Jane’s life turns upside down on the worst possible day: the day she decides to quit smoking! When this 30-year old waitress announces to her friends and family that she’s quitting “for real,” they’re supportive. In fact, they're a little too supportive. Each has an explosive announcement of their own to share, from a looming divorce to an impending sexual crisis, but nobody wants to be responsible for Jane falling off the non-smoking wagon. As they trip over themselves to keep their secrets secret, who would suspect that Jane is keeping the biggest secret of all? Will Jane quit quitting? This delightful southern comedy proves that you can quit smoking, but you can’t quit your crazy family!
The play opens to an abstract introduction in which the lights come up on Jane, 30’s, pantomiming action that an Announcer describes her doing. We learn, among many things, that she is a waitress, and she is about to quit smoking.
The action begins in Bessie’s kitchen, at the very early hours of the morning. Bessie is Jane’s grandmother. Jane enters after having worked the night shift at the diner. Bessie presses in on Jane for being out at such an inappropriate hour. Jane tries to get some coffee and Bessie gives her a hard time about that too. Bessie is about to visit her friend, Miss Ella, then run some errands. To try and distract Bessie’s verbal attacks, Jane informs her of her decision to quit smoking, today.
Just then, Jane’s sister in law, Diane, enters the kitchen without knocking. Bessie does not like Diane. After Diane hears that Jane is going to quit smoking, she inquires into who “the man,” is. Jane tries to shut her up before Bessie hears, but it is too late. Jane tells the ladies that the man’s name is Charles. He is a political organizer and lobbyist and he is against big tobacco. He comes into the diner often to order pie. When Diane realizes that Jane is serious about quitting she collects all of her cigarette packs. Bessie heads out to go visit Miss Ella. Jane reveals that the coffee Diane is drinking is decaf. She has switched it to subdue her grandmother. Jane goes off to try and get some sleep before her next shift in the evening.
Diane goes to the fridge and begins to eat some leftover cake. Her husband and Jane’s brother, James enters the kitchen. He begins to ask her if she told her sister “the news.” Diane tells him that Jane quit smoking and she didn’t want to burden her with such a big blow. “The news” is that James and Diane are getting a divorce. James has gotten deep into his Buddhist faith and has decided to become a monk. James tells Diane that he has quit his job at the law firm. Diane is extremely angry, they get into an argument and she exits out the kitchen door, leaving James meditating on the floor.
Jane wakes up for a moment because of the noise and is dumbfounded to find her brother. He coaxes her back to bed. Then, Charles knocks on the door with a clipboard. James assumes he is there for a signature and closes the door on him. Charles knocks again to explain himself. After James realizes that he is the “Charles” from the diner, he invites him in. Charles is extremely worked up, and he paces the kitchen floor. James calms him down in his Buddhist way, and tells him to explain what’s bothering him. Charles finally reveals the problem to James; he is gay. His experience with Jane has confirmed this small fact for him. James tells Charles that today cannot be the day he reveals this to Jane because she has just quit smoking. James takes Charles for a walk so that they can talk it over, as they both exit the kitchen Bessie enters. Jane tells Bessie that Charles is his co-worker and they were just leaving.
Jane comes down because she is having trouble sleeping. She asks why Bessie is home so soon from her errands. Bessie explains that she forgot something. The phone rings, Bessie answers, and waits for Jane to go back to bed before she begins her conversation. Then, Diane enters, unseen by Bessie. Diane listens in on the phone call. Bessie is talking to her realtor and reveals that she is going to sell the house. Diane drops plate in complete shock. Bessie gets off the phone so that she can explain herself.
Jane interrupts once again, and Bessie goes upstairs. Jane exits as James returns. Diane and James have another short tiff. Bessie enters to learn the coffee is decaf, from James. Bessie responds by informing James that the coffee has always been decaf. James leave again and the doorbell rings, it is Charles again, having forgot his clipboard.
Bessie mistakes him for James’s co-worker, and Diane tells her she is wrong. Diane knows everyone who works at her husband’s law office. Charles reveals that he is the “Charles” from the diner. While Diane tries to figure out why he was with James, Bessie and her continue arguing. They reveal to Charles that Bessie is going to sell her house. The phone rings and it is Bessie’s realtor again. Jane enters while Bessie tries to get off the phone.
Charles reveals that Bessie is on the phone with a realtor. Diane tries to cover by saying that the realtor was for her and James, as she announces they are separating and that James quit his job. Jane still doesn’t buy it and Bessie finally comes clean, telling Jane that she is selling the house. Charles sees his very small window of opportunity, as James enters, sees what Charles is about to do. But Charles beats him and takes the moment to announce he is gay. James tackles Charles, but he is too late. James confesses to Jane that the coffee has always been decaf. They all tell Jane that they kept these secrets so that she wouldn’t take up smoking again. Jane says that she can’t smoke anymore because she is pregnant.
Between the acts, the announcer motif returns. We see James, Bessie, and Charles all smoking cigarettes.
Act two is set in the kitchen of Jane and Charles’s new apartment. It is Jane’s birthday. Jane is in her third trimester by now. Charles enters from outside where he was hiding the fact that he was smoking from Jane. He is wearing an apron but no pants. He sprays the air with an air freshener to hide the smoke smell. Then he begins to make breakfast, his specialty; eggs with basil, nutmeg, and cilantro. Jane enters as Charles is cooking.
As she eats her eggs Diane enters bearing some presents. We learn that Diane and James are still together, they just went on a relationship bonding retreat, and have been in therapy. Then James enters; he is very surprised to see his wife there. Her and James seem to be on the edge of an argument the whole time. As Diane heads off to pick up Jane’s cake, the two of them “breath together.”
James takes a moment to vent his frustrations to Charles about how Diane is always quoting their therapist. Charles reveals to James that he is going to ask Jane to marry him, even though he is gay, he still cares a great deal for her. James tells him that is a really bad idea. Charles, who has already bought the ring, disagrees. James says he will revoke his vows of non-violence and kill Charles if he asks Jane to marry him.
James smells cigarettes and Charles reveals he has been smoking in secret. Charles sprays more air freshener when Bessie enters. James asks her how she got there and she says she took the bus. James sees her car parked in the driveway and is very upset. She is nearly deaf and shouldn’t be driving. Bessie goes to look for Jane. James steals the car keys from her purse and tells Charles to run along and park her car in the back of James’s house, but not before reminding him to put some pants on.
Jane enters as Charles is leaving. James tells Jane that they will need to tell Bessie that she cannot drive anymore and that they took her car. Jane suddenly is in a lot of pain and James convinces her that they need to go to the hospital, and they leave.
Bessie re enters as Diane enters with a cake. Bessie notices that her car is gone and says she is going to call the police. Diane senses that she is over thinking things and tells her to wait. Bessie tries to call the police and Diane hangs up the phone. Diane is prompted to ask Bessie why she hates her. Bessie calls the police again and get through. Charles enters and tries to stop Bessie, Diane asks him to leave them alone and he exits. As Bessie finishes with the police, Diane begins to cry. Bessie explains to Diane that she is not blood, and says some awful things to her.
A car pulls up, it is James and Jane. They have not made it to the hospital. In the car, Jane’s pain went away and she convinced James to take her back home. As everyone yells and urges Jane to go to the hospital, she kicks them all out of her kitchen.
Diane pokes her head back in and they have a very important conversation. Jane tells her that she doesn’t want to live with Charles anymore. She also mentions that she might want to go to school, and get a new job.
Charles barges in and asks Jane to marry him. James enters and realizes what has happened. Jane turns down Charles’s offer explaining her feelings to him. James suddenly exclaims, ‘contractions,’ and urges that they go to the hospital. Jane says that she is fine. James explains that it is not for her it is for Diane. Diane explains to Jane that she, too, is pregnant and was planning on telling her today. The police show up as they all are leaving, James explains to Bessie that her car is not stolen. He asks the police to escort them to the hospital.
Just then Jane has a contraction. Two babies at the same time! Charles runs to find his cigarettes and James grabs him saying that he threw them out. They are about to be fathers. Everyone leaves for the hospital.
The announcer motif ends the play by explaining how well everyone is doing.
Light-hearted and entertaining— a playful Southern romp!
–Lexington Herald Leader
Jane: F, 30. A waitress at a crossroads in her life.
Diane: F, late 30s. A social worker; Jane's sister-in-law, married to Jane's brother James.
James: M, late 30s. Recovering lawyer, emerging Buddhist. Jane's big brother, Diane's husband.
Bessie: F, 70s but only admits to 50. Aging Southern belle. Jane and James' disapproving grandmother.
Charles: M, late 20s. A neurotic political activist. Jane's love interest.
Setting: A kitchen in the South, present day
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“Strong characters … interesting and intriguing.”–Mark Dunn, Author, Ella Minnow Pea
“Light-hearted and entertaining, See Jane Quit is a playful southern romp that is blessedly free of cliché and the stable of predictable characters that often accompany Southern-fried comedy.”–Candace Chaney, Lexington Herald-Leader
“So entertaining!”–Kim Thomas, ACE Weekly
“A raucous new comedy”–Jackson Free Press
“Don’t miss See Jane Quit”–The Clarion-Ledger
“The script is tight and entertaining”–Show Biz Radio
“See Jane Quit could be habit-forming”–Lexington Herald-Leader
“Sitcom of a play in a fun package.”–Sifter
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The required materials for See Jane Quit include:
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