Well Groomed

by Kathryn Vasil

CAST OF CHARACTERS

TAYLOR, young adult, troubled individual

REESE, young adult, stuck in a well

MRS. FIRMAN, housewife, mother of Reese

MR. FIRMAN, businessman, father of Reese

SID, young adult, friend/visitor to Reese

MAINTENANCE CREWPERSON

FIRE RESCUE OFFICER

 

(Note: Aside from MR. & MRS. FIRMAN, no characters are assigned a definitive gender. It is my intention that it be left this way; however, production staff and/or cast may make their own decisions in this area. If genders are assigned, wherever forms of "they" is used in reference to a singular person, gender-specific pronouns may be substituted.)

TIME AND PLACE

The play takes place in two places, a forest with a well and a kitchen.

It's set in modern time, but should appear somewhat removed from time in the set and costume designs.

The stage should be split in half; one side for the forest, and one side for the kitchen. The forest is bare, with a few trees (realistic or silhouettes) in the back, and a wishing well closer to the front. The well needs to be made out of some kind of thin fabric so that a silhouette of REESE can be seen through it. In the kitchen there is a table with some dated furniture, with knick-knacks and dishes from all different time periods set upon shelves. A small white fence may be used to separate the two halves. When one side is being used, the other side will be dimmed out so that the audience may just barely be able to see something is there.

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Scene I

(No curtain, stage blacked out. Lights up on one half of the stage, revealing a well in a forest. TAYLOR enters, wearing a black hooded cape, looking lost. Notices the well and approaches it.)

TAYLOR

    I didn't know people still had wishing wells. (Pulls coin out of pocket.) I wish-- (Tosses coin into well.)

(Silhouette becomes visible through well wall.)

REESE

    Ow!

TAYLOR

   (Startled) What?

REESE

   Who threw that at me?

TAYLOR

   (Backs away from well) Okay, I must be losing it or something; the well is talking to me.

REESE

   (Hands on hips) No, silly, wells can't talk. I'm the one talking.

TAYLOR

   And... who are you?

REESE

   I'm Reese. You've already met my well.

TAYLOR

   Your well?

REESE

   That's right. This is my well, where I live.

TAYLOR

   What kind of a joke is that? People don't live in wells.

REESE

   Well, I do. And I'm a person, so whoever told you that was misinformed.

TAYLOR

   Nobody told me anything, I just know it, it's just common sense. People don't live in wells. (Circles well) Seriously, now. Did you fall in or something? Do you need help?

REESE

   Nope.

TAYLOR

   You got some kinda pride issue?

REESE

   No.

TAYLOR

   So then why are you down there?

REESE

   I told you, this is where I live. Welcome to my humble abode.

TAYLOR

   I don't believe this.

REESE

   No one asked you to believe it. If you don't like it, you can leave.

TAYLOR

   I just want to help you.

REESE

   I can help myself, thank you very much.

TAYLOR

   But you're stuck down there.

REESE

   What makes you say that?

TAYLOR

   You're in a well. It's gotta be dirty and wet and... (looks over the edge into the well) dark. No one would be down there by choice.

REESE

   You've really never met a person in a well before?

TAYLOR

   Definitely not.

REESE

   Huh.

(stage dims on the side with the well)

END SCENE I

 

SCENE II

(Lights up on kitchen, where MRS. FIRMAN is doing dishes and MR. FIRMAN is reading the paper at the table.)

MRS. FIRMAN

   Have you been out to visit Reese today?

MR. FIRMAN

   No. You?

MRS. FIRMAN

   I've been in the kitchen all day, dear, so you must know the answer. (Starts putting dishes away) How's the well holding up? Does it need any repairs? Should I call the maintenance crew?

MR. FIRMAN

   (Folds paper and sets it on the table) The well is perfectly sturdy, as it has been since it was built. We're wasting money with that maintenance crew.

MRS. FIRMAN

   The lip is crumbling. And the roof is losing its color.

MR. FIRMAN

   It's in the middle of the woods, it doesn't need to be colorful. As long as it keeps standing and Reese stays inside, everything is fine.

MRS. FIRMAN

   Okay. But when it falls apart and our child is uncontained, it's your job to fix it. There's no maintenance crew for children.

MR. FIRMAN

   I know that. That's why we built the well in the first place.

MRS. FIRMAN

   And that's why it should have better upkeep.

MR. FIRMAN

   (Frustrated) Fine, fine! I will call the maintenance crew so they can fix your discolored roof and your crumbling lip.

MRS. FIRMAN

   Thank you.

MR. FIRMAN

   (Rolls eyes) Any letters from the twins?

MRS. FIRMAN

   None. (Sighs) Who knows what those crazy kids are up to these days? They could be anywhere, doing anything. I don't know why we didn't think to put them in wells before they turned out the way they did.

MR. FIRMAN

   Yes, well, it's very common for parents to make better decisions with their second child, because they already made their mistakes with the first one.

MRS. FIRMAN

   Reese is our third child. (Chuckles) I swear, sometimes you forget the twins are two people.

MR. FIRMAN

   (Huffs) My point still stands. (Stands and grabs the telephone on the wall)

END SCENE II

 

SCENE III

(Lights up on well set. TAYLOR and REESE are still conversing.)

TAYLOR

   Since you were seven?

REESE

   Yep. Seven years old. They brought me outside and let me use the ladder Father keeps in the garage to climb down in.

TAYLOR

   And you've been there ever since?

REESE

   Of course.

(SID enters)

SID

   Reese! I've got some... (spots TAYLOR) Who're you?

TAYLOR

   (Wary) No one.

REESE

   Hey, Sid! This is... what did you say your name was again?

TAYLOR

   I didn't.

SID

   What are you doing here? I'm the only person that visits Reese.

TAYLOR

   I'm new in town and I just got lost is all. I don't care about your freaky friend in the well.

SID

   You think Reese is freaky? You're the one with a cape and hood. Who do you think you are, Little Red Riding Hood? You need help finding your grandmother's house?(Picks at the hem of TAYLOR's cape)

TAYLOR

   Ha, hah, that's very funny. But this cape is black. And my name is Taylor. (Pauses, looks around and discreetly pulls cape tighter around shoulders) Besides, there aren't even any regular wolves in these woods, let alone big bad ones.

REESE

   (Throws hands up partially) Come on, don't fight.

SID

   (Takes a step back, looks toward well) Anyway, as I was saying. Reese, I got some books from the library for you. They didn't have all the ones you asked for, but I managed to find a fair amount. (Slings backpack half off to pull a small stack of books and hands them over the edge to REESE)

REESE

   Thank you so much! It's been a while since I've read anything other than the textbooks my mother picks out for me. I just hope she never finds out I've been reading... fiction novels.

TAYLOR

   What?

SID

   Hey, what are you still doing here?

TAYLOR

   I told you, I'm lost. (Looks back toward Reese) But what do you mean you hope your mom doesn't find out you're reading novels? Aren't your parents constantly trying to push you into reading more?

SID

   It's none of your--

REESE

   Yes. They're always getting me new books to read. I'm home-schooled, you know. But everything they give me is all... math, and geography, and Puritan literature. They'd be furious if they ever found out Sid brings me Shakespeare and Brontë.

TAYLOR

   Shakespeare? You've got your only friend sneaking you books, and all you get is Shakespeare?

SID

   Shakespeare is classic!

REESE

   And his language is so beautiful. I love the classics.

TAYLOR

   Well sure, that's great, but what about modern stuff? What about all the wonderful new things that are out there? And what about television?

REESE

   Oh, I've never watched television.

TAYLOR

   You live under a rock.

REESE

   No, I live in a well. But Mother says television is bad for my eyes and my brain, and Father says that's what got my older siblings in trouble.

SID

   The twins are in college.

REESE

   Yes, my parents said college is where people are taken and filled with lies. It pulls them away from their families and makes them say and do strange things. That's why I'm in the well, so I'm always close to them. They like to have me close.

TAYLOR

   But you're out in the middle of the woods. There's no houses nearby.

REESE

   But I'm always here if they want to see me, and they know where I am at all times.

SID

   And I can always come and visit you when I want.

REESE

   Exactly.

TAYLOR

   (Exasperated) Exactly.

END SCENE III

 

SCENE IV

(Maintenance crewperson enters with toolkit.)

MAINTENANCE CREWPERSON

   Hello again. (Stoops by the well)

SID AND REESE

   Hello.

CREWPERSON

   Mr. Firman called me to come take a look at your well, Reese. Says it's looking a bit shabby. (Sets to work on inspecting/repairing the well)

TAYLOR

   You even paid someone to pretend to be maintenance...

SID

   What are you talking about?

TAYLOR

   I figured it out. This isn't just a joke, it's all an elaborate act to confuse random wanderers in the forest.

SID

   Yes, we do all this to fool people we don't know.

TAYLOR

   You'd be surprised how many people do that.

CREWPERSON

   You've got some crumbling in the bricks, but I'll fix that right up.

REESE

   Thank you so much. I don't know what I'd do if my poor well ever fell apart.

TAYLOR

   You wouldn't be able to pull off your trick anymore, that's what.

REESE

   It is not a trick or a joke. I live here, I have for as long as I can remember.

TAYLOR

   And you've never gotten out?

REESE

   Not once.

SID

   Reese doesn't have to get out of the well. The well is home.

REESE

   The well is safe. The well keeps me where bad things can't happen to me.

TAYLOR

   What about when it gets cold? It doesn't stay summer forever.

REESE

   I've got plenty of blankets to keep me warm. And sometimes, if I've been behaving well, my mother will bring me hot cocoa.

TAYLOR

   How can you misbehave in a well!

REESE

   I don't know.

TAYLOR

   Of course you don't. Look, people don't belong in wells. They don't. Whether they live there or they're pulling a prank. I'm gonna get you out. (Leans over lip and extends hands to REESE)

SID

   Maybe you should take your cape off. You wouldn't want it to get ripped.

TAYLOR

   Come on Reese, grab my hands and we'll balance our weight to lift you out.

REESE

   I'm not coming out.

TAYLOR

   (Pulls themselves out of the well) Fine. (Pulls out cellphone)

SID

   What are you doing?

TAYLOR

   I'm calling the fire department. (Puts phone to ear.) Hello? Yes, I have an emergency. In the forest behind Clement Park. There's a well with a person inside... oh you know the one? Yes it has a little roof on it...

CREWPERSON

   (Stands with toolkit) You're all set. I'll see you next time.

(CREWPERSON walks to other side of the stage as the lights dim on the forest set.)

END OF SCENE IV

 

SCENE V

(Lights up on kitchen. CREWPERSON knocks on MR. & MRS. FIRMAN's back door.)

MR. FIRMAN

   (Opens door and lets CREWPERSON just inside the kitchen) Same fee as usual?

CREWPERSON

   (Nods) Same fee.

(MR. FIRMAN pulls a checkbook out of his pocket and fills it in as CREWPERSON nods politely to MRS. FIRMAN)

MR. FIRMAN

   (Hands check over) Here you are.

CREWPERSON

   Thank you.

MRS. FIRMAN

   No, thank you.

CREWPERSON

   You know, I think it's so nice that Reese has visitors. You guys sure take good care of that kid.

(MRS. FIRMAN smiles at CREWPERSON appreciatively as MR. FIRMAN lets them

out. Lights out on kitchen.)

END SCENE V

 

SCENE VI

(Lights up on forest. Fire truck sirens sound. FIRE RESCUE OFFICER enters with axe in hand and a hose around their shoulder that is trailing behind from backstage)

FIRE RESCUE OFFICER

   Where's the fire!

TAYLOR

   (Points to well) I told you on the phone, there is no fire. I just didn't know who else to call.

OFFICER

   No fire? Then what's the problem?

TAYLOR

   There is a person stuck in this well. Look.

OFFICER

   (Steps closer and peeks in. Waves enthusiastically) Hello Reese!

REESE

   Hello officer! Haven't seen you around too much lately.

OFFICER

   I know, we've been awful busy down at the station and--

TAYLOR

   Hold it, what's going on? You two know each other?

OFFICER

   Sure. Everyone knows Reese. Little Reese Firman who lives in the well. Though I'm not sure about the "little" anymore. Well, like I said, we've got a lot of work to do at the station. I'll see ya around! (Exits with a wave)

TAYLOR

   You people are nuts.

SID

   We're nuts? You're wearing a heavy cape in the middle of the summer. You're gonna get heatstroke.

TAYLOR

   My cape is none of your business.

REESE

   Leave Taylor alone, Sid. Maybe they've got a good reason for wearing the cape. Like I've got good reason to stay in the well.

TAYLOR

   Yeah--what?

SID

   Is that true? You have to keep the cape on?

TAYLOR

   (Fiddles with edge of cape) Well, it's not so much that I have to... but my dad told me that if I don't wear it, I could catch cold. And some people never recover from a cold, it just keeps growing. It keeps getting worse until...

REESE

   So then you know why I stay in the well. My parents put me in here and told me that it was the only place I could stay safe. That the world outside the well was too dangerous for me. Your cape is no different. You may be able to walk around up there on the surface, but you're just as stuck as I am.

TAYLOR

   That's not true. I can take it off anytime I want to. (Looks toward SID) And what about you? I don't see you in a well. If everybody's got something keeping them stuck, what's yours?

SID

   I wore snowboots until I was twelve years old, if you must know.

TAYLOR

   Psh. People wear snowboots all the time.

SID

   (Laughs) Not like I did. Ever since I was a baby, I wore snowboots all day and night. The only time I took them off was to shower or try on a new pair. I even kept them on when I changed my pants.

TAYLOR

   Why?

SID

   Because my parents told me that if I didn't wear them, that I would slip and fall and get hurt.

REESE

   Sid went barefoot for a week after the snowboots first came off.

TAYLOR

   How did your boots come off?

SID

   I had outgrown my latest pair, and my parents were taking me to get new ones. When I popped them off to try the new pair on, I realized how uncomfortable my feet had been all those years. And so I put my stocking feet on the floor and told my folks that I wasn't gonna wear boots anymore, that if they bought me this pair they'd just go to waste.

TAYLOR

   What did they say?

SID

   They were really angry, and bought me the boots anyway. But I didn't wear them. And I didn't fall right away. But when I did, I figured out how to get up, and I still didn't put the boots back on. And now I only wear boots when I think I need them. Not my parents, not the weatherman, me.

TAYLOR

   Oh. (Looks down)

SID

   And that's why you can't get Reese out of the well. And why I can't get you to take your cape off. Only you can decide when you're ready.

REESE

   I already decided I never wanna get out. It may not be ideal, but this is where I feel safe. I don't know if I could live out there, not without my parents bringing me blankets and hot cocoa and fresh socks so I don't get trench foot.

SID

   And there's nothing wrong with staying in the well. Or in a cape.

TAYLOR

   I am not stuck in my cape.

SID

   Then take it off.

TAYLOR

   I don't have to.

SID

   Right, you don't. But it's a bright, warm, sunny day today. You can feel the heat even in the shade of the trees.

REESE

   It's even hot in my well.

TAYLOR

   I am sweating a lot.

REESE

   Oh, (bends down to pick something up from the floor of the well) Taylor, do you want your penny back? (Sticks hand up to hold the coin out)

SID

   Penny?

REESE

   When Taylor first found my well, they made a wish.

SID

   What did you wish for?

TAYLOR

   I wished it would cool off... (Fiddles with cape again) Maybe... (Unties cape from around neck) maybe I can... (cape falls from shoulders, TAYLOR extends hands into the sunlight and flexes fingers) Huh. That's not so bad. (Moves more into sun) It's kind of nice. Warm, but not hot. It almost... tickles. Reese, it's not so bad in the sunlight.

REESE

   Here's your coin. (Tries to hand the coin back again)

TAYLOR

   (Grabs coin cautiously.) (Softly) Thanks.

(Lights out)

END SCENE VI

 

END

 

Last Updated: 4/8/13