It’s absolutely black, and in the darkness there’s some stentorian whispering going on and a lot of bumping into things. You know how some people raise their voices when they’re talking to a foreigner? How some ladies shout when they’re deafened by a hair-drying machine? Well, that’s what the darkness has done to our two voices. For all we know it may be the censors come to take over the show, or a game of sardines-in-a-box.
WOMAN’S VOICE: Are you frightened?
MAN: It’s too dark. I can’t tell.
WOMAN: I feel like a burglar.
MAN: I don’t feel so clever.
WOMAN: Where do you suppose they are?
MAN: Your husband might have left the lights.
WOMAN: Oh, I’m so worried.
MAN: Well, I’m worried, too. Do you think I like my wife being out all night with strangers?
WOMAN: To think of my darling together with somebody else! Oh, I’m so miserable.
MAN: Isn’t this the hour when most people die—between now and morning?
WOMAN: Sh! What’s that?
MAN: A bird.
WOMAN: Do you suppose he suspects anything?
MAN: Sure. Other birds.
WOMAN: What can my husband possibly have to say for himself?
I said—Are you asleep?
WOMAN: Don’t boast.
MAN: I didn’t boast. I said “Yes.”
WOMAN: “Yes” sounds so egotistic. Maybe they’ve had an accident!
MAN: What made you bring up an accident?
WOMAN: If I could only see what’s going on.
MAN: It’s silly to have black scenes on a stage.
WOMAN: Who do you suppose we are? There! I found the lights.
The lights flash on and there are Connie and Andrew butting about in the salon of the Consequentials’ villa. Gee! What a lovely room it would be if it wasn’t littered with papers, champagne bottles, cigarette butts and Baffles asleep on the sofa.
BAFFLES: The gentlemen were shorter or the sofas were longer when I was a young man.
ANDREW: Very graceful, Baffles. I see you don’t need any advice about how to go to pieces.
BAFFLES: There would have been singing in Mr. Messogony’s day.
CONNIE: What is he doing here?
BAFFLES: I was just waiting to see if the master needed me, Madam—just in case Miss Flower should demand an explanation.
CONNIE: I never thought of that.
BAFFLES: You see, when Miss Flower came back to the beach, you had quite disappeared.
CONNIE: It doesn’t seem right to have to furnish an explanation when you get into trouble.
BAFFLES: Scratch a trouble, Madam, and you’ll find a public monument.
ANDREW: Maybe we’d have to explain an attack of measles.
CONNIE: We were taken to the police——
BAFFLES: Is it probable, Mr. Andrew, that the police story will be believed?
ANDREW: But you believe it, don’t you, Baffles?
BAFFLES: (Beginning to straighten the room) However, you can say it was the influence of Miss Flower and Mr. Consequential which is responsible for whatever may have happened.
CONNIE: I thought influence was only good for getting you into clubs.
BAFFLES: Influence, Madam, is when there’s somebody fond enough of us to justify our blaming them for our mistakes.
ANDREW: Where is Miss Flower, Baffles?
BAFFLES: I couldn’t say, sir.
CONNIE: People oughtn’t to stay out all night when their wives are in prison. (Weeping) It’s broken my heart!
BAFFLES: (As he dusts) There’s a new heart substitute made from broken confidences, Madam. I believe it’s almost as good as the real butter.
CONNIE: It’s all your fault, Andrew. If you’d kept your wife where she belonged this would never have happened.
CONNIE: I hate you! I hate you so, I could pinch you.
ANDREW: What’ll I do?
BAFFLES: Just try to be a little more upset, sir. Then you won’t mind so much.
ANDREW: And to have that bird singing as if everything were all right.
CONNIE: There’s no sense of decency left!
BAFFLES: The trouble with birds is they imitate the vaudeville acts, and the vaudeville acts imitate the birds till we can’t tell a real deception from a misconception any longer.
ANDREW: I think it’s nonsense, birds.
CONNIE: Why did you have to come into my life? I’m going to tell my husband that you forced me to go away with those policemen.
ANDREW: If your husband ever shows up, you can say whatever you like.
CONNIE: You don’t think my Peter’s run off, do you?
BAFFLES: He may have stopped by the library for a look at the Sibylline books. One can’t say for sure, but he may have.
CONNIE: This has taught me something.
BAFFLES: Experience, Madam, gets you so in a rut.
CONNIE: I want to get in a rut and stay there. (Sobs) I would be there already if it wasn’t for him.
ANDREW: Experience teaches you how to do things you never want to do again. Oh—oh—oh—I was so happy before I began to be educated.
BAFFLES: Generally speaking, sir, if you want life to begin in a quandary and end in a federal prison, you start by comparing the advantages of yesterday with the advantages of tomorrow. When you find you have more of them in retrospect, that’s a good start.
CONNIE: What could we be doing when they come?
BAFFLES: Madam should have had some orchids.
CONNIE: I certainly don’t want to look as if I had anything to do with this situation at all.
ANDREW: Don’t worry. Flower can’t possibly have a word to say for herself.
BAFFLES: People have said, sir, that they’ve been looking for Easter eggs—in case you yourself should need an excuse.
CONNIE: That’s very appropriate. I always had a kind of Easter intellect.
ANDREW: But it isn’t Easter, is it?
BAFFLES: Surely it is someplace in the world, sir.
CONNIE: He makes me shiver. There’s something so positive in all he says.
ANDREW: One has to be positive to be mistaken.
BAFFLES: The lawyers, sir——
ANDREW: All right. Go on and cable. Telephone, why don’t you? I’m through.
BAFFLES: Pardon, sir?
ANDREW: The lawyers don’t know any more about life than I do. From now on I’m going my own way.
BAFFLES: You can’t mean, sir, that you would renounce—when things are getting along as badly as possible?
ANDREW: I do. All I want is to know where I actually stand with Flower. Then I’m leaving.
BAFFLES: I see, sir. Red-handed, innocent or guilty, is the policy.
CONNIE: I don’t know what to call this horrible experience.
BAFFLES: Why don’t you call it Andrew Messogony, Madam, after Mr. Andrew’s uncle?
ANDREW: Where can I hide to trap them?
CONNIE: You wouldn’t have me to face matters alone, would you?
BAFFLES: Why don’t you both hide, sir, together on the balcony? Then you can hear what goes on when Miss Flower returns.
CONNIE: I’m so afraid they will think it was we who were awful——
BAFFLES: Air, sir, is the very best thing when the world rocks—You’d better step outside and watch the rise of another cocktail hour.
CONNIE: I feel so guilty now that we’re going to discover something——
ANDREW: That’s because the world’s asleep.
BAFFLES: No, sir. You’re taking it out for its morning airing.
ANDREW: I’m going to be free again as soon as I’ve got at the truth——
BAFFLES: Mr. Andrew, you really should take less interest in life.
ANDREW: I’ve taken less and less till now at last I’m down to fundamentals.
BAFFLES: Very good, sir.
ANDREW: Free from lawyers and money! Tomorrow I’ll be myself again.
BAFFLES: Tomorrows, Mr. Andrew, will be todays.
Connie and Andrew tiptoe out of the beautiful gilt door into the great pink lighting effect. Baffles continues reconstructing the scene as Flower and Peter enter.
FLOWER: Why are you here, Baffles?
BAFFLES: There was the milkweed to milk while I waited, Miss Flower—and there’s dust on the parlor sky.
FLOWER: Do you think you should be arranging the heavens in a strange house?
BAFFLES: (Sadly) Mr. Andrew, Miss——
FLOWER: Yes, Mr. Andrew. They’re not here.
PETER: Did you look under the table?
FLOWER: There’s no use. I’m beginning to think our scheme was too much of a success.
PETER: Maybe they’ve been somewhere crying all night.
FLOWER: But there’s no place besides the casino where they could go to suffer.
PETER: We’ll never set this thing to rights.
FLOWER: Not till it’s sold to the moving pictures.
PETER: If I’d known we were hurting them so much, I wouldn’t have done it.
FLOWER: Peter! And Andrew gets so little pleasure out of life.
PETER: He chased after Connie till she gave in——
FLOWER: He did not. She must have lured him away.
PETER: She did not. Connie’s always run after men—that’s just the way Connie is.
FLOWER: Well—Andrew never could keep from giving in.
PETER: While you and I were dancing, Connie was somewhere—dancing—or being miserable.
FLOWER: It certainly brings my carrier pigeons home to roost.
PETER: I only hope she isn’t living up to my reputation.
BAFFLES: (From behind the sofa) I don’t suppose any of us could get into the Foreign Legion on our reputations, sir.
PETER: Maybe I was too quiet. Maybe other people’s ideas of us are truer than our own.
BAFFLES: Other people’s ideas of us are dependent largely on what they’ve hoped for.
FLOWER: How could we explain our position, Baffles?
BAFFLES: Miss Flower, I’ve taught you all I know. I believe it’s customary to bring in the word “inevitable,” but it’s only a technical trick.
PETER: You know——
FLOWER: Uh huh!
PETER: You may have lost me my wife forever. How do I know what she’s doing?
BAFFLES: The only real faith, sir, is in what you don’t know.
FLOWER: Was it my fault that they ran off like that?
PETER: It must have been your husband’s idea.
FLOWER: I never thought Andrew would behave that way. It’s given me a new respect for him.
PETER: You’ve got no right to upset my home this way.
FLOWER: Oh, shut up. If I’d only known my poor Andrew had such a strong character!
PETER: You’ve got to confess our innocence.
FLOWER: All right. But where are our angry loving spouses?
Andrew and Connie appear from the balcony.
ANDREW: Here I am, Flower. And I’m going to take you away from all this. (Glares at Consequential) We’re going back to the farm.
PETER: Where have you been with my wife?
ANDREW: We’ve been in jail, if you want to know. And being there has taught me how to respect my wife’s innocence.
FLOWER: You mean, suspect?
ANDREW: No, Flower. You and I are going to move back out of doors. Everything seems more innocent in the open air.
FLOWER: Andrew, darling.
CONNIE: Peter, can’t we go to the country, too?
PETER: What? I’ve been urging you for ages.
CONNIE: I was so frightened when I thought I’d lost you. I’m going to give up everything for you, Peter.
PETER: What are you going to give up?
CONNIE: Oh—I’m not going to send Aunt Mary a Christmas present, and running around in general.
PETER: Connie, darling.
BAFFLES: Mr. Andrew, are you quite determined on this step?
ANDREW: Yes, I am. A man’s got to choose sometimes between other people’s ideas of himself and his own.
BAFFLES: Allow me to remind you, Miss Flower, that home brew from wild oats makes a volatile mixture.
FLOWER: We can make a go of it, I’m sure.
BAFFLES: Then if Miss Flower and Mr. Andrew are absolutely certain that they’re finished with the debauch, I may as well disclose that that was the result your uncle had in mind at the beginning.
ANDREW: What are you talking about?
FLOWER: Don’t mind, Andrew. We can do without the money.
BAFFLES: The will was drawn up as it was, sir, to ensure you the experiences of life before allowing you the full responsibilities. Now that you’ve profited so wisely——
FLOWER: We keep the money after all?
BAFFLES: It passes unprovisionally to Mr. Andrew from the moment of his putting his foot down against its evil influences.
ANDREW: What if I’d fallen for all this—hooey and high life?
BAFFLES: Then, sir, the lawyers would have transferred it to the Associated Free Cabarets for Beggars-of-the-World.
FLOWER: Baffles, you make me feel like the boy at the dikes.
PETER: Who pulled out his finger because he liked the sound of running water.
CONNIE: Leave her alone, Peter. I never could be near a falls myself without wishing I had a barrel.
PETER: I’m not criticizing. Why, I hardly know her.
ANDREW: Then how did this scandal blow up?
PETER: Well, you might as well give up when you get your name in the phone book these days.
CONNIE: I’ve always wanted to meet the man who wrote it.
PETER: Wait! I’ll ask for an autographed copy.
Peter hands the book and a pen to Flower. Now, Flower, who hasn’t a very stern grip on such ponderous actualities, drops the book with a resounding crash.
FLOWER: I really couldn’t live without my inhibitions.
BAFFLES: (Excitedly rushing to the footlights at the noise) There it goes! It’s escaped!
FLOWER: What’s the matter?
CONNIE: Is my dress unfastened?
PETER: He must have seen something!
BAFFLES: It looks to me as if it’s there—See, under the fat man?
ANDREW: What is it, Baffles?
FLOWER: What could it be?
CONNIE: He must have lost something.
PETER: I don’t see anything at all.
BAFFLES: (To Flower as he pushes her back) It’s Mr. Andrew’s leprechaun, Miss. The noise must have startled it up.
Baffles leans far out into the audience.
Of course, sir, ungrounded suspicions have brought about the formation of many a strong character.
To the audience as he points:
But are you sure that uncomfortable feeling is just an attack of the hives? Because if you went home with our leprechaun we couldn’t give the show tomorrow night.
FLOWER: Oh, there it is!
CONNIE: (Jumps on sofa) Oh! Oh! Oh!
PETER: Don’t be afraid! It’s in the audience.
ANDREW: I hope it doesn’t go up my pants leg.
BAFFLES: (To audience) There’s practically no danger of that, Madam. But then, you never know what will turn out all right in the end.
So let’s not say they were silly because what you would have done depends also on what the people watching you expected of you, doesn’t it? And if nobody was looking at the time, well, life is a little like a rose without whiskers at times. So don’t go home and tell your uncle what a preposterous play it was. If he didn’t agree, he’d think it was you. We all do think there’s something exclusive about our own tastes and morals—and, even more misleading, about ourselves.
Scandalabra was written by Zelda Fitzgerald in the summer and fall of 1932 when the Fitzgeralds were living at “La Paix,” outside Baltimore. The play was produced in 1933 by the Junior Vagabonds and ran for a scheduled six nights in Baltimore, from June 26 to July 1.
There are two versions of Scandalabra: the ninety-one-page typescript deposited for copyright on October 31, 1932, and the undated sixty-one-page version in the Zelda Fitzgerald Papers at Princeton University Library. Both typescripts have a three-act structure; it may be that neither of these is the play as it was performed.
The shorter version printed here is almost certainly a later revision—if not the final one—of the longer text. Not only are speeches shortened and sometimes eliminated, but scenes are rearranged and new ones are added. The drastic cutting and revising produces a script that, while still probably a weak stage vehicle, at least reads more like a play in finished form.
Confusion within the play—as well as about the play—seems to reflect the turbulence in the Fitzgeralds’ lives during the time Scandalabra was written. Zelda Fitzgerald had suffered two breakdowns, and their marriage was in jeopardy. After her novel, Save Me the Waltz (1932), Fitzgerald had forbidden her to write fiction that would preempt material he wanted for Tender Is the Night. If she wrote a play, it must not be about psychiatry, nor should its locale be the Riviera or Switzerland; moreover, Fitzgerald must be given the right to approve her idea. These restrictions were more than Zelda Fitzgerald could tolerate.
Because of Zelda Fitzgerald’s determination to keep her work from Fitzgerald, he did not see a script for Scandalabra before its production. He first saw the play at dress rehearsal, which ran from approximately 8:15 p.m. to 1 a.m. The length of this performance made it clear that Scandalabra could not open as it was; Fitzgerald assembled the cast and revised the acting script in an all-night session. Despite his efforts Scandalabra played to poor reviews and small audiences.
Scandalabra was first published in 1980 as a limited edition (Columbia, S.C., and Bloomfield Hills, Mich.: Bruccoli Clark). This corrected text is republished here.