WRETCHED ASYLUM

 A gripping drama involving two middle aged sexual compulsives. Matt is a struggling screenwriter who is hiding from the authorities due to past monetary obligations. When he meets the the thrice divorced Eileen in a bar their commiseration quickly turns to a sexual encounter that draws them into a toxic relationship marked by gratuitous sex and betrayal.  

 

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID:

"A riveting drama that hits all the marks of a visceral relationship gone bad. Simonelli displays remarkable insight into the human condition as it pertains to two dysfunctional people trying to cope with life, love, and self preservation. not to be missed!

Joe Franklin - Bloomberg Radio

'A vivid drama filled with sexual tension!"

Richmond Shephard - Performing Arts Insider    



                                                                                     



                        Excerpts "Wretched Asylum" (Adult content and language warning)



      ACT I
    Scene 1
SETTING: The apartment of Matt Fennel. Apartment is slightly messy, typical bachelor place.
AT RISE: Dark stage. Two beats. Lights up. Apartment door opens. Matt (mid-forties) enters with Eileen (late-thirties/mid-forties) They enter kissing and embracing, finally winding up on sofa. Eileen is a bi-polar borderline personality given to quick mood swings and angry outbursts. Matt’s issues become apparent as they unfold during the performance. (mostly as pointed out to him by Eileen.)
EILEEN
Wait, slow down… do you have a condom?
MATT
Condom? Yeah, sure. Two seconds. (Scrambles to check wallet and drawers) Shit, I think I‟m out.
EILEEN
(Rummaging through purse) Shit, me too. Look, no condom, no sex.
(She peruses apartment) Ya got a cigarette?
MATT
I don‟t smoke.
EILEEN
No condoms, no sex, no cigarettes… sounds like a country western song. I guess a joint is out of the question?
MATT
(He sits down next to her on the couch)
Definitely out of the question.
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EILEEN
No vices, huh?
MATT
If you don‟t count having sex with attractive strangers I only met an hour ago, then no.
EILEEN
But not without a condom. So no, it doesn‟t count. I may be a bit buzzed and very horny but I‟m not careless. (She picks up a small medal on a chain from end table) I thought boy scouts were always supposed to be prepared?
MATT
Who said anything about boy scouts? Nope, all I had was the nuns and Father Patrick, and the only thing he prepared me for was…
EILEEN
A life of sexual frustration. You sexually repressed Catholic boys are all the same. Probably why you don‟t have any condoms in the house. It would mean you actually want to get laid.
MATT
Hey, just knowing that you would have slept with me is a moral victory. Let‟s just call it quits now and we‟re ahead of the game. We can avoid all of the bullshit. Courtship, a relationship, a nasty breakup.
EILEEN
Nice try but you don‟t get off that easy. You bought me a few drinks and now I have to put out. Those are the barfly rules.
MATT
I didn‟t know that. I never read the barfly rules.
EILEEN
(She gets up and starts inspecting the apartment, and picks up a stray white sock)
Maid‟s day off today?
MATT
I wasn‟t exactly planning on company.
EILEEN
Tell me about it. (Tossing sock behind couch)
MATT
Thanks, that‟s exactly where that goes.
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EILEEN
So, can a girl get a drink around here, or is alcohol forbidden too?
MATT
No, that I have plenty of. What‟s your pleasure?
EILEEN
What have you got?
MATT
Beer or Scotch?
EILEEN
You‟re Catholic, shouldn‟t you have some wine?
MATT
I don‟t do that much entertaining. And when I do they tend to be the shot and beer types.
EILEEN
Doesn‟t matter. I don‟t really drink wine. I‟ll take a Scotch… neat.
MATT
(He crosses to the bar to prepare two drinks)
Neat?
EILEEN
Neat… straight up, no ice. Geez, how can you be a Scotch drinker and not know that? What is it that you said you do again?
MATT
Sales. I work in the exciting world of office supplies.
EILEEN
Don‟t tell me you work at one of those big chain stores and wear one of those goofy polo shirts with one of those “ask me for help” name tags…the last thing any of you want to do is actually help a customer.
MATT
(Laughing)
No, no. I work in the city as a wholesaler. I sell direct to businesses.
EILEEN
I thought you told me you were a writer? Screenplays or something?
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MATT
(Hands her drink)
I did tell you…Well, since sex appears to be off the table I guess we‟ll just skip ahead to pillow talk. I do write. Plays, screenplays, poems, short stories. The truth won‟t hurt right? So truth is, I haven‟t actually sold anything yet. So if you‟re an aspiring actress who only came home with me in the hopes of scoring a role then this is a big letdown for you. But in the interest of trying to salvage my prospects, I can also truthfully say I‟m getting some good feedback and interest in a couple of plays.
EILEEN
No kidding? Well maybe I‟ll stick this out a little longer… at least until my drink is done.
So, were you an English Major?
MATT
Well I did go to college, but not for English.
EILEEN
Why not, I mean if that‟s your passion?
MATT
My father felt it was best if we all had good solid business backgrounds. Sure, he encouraged our creative sides, but he was a bit of a pragmatist. He thought we should focus on financial stability first. You know, have something to fall back on.
EILEEN
Makes sense. So what did your realist father do for a living? Let me guess…banking?
MATT
Close, he was a stand-up comic
EILEEN
Get out of here. (Seeing he is not joking) Really? Stand up comic? Have I ever heard of him?
MATT
No, probably not. He did mostly clubs and private parties. Does some voice over work too.
EILEEN
(She sits on couch)
Okay, come here, son of Seinfeld. (Patting couch) Honestly, you were losing me with the whole business sales thing, no offense. (Mock yawn) So how do you go about writing these future smash hits?
MATT
You know what they say, “You write what you know”.
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EILEEN
Oh, so, you write about the exciting world of office supplies?
MATT
No, but that‟s funny. Actually I write about…well, it‟s hard to explain. People, life, relationships…
EILEEN
Sounds juicy. You know the whole mild-mannered office drone by day and sexy hot writer by night is an incredible turn on. Tell me more.
MATT
(flustered)
Look Ei, there‟s nothing to tell, really…
EILEEN
Ohhh, you called me Ei. I like that. My brothers used to call me Ei…
MATT
Well that is the affectionate name for Eileen isn‟t it? I grew up in an Irish neighborhood. Lot‟s of Ei‟s and Col‟s
EILEEN
And what‟s your last name?
MATT
Fennel.
EILEEN
Like the vegetable?
MATT
I think it‟s an herb actually. Could have been worse, could have been a broccoli or zucchini.
EILEEN
Mathew Fennel. Irish neighborhood you said? But you look more English. I didn‟t know there were any English Catholics. Aren‟t they usually Anglican?
MATT
Actually I‟m Italian. My Father shortened his name from Fennelli. For business purposes.
EILEEN
Yeah, monkey business probably. So tell me about writing. I mean what‟s your process? Do you just pick up a blank piece of paper and start typing?
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MATT
You really want to know about this? (she nods) Okay… well first I think you need to be passionate about your subject. Then you have to translate that passion to dialogue on paper. For me, I listen to the conversation in my head. You know, when something sounds great in your head but when you say it, it comes out all wrong? Or you think of the perfect come back after the moment has passed? Well, writing gives me a chance to come up with the smartest, wittiest version of a conversation. It‟s like…(stopping) Sorry, I get carried away. But you did ask. Now, if this were a play, I‟d have you talk! But I don‟t know you well enough to know what you‟d say!
EILEEN
You know you like me enough to bribe me with alcohol at a dive bar, and bring me back to your messy apartment thinking you‟d get lucky! What more do you need to know?
MATT
First, I didn‟t bribe you –I was being polite by offering you a drink. Second, I didn‟t think it was such a dive. And last, if not for the missing condoms, would I really have been wrong about getting lucky?
EILEEN
Come on, you were slumming and you know it.
MATT
No, I was doing research…for a story!
EILEEN
Yeah, and I was searching for a prom date. Look, we were both attracted to each other,
You don‟t have to pretend that there was some higher moral imperative.
MATT
Okay, okay…guilty as charged. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to add that the though of being naked with you outweighed any moral imperative!
EILEEN
Really, now we‟re cutting to the chase.
MATT
So what‟s your story?
EILEEN
What do you mean?
MATT
Well when you walked into the „dive‟ and the bartender asked „what was your pleasure‟ you replied a bag full of hundreds and a hot boyfriend.
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EILEEN
You really want to know my story?
MATT
If you want to tell it.
EILEEN
It‟s hardly original. My father by-passed the whole pragmatist, stand up comic thing and went straight to raging alcoholic. He used to beat up my mother and on several occasions he tried to sexually molest me. Thanks to his parenting skills I suffer from low self-esteem, low-grade depression and, lucky you, sexual compulsion. I hang around dive bars waiting for men to pick me up so I can have gratuitous sex with them I have a son from my second marriage; who the courts decided should live with his father because I‟m such a terrible role model for him. I‟ve been in therapy for the last ten years which means I have a lot more insight, a lot less cash, and the same old problems. Can I get another drink?
MATT
(Somewhat at a loss for words)
You know I read somewhere that a borderline personality will tell you their whole life story in the first ten minutes of conversation.
EILEEN
Really? Well that‟s not me since I didn‟t tell you everything. So you want to know, or you want me to leave?(She gets up from couch)
MATT
No. I don‟t want you to leave. What, you think your story shocks me? Everybody‟s got a story Ei. You don‟t live forty plus years without one. And everyone‟s story has a few bad things in it.
EILEEN
Really, well I left out a really important thing… I happen to be very, very good in bed. So what are your bad things?
MATT
I prefer to keep them private thank you. Or maybe hide them in my stories…Oh shit…I just thought of something!
EILEEN
What?
MATT
I just remembered where they are.
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EILEEN
Where what are?
MATT
The condoms.
EILEEN
Ahhh, we‟re back to where we started!
MATT
They‟re keeping them fresh at the seven eleven. There‟s one down the corner. Ten minutes tops!!
EILEEN
Forget it. That will take forever…and besides, there‟s plenty we can cook up without a rubber. Which way to the kitchen?
MATT
There are fewer sharp objects in the bedroom, so if it‟s all the same to you…walk this way please (He leads her off to the bedroom)
BLACKOUT
Scene 2
Next afternoon.
Matt is alone sitting on couch and speaking on the telephone.
MATT
Hey big brother, how are my nephews doing? No kidding? Two touchdowns, that‟s great. I don‟t know. Thanksgiving is a tough day to travel. No, still no bites on the screenplay although there may be some interest in L.A. Girlfriend, me? No, no one special… the same story, I have too much financial baggage. Don‟t get me wrong, I‟m not a hermit. As a matter of fact I met someone pretty interesting just last night. Bring her to Thanksgiving? I doubt that would be a good idea. It sure would be an adventure, but don‟t count on it. I didn‟t even bother to get her phone number… Yeah, okay. I‟ll let you know. Love to Sheila and the kids.
(Matt gets up and goes to desk. Turns on computer and starts to write. There is a knock on door. A tense look of concern as he checks his watch. He turns out the light on the
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desk and slowly slides from his seat and cowers next to desk to be hidden from anyone trying to peak through the window. The knocking persists until…)
EILEEN
(Offstage)
Matt, are you in there? It‟s Eileen… you know from last night.
MATT
Eileen? (Relieved, he gets up and crosses to door which he opens) Hey Ei. What‟s up?
EILEEN
I think I left my watch here last night. Did you find it?
MATT
No, I didn‟t see a watch anywhere. How‟d you know I was home?
EILEEN
I took a chance, saw your car parked around the block. Why would you park around the block when there are plenty of spots in front of your apartment?
MATT
I don‟t like certain people to know when I‟m home.
EILEEN
Why, you got a stalker or something like that?
MATT
Something like that. So no watch. But I‟ll keep an eye out for it.
EILEEN
Thanks. But I didn‟t really come here just for the watch.
MATT
Then why are you here?
EILEEN
Well, I kind of missed you. (She invites herself in, pushing past Matt) I had a nice time last night, talking and… everything else. Didn‟t we have fun last night?
MATT
Yes it was nice, and fun… but that was last night.
EILEEN
I know, I know. There was actually another reason I came over.
MATT
And what‟s that?
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EILEEN
(She pulls a small manuscript out of her bag)
I wanted your opinion on something. (She hands him the manuscript) I was taking a night class on creative writing at the college.
MATT
(Looking over paper)
“Anarchy and the Codependent Mind.” You wrote this for class Ei?
EILEEN
Yeah. I wanted your opinion… if it‟s not too much trouble.
MATT
No. No trouble at all. Hey, why did you ask me all those questions about writing last night when you‟re a writer yourself?
EILEEN
Just picking your brain I guess. Besides, I‟m not a real writer like you. I‟m just taking a class.
MATT
How would you know? You've never read any of my stuff. Sit, sit down. You want a drink or something?
EILEEN
It‟s a little early.
MATT
How about a soft drink? Coffee? I just made some.
EILEEN
I‟d love some. I‟ll get it, you read. (She exits to kitchen as Matt reads manuscript)
(Offstage) Milk and sugar?
MATT
(Absorbed in essay)
Huh?
EILEEN
(Offstage)
How do you take your coffee? Milk? Sugar?
MATT
A little milk. No sugar.
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EILEEN
(Re-enters)
What do you think?
MATT
(Matt’s conversation is while reading essay until indicated)
Eileen, so far I am very impressed. You said you never went to college?
EILEEN
I never said that. I went for three semesters after high school then dropped out.
MATT
Why?
EILEEN
I got pregnant, got married and had a kid.
MATT
I guess it happens. Wait, you had a kid from your first marriage too? How many children do you have?
EILEEN
One from each.
MATT
So two?
EILEEN
Three.
MATT
You were married three times?!
EILEEN
Are you judging me Matt?
MATT
No, not at all.
EILEEN
Because I don‟t see what gives you the right to judge me.
MATT
Nothing does. I‟m not judging you, just trying to get the facts straight. Don‟t be so damned defensive.
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EILEEN
I‟m a bi-polar manic-depressive. I get defensive. And paranoid.
MATT
(Looks up from manuscript)
At the same time? Thanks for the warning, but you‟re not scaring me Eileen.
EILEEN
I didn‟t realize I was trying to.
MATT
Oh, I think you are. Or I think you‟re trying to see if I will scare. You‟re laying out your bullshit baggage a page at a time to test my threshold, to see at what point you‟re going to get rejected so you can minimize the hurt. Well guess what? I don‟t operate that way.
EILEEN
Thanks for the analysis, Dr. fucking Freud. But I already have a shrink.
MATT
Take it easy. All I‟m saying is, from where I sit, I see a very funny, sexy, talented woman. I mean this takes talent doesn‟t it? (Indicating manuscript)
EILEEN
But I‟m not „educated‟ like you; I don‟t have a college degree.
MATT
So what? Lose the low self esteem already. I just told you few people could write something like this. This is good enough to be published.
EILEEN
You really mean that? You‟re not bullshitting me Matt? Don‟t you dare bullshit me.
MATT
I wouldn‟t say it if I didn‟t mean it. You‟re a talented writer. Just accept it.
Did you hand this in yet?
EILEEN
Yeah, a couple of weeks ago.
MATT
What did your professor say about it?
EILEEN
He said it was good.
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MATT
Well, there you go.
EILEEN
Right, whatever. (Her phone rings, she picks it up) Excuse me, I have to take this.
(Matt resumes reading) Hi mommy! (Matt glances at her) Yeah…how are my kids? No place… just visiting a friend. No I‟m not, he‟s just a friend. Okay mommy, see you later. (To Matt) That was my mom.
MATT
Yeah I heard. Aren‟t you a little old to be calling her mommy?
EILEEN
It‟s a term of endearment… it makes her feel better.
MATT
It makes her feel better. (Looks at her skeptically) In this essay, you talk about an “adult child.” What‟s that all about?
EILEEN
The adult child carries with them the issues that were never resolved in childhood.
MATT
Such as?
EILEEN
Alcoholism, physical or mental abuse, molestation. Actually, it‟s just a nice psychological term for having a totally fucked up childhood.
MATT
Write what you know… hey, how long have you been divorced from your third husband?
EILEEN
I‟m not. We‟re separated.
MATT
Separated? You know I usually don‟t date women who aren't divorced. I mean I like you and all, but, okay just how far along in your divorce are you?
EILEEN
I retained a lawyer.
MATT
How long are you separated?
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EILEEN
Physically or emotionally?
MATT
Take your pick.
EILEEN
Physically a year. Emotionally forever. Besides silly boy, we‟re not dating. We‟re just
having fun.
MATT
Yeah, that‟s right. I guess when you put it that way…
EILEEN
What you said before... about me being sexy. Did you mean that too?
MATT
Of course I did. I find you very sexy.
EILEEN
I find you kind of sexy too. So you wanna play some more?
MATT
You mean right now?
EILEEN
Yeah, right now.
MATT
I would love nothing more, but I have a gig. I‟m sitting in tonight with a friend‟s band. Hey, you want to come?
EILEEN
That‟s the general idea!
MATT
I mean to the gig.
EILEEN
I didn‟t know you were also a musician.
MATT
There‟s a lot of things you don‟t know about me. I‟ve still got a few tricks up my sleeve, despite my day job.
EILEEN
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Good to know. My husband is the biggest snore going. Comes home from work and falls asleep in front of the couch. (beat) At least that‟s what he always did. (beat) And from what the kid‟s tell me, nothing has changed.
MATT
So what do you say? You up for this gig?
EILEEN
Definitely. But first…(She goes in her bag, takes out a string of condoms and drapes them around his neck)
MATT
I guess I have a little time.
EILEEN
Okay, that‟s more like it. (She starts to remove his shirt and leads him towards bedroom)
MATT
Wait, you know I don‟t have a lot of money, right?
EILEEN
So what…you have a big dick.
MATT
Works for me. (exciting to bedroom)
EILEEN
No, works for me!
(They exit to bedroom)
BLACKOUT
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Scene 3
The next morning.
Matt and Eileen are cuddled on the couch.
EILEEN
You are a very sexy man, do you know that? When I saw you playing that guitar last night I got wet.
MATT
Really? (They kiss) That‟s the kind of music we play, the "get your girl wet blues".
EILEEN
Very funny, Mr. Screenplay writer. I read your script.
MATT
What? When did you do that?
EILEEN
This morning. I got up early It was right on your desk. I didn‟t think you'd mind. Besides, I loved it. I can see it now, you walking the red carpet, me on your arm waving to the crowd.
MATT
Thanks. I hope. I could use the money. I‟m thinking of moving to L.A. to be closer to the right people.
EILEEN
(Slightly upset but trying to hide it)
Why would you do that?
MATT
Well, Hollywood is where they make the movies, isn‟t it. An agent out there is pretty hot on my first draft, thinks he can get me a movie deal.
EILEEN
They make movies in New York too, ya know.
MATT
A few, I suppose.
EILEEN
(She kisses him again)
Well, anyway. You‟re not going just yet, are you?
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MATT
No, not to California, just to the bathroom. Are you going to hang around ‟til I get back sexy?
EILEEN
If you‟re a good boy.
MATT
(He rises)
I thought you didn‟t like good boys. I‟ll be right back. (He exits to bathroom)
EILEEN
(Rises walks stage right to desk, takes out her cell phone and dials)
Hi, this is Eileen Ferguson, is Mr. Abromowitz in? Well, I‟d like to retain him for a divorce. I was referred by Janet Logan. Sure. I can come in Friday. What time? Great,
It‟s Eileen Ferguson. I‟ll see you then. (She quickly puts her phone away and returns to couch as Matt re-enters)
MATT
(He sits next to her)
I was a good boy.
EILEEN
Well good boys get rewarded. (He goes to kiss her and she stops him)
But first I want to know something. Mr. Sexy Writer.
MATT
What‟s that?
EILEEN
Who, or what, are you hiding from?
MATT
Who says I‟m hiding?
EILEEN
Well … this place… a cottage on the back of someone‟s property. You don‟t answer your door to find out who‟s knocking. You park your car around the block so no one knows you‟re home. What‟s the big secret?
MATT
(Rises from the couch)
It‟s nothing. You‟re being paranoid.
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EILEEN
(She goes after him)
No I‟m not. What is it? Tell me.
MATT
(He gently caresses her)
Not now. When I know you a little longer. Okay.
EILEEN
(A little upset)
Oh, I see. You can know about all my psychotic shit, but you feel you need to keep secrets. It doesn‟t matter that we just fucked six ways to Sunday. Look Matt, I‟m not going to run screaming into the night at anything that you tell me. What, are you some kind of CIA agent or something? (beat) Hey, that could be hot!
MATT
(Also a little upset)
I have a lot of financial baggage okay. I told you I don‟t have a lot of money.
EILEEN
Yeah, I know, you told me…and I told you I don‟t care. Frankly, you really didn‟t need to tell me. I mean this place isn‟t exactly the Taj Majal. So who‟s after you Matt? You owe money to a loan shark or something? Are you some kind of compulsive gambler or something? God, my first husband was, that prick.
MATT
No, no, it‟s nothing like that (He paces) Alright, alright. I owe back alimony and child support. I cut a real shitty deal when I got divorced five years ago and I‟ve been trying to fix it ever since.
EILEEN
What are you talking about? You‟ve got a job. Don‟t they garnish your salary?
MATT
Yes, but it‟s never enough to pay what I owe that…my ex...
EILEEN
What do you mean?
MATT
Okay, before I sold office supplies I was a Real Estate broker. I did all right, not filthy rich, but comfortable. When I got divorced I had an unfortunate pang of guilt, a very large pang, and agreed to pay my ex-wife much more than I could afford.
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EILEEN
You Catholic boys are so fucked up. Didn‟t your lawyer tell you not to?
MATT
Yes he did. But I didn‟t listen.
EILEEN
Why not?
MATT
I just told you, because of a boatload of guilt. Leaving a wife with two young kids. I wanted to take care of them so I gave her everything. The house. The brokerage account. I walked out of that marriage with the clothes on my back and my guitar. I didn‟t leave enough to take care of me. When the real estate job went away, it was impossible to keep up with the payments.
EILEEN
How much do you owe?
MATT
Over six figures.
EILEEN
Holy shit! How much are you supposed to give her a month.
MATT
Five thousand.
EILEEN
What? Donald Trump doesn‟t pay that much!
MATT
(Sarcastically)
That‟s comforting to know.
EILEEN
Five thousand dollars a month! When I broke up with my first husband I didn‟t ask for shit. I just wanted the bastard out of my life.
MATT
Thank you Eileen. Do you know how many times I‟ve heard that story from other women that I‟ve dated? “I just wanted him out, I didn‟t care about the money.” I fucked up. I made a bad deal. I don‟t need to be reminded of it.(He picks up phone receiver and hands it to her) Here, call my ex and tell her that. “Hey Michelle, this is Matt‟s new girlfriend. Aren‟t you just glad to get rid of that bum? Why don‟t you be a nice little ex-wifey and tell the court to arbitrarily lower the payment so he can take girlfriends like me out to
20
fancy dinners, and I can come home and fuck his brains out.” You think that‟ll work Ei? And then in six months when you dump me for a guy with more money you can call her and congratulate her for screwing me.
EILEEN
That was a shitty thing to say. I am out of here buster. I don‟t need to be treated like that. (She starts heading for the door)
MATT
No wait, Eileen, please wait. I‟m sorry, I shouldn‟t have said that. Please stay. (She sits back down)
EILEEN
All right, I‟ll stay… if you promise to be nice.
MATT
I‟ll be nice. But just how nice should I be?
EILEEN
As nice as you were last night.
MATT
I‟ll try… speaking of last night…
EILEEN
Yeah?
MATT
Was it my imagination or were you coming on to the drummer when we were on a break?
EILEEN
What do you mean?
MATT
You looked a lot more interested than in just his musical ability.
EILEEN
Oh come on. I was just being friendly. What‟s the matter, are you the jealous type? Besides, I don‟t remember us having any conversation about being exclusive, do you?
MATT
No.
EILEEN
We‟ve been together twice, three times if you count now.
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