Binoculars

(An art gallery)

 

Sarah:

These binoculars don’t work that well in this light.  Is that a donkey I see?

 

Anne:

Aren’t they your husband’s?   Why don’t you try these?  Here.

 

Sarah:

No. Wait.  It’s a donkey.  Maybe a horse but....let’s see the program.   It doesn’t

say donkey here.  It says,  ‘Salvador Dali constructed impressions through Surreal

Automatism that infused his canvass with  panoramic...’

 

Anne:

They are elephants.  Thin-legged elephants.   Here, these are for gallery viewing...

 

Sarah:

No.  No.  Maybe it looks different up close.  Excuse me.  Excuse me.  (to herself)

They are elephants.  Why did I think they were donkeys?

 

Anne:

Did he get home late again?

 

Sarah:

He didn’t come home at all.  This morning like last week.   I went down to the

kitchen... I had to meet you down here...take the kids...

 

Anne:

Is it her again?

 

Sarah:

Why am I seeing donkeys instead of elephants?  He’s with her again, yes.  With her

just like that after we talked.  Could I be this stupid?!   Golf game with friends?   I

haven’t seen any of his friends in months!

                                                                                                                                   

Anne:

Look.   Here.  Use these.  You see, Dali worked to his death...

 

Sarah:

No.  I can’t...he just can’t tell the truth!  Why elephants?                             

                                                                                                                                   

(Anne begins to answer but Sarah runs into a foyer between two viewing rooms)

 

Anne:

(catching up to her) I can’t believe you.  Why are you running?  Can’t be that man is worth all of this?

 

Sarah:

How would you feel?

 

Anne:

Feel?   How would I feel? (pulls a matchbook from her pocket)  I found it last Thursday and called the number.  I said “Hello.”  Well, not the first time.  The first time I called...

 

Sarah:

You called?!

 

Anne:

The first time.  Next time I said, “Hello. Good evening.  I’m calling to offer to renew your membership to the Gallery of Art.”

 

Sarah:

You called.  What did you say?

                                                                                                                                   

Anne:

I got her answering service.

 

Sarah:

What number did you leave?

 

Anne:

I didn’t.  But he’s been going out of town alot.

 

Sarah:

Is she from here?

 

Anne:

I don’t know.

 

Sarah:

It’s awful.  I can’t do this anymore with the kids and him...

 

Anne:

And she may be a nun for all I know but he’s been bringing flowers home when he returns.

                                                                                   

Sarah:

The liar!

 

Anne:

And I want it to end.  Now that my kids are older and away at school.

                                                                                                                                   

Sarah:

Let’s look at the Van Gogh.

 

Anne:

It’s not here.  That’s at...

 

Sarah:

The Schubert?

 

Anne:

He brought Birds of Paradise.  With Fuscia and Baby’s Breath.  Schubert’s next week.  Music! Sarah!  Schubert’s music!  I put them out in the garden moonlight.  And Gladiolas moist with the morning dew...

 

Sarah:

Sorry.  I...

                                                                                                                       

Anne:

I didn’t think you’d...Schubert?  How could you think the music of  Schubert is something you look at.   I told you it’s a concert.  Not here!

 

Sarah:

They always have music here.  You always think...

 

Anne:

How, tell me how  you can think Schubert’s belongs or is in an art gallery?! (moving towards Sarah)  And take those stupid  things off!

 

Sarah:

(stepping back) You invited me!  You said to come down.

 

Anne:

Gorgeous flowers.  Long, scented roses. Our anniversary.  Spring orchids like the ones he left at the cabin door when we went north one weekend.   

 

Sarah:

At least you have that.  At least...                                                                                                                             

Anne:

How can I leave?   I can’t leave. How?                                                                                                                                 

Sarah:

Sh!  Sh! (hushing Anne because other gallery patrons are beginning to overhear them)

                                                                                                                                   

Anne:

Oh I don’t care!  I’m not going to be like you on this! 

 

Sarah:

 (taking Anne by the arm)  Come on, let’s look at that one.

 

Anne:

No!  No! I’m not taking it...

 

Sarah: 

Sh!  (whispering intensely)  Anne! Come!  (Sarah tries to pull Anne away)

                                                                                                                                   

Anne:

 (Anne breaks free of her and goes back to the room with the Dali painting) Why elephants?  (looking again at the program)   It doesn’t say why he used elephants?

 

Sarah: 

 (chasing after her) We’ve already looked at this.   (noticing a crowd gathering)  Let’s go to the other room.       

 

Anne:

 (screaming out loud so everyone can hear)   Why did Dali use elephants?

 

Sarah:

Anne.  Anne! Come on.  Let’s go! 

 

Anne: 

Mr. Elephants!  Mr. Spanish elephants!  Here he is folks!   See the man who

didn’t know a donkey from a horse!  A horse from a monkey and a painting from

a circus!  Mr. Dali!  Come and get it!  Step right up!

 

Sarah:

Anne. I have to go.  The kids are getting out of school. (Sarah pushes Anne out

of the Dali room but as she does Anne struggles and gets free)                                                                                                                                 

Anne:  

Get your peanuts!  Get your art! Just roll over like Little Miss Whiney Dead Duck

Soccer Mom Blues! (Anne’s rustling has placed them in front of the Dali painting again)

 

Sarah:

Anne!  (grabbing her by the arm again)  The kids....   The kids.

 

Anne:

You want to know why this man used elephants?                                                                                                                            

Sarah:

I thought you knew.

 

Anne:

I didn’t say I knew.

                                                                                                                                   

Sarah:  

The program says, ‘Salvador Dali created impressions...’

 

Anne: 

Take those stupid things off!  Off! Off! Off!

 

Sarah: 

Elephants?!  Why did Dali use elephants?!

 

Anne: 

I don’t... know......Nobody knows.

 

 

*****

"Comedy doesn't need alot of character dileniation. Joseph Maviglia put two women in an art gallery in 'Binoculars' and got plenty of laughs just by mingling their puzzlement over a painting of Salvador Dali with their confusion about what to do with their cheating husbands.... the jazz idiom was cool enough for this airing of private woe in a high-toned public space, and a cue in Maviglia's text gave composer Payne enough reason to make a smart Schubertian feint near the end."

 

-Robert Everett-Green

The Globe and Mail

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