- Jewish female, 70s. New York curmudgeon of an actress who has lived by herself in her Manhattan apartment for the past 40 years. Famous for delivering a hugely popular commercial catchphrase “Where’s the sausage?!” Her career has been much more successful than her personal life since Olive has never been able to let people in, lashing out at others at the drop of a hat. She’s adept at saying whatever it is that will hurt someone the most. However, beneath it all, she is a very vulnerable and sensitive person whose cantankerous, hard outer shell has resulted from a lifetime of being disappointed by people. She has a little bit of hope left in her, and deep down wishes she could connect—but has always been unable to do so.
- Female, 50s. An energetic, brassy New Yorker, a successful Broadway company manager determined to help people, but easily put down. Has a soft spot for helping secluded older people. Looks in on Olive frequently and truly cares about her, despite Olive’s often less-than-appreciative attitude. Though she appears strong, independent and confident, it is revealed that she is deeply lonely at her core. Applies for a new job in California that she hopes will change her entire life.
- Male, 60s. A dignified gentleman, influential editor of children’s books, recently retired. Charming, attractive and still capable of innocent wonder of the world. Lives next door to Olive with his partner, Trey. Makes every attempt to befriend Olive in an effort to stop her from being such an unpleasant neighbor. Loves Trey and wants to protect him from any criticism. Forgiving; gives people the benefit of the doubt, to a fault. Perpetually happy and enthusiastic.
- Male, 50s. A once beautiful, lovable boy who has aged into a sour pickle due to too much alcohol. Robert’s partner, both in life and in the children’s book business. Has become jaded and bitter, and is frequently cutting and sarcastic. Often involved in conflicts and resents that Robert does not always take his side. Describes himself as a nasty old queen.
- Male, 70s. Attractive retired lingerie salesman. Warm, placid and dignified with a wry sense of humor. Meets Olive and is instantly intrigued. Has been married and widowed three times, and is drawn to “difficult” women. Very sweet and well-meaning, he represents a new world of possibilities to Olive. He just might be the one person who can get past Olive’s difficult personality and prove to her that she is deserving of love—and able to love in return.
Monolog 1 for Olive
In this building I’m dismissed as a chronic complainer, a crank. If I owned this apartment and wasn’t the sole surviving renter, believe you me, it would be a whole different ballgame. This morning I was getting the mail and I ran into the President of the co-op board, Carol Kandel. I was calmly telling her about my situation with the monsters next door, whereupon she accused me of character assassination. I told her she was a pretentious, overly botoxed, ageist pig.
Monolog 2 for Olive
That afternoon, I left the voiceover studio in Tribeca and since it was a nice day, I walked. I passed by the Cinema Village. There was a crowd of people waiting outside. This fellow asked me for the time. I don’t usually talk to strangers, but we hit it off. We were snapping back and forth with the quips in a very congenial manner. When it was time for his movie to start, he asked if I’d care to join him. I said, “Why not?” When the movie was over, neither of us was in a particular hurry, so we walked across town to the East Village and sat in the park. I would have sworn that we never exchanged names. But maybe I’m confused because I’ve lost a lot of brain cells from my episodes. It’s possible he did tell me his name was Howard and that he’d worked in real estate and that he’d lived for a time in Key West. So what did we talk about for nearly three hours? Well, there was a cluster of tiny sparrows searching for crumbs on the ground in front of us. We gave them names and improvised dialogue between them. Sounds nauseatingly cutesy but that’s what we did.
Monolog 1 for Wendy
I worry about you, Olive. I shouldn’t. You’re not my relative. You’re not my responsibility. But I can’t help getting involved. It’s important to share your life with others. I feel a genuine sense of failure that I’ve never known the joy of marriage. I turned down several proposals. They didn’t feel right. I filled up that notebook with wonderful suggestions. I bet you’ve never even opened it. Number four; a Yoga class. A good one. Number five was certainly worthy of consideration. People tell me you used to be very involved in local Democratic politics.
Monolog 2 for Wendy
For months, you’ve bossed and bullied me. I was warned that you were a horror. But I felt pity for you. The same as I felt for all the other mean spirited old ladies I’ve slaved for. I get this insane notion that I can make a difference. Guys, you see that notebook on the desk? I wrote in it the phone numbers of all sorts of places that could improve Olive’s depressing solitary existence. Opportunities to do volunteer work, to teach, to build herself up physically. She’s never even opened that notebook. Well, I’ve had it. I’m going. (with feverish intensity)
I’m going to LA. Oh, yes. And I’m going to be young. I’m going to learn to parasail off the Pacific coast. I’m going to roller blade on Santa Monica pier. I’m going to ride the waves at Zuma Beach. And I never want to hear the phrase, “I’m getting a chill,” or, “I feel the humidity in my bones.” I never want to hear, “Make me some tea.” “Is the meat lean?” “Don’t I get a discount?” The chains of bondage are broken. The waters have parted. Free at last! Free at last! Oh, dear Lord, I’m free at last!
Monolog 1 for Robert
I could say I’m visiting my friend, Clark. We’ll just have to talk very softly. And we could turn the volume low. I’ll simply say I’m going to Clark’s and I’ll leave the apartment and go to the elevator. He’ll hear the elevator door open and close. And if you keep your door slightly ajar, I can just slip in. Oh, but what about the tapenade? How do I get that out of the apartment? I can put the tapenade in a bag but Trey might ask what’s in the bag. I can make sure he sees me packing DVD’s and then when he’s not looking, I can go into the kitchen and grab the tapenade and the liver pate. But what if he has a sudden craving for tapenade and goes into the fridge and it’s not there. I could go back to the store now and get something else for us to eat and bring it here earlier. But he’s gonna want to go out this afternoon –
Monolog 2 for Robert
I did more than trick with Howard. About a month after we met, I flew back to Key West and spent a long weekend alone with him. Actually, I flew down there twice. Both times it was lovely. When he returned to New York, we got together a few times. That morning Howard phoned and invited me to a party Jeffrey Beaman was throwing to celebrate the opening of his movie. I wanted to go, just to see Howard, but what excuse could I give you? I was coming home from the office and saw an old woman walking her dog. Just then, another woman turned the corner and the dog suddenly lunged at her causing the owner to trip and fall flat on her face. I helped the old lady up and except for some scratches, she was basically all right. That provided me with my alibi. I phoned you and said I was escorting this woman to the emergency room and that it might take several hours.
Monolog 1 for Trey
It’s because I’ve been working my tits off organizing this Seder. I got Madame’s oven repaired. I ordered the brisket. Went all over town today trying to round up Haggadah booklets with some visual flair. I ended up at Park Avenue Judaica, where I found these very stylish mid-century modern Seder booklets. I’m taking them off the shelf, when this woman next to me violently snatches them out of my hand. So she says, “My daughter had her eye on these.” Really? A five year-old in love with clean lines? And of course, they had nothing left in stock. The salesgirl refused to get involved and let this woman get away with this shit. Needless to say, I’m going back tomorrow when the manager is in. Oh yeah.
Monolog 2 for Trey
I got out of work early, so I decided to stop in a café around the corner and have a cocktail. Who should walk by but Howard? I called out to him and he came inside. He said he had moved back to the city. He was looking very cute and well, I knew you were going to be working late, so I brought him home with me. (pleading his case)
He was staying in Astoria. Queens! I was extremely nervous entering the building with him. I was afraid we’d run into that old gossip, Essie, who used to park herself in the lobby all day. Thank God, by some miracle, she wasn’t there. Howard and I had a very pleasant siesta. When the news spread that he died, I figured out that I’d been with him that day. I’ve always felt bad because after we finished fooling around, I became paranoid that you might come home early. I practically threw his clothes at him. We barely said goodbye. Naturally, I wonder if I was the last person to speak to him.
Monolog 1 for Sylvan
I should be from Boca? Buenos Aires is paradise on earth for retirees. Cosmopolitan, welcoming and you can live like a Czar in a two-bedroom condo on a fixed income. As per your problems in this building, I love my daughter Carol. A wonderful girl, but she can be tough. She takes her role as board President very seriously. She can be persnickety about her living quarters. You have to understand, her mother died when she was very young and I remarried and was widowed twice afterwards. Her life was full of constant upheaval. I’ve lost two wives to cancer and my last wife to heart disease only last year. I loved each of them dearly, and all could be deemed volatile. My life today is peaceful to be sure, but I frankly miss the sturm and drang.
Monolog 2 for Sylvan
You know, I was nearly killed that final Sunday matinee. I went backstage after the performance and the stage manager told me to wait for my aunt in the wing. He said she was talking to a member of the cast. I waited and waited and finally the door to her dressing room opened and I moved from my spot. At that very moment, a lighting instrument from high above come crashing to the floor, barely missing me by inches. You know, if you hadn’t left her dressing room at exactly that moment, I would have remained on that spot and most likely been killed. I owe you my life, Olive Fisher. May I come over tonight and watch your show with you?