"Funny, pointed, and exquisitely crafted." --Halifax Daily News

 
George Masswohl & Catherine Fitch in Theatre New Brunswick's production of Drinking Alone. 2000. Photo by Rob Blanchard

DRINKING ALONE is the story of the dysfunctional Todd family. In the very first scene we learn that thirty-something son, Joe, has hired a woman from an escort service for a very special purpose.
 
As the scene opens, Joe Todd enters down the stairs U.R.. He has a tie around his neck but it is not done up. He is carrying a small apparel box in one hand and a drink in the other. He sets the box down on the dining table and begins to clean up the fast food containers. The doorbell rings.
JOE: Coming! (He exits into the front hall L.) Ah, you're here. Good. Come on in. I just got home a few minutes ago myself so I'm running kind of late. (He exits to the kitchen with the fast food containers.) We should be okay though. We've still got about a half an hour yet, so that'll give me time to explain everything. (He enters from the kitchen and notices that no one is there.) Hello? Hello, where'd you go? (He goes back U. to the hallway.) What are you doing? Are you coming in? Come on in. (He moves back to the dining table.)
(Renee Duchene pokes her head into the room. She is a woman in her thirties. Dressed nicely.)
RENEE: They told me I shouldn't go in if I didn't feel right about it.
JOE: Didn't feel right about what?
RENEE: Well, you know, if I felt bad vibes.
JOE: Vibes? I don't have vibes. I didn't grow up in the sixties.
RENEE: Well, I don't know you.
JOE: Joe Todd. Nice to meet you. Now, come on the hell in. (Renee is still hesitant.) Please? We've got a lot to cover and we can't do it with you standing out there.
RENEE: Well...all right. (She moves into the room.)
JOE: Good. We're making progress. Would you like a drink?
RENEE: No, thank you.
JOE: You seem a little tense. A drink might help.
RENEE: Might help what?
JOE: To loosen you up.
RENEE: Why would you want to do that?
JOE: This is your first time, isn't it?
RENEE: Yes.
JOE: Great. Well, believe me, you've got nothing to fear from me. I'm not interested in sex. Well, I'm interested. I wish I could list it among my hobbies, but to do that, I would have to actually indulge in it once in a while, wouldn't I? Now, would you like a drink?
RENEE: No, thank you.
JOE: Fine. I don't mind drinking alone. In fact, it's a family trait. I think it's on our coat of arms. Are you any good at wrapping gifts?
RENEE: Uh..Well, I'm not bad, I suppose.
JOE: Well, you've got to be better than me. I don't think men have the gift-wrapping gene. Would you mind?
RENEE: All right. (She takes her coat off.)
JOE: Thank you. What's your name, by the way?
RENEE: Dominique. Dominique St. Germain.
JOE:

Dominique. Very nice.

(She holds her coat out for Joe to take.)

Just throw it anywhere.

(Renee sets her coat over the back of one of the dining room chairs. Joe begins tying his tie.)

So, is that your real name?

RENEE: Well, of course it is.
JOE: Really?
RENEE: No.
JOE: Didn't think so.
RENEE: I just think it's best that none of my clients know my real name, so I plan on keeping it a secret. I mean, I don't want some obsessed weirdo showing up on my doorstep, now do I? (She begins to wrap the gift.)
JOE: Thank you.
RENEE: No, I didn't mean you....necessarily.
JOE: So, what is your real name?
RENEE: Renee Duchene. Shoot! You got it out of me.
JOE: Sorry. Didn't mean to browbeat you like that.
RENEE: I guess I'm not very good at keeping secrets.
JOE: Oh, for my sake, I hope you are. So, what should I call you?
RENEE: Oh, Renee. What the heck?
JOE: Fine. Renee it is.
RENEE: Is Joe your real name?
JOE: Is Joe my real...Now, if was going to use a fake name, do you think I'd pick Joe? Yes, Joe is my real name.
RENEE: They also told me that some guys don't give their real names when they use our services. I guess a lot of them feel like losers because they have to hire a woman to go out with them. (Beat.) But, I'm sure that's not the case with you.
JOE: Actually, it is the case with me.
RENEE: Oh.
JOE: Why are you doing this kind of work?
RENEE: The money. I've got a nine year-old daughter I've got to feed. But , it's just temporary. I'm just waiting for a position to open up in my chosen field.
JOE: And what field is that?
RENEE: Hair.
JOE: Hair?
RENEE: I'm a hair stylist.
JOE: And you can't find work?
RENEE: No, but that's all right. I plan to open up my own shop one day. As soon as I save up some money. Which I'm sure will be any decade now. And what do you do for a living?
JOE: I own a dry-cleaning business.
RENEE: Oh, really? Which one?
JOE: Todd's.
RENEE: No, I don't know it.
JOE: Well, we're a small operation. Now, let's get down to the plans for tonight.
RENEE: All right. Good. I am kind of wondering where we're going. Now, I'm not a great dancer, but I do enjoy it if that's what you want to do. Or food would be good. You know, dinner. I can eat. Never had a problem there.
JOE: No, no. We're not going anywhere.
RENEE: What do you mean?
JOE: Tonight you're going to be posing as my fiancee.
RENEE: I'm what?
JOE: That's right. You can do that, can't you? You've been engaged?
RENEE: No, I haven't. Your fiancee?
JOE: Yeah, just for a couple of hours. You've never been engaged?
RENEE: No.
JOE: Oh. I just assumed that with a daughter, you know, maybe you were divorced.
RENEE: Well, no, we never did get engaged. Never got married. Never got divorced. The most we got was undressed.
JOE: Uh-huh.
RENEE: Oh, I shouldn't make it sound that casual, because it was more than that. At least to me it was. I mean, I don't go into a relationship unless I think it's going somewhere. That's very important to me. But, apparently it wasn't to him. Anyway, when he found out I was pregnant..well, I guess children weren't in his plans.
JOE: Uh-huh, look, we've only got a half an hour.
RENEE: Oh, I'm sorry.
JOE: No, I mean, I'd love to hear the whole story. I would, but...
RENEE: No, that's it. That is the whole story.
JOE: Fine.
RENEE: That's everything.
JOE: Good.
RENEE: He left town, got a job with a mining company up north, and the last time I saw him was five years ago.
JOE: Uh-huh.
RENEE: As his bus was pulling away. End of story.
JOE: Good.
RENEE: I don't even know why I went to see him off. Maybe I thought he'd change his mind at the last minute, but he didn't. Of course, it didn't help that his parents didn't want him to marry me. They didn't think I was good enough for their son. Rich folks, you know? I guess I didn't belong to the right tennis club. Well, I didn't belong to any tennis club, actually, I was just using that as an example of the kind of people they are. Still, I wish he'd visit his daughter once in a while. It'd be nice if she could see who her daddy is, but I guess that's not important to him, so, uh..(She brushes away a tear.) that's a part of her life that'll remain empty. Scotch tape?
   
  Copyright 1998 Norm Foster

 

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