An Absurdist Play in One Act
By Eric D. Snider
ERIC, a local man
SMACKY, Eric’s friend
SMACKY’S FRIEND, Smacky’s friend
THE WAITER, a waiter
STARVATION and WOE, non-speaking roles, present for symbolic purposes
SAMUEL BECKETT, absurdist playwright (1906-89) here playing several roles
MONKEYS, acting as stagehands
(Enter ERIC, SMACKY, SMACKY’S FRIEND, at Village Inn. Enter also SAMUEL BECKETT as the hostess. Enter also SAMUEL BECKETT as the large entourage following the principal characters.)
SAMUEL BECKETT AS HOSTESS: Table for how many?
ERIC: There are many of us. We are in abundance.
SAMUEL BECKETT AS HOSTESS: The wait will be considerable. As you can see, we are quite busy.
SMACKY: Busy indeed. We shall wait.
(One hour passes. This should happen in real time, with the audience forced to watch as the actors sit on stage and do nothing.)
SAMUEL BECKETT AS HOSTESS: Your table is ready.
ERIC: (sarcastic) But, it has only been one hour…!
SMACKY: Incur not the wrath of the hostess!
ERIC: (subdued) I shall not.
(They are seated. Enter STARVATION and WOE, who sit on ERIC‘s head. Enter THE WAITER, who does not.)
THE WAITER: Tell me what you wish and I shall bring it.
SMACKY’S FRIEND: I would like pie.
THE WAITER: I shall bring you pie.
ERIC: I would like foodstuffs.
THE WAITER: This, too, I shall bring.
SMACKY: And more for me?
THE WAITER: It shall be so. (Exit THE WAITER.)
(One hour passes. This should happen in real time again, with the audience forced to watch. If necessary, the theater doors should be locked. During this time, STARVATION and WOE take turns sitting on various characters’ heads. Enter THE WAITER.)
THE WAITER: Your food will arrive shortly. As you can see, we are quite busy. Our cooks are working as quickly as possible.
ERIC: Perhaps instead of standing here yakking, you ought to be helping them.
THE WAITER: It is a provocative statement you have made. However, I cannot cook. I lack the knowledge. (Exits.)
SMACKY: O, that I had food!
SAMUEL BECKETT AS ONE OF THE ENTOURAGE: (dies; a MONKEY carries his body off stage.)
(A few more minutes pass. To alleviate the boredom of the audience, cast members take turns reciting dirty limericks. Particular attention should be paid to the New England town of Nantucket. Enter THE WAITER with food.)
THE WAITER: I bring food! Eat and be filled!
ERIC: We are merry!
SMACKY: We shall not die!
SAMUEL BECKETT AS ANOTHER IN THE ENTOURAGE: (dies; another MONKEY carries him off.)
THE WAITER: (to SMACKY’S FRIEND) Alas, I cannot bring your pie. We have served all our pie to other patrons.
SMACKY’S FRIEND: What cruel fate befalls me!
THE WAITER: May I bring you another item?
SMACKY’S FRIEND: You may.
ERIC: And should not the new item be offered free of charge?
THE WAITER: I see no reason why it should.
ERIC: I shall explain it. We have waited one hour for our food. You could have told Smacky’s Friend one hour ago that her pie would not be forthcoming. Indeed, one hour ago, you verily could have served the pie to her, as your pie supply had not yet been depleted at that time. Ergo, whatsoever replacement item you bring her now should be given free as a consolation.
SMACKY: He has proved it!
THE WAITER: It shall be so.
SMACKY’S FRIEND: (to ERIC) You are my hero. May I bear your children?
ERIC: It shall be so.
(Exeunt all. End of the play. MONKEYS steal audience members’ wallets. SAMUEL BECKETT is returned to his grave.)
This column is a sequel to "The Tragedy of Village Inn," in which I was told I could not get a shake after 10 p.m. The events described in this new playlet actually took place at the Provo Village Inn (the good one), not the Orem store (the bad one). In fairness, which I am not interested in, I should point out that the place is not usually as busy nor the service as slow as it was this particular night.
This one was originally called "The Tragedy of Village Inn, Part the Second." I changed it to "Comedy" when I realized it had a happy ending and was therefore not particularly tragic. Making it into an absurdist play a la Samuel Beckett ("Waiting for Godot") sort of happened accidentally.
I wrote this because I really wanted to do something pleasant and silly after a few columns in a row that had been hard-hitting and nasty. This column didn't seem like it would offend anyone.