[THEATRE] Swing Set
By Julie Cohn
Note from the Writer: I have a personal mandate to break down stereotypes, especially as they relate to gender and sex. The idea of gender is a completely antiquated notion which tends to be used as a divisive weapon. One of my goals for this play was to show some diversity and remind people that social constructs are just that in the hope of paving the way for more open-mindedness. Here we have two ride-or-die women grappling with their choices and circumstances. However, each may embody the ride-or-die philosophy in her own way. Swing Set explores the relative subjectivity of themes and relationship values such as commitment, loyalty, ownership, passion, intimacy, aggression… There are other themes SwingSet investigates as well, but I can’t get into those without giving anything away!
ACCUSED (female, 20s – 40s)
DETECTIVE (female, 20s – 40s)
HUSBAND (male, 20s – 40s) – ACCUSED’s husband
(Lights up. ACCUSED & DETECTIVE are in a private interrogation room of a police station.)
ACCUSED: What happened to my husband?
DETECTIVE: We’re trying to find out. Tell me what you know. Maybe I can help you.
ACCUSED: I don’t know.
DETECTIVE: This will be easier if you’re honest with me.
ACCUSED: I wasn’t with him!
DETECTIVE: Where were you?
ACCUSED: I was… I was with someone else.
DETECTIVE: Who? You need to tell me what you know.
ACCUSED: I… didn’t get his…
DETECTIVE: You don’t know?
ACCUSED: I know who he was. I didn’t get his name.
DETECTIVE: You didn’t get his name. I’m not entirely surprised. The Swing? On a Tuesday? You couldn’t even wait until the weekend?
ACCUSED: My… lifestyle isn’t any of your business.
DETECTIVE: Asking you questions is exactly my business. How often do you go? To the club. To fuck strangers.
ACCUSED: I told you, we’d been a bunch of times.
DETECTIVE: A bunch? Were you two so miserable with each other that you couldn’t live without –
ACCUSED: – We were happy. Can I go? I didn’t do anything wrong.
DETECTIVE: I told you you were entitled to a lawyer but you declined –
ACCUSED: – Why would I need a lawyer? I –
DETECTIVE: – I have several eye witnesses that saw you with your husband just before the incident –
ACCUSED: – I wasn’t with –
DETECTIVE: – You can’t account for the time directly before, during, and after when your –
ACCUSED: – I told you, I was with that guy.
DETECTIVE: That guy, whose name you don’t even know. I know his name. I’ve questioned him. Redhead? Very fit? He told me you left him to go check on your husband.
ACCUSED: I… I went to the washroom.
INTERRGATOR: The next time someone saw you was fifteen minutes later. After –
ACCUSED: – I went to the washroom.
DETECTIVE: Fifteen minutes.
ACCUSED: I… wanted to be alone.
DETECTIVE: You went to a sex club because you wanted to be alone?
ACCUSED: No, I just… I was feeling…
DETECTIVE: Where was your husband when you were with the redhead?
ACCUSED: I don’t know. He said he was going upstairs. He was going to see if anyone appealed –
DETECTIVE: – Someone to fuck.
ACCUSED: Yeah. Maybe.
DETECTIVE: Didn’t that bother you? Some other woman? All over your husband? Fucking your husband? Taking his –
ACCUSED: – No. I loved my husband. The club… was just for fun. I trusted him.
DETECTIVE: If you trusted him, why did you leave the redhead to go check on him?
ACCUSED: I was done with that guy. I wanted to see how my husband was doing. He was tired. He wanted to go home but I –
DETECTIVE: – He wanted to leave?
ACCUSED: He had work the next day.
DETECTIVE: He told you he wanted to leave? And you wouldn’t go?
(Flashback. Lights up on HUSBAND and lights down on DETECTIVE. HUSBAND is wearing only a towel. ACCUSED is holding a mask on a stick but not wearing it. We are at the sex club.)
ACCUSED: Hey there, sexy.
HUSBAND: Hey you. I see you met Small-Dick Steve.
ACCUSED: Hah! Why do you call him that? That was the biggest cock I’ve ever seen.
HUSBAND: ‘Cause that way it’s a nice little surprise when he whips it out.
ACCUSED: There was nothing little about that surprise. Fuck.
HUSBAND: That was fun to watch.
HUSBAND: Only the best for my girl!
ACCUSED: You’re the best.
HUSBAND: You’re the best.
ACCUSED: I love you –
HUSBAND: – Love you. I’m gettin’ kinda’ tired…
ACCUSED: Awwww. Come on, grandpa. It’s my birthday.
HUSBAND: (Puts on a fake old man voice.) Ok, dear, we’ll stay. Come give grandpa a big birthday kiss.
HUSBAND: (He continues to use the fake old man voice.) I remember when I turned 30 – (He returns to his normal voice.) See somethin’ else you like?
ACCUSED: The red-haired guy, yeah.
HUSBAND: Yeah, he’s good lookin’. Look at those abs, jeez. Killer.
HUSBAND: Oh, he’s checkin’ you out. (Still to her.) Hey buddy… you wanna’ try on some of my merchandise?
ACCUSED: Merchandise? Damn.
HUSBAND: Right now I got dis premium goods goin’ fo’ free!
ACCUSED: Mm. Let me sit dis goods on you! I’m gonna’ merch my dice all over his face.
HUSBAND: Go get ‘em, tiger.
ACCUSED: What are you feelin’?
ACCUSED: Come on, some of these girls are super-hot. Go make some friends.
HUSBAND: They’re ok. I’ll find somethin’. Cool if I go upstairs to the treehouse room for a bit?
ACCUSED: Mhm. I’ll come find you when I’m done.
(Lights up on DETECTIVE.)
DETECTIVE: He told you he wanted to leave? And you wouldn’t go?
(Lights down on HUSBAND. We are back in the police station.)
DETECTIVE: You said your husband wanted to leave. Why didn’t you leave?
ACCUSED: We talked about it. He was ok with me having some time with –
DETECTIVE: – Are you sure? If he said he was tired and you –
ACCUSED: – No. He was fine with it. We didn’t fight about it or anything. We were having a good time. It was my birthday.
DETECTIVE: Happy birthday. It didn’t matter to you that he wanted to leave your birthday party early? Must have been upsetting.
ACCUSED: It wasn’t a birthday party, and we were having fun.
DETECTIVE: Are you sure you were both having fun? Pretty hard to ask you to leave your own party. Right? He wanted you to leave. You were angry. You lost control. –
ACCUSED: – What? No. I wasn’t –
DETECTIVE: – You were arguing –
ACCUSED: – Are you saying I did this? –
DETECTIVE: – You –
ACCUSED: – I could never –
DETECTIVE: – You could never on purpose. It was an accident. Right? Because if it was an accident, you’ll have a much better chance of –
ACCUSED: – Chance of what? –
DETECTIVE: – Did you and your husband enjoy playing… games?
DETECTIVE: Dominance games.
ACCUSED: What does that have to do with –
DETECTIVE: – Did you play any games with your husband tonight?
DETECTIVE: Are you sure? Accidents happen. You tried something new –
ACCUSED: – No. –
DETECTIVE: – Some kind of kink thing. You thought it would be fun. But it went too far, got out of hand –
ACCUSED: – No! –
DETECTIVE: – You expect me to believe you’re the picture of self-control? –
ACCUSED: – There was no game. And we were fine! I told you, I wasn’t –
DETECTIVE: – You expect me to believe your relationship was flawless? While you’re galavanting around fucking all kinds of other people? And in front of strangers? Both of you? –
ACCUSED: – I –
DETECTIVE: – Not caring if someone else fucks your own husband? Really? What kind of person does that make you? Why get married if you want to be with someone else?
ACCUSED: I loved my husband.
DETECTIVE: Not enough to commit to him.
ACCUSED: Enough to know it didn’t matter who either of us… We liked to play with other people or couples sometimes. We weren’t jealous. It was just something fun. We were honest with each other.
(Lights down on ACCUSED. DETECTIVE is talking to her late wife.)
DETECTIVE: I thought we were honest with each other. We got an anniversary card today. Perfect timing. It’s pathetic. People still don’t know. I was such a fool. I was committed to you. I mourned you. Every day. After what you did to me. I was sick of asking myself why… Why? I couldn’t live like that anymore. I had to do something. She looks just like you. Her eyes. Something about her hair… the light when it… and she swears she’s committed. Honest. Just like you. Did it turn you on to betray me… to feel him inside you? What made him do it? Did you piss him off? Was it an accident? Some sort of kink thing? Well it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s over. You cheated. You lied. And you got what you deserved. People like you always get what you deserve.
(Lights up on ACCUSED.)
ACCUSED: We were honest with each other. It was something both of us wanted. Some variety, without hurting anyone. No cheating. No lying.
DETECTIVE: That’s sick.
ACCUSED: We were the healthiest couple I know.
DETECTIVE: Yeah, look who you spend time with. Probably sluts like yourself. Lusting after every man you set your eyes on. And idiots like your husband, letting it happen. –
ACCUSED: – Fuck you!
DETECTIVE: – You’re telling me your husband never had a problem with some other man –
ACCUSED: – No!
DETECTIVE: – Stuffing his –
ACCUSED: – What is your problem?
DETECTIVE: – Your husband was jealous –
ACCUSED: – I told you he didn’t –
DETECTIVE: – He said no more. –
ACCUSED: – He was having fun! –
DETECTIVE: – He went upstairs. You chased him. He thought he’d show you who was boss. Forced himself on you. –
ACCUSED: – What? –
DETECTIVE: – He tried to teach you a lesson, and you fought back. –
ACCUSED: – No! I –
DETECTIVE: – Witnesses said they heard you and your husband yelling. And then struggling. –
ACCUSED: – That didn’t happen. –
DETECTIVE: – They said they heard you yelling, “Why?… Why?” –
ACCUSED: – That didn’t happen! –
DETECTIVE: – The sex was aggressive, violent. You let it get out of hand –
ACCUSED: – I wasn’t with him! I –
DETECTIVE: – You saw him struggling for air and you ignored it. You saw –
ACCUSED: – I saw… I saw… He was alone. He was all blue. His face. How could someone do that to him? –
DETECTIVE: – How could you do that to him?
ACCUSED: – No!
DETECTIVE: – You smothered him –
ACCUSED: – What? I wasn’t even with him!
DETECTIVE: – You were holding a pillow down on his face, and –
ACCUSED: – No!
DETECTIVE: – you started hitting him through it. Making him claw at you for air. You beat at him with your fists –
ACCUSED: – What are you talking about? Is that what happened?
DETECTIVE: – Over and over and over until –
ACCUSED: – Oh my god. Stop! Stop it! Oh my god oh my god no.
(Flashback. Lights go down on ACCUSED and come up where HUSBAND is now standing. DETECTIVE is wearing a mask. We are back in the sex club.)
HUSBAND: Hey there.
HUSBAND: Nice mask.
HUSBAND: And fancy gloves too. You went all out with Venetian night, eh?
DETECTIVE: Where’s your costume?
HUSBAND: I don’t really get into that stuff. It’d be cruel to deprive the ladies of this gorgeous face. You here with your man, or…
DETECTIVE: No. Just… checking it out. First time here. Are you alone?
HUSBAND: My wife’s here somewhere. She’s probably gettin’ pounded by this red-headed He- Man lookin’ dude as we speak. Did you see him? Jesus.
DETECTIVE: No, can’t say I did.
HUSBAND: You should check him out after.
DETECTIVE: I’ll… take it under advisement.
HUSBAND: You by yourself?
DETECTIVE: Yeah. My wife… mentioned… a long time ago that she was curious about this place. And I just… didn’t… really want to try it… then.
HUSBAND: Cool cool.
DETECTIVE: You? You a regular?
HUSBAND: Why do I look like a slut?
HUSBAND: I’m just toyin’ with you. I come here a lot. And I’m also a slut.
DETECTIVE: I see.
HUSBAND: So what do you think of it?
DETECTIVE: Yeah, it’s… I have to admit, it’s not at all… what I was expecting.
HUSBAND: Yeah? How so?
DETECTIVE: I don’t know, everyone’s… everyone seems…
DETECTIVE: Intimate. Everyone’s really… warm.
HUSBAND: Yeah. So… I know you said your partner was… a woman. You ever… try a guy?
HUSBAND: You wanna’ try it again? Check out the upstairs with me?
DETECTIVE: Yeah. Yeah, I do.
HUSBAND: Yeah, maybe the treehouse room?
DETECTIVE: The what?
HUSBAND: They have a full-on treehouse. Like a giant fake tree with like… branches, and… there’s a bed on a swing, it’s awesome.
HUSBAND: You ok?
DETECTIVE: Yeah. That sounds fun. Sorry… I just have… some trust issues. My wife… I found out a while ago… she was fooling around on me.
HUSBAND: Wow… that’s… I’m sorry. Is she here?
HUSBAND: Does… she know you’re here?
HUSBAND: Wow. So it’s time to get even huh? I mean, it’s none of my business, but… You know that’s not really what this place is for.
HUSBAND: I wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt.
DETECTIVE: No, she’s… That guy she was with. I guess they got into some… kinky stuff… They said it got out of control. He – uh… She… she’s gone.
HUSBAND: Oh Jesus. Oh I’m sorry. I didn’t realize… Shit. Sorry.
DETECTIVE: It’s… It was three years ago. It’s not… new. I just… men are sometimes a bit of a… trigger for me. Because of that.
HUSBAND: Yeah. Trust’s really important. My wife and I wouldn’t come here if we didn’t –
DETECTIVE: – I would have done anything for her. I still would. I still feel… committed to her. Sounds funny saying it here –
HUSBAND: – No, not at all.
DETECTIVE: – Sorry. I didn’t mean to tell you all that. That was… a lot.
HUSBAND: Yeah. You have a lot on your mind. Obviously. We don’t have to –
DETECTIVE: I’m sorry I brought that up.
HUSBAND: I’m kinda’ tired anyway… It’s bothering you. I don’t wanna’ make you feel –
DETECTIVE: – Please. Let me redeem myself. I’m just a little… tense.
HUSBAND: Oh yeah?
HUSBAND: Well maybe I can help loosen ya’ up a little. Getcha’ into the swing of things?
DETECTIVE: Nice. So… that treehouse… with the swing…
HUSBAND: Let’s do it. (They grin. Lights down.)
Julie Cohn is a Toronto-based actor, director, writer, and producer, and is the artistic director of BEARS! In The City! Theatre Company. Julie’s recent work has focused on devised/collaborative theatre, through which she aims to entertain, educate, and inspire.
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