The Garden Maze – A One Act Play

Reading a play versus seeing a play are two very different experiences.  In most cases, the playwright is writing for performance – and the words are never intended for general readership. But what if the opposite was true?

Although I used Strindburg and Maeterlinck’s writing styles as my primary references, I also borrowed styles from Ibsen, Wedekind, and Buchner. I wrote this play to be read and I kept it to one act because I wanted to focus mainly on the dialogue. No word, stage direction, and description is without function. Further, the symbolist movement greatly influenced me so that everything is designed to reflect a larger allegorical message.

In summary, be forewarned:  everything is wildly open to interpretation.

Characters:

A Man and A Woman

Scene:

It’s deep into the night. A massive and complex garden maze lies in bird’s eye view. The garden maze is in the shape of a square but circular within. A round clearing lies directly in the middle of the maze and the crumbling remnants of a building lay at the back end of the clearing. A man and a woman enter the clearing simultaneously from opposite paths.

Man: There you are!

Woman: I’m sorry, but do I know you?

Man: (looks her over) Well, no, but … it’s as if I could know you.

Woman: I guess you have a point there. {Looks around nervously} Where are we?

Man: You don’t know either?

Woman: No. I’ve been trying to find my way for – well, it seems like an eternity now.

Man: Same here. I just happened to stumble upon this place. {He walks a little closer and lowers his voice) Hey, do you think we’re lost?

Woman: [She leans forward and whispers] I have gradually concluded that it’s possible. I am happy I’m not alone, although, it frightens me some that you’re here.

Man: {in a normal tone} Confirmation can do that. {He points towards the ruins) Shall we sit there for a while?

Woman: I suppose it couldn’t hurt.

{Both walk over to the ruins and sit on some of the debris. They silently scan their surroundings.}

Man: I have heard some strange things recently.

Woman: Oh?

Man: The storm in the north, she is progressively getting worse. {Sound of wind rising and falling is heard)

Woman:  I can feel her crying.

[Sound of water crashing is heard}

Man:  The tall wave from the south! Can you hear it?

Woman: I can feel it coming!

{Both stand up and walk quickly away from the ruins. They both look at each other for a moment. They embrace.}

Woman: The sounds are fading now.

Man: Yes I can only hear faint whispers now.

Woman: Now it’s just a memory.

{They end their embrace}

Woman: We must look to the east now. It can’t be avoided anymore.

Man: Every time I gaze over there, I get sand in my eyes. The sandstorms sweep too much of the sand over here.

Woman: We could close our eyes – although sand has a tricky way of getting in no matter what. {Both look back at the ruins and shudder) We should leave here.

Man: With the fire in the west, I feel as though this may be the safest spot for us. {He looks around the clearing but finds nothing} Yes, I think we are better off staying here until we can figure out where we are.

Woman: I feel trapped. I feel like I’m in the middle of a cross fire. {Man begins to whistle a tune} In the middle of the war of the – what are you whistling?

Man: Was I whistling? {Shakes his head as if to wake himself up} Oh I suppose I was! You see the flowers on either side of us? They reminded me of a song from childhood.

Woman: They are quite beautiful.

Man:  I’ll pick some for you. Afterwards, I’ll sing you the song. [Man walks over to the left side of clearing and picks a violet from the hedge. He then walks over to the right side of the clearing and picks a rose. He returns to the center of the clearing where the woman remains standing and hands her both flowers} Now, let me see if I remember the song correctly:

“Roses are Red and Violets are blue”—

Woman: Enough! I’m sick of that song.

{Both fall into an uncomfortable silence}

Woman: Doesn’t it seem strange that the flowers only grow on separate sides of the garden?

Man: I suppose. It wasn’t always so.

Woman: {she brightens for a moment} Oh yes! That’s right. [she pauses and then drops both flowers on either side of her; usual demeanor returns]

Man: War of the flowers.

{Both look out to the East}

Woman: I wish that we knew what was going on. I feel more and more scared by the second.

Man: Perhaps if we look to the stars. {They both look up} In the end, we always have the stars.

Woman: Yes, although they scare me too.

{Both continue to look up. They both stand this way silently for a while}

Woman: How’s this going to end?

Man: I don’t know if it does. {Looks over at the woman} In the end we are only two people in a garden.

Woman: {Meets the man’s stare} In the end, a garden with two people can become the most powerful force.

The End

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