Written by Roth
Angry Gentleman #1
Angry Gentleman #2
Angry Gentleman #3
The overall setting is elaborately decorated for a New Years Eve Party, and contains three table settings, all holding five chairs, except for the one at stage right, which holds three. The tables at stage right and left are empty. Walter and Sarah Stevenson occupy two seats on the left side in the table at front and center, three are unoccupied to Sarah's left. Walter sits at her right.
Sarah: I must say, darling. I did not expect such an elaborate arrangement! And what a fine meal that was!
Walter: Only the best for my dove! (waiter walks over from stage right)
Waiter: (while presenting the bottle) Sir, your (stumbling terribly to pronounce) Chateau… de Fournier 67'. I must congratulate you, sir, I've never had someone order a wine I couldn't pronounce before.
Walter: And I've never had to send a waiter back seven times to fetch the proper wine! And I only had to wait an hour!
Waitor: (trying to hold back irritation, and force a smile) Sorry for the inconvenience, sir.
Walter: And I believe I ordered the Chateau de Fournier 66', not 67'.
Waiter: Well, sir, when I received the bottle from Vincent's Winery…
Sarah: Vincent's Winery! Why that's downtown! How did you get it delivered?
Waiter: They wouldn't deliver it. Nobody wants to drive in New Years Eve traffic. So I drove there myself. (uncorks bottle)
Sarah: That's over 6 miles there and back!
Waiter: Yes, madam. That's why I was so late delivering the bottle. (pours wine)
Walter: (not showing Sarah's compassion) Excuses, excuses… So why isn't the date right?
Waiter: (smartly) Well, as I was told by the wine expert at Vincent's, Chateau de Fournier was not officially established until 67. In other words, good sir, the wine you requested does not exist. (sits bottle down, Walter looks at him in shock) If there is anything else you may need, madam…(shows a struggle in calling him) sir… please don't hesitate to ask. (storms off stage right)
A slight pause.
Walter: I don't much care for our waiter Sarah…
Sarah: Oh Walter, I think he's charming!
Walter: Well his "charm" shall reflect in his tip…
Sarah: Darling… have you made any New Years resolutions?
Walter: Oh, New Years Eve resolutions were made to be broken! Have you?
Sarah: A few.
Walter: Such as?
Sarah: Tell me yours first.
Walter: I told you, I don't believe in them.
Sarah: But you've made them just the same.
Walter: (hesitating) Well, yes I have…
Sarah: Then tell me them!
Walter: Fine. I've made three. First, I will grow to love you more and more each day.
Sarah: Oh Walter!
Walter: Second, I will hire a new employee at my firm.
Sarah: For what, Walter?
Walter: Don't you remember when I mentioned the possibility of hiring someone to help me supervise my work.
Sarah: So we could be together more?
Walter: Yes, darling.
Sarah: Oh honey! (they embrace, a slight pause) And what is your third resolution?
Walter: Well darling, you know those cousins of mine…
Sarah: (pauses, shows a sign of horrid memory across her face) Yes… the Freeloaders…
Walter: Oh, could they possess more ironic names?(from back stage left, three men walk onto the scene, taking cautious, but clumsy steps towards the Stevenson table) Honey, never again shall I pay for another meal of theirs, nor be kicked out of a restaurant at their expense. Never again will the excuse that they are family inhibit me from keeping them as far away as possible. I promise you love, never again will we dine those Freeloaders! (raises his glass) To a New Year darling! (sips)
Paul Freeloader: I'll drink to that.
Walter chokes and coughs, spitting up his wine on the table.
Bobby Freeloader: (speaking in an elegant and educated manner to contradict with his manners) Ah. Chateau de Fournier, 67'! (grabs and raises the bottle in appreciation) A fine choice, indeed, good fellow! Only a man of some class and respect would drink so fine a wine! (begins guzzling down the bottle)
Paul: Bobby, where are your manners! (grabs the bottle from him) Gentlemen drink from glasses! (begins pouring the wine into three glasses sitting before the three empty seats. the last glass barely fills, as the bottle is emptied, Bobby immediately grabs his glass and downs it, the others take sips)
Sarah: (quietly to Walter) Walter, say something!
Walter: (shifting his attitude) Well, darling… they are family…
Sarah: (irritated) Oh!
Tom Freeloader: What a pleasure it is to see you two here!
Walter: (realizes his shirt is stained, but tries to stay calm as he wipes at it with a napkin) Oh believe me, the pleasure is all mine! (realizes the stain won't come out, and shows frustration)
Paul: Tommy here's been missing you a lot. We were going to come see you at your office, but I guess we don't have to go to all that trouble now that we see you here!
Walter: Thank God!
Tom: You wouldn't mind if we sat here, would you?
Paul: What a stupid question Tommy, of course not! Family shouldn't ask questions like that, it's frankly quite insulting!
Tom: Sorry brother!
They begin sitting down, Bobby next to Sarah, Tom next to Bobby, and Paul on the end next to Tom.
Sarah: (quietly to Walter) Walter, say something!
Walter: I promise, this is the last time!
Sarah: You said that last time! And what of your New Years resolution?
Walter: It isn't the New Year yet, love. Looks like another ten minutes, or so…
Sarah: And then what?
Walter: I'll leave them to pay the bill!
Sarah: You wouldn't!
Walter: I would, and I will! (his voice gets devious) And I'll make sure the bill is high enough to account for all the times they've skipped out on tips, and forced me to pay for expensive drinks and appetizers.
Sarah: Oh Walter, I love it when you behave deviously! You never do it enough around me!
Walter: Forgive me, darling. Planning business transactions at my firm requires quite enough devious behavior.
Waiter arrives from stage right.
Waiter: Good evening, gentlemen. May I get you something to drink?
Bobby: Something with lots of alcohol in it.
Waiter: Might you be more specific, sir?
Bobby: Be specific for me. It's New Years, just get me smashed.
Waiter: No problem, sir. It is just that some gentlemen in here are far more particular… (gives a glance towards Walter) And you sir?
Tom: Oh, I think the alcohol in this glass is enough for me (referring to the glass of Chateau de Fournier) But I'll have a Virgin Margarita.
Bobby: Hey, I'll have a virgin… and a Margarita! (laughs loudly, disturbing a couple that has just sat down at the table at stage left)
Paul: Bobby, that is highly inexcusable!
Waiter: (somewhat smiling to cover irritation) And you sir?
Paul: I'll have a Martini.
After writing the last drink order, the waiter begins walking off, but is stopped by Walter.
Walter: (glancing over at the three, who seem to be keeping themselves busy, Bobby telling more jokes, Tom laughing, and Paul trying to control him) Respectable people, aren't they? (waiter turns to them)
Bobby: How about a virgin… IN a Margarita!
Paul: Control yourself, or I'll control YOU MYSELF!
Waiter: The very best sir.
Walter: Yes, well they are my cousins. I put up with them because they are family.
Waiter: I was so fortunate as to not have one, sir.
Walter: Well, they are quite rich. They've even offered to pay for my meal, drinks included!
Waiter: How good for you sir! You didn't look like the sort of man that would be able to afford that bottle of wine anyway.
Walter: Ha, and do any of them look like they could afford it! ( restrains himself, then continues) I mean, just look at those suits; how cheap and unfashionable for men of their status!
Waiter: (glancing towards them) Yes, I have seen better… (turns back)
Walter: I just thought I'd tell you to give them your best service! They tip extremely well. They can be a bit "picky" however…
Waiter: Oh, I'm not worried at all about that. I've met the pickiest guest already tonight.
Walter: Which reminds me, I'd like two more bottles of wine.
Waiter: If you expect me to drive back to Vincent's Winery, you are quite mad sir!
Walter: Oh, of course not! Just bring me two bottles of your most expensive wine.
Waiter: You do know that our most expensive bottle surpasses the triple digits…
Walter: In the thousand dollar range? Who would pay that much for wine?
Waiter: Hopefully your cousins…
Walter: Oh yes, of course! Bring two.
Waiter: I do hope you are not driving home sir.
Walter: Oh no, I won't drink those here. Those are for the road…. I mean, I'm taking them home.
Waiter: You'll have to excuse me, sir, but I doubt you'd ever order those bottles of wine if those gentlemen weren't paying for them.
Walter: Of course not.
Waiter: Then you, sir, are quite the freeloader!
Walter: That I am, waiter. Now go get those bottles of wine. And bring two glasses of champagne while you're at it!
Waiter: Right away sir.
The waiter leaves stage right to get the drink orders.
Sarah: (giggly) Walter, you devil!
Walter: As soon as I hire that new employee, we shall be able to spend more evenings together. And there's no reason why we shouldn't enjoy the finest wine on those occasions.
Sarah: Oh Walter!
A group of three gentlemen approach the table from stage left, and take glances at a set of tickets they are holding in their hands.
Gentleman #1: Is this table 98?
Walter: (looking at a marker on the table) It certainly appears so…
Gentleman #2: Why isn't there any room left?
Gentleman #3: Perhaps some of you took the wrong seats.
Tom and Bobby look uncomfortably to Paul, the leader, for some course of action. Paul stares at the table marker for a moment, and thinks.
Paul: Ah! I see now! (reaches across the table to the paper marker) Clumsy Bobby knocked it over. He must have set it back up the wrong way. This isn't table 98, (turns card over, so that it reads Table 86) this is table 86!
Gentleman #1: Oh, alright. Come gentlemen, let us find our table. (they leave, and begin searching for their table, eventually disappearing offstage right)
Walter: By the way, did you three pay to get in?
Paul: Did we pay for those atrociously priced reservations? Of course not! One would have to be mad to pay a twenty dollar per person fee just to sit in some fancy restaurant and await another dreadful New Year while stuffing themselves with expensive garbage and washing it down with even more expensive wine!
Waiter: (after just arriving) Speaking of expensive wine, your martini, sir. (places glass before Paul)
Paul: Thanks old chap!
Waiter: A large Margarita. (places before Bobby) Extra alcohol.
Bobby: Yes, thank you, but where's my Virgin?
Paul: Bobby, don't start.
Waiter: (to Tom) And a Virgin…
Bobby: There she is!
Paul: This is the last time, Bobby!
(Bobby calms down, as though he feels certain Paul will surely hurt him if he continues)
Waiter: …a Virgin Margarita for you, sir. (places before Tom)
Tom: Thank you.
Waiter: (turning to Walter) I'll have your bottles in a moment, sir.
Walter: Paul, you are prepared to pay for your drinks, aren't you?
Paul: Certainly not! We're sneaking out just as we snuck in! (a slight pause as the three cousins drink their drinks, Walter and Sarah exchange mischievous glances) Which reminds me, Bobby, you best go find table 86 and make it table 98 before those mindless oafs in expensive suits get wise.
Bobby: (whiny) Oh, why do I always have to go?
Paul: Because you are fat, and some exercise would do you some good.
Bobby: (after gulping down his entire margarita) Fine!
Bobby gets up, grumbling under his breath, and stumbles away from the table, apparently showing some signs of being impaired by the alcohol.
Paul: Believe it or not, I have high hopes for that boy. (Bobby stops at a nearby table where the couple that was disturbed by him is sitting)
Bobby: Ah, Pinot Noir… (grabs their bottle) Year… I can't read it, but what the hell (promptly drinks down what's left of it before belching, and walking off. The couple gasp, and get up, and leave. Bobby continues looking about for the table)
Paul: Very high hopes indeed…
Walter: What exactly have you all been doing for work?
Paul: Yes, we are moving up fast. Bobby isn't doing so well. He's not a very good worker at all. Indeed, he is not even good at pretending to work. And that's all you need to work your way up in the construction business. But I have high hopes for him because I have a feeling he is gifted in many other ways.
Bobby has just found the table at stage right, and changes the marker. He looks about the room, but can't seem to find the table where he came from.
He begins getting dizzy from searching the room, and begins to stumble about, nearly falling over, and barely catching himself. He is slowly stumbling his way out stage right.
Walter: Like what?
Tom: He'd make a great wine tester!
Paul: Lord knows he's had enough experience…
Bobby falls back stage right, off the stage, and in the background we hear a loud bang, and glass breaking as though Bobby has just fallen over on top of something. All eyes shift off stage right.
Sarah: What on Earth was that?
Tom: Earthquake, perhaps?
Paul: How stupid of you, Tommy! Earthquakes don't happen on New Years Eve! It wouldn't be proper! Just think of all the impaired lowlifes of the world who wouldn't have the slightest idea of what was happening, nor have any idea where to run to. And that's half our population on New Years Eve. A bunch of drunken fools.
Waiter: Here you are, sir. Our finest bottles of wine, and two glasses of champagne. (places on the table)
Walter: Thank you. (smiles to Sarah, who is trying to control her giggling, waiter leaves)
Paul: Speaking of drunken fools, why are you two ordering more wine! Your wife is clearly drunk already.
Sarah: (insulted) Mr. Freeloader!
Walter: Come now, Sarah! He was only joking.
The three gentlemen appear back onstage, and appear to still be searching for their seats. They spot the table at stage right, marked table 98, and sit down at the three chairs. The table is more lavishly set then the other tables, with a special floral decoration in the center. They seem excited. An announcer's voice comes from backstage loudly.
Announcer: Alright everybody, get your drinks and get seated. In two more minutes, we will be toasting a new year!
Walter: So have you two made any New Years resolutions?
Paul: I've made a couple. First, I resolve to quit my job in construction. It's about time I move on.
Walter: So your second resolution then would be to get a better job?
Paul: Nope. Just the opposite. I'm never going to work again.
Paul: I know! I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner.
Walter: And you Tom?
Tom: I suppose I'd like to stop smoking.
Walter: You smoke, Tom?
Tom: No. But I'm so used to breaking my New Years resolutions, I figured I'd choose one this year that I'd have no chance of breaking.
Three more gentlemen enter the stage from stage left, and begin looking for their table. They quickly move over to table 98 (really table 86).
Angry Gentleman #1: Excuse me, but I believe you three have taken our reserved table.
Gentleman #1: Excuse me sir, but you must be mistaken. This is our table. Number 98.
Angry Gentleman #1: (flipping over the table marker) No, this is table 86, as you surely know. Nice try, but we reserved this table in advance, and paid good money for it. Now you three best leave now!
Gentleman #3: This is our table! You will not force us from it!
Angry Gentleman #2: Oh yes we will! Now get out of here before this gets physical.
Everyone is watching now, including the waiter who appears from stage right.
Gentleman #2: Oh, you don't want this to get physical. We're all angry and drunk as hell, and that's an explosive combination! (throws a fist, brawl ensues)
Sarah: (gasps) Oh dear!
Waiter gets hit in the leg with a chair, and gets into the fight himself.
Announcer: Ladies and gentleman, raise your glasses, and get ready to toast the new Year!
The four of them arise, Paul and Tom the quickest, while Walter and Sarah take awkward glances at the brawl ensuing. The waiter seems to be winning. They finally grab their glasses.
Walter: Get ready to toast a great year, Sarah!
Sarah: A marvelous year, Walter!
Bobby finally appears from backstage right, where the waiter is still fighting to control the situation, and all the gentlemen are fighting each other. He gets closer and closer to Walter and Sarah's table as the announcer does the countdown.
Announcer: 10! 9! 8! 7! 6! 5! 4! 3! 2! 1! (Bobby falls over, collapsing on the table, and destroying it. Sarah and Walter look down at him, shrug their shoulders, clink their glasses together, and drink as balloons fall from the sky, and new years music "should all acquaintance" plays).
The waiter is the last man standing in his ripped shirt and bloodied clothes. He slowly limps towards the table. Walter notices him first, and nudges Sarah.
Walter: (setting down his glass and grabbing both bottles of wine) Well cousins, it was a joy seeing you. Happy New Year!
Sarah: Yes, Happy New Year!
Sarah and Walter run out stage left, laughing merrily.
Paul: Well they sure left fast…
Tom: I think we should too…
Waiter: Hello, gentlemen. Here is your bill. (hands Paul the bill)
Tom: (looking at the bill) Oh my lord!
Paul: It's a shame the bill is the one thing you can't send back… RUN!!!
Paul speeds off stage left, followed hesitantly by Tom.
Tom: What about Bobby? (goes off stage)
Paul: Every man for himself! (from off stage)
Waiter: I'll get you! (runs, while limping, off stage left. for a moment, all is silent except for loud footsteps. Finally the waiter gives up, and comes back onstage.
Waiter: Those… those… those FREELOADERS!
Bobby slowly regains consciousness and begins slowly crawling across the stage, away from the waiter.
Waiter: Oh no you don't! (runs over to him, and holds him down) Somebody's got to pay for this! (grabs his wallet, and opens it) Nothing! No money, no credit cards, nothing! What do you even have a wallet for?
Bobby: (groans) My ID's in there…
Waiter: Let me tell you something, pal. You're going to be washing dishes for a very, very long time!
The lights go out suddenly, the whole stage becomes pitch black.
Waiter: What the…?
Paul: Hurry! Pick him up!
Tom: He's so heavy!
Waiter: Oh no you don't! Someone's got to pay! Someone's got to pay!
Light's come back on. The waiter is now holding one of the unconscious gentlemen from the brawl.
Waiter: (shaking the limp body) Someone's got to… pay. (let's body fall, and groans)
Announcer: (God-like voice) My friend, why are you so down?
Waiter: (takes a deep breath) The working man always gets rear-ended. Freeloaders run this world.
Announcer: Not so, my child. The working man always has the dignity of saying he worked for everything he has.
Waiter: Dignity? I drove out of my way to get a bottle of wine for a very picky gentleman, got into a brawl, and ruined a suit all in the name of this fine venue and I didn't even get a tip.
Announcer: Here's a tip; stop being so hard on yourself. You may work harder then anyone else, but do you think those freeloaders drive a Porsche?
Waiter: … no.
Announcer: Then obviously your work has earned you something.
Waiter: Good point.
Announcer: Then go, my son! Enjoy your week off.
Waiter: (gets up and walks a few steps stage left, then stops) By the way, I know it's you Harry.
Announcer: I'll see you next week, boy.
Waiter exits stage left. Music ends. Curtain closes.