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To repair the damage done by a review that labeled her exploitative, mega-star non-fiction writer, Meredith Renner, decides to take in a homeless person. The effort goes about as well as you'd expect.

Read Sample

Scene Two

The next day. Meredith sits in a small conference room,
waiting anxiously. She’s nicely dressed—very writer-chic—
but her face and her energy do not match the look. She’s
still pretty affected by the blow of the terrible review. For the
moment, she sits very still and a little slumped, staring into
space.

She pats her hair. She uses the selfie function of her cell cam
to check it. Then her lipstick. It’s fine. How about her teeth?
They’re fine, too.

Satisfied that she looks at least reasonably put together, she
goes back to being still. She resists slumping for as long as
she can, which is not very. There’s no primping or psyching
herself out of the funk.

Suddenly, the door to the conference room opens. In stride
DAX DAVIS and ANGELO VERNETTI, conversation
already in progress.

ANGELO
That’s what I said. There’s no reason for panic. As long as they’re not ignoring you, there’s no problem.

(Meredith stands, smiles nervously. She actively suppresses the
compulsion to pat her hair again as the men turn their attention
to her.)

DAX
(so pitying)
There she is. Merediiiiiiiiith…

(Dax goes in for a hug, which Meredith noticeably relishes.
Like to the point where Dax has to try twice to disengage.)

DAX (cont.)
Oh, I hate to see you look so beat up.

(This remark throws Meredith off a little. She gives in to that
hair-patting compulsion.)

DAX (cont.)
But we’re going to get you back to your radiant, confident self in no time. And here’s the man to do it. This is the guy I was telling you about, Angelo Vernetti. Angelo: the Meredith Renner.

(Meredith is about to stick out her hand for a shake, but Angelo
goes in for a bear hug.)

ANGELO
What an honor to be in the presence of such genius. Truly. I have all your books.

MEREDITH
You’ve… you’ve read all my books?

ANGELO
No, I have them. In my home. I’m not much of a reader. But my wife’s read them all and talks about them for weeks after. Like posts entire passages on Facebook and everything, so… I feel like I’ve read them.

MEREDITH
I see.

(Dax ushers Meredith into a seat and takes one across from her.
Angelo remains standing, moves about the room while they
talk. It’s kind of dizzying.)

DAX
Mr. Vernetti is his own brand of genius.

ANGELO
Yeah, I may not read books, but I can sure read people. And right now, the people… they are not so happy with you.

MEREDITH
Well. To be fair, it’s really just… the one person. So.

ANGELO
Yeah, one very powerful person. And for every powerful person, there are a million suggestible ones adopting their opinions. What I do is neutralize the opinions. I am a neutralizing agent.

DAX
Like the Tums of PR.

ANGELO
Bingo. Like Olivia Pope but hairier.

MEREDITH
A spin-meister.

ANGELO
Exactly.

(Meredith looks at Dax like, “Is this guy for real.” Dax nods a
“hear him out.”)
MEREDITH
No offense, Misterrrrr…

ANGELO
Vernetti./ Angelo Vernetti.

MEREDITH
Mr. Vernetti. I’m not sure that a spin-meister is really what I need right now. I’m not looking for spin. I’m more concerned with truth. My truth. And how to get it out to my fans.

ANGELO
Yeah, listen: my wife is maybe the biggest fan you got, and she’s taking Cunt-kutani’s words as the holy gospel right now./ You need a damn antidote and quick.

MEREDITH
I’m sorry, did you… did you just call her…? I’m not—I am not comfortable with that. Not at all.

(A beat during which Angelo gives Dax a look like, “Is this
chick serious?” Dax shrugs.)

ANGELO
Apologies. Kaku-twatty. That better?

MEREDITH
No!/ No, it is not!

ANGELO
Okay, I can see you’re upset. The last thing I want to do is upset the person whose business I’m trying to nab. I just… I just don’t have a very high opinion of the woman since she completely demolished my sister’s hope of doing just one truly noteworthy thing with her life. She had a rare blood disorder and a host of accompanying health problems that kept her from holding down a job. She married well, but the medications she had to take basically made her infertile, so… no kids. And she really loved kids. But barring that, she chose to write a book. Non-fiction like you. Maybe you know it? Before I Go? Patricia Vernetti-Clark?

MEREDITH
(intrigued, conflicted)
…No.

ANGELO
She wrote it while she was dying. Held on just long enough to read the pan. Kakutani called it “opportunistic” and “a clever alternative to a life insurance policy.”

MEREDITH
Bitch!

ANGELO
Poor Pat died the very next day.
(Meredith gasps.)

MEREDITH
Nooo! Seriously?

ANGELO
No. No, that didn’t happen at all. I don’t even have a sister. Three brothers. All healthy as Spanish bulls. BUT. Look at you, on my side all of a fuckin’ sudden.

(A beat before Meredith grabs her purse and starts to walk out.)

ANGELO (cont.)
And listen, if I can do that with some crazy lie I spun off the top of my head, imagine what I could do with your truth.

(Meredith pauses, turns.)

ANGELO (cont.)
The truth can be a powerful thing in the right hands.

(Beat.)

MEREDITH
Fine.

(Meredith heads back to her seat, sits.)

MEREDITH (cont.)
So what can you do to help me combat this toxic review?

ANGELO
Nothin’.

MEREDITH
Then why am I listening to you?

ANGELO
Because I’m gonna help you use it to your advantage. Turn it into an asset.

DAX
It’s actually a brilliant plan, Mere’. You should really hear him out.

MEREDITH
Okay…

ANGELO
You don’t combat criticism like that. It’s just going to make you look like a defensive asshole.

MEREDITH
Okaaay…

ANGELO
What you need to do is accept it, the way many of your fans already have. Accept it. Publicly. Because no one will be expecting you to. You go on 60 Minutes or Ellen—

(Meredith scoffs.)

ANGELO (cont.)
Excuse me, my wife loves Ellen.

MEREDITH
Sure.

ANGELO
Like reeeeeally loves her. She outright told me that she would go lesbian and leave me for her, opportunity presented. Ellen’s one of her three hall passes.

DAX
Who are the other two?

MEREDITH
Can we focus on this brilliant plan that’s gonna keep the bottom from falling out of my life?

ANGELO
Sure. (real quick to Dax) Daniel Craig and Benicio del Toro.

DAX
Huh.

ANGELO
Right? (real quick back to Meredith) So you go on these shows and you tell them that you could see how our favorite critic might have gotten the impression that you only did what you did for the glory… (sensing an interruption) EVEN THOUGH IT’S PATENTLY NOT THE CASE. And you will say that you nevertheless found her perspective compelling, that you welcome the opportunity it presents. You see it as a challenge…

MEREDITH
You got that right.

ANGELO
But not in the throw-down-the-gauntlet kinda way. More like… a catalyst for growth.

MEREDITH
Yyyyeah, I don’t know that I—

ANGELO
Need to grow as a person? Because that sounds like something a defensive asshole might think.

MEREDITH
… Go on.

ANGELO
And then you share that you now feel like your work is incomplete.

MEREDITH
Are you kidding me? I slept on the streets for six months!/I think I’m done!

ANGELO
Yeah, but to what end?

MEREDITH
Excuse me?

DAX
I think what’s he’s trying to say is, who has it helped? What good has it done for the homeless community?

MEREDITH
It’s making them more visible. It’s making people care.

ANGELO
Do you care?

MEREDITH
What the fuck kind of question is that? Of course, I care. I experienced first-hand what they experience. I’ve made sizable donations to shelters/ and organizations that—

ANGELO
Blah blah blah, my mother-in-law does that and she’s a flaming elitist. And a touch racist. Like only toward South Asian people for whatever reason. It’s weird. Blacks? No problem. Latinos. Totally cool. Put her in a room with a Sri Lankan, though: ice. Like what the fuck did the Sri Lankans ever do to you, you know? One day I’m gonna grow some balls and ask her that.

MEREDITH
What is your point, Mr. Vernetti?

ANGELO
My point is that you can’t just throw money at this problem. This is an indictment of your character, not a fucking tax audit.

MEREDITH
So what do you suggest I do? Vow to volunteer at soup kitchens the rest of my life?

(Angelo and Dax exchange a knowing look.)

ANGELO
Close.

(End of scene.)

Cast Requirements

2 white women (40's/50's)
3 white men (40's/50's)
1 black woman (late-20's/early 30's)
1 black man (40's/50's)

Set Description

Various, but mostly in Meredith's stunning NYC loft.

Production and Development History

Commissioned and premiered by Delaware REP.