Love Negotiated © 2006 Kevin Six

Kevin Six's Work

 Love Negotiated synopsis

What is love?This is something that the characters of Love Negotiated struggle with.There are four pretty shaky relationships as Love Negotiatedbegins and three of them don’t get any better.Six people’s lives are turned topsy-turvy and, conveniently, they end up with others in the play—and this is all in the first act.

Richard and Veronica would seem to have all the makings of a bad relationship yet theirs is the last one standing.This might be because they fight, which is real communication.And there is love, even though Richard can’t or won’t admit it.There is fear, betrayal, sex and a genuine desire for love in Love Negotiated 

Love Negotiated setting and situations

Love Negotiated takes place in modern times and in one location.It is the home of Richard and Veronica, who seem to have just had sex before most of the scenes begin.The set can be large or small, expensive or a mere suggestion.Furniture plays a part in the play but lighting does more to convey locations and draw battle lines.Many scenes contain dialogue that others can’t hear, dialogue that plays off many characters at once and a pace that is frenetic, fast and funny.

 The action takes place at Veronica and Richard’s stylish urban loft apartment over three months in modern time.The scenery can be simple or complex.Each area is lighted separately so some scenes can take place privately – and some not.The front door is up center; a bar sits prominently up right and the kitchen is up left.There is a hallway to the bedroom off left; a TV and loveseat down left; and a patio with patio furniture down right.There is a large comfortable couch center stage.


Characters: Can be any age, any ethnicity and the couples can be mismatched in size, color, age, etc.

Richard:      A successful divorce lawyer who fears love

Veronica:    Another lawyer who doesn’t, lives with Richard

Maria:         An investigator for Richard and a singer, engaged to Mark

Mark:         A police officer who writes love songs

Luke:         A fairly well known actor, lives with Kate

Kate:         A corporate attorney, lives with Luke, was married to Richard

Ann:         A cellist who is married to John, a little angry (OK a lot angry)

John:        A contracts attorney, was married to Veronica

Setting:                 The action takes place at Veronica and Richard’s stylish urban loft apartment over three months in modern time.The scenery can be simple or complex.Each area is lighted separately so some scenes can take place privately – and some not.The front door is up center; a bar sits prominently up right and the kitchen is up left.There is a hallway to the bedroom off left; a TV and loveseat down left; and a patio with patio furniture down right.There is a large comfortable couch center stage.

Scenes:

ACT I

Scene 1 – The FightEvening

Scene 2 – The Truth?10 minutes later

Scene 3 – Multiple CouplingsStill later

Scene 4 – Speech, SpeechLater still

ACT II

Scene 1 – Fool for LoveTwo weeks later

Scene 2 – Drawing up Plans10 minutes later

Scene 3 – Shift in ParadigmAn hour later

Scene 4 – A Better Fight           Two months later

 Scene 5 – Comings and Goings         Five minutes later

ACT I

Scene 1 – The Fight

RICHARD enters from the bedroom.

RICHARD

Veronica, why do you always start these things five minutes before the guests arrive?

VERONICA (off stage)

What do you mean?

RICHARD

You know what I mean.You just said—

VERONICA enters from the bedroom.

VERONICA

I don’t think I love you, Richard.

RICHARD

There!You said it again!And the happy couple will be here any minute.I just love your timing.

VERONICA

We did just make love.

RICHARD

My point exactly.Timing!How can we have such great sex and then you drop a bomb on me like that?

VERONICA

Can you possibly mean that you are connected to your sex organ?You of the detachable penis theory of love?

RICHARD

How can you say you don’t love me?

VERONICA

I said I don’t think I love you.There’s a difference.Now here’s the real question, Richard.Do you love me?

RICHARD

How can you ask that after what you said?

VERONICA

You don’t think you love me either, Richard.Don’t be so silly.You’re the one who goes on ad nauseum about the perils of marriage–

RICHARD

A-ha!The real reason for the fight!The M-Word, Ad nauseum and ad infinitum, “Why won’t you marry me, Richard?”

VERONICA

Argument, dear.People who love each other don’t fight.They argue.

RICHARD

Oh, thank God.We love each other again.

VERONICA

Some day I will get you to say it to my face.It’s more important than marriage.To say, “I love you.”It means a lot to me and that’s why I think I don’t love you.

RICHARD

Love and marriage don’t work, I’ve told you that.I see it every day.

VERONICA

Yes, I know.The agreement.

RICHARD

Yes, the agreement.

VERONICA

Whose idea was that anyway?

RICHARD

Yours.

VERONICA (doesn’t hear him)

And who ever heard of a non-nuptial agreement.

RICHARD

It was your idea.We negotiated it.It exists.

VERONICA

I negotiated it because you were scared of getting involved again and I love you, Richard!

RICHARD

But it’s binding.It’s solved more than one disagreement…

VERONICA

An exercise in trust that turned into a 67-page document negotiated by four lawyers.

RICHARD

Trust needed to be exercised.

VERONICA

Some towns have smaller phone books.

RICHARD

I trust you now.

VERONICA

I can’t imagine actually going to court to enforce a non-nuptial agreement.

RICHARD

No, the agreement calls for binding arbitration.

VERONICA

Who would be stupid enough to arbitrate that document?

RICHARD

John, your ex.

VERONICA

Oh, right.It was a condition of our post-nup.

RICHARD

Surely you mean the divorce agreement.

VERONICA

Yes, for the assets but we have a separate agreement spelling out our relationship after the marriage.

RICHARD

The opposite of a restraining order?Like a retaining order?

VERONICA

Yes.We wanted to spell out how to get along.Everyone says they’ll stay friends…

RICHARD

You have a post-nuptial agreement with your ex-husband!?

 VERONICA

Yes, darling and it’s worked out quite well.

RICHARD

I need to get out of law.

VERONICA

Ah, but page 28, subsection 13, paragraph nine clearly states that both parties’ financial participation must be equal and that a change of status vis-à-vis income must be mutually agreed upon…

RICHARD

It’s an exercise in trust!

VERONICA

Then tear it up!

RICHARD

Oh, God no.

VERONICA

You should really get out of family law and into wills and trusts, like me.

RICHARD

Too much death.

VERONICA

And what of the death of love?

RICHARD

And what of breach of contract?

VERONICA

Is that what you call lovemaking now a days?

RICHARD

When you do things like that to me…

VERONICA

I just said that it would be nice for you to impregnate me.

RICHARD

How could you say that, at a time like that?

VERONICA

During sex?

RICHARD

Who does something like that?

VERONICA

Um, everyone in the civilized world and many people from California?

RICHARD

Look, sex is not the time to talk about re-negotiating the non-nuptial agreement.

VERONICA

I agree.Sex is the time to talk about love and spreading that love to children.

RICHARD

AH!The C-Word.

VERONICA

Used in conjunction with the L-Word!You’d better call your attorney and sue me for breach of a ridiculous bullshit document signed under duress by an insane woman.I’m sure there’s a clause in there about never saying, “I love you,” along with the very long and eloquent, I must say—

RICHARD

-- thank you darling, nice of you to say—

VERONICA

-- part about not sullying the world further with children we have no time to raise.

RICHARD

Diapers…

VERONICA

The D-Word.

RICHARD

Proms…

VERONICA

The P-word?New one on me.

RICHARD

Keg-stands!

VERONICA

OK, now you’ve got me scared.Children are scary, honey, but I want to slowly open up the idea of having them, slowly.

RICHARD

OK, in 50 years, let’s talk about it.

VERONICA

What are you afraid of, Richard?

RICHARD

Haven’t you been listening!?Everything!I fear love and marriage—

VERONICA

Ha!I knew it!

RICHARD

I know you know it because it’s all I’ve preached since my own divorce – not to mention the hundreds of horrible cases I’ve worked on.Love and marriage lead to hate and divorce and much worse things.Things I don’t even want to talk about.

VERONICA

What’s so bad about divorce?We both lived.Our exes lived –flourished– after the divorces.

RICHARD

And we get to bring it all up again in about five minutes!

VERONICA

They’re both coming?

RICHARD

Yes.Don’t you remember?My ex Kate is with Luke who is close to the groom Mark.

VERONICA

Maybe too close–

RICHARD

Silly theory.And your ex John’s wife, Ann, is friends with betrothed Maria.

VERONICA

You don’t think Mark is a little..?

RICHARD

Poofey?He writes music.They’re all over-sensitive, even if he is a cop.

VERONICA

All the better a husband for over-loving Maria.But Luke and Mark have a relationship that is more than just two guys being friends.

RICHARD

Mark doesn’t impress me as gay.Let’s see… He’s engaged—to a woman…He’s a cop.Well, I guess all that leather…

VERONICA

And you’re homophobic!

RICHARD

I love gay people.My practice has doubled since gay marriage and, God bless it, gay divorce.They’re so… transitory.They move in and out of relationships more than, well, anyone else.Shit, we could make a fortune on post-nups.

VERONICA

Please stop being an asshole before the guests arrive.

RICHARD

If anyone’s gay it’s Ann.

VERONICA

You have five more minutes, asshole!

RICHARD

Busybody!

VERONICA

You can’t call me that, it’s in the agreement.

RICHARD

We’re re-negotiating the agreement.

VERONICA

Really?Oh, Richard, you say the most romantic things.Silly, stupid, legalistic, bordering on the insane, but romantic.

RICHARD

Let’s get this night of a thousand crazies over with and we can talk about it.In bed…

VERONICA

Let’s not pass judgment on our friends—

RICHARD

And exes.

VERONICA

And how can you think the cello is a man’s instrument?

RICHARD

What?

VERONICA

Ann plays the cello and that’s how John fell in love with her.

RICHARD

And you let him?

VERONICA

It was a different time.We had a different agreement.Twenty pages, max.We tried everything to make it work, the three of us.

RICHARD

Do you have any video?

VERONICA

God, that’s cheap.Sex is a sacred trust.I don’t think I know you anymore, Richard.You just put people further and further away from you.You make pronouncements and never think about people’s feelings!You’re becoming a homophobic, sexist, asshole who is incapable of love!

RICHARD

And you’re a damned Pollyanna.Denying that ugly things happen and ugly people do them.Negotiating everything so that people don’t get to live and fight and live some more.You tie up everything in a pretty pink ribbon and make everything out to be so nice but you hate that you can’t control the real, dirty little world!What a theory!Our exes are married to homos so that they can still love us?Can still be available?You can’t control me and my feelings, your ex, my ex, your world and it kill’s you—

VERONICA (hits Richard)

Oh, you’re cruel.

The doorbell rings.

RICHARD (grabs and embraces VERONICA)

I, a sexist, homophobic asshole cruel?How about you punish me after the party?Look… I’m…

VERONICA

…sorry.

RICHARD

Yes.That.I say things because they’re funny.Real, but funny.And, I’ll…

VERONICA

…be nice.

RICHARD

Yes that too.And, Ronnie?I do…

VERONICA

Yes.I know.

BLACKOUT

Scene 2 – The Truth?

VERONICA gets the door. MARK and MARIA enter obviously engaged to be married. RICHARD gives them drinks.

MARIA

Are we early?

VERONICA

Someone has to be first.

RICHARD

Maybe the other guests are all hiding so you’ll be first.Did you see anyone on stakeout?

MARK

Maria’s the better investigator, aren’t you honey?

MARIA

Mark has a sixth sense about people.If there were people lurking in the shadows he’d know it.

VERONICA

I hope this party won’t be full of shady characters.

RICHARD

Like musicians, actors and attorneys?I think we’re in trouble.Besides you’re not early, Ronnie pla—

VERONICA

I think it’s so romantic how you met.Richard, do you know how Mark and Maria met?

MARK

Veronica planned something?

VERONICA shoots a look at RICHARD who nods slightly at MARK.

RICHARD

No.How did they meet?I’m always concerned with how couples part.Who’s fucking who they shouldn’t, whose name the bonds are in.That kind of stuff.

VERONICA

Richard!This is an engagement party.Please!

MARIA

I get a lot of that too, investigating for your firm, Rich.But, when you find true love, it changes you.Now work’s just work.I can hardly wait to get home—

RICHARD

From all the lies, cheating, fraud—

MARIA

--and be with my honey.

VERONICA

It’s all so romantic.Mark saw Maria singing in a club and wrote a song for her.

MARIA

It’s more romantic than even that.Mark wrote the song before he even met me.Talk about fate.It’s a perfect song for my range and my heart.

MARK

I had this song in my head.It was obviously about a man.

RICHARD and VERONICA share a look.

MARK (continues)

It was from the woman’s point of view, I guess.I couldn’t sing it, really.

RICHARD

Not around the police station, certainly.