“Bo Regards”

My contribution to the 2014 24/7 show at Live Arts in Charlottesville, VA. I was given a cast of two women, one men, and one female cameo; the theme of the evening was “wishful thinking” and my prompt was “ex-pat in Paris”. I had to write a play overnight, and as I sat down to write, I learned that my own Uncle Bo had passed away that day. This is the result.

Written on January 24 and performed on January 25, 2014. With Noel Derecki, Amy Barrick, Maria Trapnell, and Mendy St. Ours. Directed by Barbara Roberts.

Full text below. All photos courtesy of Lance Buckley’s 24/7 flickr feed.


(BO, a very old man, is sitting in a chair, eyes lost in the distance. Two young women enter, EMILY and ELAINE. He does not acknowledge their presence.)

EMILY:
Uncle Bo?

ELAINE:
He doesn’t hear you.

EMILY:
Uncle Bo?

ELAINE:
He’s lost in his thoughts again.

EMILY:
Where does he go?

ELAINE:
The war. His wife. I don’t know. A lot of memories in that old head.

(Still staring off into the distance, Bo smiles and nods)

EMILY:
Does he even know we’re here?

ELAINE:
I’m not sure he even knows that he’s here.

EMILY:
Still, you’re lucky to have him. With my dad gone, your dad is the last of his generation.

(Emily sits next to Bo and takes his hand. Still never looking at her, he smiles and laughs lustily)

BO:
Paris.

EMILY:
Wait … what? Did you hear him say something. It sounded like “Paris”.

ELAINE:
Dad was stationed overseas during the war. He’s never really talked about it. Maybe he’s thinking of France.

EMILY:
Were you in France, Uncle Bo? During the war?

(Bo looks directly at Emily and nods)

BO:
Paris!

(There is an intensity to this word that startles Emily. She lets go of his hand and recoils a bit. Bo turns back to stare at that same point on the far horizon, still smiling.)

ELAINE:
He looked right at you!

EMILY:
I know.

(Emily, still a little disconcerted, wipes her hand on her blouse while Elaine rushes to the side of her dad.)

ELAINE:
Dad? Daddy? It’s Elaine. Did something happen to you in Paris?

(Bo continues staring into the distance with that Mona Lisa smile.)

ELAINE:
We lost him.

EMILY:
I have an idea.

ELAINE:
What’s that?

EMILY:
We’ll take him to Paris.

ELAINE:
Emily, that’s just wishful thinking. He’s 89 years old. On a good day I manage to just get him around the block. We can’t transport him to Paris.

EMILY:
Then we’ll bring Paris to him!

(Elaine looks quizzically at her cousin. Emily looks around the room excitedly. She spots a small table and puts it next to Bo.)

EMILY:
Do you still have your mom’s picnic cloth?

ELAINE:
The gingham one? (Dawning on her) Yes!

(As Emily continues to rearrange the room, Elaine finds the gingham cloth and drapes it over the table. Between the two of them, they begin to build “Paris” in the room: a bud vase, some cheese, perhaps some fruit. Elaine pretends to be a mime.)

EMILY:
That’s not helping. Do you have any French music.

(Elaine scrolls through her iPhone)

ELAINE:
ABBA?

EMILY:
Swedish.

ELAINE:
Katy Perry? (Emily shakes her head) Celine Dion? (Emily shakes her head in disgust)

EMILY:
No Edith Piaf? Josephine Baker? (Elaine looks at her with disbelief) What? She was very big in France!

ELAINE:
I’ve got it. (She holds the phone up to her face and talks into it.) Siri, play French music.

(Triumphant orchestral starts playing. Bo, suddenly alert, stands up, hand over his heart.)

ELAINE:
Oh, look at that!

(They smile at this change, until Bo straightens up and gives a Nazi salute)

EMILY:
Yikes! Something else, something else…!

ELAINE:
Siri! Um, no Nazis! Play cheesy French cafe music.

(Siri plays cheesy French cafe music. Bo sits back down.)

EMILY:
We’re still missing something…

(The cousins look at each other and then speak simultaneously.)

EMILY/ELAINE:
Wine!

(Elaine finds a bottle of red wine. She puts it onto the table with two glasses and pours some. Then the two cousins disappear into the background. The cheesy French cafe music still playing in the background, Bo reaches for the glass of wine. He is suddenly 70 years younger. CAMEO, a beautiful French woman, appears.)

CAMEO:
Monsieur?

BO:
Madame.

CAMEO:
You are drinking alone?

BO:
In Paris, one never drinks alone.

(He indicates the empty seat. CAMEO sits down and he pours her some wine. They toast each other.)

CAMEO:
You are American?

BO:
Oui.

CAMEO:
You speak French.

BO:
Umm … “no oui”?

CAMEO:
Non. I am Cameo.

BO:
So you won’t be staying?

CAMEO:
No monsieur.

BO:
Just a moment though, will you? I want to always remember this.

CAMEO:
Always?

BO:
Yes. Oui. Always. These past few months in Europe, the war, there’s a lot that I want to forget. But I’ll be going home soon, and I want my lasting memory to be just this: sitting in a cafe, listening to music, with a beautiful French girl at my side.

CAMEO:
Oui monsieur. Merci.

BO:
Will I always remember you?

CAMEO:
The face will blur, the music will fade (the music fades), the wine will evaporate. You will even forget my real name and think of me only as “Cameo”.

BO:
I thought you were Cameo.

CAMEO:
No, monsieur. But it will do.

BO:
I’m Bo.

CAMEO:
Yes, you surely are.

(They take one last drink, then Cameo vanishes. Emily and Elaine reappear. Bo has set down the glass and returns to staring at the far horizon. The cousins come to his side.)

EMILY:
Anything?

ELAINE:
For just a moment, I thought … but no, nothing.

EMILY:
I wonder where he goes?

ELAINE:
I shouldn’t have let him have that wine. We better let him rest.

(The women clean up. Emily pauses to look at Bo, then leans over to him.)

EMILY:
You rest now, Uncle Bo. You’ve earned it.

(Emily kisses him on the cheek, then the cousins depart, leaving Bo to stare into the distance. His smile begins to fade, until he suddenly straightens up with a new thought.)

BO:
London!

(Blackout)

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