5X5: Hostia ad Absurdum

HOSTIA AD ABSURDUM
BY JIM LAWRY 
lawry@mindspring.com

H is a small man.  EVA is well, Eva.  What can I say?
H
How great to see you all here.  (Places hourglass)  So you want a story?  A story finished in five?  But some things are not for me to decide.  Like whether we’re forgiven.  When we die and where.  (Pause, enter EVA listening to ear phones, dancing..)  Am I still a stranger to you sometimes?

EVA
Can’t hear.  (Earphones off)  You should be ashamed.

H
A stranger to you don’t I sometimes seem?  Ignore her.  (To audience)  Remember me?  I’m your fear.  (Looks at glass and restarts it.) Here’s my story. 

EVA
(Aside) Philanderer of the worst sort.  Irresistibly attractive? How does newness come into the world? I married him out of cowardliness.  Now I’m doing something brave.  To be born again first you have to..

H
Salvation damnation, the usual. What angel would not wish to speak to me?  Back to our story. Last night a priest told me of a change in his church’s attitude towards the Eucharistic wafer.  For generations Catholic children were taught the wafer must be held in the mouth and allowed to melt.  Why is that? To touch it with the teeth is blasphemous.  You know what I mean?  I’m speaking.

EVA
What kind of an idea are you?  Man or mouse? Your trouble is you got let off.  Got away with.. 

H
Let me continue. So fresh from seminary with bold ideas he says: Jesus did not say take and melt this in your mouth but take and eat.  The operative word is eat. To dissolve dilutes the transubstantiated metaphor of nourishment.  You know what I mean? 

EVA
Don’t you get it?  No three outs.  No to the showers with him. 

H
Please.  If you were not losing your hair I’d tell you to let it down.  Shut up. I’m speaking.  So I have ordered our bakeries to provide a thicker wafer that prisoners must chew before being swallowed.  (To audience)  We are a homely congregation now aren’t we?  Look at you.  All the strained faces pleading to be released.  All pilgrims schlepping towards..

EVA
I escaped your clutches.  Now you won’t sink your hooks into me again.

H
Schlepping towards divorce.  What I’m trying to say. Some of you get to mutual confession, others make it to the psychiatrists and the lawyers, and you?  The world is our host.  It must be chewed.  (Pause)

EVA
Hear me I know him. On bitter nights he goes to an oak tree where he draws a sword conjuring dark powers.  (Whispering)  They tell him…

H
Are all the girls in this town always so rude?

EVA
Because now most of the boys are like you.

H
I’m used to being with someone with whom I don’t have to fight every time I express an opinion.  You want to know why I’m here?  For women.  When I kissed you there were sparks, believe or don’t believe. You said it was static electricity in the carpet, but I’ve kissed chicks before, and this was a definite first, a one and only, bloody electric sparks, had to jump back in pain.

EVA
Germany never stops being a picture postcard to him.  You can’t get him to look at what is really real.

H
I have a holy land to conquer. Should hear me on the subject …suppose you went downstairs and found in your living room a man with a shotgun, and he said go back where you came from. What would you do?  Well it’s like that. 

EVA
Wait. Intruders in the home just won’t do.   If you must choose these bloody metaphors then get them straight.  I own my shop, I’m minding the store, and the guy with the gun says I’m squatting his place then…  So that’s the metaphor. 

H
Better tell ’em you’re Jewish.  I was brought up to have views on Jews.

EVA
Yes I am Jewish.  You’re the one who’s not circumcised.  Nobody’s perfect.

H
It seems to me nothing is more foolish than to maintain an old religion that has become no longer viable.  Nothing dies unless it is moribund.

EVA
But you play the creator’s role, a sin.  You’re unnatural, a blasphemer, an abomination of abominations.  You just need someone to believe in you.

H
I do, desperately.  I admit. Fairies don’t exist unless kids clap their hands.

EVA
Not only do you need to be believed you need ..

H
I’m not myself today.

EVA
(To audience) They’ll learn. Have you raved at them yet and told them of your glorious prehistory, stone axes, spears and..? 

H
No.  You’re ruining my tale.  All that comes later.

EVA
And the midnight rallies and your mobs with guns?  I know you’re the greatest coward that can be imagined. 

H
As you see we haven’t been getting along lately.  On the rocks. (I’ll tell you..) 

EVA
Your false mustache is slipping.  Mister actor.  Your mustache just slipped again.

H
You know what I don’t need?  We don’t need more brainless and simpering tolerance of everything that comes along.  Blurs our new national soul.  Makes you afraid doesn’t it? You know what I mean?

EVA
Comment va le bon Dieu? King David, how do we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?  By the river of Babylon where we sat down oh, oh how we wept.  If I forget Thee oh Jerusalem then my right hand forget its cunning…You are committing a very grave sin..

H
Ah?

EVA
(EVA taps his head) How are things up there in your monomania?

H
Monomania?  I don’t think this category exists in my new theology.

EVA
N’cest-ce pas?  What DOES exist in your new theology?

H
Love of country.  Immanence.  Stability. Taking as opposed to giving.  Work …

EVA
Work?  I thought you had quit work.

H
That’s an unkind way of putting it.  I prefer to say I’ve changed employers.  I’m in business for myself.

EVA
Monomania pays wages?

H
Ah?

EVA
You mean there’s living to be had in nonsense?  I said nonsense.  Dead fetid nonsense.

H
Call it that if it makes it easier for you.  Myself, I’m not a fast learner.  Intellectual humility came rather fast to me.  After talking with the priest for the first time in my life I feel on the verge of finding myself.

EVA
Yourself?  You poor little mustache?  Cette petite chose?  That’s all you’re looking for?  Have you tried pain?  Myself, I’ve found pain to be a great illuminator.  Permetttez-moi

H
Please I’ve been talking to them about religion.

EVA
I’ve given up.  It’s such a deprivation for me and the children.

H
Now I’m looking after them for myself.  Forget old times.  Come. Tell me what you said to me once long ago.  Chere madame, voulez-vous danser avec moi?

They dance, EVA reluctantly.

H
Will you live with me?

EVA
Can you support me?

H
No but I would gladly sink under you.

EVA
You’re sweet.  Like a razor.

H
Je t’aime.

EVA
No, not here.

H
Somewhere then?

EVA
No.  Nowhere.  Never.

H
But I, But..

EVA
Stop it.  You are embarrassing me deliberately.

H
You know what I wish now?  (To audience)  I wish all of you would disappear.  What do we see in each other?  Why are we together like this?

EVA
They will disappear and you will too.  Your time’s running out.

H
I’m not so sure.  There’s something about us that wants to survive.  It’s not in you and not in me but between us, where we almost meet.  Some vibration some cosmic something between us.  Enduring.  Must be chewed. Don’t you feel it? 

EVA
Stop.  You’re too painful for words.

H
Stop dancing?

EVA
Stop being.

H
That’s a beautiful idea.  Une belle idee.  I will if you will.

EVA
We are out of time.

                                END OF PLAY

5 thoughts on “5X5: Hostia ad Absurdum

  1. pretty much captures the sensibility of this local playwrite, whom I know well, so I’m biased, but it is beyond hilarious and playful and serious, at once.

  2. I thought it was truly absurd…but then knowing you…not that absurd…as H seemed to be parroting you in many ways…or maybe I was reading more into it than was meant to be???
    Sounds like Theatre J has great plays…from all cultures/faiths…which is so cool…

  3. Thanks for the comments. Five minutes is a challenge. A chance to see the world of another, respond briefly, intensely, loosely, feel and then go with what happens. What if can be played with. Casals would work bar by bar and see how many ways he could envision/play a phrase without falling in love with or solidifying any one way. Theater J’s fives lets us play with small pieces of a larger whole. Bravi and thanks

  4. This piece is growing bit by bit into something larger. This is how writing is. One reads, imagines, asks what if this, what it that and suddenly a new character shows up. Not one that will last or is expected but one that starts interacting with the other characters that are better developed. If this interaction is sharp and leads into new places the playwright’s job is to wait and see. New things come when least expected. I’m waiting. Cheers JimL

Comments are closed.