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Excerpt from my Produced Work love-play

Although many of my play translations
have been produced, and several other
original plays have received staged readings
and/or varying degrees of "development,"
love-play is my only fully produced work.
It received two separate German productions
in 1969—71 and was performed in Cologne, Bonn,
Flensburg, Regensberg, and Munich. It was
published and represented in Berlin by Kiepenheuer
Bühnenvertrieb (Dr. Maria Sommer).

Some excerpts from German reviews
follow the scene presented below.

This two-person play is essentially
a series of erotic games, incorporating
film and other mixed-media
effects, played by a couple to enrich
their emotional and sexual pleasure.
Here is one of those games:

RALPH: You're the one complaining now. Come on, let's just get started and we'll take away all the pain.

MONA: You make it sound like a cure-all.

RALPH: It is. It's nothing less than a panacea—if only we could bottle it and sell it.

(like a circus barker)

Ladies and Gentlemen, step right up, Professor Strumpf's fabulous cure-all, direct from the spas of Baden-Baden and Vienna.

MONA: There are no spas in Vienna.

RALPH: Uh yes. When I said spas, I really meant psychiatry. There's plenty of that in Vienna.

MONA: You always find a way out.

RALPH: Step right up (as I was saying before I was interrupted), step right up, ladies and gentlemen, does your husband suffer from cerebral obesity, is your wife beginning to wear thin around the buttocks? No, no, you can bring the children too, there's nothing to be afraid of, it's all in the very best of taste, by all means bring the children, they may be better at it than you, at least until we've taught you the method. This is it, ladies and gentlemen, the once in a lifetime opportunity to find out the ultimate answer to all your problems without jumping off a cliff, Step right up, ladies and...

MONA Alright, here's my money.

RALPH: Well, we converted you quickly enough, didn't we?

MONA: Do I get a chance to choose which one at least?

RALPH: Of course not. That's my privilege. Unless I were kind enough to grant you that luxury.

MONA: Will you?

RALPH: Not a chance.

MONA: Alright, then choose.

RALPH: That' s just what I'm doing. I choose ... Mysterious Foreigner.

MONA: Oh no! Not that one...

RALPH: You heard me: Mysterious Foreigner.

MONA: But it's such a cliché.

RALPH: Get ready.

MONA: (sighs) Alright. Go ahead and tell me. Where and when?

RALPH: In a train compartment. The when doesn't matter. Last year if you like. Or tomorrow.

MONA: I don't know why I bother.

RALPH: Get to work. You're sitting in a train compartment.

MONA: But that's no good—it's too crowded. We need a compartment to ourselves.

RALPH: This one's empty. There's no one there but you.

MONA: You haven't been travelling on the continent lately.

RALPH: Mona, I don't think you have the right attitude.

MONA: Well, what attitude should I have? As long as we're going through with this, we might as well choose something exciting.

RALPH: (insisting) Mysterious Foreigner! It's not the subject matter—it's the way you do it that counts.

MONA: Please, Ralph, remember the old days, we used to start the movie camera going and climb into bed. I mean, if you're going to do the old ones, then why not one of those?

RALPH: Another time, Mona. You can set up the film later. Right now it is Mysterious Foreigner, and I am entering your compartment.

(MONA sits on a hard-backed chair as though it were a seat in a train compartment. We can almost feel the movement. Perhaps RALPH puts on a tape or record simulating the noise of a train in motion. RALPH pantomimes opening the door of a continental train compartment.)

RALPH: (with slight accent) Excuse me, is this compartment empty?

(MONA looks up, remains silent)

RALPH: Excuse me, I was wondering if this compartment is empty.

MONA: You can see for yourself.

RALPH: Yes, that Is what I thought. (comes "in") I hope it will not disturb you. May I put my luggage up here? (pause) Next to yours?

MONA: Wherever you wish.

RALPH: Ah, thank you. You are very kind. Have you been on the train very long? (sits down by her)

(MONA remains silent. She reads a magazine)

RALPH: I am very sorry. Have you been on the train a long time?

(MONA reads, remains silent)

RALPH: Yes, I dare say you have. Where did you say you were bound for?

MONA: I didn't.

RALPH: That's right, you didn't, did you?
(still silent, she turns a page)

RALPH: Still—it would have been interesting to know.
 (she turns away)

MONA: I am going to Milano, if that is of any importance to you, Monsieur.

RALPH: Ah, Milano! How delightful! I myself am bound for Bucharest, but I was thinking about breaking my journey in Milano. In order to rest. Perhaps to seek some diversion.

MONA: I wish you good fortune, Monsieur. (stiffly)

RALPH: Ah, Milano! Such a delightful city! Surely it is one of the most delightful cities in the world. Do you not find it so?

MONA: Really? It's the first I've heard of it. Indeed, it has been described as the Pittsburgh of Italy.

RALPH: Ah, but it is clear that you have not seen the real Milano. Let me tell you, Mademoiselle, behind those cold, unyielding buildings, behind the moist and nasty weather, behind the every-day bad manners of the Milanese, there lies yet another Milano still unknown to you. I would consider myself privileged if I might show it to you.

MONA: That is very kind of you, Monsieur. There are only two little things which bother me.

RALPH: And what may they be, Mademoiselle, these two little things?

MONA: Why is it, Monsieur, if you are really bound for Bucharest as you say you are, Monsieur, why is it that you are going by way of Milano, Monsieur? Surely this is not the direct way, Monsieur.

RALPH: Ah, but it is, I swear it, Mademoiselle. Strange are the ways of the railway.

MONA: But surely this train does not go to both Milano and Bucharest, Monsieur.

RALPH: Ah, but it does, I am certain. It is a very long trip. And in any case, as I have already told you, I mean to break my journey in Milano.

MONA: Ah, perhaps that is true. You make me feel more serene. There is only one other thing which worries me.

RALPH: Ah, but what is it, Mademoiselle? Say only what it is, and I will explain.

MONA: It is this, Monsieur. Why is it, if you are travelling to Bucharest and I to Milano, why is it that we call each other Monsieur and Mademoiselle? Why is this, Monsieur?

RALPH: Ah, that is a very good question, Mademoiselle. (a pause) It is of course possible that we are both French.

MONA: Possible but unlikely. I for one am certainly not French.

RALPH: Nor am I. I was merely suggesting... Ah, I know...perhaps it is a mark of courtesy that we so address each other. Of courtesy and diplomacy.

MONA: Ah, that must be the reason. I am much reassured by your explanation, Monsieur. I see now that you are a person worthy of trust, and I was wrong to have doubted you.

RALPH: Ah, Mademoiselle, you are absolutely right. Perhaps when we arrive in Milano you will now take advantage of my offer.

MONA: Perhaps, Monsieur. I cannot say for certain.

RALPH: But why?

MONA: We are still many hours from Milano, and I will not know until we arrive.

RALPH: Ah yes, of course, Mademoiselle. Tell me, Mademoiselle, do you often travel alone?

MONA: Sometimes, Monsieur.

RALPH: I see. And does it sometimes happen, Mademoiselle, that you are sitting alone in a compartment and suddenly a strange man enters?

MONA: It could happen, Monsieur.

RALPH: And could it happen that he might sit beside you and put his hand on your knee, Mademoiselle? (does so)

MONA: It could happen, Monsieur.

RALPH: And could it happen that he might put his arm around your waist? (does so)

MONA: It could happen, Monsieur.

RALPH: And could it perhaps also happen that you might return these gestures which he has made towards you?

MONA: (stiffly) Never, Monsieur.

RALPH: Never. (withdraws his hand) Ah well, I was merely asking in the interests of science.

MONA: Of course, Monsieur.

RALPH: Ah yes, Mademoiselle. Tell me, it would seem, if I am to judge by your finger, that you are not married.

MONA: Not yet, Monsieur.

RALPH: I see. Tell me, Mademoiselle, how is it possible that you are still not married?

MONA: It is very simple, Monsieur. In my country a girl remains single until...until she marries.

RALPH: ...until she marries. Yes, that follows. But is it possible that you
do not have a fiancé?

MONA: Please, Monsieur, you make me blush.

RALPH: Please don't blush—it's bad for the blood vessels. Now tell me, your fiancé, perhaps you are going to meet him in Milano.

MONA: No, Monsieur, I have left him behind in my little village. Standing beside the well. And he is not my fiancé, but, how you say, my boyfriend. But why am I telling you this?

RALPH: I can't imagine.

MONA: It is very hard for a girl like me to leave my village and go to a great city like Milano. I am grateful to you, Monsieur, for your offer to assist me.

RALPH: Oh, think nothing of it. Uh,. tell me, your, how you say, boyfriend...

MONA: Ah! Why do you ask about him?

RALPH: Oh, I was just curious. Tell me, when you and he are alone together, do you sometimes . ..

MONA: (shocked) Ah, Monsieur!

RALPH: Well, I was merely wondering, your boyfriend and you, when you were alone...

MONA: (shocked) Ah, Monsieur!

RALPH: No, I mean it, when you and he...

MONA: (very shocked) Please, Monsieur! In my village it is forbidden for girl and boyfriend to be alone together.

RALPH: (out of character) Oh, now look, Mona, you are making this difficult!

MONA: Moná? Please—who is this Moná?

RALPH: This is too much!

MONA: I am a little girl from the village and I am going to Milano.

RALPH: So am I. I will show you La Scala, the Cathedral, the... uh, Corso Vittorio Emanuele.

MONA: (slightly out of character) The Corso Vittorio Emanuele? I have not heard of this street in Milano. Are you sure it exists?

RALPH: Of course it does. Every city in Italy has one. Please believe me—I will take care of you, I will protect you.
(tries to kiss her)

MONA: Please, Monsieur! What if the conductor comes for the tickets?

(they wrestle together

RALPH: He has already collected them.

MONA: No, he has not. You are mistaken, Monsieur.

RALPH: Yes, he has, I'm telling you.

MONA: Ah, but what if another passenger came in?

RALPH: This is my private compartment. I have hired it for the entire trip.

MONA: But that is impossible. (out of character) Ralph, you're rushing things.

RALPH: I beg your pardon, Mademoiselle.

MONA: Please, Monsieur, if this is your own private compartment, then why did you ask my permission to enter it?

RALPH: I was merely being polite.

MONA: (out of character) Oh no, Ralph. You're rushing it much too
fast. You can't change the rules like that.

RALPH: Who's changing the rules? You are in my compartment, and you are in my power. Why do you tremble, Mademoiselle?

MONA: You stay away from me! You can't change the rules!

RALPH: But I do not mean any harm.
(moves to embrace her)

MONA: Get away!
(jumps up, runs out of what might be regarded as legitimate
"compartment" area)

RALPH: You come back here! You come back in this compartment!

MONA: I won't!

RALPH: (chasing her around stage) That's not fair! You were in my power.

MONA: I was not.

RALPH: I was just about to take you!

MONA: Only by breaking the rules! You've got to be consistent! I demand consistency!

RALPH: There've been times when you wouldn't let that worry you.

MONA: Alright—maybe I was tired.

RALPH: You get back in the compartment!

(they are still chasing—she grabs a blanket from divan and covers RALPH with it as he charges)

MONA: I won't! Come on, we'll do a different one...

Some German reactions to this play:

Perhaps the best tribute to this play was its denunciation in Bonn by neo-nazi elements. Stickers which read as follows were placed on all posters advertizing love-play:

"Stop this scandalous decay of morals once and for all! We must return to the righteous and moral underlying principles of the basic laws of our West German Republic. Anarchy destroys democracy." (as reported in General-Anzeiger, 12-18-69)

"The play also affords some profound psychological reflections, a somewhat external but nonetheless amusing play with multi-media effects and a good portion of entertainment. In Regensburg we saw—presumably lured by the attractive title—very many young people in the theatre, an audience from those very circles which every theatre director longs to bring to the fore." (appeared in Schwäbische Zeitung, Münchner Merkur, & Berliner Tagesspiegel)

"On the performing side, this play has two spectacular roles (Paraderollen) to offer, which were admirably manned by the two players in an interplay rich with variations and modulations." (Fränkische Tagespost)

This play excerpt is Copyright © 1966
by Alexander Gross. It may be
reproduced for individuals and for
educational purposes only. It may
not be used for any commercial (i.e.,
money-making) purpose without
written permission from the author.
All Rights Reserved.

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