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DAPHNE AND APOLLO: A ONE-ACT PLAY by Tori Wilson


CHARACTERS DAPHNE

Nymph; on vacation from Olympus, as her father is being quite annoying and she can't hide in Demeter's garden forever. Well, actually, Demeter kicked her out.

APOLLO

God of song, health, etc. Very egotistical, and unfortunately shorttempered. Never got over Daphne, and is quite surprised to find her in New YOrk, right under his sister's nose.

ARTEMIS

The spoiled, short-tempered twin sister of Apollo. She thinks she has quite enough to do on Earth, as she has recently discovered her true callingcreating her own clothing line and completely ignoring the affairs of the Greek and Roman Pantheons.

CUPID

God of love and son of Venus/Aphrodite. Hates being called 'Cupid' and would rather be called Eros, as that name is far more dignified. Married to Psyche.

PENEUS

Daphne's father, who has not grown up any in the thousand years since Ovid recorded his daughter's tale. Wishes Daphne would hurry up and marry someone.

PSYCHE

Cupid's independent, spunky wife and a good friend to Daphne. She refuses to live on Olympus, even though she's technically a goddess, and instead keeps an apartment in NYC, where she owns and operates a bar.


SETTING A bar in modern-day New York; it is mostly deserted, as it is early afternoon, but two women sit in a corner talking quietly. One is very obviously distressed, the other consolatory. TIME

Autumn, early afternoon. Modern. ACT I Scene 1

The bar.

Early afternoon.

Scene 2

An apartment in the city.

Night.

Scene 3 A forest. Dream-like. morning, before dawn.

Very early


1. ACT I SCENE 1 (A bar in Greenwich Village, New York City. The sunlight filtering through the dusty windows casts a pallor on the mostly empty room, but casts into shadow the establishment's only occupants; DAPHNE and her best friend, PSYCHE, sit at a table in the corner, conversing quietly. DAPHNE is obviously distressed, and PSYCHE listens with sympathy.) PSYCHE You can stay with me for a few days. It's really not a problem. DAPHNE Could I really? I wouldn't impose, I'm afraid I've nowhere left to hide. PSYCHE I though you were staying with Demeter-- what happened? DAPHNE Artemis happened. (She sighs, runs a hand though her hair and turns her tired gaze on her friend.) Ever since her oh-so-perfect brother decided to make me his next conquest, she's made it her personal mission to ruin my life. Like it's my fault Apollo's turned into a self-obsessed sap. PSYCHE Well, Artie's touched in the head. The entire pantheon is stark raving mad, actually-- and people wonder why I left! Anyway, you bring your stuff to my apartment and I'll put you up in the spare room. DAPHNE Are you sure Cupid won't mind?


2. PSYCHE If he does mind, he can pay an extended visit to his mother. (She smiles conspiratorially) I've found that's a much better threat than the couch. DAPHNE Thank you, again, Psyche. I should go, though. I need to get myself together before Daddy dearest comes back, lest he lock me in my room. PSYCHE Well, have fun with that. If you need rescuing, do call. (DAPHNE exits. PSYCHE stands up and goes behind the bar counter, tidying absentmindedly. CUPID enters from stage left, humming and reading something on a PDA.) PSYCHE (Continued) We'll be having a houseguest for the next few days, dear. CUPID Am I allowed to object? PSYCHE I'm sure your mother would love to see you for a few... (Cupid interrupts) CUPID Days? PSYCHE Weeks. (Ignoring the outraged sputtering of her husband, she barrels on.) Daphne needs a place to stay for a little while. Peneus is being his usual, puerile little self. You remember Daphne, don't you, Cupid? CUPID You know I hate that name.


3. PSYCHE Just making a point, Eros dear. So, she'll be at the apartment tonight. If you could close the bar for me, so I can be at home when she arrives, I'd very much appreciate it. CUPID Yes, dear. END SCENE.

SCENE 2 (PSYCHE is on the phone in her apartment, waiting for DAPHNE to arrive. Her home is almost fastidiously tidy, save for one room-- CUPID's home office, obviously his domain entirely. It is a very masculine room; the walls are paneled in oak, leather upholstery accents the furniture, and a collection of weaponry is displayed along one wall. Apparently, CUPID Eros is trying to erase his popular image as a pink-swathed infant. Suddenly, DAPHNE comes through the door, looking harassed.) DAPHNE He's right behind me. Aletheia tattled. (She drops a suitcase on the floor and


4. slams the door shut.) I don't even know why Aletheia was there! PSYCHE Olympus is a rather small mountain. And the poor woman can't help that she's the goddess of truth. Now, who is after you, exactly? DAPHNE Peneus. Who else? PSYCHE Well, you do have quite a history of men chasing after you, Daphne. I just had to be sure. DAPHNE I don't want to hear one word about he-who-must-lustafter-poor-defenseless-nymphs. PSYCHE You still won't say his name? DAPHNE I don't want to attract attention. I spent three hundred years as a tree, Psyche. I did not enjoy it. I would rather not repeat the experience. But, Psyche, there is the little issue of my father's impending arrival... PSYCHE Right. This way. (PSYCHE leads DAPHNE through the apartment and to the aforementioned spare room) Lock the door. Just in case. DAPHNE Well, that's reassuring. (PSYCHE leaves as someone raps on the front door authoritatively. She is heard, distantly, greeting Peneus and politely inquiring as to his business. Peneus answers, in tones not nearly as polite, and shoves past PSYCHE into the apartment, forcing Psyche to let him into her home.)


5. PENEUS Where is she? PSYCHE I'm afraid I haven't the foggiest. Who are we talking about? (Appearing unbothered by Peneus's intrusion, PSYCHE proceeds to the kitchen) Would you like anything? Tea, lemonade? PENEUS I know she's here, Psyche. PSYCHE You must learn to be more specific, Peneus. You're more of a coffee person, aren't you? I'll just set a pot brewing. (PENEUS grabs her arm, preventing her from moving to the coffee pot.) Unhand me, river god. (PSYCHE suddenly drops her facade of cheer, and we see a glimpse of the young women who killed her own sisters in the name of love.) You will not find your daughter here. Now leave, Peneus. DAPHNE Is he gone? PSYCHE I kicked him out. (She grins wickedly.) It's been a very long time since I put a god in his place. I missed it. But we need a plan, because he knows you're staying here. (The two women sit down, Psyche obviously in her element as she stares intently at her friend.) What exactly did dear old dad do to vex you so? DAPHNE Oh, the usual. "You must marry, Daphne. You must get me a son-in-law, Daphne. You must give me a hundred grandchildren, Daphne."


6. PSYCHE A hundred? DAPHNE Well, perhaps that's exaggerating it a little. But you understand me? He is such a chauvinist. PSYCHE He's a god, dear. They're all like that. DAPHNE I've lived with them a bit longer than you, Psyche. I know. PSYCHE Then why are you in such agony over the whole ordeal? DAPHNE Because... He invited someone over. To inspect me. Like I'm a piece of cattle to be auctioned. (PSYCHE arches a brow in a silent question, urging her friend on.) He invited Tall, Blond, and Stalker-ish. PSYCHE Apollo? (DAPHNE gasps, hushing PSYCHE with a panicked glance) He's not going to coalesce in the middle of my sitting room, Daphne. Relax. Eros would shoot him if he tried. DAPHNE Cupid isn't even here! CUPID Yes, I am. And stop calling me that. (CUPID closes the front door, stops only long enough to speak to the two, and then retreats to his study.) PSYCHE So Sunny Boy's back to stalking you. Why in Hades' name did you hide with Demeter? DAPHNE It seemed like a good idea at the time.


7. PSYCHE She and Artemis are neighbors. Sure, they can't stand each other, but Artemis knows everyone else's business all the time. It's her hobby when hunting's out of season. DAPHNE Right. Bad idea. I'm here now, though, so... PSYCHE Maybe you should confront Apollo? He might have matured enough to respect your disinterest. It has been a few thousand years. (DAPHNE doesn't even consider the idea, and looks at PSYCHE as if questioning her sanity.) No, the ambrosia has not addled my brain! It was just a suggestion. DAPHNE Maybe we'll have a few better ideas in the morning. It's nearly midnight already. PSYCHE Yes, let's get some sleep. I have to be up early tomorrow for a meeting, but you're welcome to hang out here. Watch TV, order lunch in, whatever. DAPHNE Thanks, Psyche. Really. PSYCHE You know you're always welcome. (THe two friends embrace. DAPHNE walks to her room, and PSYCHE goes to CUPID's study.) END SCENE.

SCENE 3 (DAPHNE is asleep, but she is not in the spare room. Indeed, she is not even on a bed, but instead rests on the forest floor amid a


8. copse of trees. She wakes slowly, and gazes at her surroundings with incredulity. She seems to recognize the forest.) DAPHNE No. No, no, no. This is not happening. Not now. APOLLO Talking to yourself, Daphne? DAPHNE You. APOLLO Me. (He shrugs and smiles brilliantly. DAPHNE shudders with revulsion.) Aren't you excited to see me? It's been years, Daphne. DAPHNE Yes, I think I need a few more years. To truly appreciate your absence and all. (APOLLO laughs and shakes his head. He approaches DAPHNE, who is still sitting on the ground. She hastily rises and backs away from him.) APOLLO I did miss your sense of humor. DAPHNE You never knew my sense of humor! In fact, I don't recall any conversation at all when last we met. I was rather too busy running for my life. APOLLO I never did understand why you were so scared. I would be the perfect husband. I'm powerful, immortal. Fatally attractive. DAPHNE And modest. So modest. APOLLO The gods have no need of such mortal trappings as


9. humility. You could be a goddess, Daphne. Immortality you already possess, but I could give you so much more. You could rule your sisters as queen of the forests, if you so desired. DAPHNE I do not so desire. (APOLLO moves to embrace her, convince her to accept his suit. She recoils.) Leave me alone, Apollo! APOLLO My name sounds so sweet, coming from your lips. Say it once more, my love. DAPHNE No! Zeus, you're persistent. Get away from me! (She shoves at APOLLO as he advances again, and he stumbles. Just as suddenly, he disappears. There is a blackout, and DAPHNE appears once more, asleep now in a proper bed. APOLLO is no where in sight.) DAPHNE (Continued) Well, who's there? Is it some meddling Oneiroi, or did I rate a visit from Morpheus himself? (No one answers, and Daphne sits up, the picture of childish impudence as she crosses her arms and pouts.) Fine. If you won't show yourself, then go away and allow me my sleep. (She lays back down and quickly falls asleep. In the dim moonlight, her skin takes on an odd cast-- it is darker, rougher, like bark. A fiery light flickers in the darkness, and an agonyfilled sigh fills the air as a lone hand reaches out to brush DAPHNE's hair-- which seems to be sprouting leaves.) END SCENE. BLACKOUT.

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