The Play

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

The play opens in Tito Merelli’s hotel suite on the night of his performance with the Cleveland Grand Opera’s production of Guiseppi Verdi’s Otello (1887). At stage right is a sitting room with a door to the hallway and a kitchen door off the right. At stage left is a bedroom with doors to a closet, bathroom, and hallway. Another door connects the two rooms. The living room is furnished minimally with a sofa, pouf, radio, telephone, and coffee table, and the bedroom with a bed and bureau.

When the lights come up, Maggie is revealed rapturously listening to a recording of Tito on the radio. Max enters in a panic, since Tito has not yet arrived. Maggie soon reveals to her longtime boyfriend that she has a need to have a “fling” before settling down into marriage, preferably with someone like Tito. Maggie’s father, Saunders, arrives, also in a panic over the tenor’s absence, and Maggie attempts to calm him with a phenobarbital pill, leaving the bottle out. When Saunders hears that Tito is downstairs, he ushers Maggie out, tells Max to keep Tito away from “liquor and women,” and goes down to the lobby. Maggie sneaks back in through the bedroom door. Max discovers her too late to remove her before Saunders arrives with Tito, his wife Maria, and an eager-to-please Bellhop.

Tito refuses to obey Maria’s request to take tranquilizers to calm him for the performance, so she storms into the bedroom. After Tito announces that he will skip the afternoon rehearsal, Saunders admonishes Max to make sure Tito gets some sleep and then exits. Max and Tito soon become friends, with Tito giving Max a singing lesson. When Tito offers Max some wine, Max spikes Tito’s drink with Saunders’s tranquilizers after Tito, to placate Maria, has...

(The entire section is 723 words.)