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PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 22.3 (2000) 90-116

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The Sunshine State: A Comedy in Two Acts

Carl Morse


CINDY DRAKE: 30s; a nurse and home helper to Marge and Pete Marsden; black; Duke's sister; a lesbian; mother of three kids; believes in prayer.

DUKE DRAKE: 30s; a New York City police sergeant; black; brother of Cindy, whose household he partially supports; Rudy Marsden's lover; pretends to be married; tired of being butch.

MARGE MARSDEN: 70s; wife of Pete; mother of Rudy and Phyllis; infirm and arthritic; feisty; wants Rudy to get their money.

PETE MARSDEN: 70s; Marge's husband; father of Rudy and Phyllis; former sports coach and World War II hero; pretends to be crippled and aphasic from a series of strokes; wants Phyllis to get their money.

RUDY MARSDEN: 40s; Marge and Pete's closeted gay son; Phyllis's brother; long-suffering lover of Duke; a would-be painter; neurotic; searching for an identity.

PHYLLIS MARSDEN: 40s; Marge and Pete's well-to-do daughter; Rudy's big sister; fake-elegant; bisexual; works for Planned Parenthood; married to Frank, a kinky art dealer.

MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE, and JOAN: global activist "saints," a.k.a. "the next generation," are doubled by Cindy, Phyllis, Rudy, and Duke (but not necessarily in that order).

NOTE: All radio and television sound is on tape. Also, the corporate agency voices called for in Act II. Phyllis's husband, Frank, is an offstage voice.


Centerstage: the living room of Marge and Pete Marsden's mobile home in Florida.

Other Parts of the Stage: Cindy's kitchen in Florida; Rudy's bedroom in New York; Phyllis's bedroom in New York; outside a garage; a room in the St. Regis Hotel.

As the audience assembles, faint talkshow and sports noise emanates from two flickering but invisible TV sets upstage in the Marsden living room on the faintly-lit stage. Radio and TV noise fades in and out throughout as needed and indicated, but the flickering screens remain lit from beginning to end. In front of these "his and her" TV sets--which are each equipped with remote controls and earphones--two high-backed, swivel easy-chairs. When skewed upstage toward the TV sets, the occupants of these chairs may be partially or completely hidden.

Also in the living room, on a shelf, a handsome teddy-bear dressed in jeans, cowboy shirt and hat, a bandana, and six-shooters in holsters. On the same shelf, a [End Page 90] big, fully-dressed doll with golden curls. Both are over 40 years old since they belonged to Rudy and Phyllis when they were children. Also the accumulated lawn sale, Woolworth's, and Occupied Japan knick-knacks of several decades. On the wall the stuffed head of a buck deer and a flag with 48 stars. Also a "Holy Family" or "Virgin and Child" print in a Victorian frame. On a table, a large, framed graduation photograph of Rudy, and in a drawer, a similar photograph of Phyllis. A wall telephone with a very long cord. Pill bottles everywhere.

For Rudy's bedroom, an elaborate bed with tying-up posts, a fluted white column with a red telephone, and a reproduction print of Bronzino's Portrait of a Young Man with Gloves and/or a framed movie poster showing a bare-chested man.

For Phyllis's bedroom, an art deco, mirrored vanity table and chair with a tastefully framed photo from Mapplethorpe's Black Book. Also a Warhol lithograph and a reproduction print of Andrew Wyeth's Cristina's World. An unusual telephone. A locked bathroom door.

For Cindy's mobile home kitchen, a sink with a "window" over it, kids' school drawings, a sexy poster of a famous white female singer or movie star, and a framed photograph of Cindy's brother Duke.

For the St. Regis Hotel room, a large reproduction of Salvador Dali's Crucifixion over the bed.

Time: Now.

Act One

(Lights up on CINDY--in cut-off jeans, a man's shirt, and workboots--washing...


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