UPS AND DOWNS
     by Richard Ruddle

 
 
 

Synopsis: Four women attending a convention in New York are trapped in an elevator when it stops between floors in a high rise hotel building. Their mood slowly turns from one of joking and wise cracks about the elevators and service to genuine concern for their safety. Waiting to be rescued, they while away the time talking about their fears, families and life in general. As the duration of their entrapment lengthens, they grow increasingly agitated and fearful. Their concerns become more desperate, bordering on panic. Fearing the worst, their thoughts eventually turn to preparations for their last moments and readiness to meet their maker.

Setting: Interior of elevator car viewed from the open rear of the car, facing the closed elevator doors. Partial walls extend 3-4 feet from the front corners towards the rear on each side of the car. The rear remains open for audience view. An emergency phone panel door is visible on the left wall inside the car about 2 ft. above the floor.

Props: Hand held telephone receiver with coiled cord, Cardboard cutout of #30 with light behind it above elevator doors, Bell to simulate (ding) sound of elevator stopping and telephone ringing, Simulated floor buttons on front wall inside elevator.

Cast: 
Woman 1 - Bobbi, Woman 2 - Michelle, Woman 3 - Brenda, Woman 4 - Judi

 

The scene opens with audience viewing from the open rear towards the closed front doors of the unoccupied elevator. The bell dings as the light above the door registers 30 and the doors open revealing 4 women waiting to enter. They enter the elevator and the doors close behind them as they turn toward the front. The passengers simulate motion of the elevator briefly moving and then suddenly stopping. After a few moments, one of the women speaks.

Bobbi: Weíre not moving! Did anyone push the STOP Button? (All respond, ďNo, not MeĒ).

Michelle: Push the lobby button and maybe it will go down.

Brenda: Here, let me. (Moves forward to floor buttons and pushes several of them with no result). I think itís broken, nothing is happening. It looks like we may be stuck between floors.

Michelle: Yeah, the 30th Floor. Better push the ALARM Button.

Brenda: (Pushes alarm button and there is no sound) Well, so much for that! This darned thing doesn't work either. For a high priced Hotel there doesn't seem to anything that works right around here! 

Michelle: My husbandís a lawyer and I'm going to tell him about all of this! Then they will be sorry!

Judi: How will they know we are struck in here? There are so may elevators in this Hotel we might be here for a long time before they realize itís broken and come to rescue us.

Bobbi: I hope itís not long, I've got to get ready for the banquet this evening and my hair is a mess. 

Judi: Me too; and boy I need a hot shower after those long meeting sessions today. That speaker, Mitzi I think her name was, sure was boring. She talked so fast that I couldn't follow what she said. 

Bobbi Ė I heard her tell someone that she really would rather be shopping, but she was committed to our group so she was hurrying to finish before all the good stuff was gone and stores were closed. 

Bobbi: Hey, I just remembered that elevators have an emergency telephone. We haven't even tried that.

Michelle: Let me do it. I'll give them a real talking to. (Proudly) My husband is a Lawyer you know. Threats of a lawsuit will get them moving. (Moves to position next to the emergency phone panel located about 18 inches above the floor).

Judi: Look how low that is. You'll have to get down on the floor to use that.

Michelle: (Gets down on hands and knees and opens the emergency phone panel. Slowly takes out hand set and stretches out the cord, which only 2 feet long). Will you look at this? (Waving phone and cord to show the others) Only a dwarf could use this thing! My husband Sherman, the lawyer, should see this.

Brenda: Go ahead and give it a try or we'll be here all evening.

Michelle Ė (Makes several attempts to use the phone and gets no response.) Itís dead!

Bobbi: Yes, and thatís what we're gonna be if we don't get out of this thing. How long has it been anyway? Seems like hours and my feet hurt. (Kicks off shoes and wiggles toes) Ah! Thatís better.

Judi: I think it is getting stuffy in here. (Turns to others) Don't you think itís getting stuffy in here?

Bobbi: I saw a movie once where John Wayne was stuck in a submarine that wouldn't move and they nearly suffocated due to lack of oxygen!

Judi: (Disgustedly) I knew it. It is definitely getting stuffy in here! The first time I come to a convention after all these years, and die in a stuck elevator! What can we do?

Bobbi: Letís all try to breathe real slow and shallow so we don't use up all the air. (All inhale and take exaggerated breaths in and out slowly)

Michelle: I'm going to call my husband Sherman (takes out cell phone and waves it around). He'll get some action for us! Heís a lawyer.

Judi: Isn't Sherman back home in St. Louis?

Michelle: Yes, but heís a lawyer you know. Heís got connections everywhere. (Sits down and begins to dial telephone and talk in muffled tones).

Judi: (To others) I don't know what good Sherman can do with us way out here and him back there (Others agree).

Michelle: (Ends call and addresses the others) My husband Sherman, the lawyer, says he will call our Hotel long-distance and inform the Manager where we are. Heís going to threaten a lawsuit and a call to the NY Fire Marshall and NYPD if we are not out of here in 10 minutes. (All nod approvingly).

Bobbi: (Clutching throat) Do you think our air will last ten more minutes? Itís getting really warm in here and I can hardly breathe now!

Brenda: Lets try screaming for help. They always do that in the movies. Maybe someone will hear and rescue us.

Michelle: Don't bet on it. This is NY. My husband is a lawyer and travels a lot. He says that in New York they hear people screaming all the time and think nothing of it. Besides, we want to conserve our air. (All agree)

Bobbi: I'm getting hungry! Do you suppose we'll starve before we are rescued?

Michelle: (Holds up purse) I've got a candy bar and some M&Ms in my purse! Letís have an elevator picnic right here on the floor. (All sit down and pass the candy bar and bag of M&Ms around).

Bobbi: (Reaches in pocket and pulls out her hand showing what she holds) I've got two lifesavers. (looks at lifesavers closely) There is a little lint on them, but they're edible. Anyone want a fuzzy lifesaver? (Hands lifesavers to Michelle to pass around).

I've got half a bottle of Pepto-Bismol in my purse. (Shows bottle and all look at her questioningly.) I guess we should save that for the very end.

Brenda: (Takes a pen and note pad from purse) I think we should all write a note for our loved one just in case we aren't rescued in time. (All take paper and begin to pass pen around and write).

Judi: I meant to revise my will just last week, but put it off again. Now I'm really sorry. I'm going to re-write my will right now.

Others: Me too! Me too! (Begin to write will)

Michelle, (Rubbing her eyes) Itís pretty dim in here. We need more light. I've got some matches from when I used to smoke. I'll light one so we can see. (Reaches in purse and package of cigarettes fall out on floor). (All see package and express shock and surprise) 

All: Ooh!, Tsk! Tsk!

Bobbi: Don't light any matches, it burns up oxygen! Thereís very little left now! 

(Michelle puts cigarettes and matches back in purse).

Michelle: Give me a cell phone, I'm gonna call my husband. Heís a lawyer you know!

All: (Disgustedly) Yes; We know! We know!

Michelle: (Smugly) Everybody listens to lawyers because they are so smart. We had better listen to Sherman!

Brenda: (Loudly) My husband is a preacher. He says hardly anyone listens to him! 

Judi: I think he might help us in this situation. Maybe he can pray for us and get us rescued! I'm getting dizzy from lack of air and can't last too much longer.

Michelle: Call him if you want to, but my husband the lawyer will do the most good.

Judi: call them both and while we're at it, get the number of the Hotel and we'll call the front desk ourselves. (Everyone agrees)

Michelle: (Dials phone and talks to Sherman) Hello Sherman? Yes, we're still stuck. One of our ladies is practically at deathís door because of oxygen deprivation and we're weak from hunger. We've prepared our wills and notes to our loved ones. What else can we do?

Michelle: (Questioningly) Sherman says to practice jumping up in the air as the elevator falls and hits the bottom of the shaft?

 

Bobbi: (Terrified) Is the elevator going to fall? We'll all be killed! Weíre doomed!

Michelle: (Listens and says) Sherman says he telephoned the front desk here at the hotel and they are working on the elevator now. We should be free soon and the Hotel wants to give us free accommodations, a dinner and tickets to a show. See what happens when a lawyer calls?

Bobbi: That won't help us now; Weíre doomed, doomed, doomed! (Puts face in hands and sobs loudly).

Michelle: He wants to know how long we have been stuck in here? Someone check her watch.

Brenda: It has been nine minutes so far.

Michelle: Nine minutes. It seems like a lifetime! (Talks on phone angrily) OK Sherman, I'll hang up, but if we die in this elevator I will come back and haunt you forever! (Hands phone to Brenda) 

Brenda: (Dials phone and after brief pause says) Itís ringing now. Hello Brad? You won't believe this but I'm in an elevator with four other ladies and we're stuck between floors about 30 stories up. Weíre nearly in a panic and have lost all hope. (Pause) Yes, just like on the Titanic!

Bobbi: (Sobbing) Tell him we're eating fuzzy lifesavers and drinking Pepto-Bismol! Weíre desperate!

 

Brenda: (Listens and then tells others) Brad says we should pray together and trust in the Lord. Remember the Lord saved Daniel from the Lionís Den and Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nigo from the fiery furnace? Heís certain we will be saved from the clutches of the hotel elevator! (Hangs up phone). Common, lets try a little prayer.

All: (Kneel down together in a circle and begin to silently pray.) (Just then, the elevator phone rings several times and Brenda answers it.) Hello? Yes, we're still stuck (aside- Itís the Hotel Manager). (Listens and tells others) He got Shermanís call and immediately contacted the elevator repair people. He says we will be out of here in about two more minutes!

All: Hallelujah! Thank the Lord! Itís a miracle!

Brenda: (Listens and tells others) It seems there is an emergency override switch they had forgotten about until just now. Once he turns it on, the elevator power will be restored. (All stand and begin to get themselves together).

Bobbi: I think the car is moving, feel it?

Door Suddenly Opens: (Passengers begin to exit)

Michelle: (Last to exit, turns toward audience and says loudly) The first thing I'm going to do is get my husband Sherman on this case. Heís a lawyer, you know! 

(Exits and door closes behind her).

Copyright 2007 Richard Ruddle

ENKE38@aol.com

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