Jan Donley, Author of The Side Door

Plays

Two Daughters and Their Dead Mama - a look inside the manuscript

AT RISE: Hope, 39, and ROSE, 36, enter MAMA’s house through the front door. Knick-knacks, comfortably old furniture, shelves and boxes crowd the room. A label is affixed to every object.

MAMA, wearing a loose housecoat, stands in the center of everything.

ROSE and HOPE, wandering through the room, picking up objects and reading labels, appear to walk right through MAMA.

Throughout the play, when MAMA speaks, she only addresses the audience.

MAMA My daughters. They’ve just returned from my funeral. That’s Hope with the little-girl-dress and the big eyes. It’s that make-up she wears. (Pause.) And the other one, that’s Rose. She didn’t turn out like one—a rose, I mean. But she does like to garden, likes to get her hands in the dirt, she says. I used to tease her that she was the son her father never had.

HOPE I was hoping Daddy would be there. At the funeral. (ROSE scoffs.) What’s so funny about that?

ROSE Why do you call him Daddy? We never had a father.

HOPE That’s silly. Of course we had a father. I still remember the smell of his shaving lotion.

ROSE He left when I was two.

MAMA Rose is the practical one.

HOPE He must’ve had his reasons. And I bet he regrets what he’s done. When he finds out that Mama’s dead, he’ll be here. I know he will.

MAMA Ah, Hope. I named her well.

ROSE Men don’t need reasons, and they don’t have regrets.
(ROSE begins to sing a verse of the song, “My Way.”) (Singing.) “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention. . . .” (Pause.) Only men can sing that song. Women admit regret. Men deny it.

MAMA I guess they don’t need to know their father remarried years ago, makes lots of money, and has a grown son.
(ROSE crosses to the couch and picks up a quilt folded there.)

HOPE You always do that.
(ROSE puts the quilt down.)

ROSE I just wanted to look at the quilt.

HOPE No. I don’t mean the quilt. I mean what you said about Daddy. You cannot say that.

ROSE Say what?

HOPE You know. You cannot say all of one thing is any one way. You cannot say all men deny regret. That’s a—a—

ROSE —generalization.

HOPE Yes. It is. You can’t do that.

ROSE I just did.

HOPE I’m telling you, you can’t. It’s not logical. All of any one group can’t be one way, because if they were, then no one would be different. And if no one was different, we’d all be the same.
(A long pause.)

MAMA That’s Hope, always thinking on her feet.

All writings © Jan Donley 1985-2017
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