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Karma Dharma Prozac Zoloft

by Mark Burr 5 months ago in treatments

a one act play

Karma Dharma Prozac Zoloft
Photo by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash

DHARMA, KARMA, PROZAC, ZOLOFT

A Play

by

Mark Phillip Burr

Characters

DOCTOR BARBARA CROSS, a psychiatrist in her mid 30s or early 40s, attractive, clinical and detached. When she speaks it sounds rather formal or appropriate, the tone of voice inherent to a clinician. The audience should be able to gather that she is usually right and her voice carries this assertion.

DAVID HUME, a young man in his early twenties that is a patient and has been one for some time. His character must be able to speak earnestly and sincerely when voiced.

Setting

DOCTOR CROSS’S office. The theme of the set should be very dark, focusing on dark woods or black furniture and leather. There are two leather chairs, a patient sofa, a desk with a chair, books and papers, and leafy, green potted plants. Present time.

Lights up to reveal DOCTOR BARBARA CROSS and DAVID HUME in her office in their respective seats. DAVID is facing away from her. DOCTOR CROSS is sitting in her chair by DAVID on the patient’s couch and jotting notes on a legal pad, the audience is joining midsession.

DOCTOR CROSS

So, David—

DAVID HUME

Yes?

(He says this like he’s startled, his voice should be raspy.)

DOCTOR CROSS

Have you been sticking to the medicines?

DAVID HUME

Yeah, I have but they’ve been making feel a little weird—like twitchy.

DOCTOR CROSS

(Feigned sounding excitement)Okay, well you know what that means?

(DOCTOR CROSS lowers her legal pad into her lap, both her palms face down on her knees, like talking to child or a puppy)

DAVID HUME

(DAVID says a dumb sounding)Huh?

(DAVID turns his around at this peering back over at DOCTOR CROS)

DOCTOR CROSS

Too much medicine; we’re going to have to lower your dosages.

DAVID HUME

Oh, that’s good right?

DOCTOR CROSS

Yes, it’s very good. We only want you have you on as much as you need to control your symptoms. I want you to tell me if you are still experiencing side effects after the dosage change.

(DOCTOR CROSS jots some notes on her legal pad, then looks up, pauses and says the next line.)

(Sincerely) You know I’m here only to help you.

DAVID HUME

Yeah, I know you’re only trying to help me, I appreciate it, really I do.

(DOCTOR CROSS pauses and no words are said as she is writing on another, smaller prescription pad. Three or four beats should pass. DAVID is twiddling with his thumbs, visibly looking around the room and back at DOCTOR CROSS before saying the next line.)

DAVID HUME

So, Doc, have you given any more thought to what I asked you last week?

DOCTOR CROSS

Why—are you still worked up about that?

(DAVID stirs a little and turns around to look at her on the couch.)

DAVID HUME

I wasn’t worked up. It’s just—it’s just something that really interests me about people. I mean you’re an analyst for Christ’s sake, you got to think about things like that.

DOCTOR CROSS: DAVID HUME:

David, remember to breathe. Okay.

DOCTOR CROSS

Yes, I did think about what you asked me. I’m really not sure if I can give you a definitive answer or the one you are—

DAVID HUME

Any answer, there’s no such thing as a wrong answer to this question.

DOCTOR CROSS

(Somewhat annoyed sounding) David—what I came up with is that—what I want to do while I’m here on this planet for whatever short amount of time I am—is to understand and help people as much as I can.

DAVID HUME

That’s very noble, Doc. You admit it’s a feeling though, isn’t it? You can’t quantify or qualify or whatever it, right?

DOCTOR CROSS

(Slight condescending tone) Yes, but I want you to understand that it is not as simple as you want to make it.

DAVID HUME

Believe me—I understand that things never seem the way they really are.

DOCTOR CROSS

David, if I ask you a question can you promise to be very truthful with me?

DAVID HUME

(Very quick and assuredly) Always.

DOCTOR CROSS

Are you still experiencing delusions?

DAVID HUME

(Defensively) Well I wouldn’t call them delusions like you do—

DOCTOR CROSS

David—

DAVID HUME

But no, not like when I first started seeing you. (softly) It’s different now. It’s just—it’s just why don’t you ever talk to me about being spiritual, or even your beliefs? I know you say I shouldn’t invest myself in signs or things other people can’t see but…just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there. I mean, you believe in atoms and chemicals and neurotransmitters and you can’t see those.

DOCTOR CROSS

(Short pause) It would be a conflict of interest if I were to talk to you about my own personal beliefs, David. Besides, your delusions and illusions of grandeur stem from false beliefs of religious persecution.

DAVID HUME

Look, I know you keep saying that, delusions, false beliefs, yadda yadda yadda—just humor me for a minute, will you? My family is paying you a lot of money I’m sure.

DOCTOR CROSS

Alright, but only for a few minutes David.

DAVID HUME

Lately, I’ve been thinking that—that you know, nothing is real. Nothing is constant, everything changes and is subjective. Even you know, math. Sometimes two plus two equals five, like in the vacuum of space or black holes or some shit like that, but I’m not a mathematician or physicist or anything so—

(DAVID turns around and looks at DOCTOR CROSS for a moment to see if she’s really listening.)

DOCTOR CROSS

Go on.

DAVID HUME

(Inspired, rapid speech, not too rapid, excited) Well, what I think or really, what I’ve been feeling is that there are a lot of things in this world we don’t really understand yet. I think, I mean feel like knowledge isn’t something we should entirely trust in. If you really think about it, don’t you ever feel like, I mean know, that it’s all made up? Everything. Everything that has a name has to have been named. These particles, these feelings, these thoughts, did they exist before they were named or do they exist because we have a name for them? Are there things that we cannot name, is anything unnamable?

DOCTOR CROSS: DAVID:

David—I’m a doctor not a philosopher. Just listen please. (He almost starts to cry and sounds like it)

DOCTOR CROSS

Have you been having more episodes of crying?

DAVID HUME

Yeah but I’ve been crying because I’ve been so happy, though. What you don’t understand is that I am happy. Honestly, it just swells in me until I feel like I’m going to break, with this big smile plastered on my dumb face because everything is just so fucking beautiful.

DOCTOR CROSS

That is not good. You know how I feel about that.

DAVID HUME

(Strongly) Is it so absurd to believe in enlightenment? An awakening, realization, epiphany? Illumination subite— (illumin—ah-shun soo-bee-tay; this is French)

DOCTOR CROSS

(Sternly) Please calm yourself David.

DAVID HUME

(Slight Anger) Who are you to define what’s good or isn’t anyway? You can break everything down to chemicals, to elements, to atoms, the tiniest pieces of every little thing—but you can’t explain what real happiness is? Or even love? Do you even feel those things?

DOCTOR CROSS

(Coldly) Of course David, I am human.

DAVID HUME

(Under his breath) You could’ve fooled me. (Normal speech)But don’t you ever feel like—there has to be more?

DOCTOR CROSS

(Sternly) I’ve told you this once and I’ll tell you again, this existential crisis you are feeling—all this transference you are exhibiting stems from a chemical imbalance in your brain. You have a mood disorder and are trying your best to transfer these feelings into something you feel that is tangible. You are displacing all these unresolved emotions into this pointless thinking to qualify how you feel.

DAVID HUME

(Pleading) Hear me out, I think, I feel, this is why we are here. To experience everything, the good and the bad, everything is the same. We are all pieces of God infinitely separating and uniting, trying to experience it all. This is why we do it, this is why we do anything, it’s all really about love, finding it, keeping it. That’s why you still wear that ring, right? I mean, don’t you feel like any of this rings true or resonates with you? I mean, anything?

(At this point DAVID and DOCTOR CROSS are face to face and he is no longer lying down. He gestures wildly while speaking.)

DOCTOR CROSS

David—what are you talking about?

(DOCTOR CROSS sets down legal pad and pen. Stares at DAVID)

DAVID HUME

I heard your husband died in an accident. I know you’re angry with God, I know you feel like bad shit just happens for no reason but—

DOCTOR CROSS

(Flustered) This is inappropriate.

(DOCTOR CROSS stands up and checks her watch)

DAVID HUME

Listen—everyday little-big miracles happen. They really do, and I know what I experienced and I know it’s true, not because anyone else says it is, but because I say it is.

DOCTOR CROSS

David, that is the definition of a delusion: a false belief held with absolute conviction despite superior evidence.

DAVID HUME

Polonius said to Hamlet, “To thine own self be true.” I would just be lying to myself if I said otherwise.

DOCTOR CROSS

(Sighing, tone of resignation) I think you are very smart David, but you are thinking too much. I want you to—

DAVID HUME

It’s the solider jumping on a grenade, it’s the way moms just throw that arm up against their kids when screeching to a halt, it’s all these little moments of our existence I think that no one really second guesses, in those moments, you know, they just do, it’s why we are here and why—think about everything that really matters to you—it all comes from love right? The soul? Its not logic and it’s not right or wrong, it’s beyond good and evil and all of that mess, it’s the only thing that is still pure.

(DAVID grabs her hand before this dialogue. DOCTOR CROSS pauses after his lines and he drops her hand.)

DOCTOR CROSS

(With full authority of her voice) Be calm David. Listen, look at me, I’m thinking you need to relax more, perhaps start keeping a journal of these ideas you have racing in your mind. I really think that would do you some good.

DAVID HUME

(Softly but clear) Now I know you don’t believe in a lot of this, but it’s real. I promise you, you would not believe the number of people that still don’t believe what’s right in front of them. Just think about it, please.

DOCTOR CROSS

Time’s up David. I’m going to lower the dosage of your medication.

(DOCTOR CROSS finishes writing on her pads and hands DAVID a slip.)

You need to relax. You’re a young man, go have some fun. I want to hear that you’ve done something you enjoyed next week, okay?

DAVID HUME

(Defeated) Okay. Thanks Dr. Cross. Sorry for the—just sorry.

(DAVID and DR. CROSS shake hands.)

DOCTOR CROSS

(Audible relief in her voice) Bye David.

(DOCTOR CROSS walks DAVID out the door. Exit DAVID. DOCTOR CROSS wanders over to her desk after letting him out and sits in her chair and fiddles with a picture in a frame before putting it face down on her desk. This action should be audible to the audience but not a slam. The lights dim and then a single spotlight shines on DOCTOR CROSS. She then walks up to the lip of the stage and says the next line to the audience while fiddling with the ring on her ring finger.

The truth is…I couldn’t tell you what to believe. No one can.

(Blackout)

END OF PLAY.

treatments

Mark Burr

Mark Burr is a poet from Ocean Springs MS. He was last published in Prairie Schooner. He is currently working on a chapbook. He also writes short stories and takes cool pictures with his camera.

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