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?
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.
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.
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.)