by Craig Lucas

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Act 1, Scene 1

Rachel is at home with her husband, Tom. Rachel waxes rhapsodic about her overwhelming love of Christmas. She wants to go to Alaska, thinking it an idyllic place where it must always be Christmas. Her extreme cheer leads her to proclaim that she thinks she will be “terminally happy.” Tom reveals that he has taken out a contract on Rachel’s life. Believing it to be a cruel joke, Rachel is hurt but does not believe there is any physical threat. Tom, seemingly rethinking his plot, warns her to flee. Glass shatters, and Rachel climbs out the window.

Act 1, Scene 2

On the phone at a gas station in her nightclothes, Rachel lightheartedly tries to tell her neighbor Jeanette what has happened. She ultimately backtracks, calls herself a “kidder,” and wishes Jeanette a Merry Christmas. Lloyd, a stranger, approaches. Rachel screams but instantly recovers and chats casually with the man. Lloyd offers her a ride. She initially declines but quickly changes her mind.

Act 1, Scene 3

In Lloyd’s car, Rachel introduces herself as Mary Ellen Sissle. Both characters vacillate between sharing factual and fictitious details of their lives. Rachel declares she has no family and is unmarried, tossing her wedding ring out the window to prove it. Within a few lines, she is talking about her family and sons. Lloyd speaks of his girlfriend, Pooty. They also discuss whether anyone can truly know another person. Rachel reveals that her parents have died, and Lloyd announces that Rachel will “spend Christmas with us.”

Act 1, Scene 4

Rachel and Lloyd are in Lloyd’s living room. Pooty enters in a wheelchair. Lloyd is warm and affectionate toward Pooty, who we learn is paraplegic and deaf. The three open impromptu Christmas gifts.

Act 1, Scene 5

Rachel is back on the phone with Jeanette. Rachel says she had a great Christmas with cousins and asks Jeanette to check in on her boys.

Act 1, Scene 6

Lloyd encourages Rachel to stay for as long as she likes. Rachel objects, saying she needs shoes and a job. Pooty retrieves a lapful of shoes.

Act 1, Scene 7

Rachel starts working for the not-for-profit humanitarian foundation where Pooty and Lloyd work. Her new supervisor, Roy, introduces her to Trish, whom she will be working with. Rachel asks Trish how her Christmas was. Trish curtly responds that she is “not a big fan of Christmas,” because her parents were killed when she was six months old.

Act 1, Scene 8

Back at the house, Rachel discusses her new job. Lloyd leaves the room, and Pooty speaks. Pooty insists that Lloyd cannot find out that she is not actually deaf, because “it would break his heart.” Pooty explains that she used to have “another name and another life” and faked deafness because she didn’t think her handicap was severe enough to warrant special attention from Lloyd. She tells Rachel that Lloyd also used to have a different name and ran away from a bad marriage. Rachel assures Pooty, “I’m not judging you.” Rachel asks if Pooty thinks Lloyd would ever want to hurt Pooty. Pooty replies, “Sure. It wouldn’t be love, would it?” Pooty becomes suspicious that someone tried to hurt Rachel and suggests she go to therapy.

Act 1, Scene 9

Rachel is talking to a therapist, called the First Doctor. She starts by saying there isn’t any real problem. She then recounts the night she ran away from her husband, speaking mostly about how she thought Tom was upset because he sensed that Rachel wanted a puppy. She speaks about...

(This entire section contains 2188 words.)

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the contract on her life and the gas station and Pooty pretending to be deaf. The psychiatrist asks, “When did you have this dream?”

Act 1, Scene 10

At the office, Rachel admits to Lloyd that Trish doesn’t have her do anything but file and care for the storeroom. She suggests that she doesn’t necessarily trust Trish’s backstory or anyone else’s. Thinking that Rachel is hinting at his own past, Lloyd admits that he walked out on his disabled wife and his two children, one of whom suffered brain damage when Lloyd drunkenly ran him over with a snow blower. He admits that he took all their money, ran away, and started over, working with the disabled to make up for his past. Nonplussed, Rachel suggests that he simply pay the money back and apologize, suggesting he could easily win the amount he owes on a game show.

Act 1, Scene 11

Rachel, Pooty, and Lloyd participate in a bizarre game show called Your Mother or Your Wife? The trio inexplicably dress as planets. Pooty pretends to be Lloyd’s mother, and Rachel pretends to be Lloyd’s wife. Lloyd has to guess how each would answer questions about him. He answers every question correctly and wins $100,000.

Act 2, Scene 1

At the office, Rachel tells Trish about winning the game show, explaining that it proves that everything happens for a reason. Rachel reveals to Trish that in the last year, she has been teaching herself to use Trish’s computer and going through her accounts. Rachel mentions that not all the math on Trish’s accounts adds up.

Act 2, Scene 2

Back at the therapist’s office, the First Doctor repeats the events of the game show back to Rachel as if they were another dream. Rachel points out that it wasn’t a dream but that she thought therapy entailed talking about life as if it was a dream. Rachel becomes confused. The doctor suggests that Rachel is implying that she wants a new therapist and pushes her to open up about her parents. Rachel says her mother was run over by a school bus when she was six and her father died of a heart attack when she was nineteen, the year she married Tom.

Act 2, Scene 3

Back at the house, Lloyd is dressed as Santa, and Pooty as a reindeer. It is Rachel’s second Christmas with the couple. Rachel warmly thanks them for making her part of their family. Rachel’s husband, Tom, unexpectedly appears at the door. He has a bottle of champagne he says was left in a gift box on the stoop. He is invited in nonchalantly. Tom says he saw the game show and apologizes for taking the hit out on Rachel, saying he can’t live without her but is afraid to die. Tom gives Rachel a stuffed puppy, which delights her. Lloyd pours champagne for everyone but himself, since he gave up drinking after injuring his son. Rachel clinks her glass too hard and breaks it. Only Tom and Pooty drink the champagne, which poisons them both, and they die.

Act 2, Scene 4

Rachel and Lloyd are driving. Lloyd is still wearing his Santa suit. Rachel runs through every possible scenario of being caught and blamed for the deaths. She realizes that Santa is an anagram for Satan and wonders if that is related to Christ’s birthday. Lloyd remains silent.

Act 2, Scene 5

Still driving, Rachel continues rambling about anagrams and hidden meanings. Her theories become even more disjointed.

Act 2, Scene 6

In a shabby hotel room, Rachel's chattering continues. Lloyd remains silent in his Santa suit. Rachel decides they will move “from Springfield to Springfield” so it will be as if they never left and starts thinking of new names for the two of them. Rachel chastises Lloyd for not eating and considers finding a new therapist. Lloyd shouts at her to give him a moment of silence. Rachel apologizes out loud and then again in sign language.

Act 2, Scene 7

The Second Doctor, Rachel’s new therapist, runs through a list of possible psychological issues with Rachel. Rachel denies all of them. When asked directly what the problem is, she casually admits that her husband tried to kill her twice and that the police won’t believe her “because I’d run away and changed my name and was living with another man and his wife when they all got poisoned.”

Act 2, Scene 8

In another hotel room, Rachel tries to convince Lloyd to eat, but he only wants champagne.

Act 2, Scene 9

Rachel has a disjointed conversation with another therapist, the Third Doctor. She admits she has been in therapy before, wonders about anagrams in Pooty’s name, and asks if a month seems like a long time to live on nothing but champagne.

Act 2, Scene 10

Rachel tries again to convince Lloyd to eat. Lloyd will only discuss the conversation they had when they first met about whether or not anyone can truly know another person. Rachel produces one food item after another. Lloyd ignores her and says no in over a dozen ways. It remains ambiguous whether he is saying no to the food, to the question of knowing another person, or both.

Act 2, Scene 11

The Fourth Doctor guides Rachel through imagery of her own birth. He calls her Cheryl. The guided imagery goes from warm and loving to chaotic and full of screaming. The doctor tries unsuccessfully to get Rachel to scream along.

Act 2, Scene 12

A scene with Rachel and the Fifth Doctor overlaps with a scene with Lloyd in another hotel room. The doctor guides Rachel through positive affirmations. Lloyd muses about how making champagne involves “great pain.” Rachel has a revelation—that things do not actually happen for a reason.

Act 2, Scene 13

In yet another hotel room, it’s Christmas again. Rachel has given Lloyd two bottles of champagne because she couldn’t think of anything else to get him. He moans and is too weak to open the bottles. On the television, a news story runs about their former coworker Trish, who is being accused of embezzling from the charitable organization they used to work for. The reporter announces that authorities are still on the hunt for “the two alleged accomplices in last year’s Christmas killing here in Springfield.” Rachel shrieks that it must have been Trish who left the poisoned champagne that killed Pooty and Tom. She insists they go to the police. Lloyd dies in front of her.

Act 2, Scene 14

The Sixth Doctor, Rachel, and two derelicts watch themselves on television. On screen, the doctor is doing an interview about a shelter for derelicts from all walks of life. Rachel is among them, described as a woman who came to the shelter six Christmas Eves ago with no name. The doctor tells a reporter that they thought she was deaf until she talked in her sleep. The doctor switches off the television and confronts Rachel (whom she calls “Eve”) about the fact that they both know she can speak. The doctor recounts “Eve” saying that she was afraid of a man in a ski mask following her and expresses a deep longing to help her with this "bad dream." The doctor invites her to go to see a talk show.

Act 2, Scene 15

On a talk show, a host interviews an author who has written a book about killing her husband. The author describes her rage and suggests that the entire audience is full of potential killers. She picks Rachel out of the front row and has her face the audience, encouraging her to imagine shooting someone in front of her. Rachel keeps saying “no.” The Sixth Doctor is proud of her for finally speaking. It becomes apparent that Rachel is saying no because a masked man is rushing the stage with a handgun. He shoots at Rachel but mortally wounds the author instead.

Act 2, Scene 16

Rachel repeats the word “no” over and over while trying to break free of the Sixth Doctor, who is emphatically praising her for speaking. The doctor affirms that there was, in fact, a killer but that everything is safe now, and what’s important is that Rachel (Eve) spoke. Rachel is encouraged to imagine having everything she dreams of.

Act 2, Scene 17

Rachel is now a therapist in Alaska, where she dreamed of going in the very first scene. A patient comes into her office. It is her grown son, Tom Junior. He mentions that she looks like his mother. Rachel deflects, claiming that it is transference. Tom wants sleeping pills for just one week. Rachel asks if his insomnia is related to Christmas. Tom says he feels much better and goes to leave, but Rachel encourages him to stay and talk about his feelings regarding Christmas. He tells the story of his mother running away on Christmas when he was four, his father dying trying to find her, and his being raised by nice neighbors. Then he says his brother disappeared and didn’t reemerge until he shot someone on a talk show. Tom admits that he blames himself for his mother leaving. He describes his life as a dream he can’t wake up from. Rachel guesses correctly that Tom longs for a place where it is always Christmas. He ascribes her uncanny understanding of him to transference, his projection of a mother figure onto her. She does not reveal who she is but instead makes plans to meet with him at the same time for the next several days, including on Christmas. She apologizes for making him wait.