) picks up the telephone, DAVE(Denise) scuttles behind the couch to protect HIM(her)self. ANGEL(Dave) watches impassively.

DENISE(Angel)
Hello?

She listens intently slowly turns to ANGEl(Dave) sitting on the couch and extends the phone to HER(him). She(he) takes it very gingerly and listens. A pause. SHE(he) gives the phone back to DENISE(Angel) who takes it behind the couch to DAVE(Denise). HE(she) bolts in fear up to the refrigerator with DENISE(Angel) in slow pursuit holding the telephone out like a crucifix to a vampire. DAVE(Denise) is drawn in to listen. A pause. DENISE(Angel) takes the phone back.

The next section depends upon the actors playing their doubled identity with absolute conviction. The speaking character is completely absorbed in her or himself ó totally accepting, in fact ignoring, the body/voice expressing his or her thoughts and feelings. Angel, playing Dave, and Dave, playing Denise, have all the mannerisms, physicalitites, and vocal patterns of the characters as first presented at the beginning of the play.

DENISE(Angel)
Goodbye.

ANGEL(Dave)
(Pulling DAVE(Denise) gently downstage as DENISE(Angel) makes distance for them.)
Honey, I know that sometimes I ... I scare you.

DAVE(Denise)
(Begins to sob quietly)
Hush, Baby. And sometimes, like itís a big hand that grabs my head and squeezes me ugly to you.

DAVE(Denise)
(Sobs more openly)
Honey, please honey. Hush now Baby. But itís not me, Baby. Thatís not me, Me. Iím going to change. Listen to me now. Look. The big hand is relaxed. It doesnít even know, I know, now and Iíll fool it. Before it even gets the feeling to have a nice squeeze on me, to exercise that grip, Iím gone. Itís squeezing air.

DAVE(Denise)
(a sudden, near hysterical shift in mood)
You stop that! You stop that, right now!

HE(she) runs up to kitchen and grabs the frying pan. HE(she) stalks ANGEL(Dave) about the stage, ready to clobber HER(him)

DAVE(Denise)
Youíre saying the same old stuff again. I wonít have it! God dammit! Iím done. Iím done, God dammit!

ANGEL(Dave)
Put that frying pan down. Now! Donít make get mad now.

DAVE(Denise) strikes with the frying pan to keep ANGEL(Dave) off.

DAVE(Denise)
Make you mad! Itís my turn! Iím mad!

DENISE(Angel)
(opens another beer)
You cheat. You lie. And I better not get you mad?! You better not get me mad. But ó too late ó Iím pissed.

We must get the chilling sensation that we are seeing pure male aggressive behavior in fear and hatred of the female. For a moment ó then the characters emerge to unsex the confrontation.

ANGEL(Dave)
Hush now Baby. Hush, Hush, Baby.

SHE(he) grabs the frying pan, easily twisting it away from HIS(her) grip. DAVE(Denise) suddenly throws HIM(her)self into ANGEL(Dave)"s arms, kissing HER(him) feverishly.

Letting the kiss develop a bit ó then the actors shift characters. Dave has returned to himself and Denise is now in Angelís body. They break for a moment to establish their identities. The rub is that Dave, in his own body, sees only Angel in front of him. He doesnít know Denise is inhabiting her body and he sees Denise having a beer, ignorant of Angelís gaze from out her eyes.

ANGEL(Denise)
Dave, Iím scared. Dave, hold me. Dave, now. Now! I want you. Make me crazy. Right now, Dave.

SHE(she) comes onto to Dave powerfully. He is backing away from her heat, torn between her sexuality and his wife watching in slight amusement. He is bewildered and cowed. They dance a hinky dance about the couch and end all the way upstage with Dave facing the audience. ANGEL(Denise) drops her towel and nakedly embraces Dave against the counter.

DAVE
No. No. Please. (to his wife ó DENISE(Angel)) Denise! Denise! Please. (to ANGEL(Denise)) I donít know you! You canít mean this. You canít do this here. (to his wife) Denise. Holy shit! Denise! Help me! Get her off me. Please.

Dave begins to take on a suggestion of Denise earlier, almost sobbing, embarrassed, completely numbed by panic that his wife is watching and blaming him for this sexual betrayal of her.

DENISE(Angel) goes to the couch and picks up a throw shawl from the arm of the couch. She goes to the couple, sprays Dave in the face with whipped cream, places the shawl on ANGEL(Denise)í. shoulders, and pulls her away into a long hungry kiss. They descend behind the sofa. The phone rings. Denise rises up. She rushes over to answer.

DENISE
Dave, honey, itís for you.

She turns upstage and sees Dave ó face still covered in whipped cream. She starts to giggle.

DENISE
Just one second. Heíll be right with you. Hold on.

She puts the phone down and laughs as she gets a towel. She cleans Daveís face as he reorients himself to her. Bemused.

FADE TO BLACK