VOICES (IN ORDER OF THEIR OCCURRENCE):
ESME: A traveler
WILLY: Her cold-blooded father
TITUS MOODY: A radio star
FRED ALLEN: Vaudeville legend
NICK: An electrician
ALICE: A passing fancy
MUSIC: MAHLER’S SYMPHONY NO. 9, OPENING MOVEMENT. DOWN FOR:
ANNOUNCER: Welcome to “A Play for Radio.” During the next few
minutes, we’re going to mess with your mind by way of
MUSIC: UP, THEN OUT.
SOUND: PASTORAL SOUNDSCAPE: BIRDS, BEASTS, WATER, WIND.
FOOTSTEPS APPROACH AND STOP.
ESME: (V.O.) I’m not comfortable here. That’s why I’m speaking
directly to you, the listener, over the background of
all those damn sounds. They remind me of something . . .
MUSIC: BRIEF, TRANSITIONAL “DISSOLVE” LINK, INTO:
SOUND: CRACKLING OF A LARGE CAMPFIRE.
WILLY: Get more wood! Anything you find on the ground! There’s
plenty of it. There’s even a log right here –
SOUND: CREAKING AS AN OBJECT IS PULLED FROM FROZEN GROUND.
ESME: (AS A CHILD:) Daddy! It’s a squirrel!
WILLY: A dead squirrel burns as good as any piece of wood.
Smells better, too.
MUSIC: BRIEF DISSOLVE.
SOUND: PASTORAL SOUNDSCAPE, AS BEFORE.
ESME: (V.O.) I’ve never liked the forest.
SOUND: FOOTSTEPS CONTINUE.
ESME: (V.O.) I’m getting out of here. I need a latte. I need –
(ALOUD) Who are you?
MOODY: Howdy, ma’am. Moody’s the name, Titus Moody, and
I’m afraid I got myself lost.
ESME: Lost in this forest?
MOODY: Lost in the world of entertainment. Used to have a
pretty good radio career, till that box with moving
pictures took over. Used to sit in my house down there
on Allen’s Alley, and every week Fred would arrive
and say –
ALLEN: Well, let’s see what Titus Moody is up to.
SOUND: KNOCKING ON DOOR. DOOR OPENS.
MOODY: Howdy, Bub.
ALLEN: Hel-lo, Mr. Moody. And how is that wife of yours doing
today? I hear she had a bit of cold.
MOODY: Called the doctor. Gave her sulphur and molasses.
Gol-durn quack put in too much sulphur, though.
ALLEN: And how do you know the doctor put in too much sulphur?
MOODY: When my wife sets in the dark, she glows.
SOUND: AUDIENCE LAUGHTER. FADE INTO PASTORAL SOUNDSCAPE.
MOODY: Now nobody in these parts listens to the radio any more.
They don’t what kind of magic awaits.
ESME: There’s magic?
MOODY: Certainly is. Where’d you say you druther be?
ESME: I sure would like to be enjoying a latte at
MOODY: And how would you like to get there?
ESME: I think there’s bus service.
MOODY: That’s not what I mean. We could take you there with
music, but that’s what ever-body does. We could fade
the sounds together, but that’s hardly magic. Tell
you what. Let’s ride in the Magic Maxwell.
SOUND: AN OLD CAR STARTING AND ENGINE REVVING, INTO A SERIES OF
SPROINGS AND A CUCKOO CLOCK, CHAINS RATTLING,
MACHINE-GUN FIRE, DOGS BARKING, A SPEEDED-UP VERSION OF
THE MOST FAMOUS PART OF THE “LIGHT CAVALRY OVERTURE,” A
SLIDE-WHISTLE GLISSANDO, A POPGUN POP, AND A CAR
MOODY: (Beat.) Here we are.
ESME: How did you do that?
MOODY: That’s radio.
SOUND: COFFEEHOUSE AMBIANCE, UNDER THE FOLLOWING:
NICK: Who’s next?
ESME: Oh! Can I get a decaf latte with whipped cream?
NICK: (CALLS TO ASSOCIATE:) One Bennington! What about you,
MOODY: Shoot me the pot and I’ll pour me a shot.
NICK: You got it, daddy. (CLOSE) Who’s the cutie?
MOODY: Mebbe she’d like to tell you herself.
NICK: Hey, Bennington. I think I’m in love.
ESME: Are you talking to me?
NICK: You don’t see my peepers pointed elsewhere, do you?
ESME: Golly! And yet, how can I act surprised when nobody can
see me? As a seasoned actress, I have a well-tuned
repertory of facial expressions and gestures, not to
mention the art of stealing my way upstage as a means
of registering both my keen interest in being so pursued
and the general sense of alienation that characterizes
the life of a young and attractive woman. All of which,
I fear, is useless here!
MOODY: Back in my day, we had writers who knew what to give
you. Sure, you were given such things to say as, “Why,
Lamont, what are we doing in this dark old warehouse at
this time of night?” But you also had the greater
freedom to play out a scene in the mind of the
listener, which is far more imaginative when it’s not
being constricted by what’s coming through the eyes.
This young man is named Nick, and only yesterday the
girl he loved did a terrible thing with one of those
carry-around telephones, that – what d’ye call it?
MOODY: Dumb name. She did that thing with her thumbs . . .
SOUND: CROSSFADE AMBIANCE INTO A MORE QUIET SETTING.
ALICE: (SLOWLY, WHILE TEXTING.) . . . and you have to realize
that Doug has always been nicer to me, even before he
was your roommate –
SOUND: WHISTLING SOUND THAT ACCOMPANIES MANY A TEXT MESSAGE.
NICK: “ . . . and that’s why him and me both are moving out
while you’re at work today.” Dammit! Even if I could
tolerate the treachery of my friends, I won’t tolerate
MOODY: Well, sir, our friend Nick here did something you can
do on radio without special effects, even without
straining plausibility too much if the writer’s really
good. He pressed a secret Smartphone key combination –
SOUND: BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP OF DIFFERENT KEYSTROKE TONES.
MOODY: – and hit “OK” --
SOUND: APPROPRIATE BEEP, FOLLOWED BY ELECTRICAL BUZZING
OVERLAID WITH SIZZLING AND A BRIEF, HORRIBLE SCREAM.
MOODY: – and electrocuted the treacherous bitch.
ESME: I can’t go out with someone like that!
WILLY: (DISTANT, WITH ECHO.) You can. You must. It’s the only
way you’ll ever get over the trauma of what I did to
that frozen squirrel!
ESME: I guess he’s right.
SOUND: COFFEEHOUSE AMBIANCE RETURNS.
NICK: Of course he’s right!
ESME: You heard that?
NICK: It’s only the asides that I can’t hear.
MUSIC: ROMANTIC STRINGS UNDER.
MOODY: And I have a gift for you both that will guarantee
happiness. It’s a gift for you, Esme, with love.
NICK: No squalor?
MOODY: Don’t be so literate. It’s your very own Smartphone key
combination that you can use to fry Nick if he gets on
your nerves. Because the only thing that guarantees
that people will get along with one another these days
is the promise of Mutually Assured Destruction.
SOUND: AUDIENCE APPLAUSE.
ANNOUNCER: That was “A Play for Radio,” starring Barbara
Stanwyck as Esme, Sam Jaffe as Willy, Parker Fennelly
as Titus Moody, Jack Benny as Nick, Agnes Moorehead as
Alice, and a special appearance by Fred Allen as
himself. We invite you to join us next week at this
time for “Just Give Me Enough Money to Finish Editing
It,” starring Orson Welles. This is Ben Grauer speaking.
MUSIC: THE REMAINDER OF MAHLER’S NINTH.