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The Uno Reverse: A Play

Updated: Apr 24, 2022

Character list:

Narrator: Male. Seasoned. Matter of fact.

Toddler: Male. Approximately two years of age. Light blond hair. Blue eyes. Displays high energy and playful demeanor albeit slight air of muted mischief.

Husband: Father to toddler. Late 30’s. Fatherly but awkward and distracted. Unkempt beard. Dresses casually. Blissfully unaware. Displays an obvious lack of social awareness.

Wife: Mother to toddler. Early 30s. Extremely beautiful and delicate. Motherly. Dark brown hair with golden throughout. Her skin is tan.

Setting: Early August on an evening at dusk. Evident that bedtime is fast approaching. A bedroom is adjacent to a bathroom and walk-in closet. The entry from the bedroom to the bathroom is closed. The whirring of a washing machine can be heard in the background. The stage is dark besides a lone lamp in the bedroom.


Begin scene.

Narrator (heard offstage): Uno is a classic card game that has been played by millions. Each player takes turns playing cards in an attempt to rid themselves of all cards. "Uno" refers to a player having one card remaining, typically in a dominant position to win the game. A particular card, the "reverse" card, can be used to reverse the direction of gameplay. In a two-person game, this allows the player to take an additional turn. In a metaphorical and modern sense, the term "Uno Reverse" is a slang term that can be used to refer to a situation in which a person "flips the script," so to speak, on another individual, thus creating a more favorable outcome for his or herself. This is used often in parenting and in marriage.

Lights rise on bedroom and bathroom. The closet remains dim.

The husband plays a pointless game unabashedly on an Android cell phone. The television plays a news program at a low volume on the opposite side of the bedroom. The room is dim. The husband lies horizontally across an unmade bed. He pays little attention to the nearby toddler who, wearing pajamas, raises an empty cup to him. The husband's visage remains expressionless yet content with doing absolutely nothing. The husband does not offer any direct attention to the toddler but flinches slightly with flitting eyes having noticed the boy in his peripheral vision. The boy, mumbling nonsense, appears to be requesting something from the husband. Meanwhile, in the bathroom, the wife brushes her silky hair and stares at herself in the mirror. She appears tired. Fine lines begin to appear near her eyes and along her forehead. Her beauty is electrifying despite her aging. She shows visible exhaustion as she removes her contact lenses from her large, dark eyes. She puts on spectacles giving her a younger appearance. She breathes evenly as she prepares emotionally to leave the room and continue her duties. Voices can be heard in the bedroom. The wife ceases movement and leans toward the door listening to the conversation.

Husband: (distracted and continues to look at phone screen) “Want some more milk?”

Toddler: (jumps slightly in excitement) “Ok!” (feet shifting back and forth)

Elongated pause. All characters continue in silent, natural movements. The toddler displays slight impatience.

Husband (staunch, scratching beard): “Go tell Mama.”

The wife says nothing but appears to be panic-stricken. A look of extreme sadness can be seen on her face. She exudes a sense of palpable betrayal. She looks around the small room and into the closet. She takes a few steps away from the still-closed entry doors before halting and looking in the opposite direction in a rushed state of uneasy grief. Tears well in her eyes.

The pitter-patter sound of an approaching child can be heard by the wife. She cowers. The wife takes a deep breath and springs into action, almost cat-like. She prepares to pull the ultimate "Uno Reverse" on the unsuspecting husband. She continues to search for an exit.

As the door opens, she can be seen doing a flawless, silent tuck roll into a nearby cabinet. The doors close with no sound. Upon her entrance, the wife can be seen grazing her right knee on the edge of the cabinet door. Remaining silent, now inside the cabinet, her eyes are closed tight. Her breaths are deep albeit even. She places a hand over her own mouth as to not let out a wounded whimper. A single tear falls down her cheek. She feels her quick pulse in the already-swelling site of the injury. As the door opens with uncontrolled gusto, the toddler does not see this occur. He stands solid in the doorway as a terrifying, large shadow is cast onto the floor. As the entry door slams into the wall announcing his presence, the wife shudders, almost alerting the perpetrator. Beads of sweat appear on the wife's forehead. The toddler, empty cup in hand, teeters in an almost-run through the bathroom and into the closet. His belly can be seen protruding underneath his snug pajama top. He searches unsuccessfully for his mother. The wife can still be seen by the audience in a tight, dark space. Her stillness suggests that she desires to remain out of sight. After several moments, the toddler can be seen leaving the bathroom. Shortly after, the husband follows the toddler offstage and out of the bedroom. Deep breaths can be heard from the wife. The sound of a refrigerator door can be heard, a short muted conversation, and the sound of heavy footsteps going upstairs. After several moments of silence, the wife emerges from the cabinet-turned-crawlspace slowly; strands of hair fall messily around her flushed face. She removes her glasses and gently dabs her face with a dry washcloth. She stands victorious after the incident, staring at herself once more in the mirror. She continues to brush her hair after straightening out her wrinkled shirt. A slight smile can be seen.

Lights fade. The curtain falls.

End scene.

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