Captive in a Closet (2017)
Katie Daugherty and Liv
Dechene in Scout Winer’s play
“Captive in a Closet”
Captive in a Closet
by Scout Winer
The scene begins in a cramped coat and supplies closet in the basement of a synagogue downtown. Helen and Annalise sit a few feet away from each other, both perched on stacked up boxes of matzah, occasionally glancing over at one another. The door, locked from the outside, has a small glass opening in the upper center, barely large enough for someone to press their eyes against it and look out. Pop music beats heavily in the background as excited, yet uncertain Helen turns to the audience and begins to speak:
H: I had never thought a synagogue would change my life views forever. Living a pretty sheltered life is kind of an unbelievable thing to say about a girl who attends a elite private single sex school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, but that’s me. I guess you could say I’m shy, but that wouldn’t be the entire truth. I actually adore people. Well, that is, most people. You see, growing up like I have, surrounded by the wealthiest of the wealthy, not everyone here is so concerned on stuff like emotions or what book is someone’s favorite. Around here, its seems friends are chosen depending on the amount of Jimmy Choo’s they have lined up in their closets. What I mean by this is that most of my classmates appear to be quite stuck up and much too absorbed in their own shiny lives. It actually doesn’t surprise me much that the girl I am currently stuck with in a supply closet of a temple is not speaking to me because she is too focused on the filing of her nails.
A: I had never thought anything this boring would happen to me. I mean, just look at the creature next to me. She hasn’t said anything in the past 17 minutes and just keeps looping her unbrushed hair around her home manicured finger. Quelle horreur! Who even is this stranger? I can’t stand to look at anyone who is sweating pools out of fear. She’s smiling this reliable goody two shoes smile, something that never fails to piss me off. This could quite possibly be the party of the year, but of course little miss sunshine over here gets us locked in a closet. I came into this closet to get my shimmery lipgloss out of my bag to impress the undergrad bartender upstairs, and she (glaring at Helen) came in because she just had to retrieve her comfy flip-flops because, in her words;
H: (matter of factly) + A (mocking, sarcastic tone) “Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is hard, especially when they are your mom’s seven inch Loubittons.”
A: Somebody (once again directing her eyes towards Helen) forgot to take the key with them in here, leaving it right outside the door we are now locked behind. Ugh, someone has got to get me out of here.
Silence ensues for another couple of seconds, with only the sound of Annalise fiercely filing away her long thick nails.
H: Can you please not file so loud? I can’t hear myself think.
A: Oh, so she speaks!
Annalise smirks to herself as she begins to file at a faster pace, making sure the noise that is produced is overly loud and obnoxious.
Helen rolls her eyes.
A: I’m just trying to file one of them into a shape to fit into this damn key hole.
Annalise directs her eyes towards the door
H: (stifling a small nervous laugh) Right, like that will work. But really, we do need to figure out a way out of here…
Helen looks up at the celling, where she sees an air vent opening.
Following her view, Annalise turns her head up towards the celling.
A: You have got to be kidding me. There is no way I’m going up there.
H: What other option do we have? We have to get out somehow.
A: Considering you were the genius who got us stuck in here in the first place, you should be the one to figure that out.
H: Actually, you were the one who slammed the door behind you on your way in—
A: Technicality. That wouldn’t have mattered if you brought the key in here with you. But it’s ok, I’m a good person, I don’t hold grudges. I’m sure your simple mind was just too overwhelmed to be in the same room as me to remember a silly thing like a key.
H: Simple mind? Yes, the editor of the school newspaper and long reigning 1st place champion of the national Latin competition is simple minded. Dancers and socialites, however, are just true geniuses…
A: Finally, someone gets it!
Annalise quizzically looks about the small room until her eye focuses on something on her left.
A: (with her usual coolness) In the mean time…!
She grabs a mysterious box and bottle and holds them in front of her face.
H: Cookies and champagne. Great escape plan. No thank you.
A: (popping the cork off the bottle)
H: (ignoring Annalise fiddling with the bottle and staring at the door) We have got to get back to that party…
A: (sarcastically) Righttt, because the party just couldn’t go on without princess, uh, what’s your name again?
H: (gritting her teeth) It’s Helen… we’ve been in the same math group for almost 3 years now…
A: Oh right, sure. Well Ellen, I have people upstairs actually wanting to socialize with me.
H: Yeah, they seem to be very concerned you are missing—
A: (interrupting) More concerned than they would ever be for a nerdy poor girl like yourself—
H: (infuriated, without thinking, but firmly) At least they don’t just talk to me because I’m a flashy whore.
A: Hah, I wouldn’t put you down for being such a little bitch!
H: I’m not the little bitch here, I’m not the one living off my parents cash and buying designer handbags left and right.
A: You’re right. But I at least have the money to afford things like that.
H: You know what just shut up already! Clearly neither of us want to be here but we don’t need to make it worse by being catty with one another.
A: Whatever. It’s lame here. You’re lame.
H: Trap it, moneybags.
A: (innocently) Whatever happened to not being catty?
Helen ignores her and takes a few cookies from the box and shoves a few into her mouth. After a short time of silent chewing, Helen sighs and begins to speak.
H: Okay, I get that you don’t like me or whatever, but we’re stuck here and I’m bored. Can’t we just try to be nice and, I don’t know, try to get to know each other?
A: Talking to weirdos goes against all my values… but I guess I’ll give it a shot. I can see the headline now, “Popular girl does charity work making small talk with geek.” Let’s cheers to that. Like my dad always says, there’s no bad situation a couple drops of bubbly can’t fix…
She laughs again, tossing her dyed red hair over her fair colored shoulders. Her laughter fades for a moment, but Annalise masks her sadness. She hands the bottle over to Helen, who lifts up the drink as a kind of salut and takes a swig. A small half smile creeps back on Annalise’s face and she accepts the cookie Helen holds out to her.
H: So um… how are you? How are your friends, your family…?
Annalise opens her mouth to speak, but realizes she has nothing to say.
H: Um, is something wrong? I mean, besides the fact we are trapped in this horrific place…
A: (wrapping a strangers coat around her slender figure) I mean, it’s not that horrible—
H: (interrupting, in an attempt to relate to Annalise, Helen cracks a joke) Right, just like its not that horrible to wear last season flats to a black tie event. Dusty closets are just a great place to be at a party with some strange girl…
Helen laughs along to her own joke, encouraging Annalise to join.
A: (almost inaudibly) It’s not like there’s anything out there for me…
She gestures her head towards the door.
H: Don’t say that—
A: But you know it’s true. Of course it’s true. No one out there in the real world actually wants me, I’m just that useless slut, like you said—
H: I didn’t really mean that I was ju—
A: Oh but you know it’s true. All of the gossip you probably hear about me. I’m becoming the same wild girl that my sisters were, and my mom is too caught up in her own stupid life to care and my dad… (pausing) my father…
H: But those people… your family… they aren’t you. They don’t reflect who you are, you could be your own person on the inside…
A: (cackles in fear) Hah, what person inside. Everyday that girl inside fades away, and I slowly become the drunk coward everyone knows I’ll end up to be.
Annalise breaks a cookie in her hand, watching the crumbs falling in her lap
A: And you know what the worst part is? I let it happen. I don’t stop it. I allow people like you believe all the rumors to be true, which they probably are.
H: I mean, at least you have your Mercedes and diamond necklaces and what not. I’d kill to have stuff like that just lying around.
A: But those are just material things. At least you have a family who cares for you.
H: I never thought about it that way…
Helen looks down at the bottle, as though looking for a solution in it’s bubbles. She turns to the audience, standing up, not speaking to Annalise.
H: I never realized that all this time I have been so selfish. I always disliked people being all flashy with their money and judging those who were bellow them. What I never realized is that by doing this, I was judging too. I always thought that the life of the rich is always perfect because of the endless amount of money. The reality is that all Annalise really wants is someone to listen to her and for someone to care, not endless stacks of bills. All this time, I have taken my supportive and loving family for granted. I was wrong not to consider that everyone, despite their class, has problems. (sitting down, turning back to Annalise)
A: (before Helen can say anything) Don’t look so distressed. It’s not your fault…
Annalise turns to the audience.
A: Why is this girl here feeling sorry for me? What have I ever done for her? I have ignored her and probably bullied her and done everything that would have driven any sane person far away. Maybe for some odd, unexplained reason, she actually is interested in the person I really am inside. Maybe she thinks there’s something more to me than all the money and what everyone says. (turning to Helen and sitting back down) Listen, I shouldn’t have been so mean earlier…
H: It’s ok—
A: But it’s not, you actually seem kind of cool I guess, like, not the worst person to be stuck in a closet with.
They exchange a sorrowful but promising smile.
A: But, like, honestly, it’s a coat closet. We have got to get out of here.
At almost that exact moment, the door knob twists to the right, slightly opening the door revealing a light shinning from the outside.
H: Look’s like our party awaits!
They get up slowly, looking around as if to remember this room. They share one final look before they push open the door together and dash off stage.