The following is an excerpt from A Load of Hooey — out now!
Do you have an amateur theatrical group? Get one! They’re a big pain in the ass and not very rewarding, but you cannot perform the following playlet all by your lonesome. At the core of dramatic mise-en-scène (spelling? meaning?) is the notion that there must be a crisis of some sort. I just made that up, but you can use it. Presented here is a dinner scene, easily produced, that features bombs and flashes of fire offstage—also easy to bring to life and supercool. More important, we have two curious couples doing a dance of sensibility and manners, quite modern in its way. Also, it’s got Hitler.
(SPOTLIGHT onstage opens on our guest couple, FRITZ and ANNETTE SCHNITZELKRANK. A Society Couple dressed for a night on the town, circa 1945, Germany. The couple speak to the audience, setting the scene.)
FRITZ AND ANNETTE: Hello/Hi/Guten Abend/Good evening/We are the Schnitzelkranks.
FRITZ: In the year 1942, my wife Annette and I were invited for a dinner party with Adolf Hitler.
ANNETTE: Over the years, we had many dinners with Herr Hitler and his beautiful Eva.
FRITZ: You see, I had the good fortune of rooming with Herr Hitler at art college. I had liked his work very much and I never hesitated to tell him so.
ANNETTE: When Adolf came to power, my dear Fritz was made top art professor at Berlin University!
FRITZ: Throughout the war we met the Hitlers at many social events. We never refused an invitation from der Führer! But as the war dragged on, our final dinner plans were postponed again and again until March of 1945. With the city surrounded and our brave troops running out of supplies and food, bombs dropping all around us—well, we found ourselves greeting darling Eva once more.
ANNETTE: Oh, she looked terrible! Before Hitler could enter the room she whispered one solemn request, which we, being two very excellent dinner guests, were determined to deliver on.
EVA BRAUN: (sotto voce) Oh, if you could do me a kindness—
FRITZ AND ANNETTE: Yes, of course! Whatever is asked, dear Eva!
EVA BRAUN: Whatever you do—
(HITLER enters! EVA finishes her request sotto voce.)
EVA BRAUN: —don’t mention the war!
(FRITZ and ANNETTE have no time to react as HITLER paces over to them. He is somber and deeply distracted. FRITZ and ANNETTE muster smiles. FRITZ begins a half-hearted Nazi salute, but EVA shakes her head “no!” and he quits it. Hitler hardly notices—)
HITLER: (weary) Ah, Fritz and… uh…
FRITZ: Annette, my wife.
(HITLER grunts. EVA steps in.)
EVA BRAUN: Well, the night has finally come. It is a real pleasure to host you both again.
(Handshakes and smiles all around until the screech of a bomb tears the moment in two. An awkward pause. HITLER breaks the tension:)
HITLER: So, are we gonna eat, or what?
EVA BRAUN: Yes, Adolfy, we shall eat.
FRITZ: I’m so hungry!!
(They cross to the table and gaze at their first course, a salad. HITLER breaks the silence, muttering.)
(HITLER starts eating; the others join in. EVA prompts her guests to say something.)
ANNETTE: We were afraid we were late. So many streets are closed—well, they’re impassable, due to—
(She stops herself.)
HITLER: Due to what?
FRITZ: Traffic. It’s backed up. Buncha weekend warriors out there.
(HITLER nods and smiles at FRITZ.)
HITLER: I wonder what I would have as a last meal. Did you ever wonder this, dear Fritz? What would your final meal be if you could choose it?
FRITZ: (Laughing nervously) Oh, I don’t know. I… I would just eat… I wouldn’t care.
HITLER: Surely you would care. If you knew you had, say, three to seven days before you would be executed, you had time to plan, and many resources at your disposal, what would you eat?
FRITZ: Well, I’m not much of a foodie myself. Annette?
ANNETTE: I don’t eat dinner. Except socially.
HITLER: Last lunch, then.
ANNETTE: I don’t know… salad. What we ’re eating right now.
(HITLER stares at his salad, then pushes it away.)
HITLER: No more for me.
(EVA scowls at FRITZ and ANNETTE — wrong answers all around.)
FRITZ: Well… well…
HITLER: Well, what?
FRITZ: Nothing. Just “well, well.” I was reading the paper… (off EVA’s scowl) Sports section! Have you ever heard about the Chicago Cubs baseball team in America? They’re really having a year, I’m told. At baseballing. (No responses.) Nobody?
(HITLER is staring off into space.)
EVA BRAUN: Perhaps our guests can tell us a bit about the small matters of daily life at university. Small, delightful matters.
FRITZ: Oh, things are good. Nothing much going on. There’s the usual infighting. Not “infighting.” Uh, what’s the word. Tiffs. People have tiffs.
HITLER: What kind of tiffs?
FRITZ: Nothing earth-shattering.
(A BOMB whistles and crashes LOUDLY, shaking the furniture.)
HITLER: What kind of tiffs?
FRITZ: “Tiffles.” Not even as big as tiffs. “Where did I put my hat?” “Are you wearing my hat?” “Haha, we mixed up our hats.” “We ’re such silly-billies!” That kind of thing. A lot of that.
HITLER: Must be nice.
(EVA smiles at Fritz… good stuff. FRITZ is energized—)
FRITZ: Oh, it is, it is. It’s wonderful! Low stakes! You should try it sometime! I mean, join us at the university, someday. Do you ever consider what you might do after… uh… later in your, uh, career?
(EVA shakes her head, staring at her plate.)
HITLER: You mean after the thousand-year Reich is up?
EVA BRAUN: I think that’s enough salad. Let’s get the main course, shall we? (She taps her glass to summon a waiter. No one comes.) Where is that staff?
HITLER: They’re in the bunker. They can’t hear you.
(HITLER grabs EVA’s fork to stop the tapping. A BOMB explodes outside.)
HITLER: I’m sorry. This is my fault. I do apologize. I think I’ve made a mistake.
ANNETTE: I hope you don’t mean that you made a mistake in having us to dinner. We do so love to dine with you and darling Eva—
HITLER: I was talking about the war. World War II.
ANNETTE: Yes… I’m familiar with it.
FRITZ: Oh, Herr Hitler, I wouldn’t call it a mistake. I think you’re being a little hard on yourself—
HITLER: What would you call it then? A boner? Did I pull a “real boner”?
(EVA tries to stop him—HITLER waves her off, turning to Fritz, raging—)
HITLER (con’td): Tell me, old friend! Say it to my face! Tell me I pulled a boner! Somebody, say it!
FRITZ (meekly): You pulled a boner.
HITLER: There! Finally. Someone said it. What a fucking relief! Jesus H. Christ. That took long enough.
FRITZ: I… still like your artwork.
HITLER: Well, you’re an idiot.