Reason for Return


Reason fro Return
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After a school shooting, Gail’s dress shop falls on hard times. She and her daughter Abby, in a desperate attempt to save the family business, try to resuscitate the school’s cancelled prom. As Abby’s boyfriend Jamie defends her against increasing scrutiny from their peers, he and Gail discover that Abby may have played a role in the tragic event.


Gail and Abby’s apartment. Abby and her mother Gail enter. Abby, a high school student, wears a bloody hoodie but is uninjured. While Gail changes out of her dress, Abby makes tea. Abby breaks down crying while Gail holds her.

Act I
Scene 1 - Gail and Abby’s apartment, a couple weeks later. Abby comes home from her new school (she has been recently transferred) and informs Gail that the prom has been canceled due to the school shooting. Gail owns a dress shop and is furious at the news, vowing to get the prom back on.

Scene 2 - The next day. Gail tells Abby about her upcoming meeting with the superintendent, hoping to save the prom.

Scene 3 - The next day. Abby asks about Gail’s meeting, and Gail regales Abby with tales of past proms, telling her how important they are in a young woman’s life. Suddenly, the phone rings.

Scene 4 - Two days later. Abby comes home to an empty apartment in a beautiful prom dress. She ignores her ringing cellphone. Her boyfriend Jamie comes over, asking her why she wore the dress to a regular day at school. Abby explains that she was trying to inspire the powers-that-be to reinstate the prom in an attempt to help her mother. There is a knock at the door. It’s Harris, Gail’s boyfriend. After telling Jamie to hide, she lets Harris in. He explains that her mother sent him to check on her, and he asks Abby if she “still has it.” Abby confirms that she does, gets Harris to call Gail and say that she is fine, and he leaves. Jamie comes back and asks what kind of gun Harris gave her. Abby shows him the pistol.

Scene 5 - A week later. Harris is at the apartment waiting for Gail. They are going out for a fancy dinner. Harris confides in Abby that he plans to propose. Abby gives her blessing and, after Gail and Harris exit, Jamie enters from Abby’s bedroom, where he had been hiding and waiting.

Scene 6 - Two weeks later. Gail and Harris are discussing the dress shop and the financial troubles following the prom cancellation. They are getting ready to leave for a memorial service for the murdered students when Abby tells them that she doesn’t want to go. Gail and Harris exit, letting Jamie talk Abby into attending.

Scene 7 - Later that night, not at the apartment. Abby is furious at one of her classmates who confronted her at the memorial. She rages at Jamie, who tries to calm her down. They are not attending an “alternate prom,” which the students are calling a memorial celebration, and Abby is angry that her fellow students are dancing after nine were killed in the shooting. Jamie asks Abby about her fight with the other student and Abby angrily tries to leave. Jamie tries to stop her and she grabs him by the throat.

Scene 8 - Later that night, back at the apartment. Harris emerges from Gail’s bedroom to get a beer and hears Abby returning with Jamie, so he hides. Abby and Jamie have reconciled. Abby kisses Jamie goodnight and he exits. Abby is startled when she discovers Harris, and Gail comes in to see about the commotion, holding a gun. Abby confronts her mother about having Harris spend the night after a memorial, and storms out of the room. Harris tries to calm an angry Gail when she reveals that she has to close the dress shop for financial reasons. Abby overhears this. End of Act I.

Act II
Scene 1 - Gail and Abby’s apartment, a couple months later. The apartment has been converted into an online dress shop, and the woman are working on packing dress orders when Harris comes in with dinner. Abby leaves to see Jamie after Harris offers to help Gail with the dresses.

Scene 2 - A few weeks later. Abby tells her mother that she wants to get a job. Her mother refuses, saying that her schoolwork is more important, but Abby confesses that she already started working a week ago. Gail is furious at first, but calms down and tells Abby that if her grades slip she will have to quit. Abby says that she’s just trying to help.

Scene 3 - A month later. Gail comes home and opens the mail. She is angry about a rent increase and how the family is already struggling with finances. Abby and Jamie try to calm her down, but she blames the failing business and money problems on Foster Greene, the student responsible for the shooting at the school. Abby tries to calm her mother by telling her that Foster could have shot her but didn’t. Jamie and Gail are both confused, and Abby breaks down, confessing that she saw Foster that day and Foster left her alive. Abby states that everything was her fault. Jamie presses her to tell him what happened, and she confesses that she allowed Foster to look at her breasts. Harris enters as emotions erupt. Jamie is furious at Abby, and Gail tries to kick Jamie out. Harris keeps Gail from physically attacking Jamie, and Abby, desperate to regain some order, fires the pistol that Harris gave her at a dress on the wall. Everyone gains their composure, and Jamie angrily goes to leave, only to discover that the police are coming to the door.

Scene 4 - Later that night. The police have left. Abby apologizes, blaming herself for causing the tragedy. Gail and Harris try to console her, but Jamie storms out. The three of them comfort each other as the play ends.


An important story, beautifully told.

–Madelyn Sergel


Abby, (F), a high school student

Gail, (F), her mother

Jamie, (M), her boyfriend

Harris, (M), Gail’s boyfriend

Setting: 2014, middle America. Gail and Abby’s apartment.

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

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“Cathro has created a very timely and frightening piece of theater that tackles its subject without becoming didactic or patronizing. I recommend it for production without reservation.” – Ben Braun, playwright

“An important story, beautifully told. The use of humor as counterpoint to the intensity of subject matter is masterful. For producers: Has excellent roles for 2 teenagers & 2 adults, is easy to mount with a topical subject addressed with depth, nuance, and insight. Highly Recommended.” – Madelyn Sergel, playwright

“Excellent exploration of the tragedy and impact of school shootings. A very timely piece and at the same time one that explores universal themes of connection and cause and effect.” – Dan Zellner, playwright

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 Reason for Return are all fulfilled digitally and consist of: 

Acting Edition

Stage Manager Script