Structure: Elliptical

By CRAIG J. CLARK


Bachís "Crab Canon" plays as the lights come up. TWO PEOPLE are sitting at a table with a telephone between them. 1 is finishing telling 2 a joke.

1 - And the crabs say, "We canít be canonized. Weíre too selfish." (pause, no response) The crabs say, "We canít be canonized. Weíre two shellfish!"
2 - (not laughing) Ah, I get it.
1 - Sure you do.

Doorbell rings. 1 gets up to answer the door, which is offstage. 2 shakes his head.

2 - (quietly, to himself) I donít get it.

1 returns and takes his seat. He gives a whistle and shows a card to 2.

2 - I see. Who was that?
1 - Iím not going to tell you.
2 - Tell me what?

1 places a comforting hand on 2ís arm.

1 - Friend, this is goodbye.
2 - Well, thatís a surprise. I mean, youíll tell me that, but not--
1 - (pointing in the direction of the door) Some guy calling to tell me the world is round.

The phone rings. 1 answers it.

2 - But you already know that.


1 - I know. (into phone) Hello?
2 - (in his own world) Sometimes I just donít understand this world.
1 - You donít need to tell me that.
2 - People just donít communicate anymore.
1 - (hanging up, annoyed) Some people can be so rude.
2 - Who was that?
1 - (lost in his own world) Who was that?
2 - (turns away, annoyed at being ignored) Some people can be so rude.
1 - People just donít communicate anymore.
2 - You donít need to tell me that.
1 - (quietly, to himself) Nothing makes sense anymore.
2 - Sorry, I canít hear you.
1 - Sometimes I just donít understand this world.
2 - I know. (waves hand in front of 1ís face) Hello?
1 - (snapping out of it) But...you already know that.

Phone rings. 2 answers it. After a second, he covers the receiver.

2 - Some guy calling to tell me the world is round.
1 - Well, thatís a surprise. I mean, youíll tell me that, but not--
2 - (angrily, into phone) Friend, this is goodbye.

He hangs up.

1 - Tell me what--
2 - Iím not going to tell you.
1 - I see... Who was that?

2 mimes something incomprehensible. At the end of it, he whistles something.

1 - I donít get it.
2 - Sure you do.

Doorbell rings. 2 starts to get up.

1 - Ah! I get it.

1 leaves. 2, alone, starts repeating the punchline of the joke to himself, slowly getting it.

2 - And the crabs say, "We canít be canonized. Weíre too selfish." (pause, starts to giggle) The crabs say, "We canít be canonized. Weíre two shellfish!"

He laughs uncontrollably. The Bach piece sneaks in again and plays underneath. Suddenly, 2 realizes something and stops.

2 - Wait.

The music stops.

2 - Crabs are crustaceans. Blackout.

This is one of two "Structure" plays I wrote for the Brick Playhouse's second annual Night of 1000 Plays. Written first, this is the one that didn't got in. The other, "Structure: Loopy" probably looked downright normal in comparison.


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P.S. All materials on this page are copyright 1999 by Craig J. Clark, in case you didn't know.