Endymion

category: full-length-play
genre: tragicomedy
running time: two hours
setting: a boarding house in Paris; various dreams and memories
period: contemporary

characters:
Adam Wallace, a young American man
Morgan, his mind, personified as an Edwardian Englishman
Robert, his heart, personified as a medieval Scotsman
Mrs. Wallace, his mother
Lucy Osborn, his best friend
Isaac, a mutual aquaintance
Nathan, Paul, Frank- various boys in love with Lucy
Kelsey, Tess- friends of Lucy
Yvonne Jourdain, the mistress of a Parisian boardinghouse
Hallah, her assistant, a Canadian
Ben, an American boarder, writing a novel
Gillian, an English boarder
Claude, a German boarder
Valeria, his Italian girlfriend
Selene, the Greek goddess of the moon

story:
Adam Wallace awakes in the living room of a Paris boarding house where he has journeyed to live out his last month alive in high style, fully intending to shoot himself on the next full moon as a gesture of passion towards Lucy Osborn, a childhood friend he is in love with. While waiting for the fateful day to arrive he banters with his own personal demons, manifest in the form of a bickering E.M. Forster and Robert the Bruce, takes in the local sights, and befriends the other residents, Gillian, Hallah, Claude, and Ben, the last of whom becomes his lover. Ben himself is another American on the run from an emotionally difficult past, whose own suicide was averted by chance and the realization that he didn’t really want to kill himself so much as re-invent himself. Adam takes solace in their companionship, but when the romance ends abruptly he finds himself alone in his room again, looking down the barrel of a gun. The full moon reaches its zenith and the goddess Selene, looking suspiciously like Lucy, materializes and talks Adam into holding on to life in spite of all the pain, including those tortured feelings over her own betrayal of him for a mutual friend, Isaac. Confronted with the truth behind his flight, Adam recognizes the absurdity of his reasoning and also how the greater value of his love affair with Lucy- or Ben, for that matter- can never be tainted. He puts the gun away.

author’s comments:
This play was a real transition piece, broadening the scope of my previous work, delving into darker emotional realms than ever before and yet maintaining a stalwart optimism and sense of humor, and pushing the meta-text of mythology and aesthetics about two steps farther than I’d ever taken it before. At the time I was writing this play I was very influenced by romantic literature and philosophy (as if I’m not now) and its influences are quite apparent, with references, overt and subtle, to Greek and Celtic mythology, A Room With A View, Dracula, Angels In America, Aida, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, Ayn Rand, Robert the Bruce, Byron, and a slew of other people and works, both fictional and historical. The enormous cast of characters, intended to be played by ten actors, includes a myriad of accents, cultural backgrounds and age-groups, displaying a much more global scope than any of my previous work. The blending of “reality” and “mythology” elements in the same piece really happened for the first time here- though I would vastly improve on it in Vincent of Gilgamesh, whose hero also finds his origins in the hero of this play. Everything about Endymion is very intentional, from the names of the characters on down, each one a literary reference, all the scenes arranged in a rigid structure from the number of characters present to where they fall in the arc of the plot. When I set out to write this show I was intending to do something bigger and more sweeping than anything I had done before and in that regards I definitely achieved my goals. The irony, of course, is that the best scenes tend to be the smaller ones, the little moments between people or individual character quirks the most memorable bits, with the romance between Ben and Adam, the friendship between Hallah and Gillian, and Ben and Gillian’s principal monologues being the highlights of the play. There are a couple of really haunting scenes surrounding Adam’s intended suicide, and aesthetically speaking the play offers some neat opportunities for a design team- especially scenery and lighting people, but it is a flawed work, though not unworthy of production, in my opinion. At the very least the characters are kind of fascinating, if a bit enigmantic, and the accents and identity changes offer a fun challenge to actors. As gay theater goes, and this comes tremblingly close for me, it’s abnormally cerebral and old-world romantic on an almost Merchant-Ivory level, but for companies interested in generating wonder over camp I definitely think it could be quite the sleeper success- Endymion reference fully intended.

Staged Readings:

Old Pueblo Playwrights, January 10, 1998, part of the 1998 New Plays Festival at the Tucson Center for the Performing Arts in Tucson, Arizona. Directed by Katherine Rosenberg; Costumes by Juli Golder; Lighting & Sound by Scott Blake. Cast: Tim Koch (Adam), John Doyle (Ben), Amelia Doyle (Lucy/Valeria/Selene), Jayne Culp (Gillian/Tess), Michael Hendrix (Claude/Isaac), Jesse Jones (Morgan), Ben Priam (Robert), Jasmine Koh (Hallah/Kelsey), Jennifer Treece (Yvonne/Mrs. Wallace), Werner James (Nathan/Paul/Frank)

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