Barry Kielmin: A woman in her mid-thirties, brunette and brown-eyed. Middle-ish height and weight. She is discontented with her life. Her husband, Frank, works late hours and she is home all day taking care of their two young children, Katie and Shrip. Barry cheats on her husband with a younger man who lives across the street, Jimmy. In her spare time, she cares for and talks to her beloved canaries, Pip and Jo.
Frank Kielmin: Barry's husband. Overworks at his job owning a sunglasses store. Drinks a bit too much and is too for his wife and children. His is slightly gone to seed and is in his early forties.
Katie Kielmin: 4 years old, daughter of Barry and Frank. She had ADD and is a very picky eater.
Shrip Kielmin: 6 years old and big for his age, daughter of Barry and Frank. Picks on his younger sister constantly. He was not ready for kindergarten and will start at 7.
Setting: The living room of a lower-middle class home. There is a couch centered on the stage and back with a rug in front of it. It is rather beat-up and faded-looking but not entirely hopeless. SR is a birdcage with two canaries. It is about 8:00 pm and the children are in another room watching TV and eating. Faint cartoon noises can be heard. Barry is talking to the birds while she changes their water.
Barry: Hey my babies! How are you? (She pulls the water tray out but doesn't look at it. Instead, Barry crouches down a little to be on more of an eye-level with the birds. She peers at them for a moment, inspecting, and then rises and makes to leave the room. We hear a door slam SL before she is offstage.) Jimmy! I told you! Don't- (Barry turns around as Frank enters SL)
Barry: (shock) Frank (pauses) dear! You're home ... early.
Frank: (as if this is now unimportant to him) Yeah. (feigns nonchalance) Why'd you call me Jimmy?
Barry: (evasive) Why are you home so early?
Frank: (childishly) I asked you first. Why did you say Jimmy?
Barry: I didn't know it was you- I mean-
Frank: Can't a man come home early to see his wife once and a while? (he is suspicious now)
Barry: (without thinking) No! - I mean, (scrambling) I- I didn't know you were coming! I could have made a special dinner- or something. (nervous now, drops bird water dish onto rug) Oh! The carpet! I need to get a rag! (makes to run off into another room SR but Frank catches her arm)
Frank: Damn the carpet, Barry! It's eight-o-clock; I've already eaten!
Barry: Oh- (squirms) Frank the carpet! We just had it cleaned! Please-
Frank: I said damn the carpet! There's something you're not telling me! (looks intensely at Barry and pulls her closer) I work my ass off for this family and this is what I get? I come home to terrified faces!
Barry: (suddenly) You own a sunglasses store, Frank. A sunglasses store that's open from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm. (she glares at him intensely) You expect me to believe that you're working when you're still not home at 10:00 at night?
Frank: 6:00 pm. The store is open until 6:00 pm. (the TV noises get louder, suddenly and Frank yells without letting go of Barry) Turn that DOWN! (the television noises immediately become very soft)
Barry: Whatever. I don't care. That's not my point and you know it.
Frank: What did you say for, Barry? (his eyes narrow as he thinks rapidly) Jimmy Pring? From across the street? You're cheating on me for Jimmy Pring?
Barry: I didn't say I was cheating on you for anybody! That's just your mind concocting things that aren't there! I hardly know him!
Frank: Then why did you say his name?
Barry: Let go of me!
Frank: Why, Barry?
(Katie and Shrip creep on SR)
Barry: (defensively) And just what do you do? Just what do you do all day, from eight thirty in the morning until ten thirty at night? Sell sunglasses? Sign papers? Or is there someone else? (his jaw drops and she wrenches away from, him arms stiff at her sides, continuing softly, a controlled menace) There is, isn't there, Frank? God, I should have known. Bastard.
Shrip: What does that word mean, Mommy?
Barry: (through her teeth) Nothing, honey. Never use it. (she is still glaring at Frank)
Katie: (innocently) Then why can't we use it? You did.
Barry: That's because I'm a grown-up. Go to the other room, both of you. Mommy will be there in a minute. Better yet, why don't you go to your room and pick out your bedtime story. I'll be up to read it to you soon. (The two children glance at each other nervously but comply, turning slowly and exiting SR without another word. Thoughout their entire discussion, Barry has not turned to look at them.)
Frank: (almost acceptingly) So this is it, huh? This is how it's gonna end? We'll just- go our seperate ways?
Barry: I hate you. (she has obviously been brooding over this for some time) I hate you. You're always gone and I don't know where you are. I'm here all day. All day long, Frank, seven days a week. No breaks. I never see you. Do you know what that's like? Do you know? I hate it. I can never get away. (she turns to exit SR)
Frank: Where are you going?
Barry: The children need their bedtime story. Have you ever read a bedtime story to your own children, Frank? Jimmy has. (She exits and Frank stares, dumbfounded. As the curtain closes the canaries can be heard singing.)