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“Patient 23”

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Sonenstein, Peter (American playwright, 19__-____), “Patient 23,”

a 70-minute comedy-drama in English, set in a doctor's office, operating room, a
forest, 1996,

1m1f;

  •  © 1996 by Peter Sonenstein;  •  script/rights available from Peter Sonenstein, 212 Dean Street, #1, Brooklyn, New York City 11217, New York, U.S.A.,
(718) 596-3704, U.S.A., e-mail peter@sonenstein.com, telephone (home) 718-596-3704.  •  Cited by Peter Sonenstein, via ftp April 7, 1999; Sonenstein says,

  §  Dramatis Personae Dr. William Kroft (m), a successful plastic surgeon; Wendy Mitchell (f), a surgical patient.

  §  Synopsis “Dr. William Kroft, a successful plastic surgeon, tells the audience that he will tell us the story of "Patient 23" but in the end it all comes down to what we believe.  The story begins the day Wendy Mitchell walks into Dr. Kroft's office and asks him to put a plain white horn in the middle of her forehead. At first, Dr. Kroft is skeptical, but once Wendy challenges his surgical abilities, and convinces him that she can pay his outrageous fee, he agrees to perform the operation. When they meet again two weeks later, Dr. Kroft has not only met her challenge, but surpassed it by devising a plan to implant a living horn nub from a goat in her forehead, allowing Wendy to grow her own horn. During the operation, however, something goes wrong. When Dr. Kroft attaches the last blood vessel to the horn nub, Wendy's heart suddenly stops. While Dr. Kroft tries to revive her, we see Wendy, who is lost in a dream. She is in a forest, and a powerful but unseen presence is rushing towards her. Wendy is yanked out of the dream when Dr. Kroft succeeds in making her heart beat again. Much relieved, he finishes the operation. A few days after the operation, Dr. Kroft checks the progress of Wendy's new horn. Wendy complains that the horn hurts and that it's causing all kinds of odd side effects (loss of appetite, hot flashes, swelling in her arms and feet, rapid growth in her fingernails, and strange dreams about the forest). She is scared and asks Dr. Kroft to remove the horn. Dr. Kroft argues that this is all part of the normal healing process. Also he has received a lot of publicity from an article he has written about the procedure. He wants her to give the horn a little more time, and wants Wendy to talk to the press about the procedure. She reluctantly agrees to do both. When they meet again, Wendy has had a full recovery. She is radiant, joyful and, thanks to Dr. Kroft, has become quite the celebrity. Dr. Kroft, on the other hand, has had nothing but bad luck with the procedure. He has patients lined up around the block to get horns, but each time he attempts the operation, something goes violently wrong and he has to abort the procedure. Wendy tells him she knows why. She believes that she has become a unicorn, and it's a well known fact that there can only be one unicorn in the world at a time. Dr. Kroft dismisses her, but she is insistent. She claims to have supernatural powers and senses. Dr. Kroft believes her horn is a time bomb waiting to go off and wants to remove it immediately. Wendy fights him, but in trying to show him what she sees in herself, she is quickly exhausted and loses consciousness.  Dr. Kroft admits Wendy to the hospital for emergency surgery to remove her horn before it kills her. He visits her before the operation, and expresses his regret that things did not work out as he had hoped. Wendy begs him to let her keep the horn. She pleads that her transformation into the unicorn is not complete. And even if he does not believe she is a unicorn, she does believe it, and it is the only thing in her whole life that has made her feel special. She would rather die trying to become a unicorn than go back to her average life. He is moved, and agrees to let her out of the hospital, but when she tries to leave, she finds she is too weak to stand. Dr. Kroft picks her up and carries her out of the hospital in his arms. They go to the city park, where he places her in a circle of trees. She thanks him for everything he has done, and he sincerely apologizes again for what he has done to her. As the moment of transformation approaches, she looks into the trees and recognizes this place as the forest in her dreams.  She sees the presence from her vision approaching. She tells Dr. Kroft ‘I’ll make a believer out of you yet.  You’ll see.’ and then goes limp in his arms. Dr. Kroft again addresses to the audience, telling them that he has told us what he knows but the rest depends on what we believe. And as the spotlight fades on him, we hear the sound of hoofbeats and horses growing louder and louder and louder.”

  §  Comment See also Peter Sonenstein’s “The Machine," a 45-minute comedy in English, set in the systems department, in the future, 2m.

  §  Themes bad luck, celebrity, dream, failure, forest, goat, heart failure, horn, hospital, illusion, journalism, operation, paranormal, park, plastic surgery, presentational theatre, publicity, side effects, supernatural power, transformation, unicorn, vision.
 
 
 

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