Masquerade Sneak Peek

"Masquerade" by Erte.

Masquerade was written as a sort-of follow up to my first play Everything’s Coming Up Roses, which took place on an AIDS ward.  I was walking down a street in the Villiage after we did a performance of “Roses” at the Duplex Cabaret and my friend Jimmy’s friend was talking to us about the current AIDS situation, which is much less dire, but a lot less careful.  We first produced this in New Windsor, NY with a terrific cast that included Joe Gayton, Matt Meinsen, Jill Carroll and Joel Flowers.  It was subsequently done for a three week run at Cherry Lane Theatre by Ten Grand Productions, where it won two Independent Theater awards.  I just lent it to a friend to read so it was on my mind.  Masquerade isn’t published (unfortunate, but the material is a bit raw) so if you’re intersted in seeing the script just send me an email.

The setting is a costume party thrown by a longtime gay couple in NYC.  Have a great weekend everyone!  

Masquerade

by Brian C. Petti

PO Box 361

East Durham, NY 12423

bcpkid AT gmail.com

Copyright © 2006 by Brian C. Petti

Scene 2

The clock blinks 8:00. Lights rise to Hersh fully dressed in his Shakespeare costume, pressing the intercom button near the front door. He says, “Come on up, I ‘II leave the door open, ” then leaves the door slightly ajar. Seconds later SETH appears at the door. He is 50 and balding, dressed impeccably in white with royal blue accessories, including a handkerchief and a blue band around his fedora ala a refined Southern gentleman. He speaks with a slightly “Northernized” Southern drawl.

Seth

The party may commence.

Hersh

Come on in, Seth.

Seth

I noticed the front door was slightly askew. Forgive my forward nature, but I simply can not resist an open orifice.

Hersh

Are we going to be listening to this all night?

Seth

Whatever do you mean? Oh please don’t be impertinent; I just couldn’t bear your being an ape to my butterfly.

Hersh

I’ll take that as a yes.

Seth

I brought some liquid refreshments. Heaven knows when the Southern wind blows warm across the horizon and the heat licks its paws and breathes its hot breath on one’s willing eyelids, one feels the overwhelming desire to indulge one’s self in base and wanton…

Hersh

Michelob?

Seth

(breaking the act momentarily) It was on sale. Am I the first arrival? I’m forever showing up at places early. I was a premature baby, you know. I could not contain my constant yearning to leave the womb. I haven’t been back since.

Hersh

I just buzzed in Rudy and his boyfriend. They’re right behind you.

Seth

I wonder what the flavor of the week is.

Mario

Whatever it is, it’s coming in drag.

Seth

Oh dear Lord, must we baby-sit another one?

Mario

(entering) As I live and breath, is that the Tennessee Williams?

Hersh

Don’t indulge him.

Seth

Indeed it is. Darling, I just adore how you’ve decorated this apartment since I saw it last. It makes me feel safe and yet unguarded, all at the same time.

Hersh

Are you sure you’re not Blanche Dubois?

Seth

Oh, go write a Yiddish sonnet.

Hersh

There’s the Seth we know and love. (knock at the door)

Hersh

(getting the door) That’s Rudy, he just buzzed. What’s his boyfriend’s name again?

Mario

I don’t know. Maybe we can get away with calling him “Margaret” all night.

RODOLFO enters with a flourish, dressed in black with a cape. He is 28 and of Spanish descent.

Seth

Oh look, the conquistadors have landed!

Rodolfo

Senors and senoras, I am Miquel de Cervantes, creator of Don Quixote, Sancho Panza and Ezmeralda and inspiration for the smash Broadway hit Man of La Mancha—at your service, (low bow)

Seth

Charmed, I’m sure.

Rodolfo

And this (as MARGARET enters shyly) is my companion for the evening…Margaret.

Margaret is 22, but is dressed as an 11-year-old girl, complete with a sweater, skirt and blond wig.

Margaret

Hi. I’m almost twelve years old.

Seth

If your mother could see you now, Rodolfo, not only a sodomite but a pedophile.

Rodolfo

We just came from my mother’s. I wanted to make sure she saw us in our costumes.

Mario

I swear you just do that to bother her.

Rodolfo

The woman still lights a candle every Sunday for my reformation. I just like to remind her that no miracles have occurred as of yet.

Hersh

The only miracle is that you and Margie didn’t get beat up on your way over.

Rodolfo

(brandishing sword) I had my buckler. Who would dare attack us?

Margaret

My hero. (they share a long kiss)

Hersh

I think they might faint.

Seth

I think I might vomit. (pause) They look like two puffer fish.

Mario

Okay you two love birds, break it up and give me your jackets. (they do)

Margaret

(to Seth) I just met him last week, but I think I might like him. He’s so different from ail the other boys.

Seth

Yes, he has been for quite some time.

Margaret

Have you known him long?

Seth

Honey, I’ve known him long, short and everywhere in between.

Rodolfo

Seth, stop putting the moves on my girl.

Seth

Is that what he is? I thought a bomb went off at a middle-school girl’s locker room.

Margaret

That wasn’t very nice…(transforming momentarily) you bitter, old, jealous queen. Oh, and did I mention old?

Seth

You’d better not again if you’d like to live to see twelve.

Hersh

I think I’m going to like her.

Mario

Hands off the jail bait, sweetheart.

Rodolfo

So when’s Doug coming? We’ve got some celebrating to do.

Hersh

Celebrating?

Mario

Not until nine, Rodolfo. Don’t get him started.

Rodolfo

Started on what?

Mario

He thinks we should be taking everything more seriously.

Hersh

I can speak for myself.

Mario

Go ahead then.

Hersh

I think…we should be taking everything more seriously.

Mario

Well said.

Rodolfo

What do you mean, that Douggie’s positive? Hersh, you’ve been out of the loop too long, it’s almost preferable these days.

Hersh

Preferable?

Rodolfo

All right, maybe not preferable, but a helluva lot of people would rather catch it early than constantly worry about it.

Hersh

I must be out of the loop, because I just don’t understand that.

Rodolfo

Think about it. The gay Garden of Eden, before the fall. Barebacking without a conscience, like in the good old days.

Mario

You better get this talk out of your systems before me little sister shows up.

Hersh

But how can you do that if you’re carrying?

Rodolfo

With other carriers. Read the Village Voice sometime, the ads are all over the place.

Hersh

Don’t you think it’s time to develop a conscience? I mean, otherwise what did we learn from all this?

Mario

Hey, I thought this was a disease, not a moral lesson.

Hersh

Life is a moral lesson.

Rodolfo

Are you passing judgment on me, Hersh?

Seth

I declare, this is no parlor talk befitting a lady. Why don’t you fine gentlemen retire to the cigar room and continue you discussion over a brandy, out of earshot of us gentle souls trying to enjoy ourselves.

Hersh

All right, I’ll shut up. Rodolfo, I’ve lost a lot of friends, you know I didn’t mean…

Rodolfo

It’s all right Hersh, no offense taken.

Margaret

That’s better. Isn’t life wonderful when we’re all friends? When I’m talking to God I often ask Him to let me make new friends, and now here we are, all together. I knew He would listen, (to Seth) Do you wear a bra yet?

Seth

Honey, drag is for fags who haven’t accepted themselves for the woman they are.

Margaret

Oh, I wish I were a woman. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about making friends or cup sizes or boys…don’t you think my boyfriend is handsome? Oh come on, you know you do.

Seth

You’re not quite as ignorant as you might seem at first glance. You’re still ignorant, but less so.

Margaret

I’m glad you think so. Can we be friends now?

Seth

I’ll take it under consideration.

ANGELA, Mario’s sister, enters. She is in her mid-thirties and dressed tastefully, but with no discernible costume.

Angela

Where are my boys?!

Mario

Bubalaben! (they greet her)

Seth

(looking on) Well, if it isn’t Snow White and the Seven Fags. Leave it to you to milk an entrance.

Angela

Okay Seth, get your ass over here.

Seth

Oh no.

Angela

Come on, everyone’s given me a hug except you.

Seth

Do I have to?

Angela

Yes. (he gives her a cursory pat on the back hug) A real one. (he complies)

Seth

Ew, I felt her tits.

Mario

I never thought I’d have to tell you this, but keep your hands off my sister’s breasts.

Angela

He just wishes he had them.

Margaret

I know I do. Hi, I’m Margaret.

Angela

Thatcher?

Margaret

No, Margaret from Judy Blume.

Angela

Oh, I get it. Don’t worry sweetheart, it takes time. You’ll develop soon enough.

Margaret

God, I hope so. I’ve been praying and praying for them.

Angela

They’re no picnic, believe me.

Seth

More like a full-course meal.

Angela

You better pipe down or I’ll let the girls loose on you again. Okay, let me see if I can pick all you guys out. (looking at Mario) Bea Arthur?

Mario

Dante Aligheri, nice try.

Angela

(looking at Seth) You’ve got to be Truman Capote.

Seth

Tennessee Williams. I’m more self loathing.

Angela

(looking at Rodolfo) Let’s see…Zorro, the gay blade?

Rodolfo

Nope.

Angela

Ricky Ricardo if he’d had your mother.

Rodolfo

Warmer.

Angela

I give up.

Margaret

He’s Miguel de Cervantes.

Angela

Gee, how could I have missed it?

Mario

Hersh’s turn.

Angela

(considering)…a member of the Israeli ballet?

Hersh

No. I’m Shakespeare.

Angela

You look more like Shakesburg.

Hersh

I married into a one-joke family.

Mario

Who are you supposed to be, sweetheart.

Angela

Some choice I had. Every famous woman writer was either insane or a dyke or both.

Hersh

What about one of the Brontes?

Angela

They all died young and slept in the same bed well into their twenties.

Seth

Emily Dickinson: “Because I could not stop for death—He kindly stopped for me.”

Angela

Cloistered herself in her room after the age of thirty and died a spinster.

Rodolfo

Virginia Woolf.

Angela

Married a man she didn’t have sex with for thirty years, then offed herself.

Margaret

Jackie Collins.

Angela

She makes people wish they had offed themselves.

Mario

So who are you?

Angela

Dorothy Parker. She tried to off herself too and she was hopelessly in love with a fag, but at least she was straight, (putting on 40 ‘s style hat) Look, I bought a hat.

Mario

It looks stunning, sweetheart.

Angela

(slowly) Seth?

Seth

(same way) What?

Angela

Tell me I look wonderful in my hat.

Seth

Doesn’t it bother you that I’m only nice because you force me?

Angela

Not in the least. Tell me.

Seth

(sing-songy) You look wonderful in your hat.

Angela

Thank you. I will not be fulfilled until every last queen adores me.

Seth

Hag.

Angela

I am not a hag. Hags convince themselves they can convert you all, then ambush you when you’re drunk.

Seth

Dear Lord, what a nightmare.

Angela

Believe me, you’re all the last people I’d be interested in having sex with.

Seth

Believe us, the feeling is quite mutual.

Mario

That’s right, Angela, you’re only interested in striking Mediterranean men who treat you like crap before they dump you.

Seth

(looking at Rodolfo) Who isn’t?

Hersh

Lay off her.

Mario

What am I doing? I’m just pointing out the fact that here we are on a Friday night and my only sister is once again surrounded by…

Angela

My good friends.

Mario

Look, there’s this gorgeous pre-med student who just took the apartment above us. I tried to get him to come meet you tonight, but he kept thinking I was hitting on him. Later on maybe we can go up together and just say “hi”…

Hersh

Why don’t you just have her carry a sign that says “I’m the desperate sister.”

Angela

Mario, you’re my brother and I love you dearly, but if you try to set me up with one of those vapid, Germanic blondes again I will be forced to kill you.

Rodolfo

What’s wrong with vapid, Germanic blondes? They make a good lay.

Mario

My sister doesn’t want a “good lay.”

Rodolfo

What does she want, a bad lay?

Angela

Hello! Aunties! I’m right here, I can decide for myself what kind of lay I want.

Seth

Apparently the “gay lay.” Hey, that would make a good name for a cocktail.

Margaret

(to Angela) What’s it like?

Angela

What’s what like?

Margaret

You know, that word you said. I knew this girl last year who said she got to second base, but I didn’t understand what that meant and I didn’t really believe her anyway.

Seth

My child, sexual relation is a violation a woman seldom overcomes, a brutal act of moral violence that seeks to subdue and eradicate her essence of pristine feminine purity.

Margaret

Is it really like that?

Angela

It’s exactly like that. And I love it.

Margaret

Really? Angela, I know we’ve just met and everything, but…will you be my friend.

Angela

Margaret, I would love to be your friend.

Seth

Another fag bites the dust.

Margaret

Oh, are the two of you best friends already? I wouldn’t want to intrude. I know, ail three of us can be best friends.

Seth

Goody goody for us.

Angela

Seth, you know I’ll always have a special place in my heart for you. C’mon and give me another hug.

Seth

Darling, I need a few more beers before I can feel your tits again without becoming ill.

Margaret

Angela, if I go to the bathroom, will you save my seat?

Angela

Of course I will, Margaret. (Margaret exits and Seth climbs immediately into her seat)

Seth

So tell us, Rodolfo, where did you find such an enchanting creature? The local YWCA?

Rodolfo

A friend of a friend.

Seth

Did he pass her a note in Algebra class?

Hersh

She is a bit young.

Angela

Don’t listen to them, I think she’s precious.

Rodolfo

Who do you want me to chase after, old guys like you all?

Seth

I have aged like a fine wine.

Rodolfo

Yeah, you start out bitter, but you go down so well.

Mario

Do I need to remind you there’s a lady present?

Seth

Thank you Mario, you wouldn’t believe what this vulgarity is doing to my fraying nerves.

Mario

I meant my sister.

Seth

Oh. I thought you said “a lady.”

Mario

Don’t mess with my family Seth, I may not look butch but I could beat you silly in a slap fight.

Angela

I could beat him silly in a slap fight.

Seth

Dear me, if this is the base behavior engendered by a healthy supply of testosterone. I simply want no part. My dear Momma always warned me about associating with I-talians.

Rodolfo

She also warned you about associating with those ”queer types,” and look how well you did that.

Seth

Sweetheart, I had no choice. I have two brothers and a sister and there’s not a straight weed in the garden. My dear Momma bore nothing but fruit.

Rodolfo

(raising his beer) A toast. To mother-made fags everywhere.

Seth

Here here.

Mario

Ever since Freud mothers have gotten a bad rap. My mother didn’t make me a fag—she was crazy, sure, but in an endearing way.

Angela

(touching Mario’s hand) Yeah, she was.

Mario

And she never had a problem with me and Hersh. In fact, all my gay friends loved her.

Seth

That’s probably why fags flutter around your sister like moths around a bug-zapper.

Mario

I adored that woman. When I was growing up, I wanted to be her.

Hersh

Mario, you are her.

Mario

(pleased) Thank you. (kisses him) Is there any wonder I love this man?

Seth

Well lucky for you to have had June Cleaver for a mother. My mother, unfortunately, is an experience one counts oneself grateful to have survived. I swear the old prune will live until she’s 100 out of pure obstinacy.

Mario

Oh, she can’t be that bad.

Rodolfo

I’ve met his mother. Try to imagine Patton in a sun dress with baggy panty-hose and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. And with a Southern drawl.

Hersh

(to Rodolfo) Speaking of guys in a dress, is your better half contemplating a time-share in the bathroom?

Margaret

(getting Angela’s attention) Psst! Angela!

Angela

(going to Margaret) What is it, Margaret?

Margaret

Oh, I just don’t know what to do…

Angela

What? What’s wrong?

Margaret

I think…1 think I just had…my first monthly.

Angela

You’re kidding.

Margaret

I don’t know for sure. When 1 first found out about them I asked God how 1 would know, and he told me I would realize it when it happened. And now it’s really happened. 1 think. Oh, tell me what it’s like…

Angela

Okay, well..do you feel bloated?

Margaret

I think so.

Angela

Do you crave salt?

Margaret

I could eat a bag of potato chips, if I didn’t think my face would break out.

Rodolfo

Everything alright, Margaret?

Margaret

Fine, we’re just talking girl-talk.

Seth

Which one’s the girl?

Margaret

What else?

Angela

Okay, do you feel slightly paranoid, as if everyone else in the room is keenly aware of your menstrual cycle?

Margaret

Yes! Oh, I wish you were my sister.

Angela

Here’s the important one: do you feel your belief in a rational God slipping away as you ponder forty some-odd years of mood swings, unreasonable weight-gain, maxi-pads, pap-smears, birth control, bad jokes by teenage boys who grow up to be teenage men, avoidance of white clothing and douching?

Margaret

Well, I still believe in God. Does that mean I don’t have it?

Angela

Margaret, I would like to welcome you to the strange and wonderful world of womanhood. Congratulations.

Margaret

You mean…I’m a woman now?

Angela

Ready or not.

Margaret

(looking heavenward) Thank you God, I knew you were listening!

Angela goes back to the group

Hersh

What’s up with the girl scout?

Angela

(matter-of-factly) Oh, she just got her period.

Seth

You mean she used proper punctuation at the end of a sentence.

Angela

I think this one calls for an exclamation point.

Hersh

So, little Margaret’s all grown up now.

Angela

Let’s be gentle—this can be traumatic.

Hersh

Yes, I’m sure it would be…were she biologically a woman.

Seth

Must we explicate this particular topic in the public arena? Discussion of the bearded flytrap and its many infinitely disgusting attributes is a matter best left to lesbians, Maxin-Gail commercials and Congress.

Angela

I swear, half of you avoid it like the plague and the other half wish you had one.

Seth

Perish the thought.

Hersh

They’re not so bad.

Rodolfo

Oh, that’s right…you were engaged, weren’t you?

Seth

Dear Lord, you almost married one.

Margaret

(wandering back, to Angela) Do you have an extra pad I can borrow.

Mario

(entering) Time to eat everybody! (all turn away, disgusted)

BLACKOUT

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    • Joel Flowers
    • March 4th, 2011

    I think I’m gonna like this one!!

  1. See how many lines you can remember.

    • Joe Gayton
    • March 4th, 2011

    My favorite play of yours. Thanks so much for letting me play Mario. It was a gift I’ll always treasure.

  2. You were perfect in that role, and you and Fred had such great chemistry. Thank YOU!

    Hope you’re taking care of yourself.

    • Joel Flowers
    • March 7th, 2011

    Wait…wasn’t I in this??!

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