Locked Down

Oh great, the elevator’s stuck. That’ll teach Irving for heading down for a smoking break with the work day about to end. He pulls out his cell phone to call in help, only to realize it’s his pocket calculator. He decides to light up there in the shaft, hoping it will sound the alarm. Only now his lighter isn’t working. He bangs on the door, pleading for someone to let him out. Or at least to stop the shitty music. His colleagues are Emma, Judy and Gracie, the three furies. They’re still waiting for Irving to return when the security guard tells them to move it, he has to lock down the building. No working there this weekend. The Furies assume Irving just up and left, because he’s supposed to be meeting his girlfriend for a drink after work. This despite the fact that his phone is still on his desk. They convince the guard to take the phone and lock it away in the safe. Irving can pick it up on Monday.

Irving meanwhile is using the power of concentrated prayer to get his lighter to work. Finally he loses control and smashes it to smithereens. He pounds on the door, saying his girlfriend is going to be pissed. He’s gotta piss. Piss on them, he snaps, as he turns to do his business…somewhere. 

His girlfriend Alison is getting frustrated waiting for him in a restaurant. She’s also hungry and asks the waitress to drop loads of cherries in her drink. Her third one. Tim, who’s been eyeballing her, approaches with all kinds of lines despite the fact that she announces she’s waiting for her boyfriend. But now a little sauced, and suspecting Irving may have gotten cold feet, she takes up Tim on his offer to have dinner elsewhere.

Poor Irving is reduced to playing an arithmetic game with his calculator. He multiplies two outrageous numbers together in his head, crunches them in the calculator, and always come up with the right answer. Now for the final round and a relatively easy challenge; only the calculator says he’s not right. He can’t believe it. He crunches the numbers again and it’s the same result. Fed up with everything, he smashes the calculator to smithereens. Realizing he has just lost his last friend, he breaks down on the floor, crying and asking the world to forgive him.

It’s Sunday and Judy and Emma are having drinks at the restaurant where Gracie moonlights, hoping their colleague will find them a table soon. In walks Tim and Allison and they get a table first because of a lavish tip. They barely get their drinks when Allison sees Irving’s parents walk in. A lavish tip also gets them front-line service but Mrs. Waters notices Allison at a table with a strange man and insists on having dinner with them. Squabbling breaks out between the Waterses over who’s to blame for Irving’s unreliability. The party breaks up with nobody getting dinner and Gracie surrendering her tips.

Irving is awoken from his stupor by a psychiatrist who begins plying him with questions about his life, living with his parents, working with his colleagues, and about his fiancée. Irving says he would like to go to an island with her on their honeymoon, only she would be stressed out about the hotel, meals, etc. He would prefer a woman who lets go, who prefers hot monkey sex on the beach instead of worrying about what time breakfast starts. Suddenly a dream girl appears in the elevator and entices him to go in. The second he does, the dream girl disappears and the shitty music starts up again. “No. No! No….!”

Allison arrives at Irving’s work, pleading with the guard to tell him something about what happened to her fiancé. The Furies arrive, seemingly taking pleasure in Allison’s predicament, and all hell breaks loose after his parents arrive as well. Annoyed by the lot of them, the guard starts the building equipment and the elevator can be heard coming down. It opens to reveal Irving half out of his mind. The guard had shut down the elevator before adequately checking that it was empty, only he remains unrepentant. As Irving is whisked off by his parents and girlfriend, the guard announces that he has evidence Irving wanted to smoke in the elevator, which is a violation of rules. The Furies manage to talk him out of it, but when he smells the whiff of … in the air, he declares that’s it, Irving is going downtown to the police. Suddenly the elevator door closes on him and the music grows ever louder.

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English Theatre Moravia – presenting problem plays in the land of Franz Kafka