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Women of the Senate, by Aristophanes

Adapted by Christian Carvajal

CAST
Praxagora
Blepyrus, husband of Praxagora
Philaenete
Clinarete
Sostrate
Man
Chremes
Chorus, female
Citizen
Herald, female
Young Man (Epigenes)
Old Women 1, 2 and 3
Girl
Maidservant to Praxagora

Location: a public square in Athens. In the background are two houses with an alley between them. The century is unclear — Characters wear tunics, but they might also carry smartphones or don 21st-century shoes.

Incidentally:

Amazing at it may seem, this script has not been changed indefensibly in paraphrase. I did replace Aristophanes' frequent name-drops with more contemporary references. Remember, Aristophanes was making fun of Athenian bigwigs who were probably right there in the audience, perhaps even in the front row. In that way, his plays were much like extended versions of a typical Saturday Night Live "cold open." We don't have the sheet music to Aristophanes' choral numbers, so I replaced those with rap numbers that explain the same points directly to the audience. The poop jokes are all Aristophanes', as are his political wisecracks. Even a joke near the end of the show is a modernized take on a famous joke from the original Greek, in which a food item is described by the chorus in absurdly lengthy detail. For all practical purposes, this is the comedy Aristophanes wrote and doubtless directed in 391 B.C.

ACT ONE

(At rise, PRAXAGORA swings a lantern.)

PRAXAGORA
Well, well. Looks like it’s you and me, lamp. We gonna scope out this scene from up here on Capitol Hill. And as we look into the distance, I’m gonna tell you where you came from. You were formed in the tornado spin of a potter’s wheel so your wick could do its impression of the sun. Here’s hoping you do your job right and send a signal far and wide. I believe we can trust you, though. You do a pretty good job keeping secrets. Matter of fact, I know you like to watch us when we get up to some Aphrodite-type business in our bedrooms, and we don’t pay you no mind whatsoever about it. I mean, you get the full crotch shot, like you’re warming our pubes, illuminating every position. Then you follow us into the pantry as we go looking for wines and fruits, but you don’t tell nobody what we keep hid there. So y’know what? I’m gonna tell you the whole plot we got goin’. Uh-huh. You gonna hear what I cooked up with all my friends, my best lady friends, at our Athenian summer festival. (She looks around suspiciously.) ’Cept the sun’s coming up and ain’t one woman showed up yet. Damn! The Senate’ll be convening soon. We gotta get in there, no matter what a certain Senator Mikepencius thinks. Talkin’ ‘bout, “I suffer not a woman to teach.” Please. I just hope these women were able to dig up some fake beards and men’s suits to wear. Uh-oh. Another lamp coming. Better lay low in case it’s some nosy man.

(She hides in the alley. A group of women enter carrying male costumes and beards.)

PHILAENETE
We need to get started. We’re running late. The rooster already crowed before we left.

PRAXAGORA
And here I been sitting here all night waiting for ’em. All right, somebody call the neighbor. Just scratch her door all gentle like, so her husband won’t hear it.

CLINARETE (exiting her house in male garb)
I heard you. I wasn’t asleep. I was putting my shoes on, that’s all. My husband kept me awake all night. You know how Latins are. Never a moment’s rest. I just now got a chance to steal his cloak.

PRAXAGORA
You better get to steppin’. You know Glyce said last one there had to cough up three bottles of wine and a green bean casserole.

CLINARETE
Isn’t that Melistice, Smicythion’s wife? Yes, I’d know those big-ass shoes of hers anywhere. Feet like those, I bet she had no trouble running away from her husband.

PHILAENETE
Do you see Geusistrate, the bar owner’s wife, carrying her own lamp?

PRAXAGORA
And Ivana and Melania and so on and so on, all the prominent women around.

SOSTRATE
Oh, honey, I had the hardest time getting away! My husband stuffed himself with shrimp, then kept me awake all night with antacid this and sleep apnea that.

PRAXAGORA
Well, you’re all here now, so sit down. Let’s see if you actually did what you said you was gonna do at the summer festival.

PHILAENETE
Well, I sure did. I let my pits grow out just as I said I would. They look like two crotches. Then I waited till my husband went off to the Senate and spent the whole day outside slathered in tanning oil.

CLINARETE
Me, too. I threw my razor in the trash and now I look like Chewbaccius down there.

PRAXAGORA
Did you find some fake beards for the Senate chambers?

PHILAENETE
Heck, yeah, I did! Look at this baby right here!

CLINARETE
Wow, that puts the beard of old Lettermannius to shame.

PRAXAGORA
Okay, how ’bout you ladies?

PHILAENETE
’Course we did. See, they’re all noddin’ yep.

PRAXAGORA
Look what else you got. Men’s clothes and shoes, staffs, coats — You got it all together.

PHILAENETE
I even brought Tedcruzius’ belt.

PRAXAGORA
Look how big that damn buckle is. Prob’ly gives him the farts.

CLINARETE
By Zeus, he probably needs the support to hold that stupid cowboy hat up.

PRAXAGORA
Well, come on, then, let’s get this shit ready to go before the stars are all faded. The Senate chambers’ll be open any minute now.

PHILAENETE
Good, you should go take your place over by the chaplain, not far from the dais.

CLINARETE
Is it okay if I brought some knitting to do during the speeches?

PRAXAGORA
Girl, you mean right there on the Senate floor?

CLINARETE
Oh, for Artemis’ sake! It’s not like it limits my hearing! My kids are all but naked.

PRAXAGORA
Man, here we are tryin’ to hide every square inch of our bodies, keep anyone from knowing we all women, and this dummy talkin’ ’bout knitting! We tryin’ to take over an all-male senate. Imagine if one of us ran up to the dais, flung her robes open and flashed everybody her southern charms! No, we need to get in there early, wrapped in our cloaks, and take our seats incognito. Then nobody’ll recognize who we are.
Now. Stick those beards on your chins and really fluff ’em out so they cover your titties. There. Now we look like brothers. See? Everybody’s fooled. Simple as that. It’s just like when Paulryanus talkin’ ’bout his six-pack, trying to act all manly; turns out he’s the biggest bitch in Congress. If he can fool half these people, we can fool ’em all. And I swear, this ship of state may be taking on water, but we gon’ save it anyway.

PHILAENETE
Oh, lordy, though, what if none of us can talk as good as the men? Only the male Senators are trained orators.

PRAXAGORA
Fuck that. You know who’s got the best game? It’s the people who get fucked the most often. Gods, tell me that ain’t you and me, girl.

PHILAENETE
Ain’t no question about it, but we also lack political experience.

PRAXAGORA
Word, but candidates with no political experience ’zactly what got us up here! But that’s why we meetin’ here early, to rehearse. And if you really hate public speaking, you just mumble into your beards.

CLINARETE
Don’t be foolish. Are you telling me a one of us is bad at mouthing off?

PRAXAGORA
Get your head in the game, girl. Put your beard on and man up. I’m gonna do the same in case I get the urge to speak out. Now, here are your wreaths.

(They put their beards on.)

CLINARETE
Oh my gods, would you look at this beard of mine? That is hilarious!

PRAXAGONA
What’s so funny about it?

CLINARETE
It looks more like fried calamari than hair.

PRAXAGORA (pretending to be a senator)
Mr. Vice-President, I make a motion that what these sacred chambers need is a cat. Pro tempore! Order in the court! I yield my time to the floor! Who’s got something to say?

CLINARETE
I do.

PRAXAGORA
Then put this wreath on and break a leg.

CLINARETE
Done!

PRAXAGORA
Now! Let’s get to speechifying.

CLINARETE
Before we’ve even had drinks?

PRAXAGORA
Ha! This lady wanta get her drink on!

CLINARETE
Isn’t that the point of this whole job?

PRAXAGORA
Get on outta here, girl! I can’t take you no place.

CLINARETE
But don’t all the male senators drink?

PRAXAGORA
Tell us somethin’ we don’t know.

CLINARETE
Hell, yes, they drink — the good stuff, too. That’s half the reason their laws are so insane. You think it’s a coincidence the capital has so many parties? Getting loaded is the whole point of politics. That’s also why they’re so mean to each other. Last week I saw two of ’em get bounced from a ribbon cutting at a supermarket.

PRAXAGORA
Sit down, girl. You tripping.

CLINARETE
I should’ve picked a better beard. This one’s choking the shit outta me. Now I really do need a drink.

PRAXAGORA
Anyone else want to talk?

PHILAENETE (rising)
I do.

PRAXAGORA
Well, move it, then. Take the wreath. We ain’t got all day. And make it sound stuffy, like, you know: mansplain. And lean on your staff like you think you all that.

PHILAENETE (pretending to be a man)
Um, actually, I would’ve preferred it if one of our more senior members had offered his own sage and uh, meri-, meritorious counsel, but uh, thusly howsoever not being the case, I’m obliged to address these lofty chambers, like, harrumph and whatnot. Ergo, gypsum talcum, it follows that I must raise my sternest objection to this proposal to permit the proprietors of tavernal establishments to fill wine jugs with water. And uh — Nay, I say. Nay! By the two mighty goddesses —

PRAXAGORA
Whoa! Hold up. The two goddesses? Bitch, you done lost your damn mind?

PHILAENETE
What? No. I ain’t even drinkin’ yet.

PRAXAGORA
No, but you trying to pass for a man, ain’t ya? And yet here you are swearing by the two goddesses. Ain’t no man gonna swear by no goddesses. Otherwise you sound pretty good.

PHILAENETE
Well, shoot. Okay. By Apollo —

PRAXAGORA
Stop! You gotta adjust your whole way of speaking. Otherwise we wastin’ our time getting anywhere near the senate building.

PHILAENETE
All right, give me my wreath back. I want to take another whack at this. I think I got the hang of it now. Ladies and gentlemen, I —

PRAXAGORA
No, no, stupid! Ain’t no ladies up in here! You talkin’ to an all-male senate, ya feel me?

PHILAENETE
I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I saw Senator Johnthunius over there and got bumfuzzled.

PRAXAGORA
Yeah, that boy awful pretty. Okay. Just … try to stay seated from now on, okay? I think I’m gonna put on the wreath and talk for all of us, gods willing. See, I’m what they call a true patriot, but this shit pisses me off. I can’t take it no more! Ain’t but one in ten of these fools actually tryin’ to help anybody, and all the rest corrupt as hell. We try to change things up come election time, they just give us worse and worse candidates to choose from. I know all of you just as fed up with it as I am. Talkin’ ’bout can’t trust the dude who loves you and havin’ to suck up to the guy who’s stickin’ a knife in your back. Man, I actually miss the days when we thought Ronaldreaganus was shady. Now they all dug in and shit. Bunch of rich assholes tryin’ to protect the status quo, and dumb fucks whose ship ain’t even come in yet sayin’, if only working folks paid more taxes.

CLINARETE
By Aphrodite, you can say that again.

PRAXAGORA
Enough with the damn Aphrodite! You say that in the senate chambers —

CLINARETE
I wouldn’t have!

PRAXAGORA
Well, don’t you go getting the habit! Now, check this shit out. (clears her breath)
In our previous consideration of the proffered alliance, it seemed our magnificent city, Athens, was in clear and imminent danger. Yet the moment this alliance was ratified, our august body seemed rife with discord. Indeed, the very senator who proposed this solution was immediately voted out of office. Are we now to overcome these differences and pass a special budget allocation to outfit an armada? I know my colleagues from working-class districts are in favor of any increase to military spending, but whom do they propose to make pay for it? Need I remind you, esteemed gentlemen, that we once bore such concerns about the people of Corinth, who are numbered now among our staunchest allies. Do we now disregard the wisdom of moderate, yet no less commanding, Senator Johnmccainus? I submit to you now he offered hope in these belligerent times. Indeed, we might even consider the example of Barackobamius, who presented a placid face to the world, yet judiciously slew the infernal barbarian in his cave.

CLINARETE
Oh! What a brilliant man Barackobamius was!

PRAXAGORA
I know. That’s why they call that an applause break. (continuing her speech) Is it not so, fellow senators, that to some degree the voters themselves are responsible for this tension between us? Consider: They hire lobbyists to divide us, corrupting our budget negotiations to favor special interests, thereby padding their own pockets rather than ours! Is it any wonder this holy institution is hobbled by gridlock? I offer you now a way out of this turmoil. For I say unto you, let us now look for guidance to those who are, by grace of the gods, measured caretakers of Athenian households. Let us look now to women, giving them a more prominent role as leaders and administrators!

WOMEN (ad lib)
Hear, hear! You said it! Second! I second the motion! Preach that shit!

PRAXAGORA
Hear me out, gentlemen, for I shall prove they are deserving of our respect, perhaps even worthier of command roles than we. Firstly, they divide the weekly washing according to fixed patterns, year after year, patterns we cannot begin to comprehend. If it’s a light load, why does it contain colored towels? What in the name of all the gods is a fitted sheet, and how am I to fold one? And that, my friends, is true consistency. If only Athens were as disciplined in its behavior! But nay; nay, I say! We pride ourselves on constant innovation, but where has it gotten us? Isn’t it time to reconnect with our traditions? Familiar cuisine, just like Mom used to make. Let us return to the better ways of olden days. Modest clothing. People saying “Merry Thesmophoria” instead of “Happy Holidays.” Extra gluten on everything. Protect our privacy so what happens in the home stays in the home, even domestic abuse and adultery. Get people back in the stores again. Getting hammered in bars like we used to! Sacred marriages of one man, one woman and an undisclosed number of concubines. Tradition, my friends, not innovation, is what will save us. And what better guardians of those fine traditions than the women we expect to make sense of them? Let us, then, cede control of Athens over to women with no further delay, no filibustering nor endless negotiations, no regard for any possible, unintended consequences. Let us simply hand these women the power because, after all, friends, are not all good women mothers? And are not all mothers good? Does it not, then, rationally follow that their primary concern will be the lives of all good men? And does this not go double for a mother’s proudest child, a soldier — thank you for your service — in one of our perpetually ongoing wars? Enough with the Veteran’s Administration; these good mothers shall send provisions to every embattled front. Do not think these campaigns shall be underfunded! Nay, if women can already claw money out of our narrow pockets, they shall never be denied! Nor can a woman be fooled, for she has years of experience dealing with our obfuscations and knows a lie when she hears one, gods damn it! I omit now a thousand other advantages. Simply take my advice, do what is proper, and may the gods bless the city of Athens.

(The women erupt in ecstatic applause.)

PHILAENETE
My dear Praxagora, what a silken tongue you have! How clever you are! Where in the gods’ names did you learn to express yourself with such beauty and power?

PRAXAGORA
It’s called rhetoric, honey. During these recent attacks, country folks had to move in behind the city wall for protection. My husband and I live on Pnyx Hill. I heard the orators speaking there and picked up a few tricks.

PHILAENETE
Well, that makes sense, you being so eloquent and all. From now on, you are large and in charge, honey. Who runs the world? Praxagora! We’re makin’ you head of everything! But if Trumpius lays into you like he always does, how will you defend yourself on the Senate floor?

PRAXAGORA
I’ll say he’s BSin’.

PHILAENETE
Well, psh, news flash for the world.

PRAXAGORA
I’ll say, “Furthermore, I have serious concerns about his mental well-being.”

PHILAENETE
And ever’body’ll be like, “Yeah, we already know all that.”

PRAXAGORA
I’ll say, he might be a populist, but he’s also a fraud and a liar.

PHILAENETE
What if they attack you on Greeks’ News?

PRAXAGORA
I’ll tell ’em to stick their head up a dog’s ass. You know, use short words they can mostly understand.

PHILAENETE
What if someone attacks you in the street?

PRAXAGORA
Girl, please! You know I’m from the street! I’ll stick this staff where the sun don’t shine!

PHILAENETE
What if they send the police to come drag you away? What then?

PRAXAGORA
After the way I been stress-eating, I’d love to see ’em try.

PHILAENETE
If they grab you, we’ll come to your defense!

CLINARETE
I second that emotion. It’s about time I got to hoist my fists instead of my ankles.

PRAXAGORA
Look, I know this shit’s scary, but we only doing what has to be done. Relax. The only times you’ll have to raise your fists is when we all vote. Now come on, put these dress tunics on and them fancy-ass shoes, just like the men do every time they go to the Senate or any other damn place. When that’s done, stick on these beards, and when they look as good as you can make ’em look put the cloaks you stole from your husbands on over ’em. Then head out. And remember to lean on your staffs like you all old and shit, and make the villagers sing the Athenian anthem every time you walk by.

PHILAENETE
Well said. Now let’s book it for Pnyx Hill ’fore all the working-class women show up to sell breakfast. They’d see through these stupid disguises in a hot second.

PRAXAGORA
Damn right. Let’s get to it. First come, first served, am I right?

(Praxagora, Philaenete and Clinarete exit. Oher women stay behind to form the female chorus.)

CHORUS LEADER
March, ladies, march! And don’t forget you’re all men, so don’t let anything female slip out of your mouths. If anyone finds out we plotted together in the dark of the night like this, we’ll all be screwed blue.

CHORUS (rapping — think “Lose Yourself” meets Cardi B)

Onward we go to the Senate. Don’t sweat it.
The men intended to prevent it. Forget it.
This girlie here’s an early birdie. We devour
The power
Within the hour.
We stay on track and don’t look back. We just be snackin’.
Hold on for lunch as power brunches come in bunches.
Save such indulgence for us closers, not for poseurs
Who dare oppose us.
We done with scraps and all the crap this system throws us.
We gettin’ closer. These hos is jonesin’ for ambrosia, I said ambrosia.

(refrain, sung)
So come on, bring on ambrosia, food of the goddesses.
Got where the profit is. Honey, make mine
Ambrosia, so fine. Best when we serve it cold.
Ain’t gon’ do what we’re told. It’s my time to shine.

So ladies, choose your ensemble to rumble.
This ain’t no time for lookin’ humble. Don’t stumble.
You nasty women, bad mujeres,
Just be fearless.
Don’t let us
Down now when it counts and no hysterics. These lyrics
Are our demand for full command.
Let’s start with voting. Our throats devoted to the motive:
It’s suffrage.
Extend the list to feminists. Each citizen gets praxis.
That’s where the cash is. This mass attack will give us access to their taxes.

(Repeat refrain.)

’Cause shit was golden back in the olden
Days when the Senate volunteered. They took home tokens.
The system’s broken. Gears stick and this shit
Gets you thinkin’.
I ain’t jokin’.
Rooseveltius, he felt for us. Each pot had chicken.
I felt like better cards was dealt to us.
He taxed the dickens outta rich folks. He was swell to us.
And our box lunches
Just as scrumptious as the senators’.
My friends can mend this. We’ll make Athenians more genuinely generous.

(Repeat refrain.)

We desperate housewives. That’s our lives.
So recognize we unionized. We on the rise
’Cause it’s our turn now.
You’re gonna learn how
Our eyes are open now. The patriarchy lies to us.
You guys had best believe you in for some surprises, bitch.

(Repeat refrain.)

You guys is overdue for true. Now reckonize this shit.
You muthafuckas’ day is through. You can’t deny this shit.
You ain’t got shit you can reply to this.
You muthafuckas weaponized us. (Uh-huh.) You weaponized us.

(The Chorus marches toward Pnyx Hill. Blepyrus staggers out of his house in Praxagora’s ladylike sandals and way-too-small robe.)

BLEPYRUS
The fuck is this? Where you at, woman? Sun up already and ain’t no sign of her ass! Man, I get up to take my morning shit, and she done stole all my clothes! Here’s me scrabbling around in the dark, they ain’t nowhere to be found! I’m tryin’ to clamp this damn turd in; only clothes I can find are Victoria’s secret! I still ain’t found nowhere to drop this load! Don’t matter where you shit in the dark, long as you downwind of the neighbors, but this morning be bright as hell! Damnit! I must be senile to get married this old. Make me want to beat my own ass for bein’ stupid. And you know she ain’t out there doin’ anything useful. Aw, hell, I’m gonna drop a deuce right here in this yard. (He squats.)

MAN (looking out his own window next door)
Who’s that yelling? That you, Blepyrus?

BLEPYRUS (standing quickly)
Oh, hey, uh, didn’t see you there.

MAN
Yeah, I thought that was you. What’re you doing?

BLEPYRUS
Doing? Uh, nothing. Why?

MAN
Looked like you might be about to — um —

BLEPYRUS
Naw, actually, that mothafucka just got startled back in.

MAN
Why’re you all dressed in yellow? You look like Timgunnius paid you a visit.

BLEPYRUS
No, heh, just needed my wife’s tunic so I could slip outside for a minute.

MAN
Where’s your cloak?

BLEPYRUS
Beats the hell outta me, man. Last I saw it, it was draped on the bed.

MAN
Why don’t you ask your wife where you put it?

BLEPYRUS
Man! You sure ask the most intelligent questions! She wasn’t no place around. I’m a little bit worried she might be out there startin’ some shit.

MAN
By Poseidon, it’s exactly the same over here. My old lady took off with my cloak, and even worse, she must be wearing my shoes. I can’t find ’em anywhere.

BLEPYRUS
I can’t find mine, neither! But psh, I really had to shit, so I threw these stupid slippers on instead. Didn’t want to mess nothin’ else up.

MAN
What’s going on? You think she’s off at some potluck?

BLEPYRUS
I imagine so. Long as I known her, she ain’t never been one to act the fool.

MAN
Well, I was about to head off to the Senate. I’m running late as it is, but I still have to find my cloak. I only have the one good one.

BLEPYRUS
Look, I can’t wait no longer. I gotta unload. I’ve been locked up all week, like somebody stuck a golden pear up my ass.

(He runs behind a low wall, crouches and grimaces.)

MAN
Wow. That’s some intense mythological imagery. Okay, see you round, Blepyrus. (Exits.)

BLEPYRUS
Aw, man! Still nothin’! A dry well! Much as it’s botherin’ me now, imagine when breakfast piles on top. No exit sign to be found, just one shitty apple. I should prob’ly go to the doctor, I just don’t know the right specialist. Maybe Doctor Ozzius? Nah, he too busy. Wait! What’s that dude’s name, Trumpius’ personal doctor? There ya go! That guy know an unrestrained asshole when he meets one! Gods, have mercy! I feel like I’m a dam about to burst. My stomach be rumblin’ like Mount Olympus.

(Enter Chremes.)

CHREMES
Hey, buddy, how’s it going? Looks like y’all takin’ a shit over there.

(The sound of explosive evacuation puts a relieved smile on Blepyrus’ face.)

BLEPYRUS
Oh, thank gods, finally! Yes! Now I can go about my other bidness.

CHREMES
Hey, you’re wearing your wife’s tunic. What’s up with that?

BLEPYRUS
It was the first thing I could find in the dark. Where you off to?

CHREMES
Comin’ back from the Senate.

BLEPYRUS
Oh, we already missed it?

CHREMES
Hell, yeah.

BLEPYRUS
But the sun barely up.

CHREMES
I know. I had to laugh. They was much more efficient than usual.

BLEPYRUS
D’you manage to get paid, at least?

CHREMES
I wish the gods had been so generous. No, I got there too late, I’m sorry to say. Now all I have in my tunic folds is an empty wallet.

BLEPYRUS
What the fuck?

CHREMES
You shoulda seen the crowd on Pnyx Hill. I never seen anything like it. The Senators all up to their elbows in legislative business, but paler than I ever seen any of ’em. Weird. Anyways, a bunch of us had to go away empty-handed.

BLEPYRUS
Then if I went now, I wouldn’t get a damn thing.

CHRMES
Not a chance, even if you left here right after dawn.

BLEPYRUS
Ain’t that some shit? Ya load sixteen talents, whaddya get? Some days, I swear, I’d have a better time bein’ dead. Who draws a crowd like that first thing in the morning?

CHREMES
Man, at first it was all the same shit as usual. The Prytanes with their defense contracts — ’course Lindseygrahamius was all over that. Then some comedian in the crowd yells, “Talk about overcompensating. Lindseygrahamius can’t even butch up his own name.” Then he pipes up with, “How is the name my parents gave me my fault?”

BLEPYRUS
He does need somethin’ to put hair on his chest, that’s the damn truth.

CHREMES
Then that dweeb Kucinichium has his say, ’cept I’m pretty sure the guy was naked. “No,” he says, “I’m wearin’ a cloak. Never mind that.” Then he starts cryin’ for more government spending. You know how these lib’ral types are. “I need sixteen drachmae,” he says, which just happens to be the cost of a new cloak. “No,” he says, “it’s for my health; and by the way, when we gonna talk about health care again, and maybe every citizen could use a new cloak since we can’t seem to figure out how diseases spread. Since no one has a bed to sleep in or a pot to piss in these days, maybe we could open the factories to homeless people at night and then pay for all this by chargin’ ’em rent the next morning.”

BLEPYRUS
That’s a good fuckin’ idea, by Dionysus! It’ll pass unanimously, ’specially if the millers get to feed the homeless breakfast and then charge them for biscuits. If the homeless can’t pay, then the millers and factory owners’ll owe a fine to us! I mean, the government! It’s about time these lefties threw somethin’ our way!

CHREMES
Then here comes this good-looking new guy, right? I swear, this dude’s complexion was amazing. Anyways, he says we should start handin’ over all government business to women. And get this: All the lobbyists from the fashion and shoe industry get to hootin’ and hollerin’. They was all over it. Farmers and ranchers, not so much. They get to bitchin’ and moanin’.

BLEPYRUS
Damn right they did!

CHREMES
Yeah, but as early as it was, a lot of ’em was out working, so they didn’t have the vote. Meanwhile this other fellow gets up and starts praising the women up and down. Then he starts talkin’ shit about …

BLEPYRUS
Yeah?

CHREMES
Well, you.

BLEPYRUS
The fuck did he say about me?

CHREMES
Well, he called you a lowlife —

BLEPYRUS
No shit? And what’d he say about you?

CHREMES
I wasn’t finished. He called you a crook —

BLEPYRUS
Only me?

CHREMES
And a rat.

BLEPYRUS
I’m the rat?

CHREMES
Oh, gods, no. He said that shit ’bout all of us. Them, too. (He points at men in the audience.)

BLEPYRUS
True that, though.

CHREMES
Yeah. He said women are both clever and good with money, and they never leak any state secrets in public over drinks like you and me.

BLEPYRUS
By Hermes, this muthafucka knows his shit!

CHREMES
He said women loan each other clothes, jewelry, kitchenware; don’t even need mediators to arrange it. Then they get their stuff back without havin’ to go into arbitration, and the books always balance. Meanwhile, ’cording to this guy, we weasel out of every contract we ever sign.

BLEPYRUS
By Poseidon! Who told him about that? I thought we paid off all the witnesses!

CHREMES
Then he said women keep every secret, they don’t go around suin’ each other or hatching conspiracy theories — Basically he said women were great every way he could possibly phrase it.

BLEPYRUS
How’d they vote?

CHREMES
To hand every godsdamn gub’ment function over to women. You have to admit, though. They say Athens invented democracy. Hell, this is pretty damn innovative.

BLEPYRUS
You’re telling me this shit got voted on?

CHREMES
Yep.

BLEPYRUS
And everything we men used to be in charge of now rests in the hands of women?

CHREMES
You ain’t a-kiddin’.

BLEPYRUS
So I stay home and my wife go to the office?

CHREMES
And if you divorce her, she’ll still get custody o’ the kids.

BLEPYRUS
So … I don’t have to run myself ragged workin’ my ass off from dusk till dawn no more?

CHREMES
Nope, that’s ladies’ work now. You can sit on the couch all day and fart to your heart’s content.

BLEPYRUS
Ain’t only one bad thing about this.

CHREMES
Whazzat?

BLEPYRUS
Look at it from us fellas’ point of view. If they hold every rein of government, they can force us to …

CHREMES
Yeah Tell me, what exactly could they force us to do?

BLEPYRUS
Fuck ’em.

CHREMES
Yeah, fuck ’em!

BLEPYRUS
No, I mean, actual fuck ’em. We’ll have to have sex with these bitches.

CHREMES (aghast)
Wait … with our … wives?

BLEPYRUS
Uh-huh.

CHREMES
But … what if we can’t?

BLEPYRUS
Then it’s no food for us.

CHREMES
Man, I gotta go! We got work to do! No tup ’er, no supper! I gotta learn how to enjoy both!

BLEPYRUS
Aw, but ain’t they always yappin’ ’bout consent? This shit is sexual harassment!

CHREMES
Yeah, but listen, I mean, what if it’s good for the community? Man, let’s just hunker down and try it. Like they say, this idea’s so crazy it just might work.

BLEPYRUS
That ain’t how ideas work!

CHREMES
By Pallas, let’s hope it is this time. I gotta go, buddy. Y’all have a good’un. (Exits.)

BLEPYRUS
Later, Chremes. (Blepyrus mutters to himself in agitation as he re-enters his house.)

(The Chorus raps as it returns home from the Senate, still dressed as men. Think old-school Missy Elliott with “Rhythm Nation” march moves.)

CHORUS

We marchin’, ain’t no man behind us.
Checkin’ our six so the dicks cain’t find us.
Strong! I’m a queen like Kong but
Keep an eye out ’cause they creepin’ up on us.

Gird your loins! Lookin’ left and right.
Ain’t no fiasco gonna show tonight
Smooth! Betta keep close watch.
Only shame in our game is if we get caught.

(refrain)
Stridin’, we loud and proud!
Stridin’, brothas ain’t allowed!
I’m stridin’, check my rep!
It’s the pep in this step that a sista took pride in.

Move! And we’re back in a minute,
Back to the path where we left for the Senate.
Home! Where our leader resided:
Brains o’ this campaign, and they ratified it.

(Praxagora enters with additional women.)

Pose! While we take our gear off,
Dress in new threads, get these messed-up beards off. (They do so.)
Strut! Tell ya what, no scandal:
Ladies doin’ what shady men can’t handle.

(Repeat refrain twice, dance break, refrain.)

PRAXAGORA
Homegirls, our plans’ve done met with success. Get them cloaks and boots off quick now ’fore any man sees you. Let all those straps unbuckle and throw your staffs aside. (to the chorus Leader) You, help ’em wash that glue off they chins. Personally, I’m gonna slip into the house all quiet-like and put my man’s cloak and his other shit back where I found ’em. Maybe he won’t even notice they been gone.

CHORUS LEADER
There ya go, everything is just as you directed. Now tell us what we can do to help you stay in charge, ’cause you’re the brightest woman we’ve ever seen.

PRAXAGORA
Shoot, I just accepted the role y’all gave me. When I was in the agora, when ever’body was yellin’ and carryin’ on and our lives seemed to hang in the balance, I just took strength from your unbeatable courage. You empowered me to —

BLEPYRUS (suddenly appearing in the door to their house)
Ho, Praxagora! Where you been?

PRAXAGORA
What do you care where I been?

BLEPYRUS
What the fuck kinda question is that? ’Course I’m concerned!

PRAXAGORA
Maybe I came home from seein’ some other man.

BLEPYRUS
Yeah, maybe more than one.

PRAXAGORA
Only one way to know.

BLEPYRUS
Yeah? What’s that?

PRAXAGORA
Come over here and get a whiff o’ this bush, see if it smell like perfume.

BLEPYRUS
Honey, please. You tellin’ me no woman can’t get laid without perfume on?

PRAXAGORA
Well, she shouldn’t, leastways far as I’m concerned.

BLEPYRUS
Why’d you take off so early with my cloak?

PRAXAGORA
Friend of mine went into labor and called me to come over.

BLEPYRUS
You couldn’t’ve mentioned this before your ass left the house?

PRAXAGORA
Honey. Baby! You want me to leave that poor woman in need?

BLEPYRUS
I’m only asking for a word or two. Baby, this don’t feel right.

PRAXAGORA
’Course it do! Goddesses be my witness, I took off wit’ a quickness. My girl need me there on the double, regardless of consequences.

BLEPYRUS
Then why didn’t you take y’own clothes? You took mine instead, tossed your dress on the bed and left me lyin’ there butt-ass nekkid like a corpse.

PRAXAGORA
It was cold outside, baby. I’m just a little ol’ fragile thing. I took your cloak to stay warm. You was already warm there ’neath the blankets.

BLEPYRUS
What about my shoes and my staff? D’you have to take those, too?

PRAXAGORA
I was worried somebody might jack me for the cloak! I wanted to look like a big, scary man, so I took your shoes and stomped around bangin’ shit with your staff.

BLEPYRUS
With you gone, I wasn’t at the Senate for payday. We coulda bought a pint of wheat with that shit.

PRAXAGORA
Chill out, baby. It’s a boy, okay?

BLEPYRUS
Who’s a boy, the Senate?

PRAXAGORA
No! The woman I went to help through labor. She had a baby boy. Don’t tell me the Senate’s already done?

BLEPYRUS
Baby, we talked about this last night.

PRAXAGORA
Oh, I remember now.

BLEPYRUS
You don’t even know what we was votin’ on, do you?

PRAXAGORA
Nope, sure don’t.

BLEPYRUS
Well, good news for you! You dinin’ on lobster from now on, ’cause ’cording to the Senate, your ass is now in charge of the government.

PRAXAGORA
Say who with the what now?

BLEPYRUS
I said, you in charge.

PRAXAGORA
Charge o’ what?

BLEPYRUS
Everything. The whole public sector.

(Enter Chremes.)

PRAXAGORA
Holy shit! Aphrodite! This is wonderful news for us Athenians!

BLEPYRUS
How the fuck you figure that?

PRAXAGORA
Oh, for a thousand reasons! Ain’t nobody gonna act up now, lie in court, spread rumors and shit …

BLEPYRUS
Gods damn it, can we please just have some dinner?

CHREMES
Let her talk, brother.

PRAXAGORA
Today marks the beginning of the end for burglary, jealousy, poverty and misery. We’ll have no more domestic abuse and no more o’ them frivolous lawsuits.

CHREMES
Poseidon! Well, if that’s the case, happy day and whatnot!

PRAXAGORA
Word is bond. This dude be my witness, even Blepyrus ain’t gon’ have shit to say when this shit be done.

CHORUS (rap-singing — and who doesn’t love Lauryn Hill?)

You done right by your friends, now we comin’ to the end.
You better represent ’cause you run the government.
Friend, better make the moves so our lives are all improved. (Word.)
Garden o’ your brain bringin’ flowers after rain.

Yeah! Grace should fill our lives. Help our blessed city thrive.
Athenians should seize new opportunities.
Feel the thousand benefits of a queen’s intelligence. (Girl!)
Only new ideas have the strength to really free us.

(sung)
Stay progressive, word and deed.
New ideas, that’s our need.
Stay progressive, everyone (everyone).
That’s the way we get this done.

CHORUS LEADER (rapping)
Whatever you do, girl, better make it snappy.
Only rapid action keeps the voters happy.
Fixin’ what the men already made a mess of us
Sister, get it done, better stay progressive —

CHORUS (singing)
Stay progressive, word and deed.
New ideas, that’s our need
Stay progressive, everyone (everyone).
Only love will get this done (get this done).

PRAXAGORA
Look, I think I got some good ideas, but I’m afraid the voters’ll cling to conservative opinions. They get angry when muthafuckas change shit too fast.

CHREMES
Enh, don’t you worry about that. Love of the new and scorn for tradition, that’s Athenian voters in a nutshell.

PRAXAGORA
Yeah, we’ll see about that. Now, hear me out. I want an equal share of community wealth for each citizen. No more of this one percent, ninety-nine percent bullshit. I’m talkin’ an end to wage imbalance, okay? Ain’t no huge agribusinesses gon’ be runnin’ shit while the little guy barely has enough soil on his farm to get buried in. Ain’t gon’ be no more o’ this bullshit with one guy havin’ control of the labor force while another guy can’t find no job even worth having. Now I’m in charge, this shit gon’ be all for one, one for all.

BLEPYRUS
Yeah … but tell me what you mean by “for all.”

PRAXAGORA
You eat shit, I eat shit!

BLEPYRUS
You want us all eatin’ shit, woman?

PRAXAGORA
No, baby, you keep interrupting. I’m trying to tell you I’ll make land, cash and all private property communal. We gon’ share that and live on it — call it a … commonwealth. Then we’ll have a vested interest in overseeing that money wisely.

BLEPYRUS
But what if a guy already has gold or silver currency, but doesn’t own land? How’s he even gon’ know how much he has?

PRAXAGORA
He gotta throw it all onto the pile, and if he don’t, we can try him for civil disobedience and perjury.

BLEPYRUS
What does he care ’bout tellin’ you the truth? Prob’ly got that money by lyin’ and cheatin’ people in the first place.

PRAXAGORA
But he ain’t gon’ need all that money anymore.

BLEPYRUS
Why the fuck not?

PRAXAGORA
’Cause even poor folks won’t have to work. They’ll already have everything they need: bread, salt fish, cakes, tunics, wine, chickpeas — and why wouldn’t rich people want to contribute to the happiness of their society?

BLEPYRUS
I told you, they got all that shit by robbin’ people!

CHREMES
Sure, in the bad old days they did, but now that everybody’ll have the same amount there’s no point in robbing anyone.

BLEPYRUS
Let’s say you saw some hot bitch and wanted to fuck her. Rich man can dip into his stash and give her some bling to win her ass over. Then he still gon’ be dippin’ his fingers into the common property. He still come out ahead!

PRAXAGORA
Word, but he be able to fuck that ho for nothin’ now. See, my plan is to start full polyamory, ya feel me? Some girl want a baby, she can choose any man she want to knock her ass up.

BLEPYRUS
Then every man’ll try to fuck the hottest bitches!

PRAXAGORA
We’ll set up tiers for that shit. A brother wanta fuck some sexy lady, he gotta work his way up through the ranks.

BLEPYRUS
What about old muthafuckas like Chremes? He gotta work his way through every old biddy in town, ain’t no way his dick stays in the game long enough to get a perfect ten.

PRAXAGORA
Not if women stop putting up a fight. Trust me, you gon’ have smooth sailing.

CHREMES
Who says they’re putting up a fight?

PRAXAGORA
Women resist feeling sexy all the time. That’s how that shit always been … till now.

BLEPYRUS
That’s all well and good for the women, but what about us men? Bitches be gettin’ fucked every which-a way, but only by handsome brothas. Ain’t nothing in your system to make ’em spend any time with brothas who ain’t fly as hell.

PRAXAGORA
They be on the same system as you: First you fuck some troll, then she ride Denzellius. She’ll be so horny to follow the law she’ll chase guys like you into restaurants and fuck you right there on the table.

BLEPYRUS
You tellin’ me Tedcruzius’ll get as much action as a fuckin’ player?

PRAXAGORA
Apollo my witness, hell, yes! This new law gonna pass with flyin’g colors. Tell me it ain’t gonna feel good to see these rich, ring-fingered muthafuckas waitin’ in line behind some work-boot-ass nobody for a change. He’ll be all like, “You back up till I had the first share, buddy. Then you can have my sloppy seconds.”

BLEPYRUS
If this be the new system, how men even gon’ know who they kids are?

PRAXAGORA
Kids’ll look up to every old man, call him “Daddy.”

BLEPYRUS
Shoot, kids already hate they dads. Some even tryin’ to choke they ass out. ’Magine how much worse things’ll be when they feel okay shittin’ on any grown-ass man.

PRAXAGORA
They be plenty o’ men around to put a stop to it. Back in the day, you saw kids mouthin’ off to they parents, you knew you was s’posed to stay out of it. Now you see an old man catchin’ hell, you think, “Hey, that muthafucka might be my daddy,” and that’ll be the end o’ that shit for true.

BLEPYRUS
Y’know, you startin’ to make a fair bit o’ sense! I wouldn’t like it, though, if somebody like Zuckerbergius or Jaredkushnerus or some shit started callin’ me Daddy.

CHREMES
Oh, it gets worse than that, Blepyrus.

BLEPYRUS
Yeah?

CHREMES
Imagine if Justinbieberus came up and hugged you and called you his daddy.

BLEPYRUS
Man, that boy better not!

CHREMES
Comin’ up all smelling like musk body lotion and weed. Luckily, he was born before the new decree, so there’s nothing to worry about there.

BLEPYRUS
Ugh, that’d be some dank-ass shit. But who gonna do all the farming?

PRAXAGORA
Immigrants! All you gotta do is doll your ass up and head out on the town for dinner ’round sundown.

BLEPYRUS
But where are all our clothes gon’ come from?

PRAXAGORA
You can wear the clothes you got till they give out. Then the ladies’ll weave you some new ones.

BLEPYRUS
Okay. So what if the magistrates impose a fine on a citizen who done broke the law? How he gon’ pay that shit? With money from the common fund? That don’t seem right, does it?

PRAXAGORA
Ain’t gon’ be no more fines. Ain’t gon’ be no more breakin’ the law!

BLEPYRUS
Well, that’s the end of your system right there.

CHREMES
I tend to agree.

PRAXAGORA
Who the fuck gon’ break the law in a system like this?

BLEPYRUS
I can think of a thousand of reasons, I swear. Suppose a guy refuse to pay back a loan.

PRAXAGORA
He ain’t gon’ need no loan, and where the loaner gon’ get the damn money from anyhow? What, he gon’ steal it right out the treasury? That muthafucker’d get caught like that!

CHREMES
By Demeter, she has it all figured out!

BLEPYRUS
Okay, riddle me this: S’pose some dudes get all crunk at dinner and take some punches at an innocent bystander. How they gon’ pay that fine? Huh? Got you there!

PRAXAGORA
They gotta take it outta whatever little they already got. Tell you what, though, you make somebody miss a couple of meals, they start to rethink the way they ass approaches things.

BLEPYRUS
So you’re tellin’ me thieves are a thing of the past.

PRAXAGORA
Word. Baby, why steal if you already got the same as everybody else?

BLEPYRUS
No more muggings? Nobody gon’ get jacked?

CHREMES
It’s hard to get mugged in your own equal house.

PRAXAGORA
Even folks who decide to sleep outdoors’ll feel safe, ’cause we all have an equal livelihood. ’Sides, somebody come up to you and say, “Yo, gimme your cloak,” just give him that shit. Why the hell not? All you gotta do is go to the community property building and pick up a whole new one.

BLEPYRUS
So ain’t nobody gon’ go out for gambling?

PRAXAGORA
What’d be the point of even playing?

BLEPYRUS
What kind of social life are you puttin’ out there?

PRAXAGORA
A shared one. We’ll begin to see Athens as one communal home, where everything belong to each and every one of us. We’ll go from one house to another with a smile on our face, just like we was goin’ to a room in our own damn house.

BLEPYRUS
Uh-huh. And where’ll the kitchen be?

PRAXAGORA
We’ll make restaurants out of prisons and courthouses.

BLEPYRUS
We even gon’ need a house of oratory?

PRAXAGORA
We’ll make it another altar to the gods. Little kids’ll sing the praises of our heroes there — but also the infamy of cowards, who’ll be so humiliated their asses won’t even want to eat at the public table.

BLEPYRUS
By Apollo, you really thought this shit through! But what about the ceremonial urns? They seem awful fancy.

PRAXAGORA
I’ll send ’em to the agora, over by the statue of Harmodius. I’ll draw a lot for each citizen. Then the letter on the lot’ll represent their dining assignment. In other words, if I draw a P, you eat at the royal portico. If it’s a T, you go to the portico of Theseus. If it’s a B, your ass eats dinner by the bakery.

BLEPYRUS
And stuff yourself like a goose?

PRAXAGORA
No, baby, just a basic-ass meal.

BLEPYRUS
What if the lot turns out to be blank? You get run out of town by other diners?

PRAXAGORA (solemnly)
I will never let that happen. There’ll be plenty for everybody. No one’ll push away from the table till they’re full and have a buzz on from the wine. When he do, he’ll wear a garland and carry a torch. He’ll be met at the crossroads by women goin’, “You need to come to our house, meet our beautiful roommate.” Then another woman’ll yell from her balcony, “Fuck that, my friend is gorgeous, ain’t a blemish on her, but first you gotta come up here and get with this.” All that guy’s ugly-ass boy’ll be like, “Wait your turn, fool! Yeah, you can go on up there, but you know the law. Ugly dudes like me get the first shot! Why don’t you fuckin’ hang on the porch for a while, dig into your fig leaves and play with yourself?” Now, how you like that noise?

BLEPYRUS CHREMES
Believe that. Hot damn!

PRAXAGORA
Now, I gotta get my ass to the marketplace to sign the receipt for our new public property. Oh, and I also need to hire some mouthy-ass sister as my personal herald. I got the business of state on my shoulders now ’cause I’m in charge of the system. Not to mention I gotta get busy and set up the common meal system. You watch, baby. Our first public dinner is tonight.

BLEPYRUS
We attending the common feast?

PRAXAGORA
Hell, yeah, we are! Oh, and we closin’ the brothels, baby. Fuck that.

BLEPYRUS
Hey, wait, what? What the fuck for?

PRAXAGORA
Any fool could see that! These hos be wantin’ to start fuckin’ the handsome brothas, not the old, crusty dudes. Why they gettin’ so much dick anyway? Same some o’ that shit for the ladies who ain’t full-time sex workers and shit. If they still too horny for any other job, they can get with the players at the club. (She goes into their house.)

BLEPYRUS
Girl, I’m gonna march for this new order right alongside your ass. People say, “Check this shit out, that there’s the fuckin’ dictator’s husband!” (He follows Praxagora inside.)

CHREMES (as he exits)
Well, I guess that leaves me to collect my stuff and itemize it all for public consumption.

(INTERMISSION.)

ACT TWO

(The Chorus entertains with a dance break. Then Chremes hauls his meager possessions in and arranges them in a row.)

CHREMES
Let me lay my stuff out and take inventory. I gotta get this shit to the agora. Get over here, you beautiful colander, my most precious possession. You’ll still crusty from all the flour I’ve passed through you into me. I’m gonna call you Miss Athens in front of all these other beautiful ladies. Instead of a parasol, you get this stewpot. My gods, is it black enough? Looks like the hair on Ronaldreaganus. Get in line, mirror, you sexy thing. Urn, you’ll play the part of Aquarius. For musical accompaniment, here’s my rooster that always wakes me up at the crack of dawn so I won’t miss the Senate. I’ll put my prize orchid in this pot, cover it in honeycombs, olive branches and cologne bottles, and then dump the other pots so I won’t have to carry ’em. (sigh)

CITIZEN (watching)
Looky here at this idjit carryin’ his shit to the common treasury. Even I’m smarter than that shit. Poseidon’s sake, I’m a-gonna’ take my time and think this shit over ’fore I do a damn thing. I ain’t dumb enough to throw away the fruits of my good, hard labor, nosirree, not ’less it’s for a dang good reason. Lemme see which-a way this thing shakes itself out. (approaching Chremes) Hey, dumbass, what’s with the fuckin’ yard sale? You leavin’ town or tryin’ to pawn what you got?

CHREMES
Neither.

CITIZEN
Then why you got all this shit sittin’ out in a row? You rehearsin’ for the town parade?

CHREMES
No, I’m adhering to the new civic ordnance by hauling it off to submit for public property.

CITIZEN
Well, bullshit to that.

CHREMES
You said it.

CITIZEN
Holy Zeus, man, you one unlucky sumbitch.

CHREMES
Why’s that?

CITIZEN
Ain’t it obvious? You know the sky’s blue, right? You got that?

CHREMES
Don’t we have to follow the law?

CITIZEN
What law, ya dumb sumbitch?

CHREMES
The law they just passed.

CITIZEN
Just passed? You outta yer fuckin’ mind?

CHREMES
I don’t know, am I?

CITIZEN
You godsdamn libtard.

CHREMES
Why, because I obey the law?

CITIZEN
Oh, is that how you edumacated snowflakes do it?

CHREMES (after a beat)
Yes!

CITIZEN
A dumbass says what?

CHREMES
You’re not gonna contribute to the common stockpile?

CITIZEN
No, man, not till I see what every other fucker throwin’ in.

CHREMES
The law’s the same for everyone. You contribute whatever you have.

CITIZEN
Shit, motherfucker, please, I’ll believe that shit when I see it with these here two eyes.

CHREMES
But that’s what the heralds told us to do.

CITIZEN
Fake news.

CHREMES
Other citizens told me they’re doing it.

CITIZEN
You believe everything them sumbitches tell you?

CHREMES
Oh, you’re wearing me out with all these conspiracy theories.

CITIZEN
I ain’t the only motherfucker who knows what’s really goin’ on, dude.

CHREMES
Fuck you and your bullshit.

CITIZEN
You first, though, right? Ain’t that the new system? Listen, why you gonna give up all your own damn property without so much as a fight? You think anybody with a lick o’ sense is gonna do that? That ain’t the Athenian way. We don’t give, we take, from the gods on down, fool. Just look at them statues. Every one of ’em has his damn hand out. We go in to pray for their blessing, they’re like, “Hey, what the fuck’s in it for me?”

CHREMES
Look, I’m just trying to do my part here, asshole. Now get out of my way so I can work. Where’d I put that strap?

CITIZEN
You’re actually gonna hand this shit over?

CHREMES
You’re damn right I am. Now, if I string these two racks together —

CITIZEN
Man, this is the dumbest shit I ever seen in my life. Can’t even wait to see which way the wind blows.

CHREMES
Oh, yeah? And then what?

CITIZEN
Wait some more, man, what the fuck do you think?

CHREMES
Why?

CITIZEN
You don’t know what could happen! There could be an earthquake! Lightning could hit you the wrong way! A black cat crosses your path! The storehouse runs out of room! Who the hell knows, ya dumb shithead?

CHREMES
I have to say, it would be something if I carried this whole bundle over and found they were already full.

CITIZEN
Then what, you just throw it away? Hey, listen, man, the truth is they’s gonna be lots o’ room in that storehouse. That motherfucker’ll be empty a month from now.

CHREMES
How d’ya figure?

CITIZEN
I know how these motherfuckers are. It’s a hell of a lot easier to get a law passed than to get it followed.

CHREMES
Well. People are going to contribute.

CITIZEN
Yeah? And what if they don’t?

CHREMES
I’m a hundred percent certain they will.

CITIZEN
Oh. Okay. Whew. That settles it. Except … wait a minute … What if they don’t?

CHREMES
I’m telling you they will.

CITIZEN
You think ain’t nobody gonna push back?

CHREMES
They’ll be forced to submit.

CITIZEN
Forced by who? We got a citizen army, motherfucker!

CHREMES
I’ll already have dropped off my property by then.

CITIZEN
Yeah, well, I hope you can afford it when the gub’ment puts ’em up for auction.

CHREMES
Oh, go jump off a bridge.

CITIZEN
Yeah, and what if I do?

CHREMES
I doubt you’ll be missed.

CITIZEN
Man, you really are this fuckin’ stupid! Holy shit!

CHREMES
Yes! And look, so is everybody else! Here they come with all their stuff!

CITIZEN
Well, who’s that leading the charge there? Oh, look, it’s Berniesanderus! What a fuckin’ shock! That guy’s ninety-eight percent of a dumbass anyways!

CHREMES
Gods, go fuck yourself sideways, will you?

CITIZEN
You think Brucespringsteenus’ll throw in his share?

CHREMES
He’ll give more than Georgecloonius!

CITIZEN
Yeah, they’s prob’ly tired of bein’ billionaires.

CHREMES
You make me so tired, you know that?

CITIZEN
Do I? You sure it ain’t the gub’ment makin’ you tired? You remember the tax on salt?

CHREMES
Of course I do.

CITIZEN
You remember the old copper coins?

CHREMES
Yes, I lost my shirt on those coins. I sold a whole year’s crop of grapevines for copper, and when I took it to the market to buy flour, the herald was already yelling, “Copper no longer accepted. Only silver currency valid from now on.”

CITIZEN
And just this last week, Warrenbuffetus was sayin’ we oughta tax the rich, am I right? Oh, Warrenbuffetus this, Warrenbuffetus that, he’s so fuckin’ smart, ’cept guess what? Ain’t nothin’ ever come of it. Motherfucker’s all talk. They don’t mean that shit. Someday his ass’ll be the first against the wall.

CHREMES
Ah, but that was when men were in charge. Now it’s women. The tables have turned.

CITIZEN
I wouldn’t let that bitch sit on my face if my beard was on fire.

CHREMES
You don’t know what the fuck you’re even talking about. I gotta get this stuff to market.

HERALD
All citizens are immediately invited as directed by civic leadership! This is the new law: Each citizen will dine as directed by lot. The tables have already been set and provisioned with haute cuisine. The seats have been upholstered with comfortable cushions. The public ewers hold a mixture of water and wine. Servants stand ready to perfume each guest. The menu today includes grilled fish, spit-roasted rabbits, assorted pastries, braided loaves and hush puppies, with pea soup heated to order by lovely young waitresses. Handsome bachelors in military uniform roam among them, serving as busboys and dishwashers, or in dress clothes to tell jokes and mingle with guests. The kitchen is open, friends. Bon appétit! (Exits.)

CITIZEN
Sold. Count me in. Why hang around here, right? After all … it’s the law.

CHREMES
Hey, where do you think you’re going? You haven’t even turned your property in yet.

CITIZEN
It’s suppertime.

CHREMES
Any woman with a lick of sense’ll demand you contribute your property first.

CITIZEN
Oh, I’m fixin’ to.

CHREMES
When?

CITIZEN
Look, I ain’t the kinda guy who drags his feet, y’know what I mean?

CHREMES
Come again?

CITIZEN
I promise you I ain’t gonna be the last to throw in.

CHREMES
You do plan to eat in the meantime, though.

CITIZEN
’Course I will. Why not? It’s my civic duty.

CHREMES
And what if they won’t let you in?

CITIZEN
Aw, I’ll shuck and jive, dude!

CHREMES
They’re gonna have you whipped.

CITIZEN
Bring that shit on!

CHREMES
Those women’ll laugh in your face.

CITIZEN
Which’ll be by the door.

CHREMES
Huh? You’ll be by the door. So what?

CITIZEN
Grabbin’ bites from ever’ dish that goes by me.

CHREMES
Fine, have it your way, just not before I get there. I need servants to help me lug all this stuff in.

CITIZEN
Lemme give ya a hand there, buddy.

CHREMES
Oh, no, I’m onto you! You’d just tell the attendant all this stuff is yours! Bullshit to that! (He exits with his property in a loose, lumpy bundle.)

CITIZEN
Aw, man! I gotta cogitate me some shenanigans so I can hang onto my stuff and still tuck into them free eats. Hmm, let me think … Shit, yeah! That’s the ticket! I just gotta get in there ’fore they update their files! (Exits laughing.)

(Dance interlude from the Chorus. Meanwhile, the home facades get redecorated as houses of ill repute. When the dance break ends, an old woman leans out one of the windows.)

OLD WOMAN 1
What gives? No men in sight, though I know my time has come. Is it all for nothing that I painted my face and gussied myself up in a gorgeous, yellow robe? Here I am now, all aquiver for any random fella who passes by! Muses, please, settle here on my lips and set the mood with a beautiful, homegrown love ballad!

(A girl appears at the other window.)

GIRL
Quit cutting in line, y’old hag. You thought you’d cut me out of the deal and lure some hottie into your clutches by singing. Well, go ahead, sing! I’ll pipe up, too, and together we’ll wear this whole neighborhood out. Still, it’ll probably sound nice in the meantime.

OLD WOMAN 1 (flipping the bird)
Please, honey. Here comes an old geezer. Why don’t you take him for a ride? Hey, musicians, play something suitable for the occasion. “Come away with me in the night …” These little pipsqueaks don’t know the first thing about making love, not like women of a certain age. Nobody can touch the man who tames me like I can. These young things are all just flibbertigibbets.

GIRL
Don’t be hatin’. “Tonight let’s get some, and live while we’re young.” Check out our supple legs, our nice, firm boobs. That’s sex appeal! Granny, you look like somebody made you up for an open casket. The only guy excited to see you is the Grim Reaper.

OLD WOMAN 1
“Hush, hush; keep it down now.” You’ll probably get lost on your way to the bed. If you do find your way, don’t bother trying to kiss him. It’ll just be the trouser snake for you.

GIRL
“And I don’t know how I can do without. I just need you now.” I’m all alone here. Even my mom went out partying, let alone anyone else! “Quarter after one, I’m a little drunk and I need you now.” Besides, I had you pegged as a card-carrying Lesbian. “Swish swish, bish.” You will not get between me and what I’ve got comin’ to me.

OLD WOMAN 1
Sing all you want, honey. You sound like a horny tomcat. Ain’t nobody darkening your doorstep till they’ve been to see yours truly.

GIRL
Oh, please, the next guy walking in your house’ll be the undertaker hauling your carcass. At least your ass’ll finally have a new experience!

OLD WOMAN 1
Women my age have seen it all. Why be scared of old age?

GIRL
’Cause the makeup all over your face is so embarrassing! OM fucking G!

OLD WOMAN 1
Did I even ask for your opinion?

GIRL
Why’re you hanging out the window like that?

OLD WOMAN 1
I’m pining for my beau, Alecclaytonus (or whatever noteworthy, senior male happens to be in attendance).

GIRL
Yeah, he does sound like a better fit for your old ass.

OLD WOMAN 1
I can prove it, too, ’cause he’s coming this way. See, there he is now.

GIRL
He isn’t into you at all.

OLD WOMAN 1
Damn right he is.

GIRL
Prove it, Skeletor! Watch what happens when I go inside and play hard to get.

OLD WOMAN 1
I will, too. I’m gonna make you eat those words, missy. (Both go inside.)

YOUNG MAN
“I hate these blurred lines …” Ah, if only I could sleep with the hottie without having to first fuck the nottie. Make Athenia great again!

OLD WOMAN 1 (from inside)
“The way you grab me, must wanta get nasty.” Now stop yer grinnin’ and drop yer linen, ’cause I have the law behind me and the law is the law in this democracy! Oh, but hey, don’t mind me. Nobody here but us chickens.

YOUNG MAN
Holy gods, if I could just find one sweet-ass babe all alone. This wine got me goin’! Shit!

GIRL (appearing at her window again)
I cannot believe the old biddy fell for that. She went inside thinking I’d stay inside. Sucka! And here comes that tasty snack I was talkin’ about. “You make me feel like a dangerous woman. Somethin’ ’bout you makes me wanta do things that I shouldn’t.” Eros have mercy, please land this motherfucker in my bedroom.

YOUNG MAN (serenading her window)
“’Cause if I want you, and I want you, babe, ain’t goin’ backwards. Won’t ask for space, ’cause space is just a word …” Mmm, I wanta get my hands around that ass, girl, let me snuggle up to that juciy-ass rack o’ yours. Why you make me so horny, Aphrodite? Damn, Eros, please, let me get up in them sheets, girl. Can’t even tell you how worked up I am right now. Baby, please, on my hands and knees, let me come in there and take you in my arms, girl. I be hurtin’. (He knocks on the girl’s door.)

OLD WOMAN 1 (appearing at her own window)
Was that for me? Are you knocking for me? You were, right?

YOUNG MAN
You must be outta your damn mind.

OLD WOMAN 1
You were knocking. I heard you.

YOUNG MAN
Yeah, death first!

OLD WOMAN 1
You were carrying a torch for me!

YOUNG MAN
Um, I was, no, I uh, needed to see this dude from, uh, Anaphlystia. That’s all.

OLD WOMAN 1
Yeah? What’s his name?

YOUNG MAN
Uh, not, uh, Sebinus. It wasn’t him. That was just a rumor! Don’t put words in my mouth!

OLD WOMAN 1
You’re coming in whether you like it or not, by Aphrodite.

YOUNG MAN (shaking her off)
No, uh, listen, I’m not that much into, like, old wines, y’know? I like vintages less than twenty years old and shit.

OLD WOMAN 1
New rules, honey. First you have to do the wild thing with me.

YOUNG MAN
Only if I want to, though, right? Consent is king?

OLD WOMAN 1
Sure, but only if you’d rather not eat from now on.

YOUNG MAN
Oh, don’t gimme that, I want to knock on this door over here.

OLD WOMAN 1
Not before you’ve darkened this doorstep.

YOUNG MAN
I just really don’t want no antiques.

OLD WOMAN 1
“I know you want it. I know you want it.” You may not have expected to see me, honey, but come on over here, pucker up and lay one on me.

YOUNG MAN
No, you, uh, probably got a big, tough boyfriend in your house.

OLD WOMAN 1
Say what now?

YOUNG MAN
Yeah, some famous dude with a great sense of humor.

OLD WOMAN 1
Who might that be?

YOUNG MAN
I don’t know, the Crypt Keeper? Look, you better get back inside ’fore he sees you.

OLD WOMAN 1
“I know you want it. I know you want it.”

YOUNG MAN
Not as much as you do, obviously!

OLD WOMAN 1
“Can’t let it get past me. You’re far from plastic. Talk about gettin’ blasted.”

YOUNG MAN
Bitch, no one even likes that song anymore!

OLD WOMAN 1
Horse feathers, it has a good beat! Now get inside!

YOUNG MAN
Your back is as bent as a grappling hook! I could use you to lift water buckets from the well!

OLD WOMAN 1
Enough of this heckling. You sweet patootie, come on in here.

YOUNG MAN
Er … Wait, I don’t have to! You prob’ly never paid your taxes! I bet you don’t qualify!

OLD WOMAN 1
Look, for Aphrodite’s sake, I like getting my jollies off with younger men. Is that so wrong? I’m what they call a cougar.

YOUNG MAN
I’m allergic to cats. This ain’t gonna happen!

OLD WOMAN 1 (waving an official decree)
By Zeus, this paper says otherwise.

YOUNG MAN
What paper?

OLD WOMAN 1
A document from the government. By civic ordinance, you have to comply.

YOUNG MAN
Read that shit out loud! Let everybody hear it.

OLD WOMAN 1
Listen up, then. “It is decreed by female leadership that if a young man is interested in a young woman, he can only bed her once he’s given full satisfaction to an older lady. If he fails to comply and tries to woo the younger woman instead, any senior women are hereby authorized to grab him and have their way with him.”

YOUNG MAN
Holy shit, it’s like the Purge out here!

OLD WOMAN 1
Obey the command.

YOUNG MAN
Like, but what if some dude came and bailed me out?

OLD WOMAN 1
Men are prohibited from making private donations.

YOUNG MAN
What? Can’t I defend myself in court?

OLD WOMAN 1
Only with a plea of no contest.

YOUNG MAN
This shit ain’t right! I’ll apply for a waiver on the grounds that I’m, like, busy.

OLD WOMAN 1
Don’t even bother.

YOUNG MAN
What am I supposed to do?

OLD WOMAN 1
Come on in.

YOUNG MAN
I really don’t have a choice?

OLD WOMAN 1
Think of it as a command from General “Mad Dog” Diomedes, Athenian hero (salutes).

YOUNG MAN (reflexively saluting)
Thank you for your service, sir … Fine. Put some rose petals on the mattress, tuck your hair up outta the way, light some scented candles and gods, will you bathe in some holy water.

OLD WOMAN 1
Will you be bringing me jewelry?

YOUNG MAN
Shit, only way I’m buying you jewelry is if you last longer than those candles do. I predict you keel over dead the second I cross your threshold.

GIRL (running out of her house)
Wherere you taking him?

OLD WOMAN 1
To bed, honey.

GIRL
This ain’t right! He doesn’t belong with a woman your age! He’s young enough to be your son, not your husband! We aren’t staging Oedipus Rex here! (to the young man) Come with me!

OLD WOMAN 1
You little pain in the tuches! You’re just jealous! I’ll get even with you. (She goes inside.)

YOUNG MAN
You did me a huge favor, by Zeus, getting me away from that creepy old lady. And I know just how to show you how grateful I am.

(Just just as he steps toward the girl’s house, though, an even older, plainer woman arrives.)

OLD WOMAN 2
You there. Where are you taking that good-looking man, you scofflaw? The law says he has to sleep with me first.

YOUNG MAN
Fuck my life! Where’d they find this hag? She’s even scarier than that last harpy.

OLD WOMAN 2
You come here. (She grabs his arm.)

YOUNG MAN
Please, please, don’t let her carry me off!

OLD WOMAN 2
I’m not carrying you off. It’s the law that’s carrying you off.

YOUNG MAN
Not the law. It’s some scabby old she-demon!

OLD WOMAN 2
Shake a tail feather, you handsome young devil. Come over here and quit wasting my valuable time. I don’t have much left!

YOUNG MAN
Can I at least go to the bathroom first? Gods, I need a minute to get my head on straight. Otherwise the first thing you’ll see is me shitting my pants.

OLD WOMAN 2
Don’t you worry about that, young man. You can use the facilities here.

YOUNG MAN
I don’t think your crapper’s ready for that. This shit feels like a double.

OLD WOMAN 2
I’ll take my chances. Now — (But a third old woman approaches.)

OLD WOMAN 3 (off)
Hello, there, handsome. Where do you think the two of you are going?

YOUNG MAN
I’ve been taken against my will! She’s making me! Look, I don’t know who you are, okay, but thank you for getting me out of this nightmare! (The third old woman arrives.) Oh, for fuck’s sake! Heracles, Pan, Castor and Pollux, somebody help me! She’s even gnarlier than the first two! Holy gods, she’s an orc! Did somebody whitewash a chimp? Gods above, you’re like somebody killed an old lady, let her rot for a while, then brought back her ghost!

OLD WOMAN 3
Very funny. Now follow me.

OLD WOMAN 2
No, come with me!

OLD WOMAN 3
I’m not giving him up.

OLD WOMAN 2
Neither will I!

YOUNG MAN
You’re tearing me apart! You godsdamn relics!

OLD WOMAN 2
The law says he has to come with me!

OLD WOMAN 3
Not if somebody uglier comes along!

YOUNG MAN
What if you two give me a heart attack? There won’t be anything left to take back to my girlfriend!

OLD WOMAN 3
That’s on you, bud. Now make with the civic duty.

YOUNG MAN
Ohh, which hoop do I have to jump through first?

OLD WOMAN 3
Don’t play stupid. It’s my turn first.

YOUNG MAN
Then you gotta make her let me go.

OLD WOMAN 2
Come on-a my house, honey!

YOUNG MAN
When this other Golden Girl turns me loose.

OLD WOMAN 3
By gods, I’ll never let go of you.

OLD WOMAN 2
Well, neither will I!

YOUNG MAN
I hope none of you ever work as ushers.

OLD WOMAN 2
Why not?

YOUNG MAN
You’d tear a guy in half just getting him to his seat.

OLD WOMAN 3
Come along, honey, and start minding your manners.

OLD WOMAN 2
No! He’s coming with me, by Zeus.

YOUNG MAN
I think I’ve heard this old story. Your form of justice is to cut me in half and each of you fucks one of the sides. I’m not ambidextrous!

OLD WOMAN 3
You take both hands. I’ll stick with the middle.

YOUNG MAN
Gods above! I’m swirling the drain here!

OLD WOMAN 2
Don’t think I won’t follow you into her house for a threeway.

YOUNG MAN
No! Please! I’d rather pay in single installments!

OLD WOMAN 3
By Hecate, it’s not like you have any choice.

YOUNG MAN
This is some cruel-ass irony and shit. First I gotta spend my whole night laying pipe to a nasty old bitch, then the second I think I got rid of her, I still have to plumb this old rustbucket! What the fuck did I do to deserve this? Zeus almighty, did I forget to read my fuckin’ horoscope this morning? Why do I gotta climb aboard Flotsam and Jetsam? I feel like I’m drowning in a sewer! If I do, I hope they bury me here on her doorstep. Make this old gravedigger stand guard. Let her get buried up to the ankles over my carcass like a gravestone. Then slop her ass in pitch and light her like a funeral lamp!

(The old women drag him inside. He is in no respect happy about this. Dance interlude from the chorus.)

MAIDSERVANT (TO PRAXAGORA — arriving from the banquet)
Power to the people, baby! How happy am I! Not as happy as my boss, Praxagora. And look how happy those chorus girls are! I bet all of you’re happy, too, huh? Me, I’m on top of the world! I, a lowly maidservant, can now afford the most expensive hair products and perfumes ever made! I give credit to you, Zeus. You da man. But y’know what smells even better? This island wine I be drinkin’, aw yeah! What an excellent bouquet this has! It lingers in the nostrils. Other wines are just hit it and quit it; this wine is here for the duration, booyah! Amen! You drink that shit straight outta the bottle if you need some cheering up. Seems like some of you are starting to have second thoughts about this. Looks like you need a shot of the good stuff! (to the chorus leader) Hey, girlfriend, where’s my boss’s husband right now?

CHORUS LEADER
Wait here, he’s probably headed this way.

MAIDSERVANT
Yeah, there he is, comin’ to eat some dinner. Man, how ecstatic are you, sir?

BLEPYRUS
Me?

MAIDSERVANT
You must be the happiest of all, now you on top of the whole system, ya feel me? Thirty thousand people in that banquet hall, and you show up late to make an entrance.

CHORUS LEADER
It’s true. You must be thrilled beyond —

MAIDSERVANT (to Chorus Leader)
Where are you going?

CHORUS LEADER
I’m going to dinner.

MAIDSERVANT
By Aphrodite, girl, you’ll be last of all, by a long shot. But my homegirl Praxagora told me to escort you and not only that, these sexy ladies are coming with us. They got some good island wine left and plenty of other delicacies also. Let’s get a move on! Hey, maybe you should invite all them (the audience) to come with us! They look like they’re in a good mood. Even the critics look happy. Tell ’em to come, too! We’ll make sure they get VIP treatment!

BLEPYRUS
The more the merrier, old folks or young folks. Dinner’s all you can eat. Serve yourself. Me, I’m taking my time and arriving with a sense of decorum.

MAIDSERVANT
Okay! But Blepyrus, why drag your feet? Accompany these pretty ladies while I take my break. I feel like singing might work up my appetite.

CHORUS LEADER (to audience)
Let me say a few words here. If you found something in this play to your liking, then judge us accordingly. If you needed a laugh, give a shout-out to comedy. That’s what I tell pretty much everybody. If you go off and see another show, don’t get distracted by the competition. Remember how much you enjoyed this show! Judge it by its own merits. That’s the deal here, okay? Don’t be like some nasty-ass ho who only remembers the last dude she hooked up with.

MAIDSERVANT
It’s that time, friends, time to head into the banquet before they give away our share. Don’t get down and out about the liars and dirty, dirty cheats in this world. Instead, let’s all get down to this sick beat.

BLEPYRUS
I thought that’s exactly what I was doing.

MAIDSERVANT
Ladies, shake it off. Shake it off. You need to burn a few more calories before the banquet hall serves up two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame bun, okay? Shake it off! Grab a plate! Get you a cup! Now, let’s hurry up and dance our asses over there! Those other fools’re already chomping away!

CHORUS (dancing and singing)
“Players gonna play, play, play, play, play, play.
Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate (haters gonna hate me)
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off …”

END OF PLAY

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