A Play in One Act
The Doctor: Middle-aged, balding, plump, bespectacled. Wears a sweater-vest with a skinny necktie.
The Patient: Twentysomething, haggard, messy brown hair, thin. A writer.
Curtain goes up. Lights too.
We see a singular chair situated stage right. A couch is to the left of it—one of those brown, comfortable therapy pieces of furniture. An aged, faded shag carpet center. Diplomas on the drab, light-blue walls. The paint chips and the pieces fall to the floor. A desk by the door—all stage left.
The doctor sits in the chair cross-legged; he scribbles away in a small notebook.
THE DOCTOR: (with almost a false cheeriness) You can come in now.
The patient enters.
THE PATIENT: It’s about time, man. I’d rather hang than read those putrid magazines you have out there. Celebrities. Athletes. They’ve ruined it. No point.
THE DOCTOR: They’re just people. Let them be.
THE PATIENT: No! They are not just people! Where do you get off, man? Listen. I’ve worked long and hard. I’ve toiled to become a writer. They’re famous simply because they exist. They make me feel like I’m nothing.
THE DOCTOR: Tsk. Tsk. I told you. We need to work on our language.
THE PATIENT: What do you mean by ‘our language’? The English language? We are talking, you know. Sounds good to me.
THE DOCTOR: No, no. You’re engaging in self-deprecation again. And I don’t like your ‘I’d rather hang’ comment. Or that you feel like you’re ‘nothing’. It’s hurtful—to those who care about you.
THE PATIENT: Like who?
THE DOCTOR: Your girlfriend, for one.
THE PATIENT: You mean my ex? I broke up with her. I couldn’t stand to be with someone who viewed my work as a kind of psychosis rather than my own personal expression. Maybe she’s right—I should just end it all! That’s what she thinks I want to do.
THE DOCTOR: She wanted to help you. That’s all she was trying to do. You should commend her for sending you here.
THE PATIENT: Commend her? For what? I’m ruined, now. My writing will be seen as the expressions of some guy with a psychosis. I will no longer be taken seriously as a writer because of that worthless wench. Honestly, I’ll blow my head in. Yeah. That way, my work will survive my death and I’ll be adored.
THE DOCTOR: Good heavens! That’s awful.
THE PATIENT: I was kidding.
THE DOCTOR: Well, we can never be too sure. Now, let’s get to business. I remember over the phone you were telling me you’ve written a new piece. Let’s see it.
The Patient reaches into his pocket and pulls out a crumpled piece of white computer paper and hands it over.
THE DOCTOR: (ahem. He reads the last line.)’Like plankton, we float without knowing’. This is very dark. I don’t like it.
THE PATIENT: Well, what do you expect? I’m writing on the state of man—you know, us. But I’m sure you don’t get that.
THE DOCTOR: Why are you so depressed, my friend?
THE PATIENT: I’m not depressed. I’m disgusted.
THE DOCTOR: With what?
THE PATIENT: How everything is. You know—people don’t think. They just do. Without question, without consideration. We’re in a dark state. It’s absurd.
The Doctor scribbles in his notebook.
THE PATIENT: What exactly did you write down?
THE DOCTOR: Your diagnosis.
THE PATIENT: Which is?
THE DOCTOR: Depression. And you’re out of touch with reality to boot. We’ll have to put you on medication.
THE PATIENT: (indignant) Alright. Look. This is the problem I have with you people. You seriously think everything is a disorder.
THE DOCTOR: You’re in denial, my friend.
THE PATIENT: Of what?
THE DOCTOR: Your mental illness. But we can—
THE PATIENT: (interrupts) No. You are in denial. You ignore the flaws of humanity, man. You’re the disorder! You cultivate inhumanity with this baseless bullshit.
THE DOCTOR: (scribbling, noting) We’re getting testy. We need to calm down. Have you ever practiced proper relaxation methodology?
THE PATIENT: Stop it.
THE DOCTOR: Stop what? I’m merely postulating.
THE PATIENT: Stop saying ‘we’. You and I are not one in the same.
THE DOCTOR: I’m only attempting to make you feel comfortable.
THE PATIENT: Make me feel uneasy. Make me feel disquiet. But do not make me comfortable.
THE DOCTOR: Uh-huh.
THE PATIENT: Look, man—we’re all different. Each individual can’t be typed into a group. All minds—souls, even—are different. But we all have something in common: we’re human. And it’s beautiful.
THE DOCTOR: (condescending) You’re out of touch. Delusions are what you’re experiencing. You are not describing real life.
THE PATIENT: And what is real life according to you, sir?
THE DOCTOR: Well, one must have stability. A career. Family. One must be peaceful.
THE PATIENT: Someone might not want those things. Listen man, I’ve been trying to make it as a poet for years now. I’ve got no money. No family. Just on my own. Sometimes living out of my car. Do you think I care?
THE DOCTOR: Your carelessness and general apathy is only furthering your diagnosis.
THE PATIENT: Look man, I’d rather die than be stuck behind some stupid wooden desk for the rest of my life.
The Doctor says nothing; he folds his legs and clasps his hands. Sighs.
THE PATIENT: What? Why’d you do that?
THE DOCTOR: Sigh?
THE PATIENT: Yes.
THE DOCTOR: (wrly) We’re more alike than you think. Only—
THE PATIENT: What?
THE DOCTOR: Well, you’re worse than I’d originally imagined. You’re impulsive, depressed. You reject societal norms in favor of some contrived false reality. You’re not happy. You should be happy.
THE PATIENT: And why should I? I’d rather have setback than success. We need that.
THE DOCTOR: And that’s why you need medication. (sighs) Look, I’m not supposed to do this—I’m supposed to fill out the prescription for you and all—but your situation appears dire. Here. (He reaches into a drawer, pulls out a pill bottle.) Take these. They’re mine. A shock, I know. But with the way our world is, we could all use a little of these. They’re better off with you. You’re in rough shape. (He hands THE PATIENT the bottle).
THE PATIENT: Know what I have to say to that? Screw your damned pills! You know, all of you have no appreciation for thinking. Creativity! Beauty! It’s all lost to you! Ever since my ex-girlfriend read my old poem. It’s shame that it’s become criminal to be human. (He throws the pills at the wall, spilling them everywhere. He returns to his seat.)
The Doctor sneers.
THE DOCTOR: No reason to be anxious. We only wish to help you.