Friday, 15 June 2012

Act 3 Contentious Minds: The Mary McCarthy/Lillian Hellman Affair. By Ben Pleasants & Jennifer Gundy


                             

WRITER’S COPY FOR TECH RUN THRU




 Act Three: Scene One
Laura
A cemetery in the vicinity of Hamden, Connecticut. It’s December 7 1975..This one was my idea. (Softly.) Death is the ultimate theatre.
Mary
It all seems like a dream for me. Two funerals in two days. Thanks for driving me up here. (beat.) So? Do you miss it? (It begins to rain).
Laura
Paris? (Spot follows them as they walk slowly across the stage.) A little. (Points) There.
Mary
I don’t want to get too close. (They stop.) I didn’t know him that well. (Opens up her umbrella). He had no enemies I know of. His life writings were conducted completely without malice.
Voice
Friends and relatives (Beat) we have come here to day celebrate the life of a great playwright and novelist who knew the dead quite well and spoke with eloquence about their long vigil over…the living…(Voice fades out)
Laura
I suppose he knew her too…
Mary
What? I’m sorry…I was trying to recall the year I wrote…that review
Laura
Miss Hellman
Mary
Oh, Miss Hellman. (chuckles). Yes, thy were close.
Laura
She could be here somewhere…is that why we’re so far back?
Mary
Miss Hellman winters in Los Angeles. Edmund, rest his troubled soul, once spoke of an idea her and Thornton had…but it came to nothing….
Voice
It was his hope to slow down time just long enough so we might grasp what was passing…what would not return…
Mary
Funny…looking down from his hillside in the cold and rain…so much of what he did (beat) He was the last to look back on what we were as a people, not in a political…(Thinks about her childhood in Seattle).
Laura
I saw the play in London….”Our Town”. A revival.
Mary
When I attended the opening on Broadway, I went with critical intent (Smiling) hoping to hate it…a stage manager as the lead and all that blank space on stage…I tried to hold it back…my emotions welling up with…a tough Trotskyite…who fought against all things sentimental and yet…the tears came anyway…in spite of myself…that’s real drama…when you try not to cry. I was ashamed until I looked around…like today. (They both look down the hill.)
Voice
That his humour and his gentleness might be remembered by you all…that would be sufficient for him…
Mary
…all around me in the theatre I saw them crying…tough old birds from uptown and hard line Stalinists and old maids and golfers from the suburbs…they took no notice of me…and finally….
Voice
So, with a gentle smile we say goodbye…To Thornton Neville Wilder…
Laura
Let’s walk back unless you want to say…something.
Mary
No, no, there’ll be enough of that tomorrow…It made me laugh to think a trick like that…putting the dead upon the stage…could move me so. Seems like such a long ago.
Lily
(Enters with umbrella raised and addresses audience from center stage.) Poor Wilder. Poor sad ghost of what once was. The last gasping WASP on the American stage is now dust. The parade’s gone by for them. It’s time to sweep up the elephant shit and move on. (Wipes rain from her glasses.) Curtain down. (Bumps into Mary as three rush together). (Squinting). You! Out on the edge as the observer. Afraid to show your face?
Mary
(To Lily.) We musn’t go back.
Lily
Why, you’re trembling so? (Takes her arm.) Do you fear me face to face with all my armor on?
Mary
You of the masculine theatre? (crosses to platform) What the Western mind fears most is silence. (Mary and Laura fold up their umbrellas and walk off as the lights go down.)
Lily
(Walks off the stage into the audience.) (Shouting). Sarah Lawrence College, in Bronxville, New York. The year is 1948. After my talk to a delighted faculty and student body, I went out on sun porch of the president of the college A man. I forget his name. He wasn’t there. It was the one time in public we stood face to face, Miss McCarthy and I.




















Act Three: Scene Two
Lily
As light comes up, Laura, an eager student, is seated on a swing chair with Tom. (Both are in Forties college Lily
attire. It’s the first day of spring, 1948 on the campus of Sarah Lawrence.)
Laura
Do you think they’d tell me? Between the two of them….the critic and the playwright…
Tom
I’d be a little careful of them both…Miss McCarthy writes fiction based on fact, and I’ve been told that Miss Hellman turns her facts into fiction. It all goes to motivation.
Laura
It’s just…that I’ve always wondered why poor John Dos Passos seemed to dry up and blow away.
Tom
Miss Hellman would know. She knew all of them. She’s a pal of Hemingway. And Dos Passos. They were all in the Spanish Civil War together!
Laura
Even Scott Fitzgerald?
Tom
(Laughs) No, not him. Not unless it was fought on the French Riviera. (Sits and swings her gently.)
Laura
Oh, the Spanish Civil War! It’s all so romantic, like Lord Byron in Greece. I think that the way Miss Hellman as a woman moves around in a man’s world: wars and Hollywood and Henry Wallace…why…she’s got to be the greatest lady playwright…in America.
Lily
(Enters dressed to impress.) I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that. Of course, there’s always Miss Treadwell!
Laura
I’m embarrassed Miss Hellman…
Lily
Don’t be
Laura
(Swing slows down.) Who’s Miss Treadwell?
Tom
Sophie Treadwell. Long forgotten. Best…to forget her, Miss Hellman. Tom. (Rises and puts out his hand.)
Lily
(She shakes it firmly, then sits down). Why thank you, Tom. Always a Tom.
Tom
She’s Laura.
Lily
(Puts on a southern accent) Tom and Laura. Just like in the play. Of course, theatre, when I began was more muscular. I recall a truck driver blocking traffic on Broadway just to buy eight tickets for my play.
Laura
(Getting confused.) I’d like to ask you…in the Spanish Civil War, did you….
Tom
(Swings them hard)
Lily
Such a tragedy, in spite of what Orwell wrote…There never was a war more black and white than that one.
Laura
I know you played a part in Spain, a big part…
Lily
We did a film. “The Spanish Earth.” Hemingway narrated it! I wrote it!
Tom
Imagine that. (Speeds up again)
Laura
I know, I know….(Slows swing down.) but what I wanted to know was…Whatever happened to John Dos Passos? He just seemed to…
Tom
Get off the train…
Lily
(Gets off the swing.) Yes. He did. With me there always rivalries. It’s difficult with women, you know….Dos had a wife named Katy. Ernest and….Katy grew up together…Katy died last year…Ernest…
Laura
You call him Ernest?
Lily
Of course, he’s my friend. They both are. But in Spain it started over food. With bombs falling everywhere…well…you know the way it is…living in New York…eating out all the time…Dos had come to Spain to eat. He was sadly disappointed with the food.
Tom
I’m confused….
Laura
Food?
Lily
And then Dos drove off the road into a tree and killed poor. Katy…but before that in Madrid…
Mary
(Enters looking like a student with hair up in a bun.) That’s certainly not what Dos told me.
Lily
(Squints at her.) (To Tom.) Would you light me, please?
Mary
(Pushes a match in her face and lights her cigarette)
Lily
It was all about food. John is a bit of a snob when it comes to eating. It’s hard to get lamb chops when you’re under bombardment! You were in Spain, then? (Not recognizing her.)
Laura
She’s…
Tom
(Grabbing her arm.) No, no…let’s just let this…go
Lily
(Recognizes her.) Oooohhh Miss…Well, well. Yes I was in Spain while you were pulling weeds at Wellfleet. (Snorts a laugh) Miss McCarthy. Scampering around dressed as a student. How cunning. I don’t see that well. (Puts on glasses).
Mary
I teach here. At Sarah Lawrence. I was just trying to say…that John Dos Passos  told me (Tom and Laura ignore her)…
Lily
Walking alone at midday near the Hotel Florida in the middle of an air raid…all swept up in my thoughts…while John could only think about his stomach…(Sits back in the swing).
Laura
I see. (Sitting down beside her.) Push us TOM. And you knew Scott Fitzgerald?
Mary
(Moves toward front stage center.)
Lily
I knew Scott. Poor man. His books are so horribly dated in 1948.
Tom
(Pushing harder.) Not to me. Gatsby…
Laura
(She overrides him.) And Spain for you…
Lily
Spain was a defining moment for me. You had to have been there under bombardment with all the irrationality and drama of war. Buildings falling down around you. For me it was a beginning. For John Dos Passos it proved to be an end. He simply lost his was as a writer.
Laura
I see. (Smiles) What you say for a woman is all sooooo….perfectly romantic.
Mary
(In a single spot.) And incorrect. All made up. It was spring of 1948 at Sarah Lawrence. We were out on the sun porch of the President of college. His name was Harold Taylor. He was my boss. It was not about food at all. It was about murder!



 




Act Three: Scene Three
Mary
Tom and Laura are together in a porch swing gently
Tom
I’d be careful with each of them. First, there’s Miss McCarthy, who uses facts to bolster her fiction, and there there’s Miss Hellman, who uses fiction to support her facts. They’re a dangerous pair…and when they collide…
Laura
Pair of what? Women? Well, I can ask my question. Why did John Dos Passos just dry up like an old apple?
Tom
Or crack up like Fitzgerald. I’d take the chance. Miss Hellman knew all of them. Even Hemingway. They were all in the Spanish Civil War together.
Laura
Even Fitzgerald?
Tom
Not Fitzgerald, unless it was fought on the French Riviera.
Laura
The Spanish Civil War. It all sounds so romantic, like reading Shelley. I just think that for a woman…the way Miss Hellman moves among men…Wars and Hollywood and Henry Wallace, PM, all that justice! She’s got to be the finest woman playwright in the country. Right, Tom?
Lily
I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that. All a woman needs is a modest talent and a touch of a Southern drawl. Of course, there’s always Miss Treadwell.
Laura
Who?
Tom
Sophie Treadwell, not too bad. She should be revived…Right, Miss Hellman? Tom. (Holds out hand and offers seat.)
Lily
Why thank you, Tom. (Sits beside her.)
Tom
She’s Laura.
Laura
All Lauras look alike. I just wanted to ask you about John Des Passos and the Spanish Civil War. (She starts to move the swing).
Lily
The Spanish Civil War is something I’m an expert on. I know more about it than Orwell. If the civilized world had stepped in in 1937…before Madrid fell…
Tom
I think Laura wanted to know why John Des Passos….
Lily
Gave up on Marxism, gave up on Hemingway, gave up on life and are and wrong and right? It was all about food. Dos Passos, who wrote so much about the poor, was a gourmet. And then, of course, he killed his wife. Poor Katy. (Swing stops). Mr Dos Passos. He liked his good red wine and his fine cigars and his…
Mary
(Enters briskly.) Caviar. Here’s a little history from the KGB.
Lily
(Looks up and thinks that Mary is a student.) What?
Mary
Did you get much caviar in Spain, Miss Hellman? You say this is all about food. And how dare you bring up Katy’s death…
Lily
You think as a student you feel qualified to…
Mary
I’m not a student! I teach here, Lillian! I was a neighbour of John and Katy and I won’t let you spread such calumny. (Dumps Laura and Lily out of the swing).
Lily
(Gets up and puts on glasses.) Just who do you think you are?
Laura
She’s Mary McCarthy, of course.
Lily
(Puts on glasses.) Now I recognize you.
Mary
(Pushes her down into the swing and sits beside her) You must be blind, Miss Hellman.
Lily
I don’t see well. (She tries to get up but can’t.)
Mary
You missed a lot in Spain. Food, you say, was what drove Dos Passos from his place at the top of the writers totem pole on the American Left?
Lily
Food was exactly…why he betrayed the Spanish Republic!
Mary
It was not about food at all! You know the reason. A friend of his was murdered by the Stalinists in Spain. His name was Robles. Dos was the only journalist who had the courage to write about it…and he screamed it out while you and Hemingway…kissed Stalin’s derriere.
Lily
This is making me dizzy…
Mary
I’ll make you vomit up the truth!
Laura
Boy, this is fun! (She joins in)
Lily
Stop this damn thing. FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!
Tom
I think we should slow this thing down. (Does)
Lily
(Catches her breath). How would you know? You were not in Spain. (Wobbles to her feet.)
Mary
No, I was not. But I talked with John and I have his telephone number here. Would like to call him to verify your lies?
Lily
No. this is not what I’d planned for tonight. (Exits. She stumbles off flustered.)
Tom
I’d better run after her to make sure she doesn’t fall down the hill. (exits)
Laura
I never expected her to run. Do you really know John Dos Passos?
Mary
Only too well. I hate to say this, but I was visiting my psychiatrist nearby, purely a social call, when I suddenly became ill and rushed across the street to Dos Passos’ house…because…well…I was pregnant and hoping Katy would be home…she was not…
Laura
John Dos Passos’ house?
Mary
He lived across the street from my psychiatrist and…he was so shy…so embarrassed…I had (whispers) a miscarriage…and he…had to clean it up (thinking). When John Dos Passos spoke out on the murder of his friend in Spain, Jose Robles, the whole Stalinist pack of dogs came down on him. It made no difference. He saw the blood on their hands. And he spoke up, while Miss Hellman said nothing!...

*(Blackout)














Act Four: Scene One
Laura
It’s the summer of 1977. Mary is in here kitchen in Castine. It is a sunny Maine morning. She is 65, a little rounder than she has been, her face a little older, almost no make up, seems content as a mother, wife author and woman. She is not afraid of matronhood..Mary is in her kitchen in Castine. (Stage right is strangely dark).
Mary
(Bread making continues through entire scene.) (To Laura offstage.) Her worst mistake was convincing herself that what she wrote on Eichmann was phenomenological, based on Husserl, when I fact, it was packed with…Did you find it?
Laura
(Offstage.) What?
Mary
All the way over on the right. Bring the rye meal, the corn meal, and the graham flour. What Hannah wrote was filled with subliminal rage that came from her love for Heidigger and her anger with wealthy…
Laura
(Enters dressed in skirt and peasant blouse. She’s now in her mid-forties, hair severely pulled back.) I have the (Looks at boxes) corn meal and the…rye but…I couldn’t find the graham…
Mary
Oh I moved it. Try the next shelf down to the left near the rolled oats..
Laura
(Enters with apron.) What are you making?
Mary
Boston Brown Bread from my grandmother’s Fanny Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook. (Holds it up and laughs).
Laura
No cherries Jubilee?
Mary
Not this morning.
Laura
You do enjoy this, don’t you?
Mary
Yes. Yes. (Measuring milk.) At your age, Laura, my body had control of my mind and I went off where my passions led me. But now I am old enough or balanced enough or wise enough to let my mind control my body…and…
Laura
How long have you and Jim been married?
Mary
Now the corn meal. Look at the colour. How long? Same as you if you’d stayed married to Alexei.
Laura
Oh, that’s right. We’ve been divorced…four…well (beat)…fifteen years you’ve been married.
Mary
(Beginning to pour molasses.) Now the graham flour. Smell it.
Laura
“Cookery means the knowledge of Medea and of Circe and of Helen and the Queen of Sheba. It means the knowledge of herbs and fruits and balms and spices and all that is healing and sweet of the fields and savoury of meats, it means carefulness and inventiveness and willingness and readiness of appliances. It means the economy of your grandmother and the science of the modern chemist…
Mary
How was your flight into Bangor? (Pours her a glass).
Laura
Bumpy
Mary
Tomorrow I’ll drive you over to Blue Hill for lunch.
Laura
Blue Hill. That’s a wonderful name. Sounds like it was founded by Fauvists. Vlaminck or Derain. How…?
Mary
It’s called that for the blueberries and they’re in season NOW. If you’d flown over it, it would have been…well, almost Prussian Blue. The colour of my mother’s sapphire ring. (Looks at finger.) Add the salt.
Laura
Have you read Miss Hellman’s book of scoundrels?
Tom (Tom and Lily enter)
Let me see the lioness Miss Hellman.
Lily
(Snarls) You want a lioness? Make me angry. Want some leg?
Mary
I have been sampling some of it.
Tom
Now turn. I want to see some teeth!
Laura
There’s a bite to it…it’s spiteful…
Lily
You have to make me hate for that…
Laura
(Holds out bowl as Mary pours in milk.) It made me laugh I’m afraid…
Tom
Who are your enemies? Ok, McCarthy….
Mary
…it’s upside down and inside out…scoundrels
Lily
Which one? Joe or Mary? I despise them both.
Laura
Joe McCarthy…did you ever meet…(Mixing.)
Tom
Mary then…old Joe is so awfully faded…
Lily
Teeth I can give you for Mary McCarthy. She thinks she’s so fucking smart.
Mary
Certainly not. He had to shave twice a day. That’s what did him in. in the old days when politicians wore beards they looked led MANUFACTURED.
Tom
Good. Good. Play the lioness. Show me your legs. No smiling. All teeth!
Laura
The novel today has become so limited. So introspective…I suppose that’s why Miss Hellman’s memoirs sell so well. She’s so outgoing!
Lily
Captoe has a better prose style than McCarthy. More gossamer and ruffly. (Begins to heat up headed for a boil.) Truman. Now there is a woman. They both write like Henry James.
Mary
A lot has changed since Henry James.
Tom
Tell me all your enemies. I need to see you rage and laugh like a storm.
Mary
(Begins to pound dough). Some went to jail. A few committed suicide. You worked with
Mary & Lily
Kazan…
Lily
I never like and Odets ran out of gas so quickly…But there are the ones I truly despised…Farrell. Trotsky and Louis Budenz.
Tom
More teeth. Turn to face me…now wet your lips and blow me a kiss…Tell me what you really wanted when you wrote that book of scoundrels…
Lily
Revenge. Vengeance.
Laura
It’s all so amusing how deep down the whole thing goes. Like petroleum geology.
Mary
Yes, I suppose…it’s all about revenge. I’ll have to beat the lumps out.
Lily
The Soviets knew how to crush reactionaries. Beria, Yezhov, and Yagoda.
Mary
(Crushes a clove of garlic.) Kazan…they crushed him in Hollywood. He never came back. They just ground him up (smashes spoon against dough.) the enemy of mass murder.
Laura
He hardly ever spoke about it then.
Tom
I can see nothing but hatred in your eyes…….(Flashes away)
Lily
Buhkarin crushed…by Yezkoh, Yagoda, and Elia Kazan!
Mary
They crushed Bukharin and stamped out Madelstam.
Laura
…not to mention all that money she’s made…
Mary
The New York Times held buried it all… Those scoundrels go unmentioned…
Lily
Durenty of the New York Times held back all their crimes…  Beria was such a charming man…so gallant to women… We should have given him Kazan.
Mary
No one listened till Solzhenitsyn.
Tom
So what is better?  Vengeance or revenge?  Think of Kazan.
Laura
Kazan was just a victim.
Mary
It was all revenge…one lie for another…Kazan was in the middle…
Lily
Revenge is sweet when you get well paid for it!  We did it to Kazan – his head is still in place, its been cut off…
Laura
In Poland revenge lurks even in the food (rolls out dough)…



Tom
So revenge is better (flash, flash, flash) than anything you know… When you finally got Kazan… and they paid you well?
Mary
The names they named did not go to the Gulag when the New York Times said nothing.
Lily
Revenge is stronger than a sustained orgasm…and there’s no let down when it’s over.  (Mockingly)  Poor Elia).  He’ll never recover from naming names.
Laura
Frankle’s handbook on starvation… The Holocaust Diet I’d retitle it!  (Flours dough)
Tom
Name the ones YOU crushed…with your own two hands…  As a founding member of The League of Women Shoppers!
Mary (overlap)
There’s always a sense of inferiority or superiority, I’m not sure which is worse…but the kind of advances she gets…(bangs down cake tin.)
Laura (overlap)
In Poland…everyone runs over us…
Lily (overlap)
(Rage triumphs)  Schulberg we reduced to stuttering and James T. Farrell…(overlay) we ground to mulch.  JMES T. FARRELL WE CRUSHED! He just starved to death.
Mary
Poor Farrell they destroyed.  While all the old Stalinists have come back to life.  We let them through the magic door of the Vietnam War… (begins to bang the dough together.)
Tom
Now.  Let’s see confusion. Who can you put in that plum pudding?
Lily
Oh, the confused, they go back and forth!
Laura
Between truth and lies.



Mary
(Pounding dough into pan.)  Once you attach yourself to a lie…a long line of lies like tine cans strung from a honeymoon van…
Lily
The League of Women Shoppers.  (Laughs.)  What an idea for a Front Organisations!  That was when truck drivers lined up ten deep to see my…plays.
Tom
Give me a Yezhov one more time.  And a Schulberg and a Kazan.
Lily
YEZHOV!  He had a lovely wife… (Smells her armpits.)  I had a lover once…
Mary
This bread has the smell (Breathes it in.)
Lily
I had a lover once… who said I smelled like New Jersey!... (beat)
Tom
Again.
Mary
…of love making… (prepares bread for the mold.)
Lily
…after we made love he told me I smelled like (sadly.) Bayonne.
Tom
One more burst of rage.
Lily
Yagoda and Yezhov and Jesus H. Christ.
Tom
Nice.  The fur is wet and hot and all that sweat running down…
Lily
My legs…that isn’t sweat…



Laura
The fact that she got so much money for it…
Lily
Kaganovich was so tall and strong.  He’s still alive at 95.
Laura
Is that it?
Mary
All done?
Tom
With Yezhov we got the lioness.  The smile was Kazan!
Mary
Yes.  To the oven.
Lily
Pick me up.  (he does.)  I need a shower.  Want to join me’?
Tom
(Carries her off.)  I get to choose the soap.
Laura
I wonder if the New York Times would think to offer reparations for the deaths Duranty covered up.
Mary
Why not?  They send poor kids to camp.
*(Blackout.)



Laura
It’s a morning in summer of 1982.  Mary and Lily are alone in their dressing rooms.  More than two years have gone. By since Lillian Hellman filed a $2.25 million dollar defmation law suit against The Dick Cavett Show and Mary McCarthy.  Writers and intellectuals across America are choosing sides.  Who is the liar, who is telling the truth?  Their thoughts seem to focus on a book that became a film.
Mary & Lily
Why should she not want to name her? Why?
Why did I write it as something that happened
That’s a crack.
To me…
Let’s see; break it down.
When it could have been fiction…
She was her lover?
Based on fact…like Hemmingway…
No, just in the way young girls are and she said that.
Everyone;s asking who she was…
She owed her money?
One small problem…
No.  They both were rich.
She IS and I never met her…
Maybe she inherited her estate.
I’ve seen the preview…
Like Mrs. Parker
They put me in the fucking movie…
What did she say: “Poor authors borrow; great authors steal.”
Throwing a typewriter out the window…
Julia was her mother’s name.
Why is writing the truth so hard?
No…Unless…
I want things to be true so badly…
Why yes… of course… That’s it
Isn’t that what plays and novels are all about?
She was…She IS
Not the truth that’s real…
She and Miss Hellman…
Just the truth you long for.
Never met.



ACT FOUR: scene two

Laura
The Near You Café in 1982…
There’s a storm outside.

Laura
(Lily stumbles in.)
Lily
(Lily stumbles in, takes off her glasses.)
Goddam wop sonofabitch taxi driver.  HE let me out in a three foot puddle.  Up to my asshole in water.  I feel like a drowned chinchilla.
Tom
Let me give you a hand here.  (He tries to hold her up.)
Lily
(flinging her wig off as it hits him in the face.)  So much for trying to look like a lday.  Could you give me a fucking smoke?
Tom
(sets her down in a chair and looks for a place to hang the wig.  Settles on the American flag.)
I’ll just hang it up here to dry.
Lily
(wiping her glasses.) I escaped my keeper to get up here and what do I find?  A monsoon.  Dreamed about this place for the last three nights, (gets up to look around.)
Tom
The Near You Café.  In our seventy-fifth year.
Lily
Hhhhmmmm.  Small like it.  Look at this flag.  (Looks at wig over flag).  Hammett served this flag when it mattered.  He’s buried at Arlington.  (puts the wig back to dry).  How about your promise?
Tom
(bewildered by her antics)  What?



Lily
You bet your sweet ass you are.
Tom
Some New York writer.  What did she do?  Call you a communist?
Lily
 Worse.  She called me a liar.
Tom
That doesn’t sound so bad.  Like a menu?
Lily
I can’t read it.  I’m half blind and I wet my pants in the taxi cab.
Tom
(not knowing what to do)  Would you like to use the ladies room?
Lily
I wear a diaper.  I left it in the cab.  (laughs) My goddam driver went off to his spic slut he hauled up here from Harlem when his wife caught him sucking her clitoris.  How’s that for realism?  Language of the stretts.  You won’t find that in Henry James.  That comes from PS 6 on the west side of Manhattan where I went to school.  In the real world.  Not some Preparatory Cloister like… I could kiss you.  (she does).
Tom
(he pushes her off and wipes away her bad breath)  So, tell me again, what is this law suit…about?
Lily
Lies.  All about lies. (beat) I’m accused of lying in my work (beat).  Now I must line up all my friends, writers, actors, lawyers, producers and call them in for depositions… they’re not exactly calling me back or they say they can’t remember or…  All because a bitch from Vassar who adored the poor over dry martini’s looking down from a penthouse on Riverside Drive… Pour me another drink.
Tom
(pours out drink)  I see… But what is this really about… I mean, why did this woman say…
Lily
(drinks) I suppose it all goes back to Stalin. I liked him then…he made things simple….
Tom
When was then?
Lily
(fails to answer) I guess it was the stability he brought. The solidity of things completely: The Dneiper Power Station, White Sea Canal…heavy industry …No arguments…The clarity of Party discipline. Just get things done! Stalin did the people’s business. He saw things clearly in black and white.
Tom
Stalin? (pours a drink for himself). He was a …(aside) murderer.
Lily
Stalin. Dams and truck factories and highways and schools and hospitals and sports stadiums while here in the good old USA we had Depression, Nixon, Vietnam and now there’s Ronald Reagan. Reagan is reality? Talk about lying. (laughs)
Tom
(he laughs) It goes to show you. There’s hope for actors over seventy.
Lily
All the craziness I lived with: Watergate and Leonard Bernsteinleading the New York Philharmonic in a jock strap. Vietnam made him crazier then Spam. In Stalin’s time it was for the people you did things. Here it’s me, me, me, and us, us, us, against you, you, you and them, them, them until lies become truth and truth becomes lies and whop know what’s what anymore? So I made little things, like being in Britain. Which is worse, a fairy tale where good wins out, or J. Edgar Hoover in a dress?
Tom
But…for a writer Stalin was…(he lights her cigarette) poison.
Lily
When I finally met him in 1944, I was so excited, I wet my pants…
Tom
A lot of people felt that way about Stalin. Especially in Poland.
Lily
(stumbles to her feet). Which way’s the washroom? I’m ready to vomit.
Tom
(points upstairs)
Lily
(vomiting) It’s rotten when you can’t get drunk without throwing up.
Mary
(enters with shock of recognition) Why, hello? (to Tom) Tom, right?
Tom
(confused) Hello. Can I get you something?
Mary
I just need to use the phone.
Tom
Over there. (points)
Lily
(offstage) My fucking girdle’s caught on the seat.
Tom
Sorry, I need to help an old lady in distress…
Mary
(on phone) Hi. Yes, I’m fine. The rain is unremittant. I just stepped out of a deluge into…
Lily
I’ll pull the fucking bowl out by the seat…
Tom
Let me help you Miss Hellman.
Mary
(freezes) I may be a few more minutes. Something’s come up.
(Horn)
Tom
Would you get that? I think it’s her driver.
Mary
I will. (waves off driver) All gone! Time for the loaf giver to go hunting.
Tom
(offstage) Was that her ride?
Mary
No. Just a tourist looking for the road to Hyannis.
Lily
(Tom half carrying her as she coughs and smokes at the same time)
Tom
You have something caught here, Miss Hellman…
Lily
I’m a walking melodrama. Get your hand off my ass.
Tom
(drops her in her chair) There.
Lily
Where’s my driver? He should be here by now.
Mary
(picks up her wig) I was just admiring your…hair
Lily
(puts on her glasses and Mary moves closer)
Tom
You’re…the other one.
Mary
Yes. I’m the other one. Mary McCarthy…
Lily
(squints to see her) You…followed me here New York. (polishes her glasses) I’d just like to say one thing.
Tom
To me?
Lily
No. I’m not suing you. (beat) Yes. Miss McCarthy over there. Or is it MS?
Mary
Miss will do. Miss will do fine. How may I serve you, Miss Hellman?
Lily
I’d like to pursue a thought. Just let me speak my mind. (catches he breath) When you say that all my work, my plays, my books, my films and in  deed my life and thoughts are lies, and you did say that…when I’ve never mentioned you in print…or hurt you in any way…though I DO despise you…
Mary
Yes? You’re not going to toss a Mickey Spillaine in my face…I hope…
Lily
If you could simply explain to me how you could say such a thing…Because in the end it’s your money against my money and your friends against my friends. That’s what buys justice in this country…money and friends in high places…Even you know that…we’re both writers…all writers fib…we exaggerate…but lies, lies are something else…lies are deliberate…designed to hurt people to cover up crimes…that’s what you accused me of…if you could show me somewhere in my life where I have lied…I’ll just sit here quietly and listen…
Mary
That’s easy. There are so many. Let’s begin with the woman we know is not named Julia. I’ve studied every word about her and I’ve concluded it’s all lies. There may have been a Julia, but she was not your friend. You never met here. You never carried money in your hat through Hitler’s Germany…and if she did exist…the reason you can’t name her is quite obvious…
Lily
Oh really?
Mary
She’s still alive. Which makes all of these Academy Awards lies too. How embarrassing for you and for the Academy! The whole memoir is written for the screen.
Lily
More drinks, Tom, Dick and Harry. I read all that stuff you wrote on the Vietnam War. I congratulate you on your courage. You got out there. A little late, but I salute you. But as to Julia’s name, her identity…I simply ask for trust.
Mary
First trust, then check, said Comrade Stalin. A hat box with fifty thousand dollars in hundred dollar bills. That’s a very large hat…
Lily
It’s just what happened.
Mary
And Sigmund Freud...her teacher. You say surely his other students would have remembered her.
Lily
They could all be dead.
Mary
The girl from Cologne with the lung ailment (mock cough) So much liked Camille. The note pinned to the hat box right out of Sardou. The alarms of the Morgan Bank as she spread her families’ wealth among the working classes.
Lily
You’re twisting everything around.
Laura
Mary…
Mary
Am I?  Badly beaten in Frankfurt, she somehow died in London. The man who signed the death certificate had his house blown to bits in the Blitz. Conveniently. You brought her body back on the old De Grasse. Now scrap. And had her cremated. HERE. And kept her ashes. Along with all the gifts she gave you. A drawing by Toulouse Lautrec. A wedgewood desk. A leather set of Balzac…
Laura
Mary, she’s ill.
Lily
Why do you hate me so?
Mary
You asked me to name off all your lies. Just give us her name….Her real name. You can’t….Even your love for Hammett was a lie…Even your love for Hammet was a lie!
Laura
(breaks in) Mary, that’s enough. It’s just too much!
Lily
I love that man. (weakly rises) When he was drunk and smelled of whores and came home covered in blood. I was the one who bathed him and swathed him and put him to bed. He’s buried at Arlington because I put him there. Me and my friends and their pull and to me, LILLIAN HELLMAN, Dashiel Hammett is still and American hero! (collapses)
Tom
I think you’ve ended her (helps her to her feet)
(Moves to return her to her chair)
Mary
I’ll stand up to that woman if it costs me my house!
Lily
There are worse things in life than lies.
Laura
I’m going. It’s time.
(lights fade)