Audition Materials

2 day preview scripts for The Curious Savage are available at the Livonia Public Library.

The Curious Savage, written by John Patrick, is a comedic play about Ethel P. Savage, an elderly woman whose husband recently died and left her approximately ten million dollars. Contrasting the kindness and loyalty of psychiatric patients with the avarice and vanity of "respectable" public figures, it calls into question conventional definitions of sanity while lampooning celebrity culture. The play was first produced in New York by the Theatre Guild and Lewis & Young at the Martin Beck Theatre and opened October 24, 1950, with Lillian Gish in the role of Ethel. Peter Glenville directed the production.

 

 

Theme

Primarily a comedy, the play sets up a contrast between the inmates and Mrs. Savage's stepchildren. By the end of the play, the viewer wonders who the crazy ones really are.

Playwright John Patrick states in his foreword to his play: "It is important in 'The Curious Savage' that the gentle inmates of The Cloisters be played with warmth and dignity. Their home is not an asylum nor are these good people lunatics. Any exaggeration of the roles will rob them of charm and humor. The whole point of the play is to contrast them with Mrs. Savage's children and the insane outside world. To depart from this point of view for the sake of easy laughs will rob the play of its meaning."

 

Characters

The Residents

Florence Williams: (20's-40's) The elegant "mother" of The Cloisters, she believes she has a five-year-old son named John Thomas; in fact, John Thomas is a doll. During Mrs. Savage's stay at The Cloisters, Florence believes that John Thomas has the measles.

Fairy May: (early 20's) Fairy is a compulsive liar who is obsessed with having others love her. She is unkempt throughout the play, but believes herself to be stunningly beautiful. She is also very childlike, behaving and speaking in the tone of a six-year-old.

Jeffrey: (20's-30's) Once a military pilot, Jeff was shot down in the war, surviving a crash that killed all his men. He now believes that he has a scar on his face, which he constantly hides from others. He plays the piano, but is too shy to do so around other people. He is also married to Miss Willie, but does not remember that he is, due to the crash. Miss Willie works at the Cloisters in the hopes that one day her Jeffrey will remember her.

Hannibal: (20's-40's) Hannibal, once a statistician, was fired and replaced by an electronic calculator. He has then taken up the violin, which he wrongly believes he can play beautifully. He is a kind man with a vast array of knowledge stored in his sometimes sarcastic head.

Mrs. Paddy: (40's-50's) Mrs. Paddy paints with the quality of Hannibal's violin playing. She paints only seascapes, which strikes Hannibal as "odd, because she's never seen the ocean." The other patients say that Mrs. Paddy stopped talking when her husband told her to "shut up" one day, and she hasn't spoken since. She only speaks to announce what she hates. She hates "everything in the world." Her main lines are lists of random things she hates, strung together loosely alphabetically. Her tirades are ignored by the other characters. She has given up electricity for Lent and turns off all the lights multiple times throughout the play, causing mayhem.

The Savages

Titus: He is the eldest step-son of Mrs.Savage. He sent so many threatening letters that he is listed by Western Union as a "tangible asset," Titus is the least popular senator in congress. He is sober, humorless, and direct. Titus also has a temper that tends to come out most when dealing with his mother.

Lily Belle: Lily Belle, the middle step-child, was once married to a Slovak prince, and has remarried five times since then. A celebrity heiress, she is arrogant, chic, and self-assured. She is also very selfish and is constantly putting forth the effort to make sure others are respecting her. When Lily Belle first met Ethel, she bit her new stepmother's finger and has promptly been just as vicious ever since.

Samuel: The youngest step child of Ethel, Samuel has the distinction of being the judge with the most overturned decisions in the U.S. He walks in the shadows of his siblings, offering a sassy, short comment every once in a while, only to be shot down.

Mrs. Ethel P. Savage: Referred to as "Mrs. Savage" for the majority of the play, she is a witty, kindhearted, blue haired woman with a shifted viewpoint of humanity. The events of the play are centered around her and her decision to hide the money which she has inherited from her late husband from her greedy stepchildren, to give away to those less fortunate or to fulfill others' random, yet important life long dreams.. She dislikes her stepchildren, but learns to love the residents of The Cloisters, accepting their own realities and delusions with an open-mindedness that others on the outside do not.

The Staff

Dr. Emmett: The staff doctor for this wing of The Cloisters, Dr. Emmett is kind, warmhearted, and he works hard to help his patients.

Miss "Willie" Wilhelmina: Miss Willie is an administrative assistant and nurse. She is married to Jeff, but struggles to pretend not to be because he doesn't remember her. She occasionally calls Jeff her pet name "Bingo." He is the reason she is working here, but she is nonetheless extremely kind and understanding towards all the residents of The Cloisters.

 

 

The play is a gentle comedy set in 1950 Massachusetts in a private “sanatorium” for social misfits. There are some moments of high comedy mixed with pathos and so, to achieve the right atmosphere, the 11-strong cast will need to play their characters with sincerity. This is particularly the case for the inmates of the sanatorium, or guests as they are referred to in the script. They are in the final stage of their treatment and on the surface seem normal but each has a significant psychological condition to portray.

SelectionFile type iconFile nameDescriptionSizeRevisionTimeUser
Comments