Jefferson (Cannibal. Middle-aged, salt-and-pepper beard. Seems harmless. Always hungry.)

Butch (Arsonist. Very tall, very tough, but a sweetheart deep down. Mid-twenties and covered in tattoos. Pronouns are they/them.)

Dimitra (Russian spy. Blonde woman, very tall and elegant. Speaks with a slight accent. Mid-thirties.)

Marcus (Kidnapper. Average looking 22-year-old. Pretends to be a tough guy.)

Samuel (Psychotic killer. Skinny 21-year-old with sandy hair. Needs mental help more than jail time. Has a thing for spoons.)

White (Prison guard. Not meant for this job. Very chubby, very pale, and very bald.)

Warden Rockliffe (Prison warden. Tall, lanky man with a rat-like face, grey hair, and stubble.)

Chris Wilson (College grad in his late twenties who still lives at home playing video games in sweats.)

Mrs. Wilson (Chris’s mother. Very disappointed in her son.)

Officer (He’s been waiting for a hostage situation his whole career. Just wants to be a hero.)

Scene I

{The stage is dark. Jefferson sits alone in a chair, a blanket on his lap covering his hands. Above center stage is a single lit lightbulb. Butch is thrown in, followed by Marcus, then everyone else. All are thoroughly creeped out.}


Jefferson: Welcome to my lair! {he laughs evilly}


{getting up, Butch flips a light switch. The rest of the lights turn on, revealing the cheery yellow walls, clean white tables, and various crafts scattered about. It’s a very happy-looking room.}


Jefferson: Damnit.


Marcus: What is this place?


Butch: The rehabilitation room.


Marcus: {looking around} What, and they just threw us in here? With no one to… rehabilitate us?


Dimitra: {scoffing with disgust} Yes. Very smart. Put many criminals in one room with no one watching. Such smart Americans.


Marcus: {offended} And you are…?!


{Dimitra proudly straightens her orange prison uniform and looks at Marcus as if he is an opponent not worth her time.}


Dimitra: I am Dimitra. Russian spy and hitwoman. I help get orange cheeto man in circle office.


Marcus: Oval Office.


Butch: You got Trump elected?


Dimitra: Yes.


Butch: Interesting. {they crack their knuckles and take a threatening step forward}

Dimitra: {not flinching} Then I steal $2 billion from bank account of president man. His tears… very fun to see.


Butch: {pausing} Well, you might not be that bad after all.


Marcus: So, why are we all in here?


Samuel: {incredibly excited, shouting} SPOONS! {he sees some on a table and goes to the corner to play with them. Everyone else looks confused.}


Marcus: His name’s Samuel. We were cell mates a while back. He’s got a thing for spoons.


Samuel: More spoons?


Marcus: No spoons.


Samuel: {sadly} Spoons.


Jefferson: {incredibly cheerfully} What a lovely hobby! I love people. So much fun having you guys here. Could anyone pass me that water on the table? I’m famished.


{Marcus gets the cup and hands it to him. As he gets closer, Jefferson reaches out (revealing that his hands are handcuffed beneath the blanket, since the guards didn’t want him eating anyone), grabs Marcus’ hand, and tries to eat him.}


Marcus: {shrieking like a little girl, utterly terrified} AHHHHHH! {Butch wrestles him away from Jefferson. The cup falls on the ground.}


Marcus: {on the floor, cradling his hand with bite marks on it} What the hell?! Who even are you, old man?!


Jefferson: {cheerily} Jefferson Jacobs. Pleased to meet you.


Butch: In for cannibalism, I assume?


Jefferson: Bingooooooo! {he is still sitting comfortably on the chair}


Butch: {they put their hand out to help Marcus up from the floor} I’m Butch. Pronouns are they/them.


Marcus: Ugh. You’re a “them?”


Butch: {throwing him back on the floor} Yeah, tough guy, I am. I’m in for the California Fires. Ever heard of ‘em?


Marcus: {paling} Yeah.


Butch: So who are you? Why are you here?


Marcus: Marcus Miller. You know Mackenzie Wright?


Dimitra: I think that is girl who went missing, yes? And returned for ransom money, da?


Marcus: Yes. Did you see that on the news? I’m famous!


Butch: {coming to a realization. Looking at Jefferson} You should’ve eaten him.


Jefferson: Nah. Kidnappers don’t taste good.


{Everyone looks at him, confused}


Jefferson: What? Kidnapping’s messed up. When you eat someone, you eat all their sins too. It’s Cannibalism 101. I can’t have that on my conscience.


Butch: Okay, now you’re just being crazy.


Marcus: Oh, now he’s being crazy?!


Dimitra: The craziness of cannibal man does not matter! In Russia, we escape before we eat each other!


Marcus: What…?


Butch: She’s right. We’re only in here for a few hours while they put new security equipment in our cells. It won’t be long before they take us all back. Plus, this prison is pretty low on money right now, so the guards probably don’t have very good training. So now’s our best chance, while there’s the chaos of the low budget and moving prisoners.


Jefferson: But how?


{They all stand around for a minute and ponder. Then…}


Butch: We need a distraction. Anyone good at acting?


Jefferson: Among other things, yes.


Dimitra: Other things like what?


Jefferson: Come closer and I’ll show you.


Butch: Stop trying to eat people! Don’t do that!


Jefferson: What? I have an appreciation for the finer things in life!


Marcus: Finer things like people?!


Jefferson: And theatre! When I was in middle school, I acted in Little Red Riding Hood.


Marcus: Who’d you play?


Jefferson: The wolf.


Marcus: Figures.


Butch: Everyone shut up! Focus! Listen, I’ve got a plan….


{The curtains close on the prisoners whispering in a huddle.}


Scene II

{When the curtains open, everyone knows what to do. Jefferson is in his chair pretending to choke. Butch and Dimitra are casually situated on either side of him. Marcus is by the door, and Samuel remains in the corner.}


Butch: Everyone ready?


Dimitra: There is security camera. In Russia, we take out cameras before escape.


Marcus: Maybe we can throw something at it?


Dimitra: No. I will handle camera. {she grabs a marble and a rubber band from the crafts table. With a concerning amount of expertise, she shoots the marble into the security camera, which shatters. The others look at her, amazed. She stands proud.} In Russia, we learn to shoot before we speak.


Marcus: {banging loudly on the locked door} Guard! Guard! We need help!


{A guard, White, runs in. There’s white donut powder all over his face, and he’s breathless}


White: What’s going on? {he sees Jefferson “choking” on his chair and runs to help him}


Jefferson: {he makes choking noises}


{as White gets closer, Jefferson grabs him and and bites. Round II of The Hungry Cannibal



Butch: Jefferson! That’s not the plan!


{With some effort, all the prisoners (except Samuel) free White from Jefferson’s strong grasp. Eventually they get White free and throw him on the ground, with Marcus straddling him to hold him down. In the scuffle, Jefferson falls to the floor and is now on his hands and knees like a dog. Butch shakes a finger at him disapprovingly.}


Butch: No! Bad, Jefferson, bad! I said no!


Jefferson: {he growls and bites at her in response}


{By this point, White has gotten himself free of Marcus’ grasp. He pulls his gun from his holster and points it at Jefferson with shaking fingers. He wasn’t meant for this job.}

White: Freak! Don’t eat people!


Jefferson: See, that’s kind of my thing.


Butch: {Pausing to pick up a lighter that White dropped} Oh hell yes. {They light White on fire. Stage crew shines a thin concentrated white light on him, creating the illusion of a flame.}


White: {now on fire} AHHHH!


Jefferson: Marshmallows! {he jumps up, only to be knocked down by the others. White, on fire, runs out the door and offstage}


White: {backstage} Help! Help!


{Within seconds, four more guards enter from offstage. A fight breaks out between the guards and the prisoners. With a low budget, the prison hasn’t been able to afford training for the guards, so the hardened prisoners are able to best them. They have a great time stealing tasers and using them. Eventually all the guards lie unconscious on the floor. Only one remains, and stands behind Butch, ready to electrocute them.}


Samuel: {after noticing the guard behind Butch} EEEEEE-YAAAA! {he throws a spoon like a dagger at the guard. The end of it nails him in the eye. Butch takes the opportunity to punch him until he’s unconscious.}


Butch: Nice teamwork, Samuel! Marcus, there’s no one else coming, right?


Marcus: {glancing out the doorway, then back} Um, no.


Butch: So there isn’t anyone else coming?


Marcus: Yes.


Butch: Yes, there is? Or yes, there isn’t?


Marcus: …Um, yes?


Butch: I think there’s some confusion about if anyone else is coming.


Marcus: There isn’t.


Butch: You mean there isn’t any confusion or there isn’t anyone else coming?


Marcus: Either. Or both.


Butch: Just answer me, man!


Marcus: Sure! {pausing} What was the question?


{One last guard appears in the doorway}


Dimitra: {She makes a single swift kick to the head of the guard, seemingly effortlessly. Surprised, everyone looks at her} What? In Russia, we learn to kick before we can walk.


Butch: Well, we’re not out yet. Here, take this guy’s uniform and put it on.


{Dimitra, Butch, and Marcus move to undress the guards. The curtains close.}


Scene III

{When the curtains open, Dimitra, Butch, and Marcus are wearing guard uniforms and black guard caps. All look completely different and are almost unrecognizable. Samuel and Jefferson remain in their orange outfits.}


Butch: Now, we need to make it seem like we’re guards moving prisoners. {pointing to certain places} So Marcus you stand here, Samuel here, Dimitra here, and Jefferson, you go here.

{The three dressed as guards have formed a triangle around Jefferson and Samuel.}


Butch: Remember that we don’t have masks, guys. So no eye contact if you can avoid it. Use different voices when you talk. Walk differently. We don’t want to be recognized, got it?


All: {they nod and murmur their agreement}

Butch: Let’s do this.


{Together, they walk out of the room and continue down the hallway. All goes well until Butch, with their head down, bumps into Warden Rockliffe.}


Rockliffe: Oh, sorry about that. I’m always running into people around here!

Marcus: {under his breath} That’s what happens when you overcrowd prisons…


Rockliffe: What did you say?


Butch: {using a deeper voice} Nothing. He said nothing. Well, sir. We’ve got to go. Got some prisoners to move. You have a good day!


{They continue down the hallway, walking quickly. The have left Rockliffe behind.}


Butch: {whispering} Nice one, Marcus.


Marcus: {whispering} What? I’m not wrong. They put so many people behind bars, it’s like they’re trying to lower the population!


Rockliffe: Hang on a minute!


{The prisoners freeze in their tracks. Rockliffe catches up with them.}


Rockliffe: What did you say you were doing?


Butch: Just moving some prisoners. Sir.


Rockliffe: I haven’t approved any prisoner relocations. You know that all has to go through me, right?


Butch: Yes sir. Of course. My apologies.


Rockliffe: {he narrows his eyes at Butch} You know, you actually look pretty familiar. Have I seen you in these halls before?


Butch: Well, sir, there’s quite a possibility that, uh… {Rockliffe looks them all in the eye, and realization dawns on him} RUN! {Butch shoves Rockliffe out of the way, and all the of prisoners make a mad dash for the exit. They take everyone by surprise and manage to burst through the doors.}


Jefferson: What now?


Butch: Just run! {They run offstage. The curtains close.}


Scene IV

{When the curtains open, we are in a new setting: the stage is divided in two. On one side is the nicely-decorated living room of a house. There’s a large rock sculpture of a gnome on the lawn. The other half of the stage shows a street. There are police sirens playing quietly. Butch eyes the house.}


Butch: Let’s break in.


Jefferson: You want to break into someone’s house?


Butch: What, now you suddenly have morals? After eating a bunch of people?


Jefferson: {he ponders for a second} You’re right. Let’s do it!


Marcus: {he sees the gnome sculpture} That statue’s creeping me out. It’s eyes are peering into my soul.


Butch: The windows look too small to fit through. We’ll use the gnome to knock the door down. Everyone grab part of it. {they all lift it up. Jefferson, still handcuffed, stands aside.} On my count. I’ll say go. One… Two….


Marcus: Wait, on “three” or on “go?”


Butch: Three! Goooooo! {together, they ram the statue into the front door and run in. A young man, Chris, sits on the couch. The TV screen says “Fortnite.”}


Chris: What the hell?!

Butch: Grab him! {Following orders, Dimitra and Marcus tackle him to the ground. Dimitra ties his wrists together using curtain tassels. Samuel runs into the kitchen (offstage) to find spoons.}


Jefferson: Mmm. Smells nice in here. Like a rotisserie chicken after being in the oven for too long and without enough seasoning. Needs just a dash of salt, though. And maybe some lemon squeezed over it. {all look at him, amazed} What? I’m a foodie.


Marcus: Yeah. We know.


Jefferson: How would you know?


Marcus: You tried to eat me!


Jefferson: Well, you looked delicious!


Dimitra: Stop this fighting! We are committing crime. Police will be here soon.


Butch: Everyone, take out your guns from the guards’ uniforms. We need to be ready when the police get here, got it?


Chris: Police? Who are you people?


Dimitra: {grabbing him by the hair and looking into his eyes} Your worst nightmare.


Samuel: SPOOOOOOOOONS!!!!! {he is still offstage. Police sirens grow louder and officers walk onstage (to the side showing a street) with a megaphone.}


Officer 1: {into a megaphone} Prisoners! We have you surrounded!


Jefferson: So this is it.


Butch: Not quite. {shouting out an open window} We have a hostage! And guns!


Officer 1: {to the other officers} We have a hostage situation! I repeat, this is a hostage situation!

Chris: Hostage? There’s a hostage in my house?


Dimitra: {sarcastically} No, American boy. There is no hostage. We’re all your new friends, here to play with you.


Chris: Friends? Uh, I’ll have to ask my mom if I can hang out. If she says yes, we can go to the movies this weekend!


Dimitra: {rolling her eyes} Wonderful. America is such a smart country.


Marcus: Even the kids I’ve held for ransom are smarter than this.


Chris: Wait… am I the hostage?


Dimitra: Da! Dumb boy.


{There is a crash sounding from another room}


Butch: Wait. Are you the only one in this house?


{Marcus goes to investigate. When he comes back, he is dragging a middle-aged woman, Mrs. Wilson, by the arm. He sits her down next to Chris and Dimitra ties her up with more curtain tassels.}


Jefferson: Oh, she looks delicious. In both senses of the word.


Butch: Stop being gross.


Chris: Mom!


Mrs. Wilson: {crying} What are you going to do to us?


Chris: Don’t worry, Mom! I’ll protect you, you can count on me! There’s still hope!

Mrs. Wilson: {she starts crying even harder.}


Officer 1: Release the hostages!


Butch: I don’t think so! {they fire a shot into the distance}


Butch: You, what’s your name?


Chris: Chris Wilson.


Butch: Is there anyone else in the house?


Chris: No. But my dad will be here from work soon. You guys aren’t going to hurt us, are you?


Butch: Not as long as everything goes according to plan.


Chris: Okay. Stay as long as you want, then. I’ve got nothing to do anyway. Maybe this whole “hostage situation” will turn me into a total chick magnet.


Jefferson: What is it that you normally do here? Sit around and play video games?


Chris: Pretty much. At least, ever since I graduated from Santa Barbara City College. I got an art degree specializing in Medieval Equestrian Sculptures.


Butch: [dryly} That’s the most useless thing I’ve ever heard of.


Mrs. Wilson: {between sobs} He’s… the… disappointment…


Dimitra: Yes, I could tell.


Chris: Hey!


Jefferson: {He sits down next to Mrs. Wilson and leans close to her} Howdy. So you have a husband, huh? I can help you… get him out of the way, so to speak. Then maybe you and I could eat dinner. Or I could eat you.


Mrs. Wilson: {she cries harder}


Officer 1: {into the megaphone} We are willing to negotiate for the hostages. What can we offer you in exchange for them? {Samuel enters from offstage, holding lots of spoons.}


Butch: Guys, what do we want?


Dimitra: Lots and lots of guns. And bullets.


Marcus: A big white van.


Samuel: Spoons!


Jefferson: An endless supply of people!


Butch: No, no, sure, and absolutely not. How about… {out the window} Pardons from our crimes!


Officer 1: Never gonna happen!


Butch: {mumbling} Well he didn’t have to be rude about it.


Samuel: Cells with spoons!


Marcus: Shh! The normal people are talking!


{Butch whacks him on the back of the head. They’re oddly defensive of Samuel.}


Butch: He’s got a point… {out the window} We want nicer cells!


{The officers confer amongst themselves.}


Officer 1: We can offer you all cells with REASONABLE additions of your choice. You will receive them only if you bring out the hostages peacefully. Do you agree to our terms?


Butch: {to the prisoners} Yeah, that works. Guys, agreed?


Marcus: Are you kidding me? We’re giving up that easily?


Butch: You know we were gonna get caught eventually, right? There’s no way this could’ve worked out for us. This is the best we could do without getting longer sentences.


Marcus: I guess.


Butch: So, agreed? We release the hostages, go back, and get nicer cells?


Dimitra: Da.  


Samuel: {he nods eagerly}


Marcus: Fine.


Jefferson: Sure.


Marcus: Jefferson, I didn’t think you’d be willing to give up so easy. Especially not with your… love of the “finer things” in life.


Jefferson: Well, you see, I’m actually a really nice guy once you get to know me.


Marcus: I think you’re right. Maybe I misjudged you. {He brings his hand up to pat Jefferson on the back}


Jefferson: Finally! {he snatches Marcus’ hand and brings it to his mouth. A new fight erupts between them as police officers run in. The curtains close.}


Scene V (Epilogue)

{The curtains open. There are five different spotlights evenly spaced out onstage. In each sits a prisoner:

Dimitra shoots a nerf gun at a bulls-eye.

Marcus is playing with American Girl Dolls.

In the center, Butch turns battery-powered plastic candles on and off.

Jefferson tears into a chicken wing, empty plates surrounding him.

Finally, Samuel sits cross-legged on the floor, playing happily and contently with five orange, shiny spoons.}