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Running on Empty - Full Length Play

Running on Empty

Jack Heifner

Full Length Play

3m, 2f

ISBN: 9780822209768

As the play begins, Lilly is pondering which of her designer dresses t…

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Description | Characters | Author
: DPS Acting Edition

Full Length Play


Interior Set

As the play begins, Lilly is pondering which of her designer dresses to burn in the fireplace of her chic if sparsely furnished penthouse apartment. The problem is that it is wintertime, the United States has long since used up its fuel reserves, and if Lilly and her husband, Stephen, are to keep warm there is no alternative. Down in the streets below people are fighting birds for berries, cutting down trees in the parks for fuel, and waiting in endless lines for meager government food handouts. Lilly and Stephen are also preparing for a party, albeit one in which both food and drink will be imagined rather than real. The guest of honor is to be their old friend, David, with whom both once had romantic involvement. When David arrives he is accompanied by his latest conquests, Chloe (a flower child) and Jonathan (a committed Catholic), who, like their predecessors, are competing for David's amoral favors. As the pretend party progresses the antic mood of the play grows increasingly more probing and serious, as questions are raised about the barren platonic relationship which Lilly and Stephen have settled for; David's continued failure to commit himself, sexually or otherwise; and Chloe and Jonathan's obsession with the evils of materialism (her) and gnawing personal guilt (him). In the end human frailty is pitilessly excoriated but, at the same time, hopes are raised that the bitter lessons of the past, and present, will somehow be heeded, and that mankind may yet bring some semblance of order to the chaos and misfortune which his baser instincts have engendered.
A chilling yet, at the same time, very funny view of our possible future—when greed, conspicuous consumption and human willfulness have, at last, plundered the planet and reduced the circumstances of human life to a subsistence level. While set in New York City the play text allows for the substitution of local place names to underscore its provocative message that this can happen anywhere—and will—unless we reverse our present course. "Heifner has created a sort of bird's eye view of such complexities as the conservation of natural resources, the politics of humanity, the value (if any) of various sexual roles and the necessity of proper dress during catastrophe…It is incredibly enjoyable." —TWT (Houston). "…Heifner's view of a world winding down with a whimper rather than a bang is full of ideas, humor and feeling." —Houston Chronicle.


3m, 2f

Jack Heifner

Jack Heifner

Jack Heifner is the author of over thirty plays and musicals produced in New York, Los Angeles, and theatres around the world. He is best known for the play version of Vanities, which ran for five years in New York, is published by Samuel French, and became one of the longest running plays in Off-Broadway history. He is also the author of Patio/Porch, Boys' Play, Home Fires, Comfort and Joy, ... view full profile

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