Visit of a Young Lady
The play in one act
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© Valentin Krasnogorov
A young woman comes to her lover's house to see his wife with her own eyes and evaluate their relationship. Their dialogue becomes a duel not only of words, but also of thoughts, which makes the actors look for new ways of their scenic existence. The play is included in the series of one-act plays “The Delights of Adultery”. 2 female roles, interior.
Replicas “à part” are widely used in this play. Usage of à part technique has been quite common in drama of past centuries, but now it is considered archaic. Meanwhile, given a new meaning and new forms, it can sound very modern, opening up new possibilities for drama. The dialogue becomes a duel not only of words, but also of thoughts, which makes the actors look for new ways of scenic existence.
Living room in the wife’s apartment. Several doors - one leading to the bedroom, the other and to the kitchen, and the third one leads to the entrance to the apartment.
Wife sits alone at the table, drinking her tea. The doorbell rings. The Wife, somewhat surprised by an unexpected visit, goes to answer the door and lets Guest, a young, exquisitely dressed woman in.
WIFE. (Puzzled.) Good afternoon.
GUEST. (She is somewhat embarrassed.) Sorry for the unexpected intrusion ... I hope I didn’t really bother you?
WIFE. And you, in fact, who are you?
GUEST. Insurance agent. I was just on this matter with your neighbors and thought: let me call other apartments, maybe I will find new customers. My visit will not oblige you to anything, just listen to my explanations.
Wife silently carefully examines the Guest, who becomes uneasy under her stare.
If it’s not good time I can come later…
WIFE. (After a rather long silence.) No, it’s okay. I can talk with you now. Come in.
Women go into the room. Pause.
GUEST. (Aside.) I did not even hope that she would let me in.
WIFE. Sit down please. (Aside.) How did she dare come? (Aloud.) So, how can I help you?
GUEST. (Looking around the room.) I see you have a beautiful apartment. (Aside.) The apartment is really nice. It's a pity to quit it. (Aloud.) Is it insured?
GUEST. Why? After all, this is very risky.
WIFE. We haven’t yet thought about this.
GUEST. You should. After all, robbers can get in, it can burn out, a leakage can occur, or you can flood the neighbors down below. Things happen.
WIFE. There was none so far.
GUEST. (Aside.) She seems suspecting nothing. (Aloud.) Misfortunes are out there at every turn and always fall when we are not waiting for them.
WIFE. (Very serious.) That's right. I did not expect any of that today either.
GUEST. So what will you say?
WIFE. There are troubles from which it is impossible to insure.
GUEST. (Aside.) What does she mean by this? (Aloud.) Insurance doesn’t save you from misfortune, but makes it easier to overcome them. The apartment can be repaired, the damage compensated, health can be recovered with expensive treatment.
WIFE. (Aside.) Interesting, is she really an insurance agent or is she just pretending to be? Let me see. (Aloud.) Sit down. Suppose we decide to insure. How it's done?
GUEST. First we need to make a description of the apartment and inventory of every item and valuables.
WIFE. Well, let’s do it right away.
GUEST. Sorry, you seemed to be drinking tea, but I distracted you. Take your time to finish it, and I'll wait somewhere here.
WIFE. Why somewhere? Have a cup with me.
GUEST. Really, please don’t bother ...
WIFE. No bother at all. Put another cup, that's all. (She puts a tea set on the table.)
GUEST. (Aside.) I did not expect such a lucky turn. It is absolutely clear that she does not guess anything.
WIFE. (Aside.) Honestly, I have to admit that she looks cute. Men like women of this kind. Hairstyle, dress - everything is perfect. It’s worse than I expected. (Aloud.) Do you take honey or jam?
GUEST. Thanks, nothing. I drink tea without sweets.
WIFE. (Aside.) Keeps a diet. And rightly so. The figure, unfortunately, is impeccable. And a pretty face. Maybe just too much of makeup. This is usually how single women paint themselves.
GUEST. (Aside.) Strange. He calls her nothing more than a scarecrow, a witch and an otter, bit she is a rather pretty woman. True, her hairstyle is ugly, and in general, she could take care better of herself. However, now she is at home, an excess of beauty is of no reason. (Aloud, taking out a tablet.) We can drink tea, and at the same do our business. How many rooms do you have?
WIFE. (Aside.) Pretending. I am sure that you have already been here more than once. (Aloud.) Three.
GUEST. Do you remember the area of each room and other quarters?
WIFE. Of course not. But somewhere I have a layout plan. (She brings the plan and hands it to Guest.) Everything is here.
GUEST. Very well. (She reviews the plan and takes notes on the tablet.)
WIFE. (Aside.) She studies the plan so diligently, as if she was going to live here.
GUEST. (Looking around the room.) This is, I suppose, the living room. Very cozy. You have great taste.
GUEST. Can I have a look at other rooms?
WIFE. (Aside.) I think you came exactly for this. Well, look. (Aloud.) Yes, of course, please.
GUEST. (Aside.) Idiot, why did I drag myself in here? How am I going to get out of this now? Fortunately, it never crossed her mind whom she had let in. Otherwise, she would not offer me tea.
WIFE. (Leads Guest to one of the doors.) Let's start with the kitchen.
GUEST. Why with the kitchen? Do you like to cook?
WIFE. Of course! After all, I have a family, a husband. (Aside.) To be honest, I don’t like to cook, but she doesn’t need to know that. (Aloud.) But that is not the point. I am an old-fashioned person and I think that the kitchen is not just a place for cooking, it is a center of the home. It is here where the family spends its best hours, it is here where our simple but intimate conversations are held.
GUEST. (Smiling.) In the kitchen, not in the bedroom?
WIFE. (Smiling.) In the bedroom, we lead another kind of conversation. Why did you stop? You can come in if you want.
GUEST. Just to throw a look. (She enters the kitchen.)
WIFE. (Aside.) She is sure that I consider her a usual insurer, who came here by accident. She sure doesn’t know that I saw them together. Well, I will not destroy this illusion of hers.
GUEST. (Returning to the living room.) Very nice kitchen. Spacious, well equipped. And very clean. You are a wonderful housewife.
WIFE. Thank. (Aside.) And you, of course, would prefer to see here mess, disarray and confusion here.
GUEST. (Aside.) From his words I got the impression that she was a drama queen and a slob, and she is a calm and smart woman. And, besides, she keeps the house well. My situation is worse than I thought. (Aloud.) And what do you have behind that door?
WIFE. Daughter’s room.
GUEST. How old is she?
WIFE. (Aside.) Pretending not to know. (Aloud, in the tone of a loving mother.) I can show you a photo. (She takes her tablet.) Here, take a look.
WIFE. Would you like to insure her health? We love her very much. My husband, he adores her. He is all in all y a big family man by nature.
GUEST. (Aside.) Something about her behavior worries me. She is too talkative and amiable. Could it be she knows who I am? But then why didn’t she immediately kick me out?
WIFE. (Aside.) He’s not a family man at all and hasn’t been giving much time to his daughter since she’s grown up and ceased to be a funny toy. (Aloud.) And here our daughter is two years old.
WIFE. And here our wedding photos. Look: this is our first kiss after the ceremony.
GUEST. (In a choked voice.) Lovely.
WIFE. And here’s my fiancé - my husband now - carries me in his arms down the stairs to the car. We immediately went on a honeymoon.
GUEST. How nice. (Aside.) How stupid and how painful. And how shameful. And all because I suddenly unbearably wanted to look at her and their life with my own eyes. Damned female curiosity. Now I have to pay.
WIFE. We spent our honeymoon in Italy. (Shows a photo.) It's us in Naples. (Putting aside the tablet.) Years passed, but I have a feeling that our honeymoon is still ongoing.
GUEST. (Aside.) Now I'm sure she knows. Otherwise, she would not have spread a picture of her family happiness in front of me.
WIFE. But back to business. Will you insure our daughter’s health?
GUEST. No, I specialize only in real estate. But if you want, I can recommend another agent.
WIFE. No, thanks. (Carelessly.) I think my husband already has some insurer-lady. Somebody he knows.
GUEST. (Aside.) This is a hint: she knows me. Has someone snitched on me? The world is not without good people, and everyone is happy to intervene and do harm. Or did she see me somewhere with him? I wonder when she found out about me?
WIFE. (Aside.) I found out about you a long time ago, long before I saw you together, and before the good people told me about you. Do you know when? When he suddenly began to linger on work, when for some reason he had some kind of business meetings and conferences that he hadn’t had before, when he began to get bored at home, when he began to go to another room to call, when he began to be polite with me during the day and cold at night... But you are attractive, no doubt.
GUEST. (Aside.) You are examining me as an underwear in a store. Probably, I seem to you vulgar, cheeky, too bright. True. This is better than being a gray mouse like you. (Aloud.) Do you know her?
GUEST. That… agent.
WIFE. Not personally. (Aside.) And now in person. (Aloud.) Why should I know her?
GUEST. (Smiling.) Are you not interested in your husband's friends?
WIFE. Not in the least.
GUEST. (Aside.) Your careless tone is actually fraught with fear and curiosity. You are asking yourself the eternal question: "What did he find in her?" (Aloud, in a humorous tone.) Are you not afraid that he will get suddenly carried away by someone?
WIFE. No I'm not afraid. Small entertainments do not destroy, but strengthen marriage.
GUEST. Do you think that he cannot deeply fall in love?
WIFE. Yes, he can. But love comes and goes, and wives remain. (Aside.) She is obviously thinking that everything has already been decided, and tomorrow he will leave me. Not a chance!
GUEST. (Aside.) It seems my chances are nil. She will not let him go alive. (Aloud.) Wives do not always remain wives. According to statistics, half of marriages end in divorce.
WIFE. (Aside.) She's right. I know: our marriage is hanging by a thread. (Aloud, smiling.) This is not for us. We will stay in the other half.
GUEST. And in this remaining half, two-thirds of marriages are unhappy.
WIFE. Do you think so?
GUEST. Not me. Statistics.
WIFE. I do not care the statistics. We have been married for fifteen years.
GUEST. (Aside.) Just enough to get sick of each other. It's high time to divorce.
WIFE. (Aside.) It seems she understood that I had guessed her, and tries to annoy me. Will not work. I wonder why did she even drag herself here? To demand from me to give her my husband? Or just take a look at the enemy’s fortress with her own eyes? Probably my husband did not want to bring her here, and she decided to scout the situation herself. I’ll check it. (Aloud.) And now I’ll show you our bedroom. (Aside.) And at the same time I will see from her face whether she has already been there or not. (Opens the door leading to the bedroom.) Here, look.
GUEST. (She cannot take her eyes off the bedroom. Forced smiling.) Charming bedroom.
WIFE. (Aside.) Judging by her sour smile, she hasn’t been here. It’s a comfort, though a weak one. Otherwise my own bed would become hateful to me. Or is she skillfully pretending? (Aloud.) Not quite decent pictures hang here. There, over the bed, you see? Please do not pay attention at them. My husband just wanted an element of erotica to be felt in the bedroom.
GUEST. (Aside.) Obviously, you yourself no longer excite him. Need to hang pictures.
WIFE. The bedroom set is Italian. The bed is very wide and comfortable. And very expensive. Please note this in your inventory.
GUEST. I will remember everything without notes. (Aside.) She deliberately gives me a sting after sting. I have to hold on anyway. To smile, to smile all the time. (With a smile, aloud.) Great furniture.
WIFE. Yes, we like it too. The husband chose it very carefully. He wanted the atmosphere here to be intimate and beautiful. After all, you, being a woman, understand that bedroom plays an important role in a married life.
GUEST. (Aloud.) Of course. I understand perfectly. (Aside.) Another sting. (Aloud.) How much does it cost?
WIFE. I don’t know, it was my husband who bought it. (She utters the words “my husband” with a pressure every time.) I will ask him and let you know. You, of course, let me know your phone number?
GUEST. (Aside.) You are a smart and prudent bitch. (Aloud, kindly.) Why do you have to worry? I'll call you myself.
WIFE. Thanks. Why don’t you have some tea? Come on, I'll make you a cup. Do you prefer strong or light tea?
GUEST. Thank you, better light. Strong tea has a bad effect on sleep.
WIFE. As for me, I sleep very well.
GUEST. (Aside.) And the pouches under your eyes, and sleeping pills in the bedroom. And all because you stopped being a woman and became a brood hen.
WIFE. (Aside.) Yes, I became a mother hen and therefore became a woman. Before that, I was a stupid girl and fussy female. Like you now. You despising brood hens, don’t you strive to have your own nest? Isn't that what you say him in the bed?
GUEST. (Aside.) In the bed, we have what to say to each other besides this. It is with you that he comes to bed to sleep, and with me - to love.
WIFE. (Aside, grinning.) “To love” ... He is a man. He just wants variety, that's all.
GUEST. (Aloud.) I have spread the bedroom on the description. The living room too. I see you have a balcony?
WIFE. Yes. It goes to a park.
GUEST. A wonderful view. (With a sigh.) Your apartment is very good. I’ll make calculations and let you know the result.
WIFE. Yes, the apartment is good, my husband had to work long and hard to buy it. But now he is happy and says that he will never change this apartment for any other.
GUEST. (Aside.) This is no longer a hint, but a plain text.
WIFE. (Aside.) Our young lady got a hump. She didn’t take into account that it is easy to leave a wife, but not a good apartment...
GUEST. Whom does it belong to, to you or to your husband?
WIFE. The apartment? Who cares? We have everything in common. Why is this question?
GUEST. The company should know whom to pay compensation in the event of an earthquake, flooding, fire, robbery... divorce, and so on.
WIFE. I tell you once again: we have everything in common. (Aside.) I need to check this question with a lawyer.
GUEST. (Aside.) She seeks to show that her house is her fortress, which cannot be destroyed and cannot be entered. Which of this is true and what is not? Most likely, more untruth. If she was sure of herself, she would have kicked me out long ago or simply would not have let me into the house.
WIFE. You haven’t touched the tea. Maybe then a glass of cognac?
GUEST. Thank you. I don’t drink.
WIFE. I’ll put it all the same. (She puts a bottle and glasses on the table.) What else, besides the furniture, is insured usually in an apartment?
WIFE. What, for example?
GUEST. Well, porcelain, crystal, silver, paintings...
WIFE. We have nothing of the kind.
GUEST. And the paintings in the bedroom?
WIFE. They cost nothing.
GUEST. One insures also good computers, fur coats...
WIFE. I don’t have a fur coat. But I have a very expensive underwear. (She takes out the linen from a closet.) Here, look. This is such a sexy set: a bra, panties and a nighty. Isn’t it beautiful? My husband brought it from France.
GUEST. Great underwear. And very expensive. (Aside.) And for me, he brought me nothing from France. A genuine man: everything into the house and nothing out of the house.
WIFE. My husband likes to give presents.
GUEST. (Aside.) I would not say that. (Aloud.) Husbands often give presents to their wives when they feel guiltу by some reason.
WIFE. Let them feel what they want, as long as they give. How much can this set cost?
GUEST. Underwear can be insured only if it is not worn. Have you ever worn it?
WIFE. Of course. And more than once. My husband loves when I put it on. Although he at once asks me to take it quickly off. You understand...
GUEST. (Aside.) She’s just mocking me, it’s obvious.
WIFE. I also have some jewels. A bit of gold, diamonds...
GUEST. And, of course, it’s your husband who gives these presents?
WIFE. Well, of course not lovers. Do you really expect it from them?
GUEST. It's right.
WIFE. Will we also insure the jewelry?
GUEST. Do you wear it or keep in a safe?
WIFE. Of course, I do wear. My husband gives me jewels not to hide them. He likes me to look beautiful in society.
GUEST. Wearing jewelry is not a subject to insurance. I see you have a wonderful husband.
WIFE. Not complaining. Are you married?
GUEST. Me?.. Of course ... One could say yes.
WIFE. But one can say that not?
GUEST. One can say that not.
WIFE. (Aside.) Sorry. So she needs a husband. Her own or that of another woman, but a husband. (Aloud.) So yes or no?
GUEST. I have a friend. It’s the same as a husband.
WIFE. Anyway, is he your husband or somebody’s else?
GUEST. It’s more correct to say, our common. For a while.
WIFE. Common with whom?
GUEST. With his wife.
WIFE. It is a little complicated.
GUEST. Life is generally very complicated. (Aside.) Just think, a legal wife. Found something to be proud of. If I wanted to, I could marry someone long ago.
WIFE. (Aside.) And I could long ago be somebody’s mistress. I would come on dates free from everyday worries, affectionate, passionate, a little mysterious - the same as you - and would imagine that I was better than his wife.
GUEST. (Aside.) Say what you want. Anyway, you are his everyday life, and I am his holiday.
WIFE. (Aside.) You just envy me. After all, what do you have in common with him? Only bed. This is too little, and you yourself know it. This is fifteen minutes a week. Let it be a holiday, but a man lives on weekdays. There is still the work, life, home, children, relatives, money, plans, future, past - and all this we have in common. And you have nothing.
GUEST. (Aside.) You have not yet said "common chains and common yoke."
WIFE. (Aside.) Сommon chains also tie together. And you are his fun, not a holiday. A lover is not a dinner in a restaurant by candlelight, but a rare hasty sex in a cheap hotel for an hour.
GUEST. (Aside.) Let our meetings be rare - the more they give us happiness.
WIFE. (Aside.) Poisoned happiness is not happiness. And happiness built on lies is not happiness. And happiness built on someone else's misfortune is not happiness.
GUEST. (Aside.) Obviously, happiness for you means living with an unloving husband. I feel pity on you.
WIFE. (Aside.) Feel pity on yourself. Is he happy with you? And are you happy? Don’t lie to yourself. After all, it’s not you who bears his name, not your children call him father. Our house, not yours, is visited by his friends.
GUEST. (Aside.) I suddenly realized that although I met him for so long, I do not know anything about him. I pass two or three hours a week with him, and the rest of the time he lives without me, and his life is closed to me.
WIFE. (Aside.) And he doesn’t need to be nervous when I take his arm, to look secretly at the clock while in bed with me, and to fear to meet someone when we walk together along the street.
GUEST. (Aside.) You walk along the street with him, it’s true, but at that time he thinks of me.
WIFE. (Aside.) I am sure that he is tired of you, and he does not leave you only out of pity. After all, he is a decent man.
GUEST. (Aside.) I am sure that he is tired of you, and he does not leave you only out of pity. After all, he is a decent man.
WIFE. (Aloud.) Sorry, I was lost in thoughts for a moment. Although you refuse, I will still pour some brandy for you. (Pours cognac into glasses.)
GUEST. (Aside.) How sure she is... He loves me, there is no doubt. But he loves her too. And, maybe, not her, but the house, his life here. He is bored here, but comfortable. No, he will never leave her. I have nothing to hope for. (Aloud.) Perhaps I really will drink. (She drinks cognac. The wife does not touch her glass.) Why don’t you drink?
WIFE. I would like to drink with you, but I can’t.
WIFE. I am expecting a baby.
GUEST. (Aside.) What kind of news is this?
WIFE. (Aside.) She turned pale.
GUEST. (Aside.) Lies, of course. However, who knows... (Aloud.) Congratulations. And whom are you waiting for, a boy or a girl?
WIFE. We don’t know yet. The husband really wants a son. He said that he would not stop until we had a boy.
GUEST. (Gritting her teeth.) Let's hope that he does not stop further.
WIFE. (Smiling radiantly.) I also hope so.
GUEST. (Aside.) I was glad that she let me into the apartment so easily, and now I understand: she did this to trample me into the ground.
WIFE. (Aside.) She will know now how to appear at the legal wife's home. (Aloud.) Another glass?
GUEST. Yes. And not one. (She drinks two more glasses one after another.)
WIFE. (Aside.) Maybe she’s also an alcoholic?
GUEST. (Aside.) She is just bullying me. She expatiates about her husband’s love, although she knows very well that I sleep with him. She takes advantage of the fact that I can’t object. But what if I throw everything straight in her face? I do have something to tell. Let's see how she will smile then.
WIFE. (Aside.) I can’t make her mad. Otherwise, she will break loose and make a scandal. Or she will present an ultimatum to my husband: "either me or she." And I am not sure how this will end. (Aloud.) I’ll probably remove the cognac. After all, you are at work.
GUEST. Yes of course. (Hastily swallowing the glass that she had in her hands, and reluctantly handing it away. Aside.) I must get myself together, otherwise I don’t know how it will end.
WIFE. (Aside.) While nothing was said out loud, nothing happened. We are discussing apartment insurance, and nothing more. The most important is not to begin a dust-up with her, and not to let her do this. Otherwise, I risk losing everything.
GUEST. (Aside.) The most important is not to begin a dust-up with her, and not to let her do this. Otherwise, I risk losing everything.
WIFE. (Aside.) It is better to carry her out before it comes to an explosion. (Aloud.). Maybe as you’ve examined everything, we’ll immediately insure the apartment?
GUEST. Can you pay right now?
WIFE. Why not? My husband will come in a few minutes, we’ll discuss your terms with him, and he will pay.
GUEST. (Alarmed.) Your husband? Shouldn't he be at work at this time?
WIFE. Why do you think so? Do you know what his job is?
GUEST. No, but ... (She closes the tablet.) Unfortunately, I'm in a hurry now. And this is not done so quickly. I have to make an inventory in due form, make an estimate... Besides, I don’t have the policy form with me.
WIFE. (Aside.) I thought so. (Aloud.) Very sorry.
GUEST. Sure I will come again. (Aside.) So, now he will return here to his cell, will languish here and think about me. What a pity! Everything would have been different with me.
WIFE. (Aside.) “Different”? Everything would be the same or worse. You are mistaken if you think that a lover is always poetry, and a wife is prose. But even so, do you know how quickly poetry turns into prose! Marriage cannot be full of passions. So it will not last long. A passionate marriage is something abnormal.
GUEST. I guess I'll go. (Aside.) And to be honest, you're right: I envy you. He shares sorrow and joy with you, but with me, he simply has a fun on the side. And I have nothing to be angry with you. Rather, it's my fault.
WIFE. (Aside.) I really envy you. He lives with me, but loves you. And I’m probably to blame. Why am I mad at you?
GUEST. (Aside.) And he doesn’t venture make a choice. Evidently, to have one of us is simply not enough for him to be happy. Perhaps it’s most reasonable for me to continue to be half of his happiness?
WIFE. (Aside.) Evidently, to have one of us is simply not enough for him to be happy. Perhaps it’s most reasonable for me to continue to be half of his happiness?
GUEST. (Aside.) I'm not angry with you. But we will not give a hand to each other. (Aloud.) Goodbye.
WIFE. (Aside.) I'm not angry with you. But we will not give a hand to each other. (Aloud.) Goodbye.