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February's Featured Writer

February's Featured Writer

Alyssa lives in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah, where she has lived for much of her life. Not satisfied with just one English degree, she earned her M. A. in English literature at Kansas State University. Since she graduated two years ago, Alyssa has been teaching both composition and literature classes at a local community college. In between teaching, grading papers, and maintaining internet pages, Alyssa likes to read, look for a real job, and take the occasional nap.

Alyssa considers herself a sporadic part time writer, writing mainly when compelled by inspiration or crisis. Her current project is a one act play she feels is constantly in a state of disarray. The play included here, Freudian Slip, was first written for a high school English class. Alyssaís recent revisions were largely influenced and generally enhanced by Murder Most Horrid, a series she enjoys, and the generally useless information she has learned about the Victorian period since the playís inception.

Send feedback to Alyssa Hurzeler.

Freudian Slip: a one act play

Cast:

Queen Victoria (Q Vic)
Prince Albert (Alb)
Princess Victoria, Crown Princess of Prussia (Vicky)
Prince Edward, Prince of Wales (Edward)
Frederick William (FW)
Alexandra, Princess of Denmark (Alexa)
Benjamin Disraeli (Dis)
William Gladstone (Glad)
Charles Dickens (Dickens)
Dickensís wife
Charles Darwin (Darwin)
Robert Adair (Adair)
Violet Adair (Violet)
Florence Nightingale (Flo)
Sigmund Freud (Freud)
Impressionist Artist (Artist)

Author's note: It will quickly become clear to readers and viewers of this play that the events portrayed are not to be taken entirely seriously. The actors, however, should not seem aware of the humor, and should remain in character throughout the play.

Also note that I have taken some liberties with chronology: many of these characters are not actual contemporaries. Be assured that this was a deliberate choice, and is not the result of ignorance on my part. Enjoy!

Scene I

Set in elegant ballroom. There is a long table positioned stage left. Stage right should be set up with an artistís easel (it doesnít face the audience), chairs, short refreshment table, and room for dancing.

All:

(Standing around table, with glasses raised in a toast) Long live the Queen!

Q Vic:

Please sit, and enjoy your meal.

All sit in silence for several moments.

Darwin:

I would like to take advantage of this moment to tell you all about a new theory Iím developing.

People around him stop eating and stare at him impatiently.

I have discovered evidence suggesting that man has evolved from monkeys.

Q Vic:
(Dropping her silverware with a clatter) How vulgar!

Darwin:

No, not really. It may sound unusual, but itís actually quite intriguing. Let me explain . . .

People begin conversations, ignoring him.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Dickens:

(Speaking and writing in a notebook) It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .

FW:

Is he referring to the French Revolution, or this evening?

Vicky:

Probably both.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Glad:

. . . I disagree with you. I think weíd better change the subject.

Dis:

In that case, letís discuss industrialization. We need to institute changes that actually benefit the workers. There is such a gulf dividing the rich from the poor.

Glad:

For once I agree. However, there will be and are gradual improvements being made. Yes, we need changes, but we have to give everyone time to adjust . . .

Adair:

Did you say you wanted to make life easier for the factory workers?

Dis:

Yes, I did say that.

Adair:

If the factories are regulated, I will not be the only one to suffer. It will also affect the workers, for whom you express so much concern. At least I provide a place for them to work.
Glad:
You gain far more from them than they do from you. Some regulations are vital.

Adair:

Don't be so pretentious. You gain from the factories as well. Are you saying you want to reverse the progress industrialism has made? Next youíll be saying we should get rid of industrialists altogether.

Dis:

That might not be such a bad idea.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Vicky:

I am amazed by how widespread the Red Cross has become, Miss Nightingale. You must be pleased.

Flo:

It does indeed have its benefits. I enjoying helping people, and Iíve had the opportunity to meet many interesting . . . people.

FW:

But how well are you really able to know someone? After all, you are only able to care for them a few days.

Flo:

We tend to all their needs as long as they require. And it is often better not to know the patient well. You remain less, uh, attached that way.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Edward:

Mother, I must say this is the most tedious party I have ever attended.

Alexa:

Thatís not true, Edward. We went to Napoleon the Thirdís party just last week and it was much worse than this.

Q Vic:

I am inclined to agree with you, Edward. I despise these large social gatherings.

Alb:

Then why do we have them?

Q Vic:

We must make a personal appearance every now and then. Besides, I am hoping that young Robert Adair will support our new factory project.

Edward:

I donít know if he will. He doesnít strike me as an amiable man, particularly with people who donít agree with him.

Alb:

If Adair wonít openly support us, we may have to try something else.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Alexa:

Your sister Victoria does not get along well with the Queen, does she?

Edward:

Not since Vicky married Frederick. I am not completely sure of the details; indeed, I cannot understand it, but . . .

Freud:

Forgive me for interrupting. I must speak. I have noticed something in my study of the mind: our dreams often offer great insight and understanding of our condition. What dreams have you had about the subject?
Edward:
None. Does that indicate something?
Freud:
Hmm. It does. But I would like to get more information from you before I make any diagnosis. If you compared yourself with any character in literature, who would you choose? Think about it, and let me know. Then I'll do an analysis for you.
Alexa:
But what about Vicky?
Freud:
Oh, that. It's just the Queen's way of wanting to change the current and unpleasant reality of her daughter's marriage to Frederick.
Alexa:
Oh.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Alb:

The Queen and I would like to thank all of you for coming. We consider you our friends and we are gratified that you could spend this evening with us.

Q Vic:

Let us begin the dancing, Albert.

Q Vic and Albert start the dance, and slowly many other couples join them. After a minute of dancing, Q Vic and Albert leave the floor and approach Adair.

I do hope you and your wife are enjoying yourselves.

Adair:

(Curtly) We are, thank you.

Alb:

Her Majesty and I would speak with you about an idea we have for your factories. You are a strong influence on the industrial world, and we have a proposal I am sure you will want to hear. We want to come to some type of agreement.

Adair:

No.

Alb:

What did you say?

Adair:

I said no.

Q Vic:

You have not even heard our proposal.

Adair:

I donít have to. Please excuse me. I would prefer to dance with my wife.

Moves away.

Q Vic:

That impudent upstart! What disgraceful manners.

Alb:

I am in complete agreement, my dear. Never fear, he will regret not listening to us.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Freud:

This is an unusual painting. What do you call it?

Artist:

(Holds up featureless painting) It is titled, "A bunny, chicken, and lamb enlightening the universe on a rainy Tuesday."

* * * * * * * * * * *

Darwin:

I would really like to tell you about a philosophy Iím exploring.

Dickensís Wife:

I would really like to dance with my husband.

Moves away to dance with Charles.

Darwin:

(Turning to Edward) You see, everyone must struggle for existence. The strong will live . . .

Edward:

Oh, shut up.

(Walks away.)

Flo:

(Rushes up to Edward) I must ask you something. Have you ever been to a hospital in Athens?

Edward:

No, I have not.
Flo:
Are you sure?

Edward:

Quite. Why do you ask?

Flo:

Because lately I have been feeling ill, and I thought perhaps you might have given me . . . your malady. Perhaps we met at a hospital in Paris? Or Rome?

Edward:

I canít abide hospitals at all. Now go away and bother someone else.

For one or two minutes, the guests are either dancing, talking, or eating refreshments. The lights go out abruptly, and we hear a loud scream.

Curtain, end of Scene I

Continue with Scene II

Send feedback to Alyssa Hurzeler.


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