In this honest and poignant look at adolescence, Garret, an outsider, navigates the tumultuous halls of his school with his best friend Diz, a self-proclaimed freak. They escape the day-to-day tortures of high school in a game-world called Haven, where they slay monsters and save maidens. When Garret catches the attention of Nicole, a popular cheerleader with an honest heart, it upsets the status quo. Jealousy and betrayal force Garret to confront past mistakes and question who his real friends are. This gut-wrenching new play unswervingly explores the tragic consequences of bullying that have left us staggering as a nation time and time again.
Blackout. In the darkness, there’s a burst of static, and we tune into the nightly news. It’s springtime in the year 2000 and today’s top story is the same on all the stations: another shooting at a local high school. Details are sketchy, but the shooter fits the common profile - a disgruntled student, wearing a long, black trench coat and armed to the teeth. Some are dead. Many are wounded. More on this at six.
Lights up, and it’s three months earlier. Garrett, a socially awkward “trench coat kid,” and his two best friends, the gothic Danielle (“Diz” to, well, everyone), and the socially transcendent Bryan, wrap up another weekend at Haven, their favorite pastime. Haven is a LARP (a live-action role-playing game), and the trio has just completed another weekend of high-fantasy adventure. The camaraderie is strong between them, and the trio trade playful barbs with one another while bemoaning the end of the event, and the return to school.
Elsewhere, at a house party, Piedmont High School’s Queen Bee and head cheerleader, Nicole, walks into the center of the festivities and publicly dumps her now former boyfriend, the jocular Jesse. Jesse confronts her, going so far as to grab her when she tries to depart. She slaps him in front of everyone and leaves him in the dust.
After school that Monday, Garrett sits in the cafeteria, working on his Magic: The Gathering decks. To his surprise, Nicole notices him, sits down and begins talking to him. Once over his initial shock, the pair seemingly hit it off, going so far as to agree to go to the movies together. Jesse runs into them, and tries to woo Nicole back. She rebuffs him, and sends him on his way, then reveals to Garrett why she, the cheerleader, dumped the captain of the wrestling team; she had caught him cheating on her with her best friend. They solidify plans for the movies – not a date, she specifies - and Garrett’s left in stunned bliss.
Garrett quickly goes and, over Slurpees, tells Diz and Bryan about the latest turn of events. They’re both incredulous. Why would the most popular girl in school want anything to do with him? They’re convinced it’s some sort of trap, but Garrett is undeterred, much to Bryan’s amusement and Diz’s chagrin. Diz, who has pined for Garrett for years, storms off, leaving her oblivious friends behind in shock.
On their non-date, Nicole presses Garrett for information about his secret hobby and twists his arm into agreeing to take her to Haven. When they find out, Diz and Bryan are very upset, but Garrett refuses to go back on his word. In a fit of jealousy, Diz secretly conspires with Jesse to break up the budding couple. Nicole accompanies them to their next game and has the time of her life. She expresses her gratitude to Garrett with a kiss, while an infuriated Jesse observes them from the shadows. Unable to act on his impulses then, Jesse tries to sneak off, but Bryan catches a glimpse of him as he leaves.
Back at school the following Monday, Jesse once again offers a backhanded apology for cheating on Nicole, who promptly rejects him. Garrett arrives, witnessing the end of this exchange, and suffers a few verbal cheap shots from Jesse as he departs. Frustrated, Garrett opens his heart to Nicole, and the two have a very honest conversation about how he’s perceived. She asks him about the notebook he carries with him wherever he goes. Garrett is evasive, but Nicole catches him in the lie and he admits that it’s his journal. They have a conversation about trust, and Garrett is surprised to find Nicole is willing to forgive him for lying to her, this time. At the end, Garrett asks Nicole if it would be all right for him to call her his girlfriend, and she says yes.
Elsewhere, Bryan searches for clues relating to Jesse’s mysterious appearance at Haven. He confronts Diz, having learned that she’d uncharacteristically talked to Jesse in the Wrestling Room before the event. She evades, claiming that she’d tried to ask Jesse out on a date, and had been soundly rejected. She then tries to throw as much suspicion on Nicole as possible before storming off in a huff. Garrett arrives, and Bryan, unsure of who to trust, warns Garrett not to believe everything Nicole says. Garrett gets angry, and the situation escalates into a physical confrontation with Bryan coming out on top, and Garrett threatening to kill him.
A few weeks later, they’re back at Haven. Diz leads Nicole off into the woods for an unknown reason. Nicole tries to make small talk, but Diz ignores her. Exasperated, Nicole calls Diz out on her attitude, and demands to know why she deserves such treatment. Enraged, Diz confronts Nicole, revealing that her real name is Danielle, and that they’d actually been best friends years ago, until Nicole began to bully her. Nicole is remorseful and apologizes, asking if there’s anything she can to do make it up to her. Diz demands that she leave Garrett alone. Nicole refuses. Diz claims that Nicole has no idea who Garrett really is, and reveals that he’s seventeen, older than the average sophomore, and that he’d been kicked out of his last high school. Nicole refuses to take Diz’s bait. Diz storms off, springing the in-game ambush she’d set up as she goes. Nicole, surrounded by high-level monsters, is helpless. Garrett appears out of nowhere and tries to save the day, but falls victim to the trap, forcing Diz to intervene in order to save him. The two are arguing when Jesse shows up out of nowhere and tries to take Nicole home. He grabs Nicole and begins to drag her off. Garrett punches Jesse. Jesse retaliates and beats Garrett into unconsciousness. End of Act I.
Nicole rushes into a hospital waiting room, looking for Garrett, and runs into Bryan. Bryan refuses to let her pass, claiming that he knows she was only with Garrett to embarrass her ex. They argue and she leaves. Meanwhile Diz sits with Garrett, racked with guilt at this unexpected turn of events. Garrett wakes up, and Diz informs him that his jaw was broken in the fight with Jesse, and that his mouth has been wired shut. It will stay that way for at least six weeks in order to heal. In addition, Haven has been shut down for the foreseeable future due to the incident. Garrett asks about Nicole, and Diz lies, claiming that she left with Jesse and hasn’t been to the hospital looking for him.
The next day at wrestling practice, Bryan cold-cocks Jesse in retaliation for Garrett’s hospitalization. Jesse insinuates that there’s more to Garrett than Bryan knows.
In a split scene, Nicole argues with Jesse over what he did while Diz pours her heart out to a sleeping Garrett. Nicole ditches Jesse and arrives at the hospital just in time to witness Diz kissing Garrett. Stunned, she drops Garrett’s homework. In picking it up, she notices an open page in his journal, and his horrified by what she discovers inside.
A few days later, Garrett’s back at school. Nicole avoids him with no explanation, and Jesse confronts him, threatening to kill him if he bothers Nicole again. Garrett is left heartbroken and despondent.
Weeks later, Diz and Bryan are waiting for Garrett to get his wires off. They talk, and during their conversation, Diz’s lies begin to unravel. Bryan figures out that Diz had been manipulating events to break up Nicole and Garrett. He confronts her, but is distracted by a phone call. While he’s gone, Garrett emerges from his procedure. Diz quickly takes him from the hospital before Bryan can return.
Diz and Garrett hang out over Garrett’s first solid meal in weeks, but Diz is uneasy. Sensing this, Garrett reaches out. “What do you think of me?” she asks. “I love you,” he replies. “You’re like my baby sister.” Crushed that all was for naught, Diz comes unglued and eventually confesses her entire plot to Garrett.
With everything out in the open, Garrett tracks down Bryan at school the next day. Diz interrupts their conversation, and tries to return Garrett’s trench coat to him, which he had left behind the night before. Garrett and Bryan both berate her for breaking their trust and abusing their friendship, and she leaves in tears with the coat.
That night, Garrett goes to Nicole’s house. He pours his heart out to her, but she is unsympathetic. When pressed, Nicole produces Garrett’s journal, which holds more than just his innermost thoughts. Inside, there’s a detailed “battle plan” for a school shooting, including a hit list that prominently features many of Nicole’s popular friends. Nicole threatens to call the police if he doesn’t leave, but Garrett begs for her to listen. He finally reveals his past to her, and describes in detail how he’d tried previously to get revenge on an abuser at his previous school, but was caught and expelled after having second thoughts. He reaches out to her one more time, but while Nicole is sympathetic, she is also reluctant to give Garrett another chance. He leaves, distraught.
The final scene takes place the next day after school in the wrestling room – the same day as the newscast from the prologue. Garrett confronts Jesse in an explosive, yet unexpected, climax that costs them their lives, and the lives of their friends.
The first newscast plays again, uninterrupted, bringing our story full circle.
An insightful play. I will be thinking and talking about this show for a long time.
GARRETT: The Geek, 17: Garrett is an outsider with a secret. Constantly tortured in school and relegated to the social fringe, he just tries to get through each day as best as possible. The only bright spots in his life are his two friends, Bryan and Diz, and the place they all share: a wondrous game world called Haven. All of this changes, however, when he's noticed by the most popular cheerleader in school. Suddenly, things start to look up! He's in love, finding confidence and enjoying his daily life for the first time... until the past comes back to haunt him. Harassed by Nicole's angry ex-boyfriend, and forced to deal with his best friend Diz's jealousy and suspicion, Garrett's life will never be the same.
NICOLE: The Cheerleader, 16: With wisdom and maturity well beyond her years, Nicole is far from your typical cheerleader. She dumps Jesse after discovering him cheating on her. From there, she meets Garrett and is immediately smitten by his sincerity and charming awkwardness. She delves deeper and deeper into Garrett's world, thrilling him, but also inciting an aggressive Jesse and jealous Diz to act against her.
BRYAN: The Social Butterfly, 16: Bryan is a dichotomy. Part Super Jock, part Über Geek. He splits his weekends between wrestling practice with Jesse and going to Haven with Garrett and Diz. Genuine and good-natured, he manages to walk a fine line and fit in with even the most extreme social categories. When things start to change, however, he's forced to pick a side. Little does he know, that decision will affect his life forever.
DIZ: The Freak, 15: Clad in an oversized hoodie, baggy jeans and a moniker borrowed from her favorite Tiny Toon, Danielle Watts may as well be just one of the guys. Garrett’s best friend and confidant, she secretly harbors a fierce crush on him but doesn’t know how to express it. When Garrett starts dating Nicole, Diz’s jealousy threatens to get the better of her, and drive her to unspeakable lengths to win him back.
JESSE: The Jock, 17: Alpha male through-and-through, Jesse is a typical swaggering high school jock. His life is turned upside down, however, when his girlfriend Nicole discovers him having sex with her best friend. Furthering his disgrace, Nicole starts dating Garrett, the biggest geek in the school and Jesse's usual target for abuse. Fueled by rage and humiliation, Jesse will stop at nothing to take back what he sees as rightfully his.
Casting Note: Bryan and Jesse also double as Shadows in Act II Scene IV. Also, it is recommended that the Reporters, Student and various Voices are done as pre-recorded sound cues.
Setting: This play takes place in more than half a dozen different locations with several quick changes. This show can be done with a set as simple as a table and three folding chairs arranged in different configurations to represent each place. A projector can be integrated into the production to accent each location and provide a richer backdrop. Transitions between scenes should be fast, but it is suggested that clips of music are used to help bridge scenes together. The story is set a year after the Columbine Massacre. It is suggested that any music used should be from no later than 2001.
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“Go. Layered and sympathetic.” –Los Angeles Weekly
“A Masterpiece.” –Examiner
“You’ll be forever changed after seeing Friends Like These.” –Proxart Magazine
“Recommended. Crafts does a good job of capturing the nightmare of daily abuse.” –Stage Raw
“Offers sympathetic insight into unpopular teens.” –Stage Raw
"The level of emotional intelligence is pretty spot on." –GIa On The Move
“Authentic characters. A fresh twist on teen angst.” –Backstage
Materials: your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date and will include everything necessary for your production and can be ordered in Printed or Digital format. Printed Materials are provided on unbound three-hole punched loose-leaf paper while Digital Materials are provided via email as downloadable PDF files for you to print in-house. All materials are yours to keep! No deposits, no returns.
The production materials for Friends Like These include:
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Director's Script – Single-sided script with space for director’s notes.