Synopses for (Not) At Home: three seriously funny short plays
The inhabitants of Hradec, a small village in an unnamed country in formerly communist Eastern Europe, seem to be happy with their lives. But there is a threat on the horizon in the form of Borstad, a rapidly growing nearby city. One day the mayor of Hradec receive s a letter from the district Development Office informing him that all of Hradec is to be razed to build an apartment complex to relieve housing congestion in Borstad. In exchange for losing their homes and businesses, the residents of Hradec will receive apartments in the new complex: a one-bedroom apartment for each single adult, and a two bedroom apartment for each married couple.
The married residents of Hradec quickly conclude that they would be better off financially with two one-bedroom apartments than with one two-bedroom apartment. Within months nearly every married couple, from teenage newlyweds to octogenarians, have gotten divorced. However, the government had not built enough one bedroom apartments for this new demographic profile, and informs the people of Hradec that if they were married before the original announcement they will still receive a two-bedroom apartment. By this time, though, the fabric of Hradec society has already broken down: old men are dating young women; old women are happy not to have to cook and clean for their husbands; young couples each refuse to take responsibility for their young children, so the grandparents have the childcare responsibility. In fact, nearly no one is interested in getting remarried. It is clear that the citizens of Hradec will have to rebuild their lives, but they won’t look anything like they did before these developments.
Stephen is a young man who is not at home anywhere, and his is not happy about it. He was born in Saudi Arabia of a South African father and a Columbian mother, and has moved from country to country throughout his life. Having been educated primarily in American schools overseas, he looks and sounds like an American, but has never been to the United States and does not think like an American. Now Stephen lives in isolation in a strangely intrusive dwelling that has vestiges of every country he has lived in, but is not physically located in any of those places. His only companion is Hans, a bossy cuckoo clock that organizes his day, and he spends his time perusing news media in a variety of languages and considering applying for immigration to a long list of countries. One day Amrita, an Indian woman, knocks on his door and introduces herself as an immigration official. After some confusion over which country Amrita represents, it is revealed that she is herself a recent immigrant to the United States, now working for the U.S. Immigration Service. In stark contrast to Stephen, Amrita does not look or sound at all like an American, but definitely thinks like one. From the first moment, Stephen, Hans and Amrita are in cultural conflict. However Amrita’s visit serves as the catalyst for Stephen’s decision on how to pursue a cultural identity.
An American business man gets into a taxi at the airport in Milan, Italy. From the moment the businessman gets into the car he is sure he is being cheated and becomes very aggressive with the driver. The businessman speaks no Italian and the driver speaks no English, but they manage to carry one a very animated conversation. The driver does, in fact, try to cheat the businessman, and who has the upper hand switches several times. Somehow, both of them end up getting the worst of the exchange.