Fever/Dream

Say your father was the President of a multinational corporation and you were chained to the customer service desk as soon as you could dial a phone... if someone made you CEO for a day, would you go crazy? And if all around you the inner workings of the company were in turmoil—people in disguise, marriages plotted, overthrows planned—and you were told that everything happening to you is only a dream, what would you do? A modern corporate dynasty phantasmagoria freely adapted from Pedro Calderón’s Life Is A Dream.

Read Sample

A stroke (/) marks the point of interruption in overlapping dialogue. When the stroke is not immediately followed by text, the next line should occur on the last syllable of the word before the slash— not an overlap but a concise interruption

ACT ONE
The basement. Darkness.
Sounds: dripping water. Rumbling boiler. A fluorescent light
struggling to buzz on, no light. An ancient fax machine. Maybe
the room is lit (very vaguely) by the little green "ON" switches on
all the old machines.
We're here for quite a while, taking in the sounds.
Then:
The sound of an old-fashioned office phone ring.
Once.
Twice.
A voice in the darkness, the voice of SEGIS:

SEGIS
CustomerservicehowmayIhelpyou.

The light flickers on for a tiny moment. We see the hunched figure of a man over a desk piled with papers. Darkness again. Silence. Then:

SEGIS (cont.)
I'msosorrytohearyou'vebeenhavingtroubles.

The light buzzes on again, this time for longer. We see: puddles of water on the floor near tangled electrical equipment. Exposed pipes. Piles and piles of papers. A drain in the center of the floor. An ancient fax machine. Grey concrete. Beat-up metal filing cabinets. Towering messy piles of papers. An enormous sign that reads "NO TRESPASSING." Also, stacks and stacks of books. Text books, reference books, literature, etc. It's a graveyard for outdated equipment. Yellowing newspaper clippings are pasted to the wall and the floor, along with several yellowing newspaper photos of BILL BASIL. The articles are highlighted and circled here and there. Centrally: A rusted freight elevator door from the 40's, with old numbers up to 77 and a wand. A chute off to the side. We can smell the asbestos. SEGIS wears a T-shirt, stained and foul, and a pair of horrendous jeans. He is unshaven, unwashed, and grips the phone receiver as though it's part of his hand. His beard is down to his chest and his hair hangs in greasy ropes down his back.

SEGIS (cont.)
Thismustbeveryfrustratingforyou.

A pile of papers drops from the chute. Seconds later, an apple. Then, a handful of loose cooked macaroni and some lettuce leaves. The fluorescent light buzzes off again. Darkness.

SEGIS (cont.)
I'llconnectyouwithbillingimmediately,thankyouforcalling.

Slience, save the ubiquitous ambient noise. More silence. The phone rings again.

SEGIS
CustomerservicehowmayIhelpyou.

A beat.

I'llconnectyouwithbillingimmediately,thankyouforcalling.

Suddenly, a sound we haven't heard before… a screeching of metallic, then a booming sonorous 'waaannnnnnng", then the sound of un-oiled gears turning. The entire room shakes. In the darkness, a dirty yellow light flickers behind the panel of the freight elevator. The wand moves very very slowly from the letter L to the letter B. The noise stops. Then, the miserable creak of a stuck metal door trying to slide open. Inside the lit elevator, two figures. One is dressed as a bike messenger, complete with helmet and shoulder bag. The other is a nerdy little thing. They are both frozen in terror.

ROSE
Where the heck are we?

CLAIRE
Um.

ROSE
What button did you push?

CLAIRE
I didn't. Your bag must have—

ROSE
WOW WOW WOW. WHAT IS THAT SMELL.

CLAIRE
Rosie—

ROSE
Don't call me that.

CLAIRE
Something died here… something large….

ROSE
Where's the light?

ROSE fumbles around for a light switch.

CLAIRE
…when a thing decomposes the particles are released into the air so the smell is actually tiny little pieces of dead-thing….

ROSE
Claire, I wanna— okay this might not be the time for this conversation…

CLAIRE
I know what you're / going to say

ROSE
But you promised you would hold / it together

CLAIRE
Right, right…

ROSE
You have a Very Important Role in all this

CLAIRE
I know, / I know

ROSE
And I REALLY like, need you to… Oh, wait, huh…

CLAIRE
What?

ROSE
Feels like a, a breaker, or…

ROSE flips a switch. Worklight floods the room. SEGIS stares at them in terror. They stare back. No one moves.

CLAIRE
(horrified whisper)
WHAT IS THAT?

ROSE
(quietly)
Don't…

CLAIRE
WHAT IS THAT?

ROSE
…move…

SEGIS moves slightly. The girls yelp and run to the other side of the room.

SEGIS
CustomerservicehowmayIhelpyou.

ROSE
Oh hi. We're looking for the 77th floor…

Cast Requirements

4 men
3 women
Multiple chorus roles

Press

“The author of such risky, visionary scripts as That Pretty Pretty; or, the Rape Play and the caustically lyrical Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake), Callaghan here takes a more workmanlike approach, devising two-plus hours’ worth of ingenious parallels with Calderon’s original.”
-The Washington Post

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Press

“[Callaghan] has a keen eye for the outlandish...[Fever/Dream] exudes the kind of infectious zaniness that occasionally attracts cult followings.”
-Variety

“Fever/Dream is a pizzazz-filled concoction that skewers corporatism with a generous supply side of laughs... comically irreverent...[Callaghan] is without doubt the purveyor of top-shelf American wit, not just in one-liners but also in concept. Even better, Callaghan is what I would dub a crossover playwright; she writes as aptly from the male point of view as she does from the female — and that alone is a rarity.”
-Metro Weekly

“...fiendishly funny skewering of corporate culture... The wit of Miss Callaghan’s dialogue is so delightfully on-target”
-The Washington Times

Production and Development History

Production: Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.