Play Preview: The Social Experiment
Synopsis: Jeff is an outspoken slacker college student at a small, Midwestern university, with a steady on/off again girlfriend, good friends, and a well-chosen nemesis. Everything’s great until his friend Blaine’s partner accidentally becomes engaged to a girl, throwing him and the rest of the university unwillingly into the ensuing capital “D” Drama. The Social Experiment is a fast paced, dry humored social commentary, exposing the hypocrisy of human beings and their tendency to react based on Fear and/or Greed.
Act I, Scene 1
(A busy student center between classes. This spacious building, feeling more like an airport terminal than a student center, divides campus in two and has two main entrances/exits: DSL and UCL, as well as an USR corridor that serves as both an exit and an indoor link to the library. Hallways on opposite sides of the stage lead to other areas of the building. UCR is a cozy, platformed lounge area called the ‘Loft’ , and DSR contains part of the dining area. SL is occupied by a coffee shop and the restrooms. There are tables and lounge chairs near the library corridor and a long bench by the DSL exit. JEFF, a slacker, is waiting for his drink to be made at the coffee shop. URBAN, a football player, is in line to order a drink. ALICIA, a self-worshipper, sits at a small table at the steps of the Loft with a sign detailing an upcoming performance of ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ TREY, a Bro-type guy, passes through only slightly stoned.)
ALICIA. Yoohoo! Trey!
TREY. (Reluctantly) Hey Alicia.
ALICIA. Haven’t seen you around. (Smiling) Are you ignoring me, Trey? (TREY forces a smile back but doesn’t answer. ALICIA doesn’t seem to notice.) There’s a show tonight. (Referencing the sign) Romeo and Juliet. I don’t want to give too much away, but you don’t need to see color to enjoy everything!
TREY. Sounds interesting.
ALICIA. It’s amazing, and I’m in it, so you know you won’t be disappointed!
TREY. Who are you playing?
ALICIA. Well, you’ll just have to come to the show and find out, won’t you? I will say, however, that you can expect rave reviews in the newspaper regarding my performance. I mean, I’m crazy good. Life changing, even.
(JEFF, still waiting for coffee, wanders over.)
JEFF. I highly doubt that.
TREY. Hey dude. (He and JEFF perform a secret handshake.)
ALICIA. What would you know, Jeff? The high art of the Theatre is lost on you. You should come to the show, though, allow my performance to make you a better person.
JEFF. Or I could kill myself. Just sayin’.
ALICIA. Think about it. (He stares blankly at her for a brief moment, then returns to the coffee shop.) How about you, Trey?
TREY. Sure. I gotta get to class, though. Have fun advertising. (He walks off, stopping by JEFF.) Thanks for the save, man.
JEFF. It’s like pulling teeth talking to her. What are you up to?
TREY. On my way to Bio.
TREY. You interested in seeing that tonight?
JEFF. Man, I get so bored watching that shit. Last time, I left at intermission and Alicia fucking chased me down. In costume.
TREY. Why’d you even go?
JEFF. Because I was looking to get my non-relationship partner’s pants around her ankles. Duh.
TREY. Dude, you don’t have a thing for Alicia, do you?
JEFF. Dude!! Remember when you introduced us? What was the first thing I said to her?
TREY. Something about a bag.
JEFF. I said even if she had a bag on her head, I wouldn’t wade through all that fat just to boff her! Remember?
JEFF. Not harsh! What, I’m supposed to have sex with someone just because they have an inability to quit eating? I mean, like three quarters of America is overweight because they can’t quit shoveling dump trucks of food into their mouths, and instead of doing anything proactive about it, they get sad, blame the fast food companies, and go back to McDonalds! Fuckn’ A. (JEFF casually takes his coffee from the counter. URBAN stares at JEFF, annoyed.)
TREY. (Beat.) Alright. Time for class, I’ll see you later man.
JEFF. Cool. Hey you should come over later. We can get drunk, do some drugs, and I will kick your ass at beer pong.
TREY. Yeah, cuz that’ll happen. I’m going to the play, but I’ll text you after.
JEFF. Nice. I might go work out. I’ve had some raging munchies lately and it’s starting to show.
TREY. Want some McDonald’s?
JEFF. Ha ha, fuck you. Peace out. (TREY exits. ROMAINE, a hott blonde, walks by. JEFF makes his move.) And good morning to this fine salad of Romaine.
ROMAINE. Oh hey Jeff. What’s it going to be today? Wow my boobs look great in this shirt, but they’d look even better out of it? You’d like to give me a kiss on the lips, but not on my mouth. Or maybe ‘Let’s get naked and fuck. Right here, right now.’ I have to say that is one of my all time favorites.
JEFF. That’s because it’s a classic. That’s how my dad picked up my mom. I was actually going to go with a bit about me being the dressing for your salad; something about you working my bottle over with your hands, IDK, doesn’t matter. So hey, what are you up to right now?
ROMAINE. I’m on my way to the library.
JEFF. Lame. Is it even ten o’clock yet?
ROMAINE. And why are you up, Jeff?
JEFF. Class. Which I’m skipping.
JEFF. Yeah, I know. That’s not the only thing that’s smooth though, baby. Come on, let me show you. We can go to the bathroom.
(URBAN’s drink is now ready. He takes it and glares at JEFF as he exits, disgusted.)
ROMAINE. Sex in the bathroom. (She laughs) Oh my god Jeff.
JEFF. That’s exactly what you’re going to be saying! Just try to keep it down, that moaning shit is a real turn off. A little bit is nice, it lets me know I’m doing my job, but I have a hard time believing a girl who moans and screams nonstop.
ROMAINE. (Very much aware they are in a public space) Jeff.
JEFF. And where do chicks pick that shit up? Pornos?
ROMAINE. Jeff, shutup.
JEFF. No. Those girls moan and wail because they’re trying to sell something. That’s what they do for a living. They have sex on camera, for money. And it’s not prostitution because porn is an industry whereas prostitution is more of an entrepreneurship. Sure, sometimes there’s pimps involved, but mostly you’re in business for yourself.
ROMAINE. Seriously, Jeff!
JEFF. And when you have sex that much, I’m sure there are times when they aren’t that into it, so they fake it. And yeah, that happens in real life too, except pornos involve ‘acting’, and let’s not forget that no porno has or will ever win an Oscar for Best Acting.
ROMAINE. Please stop.
JEFF. (He picks up speed, completely absorbed) So you have a girl that’s not into what she’s doing at the moment, so she fakes it, but she also knows she’s supposed to be acting and in character, so the faking gets some bad acting on top of it which leads to some overdramatic moaning that no one in their right mind believes, but the director won’t say anything because he only cares about the money shot because that’s what he believes we, the viewing public, want to see, but he’s wrong! It’s not the end result that’s appealing, it’s the process that matters, and it’s the process that makes the end result that much more satisfying!
ROMAINE. Do you want to go to the bathroom or not?!!
JEFF. (Beat) Wait, for real?
ROMAINE. I will count to three and then the offer will be void. One, two-
JEFF. Let’s go! (He pulls her off into a restroom and they exit. BLAINE, a dominator, and T., a spaz, enter from the library corridor.)
T. Seriously, what’s the point of studying all weekend if I still get a 59?
BLAINE. It’s not that bad. It’s a failing grade and your life is probably over, but it wasn’t that easy of a test to begin with.
T. Not helping.
BLAINE. How is that not helping?
T. (Overlapping) I could’ve gone out this weekend, had a good time, got really drunk, made bad choices, the whole shebang, but did I?
T. No! (In one exhausting breath) I stayed in like a good student to prepare for this fracking test so I could get a good grade, Ace the class, graduate at the top of my class making myself irresistible to the working world, in which I’ll meet a nice hott lawyer man, he’ll fall madly in love with me, and we’ll get married, have a couple kids and everyone will be so fracking jealous of how disgustingly perfect and happy we are!
BLAINE. Jesus fucking Christ, are you going to cry?
T. (Glaring) This University is dead set against me being happy. That’s the only logical conclusion here.
BLAINE. Ok, I’m trying to be supportive but we’re approaching the five minute mark on the Freakout counter. It’s a Gen. Ed. class, T., you just need a D. D’s get Degrees.
T. You might not think Psychology matters, Blaine, and frankly neither do I, but-
BLAINE. Maybe you didn’t understand me. I won’t be pretty. Bitch is what we do. I will be sassy and mean and you will hate yourself when I am finished if you don’t stop talking about this test.
T. Ok! Jeez. What’s up with you today? Are you and Phil not getting along?
BLAINE. (Beat. He becomes quieter, showing only slight emotion.) I don’t know what’s going on with us. I don’t know if there even is an us anymore.
T. (A little too eager) Oh my gosh what happened?
BLAINE. We had a little fight. And by little I mean I’m being uncharacteristically under-dramatic. It was the fight of the century.
T. Ok sit down. Do you have time to talk? When’s your next class?
(EVER, a vegetarian, enters with a poster and walks to a DSL wall already full of event posters, housing notices/roommate requests, etc. She surveys the wall a moment before sticking her poster up over the other posters. It’s a simple though highly artistic sign which reads: “www.YouPedia.com”. She admires it for a second, then exits.)
BLAINE. Not until 2, but I’d really rather not talk about it with you, T.
T. Well too bad. I’m here now and I’m listening. Sit! Tell me what happened.
BLAINE. You know, I think I’d rather talk about the test.
T. Nonsense! Do you know how long I can rant about that test? At least an hour, probably more. Now talk to me!
BLAINE. Who says nonsense anymore?
T. Tell me what happened.
BLAINE. Can I get coffee? I need some kind of latte or I’m pretty sure I’m going to die.
T. Dammit Blaine! I really care about you and I’m trying to be a friend here! Stop dodging!
BLAINE. Fine! Son of a bitch. (A beat. He sits.) Well, we’ve been a little rocky for quite some time. Like a week. Just little stuff. He’s been spending more time over at my place, which, you know, is great, but he has some really annoying habits.
T. Like what?
BLAINE. Well, for starters he’ll just come into the bathroom when I’m in the shower and do whatever. Like try to join me. And don’t get me wrong, I love doing it in the shower, but sometimes shower time is getting clean time, not fooling around time. Or he’ll waltz in and start taking a… constitutional. And what’s worse is he tries to talk to me while doing it! That violates so many bathroom etiquette rules, I – I just can’t comprehend it honestly.
T. Ew, ew, ew, ew, Ew! Do you not have a lock on the door?
BLAINE. No we do, I just don’t use it.
T. (Incredulous beat.) Okay, what about outside the bathroom?
BLAINE. Yeah, I don’t know. His shit is all over my room like he lives there, and that’s really annoying, he never wants to go out as BF / BF, we always have to make it look like we’re just friends, and he’s got this really stupid fucking thing against talking on the internet. He always calls me and he only texts if he has to. WT Fuck is that? Oh, and then there’s the whole bondage issue that-
T. (Morally uncomfortable) OK! So it’s been rocky, what happened? How did it escalate into the fight of the century?
BLAINE. Oh it didn’t escalate at all. I was fine with all that little stuff. I was dealing with it because, well, I really like him.
T. (Hiding discouragement) Oh. Well that’s good. That’s great! (Hopeful) Does he not feel the same way?
BLAINE. No, he does. He was actually about to say, you know, those words people who really like each other say to each other, but to his relief, I cut him off. That’s a huge step and neither one of us wants to blow this by moving too fast.
T. Okay, then what is the problem?!
BLAINE. (He remains calm, feigning disinterest) He agreed to get married. (Beat) To a girl.
ROMAINE. (Offstage) Oh my god Jeff!
BLAINE. Yup. He is now engaged. Accidentally, or so he says.
T. (Stumbling to find words) What the fudge nuts?! I don’t understand. He is gay, isn’t he?
(PHIL, a kindhearted soul, enters.)
BLAINE. If he’s not he fooled the shit out of me! I mean, he has some doubt issues he thinks he keeps hidden from me, but nothing I thought was serious, except now he’s engaged to some theatre major. He claims it’s one sided, that she’s completely nuts and totally in love with him and – Cock! Shit! Balls! – there he is. (They make eye contact. BLAINE smiles unconvincingly and lazily waves.) Dammit, now I have to go fucking talk to him, and I never got my latte and I kind of really hate you for that. Fuckin’ shit tits!
T. I’m, uh…sorry?
(PHIL keeps his distance.)
BLAINE. I’ll yell at you later. (He walks over to PHIL. They are awkward.) Oh! I almost forgot.
T. What is it?
BLAINE. The test? I got a 95. Bye! (BLAINE and PHIL exit, leaving T. without words, again.)