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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.


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: No?

DAWN: Kobarid.

(They kiss.)

DAN: Can I help?

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


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

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