Loneliness (2m, 3w) is set in the back garden of Emily’s house in Amherst sometime in the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century, “standard dream time.” Nigro notes that some may believe that the characters (identified in the script by first names) are people named Thoreau, Dickinson, Kerouac, Stein, and Toklas. But he writes that he can neither confirm nor deny that unsubstantiated rumor because his head, like his watch, is broken.
We hear birds singing as lights come up on Henry telling Emily that he has to go back to Walden to observe the woods and he wants her to come with him. She says something, perhaps a panther, has been eating the rabbits in her garden and leaving the heads. He says they would be alone together, growing beans without manure, but she says beans give her gas. Jack enters to tell them that he is heading out on the road and he wants Emily to join him. He uses language from the 1950s—jalopies, greasy spoons, hootchy-cootchy joints, and dig the bop—and says the only important thing is to be moving. Henry (Jack calls him Hank) wants Emily to be still in the woods with him. Gertrude enters, calling Henry Hank and Jack John. She says she sees a Norwegian sap sucker and Hency goes off to find it. Gertrude says when she used to become depressed she would pay a welterweight to box a few rounds with her. Jack says she has the body of a Sumo wrestler but as he leaves he tells Emily he has to pack his ruck sack. Gertrude says she wants Emily to come to Paris with her. Henry and Jack come back, each saying that Emily is going with them. Gertrude insists that Paris is the answer and Alice enters, calling Emily a demoness, and is told by Gertrude to pack their trunk for Paris or she will make her listen to Ezra Pound play the cello. Alice leaves; Emily says she is tempted to go to Paris but she is afraid of Gertrude. Emily says she doesn’t know what to do with three fascinating people wanting her. She says she likes the idea of living in the woods, or on the road, or in artistic Paris, but she must accept loneliness as the inevitable state of things. The three again urge her to join them as Alice returns saying that she set the house is on fire. Gertrude tells Emily she must choose one of them. Emily says she doesn’t choose anybody, but her own loneliness. She runs into the house to save it. Henry and Jack follow her. Alice tells Gertrude not to be sad because they can roast marshmallows.