Past Time


Past Time
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Lou has determined that the solution to his problems lies in selling hand-painted ceramic unicorns at a mall kiosk. He and his best friend James work tirelessly preparing the unicorns for sale, much to the chagrin of James’ wife Delilah. Meanwhile, James and Delilah’s grandson Chris is experiencing relationship problems of his own. To save their respective relationships, both couples employ “suspension of disbelief” (which Chris learned about in theater class). What ensues is a poignant, liberating, romantic comedy of confused identities as the young pretend to be old, and the old pretend to be young. In the end, age is irrelevant: all that matters is what you do with the time you have.


Lights up on James and Lou painting small unicorn figurines in the comfortable yet worn den of James’s lower-middle-class Midwestern home. Each man hunkers over a unicorn, fastidiously applying small dabs of colorful paint. Craft materials are everywhere. While Lou is particularly obsessed with every brush stroke, James is a bit unsure, and his tentative attempts at painting begin to drive Lou up the wall. He berates James for not knowing which colors to use— Lou has crafted a very specific color wheel outlining what nuanced color every part of the unicorn should be— and ridicules his lack of dexterity with a paint brush. Lou discovers that James hasn’t even watched the instructional video he had sent over. But James tries his hardest to placate his long-time friend and learn how to do it correctly. This softens Lou a bit— he apologizes to James for yelling and thanks him for letting him take over his den for his project: The Unicorns ‘N Things kiosk he is opening at the mall. It opens tomorrow and Lou has to have a ton of unicorns ready for sale. But that’s not all— he’s also going to have a slew of unicorn-related gift items: little saddles, little bridles, even little manure buckets. But more importantly, he wants people to take away from his store happy memories, long forgotten. James assures him that people will definitely see the love he has put into them. They continue to work.

At the mall, James’s grandson Chris is on a date with Meredith, and they are definitely not on the same page. While goofy, cheerful Chris thinks things are going great, dry, sarcastic Meredith compares the date to anesthetic-free eye surgery. She bites his head off when he suggests that she is his girlfriend, and she ridicules his attempts to be romantic— all of the previous dates they have been on have been disasters as well. She declares that they are incompatible and that they should call it off, but he desperately tries to convince her to go on one more date so that he can prove to her he can be mature. She insists that for this to work, he would have to be someone else. Sweet Chris would have to wrapped up in someone she could talk to as an adult. He swears he can give her a different him. Just as she is about to answer, Chris’s grandmother Delilah enters wearing a “Candles ‘N Stuff” employee apron and says it’s time to go home.

Back at home, Delilah fills James in about the new candles they have in the store. He tells her about all of the new things he has recently learned about colors from Lou. Delilah mocks Lou’s new obsession— he has had other crazy obsessions before— but James thinks this is actually good for him, since it takes his mind off his wife’s passing. Delilah is sympathetic until she finds out the name of his kiosk, Unicorns ‘N Things, mirrors that of Candles ‘N Stuff, where she works. Convinced that he will inevitably fail, she changes the subject to Chris’s recent date. She thinks Chris is crazy about her, but she could sense some tension. Delilah decides to head off to bed, and James goes to sleep on the couch, like he does every night.

In the middle of the night, James is awakened by an excited Chris, who wants to pitch him what he thinks is a brilliant idea: he wants his grandfather to go on that next date with Meredith. He thinks that James will be able to say all the right things and make her fall in love. When an incredulous James asks him how that will make her like Chris more, Chris explains to him “suspension of disbelief,” a theater concept he had learned in his interpretive water aerobics class. James will play the role of Chris and will make Chris seem more mature. James thinks it’s a terrible idea.

The next morning, Lou opens his kiosk, happily trying to gather customers around like a carnival barker. Yet, while the mall is full, no one seems to be interested in his unicorns, and he begins to lose steam. Delilah shows up to scold him for making such a ruckus— kiosk operators are not allowed to yell. What makes matters worse, his kiosk is right outside her store. Lou is very apologetic, thanks her for letting him use her den to make the unicorns, and lets her know he is there for her if she ever needs a favor from him. She immediately brings up the kiosk name and asks him to change it. He balks— he has already spent money printing up his business cards and signs. She warns him he could get sued and she doesn’t want him crushed by the Candles ‘N Stuff corporate machine. He promises to take that under consideration. Before she goes, she remarks that Jan would be proud of him for not giving up. She heads back to her store, and Lou, with replenished determination, returns to trying to sell his unicorns.

James decides to humor his grandson and go on a date with Meredith, but it is understandably awkward. He admits that he just wanted to meet the girl Chris was so crazy about. The conversation turns to colors, and James asks her what she thinks her “true colors” are. She responds that her colors must be ugly, like puce. He says that puce is not an ugly color at all. Meredith finally asks him what color he thinks she is, and he responds with a twinkle in his eye: “Meredith.” She softens up a bit, and they begin to talk about Chris. She likes him a lot, but his cluelessness drives her crazy. She admits that she has had terrible luck with love and that she despises the word “girlfriend.” But when James suggests that love is worth the risk of getting hurt, she decides that they should actually try the play-acting that Chris wanted.

Back in the den, Lou is frenetically painting unicorns while a concerned James looks on. Lou has decided to abandon the rigid rules and follow mad inspiration. He tells James that the unicorns were so popular that they had been flying off the shelves, and that he needs a ton more. Chris then enters, and James tells him that the date actually went well— Meredith and “Chris” got along great. Chris is very excited, but Lou is thoroughly confused, accusing them of sorcery. When James suddenly realizes that he has to run off to reprise the role of “Chris” for another date, the real Chris decides to play the role of “James” to help Lou finish his unicorns.

Back at the mall, Meredith and James continue their play-acting on a second date. While James feels a bit nervous about it, Meredith seems to be falling a bit for him. She asks him to remember where they first met, and James is confused at first— how would he know? But then suddenly it dawns on him. They had met at the Modern Art Museum downtown. He describes the encounter in detail, and Meredith is taken aback. It feels like magic. Intoxicated by it all, Meredith kisses him, just as Delilah turns the corner to see.

A bit later, Meredith nervously sits on the couch in the den while an angry Delilah questions her about why she kissed her husband. Meredith tries to explain that it was an acting exercise, but Delilah doesn’t believe it— she could see in her husband’s face something that she hasn’t seen in a long time. Meredith gently prods Delilah to talk about her marriage: why she wants to work out of the house so much, and why James sleeps on the couch. Delilah laments that her marriage is a lost cause— they won’t be able to capture the magic that they felt when they had first met at the Modern Art Museum. Meredith smiles— she thinks it can be mended. She has a plan.

James is waiting for Meredith at the mall, determined to call it off, so he is very surprised when Delilah enters, playing the role of “Meredith.” She convinces him to play along and pretend to be Chris.

In another part of the mall, Meredith and Chris run into each other. She remarks that he seems older, and he explains that he has been “James” lately. He tells her about all of the unicorns he had painted that day and she’s impressed. After a bit, she turns to go and desperate to have her stay, he instinctively calls out, “ Delilah!” She stops in her tracks and answers, “Yes?”

James and Delilah, fully in-character, vow to grow old together. But James is nervous— what if they make mistakes or take it for granted? She replies that the only mistake they can make is to go through life without noticing. They have to see every color on the color wheel.

Meredith and Chris, now pretending to be James and Delilah, are happy that they have grown old together. He tells her that he loves her, and she responds in kind. But then she falters— she doesn’t feel like herself. She wants to be young again. He is worried that she won’t like him if he’s young, but he agrees: he is Chris and she is Meredith.

Back home, Delilah and James are tired of being young. They decide to be Delilah and James, and they head off to bed together.

Which leaves Lou, still at his kiosk, selling his unicorns. No one is stopping to buy one. He starts talking about how kind James and Meredith have been to him, and how they don’t quite appreciate what they have together. He thinks of his own wife, Jan, who passed away, and how when she died everything in his world suddenly became ugly. To get some beauty in his life, he was going to have to make it himself. And that’s why he made the unicorns. Now if only someone would see the beautiful thing he made. Meredith then approaches, interested in buying one. He is so surprised; he doesn’t even know what price to charge her. But when he finds out its for her boyfriend, he decides that he will give it to her for free— as long as she shows her boyfriend all of the colors in it.


Critic's Choice... charming, funny and effective... An ideal date show.

–L.A. Times


James – Kind and unassuming. Life passed him by quietly. 70s.

Delilah – His wife. She works late at the candle store so she doesn't have to go home. 70s.

Lou – His best friend. Obsessed with painting unicorns. 70s.

Chris – James's grandson. Romantic and clueless. 20s.

Meredith – Has the dry wit of an apathetic teen. 20s.

Setting: A modest home and the local mall in a nondescript Midwestern suburb.

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Performance Royalties for PROFESSIONAL Theaters will be quoted as a box office percentage, with a minimum guarantee based on ticket prices and theater particulars. Please fill out an application for your personalized quote.

Authorized Materials must be purchased from Stage Rights as a part of your licensing agreement (see Materials). 

Billing responsibilities, pertinent copyright information, and playwrights' biographies are available in the show rider that comes with your license agreement.

"...wildly funny... The five-character ensemble are a marvel to watch under Jeremy Aldridge's smooth direction... A triple threat production: great writing, great direction, great acting! Bravo!" –Broadway World

"... a brilliant play from Padraic Duffy, exquisitely directed by Jeremy Aldridge, and superbly acted by a wonderful cast." –Discover Hollywood

"5 out of 5 stars!" –Grigware Reviews

"Performances are tight and funny, particularly (Leon) Russom’s increasingly bemused James, French (Stewart)’s sweetly sad and eccentric Lou, and Ruth Silveira, in a beautiful and touching performance as James’s pragmatic, hard-worn wife." –Stage Raw

"...two stunning performances filled with extraordinary vulnerability by Stewart and nimble comedic timing by Russom... Deeply emotional even in its whimsy, every single element of this production, every character, is perfectly crafted, staged and presented. One of the most emotionally satisfying plays you will experience this year– bar none." –Gia on the Move

"...a giggling, guffaw-inducing splash of funny... heartfelt, liberating comedy... The company has a hit on its hands." –Paul Myrvold's Theatre Notes

"WOW... deliciously quirky, often side-splittingly funny, ultimately heartwarming... Abundant laughter and charm (plus enough heart to provoke a tear or two before it’s over), Past Time has them all... a delectable winter treat." –StageScene L.A.

Authorized Materials must be purchased from Stage Rights as a part of your licensing agreement. Your materials will be sent to you digitally by your Licensing Representative. 

The Authorized Materials/Production Package for Past Time are all fulfilled digitally and consist of: 

Acting Edition

Stage Manager Script