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“The Egg or the Scorpion”

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Baxter, Gary J. (Australian playwright, writer, actor 1949-____), “The Egg or the Scorpion,”

a 35-minute thriller drama in English, set in a large house, inner city, Sydney, Australia, on a stormy evening, now or future,


  •  © 2002 by Gary J. Baxter;  •  in Gary J. Baxter’s The Egg or The Scorpion (Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia: The Author, 2002);  •  script/rights available from Gary J. Baxter, 133 Waratah Street, Katoomba 2780, New South Wales, Australia, e-mail gazbax@bigpond.com, telephone (home) 02 4782 9095, (work) 02 4782 9095, fax 02 4782 9095.  •  Cited by Gary J. Baxter via ftp July 29, 2002; Baxter says,

  §  Dramatis Personae John (m), 45, white, middle-class husband and father; Jan (f), 36, white, middle-class wife and mother; Nuala (f), 20, dark or olive complexion, not immediately recognizable as Anglo-Saxon.

  §  Synopsis “John has fallen asleep in his armchair over a bottle of red wine. Jan, his wife is reading. The night is stormy. There is a banging at the door. Jan goes to see who it is. Nuala is on the other side of the door pleading for help. Jan is reluctant to let her in but eventually does. Nuala is afraid of something outside and appears to have been in an accident. Jan calls for John who stirs himself and joins her. Under their questioning it seems that Nuala may have been assaulted or their may have been an accident; it is hard to determine. John and Jan want to call the police or take Nuala to hospital but she seems distrustful of authority. They try to persuade her, and she reveals that her boyfriend has hit her and has her eleven month old baby. Her fear of the police is that the boyfriend will harm her or her baby. John and Jan can do nothing. Jan suggests that Nuala stay with them for the night, but John is suspicious and offers Nuala money which she rejects. Nuala becomes aware that these people will not help her and leaves. As John and Jan begin to justify their actions to each other, they hear a bang from outside that could be a gun shot or a car backfiring. John calls the police.

  §  Comment “One scene. No changes. Probably requires a working door. Areas representing a hall and a living room. But the nature of the play allows for minimal set, furniture and props. Indeed, an imaginative use of light and sound could suffice.  •  This play was produced in London in 1994 in two acts. Since then I have eliminated a character and focussed on the moral dilemma facing John and Jan.  •  The title is from Luke 11.12, ‘If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will you give him a stone . . . or if he asks for an egg, will you offer him a scorpion?’”

  §  Themes accident, assault, authority, compassion, distrust, family, fear of unknown, Luke, moral obligation, rationalization, social justice, spousal abuse, storm.


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