tagHumor & SatireLadies First

Ladies First

byCaptain Blood©

SCENE: A stage combat class under way in a dance studio.

SET: Simple open room. Mirrored wall with barre if desired. 2 chairs UC. Entrance DL.


(Two pairs of women fight with sword and shield—Martha /Dolly and Abigail/Eleanor. They perform the same routine, but not simultaneously. The teacher, MS. PIERCE, watches UC, making observations as the fights progress)


Pierce
Full intention, ladies! Don’t let it look too rehearsed… Abigail, watch your targeting… Footwork, footwork! ... Martha, good parries tonight … Hey, are we having fun or what?


(The fights wind down at different times. The students relax. Some slump, some drink, some towel off. Martha and Dolly are well apart. Dolly wears arm pads, knee pads, hip pads, etc. Pierce walks DR and dials her cell phone)


Pierce
Hillary? She there yet? Shit! She’s cramping my class. You get hold of that snotty two-faced agent of hers and tell her, from me, to have my honored guest down here in five freaking minutes or I’m gonna lose my goddamn professional bearing! (pockets phone; in lilting “happy” voice) All right, ladies! How are we doing?

Abigail
Pretty good.

Martha
Sweaty.

Dolly
You’re always sweaty.

Martha
Oh, and I suppose that’s Dom Perignon all over your fat ass?

Eleanor
You want me to taste it and find out?


Dolly
Ugh! You’re sick! Stay away from me!

Eleanor
Sheesh! Grow a sense of humor, honey.

Dolly
I have one. It just doesn’t recognize you as funny, somehow. (digging in her bag)
Who wants a Twinkie?

Abigail
Oooo! You know I do.

Martha
I thought George was sharing his Twinkie with you.

Abigail (handing her a Twinkie)
I wish. More sponge cake than cream filling there, if you know what I mean.

Eleanor
Typical man.

Dolly
And just how would you know?

Eleanor
Hey, I read.

Abigail
Didn’t know they had a monosyllabic edition of Feminist Fight Director.

Eleanor (flipping her off with a smile)
Hey, Abigail, sweetie…can you read this?

Pierce
I hate to break up this Shakespearean exchange, but we do have a class to finish here.

Martha
Sorry. What’s next?

Pierce
We still have a couple of minutes till our special guest arrives to run her master class. If you have any questions about your fight …maybe a phrase needs tweaking, or your characterization isn’t coming across as you’d like---

Martha (muttering; glares at Dolly)
---Or your partner’s a backstabbing shit…

Abigail/Eleanor
Ooooo!

Dolly
You gonna harp on that till the Second Coming?

Martha
At least I’ll be playing a harp at the Second Coming. There’s a special circle of hell for chickies who steal their best friends’ parts.

Dolly
Jeez, you act like I slept with the director or something.

Martha
I suspect “or something”. Had those knee pads for a while, huh?

Dolly
Hey, Miss Martha, I’m not the one who forgot my underwear at the audition!

Eleanor
What were you doing looking?

Dolly/Martha
Shut up!

Martha
All I know is he told me I had the part, and the next day your name is up there on the call board. What am I supposed to think?

Dolly
Obviously he changed his mind.

Martha
Yeah, after he changed his sheets.

Dolly (stepping toward her)
How about I change your nose?

Martha (squaring off)
How about I exchange my partner for something loyal, like a dog?


Dolly
Make sure it’s a royal bitch, so you can share leashes!
(They jump at one another. Abigail and Eleanor grab and separate them)


Pierce
Ok, Ok. Let’s calm down, ladies. Someone wins, someone loses. It’s only one audition.


(she takes them aside to mediate, quietly)


Abigail
That’s like saying “it’s only one lottery”, in this town.

Eleanor
I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

Abigail
That’s because the only thing you’ve ever been cast in was a plumbing commercial.

Eleanor
Hey, don’t look down your nose at plumbing! How could your career have gone down the drain without it?

Abigail
My career did not go down a drain!

Eleanor
You’re right. My mistake. Technically, a toilet isn’t a drain.

Abigail
Pretty strong talk from a girl who grew up in Flushing. Wasn’t your drama club called the Queens?

Eleanor
Damn right! When the Flushing Queens took the stage---

Abigail
Took the plunge, you mean---

Eleanor
When the Flushing Queens took the stage, the box office was always backed up.

Abigail
Weren’t you guys on public access once?


Eleanor
You bet! We called it “Toilet Pay-Per-View”.

Abigail
I would’ve expected nothing less.


(Pierce brings back the feuding couple)


Pierce
There, now. Isn’t this better than scratching each other’s eyes out?

Abigail
Best buddies again?

Pierce
Yes. Sometimes stage fighting brings out intense emotions, even in best friends.

Eleanor (to Martha/Dolly)
Truce?

Dolly
Yeah, I guess.

Martha
It was only one miserable audition.

Dolly
For a part you would’ve sucked at anyway.

Martha
Look who’s talking.

Dolly
That’s it! I---


(They have to be separated again. Pierce answers her cell phone DC as Abigail and Eleanor move the feuding pair to opposite corners)


Pierce
Hello? Hillary, I don’t want to hear anything out of you except, “She’s on her way up the
stairs”. You don’t know what’s been going on here. It’s like outtakes from All About Eve. They---she is?! Woo-hoo! This is the sound of me hugging you through the phone! Thanks, babe! (hangs up) Listen up, ladies! Please put the Hatfield-McCoy thing on hold for a while. Our special guest is on her way up. Let’s get ready. Gather round.


(The students all move down to her)


Martha
So do we get to know who it is, finally, or do we have to wait till they come through the door?

Eleanor
I can’t stand the suspense! I’m about to pee my pants!

Abigail
Please don’t feed me straight lines. I’m only human.

Eleanor
We’re still waiting for the lab results on that one.

Dolly
Do I have time for a Ho-Ho?

Martha
Sounds like your director did.

Dolly
Bite me.

Martha
Sounds like your director did.

Dolly
Lay off me!

Martha
Sounds like your director---

Pierce
WILL YOU TWO KNOCK IT OFF!

Martha
Sounds like her---


(Eleanor wraps a towel around Martha’s mouth to silence her)


Pierce
Thank you. All right, I think you should be prepared, to get the maximum benefit out of our guest’s visit. You don’t know how lucky you are. You are the first class in nearly 25 years to be so fortunate as to get a chance to study with…Desiree du Mont!

Dolly
THE Desiree du Mont?

Eleanor
Star of The Deadly Skirt?

Abigail
And The Musketeers’ Mother?

Dolly
And Requiem for a Petticoat?

Pierce
One and the same.

Dolly
Oh, man…I am so turned on!

Martha (mouth finally free)
Sounds like your last audition.

Abigail
Give it a rest, why don’t you? (Martha opens her mouth) You say it and I swear I’ll throw you out the window!

Martha
This is all too easy, anyway.

Eleanor
Desiree du Mont! Can you believe it?

Martha
I remember watching her whip up on six guys in Corsairs in Corsets. Running up the rigging of the pirate ship, skipping across the yardarm, swinging out on a rope to grab the evil captain in a leg scissors and drop him into the shark-infested sea!


Dolly
Not remotely her best work. In Daggers of Desire she beat a simultaneous attack by the corrupt Marconi triplets with a leap from the balcony straight down into a full split.

Eleanor (sighing)
But it was her elegant whip work in The Battling Bachelorette that I’ll always remember.

Abigail
Would you like a cigarette after that fond memory?

Martha
My fave is the big battle in Chevalier’s Chemise. When Sterling Holloway and Farley Granger jump her with the poisoned branding irons, she Australian rappels down the side of Canterbury Cathedral with a landsknecht great sword between her teeth, arriving at the burning brothel just in time to dismember Edward Everett Horton and rescue the hooker with the heart of gold.


(They all look at her incredulously)


Eleanor
I must have missed that one.

Pierce
Regardless of our tricky memories, I think we can all agree that she is the cinematic feminine beau sabreur par excellance.

Dolly
Huh?

Abigail (as to a child)
Movie. Babe. Sword fighter. Good.

Dolly
I know that!

Martha
I want to ask her about her big affair with Cornell Wilde on the set of Hell in High Heels.

Eleanor
Rumored affair.

Martha
Rumored, my Aunt Fanny. Look at the glint in her eye in every corps-a-corps.

Eleanor
Maybe she was looking at the script girl over his shoulder.

Abigail
You wish.

Pierce
All I know is that this woman made what we do possible.


(Knock on door)


Pierce
Oooh, she’s here! Let’s greet her in style. Line up over there with your weapons and we’ll give her a Ladies First Fight Club salute.


(They do so, forming a line facing the DL entrance)


Pierce
Come in, the door’s open! Stand at attention, ladies. I give you the First Lady of the Fight, the Duchess of the Dagger, the Queen of the Quillon! The one, the only, the legendary…Desiree du Mont! Salute! (they execute a complicated salute)


(A solitary figure shuffles in. She is 80 if she’s a day and looks like Andy Rooney in drag. DESIREE DU MONT uses a walker for locomotion and lugs a small oxygen bottle on her back. She wears a bright pink track suit and sunglasses)


Desiree (she has a gravelly voice, like a truck driver after a larynx transplant)
Hi. How you doin’? Nice salute.

Pierce
Miss Du Mont?

Desiree
Yeah, well, that was just a stage name. You can call me Delores.

Pierce
Delores?

Desiree
Delores Fishbein. Doesn’t flow off the tongue like honey, but what the hell. Mom liked
it.

Pierce
Well, we’re delighted to have you here.

Desiree
Likewise, I’m sure. You got a cigarette? I’m fresh out.

Pierce
Er…no. I’m afraid this is a non-smoking building.

Delores
That bites. This is a wussy town now. Not like in the old days when we had a fifth of bourbon and a pack of Luckies before we were out of the make-up chair. Now it’s tofu and bean sprouts, washed down with latte and mineral water. I don’t even know what any of that crap is. Oh, well, times change, I guess. Fifty years ago I could break walnuts with my creamy thighs. Now all I can break is wind.

Pierce
Where would you like to start?

Delores
We could have them go through the routine you sent me. I’m pretty familiar with it by now.

Pierce
Alright. Abigail and Eleanor, would you like to go first?

Abigail
Sure. I guess.


(As they get their gear ready, Desiree moves to UC with Pierce, in agonizing slowness. Halfway there she stops to take out a liquor flask and administer herself a large dose. Suitably fortified, she finally makes it to the upstage wall)


Desiree
Go ahead, girls. Knock yourselves out. So to speak.


(Abigail and Eleanor prepare to repeat the fight routine they performed at the beginning of the play, this time with dialogue from one of Desiree’s old movies)



Abigail
“At last, Countess la Boom, we meet on the field of honor. I hope, for your sake, that God is not just.”

Eleanor (sneering)
“Lady Luscious, it will take more than childish taunts to defeat me this time.”

Abigail
“Does this look like a child’s arm? Behold, it brandishes the sword known as Mabel, Scourge of Evil!”

Eleanor
“Do your worst, little girl!”


(They fight. After the first long phrase, they square off again)


Eleanor
“You fight well, my lady. Someone has been teaching you in secret.”

Abigail
“My tutor has been your lover, the handsome but wretched Baron Buttshaft.”

Eleanor
“That may be, but you are about to receive your final lesson.”


(They fight again. Eleanor falls)


Abigail
“Let that be a lesson to you. Evil can never withstand a righteous blade!”


(Pierce and students applaud. Desiree is asleep and snoring)


Pierce
Miss Du Mont?

Desiree (jerking awake)
“Oh, Cornell…let’s make this trailer rock!”

Martha (to Eleanor)
Told you!

Desiree
All finished? Looked good. Couldn’t have done better myself. But there is a little something I could show you.


(She moves with painful slowness to C. She holds out a shaky hand to Abigail)


Desiree
Here, honey, let me see that shield a second.


(Abigail looks nervously to Pierce, who nods. Abigail surrenders the shield)


Desiree (putting shield on her arm)
Now, when you use one of these---


(She falls over from the weight of the shield, walker and all. Everyone rushes to help her back up)


Pierce
Are you alright?

Desiree
Oh, yeah. Happens all the time. Guess I should put on some more weight.

Pierce
We can do without the shield demo.

Desiree
Suit yourself. Give me that sword, then. (Pierce does so) Nice balance. They make ‘em better now than they used to, let me tell ya. In my day you’d finish a fight and your blade would be bent like my first husband’s twinkie. (pause) Sorry, just reminiscing. Tell you what. One of you be Countess la Boom, and I’ll be Lady Luscious.


(Everyone exchanges panicked looks)


Pierce
Are you sure about that?

Desiree
Not a problem. I memorized your fight already.

Pierce
I mean---

Desiree (waving the sword around indiscriminately, causing all and sundry to duck)
What?

Pierce
Oh, nothing. I’ll be your partner.


(The students heave a collective sigh of relief and rush to the upstage wall. Pierce takes her position)


Desiree (stopping frequently to gasp for air)
“At last, Countess …la Boom, we meet on the field of …honor. I hope, for your sake, that” …sorry, honey, only got the one lung now…”God is not just.”

Pierce (gamely, but with much evident concern on her face)
“Lady Luscious, it will take more than childish taunts to defeat me this time.”

Desiree (holding sword up)
“Does this look like a child’s arm? (arm falls to her side; she stares at where it had been)
Behold…blah-blah-blah”. Gimme a second, will ya, sweetie?” (She turns up her oxygen canister. There is an immediate change in her) I thought something wasn’t quite right. (takes a swig from her bottle, tosses it to Abigail) Let’s rock!


(They fight. Desiree moves like a teenager, using the walker as a shield. She is flashy, nimble, thoroughly outclassing Pierce, who ends up on her back, utterly exhausted)


Desiree
Thanks, honey. (answers her cell phone) Yeah? Already? Relax, I’m on my way. Pick me up a carton of Luckies while you’re at it. And a bottle of Jim Beam. (hangs up) Sorry. My agent, Trixie, got her signals crossed. I have to be downtown in twenty minutes for my tae kwan do class. Just send the check to Trixie. You’ve all been darling. I had a ball. See ya!


(She shuffles out as slowly as she entered, coughing horribly. The students follow her to DL, picking Pierce up off the floor as they go)

Martha
I always thought she was taller.


(Fadeout)
























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