a short play by Matt Dellapina
NOTE: "The Walk Through" was originally produced by Slant Theatre Project and performed at The Green Building in Brooklyn, NY. It starred Natalie Hegg, Andrea Syglowski, and Richard Thieriot and was directed by Adam Knight.
(A woman in her late 20’s, MAGGIE, stands in the middle of an airy former
warehouse since refurbished to host events with a rustic-chic charm.
She speaks into her phone.)
MAGGIE Uh huh... is that the new place? Buns, right? They have Korean buns?
Well it used to be a clam place? Like a nouveau clam shack but expensive? Yeah, but they scrapped that idea after like 3 months because no one wants clams in the winter – that’s more an oyster time - and now that winter’s like 6 months long...
Babe, we should TOTALLY celebrate. Absolutely. It’s not every day that your blog gets re-posted by a bigger blog with that kinda reach I totally think you deserve it.
Okay great! OH! Forgot. Before I forget, can you just call ahead and see if their corn is non-GMO? I know you think I’m being fussy but Monsanto is basically a terrorist organization dressed up as a food--
(MAGGIE hears footsteps coming from just outside the main room.)
I think that’s them.
(MAGGIE hears chit-chat now. Yup. It’s them.)
Yup it’s them. Gotta go. Bye.
(MAGGIE hangs up, go to put her phone in her pocket. Realizes she doesn't have a pocket.
She attempts to hold the phone in a casual, cool way. Not super successful. Gives her hair a comb-through with her fingers.
Just then, A COUPLE walks through the front door.)
Hi there! Grace? Tom? I’m Maggie. (MAGGIE walks up to GRACE – early 30’s, attractive, strong – and TOM – early 30’s, handsome, in a suit, very much on his phone.)
MAGGIE So nice to finally meet you!
GRACE Yeah. Is Katie here?
MAGGIE Yeah, well Katie came down with food poisoning last night. I thought she emailed you? She said she would.
GRACE Right but I was under the assumption that she’d be okay by now.
MAGGIE Oh I see. Well. She’s not. She’s pretty sick still. I’m sorry, but I have worked with Katie for over a year now and I can answer all the same quest--
TOM What’d she eat?
TOM What poisoned her? What was she eating? MAGGIE Oh some... bad dessert, I think?
GRACE Bad dessert?
MAGGIE Yeah some ice cream. From a couple blocks away.
GRACE A couple blocks away!?! MAGGIE I think so.
TOM What flavor?
MAGGIE I’m not... sure?
TOM Probably cookie dough.
TOM Cause it’s raw and shit.
GRACE Was it Blue Rabbit? Please tell me it wasn’t Blue Rabbit! They’re one of our vendors.
MAGGIE It wasn’t Blue Rabbit!
GRACE Just ‘cause they’re one of our vendors. They’re a FEATURED vendor.
MAGGIE It was not Blue Rabbit. That I know. She actually told me to tell you that.
GRACE Okay. Oh god.
(GRACE let out a really intense exhale.)
TOM It’s cool babe. GRACE Oh shut up Tom.
GRACE Like you even fucking care.
TOM Care?! I’m the one asking about the flavor!
(Uncomfortable silence. TOM shakes his head and goes back into his phone.)
MAGGIE Would you... like to see the bar area?
MAGGIE Okay, right this way.
(MAGGIE leads GRACE and TOM from the front entrance towards the bar area. Only the clicks of shoes are heard.)
Now, I’m sure Katie told you, but this is a mobile bar, so wherever you want the bar, it’s really up to you.
GRACE Yeah I know. I’ve seen the place already.
MAGGIE Right. This is your second time here?
GRACE M-hm. This is all just so Tom can look at it. Veto as his keen eye sees fit.
GRACE Pay attention.
TOM (covering badly) I was taking a pic of it.
(GRACE shakes her head.)
MAGGIE So yes. This is the bar, and though it is mobile, we do recommend that people keep it in this general vicinity, since there are some fun neon signs, as you can see –
(MAGGIE points to some fun neon signs.)
TOM Yeah, those signs are a fucking blast.
(MAGGIE laughs uncomfortably.)
GRACE Will these be lit up, even if it’s daytime?
MAGGIE Well there’s not really an off switch? They’re kinda just plugged in. It’s neon so...
GRACE Right, but since the ceremony is here as well, and since the ceremony is taking place during the late afternoon – I mean I know it’s September but there will most assuredly still be tons of sunlight pouring in here – I mean look at these windows.
MAGGIE Right. Of course.
GRACE Just saying that it’s fine if these (re: the signs) are, you know, all ABLAZE during the reception, but I really don’t want our ceremony to look like some trashy Floridian Retirement Party, you know?
MAGGIE I absolutely know. Nobody wants that.
GRACE Nobody, which includes me. Okay?
MAGGIE Of course! Not a problem at all. We’ll just keep them unplugged until the night falls and the reception starts.
You got it.
GRACE Thank you I mean it’s doesn’t have to be complete, death-black night for the signs to turn on. I’m not saying that.
GRACE No I’m not saying that. If I was saying that, then I would tell you.
GRACE I just think the word of the day is balance.
MAGGIE Always. Always balance. That’s what we do!
GRACE So if there could there be just someone standing by. A person, a man whose job is to look out for my signal and when the dusk reaches an appropriate level of darkness, he can look to me for a signal and I’ll nod or point my finger at him or whatever and then he can plug it in?
MAGGIE Sure! Yeah. I mean, we may have to hire extra staff for that kinda -
GRACE That’s fine. We’ll pay. That’s not the issue.
TOM Not an issue.
GRACE It’s our wedding. We’ll pay whatever. MAGGIE Okay great. I’ll send an email out to the staff. See who’s interested.
(A small pause. They all just look at each other.)
MAGGIE So how long have you guys been –
GRACE Planning this? Like 18 fucking months.
MAGGIE Oh. I was gonna say together? How long have you guys been a couple?
GRACE Weeks feel like years now, so it’s hard to say.
MAGGIE And how did you two meet?
GRACE I don’t even know.
GRACE I think it was... I mean I vaguely remember a rooftop or something.
TOM La Quinta.
TOM It was the La Quinta. Koreatown. I was bombed.
Oh right. Yeah.
Can we make it rain?
Make it what?
Rain. Like you know... climb up on shit and, like, make it rain?
(TOM makes that gesture where you slide off single dollar bills with your fingertips while holding a stack of bills in the other hand.)
MAGGIE OOOooooh. Like with dollar bills?
TOM Exactly. My boy Brad had this sick-ass wedding last year – buncha firemen, you know how they are. Fuckin’ psychopaths.
TOM Right. And Coolie – my other boy – was up on this table makin’ it rain while they were playing that “shake it” part of Hey Ya. It was totally sick until they started giving him grief about it.
GRACE Well that’s because he was doing shots every five minutes.
MAGGIE Oh shots are – this is kind of a sticking point I thought Katie might’ve covered?
MAGGIE Yeah we don’t do shots. We don’t allow them. Shots.
TOM What do you mean?
MAGGIE Just... it can get ugly. Vomit and just general unpleasantness for the staff.
TOM Hold on. Aren’t we getting the full bar package?
MAGGIE Oh absolutely. I have you down for full open bar, plus the top-shelf liquor package.
TOM Right, so like, we’re having liquor anyway.
GRACE Tom would you shut up –
TOM No this is important. Like if I order a drink, when does a Laphroig scotch served neat turn into a shot? Just like philosophically.
MAGGIE Um, I think it mostly has to do with the speed at which it’s consumed? If there’s a toast? If you order and say, “hey can I have a shot?”
GRACE I’m sorry Maggie, but he’s got these friends. I wouldn’t call them fratty, but they’re fratty. (re: TOM) And Coolie’s not coming, by the way.
TOM Me and him went to camp together. He’s invited.
GRACE (re: MAGGIE) Excuse me. (re: TOM) Um no. This has been discussed Tom. He gets wasted, he does helicopter kicks on the dance floor, everyone gets nervous, and then he ends up passing out in the bathroom all coked up and trying to jerk himself off.
TOM That was once.
GRACE He basically date-raped himself last New Year’s.
TOM We have history!
MAGGIE Guys? Um, should I show you the procession idea we had? Then we can get maybe wrap this up, get the contract ready.
MAGGIE Ok. Right this way.
(The trio takes another not-fun walk across the hall to the other side. They arrive at the foot of the large staircase.)
So here we are! For the ceremony, Katie said you envisioned walking down from up top, then greeting Tom at the floor right?
GRACE Yes. I think that’d be beautiful.
MAGGIE I agree. Tom?
GRACE Great. It’s settled then. Where do we sign?
MAGGIE Okay, just wait here and... I’ll grab the paperwork. Talk amongst yourselves.
(MAGGIE starts to walk up the staircase to the office in a kind of reverse processional, and then disappears into the office upstairs.
MAGGIE and TOM are left alone. They do not speak to each other. A minute of this silence goes by, with GRACE intermittently checking around the room and with TOM occasionally checking his phone.
GRACE breaks the silence.)
GRACE So are you coming home now or...
TOM Can’t. Meeting at the office at 6.
(Several seconds pass.)
GRACE What train are you taking?
(TOM just mumbles something like, “gonna uber it” )
Probably JUST GONNA UBER IT.
(Several more seconds pass.
MAGGIE re-emerges from the office. Paperwork in hand, she walks down the high staircase towards the waiting couple.)
MAGGIE Here you go! I’ll need each of your signatures right here. And here.
(MAGGIE points to two spots on two sheets.)
GRACE Why the second signature?
MAGGIE That’s just a liability thing.
MAGGIE Well that and... we’ve had a few fairly litigious clients gone on to get divorced, then sued us retroactively for maybe planting a seed of discontent of what was already, in our opinion, a pretty rotten relationship. Nobody’s ever won, but we have to cover our bases now.
TOM I understand. Where do I...? (There is no desk or anything to sign on. Oh you can just sign on my back.
MAGGIE Oh you can just sign on my back. TOM Okay. But careful. I write real hard.
(Was that a joke? No one knows. TOM signs his first, then his second signature.) MAGGIE
(GRACE grabs the pen, signs the first page.
Turns to the second page to sign, but stops.)
I’m sorry. MAGGIE Is something unclear?
GRACE No. I just... Tom?
(TOM is in his phone.)
TOM Hold up. I’m Zelle-ing her.
GRACE Look at me Tom!
(TOM looks up.)
Do you want this?
TOM No, just email the contract to me.
GRACE No. I mean... this.
(GRACE makes a gesture to indicate “us”) TOM
TOM I mean...
(MAGGIE senses an opportunity here.)
MAGGIE Why don’t we do a small exercise?
GRACE An exercise?
MAGGIE I um... on the side, I’m also a marriage doula and I actually love this kinda thing.
GRACE I hate exercises. It’s why I quit acting.
MAGGIE Just a few seconds. Then you can be on your way. Totally painless.
TOM I don’t wanna be an animal or anything.
MAGGIE No animals. Nothing like that. Just... look at Grace.
Okay. (TOM looks at GRACE. Can’t really maintain eye contact.)
And Grace? Do the same, please. (GRACE looks at TOM. Exhales a bit.)
Great. Just great. Now, Tom. Tell me the first thing about Grace that really excited you.
TOM Ugh okay... she um...
MAGGIE Could be anything.
She uh... she looked friggin’ slammin’ in a bikini.
What? You did.
MAGGIE Let’s try to think more internal, less visible.
MAGGIE Yeah. What about her... spirit first excited you?
TOM This sounds like it’s gonna be an animal thing.
MAGGIE Not an animal thing. Just something other than physical appearance.
GRACE (making a joke) I know it’s hard to get past this.
TOM Okay. Um... she uh... At that La Quinta? On the rooftop, she told me a joke.
TOM Kinda. You asked me what I did for a living. I told you, “I’m a lawyer,” and you were like, “You LOITER?”
TOM I guess it was loud so you didn’t hear me right.
GRACE Yeah, and I said, “I guess I’m a loiterer too.”
TOM “Loitering in my own life”
TOM “I’m Grace.”
MAGGIE What’d you like about that intro?
TOM It was just... deep, you know?
TOM Then I bought her a shot.
GRACE I was pretty sad that night.
MAGGIE Great. And Grace? What was the most recent thing about Tom that excited you?
(A few seconds go by.)
Oh! Um... actually, no.
TOM You kidding me? GRACE
(Grace shrugs her shoulders. A few more seconds go by.) GRACE
No wait. It was... Actually it was just... now? Just right now, when you told me that story.
TOM La Quinta?
GRACE Yeah. When you looked at me and told me that. TOM
Yeah. (Something passes between TOM and GRACE.)
TOM (re: MAGGIE) You’re good Maggie. You’re real good.
No, I just – TOM Nah. You just got yourself a tip. You’re a fucking great doula.
(Looks back at GRACE.)
Let’s get outta here.
You're going back to work?
TOM Nah. I’m buying you a shot.
TOM It’s illegal here anyway. Come on.
(TOM walks to GRACE, takes the small of her back and leads her out. Before they exit, GRACE turns back to MAGGIE:)
Let me call Katie tomorrow. Just put those papers on ice for now.
(TOM and GRACE exit.
MAGGIE picks up her phone. Dials. Her boyfriend answers.)
(He speaks for a second. She interrupts:)
Hey hey hey - I love you.
Nothing. Just. I love you. I love you. I love you. I do.
(The lights fade, as the venue’s neon signs turn on.
End of play.) -------
MATT DELLAPINA is an actor and writer. He helped found ON THIS ISLAND - a live storytelling series at Ars Nova in NYC. In addition, Matt created and starred in the digital series ADULT ED. (2019 Tribeca Film Festival) and co-wrote THESE HOPELESS SAVAGES, a feature film now streaming on Amazon Prime.