A Lively Outfit

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2 characters. Ten minutes running time. An eccentric shop owner recruits his assistant to help him with a strange experiment.

When Theo takes a job at a clothing shop, he has no idea what he is in for! The shop owner turns out to be somewhat of a Dr. Frankenstein in this quirky scene for two teenagers.

About the Playwright

Jeff Dunne is a playwright living near Baltimore, but his plays have been produced across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Both his full-length plays and shorter one-act scripts have won numerous festivals and competitions with professional and amateur theaters, and several works have been either written for or adapted to film. Jeff’s focus in writing is to encourage people to see life from new perspectives, to open their minds to alternate interpretations and possibilities with respect to things that they might otherwise take for granted. When not writing, Jeff enjoys acting (not nearly enough) and chocolate (far too much), and runs a Not-For-Profit organization that works to improve our world through a better understanding of the nature of self and consciousness. He is also a researcher in physics, engineering, and data science at the Johns Hopkins University.

Excerpt from the scene

CHARACTERS

THEO
A young man, perhaps late teens, who is looking to bring in a little money.

FRANK
Owner of Stein Mart, and a scientist on the verge of a great discovery.

SETTING: A back room in a department store; modern day.

(It is a back room of a department store. An older gentleman is standing near a table considering some clothes laid out upon it. Behind him are more clothes, perhaps on racks or just in piles.)

THEO
Hello? Mr. Stein? They told me to come back he-

FRANK
Yes, yes! Come in, come in.

THEO
Are you Mr. Stein?

FRANK
Call me Frank. And you are?

THEO
Theogore Maclovski.

FRANK
Theodore Maclov-

THEO
Actually, it’s Theogore. It’s an old family name. But everyone calls me Theo.

FRANK
I see. So, Theo, are you from the area?

THEO
Yes sir. I grew up on Estero Island. We used to live off of Meadowlark, but-

FRANK
Fine, fine. Now tell me, Theo (he suddenly becomes very intense) Why do you want to work at Stein Mart?

THEO
Well, my mom said that I should try to get a job at Carl’s Jr., but when I saw that you were looking for an assistant, it just sounded like it was a good fit. You see, I’m trying to earn some extra money in-

FRANK
Bah! Money!? This is just about money? Off with you. Out, out!

THEO
Wait! Mr. Stei-Frank, wait. Just give me a chance. I mean, the ad didn’t really say much about the assistant job, so so it’s hard to get excited when you don’t know what you’d be doing.

FRANK
I’m looking for someone (trailing off, because he isn’t sure he’s ready to finish with “who will help me with my publicly unacceptable research”.)

THEO
Yes?

FRANK
(Assesses Theo, then)
Do you know what we do here at Stein Mart?

THEO
Uh you sell cheap clothing-

(Frank gives a grunt of derision.)

N- n- no, I didn’t mean cheap clothing. I meant you sell clothes cheaply. Like at a discount. (Frank is clearly not won over.) Please, sir, just give me a chance.

FRANK
What would you say if I told you that what I really do here is to bring clothesto life?

(A myriad of expressions cross Theo’s face – the “ah ha” of being told a secret, the fear of realizing that you actually have no idea what it means, then the concern that maybe you’re talking to a psycho.)

Nothing! Apparently, you’d say nothing if I told you that. Son, that’s a little disappointing. I think we’re through here.

THEO
Wait! No! Wait. I’m just I was just digesting what you said. So, you mean that it isn’t just about fabric, but finding what works together and making new fashions and stuff.

FRANK
No! I don’t give a rat’s toenail about fashion!

THEO
You own a chain of clothing stores.

FRANK
I’m following a higher purpose! The stores are just a cover for my real work.

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