WITH THIS RING

A play written specifically with Valentine's Day in mind. "With This Ring" is the story of a wedding band that travels over five generations and the visceral effect it has on those couples who come to possess it. The ring is first presented to an Irish immigrant by her husband at the turn of the nineteenth century. It then skips a generation in the next scene in the 1960's as the couple's grandson inherits it, has it inscribed and presents it to his new wife. In Scene Three the ring becomes a point of contention in the mid -eighties between an estranged couple contemplating a divorce. It comes full circle in the last scene where it finds its way to an engaged couple in 2007 and a special visitor who is coming from out of state for their wedding.


 

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID: 

'"With This Ring" is a must see! Mr. Simonelli writes dialouge in a visceral style reminiscent of  Mamet and Chayefesky. A riveting evening in theatre. Go see it now!

Joe Franklin - Bloomberg Radio

   

Excerpt from "With This Ring"



With This Ring
By
Joe Simonelli
With This Ring/Simonelli
2
CHARACTERS
Bridgette McCoy - mid 30s
Sean McCoy – mid to late 30s
Joe McCoy – late 20s
Matty McCoy – mid to late 20s
Frankie - 16 to 20
Paul – mid 40’s
Karen – mid 40’s
Bobby – late 20’s
Liz – mid to late 20’s
Aunt Matilda – mid 60’s (doubling this character from scene two is acceptable)
With This Ring/Simonelli
3
Act I (scene 1)
BRIDGETTE AND SEAN
SETTING: A small, sparsely furnished apartment. A small couch down center. A small table down right. A functional open window is on wall stage left. Front door is back left. Bedroom door is up right. The apartment will change with the times in each scene. The setting is an apartment inside a Victorian mansion in Rockaway Beach, New York. An ornamental angel is carved into the original woodwork on back or side wall.
(All four acts take place in the same apartment over five generations) At Rise: The year is 1917. A simple table and two chairs are stage right. A love seat or small sofa is stage left. Bridgett McCoy (late twenties) is dusting her apartment. She crosses to the open window.
BRIDGETTE
(Irish Brogue) (She speaks through open window) Sean Michael put your sister down…gently! Oh hello Peggy. Such a lovely breeze off the ocean we’re getting today. Sean Joseph will be home any moment and I forgot to buy bread at the market today. And if he doesn’t get some bread with supper he can get mighty ornery. …Would you mind stopping by for me if you’re going? I’d be much obliged. Thank you Peggy.
(She hums or sings to herself as she continues to dust. She dusts a picture of her husband, picks it up, and speaks) And you’d better not be stopping by the saloon on the way home tonight Sean. (She exits to Bedroom ...two beats… and her husband, Sean Joseph McCoy quietly enters carrying a newspaper. He motions to wooden coat rack with a finger over his mouth as if telling the angel to keep quiet. He places paper on table next to chair and looks around the room as if searching for a hiding space. He is wearing a policeman’s uniform circa early 1900’s. He lifts up a pillow from the chair as he pulls a linen cloth from his pocket. He opens the cloth to reveal to the audience a gold wedding band. He decides he doesn’t like the hiding spot and replaces the pillow. As he steps stage right he hits his foot against the bottom of the sofa cushion and lets out a yelp.)
BRIDGETTE
(Offstage) Is that you Sean?
SEAN
(Falsetto with Irish Brogue) No it’s only Peggy from downstairs. I’m back from the market with the bread.
With This Ring/Simonelli
4
BRIDGETTE
Sure, sure, and I’m Joan of Ark come back to fight the British. I’ll be right out. (He quickly re-wraps the ring in the linen and places it in the trash basket in the corner of the room near the entry door)
BRIDGETTE
(She Re-enters) Well it’s nice to have you home at a decent hour for a change.
SEAN
And how lovely you look tonight Bridgette McCoy. The loveliest bride in all of Rockaway. (He kisses her gently on the cheek)
BRIDGETTE
Cut your malarkey. After nearly ten years of marriage I can tell when you’re trying to butter me up. What is it then, are the boys from the station having another card game at O’Malley’s Saloon? Well you’ll not be going tonight Sean McCoy.
SEAN
But Bridgette, I won nearly three dollars the last time I played.
BRIDGETTE
I don’t care if you won three hundred, you’re staying home with your wife tonight. After all, you spent all day keeping the neighborhood safe from hoodlums; I would think you’d be glad to stay home and rest. Four times a week for ten years at the saloon playing cards is more than any wife should take. And after all that time all you ever do is break even.
SEAN
At least I’m not losing.
BRIDGETTE
Thank God for that. And if it’s not poker games your wasting money on then it’s Irish sweepstakes tickets. Always the Irish Sweepstakes! As if you have a chance on God’s green earth of winning! And here I am taking in laundry and keeping house for the owners of this mansion so we can live in this beautiful old apartment. You know my father was against this marriage. No wedding ring. Living in someone else’s house. And you always looking to run from me.
SEAN
But it’s only a few hours…
With This Ring/Simonelli
5
BRIDGETTE
Sean…
SEAN
Okay, but someday I’m going to show that father of yours. Someday I’m going to buy this house for you and get you a beautiful wedding ring and...
BRIDGETTE
(Interrupting the harangue)
Sure, sure, from your lips to God’s ears. But for now what would make me happy would be for you to stay home with your wife.
SEAN
Oh alright. I suppose we could sit around here and listen to recordings on the Victoria. Or maybe we could (He leans on table as he goes to kiss her and she swats his hand with the feather duster)
BRIDGETTE
I just dusted that table.
SEAN
You’re looking mighty pretty today Mrs. McCoy.
(He pulls her up from the couch)
Come then let’s have a little dance.
BRIDGETTE
To no music?
SEAN
Who needs music when you’re married to a fine Irish tenor? (He starts to sing as he dances her around)
“Let me call you sweetheart, I’m in love with you”
“Let me hear you whisper that you love me too”
“Keep the love light glowing in your eyes so true”
“Let me call you sweetheart, I’m in love with you.”
(He pulls her closer)
BRIDGETTE
Now cut it out, Saints have mercy, it’s still broad daylight! Peggy could be up here any minute from the market.
SEAN
So bar the damned door.
BRIDGETTE
Such language.
With This Ring/Simonelli
6
SEAN
Peggy won’t be up; I met her coming in and told her to forget the bread tonight.
BRIDGETTE
Now why would you tell her such a thing as that?
SEAN
'Cause I figured we’d be a little busy tonight, if you know what I mean. (He leans towards her)
BRIDGETTE
(Jumping from sofa)
But it’s not even the fifteenth of the month! Now you know we decided against having any more children Sean!
SEAN
(Rising and crossing towards her)We can afford more children now Mrs. McCoy.
BRIDGETTE
Sean Joseph, don’t tell me you finally got that promotion!
SEAN
You bet I did!
BRIDGETTE
I can’t believe it. The New York City Police department finally realized the gem of a policeman they had working for them and made you a sergeant.
SEAN
Even better than that!
BRIDGETTE
How better!
SEAN
They skipped me a grade straight up to lieutenant.
BRIDGETTE
How’d they do that?
SEAN
You’ve got to have a little pull to make things happen in this city. Remember me second cousin Bob Clancy? Works for the city council in Manhattan.
With This Ring/Simonelli
7
BRIDGETTE
Of course, he was at our wedding wasn’t he?
SEAN
Well he pulled a few strings.
BRIDGETTE
That’s wonderful Sean!
SEAN
Wait, it gets even better!
BRIDGETTE
How better!
SEAN
I’ve been assigned to the mayor’s detail! Comes with a big raise and fringe benefits. We can move right into the private quarters next to Gracie mansion. It’s strictly for the Mayor’s security force.
BRIDGETTE
Move from Rockaway? But I couldn’t. I love this apartment, this neighborhood. All my friends are here. My Family.
SEAN
What do you mean? Most of you’re family is still on the other side. And this house is nearly thirty years old. The one in the city is practically new.
BRIDGETTE
But I love this place. Couldn’t you just travel to Manhattan everyday?
SEAN
(Exasperated) Travel to Manhattan! Travel to Manhattan! From Rockaway beach?! Do you know how long that would take me? I’d have to drive the buggy to the train station. Travel to Brooklyn, catch another train to Manhattan.
BRIDGETTE
I know how long it takes. Remember you took me to Manhattan to see a show on our fifth anniversary.
SEAN
Oh yeah, the follies. All those dancing girls! (She slaps his lapel as if scolding)
(As way of explanation) It was a good show.
With This Ring/Simonelli
8
BRIDGETTE
Gee. I don’t suppose that there’s a chance that you’ll turn down the promotion so we could stay here.
SEAN
(Once again exasperated) Turn down the promotion! After the strings me cousin Bob had to pull?
BRIDGETTE
But I don’t want to move from here. It’s our home for ten years. All those memories…Please Sean...For your Bridgette.
SEAN
(He softens) Oh I suppose. I could stay in the Rockaway precinct and still take a promotion to sergeant. It wouldn’t be as much of a pay increase mind you.
BRIDGETTE
I don’t care about the money. All I care about is that I’ll be in the home that I love with the man that I love.
SEAN
If it means that much to you Bridgette Mary McCoy. Then it’s here we’ll stay.
BRIDGETTE
Oh Sean, you’ve made me so happy. (She kisses him) Oh I can’t wait to tell Peggy downstairs the great news!
SEAN
Yeah, go tell her. (He picks up paper, sits on chair and starts to read)
BRIDGETTE
(She heads for the door and grabs waste basket) I’ll empty the trash while I’m down there.
SEAN
(Not paying attention) Good idea. You do that. (Two beats and it hits him…he runs for door) Wait, Bridgette, come back with that trash!
(He exits to catch her)
BRIDGETTE
(Off stage) Have you finally gone crazy Sean McCoy? What are you grabbing at!
With This Ring/Simonelli
9
SEAN
(off stage) The waste basket! The waste basket!
BRIDGETTE
Your aim’s a little off , that’s not the waste basket you’re grabbing!
SEAN
Well it’s dark in this hallway!
(He re-enters and rummages through the trash basket and finds the cloth) Oh thank St. Patrick! Here it is! Here it is! I know it’s a little early for our anniversary Bridgette. But I was so excited that I couldn’t wait. Here sweetheart. (He hands her the rumpled cloth and collapses in the chair with relief not looking at her. She opens the empty cloth)
BRIDGETTE
Oh Sean…you thoughtful man, you bought me a linen for our anniversary. But why’d you throw it in the trash?
SEAN
(Jumps back up) A linen! A linen! (He grabs the cloth from her and flips it around hoping a ring will fall out) Oh my God, where is it?
BRIDGETTE
Where’s what Sean?
SEAN
(He grabs the waste basket and starts rummaging through it) Maybe it fell on the floor by the door, go look Bridgette!
BRIDGETTE
(She moves towards door) Okay, but what am I looking for?
SEAN
I can’t believe it’s gone. All those nights out saving up. It probably slipped between
the floorboards in the hallway and landed somewhere in the basement.
BRIDGETTE
Whatever are you talking about Sean?
With This Ring/Simonelli
10
SEAN
A ring Bridgette. A gold wedding ring. More beautiful than any one you could imagine. I bought it for you cause I remember what your old man said back in the old county. How I’d never amount to anything. How I couldn’t even afford to buy you a wedding ring. Well I’ve been saving Bridgette, squirreling money away each week so I cold buy it for you…And now, it’s gone, lost forever…I think you’re old man was right…I just can’t seem to do anything right …
BRIDGETTE
Was it a pretty ring Sean?
(She pulls it from her pocket as he turns away to describe it)
SEAN
Was it pretty? Only the most beautiful ring that Mr. Cohen had in his shop. I had him put it on layaway for me. Oh I could have bought you a cheaper ring years ago but I wanted my Bridgette to have the best when I was finally able to afford it. And now….
BRIDGETTE
That must have been some special ring.
SEAN
Oh that it was Mrs. McCoy.
BRIDGETTE
Well maybe if you could describe it for me we could search down in the basement.
SEAN
It’s no use…we’ll never find it…I couldn’t even start to describe it…
BRIDGETTE
Did it look something like this?
(He turns to her and sees it)
SEAN
Why it looked exactly like….Bridgette, you found it! How’d you do it?
BRIDGETTE
Did you think I wouldn’t notice something sparkling so brightly in the wastebasket?
With This Ring/Simonelli
11
Oh Sean, I don’t know what to say. It’s so beautiful! Where did you get the money?
SEAN
Promise you won’t get mad if I tell you?
BRIDGETTE
Of course not.
SEAN
Well I’ve a confession to make. I kind of told you a white lie.
BRIDGETTE
Really!
SEAN
I wasn’t playing cards all those nights down at O’Malley’s saloon.
BRIDGETTE
Really? And what were you doing then?
SEAN
I was bartending to make extra money so I could save up and buy you that ring.
BRIDGETTE
You don’t say. And now I must confess something.
SEAN
And what’s that?
BRIDGETTE
I knew about it all the time. The whole ten years. Don’t you think Peggy’s husband ever has a drink at O’Malley’s?
SEAN
Peggy’s husband? (Shouts out window) But I swore that no good Irish pug to secrecy!
BRIDGETTE
Come on now Sean, you don’t think there’s any secret a husband can keep from their wife, do you?
SEAN
I kind of suspected you knew. After all, what wife would allow their husband to gamble four times a week?
With This Ring/Simonelli
12
BRIDGETTE
Well if he was a good gambler it might pay off.
SEAN
Still, you never even asked about the money Bridgette.
BRIDGETTE
You’re my husband. I love you. I trust you. You work hard and keep a roof over our head. I knew you’d put the money to good use.
SEAN
Ah, but I married a smart one.
BRIDGETTE
That you certainly did. Now here, place it on my finger.
(She hands him the ring and he gets down on one knee and puts it on her finger.)
SEAN
Would you make me a promise Bridgette?
BRIDGETTE
Of course Sean, anything
SEAN
(Sean stands)
Could you try and keep the ring in the family. I mean, after I’ve gone to my reward and all. I mean unless you’re really hard up for money or something.
BRIDGETTE
First of all, you’re not going anywhere for a long time Sean Joseph Michael McCoy, and secondly, I will never sell this ring or let it out of the family. Even if I have to take in laundry or bartend meself. ..Now come on, sit by me and read me the paper like you did when we were first married.
(She leads him to sofa and they both sit)
SEAN
You mean the Irish comics?
BRIDGETTE
No Sean, not the obituaries, the funny papers.
SEAN
Okay, but first, a little ...
With This Ring/Simonelli
13
BRIDGETTE
Sean, right here in the living room? In front of the angel? (He picks up the linen and places over the wooden angel)
SEAN
(To angel)No peeking Gabriel. (They kiss as lights fade) BLACKOUT
ACT 1, Scene 2
JOE and MATTY
(The year is 1967)
At Rise: Matty McCoy, twenty something, is at work finishing a painting. She walks to wooden angel coat rack and takes cleaning cloth from it. Wipes a smudge from painting and replaces cloth)
MATTY
(To angel on wall) Hold that cupid.
JOE
Hey sexy, want to fool around?
MATTY
My husband might object. Oh, you are my husband. Forget it.
JOE
How’s the painting coming?
MATTY
I think I’m just about there. (She goes to paint his nose but he pulls away) And why are you so late?
With This Ring/Simonelli
14
JOE
I’m sorry, we were working on a case…Hey, let me ask you something. A guy walks into the local barber shop, gets in a argument with another customer, He pushes the man down into a chair, and now I’ve got to prosecute the guy for second degree assault. I mean, I’ve been in worse bar fights in my day and we never went to court. We settled it the old fashioned way. You took your lumps and went on with your business. You tie the courts up with trivial stuff like pushing a guy into a chair and you’ll never adjudicate the serious crimes.
MATTY
I guess until you get more experience they start you with the small stuff.
JOE
I didn’t go to law school for barbershop hi-jinks. I want to prosecute real criminals. Drug dealers, murderers...
MATTY
You’ll get your chance Joe, just be patient. One day the newspaper headline is going to read, “Joe McCoy, Attorney General of New York, puts away top honcho of organized crime while uncovering scandal in local corrupt price fixing scheme.”
JOE
Wow, you’ve been watching those late night “B” movies again. The problem is I don’t have patience.
MATTY
I know, you’re a loose cannon sometimes. But we can work on that.
JOE
Work on it? Ah ha, I knew it, married only six months and already she’s trying to change me. Matty McCoy, Artist, musician, actress and construction engineer.
MATTY
Construction engineer?
JOE
Trying to rebuild her husband.
MATTY
I wouldn’t dream of it. Besides, it’s in your genetic makeup. Let’s see your grandfather was a sergeant, your father was a commissioner, and you’re an up and coming prosecutor.
JOE
You know what that means don’t you? Our son has to be mayor.
MATTY
Why not governor?
With This Ring/Simonelli
15
JOE
(agreeing)Why not… Now remember, stick to the game plan, stay on my wavelength, and soon we’ll move out of this turn of the century relic of an apartment and move into one of those new developments on Long Island.
MATTY
Leave Neponset, why?
JOE
Neponset, we’re getting pretty fancy aren’t we? You can call it Paris, France. It’s still next to Rockaway Beach.
MATTY
But I love this place Joe. The woodwork and craftsmanship. We’ve got our own angel watching over the place. You can’t find a home like this in the suburbs. Besides, we both grew up in this neighborhood. I love the beach.
JOE
There are beaches on Long Island.
MATTY
Not Rockaway Beach. You were a lifeguard here. The boardwalk, Playland Amusement Park, your family at Breezy Point. I love that little beach bungalow. Best investment your father ever made.
JOE
Can you believe he plunked down ten thousand dollars for that shack?
MATTY
Times change. British invasion. World’s fair comes to New York. The price of houses goes up.
JOE
That’s why we’re renting my grandmothers place?
MATTY
It’s a wonderful apartment inside a beautiful Victorian mansion. How was your grandfather able to own this place on a policeman’s salary?
JOE
He won the Irish sweepstakes.
MATTY
Anyway this apartment is the perfect environment for me to do my painting. JOE
With This Ring/Simonelli
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I’m just glad to see you sitting down. MATTY What do you mean?
JOE What I mean is that whenever I came to that loft you were living in Greenwich Village, I’d find you standing on your head. Or chanting or doing other weird hippie stuff that you beatniks do. MATTY I’m not a beatnik. I’m artsy. JOE I think you’re a little mental. Just my luck, I had to fall in love with a mental hippie chick. MATTTY You love me a little mental. JOE I know, why is that? MATTY I think Freud would say it has something to do with your childhood. JOE Now why would you bring that into the conversation? MATTY Your childhood? JOE No, Freud. You want to give me a complex? MATTY Why? The one you already have is just fine. (Indicating easel where picture is) Hey Joe, what do you see in this picture? JOE (Looking at picture) Why isn’t it perfectly obvious? That’s a hungry husband who just came home from work starving to death because there’s apparently no dinner waiting.
With This Ring/Simonelli
17
MATTY I’ll tell you what. Let’s arm wrestle to see who makes dinner.
JOE Forget it. Don’t you remember what happened last time? All those doctor bills….I didn’t get that cast off my wrist for a month. MATTY
I promise, I’ll be more gentle this time.
JOE No arm wrestling. MATTY Draw high card from a marked deck? JOE Nope. MATTY Flip a coin? JOE (Reaches into his pocket) Call it in the air. (He flips a silver coat button) MATTY Heads. JOE Nope. MATTY Tails? JOE Uh-uh. MATTY It’s got to be one or the other.
With This Ring/Simonelli
18
JOE
No it doesn’t. I just flipped a loose button from my jacket. MATTY And you call me names. I may be mental, but you’re crazy.
JOE
(As he slowly crosses to her she backs away) Crazy am I?
MATTY Now Joe, you’ve got that look in your eye. (singing as he chases around the table) Crazy, crazy, crazy. I’m crazy mad for you. MATTY Joey, if you don’t cut it out I’m going to have you prosecuted. JOE Crazy, crazy, crazy, I’m crazy mad for you. ( He finally catches her and kisses her) MATTY Wow.
JOE Now that we had dessert. What do we do about dinner? MATTY (slightly submissive) I already called and ordered in from Sam’s deli on a hundred and sixteenth street. JOE Sam’s is delivering again. I thought the kid quit. MATTY He just hired a new boy from the neighborhood JOE I hope he’s wearing a bullet proof vest. You see. That’s what I mean about this neighborhood Matty. It’s really changing. I should know. I see the cases all the time. Drugs pushers are coming in, that amusement park area is turning into a sewer. It is not a safe place to raise a family anymore. Not like when we were kids.
With This Ring/Simonelli
19
MATTY
But I need to stay in the city limits to go on auditions.
JOE
Are you kidding? We’re in a two fare zone out here. The Long Island Railroad would get you into the city much faster.
MATTY
Well we’re not moving today. We can’t afford it. We’ll talk about it some other time.
JOE Maybe I should have gone into private practice. I could make a lot more money on house closings and ambulance chasing than I can on an Assistant D.A.’s salary.
MATTY
You could. But then you’d be miserable, you’d sulk around, I’d be miserable watching you. I’d have to divorce you and resume my acting career in L.A. Where, if you recall, I was on my way to when you waylaid me and conned me into marriage. Let’s face it Joe, you’re a natural crusader.
JOE
Know me like a book, don’t you?
MATTY
Like a book.
JOE
You know I would never hold you back Matty. If you wanted to go to Hollywood and give acting a shot I’d be right there behind you.
MATTY
You’d give up your career for me?
JOE
Hey, there’s a lot of crime in L.A. I’m sure they could use my services there.
MATTY
And they need good actresses in New York as much as they do in Hollywood.
JOE
Wavelength?
MATTY
Wavelength!
With This Ring/Simonelli
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JOE
(He starts singing) We’re on the same wavelength, we’re on the same wavelength…
MATTY
Here he goes again. I’m supposed to be the flighty one in this relationship.
JOE
Oh you are. (He starts chasing her and singing) I’m just trying to stay on your wavelength, you’re wavelength you’re wavelength.
MATTY
Enough already, put your libido away for a moment.
JOE
But you don’t understand, I love possible sex.
MATTY
We all do, but later.
JOE
But I’m in love.
MATTY
I think you’re just in lust.
JOE
But possible sex Matty, do you know how exciting that is! It’s almost as exciting as actual sex.
MATTY
I’ll remember that tonight.
JOE
I said almost.
MATTY
Hey, I’m the hippie, you’re the conservative lawyer who comes from a long line of cops. I’m the one who believes in free love. What are we even doing together? Usually you guys are trying to arrest me.
JOE
Boy, handcuffing you sounds like a pretty sweet deal right about now.
MATTY
A real cut up you are. Just like your father. I don’t know how your mom put up with him.
With This Ring/Simonelli
21
JOE
He made her laugh.
MATTY
To say the least. And you make me laugh. But Joe…
JOE
Yeah…
MATTY
It’s great that you like to make me laugh. And I know why you do it.
JOE
You do? Why?
MATTY