Friday, April 9, 2010

Roughing It Sampler - Your comments welcome!

Time: The Present

Place: A run-down shack in the woods of Northern Ontario

At first glance the cabin is exactly like the one pictured in the brochure from Shady Glen’s Summer Camping Getaways; rustic, cozy and decidedly inhabitable, nestled amongst the blue spruce on the shores of your very own private lake! But upon closer inspection the real picture becomes clear: about a quarter mile up from the shore, on the top of a ridge lies a rotting pile of lumber that was once, at its best, no more than an overnight cabin on a trapper’s line. The windows are broken, there’s a hole in the door and when it rains the water pours in from the many holes in the roof.

The entire action of the play takes place in front of the cabin. There’s a porch, a couple of old lawn chairs, a rotting picnic table, a fire pit and an outhouse. The lake is off SR, and just off SL is a spring-fed stream. Just behind the cabin is a seemingly impenetrable wall of old-growth forest.

At rise, it is late morning on a beautiful summer’s day, very hot out – just hot enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay. After a moment to establish the scene a panting sound is heard, growing louder and louder. Rowan emerges from SR, where she has just climbed to the top of a steep ridge.

Rowan is a 40-something mother of two boys (both now grown) and a daughter (who is now 15). About a dozen years ago she kicked her lazy, philandering husband out the door, nailed him for alimony, went back to school and re-trained to be an accountant. Starting out in an entry-level position in a minor firm she’s since become a managing partner, aiding her company in what can only be described as a meteoric rise to the top of the financial services industry and earning herself some generous bonuses along the way. Thanks to her drive and determination she’s done quite well, all things considered, but the cost of raising three kids has meant that financial freedom is still another few years off.

Rowan: It’s here! I made it! I finally made it! I finally made…

(She stops mid-sentence as she sees the condition of the cabin.)

Rowan: Oh shit.

(She pulls a crumpled brochure out of her pocket, comparing the picture on it to the cabin itself. As she does so Athena enters, also from SR.)

Athena is Rowan’s daughter. While she’s not a “typical” teenager she does have a lot in common with them. She’s quite attractive and in perfectly reasonable physical condition, yet obsesses about her looks and her weight almost as much as she obsesses about boys – especially the fact that she does not, for all her charms, yet have a boyfriend. She grew up without a father and at times, she feels, without a mother, yet there isn’t that bitter animosity that poisons so many mother-child relationships. Athena recognizes that Rowan’s success was in no small part due to the inspiration she derived from needing to provide for her children, and for that she’s earned Athena’s grudging respect. However, Athena is still her own person and believes her mother has no rights over her any more.

Athena: Oh shit.

Rowan: Watch your mouth dear.

Athena: Is that supposed to be the cabin?

Rowan: I think so.

Athena: Oh shit.

Rowan: It kind of looks like the picture in the brochure.

Athena: Yeah, a little bit, I guess. All the trees are a lot smaller. What’s that number 62 in the corner of the picture mean?

Rowan: I thought that meant it was cabin number 62. I think it means this picture was taken in 62. 1962. This picture is over 40 years old.

Athena: It looks old in the picture. This crap-hole must be older than Grandma!

Rowan: I said watch your mouth dear! Where is Mom?

Athena: I thought she was right behind me?

(Rowan and Athena go over to the top of the ridge and peer down, trying to see if they can see her).

Rowan: Mom? Mom? Where are you?

Athena: Grandma? She was right behind me.

Rowan: I don’t see her anywhere. Oh my God I hope she hasn’t fallen.

Athena: She wouldn’t.

Rowan: She might. She’s not very out-doors-y. Why did I ever think a weekend in the woods would be a good idea?

Athena: (calling) Grandma? Grandma? Where are you? Are you okay?

Rowan: (calling) Mom? Mom?

In the meantime Maeve has appeared from SL. She’s an older lady, definitely into her 60’s, but still quite spry, not moving too quickly but not moving with much difficulty either. While the other two entered panting and sweating heavily and carrying nothing she has entered just a little winded, carrying her purse and a small overnight bag. She looks quizzically and Rowan and Athena.

Maeve: Yes, dear?

(Rowan and Athena shriek and turn)

Rowan: Mom! Mom you scared the wits out of us? How did you… I mean we were…

Athena: How did you make it up here before us? Can you like fly or something?

Maeve: (chuckling) No, lassie, I’m afraid I can’t fly. All I did was walk up the path.

Rowan: Path?

Maeve: Yes dear it runs right up the side of this ridge. I saw it while we were coming in on the boat and you two ran off before I could tell you about it. It just circles around a bit and you just have to be careful crossing that old fallen log that goes over the stream just there now.

Athena: I don’t believe this. Grandma, look at the cabin. It looks like we’ve been ripped off!

Maeve: Oh my. Oh my oh my. I don’t think that looks much like the cabin in the picture.

Rowan: The picture was taken in 1962. And we were taken for a bunch of city-slickers.

Athena: You mean you were, Mom. Why couldn’t we just go and visit Grandma for the weekend and stay at her place instead of you dragging us all out here to the middle of nowhere?

Rowan: I’m sorry, Athena. Sorry Mom. I just wanted us to get away together someplace nice for the weekend. A girls-only retreat.

Maeve: It’s all right dear. It’s still early. We can head back to Emsdale and get a room at that little motel where we had breakfast. I’ll bet there’s a lot of shopping and sight-seeing we can do up here this weekend, we’ll just have to ask someone.

Rowan: You’re right, Mom. You two rest here, and I’ll go back down and get Glen stopped before he brings too much of our stuff up here.

Maeve: Oh dear, that’s right! He won’t be bringing anything up. He left.

Rowan: What?

Maeve: He left. All your bags are sitting on the dock. I don’t think he had any intention of bringing them up here in the first place.

Athena: But he’s supposed to! We’re girls!

Maeve: He was such a nice young man. He said he didn’t think he’d be back until the pick-up time, though. Apparently he’s got a lot of fishermen in the bush up here and it’s all he can do to get them all in and out of the bush on time. I brought my own bag up. What you two need such monstrous suitcases for is beyond me.

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