Exposition

In Exposition, two characters from the Victorian period, Haggard and Leaf, (whom we have met in earlier Nigro plays) begin conversing as if they were starting a play, but each character knows what the other is going to say, repeating the phrase, “As you well know.”  They have been providing the exposition for plays since the beginning of time.  But when Leaf asks to be reminded of the matter of the dead sheep, Haggard asks, “What sheep?”  Leaf asks if they are lost and should start over.  The phone on the desk rings and Leaf eventually picks it up, handing it to Haggard, saying it is for him.  Haggard is dubious, but Leaf says it is in the script.  Haggard talks into the phone and hangs up saying it was a wrong number.  Leaf says that Haggard was having a conversation on the phone and asks if the caller was not General Beauregard telling them about the destruction of his plantation by boll weevils and the imminent arrival of his beautiful and mad daughter Ermengarde who may or may not have murdered her lover, the Satrap of Bangalore.  Haggard says it was not General Beauregard but each time the phone rings Leaf insists it is.  Haggard tells Leaf that a decision has been made to cut the entire exposition scene, starting the play in the middle.  Leaf thinks that is insane, but Haggard tells him that the scene is over and he is leaving.  Shaking Leaf’s hand, he walks off.  Leaf says he can’t be left alone, that starting with a monologue is absolute poison.  But he tries anyway, talking to a Haggard who is not there, imagining that the phone is ringing, answering it and telling General Beauregard that a decision has been made to cut the exposition.  Leaf thinks the phone has been cut off and is perplexed as the stage lights start to dim.  He speaks into the phone, saying that he will have to call back, that the play is apparently starting.  “As you well know.”  Darkness.

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