The Divorce

The Divorce

Setting : A seaside house in Japan: A small room. An old man sits on a large bamboo mat. In the background a raging sea can be heard crashing into a mountainside. In front of the man on the mat is a large pitcher of sake, a small glass, and a small plate of sushi. In his hand he twirls a pair of chopsticks. The room is lined with thin rice paper walls. There is candlelight from a shrine coming from the wall behind him, on the wall to his left is a small window. In the front left corner of the stage facing the man is a large television.

Lights Up

The television comes on and the man sits upright, placing his hands on his upper thighs. The show on television is Elimidate.


M (looks up at the ceiling) : Why didn’t I go back to America then?

W (from offstage) : FRANK?!  (pause) Frank where are you?

M : I’m in the study Margaret. I’m always in the study

W : You’re never in the study.

Enter the Clock Keeper he walks over to the man and every time
the Man is about to say the woman’s name, the Clock Keeper
whispers something in his ear (indicated by *) IT VERY

M (rubs his head) : Whatever you say * Sally.  He reaches out and pours a shot of sake, (pause) takes the shot

The woman opens the window and sticks her head in

W : This isn’t the study.

M : Yes it is. It is where I think, therefore it is where I study.

W : And what is it you are studying?

M : Pataphysics.  (The Clock Keeper jumps in place and looks around)

W (mockingly) : Oh yes, how important of you dear, the world could not get along without Pataphysics.

M : It’s alright * Henrietta, I forgive you.

W : Forgive me? You forgive me do you?

M : Yes. Think nothing of it.

W: (mumbling, as she withdraws from the window slamming it shut) We’ll see about that.

M : What was that you  (He turns his head around and sees that she has gone)
said  Megan?  (He shrugs his shoulders and turns back to watch the television)


There is a loud crash offstage, this is immediately followed by the sounds of a thousand frightened chickens.

M (jumps up) : The coops!! What are you doing to my chickens?

W: (opens the window and sticks her head in) I’m freeing them dear, releasing them into the wild where they belong.

M : They’re chickens * Glenda! If you release them they will be eaten by the wolves.

W : It is better for them to risk being eaten alive, than for them to remain locked up here with you! At least in the wild they will be happy and free!

M : But they’re chickens? They have no notions of happiness, they’re our food. I wouldn’t be happy either if me and a few thousand other people were locked up in cages waiting to be decapitated, skinned and eaten. Though I do think I would much rather live in captivity waiting for the inevitable in comfort rather than being torn apart by wolves without warning!

W : That’s your problem, you’re too stuffy.

M : It’s stuffy to not want to be eaten by wolves?

W : In your case yes. Saying that you don’t want to be eaten by wolves shows that you are afraid of sudden and unexpected changes.

M : Isn’t everyone?

W : No, just you Frank.

M : Are you saying that I’m the only human being on the planet that wouldn’t want to be torn to shreds, have my guts ripped from my belly as my arms are pulled from by body by ravenous beasts while at the same time more of the horrid creatures mauled off my face, testicles, legs, and feet?

W : Yes, that is exactly what I’m saying.

M : I know at least one other person who feels the same way.

W : And who is that?

M : You * Stephanie.

W : In your opinion.

M : How convenient for you.

There is another loud crash.

W : What was that dear, I didn’t hear you.

M: (runs off stage, the Clock Keeper follows him like a shadow) Stop it * Jenny, just stop it right now!


Enter the woman, she looks around a moment then walks over to
the television, changes the channel to Oprah, then sits in his spot
and begins to watch t.v.


The man re-enters, stands behind the woman and begins to jump up and
down.  The Clock Keeper does not return with him

M :What are you watching in my study!?

W : Your study? (laughs) Your study? Do you mean that like when you say your bedroom?

M :Stop it right now and get out!

W: (laughs at him) You get out.

M : I was here first, this isn’t fair. I was watching Elimidate.

W : Well now I’m watching Oprah, (p) Shouldn’t you be trying to catch the chickens?

M : It’s no use, I’m too old to catch them, we will just have to starve.

W : Good, I was beginning to think I would have to wait out eternity in this place.

M : Twenty years ago you seemed to like the idea of it.

W : Twenty years ago I thought of allot of things differently.

M : Well Carmen, so did I, that is one of the things about age, it tends to alter ones perceptions.

W : The only part of me that has changed is the part that thought loving you was a good idea.

M : How can you say that to me Elise? After everything, how can you look me in the face and tell me that you no longer love me?

W : Because you are an ass and I’m tired of it.

M :I don’t believe you are saying this to me, after all these years.
(He falls on his knees and begins to weep)

W (gets up and walks over to where he is slumped) Stop your pathetic crying, it’s no use.

Man continues to cry

M (pleading) : Samantha, you promised you would never do this to me.

W : Things change, don’t they? I told you I would never leave you when we were in America, we aren’t in America anymore, nor are we even Americans either. Now in some remote location on the East coast of Japan, I can leave you, and I am.

M : (still sobbing) Why now  Betty? (p) cries (p) Why now?

W : I think it is time that I have a life of my own before it is too late. I am tired of all this and it doesn’t make sense anymore.

M : When has love ever made sense?

W : It may never make sense but at times it at least seems like the right thing to do.

M : And this doesn’t ?

W : No, it does not. What are we doing here anyway?

M : We came here to be together, away from all the trouble of the city, we came here to think and to love-

W: (cutting him off) You don’t really believe that do you?

M : Of course I do and so did you at one point.

W :That point has long since passed. And now I need more than you can give.

M : I have given you everything you ever wanted.

W : No, No NO! I have given you everything  you’ve wanted, and it is going to stop, right (begins to exit) now.       (she exits)

M : Where are you going?

W : Back home if I can.

M : I will die without you.

W : That’s your choice, not mine.

M : But if you leave me then you will be responsible for my death.

W : I have been responsible for your entire life, you’re not going to pin your death on me as well.

M : Fine Tina, have it your way.

The man gets up, walks over to the television, changes the channel back to Elimidate, then walks over to his spot, sits and pours out a shot of sake and drinks it.

W : I’m leaving now.

M : That’s fine Alice, do whatever you feel is necessary.

W : I will.

M : So do it, leave. (he pours out and shoots another shot of sake)

W : I am.

M : I wouldn’t want to keep you from doing something you obviously feel very strongly about.

W : Good, I wouldn’t let you anyway.

M : I wouldn’t dare try

W : So that’s it then, just like that?

M : Yes, (pours out another shot and takes it) just like that Kimberly, you can do whatever you want to do.

W : I want to go to Hawaii with a very young and attractive Frenchman.

M : And I want to go to Paris with an exceptionally good looking Polynesian woman.

W:  (storms back into the study)What did you say?

M : I said I wanted to go to Paris with an exceptionally good looking Polynesian woman.

W (bitterly) : You never took me to Paris.

M : You are neither exceptionally good looking nor Polynesian, why would I take you to Paris? Besides, you never took me to Hawaii.

W : You are supposed to arrange such trips. I’m the wife, remember?

M : Gender is an accident. I don’t know what you are talking about.

W : I am talking about being a woman and needing romance.

M : That is why we moved here all those years ago, remember?

W : No I don’t, we moved here for your work, not for love.

M : My work is love.

W: Not for me it isn’t!
M :You used to respect my work.

W :I was young and stupid, things change.

M : We are human, we are all young and stupid at some point, (change of tone) with some the stupidity doesn’t fade with age.

W : All things fade with age, especially desire.

M : No wonder you fancy you would like to be torn apart by wolves you’re a -”

W (cutting him off, gets in his face) :  I’m a what? Go  ahead, say it . I dare you!

M : A BITCH, A Fuck-

She slaps  him across the face


M: (rubbing his face) You used to be happy here.

W : We used to have sex too, and I was never happy here. Maybe I pretended to be happy for your sake, (looking off) I would have done anything to make you happy (looks again to him) I just care not to anymore.

M : But why now?

W : There is never a right time and now is just as good as any other, (p) No, twenty years ago would have been best (p) but there is no going back to it.

M : Shatori will be glad you are leaving. She is tired of always having to clean up after your temper.

W : What is that supposed to mean?

M : It means she thinks you’re an ill-tempered slob and she will be incredibly grateful at not having to clean up after you anymore of your tantrums.

W : And why are you so concerned about how she feels?

M : I have always been concerned with Shatori, she has gone out of her way to make me feel at home here in this country and until I learned the language she always made sure I had what I needed to get through the day.

W : Like the baker  took care of my pastry needs.

M : We have a baker here? (p) I didn’t know we had a baker on the coast.

W : You would manage to overlook something like that.

M: (pours another shot)  If you are going to leave, (takes the shot) then go, now.

W : You’re not going to try and stop me?

M : It sounds like there is no point in it, you have made up your mind haven’t you?

W : Yes, I have. (p, change of tone) You’re not going to try and stop me?

M : No, (pours out another shot, salutes her with it) well then, good luck  (takes the shot and turns away from her).

W : I’m leaving now, have you nothing left to say?

M: (looks at her)  (pauses) No.  (looks back to the t.v.)  Sorry.

W : You will be sorry, as soon as I walk out of that door, you’ll see, I’l never come back.

M : Whatever you say.

W : I don’t understand, five minutes ago you were on your knees in tears begging me not to leave, now you tell me that you don’t care?

M : Something like that, yes.  A man is entitled to change his mind, is he not?

W : No, not about love.

M : Well, I guess you managed to crush the last bit of petty idealism that I had been saving for old age. You said that you no longer loved me, if that is so then there is no point in carrying this on any further, is there?

W : If you loved me you would try and stop me.

M : No, If I loved you I would let you go, so I am, (turns to her) now go.

W : That’s not how this is supposed to work. (runs offstage grabs a script and comes back in and thrusts it in his face) Right here, page fifty fucking nine! The woman tries to leave and the man stops her. It’s in the pages! You can’t just sit there watching t.v!

M : Pataphysicians can do whatever they wish. I am bound by no law other than my own.  Why don’t you just not leave, then I won’t have to try and stop you.

W : There are rules to this thing you know, people can’t do whatever they want, (indicates the audience) if so half the people out there would be diddling themselves right now (looks closely for a man, then points to him) Especially him (covers her breasts ). (she takes the script from him, looks it over) now where was I (pause) No, I have to leave right now!  (Throws the script offstage)

M : Well if you have to leave then I am definitely not going to stop you.

W : You stopped me all through rehearsals why not now?

M : Now is as good a time as any for a thing like this, you yourself said that. Since you want to leave and I don’t want to stop you, why should I? It makes perfect sense and if the twit who wrote this play had half a brain he would see it himself.

W : Well he didn’t,  he wrote for you to stop me.

M : Let’s just get it over with, once and for all (pours out a shot) go, now, or I will kill you.

W : You are the most horrible person I have ever met

M : Stick around and I’ll introduce you to my wife (turns to look at her) Oh there you are, just now there was a woman here who told me that-


M : You have hated me for years, and now you have your justification, leave now, guilt free, go off into the wild and live with the chickens until you too are eaten by wolves.

W : What do you expect with the way you treat me?

M : You started this farce, now you are going to tell me it’s all my fault?

W : And you are going to tell me it’s mine?


W : How about a divorce?

M : Till death do us part.

W : You want to kill me, (pause) a duel then.

M : You want a duel?  (looks to her) fine, (looks back towards the t.v.)  I’ll give you a duel.

W : You can even choose the weapons.

M : Swords.

W : Fine. I’ll call the witness

M : Fine, (gets up, swoons, leans down grabs the bottle of sake) I will prepare the weapons.

They both exit

Lights down.

The Divorce © 2010 Michael Tesney

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