The Instructions

CAST: John
(a VCR / TV with Remote control)

  This is an introspective comedy/satire skit; A husband & wife (or, boyfriend & girlfriend), Kathy & John, in her living room together. Kathy anxiously wants to be able to program her VCR / TV. She begins with both the Remote Control and the “directions” (owner’s manual) in hand.

  Props & Costume: Chairs and/or sofa (if available); picture hung from backstage wall or curtain; TV/VCR on a table or stand. Casual dress.

  Lighting & Sound: Direct lighting; with an optional table lamp for support, as needed. Given Kathy’s low profile throughout the dialog, her vocal delivery may benefit from the use of a (cordless or hidden) microphone.

  NOTES: John’s portion of the dialogue may be transcribed to the “instruction manual” which he will be reading for a larger part of the stage action.


  [ Lights & Sound up.
  [ Kathy is curiously gazing at the VCR’s Remote control, as she remains seated on
  [the floor in front of her VCR/TV. John is about 7 feet away, watching her.

KATHY: [mildly frustrated] John, read these directions to me, please! [handing the instructions to John without getting up] I want to be able to program this VCR.

JOHN: [looking at the instruction booklet/page for a moment, then sounding somewhat puzzled] Kathy… these instructions look, well, different.

KATHY: [looking up at John] Please, just read them to me, one step at a time, and I will follow what it says.

JOHN: [reading from the manual] These operating instructions are given to you so that you might know how to succeed in the best use and long life of your equipment. Let’s see, here… [John is jumping ahead on the page a bit.. Now speaking in somewhat homiletic voice, though gently] A battery has been provided for the Remote Control. Do not remove this cover except to install a fresh battery.

KATHY: [curiously, having now removed the remote’s battery cover, she thoughtlessly sets this little cover-lid down beside her…]  Uh-huh.

[Kathy flips the remote back right-side, as the battery falls to the floor (or, simply dangles down for the remainder of the dialogue) without much her notice]

JOHN: There is a specific order and sequence to the programming of your VCR.

KATHY: [looking up at John, having half-heard him] Push ‘Play’ and ‘Record’, right?

JOHN: [still reading in mild ‘preacher voice’] You can save time and frustration by reading through these instructions before beginning.

KATHY: [speaking mostly to herself] Here’s a button for ‘Day’…  [examining the remote for a would-be missing button] What if I want to tape a show at night?

JOHN: [still reading in steady ‘preacher voice’] First make sure that you are
plugged-in, and the power is on.

KATHY: [restlessly; with mild or sultry sarcasm/indifference] I’m always ‘plugged-in’.

JOHN: [authoritatively, intensifying the homily-feel] The hour, the day and the time have already been set. Position yourself for a clear view of the picture, and push the ‘menu’ button once.

KATHY: [pointing the remote toward the TV / VCR, pushing its buttons repeatedly] Pushing… nothing is happening!

JOHN: Can you see the day and time? [Kathy’s head drops] Next, carefully choose the program for your recording.

KATHY: “Carefully”? I already know what I want to see.

JOHN: Select from your options, and when you are ready, press for the ‘menu’ again.

KATHY: [short pause] John, you must have skipped something! Let me see those… [Kathy extends her hand. John surrenders the instruction to Kathy, and without her having to get up. She briefly looks at the manual, hands the written instructions back to John…] Just keep going.

JOHN: Do you want me to start over? Kathy, if you would just follow along.

KATHY: I thought I was. I heard everything you were reading. I guess my mind is on other things.

JOHN: The family or the bills?

KATHY: Maybe both. Can we do this another time? [brief pause] Oh, but I need to tape that show tonight while we’re at Kelley’s for dinner.

JOHN: I should be able to do this for you… for tonight.

KATHY: [with immediate satisfaction, as she begins to get up to leave with John] Thank you, John.

JOHN: [as they leave the living room scene together; pausing to exchange this thought…] But, if you’re ever going to learn how, you will need to focus and to follow the instructions.

KATHY: [turning to John, breaking a slight/reserved smile] Will I?