strawberry dwarfs and other lies

..a sledge hammer hole in the living room wall.. a broken window’s glass, fallen on the inside.. Lillian sets a series of opportunities to ask for assistance.. -even though the evidence in this house never plays as it seems..

Author's Note: 

Mordant and unexpected, this One Act ‘screwball’ comedy plays its red herrings freely, even as a grim resolution closes in.. It is also a work from the catalogue of plays that were written while I was in London and has a particularly ‘British tang of humour’! It was fully produced in the 2000 festival season, at Brave Hearts Theater, in St Paul, MN.

Also, in 2011 at the Berkshire Playwright’s Lab, as part of the Opening Night Gala, with Bob Jaffe directing, and Amy Van Nostrand playing LILLIAN.



LILLIAN             late 40’s

 PAINTER               20’S

 GLAZIER              40’S

 QUILL                   20’S


 A dark stage.

The opening patter of Ertha Kitt’s I Wanna Be Evil. 

Light’s up on a living room.

Very well appointed.

Couch -chairs; side tables and telephone; stereo.

Entrance to the ‘flat’ is offstage right. Door to a bedroom is left.

LILLIAN enters from left. She is dressed to seduce. 

She has a teacup in her hand. It is always her cover; the cup is full of booze. She keeps it in a stash somewhere. 

She turns off the record and appraises her surroundings; sits on the couch; drinks. Setting down her cup - she removes a sledge hammer which has been hidden; slams a great hole in one of the walls. Puts the hammer away; takes up her cup. 

Doorbell. LILLIAN goes to answer it; we hear the ensuing conversation from offstage.

 LILLIAN : You’re here. No trouble finding the place?


 LILLIAN : It’s very large, isn’t it?


 LILLIAN : My husband compensates wherever he can. Well. This is the vestibule. The vestibule table. The Ming bowl. From China. We use it for collecting mail- leaflets -circulars -things like that. This is the Regency mirror. My husband likes to check himself before he leaves the house. I never use it. I don’t go out. Ah. You’ve noticed the plant. The mother in law’s. Immovable. Much like herself. I hate it. It’s offensive. It -spreads. Like -some revolting midriff. I’d chop it down -but she sprayed it with something. It’s impervious to attack.

PAINTER : It’s -plastic. 

LILLIAN : Is that it? Well. I can melt it then. -This is the Chippendale. We keep nothing in it. But it is very tall. This is Butler. He’s stuffed. My husband shot him on safari. Do you like wart hogs?

PAINTER :  I couldn’t say..

LILLIAN : I wouldn’t if I were you. He still has a temper. Snags people as they leave. Beautiful tusks. Still sharp. My husband thought of installing an apparatus whereby Butler could growl. I talked him out of it. It didn’t make sense. Wart hogs don’t growl.


 LILLIAN enters with her teacup.. 

She puts a painting in front of the hole, sits, drinks -then suddenly takes her hammer, and puts a hole in the window.


LILLIAN : You did come.

GLAZIER : ‘Course I did.

LILLIAN : I know I must have sounded hysterical.

GLAZIER : Concerned. Very concerned. As you’ve a right to.

LILLIAN : Because I’m a woman.

GLAZIER : ‘Cause you’ve had a scare.

LILLIAN : And I’m a woman. Who should know better. My husband will find it all very amusing.

GLAZIER : Nothing funny about a break in. He’ll be thankful you weren’t..- Yes, well.. -

LILLIAN : Yes. Well. -I easily could have been.

GLAZIER : No. Best not think about it. 

LILLIAN : I’ve thought of nothing else. 

GLAZIER : It must be awful for you.

LILLIAN : I made a noise, you see -when I heard the noise. 

GLAZIER : Good. -That’s good. -Making a noise. -Probably scared ‘em right off. Knowing someone was home. 

LILLIAN : Then why did the police say I was lucky?

GLAZIER : Oh. -I’m sure they were only trying to reassure you-

LILLIAN : Lucky? That’s meant to be reassuring?

GLAZIER : Here. Why not have a seat.

LILLIAN : Yes I’m well reassured. -Lucky.

GLAZIER : ..-shouldn’t have left you alone really.

LILLIAN : What? -What do you mean -shouldn’t have left me alone.

GLAZIER : I mean- just -leaving you alone like this.

LILLIAN : -oh my God-

GLAZIER : No-no. I mean- someone should have kept you company. Sat with you awhile. Made you some...-oh good. Here. 

LILLIAN : It’s cold.

GLAZIER : How ‘bout I make you another - nice and strong. 

LILLIAN : I couldn’t.

GLAZIER : Sure. Just what you need. Settle you right down. -Point me and it’s done.

LILLIAN : No. -I couldn’t be alone. Just- please don’t -..

PAINTER : There-there.

LILLIAN : I’m sorry. It’s -knowing someone was..

GLAZIER : But gone. Gone now. That’s what you should think about. All gone. -There, there. 

LILLIAN : You’re so kind.

GLAZIER : Nonesense. It’s a shock. -Anyway, someone ought to sit with you. Til your husband arrives.

LILLIAN : -my husband..-

GLAZIER : The police notified him -didn’t they?


GLAZIER : Well..-he’s -your husband.

LILLIAN : And you’re the glazier. -It’s the window that’s broken. Not me.


LILLIAN is sitting beside the telephone;  having ‘tea’. 

She is well on her way to being in her cups, as the phone rings. She eventually picks it up. 

LILLIAN : -Annie. -Fine. -Have you? Sorry. -I would have. There’s nothing I need. Least of all “latitude”. -Carry on. Yes. As a matter of fact, I am carrying on. -No I haven’t had tea. I’m not hungry. -Have you? How nice. -Well I’m sorry they miss me. I don’t miss them. Just you. A little. -Sally still bonking her Basset? -Of course I know. I told her she should be more adventurous. Find a Rotweillier. -Yes, I like being evil. Life’s too short not to enjoy. -You have no idea. -No. Nothing too awful. No one’s been hurt, if that’s what you mean. Mildly embarrassed, maybe. Unexpectedly satisfied, undoubtedly. But harmed? No. -I think you enjoy worrying outrageously you know. -Oh not again. -Annie -Annie -Annie. I hate it when you deliver imprecations. You pinch your vowels you know. Very hard on the ear. -I’ll be as flippant as I like. I didn’t call you. -I know you’re concerned. I appreciate it. But darling-darling -darling -darling -look I’ve got to go. -Someone’s coming by to fix the telephone. -Oh. Well I’m anticipating the problem. -Annie- Annie -Say good-bye dear. -Bye. Bye-bye. -By-ye.

[she hangs up. Then  yanks the phone out of the wall -making sure it is sufficiently damaged in the process. Has another cup of tea.


LILLIAN : Coming. 

QUILL : [offstage] Afternoon.

LILLIAN : How quick. I’d only got hold of your dispatch-

QUILL : I caught the call. Told them not to worry. I was in the area. 

[they enter. QUILL is in a nondescript service uniform; he’s carrying a tool box. He is wearing electrical, rubber gloves. He does not take these off.]