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LIVES OF THE SAINTS.

Saints come in unexpected people and places. This one-act play affirms that if you're looking for the holy, be sure to check down in the church basement.

David Ives has an ear for language and how the words we use reveal so much more than we're even aware. His witty one-act plays have offered comic send-ups of urban dating patterns, wacky entrepreneurs, and the loneliness of a culture in thrall to television. In this short play, Ives listens fondly as two parish stalwarts prepare a post-funeral meal in a church basement in an ethnic enclave in Chicago. Says the author "This play is dedicated to my mother, Regina Roszkowski. Vivat! Vivat Regina!"

Totally bare stage--which will remain totally bare until noted. Edna enters up right and Flo enters up left as through swinging doors we do not see. There is a momentary burst of distant church funeral music as they enter, as if we are overhearing music from where they came from. Edna and Flo wear ancient flowered housedresses, spotless aprons, and loudly flapping, flattened slippers. Each carries something in her arms that we do not see. They cross passing each other. Chicago accents.

EDNA. You got da candle'ss, Flo?

FLO. I got da candle'ss. You got da doilese?

EDNA. I got da Saint Stanislas Kostka doilese.

FLO. Oll do da utensil'ss.

EDNA. Oll do da plate'ss. (They exit on opposite sides, again to that momentary burst of church music, but reenter immediately.) Opp, dat's da wrong side.

FLO. Opp, dat's da wrong side. By award-winning playwright DAVID IVES, who is best known for his evening of one-act comedies, All in the Timing.

EDNA. What'm I tinkin ...

FLO. What'm I tinkin ... (They recross and exit and we hear the or, rage noise ora hundred rattled utensils and a hundred clattering, plates. Edna and Flo reenter and again we hear that momentar), burst of church music.)

EDNA. OK, so we put out utensilss ...

FLO. An we put out da plate'ss ...

EDNA. Da candle'ss have ta be lit.

FLO. An' we got da Saint Stanislas Kostka doilese. (Edna heads counterclockwise, Flo clockwise as if around a large table we do not see. Edna goes to a stove at left that we do not see, and Flo to an invisible sideboard at right. Flo turns on an invisible handmixer and we hear "VRRRRRRR!" Edna taps an invisible wooden spoon on the side of an invisible pot and we hear "TAP, TAP, TAP." Then the two women move down center stage where side by side each woman turns a 'faucet" and they wash their hands under water we don't see but that we hear running.)

EDNA. Now dat was a very nice funeral.

FLO. Wasn't data beautyful funeral.

EDNA. I wouldn't mind having dat.

FLO. I wouldn't mind having dat for my funeral.

EDNA. But I will tell you a song I do not want sung at my funeral. Da t'eme from "Da Phantom of the Opera" is not appropriate.

FLO. An' not "Is That All There Is" needer.

EDNA. Omm traditional, Flo.

FLO. Omm traditional, too. (We hear the "DING!" of a kitchen timer.)

EDNA. Opp, dere's da cake. (They each turn a "faucet" and the water sound stops.)

FLO. Oll check da jello moldss.

EDNA. Oll check da cake. (Moving around the invisible table, Edna circles left, Flo circles right.)

FLO. Ha we doin' fer time?

EDNA. We got until da cemetery an back.

FLO. Plenny a time.

EDNA. Plenny a time. (Edna opens an oven door that we do not see, and we hear a "CREAK!" Flo opens an invisible refrigerator door.) Fi'e more minutes.

FLO. Fi'e more minutes. ("CREAK!" "BANG!")

EDNA. (Pointing to a "dish" on a "sideboard. ") OK, sa we did da patayta salad ...

FLO. (Pointing to another "dish" on a "sideboard.") Da green salad ...

EDNA. (Pointing elsewhere.) Fruit salad.

FLO. (Pointing elsewhere.) Cole slaw.

EDNA. (Pointing to a "table" at center stage.) Der's da apple slices.

FLO. (Pointing to "table.") Nut clusters.

EDNA. (Pointing to "table.") Cheese cake.

FLO. (Pointing to "oven.") Pond cake, crumb cake, angel food.

EDNA. (Pointing to "sideboard.") Krooshcheeki.

FLO. (Pointing elsewhere.) Kolachki.

EDNA. (Pointing to "table.") Krooler'ss.

FLO. (Pointing to "refrigerator.") Jello.

EDNA. (Pointing to "stove.") An prune'ss.

FLO. For 12 people?

EDNA. I tink it's enough.

FLO. (Heading for "sideboard" at right.) Der used to be pot holders down here with Saint Damien an da lepers.

EDNA. (Heading for "stove" at left.) Odda know what happened to dose lepers. (Edna stirs a "pot" while shaking in "salt" and we hear the "SPRINKLE, SPRINKLE." Flo at the counter turns on an invisible handmixer, and we hear its motor: "VRRRRRR!" Edna taps the 'pot" with a "wooden spoon": "TAP, TAP, TAP.")

EDNA. Plus we got da sossitch.

FLO. Der's da sossitch. ("SPRINKLE, SPRINKLE!" "VRRRRRR!" "TAP, TAP, TAP.")

EDNA. Der's da chicken wit Campbell's mushroom soup.

FLO. Der's da perogi

EDNA. Da perogi, da gawoomki. ("SPRINKLE, SPRINKLE? "VRRRRRR!" "TAP, TAP, TAP!")

FLO. Der's kapoosta.

EDNA. Da rolls, da bunss, en da bread.

FLO. And da Polish glazed ham. ("SPRINKLE.' "VRRRRRRI" "TAP, TAP, TAP.")

EDNA. For 12 people ...?

FLO. I tink it's enough. (Flo carries the "bowl" she was mixing to the "table" at center.)

EDNA. Don't put dat der, Flo, it's dirty.

FLO. Is it dirty?

EDNA. Yeah, it's dirty. (Edna sweeps "crumbs" from the "table" and we hear the sweeping sound.) 011 do da pod&red sugar.

FLO. Oll do da nuts. (Edna goes to unseen high cabinets at left, Flo to a bank of "low drawers" at right.)

EDNA. OK, wurr's da pod&red sugar ...

FLO. OK, wurr's da nuts ...

EDNA. Poddered sugar ... (Edna opens a "cabinet." We hear a "SQUEAK!")

FLO. Nuts ... (Flo opens an unseen drawer: "CREAK!" Edna closes the "cabinet".' "BANG?")

EDNA. Poddered sugar ... ("SQUEAK!")

FLO. Nuts ... ("CREAK!" "BANG!")

EDNA. Fodder Tom says to me, Edna, wouldja do a funeral breakfast fer Mary, I couldn't find nobody.

FLO. I say to um, Fodder, I cooked so many meals in dis church bazement ...

EDNA. I'm happy to. ("SQUEAK!")

FLO. ... I might's well live in dis church bazement.

EDNA. I says, Mary'll need some substenance.

FLO. Edna and me'll throw somethin together.

EDNA. (Finding it.) Opp! Da pod&red sugar.

FLO. Opp! Da nuts. (They close "cabinet" O'Sullivan toil in the and "drawer": "BANG!" "BANG!" The two women go to the "table'at center.)

EDNA. Oh, da tings dat Mary has been t'rough.

FLO. Oh, da tragedy innat family.

EDNA. Just terrible.

FLO. Just terrible. (We hear a "SIFT, SIFT" as Edna sifts unseen powdered sugar and a "GRIND, GRIND" as Flo turns the crank of an unseen nut grinder.) An' you know Barney didn't leave her nuttin.

EDNA. I always tought Barney was gonna come to a bad end wid alia dat drinkin.

FLO. Run over by his own lawn mower.

EDNA. Just terrible.

FLO. Just terrible. ("SPRINKLE, SPRINKLE.' "GRIND, GRIND." During this, the back walt of the stage opens up and we see two stagehands who are at a table doing all the sound effects. Edna and Flo do not acknowledge them.)

EDNA. I'm prayin to Saint Jude fer Mary.

FLO. Patron saint a lost causes.

EDNA. Jude'll bring her somethin.

FLO. You remember what Saint Jude did fer me when I had piles.

EDNA. He brought you dat special ointment.

FLO. A miracle. ("SPRINKLE, SPRINKLE." "GRIND, GRIND.")

EDNA. Ya know when Joe died, Mary made me 16 ponds a perogi. (Edna opens "cabinet" "SQUEAK"--and puts away "powdered sugar can,' then closes "cabinet"." "BANG.")

FLO. When Stosh died Mary gay'me a 22-pond turkey. (Flo opens "drawer.... "CREAK"--puts away "nuts" and closes "drawer": "BANG.")

EDNA. So der's justice in da world.

FLO. So der's some justice. (They move down center and turn unseen squeaky faucets.)

EDNA. Too bad we couldn't go ta da cemetery.

FLO. For Mary's sake. (The stage assistants upstage pour water into a bucket as Edna and Flo wash their hands under the invisible water.)

EDNA. St. Casimir's my favorite cemetery, too.

FLO. Just beautyful.

EDNA. Da way dey take care a da grave'ss der.

FLO. Da grave'ss are always like noo.

EDNA. An da bat'rooms.

FLO. Spotless.

EDNA. I just pre-ordered my casket from dat place in Blue Island.

FLO. I got my casket. Didja get da blue coffin wit satin?

EDNA. I got da pink wit chiffon.

FLO. Just beautyful.

EDNA. Just beautyful. (They turn "faucets" and the water sound stops.)

FLO. I bought some patayta chips.

EDNA. I bought some taco chips. (They pick up invisible chip bags, while the assistants upstage crinkle real cellophane bags.)

FLO. Patayta chips ...

EDNA. Taco chips ...

FLO. Patayta chips ...

EDNA. Taco chips ... (They stop. The crinkling stops.)

FLO. Ya tink chips are appropriate fer a funeral breakfast?

EDNA. Maybe not for breakfast.

FLO. Not for breakfast. ("DING!" of a kitchen timer.)

EDNA and FLO. Opp!

FLO. Ya wanna check da jello?

EDNA. Ya wanna check da cake? (Flo moves left. Edna moves right.)

FLO. I was gonna make duck blood soup wit raisins and dumplings. But you know da problem wit makin duck blood soup no more.

EDNA. You can't find no duck blood.

FLO. Der's no duck blood. ("CREAKS," as Edna and Flo open "stove" and "refrigerator" doors.)

EDNA. My ma use ta kill da ducks herself in da garotch.

FLO. You know it's not da killin.

EDNA. It's when dey urinate all over you.

FLO. Just terrible.

EDNA. Just terrible.

FLO. Cake's done.

EDNA. Jello's done. (They close "stove" and "refrigerator" and we hear: "CREAK!" "BANG!")

FLO. It's da same t'ing wit makin pickled pigs' feet.

EDNA. Der's no feet. (Flo sprinkles "salt"--"SPRINKLE, SPRINKLE"--then taps a "wooden spoon" on the "pot". "TAP, TAP, TAP." Edna shakes an invisible whipped cream can and we hear the shaking can.) I toldja I lost doze feet I bought in Blue Island.

FLO. Did you pray to Saint Ant'ny?

EDNA. I prayed to Saint Ant'ny, two days later I found urn.

FLO. Were da feet in de izebox?

EDNA. Da feet were in de izebox alla time.

FLO. (Sighs.)

EDNA. (Sighs.) ("SPRINKLE, SPRINKLE, SPRINKLE" "SHAKE, SHAKE"--"TAP, TAP, TAP.") Wit' da whip' cream, should I do da rosettes or da squiggle'ss?

FLO. I tink rosettes.

EDNA. Rosettes ...? Fine.

FLO. ("SPRINKLE.... SHAKE." Or maybe rosettes in da middle ...

EDNA. ... squiggle'ss on da side.

FLO. Squiggle'ss on da side. ("PFFFLLLL!"--Edna sprays invisible whipped cream on an unseen cake. Then Flo taps and Edna sprays, and Flo taps and Edna sprays, and soon the rhythm of this has developed into something like the Beer Barrel Polka, and they're humming along with it, really getting into it, banging on the "pots," "table," and "stove" like a two-woman band. When they stop:)

EDNA. (Sighs.)

FLO. (Sighs.)

EDNA. Ya know Fodder Tom tol'me a joke today.

FLO. Oh yeah? ("PFFFLLLL.")

EDNA. What's it say onna bottom a Polish Coca-Cola bottles?

FLO. What's it say onna bottom a Polish Coca-Cola bottles ...

EDNA. Onna bottom a Polish Coca-Cola bottles.

FLO. I give up.

EDNA. "Open Udder End." (They laugh. "SPRINKLE, SPRINKLE, SPRINKLE.' "PFFFLLLL"--"BANG, BANG, BANG. ")

FLO. "Open Udder End." (They laugh. "SPRINKLE, SPRINKLE, SPRINKLE.' "PFFFLLLL"--"BANG, BANG, BANG.")

EDNA. In Polish, I mean.

FLO. Oh sure. ("PFFFLLLL" ... Edna carries "whipped cream" back to "refrigerator" and puts it inside.)

EDNA. He says to me, Mrs. Pavletski, I hope yer not offended. I says to urn, Fodder, when yer Polish--what can offend you?

FLO. When my Stosh tried to burn a wasps' nest outa the garotch an' burnt da garotch down--that was a Polish joke. (Sighs.)

EDNA. (Sighs.) Well, I guess we got a minute.

FLO. I guess w'er done till da funeral gets back. Yeah, I guess w'er ready. (The wall behind them closes up and the sound effects people disappear from sight as the two women circle the "table," pointing to "things" to make sure they're ready. Each woman then pulls out a "chair" on one side of the table, lust as the women are about to sit down on nothing, two stagehands run in with chairs, and hold them for the women, who sit down without acknowledging the presence of the stagehands.)

EDNA. Flo, you always make da best apple slices. Wh'er's da forks ... (She reaches for a fork, and a stagehand holds one out. She takes it without acknowledging the stagehand.)

FLO. Well, Edna, you make da best angel food. Wh'er's da forks... (Flo reaches for a fork, and the other stagehand hands her one. The women reach their forks toward plates that aren't there, and two other stagehands run in with plates of dessert. Without acknowledging the stagehands, each of the women takes a small piece of cake.)

EDNA. Oll just take a small one.

FLO. Oll just take a little piece. Dey'll never notice.

EDNA. Flo.

FLO. Look at dat. Just delicious ...

EDNA. Flo.

FLO. Odda know how ya do it, Ed.

EDNA. Flo, when I die, will ya do my funeral breakfast? (Pause.)

FLO. Sure I will, Ed.

EDNA. Will you make yer apple slices?

FLO. Sure, Ed.

EDNA. An will ya make sure da choir don't sing dat damn song?

FLO. Sure I will, Ed.

EDNA. Thank you, Flo.

FLO. An if I go first, will you do my funeral breakfast?

EDNA. You know I will, Flo. I could make duck blood soup.

FLO. Don't bodder with da duck blood. Angel food is fine. (Flo takes Edna's hand and squeezes it, holding onto it. A radiant cone of light bathes the two women, and two doves appear, one over each of their heads. Without surprise.) Edna, ya know you got a dove over yer head?

EDNA. (Without surprise.) You know you got one, too, Flo?

FLO. Yeah, well.

EDNA. Yeah, well. (They reach for another dessert, and a stagehand steps in with a bowl heaped with fruit. Each woman takes an apple and polishes it on her dress.)

FLO. "Open Udder End."

EDNA. "Open Udder End ..." 'At's--real--good. (They laugh gently.)

EDNA and FLO. (Sigh.) (The lights fade.)

By award-winning playwright DAVID IVES, who is best known for his evening of one-act comedies, All in the Timing.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Ives, David
Publication:U.S. Catholic
Article Type:Theater Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2000
Words:2358
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