Drowning Ophelia

FULL-LENGTH PLAY. 15-page excerpt posted on New Play Exchange. Full script available through Blue Moon Plays: https://havescripts.com/product/drowning-ophelia/

Jane doesn’t know what to do with the literary character who has taken up residence in her bathtub. Ophelia delights in singing songs about death and valentines, interrupting Jane’s carefully planned fantasy dates with an actor named...
FULL-LENGTH PLAY. 15-page excerpt posted on New Play Exchange. Full script available through Blue Moon Plays: https://havescripts.com/product/drowning-ophelia/

Jane doesn’t know what to do with the literary character who has taken up residence in her bathtub. Ophelia delights in singing songs about death and valentines, interrupting Jane’s carefully planned fantasy dates with an actor named Edmund, and bringing up memories of a brother Jane would rather forget. As Jane’s past intrudes dangerously on her present, it becomes clear that Ophelia is not simply a character from "Hamlet," but a long-forgotten messenger with a question from Jane’s own troubled mind: How do you move on when reconciliation is not an option?

"Drowning Ophelia" is a dark comedy performed in one act about the long-term consequences of childhood abuse, and a love letter to those who have suffered. There is always hope.
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Drowning Ophelia

Recommended by

  • Daniel Prillaman:
    20 Feb. 2021
    I LOVED reading this. Strayer's play is brutal, yet delicate, and theatrically enthralling as Jane and Ophelia both struggle to articulate anguish that cannot be put into words or song. The whole piece results in a mind-bending, intricate puzzle of trauma and grief, a brilliant metaphor for what it feels like mentally to try and unpack and acknowledge the hurt caused by our wrongdoers. Such fun design opportunities here, as well! I would love so much to see this on its feet.
  • Nick Malakhow:
    2 Nov. 2020
    A powerful, moving, funny, theatrical piece that examines trauma and sexual abuse in a way that only theater can. The figure in the tub is a direct, potent, and inventive extended metaphor for Jane's processing of her trauma, and the way the piece winds back and forth through time and space builds tension and suspense. From a designer's, actor's, and director's perspective, there is so much to do here! Even as she weaves a wholly new contemporary story, Strayer also manages to unpack the legacy of what Shakespeare and history/interpretation have done to Ophelia as well.
  • Toby Malone:
    16 Sep. 2020
    A devastating, beautifully crafted survivor's tale that weaves skilfully between memory and imagination, between thought and action, all supported by a bratty, wilful, wise Ophelia who walks alongside Jane as she wrangles with her trauma and survivor's guilt. Brilliantly intense and thoughtful, this play brings the trauma of survival to the fore and offers no easy answers or resolutions. Wonderful work.

Character Information

  • Ophelia
    Ageless but child-like,
    Female
    At first sight, Ophelia appears to be straight out of Shakespeare's HAMLET, and her language reflects this. She is child-like, but purposeful in all she says and does. She very much cares about all the characters in the play, and wishes more than anything to communicate what is troubling her, so it might be resolved.
  • Jane
    18-45,
    Female
    Jane is a bit obsessive and a tad on edge. She likes to stay in control of her surroundings, even so far as to hire someone who will play romantic roles with her, while staying at a safe, non-personal distance. She is aware of Ophelia at all times and her greatest goal is to keep Ophelia contained in her bathtub where she belongs. Jane needs to grieve two great losses in her life, but is desperate not to face them at all.
  • Edmund
    18-49,
    Male
    Edmund is an actor, equal parts charm and awkwardness. He genuinely likes Jane, but is troubled by her outbursts. He is minimally aware of Ophelia, and will attempt to ignore her for Jane's benefit. He's nice, but ill-equipped to handle what's happening in Jane's life.
  • Adam
    20-49,
    Male
    Adam is devastatingly likable, at least in his interactions with Ophelia. He is fun and funny and loving...until he isn't. With Jane, he can vacillate between brash and distant, tense and nonchalant. Adam should be able to make the audience fall in love with him, until her breaks their hearts.

Development History

  • Reading
    ,
    Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble
    ,
    2012
  • Reading
    ,
    Wilkes University at the Drama Book Shop
    ,
    2010

Production History

  • University
    ,
    University of Idaho
    ,
    2019
  • Community Theater
    ,
    Gaslight Theatre Company
    ,
    2016
  • Fringe
    ,
    Ensemble Atria & Eager Risk Theater
    ,
    2016
  • Professional
    ,
    Repurposed Theatre
    ,
    2013