Issue #68

Fall 2018


a short irreal play by B E Turner

  The scene is a restaurant with a table and chairs. Other appurtenances may be added if desired.

  DINER: A diner.
  DINER TOO: Another diner.
  WAITER: A waiter.
  CHEF: A chef or maitre d'.

The costumes can be fantastical if you wish. For example a super hero, a gorilla, a ballet dancer, a chimera, a dainty flower, clown, other.
The characters may be of any sex, race or species.
The diners may or may not remain seated and may move about the stage in dramatic and inappropriate ways.
The director may wish to add stage business inspired by the irreal mind.


Diner enters, waves to audience, blows them kisses, does the giddy goat, asks for applause, claps his hands. Eventually sits at table, picks up the menu which is a folded card with the legend ‘The Cafe Irreal' on the side facing the audience. Waiter enters and waltzes up to the table.

  DINER: It's irreal is it?

  WAITER: Indeed so.

  DINER: Is that Theatre of the Absurd?

  WAITER: Worse.

  DINER: They'll never understand it.

  WAITER: It doesn't matter.

  DINER: Will there ever be an explanation?

  WAITER: Wait for the Chef's imposition. Would you have a preference to order?

  DINER: My preferences are in any order.

  WAITER: Indeed so.

  DINER: Are the pickled eel's feet fresh?

  WAITER: Picked only this morning.

  DINER: I'll have a bushel.

  WAITER: [Writes on his notepad.] One peck of pickled eel's feet.

  DINER: And the conger sauce.

  WAITER: The conger sauce is not on the menu fraulein.

  DINER: It's right here. [Shows blank menu so audience can see it.]

  WAITER: Indeed it has appeared. [Notes] One galleon conger sauce.

  DINER: And I'd like a substance of quirky duck's quack for desert.

  WAITER: [Notes] A quire of quirky duck's quack.

  DINER: That is correct. Have you written my order down exactly?

  WAITER: Indeed sir.

  DINER: I hear that this establishment sometimes fails to make correct notes and that on these occasions the diner fails to receive the correct menu.

  WAITER: That is if the diner does not order the correct menu. I shall request the Chef to confirm. [Exit]

Diner Too enters, walks around the stage in a circular fashion and in a jaunty or otherwise manner. Comes up to the table.

  DINER TOO: May I take a seat?

  DINER: Where to?

  DINER TOO: Timbuktu.

  DINER: That'll do.

Diner Too takes the chair and carries it to the opposite of the stage and sits or stands or does handstands or other tricks or may do nothing at all. Chef enters with notebook and place-saver with ‘Timbuktu' in the holder and puts place-saver on the table.

  DINER: Don't you have numbers in your place-savers?

  CHEF: No. Places. We like to make sure they know where they are. I might check your order senorita . You wish for a quire of peacock's tongues in aspic with a spiral jumbo sauce.

  DINER: That is correct.

  CHEF: [Ticks it off.] And a squirt of cows moo on a bed of marmalade dew.

  DINER: That is correct.

  CHEF: [Ticks it off.] Your fellow diner is afar off.

  DINER: That is correct.

  CHEF: [Goes to Diner Too.] Why seat you afar off sire?

  DINER TOO: I'm at Timbuktu.

  CHEF: I need to inform you sire that you are geographically challenged. Timbuktu is at that table afar.

  DINER TOO: Indeed, so I see.

The chef escorts Diner Too and chair back to table by a roundabout route. The chef stands behind the table preening his moustache if he has one. Waiter enters with two empty plates and places them before the diners.

  DINER: Just what I ordered.

  WAITER: It pleases me that your menu is correct.

  DINER TOO: But these plates are empty and I haven't ordered.

  CHEF: What do you expect? We only have ten minutes to complete this play.

  DINER: We'd better get on to the ending then.

  DINER TOO: We need to have desert first. That would be a good ending.

  DINER: I agree, but we should have had an entrée at the start. That means there would have been a proper structure with a beginning, a middle and an end as has of-times been declaimed by Professors Pilcher and Weskit in their apoplexy on the art of poelemetics.

  CHEF: What would you prefer?

  DINER: I'll have a Sahara Desert.

  DINER TOO: And I'll have a Gobi.

  CHEF: Waiter. Consummate these orders.

Waiter removes the empty plates and goes.

  DINER: What do we do while we wait for desert.

  CHEF: We will have to explain the logical consequence.

  DINER TOO: And what is that?

  CHEF: The author's explication.

  DINER TOO: I can't do it.

  CHEF: Yes you can. His words are in your mouth.

  DINER TOO: [Stands forth and declaims] Let us first take down the sun.

  DINER: Why do that?

  DINER TOO: It will permit the stars to shine in the blue-black welkin.

  DINER: A logical confusion.

  DINER TOO: Subsequent to which we could pick these stars and store them in your old kit bag so they could be delivered to the eternal infernal old grey bearded infidel who would be revealed trailing clouds of glory.

  CHEF: A delightful conflagration.

  DINER TOO: Subsequently this flagrant clownage would be dismantled and all would resolve into a singularity along with all creatures who would dissolve and return with the big, the big, the big, something or other.

  DINER: Highly salubrious.

  CHEF: Somewhat dubious.

Waiter enters with two empty plates which he places.

  DINER TOO: What are these?

  WAITER: These are your entrees sir.

  DINER TOO: But we haven't ordered entrees yet.

  CHEF: That doesn't matter. We need them to start the play.

  DINER TOO: So we have the start in the middle.

  DINER: It has to go somewhere.

  CHEF: As good as anywhere. Now give us your elaboration.

  WAITER: [Stands forth] What I say now is the sense of the sensible. Beneath the sense is the senseless which we may derive by diving into the choppy sea under the waves which form the logical construscion of thought and you may believe you have a firm foundation and all is real and may not wish to abandon the safe and secure picture of this unreal world for behind the unsafe carpentry is the dark sea of that which is yet to be resolved.

Applause .

  CHEF: Now we might have desert.

Waiter takes the plates and goes. Chef stands on a soapbox if there is one.

  CHEF: Within the psyche is the mind and within the mind are the two moieties, the real and the irreal, the left and the right. In the real we cling to the wreckage of safe certainty but in the irreal we enter the unsafe world of dreams, absurdities, impossibilities, the place where the accepted laws of nature and logic are broken. And why should we enter this realm which we are so reluctant to experience? Because it is the centre. It is the source of creation and the next step on the way we should all have the courage to follow. Enough. He has said his piece.


  DINER: Do we have to listen to this nonsense?

  DINER TOO: It appears so.

  DINER: Completely out of keeping with the play.

Waiter enters with two plates and places them on the table before the diners.

  DINER TOO: Ah, desert at last.

  DINER: Plenty of sand.

  DINER TOO: We're getting near the end then?

  DINER: Almost there. It's the last course. Dinner is over.

  DINER TOO: What are we waiting for?

  DINER: It can't be too abrupt.

  DINER TOO: It will end soon?

  DINER: In a minute.

  DINER TOO: You can't string it out too long.

  DINER: Not too long.

  DINER TOO: They'll be waiting for the next play.

  DINER: Or the interval.

  DINER TOO: Whatever.

  DINER: We can end it then.

  DINER TOO: It is the end.

  DINER: It is finished.

  WAITER: It is the end.

  CHEF: It is over thank God.

  DINER TOO: [Pause] I say, I wouldn't mind a cup of coffee, and a cheese board if you have it.

  CHEF: Damn!!!

Author Bio


B E Turner is a New Zealand author active in community theatre as playwright, actor, director etc. He has written a number of plays many of which have been performed in New Zealand, USA and Malta. He has published three novels including The Road Goes On, the sad-happy history of a swagman. Together with esteemed author Michael O’Leary he manages an alternative press The Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop. His short short, "His Exegamination of Poelemtics as Addressed to the Audience," appeared in Issue #3 of The Cafe Irreal; "Three Short Plays" appeared in Issue #9; "Comedy of Art" in Issue #11; "surd person circular" in Issue #14; "A Tram Ride" in Issue #18; "The Procession" in Issue #28; "A Thread of Embroidery" in Issue #37; "Snow" in Issue #48; and "Knitting" in Issue #61.