NAWPA: Park View Cafe, a.k.a. Synopsis

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Park View Cafe, a.k.a.
JudyLee Olivia

Stick: Very thin woman, probably 45 but looks older, died black hair.
Band-aid: Tall, odd looking man, balding, hard to determine age, has band-aid on forehead.
Juke Box: Small man, early thirties, scruffy appearance, twinkling eyes.
Avon: Homeless woman, either insane or very wise.
Action takes place in the Park View Cafe, a run down truck stop in a small town in the south. There is a counter upstage with several bar stools. There is an old juke box that doesn’t work. In the center are two booths with seats, which were once red vinyl, but are now mostly dirt and masking tape. There are no doors and only one window which has been papered over. There is a ceiling fan hanging from the middle of the room, but does not turn. Clearly visible is a “NO SMOKING” sign hanging loosely on a rusted nail. Nothing is completely realistic. Something doesn’t seem right about the place. The date is irrelevant.
A stranger leaves a small box with the following message: “Thank you for this last supper. My compliments to the chef. Please accept this as my payment. I assure you. The contents in the box are real and valuable. But please, don’t open it until there is nothing left.” The waitress, Stick, feels jilted. Band-aid, the “chef,” is amused. Sleepy, Juke Box and Avon–the regulars–are curious. The Park View Cafe is no ordinary run down truck stop, on the “corner of wishin’ and one stop short of hell.” Something isn’t right about the place. There are no doors and the only window has been papered over. No one saw the stranger enter or leave. Stick was the only one who talked with him. Something isn’t right about this place.

Park View Cafe, a.k.a. is an absurd one act comedy, with five characters and a simple unit set. The five characters are paralyzed by life. Then one day a stranger leaves a mysterious box. Avon suggests they play “box the compass,” each offering a guess as to what’s in the box–each becoming a member of the “revolution.” Between guesses and the daily rituals of the cafe’s unusual clan, reality slips away. Juke Box literally becomes any instrument he wishes. He is a saxophone, a flute, an oboe, and it is both absurdly funny and strangely sad. In those same moments where life doesn’t add up to days and nights, Stick can reveal the burdens of a simple life that has devolved into inertia. She speaks about her mother Ina: “You know, she can’t eat no more, directly, that is. She just pours a can down a tube in her stomach, burps, and that’s how she knows what flavor her dinner is. She can still smoke though. Gives her pleasure. Smoke blurs out the day. Fogs up her memory. Mine too.” Band-Aid, the cook, takes things in stride. Like all the characters, his nickname has more than one meaning. He knows his role in society: “Everyone needs a ball underneath the board on their teeter totter, now don’t they? Sweet boy. That’s me. In the middle of everyone else’s ups and downs.” And there’s Sleepy, who, when not reading “old news”–sleeps. But it is Avon, the leader of the “revolution” who spends her time preaching the gospel of glamour, who attempts to lead them out of the cafe, singing Patti Labelle’s “I Believe I Can Fly” in full tilt.

This one act, for mature audiences, delivers the laughs with an underlying pause to reflect. The line between humor and pain blurs a bit. The truth is both funny and scary. And as befits the genre, the last line is a question, not an answer: “Am I the man left in the field or the man taken?”

Synopsis written by the author.