Two in Time by Lucy Sydel

A Note from the Playwright:

    This play may be performed in many different ways. The first production was originally played by a man and a woman, but One and Two may be played by actors of any gender, age, or ethnicity.
    In the original production, the actors worked with a combination of physical props and mime to represent the different objects in the play. However, other productions may choose to use as many or as few props as needed. It is important to note that there is no spoken dialogue in this play: any time the actors are “speaking,” they should not be mouthing the words but instead using gesture and movement to communicate. This play was initially performed with only two actors, but more actors can added if necessary (i.e. background guests at the party). Likewise, the music suggestions for each scene may be replaced or removed, especially in cases where it is not possible to obtain permission for copyrighted works. If used, music should be instrumental versions that are played continuously during each scene.

Scene 1

The curtain rises on a table, two chairs, and two doors.

(Music: playful and lighthearted, such as “Baby Elephant Walk” by Henry Mancini)

One and Two are four years old. They are in a preschool classroom.

One and Two walk in, but in different ways -- One has his head down and is watching his feet as they move, and Two has her head up and is not looking where she is going.

One sits down and starts stacking blocks very carefully, making a castle.

Two bumps into the table, climbs onto it, and starts reading a picture book. She swings her legs as she reads. Two rips out a page, crumples it up, tries to eat it, doesn’t like it, and stuffs it down her shirt. This happens two more times. The second time, Two gets very angry that the paper does not taste good. Two chucks the crumpled up paper at One.

One is very frightened by the piece of paper. One does not see anyone behind him, so One becomes convinced that the paper flew on its own. One examines the paper like it is both the most beautiful and the most terribly frightening thing he has ever seen. One holds up the paper slowly and with the other hand, motions for it to fly. The paper does not fly. One decides the paper is not high up enough to fly. One stands up. The paper still does not fly. One is upset that the paper will not fly so he throws the paper. One immediately feels bad for the paper and runs after it.

Two has been watching One very intently. Two sees that One has left his block castle to pick up the paper. Two sees her chance, her face lights up, and she walks over to the castle.

One is still trying to make the paper fly. He tries blowing to make a wind, staring at it, and tossing it in the air, but none of these methods work.

Two knocks over the castle.

One runs over to the castle and mourns.

Two decides that this is very funny. Two laughs.

One is very scared. One looks up at Two with deer-in-the-headlights eyes. One looks back down at the castle, and starts to cry.

Two stops laughing and offers to rebuild the castle.

One is screaming and crying and punching the air.

Two salvages most of the castle, and presents it to One.

One stops screaming, looks at the castle for a few seconds, and then kicks it over.

One and Two both stand up, face the audience, and change to hold the posture of 13 year olds.

Scene 2

(Music: mischievous and suspenseful, such as “His Morning Promenade” by Charlie Chaplin)

One and Two are in a middle school lunchroom.

One sits down alone, takes everything out of his lunchbox, and sets it out on the table meticulously.

Two stands stage left of OneTwo opens her lunchbag, takes a bite out of a sandwich, doesn’t like it, and puts it back into the lunchbag. Two looks over at One, then walks up behind him, standing over the table with a mischievous expression.

One drops his napkin on the floor, and reaches down to pick it up.

Two knocks the lunchbox off the table.

One sits back up, and is about to eat the sandwich when he sees his lunchbox on the floor. He puts down the uneaten sandwich, and reaches below the table to find the lunchbox.

Two reaches over One as he bends down. Two snatches the sandwich. Two takes a very large bite out of the sandwich. Two puts the sandwich back on the table just as One sits back up. The outline of the bite in the sandwich is obvious.

One sits back up, and puts the lunchbox back on the table. One takes a deep breath, and picks up the sandwich to start eating it again. One sees the bite mark in the sandwich. One quickly pushes back his chair in fear.

Two, still standing behind One, gets hit by the chair as he pushes it back.

One looks up at Two. They both freeze.

Two is still chewing the bite of the sandwich. She looks around, hesitates, then sits down next to OneTwo takes One’s sandwich. Then she reaches into her bag or under the table to reveal a new sandwich.  

One reluctantly takes the new sandwich.

One and Two eat their sandwiches, each looking in the opposite directions.

One turns his head to look at Two.

Two notices that One is looking at her. She quickly looks away, and slightly down. After a moment, she turns to look at One.

One quickly looks away.

One and Two both continue to avoid each other’s eye contact, until Two gets up and walks slowly to stage right while eating the sandwich. Two does not fully exit, and stops before she reaches the door.

One stands up, looking towards Two as she leaves.

One and Two face the audience, and change to hold the posture of 25 year olds.

Scene 3

(Music: upbeat big band swing, such as “Sing Sing Sing,” by Benny Goodman)

One and Two are at a party.

Two saunters in, carrying a cup. She takes a drink.

One is standing around greeting people at the party.

Two sees One, realizes who it is, and walks over to tap his shoulder.

One turns his head, gets dizzy, trips, and knocks into someone at the party. He gets into a fight, and punches the other person. He then gets hit and falls into Two.

Two catches One.

One and Two freeze, and look at each other. They share a moment of surprise and recognition.

One spins Two around. They dance, moving stage right, then stop before they reach the door.

One and Two face the audience, and change to hold the posture of 35 year olds. Two exits stage right.

Scene 4

(Music: pensive and conveying tension, such as “Opening” by Philip Glass)

One sits down tiredly and nervously, holding a baby wrapped in a blanket and rocking it.

Two enters the room with slumped shoulders. She is coming home from work. Two takes off her coat and hat and hangs them up.

One rushes over to Two, and hands her the baby.

Two receives the baby, sits down, and starts rocking it.

One collapses into the other chair, exhausted.

Two begins to fall asleep as she rocks the baby. She catches herself just as she is about to fall over. After a few moments, Two falls asleep again and lists over to the side while still rocking the baby.

One notices, and walks over to Two, carefully takes the baby from Two and walks across the room.

Two continues to her rock her hands even though the baby is gone. Suddenly she wakes up, and is surprised to find that her arms are empty. Two thinks that she lost the baby. Two looks everywhere: under the chairs, under the table, behind herself. Finally, Two spins around and sees that One has the baby. Two is relieved. Meanwhile . . .

One’s phone rings. He picks up the phone, and starts to argue with the person on the other end while still rocking the baby.

Two sees that One isn’t paying attention to the baby. She runs over and takes the baby back. Two sits down with the baby, opens a computer, and starts typing. She gets distracted by something on the computer and puts the baby down on the table next to her.

One and Two are occupied with their devices for a few moments and the baby is in the center.

One continues to argue into the phone for a little while, then looks down into his empty arms, and realizes the baby is gone. One runs over to the table where the baby is lying.

Two looks up from her computer, and sees One standing over the baby.

One takes the baby, storms off, and exits to the door stage left. He slams the door in Two’s face.

Two takes her computer, puts it in her bag, and grabs her coat. She pauses, looks back, then exits to the door stage right.

Scene 5

(Music: nostalgic big band jazz, such as “Begin the Beguine” by Artie Shaw)

One and Two are 75 years old. They walk into the Senior Residence Center from two separate doors.

One and Two greet each other in the middle, warmly. They hug.

One pulls back a chair, and offers it to Two.

One and Two sit down.

One and Two both take out a stack of photographs and set them on the table. Then, in unison, they look, reach over, and slide the other’s photographs toward themselves. They look at each other, and both sift through the pictures.

Two takes a photograph, and shows One. This photo is of them in preschool.

One looks at the photo, pauses, and then shakes his head.

Two raises her eyebrows, and puts down the photograph. Then she slowly gets up and stands behind One, walking as if she is a child. Two knocks the stacks of photos down in the same way that she knocked down the blocks in scene 1.

One pretends to cry, and they both laugh at the memory.

One looks at the picture, then at the photos, then at Two. His face lights up as he remembers. Then he takes out another photo and hands it to Two.

Two looks at the photo, pauses, and shakes her head.

One stands up, and motions for Two to get up. One pretends to punch himself in the face. He stumbles back a little bit.

Two catches him the same way she did during Scene 3. She remembers, and they dance. She spins around slowly; their arms are crossed.

One spins away from Two, and leaves her with her arms crossed.

Two’s arms loosen and she pretends to rock a baby. She stops, looks up at One, and hides her hands behind her back.

One walks over to the table, takes a photo of their child, and holds it up to Two.

One and Two stand together looking at the photo in stillness.

One slowly leaves and walks away. He looks back once, and then exits stage left.

Two reaches for One’s hand, and is surprised to find he is not there anymore.

Two faces the audience, and changes to hold the posture of an 85 year old.

Scene 6

(Music: optimistic and sweet, such as “59 Street Bridge Song,” by Paul Simon, instrumental version by Hit Co. Masters)

Two walks across the stage, very slowly, then sits down.

Two is enjoying the day. Her eyes search the room, expectantly.

Two looks at the empty chair next to her, where One would have been. She looks down, confused. After a moment, she looks up again hopefully, but still does not see him.

Two spins around slowly but playfully, as if One is hiding right behind her. She turns around again, concerned.

Two stands up. Her hands are shaking on the table.

Two walks a little to her left, looking at the door, waiting eagerly for One.

Two turns and anxiously scans the room.

Two stumbles back a bit. Her panicked expression changes slowly to one that is mournful.

Two clasps her hands together, and looks up, as if in prayer.

Two closes her eyes, and lowers her head.

Curtain.