The Secret Life of Guinea Pigs (2017)


Shanon Tarkington and
Victoria Kochetova in the
play “The Secret Life of
Guinea Pigs”


The Secret Life of Guinea Pigs

by Patrick Kirwin

 RUFUS:(Talking into tape recorder) Day 27 — still trapped in the cage. Still plotting my escape. The hand has come five times the past six hours, attacked three out of those five times, and is still out there somewhere, planning its next move. My investigation into the cat’s involvement in the disappearance of yesterday’s carrot still proves fruitless, but I haven’t given up hope yet. Oh God, here comes the dog, again!

PABLO:(Not concerned with Rufus’ antics) I think I’m getting fat from all these pebbles. (Goes toward the wheel)

RUFUS: Don’t you dare step on that wheel!

PABLO: This again?

RUFUS: Yes, this again! How many times do I have to tell you? That is not your own private gym, you idiot, it is a turbine created for the sole purpose of harvesting our energy to do God-knows-what! It’s all part of–

RUFU & PABLO:(Pablo mocking Rufus) the human exploitation of Guinea Pigs.

RUFUS CON’T: I mean, they test on us for everything! New shampoos, new makeup, new medications. Their term for test subject is literally Guinea Pig. We shouldn’t be forced to give our bodies to science so that some middle-aged reality star can get Botox! And remember Ralph?!

PABLO: From the pet store?

RUFUS: Don’t you ever wonder why he kept sniffing his own butt?

PABLO: ‘Cause he was a freak.

RUFUS: No! He wasn’t a freak, he was a fugitive! He was an escaped Lab Rat!

PABLO: Escaped Lab Guinea Pig.

RUFUS: Whatever! They used him in an experiment to test how addictive Oreos are in comparison to cocaine. Cocaine, Pablo! He sniffed his butt because Big Pharma turned him into a strung-out addict!

PABLO:(Genuinely shocked) Ralph was a cokehead?

RUFUS: What? No, he was one of the guys that got fed Oreos. That stuff really messes you up. (He gets a chill thinking about it)

PABLO: Ok, well, that sucks and all, but why are you so paranoid? Nobody’s trying to test on us. We’re free to do whatever we want.

RUFUS: Oh, wake up, Pablo! Ever notice that we get fed at the same time everyday? Everyday, at 8 am, like clockwork. You know why that is? So they can drug us, Pablo! They put drugs in our food that put us to sleep so they can run their little experiments on us without our ever having known! And the pipes that they put in here lead right back to where they start! They give you just enough hope that maybe you’re finally getting out, and they snatch it away from you! And don’t even get me started on the “food” they give us. A bowl full of weird little rocks? A baby carrot or some celery once a week? Why don’t we ever get kale, or steamed broccoli, or a nice garden salad? I could go for a crouton every now and again. Aren’t you sick of eating the same junk everyday?

PABLO: Variety gives me indigestion.

RUFUS: Oh, come on! Don’t you wonder about what life is like outside of this crate? Aren’t you even a little bit curious?

PABLO: Curiosity killed the Guinea Pig. And think about all the good stuff that comes with living here. Someone else cleans our cage, refills our food and water bottle, brushes our fur… we don’t have any responsibilities!

RUFUS: I want responsibilities! I want control over my own life! I want power! Don’t you?

PABLO: No! These people take care of us, they had never been anything but good to us, they love us, and you still bit the hand that feeds you!

RUFUS: Oh, they love us, do they? Then how come they don’t take us for walks ike they do with the dog, or play with us like they do with the cat? They treat us like we’re second class citizens.

PABLO: Because we’re Guinea Pigs! We’re not the kind of pet that you spend time with or pay attention to. We’re just sort of there.

RUFUS: But I want more than that! Remember G-Force? We could be just like them someday, but we can’t do it from inside this cage.

PABLO: That was just a movie, Rufus. We’d never make it out there on our own, we’ve never been in the outside world!

RUFUS: I could handle it.

PABLO: Oh, yea? What about Baldy?

RUFUS: You don’t seriously believe that old wives’ tale, do you? It’s just something parents tell their pups to keep them from running away.

PABLO: No, it’s true! Once upon a time–

RUFUS: Any story that starts off with “Once upon a time” is not a real story–

PABLO: Once upon a time, in a townhouse far, far away in the Westchester county, lived the perfect family. There was a Mom, a Dad, a brother and sister, and their pet Guinea Pig, Fluffy. Fluffy had it all, a wheel to run on, a plastic house to sleep in, and all the carrots a guy could ask for. Not to mention, the nicest coat of fur on the East Coast. (Pointedly to Rufus) But, because he was selfish, and ungrateful, and stupid, he still wanted more. So one night, after everyone in the house had gone to sleep, he snuck out of his cage and made a run for it. He had so much space to run around in, so much new territory to explore. He thought it was the best decision he had ever made! He thought he was genius! And do you know what the genius decided to do next, Rufus?

RUFUS:(Quietly) Yes.

PABLO: What did he do?

RUFUS:(Reluctantly) He snuggled up to the space heater for warmth.

PABLO: He snuggled up to the space heater for warmth! And what happened next, Rufus?

RUFUS:(Quietly, mumbling) His fur caught on fire.

PABLO: What was that?

RUFUS:(More clearly) His fur caught on fire.

PABLO: His. Fur. Caught. On. Fire, Rufus! He narrowly escaped death by throwing himself into the dog’s water bowl, but nearly all of his once beautiful coat was gone, and what was left was patchy and covered in slobber. All because he just couldn’t leave well enough alone. And that is how Fluffy turned into Baldy.


RUFUS: You’re not listening to me!

PABLO: No, I’m not, because you’re crazy!

RUFUS: You know I’m right! Just look at that thing, it has energy harvesting written all over it. (They both look at the wheel)

PABLO: I beg to differ.

RUFUS: Look out that window over there and tell me you don’t want that. That you don’t want to feel the wind, drink some rain, play in the mud, and reclaim our natural habitat.

PABLO: You think you’d survive out there? You have to be rushed to the vet every other week for eating too many wood ships.

RUFUS: You’re wrong! We’re animals, we belong out there!

PABLO: Maybe a hundred years ago, but not anymore. We’ve evolved into house pets.

RUFUS: And you call me stubborn? You can’t even consider that I might be right for two seconds! You’re so pig-headed.

PABLO: Don’t you mean Guinea Pig-headed?

RUFUS: Pablo, I swear to– (He stops himself and lets out a sigh) You’re really ok with spending the rest of your life holed up in here?

PABLO: Yup. More than ok with it. (He walks over to the wheel and finally starts to run on it)

RUFUS:(Staring off) One day… one day I’ll get out of here. (Notices something offstage) Oh Lord, here comes the dog a–

(Lights go out and a loud crash is heard. When the lights come back up, Rufus and Pablo are lying on the floor.)

PABLO:(Groaning, with his eyes closed) What just happened?

RUFUS:(Beginning to stand up) I think the stupid mutt knocked us over. (Now standing, he looks around and realizes that the door to the cage has opened) Pablo! Pablo! (Kicks him) Get up!

PABLO:(Whining) I don’t wanna…

RUFUS: Pablo, get. Up.


RUFUS: Because the door is open, stupid!

PABLO:(Opens his eyes, looks in the direction of the door, then stands up abruptly) Oh my God!

RUFUS: Oh my God!

PABLO: Oh my God!

RUFUS: Oh my God!

PABLO: Oh my God!

RUFUS: What do we do?

PABLO: What do you mean, what do we do? We stay here and wait for them to find us and put is back in the desk, that’s what we do!

RUFUS: Are you kidding me?! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and you’re just going to throw it away?!


RUFUS: You can’t be serious!

PABLO: Well, I am. (Walks in the opposite direction of the cage door) I’m not going anywhere.

RUFUS:(Beat) Well, fine! (Walks tentatively toward the door) I’ll just… leave without you.

PABLO: No you won’t.

RUFUS: Oh yes, I will!

PABLO: You’d never make it out there without me!

RUFUS: You don’t know that.

PABLO:(Pointing) There’s a space heater right over there.

RUFUS: So? I just won’t go near it.

PABLO: You are forgetful, and you get cold easily, Rufus, you’ll be bald within the hour!

RUFUS: I’ll manage! I’ll just hide somewhere and wait for someone to open a door, and when they do, I am out of here! I’ll go live in a forest, or… a meadow! Yeah, I’ll live in a meadow! A big one! With lots of grass and flowers! I’ll spend all day running around, eating as much as I want, lying in the sun…

PABLO: You’ll get eaten my a hawk.

RUFUS: Hawks aren’t real, Pablo. They’re just something parents made up so their pups wouldn’t run away.

PABLO: No they’re not!

RUFUS: Yes, they are!

PABLO: Are not!

RUFUS: Are so!

PABLO: Are not!

RUFUS: Are so!

PABLO: You’re stupid!

RUFUS: You’re stupid!


PABLO: Are you really gonna leave?

RUFUS: Yeah, I am. (Pause) Are you coming?

(Pablo pauses for a moment then shakes his head no.)

RUFUS CON’T: Well… Then I guess this is goodbye.

PABLO: I guess it is.

(Rufus walks over to Pablo and the two hug.)

RUFUS: I’ll miss you, Pablo.

PABLO: Then don’t leave.

RUFUS: I have to. I gotta get my ducks in a  row.

PABLO: Guinea Pigs.

RUFUS: Gotta grab the bull by the horns.

PABLO: Guinea Pig by the tail.

RUFUS: The world is my oyster.

PABLO: Don’t you mean–

RUFUS:(Pulling away) Let’s not do this now.

PABLO: Sorry.

RUFUS:(Looking around) Well… goodbye. (He stares at Pablo for a few more seconds then turns and walks off stage)

PABLO:(Calling after him) I’ll never forget you, Rufus! (He stares offstage in the direction Rufus left for a little while, then sadly sits down somewhere. it stays like this for a few moments until Rufus is heard screaming offstage)

RUFUS:(Running back onstage) That cat really doesn’t like me!


(Lights out.)

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