AUDITIONS will consist of cold readings from The Curious Savage and other works.
The Curious Savage is a touching comedy about one’s desire to use her wealth to nurture the ‘foolish’ dreams of those facing defeat and discouragement in a harsh and unsympathetic world.
It is the spring of 1950, in the living room of The Cloisters where we meet the wealthy heiress, Ethel Savage, and the sanitarium’s other residents. To assuage her grief and loneliness after her husband’s passing, Mrs. Savage remembered all “the foolish things” she wanted to do growing up, and did them—“things that would shock poor Jonathan,” like acting, ballet dancing and dying her hair blue. The therapeutic effects of her “foolishness” made her realize the “importance of unimportant things”, and it became her mission to help others have some of the “foolish” things they’d always wanted, so toward that end she established the Jonathan Savage Memorial Fund.
Alarmed by the sudden change in her behavior, and worried that the family fortune would be squandered, Ethel’s step-children have her committed to The Cloisters for evaluation. Unknown to them, prior to her commitment Mrs. Savage had converted the entire estate into a “neat little bundle” of negotiable bonds, and hid them.
When the Savage children discover they’ve been outwitted, they are livid and return to The Cloisters to demand that Mrs. Savage tell them what became of the money. Mrs. Savage manages to get each of the children alone, and tells each one a different and false location where the bonds are hidden. She knows they will do anything for money, so her point was to let them make fools of themselves and reveal their true characters.
The children once again return to The Cloisters to confront Mrs. Savage. Their hardness pitted against the lovable idiosyncrasies of the residents results in a comedic denouement where avarice and greed go away empty, and love is rewarded.
-Florence: Late twenties. Gentle, eager to please, polite, elegant and maternal, concerned about etiquette. She believes the doll she carries around is her five-year-old son, John Thomas. “A sweet and tremulous smile is her best and most disarming weapon.”
-Hannibal: “Belies his thirty years.” Plump and cherubic. A mathematician who worked as a statistician for the government. Quick with calculations, he often cites statistics in his conversations. He believes he can play the violin, but he cannot.
-Fairy May: Early twenties. She is cheerful and optimistic, but often seeks affirmation, and makes up stories to make herself seem more interesting to others. A plain Jane, she believes she is a classic beauty.
-Jeff: “A handsome young man of about twenty-five, with the dignity of a much older man.” His plane was shot down during the War, and he believes his unblemished face is horribly scarred, so he is always covering the side of his face with his right hand. Miss Willie, the nurse, singles him out for attention, and is very protective of him. It is later revealed that he is Miss Willie’s husband, though Jeff has no memory or knowledge of that fact.
-Mrs. Paddy: A smallish middle-aged woman of “awful ferocity.” Was told by her husband to be quiet, so she did—for good. Now she will only speak to recite lists of things that she hates. She paints seascapes that consist of a single undulating line across an otherwise bare canvas. She has also given up electricity for Lent, so when she enters a room, her first act is to turn out the lights.
-Ethel Savage: An eccentric heiress whose desire is to help others realize their dreams. When first seen, her hair is dyed blue, she is carrying a large teddy bear, and sporting a flamboyant hat. Though at first resentful for having been committed to The Cloisters, she is kind and accepting of the other residents, and she grows to love and accept them, (and they her) and even expresses a desire to stay permanently.
-Titus: One of Ethel’s step-children, is pompous and aristocratic. A wealthy and successful businessman, he also serves in the U.S. Senate. He, like his siblings, looks down upon his step-mother, and everyone else around him.
-Lily Belle: The sister of Titus and Samuel. Her claim to fame is her many failed marriages, each one entered into for money. She can seem charming and pleasant, but is at heart rude, crass, bossy and materialistic.
-Samuel: The third of the Savage children, is the follower in the trio. A judge, he has the distinction of having had more of his decisions reversed than anyone in jurisprudence.
Miss Willie: The nurse at The Cloisters. She had spent four years as an army nurse, but joined the Cloisters’ staff when her husband, Jeff, was admitted.
Dr. Emmett: The psychiatrist. Genuinely cares for the residents, and delivers authority and the voice of reason in the midst of some of the chaos.