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Monday, February 18, 2002

Going Up

by Eleanor Brook

SYNOPSIS: Trapped in a broken elevator, two actresses find they are auditioning for the same role, with dire and unexpected consequences for one.



A young woman who is intense, fearful, unable to cope, and a little flaky. She depends on her “vibes” and the kindness of strangers.


A young woman who is practical, has her head on straight, is prepared for any and all emergencies, and is a “good Samaritan” ...up to a point.


A simple set. The suggestion of an elevator in an old office building.


At rise, April is in front of an elevator, pushing the buttons nervously, and checking her watch. She is obviously in a hurry. Sound effects of an elevator bell, and whatever other sounds an old elevator makes.

APRIL: Damn!

(She pushes the buttons frantically.)

Damndamndamndamndamn! Come on! What's taking so long?

(She bangs on the elevator door.)

Let's go!

(She presses the buttons again, ferociously.)

Why does this always happen to me? Whenever I'm in a hurry. Come on! Come on!

Sound effects of elevator stopping, doors opening.

Thank you God! Thank you.

(She rushes into the elevator and presses a button. Sound effects of creaky doors closing. Susannah rushes on stage. She wears backpack and carries a huge shoulder bag.)

SUSANNAH: Hold it! Hey, wait! Hold it!

(April fumbles with the buttons as Susannah pushes the doors apart and gets in just as they close. Both girls face front, far away from each other. Susannah is out of breath. Sound effects of rumbling and rattling as elevator starts.)

SUSANNAH: Oh, wow! That was close. Thanks. Push 9, okay?

(April just stands there.)

SUSANNAH (cont): I could have been here for a week waiting for it. (beat) Excuse me, would you please push 9? The button? 9?

APRIL: I did.

SUSANNAH: I didn't see.

APRIL: Before you came.

SUSANNAH: You going there?

(April just nods, doesn't answer, tries to suppress a sneeze, can't do it. She sneezes.)

SUSANNAH: Gezundheit!

(April nods a thank you, sneezes again.)

SUSANNAH (cont): Gotta cold? Everyone does. If you don't have it when you wake up, you'll have it by lunchtime. I guarantee it. You know what you need? Vitamin C. I take five thousand milligrams a day. It works. Trust me.

(April shakes her head, keeps sneezing.)

APRIL: Allergy! Your perfume. "Gardenia." It makes me sick. Really sick.

SUSANNAH: (Sniffs her wrists.) I don't smell anything. (She sniffs her shoulder, her purse.) You can smell it?

(April nods.)

SUSANNAH: God, you're hypersensitive. I didn't even put it on today. I have a purse-size in my tote, (She takes out atomizer and sniffs it) but I don't smell anything. Unless it's in my clothes, but it's so faint.

(April shrugs and keeps sneezing.)

SUSANNAH: Got pills for it?

(April nods.)

SUSANNAH: Take one now.

APRIL: (Sneezes) No water.

(Susannah takes out a water bottle, opens it, wipes off the top and offers it to April.)


APRIL: Thanks.

(She takes a pill from her purse and swallows it.)

(She sighs) It'll stop soon. (She sneezes again. Beat.) Hey, aren't we going awfully slow? We should be there by now. It's only the ninth floor, not the top of the Empire State Building.

SUSANNAH: This one's always temperamental. But you're right. It's worse than usual.

(Sound effects of a crunch, gears grinding to a halt, a jolt. Elevator stops. Lights go out. April and Susannah scream. They speak simultaneously.)

APRIL: I'm gonna die! Get me out of here! Oh my God!

SUSANNAH: Where the hell is my flashlight?

(Susannah finds her light and flashes it on April, who screams.)

It's only me! Take it easy. I've got a light, see? Look for the emergency button.

APRIL: Help! Somebody! Help!

SUSANNAH: Stop yelling. You're going to use up the oxygen.

APRIL: (Gasping) I'm choking! I'm gonna die. Oh God!

(Gasping and choking)

SUSANNAH: Cool it! We're gonna be fine. Trust me. Here, put this on.

APRIL: Stop that! (Her voice is muffled) What are you doing? Hey!

SUSANNAH: You're hyperventilating. This'll help. Trust me. (She pounds on the wall) Hey! Anybody there? Can you hear me? Hey!

VOICE: We hear you! We're working on it! Hang in there! You okay?

SUSANNAH: Yeah, but get a move on. There's a basket case in here with me.

VOICE: Not to worry. we'll get the lights on in a minute, and the vent. Yup, there it is. We'll have the whole thing going soon. Yesterday it only took ten minutes.

(The lights come on. April sits on the floor with a paper bag on her head. Susannah is sorting through her supplies: granola bars, water bottle, first-aid kit, etc.)

SUSANNAH: See? I told you. Think positive. Take a couple of real deep breaths. (April does) That's good. Feel better?

APRIL: (Surprised) I think so. Yeah, I do. (She takes off the bag.) How do you know all this stuff?

SUSANNAH: I read a lot. And my Mom is a nurse. You gotta be prepared. You never know what's gonna happen. Earthquake, flood, flat tire. (Shrugs) Like this. Who woulda dreamed? We could be here for a while. Here, (She offers her a granola bar.) I'm Susannah.

APRIL: I'm April. It is so great you're here. I wouldn't have made it.

SUSANNAH: Hey, that's what it's about, isn't it? Otherwise we're just animals. (Anxiously, as April clutches her stomach.) What's the matter now?

APRIL: I think I'm going to be sick.

SUSANNAH: Christ, I hope not! Wait a minute. Here. (She rummages in her stuff and hands April a bag.) Here, courtesy Delta Airlines, a "barf bag," or was it United? I can't remember. Anyway, I'm not a barfer. At least not on planes.

APRIL: You wouldn't mind if I threw up in here?

SUSANNAH: Go ahead. If you'll feel better, puke your guts out.

APRIL: You're sure?

SUSANNAH: Positive. Trust me.

APRIL: You really wouldn't mind?

SUSANNAH: It's not the top of my wish list, but if you have to, if it'll help, sure, be my guest.

APRIL: Oh. Well, thanks. (She opens the bag, bends her face into it, raises her head again.) I think maybe I feel a little better.

SUSANNAH: You sure? Because if you're not...

APRIL: (Laughs) Hey, stop pushing me to puke!

SUSANNAH: You know what? Try this other stuff. It's ginger. Chew it, It works. Trust me.

APRIL: (Takes the ginger and munches it, sighing with relief.) You're too much. You're a one-man rescue team all by yourself. or is it one-woman?

SUSANNAH: You never know what's gonna happen. You have to be prepared. To survive. That's the name of the game, "the art of surviving."

APRIL: There oughta be more people like you.

SUSANNAH: I guess. You work here?

APRIL: No. I have an appointment.

SUSANNAH: I didn't think you did. Work here, I mean. There's nothing else up there besides where I'm going. Unless you work there.

APRIL: (Confused) Work where?

SUSANNAH: Where I'm going. I'm an actress. I'm going for an audition.

APRIL: You're kidding! Me too!

SUSANNAH: (In disbelief) You too? You're an actress?

APRIL: Yeah. Why?

SUSANNAH: You seem a little jumpy for this business.

APRIL: It's my allergies. I get stressed out when I can't breathe. Once they even had to call 911. I'm okay now, though.

SUSANNAH: That's good. (beat) Been in anything lately?

APRIL: Lemme see ... Well I was Bianca in Kate down in San Diego, a couple of readings in Long Beach, and some Improv. How about you?

SUSANNAH: The same. A little local, a little out-of-town, you know. Any reviews?

APRIL: Yeah. Here. (She opens her portfolio.) They called me (She quotes with pride) " a fresh new face ... a delicate, almost fragile shell over a tough inner core. Watch this girl, she's going places." (She holds out the reviews to Susannah.) Wanna see?

SUSANNAH: (Shakes her head) That's okay. That's pretty cool.

APRIL: Yeah. (Smiles happily)

SUSANNAH: What are you reading for today?

APRIL: Maggie. But I want to read for Sister Woman too, just in case.

SUSANNAH: Yeah ... I can see you as Sister Woman.

APRIL: Yeah... (beat) What about you? What are you reading for?

SUSANNAH: Maggie. I am Maggie.

APRIL: Isn't that a kick, I kinda think I'm Maggie.

SUSANNAH: That's the difference between you and me.

APRIL: What difference?

SUSANNAH: You just think you're Maggie. But I know I'm Maggie.

APRIL: You do?

SUSANNAH: Yeah, I do. But you'd make a great Sister Woman. Trust me.

APRIL: You have confidence. That's great. 'Cause I don't. But I feel things, you know? And it seems to work. Like with Bianca. My agent told me "not a chance," But I just knew I was gonna get it, and I did. My vibes always work.

SUSANNAH: What about today? Did your vibes tell you the elevator was going to break down?

APRIL: It's odd, but I had good vibes the whole day, until this elevator business. First it was late, then it was slow, then it broke down. But you were here and saved my life, so I oughta feel good again, but I don't ... Maybe I should use the barf bag after all. Sure you don't mind.

SUSANNAH: Go ahead.

APRIL: No, I think I'll try more of the ginger instead. (Chews another piece as Susannah eyes her strangely.) You know what? I'm getting another feeling. And it's real strong...One of us is gonna get Maggie ... I can feel it.

SUSANNAH: So do I. (Resignedly) And I know which one.

APRIL: You do?


APRIL: (With a happy smile, seeing herself in the part) Oh. Okay. Well, good luck to both of us.

SUSANNAH: You bet!

(Sound effects of engine starting. The girls rock as if in moving vehicle. The elevator starts moving.)

SUSANNAH: Okay! Here we go! (Calls out) Thanks guys!

(She shovels stuff back into her bag. Takes out makeup, brushes her hair' takes out her atomizer and sprays herself and her hair. April starts to sneeze.)

APRIL: Susannah, can you hold it until we're out? That's "Gardenia." It makes me sick, remember?


(She looks at April and then deliberately points the atomizer directly at her, spraying her repeatedly.)

APRIL: Cut it out, Susannah! What are you doing? (She sneezes and coughs violently throughout the speech) I can't breathe! Are you crazy? Stop it, please! No! Don't! Susannah, you're going to kill me! Please. Have mercy!

(Susannah keeps spraying until April sinks down on the floor, covering her face with her arms. The elevator stops, the doors open. Susannah starts to exit, turns to April and tosses her the water bottle and a few other things.)

SUSANNAH: Here, April, keep these. And remember, you gotta be prepared. Trust me.

(She pushes a button in the elevator and hurries out as the door closes and the elevator goes down.)


Eleanor Brook has a Master of Arts degree in Theatre/Education and studied playwrighting at South Coast Repertory's Professional Conservatory. Her Work has won numerous prizes and has been staged and produced on both coasts. She is an associate member of the Dramatists Guild, a member of the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights, FirstStage, and a founding member and director of the Orange County Playwrights Alliance in Southern California. Going Up first appeared in Flashquake.