Luigi Lunari: Three on the Seesaw, Act one, Scene one

by Stefania Bufano

Three on the Seesaw Rai 2

by Luigi Lunari

English translation by Maggie Rose

THE CAST

(in order of appearance)

MISTER A

SERGEANT B

PROFESSOR C

THE WOMAN

ACT ONE

Scene one

A large room, which could be the well-appointed anteroom of a luxurious office, a hotel reading-room, or anything of that kind. At the back, a large window overlooking a city. Armchairs, a well-disguised minibar, a table with magazines, a bench obviously meant for staff. Three doors: one on the right, one on the left, the third is imaginary, in the middle of the stage and toward the audience: these are the three entrances. A fourth door, also visible to the audience, leads to the toilet. At the start of the play all this might be hidden by the curtain. The first character to step onstage is Mr. A, who makes his entrance from the door supposed to be in the “fourth wall”. He advances, in fact, from the audience, and comes up the little ramp of steps onto stage. It does not matter whether the curtain is up or down: he finds himself in front of a closed door – which we can call door No. 1 – and performs all the actions recommended in these cases. We see and hear him ring the bell, or knock, wait, ring or knock again as there is no answer, lean back as if to read the nameplate or the number on the door, and finally decide to go in. So he turns the imaginary handle, and steps in.

MR. A – Hello?… May I come in?

(He clears his throat loudly)

Hello… Is anyone there?

(He seems puzzled and annoyed. But in any case he is not one to waste time: he opens one of the other doors, sticks his head through, returns to the stage)

There’s nobody here…

(Repeats the procedure with the second door)

Or here…  Anyone  there?…

(He opens the door of the toilet)

It’s a toilet…

(He closes the door. Then he has second thoughts. He calls out again)

Is anybody there?… Excuse me?…

(He goes into the bathroom and closes the door)

(A pause. A few moments later we hear a knock on the door which we have called No. 2. Obviously there is no answer, the newcomer knocks again, and finally, after a last try, the door half-opens and Sergeant B – in civilian clothes – peers timidly in)

SGT. B – Hello?… Can I come in?… Is anybody in there?…

(He has come into the room, looks around, coughs)

Excuse me?… Hello?…

(He seems perplexed, and a little irritated. He opens door No. 1 again, puts his head through as if to check the address. He appears slightly puzzled. He comes back in, goes to the door that we have called No. 3, opens it, shuts it, and does the same with the door in the fourth wall, No. 1; lastly he tries the door to the lavatory: the door opens, but shuts again immediately, vigourously pulled from the other side, as can happen, while a loud voice announces)

MR. A (from the toilet) – There’s somebody in here!

SERGEANT B – Sorry!…

(He retreats, but seems happier. He calmly waits for the person to come out of the toilet. He whistles, looks out of the window, performs a couple of military knee-bends. Finally a flushing sound warns him that the wait is about to end. The Sergeant gestures satisfied)

SGT. B – Oh, at last! It’s about time..

(Mr. A comes out of the toilet; he also looks happier: he looks satisfied, but becomes straight-faced on seeing the Sergeant)

MR. A – I’m awfully sorry. But as I didn’t see anybody I took the liberty, while waiting…

SGT. B – Not at all, not at all! I suppose that’s what it’s for.

MR. A – Sorry?…

SGT. B – The toilet, I mean.

(Mr. A has left the door open for the next person…)

MR. A – Please…  Would you…

(…but the Sergeant is not interested)

SGT. B – I beg your pardon?

MR. A – Oh, I thought…

SGT. B – No no. Thank you, but no.

(The Sergeant waits for Mr. A to close the door)

Erm…Mr. Hamilton, I suppose.

MR. A – No.

SGT. B – Oh…I’m sorry… Well…  But where is Mr. Hamilton?

MR. A – I don’t know. I don’t know him.

SGT. B – I’m sorry, but you…

MR. A – I’ve got… An appointment here…

SGT. B – And it’s not with Mr. Hamilton?

MR. A – I’ve got an appointment with… With a lady…

SGT. B – Oh, pardon!

MR. A – What do you mean,  pardon?

SGT. B – What I mean is… I belong to the old school. I can’t help it. Whenever I hear a lady mentioned, I always… say pardòn pardòn. French for… “excuse me”. It’s a question of tact, of discretion… Virtues well-known in the Army, my dear sir, whatever else they might say about it.

MR. A – You’re in the Army, are you?

SGT. B – Retired.  Secret Service. Discretion, for us,  not only means gallantry, but is something essential!

MR. A – I assure you that in my case… it’s not the case.This lady…

SGT. B – Ehm ehm… Pardon pardon!

MR. A – But I assure you…

SGT. B – Pardon pardon!…

MR. A – Anyway… I was just wondering if the lady’s  arrived.

SGT. B – I don’t know.

MR. A – Ms  Felicity… You don’t know… If by any chance…  she’s arrived…?

SGT. B – No. And I don’t see why I should know.

MR. A – I’m sorry, but… Here… Aren’t you part of…? Aren’t you perhaps the owner… Well, anyway, of this…?

SGT. B – It’s the first time I’ve been here.

MR. A – Really?… Well, excuse me, but why don’t you mind your own business then?

SGT. B – Me? I simply said I don’t understand…

MR. A – I’ve got an appointment, with a lady. This lady hasn’t arrived yet… So I’ll wait.

SGT. B – We’ll wait together, then, since I’ve got an appointment with a certain Mr. Hamilton… Mr. Hamilton hasn’t arrived yet. I’ll wait for him. I thought – you see – that you were one of the office staff.

MR. A – Which office?

SGT. B – This one

MR. A – This isn’t an office. It’s…a guesthouse.

SGT. B – A guesthouse?! Isn’t this Infomac?

MR. A – Infomac?!

SGT. B – Aren’t we on the seventh floor?

MR. A – Yes but…

SGT. B – And this isn’t Infomac!

MR. A – Definitely not. This is the Aurora Guesthouse… There’s no point in looking on the door. There’s no nameplate. I’ve already checked.  And this is the Aurora Guesthouse.

SGT. B (Takes a letter from  his pocket and reads the address) – 1 Graham Street.

MR. A – Ah, no no: that’s why! It’s all clear. You’ve made a mistake. You’ve got the adress wrong. This is 2 Bloomsbury Sq.

SGT. B – Impossible! Are you sure?

MR. A – Absolutely!

SGT. B – Oh dear, dear, dear! That also explains Mr. Hamilton’s delay! If I’ve got the wrong address for the meeting, it’s a bit much to ask him to find me, and at the right time, on top of it. Ah ah, that’s a good one… Anyway, it’s very strange, because I’m normally spot on with addresses. I can get the day, but never an address. However, I’m prepared to bow to the evidence… That’s why I couldn’t understand: you’ve got a tête-à-tête with your lady friend…

MR. A – I beg your pardon!

SGT. B – Ehm ehm… Pardon pardon! I’m only envious, you know? Because, unfortunately, I’ve got nothing to hide. Mr. Hamilton deals in machines for recycling tooth-paste tubes, so you can imagine!… As you can see, we’re miles apart. Good for you  thought!

(Mr. A, irritated, looks ostentatiously at his watch)

But…I can feel you’d rather be left alone. Ah ah! The Aurora Guesthouse, eh? But no nameplate, hmm! And you’re waiting for a lady, ehm ehm… Sorry. Evidently a very discreet guesthouse. Good to know. The address?… Ehm ehm… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry. Anyway, you’ve already told me: 2 Bloomsbury Sq. I repeat, and end of message: 2 Bloomsbury Sq. Good to know. And now… Good bye. Arrivederci. It’s been a pleasure.

MR. A (coldly) – All right… Goodbye.

SGT. B – I’m Sergeant Springthorpe. Delighted to have met you.

MR. A – … Okay…

SGT. B – I’m sorry… I didn’t quite catch your name. Oh, I understand… Ehm ehm…. Of course… Pardon pardon!

(He exits through door No. 2, through which he had entered. Mr. A breathes a sigh of relief, but after a moment he grows worried again and  begins  searching around once more)

MR. A – Hello?… Hello?… May I… For Heaven’s sake, is anybody in there?

(he calls softly):

Felicity…

(Nothing. Mr. A picks up a newspaper from the table, but he has hardly time to sit down in the armchair and begin reading,  when he hears a knock on door No. 3)

Come in!

(Door No. 3 opens and the Professor enters).

Ah, someone, at last.

PROF. C – Hello?… May I come in?…

MR. A – Ah, here’s someone at last! Good afternoon.

PROF. C – Good afternoon. I hope I’m not too late.

MR. A – I don’t know. I said “at last” because at last someone’s turned up. This was beginning to look like the house of the dead. Are you…?

PROF. C (quickly) – Yes?..

MR. A – Ms Felicity… uhm?…

PROF. C – Who, me?!

MR. A – I want to know whether Ms. Felicity… Uhm has already arrived.

PROF. C – What do I know?

MR. A – Excuse me, but aren’t you… The owner, here, or the manager of this…?

PROF. C – I wish I were!

MR. A – You as well! I beg your pardon, but why are you meddling in my affairs, then?

PROF. C – Me?! I’m not meddling at all! It’s you who has taken me for  Felicity.  I can tell you it’s the first time in my life that I’ve been taken for…

MR. A – Well, anyway… Would you mind telling me who you are and what you want?

PROF. C – I only called to pick up a parcel… With some proofs… That need checking. You can’t help me, I suppose.

MR. A – That’s right: I can’t. And if you’ve only come here to pick up a parcel, pick it up and leave. What else can I say? Please be quick about it.

PROF. C – Are you on edge?

MR. A – No! I am not on edge; I’m feeling extremely calm. But I don’t feel like chatting. I’m here because I’ve got an appointment with… With somebody, and I don’t want to…

PROF. C – I understand, I understand. I’m terribly sorry. There’s no reason to attack me like this! You’re here for a matter concerning you, and I’m here for a matter concerning me. So I fail to undestand why I should leave, even after I’ve picked up my parcel, if by chance I decide I’d like to…

MR. A – You are right: I am on edge, it’s true. Please forgive my sudden irritation. I beg your pardon, but…

PROF. C (pacified) – Oh, I wasn’t actually looking for apologies. Anyone can suddenly get irritable in this day and age. Perhaps you… Who knows… In any case it’s me who should apologise for not sensing that you, perhaps…

MR. A – I what?

PROF. C – I don’t know, I don’t know – I don’t wish to know…

MR. A – You make it sound as if I’ve got something to hide.

PROF. C – Good Lord no! I mean… Everyone has his problems: there’s an endless number of reasons, that can make somebody edgy… Let me say again how sorry I am.

MR. A – Please, it’s me who should apologise.

PROF. C – You are very kind.

MR. A – Thank you.

PROF. C – Thank you.

MR. A – Not at all.

(Pause. General clearing of throats)

PROF. C – May I… Just… Have a look to see if my parcel is around?

MR. A – Go ahead…

(The Prof. rummages around the bench)

PROF. C – There’s nothing here. A Bible… Newspapers… Some receipts and… Oh, this is peculiar: well, I never… A Singapore directory!

MR. A – From where?

PROF. C – From Singapore.

(Mr. A, not interested, shrugs. And while the Prof. brings his own search to a close, he continues with his)

MR. A – Hello?… Anyone there?…

(Door No. 2 suddenly opens and in comes the Sergeant, panting a little and clearly irritated. Looking at Mr. A he bursts out)

SGT. B – There you are! What the Hell’s all this about me having got the address wrong? I haven’t got the address wrong. And in fact, as I have already told you, I might get mixed up with names or days, but never with addresses!

(He sees the newcomer)

Good afternoon.

PROF. C – Good afternoon.

SGT. B – I’m sorry, but this old chap’s made me walk up and down seven flights of stairs, telling me that this is… Where exactly are we?

MR. A – We’re at 2 Bloomsbury Sq.

SGT. B (to the Prof.) – You see? You tell him…

PROF. C – Actually… This isn’t 2 Bloomsbury Sq.

MR. A (suddenly in doubt) – Oh God! Are you sure?

PROF. C – Perfectly sure!

SGT. B – If “he” doesn’t know…

MR. A – Oh Lordylordylordy! Then it’s me who’s made a mistake! I’m terribly, terribly sorry. After all, I too hardly ever make mistakes… I’m sorry, I must look such a fool. I wonder what you must think of me…

SGT. B (pacified, but still a little abrupt) – Well, all right, all right, but don’t let’s make a mountain out of a molehill. I’ve not enjoyed walking up and down seven flights of stairs, but then these things happen in the best of families, as they say. However… I’m sorry but… If you got an appointment at five o’clock with… Ehm ehm… That cousin of yours… You’re pushing things a bit. You should put your skates on.

MR. A (He’s about to say something about the cousin, but then he gives up on the idea) – You’re right, of course…What an idiot! I’ll leave straightaway. Once again, I’m terribly sorry! It’s been a pleasure. Ernest Topping’s the name… Good-bye… Sorry about my rush…

(Says good-bye to the Prof…)

Good-bye…

(…and leaves through door No. 1; he goes down to the stalls and walks through the audience muttering to himself)

What an idiot!… That’s what happens when you do things in a hurry… And what about my lady friend… When she doesn’t see me turn up… She might even leave… And on our first date, too… With all the trouble I’ve gone to… Damn me and my rush…

(He  goes out. On stage, the conversation starts up again)

SGT. B – Ah, at last! Good afternoon, I’m Sergeant Springthorpe. Just think, he made me believe I’d come to the wrong address! Me, of all people! As far as I can remember, I’ve never got an address wrong in my life. I fell for it like a fool. I just left, just like that! Only, once downstairs, I checked, of course; and of course I discovered I wasn’t wrong at all. It doesn’t surprise me, knowing me. But anyway it’s a relief, I must say: in my youth I dealt with timers for…time bombs. (Secret Service, naturally: not as a hobby). And… As I was saying… Avoiding mistakes… Was quite crucial. Ha ha. Anyway, here we are. All’s well that ends well. I too can allow myself that famous saying: once I thought I was wrong, but I was wrong. Mr. Hamilton, I presume.

PROF. C – Eh? No.

SGT. B – No?!

PROF. C – No!

SGT. B – Are you sure? I’ve got an appointment with a certain Mr. Hamilton…

PROF. C (somewhat annoyed) – Well, it’s not me. And I am sure of that. You’re sure of your addresses, and I’m sure of my identity. But you, to hear you talk… You don’t work in this office.

SGT. B – I thought… You were…

PROF. C – No. I have only come to pick up some proofs… A book of mine…

SGT. B – Ah, a writer.

PROF. C – Yes, I’ve a book they’re publishing here…  At the Olympus Press…

SGT. B – Yes but…  There is no publishing house… Here.

PROF. C – It’s the Olympus Press.

SGT. B –  No. This is Infomac.

(Laughs)

Don’t tell me you’ve got the address wrong too! That would be just too funny!

PROF. C – No, no: it’s 12 Oxford Street.

SGT. B – Oh, just as I thought. You’ve made a mistake, too. This – and I’ve just checked a moment ago, so please don’t make me do the stairs again – is 1 Graham St., seventh floor.

PROF. C – But that’s impossible: I gave the address to the cab driver, and he brought me to the front of this building.

SGT. B – I’m sorry, but haven’t you ever been to the publishing house handling your book?

PROF. C – They’ve just moved to new premises, and so it’s the first time I’ve been here.

SGT. B – Sorry! This is Infomac.

It’s unfortunate, but you obviously got out of the taxi without looking at the number or the street name properly.

PROF. C – I must admit I did hurry in…

SGT. B – Terribly sorry.

PROF. C – But of course! You’re absolutely right. My apologies.

SGT. B – What for? Don’t bother. There must be some kind of epidemic around. A new virus, ha ha!, and it mixes up addresses.

PROF. C – What’s more, any moment now there’ll be the siren for the pollution emergency exercise…I’ll end up being caught out on the street…

SGT. B – Then you’d better get going!

PROF. C – Thank you. My name is Wittfield, with two tees. Professor Wittfield.

SGT. B – Sergeant Springthorpe… S for Springthorpe, P for Pringthorpe… Ah ah! It’s a pleasure.

PROF. C – The pleasure’s mine, good-bye.

SGT. B – And all the best with your book.

PROF. C (modestly) – Oh, it’s only a thriller.

SGT. B (with sincerity) – In that case I’ll buy it.

PROF. C (reappraising himself) – Well… A psychological thriller.

SGT. B (conciliating) – I’ll buy it anyway. As a present for my wife.

PROF. C – Thank you.

(Exits through door No. 3. The Sergeant, now alone, carries out the customary search exercise)

SGT. B – Is anyone there?… Hello?

(Pulls a puzzled face, then decides: the SGT. opens the bathroom door and steps in, closing the door after him. Pause. Mr. A, extremely irritated, re-emerges from the audience)

MR. A – Really, there are some people around with nothing better to do than make others waste their time! Graham Street, my foot! And I listened to him, and even apologised! There you are: they’ve gone.

(Pause. He looks around)

Hello?… Is anyone there?… Half past five!

(Goes to the bench, picks up the phone)

Hello?… Hello?… Hello!

(With increasing irritation he dials various numbers tryimg to contact somebody, but without success)

It’s dead… No answer… No dialling tone even…  I’ll try the operator.

Hello? Yes, could you tell me…

(THE TELEPHONE – “This is directory inquiries. The service is temporarily out of order owing to union action. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. This is directory inqu…” He angrily hangs up)

Oh, that’s it then! And I know what’s going to happen! I’m feeling edgy, then she gets here… And I mess it up. Hello?… Anybody there?

(The Prof. rushes in through door No. 3, by which he had exited, and immediately picks on the only person he finds on stage)

PROF. C – You! Which address do you think this is then?

MR. A (equally decisive) – You tell me: what on earth made you think that man was right?

PROF. C – What man?

MR. A – The one who was here before.

PROF. C – And where is he now?

MR. A – I don’t give a damn.

PROF. C – I only said that this isn’t Bloomsbury Square!

MR. A – Oh I see. So you think it’s Graham Street?

PROF. C – Graham Street? No.

MR. A – No?

PROF. C – No. Never said anything of the kind!

MR. A – Oh.

PROF. C – This is 12 Oxford St.

MR. A – Oh yes? And who told you?

PROF. C – I’ve seen it; I’ve seen it – twice – with my own eyes. And just to make sure that I wasn’t hallucinating, since there are some people here convinced of that, I also asked a passer-by. He probably thought I couldn’t even read. That reminds me. Where’s the sergeant?

MR. A – I don’t know. He’s probably left. I dont give a damm! I… Was waiting for a lady…

(The sound of flushing comes from the toilet)

Perhaps in there…

PROF. C – Ah, so she’s arrived.

MR. A – I mean your sergeant.

PROF. C – He’s not “my” sergeant. I don’t even know him. I’m here to pick up some proofs, that’s all.

MR. A – Anyway, I’ve just checked: this is 2 Bloomsbury Square!

PROF. C – I don’t know how you have the nerve to insist on such a thing.

(The Sergeant comes out of the toilet looking satisfied and relieved. But it doesn’t last long. Mr. A and the Prof. immediately go for him):

MR. A – You! Would you mind telling me what you’re playing at?

PROF. C – I’ve climbed up and down seven flights of stairs thanks to you!

MR. A – This is Bloomsbury Square.

SGT. B – This is Graham Street.

PROF. C – We’re in Oxford Street.

(General row: each one reiterates his own reasons: “But I went back downstairs to look! I’m certain! I even asked a passer-by!” and so on. When the quarrel reaches its climax of mutual  incommunicability, the Sergeant calls for order and imposes silence)

SGT. B – Hold on a moment! Be quiet everyone! I’ve got it. I undestand everything!

(The others fall silent and look at him, without appearing too sure; but the Sergeant is convinced: he walks around the room to check the truth of his intuition and rubs his hands  satisfied)

Of course! It’s obvious! As clear as day! How could I have missed it? Elementary, my dear Watson! Ha ha, you write thrillers, professor, so you’ve missed a good opportunity, if you don’t mind me saying! Go on, how do you explain this little mystery, eh?

PROF. C – What mystery?

SGT. B – What mystery?! But what else could it be: here we are, the three of us: all adults, in good physical and mental health, and all three get the address wrong!

MR. A – I got absolutely nothing wrong. I’ve checked it out!

PROF. C – And I went up and down seven flights on foot!

SGT. B – Have I made a mistake, then? No. Because I’ve also looked, and I’ve also found the address to be undoubtedly the right one. Therefore I am in Graham Street, you are in Oxford Street, and you…?

MR. A – In Bloomsbury Square.

SGT. B – Number two! Could it be? It couldn’t be! And yet, obviously, it is! Are we beholding the mystery of the Holy Trinity of addresses? How is it possible, how?

(No-one seems to know)

You surprise me, professor. And you too, Mr…  Who, having arranged, shall we say, a dubious appointment, should be well trained in the little riddles of life…

MR. A – Now listen here!…

SGT. B (continues euphoric and unstoppable) – It looks like the much berated British Army has got  there first! Before culture and before… What do you do?

MR. A – That’s none of your business.

SGT. B – Oh, it’s only to see if everything adds up.

MR. A (more to keep him quiet than anything else) – I… Own a small company.

SGT. B (completes his thought) – … And before business! Firs prize… To the Army!

MR. A – I can’t stand him!

SGT. B – I hope this pun isn’t too subtle, but it’s no coincidence I’m in the Intelligence service! Ah, ah!

MR. A – Listen, it’s getting late. If you’ve discovered what lies behind this mystery, let’s hear it! Otherwise…

SGT. B – Very simple, ladies and gentlemen! All three of us are right! This building has got three entrances!

MR. A – What do you mean, three entrances?

SGT. B – Three entrances: one, two, and three!

(He carries out the demonstration with eloquent explanatory gestures)

You’ve come in through that door, you from that one, and I through the third one. From three different landings, you go down three different stairs, which in turn lead to three different halls which go out onto Graham St., Bloomsbury Sq. and Oxford St. respectively. Three entrances, three addresses. If you care to go to the window, you can personally check this out without troubling to go down the stairs. The building, as you can see, is like a pier jutting onto a square, from where two streets lead off on either side of the pier. In fact, Bloomsbury Sq.’s there, Graham St.’s on this side, and Oxford St.’s over there! Hee, hee… What do you think?

(Pause)

MR. A – Could be.

PROF. C – Seems plausible.

SGT. C – What do you think? Voilà!

MR. A (After a pause, worried and uneasy) – I don’t like this business!

SGT. B – Why? It’s very simple. I can’t wait to tell the story in the officers’ mess, especially to the barman, that bloody John, who collects jokes about the Irish and then retells them as if they were about Intelligence Service agents. Well, this time…

MR. A (edgy, he interrupts him) – Quiet, be quiet! I don’t like this! Three addresses, that’s ok. But what exactly is this place: a guesthouse, a firm, and a publishing house all rolled in one?

SGT. B – That’s true, I hadn’t thought about that.

PROF. C – Are you afraid?

MR. A – I’m on edge, yes, I’m on edge. I don’t like this place. What’s more, any moment now the alarm will be going off, and we’ll be stuck here. I’m leaving.

SGT. B – And your…?

MR. A – I don’t know: maybe she couldn’t come, she might have changed her mind, perhaps she had something else on…

SGT. B – Ehm, ehm, pardòn pardòn!…

PROF. C – I’m going to wait a while. This business with the alarm practice might have caused delays… I’m hoping someone from the publishing house will turn up…

SGT. B – Mr. Hamilton should certainly turn up!

MR. A – I’m leaving. Gentlemen, I bid you good evening! No, just a moment! I’m going down to Oxford St., just to see what this peculiar building with three entrances is like… And to avoid going out the same way I came in.

(He goes to door nº 3, tries to open it, but the door won’t budge)

It’s locked.

PROF. C – It can’t be. Try pulling.

MR. A (tries, and fails) – It’s locked.

SGT. B – I’ll give you a hand. Damn! It really is locked.

PROF. C – It’s very strange: I came through it a moment ago!

(He tries to open it: the door opens without the least effort)

There you go, it’s open. Where did you see it was locked?

(Showing the way to Mr. A)

After you.

(Mr. A is about to go out, then thinks again and stops)

MR. A – No, I want to look at something.

(He goes up to door nº 2)

Where does this one lead to?

SGT. B – Graham Street.

MR. A (tries to open it: the door is locked, but Mr. A does not appear surprised) – This one’s also locked. I knew it. Have a go.

SGT. B – Me?

MR. A – No, the professor.

PROF. C (After having tried) – It’s locked.

MR. A – Wait! Try that one.

(He points him towards the door facing the audience: door nº 1)

PROF. C (Does as he’s told) – It’s locked too.

MR. A (to the Sergeant) – You?…

SGT. B (although suspicious, he carries out the test requested) – Shut.

MR. A (walks decisively towards “his own” door and opens it with ease) – For me… It opens.

(Once more addressing the Sergeant, pointing to door Nº 2) – Now try opening that one.

SGT. B (tries, and the door opens) – There you are.

MR. A – So, Sergeant? Are you in a position to solve this little mystery as well?

SGT. B – I don’t understand.

PROF. C – Ah, I know what you mean! Each one of us… Can easily open the door… Through which he came in… But none of us can open the doors… The others came in through…

SGT. B (struggles a bit to undestand, and has to repeat) – What, what?… Each of us… His own door… The others, on the contrary… It’s true! I hadn’t thought of it.

MR. A (despite the worry) – Intelligence Service at a low ebb, eh?

SGT. B – Well, what’s that got to do with you? If you want to go down to Graham Street, I’ll open the door for you.

MR. A – No. I don’t like these doors.

PROF. C – Oh come on, that’s ridiculous!

MR. A – Well, I can’t help it, I’d rather go out through mine!

PROF. C – All right, all right, don’t get het up.  I tell you what: I’ll come with you. I’ll show yout “I” can go through “your” door. I’ll come by for the proofs tomorrow.

MR. A – I’m… Going to wait another ten minutes.

PROF. C – I thought you said you wanted to go.

MR. A – I’ve changed my mind. I’ll wait… A bit longer, and then I’m leaving.

PROF. C – I understand: you’re scared.

SGT. B – Scared?

MR. A – No.

PROF. C – You’re scared and you want to see what happens to me!

SGT. B – But what you mean, “happens”?

PROF. C – You shouldn’t be ashamed, you know. Anyone could get a bit frightened when faced with certain small coincidences that sometimes arise and cannot be explained. At first Man feels things and events with indifference, then he experiences them with a moved and confused soul, and finally he becomes aware of them with a lucid and serene mind. That’s Spencer, of course.

SGT. B – Colonel Spencer? Of the third squadron?

PROF. C – No, no, an other Sperncer. Evidently, the Sergeant is at stage one, you’re at stage two…

MR. A – All right, I am scared. Or rather, I’m not exactly scared, but I have no wish to get scared. It’s… as you said:  I’m… moved and confused. I don’t like this place at all.

PROF. C – I don’t have any irrational fears: I’ve evidently reached the stage of serene mind. And as you see, I’m going.

MR. A – Aren’t you going out through “my” door?

PROF. C (laughing) – No, but not for the reason you think, believe me. It’s just that Oxford Street is really  more convenient. Gentlemen, I hope to see you again!

(He takes his leave bowing profusely and goes out through his own door: Nº 3. Pause. The Sergeant walks to the window and calmly looks out)

MR. A – Hello?… Is anybody there…

I don’t like this business at all! Oof! It’s a bit stuffy in here, why don’t we open the window a bit?

SGT. B – Of course.

(Opens the French window)

MR. A – How come it’s so silent?

(He walks towards the window and looks out)

Almost no-one around, why’s that?

SGT. B – Well, I suppose nobody wants to be caught outside when the siren goes off.

MR. A – Ahh! Of course! What time’s the practice?

SGT. B – Any time after five.

MR. A – So… Any time now.

SGT. B – Obviously, any time now.

MR. A – Good God! The heat that’s coming in through that window!

SGT. B – It must be like an oven outside.

MR. A – It’s like Africa. Do you mind if I close it?

SGT. B – No, no… Go ahead…

(Mr. A closes the window)

MR. A – It’s so hot! I’d give anything for a beer!

SGT. B – There’s a minibar over there.

(Mr. A opens the minibar and is pleasantly surprised)

MR. A – Plenty of beer. Wonderful.

(He gets a can of beer out of the fridge)

Would you like something?

SGT. B – An orange, please.

MR. A – There’s no orange juice, only beer.

SGT. B – No thank you, then. I don’t like beer.

(Mr. A shuts the minibar. But the Sergeant changes his mind):

But then… Rather than die of thirst…

(He walks to the minibar, opens it, and shows surprise and irritation)

What the hell are you talking about? There’s nothing but orange!

(He gets out a can of orange. Surprise and dismay from Mr. A. The Sergeant has already got over the problem, opens the can and drinks delightedly)

Ahh! The heat coming from that window is unbearable! The poor Professor is probably melting. I really don’t envy him!

(But door Nº 3 opens and the Prof. bursts in. He is drenched, not with sweat, but clearly with rain)

PROF. C – Ah, I’m sorry! But I think I’d better wait here till it stops raining! God! Never seen a downpour like it!

SGT. B – Is it raining?

PROF. C – Raining? It’s bucketing down!

MR. A – Where is it raining?

PROF. C – Outside, it’s raining! Where else on earth could it be raining?

SGT. B – But if out there in Bloomsbury Square the sun is shining!

PROF. C (trying to dry himself or at least to wring his clothes) – Listen! That’s enough, all right? I came in from Oxford Street, I went back into Oxford Street, I only answer for Oxford Street! And in Oxford Street – bugger it – it’s raining cats and dogs!

SGT. B – Take  your jacket off. Can I get you anything?… Anything to drink?

PROF. C – I would give anything for a cup of hot chocolate.

SGT. B – I really don’t think there’s any hot chocolate.

MR. A (intense and almost dramatic) – You are wrong! Hot chocolate… Coming up!

(The others look at him with astonishment)

In the minibar.

PROF. C – In the minibar?! And hot?

MR. A (definitely dramatic) – Hot!

SGT. B – But…

(Although sceptical, the Prof. walks to the minibar, opens it, and takes out a big cup of steaming hot chocolate, causing stunned wonder in the Sergeant and a gloomy taking stock of the situation in Mr. A.)

MR. A (now tragic) – I don’t like this place! I don’t like it at all!…

(Suddenly, from outside, the wailing of various sirens, both nearby and far away)

PROF. C – The practice…

SGT. B – The alarm…

MR. A – And we’ve got to stay here all night!

 

 

End of scene one

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Copyright © Luigi Lunari – All rights worldwide reserved

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Thanks. Make Yours Italy would like to thank Luigi Lunari for his kindness and availability. We are honored to have been allowed by him to publish on our website his play Three on the Seesaw, represented around the world and soon staged in Canada. If there is anyone among our readers in Calgary and surroundings, we suggest you to go and see it!

Fire Exit Theatre of Calgary:

Three men walk into a room, each with a different destination, yet all three end up exactly where they are supposed to be. […].

 

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Luigi Lunari Wikipedia (Italian)

Luigi Lunari (English)

 

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Learn Italian: Tre sull’altalena (Three on the Seesaw)

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