Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Jacksonian: A Play

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Jacksonian: A Play

Article excerpt


(In order of appearance)

BILL PERCH, a dentist and motel resident

ROSY PERCH, daughter of Bill and Susan Perch

EVA WHITE, a waitress and motel maid

FRED WEBER, a motel bartender

SUSAN PERCH, wife of Bill Perch, mother of Rosy


The action of the play takes place at the Jacksonian Motel-an establishment on the outskirts of Jackson, Mississippi.

The motel exists as a haunting memory, a sort of purgatory that was Jackson, circa 1964.

There are three playing spaces: the bar/restaurant; a motel room; the outside ice machine.

The scenes with Rosy in the bloodstained blanket are direct addresses.

Evoked by murder, Rosy's terror will quake the landscape of time, space, and memory.

In these monologues, Rosy may break theatrical conventions that are established for the rest of the play.

March-December 1964.


The scenes are not played linearly. It may be necessary to project the times.

Scene One

Lights up on an ice machine at the Jacksonian Motel.

Time: The night of the murder.

December 17,1964.

Bill Perch enters and goes to the ice machine. He has blood on his hands and shirt. Perch violently digs an ice bucket into the ice. Ice Crashes!


Lights up on Rosy, sixteen. She wears pajamas and is wrapped in a blanket that is stained with blood.

ROSY: There's been an accident there's going to be I need to stop an accident at the motel. The Jacksonian Motel.

The time is ... What time is.

It's not Christmas. It's near around before-before Christmas.

Before. Pull time back-

Before a time that makes the time of murder.

A bar/restaurant at the Jacksonian Motel.

Time: The night of the murder.

December îy, 1964.

There is a manger scene and a string of Christmas lights.

(Eva White is staring coldly across space.

Fred Weber is smoking a cigarette with a burning tip. A sinister silence.)

EVA: I know what it is.

FRED: What?

EVA: What ya got me in my stocking.


EVA: It's a surprise.


EVA: I like Christmas. Jesus was born. He likes me. Jesus loves all the little children. Want to know what I got you? It's easy to guess. You wear it on this finger. I'm saving it for Christmas. Like we said.

FRED: I never said.

EVA: You said you're my fiancé. Fred, my fiancé.

FRED: Don't say it like that.

EVA: I know you don't think you deserve me. But I won't let you throw away your one chance at happiness. There's not many chances people get. I'm your one and only chance. You think life is nothing but sorrow, and misery is a blessing from God. But you deserve happiness. You deserve me. I got my shoes dyed bone ivory to match the bridal dress. We might as well think about having children. Some kids would be nice.

FRED: It's not going to work out like everybody hoped.

EVA: It's going to work out like I hoped. Right after Christmas we're going to the Justice of the Peace and tying the knot.

FRED: Eva, I didn't wanna bother you with this and cause you to have a nervous breakdown.

EVA: What?

FRED: There's a muscular constriction. My heart's hard. It's not pumping as much blood as it should. It'll kill me. Two or three months. Could be days. The heart is a muscle and mine is decayed.

EVA: I don't believe you have such a heart like that. A decayed heart.

FRED: It's the way it is with my heart.

(They look at each other steadily.)

I won't make a widow out of you. Wouldn't be right. I can't let a young woman marry a terminal man. God would strike me down for selfish pride. You don't wanna make me look bad in the eyes of the Lord?

EVA: No. Not that.

FRED: Not more of that. Keep me out of hell, Eva. The dentist is single.

EVA: He's married.

FRED: Separated. A long time. For good.

EVA: Maybe not. …

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