“RYAN: So hey. You know what I’d do? I’d just say, as calm and gentle as possible, ‘I’m not sure this is working out, and I think we should break up.'”
Setting: Evening. Sam’s house. There is a front door perpendicular to the audience. There is a bush next to the door. There is also a table inside the house.
Sam: Around 25. Currently dating Amy but wants to break up. Friends with Ryan.
Ryan: Same age. Sam’s friend, currently staying at his house.
Amy: Same age. Currently dating Sam but wants to break up.
Ella: Same age. Amy’s friend.
(Lights up on the inside of the house. We see SAM and RYAN sitting at a table with a computer on it. SAM has his head in his hands and is clearly distraught. RYAN is trying to console him by talking it out.)
RYAN: So hey. You know what I’d do? I’d just say, as calm and gentle as possible, “I’m not sure this is working out, and I think we should break up.”
SAM: Yeah, but I mean… (his voice trails off for a second) if I break up with her, she gets the TV! (RYAN winces and puts a hand on SAM’s shoulder) At the end of the day, I need to say to myself: “Which is really worse: Staying with Amy, who can maybe not be perfect sometimes, or no Hulu binges ever again?”
RYAN: Okay, fine. So why not just stay with her?
SAM: You wouldn’t understand, Ryan. I need to play it exactly right so that either she breaks up with me, (his face lights up) or…
RYAN: Whatever it is, you’re never going to pay me enough.
SAM: Can you break up with her for me?
RYAN: First of all, what would that even accomplish? And second of all, no way in hell.
SAM: Come on, dude. You don’t even have to be yourself. Just pretend you’re me, talk with her through the door, and I can break up with Amy and suffer no personal introspection whatsoever!
RYAN: But if I pretend to be you, she’ll still get the TV, won’t she?
SAM (pulls out a pen and paper): Nonsense! (begins to write furiously) (starts talking very quickly) If you do the honors of breaking up with her, but still pretend you’re me in the process, that circumvents the Breakup Clause of the 1704 Edict of Cryingbinge, which would normally rule against me. This method of dumping, further established in the 2008 custody case of Lohan v. Everybody, gives the dumper full rights to disputed items, except for a six-month court-ordered supply of Ben & Jerry’s issued to the dumpee. It’s simple legal precedent!
RYAN: How long exactly have you been researching this?
SAM: None of your business. But back to the point. What do you have to lose, bro? You have Hulu.
RYAN: Hold on, couldn’t you just break up with her and then watch TV at my house?
SAM (whiny): But it’s cold out.
RYAN: Jeez… fine. So how do you want me to dump her?
SAM: Well, I’ve thought this through a little bit. See, I prepared a list of classic breakup lines right here. (hands RYAN a piece of paper) Or, if that’s not to your liking, I also wrote a poem about it. (hands a different piece of paper to RYAN) Just read this off and —
RYAN (reading off the piece of paper): “I think we should see other people/You fed my mouse to your pet eagle/You played my friend in naked Twister/Blah blah blah I love your sister.” What is wrong with you, dude?
SAM: What? None of that was false!
RYAN: Are you kidding? If Amy finds out that I’m filling in for you, we’re both dead! You know she’ll post it all on Instagram, don’t you? Her account is literally the Truman Show.
SAM: Ugh, I know… We have to make me sound as good as possible, but still get her to ditch me. (pauses) You’ll do this for me, right? You’re my friend.
RYAN (soft): I’m your friend… (pauses for a few seconds) Eight hundred dollars.
(Lights up on ELLA, who knocks at the door.)
ELLA (pretending to be AMY, and she will use this voice every time she impersonates AMY): Sa-am! Ready for dinner?
SAM (hurried): Oh my god, it’s Amy. Quick, go to the door!
(RYAN rushes to the door.)
RYAN (deliberately high voice, and he will use this voice every time he impersonates SAM): Hey, Amy! Can we just talk… through the door… for a second?
ELLA: Sure! But you don’t have to deepen your voice for me. Keep it how it is!
(RYAN snickers and looks at SAM. SAM looks embarrassed.)
RYAN: Listen, Amy… I just… I don’t think this is working out, and —
ELLA: Oh, that’s okay! (RYAN and SAM both pump their fists) I get that this was pretty unexpected. We can just go out to dinner tomorrow.
(RYAN and SAM both sink down and cover their faces. SAM thumps the table with his fist.)
ELLA: What was that noise?
RYAN: Cat. Cat. That was cat. That was my cat.
ELLA: I know you’re allergic to cats, Dr. Seuss. What’s actually going on?
RYAN: Fine. If you must know, my friend Ryan is here with me. Say hi, Ryan!
SAM (looking up): Mm?
(RYAN gives SAM a hard stare.)
SAM (deep, disguised voice): Well, hello there, … Sam’s girlfriend. I hear that you’re really canoodling the love languages up to the stars with my handsome friend Sam, am I right?
ELLA: What does that even mean?
SAM (pauses for a couple seconds): Song lyrics. Anyway, I know how easy it must have been to fall right in love with my buddy (he draws the name out) Samuel T. Leitbrewski, you feel me?
ELLA: Well, if you’re interested, Ryan, I know this great guy I can set you up with.
(RYAN covers his mouth and tries his best not to burst out laughing. SAM leans his head back and looks distraught.)
RYAN (trying to steer the conversation back on track): So, Amy… I don’t know how to say this, but…
(He takes out SAM’s breakup poem and starts to sweat. His words catch in his throat.)
RYAN (starts to talk slowly and nervously): I think we should see your naked mouse… Blah blah blah people love Twister… You played my eagles!
RYAN: I mean, I think your friend should love naked eagles… (gives up and says the next sentence loudly and quickly) Let’s break up.
ELLA: But, Sam…
RYAN: No, Amy. (takes out SAM’s list of breakup lines) We’ve been together for too long. I think we should see other people. I just need some space. It’s not you, it’s me. I don’t really —
ELLA: Okay, you can stop! I just can’t believe you would do this right when I had just bought us that new Tesla. But I guess —
SAM (forgetting to disguise his voice): Wait… what?
RYAN (whispers): Don’t do it, Sam. Don’t say anyth —
SAM (leaps off his chair): Amy! Forget everything I said! I wa– (RYAN claps his hand around SAM’s mouth) Mmmmph.
RYAN (strained and rushed): I don’t think this is working out and stuff, please leave right now.
ELLA (starts walking towards the bush): Okay. I’m just going to cry into this set piece over here.
(Lights off RYAN and SAM. ELLA walks up to the bush. AMY, who has been hiding there the whole time, slowly stands up.)
ELLA (normal voice): How am I doing?
AMY: Perfect! They totally think you’re me! Sam’s so predictable, isn’t he? I knew asking him to go out would make him want to stay inside. Honestly, I’m disappointed in him. Can’t even recognize his own girlfriend’s voice? I don’t know how he found out about the naked Twister thing, though. Impressive work on his part.
ELLA: One sec.
(She turns toward the door and makes prolonged, exaggerated crying noises. Then she turns back to AMY.)
ELLA: Okay, where was I? You’ve been recording the whole thing, right?
AMY (holds up a phone): Oh, yes. And once you’ve dumped Sam for me while embarrassing him, this little video goes onto Instagram! (laughs evilly for a few seconds) Also, I’ll get the TV.
ELLA (shrugs): Sounds cool. Just as long as you tag me.
AMY (sinks back behind the bush): All right, then. Let’s do this.
(Lights off ELLA and AMY. SAM and RYAN are back to their seats at the table. SAM is rubbing his mouth.)
SAM: I can’t believe Amy didn’t recognize my own voice!
RYAN: It won’t matter in a few minutes, though, right? I’ll have broken up with her for you, and you can rest easy.
SAM (determined): No. I can’t dump her now. Did you hear what she said? She bought a Tesla for us. I can use a legal loophole to get the TV, but if I ditch her, I’ll never get to use my Tesla!
RYAN: Let me just point out that it’s not your Tes —
SAM: Shut up! I want you to go back to that door, and I want you to get back together with Amy!
RYAN: Fine! I still want my eight hundred dollars, though.
SAM: What eight hundred dollars? We never agreed to a deal, did we? Amy knocked on my door right before I could say yes! (flashes a smug smile at RYAN) Now go repair my relationship while I go to the bathroom.
(Exit SAM. RYAN stares coldly after him for a few seconds. Then, he gets an evil smile on his face and goes back to the door.)
ELLA (fake sniffle): Sam?
RYAN: Amy, I’ve changed my mind. I… I want to get back together.
ELLA: You do?
AMY (from the bush): Abort mission! Repeat: Abort — (ELLA makes the “one sec” motion with her hand)
RYAN: After I thought for a little, I just realized that in the end, I loved your — you. I loved you.
ELLA: Oh, Sam…
RYAN: I think we need to put this relationship into the next gear. We’ve really got to charge up our relationship, ride down the road of… marriage, in our all-new, smooth, electric… love. Smooth electric love.
ELLA: Are you saying that you only love me because of my Tesla?!
RYAN: Whaaaaaaaat? Of course not, babe. When I look into your eyes, all I see is unlimited possibilities…
RYAN: Unlimited technological possibilities from the brilliant mind of Elon M —
ELLA: Dammit, Sam! I can’t believe how shallow you are! I bet you can’t name one thing we have in common.
RYAN: A 10-hour-a-day anime obsession?
ELLA (mock shock): You said you were writing your dissertation!
RYAN (quietly): What else can I make up, uhh… (normal volume, to door) Cheating?
ELLA: What?! You are the only one cheating here, Sam, and by God, if you —
SAM: Yo, Ryan. How’re things going?
RYAN: Well, I think you’ve paid me enough by now.
ELLA: You care less about me than about my Tesla, you watch anime 10 hours a day, and you’re cheating on me? How could you possibly be a worse boyfriend?
RYAN: So, are we down for four kids, or would you prefer five?
ELLA (mock anger): I HATE YOU, SAM!
SAM: Dude, what are you doing?
RYAN: Moral of the story, Sam? You have to pay the shipper. (to door) Hey, are you one of those people who makes a huge deal about (mocking tone) “child support”?
ELLA: That does it, Sam! You open this door right now, or I’m going to break it down for you.
SAM: Dude, do what she says! She takes regular karate and high heel karate.
RYAN: Nope. Sorry, Sam. (to door, but forgets to put his SAM voice on) So do you —
ELLA (forgets to put her AMY voice on): Sam? Your voice sounds kinda weird…
RYAN (no more SAM voice): Wait, you don’t sound…
(A confused RYAN rushes to the door and opens it.)
ELLA (pauses): Ryan?
ELLA: I think we’ve only talked once, at that party…
RYAN (trying to be smooth): Well, now we’ve talked more than once, right? (turns around and covers his eyes with one hand) God, I’m bad at coming up with one-liners.
ELLA: So… all this time, we’ve just been talking to each other, instead of Sam talking to Amy?
RYAN: Yep. (sarcastically) Aren’t they just perfect together? If they could recognize each other’s voices, they’d be even more perfect.
ELLA (laughs): Hey, maybe we’re just great at imitating our friends! (RYAN laughs) Um, well… Want to get a coffee next week?
RYAN: Sure! I promise I won’t hire a stunt double to meet you, like some people I know…
(SAM and AMY both glower at him. RYAN and ELLA start to walk away together.)
ELLA: So, was any of what you said true?
RYAN: Ehh… Does it matter? Some of it probably was. His dissertation’s on anime, though, so he could have been doing both.
(Exit RYAN and ELLA, leaving SAM and AMY standing awkwardly on opposite sides of the open door.)
SAM: So, was it true, about the Tesla and all?
AMY: Ehh… Does it matter? We’re breaking up anyway.
(AMY pauses to flick a piece of bush out of her hair.)
SAM: Well, okay. But who gets the TV?
AMY: Can you Google it?
(He walks inside and gets his computer off the table. AMY follows him.)
(AMY watches anxiously as SAM makes some nervous keystrokes on the computer.)
SAM: There we go. Let’s see… Okay, it says the TV goes to —