Barrel Talk (pastiche on Beckett’s play “Play”)

Three people neck high in three barrels are standing at the front of the stage. They are surrounded by others in the background, also in barrels, themselves also talking animatedly.

#1: Since it’s my day to start the conversation, I’d like to ask a question: what you hope to find in heaven after you die?

#2: Is it your day?

#1: Yes, you started yesterday. You asked us if we liked the word “bamboozle”, remember?

#2: Hmmm.

#1: Why is it that you always forget when it’s my turn to speak?

#3 rolls his eyes. No one answers.

#2: Well, go on.

#1: (agitated): But it’s true. I don’t hear you others explaining why it’s your turn; you just start and talk away. Why do you always forget when it’s my day?

#2: Sorry, #1, we won’t forget from now on, will we #3?

#3 shakes his head strongly, overdoing it.

There is an uncomfortable silence.

#3: Is he ever going to go on with it?

#2: Do go on with your question, #1. Not everything can be solved in a day…

#1: But it hasn’t been a day. It’s been like this forever.

#3: (mockingly): Forever! Forever!

#2: I still believe that ‘bamboozle’ is a remarkable word.

#3: It’s a terrible word. We don’t even use it around here.

#2: That doesn’t mean it isn’t fantastic. Are your words any better?

#3: Why certainly. I’m college-educated and well-read.

#2: You mean, you were. Before you ended up here.

#3: Hmmph.

#1: Hey, isn’t it still my turn. I asked a question!

#3 rolls his eyes.

(politely) #2: Why, certainly, #1, you did.

#1: But you didn’t answer!

#2: What was it again?

#1: (sighs) When you die, which we all will one day, what do wish to find in heaven afterwards?

#2: I don’t know. I’d have to think about it. (doesn’t seem too concerned about thinking about it).

#1: And you, #3?

#3: Must I?

#1: Well I try for you, don’t I? Didn’t I spend what seems like hours trying to understand your logic last week? On… the motives of some character in a book you read years ago. I had to listen to the whole plot to try to give an answer because you had to choose a book I had never read.

#2: You did try quite hard, #1. Quite hard.

#1: See?

#3: (mockingly) Oh, I see. I see. Your answers were so, so illuminating, I just might go and read the book again.

#2: That’s a laugh. We should all be so lucky to be able to do anything again. Oh, I wish the others would just shut up for once.

#1: Who?

#2: Oh, all the others around us. Don’t you hear them?

#1: Now that you mention it, yes. You’ll never get them to shut up. They, at least, seem interested in what the others are saying.

#3: Oh, they’re so interested.

#2: #1, you mustn’t be offended by us. Now, tell us your answer to the question. “What would you like to find in the afterlife?”

#1: My caps.

#3: Oh, gawd!

#2: Your caps.

#1: Uh huh. Do you know how many beautiful caps I’ve lost over the years? At least two a year for, I don’t know, 15 years. Before I ended up here, of course.

#3: His caps!

#1: In restaurants, mostly. I can’t just put my cap on a seat sometimes; I usually put it on the floor. Where it stays after I finished eating. I’ve lost about 15 caps that way. And not just cheap caps you know; expensive ones. And then, well, before we ended up here I mean, they seemed to be dissolving before my eyes. I’d buy a beautiful cap and then it’d be gone. Disappeared. So, (proudly) when I die I want to see all my lost caps, displayed in front of me, all these beautiful caps that I bought over the years, in perfect condition. I love my caps.

#2: That would make you feel good, wouldn’t it?

#1: Yes!

#3: You and your beautiful caps, all lined up together!

#1: Well, it would be a start. I sometimes can’t stop thinking about all the people wearing one of my caps. I bet they don’t lose them.

#3: No, they wear them for years and years, never losing them!

#2: Sorry, #1, but I’d be so very, very bored, up there, just me and my caps.

#1: I did say that it was only a start.

#2: I know, but…

#1: Certainly, there are lost things that you’d like to see one day. Weren’t you attached to anything… before?

#2: Are you kidding? I had a job, a family, money. Oh, no, I think I’m going to cry. We can’t do that!

#3: Now look what you’ve done! You know that #2 can’t cry.

#1: I’m sorry, #2, don’t cry!

#2: I can’t reach my eyes to dry the tears. They trickle down my face and drop off my chin and oh! No, look what you’ve done! (She starts crying)

#3: I don’t believe it…

#1: I think that I’m going to cry, too.

#3: Yeah, you go ahead, idiot! (under his breath) I’m living with idiots!

#2: (stopping her crying) That’s not kind, #3. Why must you always be so unkind?

#3: Hey, #1 got you crying, not me!

#2: I just, I just am so unhappy here! Stuck in this place. Me trying to find interesting words to keep up the conversation. Listening to you hating everyone all the time. Have I ever told you, #3, how detestable you are?

#3: Hmmph.

#2: Oh, never mind. Let’s not go there, shall we? Let’s try to put on a happy face.

#1: I’m so sorry, #2; I didn’t mean to upset you. My life’s not perfect either, you know.

#3: Your caps are all missing.

#2: (brightening) I propose that as of today we try to be nice to each other. #1, I will never, well “never” is a strong word, but I will try to remember when it’s your turn to talk, which will be three days from now, won’t it? (trying to look his way)

#1: Thank-you.

#2: And #3, you who’ve probably lost more than all of us together, you need to take some responsibility for the mess we’re in. You want to think that things just happen to us. Well they do, and they don’t. Have you ever stopped to think how you got into such a mess?

(#3 looks away, as much as this is possible)

#2: #1, you can tell us more about your caps if you wish, or anything else for that matter; it’s your day.

Silence. You can hear more loudly the murmur of the others behind them.

#1: Thank you, #2, no I’m through.

The murmur of the others takes over.


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