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I'LL BE BACK BEFORE MIDNIGHT!

by Peter Colley

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NATIONAL ANTHEMS a play by Dennis McIntyre

Arthur and Leslie Reed have just given a party after moving into a high-class neighborhood in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. Ben, a man from the neighborhood, unexpectedly knocks on their door and invites himself in. He admires the expensive possessions the Reeds have and they are pleased that he is impressed. Unlike Arthur and Leslie, Ben is not financially successful and he lacks their social prestige, but he has struggled all his life to achieve these goals. He is proud that as a fireman he got his name in the newspaper the previous week for trying to rescue a woman from a blazing fire. He believes this was an act of heroism even though he was fired for disobeying orders while trying to save the woman. Ben makes himself at home and does his best to ingratiate himself. He introduces a party game which only makes Arthur angry when he loses. Then Ben offers to demonstrate a magic trick that Arthur bets money he will be able to expose. He can’t. After that, the two men, who were both star football players in high school, argue about whose home town has better football players. Their quarrel builds to such a feverish pitch, that they clear the furniture and play football against each other in the living room, to Leslie’s utter dismay. Later she gets caught up in the excitement and cheers them on, regressing into her past when she was a cheerleader in high school. The improvised game gets rough and the men become enraged with each other in their desperate need to win. Arthur finally cuts through the childish football competition and proclaims how he is vastly superior to Ben in the real world where it really counts. Ben’s modest life and his job as a fireman are not enough to elevate him anywhere close to the status of the Reeds, Arthur claims. The competition becomes more and more intense until the end of the play when it is up to the audience to decide who won, if anyone, and who lost. 

 

                       

                           Gareth Davies, Miles Western and Tanya Winsor