category: full length one-act
running time: one hour forty-five minutes
setting: various locations around the San Francisco Bay Area
Chester, a former business man
Imogen, his ex-girlfriend, a writer
Hugo, their good friend from Tucson
Deva, his housemate
Xavier, his boyfriend
Aurillio, another guy Hugo is seeing
Hamish, yet another guy Hugo is seeing
Lisa, his best friend, who starts seeing Hugo
Jenny, her ex-girlfriend
Trent, her husband, who is friends with Chester and Hugo
Chester has just sold his video store in Tucson and decides to visit Hugo, a child-hood friend who now lives in San Francisco off of a trust fund and occasional drug deals. While the two of them meet up with their other long-time friend Trent at a bar in the East Bay, Trent’s wife Jenny confesses to Imogen, Chester’s ex, that she hates her six month old baby and Imogen admits that she’s avoiding Chester, who was hoping to see her while he’s in town (she’s also there for a book signing). Hugo picks up Lisa at the bar, thinking she’s a stranger, only to realize after they’ve had sex that she is Jenny’s former college girlfriend. The connection between them, however, appears to be deeper than either first suspect and they begin a tentative relationship, much to the chagrin of Xavier, Hugo’s primary partner. Chester finds himself ignored by Hugo and bonding with Deva, Hugo’s roommate, who talks him into letting go of Imogen after the two run into each other at a bookstore where she’s autographing books. The bookstore is run by Hamish, Lisa’s best friend, who befriends Xavier after the two of them verbally fence with Aurillio, a recovering drug addict that Hugo has been sleeping with who abandons his much older boyfriend to restart his life in New York City. Imogen and Chester re-unite in the airport after she confesses she pretended to have a new boyfriend because she was worried Chester’s lack of ties to Tucson would force her to finally admit they should try getting back together. Lisa ultimately dumps Hugo and confronts Jenny in public over their past affair. Hugo and Xavier reconcile themselves to the unusual nature of their relationship. Jenny and Trent strike a deal that she’ll go to therapy if he’s allowed to smoke weed, and as the play ends it seems she’s beginning to finally bond with the baby, who they have ironically named Cain.
If Exiled was a breakthrough play for me (and it was), then Edenites is a marker of just how far I’ve come in my writing. It was, as of its first production in June of 2011, the most mature play I had ever written- despite being a romantic comedy with very little in the way of “serious issues”. Not that it avoids social commentary because the play is rife with it: Deva admitting that she mostly only concerns herself with social awareness when she can consume at the same time, Jenny’s completely understandable but misplaced anger at her child for “ruining” her life, Hugo’s aimless laziness supported by money he didn’t have to make himself, and Hamish’s closing monologue about the desire to do good in the world versus the fear that all good intentions ultimately are rooted in selfish desires. The fact that all of these people are struggling with problems that are, to put it bluntly “First World Problems” point, in what I like to fancy is a Chekovian manner, to what the play is really about: namely entitlement and the insecurity that entitlement is usually a cover for. Particularly insecurity over whether one really does matter in the great (or even small) scheme of things. The part where the characters are all based on people I know (including myself) in addition to being drawn from past plays (Exiled, We Wrote This With You In Mind, Late Lunch, etc.) makes the commentary more rich not just because it’s ruthlessly real but because I sincerely love all these people and their ridiculous, sheltered lives. I love the idea that the heroes of the Exiled, which focused so much on the alienation that can exist in a group of friends, have all grown up to become people who mostly fit in- and they’re now uncomfortable with having become more or less comfortable in the world. This is true of so many people I know, particularly the smart sensitive ones that know the rest of the world isn’t so lucky. And if I fail to dramatize the rest of the world in this play, that’s very much a choice: the anxiety that permeates the play and is the source of much of the humor is all the more compelling, I think, because it’s never precisely named and really, who likes to be reminded how lucky they are when they’re in the midst of their own personal drama? Rather like Exiled before it, this play was fortunate enough to get an early production full of people who not only loved the material but deeply related to it. Conversations during the process convinced me to change the ending and retool several scenes right before we opened, and the script is markedly better for it. The original production- simple, strong and wrenchingly sincere- made people laugh and cry, and it pissed off more than a few who either didn’t get it or did and hated that they were being asked to sympathize with such self-absorbed but charming people. I’d even go a step farther and say the people who were the most vocal about not liking the show were usually people who felt excluded by it or worse- dramatized, but not in a way they wanted to be depicted. But I wasn’t looking to romanticize the world I live in when I wrote Edenites; I was looking to capture it. The right people, I have found, are the ones who understand that I just happen to (thankfully) live in an incredibly romantic world.
No Nude Men Productions, June 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 2011 at the EXIT Stage Left, EXIT Theatre, in San Francisco, California. Directed by Stuart Bousel; Art Direction by Cody Rishell; Lighting by Wil Turner IV; Sound by James Lively; Tech Direction by Edna Barron; Stage Managed by Chris Quintos Cathcart. Cast: Kai Morrison (Hugo), Ryan Hebert (Chester), Kirsten Broadbear (Lisa), Brian Martin (Xavier), Megan Briggs (Jenny), Ben Kruer (Trent), Xanadu Bruggers (Imogen), Kira Shaw (Deva), John Caldon (Aurillio), Christopher Struett (Hamish)