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Monday, 09 September 2013 11:58

No Fault

No Fault

A play

ANGELINE: Mid-30s, tall with long blond hair, aggressive, demanding, Wallace’s wife
WALLACE: Mid-30s, dark hair and glasses, anxious, a bit clueless, Angeline’s husband
SUSAN: Mid-30s, brunette, aloof, David’s wife

A small, stylish condo in a recently gentrified area of a major North American city, circa now. The condo contains a front door, to the left, and a large stainless steel fridge, to the right. Between them sits a kitchen island in front of a row of high cupboards. In front of the island sits a sleek, modern, low-backed sofa.


WALLACE and SUSAN enter the apartment through the front door, followed closely by ANGELINE, who locks the deadbolt and slides the chain behind her. Susan sits primly on the right side of the couch, folding her skirt under her, while Wallace leans against the kitchen island. Angeline stands to the left of the couch, fidgeting with her phone, wringing her hands, pacing etc.

ANGELINE: I just don’t believe it … I just … What do we do?
SUSAN: Well, I need a drink. Do you have any gin, Wally?

Wallace turns and opens a cupboard behind him, rooting through bottles.

WALLACE: We have some Bailey’s, some, uh, Kahlua, and oh, some vodka.
SUSAN: Vodka. What do you have for mix? Anything tropical? Passion fruit maybe, or mango?

Wallace pulls the bottle of vodka out of the cupboard and turns towards the fridge.

WALLACE: Okay, let’s see wh---
ANGELINE: What are you two doing? How can you think of cocktails right now?
SUSAN: I feel a powerful thirst coming on.
ANGELINE: We should be calling the police!
SUSAN: To tell them what, exactly?
ANGELINE: The truth, we tell them the truth!
SUSAN: Which truth is that, Angeline?
ANGELINE: We tell them what happened, what we saw.
SUSAN: I don’t think what just happened falls under police jurisdiction.
WALLACE: I don’t know what the big deal is. He’s probably at home by now.
ANGELINE: What the big deal is? Are you blind, Wallace? Do you not understand what’s just happened?
WALLACE:  (defensively) Yes… Well, I think so.

Spotlight on Wallace, who continues to stand behind the island, holding the bottle of vodka. Angeline and Susan are cast into darkness and don’t register him speaking.

WALLACE: I understand, at least, I think I do. David and Susan, Angeline and I were walking down Forest Avenue, on our way to the Parkside Eatery for dinner. Susan was telling me about how they have to buy a wedding present for her niece and how they don’t want to spend very much money because the kid is so spoiled already and complaining about how everyone just gives cash now, which she thinks is tacky. David and Angeline are walking just a little bit ahead, laughing about something. Just as we reach the spot where the street
meets the park, near where the bench is, there must have been an accident or something, across the street or around the corner. I don’t know, just a flash of light and this loud, crunching sound. And then David’s gone. I figured he just ran off into the park or… I dunno. But then Angeline starts screaming and pointing to the ground, which makes no sense. Maybe he fell into a manhole or a storm drain or some–

SUSAN: Wallace, drink.

Lights come up.

WALLACE  (opening fridge) Right, right, sorry. Vodka and cranberry okay, Sue?
SUSAN: Yes, fine Wally, if that’s all you have.

Wallace takes a glass form the cupboard and fills it with cranberry juice and a splash of vodka and hands it to Susan.

WALLACE:  Angie, honey, do you want something to drink?
ANGELINE: (fiddling with her phone) No, Wallace, not now.
WALLACE: Are you sure? There’s some of that Chardonnay you like chilling in the fr---
ANGELINE: (jamming her phone in her pocket) I said I don’t want any fucking wine. Jesus Christ, can you do anything useful?
WALLACE: (hurt) Hey, what is that supposed to---
ANGELINE: You just stood there, doing nothing.
SUSAN: And what precisely was he supposed to do, Angeline?
ANGELINE: I don’t know, something. (pause) I’m sure David would have done something.

Spotlight on Angeline, still standing to the left of the couch. Wallace and Susan are cast into darkness and don’t register that she is speaking.

ANGELINE: The first time Susan showed up with David on her arm, I thought: there’s a man who knows how a woman likes to be treated. I actually started to blush, the first time he looked at me … All Wallace does is play his little computer games and brings home his little paycheck. He’s always so eager to please, with his flowers and his quiches and his cunnilingus. When we first met I thought it was adorable the way he doted on me, but now I just think it’s pathetic. But David …he’s so confident, so decisive. When he’s talking to you, it’s like everyone else just sort of melts away.   He commands your full attention. In the same situation, David would have known what to do. He’s a real man of action.

SUSAN: Hmmm, I’m sure.

Lights come up. Angeline sits down on the left side of the couch.

ANGELINE: What is that supposed to mean?
SUSAN: It means that the only thing that David knows how to do is look after David. He has a powerful sense of … self-preservation.
ANGELINE: That’s a cruel thing to say. He’s your husband.
SUSAN: Marriage is a cruel thing.
WALLACE: Why don’t we just call his cell? Maybe he’s at home or waiting at the restaurant.
ANGELINE: God, Wallace, don’t you think I’ve tried that? I’ve called five times already. If he was alright, he would pick up. (pause) He usually picks up.
SUSAN: Oh, I’m sure he does. David’s always been good at picking up.

Spotlight on Susan, who stands up in front of the couch. Wallace and Angeline are cast into darkness and don’t register her speaking.

SUSAN: Of course I know about it. It’s been going on for nine months, at least, a year maybe. I remember the first time David came home from (finger quotes) a “late night at the office” smelling like Magnolia Acqua Di Parma. There is only one person I know arrogant enough to buy themselves a two hundred dollar bottle of perfume. Hell, I was with her when she bought it. ‘Just a little treat,’ she said. (pause) I guess I wasn’t totally surprised. I mean, I remember what Angeline was like in college. It wasn’t enough to have men lined up outside her door; she wanted the men lined up at the other girl’s doors, too. Such an exaggerated sense of self-worth. And I knew, obviously I knew, that David had a wandering eye. I just didn’t think it would wander so close to home.
WALLACE: Is anyone hungry?

Lights come up.

SUSAN: I’m a little peckish, actually.
WALLACE: (opening fridge) Let’s see … we have some peppers and spinach, lots of eggs. Oh, and I have a nice block of Gruyere, I could make frittatas.
SUSAN: (sitting down, folding skirt under her) Mmm, that sounds delicious.
ANGELINE: Oh, for Christsakes.
WALLACE: Well, I’m sorry, I mean, we never did make it to dinner.
ANGELINE: Leave it to you to think of your stomach at a time like this. You act like such a child, sometimes.
WALLACE: I’m sorry … I …

Spotlight on Wallace, standing behind the island. Angeline and Susan are cast into darkness and don’t register him speaking.
WALLACE: I just worry sometimes that she’s losing interest in me. She’s just been so distant lately. I try to do everything I can to make her happy, but … Last month I made her this special dinner, as a surprise, and I told her not to make plans. I cooked all her favourite things – roast rack of lamb with a sage and walnut crust, potato fondant, wilted endive. I even made a Sacher Torte for dessert. I’d spent weeks researching recipes and had to take the day off work to prepare everything and bought flowers and drove all over town looking for the perfect wine. When she didn’t come home by dinner time, I called her. She said she was working late and when I asked when she’d be home, she said I was smothering her and accused me of being needy. I mean, I know her work is stressful, but ...
ANGELINE: So that’s it? We’re just going to do nothing?

Lights come up.

WALLACE: We could call City Services. They would have access to the sewer system, right?
ANGELINE: What the hell does that have to do with anything?
WALLACE: Well, I mean, er, if he fell down a manhole or someth---
ANGELINE: Jesusfuckingchrist, Wallace. I told you before. There was no manhole. There was no storm drain. David did not run off into the bloody woods.
SUSAN: Where do you suppose he is now then, Angeline?
ANGELINE: I don’t know, I don’t know.
WALLACE: I don’t get it. Why don’t we just go out and look for him?
ANGELINE: (mimicking) Why don’t we go look for him? Are you crazy? Or just stupid? I’m not going back out there, with that … that …

Spotlight on Angeline, who stands in front of the couch. Wallace and Susan are cast into darkness and don’t register her speaking

ANGELINE: David and I were walking a few paces ahead. Susan and Wallace were behind us, talking about something dull, probably. David had rented a room at the Waterfront Grand for Tuesday afternoon and he was telling me about all the things he was going to do to me. Things that Susan would certainly never engage in and Wallace wouldn’t have the balls to try. I kept shushing him, but really, that’s part of the excitement, that we could get caught at any time. Just as we reached the edge of the park, just a few feet away from the bench where we made out for the first time, David just sort of stops and inhales sharply. And then … the sidewalk in front of him just … opens up. There’s this terrible grinding sound … a bright flash … and these, these… hands, these pale hands reach up and … they drag David down into the earth. It happened so fast. I reached for him, but … he was gone. The sidewalk sealed itself up again. He was gone.

WALLACE: Are you sure you don’t want something to drink, Sweetie?

Lights come up

ANGELINE: (collapsing onto the couch) Okay, you win Wallace. I’ll have that drink now.

WALLACE: Coming right up!
Wallace takes a wine glass from the cupboard and fills it from a bottle of wine he takes from the fridge. He hands it to Angeline.
ANGELINE: I feel so helpless. We should be doing something, calling someone.
SUSAN: If you’re going to call anyone, call a priest.
ANGELINE: How can you be so cold?
SUSAN: God works in mysterious ways. Who am I to question the wisdom of our Lord and Saviour?

Spotlight on Susan, who rises from the couch. Wallace and Angeline are cast into darkness and don’t register her speaking

SUSAN: It happened just the way I’d pictured it. (beat) I spoke to a lawyer a few months back and told him the full extent of the situation. The lawyer told me that even though David was an adulterer, even though he was fucking the woman who I once called my best friend, I would be entitled to nothing. No fault divorce, they call it now. But if he were to die unexpectedly, from an accident or something, or if he were to disappear… Obviously, a car accident or stroke would have been a more practical solution, but when I closed my eyes, this is exactly the way I’d pictured it. I fell in love with the irony of the image. David’s
 parents are very religious and he’s always resented them for it. He told me that, as a teenager, they hung a vivid, full-colour painting of Hell above his bed, in order to discourage him from masturbating. I guess it’s no wonder that he developed such a skewed attitude towards sex. (pause) I feel sorry for him in a way. I know it’s not very becoming, but seeing Angeline in such anguish puts a little spring in my step.

ANGELINE: I just feel so numb.

Lights come up.

SUSAN: Have you ever considered the power of prayer?

ANGELINE: Shut your mouth.
WALLACE: Should I still make frittatas or …
SUSAN: I understand the Buddhists have some interesting things to say about karma. (smirks) Perhaps you should read up.
ANGELINE: I can’t believe you’re … you’re celebrating?
SUSAN: Interesting you should say that, Angeline … maybe you could explain to dear Wallace and I what exactly it is that you think I’m celebrating.
ANGELINE: (rising) Don’t you dare drag him into this.
WALLACE: Um, does anyone need another drink? Sue, can I top you up?
SUSAN: (standing) Thanks, Wally dear. I’ll do it myself. That last one was a little weak.
Susan walks to the island and places her glass on the counter, then walks to the fridge and puts her hand on the handle.
ANGELINE: This is all your fault. You wanted this to happen!
WALLACE: I’m so confused, I don’t understand.
SUSAN: All I ever wanted was for everyone to get what they deserve.

Susan opens the fridge and a bright light shines from the interior. She gasps and her hands fly up to her chest, as a rumbling, grinding sound pours out.


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