By John McNeil
The behaviour of couples and staff at a honeymoon hotel reveals different expectations of marriage.
Tony (pool concierge)
Tim (her husband)
Francine (social climber)
Don (her suffering husband)
Richard (lounge lizard)
Palo (a waiter)
Andrew & Anita (another honeymoon couple)
The Pool Deck of a hotel in Bali (or other tropical resort). Plastic or cane loungers are scattered around; also large tub pot plants. To one side is a spa, with cocktails lined up along the edge. In the background can be heard sounds of people swimming, etc., mingled with lounge-type music. Tony - one of the pool staff - keeps himself busy tidying, arranging furniture, dusting the pot plants, sweeping, hosing down, bringing towels for guests, taking drinks orders, etc.
(Enter honeymoon couple, arm in arm)
Christina: Darling, this hotel is absolutely perfect. You couldn't have chosen anything nicer. Two weeks of heaven. Mmmm!
Tim: I'll tell you my idea of heaven. (Whispers in her ear.)
Christina: Paradise here we come, then. (They both laugh, and exit.)
Tony: Honeymoon couples. I love them. Every day a new set ... all
the same, and yet all so different. It doesn't matter how old they
are, or whether it's the first time, second time (pause) ... third
time ... (pause) yet-to-be time. They all come in with that special
look on their faces. Totally wrapped up in each other. An atom bomb
could go off next to them and they wouldn't notice. I don't usually
see much of them the first couple of days.
Day three they surface, and then they drift in here to show each other off, see who else is sharing their kind of adventure. The number of Kiwis and Aussies who holiday here, it's not uncommon to meet someone who knows someone... They laugh a lot. And confidentially, that's when I get my best tips. They haven't spent all their money yet, and that pink glow still surrounds everything. Day three is good for me.
Day four or five? That's when the differences start to show themselves. The things that have been hiding under the romantic haze poke their heads above ground a little. Can be a good thing, or a bad thing. You may not believe it, but I can tell on day four what sort of marriage it's going to be. Just by the way they handle those little things. You watch. (Pause) A towel, sir? Right away, sir. (He exits.)
(Enter Andrew and Anita. She has been crying.)
Anita: I don't care. This was a bad mistake. We've only been here three days, and already she's ruining life for both of us.
Andrew: But how could we leave her behind? We are all she's got. And she's paid for this honeymoon. Money she couldn't really afford.
Anita: How you could have accepted that money, I do not know. Don't you have any pride?
Andrew: If I hadn't, we would never have been able to come here.
Anita: If I'd known, I'd never have agreed to it. I'd rather have gone .... gone camping ... than taken a trip like this with strings attached. you're going to have to choose between your mother and me, Andrew. (She exits running.)
Andrew: But Anita.... (leaves after her).
(There is a loud burst of laughter from the spa pool, where three people are sitting: A husband and wife, and a new acquaintance. The wife has the sort of laugh that has the same effect as a dentist drill, and frequently punctuates her conversation with it. The husband is trying desparately not to show he is totally ill at ease.)
Francine: You're so right, Richard! (You don't mind if I call you Rickie, do you?)
Richard: (Murmurs) Not at all.
Francine: You're either born with rhythm, or you're not. Now Don might be the country's best engineer (turns to him) and you most certainly are, darling - but he can't tune up his feet, bless him. The last time we went dancing, I said to him, "With all the world to stand on, why do you have to choose my feet?"
Don: (To Richard) I do seem to recall that she trod on my toes more than once that evening.
Francine: (To Richard - mock protest) That was self preservation - to keep them out of the way of his.
Richard: If you have difficulty dancing together, why are you going to the ball tonight?
Francine: We wouldn't miss it for anything, would we darling! We simply can't pass up the opportunity to show off that lovely solitaire set you bought me for our anniversary. Are you going, Rickie?
Richard: Well, I hadn't quite decided....
Francine: Oh, you simply must come. (Appraises him) I'm sure you dance superbly. (Coy) Don't tell me you don't....
Richard: (Uses French pronunciation) An amateur du dance purely ...but I cannot intrude...
Francine: ...and it would be our pleasure to introduce you to some of wonderful people we have met here already. Wouldn't it, Don.
(Tony enters with a fresh towel)
Don: Perhaps ... Rickie ... is already engaged for the evening, dear.
Francine: Pooh, nothing can be as important as this ball. That's settled then. (Spots Tony) Ah, Tony, there you are. Be a darling, would you, and send Palo along with another round each.
Tony: (Delivering the towel to its requester) Certainly, Mrs
Francine. (He rings a little hand bell.)
(To audience) This Mrs Francine, she is on honeymoon again. She is a collector of honeymoons, I think. It is their fifth wedding anniversary, and they are having a second honeymoon to celebrate. So that makes number three, as she has been married once before.
(Palo enters) Palo, another round of drinks for the guests in the spa pool.
(Palo nods and exits.)
Tony: I'm not sure that Mr Don is celebrating. He has seen this
before. I think the only reason he agreed to come was the hope it
would prevent what he sees happening. This will be his last
honeymoon. But for Mrs Francine? No, not the last.
(Calls) A newspaper, sir? Will the Straits Times be suitable? I will get one for you. (He exits, as Palo enters with drinks, which he takes to the trio in the spa.)
(Enter a determined Anita, hauling a suitcase. She crosses the stage, As she exits, Andrew enters, chasing after her.)
Andrew: But Anita, can't you listen to reason! (He exits)
(Enter Tony, who is thoroughly confused about what is happening. Enter Tim, in a black mood, muttering to himself. He wanders aimlessly round, watched with concern by Tony.)
Tim: (Spots Tony) Waiter!
Tim: A stiff drink.
Tony: I will call Palo, sir. (Rings his little bell.) What will you be drinking, sir?
Tim: Rum and coke. No, double rum and coke.
Tony: (To Palo, who has just entered) A double rum and coke for
the gentleman, Palo.
(Palo nods and exits.)
Is there anything else you would like, sir?
Tony: Something perhaps for the lady, sir?
Tim: Can't imagine what.
Tony: She is feeling a little out of sorts?
Tim: A big out of sorts. (Pause) She found a photograph in my wallet I had forgotten about. (Pause) How to wreck a honeymoon in one stroke.
(Palo enters with drink, which Tim takes. Palo exits. Tim takes a sip. Tony pretends to be dusting a plant.)
Tim: What's your name?
Tony: They call me Tony, sir.
Tim: Did you honeymoon at this hotel?
Tony: (Laughs) Oh no, sir, I was not working here when I got married. And they would never let staff... (Pause) No, I was just a village fisherman when I became married. I could not afford a grand honeymoon. Besides, it is not thought of in the village. We get married today, if we do not fish we do not eat, so tomorrow life goes on. Only I wanted a better life, so later we came here. I studied hard. I was fortunate to get this job, thanks to a cousin of my wife who is a porter.
Tim: How long did you know her before you married?
Tony: My wife? I had never met her. (Tim looks astonished.) It was an arranged marriage. She was from another village. I met her for the first time on our wedding day.
Tim: Do you love her?
Tony: What is love? I do not know whether we measure it the same way as people who come to this hotel. Our life is better than it was in the village. We respect each other. We have four children we are proud of. We have strong family, and God gives us strength. That is enough, I think.
Francine: (Raucous laughter) Ricky, that is the most outrageous thing I have heard all day. Isn't he a scream, Don?
© John McNeil 1999
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This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged.
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Or at: 36B Stourbridge St, Christchurch 2, New Zealand.