The Tragedy of Young Oedipus Rex: A Disco Dancer Destroyed

This is an 8-minute play I wrote for the Theater Merit Badge in Boy Scouts. It’s pretty goofy, and all of the main characters (except Oeddie) are named after teachers or administrators at my high school.

Scene I

Oedipus’s house

[The scene opens just after school, at Oedipus’ house. Oedipus and his friend Larry are talking.]

Larry: So what are we planning on doing tonight? Homework or disco?

Oedipus: Maybe dancing. I don’t really feel like doing my Physics problem set tonight. I mean, this is pretty tough stuff considering that most of it hasn’t even been invented yet.

Larry: Yeah, the moron who wrote this script didn’t really take into consideration the fact that the Greeks lived well before Newton and all those scientists.

Oedipus: In any case, I don’t need to do my homework. I’m so naturally intelligent that this stuff comes easy for me.

Larry: Oedipus, you’re so full of yourself. One of these days your big head is get you in big trouble. You’ll be sorry you’re such an egotist.

Oedipus: Trouble? What in all of Greece could harm me? I’ve got a great future for myself. I’ll probably meet a great woman, we’ll get married and have lots of kids. Nothing could mess that up, unless of course I was the victim of some cruel and unusual fate set up by the gods to get me. But you and I both know that that’s impossible.

Larry: I guess you’re right Oedipus. Nothing could screw up a guy as great as you. Absolutely nothing. [Eerie music.]

Oedipus: So let’s to the disco, shall we? We’ll take the shortcut this time, okay?

Larry: You remember what happened the last time we took the shortcut, don’t you? We got unspeakably lost.

Oedipus: [Defensive] We were not lost. I just wanted to see a bit more of the countryside. I take offense to you telling me we were lost. C’mon, let’s go; we’ll be late. [Exeunt.]

Scene II

Somewhere in the woods

Oedipus: I told you before, we are not lost. I just want to take a look around some more.

Larry: I recognize this place. We got lost here last time. We should turn left at that big oak tree. That’s the way back to civilization.

Oedipus: Nonsense. We turn right. Come on, don’t be chicken.

Larry: Nobody calls me chicken.

Oedipus: Then come on. Look, methinks it’s just past this – arrrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhh!

Larry: What the – arrrrrrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhh!

[They slide down an avalanche and land in the middle of a small town]

Larry: [Confused] Where are we? What happened?

Oedipus: [Flustered] Uh … um …. nothing. This is all part of the short cut. Look over there at that building. I think that might be the disco.

Larry: Well, let’s go then. I’m as ready to dance as I ever was.

Oedipus: [Aside] Which isn’t saying much. I’m tons better than this guy. [To Larry] Okay, let’s get going.

[They walk toward the large building and enter. It appears to be some sort of a meeting room. There is a large group of people seated in chairs.]

Oedipus: [To crowd] Greetings. I am the great Oedipus. What are all you people doing here? What happened to the disco?

Sylvia: Disco? What on earth is a disco?

Larry: You don’t know what a disco is? You’ve got to be kidding! Where are we, anyway? Isn’t this the Athens Disco?

Jerry: We don’t know what you’re talking about. And besides, this isn’t Athens – this is Sparta. And what in Zeus’s name is a disco, anyway?

Oedipus: [Aside to Larry] I’ve just got a real brilliant brainstorm.

Larry: No. I don’t want to know what you’re thinking. Don’t even tell me.

Oedipus: We could build a disco here, get the Spartans hooked on dancing, and make an absolute killing on the cover charges. [Glazed look in his eyes] My heart burns with desire. I could be the richest man in all of Greece. I must build a disco here. It is my destiny. Oh yes, it is my calling.

Larry: Destiny, shmestiny. You know you don’t believe in that crap. Get off your high horse and lets get out of here. I wanna go disco dancing.

Oedipus: [To crowd] Ladies and Gentlemen, I will not only tell you what disco is, I will show you. With your modest contribution and help, my true friend Larry and I will show you what dancing is all about. May I have a few volunteers? [Some hands go up] Yes, you there, and you, and you over there.

Steve: What do we do?

Oedipus: Have you ever listened to music? [He nods] Good. I want you to keep a beat by saying “boom boom boom” over and over again. Got it?

Steve: Okay, like this? Boom boom boom, boom boom …

Oedipus: Fantastic. [To Pat] Now, I want you do go “skid da da, skid da da.” [To Hugh] And you, go “di, da di da, da di da di, da di da.” Okay, let’s go. Larry, you’re dancing with me.

Steve, Pat and Hugh: Boom boom di da skid da di boom di boom skid da da

[Oedipus and Larry start dancing all over the floor. The crowd is terribly excited. Many people in the audience pull out their wallets to make cash contributions to the disco fund.]

Sylvia: Disco dancing is … well … so groovy! Let’s start building the disco tonight.

Larry: [To Oedipus] Isn’t this building going to take a long time? This is only an eight minute play, you know. Do we have time for this?

Oedipus: Of course. We’ll just end the scene here and when we have the next scene, the disco will be all done. I’m so smart. And I’m the greatest disco dancer in the world. This is gonna be great.

Jerry: No, it won’t be great. Oedipus, this disco will be your downfall. Beware the disco dance … it will only hurt you. I am a prophet, I have seen the future. You will fail miserably.

Oedipus: Nonsense. I don’t believe in prophecies any more than I believe that the world is round. And we all know that the world is flat. Let’s get out of here, Larry. [Exeunt.]

Scene III

At the disco

Oedipus: [Screaming to Larry over the loud music] I told you this was going to be great! Look, we must have all of Sparta’s teenagers together in one big room. We’re making a fortune. Aren’t I an absolute genius?

Larry: Look, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about what that man said. I really think that –

Oedipus: [Interrupting] I don’t want to hear it. I know I’m right and that’s all that counts. Hey, I just had another great idea.

Larry: No. No more great ideas. I don’t want any part in your downfall.

Oedipus: [Ignoring Larry’s comment] Here’s what we’ll do. We’ll hold a dance contest and charge a cover fee. We’ll give the winner all the entrance fee money. We can get the town elders to be the judges. And here’s the best part – I’ll enter the contest, and I’ll win. You know how good of a dancer I am. They won’t know what hit them! Then we can spilt the proceeds and have a raging party. What do you say? We’ll have it tomorrow night.

Larry: I don’t know, Oedipus. What if you don’t win?

Oedipus: As if I’m not going to win? You’ve got to be kidding. I’m the best darn disco dancer this world has ever seen. I guarantee you, tomorrow night, I’ll feel like I never felt before.

Larry: I guess it’s okay, but I think we should talk about –

Oedipus: Great. I’ll announce it to the crowd. [He walks over to the P.A. system, stops the record and grabs the microphone from the DJ.] Ladies and gentlemen, I have a brief announcement to make. We’re going to be having a disco dance contest tomorrow night. The winner will take home all of the entrance fee money. The entrance fee will cost one hundred drachmas.

Crowd: Cool! We can’t wait until tomorrow night.

Oedipus: [To himself] This will be fantastic. After tomorrow night, I’ll be a new man. [He laughs a confident, demented laugh.]

Scene IV

Outside the disco

[Larry is taking entrance fees at the door. Oedipus has gotten in line with the rest of the contestants.]

Larry: One hundred drachmas, please. Thank you. One hundred drachmas, please. Thank you.

Oedipus: Hey Larry – do you have any spare change on you? I’ve only got 10 drachmas.

Larry: Nope. I’m flat broke from that girl I’ve been seeing.

Oedipus: So let me borrow some money from the club.

Larry: We don’t have any money in the safe because we just invested it all that new laser equipment. And the petty cash was used to buy drinks for tonight. Ask around – I’m sure someone will lend you one hundred drachmas.

Oedipus: [Looks frustrated.] Okay … sure … whatever. I just gotta get into this dance contest. Anyone wanna loan me a hundred?

[Oedipus searches around, asking people for money, but everyone is broke due to the high cost of the entrance fee. Finally Oedipus goes up to the town banker and asks him for help.]

Oedipus: Hi. I was wondering if you had one hundred drachmas I might borrow for my entrance fee tonight.

Banker: Of course. What are you planning to use as collateral?

Oedipus: Collateral? Well, I’m gonna win the dance contest tonight, so I’ll be able to pay you back right after the dance.

Banker: How can you be so sure you’re going to win? That isn’t good collateral. I need something more tangible. Do you have any furniture, or a car, or anything valuable?

Oedipus: All I have is the club. And I know I’m going to win tonight, so I don’t have anything to worry about. Of course, I’ll put the club up as collateral.

Banker: Are you sure about that? I myself wouldn’t put up my only possession as collateral. You best play it safe and not enter. If you do enter, I’ll need the money back right after the dance contest.

Oedipus: [Confidently] No problem. You’ll have your money and I’ll probably have a little left over for myself. [He grins. Eerie music plays in the background and then stops abruptly.]

Banker: Well, sign here. [Oedipus signs.] Thank you very much. I’ll find you after the contest.

[Oedipus walks by the Banker and gets back in line behind a man.]

Oedipus: This dance contest is gonna be great, isn’t it? I’m really excited.

Jerry: No, it won’t be great. Oedipus, this disco will be your downfall. Beware the disco dance … it will only hurt you. You will fail miserably. Return your money now before it’s too late.

Oedipus: It’s you again. Leave me alone. [Gives his hundred drachmas to Larry.] I’m gonna go win myself a few thousand drachmas! [Exits.]

Jerry: Little does he know …

Scene V

On the disco floor

[A crowd is gathered in front of the judges table. The preliminary round of disco dancing is over and the judges are about to announce the finalists.]

Judge: We’ve tallied the secret ballots, and we have selected our three finalists.

Crowd: Yeah!

Judge: Our finalists tonight are Oedipus, Esther and Donald.

[Oedipus is ecstatic. He runs over to the bar and pours himself a glass of guava nectar and gulps it down in celebration of his achievement. Then his eyes light up.]

Oedipus: [To himself] I just had the best idea. I’ll give Esther and Donald each a glass of prune juice. That way, when they’re dancing, they’ll have to go to the bathroom and forfeit the dance. Not that I need to take such measures to win, because I am the best there ever was, but what the heck? Why not make myself a little more secure?

[Oedipus pours two glasses of prune juice and walks over to Esther and Donald who are chatting while they take a breather from the last round of dancing.]

Oedipus: Congratulations are in order. We are the three finalists. Won’t you join me in a toast?

Esther: Absolutely. [Takes glass.]

Donald: Sure, why not? [Takes glass.]

Oedipus: May the best Greek win.

[They clink glasses and drink. The judges announce that it is time for the final round of dancing to begin. The three contestants line up in front of the judges and the music starts.]

Oedipus: That prune juice should take effect in a minute or two. [Chuckles to himself with an evil grin.]

[The three begin to dance across the floor. All are extremely involved in their dance and are into the music. Suddenly, Donald and Esther stop. The prune juice has begun to take effect. Donald runs out of the room toward the bathroom. But Esther begins to dance again, this time at a more frenzied pace.]

Oedipus: Oh no! What’s happening? This isn’t the way things are supposed to work out. I’ve gotta beat this Esther.

[Oedipus also picks up the pace of the dancing. The two are going crazy, side by side, each trying to outdo the other. Esther begins doing flips in midair and crawls over the ground. Oedipus looks dumbfounded but continues to dance. The music stops; Oedipus falls to the ground in exhaustion. Esther runs to the bathroom.]

Judge: By the unanimous consent of the judges I pronounce the winner to be – where on earth have the contestants gone?

[Oedipus struggles to get up as Esther and Donald run back from the bathroom.]

Oedipus: The winner, judge, announce who the winner is. I want to claim my prize.

Judge: The winner is –

Judge 2: We haven’t told them how much the prize is. Tell them how much the prize is.

Judge: Oh, quite sorry. The prize is twelve thousand drachmas. And now, the winner is –

Oedipus: Just get on with it!

Judge: Patience. The winner is: Esther!

[Oedipus walks halfway up to the podium to receive the award before he realizes that he has not won. He stops dead in his tracks and stares at the judges.]

Oedipus: What? Her? You’ve got to be kidding!

Judge: That’s right. Esther has won the twelve thousand drachmas. Congratulations, Esther. We’re sure you will put the money to good use.

Esther: Oh, of course. I’ll set up a fund to help needy children go to expensive school dances. And now I’ll be able to pay off those medical bills for my husband.

[Oedipus walks over to Larry, dazed and confused.]

Oedipus: You mean she got the money?

Larry: That’s right. She won the contest. I hate to say this, but she was better than you were. I was really surprised.

Jerry: I told you the disco would be your downfall but you were too wrapped up in yourself to care. [He walks outside, cackling like a madman. Oedipus tries to follow him but finds nobody outside when he runs out. The Banker walks out to Oedipus.]

Banker: I’ve come to collect the hundred drachmas you owe me.

Oedipus: [Realizes he has no money] Uh … I … er … can I … uh … get you the money later?

Banker: Nope. I need the money now. Do you have sufficient funds or do I need to foreclose on the disco?

Oedipus: Not the disco! No! Not my disco. My disco … [Falls to the ground in hysteria.]

[Larry walks outside and helps Oedipus up.]

Larry: Oedipus, I’m so sorry. You lost the disco and everything. You still have some money left, right?

Oedipus: I think. Lemme see … [Sniffles while he fumbles through his pockets for change. A cab drives up and Larry flags him down. The two get in the cab.]

Larry: How much for fare to Athens?

Driver: 10 drachmas.

Larry: How much do you have, Oedipus?

Oedipus: 10 drachmas. [He hands the money to the cab driver. Depressed, disillusioned, Oedipus confronts his grief and takes action by tearing his bell-bottoms apart.] Henceforward I will never dance again.

The End