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  • Mary Ellen Swee

Anniversary Gift - A Five-Minute Play

CHARACTERS:

OLIVER MALONEY, husband of Patricia,50s

PATRICIA MALONEY, wife of Oliver, 50s

RON, projectionist at a community theater, 30s



TIME:

The present.


PLACE:

A suburb north of Chicago.

 



We are at a small movie theater inside a suburban

community center. PATRICIA and OLIVER are 

the only ones present. They sit side-by-side, their 

chairs facing where the screen would be. There is 

no screen, however, so they are looking out at the 

audience. A long, high table standing behind them 

suggests a projection booth. PATRICIA’s coat is

draped across a chair next to where she sits.

OLIVER holds a large bag of store-bought popcorn 

on his lap.


PATRICIA

Romantic?


OLIVER

Yes, they thought it would be romantic.


PATRICIA

Sitting in an empty theatre? To watch an old movie all by ourselves?


OLIVER

Classic, not old.


PATRICIA

Old. 


OLIVER

It’s a great anniversary gift. You should be thankful. 


PATRICIA

Right.


OLIVER

How many kids would break the bank to rent out an entire theater for their parents? So we could watch a classic Hollywood movie on our anniversary?


PATRICIA

An old Hollywood movie.


OLIVER

You’re the only person I’ve ever met who hates Casablanca.


PATRICIA

(squirming)

What time is it?


OLIVER

(checking his watch.)

Almost 8:10.


PATRICIA

It was supposed to start at 8.


PATRICA turns around in her seat to look back at

the projection booth.


PATRICIA

Where’s the projectionist?


OLIVER

You want to get this over with.


PATRICIA

As quickly as possible.


OLIVER 

What’s the matter with you? 


OLIVER pulls open the popcorn bag and holds it 

out for PATRICIA.


OLIVER

I brought popcorn.


PATRICIA

I don’t want any of your damn popcorn. 


OLIVER

What?


PATRICIA

I don’t want to watch your shitty old movie. Especially not with you sitting next to me. Especially not in an empty theater.


OLIVER

Then why did you come? Why did you sit down next to me? 

(pause)

You had a whole theater full of seats to choose from.


PATRICIA

Because if I don’t like the anniversary gift, I’d never hear the end of it. You’d announce to the children that I wouldn’t sit next to you. You’d say their mother is an ungrateful bitch.

(pause)

I saw you with her.


OLIVER

What?


PATRICIA

I saw you sitting with her outside of Henry’s – under the red umbrella at a café table. You were petting her dog!


OLIVER

Oh, now I get it. Now I get what’s going on.


PATRIICIA

(sarcastically)

A German shepherd, I believe.


OLIVER

Patty, it was nothing – less than nothing – a cup of coffee.


PATRICIA

You don’t drink coffee.


OLIVER turns around in his seat to look back at the 

projection booth.


OLIVER

Where the hell is that projectionist?


PATRICIA

Maybe he went to get coffee. With his wife’s sister, for God’s sake!

PATRICIA and OLIVER stare out into the audience. 


PATRICIA

You want me to walk out. You can’t wait for me to hate the movie – to despise the empty theater. You probably suggested the gift to the kids. You probably helped them pay for it.


OLIVER

Patricia, you have lost it.


PATRICIA

Because you know how bad that would make me look – if I were to walk out.


OLIVER

You’ve really lost it.


PATRICIA

The ‘gift’ is like a trick. To make me into a villain, so the kids will feel sorry for you. 


OLIVER

(slow-clapping)

Bravo, Patty, for another one of your crazy conspiracy theories.


OLIVER holds out the bag of popcorn like it’s a

trophy. PATRICIA pushes it away and reaches for 

her coat. Some popcorn falls out on the floor.


PATRICIA

I said I don’t want any of your popcorn. You know the kernels get stuck in my teeth.

( putting her coat on)

That’s it. I’m out of here.


RON runs into the theater. He is breathless and 

sweaty.


RON

Mr. and Mrs. Maloney? You waited! Fender bender in the parking lot – guy hit me from behind!

(heading to the projection booth)

Ready to roll? Your kids picked a good one. A true classic. One of the best romances in Hollywood history.


RON adjusts himself in the projection booth.

PATRICIA removes her coat and sits back down. 

OLIVER scoops the fallen popcorn up from the 

floor. 


PATRICIA

Go ahead and watch your old movie. I’m taking a nap.


PATRICIA pulls her coast up over her body like it’s 

a blanket. OLIVER stuffs the popcorn into his 

mouth.


PATRICIA

Wake me up when it’s over.


End of play.


Copyright © 2022 by Mary Ellen Swee.

All Rights Reserved.

All inquiries regarding rights should be addressed to:

Mary Ellen Swee

325 Wimbledon Court

Lake Bluff, IL 60044

847-922-5242


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