Cute Cats

A silly adaptation of Chekhov's The Proposal

Karena enters like a movie star
Karena enters like a movie star

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Cute Cats
Inspired by Chekhov’s The Proposal

Disclaimer
This play is fictional, needless to state.

Characters
Karena, a spirited young woman
Mrs. Hartmanova, Karena’s mother
Toddysha, the next door neighbor

Place
Karena’s house & Toddysha’s house

Scene 1

Mrs. Hartmanova opens the door to find her neighbor Toddysha standing there all dressed up.

Mrs. Hartmanova
What a surprise, Toddysha. Visiting at this hour of the night?

Toddysha
I was just in the neighborhood.

Mrs. Hartmanova
You live next door.

Toddysha
That’s what I mean.

Mrs. Hartmanova
I saw you earlier in the day.

Toddysha

Indeed.

LONG Pause.

Mrs. Hartmanova
A cup of sugar?

Toddysha
That would be nice. Thank you,

Mrs. Hartmanova
Really?

Toddysha
Yes, I’d like a cup of tea. Mrs. Hartmanova.

Mrs. Hartmanova
Are you all right?

Toddysha
I’m a little nervous. I’m sweating.

Mrs. Hartmanova
You’re all dressed up. Where’re you going?

Toddysha
I came here.

Mrs. Hartmanova
Dressed up?

Toddysha
Yes. As you can see.

LONG Pause.

Toddysha
I was wondering if I could speak to Karena.

Mrs. Hartmanova
Don’t you speak to her all the time?

Toddysha
I mean in a more formal way.

Mrs. Hartmanova
I don’t understand.

Toddysha
Can you keep a secret?

Mrs. Hartmanova
Of course not. (gestures to the world around her) This is a play. If we kept secrets, the audience would be bored.

Toddysha
I don’t know what you’re saying.

Mrs. Hartmanova
Never mind. What is it?

Toddysha
I want to ask her to marry me.

Short, sharp pause.

Mrs. Hartmanova
It’s a little sudden, isn’t it?

Toddysha
We’ve been neighbors for seven years.

Mrs. Hartmanova
Has it been seven years? It felt more like seven months, yet I look seventy years older.

She waits.

Toddysha
(realizing) Oh, of course. Not. I’d say not. Not at all.

Mrs. Hartmanova
(not completely satisfied) Are you really going to ask my daughter to marry you? Shouldn’t you first see if she likes you in that way?

Toddysha
I thought I’d ask the big question at the beginning. Get it over with.

Mrs. Hartmanova
I think you should try kissing her first.

Toddysha
Mrs. Hartmanova!

Mrs. Hartmanova
Toddysha, you do know she’s been a lesbian, don’t you?

Toddysha
People change.

Mrs. Hartmanova
What have you got to offer?

Toddysha
I have a job.

Mrs. Hartmanova
Sounds good. Karena! Karena!

Toddysha
(offstage) What is it, Mama?

Mrs. Hartmanova
(yelling) You have a Jupiter!

Karena
A what?

Mrs. Hartmanova
Come down my dear. You have a commuter!

Toddysha
I’m a visitor, madam.

Mrs. Hartmanova
Just playing. Here she comes.

Karena enters like a movie star.

Karena
Oh. Toddysha. What a surprise! Excuse my negligee.

Toddysha
Your robe is exquisite. It’s exquisite.

Karena
Thank you.

Toddysha
It gives me a feeling of, how should I say…

Karena
Gemutlichkeit?

Toddysha
A what?

Karena
It’s nonesuch.

Toddysha
Sure. You look different. You look…

Karena
Marmoreal? People say that.

Toddysha
That wasn’t the word in my head.

Karena
It’s just in my smoothness. My porcelain-like skin and so forth.

Mrs. Hartmanova
Stop it, Karena. (to Toddysha) She’s just playing

Karena
You’re all dressed up. Where are you going?

Toddysha
I came here.

Karena
That’s…nice.

Toddysha
I wanted to show you this website I found. You’d like it. It’s called cuteoverload.com.

He opens his laptop. Karena looks over his shoulder.

Toddysha
See? It’s a website of cute cats doing cute things.

Karena
How did you do that?

Toddysha
A fellow I work with told me about it. A study shows that office employees are likely to be more productive if they watch videos of cute cats during their breaks.

Karena
I mean how did you get on the internet?

Toddysha
It does it automatically.

Karena
I don’t think so. Our house is password protected. Are you on our network?

Toddysha
I don’t know what you mean.

Karena
You shouldn’t be using our wireless, because you don’t pay for it. It’s inmoral.

Toddysha
Karena, if you looked at some of these cute cats, you’d feel better.

Karena
Mama, did you give him the password?

Mrs. Hartmanova
My dear, it’s possible that one rainy spring day he came over and needed to get on the Internet and I gave him the password because the flowers were blooming and the scent of the pine trees was pleasing. I don’t remember. It’s not costing us any extra.

Karena
That’s not the point. It’s the principle. Everyone must pay for his own wireless connection.

Toddysha
Karena, are you insinuating/

Karena
Do you get on the Internet at your house next door?

Toddysha
Yes, but/

Karena
And you don’t pay for a server, do you?

Toddysha
It’s been automatic, sort of.

Karena
Mama, he’s using our wireless next door!

Toddysha
Are you calling me a thief? This is… this is….

Karena
What?

Toddysha
…unacceptable. I will give it back right now, whatever it is that you think I’ve claimed that is yours.

Karena
It’s forever gone. There is no way to give it back. Don’t you see?

Mrs. Hartmanova
Karena, he had something to tell you.

Karena
He showed me the cat website on our network already.

Mrs. Hartmanova
Something else. You may want to hear him out.

Karena
Mrs. Hartmanova, I think I should go home now. I’ve upset Karena.

Mrs. Hartmanova
Nonsense. Stay and have a cup of tea.

Toddysha
I’m feeling a little queasy. I’d better go.

Karena
If you’re going to throw up, it’s best if you do that at your own house.

Mrs. Hartmanova
Karena!

Toddysha
Good night, ladies. I’m sorry to have disturbed your evening.

He exits.
Long Pause by Mrs. Hartmanova

Karena
What?

Mrs. Hartmanova
He was going to propose to you.

Karena
Propose what?

Mrs. Hartmanova
Are you kidding?

Karena
You mean?

Mrs. Hartmanova
Yes!

Karena
Oh. Doesn’t he know…?

Mrs. Hartmanova
He doesn’t seem to mind.

Karena
Huh.

Mrs. Hartmanova
Do you like him?

Karena
I guess. I kind of do like him. He’s kind of cute. But we’ve never even gone out.

Mrs. Hartmanova
I know. He is a weirdo. But you could say he respects you very much and that’s why he hasn’t asked you out before proposing.

Karena
It’s like the nineteenth century or something. He came dressed up.

Mrs. Hartmanova
He was sweating.

Karena
That’s kind of nice.

Mrs. Hartmanova
You won’t find another man who sweats that much just because he’s in love with you and wants to do the right thing.

Karena
Yeah. And I enjoy watching cute cats.

Mrs. Hartmanova
Well, that’s not true. But whatever.

They sit, not knowing what to do next.

Scene 2

Karena knocks on the door of Toddysha. He opens the door.

Karena
Hello, Toddysha.

Toddysha
Karena.

Karena
I came to return the cup of sugar I borrowed.

Toddysha
But you didn’t borrow a cup of sugar from me.

Karena
I must have made a mistake. Well, I’m here. Are you going to invite me in?

Toddysha
I am not on the Internet.

Karena
I’m not here about that.

Toddysha
It’s reductio ad absurdum to think that I’d steal anything from a woman who…

Karena
Who what?

Toddysha
Who is as exquisite as you.

Karena
That’s sweet.

Toddysha
I’m sweating.

Karena
Are you going to let me in?

Toddysha
Please. Come in.

He lets her in.
They sit. Pause.

Karena
I haven’t been here a while. It’s nice.

Toddysha
Thank you.

Karena
That vase. It looks familiar.
Toddysha

Oh, that was a house warming gift from Mrs. Hartmanova when I moved in seven years ago.

Karena
(stands suddenly) What?

Toddysha
(startled, also stands) What?

Karena
That base was given to us by my grandmother.

Toddysha
I didn’t know that. It was given to me by your mother.

Karena
I can’t believe my mother would give it away.

Toddysha
Are you accusing me of/

Karena
Shut up!

Toddysha
(timidly) Excuse me?

Karena
I didn’t mean you, Toddysha. I was telling myself to shut up. I do that sometimes.

Toddysha
Really.

Karena
It feels good. You should try it sometime.

Toddysha
I will.

Pause.

Karena
So. What else shall we talk about?

Toddysha
…I’m sorry I came without baring gifts.

Karena
We are in your house. I came here.

Toddysha
Oh. I’m sweating.

Karena
I looked at the website you showed me. The cute cats.

Toddysha
What did you think?

Karena
There are definitely some cute cats out there.

Toddysha
I’m glad to hear that.

She waits.

Karena
You might as well blurt it out, Todd.

Toddysha
Do you think so?

Karena
Why not?

Toddysha
I have no reason to believe that you’d be amiable to my proposal.

Karena
But you’ll never find out unless you try it.

Toddysha
This is true. You are wise as well as beautiful.

Karena
You know you’re a weirdo.

Toddysha
What’s your opinion on weirdoes? Could you live with one?

Karena
Find out.

End of Play