Robert Nowall




ONE-SENTENCE SUMMARY: A play in one act, and perhaps a more appropriate use of the title.





The curtain rises on a bare, brightly lit stage. A moment passes before four nondescript but husky men carry a large and roughly cubical wooden box from stage left. They put it down, then leave.

They return after another moment, carrying another box, slightly different than, but about the same size as, the first box. They put this box down next to the other box, but not touching. The four men leave.

Several seconds pass.

Thereís a thump-thump-thump of knocking on wood.

DARIA (V. O.) Ow!

JANE (V. O.) Daria?

DARIA (V. O.): Jane?

JANE (V. O.): Daria? (Pause) Where are you?

A loud wooden THUMP! is heard.

DARIA (V. O.): Iím in this box. I think.

JANE (V. O.): *Youíre* in this box? (Pause) I donít see you...

DARIA (V. O.): Itís dark. (Pause) Jane? Are you in here, too?

JANE (V. O.): Everybodyís gotta be somewhere, Daria.

DARIA (V. O.): Witty. Witty girl.

JANE (V. O.): Sorry. (Pause) You sound distant.

DARIA (V. O.): Jane. This is no time to discuss my shortcomings.

JANE (V. O.): But if youíre in a box and Iím in a box... (Pause) There must be two boxes.

DARIA (V. O.): Itís hard to believe you did so poorly in math class.

JANE (V. O.): Witty. (Pause) If somebody would get their frigginí elbow out of my eye...

The sound of a slap---hand on flesh---is heard.

TRENT (V. O.): Ow!

JANE (V. O.): Sorry.

TRENT (V. O.): Thatís all right, Janey.

DARIA (V. O.): Trent?

TRENT (V. O.): Yeah?

DARIA (V. O.): Youíre in this box, too?

TRENT (V. O.): I guess so.

JANE (V. O.): A dream come true, right, Daria?

DARIA (V. O.): Shut up, witty girl.

Some discordant plucked guitar strings are heard for several seconds.

JANE (V. O.): Trent, will you stop playing that damn guitar?

TRENT (V. O.): Iím not playing.

JESSE (V. O.): Sorry.

DARIA (V. O.): Jane? How many people are in this crate?

(A long pause)

DARIA (V. O.): Jane?

JANE (V. O.): I donít know, Daria. Itís dark. (Pause) Daria?

DARIA (V. O.): Yeah?

JANE (V. O.): Thereís you, me, Trent, Jesse...thatís four.

DARIA (V. O.): You think thereís more in here?

JANE (V. O.): Seems like. You feeling, oh, I donít know, crowded?

DARIA (V. O.): A little. (Pause) Keep talking. Iíll see if I can feel my way over to you. (Pause) Oof!

QUINN (V. O.): Ow!

DARIA (V. O.): Oh, no.

QUINN (V. O.): And just what do you mean by that?

DARIA (V. O.): (Pause) Nothing. Nothing. (Pause) Quinn, why didnít you say something sooner?

QUINN (V. O.): Oh, Daria, itís not as if the conversation was *interesting.*

DARIA (V. O.): Mmm.

SANDI (V. O.): Besides that, we must conserve our voices. Laryngitis.

TIFFANY (V. O.): Gesundheit.

QUINN (V. O.): Sandi, youíve still got laryngitis?

STACY (V. O.): Oh, Sandi, Iím so sorry! I didnít mean to---

SANDI (V. O.): Stacy!

STACY (V. O.): Sorry, Sandi.

SANDI (V. O.): And, as I was *about* to say, if you wanted to discuss your dreadful choice in jacket colors---

TIFFANY (V. O.): Ewwwwwww!

SANDI (V. O.): ---we would be happy to accommodate you.

DARIA (V. O.): Hey! Itís dark in here. How do you know what Iím wearing?

A lengthy pause occurs here.

QUINN (V. O.): Oh, Daria.

JANE (V. O.): I donít think itís just us in here.

DARIA(V. O.): No kidding.

JANE (V. O.): So if the terminally shallow are packed in here, too---

SANDI (V. O.): What?

JANE (V. O.): Then weíve got to get out of here.

Another lengthy pause, several seconds, passes.

JANE (V. O.): Daria?

DARIA (V. O.): There are other questions.

TRENT (V. O.): Yeah. Like where is here.

JESSE (V. O.): Or why weíre in this here, er, here.

DARIA (V. O.): Yeah, Trent, but Janeís right.

JANE (V. O.): Thereís a first time for everything.

DARIA (V. O.): Never mind how we got in.

TRENT (V. O.) I donít remember.

JESSE (V. O.) Me neither.

STACY (V. O.) Yeah, me, either.

SANDI (V. O.) Stacy! What did I tell you about talking to the unpopular?

STACY (V. O.) Eep!

DARIA (V. O.) Letís get out of here first.

Everybody weíve heard from so far tries to talk. After a moment, a new voice, louder than the others, is heard.

After this point, too, muttered conversations are heard playing out in the background, by the other players, but no words can be made out except those as indicated.

MS. LI (V. O.): Children, children, settle down! Iím sure we can get everything settled if we just behave ourselves.

DARIA (V. O.): Ms. Li?

MS. LI (V. O.): Yes, Ms. Morgendorffer?

DARIA (V. O.): I wasnít asking a question. I was expressing my shock and dismay at your presence here.

QUINN (V. O.): How could we tell?

MR. OíNEILL (V. O.): Now, now, please, this is not the time or place. Weíre in a difficult situation.

SANDI (V. O.): Iím sure we are all aware of that

MR. OíNEILL (V. O.): Iím sure if we can all stay focused, we will all---

MR. DEMARTINO (V. O.): For the *love* of God, can you *please* put a *lid* on it?

MS. BARCH (V. O.): Why donít you take a hike?

MR. DEMARTINO (V. O.): Try and *make* me, *harpy*!

Thereís the sounds of a close-quarters fistfight, with a lot of "oofs" and "ows"---all from DeMartino. This goes on for a while.

MS. LI (V. O.): Quiet! (Pause) Now, weíre in a, er, an unusual situation, to say the least. Weíre...

A *knock-knock* sound is heard.

MS. LI (V. O.): Weíre in a box.

DARIA (V. O.): Didnít I just say that?

JANE (V. O.): Hearing. Itís the first to go.

MS. LI (V. O.): Now, letís try to bring a little order into this. Letís see if we can organize, children!

DARIA (V. O.): I *did* say that.

MS. LI (V. O.): So if we can just figure out our situation---

MR. DEMARTINO (V. O.): *Situation?* Weíre in a frigginí *box*!

MS. LI (V. O.): Yes, yes, but some of you sound more muffled than others. Are we in one box, or are we in two?

TRENT (V. O.): Shouldnít we figure out how to get out of these boxes?

MS. LI (V. O.): Who are you?

TRENT (V. O.): (Pause) Iíd rather not say.

JANE (V. O.): Trent! (Pause) Heís Trent Lane, my brother. He graduated from Lawndale High three years ago.

MS. LI (V. O.): Yes, I remember you now. Oh, for the days of corporal punishment!

TIFFANY (V. O.): Thereís an army guy in here?

MS. LI (V. O.): Never mind! Yes, I suppose we should try to get out of here before we do anything else.

DARIA (V. O.): But how?

MS. LI (V. O.): Yes, that does seem to be a problem. Mr. DeMartino. Youíre the shop teacher.

MR. DEMARTINO (V. O.): Iím the *history* teacher!

MS. LI (V. O.): Never mind that. Can you get us out of this box?

Several seconds pass, during which the sound of creaking wood is heard.

MR. DEMARTINO (V. O.): Ms. Li. The *lid* appears to be *nailed* shut.

MS. LI (V. O.): Drat. Can you budge it?

MR. DEMARTINO (V. O.): I would *try* but my *shoulder* appears to be *injured.* Ow...woman!

MS. LI (V. O.): Then we appear to be trapped.

MR. DEMARTINO (V. O.): Ms. Li, if I might *make* a *suggestion*?

MS. LI (V. O.): Yes, yes, Mr. DeMartino, if you must.

MR. DEMARTINO (V. O.): If there are *any* members of the *football* team in this *box*---

QUINN (V. O.): Then *they* could break out of here!

JOEY (V. O.): Iíll break the lid for you, Quinn.

JAMIE (V. O.): No, I will.

JEFFY (V. O.): No, me!

Joey, Jamie, and Jeffy shout various variations of "Me!" for a moment longer.

MS. LI (V. O.): Never mind that! Whatís important is that you do it! Put your hands on the lid of this box and push! Ready?


MS. LI (V. O.): On my count...One!...Two!...Three!

The sounds of wood creaking, as if somebody was pushing against it, is heard.

MS. LI (V. O.): Again! One!...Two!...Three!

The sounds of straining wood is heard again, but it stops abruptly. Joey, Jamie, and Jeffy make sounds of disappointment and dismay.

DARIA (V. O.): Well, that was a complete waste of time.

JANE (V. O.) Iím starting to wonder why weíre all here in this box.

DARIA (V. O.) Yes.

JANE (V. O.) Weíre all here.

DARIA (V. O.) Yes.

JANE (V. O.) And none of us can remember how we got here.

DARIA (V. O.) Yes.

JANE (V. O.) Then maybe weíve all died and this is the afterlife.

DARIA (V. O.) No.

JANE (V. O.) Címon, Daria. Can you think of anything better to describe our situation than that weíve all died and gone to Box Hell?

STACY (V. O.) Oh, no!

SANDI (V. O.) Stacy, the geek girl is putting you on.

STACY (V. O.) You mean this isnít Box Hell?

JANE (V. O.): And who are you calling a geek?

SANDI (V. O.) I donít think Iíve ever heard anybody say anything that stupid since the last time pastels were in.

QUINN (V. O.) Stacy, itíll be all right.

Stacy is heard sobbing.

QUINN (V. O.): Stacy. Donít worry. Weíre in a box. Thatís all. Besides... (Pause) Besides, Iím sure I wouldnít wind up in the same place as a certain other person.

DARIA (V. O.) Can you be sure? Sartre once said Hell is other people.

QUINN (V. O.) The French teacher?

DARIA (V. O.) Never mind. Weíre in a box, and the important thing is to try to get out of this box.

SANDI (V. O.): There are more important issues than getting out of here. Like...whose hairy arm is brushing against my thigh?

STACY (V. O.): Iím so sorry!

SANDI (V. O.): Itís not *your* arm, Stacy. Please keep quiet.

STACY (V. O.): Eep!

SANDI (V. O.): Whomsoeverís hand it is, itís...itís...

Thereís a moment of silence, interrupted by the sound of a fist slapping into flesh.

UPCHUCK (V. O.): Ow!

MS. BARCH (V. O.): Good for you!

DARIA (V. O.): Upchuck?

UPCHUCK (V. O.): Ah, Daria, my sweet.

DARIA (V. O.): Youíre in here, too?

UPCHUCK (V. O.): Yes, my lovely. Charles Ruttheimer, in the flesh.

JANE (V. O.): As hard as that is to believe.

UPCHUCK (V. O.): I am at your disposal, madam. I have been here all along. I have been content to lie here and bathe in the radiated beauty around me.

DARIA (V. O.): But itís dark in here.

UPCHUCK (V. O.): There are other senses. Touch, for example. (Pause) Ah.

MR. DEMARTINO (V. O.): Mr. *Ruttheimer,* if you do not *remove* your hand---

STACY (V. O.): Ewwwwwww!

MS. LI (V. O.): Mr. Ruttheimer, you will lie wherever you are and keep your whatever to yourself from now on.

Thereís the briefly-heard sound of the grunts and groans of assorted people squirming and elbowing each other.

MS. LI (V. O.): Damned crowded box!

STACY (V. O.): Packed in like sardines.

TIFFANY (V. O.): Stacy. Ewwwwwww.

STACY (V. O.): Sorry.

JANE (V. O.) Daria.

DARIA (V. O.) What?

JANE (V. O.) Remember that time, when we were trapped in that shed with Kevin and Brittany?

DARIA (V. O.) And?

JANE (V. O.) And Kevin finally bashed through the door with his head?

DARIA (V. O.) It was the hardest thing on hand.

TRENT (V. O.) What are you getting at, Janey?

JANE (V. O.) If Kevin were here, I bet he could put his head right through this box.

TRENT (V. O.) Whoa. I thought we were in two boxes.

JANE (V. O.) But if we break through one we can get out, and then break into the other.

DARIA (V. O.) Thatís not a bad idea. But I see one problem.

JANE (V. O.) You mean that Kevin isnít here?

DARIA (V. O.) Well, we havenít heard from him yet. Brittany either. And you know how piercing Brittanyís voice is.

JANE (V. O.) If, by "piercing," you mean "irritating," I know.

DARIA (V. O.) Jane.

JANE (V. O.) What?

DARIA (V. O.) Are you making "quotation marks" with your hands?

JANE (V. O.) No more than you did, just there.

QUINN (V. O.) Is there some point to this?

JANE (V. O.) Shh. Shh. Just listen.

The conversation around fades down, but the voices and sounds of two people come up in the stereo mix. Itís Kevin and Brittany, of course, making all the passionate moaning and lip-smacking sounds associated with their habit of public kissing.

DARIA (V. O.) Kevin.

The kissy-kissy sounds go on.

DARIA (V. O.) Kevin.

BRITTANY (V. O.) Kevvy?

KEVIN (V. O.) Mmm...what, babe?

BRITTANY (V. O.) Kevvy, I donít think weíre alone.

KEVIN (V. O.) Aw, babe, donít be silly. I donít hear anybody.

BRITTANY (V. O.) Well, if youíre sure...

They go back to kissing. These sounds stop only when the shrill sound of a whistle being blown is heard.

KEVIN (V. O.) Ow! Ow! Whyíd you do that?

BRITTANY (V. O.) Ooh. Kevvy. Weíre not alone in here!

DARIA (V. O.) Kevin.

KEVIN (V. O.) Hey, uh, Daria. Youíre in here, too?

DARIA (V. O.) Hardly by choice.

KEVIN (V. O.) Well, could you, like, go away and leave us alone?

DARIA (V. O.) I would very much like to leave the two of you. But Iím in this box.

BRITTANY (V. O.) Oh. Babe. I donít think weíre alone in here.

JANE (V. O.) An understatement if there ever was one.

BRITTANY (V. O.) Well, how many other people are in here besides you and Daria?

Quite a number of people try to speak at once, and loudly. It goes on for a while, and degenerates into some fighting and banging and name calling.

JANE (V. O.) Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!

The name calling dies down a little and becomes muttering again.

BRITTANY (V. O.) Ooh, that many. How many?

DARIA (V. O.) Thereís you, me, Jane, Kevin, Janeís brother Trent, his friend Jesse...

JESSE (V. O.) Hey.

JANE (V. O.) Dariaís sister Quinn, her friends Sandi, Tiffany, and Stacy...

DARIA (V. O.) Friends being something of a strong word.

SANDI (V. O.) What!

DARIA (V. O.) Joey, Jamie, Jeffy...

JEFFY (V. O.) Hey! You remembered my name!

QUINN (V. O.) Quiet, Jameel.

JAMIE (V. O.) Sorry.

DARIA (V. O.) Ms. Li, and at least three teachers. Is that all?

UPCHUCK (V. O.) You forgot me, Daria, my sweet.

BRITTANY (V. O.) Ewwwwwww! Upchuck!

DARIA (V. O.) I could never forget you, Upchuck, no matter how strong the current when the electroshock therapy is performed.

TIFFANY (V. O.) Ewwwwwww!

DARIA (V. O.) But Iíve heard voices.

JANE (V. O.) No wonder youíre scheduled for electroshock.

DARIA (V. O.) There are others here, who havenít spoken up. Iím sure of it. I hear breathing.

JANE (V. O.): Well, in a tight space like this---

DARIA (V. O.): (firmly) Iím sure of it.

HELEN (V. O.) Oh, Daria, youíve been doing a fine job so far. We didnít want to interfere.

JAKE (V. O.) Yeah, kiddo, keep up the good work.

DARIA (V. O.) Mom?

QUINN (V. O.) Dad?

HELEN (V. O.) We didnít want to say anything.

JAKE (V. O.) Yeah, we thought it would make you...uneasy. (Pause) Oh, I remember the time at military school, when the other guys shoved me in my locker for three days. Oh, how I could---

HELEN (V. O.): Jake!

JAKE (V. O.): Sorry.

HELEN (V. O.): We were just afraid our presence would make you nervous, dear. Thatís all.

DARIA (V. O.) If by nervous, you mean confused, well, yes.

MS. LI (V. O.) Mrs. Morgendorffer, I think it highly irregular that you and your husband did not identify yourselves at once.

HELEN (V. O.) Ms. Li, if you think I am interested in your opinion of our situation, you are much mistaken.

MS. LI (V. O.) What? I donít have to take this!

Thereís a loud thump! on the box.

MS. LI (V. O.) Ow! Damned box lid!

A chuckle is heard, that sounds like it might be from Mr. DeMartino.

JANE (V. O.) I wonder if my parents are around.

TRENT (V. O.) Janey, theyíre in Norway, looking at fjord formations.

JANE (V. O.) Oh. (Pause) How about Jodie and Mack?

DARIA (V. O.): I havenít heard them speak up. Iím sure they had more sense than to get in a box with the rest of us.

JANE (V. O.): I donít know. I thought we did, and weíre here. (Pause) What about Tom?

DARIA (V. O.): We broke up.

TOM (V. O.): And I didnít want to disturb her, either. The breakup was painful for both of us.

DARIA (V. O.) Tom? (Pause) Never mind. Same story?

TOM (V. O.): I donít remember how I got here, either. I think Iím in the same box as you, but I canít be sure.

HELEN (V. O.) It doesnít really matter right now. Daria, you were about to do something with Kevin.

DARIA (V. O.) Kevin. Yes. Kevin?

KEVIN (V. O.) Yeah? Uh, what? Here! Present!

DARIA (V. O.) We need you to help get us out of this box.

KEVIN (V. O.) Weíre in a box?

JANE (V. O.) Box, crate, whatever. Weíre trapped in here.

KEVIN (V. O.) All of us?

DARIA (V. O.) All of us.

BRITTANY (V. O.) But why donít we just open the lid?

The sound of a creaking box lid is heard.

DARIA (V. O.) Itís nailed shut.

KEVIN (V. O.) And you want me to hammer it open?

DARIA (V. O.) Have you got a hammer?


JANE (V. O.) We want you to use something harder. Your head.

KEVIN (V. O.): Hunh?

JANE (V. O.): Show us you can do it, Kevin! Bust your head through this crate, and get us out of here.

DARIA (V. O.): Has he got his helmet on?

JANE (V. O.): Afraid heíll damage himself, Daria?

DARIA (V. O.): No. Just that if he doesnít make it through, I donít want to deal with his spattered brains.

MR. OíNEILL (V. O.): Oh, my!

STACY (V. O.): Eep!

TIFFANY (V. O.): Ewwwwww!

DARIA (V. O.): Brittany, feel Kevinís head and see if his helmet is on it.

Thereís a tapping sound, like that of fingers on a hard plastic surface.

DARIA (V. O.): Brittany?

BRITTANY (V. O.): Uh...I donít know. Is that his head or his helmet?

JANE (V. O.): Iíve often wondered.

DARIA (V. O.): Oh, never mind. Kevin, just bust through this box with your head.

KEVIN (V. O.): My head?

DARIA (V. O.): Or whatever.

MS. LI (V. O.): Yes, do it, Mr. Thompson.

All around, thereís murmurs of assent and encouragement.

KEVIN (V. O.): Well...all right. Let me get around a little...

BRITTANY (V. O.): Ouch!

TRENT (V. O.): Watch it, man!

JESSE (V. O.): Oof!

KEVIN (V. O.): Sorry, dudes. Hi...yaahhh!

Kevinís pathetic attempt at a karate kind of noise ends with a loud thump on wood.

KEVIN (V. O.): Ow! Wood is hard!

JANE (V. O.): Thatís all? Thatís all youíre going to do?

The opening chords of "Manly" (from "Daria! The Musical"), played by Mystik Spiral, are heard. Itís clear that, even though Max and Nick havenít spoken, theyíre around and have brought their instruments.

JANE (V. O.): (singing) I---

DARIA (V. O.): Stop!

The song stops.

DARIA (V. O.): Iím not going through that again. No. No way. No. (Pause) Kevin, just try again. And keep on trying.

KEVIN (V. O.): Right!

A second slam, of a hard head hitting wood, is heard. On the top of the second box, the wood splinters, just enough to see the top and back of a head poke out.

(Or did you think that the cast of characters werenít really in the two boxes, that they were just reading their lines somewhere off-stage?)

KEVIN (V. O.): All right!

JANE (V. O.): All right, Kevin, now see if you can see whatís around.

Kevin sticks his head out further---he is *not* wearing a helmet---and turns around, enough to take in a full view of the stage. His face wears its normal fatuous grin, which vanishes after a moment. He then lowers his head and disappears.

KEVIN (V. O.): Oh, man, you just wonít believe whatís out there. Itís like, weíre on some sort of stage, and thereís, like, this audience, and theyíre, like, watching us.

BRITTANY (V. O.): Weíre on stage?

TRENT (V. O.): With people?

JANE (V. O.): I think Football Boy slammed his head too hard this time. Daria, move around and see if you can poke your head out the hole Kevin made.

DARIA (V. O.): Well, first of all, I donít think my head would fit through a hole the size of Kevinís head.

KEVIN (V. O.): Hey!

DARIA (V. O.): But even if it can, it wouldnít do me any good. I must be in the other box.

JANE (V. O.): Other box. (Pause) Oh, yeah. I forgot. Well, let me try, then.

The sounds of several people "oofing" and "ouching" is heard for the next minute or so.

JANE (V. O.): Daria?

DARIA (V. O.): Yes?

JANE (V. O.): No good. I canít reach it.

DARIA (V. O.): Well, never mind. Just pry open your box, then come and pry open this box.

MS. LI (V. O.): Yes, Ms. Lane, the important thing is we all get out of here.

MS. BARCH (V. O.): So we can track down the man who put us in here.

JAKE (V. O.): Yes. Itís starting to get quite...tight in here.

Several hands appear at the edge of the hole Kevinís head made and begin to push up the boards that make up the box. A wood-snapping sound is heard.

DARIA (V. O.): Oh, Jane? Hurry.

JANE (V. O.): Hurry?

DARIA (V. O.): I didnít want to say, but I think there here.

JANE (V. O.): We know that. (Pause) Wait a minute. You sound a little scared. Others?

DARIA (V. O.): Others. And theyíre not like you or me.

JANE (V. O.): That could be anybody in Lawndale.

QUINN (V. O.): Hey!

DARIA (V. O.): No. These arenít like...arenít like anybody else.

The chuckling voices of two people is heard.

BEAVIS (V. O.): Heh-heh-heh...

BUTT-HEAD (V. O.): Heh...heh...heh...

TIFFANY (V. O.): Ewwwwwww!

MS. LI (V. O.): Ms. Morgendorffer, who are these...these...these creatures!

DARIA (V. O.): So this is Box Hell after all.

Beavis and Butt-Head continue to chuckle, as hands begin to break out of the box.

The curtain falls.


The audience applauds---well, maybe. After a moment, the curtain rises again. Several hands wave from the hole in the box.

A model---not one of the cast---comes in, wearing an evening gown and carrying a bouquet of red roses. (Or maybe white would be more appropriate.) She waves, then puts this bouquet down on top of the first box, then waves again, then exits.

The curtain comes down, this time for good.


This parody of "Daria" is copyright © 2002 by Robert Nowall. It is not intended to profit the author in any way, and may not be distributed without permission of the author. (That means please donít post or circulate this without getting in touch with me first.) For the time being, Robert Nowall can be reached at:

If anybody is familiar with the play called "The Box: Buchananís Finest Hour," by Terry Jones and Michael Palin, well, obviously, this is the source of inspiration for this present work. I havenít seen it, nor have I read it...Iíve only read a description of it.

Thanks to Brandon League, Crusading Saint, Galen Hardesty, Redleg Rick, Roger E. Moore, and Thea Zara for their beta reading comments---some of which I paid no attention to. Thanks also to everybody who replied when I put up the (never intended to be finished at that time) teaser on the Fanfic Forum at the Paperpusherís site.

Written 7/11/02 to 8/20/02