The Play

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1026

As Hurlyburly opens, the half-dressed Eddie is asleep on the couch, and the television on the coffee table is droning out the morning news. Phil enters and wakes Eddie with the news that he and his wife had a big fight the night before, because he was stoned and she would not let him explain his plan “to save the world.” Phil reports that he “whacked” her and left her for good.

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Shortly after Mickey enters, Eddie and Phil snort some cocaine and smoke some marijuana; Phil tells Eddie about a part he might get in a film with a certain director, and Eddie gives him the inside story on the director. Phil then exits with one of the scripts on which Eddie and Mickey are working. Left alone, the roommates begin to discuss Darlene, a “dynamite lady” whom Eddie dated and then introduced to Mickey, who has just had dinner with her “in order to, you know, determine the nature of these vibes.”

Artie shows up with Donna, whom he says he found in his elevator; he has brought her to be used however the roommates wish. Eddie says sarcastically that Mickey would not want to fool around with Donna, since he has the dynamite lady, Darlene. When Artie tells them that he has a meeting with a certain Herb Simon, Eddie tries to give him the lowdown on people such as Simon. After Artie exits, Donna returns from the bathroom; while she tells about her experiences in Artie’s elevator, Mickey tries to caress and undress her. Phil reenters, and Eddie explains to him how Donna was brought as a care package “for people without serious relationships.” Eddie takes Donna away from Mickey and into the bedroom; they are followed by Phil, who professes delight with “the bachelor’s life.”

Scene 2 opens on the evening of the same day. Darlene is seated at the kitchen counter when Eddie enters, and they begin to squabble over his tendency to create confusion with thoughts and words. Entering with groceries, Mickey proceeds to tell them that he was outside listening before he came in and that what he heard, underneath the squabbling, was real passion. Such honesty allows everyone to confess the truth: that Eddie does have feelings for Darlene, that she cares for him, and that Mickey will eventually return to his wife and kids. After Mickey exits, Eddie and Darlene try to express their feelings.

Scene 3 begins in the late afternoon of the next day; Donna is watching television and listening to the record player when Phil comes in. They get into a shouting match; it is clear that Phil is highly distraught. When Eddie enters, Phil complains about Donna being there when all he wanted was to talk to Eddie about his problems and watch the football game. After Eddie leaves the room, Donna tells Phil that she wants to watch the game too, but he roughhouses with her and causes her to cry. When Eddie reenters, Phil claims that he was showing her something about football; Donna exits, swearing. Phil tells Eddie that he might return to his wife, who wants to have a baby, but Eddie urges him not to do it thoughtlessly. Donna enters and announces that she is “taking a hike” as act 1 ends.

Act 2 opens in the same house a year later. It is evening, and Phil and Artie are telling Eddie and Mickey how Phil knocked a fellow unconscious in a bar. This story leads into a discussion of Phil’s violent nature, which Eddie explains in reference to Phil’s baby having been born and his divorce having been finalized in the same month. He decides that what Phil needs is a woman, and he sets him up with Bonnie. Everyone begins to share an assortment of “pharmaceutical experiments”—marijuana, cocaine, liquor, and beer—after which Bonnie and Phil leave together.

Artie then turns on Eddie, assuring him that he is deceiving himself about the kind of person Phil is. Mickey agrees and prepares to leave with Artie,...

(The entire section contains 1550 words.)

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