A play written specifically with Valentine's Day in mind. "With This Ring" is the story of a wedding band that travels over five generations and the visceral effect it has on those couples who come to possess it. The ring is first presented to an Irish immigrant by her husband at the turn of the nineteenth century. It then skips a generation in the next scene in the 1960's as the couple's grandson inherits it, has it inscribed and presents it to his new wife. In Scene Three the ring becomes a point of contention in the mid -eighties between an estranged couple contemplating a divorce. It comes full circle in the last scene where it finds its way to an engaged couple in 2007 and a special visitor who is coming from out of state for their wedding.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID:
'"With This Ring" is a must see! Mr. Simonelli writes dialouge in a visceral style reminiscent of Mamet and Chayefesky. A riveting evening in theatre. Go see it now!
Joe Franklin - Bloomberg Radio
Bridgette McCoy mid 30s
Sean McCoy mid to late 30s
Joe McCoy late 20s
Matty McCoy mid to late 20s
Frankie 16 to 20
Paul mid 40’s
Karen mid 40’s
Bobby late 20’s
Liz mid to late 20’s
Aunt Matilda mid 60’s
(doubling Matty and Aunt Matilda is acceptable)
Author’s Note – With This Ring is told in four separate acts with the common thread of a wedding ring and the effect it has on each of the couples it comes in contact with. The part of Matty McCoy can be doubled by the same actress in act 2 and 4. The scene changes can be part of the show as we see how the apartment gets updated and the music changes over the decades.
Act I (scene 1)
BRIDGETTE AND SEAN
SETTING: A second floor apartment. A small couch down center. A small table down right. A functional open window is on wall stage left. Front door is back left. Bedroom door is up right. The apartment will change with the times in each scene. The setting is an apartment inside a Victorian mansion in Rockaway Beach, New York. An ornamental angel is carved into the original woodwork on back or side wall.
(All four acts take place in the same apartment over five generations)
At Rise: The year is 1918. A small bookcase back left on which sits Sean’s picture. A love seat or small sofa is center. An accent table covered in lace is next to couch. Window coverings are lace. Wicker waste basket is near the entrance door.Bridgett McCoy is dusting her apartment. She crosses to the open window.
BRIDGETTE. (Irish Brogue, she speaks through open window)
Sean Michael! Put your sister down…gently! Oh hello Peggy. Such a lovely breeze off the ocean we’re getting today. Sean Joseph will be home any moment and I forgot to buy bread at the market today. And if he doesn’t get some bread with supper he can get mighty ornery. …Would you mind stopping by for me if you’re going? I’d be much obliged. Thank you Peggy.
(She hums or sings to herself as she continues to dust. She dusts a picture of her husband, picks it up, and speaks)
And you’d better not be stopping by the saloon on the way home tonight Sean.
(She exits to Bedroom ...two beats… and her husband, Sean Joseph McCoy quietly enters
carrying a newspaper. He is wearing a policeman’s uniform of the time. He motions to Angel with a finger over his mouth as if telling the angel to keep quiet.
He places newspaper on table and pulls a linen cloth from his pocket. He opens the cloth to reveal to the audience a wedding ring. He looks around the room as if searching for a hiding space for the ring finally placing under a throw pillow on the couch. He decides he doesn’t like the hiding spot and replaces the pillow. As he steps stage right he hits his foot against the bottom of the sofa and lets out a yelp.)
BRIDGETTE. (Offstage) Is that you Sean?
SEAN. (Falsetto with Irish Brogue) No it’s only Peggy from downstairs. I’m back from the market with the bread.
BRIDGETTE. Sure, sure, and I’m Joan of Ark come back to fight the British. I’ll be right out.
(He quickly re-wraps the ring in the linen and places it in the trash basket in the corner of the room near the entry door)
BRIDGETTE. (She Re-enters) Well it’s nice to have you home at a decent hour for a change.
SEAN. And how lovely you look tonight Bridgette McCoy. The loveliest bride in all of Rockaway.
(He kisses her gently on the cheek)
BRIDGETTE. Cut your malarkey. After nearly ten years of marriage I can tell when you’re trying to butter me up. What is it then, are the boys from the station having another card game at O’Malley’s Saloon? Well you’ll not be going tonight Sean McCoy.
SEAN. But Bridgette, I won nearly three dollars the last time I played.
BRIDGETTE. I don’t care if you won three hundred, you’re staying home with your wife tonight. After all, you spent all day keeping the neighborhood safe from hoodlums; I would think you’d be glad to stay home and rest. Four times a week for ten years at the saloon playing cards is more than any wife should take. And after all that time all you ever do is break even.
SEAN. At least I’m not losing.
BRIDGETTE. Thank God for that. And if it’s not poker games your wasting money on then it’s the Irish sweepstakes tickets. Always the Irish Sweepstakes! As if you have a chance on God’s green earth of winning! And here I am taking in laundry and keeping house for the owners of this mansion so we can live in this beautiful old apartment. You know my father was against this marriage. No wedding ring. Living in someone else’s house. And you always looking to run from me.
SEAN. But it’s only a few hours…
SEAN. Okay, but someday I’m going to show that father of yours. Someday I’m going to buy this house for you and get you a beautiful wedding ring and...
BRIDGETTE. (Interrupting the harangue)
Sure, sure, from your lips to God’s ears. But for now what would make me happy would be for you to stay home with your wife.
SEAN. Oh alright. I suppose we could sit around here and listen to recordings on the Victoria. Or maybe we could….
(He leans on table as he goes to kiss her and she swats his hand with the feather duster)
SEAN. Who needs music when you’re married to a fine Irish tenor? (He starts to sing as he dances her around)
“Let me call you sweetheart, I’m in love with you”
“Let me hear you whisper that you love me too”
“Keep the love light glowing in your eyes so true”
“Let me call you sweetheart, I’m in love with you.”
(He pulls her closer)
BRIDGETTE. Now cut it out, Saints have mercy, it’s still broad daylight! Peggy could be up here any minute from the market.
SEAN. So bar the damned door.
BRIDGETTE. (gasping) Such language!
SEAN. Peggy won’t be up. I met her coming in and told her to forget the bread tonight.
BRIDGETTE. Now why would you tell her such a thing as that?
SEAN. 'Cause I figured we’d be a little busy tonight, if you know what I mean. (He leans towards her)
BRIDGETTE. (Jumping from sofa)
But it’s not even the fifteenth of the month! Now you know we decided against having any more children Sean!
SEAN. (Rising and crossing towards her)
We can afford more children now Mrs. McCoy.
BRIDGETTE. Sean Joseph, don’t tell me you finally got that promotion!
SEAN. You bet I did!
BRIDGETTE. I can’t believe it. The New York City Police department finally realized the gem of a policeman they had working for them and made you a sergeant.
SEAN. Even better than that!
BRIDGETTE. How better?
SEAN. They skipped me a grade straight up to lieutenant.
BRIDGETTE. How’d they do that?
SEAN. You’ve got to have a little pull to make things happen in this city. Remember me second cousin Bob Clancy? Works for the city council in Manhattan.
BRIDGETTE. Of course, he was at our wedding wasn’t he?
SEAN. Well he pulled a few strings.
BRIDGETTE. That’s wonderful Sean!
SEAN. Wait, it gets even better!
BRIDGETTE. Oh my, what?
SEAN. I’ve been assigned to the mayor’s detail! Comes with a big raise and fringe benefits. We can move right into the private quarters next to Gracie mansion. It’s strictly for the Mayor’s security force.
BRIDGETTE. Move from Rockaway? But I couldn’t. I love this apartment, this neighborhood. All my friends are here. My Family.
SEAN. What do you mean? Most of your family is still on the other side. And this house is nearly forty years old. The one in the city is practically new.
BRIDGETTE. But I love this place. Couldn’t you just travel to Manhattan everyday?
SEAN. (Exasperated) Travel to Manhattan! Travel to Manhattan! From Rockaway beach?! Do you know how long that would take me? I’d have to drive the buggy to the train station. Travel to Brooklyn, catch another train to Manhattan.
BRIDGETTE. I know how long it takes. Remember you took me to Manhattan to see a show on our fifth anniversary.
SEAN. Oh yeah, the follies. All those dancing girls! (She slaps his lapel as if scolding)
(As way of explanation) It was a good show.
BRIDGETTE. Gee. I don’t suppose that there’s a chance that you’ll turn down the promotion so we could stay here.
SEAN. (Once again exasperated)
Turn down the promotion! After the strings me cousin Bob had to pull?
BRIDGETTE. But I don’t want to move from here. It’s our home for ten years. All those memories…Please Sean...For your Bridgette?
SEAN. (He softens)
Oh I suppose. I could stay in the Rockaway precinct and still take a promotion to sergeant. It wouldn’t be as much of a pay increase mind you.
BRIDGETTE. I don’t care about the money. All I care about is that I’ll be in the home that I love with the man that I love.
SEAN. If it means that much to you Bridgette Mary McCoy. Then it’s here we’ll stay.
BRIDGETTE. Oh Sean, you’ve made me so happy. (She kisses him)
Oh I can’t wait to tell Peggy downstairs the great news!
SEAN. Yeah, go tell her.
(He picks up paper, sits on chair and starts to read)
BRIDGETTE. (She heads for the door and grabs waste basket)
I’ll empty the trash while I’m down there.
SEAN. (Not paying attention)
Good idea. You do that.
(Two beats and it hits him…he runs for door)
Wait, Bridgette, come back with that trash!
(He exits to catch her)
BRIDGETTE. (Off stage) Have you finally gone crazy Sean McCoy? What are you grabbing at!
SEAN. (off stage) The waste basket! The waste basket!
BRIDGETTE. Your aim’s a little off, that’s not the waste basket you’re grabbing!
SEAN. Well it’s dark in this hallway!
(He re-enters and rummages through the trash basket and finds the cloth)
Oh thank St. Patrick!
Here it is! Here it is!
I know it’s a little early for our anniversary Bridgette. But I was so excited that I couldn’t wait. Here sweetheart.
(He hands her the rumpled cloth and collapses in the chair with relief not looking at her. She opens the empty cloth)
BRIDGETTE. Oh Sean…you thoughtful man, you bought me a linen for our anniversary. But why’d you throw it in the trash?
SEAN. (Jumps back up) A linen! A linen!
(He grabs the cloth from her and flips it around hoping a ring will fall out)
Oh my God, where is it?
BRIDGETTE. Where’s what Sean?
SEAN. (He grabs the waste basket and starts rummaging through it)
Maybe it fell on the floor by the door, go look Bridgette!
BRIDGETTE. (She moves towards door)
Okay, but what am I looking for?
SEAN. I can’t believe it’s gone. All those nights out saving up. It probably slipped between the floorboards in the hallway and landed somewhere in the first floor foyer. If not straight to the basement.
BRIDGETTE. Whatever are you talking about Sean?
SEAN. A ring Bridgette. A wedding ring. More beautiful than any one you could imagine. I bought it for you cause I remember what your old man said back in the old county. How I’d never amount to anything. How I couldn’t even afford to buy you a wedding ring. Well I’ve been saving Bridgette, squirreling money away each week so I cold buy it for you…And now, it’s gone, lost forever…I think you’re old man was right…I just can’t seem to do anything right …
BRIDGETTE.Was it a pretty ring Sean?
(She pulls it from her pocket as he turns away to describe it)
SEAN. Was it pretty? Only the most beautiful ring that Mr. Cohen had in his shop. I had him put it on layaway for me. Oh I could have bought you a cheaper ring years ago but I wanted my Bridgette to have the best when I was finally able to afford it. And now….
BRIDGETTE. That must have been some special ring.
SEAN. Oh that it was Mrs. McCoy.
BRIDGETTE. Well maybe if you could describe it for me we could search down in the lobby.
SEAN. It’s no use…we’ll never find it…I couldn’t even start to describe it…
BRIDGETTE. Did it look something like this?
(He turns to her and sees it)
SEAN. Why it looked exactly like….Bridgette, you found it! How’d you do it?
BRIDGETTE. Did you think I wouldn’t notice something sparkling so brightly in the wastebasket? Oh Sean, I don’t know what to say. It’s so lovely! Where did you get the money?
SEAN. Promise you won’t get mad if I tell you?
BRIDGETTE. Of course not.
SEAN. Well I’ve a confession to make. I kind of told you a white lie.
SEAN. I wasn’t playing cards all those nights down at O’Malley’s saloon.
BRIDGETTE. And what were you doing then?
SEAN. I was bartending to make extra money so I could save up and buy you that ring.
BRIDGETTE. You don’t say. And now I must confess something.
SEAN. And what’s that?
BRIDGETTE. I knew about it all the time. The whole ten years. Don’t you think Peggy’s husband
ever has a drink at O’Malley’s?
SEAN. Peggy’s husband? (Shouts out window) But I swore that no good Irish pug to secrecy!
BRIDGETTE. Come on now Sean, you don’t think there’s any secret a husband can keep from their wife, do you?
SEAN. I kind of suspected you knew. After all, what wife would allow their husband to gamble four times a week?
BRIDGETTE. Well if he was a good gambler it might pay off.
SEAN. Still, you never even asked about the money Bridgette.
BRIDGETTE. You’re my husband. I love you. I trust you. You work hard and keep a roof over our head. I knew you’d put the money to good use.
SEAN. Ah, but I married a smart one.
BRIDGETTE. That you certainly did. Now here, place it on my finger.
(She hands him the ring and he gets down on one knee and puts it on her finger.)
SEAN. Would you make me a promise Bridgette?
BRIDGETTE. Of course Sean, anything
SEAN. (Sean stands)
Could you try and keep the ring in the family. I mean, after I’ve gone to my reward and all. I mean unless you’re really hard up for money or something.
BRIDGETTE. First of all, you’re not going anywhere for a long time Sean Joseph Michael McCoy, and secondly, I will never sell this ring or let it out of the family. Even if I have to take in laundry or bartend meself. ..Now come on, sit by me and read me the paper like you did when we were first married.
(She leads him to sofa and they both sit)
SEAN. You mean the Irish comics?
BRIDGETTE. No Sean, not the obituaries, the funny papers.
SEAN. Okay, but first, a little ...(He leans in to kiss her)
BRIDGETTE. Sean, right here in the living room? In front of the angel?
(He picks up the linen and places over the wooden angel)
SEAN. (To angel) No peeking Gabriel.
(They kiss as lights fade)
ACT 1, Scene 2
JOE and MATTY
SETTING: 1967 - The love seat or couch is replaced by a table with two chairs. A paint easel is up right. There are posters of rock and roll icons on the walls. The lace curtains on the window in scene one are now beads or tie dye material of the period. A telephone of the period hangs on the wall.
At Rise: Matty McCoy, twenty something, is at work finishing a painting. She wears clothing of the late sixties as the counter culture movement is just coming into vogue. She walks to wooden angel coat rack and takes cleaning cloth from it. Wipes a smudge from painting and replaces cloth
MATTY. (To angel on wall) Hold that cupid.
JOE. (enters dressed in a business suit)
Hey sexy, want to fool around?
MATTY. My husband might object. Oh, you are my husband. Forget it.
JOE. How’s the painting coming?
MATTY. I think I’m just about there.
(She goes to paint his nose but he pulls away)
And why are you so late?
JOE. I’m sorry, we were working on a case…Hey, listen to this one. A guy walks into the local barber shop, gets in an argument with another customer, He pushes the man down into a chair, and now I’ve got to prosecute the guy for second degree assault. I mean, I’ve been in worse bar fights in my day and we never went to court. We settled it the old fashioned way. You took your lumps and went on with your business. You tie the courts up with trivial stuff like pushing a guy into a chair and you’ll never adjudicate the serious crimes.
MATTY. I guess until you get more experience they start you with the small stuff.
JOE. I didn’t go to law school for barbershop hi-jinx. I want to prosecute real criminals.
Drug dealers, murderers...
MATTY. You’ll get your chance Joe, just be patient. One day the newspaper headline is going to read, “Joe McCoy, Attorney General of New York, puts away top honcho of organized crime at the same time uncovering scandal in local corrupt price fixing scheme.”
JOE. Wow, you’ve been watching those late night “B” movies again. The problem is I don’t have patience.
MATTY. I know, you’re a loose cannon sometimes. But we can work on that.
JOE. Work on it? Ah ha, I knew it, married only six months and already she’s trying to change me. Matty McCoy, Artist, musician, actress and construction engineer.
MATTY. Construction engineer?
JOE. Trying to rebuild her husband.
MATTY. I wouldn’t dream of it. Besides, it’s in your genetic makeup. Let’s see your grandfather was a sergeant, your father was a commissioner, and you’re an up and coming prosecutor.
JOE. You know what that means don’t you? Our son has to be mayor.
MATTY. Why not governor?
JOE. (in agreement) Why not?… Now remember, stick to the game plan, stay on my wavelength, and soon we’ll move out of this turn of the century relic of an apartment and move into one of those new developments on Long Island.
MATTY. Leave Neponset, why?
JOE. Neponset? We’re getting pretty fancy aren’t we? You can call it Paris, France. It’s still next to Rockaway Beach.
MATTY. But I love this place Joe. The woodwork and craftsmanship. We’ve got our very own angel watching over us. You can’t find a home like this in the suburbs. Besides, we both grew up in this neighborhood. I love the beach.
JOE. There are beaches on Long Island.
MATTY. Not Rockaway Beach. You were a lifeguard here. The boardwalk, Playland Amusement Park, your family at Breezy Point. I love that little beach bungalow. Best investment your father ever made.
JOE. Can you believe he plunked down ten thousand dollars for that shack?
MATTY. Times change. British invasion. World’s fair comes to New York. The price of houses goes up.
JOE. Oh yeah! That’s why we’re renting my grandmothers place.
MATTY. It’s a wonderful apartment inside a beautiful Victorian mansion. How was your grandfather able to own this place on a policeman’s salary?
JOE. He won the Irish sweepstakes.
MATTY. Anyway this apartment is the perfect environment for me to do my painting.
JOE. I’m just glad to see you sitting down.
MATTY. What do you mean?
JOE. What I mean is that whenever I came to that loft you were living in Greenwich Village, I’d find you standing on your head. Or chanting or doing other weird hippie stuff that you beatniks do.
MATTY. I’m not a beatnik. I’m artsy.
JOE. I think you’re a little mental. Just my luck, I had to fall in love with a mental hippie chick.
MATTTY. You love me a little mental.
JOE. I know, why is that?
MATTY. I think Freud would say it has something to do with your childhood.
JOE. Freud huh, next you’ll have me analyzing ink blots.
MATTY. (Indicating easel where picture is)
Maybe, but to start, what do you see in this picture?
JOE. (Looking at picture)
Why isn’t it perfectly obvious? That’s a hungry husband who just came home from work starving to death because there’s apparently no dinner waiting.
MATTY. I’ll tell you what. Let’s arm wrestle to see who makes dinner.
JOE. Forget it. Don’t you remember what happened last time? All those doctor bills….I didn’t get that cast off my wrist for a month.
I promise, I’ll be more gentle this time.
JOE. No arm wrestling.
MATTY. Draw high card from a marked deck?
MATTY. Flip a coin?