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ďThe MoresĒ A Utopian Family

Written 21 December 2010 for the BRAVE NEAR WORLD English Theatre Berlin's Ten-minute Play Contest, 12-19 March 2011. It was a runner up again. There are a number of references in the play to Thomas More's actual book Utopia.

Sophie: Mother of the family. Wants to have the perfect family.

Thomas: Father of the family. Has his ideals and expectations too.

Jessica: Teenage daughter. Hooked on her cell phone.

Jason: Teenage son. Hooked on computer games.

The home of the More family in the not too distant future. Thomas is sitting in an easy chair reading the paper. Jessica is sprawled on the couch texting on her cell phone. Her sneakers are within reach. Jason is at the desk behind a PC (monitor faces away from audience, Internet modem within view) engrossed in an online video game (e.g. WoW). The childrenís backpacks are also within reach. Kitchen table at up centre.

All wear simple and neat modern clothing. The color is about uniform for all, possibly a pastel tone.

Sophie enters. She is carrying several bags of groceries, which she drops on the kitchen table, up center.

Sophie: (cheerfully) Hello everybody! Oh, itís so nice to be home! How is my lovely family doing? Jessica, please pick up your sneakers. (Jessica, without looking away from her cell phone, reaches over, picks up her sneakers, lifts them about a foot, and then drops them again.) So, who is going to help put away the groceriesÖ?

No reaction from the kids. Thomas gets up slowly from the chair, still reading the paper he moves to the table. Puts the paper down.

Thomas: Hi Sophie. (Kisses her on the cheek and begins taking groceries out of the bag.) Whatís for supper?

Sophie: Actually, I was expecting the kids to unpack, Thomas. More help certainly would be appreciated here Ė Jessica, Jason!

Jessica: Not now, gotta send this text now.

Jason: Not now, almost to level seven!

Sophie: Please, why do I have to ask every time? You know, every able-bodied member of this family has to do his or her share of the work. (Jessieís cell phone rings.) Those are easy, reasonable rules.

Jessica: Iím on the phone, Mom! (Chats into the phone.) Hi! Ö What she say? Ö No Ö Thatís just like herÖ (Her voice fades Ė continues conversation in pantomime away from family.)

Thomas: Why is it that every time sheís suppose to do some chores her cell phone rings?

Sophie: You donít suppose sheís sending off some text for someone to call her right away?

Thomas: Who knows? OK, Jason, you help then, please.

Sophie: Actually, Iíd prefer heíd go out and shovel the snow. Doesnít look like heís done it yet today. Jason, it is your turn to shovel the snow today.

Jason: Not now, Iím almost to level seven!

Thomas: Jason, the snow will be up to level seven if you arenít out there soon!

Jason: What level, Dad? Centimeters or inches?

Sophie: Jason!

Thomas: Letís not get fresh here! You know there is no app for shoveling snow.

Jason: You wish.

Thomas: I wish you would do your share of the chores.

Jason: Seems like this household has its two slaves. How much did you pay for us?

Thomas: Slaves!? Oh, come on, you guys are acting like you are guests here.

Sophie: Look, the laws are simple in this family.

Jason: Yes, mother. (Heís heard this so often.)

Sophie: All we have is yours too. You get free care. Everyone is fed the same. And all we ask for is a little bit of cooperation in return. That rule is simple. Are we asking for too much work here?

Jason: Hey, I got six hours of work every day. Thatís enough! I want my leisure time.

Thomas: Your work would be great, Jason, if youíd really learn a trade. First carpentry, then metalsmithing and masonry, but why canít you stick with it?

Jason: Dad, not now, Iím trying to get level seven! (Concentrates on the game again.)

Thomas: I see. (To Sophie, sarcastically) Is euthanasia also permitted for terminal laziness?

Sophie: Thomas! Oh, why did we ever buy him a computer?

Thomas: So that he could use it to learn something during his leisure time.

Sophie: Now heís online all the time. Canít we take the computer back?

Thomas: Nope, heís replaced our olí PC with a computer of his own.

Sophie: I thought we were sharing everything here.

Thomas: Not his box Ė heís not letting anyone near that.

Sophie: Jessie, please. Canít you continue that later?

Jessica: Mo Ė om!

Sophie: Seem like that cell phone has grown permanently onto your hand.

Jessica: (Into phone) Later. (Hangs up)

Sophie: Do you know how many hundred text messages you send last month? Over three hundred!

Jessica: Three hundred, thatís all? Tracey does over a thousand. (Cell phone beeps) Hey, thereís one more from her. Letís seeÖ

Sophie: Jessie, donít ignore me now.

Jessica: MoĖom!

Sophie: Iím speaking with you now, child.

Jessica: Yeah, just so that you can criticize me.

Sophie: Oh Jessie, thatís not true.

Jessica: Yes it is: All you do is criticize me all the time.

Thomas: No, not all the time. Last Tuesday, for example, she did not criticize you between 4 and 5 oíclock.

Jessica: DaĖad!

Thomas: In fact, she said something quite approving. What was it, Sophie? Something about celibacy?

Sophie: Right. I said it was good how Jessica was keeping celibate, and not bringing any strange boys into the house. Premarital sex would be such a shame.

Jessica: Thatís cause of you, I canít bring no-one home; youíd scare them away every time. I just canít get any boyfriends. Besides, you make me have the cell phone on all the time so you can track me all over the place.

Sophie: Not Ďno-oneí.

Jessica: Huh?

Sophie: No-one is wrong: You mean to say: ďI canít bring anyone home.Ē

Jessica: There you go criticizing me again.

Sophie: I just want the best for you, my dear.

Jessica: Oh, youíre such a sanctimommy!

Sophie: Sanctimommy?! Me? No, no, sorry, but that is not correct either. A sanctimommy is a mother who is especially critical of other mothers. If anything, Iím a super-mommy.

Jessica: So, what are you trying to do? Have that perfect family? (Does quotation signs with fingers at Ďperfectí.)

Sophie: Well, thatís what Iím at least striving for.

Jessica: Well, there seems to be no place (i.e. ďUtopiaĒ) for that in this house.

Sophie: But still I hope this house would at least be a good place (i.e. ďEutopiaĒ).

Thomas: You children just donít know how good youíve got it.

Sophie: We provide you with decent clothing. (Jessica rolls her eyes) Ė Jessica, donít roll your eyes at me. (Jessica pantomimes pulling her eyeballs out of their sockets and rolling them to her mother, who isnít aware of this gesture.) Besides, weíve taught you how to weave and make your own clothes.

Thomas: When I was your age, Jason, I had to walk two miles to get to the Internet!

Jason: (incredulously) Yeah, duh. Hey, can we get some food over here? Iím starving!

Thomas picks up a can of (possibly dog) food and is about to throw it at Jason. Sophie stops him by putting her hand on his arm.

Sophie: Look, we worked so hard to also do our part to gentrify this neighborhood, to make it safe and nice for all the children.

Thomas: So, why canít you two also be above average like all the other kids?

Jessica and Jason are no longer paying attention. They must have heard this all before. Sophie and Thomas gradually move to meet stage down center.

Sophie: Things have progressed so much since we were young: We have a woman as a president now and weíll have universal health care soon.

Thomas: You really think so?

Sophie: Well, yes, we can Ö achieve it soon, Iím sure.

Thomas: And priests can get married now. You should be glad, kids, otherwise I wouldnít have been able to hitch up with your mother, and who would have begat you then?

Sophie: But remember, the hardest part though was for you to get that divorce first, right monsignor?

Thomas: (with reverence) These are times of peace.

Sophie: Mankind is living rationally.

Thomas: Wealth is shared fairly and no-one is starving.

Sophie: So, why canít we get this through to our kids?

Thomas: Poor parenting skills?

Sophie: Oh, Thomas, no Ė I donít know. Why canít they appreciate life?

Sophie and Thomas stop and look at each other, look at the kids, and then look at each other again. After a slight pause, as if on cue, they split: Sophie goes to Jessica and snatches the cell phone while Thomas goes to the computer and yanks off the modem. Sophie crosses down right clutching the cell phone to her chest as Thomas crosses down left with the modem tight under his arm. They face the audience stoically and donít show any reaction in the following. After a couple of seconds in shock, the children break out in a tirade.

Jessica: Aaaaaiiiii Ė my phone!!

Jason: What the fuck!

Jessica and Jason overlap each other in the following dialog and may adlib a little as well.

Jessica: Gimme back my phone!

Jason: Hey, I was almost at level seven!

Jessica: Hey, donít you hear me?

Jason: Now youíve ruined everything!

Jessica: Is that what you want to do now? The silent treatment?

Jason: I gotta start all over again!

Jessica: Well, if thatís what you want, I ainít gonna talk to you no more either!

Jason: Iíve had it with you guys.

Jessica: Iím getting out of here. (Slips into her sneakers.)

Jason: This place is the pits.

Jessica: You wanna know where Iím going?

Jason: And I donít mean those friggen pits from the plums we gotta pick every damn year.

Jessica: I betcha do!

Jason: This house is soooo dull!

Jessica: I donít have to tell you, but Iím gonna anyhow.

Jason: Why canít I just do what I wanna do around here?

Jessica: I know a guy.

Jason: Well, Iím going where thereís some excitement.

Jessica: Heís got a bar.

Jason: Iím off to AfghanistanÖ

Jessica: Said I can stay with him anytime. (Grabs her backpack.)

Jason: Öto join the Taliban. (Grabs his backpack.)

Jessica: Have a nice rest of your life. (Exits; door slams.)

Jason: Maybe youíll hear from me again someday Ö in the news. (Exits; door slams.)

Sophie and Thomas remain motionless for a few moments longer.

Sophie: (As in a daze) Are they gone?

Thomas: Yes.

Sophie: What have we done? (Faces Thomas.)

Thomas: Sophie, we are alone. (Faces Sophie.)

They walk slowly towards each other solemnly putting their respective devices aside on the way. They embrace and Sophie buries her face in Thomasís shoulder and begins sobbing. Thomas consoles her by patting her head silently. However, after a few moments her sobbing turns into giggling and laughing.

Sophie: (Looking up, happily) Are they gone?

Thomas: Yes.

Sophie: What have we done?

Thomas: Sophie, we are alone!

Sophie: Finally; Free!

They spin each other around as in a fast dance with shouts of glee. Breaking apart, they give each other a high-five.

Thomas: Let me go get the snow shovel.

Sophie: Oh Thomas, you can shovel the snow later own. (Pats her husband loving on the chest.)

Thomas: No, no, I want to clear out the kidsí room.

Sophie: That can wait till later too, monsignor. (Kisses him passionately.)

Lights down