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Pterodactyls - Full Length Play

Pterodactyls

Nicky Silver

Full Length Play

3m, 2f

ISBN: 9780822213758

An absurdist black comedy about the demise of the Duncan family, and, …

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Full Length Play

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An absurdist black comedy about the demise of the Duncan family, and, by extension, the species. Emma Duncan, a hypochondriac with memory problems, and her orphaned fiancé, Tommy, confront her mother, Grace, with the news of their intended marriage. Disapproving at first, Grace acquiesces and puts Tommy to work as a maid. Shortly after, Grace's son, Todd, returns home and announces he has AIDS which sets off a frenzy of denial-spurred activity. The father, Arthur Duncan, reaches out to his son who is more interested in assembling the dinosaur bones he discovers in the back yard. As the wedding approaches, Tommy falls in love with Todd and when confronted with this news, Emma goes quite spontaneously deaf. It is only during a frenzied wedding rehearsal, after Tommy is informed he's HIV positive and Emma shoots herself with a gun given to her by her brother as a wedding gift, does the possibility that Todd is destroying his family rear its head. As winter descends, the bottom falls out of the farce and the tone is replaced with a more ironic one. Tommy has died (although he's not been buried as "the ground is too hard"), Grace's glamour has been replaced with an alcoholic haze, and Arthur cannot remember that Emma has died. Only Todd remains unchanged. In a final manipulation, Todd accuses Arthur of being responsible for Emma's death, and provokes his father into attacking him. Grace has no choice but to banish Arthur from the house and into what now seems a lifeless tundra outdoors. Left alone with his mother, Todd pours her drink after drink as the months pass, until she too, at last, is dead. Finally, as Todd embraces his sister's ghost, we see the dinosaur skeleton, now complete. No one knows why the dinosaurs lived, or died, Todd told his mother. He suggests the possibility that their end was the natural order of things "and no tragedy. Or disease. Or God."
Dysfunction takes on new meaning with the Duncan Family. We laugh throughout, as we watch the family disintegrate, and finally realize the seeds of this dysfunction lie within us all. "…PTERODACTYLS struck me as the flip-side of The Skin of Our Teeth Thornton Wilder's antic celebration of mankind's ability to muddle through." —NY Times. "There are times—not all that many, admittedly—when a critic wishes he had never used the word 'brilliant' before, so he could offer it fresh minded and glittering to something new. And different…" —NY Post. "Clever is the word for PTERODACTYLS…clever, sharp, witty—it's a play that takes aim at the main-streamed, moneyed, conventional American family and buries it under one satiric jibe after another." —TheaterWeek.
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3m, 2f

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