Other Desert Cities
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Other Desert Cities

A Play

Jon Robin Baitz

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eBook - ePub

Other Desert Cities

A Play

Jon Robin Baitz

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About This Book

A political family confronts its dark history in this Pulitzer Prize-finalist play "with gleaming dialogue [and] tantalizing hints of a dangerous mystery" (Ben Brantley, The New York Times ). Winner of the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play Brooke Wyeth hasn't been home to visit her parents in years. But now she's back in Palm Springs for Christmas, and she has a startling announcement to make. Brooke is about to publish a detailed and intimate family memoir—one that will open a wound her politically prominent parents don't want reopened. First appearing on Broadway in a hit production starring Stacy Keach and Stockard Channing, Other Desert Cities "examine[s] the fractiousness of American politics through the prism of one family" (David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter ).

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Information

Publisher
Grove Press
Year
2011
ISBN
9780802194954
ACT I
Scene One
Christmas Eve morning, 2004.
The Wyeth living room. There is a metal fireplace, one of those Scandinavian flying saucer types from the sixties, giving off a nice glow. Desert-French regency is the style, decorated for movie stars circa 1965, but somehow it still works, perhaps better now than it did in its time.
A game of mixed doubles has just ended. BROOKE WYETH, an attractive and dry woman, her oak-like father, LYMAN, who is sturdy in the way of old Californians of a particular type. Brook’s younger brother, TRIP, a bright, funny man, perhaps a decade her junior, and her mother, elegant and forthright and whip-smart POLLY. They are still tired, recovering from the game. In easy, good spirits.
Polly All I am saying Brooke is that I don’t know how the hell you stand those East Coast winters, and in that little village of yours out there on the edge of the sea, it’s just, it really makes us worry—
Brooke (laughing) Sag Harbor is really cozy, it’s quiet, it’s peaceful, my God, I’ve been here less than three hours and you’re starting in on me? About where I live?
Lyman What your mother is saying is that closer to home—we would love to have you closer to home—
Trip I can’t believe you’re doing this. Mom, Dad—she split. She gave up on California, last century. It’s not in her blood.
Brooke It really is true, even when I was a little girl, I knew, I just knew I was going to live back east. I couldn’t do this—this endless sunshine—this—it’s so—predictable!
Lyman But you’re a child of California, you grew up with beaches and orange groves—
Brooke And the weather that never changes. I need seasons to mark where I am. Last winter I was still pretty blue, as you know, but this odd thing—when spring started to just hint—those crazy flowers popping up out of the snow—it matched where I was, I was coming out of it. My winter. I was popping up too.
A moment.
Polly I think you might have that thing where the winter is part of what makes you blue, really, have you ever thought of that?
Brooke I am fine, I’m—is this what this trip is gonna be?
Trip Brooke. The house next door? It’s for sale. They want us to have it. (mock horror) They want us here ALL THE TIME!
Trip pretends to be dying of poison gas. The parents grin. Brooke laughs.
Lyman Yes, we know we bore you two to tears. But . . . (beat) Brookie. What if there were another attack? It’s a rather likely possibility, isn’t it? It’s only been a few years. It’s only been—I mean—
Brooke (moaning) Here we go.
Trip No, no, no. Let’s not do this.
Polly You know, we still have friends in Washington, you wouldn’t believe what they don’t tell you. Well, we hear it, blood chilling. Arabs with all sorts of plans they’re hatching, crazed Indian people with—
Brooke I live in Eastern Long Island, not Times Square, and I refuse to live like some sort of terrified—(beat) This is how you win at tennis, you agitate me—you get me really just—impossibly overheated—
Polly I have no idea what you’re talking about. If you have a lousy serve, you have a lousy serve, darling, and if all it takes to win is to tell you that I think this war is entirely justified, well then, you shouldn’t be playing tennis.
Polly has a smile on her face. She is having fun, it’s light needling.
Brooke (grinning) Do you still own a revolver, dad?
Polly You know I’m not cooking dinner? We’re having Christmas Eve at the country club.
Brooke lets out a moan.
Trip Jesus, Mom, who has Christmas at a country club?
Brooke Jews is who has Christmas at a country club. That’s why God made country clubs, so half-goy hipsters and their aging parents don’t have to cook.
Polly Oh, it’s terrific. Stone crab claws, Bloody Marys, chink food, and a mambo band. If you want to stand here slaving over a hot stove in the desert, be my guest. I can’t face it anymore.
Brooke (smiling) Did you just say ‘chink food’? Cause I’m still stuck back there.
Polly (laughing) Oh stop it! I don’t have a bigoted bone in my body, you’re just so correct about everything, and if you can’t joke in your own home—you’re so—I wanna know this; when did everyone get so damn sensitive about every last thing? When?
Brooke Uhm. Around the time you people started using words like “chink” in public, is when.
Lyman You don’t like the Palm Springs Country Club? Is there anything about our lives you don’t mind? Our politics, our—
Brooke (over him) That country club does not let in—
Polly (over her) Yes they do. Yes they DO! That ended years ago! Stop it!
Brooke Do they? Mom? How many—
Polly ...

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