HARRY THE CHAIR
A Short Play by
Edward Crosby Wells
CAROLYN JENKS AGENCY
Cambridge, MA and NYC
© COPYRIGHT 2009, 2011 EDWARD CROSBY WELLS
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EDWARD CROSBY WELLS (Playwright) has had scores of plays produced from coast to coast in the U.S. and in Canada, Scotland, England., Spain and Australia. He is the winner of no less than half a dozen international playwriting awards including the Spotlight On Best Play Award for Excellence in Off-Off Broadway Theatre for three consecutive years. His work is published by Greyridge Press, Meriwether Publishing Ltd., Production Scripts, Smith & Kraus, Inc., Samuel French, Inc. and his essay, "On the Art of Playwriting," was published in the November 2008 issue of The Loop. He is a member of the Dramatists' Guild of America.
Synopsis: Poor Gladys. She left the room for less than a minute, and when she returned her husband was gone. Well, not exactly gone—Harry turned into a chair. Can a marriage survive when one of the partners is an overstuffed recliner?
The CHARACTERS are Gladys (the chair’s wife) and Blanche (her friend and neighbor). They are both ordinary middle-aged women of modest means.
The SETTING is Gladys’ living room. There is a comfy overstuffed recliner with a TV table next to it covered with an open pizza box and empty beer cans or bottles. Somewhere there are two occasional chairs separated by an end table with tea things on it—little else.
AT RISE: A conversation is in progress. GLADYS and BLANCHE are pondering the comfy chair.
GLADYS: I swear on my . . . (Trying to think of something.) . . . whatever is most precious to me. I can’t think of anything at the moment.
BLANCHE: Your teapot collection?
GLADYS: Yes. My teapot collection. I can’t believe how I almost lost one of them to Margie’s temper tantrum. The mess she made. Had to throw out the tablecloth. Can’t never get the stains out—Orange Pekoe. Almost lost the teapot. As it is, there’s a chip on it now.
BLANCHE: Still, I can’t believe it.
GLADYS: What? That Harry turned into a chair or that Margie’s a destructive bitch who shouldn’t wear maternity clothes just because she’s fat? All poor Sharon Weeks wanted to do was to see if the baby was kicking. Well, there wasn’t any baby. Just a big ol’ tub of blubber. It all goes to show you should never wear deceptive clothing.
BLANCHE: Sharon Weeks shouldn’t go around touching and feeling people.
GLADYS: I think that may have broken her of the habit.
BLANCHE: One can only hope. (After a thoughtful pause.) Did Harry . . . you know . . . leave you? You needn’t be ashamed to tell me.
GLADYS: For Pete’s sake, Blanche! I’m not ashamed. Harry metamorphosed.
BLANCHE: Excuse me?
GLADYS: He metamorphosed into a chair—like that man who turned into a cockroach.
BLANCHE: (Incredulous.) What man? Nobody turned into a cockroach.
GLADYS: It’s in a book.
BLANCHE: That doesn’t make it so. (A pause to scrutinize.) Gladys, you’re not taking those diet pills again, are you?
GLADYS: Of course not!
BLANCHE: This is all too inexplicable.
GLADYS: That’s why I’m trying to explain it to you. Harry wanted a beer, so I got up and went into the kitchen to get him one and when I came back . . . (Wipes a tear from the corner of her eye.) . . . he was gone.
BLANCHE: That doesn’t explain anything.
GLADYS: Certainly does. The chair was a chair one minute and the next minute . . . (Wipes another tear.) . . . it was Harry.
BLANCHE: How can you tell?
GLADYS: (Caresses chair.) I can tell. I know my Harry. I know his smile, his chins, his hairy chest . . . (Sniffing chair.) . . . his smell.
BLANCHE: Gladys, he lives, eats and sleeps in that chair. Of course it smells like him; cigarettes, beer, Old Spice and stale farts.
GLADYS: Blanche, that’s enough! Either you believe me or you don’t. (Glances at end table.)
BLANCHE: Well, I don’t!
GLADYS: Suit yourself. Tea—Orange Pekoe? (Crosses to the occasional chairs and sits.)
BLANCHE: Sure. (Following her, sits.) I love this tea pot. Isn’t this the one that Margie almost broke?
GLADYS: It sure is. (Holding it up and showing.) See the chip?
BLANCHE: (Looking.) No . . . ah, yes. There it is. ‘Though it’s hardly noticeable. No one would ever know.
GLADYS: I know.
BLANCHE: Of course you know. I meant anyone else.
GLADYS: I can’t look at it without seeing it.
BLANCHE: Try not to look and don’t let Margie near it . . . What’s happened to her, by the way? I haven’t seen her since the tea pot fiasco.
GLADYS: I’m sure she’s around. She’ll turn up . . . (A pause to pick up the tea pot.) . . . sooner or later. (Filling both cups with tea.)
BLANCHE: They always do—her kind.
GLADYS: Yes, they always do—her kind—sooner or later. (Sips tea.) Nice.
BLANCHE: (Sips tea.) Very nice. (After a pause to sip more tea.) So . . . Gladys, tell me the truth. Where’s Harry?
GLADYS: I told you. (Pointing to chair.) How many times do I have to tell you, Blanche? There . . . there’s Harry.
BLANCHE: Just doesn’t seem—
GLADYS: I don’t care how it seems. Nothing ever is as it seems. He turned into a chair and that’s it, plain and simple.
BLANCHE: Not so plain and not so simple.
GLADYS: Look at Harry. (To chair.) What’s it like being a chair, Harry?
BLANCHE: You’ve lost your mind.
GLADYS: I’m talking to Harry.
BLANCHE: You’re talking to a chair!
GLADYS: He only looks like a chair! (Rises and crosses to Harry.) But, he’s the man I love. When I came back with the beer, Harry was gone and the chair smiled at me.
BLANCHE: The chair smiled? (Following her.)
GLADYS: That’s how I knew it was Harry.
BLANCHE: Come to think of it, that chair is the only place I’ve ever seen him—only in that chair, always.
GLADYS: Precisely. He practically lived in it. I brought him his meals while he sat all weekend watching his shows. As soon as he came home from work, there he’d be until it was time to go to bed. And now . . . (Wiping tears.) . . . Harry is the chair.
BLANCHE: Figuratively speaking, I can see it. I mean, we do become the things we are attached to.
GLADYS: What’s that supposed to mean?
BLANCHE: You know—like you are the things you eat.
GLADYS: Blanche, I eat kumquats! Does that make me a kumquat?
BLANCHE: (Coyly.) Maybe. (Staring at the chair.) He does look comfortable, doesn’t he? (She is about to sit in the chair.)
GLADYS: NO! Don’t sit on Harry!
BLANCHE: I just thought—
GLADYS: What? That you could sit on my husband without me giving a wit . . . like we were one of those . . . those . . . swinger couples. We don’t swing, Blanche. The nerve! Trying to have your way with my husband? And right under my nose. Shameless.
BLANCHE: What on Earth are you talking about?
GLADYS: Harry. You always had your eyes on—
GLADYS: Just because he vibrates.
GLADYS: He vibrates.
BLANCHE: Harry vibrates?
GLADYS: The chair did. I assume that Harry—
BLANCHE: Vibrates, too?
GLADYS: Well, yes. He’s kind of a massage chair.
BLANCHE: Have you checked to see if he does vibrate?
GLADYS: Not yet. When I’m alone I’ll slip into his lap, sniff his arms . . . his back . . . his seat.
BLANCHE: Good, God, Gladys! It’s a chair. It’s a big, old, smelly La-Z-Boy—that vibrates.
GLADYS: That’s my husband you’re talking about, Blanche!
BLANCHE: It’s a chair, Gladys. It’s a goddamn chair and that’s all there is to it.
GLADYS: It’s Harry! The goddamn chair is Harry.
BLANCHE: Would you like me to call a doctor?
GLADYS: You think I need a doctor?
BLANCHE: Nobody turns into a chair, Gladys. Now what’s going on here?
GLADYS: I’ve lost my husband!
BLANCHE: Maybe he just went out to pick up something.
GLADYS: I lost him the day before yesterday. He’d be back by now.
BLANCHE: Well . . . I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation.
GLADYS: There is. He became a chair. One day you, too, might become something.
BLANCHE: It won’t be a chair.
GLADYS: I’m only saying— (Addresses the chair.) Harry, say something. Do you love me, Harry?
BLANCHE: Gladys, you need . . . God! I don’t know what you need. How about we have some more tea? (Puts her arm around GLADYS and walks her to the chairs by the tea things.) Now you sit down, Sweetie, and have another nice cup of tea.
GLADYS: Are you patronizing me?
BLANCHE: I believe so, yes. (Picks up tea pot and pours.) I really like this teapot, Gladys. It’s my second favorite.
BLANCHE: The hand-painted Russian one is my favorite.
GLADYS: Really? Then the next time we’ll have to use the Russian one and I’ll keep Margie on the shelf.
BLANCHE: (Drinking tea – stops abruptly.) What!?
GLADYS: Didn’t you notice? It’s Margie. She turned into that teapot shortly after ruining my tablecloth. Orange Pekoe—can’t never get the stains out. (Drinks tea.) Blanche, why don’t you take these tea things into the kitchen and as soon as I have a talk with Harry, I’ll make us a nice pot of tea in the Russian teapot?
BLANCHE: (Rises.) I don’t know what game you’re playing, but I think you need professional help. (Picks up the tray of tea things.) You need help. We need to do something about these hallucinations.
GLADYS: Yes, we do, indeed. Take this stuff to the kitchen and I’ll be right in.
(BLANCHE exits into the kitchen while GLADYS heads towards Harry the chair.)
GLADYS: (To the chair.) Harry, why did you do it? (Listens a bit.) I miss you. I love you, Harry. I don’t care if you are a chair.
BLANCHE: (Calling from kitchen.) I can’t find the Russian teapot. Where is it, Gladys?
GLADYS: (Calling back.) For Pete’s sake! It’s on the shelf over—
BLANCHE: Help! (Then silence.)
GLADYS: (To kitchen.) I’ll be right there! (To Harry the chair.) I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere. (Disappears into kitchen.) Okay, Blanche. What’s your problem? Where are you? Where’d you go? Blanche? Oh no. Oh, Blanche. What did you do? (Enters carrying the Russian teapot. To teapot.) Blanche, Blanche, Blanche. What did you do? (Quickly turns towards Harry the chair.) What’s that, Harry? (After a pause to listen to Harry.) Yes, it’s Blanche—a teapot. This was her most favorite. Well, things happen. (To the teapot.) I hope you’re happy, Blanche. See, I’m not crazy now, am I? (Looking around.) Where should I put you? (Goes to table and sets the teapot down.) Sit here for a while, Blanche, until I figure out what to do with you. I don’t think you’d like sitting next to Margie. Stay here while I think about it. (Crosses to Harry the chair.) Hello, Harry. Finally alone. Wait a minute. (Crosses back to the Russian teapot and turns it around so the spout is in the back.) There. I need a private moment with my husband, Blanche. We’ll talk later. You just sit there and face the wall for awhile. (Shouts to kitchen.) Margie, relax. I’ll wash you later. You don’t want to go into the dishwasher, do you? (Returns to Harry the chair.) Where were we? Well, of course. I’d love to Harry. (She caresses the chair lovingly, sniffs the arms and then a quick sniff of the seat cushion before she sits. She then moves in the chair, swaying with pleasure. She flips the vibrator switch and begins to vibrate as the LIGHTING FADES.) Oh, Harry! Oh, oh, Harry. Yes . . . yes..
END OF PLAY