Play #95: A Ladder Play

The play is set in a psychiatrist’s office.  A middle-aged man is stretched out on the therapeutic couch, his body a veritable anthology of agonized attitudes, powered by blunted vectors of thwarted desire.

DOCTOR:  Keep still!

MAN:  I can’t.

DOCTOR:  Where are you trying to go?

MAN:  Out of my mind.

DOCTOR:  Will that help?

MAN:  It’s got to be better than being in here [he points irritably to his head].

DOCTOR:  You need a ladder.

MAN: A ladder? 

DOCTOR:  Yes.  [calls his nurse]  Moira, will you bring in the ladder, please?

[Moira appears, struggling under the weight of a ten-foot ladder—which appears to be made of solid gold.  She sets it up near the patient’s couch]

MAN:  And what am I supposed to do with it?

DOCTOR:  Climb it of course. 

MAN (irritably):  Why?

DOCTOR:  Well, you don’t care much for your life down here, right?  A ladder is an Ascension Machine…

MAN: What does that mean? 

DOCTOR: It means that in the act of climbing it, you will  rise above yourself.

MAN:  That sounds alright to me.

DOCTOR:  Yes, I thought it might.  Well, up you go!

[The man gets up from the couch, goes to the gleaming ladder and begins to climb it]

DOCTOR (looking up at his patient who is now on the 3rd rung):  How does it feel?

MAN (shouting back): It’s exhilarating!

DOCTOR: Just as I told you.  [there is a pause]  Okay, you’d better come back down now.

MAN (exuberantly):  Not on your life!  I like it up here!  And l’m going all the way…

[and as the doctor and Moira watch, the man ascends the ladder, rung by rung, until he disappears entirely from view]

DOCTOR (to Moira):  What’s my next appointment?

MOIRA: You don’t have one, Doctor. You’re free.