Curious Savage lines: Hannibal, Act I

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Florence: Is their car still in front, Fairy? I said, is their car in front?

Oh, Fairy! Florence was speaking to you.

Florence: Then stay a little longer. We'd like to have you.

Jeff--you've already invested two hundred and sixty-seven minutes in waiting--surely you can afford an additional ten cents' worth.

Fairy: I wonder what she is like? Miss Willie says they are one of the wealthiest families in America.

(Tuning his violin.) Oh, that's bad. She'll have an expensive camera she can't work. (Plunk.) Or rave about an artist I never heard of. (Plunk.)

Fairy: Oh--cynic! Has money spoiled me?

Do you have money, Fairy?

Florence: Let's not be prejudiced about money. Some of my best friends are wealthy. Hannibal--play something while we're waiting. Help distract Jeff.

Well--you catch me tuned. What shall it be? (He comes down C.)

Florence: Surprise us.

How about a gypsy czardas? (Puts violin under his chin.)

Fairy: Please don't play gypsy music, Hannibal. It frightens me.

(Lowers violin.) Frightens you?

Fairy: Books are in my blood. My mother invented the filing system at the New york Library. She was "Queen of Cross-Index."

(Puts down violin and crosses to Fairy.) I'll get Jeff's book, Fairy.

Jeff: This time it's got to be "The Life Span of the Ape."

(Hands bow to Fairy.) Goose it out with this.

Mrs. Paddy turns out the lights (1)

Lights! Turn the lights back on!

Fairy: Don't let me fall!

Please turn the lights back on.

Mrs. Paddy turns the lights out (2)

Lights! Lights! Lights!

Fairy: We haven't had anyone exciting here since that magician's wife. Remember--she was all nerves from being sawed in half so much. What was her name?

(Hanging dart board on upstage wall.) Something hyphenated.

Fairy: You get on your knees to pray, don't you? I'll say a prayer. Dear God--let me see something.

See anything?

Fairy: Yes--I do. God was quick.

What do you see?

Fairy: One--two--three strange people. They're coming in here! Lets hide in the hall and eavesdrop.

Is that ethical, Jeff?

Mrs. Savage: Honor system, indeed!

(The group enters silently.) Hello.

Mrs. Savage: Why don't you like rhubarb?

Mrs. Paddy won't answer you, Mrs. Savage. She'll only recite the things she hates.

Florence: Her husband told her to shut up.
Fairy: And she did.

She gave up conversation for life.

Mrs. Savage: Well, we have to humor our doctors once in a while.

And now you have met everyone. We are a small group in this wing and we hope you find us comfortable to be with.

Fairy: But Mrs. Savage hasn't met everyone. She hasn't met the Holy Terror.

Of course. How stupid of me.

Mrs. Savage: Well--what is John Thomas?

Her son. What did you think?

Fairy: There wasn't time to explain. But you were like lightning.

Poor Florence isn't well. We pretend for her sake. We hope you will, too.

Hannibal: Poor Florence isn't well. We pretend for her sake. We hope you will, too.
Mrs. Savage: Oh--I will.

I think you should understand right away, Mrs. Savage, that, except for Florence, the rest of us are free to leave here any time we want to.

(A small buzzer rings insistently.)

(Turning toward it with disdain.) Oh, do be quiet.

Jeff: That rude noise is the signal for us to go to our rooms.

It's the evil of the machine age. Perfect pistons and no manners.

(Jeff goes out quickly without explaining.)
Fairy: Oh--there's no more of so much.

Don't let Jeff's manner disturb you. During the war his plane was shot down in flames. He hasn't quite recovered yet.

Mrs. Savage: Was his face badly burned?

Oh, not at all. Jeff bailed out. But he was the only one. He lost his crew. His scar goes deeper than we can see.

Fairy: Oh, I could tear my tongue out. Will you excuse me? If I don't apologize, she'll sulk. (Dashes out after Mrs. Paddy.)

Fairy has the gift of the good for saying the wrong thing.

Mrs. Savage: I should think it would take a bit of doing to apologize to someone who won't talk and sulks anyhow.

You'll get used to Mrs. Paddy. Just treat her like a clock. Look at her to see how the day goes but don't expect an answer. She's happy at her easel.

Mrs. Savage: Is she an artist?

I don't know whether she is an artist or not. But she paints.

Hannibal: I don't know whether she is an artist or not. But she paints.
Mrs. Savage: Portraits?

Seascapes. Which is rather odd because she's never seen the ocean.

Mrs. Savage: What did she mean about not sleeping?

None of us sleeps here.

Mrs. Savage: Where do you sleep?

We don't. Oh--we go to our rooms. We've all agreed to that in principle. But we stay awake. We never close our eyes. (Explains as if to a child.) When you go to sleep--today ends. And when today ends--tomorrow begins. Today we're safe. Tomorrow may be filled with disaster. (Brightly.) You won't catch us sleeping. Could anything be simpler?

Hannibal: You won't catch us sleeping. Could anything be simpler?
Mrs. Savage: Not--much.

Today's the only certainty.

Mrs. Willie: Hannibal--you heard the buzzer--why aren't you in your room?

I am in spirit. And everyone says it's the spirit that counts. (Then to Mrs. Savage.) Remember--fight the night. (Goes out quickly.)

Mrs. Savage: What makes you think I wouldn't believe it, my dear? Was it something you composed yourself, Hannibal?

Bach. With variations of my own.

Fairy: Mathematics' los was certainly our gain.
Mrs. Savage: Now, I don't quite follow that, Fairy.

Fairy knows that I used to be a statistician.

Fairy: Give him a fraction to multiply.
Mrs. Savage: I'm afraid I wouldn't know whether he was right or not.

My last position was with the government, charting trends. I was supposed to keep my finger on the pulse of the public and my ear to the ground.

Hannibal: My last position was with the government, charting trends. I was supposed to keep my finger on the pulse of the public and my ear to the ground.
Mrs. Savage: A rather vulnerable position, was it not?

Very. I was fired and replaced by a computer.

Hannibal: Very. I was fired and replaced by a computer.
Mrs. Savage: I should think you'd hate electricity, too.

No--but I did want to make money with my brains. So I spent the next two years trying to think of something that could be made for a dime--sold for a dollar--and was habit-forming. (Crosses to put violin on piano.) I'm afraid my education was wasted.

Fairy: Miss Willie--she's the bird Florence mentioned--told us that you'd been on the New York stage.

I wonder if we've ever seen you, Mrs. Savage?

Mrs. Savage: A mother who'd murdered a man and was defended by a young woman lawyer who turns out to be her own daughter. I had red hair and died in my daughter's arms every night and two matinees a week just as the curtain came down and the jury whispered--"Not Guilty." Oh, I've never had a better time in my life.

I gather the notices were good that time?

Fairy: Look--Mrs. Savage is going to read the newspaper.
Florence: Oh--oh!
Mrs. Savage: What's--the matter?

(All cross quickly to Mrs. Savage.) I wouldn't do that if I were you, Mrs. Savage.

Mrs. Savage: Now just a moment. I know what the paper is going to say so there is nothing you can hide from me. I've just been waiting for it to happen.

(Look at each other, puzzled.) Waiting for what to happen, Mrs. Savage?

Jeff: But we don't know what it says in the paper.
Mrs. Savage: Then why were you trying to keep me from seeing it?

We have an agreement.

Jeff: We never read the newspapers until they're a month old.
Florence: We find we're much happier when we wait.
Mrs. Savage: What are you waiting for?
Fairy: Why, naturally, we're waiting for--What do we wait for, Hannibal?

Ah--ah--perspective.

Jeff: We believe it's better to read about unpleasant things a month after they've happened.

It's reassuring when you know it's over and nothing can be done.

Florence: We can't prevent Mrs. Savage from reading the paper if she insists. We don't know her well enough to be rude.

Florence is right.

Mrs. Savage: This is yesterday's paper. I want today's paper.

Oh, it isn't here yet.

Mrs. Savage: This is yesterday's paper. I want today's paper.
Hannibal: Oh, it isn't here yet.
Mrs. Savage: When does it come?

I don't know.

Mrs. Savage: Oh dear, dear, dear, dear! How high is that wall?

Much too high.

Florence: Don't look beyond the garden, Mrs. Savage. There may be a better place somewhere--but if you give this up to search for it--you may not find it--and lose what you have.

You'll like it here after a while.

(Buzzer on the wall begins to signal.)
Fairy: Oh, do be still!
Florence: We have to go, Mrs. Savage.
Mrs. Savage: But--where?

It's Garden Hour.

Fairy: Last year I planted bird seed to see what would come up.
Florence: What did come up, Fairy?
Fairy: Nothing. But it was a rich horticultural experience.

There's a beautiful evergreen in the center. At Christmas it has lights on it saying "Merry Christmas--Keep Out."

(Mrs. Savage begins pacing the room--methodically staying on edge of carpet.)
Jeff: But the buzzer buzzed. One has to obey orders.

(Stop at door and watch Mrs. Savage a moment.) May I ask why you're doing that, Mrs. Savage?

Mrs. Savage: But I didn't mean to start a procession.
Fairy: Come, boys, many feet make light work.

(To Jeff.) Why not? It's a refreshing change--most women lead us in circles.

Dr. Emmett: Would you like to know how long it would take me to earn that much money, Mrs. Savage?

(Comes in and picks up his violin.) Oh--excuse me--I came back to get my violin. Fairy May wants music while she plants her seeds.

Dr. Emmett: Oh--just a moment, Hannibal. You were a statistician--how long would it take the average doctor to earn ten million dollars?

(Quickly.) Well--he'd have to start before Christ was born and work right through the burning of Rome up to the burning of St. Joan and Savonarola. With time out, of course, for the Norman Conquest, the Crusades, the Hundred Years' War--the Thirty Years' War--and the Seven Years' War. So he'd have to work double time during the discovery of America, up to penicillin and bubble gum. But that's without deducting Federal tax--state tax--city tax--school tax--luxury tax and amusement tax. You'd add a hundred years for that.

Dr. Emmett: Thank you, Hannibal. It's a great deal to be responsible for, Mrs. Savage. (Goes out.)

Now what's the Doctor up to?

Mrs. Savage: A bit of emotional blackmail, I suspect. Hannibal--would you guess to look at me that I'm worth ten million dollars on the hoof?

Never. The human body has only twenty cents' worth of calcium in it--five cents' worth of iodine, twenty cents' worth of phosphorus, and--well--even at present high prices--nobody is worth over a dollar and a half.

Mrs. Savage: So you value me at a dollar and a half?

Never. You said "worth" Your value is inestimable.

Mrs. Savage: Hannibal--I like you. I like you very much. You make me feel important. You make me feel like dancing.

Splendid. (Promptly chins his violin.) What shall I play?

Hannibal: Splendid. (Promptly chins his violin.) What shall I play?
Mrs. Savage: Anything.

(Eagerly.) I am very good on "The Flight of the Bumble Bee."

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