A One Act Opera by an author who describes the events of the hero's marriage.
|AN EXPLANATION OF THE OPERA, “BARSONABIS”
By the grand maester Eedio Tanmoron
(a one act play)
A Simple One-Act Play
Act One, Scene One; As the curtain opens, our hero, Barsonabis, is standing at the altar weeping and singing in a falsetto voice; there are more than a thousand people in the audience. His bride has not yet been ushered in. He is sad and very upset. The reason for his being upset is there are no flowers for the wedding altar. The priest tries to console him, singing counterpoint to the hero’s blustering squeak (for such a large man he has a squeaky voice). But the hero would not be consoled, though many tried to console him. Our hero resists all efforts of consolation, first weeping convulsively, hollering, screaming, then flaying his arms and even kicking some of the goody-two shoes who came from the audience off the platform and back to the audience. It seems that the florist has not yet arrived and the altar is without the necessary flower arrangements. We suddenly realize the priest has disappeared from the stage.
Now, unbeknownst to the hero, the florist has loaded his little truck with the flowers and other accessories but just notices that his right rear tire is flat. He changes the tire, washes his hands and then comes out to his little truck to head for the church and put the flowers on display. But the little truck will not start. The starter will not turn over. The house lights dim and the scene changes.
Act One, Scene Two; the florist, who is only a florist at night and on the weekends is also an auto mechanic during the day, five days a week (weekends off). So it’s pretty easy for him to analyze the problem with the motor. We hear him singing in a low tenor, almost bass voice “500 Miles Away From Home,” by Bobby Bare. Only his simple solution doesn’t work. His song changes from a lilting melody to a dirge, “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley. But the florist is not to be bested by a mechanical device, his truck. So he disconnects the battery and removes the starter from the motor. After testing the starter he concludes it is okay. Therefore the problem has to be in the wiring to the starter. He reinstalls the starter, being certain that the belts on the starter are taut but not too taut. Then with his twelve volt meter, he begins checking the connections to the starter. Everything seemed to be okay, also. Now he really begins to wonder what is wrong as he sings, “I Ain’t Got Nobody” by an unknown singer from the 1930s. The house lights dim.
The clock on stage shows that it is now about two hours later. The florist looks around his garage floor and realizes he has removed everything but the motor itself. The florist is half singing, half humming as he takes stock in his efforts to correct the problem. His next inclination is to call the groom, our hero, and report to him what has occurred. So he cleans his hands with waterless hand cleaner, takes the cell phone out of his pocket and starts to punch in the numbers to reach his party. But he cannot remember the number in full. He has the area code and the prefix but not the last four digits.
Well, there are only ten thousand possible combinations to the last four numbers. So he, not being discouraged in the least, decides he will put the truck back together and hopes he can start the motor. He is now singing “America,” from the Neil Diamond album. After reassembling the engine electrical system, he, leaning into the cab through the open window, turns the key and the motor starts instantly. But he has forgotten to take the truck out of gear and when the engine starts, the truck lurches forward and shoots right into the street, directly in front of a moving van that is traveling rather fast. The curtain closes.
Act One, Scene Three; well, as you can imagine, the van strikes the small truck, knocking it over on its left side in the middle of the busy street. Quickly, our florist dashes to the little truck and flings open the right-hand back door of the cargo compartment, only to find the floral arrangements have been seriously rearranged… or disarranged, as the truth is known. Now the florist begins to cry and is singing his dirge, again. The driver of the moving van, a rather compassionate man, gets out of his van and comes to console the florist. The van driver puts an arm around the shoulders of the florist and pats him gently on the upper arm, all the while whispering that not all things had been ruined, totally. You see, the man who is driving the van is only a moving van driver in the evenings and on the weekends. During his work week, he is a psychologist and completely understands human behavior. Therefore it is a simple task for him to console the florist. The curtain closes.
Act One, Scene Four; the bride to be is now ushered in to an apparent melee. Nevertheless, her father walks her down the aisle to the platform, where her groom-to-be is fighting all the members of the audience who are trying to help. The groom, our hero, is a big fellow and he is literally taking people and throwing them off the dais, back to the audience from whence they came. The bride-to-be has no problem with his behavior because this is the way he always acts when they go out anywhere. So, this is nothing new to her. The house lights dim.
Act One, Scene Five; opens with the priest crawling out from a concealed hiding place under the altar. The priest is a pacifist and the violence turns him off completely. Fact is, he was about to cancel the wedding, altogether, not seeing an end to the violence and knowing that the hero of this play is a violent man. The priest is singing an Italian love song in Yiddish so no one knows what the words mean. He is singing to the woman he loves. And having compassion on the bride, whose mother the priest secretly loves, even though the older woman is a bit overweight, he puts a halt to the melee and speaks to the hero, negotiating a peaceful withdrawal from the violence to perform the wedding ceremony. The hero tells the priest the flowers have not yet arrived and the wedding cannot go on without flowers. Our hero immediately breaks in to song, “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ by Nancy Sinatra The conversation between the two men (?) lasts for about twenty minutes. Then the priest excuses himself, takes two altar boys and leaves by the back door of the church. Our hero does not know where he is going. In the meantime the curtain closes and the scene changes.
Act One, Scene Six; Now, the psychologist/truck driver takes his cell phone and calls his wife. His wife, knowing that her husband is driving a moving van for the weekend is involved in a bridge tournament. She is on the winning team. The four winning women are singing a light ditty in harmony. The other women in the tourney are humming the music to Mars from the album, “The Planets” by Gustav Holst. The grand prize is a new car and the truck driver’s wife has her sights set on that car. Except that if her team wins the grand prize, then she will have to share the car with her team members (there are four women on each team). So this conniving woman, between singing, melds and bids, is plotting how to get rid of the three other team members. This kind of plotting is a lot of work, especially while playing contract bridge, gossiping, drinking tea, singing and scratching itchy feet with shoes off. Of course, the driver’s wife does not know about odor-eating foot pads and is now offending other members at the bridge table. One of them holds her nose and sings in a voluptuous off-key voice, “Whew! What’s that odor?”
Suddenly, the psychologist/truck driver’s wife’s face turns beet red as she nonchalantly puts her shoes back on, even though her feet still itch. Everyone at the table knows who the guilty party is. The song ends and the curtain closes.
Act One, Scene Seven; opens as the priest and two altar boys are coming back into the church with mud on their shoes and arms loaded with flowers (there is a cemetery out behind the church), some flowers are dead, others well into dying and some fresh. The priest whispers to the groom, “I don’t think these will be missed for such a short time. We can put them back after you say I do and kiss your bride.” The groom-to-be is little pleased with the priest’s effort. He breaks out in his high, squeaky voice with a lyrical poem of how the living have no respect for the dead. His song is short. People of the community sitting toward the front of the sanctuary can see the flowers clearly and know very well from whence they came. The flowers are arranged on the platform with a great deal of cleverness and creativity by the altar boys, who are in reality girls dressed up in boy’s clothing. They do this at night and on the weekends because no boys want to be altar boys having heard the nasty things that priests tend to do with young boys. The curtain closes.
Act One, Scene Eight; opens with the groom-to-be standing beside his bride-to-be, still weeping, though much less than he was before, the bride-to-be, highly insulted that the flower arrangements have come from the cemetery (and believe me, she lets the right people know of her feelings before the ceremony begins); the bride-to-be’s mother has fainted and the groom-to-be’s mother has left the sanctuary, altogether. The groom-to-be’s father has taken a fancy to one of the usherettes and is making time with her as she stands by very close to the old man. He is quietly singing Neil Diamond’s “Song Sung Blue” to the usherette. The curtain closes.
Act One, Scene Nine; meanwhile, the scene changes and the florist is in a quandary about how to right his truck back on four wheels so he can get to the wedding with the flowers. He sings to the moving van driver in a low tenor voice and they two come up with an idea. The moving van has a tow rope behind the seat in the cab. The psychologist/truck driver goes to the cab, gets the rope from behind the seat and ties one end to a rope-hole in the body of the little truck, at the top of the cargo bin. Then he ties the other end to the chassis of the moving van, secures the knots, makes sure the rope is well-placed, gets in the cab and slowly begins to move backwards. He does not realize, however, that all during this time, traffic has been piling up behind the van.
As the rope grows taut and tauter, the little truck begins to tilt upright. In the meantime, the car behind the moving van is honking his horn, knowing that the moving van is going to back into the front end of his car. The driver of the car cannot move because there is a car directly behind him and right behind the car behind and so on back for as far as the eye can see. The driver/psychologist is unaware of the honking horn because he has the stereo up too loud in the cab of the van. He is playing “Light My Fire” by the Doors. When he was a lot younger, he used to get stoned and listen to the acid rock music of the late 1960s. He never got over the hippy days. He is an undercover hippy even now.
As the van backs into the car behind, it pushes it into the car behind it, the little truck is finally pulled upright on all four wheels, again. But the flowers inside the cargo compartment are sadly ruined. That is, the arrangement of the flowers is ruined. The flowers themselves are all okay, seeing that they were fresh only from early in the afternoon. Behind the van, four cars have been wed to each other; bumpers are connected by shoving one car’s back bumper, under the other car’s front bumper and so on for the four cars right behind the moving van. Each of the drivers of the affected cars are jumping up and down and screaming musical obscenities at the driver (you must remember that psychologists study human behavior… and this is it in a nutshell). The van driver is still inside the van listening to the ending of “Light My Fire” by the Doors and doesn’t see or hear the angry motorists beating on his door. The stereo is blasting out music at five hundred decibels with the driver singing along. Each time the drum beats the driver’s side window cracks a little more. The passenger side window shattered some time back but the plastic inside the glass sandwich held it together. The curtain closes.
Act One, Scene Ten; opens on the priest reading something from one of his books about marriage and how two people getting married need to see each other in the light of the sanctity of this holy union. The congregation in the front of the sanctuary are watching the EMT medics give first aid to the bride’s mother who passed out. She is not responding to the smelling salts, which are making the groom’s grandmother right across the aisle nauseous. The old girl is about to heave and quietly sings so that only few people can hear, the popularly known commercial from Pepto Bismol, but the woman doesn’t dare leave the wedding ceremony. Most of the people toward the back of the sanctuary are asleep because the priest is droning on forever about the sanctity of marriage and how each of the participants should behave. The curtain closes.
Act One, Scene Eleven: the groom’s mother is outside the sanctuary taking healthy nips at the flask she had in her purse and singing raucously “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The woman is fuming about the flowers being taken from the graves of the dead to be used for her son’s wedding. She thinks it’s a bad omen and that her son’s marriage is already on the rocks and the couple hasn’t even said, “I do.” Her husband comes out from the sanctuary and tries to talk her back into the church to witness her son marry a woman. You see, the couple thinks that their son is a homosexual because he never had a girlfriend. Of course, the boy is fifty-one years old, still playing with Barbie dolls, mostly Ken dolls that are dressed in skimpy underwear and playing with little cars in the sandbox behind his house. He drinks his gin and tonic from a plastic bottle with a nipple, using his right hand to hold the bottle while his left hand is doing unspeakable things to other parts of his body. The curtain closes.
Act One, Scene Twelve; and the curtain opens on the florist now attempting to move his little Toyota truck out of middle of the street. Despite the massive dent in the right side of the cargo compartment, the truck appears to be drivable. So the florist, who is only a florist at night and on the weekends, jumps in the cab to start the engine… but the engine won’t start. With the help of the van driver who, as you remember, is also a psychologist, they move the little truck back into the florist’s garage. The florist really thought he would have heard from the bride or the groom about the flowers but there has been no call. So the florist whips out his cell phone and starts to dial a number then suddenly realizes his cell phone isn’t even turned on. The florist becomes so upset with himself because of his forgetfulness and starts to sing “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” then he slams the cell phone down on the concrete floor, smashing the innocent little electronic device into a hundred pieces, one of which flies up and hits the florist in the right eye. Now the florist is dancing around on one foot, yelling at the top of his lungs in song, “I could See But Now I’m Blind,” and is calling for help. The only help at the moment is the van driver who is dealing with four motorists in the middle of a heavily-traveled street that has traffic backed up for seventeen blocks. People are honking their horns and yelling out the windows of the cars to move the *&%$$#@ out of the *&^%%$ way. The irked motorists are all singing counterpoint, “If I Had a Hammer.” The curtain closes.
Act One, Scene Thirteen; the curtain opens on the sanctuary where the wedding is taking place. The EMTs have decided to take the bride’s mother to the hospital. Of course, the emergency crew has to notify the hospital that they are bringing the old woman in, asking for instructions, based on their preliminary examination of the patient. In doing so, they are using their communicators to talk with doctors at the hospital. Sometimes a harmonic from the communicator crosses paths with the loud speaker system in the church and the conversation between the paramedics and the hospital could be heard all over the sanctuary. Now, there are times when doctors and emergency personnel say things out of frustration or anger that they don’t think anyone else can hear. But in this case, everyone heard the doctor’s profanity and the emergency lead technician’s responses. Oh, the shame of it all. The curtain closes.
Act One, Scene Fourteen; the old woman across the aisle who was nauseous has already heaved… right where she was sitting. She vomited on her husband and in the aisle where the bride and groom are supposed to walk after the ceremony. Ushers are delicately trying to clean up the stinking mess while someone takes the old woman to the nearest bathroom, which happens to be right behind the altar on the raised dais. Of course, this has interrupted the wedding proceedings and causes the priest to physically stumble while he is turning around to see what is going on. When he stumbles, he falls over a nearby chair, hitting his right cheek bone on the floor of the dais, cutting his upper lip and knocking a tooth loose. Well, he is in no shape to continue the wedding and the couple hasn’t said “I do” yet. So now there is a situation.
Let’s recap for a moment. The bride’s mother was taken to the hospital; the groom’s mother is outside getting smashed; the groom’s father is playing footsie with one of the young, attractive usherettes; the bride’s father has gone to the hospital with his wife; the groom’s grandmother has heaved her insides out on the aisle where the new husband and wife are to walk after the ceremony; the florist hasn’t made it to the wedding yet because of some… shall we say, unforeseen difficulties and the priest has now injured his mouth and can no longer speak to conduct the wedding service.
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Again, the groom begins crying anew and singing the conclusion of the “William Tell Overture” by Rossini (no one knows who wrote the words). Only this time he is really upset. To see this man, he looks like the Hulk in a smaller version. He is a person on whose wrong side you don’t want to be. His wails can be heard in the street out in front of the church. Several members of the congregation came to the platform to console him, but he would not. He physically picks up these people and throws them off the platform, back to their seats or near their seats. The bride-to-be left the church and found the groom’s mother drunk as a skunk just outside the sanctuary. She sits down next to the older woman, takes the flask from her hand and has a nice healthy swallow of the contents. Seeing how the older woman’s husband is not only a commodities broker during the week, he is also a bootlegger in the evenings and on the weekends. He also has a serious problem with young girls. He has a very nice still operating out behind his home. He makes hundred fifty proof corn squeezins that can tear up your throat and burn a path down into your stomach. Of course the revenuers are always hot on his trail but never come near his still. The grounds are protected by alligators.
Meanwhile, one of the members of the audience has called the police. A SWAT team arrives and attempts to take down the groom, who is a powerful man. It takes five members of the team to finally pin this junior hulk to the floor, put handcuffs and ankle shackles on him and then bring him back to his feet. All this time, the SWAT team is singing in harmony “Stars and Stripes Forever.” The bride-to-be is utterly snockered; she and the groom’s mother decide to go back to the wedding. They are singing the Everly Brother’s Wake Up Little Susie at the tops of their lungs. They stagger in the side door of the sanctuary, see this army of SWAT cops, the groom-to-be in chains and members of the audience picking themselves up off the floor and from the seats where they unceremoniously land after being thrown off the platform. The priest has returned to his hiding place under the altar and refuses to come out.
Act One, Scene Fifteen; opens on the psychologist/truck driver patiently listening to the threats of suit and personal bodily harm for his part in pushing the cars together so the bumpers were meshed. Of course, the offended drivers are singing four-part harmony Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.” The drivers of these four cars are hopping mad. The truck driver attempts to explain that nothing is all that bad but these motorists would not hear of it. So the truck driver goes to a compartment on the side of his truck body and opened one of the compartments and removes a long steel bar. He takes the bar and walks to the first car, smashing the windshield, then walks around the car and smashed the rear window. Then he turns to the stunned drivers and asks in a pleasant mellow tone song, “Are you ready to listen and negotiate with me or shall I do this to each of your cars?” The motorists shut up and standing with arms at their sides, trembling, ask the truck driver with much courtesy and many manners just what he has in mind. Now he has their attention. The house lights dim.
Act One, Scene Sixteen: we are back with the florist in his garage. He has, once again, removed all the wiring from the motor with the electrical parts spread out on the garage floor, singing to himself “Ghost Riders in the Sky” by Frankie Laine and is systematically checking each connection and part. He slowly reassembles the electrical parts of the engine to be sure that everything is operating as it should. Once having reassembled the electrical part of the engine, he reaches inside the cab of the little truck, being sure that the shift lever is in neutral and turns the key. The engine starts and the little truck comes to life and purrs like a kitten.
However, according to his chronometer, the wedding is about half over, if all things have gone according to plan and schedule. The florist, true to his word, gets in the truck and pulls out of the garage, stopping the little vehicle just outside his garage and gets out to close the garage door. Meanwhile, the emergency brake has failed and the little truck rolls back into the street, this time right in front of a passenger bus going the opposite direction. The bus hits the little truck, knocking it on its other side, denting the cargo compartment so that now the cargo part of the little truck looks like an hour-glass. The florist dashes to the little truck, flinging open the left back door, again, and looks inside. Though the flower arrangements are no longer arranged, the flowers are still okay.
The florist now breaks into a lamentable song by the Kingston Trio, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” Again, he is weeping as he looks at the closed garage door, then at his little Toyota pickup with an hour-glass shaped cargo bin. The bus driver gets off the bus, looking at his watch. He begins to sing in a bass voice “Time Is On My Side” by Little Anthony and the Imperials. Some of the passengers have also gotten off the bus to see what’s happened. Among the passengers are five men who begin nodding to each other. Simultaneously, they walk to the little truck and all together, lift the little truck back on its wheels. People on the bus are clapping and cheering in song. The truck is still drivable. So the florist opens the driver’s door and gets in to start the engine… but there is nothing. “No problem” sing the five men as they all get in front of the little truck and push it up the driveway.
This comes as a shock to the florist and he forgets to step on the brake; the little truck now smashes into the closed garage door, shattering the door into a million small pieces. The men try to mollify the florist but he is beyond mollification. Not only does the cargo portion of the little truck look like an hourglass, the back doors will not open at all. At this point, the bus driver sings out in a smooth tenor voice that the sun is setting and the bus needs to keep on schedule. The five men wish the florist all the best for him and return to the bus. Because of his former tantrum, the florist has no cell phone, his right eye has no vision and now he cannot open the back of his cargo compartment. He softly begins singing “Rain Drops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” by Harry Nilsson. The curtain closes.
Act One, Scene Seventeen; one of the altar boys (who are not really boys) runs upstairs in the church building and finds another priest to finish the wedding ceremony. But this younger priest has been drinking the left over wine from the sacrament and is a bit tipsy. The young altar boy, who is really a girl, sings to the priest “In The Name Of Love” by Jennifer Weatherly. The priest dons his priestly clothing and almost doesn’t make it down the stairs on his feet. He is really tipsy. But eventually he makes it to the altar and with the use of hand sign language because he cannot talk, the first priest tells the second priest how far he’s gone with the ceremony. The first priest, an older man, now leaves the platform and goes behind the curtain off stage.
The younger, slightly drunk priest begins the ceremony from the place where the older priest left off. In the meantime, the mother of the groom-to-be and the bride-to-be are tanked to the gills. They come back into the church from the side door singing a rousing version of Kenny Rogers, “Ruby, (Don’t Take Your Love To Town).” The congregation is appalled at the two women as the bride-to-be resumes her place by the groom-to-be who is still in chains, clinging to him to keep from falling over while the young priest who is also snockered attempts to read from the book of marriages which is upside down. The groom-to-be’s mother falls down on the front row pew and promptly goes to sleep, snoring loudly. People in the back rows have been leaving, a few at a time but the priest doesn’t notice this and the bride-to-be doesn’t care. When the young, drunk priest asks the groom-to-be if he will take this woman to be his lawful wedded bride, he immediately stands on the fifth amendment and refuses to answer the question. So the priest asks the bride-to-be if she will take this man as her lawful wedded husband. In a voice cracking with alcohol and laughter, she replies with “Don’t Throw My Love Away” by The Shirells. The priest chastises and admonishes the young couple (remember, the groom is not that young) to think about their responses while he sits down, whereupon he immediately falls asleep and also begins to snore loudly. The house lights dim and the curtain closes.
Suffice it to say, the hero of this play was not really a hero, at all. To explain further will remove the doubts and questions of you, the reader. And I’m sure you wouldn’t want to do that. Mystery is more fun and the mystery of who the hero really was will linger in your mind as you digest the context of the play.