Donald Freed
International Playwright
and Master Teacher

Patient No. 1

PATIENT #1, A PLAY IN TWO ACTS


FOR HAROLD PINTER

 

"Patient #1 is a powerful, disturbing and continually gripping drama which caused me to weep for America."

Ronald Harwood 

 

 

 

MISE-EN-SCENE

 

Patient #1" is the confidential in-patient, designated in-house name assigned

to the former President of the United States George W. Bush by the psychiatric staff of an elite private clinic.

The clinic is isolated from and virtually unknown to the public. The clientele over the years has included some of America’s and the world’s most Very Important Persons. The style and spirit of the large office in which the action takes place is deluxe Spanish Modernismo circa 1930.

There are two entrances, Stage Left and Stage Right.

A large desk/table is Centre Left; a fireplace, Left; and a small table, chair and couch Centre Right. Almost the entire Upstage Wall is a picture window.

Through the Window can be seen a wide lush lawn, semi-tropical flowers, vegetation and, at the horizon, a flash of ocean. The sound of waves is constant but very far away. Also, in the distance, the ringing of an old Mission’s bells.

 

DONALD FREED

*Donald Freed has been awarded the 2006 PEN DRAMA PRIZE for his Devil’s Advocate.

Donald Freed’s plays, prizes, books, and films include: Inquest (directed by Alan Schneider); Secret Honor (directed by Robert Altman); Circe & Bravo (with Faye Dunaway, directed by Harold Pinter); The Quartered Man; Alfred and Victoria (A Life); Veterans Day (with Jack Lemmon and Michael Gambon); The White Crow; Eichmann in Jerusalem.

Three Rockefeller Awards; two Louis B. Mayer Awards; Unicorn Prize; Gold Medal Award; Berlin Critics Award; NEA award for "Distinguished Writing"; Hollywood Critics Award; Jonathan R. Reynolds Prize.

Agony in New Haven; Executive Action (novel and film with Dalton Trumbo and Mark Lane); The Glasshouse Tapes; The Spymaster (B.O.M.); In Search of Common Ground (with Erik Erikson, Kai Erikson, Huey P. Newton); The Existentialism of Alberto Moravia (with Joan Ross); Death in Washington: The Murder of Orlando Letelier.

New books, plays, and films include: Is He Still Dead? (with Julie Harris as Nora Joyce); Love and Shadows (from the novel by Isabel Allende); Sokrates Must Die (with Edward Asner); a novel, Every Third House, and Hamlet (in rehearsal).

Donald Freed lectures in the Masters of Professional Writing Programme at the University of Southern California; is Playwright in Residence at York Theatre Royal, and Artist in Residence at the Workshop Theatre, University of Leeds, U.K..

 

"Donald Freed is a writer of blazing imagination, courage, and insight. His work is a unique and fearless marriage of politics and art."

Harold Pinter

"Donald Freed is the most political and pertinent of all American playwrights."

Studs Terkel

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE

 

PATIENT # 1 became an international reality when Damian Cruden of York Theatre Royal, and Ron Sossi of the Los Angeles Odyssey Theatre, together with Professors Ron Marasco, Chair of Theatre at Loyola Marymount University, and Jon Farris, Emeritus Chair of Theatre Arts at Denison University – when all of these notable American and British artists combined to prepare the play for production in the fateful American election year of 2008.

The first reading of the work was held in Los Angeles by Cinda Jackson at her Lost Studio Theatre in the spring of 2006. In November 2006, a staged reading followed in the Workshop Theatre at the University of Leeds.

At Leeds, the brilliant Artistic Director of York Theatre Royal, Damian Cruden, signalled his interest in what was bound to be a problematic project, given the toxic relationship of the U S and the U K in the Middle Eastern disasters of Mr. Bush.

Damian Cruden’s response to any political problems the work might provoke was to argue for a U K / U S co-production with tours in England and America! This vision of courage and creativity is the hallmark of Mr. Cruden, and when Ron Sossi, Ron Marasco, and Jon Farris learned of the plan they travelled to England, by plane and e-mail, and the deal was done! The important Mercury Theatre in Colchester, England, joined Damian Cruden to help sponsor the U K tour.

We all believed, with Matthew Arnold, that "The Theatre is Revolutionary, organise the Theatre!" We also know that this U K / U S combination would constitute a new theatre entity and that a "New Theatre", in Albert Camus’ words, "changes History". And, finally, what choice did we have, since we were each of us seized of Antonin Artaud’s dictum that "We are not free and the sky can still fall on our heads and the Theatre has been created to teach us that first of all".

We believed all of this. We always had – and I trust we always will.

 

ACT ONE

 

THE OVERTURE:

 

A sound capsule of the Bush years: 2000 – 2008 from the Point of View of the broken ex-President: music, voices, terror, "Shock & Awe".

 

SCENE ONE:

 

A brilliant December morning, 10 a.m.. Birdsong, ocean waves.

A SECURITY AGENT runs past, outside, the U.S. picture window. The agent is dressed in a tailored dark grey suit and wears black sunglasses. As he trots, the agent mutters into a miniaturised cell phone.

In the quiet can be heard birdsong, waves and the beat of a helicopter chopping in, then out.

THE DOCTOR enters his office from Left. He moves like a man afraid of having a stroke, cursing under his breath. He sets down his topcoat and a small suitcase; studies his desk and office, curses, "Sonsofbitches". He forces himself to stop, to breathe, to regain control; then, very deliberately, he exits with the coat and suitcase.

The Doctor re-enters and takes a box of Kleenex and a bowl of candy from his desk drawer; he is still fighting for control.

He wears expensive Brooks Brother’s slacks and a cashmere sweater, a blue oxford shirt, an "old school" tie, and loafers. He reacts to the sound and shadow of the helicopter, waits for it to pass, listens to bells from a distant mission, then goes to work, muttering epithets, again.

The sound of a motorbike passing by out of sight breaks the quiet. Then stillness again.

At his desk, the Psychoanalyst fumes over a case file, then reaches toward a small tape machine. He reaches, then reacts to the sight of his hand shaking; pulls back, bows his head, shuts his eyes—centers his powers of intention, initiates a yoga breathing exercise, and tries again.

Doctor reads file on desk. Then, speaks into tape machine.

DOCTOR

Wednesday, December 17 –

He breaks off, once again, to take command of his rage…

DOCTOR (cont’d)

Wednesday, December 17, 2009, continued… I am reading from the cover sheet of a file, page Roman Numeral I, dated December 8, 2009… mmm … The heading, ah, is, ah – it indicates that the file, this file, has been generated by, ah, quotes, "Homeland Security", colon: Distribution Eyes Only, colon: ah, FBI; CIA; DIA; DEA; DoD; NIH; ONI; SS; G2; JCS; CID; NSA; MI6; and, ah … five other acronyms that I do not recognise… "Eyes Only". And, every other line, every line and every word on this covering page has been redacted. Completely blacked out! … "Eyes Only" …

 The Psychiatrist stops recording. He leans his head on his hand and stares hollow-eyed, blindly, into space. Breathes. Performs a yoga exercise and chants a mantra in order to revive himself:

DOCTOR (cont’d)

…ooo – ne – ma – ne – pahd – ne – ooommmm…

 Repeated three times; building in resonance, until he is prepared to resume recording.

DOCTOR (cont’d)

December 17, 2009, continued … In my absence, I have – (stops the tape, breathes, starts again) Mm, while I was travelling – (stops – starts)

I have, em, returned to find a, quote, "Legat 405 Order", close quotes, from the Department of Homeland Security, quotes, "Remanding", close quotes, a certain, quotes, "Citizen of the United States of America", close quotes, to the, quotes, "Custody of the above named…" etc., etc. Concluding that – (he stands, reading) the said, quotes, "citizen", is, quotes, "Hereinafter referenced in the above named category as, quotes (stops, curses silently, starts again) "Patient Number One." Close quotes.

The Doctor walks slowly to the door, Right, and peers into the darkness. Then he goes into a corner, lowers his voice, and resumes his recording.

DOCTOR (cont’d)

Wednesday, December 17, 2009 continued: am I to understand that during my absence and before my return, and before I have examined the instant case file of this so-called "Patient Number One," a "protected client"—that someone has put this man on a psychotropic regime that includes: Valium, Xanax, Lorizipam, Effexsor, Risperidone, Olanzapine, Amisulpride, Prolixin, Zoloft, Paxzil, Lithium, Zyprexa, Haldol, and sonofabitch, Uroxadal?! And that this has been done without any consultation with me—to a Patient who is mute, of whom you write, quotes, he may be feigning an autistic state, close quotes—and that there is, quotes, the possibility of a deception—

 A knock at the door. At the sound of a tap on the door, Right, the DOCTOR clicks off the Tape.

The Doctor crosses to the door, Right, and opens it to the SECURITY AGENT. The Two men stand in the doorway for a moment – suddenly The Agent darts into the doctor’s office: circles, inspects, and races out again.

The PHYSICIAN is further outraged, then staggered at what he sees coming toward him and in to the office doorway:

The AGENT backs in leading PATIENT NO. 1, with hand signals and body language, the way an airport technician signals directions to a plane as it taxis on the tarmac.

In the doorway, the Agent smoothes the Patient’s hair and straightens his bath robe.

The psychoanalyst stares as the Agent employs more hand signals and gestures to, literally, guide the Patient through the doorway and into the office.

The ex-President is almost robotic, paralysed by conflicting waves of fear and need.

DOCTOR (cont’d) (sotto voce)

…Jesus Christ…

The Ex-President wears a robe and slippers; his hair is long and grey, his face is covered with stubble; he is heavily medicated; and yet he continues to attempt to walk as he did in public life – the cowboy hero with the bulging biceps, the brass balls, the stiff fingers – a caricature of machismo twice over. To top off this mad apparition, the Patient has a bandage plastered across his temple.

The Doctor tries to peer past the Agent to catch the Patient’s eye, but each time the Inmate shifts his head to avoid the Analyst’s probing gaze.

DOCTOR

Thank You.

Pause. The Agent takes a step toward the DOCTOR, who stops him with,

DOCTOR (cont’d)

Please wait.

The Agent hesitates, looks at both men, then backs out, speaking into his wire:

AGENT

... "Ranch Hand" at eleven hundred hours—do you copy?—That's a Roger—negative—negative—(off)—negative...

The Agent stays just outside the door, watching. Silence. The Patient stares like a heavily medicated statue, drooling slightly.

DOCTOR

Make yourself at home – Mr. President…

 The PATIENT stands fixed. The DOCTOR studies him, noting the small bandage on the Patient’s temple. He steps closer to examine the bandage.

DOCTOR (cont’d)

…Mm…They tell me you’re quite a bike racer. (Pause) Dirt bike, is it?

The DOCTOR’S voice and diction is well bred, mid-Atlantic. Pause. He reaches to inspect the bandage, the PATIENT jerks his head back. The DOCTOR retreats several steps. A helicopter sound in and out. Silence.

DOCTOR (cont’d)

Keeps you fit, does it? And they tell me you’re making good use of the "Fitness Centre." So, you’re, ah, comfortable, quite comfortable here—are you? (Pause) Runs in the family, eh? Your dad—parachuted from a plane on his, what?, eightieth birthday? Quite a man. (Pause) "Healthy mind in a healthy body"? It’s a good old saying.

The DOCTOR takes a step closer. Silence. Suddenly the Psychoanalyst reaches down and tries to shake the Patient's hand. The PATIENT stiffens in terror, but cannot extricate his hand. The DOCTOR grips and holds on as he talks; the two men are locked in a stationary agon, an immobile wrestling match. Why is the cowboy he-man no match for the older Care Giver? Is the Patient trying to pull away or, secretly, clinging to the Medicine Man? The Doctor pumps and jerks the Patient’s hand. Trying to throw the ex-Leader off balance, testing for a deception.

 

DOCTOR (cont’d)

A great honor to meet you in person, again, sir... Almost ten years. Palm Beach…Well… Looking forward to working, ah, working together... Chopping wood—ha-ha—teamwork, ah, yes, clearing brush—Ha!—I remember hearing you say, ah, on television, once, that, ah—when you—it struck me—When you and the Vice-President were questioned, ah, together, in "executive session," is that the phrase? —after the first attack on New York—that you—and you insisted that the two of you face them together—the Commission—that you wanted it that way— President and Vice-President together—so that, ah, I think you put it, so that "they," the committee, could, ah, "see our body language." Was that it? Your body language— a-ha…

 

Just as suddenly, the DOCTOR lets go. But the Inmate clings to the Doctor’s wrist! The Medico is shaken, as is the Agent watching behind his dark glasses. The Agent signals and begins the backwards ushering out of the drooling Patient, leaving the Doctor staring in deep confusion at his own wrist, as the Sick Man’s grasp finally loosens and he is led away.

The DOCTOR stares after them. Silence. The loud ignition of the dirt bike cracks through the office and the police dogs bark.

 

DOCTOR

Son-of-a-bitch!

 

The DOCTOR stares out, lost in the horror of the situation… Again, he seeks relief in a Yoga exercise, then he makes a telephone call. Again, his hand trembles as he picks up the receiver; he wills himself to dial. He looks at a framed photo on his desk…

 

DOCTOR (cont'd) (raising his voice)

…Good morning…Is she available? (45 seconds pass)...Mother—hello—I’m back—yes, I’m here…Well, I’m here...Mmm—No, I’ll call you—Yes—No, I’ll call you—Can’t talk now—. Cannot talk now! We cannot talk! – What?…I can’t – Hello, Mother – can you – Can you hear me now? – Hello, there’s something – Mother? – Something wrong – Mother? Something wrong!

 

The MOTOR BIKE cracks back across the day, drowning out the Doctor, plunging the room into darkness.

 

 

SCENE TWO:

In darkness the bike reverberations fade into the sound of a storm.

Lights up on a storm scene: 10 A.M. the next day. The DOCTOR is turning on lamps in the office. He goes to his desk and begins to dictate.

A roll of thunder, and another sound coming closer—the DIRT BIKE.

The DOCTOR listens, waits for the noise to pass then dictates. He stands warming himself before a low fire, as he speaks into a small portable microphone.

 

DOCTOR

…Thursday December 18, 2009: Regarding Patient Number One: am I to understand that the client has permission to continue riding his machine, despite the extraordinary level of his medication — a literal liquid blackjack – that is causing obvious EPSE, "extra paranatal side effects", and constitutes a clear and present danger to – ah, because some crackpot at Langley has written, ah, here, that, ah, quotes: "Patient Aetiology indicates, ah, Equophobia" – Ha! that’s meant to be "fear of horses", Ha! – quotes, "Equophobia leading to overcompensation on motorbike", close quotes! The sonsofbitches!

The DOCTOR breaks off as PATIENT #1 and the SECURITY AGENT, wearing complete rain gear, run past the U.S. Window. The Agent runs backwards, as always, holding a black umbrella to shield his Master

DOCTOR (cont’d)

The client is in the hacienda, as we speak,—the extreme danger! Unthinkable that I should, that the Clinic should be placed in this position—(he lowers his voice) with a client who has a notorious reputation as a prankster and a provocateur who for all we know may be here to create some kind of deception (a knock on door) to be used as a defense before some future national or international tribunal—

 Another knock at the door. The DOCTOR stops his dictation, breathes deeply, performs a quick yoga exercise, and goes to open the door.

DOCTOR (cont’d)

Please come in.

PATIENT # 1 and the SECURITY AGENT enter dripping wet. The DOCTOR signals the AGENT to leave. Instead, The Agent wipes rain off The Patient. The Patient stands, again, in his frozen posture.

DOCTOR (cont’d)

Will you take off your slicker and stand over here in front of the fire?

The PATIENT is locked in his pose. The Doctor still cannot get past the Agent to look the Client in the eye. Thunder and Lightning, and then heavy rain.

DOCTOR (cont’d)

Family coming down for Christmas, Mr. President?

Rain. The DOCTOR moves closer, the PATIENT is shaking.

DOCTOR (cont’d)

You have a chill.

The PATIENT’S shaking becomes violent. The DOCTOR goes to the door and calls,

DOCTOR (cont’d)

Please take the Patient to the infirmary.

The AGENT stares.

Soldier, this man is shaking with ague.

The AGENT stares

Do you understand English?!—Take the man out of here! To the nurse.

The AGENT backs the PATIENT out. The DOCTOR follows.

DOCTOR (cont'd)

—Then come straight back! I’ll call the nurse.

(on telephone)

SenoraProblema: Patient Number One is on his way to you, now.—Numero Uno. Muy importante: get a Doctor, and a witness, and find out—momento—whether or not he is actually as ill as he seems or whether he is…Exactamente!—"faking"!: falso, frodo, pretendienta, actor! (lights flicker) And then call me directly. Not the Doctor. You! Compañero!

The storm builds again and the lights flicker and fade to black as he talks.

SCENE THREE:

In the dark the storm fades to a dripping silence. Lights up on an overcast scene, thirty minutes later. Mission bells in distance.

The SECURITY AGENT stands in the doorway. The Doctor sits listening to someone on the telephone.

DOCTOR

Bueno. (he hangs up. Pause) They’ll keep him overnight for observation…Let’s review the bidding, Mr., ah, Mr. Coe, is it? John Coe?

AGENT

Yes, sir. Affirmative.

DOCTOR

Sit down. You came in day and date with the, ah, Patient?

AGENT

Roger. (he does not sit)

DOCTOR (pause)

Is "Coe" your actual, ah—in other words, is "John Coe" your "John Doe."

Pause. Then the AGENT turns to leave.

DOCTOR (cont’d)

One moment.

AGENT

Sir.

DOCTOR

Where you going?

AGENT

I can’t leave him. (pause)

DOCTOR

You’re S.S., aren’t you?

AGENT

Repeat?

DOCTOR

S.S.—Secret Service. You came here with him—you work for him, or his family, or the government, or somebody.

AGENT

That’s a Roger.

DOCTOR

Somebody other than this clinic?

The AGENT salutes smartly, wheels and exits.

DOCTOR (shouting)

Is that a "Roger"?!

The Doctor goes to the window, studies the sky— cursing under his breath—then a yoga exercise, and then to telephone. Christmas music rising under.

DOCTOR (on telephone)

….Hello. I need a boat for Key Largo.

Christmas music up, lights down as the clinic staff sings "Auld Lang Syne", and Voices call out "Happy New Year 2010!"

 

SCENE FOUR:

January 4, 2010, 10 a.m. Tableau: AGENT in doorway; PATIENT #1 in his rigid pose; DOCTOR watching, standing Centre… Bright sunlight and birdsong.

DOCTOR

Happy New Year, Gentlemen. (to Patient) Feeling better? How’s the head?...They tell me you watched all the games…Big turkey dinner. First class chef, El Jefé; all the, ah, "trimmings." Food agree with you? (pause) Mr. Coe?

AGENT

Repeat.

DOCTOR

Is the, ah, "chow" to your specifications?

AGENT

Affirmative.

DOCTOR

"American Plan." (to the Patient) Well—shall we sit down and put our feet up? (silence) Shall we start the ball rolling with a little New Year’s chat? (silence) Mr. Coe, I have to step out for a minute. Please have the patient seated when I return. (pause) Otherwise I will be leaving.—I will disappear. Desaparacido. —I will be gone!

The Doctor exits, Left. Silence. The Agent breathes heavily, in deep conflict. Finally, he tries to back the Patient to the settee, Down Right. But as the Agent attempts to seat the ex-Commander in Chief, the Patient continues to follow his warder so that they make a complete circle around the couch. At last the Agent manages to "drop off" the Patient on the couch.

The Sick Man sits staring up at the Agent, like a lost child. The Doctor now stands in the doorway watching.

DOCTOR

Thank you...You may leave, now.

Pause. The Agent exits. The Patient looks after him, his eyes remain fixed on the open door. The Doctor brings a chair and sits near the Patient.

DOCTOR (cont'd)

…He’s a fine young man. And he cares about you. We all do… You were pretty sick, there, for about a week, weren’t you?—But you’re completely restored now. Mrs. Gonzales took good care of you. I was in touch with her every day…Can you look at me, sir? Your, ah, S.S. man will be coming back in a few minutes…I’ll call him—if you’ll look at me.

Very slowly the Patient turns his head an inch or two toward the Doctor but does not make eye contact.

That’s good, that’s champion. Thankyou. I’ll call Mr. Coe back now—in just a few minutes.

The Doctor takes a candy for himself and offers one to the patient. No response.

DOCTOR (cont'd)

No? These were President Reagan’s favourite brand. You looked up to Mr. Reagan—you wrote in your book—you remember your book?—called him by his nickname—when you were a lad—used to call him the "Gipper"—remember?—and "The Big Guy"?

The DOCTOR leans in, his voice warm and concerned.

DOCTOR (cont'd)

You knew them all. Quite a life. You wrote that you had "all the luck"—in your book…And now this, hmm?...But you have time ahead of you, a lot of time, and a great many people out there, like Mr. Coe, who still believe in you. You have the rest of your life waiting for you. Think of your stay here as just the, ah, "half-time", uh, rest period. Then back out on the field. You leading the cheers—like always—like at Andover—like at Yale.

The PATIENT reacts— slightly – to the word "Yale." The DOCTOR leans in.

DOCTOR (cont'd)

Good old Yale…I’ll tell you a secret: You and I have some things in common. Can you guess? Shall I give you a hint?

Pause. The DOCTOR hums a phrase of the Yale "Whiffenpoof" song. The PATIENT reacts making a small plosive "P" sound four or five times: "P—P—P—P.")

Yale ’57—that’s me. Same fraternity, too, same as you, DKE. You see? I was a "DEKE", so we can talk, Yale-Man to Yale-Man…I was a Deke, like you, except they made you President of the House. But I know the drill, all the secrets. Hm, didn’t we burn DKE, in Greek, Delta Kappa Epsilon, burn it into the new boys’ butts with cigarette, ah, butts, hmm, "Rite of Passage", that sort of thing? But your year got caught, ’68, and the New York Times called it "torture" in a headline—I have the clippings, here—and you were suspended—temporarily—but you fought back, said it was all just "Yale Tradition"—and so it was, so it was. And your Dad, he stood by you, and your mother, especially your mother. So, we were both Deke-Men, but I had the good luck to be there in the ‘50s. But the one who had it all was your father, the golden boy, in the ‘40s. Now, those were the days—raccoon coats, ukuleles, white bucks… So let’s talk Deke-Man to Deke-Man, Yale-Man to Yale-Man. And—I have a little treat to share with you. (leans in) I have a tape of "Rudy Valle and his Boys"—their original recording. Way before your time, but when you were a cheerleader in ’68 you used to play that record for all the DEKE new boys—we all did—when you were the Deke-in-Chief. Hm? You ready? You remember Yale? "Skull and Bones"? You remember.

The DOCTOR to his desk to turn on the prepared tape cut.

DOCTOR (cont'd)

Ready:

(Out pours the scratchy sentiment, in all its adolescent power, of Rudy Valle and his Band. The DOCTOR hums along softly, tries to encourage the PATIENT, but the PATIENT only stares away, into the past, and makes the small, tight popping "P’ sounds.)

"To the tables down at Mory's
To the place where Louis dwells
To the dear old Temple Bar we love so well Sing the Whiffenpoofs assembled
With their glasses raised on high
And the magic of their singing casts its spell

Yes, the magic of their singing
Of the songs we love so well
‘Shall I Wasting,’ and ‘Mavourneen’, and the rest
We will serenade our Louis while life and voice shall last
Then we'll pass and be forgotten with the rest

We're poor little lambs who have lost our way
Baa! Baa! Baa!
We're little black sheep who have gone astray
Baa! Baa! Baa!

Gentleman songsters off on a spree
Damned from here to eternity
God have mercy on such as we
Baa! Baa! Baa!"

The DOCTOR stops the tape after the first time through.

DOCTOR (cont'd)

"Little black sheep"…You’re a little black sheep, who’s gone astray—that’s all…so let’s sing one verse for old times sake, shall we? You and I…You and your Dad. He and his Dad. All of us. All the way back.

The DOCTOR resumes the recording, sings along, but the PATIENT only stares. The DOCTOR, head to head with him, thinks he sees a tear on the Younger Man’s cheek.

The music plays out. Silence. The DOCTOR studies PATIENT #1, who, again, makes the tiny "P" sound. Then, the DOCTOR signals for the Agent. The AGENT enters. The AGENT guides the PATIENT out. As he exits, the ex-Leader cranks up his cowboy caricature of a body image, as usual.)

DOCTOR (to Agent)

You come right back. (Agent exits.)

(into tape) January 4th 2009, uh, 2010-2010. Immediate Suicide Watch indicated for Patient Number One. However, no further increase—repeat, no increase—of medication dosage.

He switches back to the "Whiffenpoof" tape. Listens for a minute, a deep sigh. "Son-of-a-bitch." Turns tape off. Takes off his glasses.

With profound irony he recalls and sings a snatch from Kipling, then an old school parody of the Yale song:

DOCTOR

"…To the legions of the lost ones to the cohort of the damned..." … "Bright college days…Ivy covered professors in ivy covered walls…To-o-o the tables down at Mory's (wherever that may be)…We will cut all our classes and cheat on our exams, and we’ll ‘pass’ and be forgotten with the rest."

The Analyst is wounded, lost in memory… The Agent appears in the doorway. The two men stare at each other…helicopter over and out.

DOCTOR

He needs our help now.

AGENT

Repeat?

DOCTOR (pause)

He wept.

AGENT (pause)

Repeat.

DOCTOR

He wept…He’s a person…Do you understand what I’m telling you?—I would not vote for the man at gunpoint, but he is a person. Do you copy, Mr. Coe?

AGENT (pause)

A person?

(The Agent always pronounces the article as a long A.)

DOCTOR

A Person. A Homo Sapiens.

AGENT

Negative!

DOCTOR

A human being…

AGENT

A human being?

DOCTOR

That’s a Roger.

("Whiffenpoof" song, under, as lights fade.)

SCENE FIVE:

The Doctor’s voice in darkness: "January 7, 2010".

Lights up on rain. The Patient sits staring: "P – P – P – P".

The Doctor studies him. Time passes. Lights down.

SCENE SIX:

The Doctor’s voice: "January 8, 2010".

Lights up: Patient’s eyes are closed: "P – P – P – P…"

The Doctor sits, silent, head on hands. Thunder. Lights down.

SCENE SEVEN:

The Doctor’s voice: "January 9, 2010". Rain. The Doctor studies the Patient. After a silence, the therapist tries an experiment: he sings a verse and chorus of an old Christian hymn.

DOCTOR

"What have I to dread, what have I to fear

Leaning on the everlasting arms?

I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning

Safe and secure from all alarms,

Leaning, leaning

Leaning on the everlasting arms."

Silence. Rain. Lights down.

SCENE EIGHT:

The next day is overcast at 10 a.m.. The PATIENT is, again, seated; staring. The DOCTOR is at his desk watching and listening to the barely audible pops from the Patient.

Morning sounds including far away ocean waves. Unobserved, the CLINICIAN takes a series of photographs of the LUNATIC from various angles….

PATIENT

—P—P—P;—P—P—P—

 Then, the DOCTOR picks up a children's book from his desk and moves with stealth behind the PATIENT.

The Analyst holds the book in front of the staring Inmate and reads softly into his right ear, as if to a child.

As the DOCTOR reads, the outer office door opens silently and the SECRET SERVICE AGENT'S head eases into view. He stares and spies.

DOCTOR

...Ah, now the three bears walked through the kitchen and into the bedroom and, ah... and the Mama Bear said, "Somebody's been sleeping in my bed and it's..."

DOCTOR quickly switches over to confide a message into the PATIENT'S left ear.

DOCTOR (cont’d)

– Sir. Mr. President. Sir, CINCON is reporting a plane crashing into the New York World Trade Centre – Sir?

The DOCTOR switches back to PATIENT’S right ear.

DOCTOR (cont’d)

– Then the Papa Bear said, "Look, someone's been lying in my—"

Quick switch back to PATIENT’S left ear.

DOCTOR (cont’d)

Sir!—Sir! CINPAC confirms a second plane's crashed into the World Trade Centre—Sir!

Back to right ear.

DOCTOR (cont’d)

– And the Baby Bear cried, "And there he is!"

Is something happening? The Clinician is up on tip-toes... But the Patient only stares and makes his sound. All three men peer out toward the audience, into the distance.

PATIENT

—P—P—P—P...

The DOCTOR whirls and flexes to hurl the book against the wall. To contain his fury he freezes into a statue. Thus, statuesque, he meets the gaze of the SECRET SERVICE AGENT, whose protruding head stares, then slowly disappears...

Then, the Physician breathes again and drops the book into the waste basket; brings a chair over and sits next to the Prisoner.

Church bells in the distance.

PATIENT

P—P—P— ; P—P—P— 

DOCTOR

I believe, sir, that you are trying to say something. Some other people around here think that you’re, ah, "taking the piss," as we say in England, taking the piss out of me and the staff by playing little games and riding your bike at speed—but I don’t. And so, today, I’m going to toss you some words and I want you to sling any answer or idea you get from my words right back to me. You simply say the first thing that comes into your mind, and don’t censor yourself. Remember: no one—can control—their thoughts—so don’t even try.

The PATIENT appears half asleep. The Doctor picks up a clip board from his desk.

DOCTOR (cont’d)

Ready? "Shock and Awe"… "Guantanamo"… "Skull and Bones"… 

The PATIENT snores, appears to be asleep. The DOCTOR rises and begins to pace. He lifts his voice.

DOCTOR (cont’d)

"Abu Ghraib"… "Waterboarding"… "Torture"… "White phosphorous"— "Shake and Bake"… "Osama Bin Laden"…"The World Court"…"Hate Crimes"…."Democracy" (Patient snores)…(The Doctor crosses off words - muttering, "Gay Marriage","Virgin Mary", "Organ Failure").

The DOCTOR kneels and confides into the Patient’s ear.

DOCTOR (cont’d)

…"Buddy", your dead pup "Buddy"… "Pappy"… "Mammy"(Patient sticks out his tongue)… "Pappy and Mammy"(Doctor checks off more words… "Dick Cheney"… "Body Language"… "Dick’s body language"… "Al Gore"… "Bill Clinton"… "Hilary Clinton"… "Hilary Clinton’s body language"…"Electric Shock"…) "Rendition"… "Abortion"… "Cocaine"… "Ghost Detainees"... "Taking the gloves off"... "Pump and Dump"..."Lebanon, the Cedars of Lebanon, the destruction of Lebanon..." … "the surge – the surge, the surge, the bloodsurge!"

The DOCTOR tries to contain his frustration. The Patient makes low vomit sounds and sticks his tongue out whenever his mother is mentioned. In response to other words he snores or pops his Ps.

DOCTOR (cont’d)

"Date Rape"… "Bush Exploration", "Arbusto Energy", "Spectrum 7", "Enron", "Harken Oil"—and all your other bankruptcies! You’re perspiring, sir—so am I – I will not torture you!

(louder)

"9/11:… "2/13 and the Second Attack on Chicago"… "Anthrax"… the late "Saddam Hussein"… "Dick Cheney", the late "Dick Cheney"(snores)—wake up, son…"Hurricane Katrina"… "Barbara Bush"… "John F. Kennedy"… "Lee Harvey Oswald"… Will not torture you! …"Iraq"… "Iran"… "Malcolm X"… "The Black Panthers"… "Barbara Bush!"... "Capital Punishment"! ... "Family!"…"FLORIDA—FAMILY!"

Dancing with frustration

DOCTOR (cont’d)

…Terror…Ter/ror—Remem/ber Ter/ror? The Cheapest Word in the English language!

The DOCTOR swears furiously to himself, draws the drapes closed and shouts— 

DOCTOR (cont’d)

Wake up, boy! Tomorrow’s the big game!

The PATIENT starts, makes the "P" popping sound, louder now.

PATIENT

P—P—P—

 DOCTOR

Damn straight. You Yell Leaders get moving now. Ready? Let’s go.

The Doctor vocally mimes stadium crowd sounds and band marching music.

PATIENT

P—P—P—

 DOCTOR

C’mon you DEKE’S, it’s game time!

The DOCTOR starts into a cheerleader routine in a an urgent effort to mobilise the PATIENT.

DOCTOR (cont’d)

Bingo, Bingo,
Bingo, Bingo, Bingo,
That's the lingo,
Eli is bound to win!...

C’mon, kid, let’s hear it! "Rah—Rah—Siss—Boom—Bah!"

The Doctor sings and laughs in pain.

"Bah! Bah! Bah!" –Ha—Ha—Ha!

DOCTOR tries to lift PATIENT to his feet.

PATIENT

P—P—P— 

DOCTOR

Good, that’s it, that’s champion. You cheerleaders, altogether now!

"…When the sons of Eli break through the line,
That is the sign we hail,
Bull-dog! Bull-dog! Bow, wow, wow,
Eli Yale!"

The DOCTOR sinks down, spent.

The PATIENT sits staring out: "P—P—P"…He makes his sound in the silence.

DOCTOR goes to door, brings in the lurking Agent, gestures them out.

Silence. Alone, the DOCTOR tries to recover. Then, he stares out and attempts to imitate the PATIENT’S popping "P" sounds. Tries again, racking his brain: Remembers hand shaking routine with PATIENT in first scene — acts it out:

"P—P—P..."

The Doctor, now, tries walking and standing like the Patient—suddenly he sits in the Patient’s chair in No. 1’s posture, hands over crotch.

"P—P—P—P"…What? What does it mean? The DOCTOR’S entire body arches with his effort to penetrate the secret of PATIENT #1: "P—P—P: Pappy, Poppy: P—P—P…" Then he tries "P-uppy," and "P-lease," and "Stop," and "Please Stop"… 

The DEPTH PSYCHOLOGIST, on the rack of his memory and his life—suddenly the meaning of the secret breaks through—like an electric shock—and his hair stands on end, his flesh shivers up in bumps.

He sinks down into himself. Tears run down his cheeks. PATIENT #1’s voice breaks out of his, the Doctor’s, mouth, in a final shaking sob on the last "Help."

DOCTOR

"P—P—P…HelP, HelP, HelP…"

END OF ACT ONE




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