Piandello

Piandello is a long one-act play for three men and four women set on the stage of a theatre late at night, with a table and chair where Pirandello sits writing and fragments of set and props and step units scattered haphazardly.  Il Duce looks into the darkness of the auditorium and asks Pirandello if he always stays after the play is over.  Il Duce wants more light so he can see himself posing in a mirror; Pirandello calls to Garibaldi and pools of light appear mixed with shadows and latticework patterns.  Il Duce says he keeps hearing owls and tells Pirandello that he has been selected to write the authorized biographical play about Il Duce’s life.  When Pirandello says that he may not be the best choice, Il Duce threatens to cut off his dick.  Il Duce then takes a prop violin and plays a bit of Pagliacci.  He says truth is about power and he wants to make fornication and ignorance great again.  Pirandello says his wife is seriously ill and Il Duce says that at least he has a mistress.  The Actress enters in a revealing nightgown hoping he doesn’t mind her coming to his room so late at night.  He says he loves his wife but she constantly accuses him of being unfaithful.  The Actress offers to comfort him but he says it would be better if they keep their relationship professional.  She leaves and when Il Duce asks him why he didn’t follow her back to her room Pirandello says that he couldn’t betray his wife.  The Wife calls from offstage and then enters, accusing him of fornicating with The Actress in the prop room.  She says that on their wedding night he just shook hands with her and went to sleep.  Il Duce asks what kind of Italian he is but The Wife says that he fathered their three children and that he is insatiable and can’t get enough of her.  He says he can’t let her go because she’s his wife and is not in her right mind.  She says that her father acted like a jealous maniac when Pirandello was courting her.  The Father-in-Law enters and tells her not to look Pirandello in the face.  He says the engagement was a terrible idea and thinks they should engage her to Mr. Pizzerelli’s grandson.  But she says she wants to marry Pirandello.  Il Duce pours wine into two glasses and gives one to The Father-in-Law.  The Wife calls Pirandello a fascist and accuses him of sleeping with his own daughter.  She says she is sending their daughter to Brazil and goes off screaming at Pirandello.  Il Duce says Pirandello wrote a play about a man who wanted to sleep with his daughter.  We hear the sound of dishes breaking.  Pirandello says it was the man’s step-daughter whom he didn’t recognize in the brothel.  The Father-in-Law wants to challenge Pirandello to a duel and Il Duce suggests salad forks as weapons but the Father-in-Law can only find dueling pistols.  Pirandello says that nobody knows what real means and Il Duce suggests that perhaps Pirandello did sleep with his daughter.  The Actress returns, dressed; when Pirandello says he needs her, she says he had his chance in the hotel.  She is startled to see Il Duce and Father-in-Law and Pirandello says he’s not sure they’re actually here.  Il Duce says that romantic love is an illusion, like a stage play, and tells The Actress that if she doesn’t want Pirandello he is available. The Father-in-Law asks Pirandello which pistol he wants and The Actress asks if the daughter was hiding under Pirandello’s bed in the hotel.  Pirandello says that if people keep mentioning her she is going to show up in this play.  The Daughter enters asking what her dead Grandfather, and that actress, and Mussolini are doing here.  Il Duce asks The Daughter if her father was able to keep his pants on.  Pirandello objects, saying he didn’t write this as part of the play, but Il Duce, “fierce and scary,” tells him to shut up.  He orders The Daughter to sit on his knee and asks her why she tried to poison herself.  She says her mother’s mental illness was part of it.  Pirandello tells Il Duce to let her go, but Il Duce asks her what really happened between her and her father.  The Mistress bursts in and tells The Daughter to get off Benito’s lap, calling her a filthy little slut.  The Daughter thinks The Mistress is Mrs. Mussolini, but Il Duce says that the Pope won’t let him get a divorce.  Pirandello tries to comfort The Daughter but The Wife runs in and pulls him away from her.  Il Duce tells The Father-in-Law he can shoot Pirandello after he finishes the play, and The Wife says the theatre is a brothel and everyone who works there is a prostitute.  She accuses The Father-in-Law of having his way with her when she was a child and now her husband has done the same thing to her daughter.  The Daughter tells all of them to stop and says she is going to Brazil.  The Mistress says she had a dream about bearded men with guns who caught her and Il Duce and shot them both.  The last word Il Duce said was, “Pirandello.”  Pirandello asks Il Duce if he ever read “An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge,” suggesting that may be why he hears owls.  Pirandello says that perhaps while Il Duce thought he was writing his own play about Italy, he, Pirandello, was writing a play about him while an imaginary and/or dead God was writing a play about both of them, and these plays are part of an infinite number of plays playing on an infinite series of interconnected stages because time is everything happening at once.  The Wife accuses Pirandello of laying the groundwork for “this horrible man” to take power.  Il Duce tells The Daughter that death is the only truth.  The Daughter says she doesn’t know if her father molested her or if she just remembers her mother telling her that he did.  The Daughter speaks of coming out of the premiere of Six Characters that the audience hated and asks Pirandello if what she said was true.  When he says he knows what the truth is, she asks which truth, the one he wants to believe, her mother’s truth, or Il Duce’s truth?  Il Duce wonders what God’s final word will be when, so ashamed of the mess he’s created, he hangs himself off Owl Creek Bridge.  “Pirandello,” The Daughter says.

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