A while ago there was a guy who wanted to do a one man play about the problems of getting old. Struggling through the dark and the fog for some clarity. It would be 60 minutes of stories and reminiscing and talk about battling depression and Asperger’s and being a nudie in a world where that would be considered perverse. For 90% of the play he’d be naked himself. He was writing the script, setting aside the money he’d need to front and making plans to reserve a small theater for the Hollywood Fringe.
Over time the script evolved. He met a woman who said she was interested in helping. She was a bright and young and brilliant and beautiful woman of color who had an autistic brother. He’d done a brief scene in their acting class. She made suggestions. They were good ideas but weren’t really descriptive of what was in the old man’s heart. The wide age differential also bothered him. Some ideas were incorporated and some weren’t. The script evolved again.
A new idea occurred to him. What if in the opening scene, instead of just getting sloshed and uninhibited, the man commits suicide? He takes some sleeping pills and washes it down with brandy or whatever. He starts out sober and extremely depressed. At first the liquor loosens him up and allows him to talk about all the things that were weighing on his mind. Then the effects of the pills start in.
As he gets deeper into intoxication he get a little crazy. If you’re going to die, might as well enjoy it. A chance to inject humor, maybe push a few boundaries. Naked and very very high – could get spicy, even if for just a moment. Then the pills’ effects start getting stronger. His movements get sloppier, his speech even more slurred, and he collapses on the sofa. His talk and his actions have served to work through some of his issues and he decides he doesn’t want to die after all.
Last scene… He reaches for the phone. manages 911 after several attempts. The operator answers, “911, Whats your emergency?”
He squeaks out “Help.” and then drops the phone and loses consciousness.
You hear the 911 operator, “Hello? Hello? Are you there?”
End of show, curtain closes.
Then COVID-19 hit and everything came crashing to a halt. No more Fringe for him.
You’d think he would just spend the next year prepping for an even better performance but somehow the old man is now deflated. His writing feels ridiculous and underwhelming. He starts to doubt his ability to memorize an hour-long script. Hell, he’s lucky to remember why he walked into the next room. (Oh yeah, that was one of the issues to be covered in the play.)
There’s also his wife. She probably would not appreciate hearing him spill his guts on the stage – as if deep in therapy – even if the character were played as a lifelong bachelor. And the ending would probably freak her out. She’s not a theater person at all. She worries about him sometimes.
Risking a couple thousand dollars – on which any chance of making the money back depends on people actually liking the play – feels like a much bigger risk. Confidence has turned to doubt and enthusiasm to resignation.
Ah well. It might have been fun. That’s what life is all about, isn’t it? The things you didn’t or couldn’t do that might have been fun.