The Greek Trilogy consists of three interrelated full-length plays—Iphigenia, Clytemnestra, and Electra—which may be performed independently or as a trilogy done on three successive evenings or on the morning, afternoon, and evening of the same day. The unit set is the same for all three plays: a bench with some tombstones DR and a chair far DL; one step above stage level is the porch with a swing R and, center left, a table and chairs; two steps UL is a study with chair, desk, and books; up another step SR is a bed with night stand and lamp; up three more steps UC is a small landing on either side of which are windows leading UL and UR to a section of roof. Nigro points out that, except for the furniture, the set is not a realistic representation of a house; walls and doors are fragmentary or non-existent. “The flow of action between . . . locations must be easy and unbroken throughout the play, and characters will often be seen in other parts of the stage during scenes in which they do not appear, so that the transition from one scene to the next is often either a moving actor going from one location to another where another actor is already situated, or a change of light from one location to another in which the actors for the next scene are already present. Escape stairs make it easy for actors to enter and exit from any location on the set. There must never be any dead space between scenes or actors scuttling about out of character in the dark. No furniture is ever moved, and there are no set changes.”
There are five actors (2m, 3w) in Iphigenia, which takes place in Armitage, Ohio, in 1909-1911. In darkness we hear crickets as the lights come up on Lexie, 17, sitting on the porch swing. We can make out Michael, her father, in his study, Carolyn, her mother, in the dining room, Jenna, her older sister, sitting on the bed, and, standing DR in shadow, Nick Demetrius. Lexie tells Nick she can see him and asks if he has come to ravish her. Nick offers to catch some fireflies and make a necklace for her. She thinks he is a tramp and knows he is a stranger. Nick tells her he wants to see Michael Ryan and asks how many are in her family. Lexie says she has an older sister and a younger brother who is at military school. She tells Nick that her father reads ancient Greek plays in the original language.
Michael comes out on the porch and learns from Nick that he wants to talk about “New York business,” that a Mr. Kalcas sent him. Michael tells Lexie to go inside and as she goes up the steps she meets Jenna coming down. Nick tells Michael that when he was a boy he saw something happen in the basement of a New York City pawnshop. Jenna comes out and invites Nick and her father to come inside. Nick tells Jenna that her father has offered him a job at his bank. Jenna suggests the Flowers Boarding Hotel as a place where Nick might stay, and he walks to the chair in the shadows DL.
Carolyn enters the study and asks Michael why he doesn’t come up to bed. She thinks their daughters are half in love with Nick but will soon be gone and then she and Michael can make love in the afternoons, since they have stopped doing it altogther at night. She wonders why he keeps poring over the same bunch of moldy old plays, and he tells her that the stories are inside us and that to know and understand them is all we have. She wonders what myth they are trapped in and wants him to come to bed. She goes up the steps to sit on the bed as the light fades on Michael.
We hear the sound of ticking clocks as Nick looks downstage from the DL chair (the parlor of the Flowers Boarding Hotel) and Michael stands behind him. Nick says he likes staying at the Hotel and assumes Michael has come to kill him. He tells Michael that if an attorney in New York doesn’t hear from Nick by a certain day every month, he will send a letter to the police describing what Michael did and where he is. Nick tells Michael that he wants to marry Jenna. Michael says that he can come to dinner, and the light fades on the DL area as Nick walks over to the porch to sit on the swing with Jenna and Michael goes to the study.
Jenna tells Nick that she doesn’t like him very much and asks what he has done to her father. She goes into the house as Lexie comes out and sits on the porch with Nick. Nick asks Lexie to help him with her sister. When he asks her if she will dance with him at the wedding, she says she will dance on his grave and smiles at him as the light fades on them and Jenna moves to the study to talk with her father, telling him that she doesn’t want to see Nick. She asks Michael why he wants her to marry Nick and asks if something is wrong at the bank and if he is in trouble. She says she will do anything to make him happy. Carolyn comes in and tells Jenna that Nick is leaving. Jenna goes to join Nick and Lexie, and Carolyn talks with Michael about Nick and their daughters. Carolyn says that Michael never talks about his past. He kisses her tenderly and holds her as the light fades on them and our attention shifts to Lexie pinning Jenna’s wedding dress, telling her sister that Nick is going to make her miserable. Jenna thinks that Lexie likes Nick more than she does because they talk together for hours. Lexie asks Jenna why she feels she has to marry Nick and leaves as Michael comes in and tells Jenna they can still call off the wedding. Carolyn enters to say that Jenna wants to marry Nick, and tells Michael that she married him even though she didn’t want to. Lexie comes back to ask if they are coming, and Jenna tells Michael that it’s time to give her away.
The next scene, the wedding night, takes place in the imagined bedroom of the house next door with Nick sitting on the bed waiting for Jenna to come out of the bathroom. She finally enters, barefoot, wearing a white nightgown. He moves toward her and she backs away, saying she doesn’t want to be touched. He grabs her and she pokes him in the eye, saying that she married him for her father’s sake. She takes a knife from the drawer of the bedstand, but he takes it from her, tossing it upstage and throwing her onto the bed, ripping off her nightgown. She gets away and crawls toward the knife. In the struggle, they knock the lamp over and in the darkness we hear them both scream, ending the act.
Act Two begins on the night of the wedding with Michael drinking on the porch as Carolyn asks if he has seen their squirrel gun. Michael says it sounds as if someone is being killed next door but Carolyn tells him he can’t stop it because they are married. Michael tells Carolyn that his name is not Michael Ryan, that he took the name from an envelope in the hand of a dead man in a freight train box car. Michael explains that he was running away because he stole some money and Nick knows what he did. Jenna figured out that Nick was blackmailing him and that’s the reason she married Nick. Carolyn asks Michael if he is so stupid that he believes a woman ever does anything she doesn’t want to do. Lexie comes out with a blanket around her shoulders saying that something is seriously wrong next door. She says that Jenna is on the edge of the roof, and Michael thinks Nick is going to kill her.
As light fades on them it comes up on Jenna sitting UR on the roof, her nightgown ripped and splattered with blood. We can see Nick in the “gabled upstage attic window.” He wants her to come in but she refuses. Michael, Carolyn, and Lexie appear at the window and try to get Jenna to come in. She threatens to jump if they come out after her. Lexie climbs out and the others leave the window. The sisters talk and Jenna says she left a doll, Sally, on the roof a long time ago. Jenna says the blood on her nightgown is her husband’s. She says she bit him and would have made him bleed more if she hadn’t dropped the knife. She says she also hid the squirrel gun in the closet, planning ahead. Lexie urges her to come in from the cold and Jenna notices Loopy Rye, the village idiot, looking up at them from the graveyard DR. The girls sit together with the blanket around them. Jenna says their mother keeps a lot of anger inside and will explode one day like a dirigible. Jenna says she wants her husband dead, dying slowly, perhaps eaten alive by rats. Lexie says that if Jenna will come in off the roof, she will figure out how to murder her husband. They spit in their hands and then shake hands. Jenna puts her head on Lexie’s shoulder and they hold each other as the light fades on them and goes out.
The next scene, six months later, is in the study where Nick and Michael are drinking before dinner. Nick asks how he is doing at the bank and Michael says that everyone thinks that he is doing well. When Nick asks about Jenna, Michael tells him that Jenna goes to the attic when Nick is in the house and stays there until he leaves. Michael says if Nick ever goes near Jenna again he will kill him. Lexie enters and says it’s time for supper. Michael leaves and Lexie tells Nick that she promised Jenna she would help murder him. Lexie says she will tell Jenna that Nick is sorry if Nick tells her what her father did that made him sacrifice his daughter to somebody like Nick. When Lexie asks why Nick wanted Jenna and not her, Nick says that their father loves Jenna more. Lexie says that’s a lie, that Nick was terrified of her. He pulls her towards him and kisses her, twice, then pushes her away. She puts the palm of her hand on his chest and, as Carolyn enters, Nick takes a step back. Carolyn sends Nick to the dining room so she can talk with Lexie. She asks Lexie what she is doing with her sister’s husband. Lexie says she will stay away from Nick if her mother does.
Lexie moves to Jenna who is sitting on the steps to the attic. Carolyn is in the shadows of the study, drinking, and Michael and Nick are in the dining room shadows, also drinking. Jenna insists that she really wants to kill Nick. Lexie says that Nick never asks about Jenna and suggests that Jenna let Nick do what he wants to her, wait until he goes to sleep, and then cut his throat. Jenna says that Lexie wants Nick for herself. Lexie tells her she can’t trust anyone in the house and needs to take charge of her own life. Carolyn crosses to them and Lexie goes to the dining room. Jenna says that Carolyn wants to sleep with Nick, and Carolyn tells her that she has to start living her life again or nobody will care. Carolyn goes to sit at the dinner table with Michael, Nick, and Lexie as Jenna goes to the study and drinks from the whiskey decanter. Carolyn urges Michael to eat more potatoes and tells Nick that Thomas likes college very much. Jenna enters the dining room, tells Michael and Nick not to touch her, and orders Nick to pull out her chair. She sits and says everybody who loves her is at the table, excluding Grandpa and the village idiot. She orders those who love her—her back-stabbing sister, her blackmailing rapist husband, her craven father, and her reptilian mother—to sit and eat. When Michael tells her she doesn’t have to be here if she doesn’t want to be, she says she missed her husband who raped her on her wedding night, and her sister who’s been lusting desperately after her husband, and her mother who’s “got the brain of a cockroach and the morals of a goat,” and her father who agreed to sacrifice her body and soul to save himself. She says she has decided to take charge of this human sacrifice and is moving back with her husband. She will not hold it against her mother that she’s been lusting after Nick since he got here, or against Lexie who was pretending to be her friend while she was rutting with Nick. She will not hold it against her father that he sold her to a pig “to save his wretched, drunken skin.” She is going to play out her role in this drama and they are all going to be very nice to her or she will go to the sheriff and tell him that her husband is blackmailing her father for a crime he committed in New York. She says she is going to her bedroom and tells Nick to be there in exactly fifteen minutes. Nick tries to apologize but she tells him he’s not as sorry as he’s going to be. She says it is a relief to finally take charge of her own mythological nightmare. She goes out on the porch and then DR. Carolyn says they have to put Jenna in the mental hospital in Massilon because she’s clearly not in her right mind. Michael doesn’t want to put her in a place like that, but Lexie thinks they might be able to help her there. After a silence, Michael, with a bellow of suppressed rage and despair, lunges at Nick, knocking him to the floor, screaming and punching him repeatedly in the face. Lexie first and then Carolyn manage to pull Michael off, but he jumps back at Nick, strangling him. Carolyn picks up a silver platter from the table and hits Michael over the head five times, stunning him. Lexie helps Nick up and Carolyn says that she’ll have the ambulance come to the back door with the siren off. She thinks that they are becoming a family again, and, while they wait for the ambulance to take Jenna away, they can have dessert—her famous prune upside down cake.
In darkness we hear the sound of murmuring voices and lights come up on Jenna, in a straight jacket, sitting on the floor down center. In the shadows, Nick moves to sit on the bed, Lexie goes up the steps to the UL window looking out over the roof, Carolyn drinks and polishes silver in the dining room, and Michael stands on the porch looking downstage at Jenna. Jenna says she and her sister were always co-conspirators but she is having trouble making sense because of the Greek chorus jabbering in her head and the drugs that cloud her brain. Michael speaks her name and she describes what the other characters are doing. She says, “Confess,” and Michael tells of two Greek immigrant boys who work for a pawnbroker. Jenna says that her favorite Bible story is about Jephthah’s daughter. Michael continues his story of the old man keeping all his money in a safe in his basement, and Jenna says that Jephthah promises to sacrifice the first creature he sees when he gets home. Michael says the boys knock the old man over the head with a board but the old man has a gun and one of the boys is shot in the chest. Jenna tells of Jephthah’s daughter being the first creature he sees; he sacrifices her by cutting her throat. Michael’s contrapuntal story continues with the other boy pushing the old man against the furnace, cracking his head, and killing him. Seeing his friend is going to die, the boy takes the money and runs away. But the friend’s little brother was looking in the window. Jenna speaks lines about there being many possible endings to any story and about the village idiot howling in the graveyard at night. Michael says the killer hopped a freight train to Ohio, married the banker’s beautiful daughter, has a son and two daughters that he loves deeply, but shame and guilt make it impossible for him to talk with them.
As Michael and Jenna have been telling their stories, Lexie has climbed out the window and onto the roof. She finds a tattered old doll, picks it up, and sits on the edge of the roof. Carolyn polishes the silverware and Nick curls up in a ball on the bed. Jenna says she has been constructing her own tragedy, conspiring with the gods who are, of course, insane. Michael asks for her forgiveness. Jenna says at least the village idiot, howling for her in the graveyard, loves. Michael asks again for forgiveness and Jenna’s last words are, “Take me, I said to him, on my wedding night, lying naked on the bed. Do it to me. Take me. Take me.”
The five characters of Iphigenia are ten years older in 1919, the year of the action in Clytemnestra, and two additional characters appear—August Ballantye, 72, and Loopy Rye, 82. As the play begins, Nick and Lexie are drinking on the porch swing at night. Lexie feels guilty for helping to send her sister Jenna to the mental hospital. She tells Nick that she knows he and her mother are carrying on “like pigs wallowing is slop.” Nick says that Carolyn showed up in his bed stark naked one night. He says that if Lexie sleeps with him he will never touch her mother again. Carolyn comes out asking why they are always on the porch and we learn that Michael has been in the war in France. Lexie says the war is over, but Carolyn thinks both her husband and son Thomas are dead. When Lexie berates her for sleeping with Nick, Carolyn says she loves Michael very deeply. Nick says she was attracted to the guilt she saw in his eyes, that women like men because they are drawn compulsively to danger, despair, futility, cruelty, and violence. Lexie says her talks with Loopy Rye, the village idiot, are the most stimulating conversations she has all day. She says he draws crayon pictures of her naked on the backs of old envelopes. Nick tells Carolyn that everyone imagines Lexie naked. Carolyn says she doesn’t know why Loopy always lurks around their house or why he has begun to howl. Lexie says he misses Jenna. As they bicker, Michael appears in the shadows DR. Carolyn says all men are horrible and that women have to make allowances for them as they do for baboons and other subhuman creatures. She says if Lexie’s father were here he could explain it to her, but Michael says he couldn’t. Carolyn and Lexie hug him and ask who else is in the shadows. Michael says he has brought Jenna home, but, disoriented, she avoids Lexie’s attempt to hug her. Michael says he spent a lot of time looking for Thomas, but Carolyn is convinced her son is dead. Jenna says that Thomas is behind enemy lines eating strawberries with two Dutch girls and a cow. Lexie admits to putting a clock under Jenna’s bed when they were girls and telling her it was a crocodile. Lexie tells Michael that Grandpa has been calling every day but that Carolyn does not pick up the phone and never goes to see her father. Before she goes into the house, Jenna says being home is just like the madhouse, “only more violent.” Lexie kisses Michael on the cheek and goes in to make sure Jenna is all right. Michael goes in to take a bath and Carolyn tells Nick that whatever has been going on between them has got to stop, that she wants her husband and she doesn’t want Nick sleeping with either of her daughters. Nick says he hears a sound like wings flapping and we hear that sound as the lights fade on the porch and come up on Jenna sitting on the roof as Lexie approaches from the window.
We hear the sound of owls and Jenna says she really missed them and the house and everything but the people. Lexie tells her that she is sorry for not coming to see her and sorry for letting them take her to the madhouse. Jenna says she has moved from Hell to one of the warmer suburbs of Purgatory. Lexie swears she never slept with Nick and Jenna puts her head on Lexie’s shoulder and tells her a secret: all of them are in a play, a Greek tragedy. Lexie says they’re in Ohio, a low comedy at best. Jenna says she used to be Iphigenia but now she is Cassandra. We hear birds singing as lights come up on August Ballantine sitting in the chair at the Flowers Boarding Hotel DR. He is mumbling as Carolyn tells him he wanted to see her. He says he is going to die and needs to tell her something. He says that he’s dead broke, that Carolyn’s mother was pregnant when he married her, and that he is not her father. He says that Loopy Rye is Carolyn’s father, that her mother was in love with the village idiot. August says he made a business arrangement with Carolyn’s grandfather: he agreed to marry Carolyn’s mother and was given an excellent position at the bank. Augustus says that Lexie was his, as far as he knows. He says he saw Loopy and Carolyn’s mother going at it on a tombstone in the cemetery like there was no tomorrow.
Light comes up on Michael reading in the study as Carolyn crosses to him. Michael says that Aeschylus was as real as they are and that books are all that have kept him from losing his mind. Carolyn is insistent that Michael talk to her and asks what he wants her to do. Lexie enters and Carolyn storms out. Lexie tells her father that Carolyn is a dreadful person, that while Michael was away she was fornicating with her daughter’s husband. Michael says that after what happens to you in a war things like that don’t seem quite so important. Lexie says she has never understood him and asks him to say anything that isn’t a lie. When he does not respond, she leaves and the light fades on the study and we hear the sound of crows and see Loopy Rye sitting by a tombstone DR. Carolyn says she has brought him fresh bread with butter and strawberry jam. She says her father told her that Loopy and her mother were rather close. She says she thought it strange that when she comes to visit her mother’s tombstone Loopy is always there. She asks if he forced her mother and he says she was a lonely person so he tried to make her laugh by drawing pictures for her, imitating birds, standing on his head. Carolyn says he loved her, but as she is leaving she says she doesn’t believe what her father told her about her mother and Loopy. She tells Loopy to stay away from her daughters, especially Jenna. Loopy says Carolyn was always a lost girl, and when she says she knows exactly where she is, he replies, “In the graveyard.”
Act Two begins in the evening and we hear crickets as lights come up on Michael and Nick in the porch swing, drinking. Nick says he finds East Ohio a scary place full of unexpected darkness. He says he had a plan for revenge and getting money, but something “absolutely catastrophic” happened: he got what he wanted and ever since his life has been “a series of increasingly monstrous and obscene nightmares.” Michael tells him that if he can work something out with Jenna he won’t kill him right away, but there will be no more warnings. When Jenna enters, Nick says he loves her, and Michael, leaving, tells Jenna to talk to her husband. Nick tells Jenna that he missed her and will love her even if she doesn’t sleep with him. He says he really wants to try to make their marriage work. Jenna says she married a man she hated to save her father. Lexie comes out and Jenna says they should have killed Nick when they had the chance. She leaves to give her father a haircut and suggests she could stab Nick with the scissors. Lexie asks Nick to tell her what he wants so she can be sure not to give it to him. Nick stands up and grabs her, kissing her with passion as Carolyn appears with a large knife in her hand, threatening Nick. Carolyn complains that children hate and devour their parents. She says something is happening in her head, a little storm. She says she is making sandwiches for Loopy Rye and that Michael only takes baths and reads books since he got home. When Lexie asks for the knife, Carolyn stabs it violently into the porch rail and goes into the house, up to the bathroom and then down to the study. Nick suggests that he and Lexie could run away and go to Greece. She says this place is Greece, “everyplace is Greece . . . . There is no place else.” She says they are going to die here, that Greece is inside their heads, everywhere and nowhere, forever. Light fades on them and comes up on Michael in the bath.
In a monologue, Michael says he can’t sleep because he dreams he’s back in the war. He speaks of the lunacy and horror of war, created by the love of money and imaginary gods. As he is speaking, Jenna comes down from the roof with the scissors, saying he needs a haircut. When she asks him why he let her mother send her to the mental hospital, he says it was despair, and shame, and terror, that people make up reasons why they do things like characters in a play. He says he thought of her locked up in that place every night. Jenna tells him that everything will turn out all right in the end and kisses him on the head. Carolyn enters and asks why Jenna is in the bathroom with her father. Jenna gives Michael the scissors as she leaves to get towels. Carolyn tells Michael that he never left because he was never here, and she doesn’t know who she is or what she’s supposed to do with him. She wants to know why Michael doesn’t want anything from her and asks what happened to him in the war. She starts taking off her clothes to join him in the bath but he tells her not to. She asks if there was another woman and he says he met an English girl in France, a nurse, the first woman he could ever talk to. He tells Carolyn she doesn’t want him, that she has been sleeping with her daughter’s husband. Michael says he needs to give up everything. Carolyn talks about Clytemnestra murdering her husband in the bath and says Michael has made his whole family into a Greek tragedy. She suggests he stick the scissors in his chest, and he takes them in both hands and holds them in front of his chest. She tries to grab the scissors and they struggle until the scissors end up plunging into his neck. Jenna enters with the towels and tries to lift Michael out of the water as Lexie and Nick come in. Carolyn says Jenna has lost her mind again and stabbed her father with the scissors. Lexie tells Nick to get the doctor and Carolyn calls after him to call the people at the madhouse to come and get Jenna.
Lights come up on the graveyard DR at night where, in moonlight, Loopy Rye sits by a grave as Carolyn appears. She tells Loopy that they’ve taken Jenna away for good, that she won’t say anything, and that Nick has resumed drinking himself to death. She says her headache has gone away but is afraid it will come back with a monstrous flapping of wings and a great dark thing will tear out her throat. She says her father’s dead body was found at the Flowers Boarding Hotel and asks Loopy if he loved her mother very much. Loopy says it’s dangerous to love, that someone always dies. When Carolyn says that in her next life she’s signed up for comedy, Loopy tells her that you take what they give you and try to play it. He says that Jenna would not have stabbed her father, and Carolyn asks what happens to Clytemnestra. She says she hasn’t read the next play. Loopy tells her that Clytemnestra’s son kills her. He says they give him the library books they’re going to burn and he finds books at the dump. He says reading random books is better than going to Yale and repeats that Clytemnestra’s son comes home from the war and kills her. Carolyn says that won’t happen in her case because her son is dead. She asks Loopy if he will hold her and call her his little girl and tell her he loves her. She says she doesn’t care if he’s lying. He can just pretend he’s in a play. He looks at her but does not move. We hear flapping sounds and the cawing of crows as the light fades on them and goes out.
In Electra, the year is 1920 and the cast is composed of Lexie, 28, Carolyn, 47, Jenna, 29, Nick, 40, and Thomas, 27. We hear crows in the darkness as lights come up on Lexie and Thomas in the cemetery DR. She tells Thomas that their father is buried under “that little mound of earth,” and Thomas says he hears a whispering like bees in his head. He doesn’t want to answer Lexie’s questions about the war and Lexie tells him their mother is a homicidal psychopath who killed their father. She says their mother and Nick were fornicating all over the house while Thomas and their father were off playing soldier. She tells Thomas that she needs his help to kill Nick and their mother, like the script in the Greek plays. She just wants him to play his part; he is Orestes and she is Electra. The whispering he hears in his head is the gods telling him to kill his mother. We hear crows and a faint whispering sound as the lights fade on them and come up on Carolyn sitting on the porch swing.
She speaks about hearing flapping noises and whispering and complains about people not talking to them. She says she dreamed she gave birth to a snake that drew clotted blood and milk from her breasts. She notices Thomas standing in the DR shadows and tells him to sit beside her on the swing. He tells her he doesn’t want to work at the bank, that banks made the war and he would rather work in the fields baling hay. He says he doesn’t kill any more and the light fades on them and comes up as a shaft of sunlight on Jenna sitting DC. We hear the sounds of moaning, chanting, singing, and chatter as Lexie and Thomas come near. Jenna is speaking nonsequiturs and Lexie tries to get her to recognize their brother. Lexie want Jenna to tell Thomas what really happened to their father, but Jenna says that Thomas should go away from this dangerous place. Lexie leaves, thinking that Jenna may talk with Thomas if they are alone. Jenna tells Thomas she was giving her father a haircut and Thomas asks if the scissors slipped, but Jenna doesn’t answer him. She says if this was really a play she’d be dead by now. She asks if he brought her a banana and holds his hand as the light fades on them and comes up on Carolyn and Nick in the kitchen.
Carolyn asks Nick why he doesn’t make love to her any more and says even the village idiot won’t talk to her. She asks Nick if he would kill the idiot for her. She says she is thinking of taking over her husband’s duties at the bank. Because she thinks Thomas might open up to Nick, she orders Nick to go out on the porch. Nick joins Thomas on the porch and hands him a flask. Thomas says he doesn’t like to drink and suggests that Nick talk with Jenna. Nick thinks that Thomas and Lexie should leave, but Thomas believes he has something he has to do. Our attention then shifts to Lexie sitting at night on the edge of the roof. Carolyn appears in the upstage window, asks Lexie to come in, and then climbs out on the roof to sit next to her. She tells Lexie that she knows she was not the best parent, in part because she never got much training from her parents and was never taught how to take care of anything. Carolyn says the only real thing is death; everthing else is a “grotesque tangle of vanity, misperception, and self-delusion.” She says Thomas will not believe Lexie’s lies and then asks her if she hears a sound like bats and bees at the same time. When Carolyn tries to crawl back up the roof, Lexie grabs her foot and pulls her back, wanting to see if she can still do “the old swan dive.” Carolyn gets free, moves up the roof, and warns Lexie that she is going to end up in the psycho ward next to her sister or in the cemetery next to her father. Lexie says that if anything happens to her, Thomas will get Carolyn because he hates her as much as Lexie does. The light fades on Lexie as Carolyn climbs through the window and down the steps to ask Nick what he is doing in Michael’s study.
Nick says that he once thought he was going to be a writer. Carolyn orders him out of the study and asks if he hears a flapping noise. She says she thinks something has to be done about the children. Nick says he doesn’t want anyone else to be hurt. He says there are limits to what she can get away with without getting caught or losing her mind. She asks him if he’s been reading “those damned Greek plays” and thinks she should burn them in the back yard. Nick says that Michael said that you can deny ancient mythologies but you can’t escape from them. Carolyn says if Nick gives her any trouble he’ll be seeing Michael in Hell. She leaves as Nick sits drinking. On the porch swing, Thomas is also drinking, talking to an invisible Loopy Rye he thinks is in the shadows. Carolyn appears to tell Thomas that he is to start working at the bank. Thomas says the military school she sent him to was a breeding ground for homicidal sociopaths. Carolyn agrees, saying all the great men in history have been homicidal sociopaths. They agree they both hear a buzzing sound and Thomas asks her directly if she killed his father. She asks him what he wants and he says he wants it all to have been a dream, a play, and if it is a play then he has to kill her. Carolyn says the dream, the play, would end if a person cut their wrists in a hot bath and bled out into the water. She says his father’s razor blades are still in the bathroom cabinet. Thomas says he is going up to take a bath, and she urges him to be careful with the razors. Lights fade on her as we hear crows in the darkness.
Then we hear crickets and see Carolyn alone on the porch, speaking images from the earlier parts of the trilogy. She wishes the village idiot would come and talk with her and sees a figure in the shadows. Lexie appears, her clothing torn and dirty. Carolyn asks what happened to her and she says that Nick is gone, that he stopped at the bank to pick up a “basket of other people’s cash,” and that he raped her. Carolyn says no man has ever done anything to her that she didn’t want him to do. She says Lexie drove away her only friend on purpose and everything is Lexie’s fault. Lexie roars in frustration and fury and knocks Carolyn down and starts hitting and then strangling her. Carolyn gets her hands around Lexie’s throat and they roll back and forth. Although she gets the advantage, Carolyn stops and sits next to Lexie. Carolyn says she stopped because Lexie is her daughter, the most like her of any of her children. She says Lexie won’t kill her because she is terrified of being alone. Lexie picks up a rock and hits Carolyn in the head, drops the rock, and leaves. Carolyn gets up and staggers back into the house and up the steps saying that she knows Lexie will be back.
We hear crickets as light comes up on Carolyn sitting on the edge of the roof, looking at an old hat box full of photographs. As Carolyn talks about everything being chaos and throws photographs of her father and grandfather off the roof, Jenna, in white, climbs out the window behind her. Carolyn asks her if she escaped and asks her if she wants to throw photographs off the roof with her. Jenna sits beside her and Carolyn tells her that Loopy Rye was Carolyn’s father. Carolyn says she is sorry that she put Jenna away in that place and let people think she killed her father. Carolyn says she is hallucinating and wonders how she can live in this big, empty, haunted house alone. Jenna suggests that she could jump off the rood. They think they see Loopy picking up the photographs and call and wave to him. Jenna empties the box over the edge of the roof. Carolyn calls down to Loopy to pick up the pictures. Jenna picks up Sally, the tattered old doll, and Carolyn asks if Jenna wants to see her swan dive. Carolyn stands on the edge of the roof as Jenna waves the doll’s arm, saying, “Bye bye, Mama.” She asks Carolyn what she is waiting for. “Nothing,” Carolyn says. “I’m waiting for nothing. Look, Papa. See how I can jump.” Light fades on them and goes out.