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  • Richard Byrne

Christmas in Caporetto: A Holiday Play

Earlier this fall, I was asked to write a two-hander for possible filming. We didn't end up getting it done. But for the record, here's a play about coping with the holidays in our pandemic -- and Melania hating Christmas.


(DAN and DAWN with a number of reusable grocery bags, some bulging with food stuffs (flour, milk, crackers) and prepper fare: (condensed milk, powdered milk, energy bars, soup and rice.)


DAN: That’s a lot...


DAWN: (Over.) I know, but...


DAN: (Through.) ... of stuff.


DAWN: (Through.) ... we need it.


(DAWN pulls items out of bags.)


DAN: Where will we put it all?


DAWN: Well, first, we maximize the cupboards. And the closets.


DAN: They’re pretty full.


DAWN: There’s stuff we can throw out. Definitely.


DAN: And the rest?


DAWN: The closet in the guest room. I have two big Rubbermaid bins.


(DAN touches DAWN’s shoulder.)


DAWN (CONT'D) : You can help.


(DAN pulls away.)


DAWN (CONT’D): I’m making a pile here, so when I empty this bag, I can refill it with what goes upstairs.

(DAN is silent. DAWN keeps unpacking. Then, abruptly, stops.)


DAWN (CONT’D): I’m doing this for us!


DAN: Condensed milk?


DAWN: Great for coffee if we can’t get fresh...


DAN (Over.): Powdered milk?


DAWN: If we run out of condensed... ( A beat.) Think about what Chris Hayes says?


DAN: That Trump’s objectively pro-COVID?


DAWN: That this might be the darkest winter in American history.


DAN: Darker than Valley Forge?


DAWN: The darkest.


DAN: Speaking of dark, I got the Christmas lights out from the garage. While you were at Whole Foods.


DAWN: If we still have electricity.


(DAN holds up a tin.)


DAN: Space for a fruit cake?


DAWN: Where’d you get that?


DAN: It was in with the Christmas lights. (Looks. Reads.) “Merry Christmas from Aunt Mary.”


DAWN: From when?


DAN: Dunno.


DAWN (Over.): She died two years ago, Dan.


DAN: But her fruit cake lives on...


DAWN: God! Throw it away!


(DAWN furious at everything. DON goes to her. She melts into him.)


DAN: It’s OK.


DAWN: It’s not.


DAN: It will be.


DAWN: We’re not even supposed to be here for Christmas. We’re supposed to be in Caporetto.


DAN: It’s Kobarid.


DAWN: Hemingway calls it Caporetto.


DAN (Over.): That was during World War One.


DAWN (Through.): That’s good enough for me. (A sliver of a beat.) When I said “Kobarid,” my friends were were like: Huh? When I said I was going to Caporetto? They were jealous. Without even knowing where it is.

DAN: But it’s Kobarid now.


DAWN: Can’t I have my fantasy? Christmas in Caporetto? Even if we’re not going.


DAN: I’m sorry.


DAWN: Especially since we’re not going.


DAN: Next year.


DAWN: Like everything.


DAN: Next year.


DAWN: If we make it to next year.


DAN:

It will all still be there, Dawn. The Julian Alps looming over the town. The bridge Napoleon built. A gorgeous waterfall. And the cheese. The Tolmin cheese. And the Frika.


DAWN: It looks beautiful in the photos.


DAN: I haven’t been there since it was Yugoslavia.


DAWN (With DAN.): It was Yugoslavia.


DAN: I was excited, too, you know. See the graveyard where my grandparents are buried. Finally. Show Tricia her family tree. Her roots. (A beat.) Where is she?


DAWN (A longish beat.): In her room.


DAN: She didn’t go with you? To Whole Foods?


DAWN: We had an argument.


DAN: What now?


DAWN: About Slovenia.


DAN: Why? Why Slovenia?


DAWN: I don’t even know her since she came home.


DAN: Tricia had the weirdest first semester in history. Imagine being in the dorm. Studying. No parties. No freshman year like we had.



DAWN: I was just making small talk with her. A joke. About Melania. That it was going to be her last Christmas in the White House.


DAN: We all agree that’s great.


DAWN: That’s what I mean. I don’t know her anymore.


DAN: She likes Melania now?


DAWN: No! But she got angry with me. That Melania hates Christmas. That Melania doesn’t care about human life. That Melania should be deported for lying to get a green card.


(DAN shakes his head.)


DAWN (CONT’D): And finally she yelled: “She’s a Slovenian whore, Mom!” And then she stomped upstairs and slammed the door!


DAN: She’s probably upset. That we’re not going.


DAWN: We’ll go next year. Promise?


DAN (Imitates DAWN.): If we make it to next year...


DAWN: Don’t tease.


(DAN and DAWN survey the bags.)


DAN: What are we doing?


DAWN: What we can.


DAN: I feel like the grasshopper here. And you’re the ant.


DAWN: We’re doing this. Together.


DAN: Next year Christmas in Caporetto.


DAWN: No.


DAN: No?


DAWN: Kobarid.


(They kiss.)


DAN: Can I help?


DAWN: Nope. Go hang the lights. Get Tricia to help. Make it bright. Everything.


END OF PLAY


(All photos by Richard Byrne or in the public domain.)

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