The Platform


CHARACTERS


Mr. Edwin Jones
Mrs. Sybil Jones
Joe No Name
Dr. Manfred Sucher
Rats


A variety of other characters are played with masks, a priest's collar, stethoscope, hats, bells, fire and a ringmasters whip by the four main actors.



JOE

I don't have it right now, I am
Looking for a job and I'll have
One soon and I will pay you then.
Maybe even give you some
Ahead.

LANDLADY

            Two months and you are out.

JOE

I know.

LANDLADY

            I'll be back!

JOE

                                Don't be worried.

LANDLADY

You should worry!
(Changes masks.) Two months! You have
To go.
(Changes masks.) Joseph.

JOE

                          "Joe"!

LANDLADY

                                     Whoever.
Please. You have to leave. You are three
Months behind in your rent. I cannot
Afford to have such an expensive
Guest who costs me so much. I am not
A bank. I have bills to pay.

JOE

                                           No.
I am not going! I will pay you
When I get a job. Please! Now don't
Bother me!

LANDLADY

(Speaks to the man on the platform who turns around.)
                    I can't talk with him.

JOE

You brought the police?

LANDLADY

                                        You wouldn't
Listen to me!

OFFICER

                    You have to do
What the lady says. She has a
Court eviction order.

JOE

                            You S.O.B.

OFFICER

                                           That won't help.
Hey, come on buddy, I'll help you get
Your stuff all together.

JOE

                                    I don't have
A place to go.

OFFICER

                      That ain't my fault.
You can put your belongings into
A box or receptacle until you
Find a place. There always is a
Shelter ‘til you can find something.
It is better than jail.

JOE

                             Yeah. OKay! OKay!
(The train again passes through the station and when the lights come back on the woman on the platform is standing with her back to Joe and the man is wearing a smiling mask and a stethoscope dangling from his neck.)

JOE

Doctor, I can’t find a job.
I've been evicted from my room.
I’m living in a shelter.
Everything that I own has been
Stolen. I look at people and
Sometimes they look like they're laughing
At me, sometimes like they're crying.
I think I am losing my mind!

DOCTOR

Maybe you have a deficiency
State. Yes, yes, that is it. I’ll give you my advice:
Eat lots of whole grain cereals
And leafy vegetables.

JOE

But...

DOCTOR

        That's it! Just follow my advice!
And the Emergency Room is quite
Backed up here today so I can't spend
More time with you. Remember,
Whole grain cereals and leafy
Vegetables, otherwise you
Might well end up in a hospital.
You could, yes, even die.
(Turns his back to Joe.)

JOE

                             Thank you, kind doctor.
(To himself)
I am going to try a priest!
(The man on the platform removes his stethoscope and puts on a priests collar and replaces the comic mask with a tragic one.)

JOE

Father, can you help me?

PRIEST

                                        What is
It my son?

JOE

                 All my possessions
Have been...taken!

PRIEST

                             You have nothing?

JOE

Nothing!

PRIEST

            Well, remember that
It’s written: For a camel
To pass through the eye of a small needle,
Is still easier than for a rich man
To pass into the glad kingdom of God.

JOE

That is no help!

PRIEST

                         And, remember, too,
It is inscribed: "The meek shall,
Then, inherit all the earth." The meek, Joe.

JOE

Thank you, Father.
(To himself)
                               I am going
To a lawyer.
(The man on the platform removes his clerical collar and replaces the mask of tragedy with the mask of comedy again.)

ATTORNEY

                     Well, what can
I do for you?

JOE

                     I have not been
Treated fairly.

ATTORNEY

                      You are owed
Financial remedy, we’ll sue.
It may be, your employer, or
Your landlord, the state, even your own
Parents. Of course, you will have to
Pay my fee first. In advance!
If it looks like a good case
I will take a third of what
You do collect. What’s your address?

JOE

I don't have one. How long will it take?

ATTORNEY

Years! You have to be prepared for it
To take years. What did you say your
Address was?

JOE

                        But I need the money now!

ATTORNEY

Now? Ha Ha Ha I am afraid
That is impossible. He says he
Needs it now, can you believe it?

JOE

Thank you.

        *        *        *        *

(Once more the train hurtles past the platform, stopping and pulling away again. When the lights go back up there are three characters on the platform above Joe, the Ringmaster of Life with a whip, a Sword swallower and a Mime.)

RINGMASTER

Ah, Ladies and the Gentlemen,
Let me present to you some forms of
Homo (Man) Erectus (Standing) of the
Twenty-first and most advanced Century.
First, Homo Swallowensis,
He will swallow anything,
A Sword, fire...anything. Please take a bow.
Thank you. See him do his act!
(The sword swallower performs.)
                                                  You
Can catch it in the circus, on
A packed street corner... or in the Boardroom!
It is indeed amazing,
Most astonishing… incredible!
Is he made of asbestos or
Some other heat resistant
Substance? No, that is not
His craft’s secret. What does he do with
The fire, with the knife's sharp edge? How
Does he absorb them and without his being
Burned or cut, does he coat them or
Not ingest them… really… at all?
Is all this some sort of
A Magical Illusion? No. No that is not
Right either. What then? I will tell you:
But it’s only on condition
That you not divulge it to a soul
When you leave. It is his
Chief Raison d'etre, a trade secret!
His professional work… livelihood…
Depends upon it. Please! Lean forward. Good!
His secret is that he becomes
The fire and the sharp edge of the Sword
And, therefore, they do not
Injure him. He changes into them,
Makes somebody else swallow him.
And so it goes! Now, don't tell
Anyone where you heard this or I
Will be in trouble.
On the other side of me I have another
Trouper, Homo Mimus. She is
A mime, she says nothing but
Expresses herself in the most
Perplexing pantomime. She can
Here juggle...and There jiggle...and does a
Most careful balancing act. Why, indeed,
She stages her charades while she’s
Traversing very perilous
Tight situations, juggling the
Most complex of arrangements. And when
She falls, picks herself up
And goes on like nothing happened,
And, for her… it didn't… you see.
Oh, now down there we have the true
Pinnacle of the new species,
Ladies…Gentlemen, perhaps
The most familiar figure
In all street performance theater. I do refer,
Of course, to Homo Sap-iens.
Will you take a bow, please! Will you
Take a bow? No? He refuses.
I suppose that is his charm, his
Great predictable lack of predictability.
He is not actually a journeyman
Performer, but he is the Father
Of performers. None of you, I bet,
Thought he had any children, or
Had a real family. He doesn't! Still,
He is the Father of full many
Children.
(Turns to the sword swallower.)
               Let me ask you to become
One of his children. There. Put on
This red nose. Now you recognize him!
Yes? Yes! - the Circus Clown!
Amuse yourselves, now, Ladies and the Gentlemen!
(Joe raises his fist and the clown caricatures his threats.)
                               We find
The clown amusing, but why, I
Ask you? Well any ten year old who
Has aped parents once behind their
Back can give you the true answer. We
Laugh at what we fear. We laugh at
The clown in safety, comfortably,
With all similarly predisposed
Folk to our right… and to our left,
But the next time that we see
The clown's pained Progenitor we will walk
Past… quite quickly…. keep our distance,
And avoid Him… for relief is merely
Temporary. And what do we
See in the wretch that so frightens us?
Clearly we must see some real danger
In him. But, Friends… rest assured
That it is nothing more than the
Reflections of our own fears. I
Trust Joe, he is as harmless as
A little child. To show my faith
In Joe, I’m going to give
Him the ringmasters' whip - crack it,
Joe - and you will have whatever
You want.
(Throws it down on the tracks - Joe picks it up.)
                Snap it, Joe, and it will
Make your dreams come true… just like it
Can fulfill the dreams of little children
When I snap it. What is it that
You want, Joe? A job? A house?
A Family? Joe, is that it?
Is it? Tell me! Snap it, Joe, like
This!
(he demonstrates.)
        See!
(Does it again.)
                You are perspiring, Joe.
Are you… Joe… feeling warm? What does
That look mean? What is that glint in
Your eye? Are you mad… glaring at us?
At me? There’s no reason to
Glare at me, Joe, I am the one
Who makes dreams come true, keeps the
Cavalcade of life on-moving,
Raises up the lowly and brings
Down the high. It is I who am here
Responsible for change that makes
Life bearable, exciting… most
Amusing! I bring what is new, what’s
Different…unseen before. You
Can trust me! You wouldn't do that, Joe,
Not what I think you might Joe, that
Would be not very wise. Besides
We, all of us, are also a
Part of you, you don't know what might just
Happen. Think about it, Joe!
(Joe snaps the whip and the ringmaster, the mime, and the Sword swallower fall over dead. A subway train again enters the station and suddenly a voice comes over the intercom.)


ETC.