[SoundStage!]Paradise with James Saxon
Back Issue Article
September 1999

The Video Man Cometh - A Play in One Act

Cast of characters:

Jim, handsome owner of an audio store/coffee shop

Doug, his nervous, high-strung sales assistant

Monica the maid in French maid’s outfit

Stranger with an accent

Man in white suit

(The scene is early afternoon at The Hi-Fi Café. At stage left, Jim sits on high stool facing the audience, his back to the counter. Doug sits at a table, stage right. He is playing with his cell phone. Monica is behind the counter washing cups.)

Jim: How long has it been since someone walked through the door?

(Doug snaps the cell phone shut.)

Doug: Too long.

Jim: A few more weeks of this, I’ll have to close up shop.

Doug: You always say that in August.

Jim: Seriously, the last sale we made was when -- six months ago?

Doug: January, an Audio Research Reference One preamp. I sold it.

Jim: Did you get a commission?

Doug: No.

Jim: Then why do you remember it?

Doug: I have my pride.

(Doug gives Monica a thumb’s up. She looks away in disgust.)

Jim: We need a hook. Something to pull people in. What do you think about clothing?

Doug: You mean like SoundStage! denim shirts and ball caps?

Jim: No, I mean like Armani suits and Polo leisure wear.

Doug: Are you nuts? We’re hi-fi guys, not haberdashers.

Jim: We’re unemployed salesmen who need something to sell.

Doug: Forget clothing. I’m no Harry Truman.

Jim: I’m no Audio Advisor either, but I try.

(Doug holds a cell phone to his ear.)

Doug: Come on baby, ring.

Jim: That wishing would make it so….

Doug: Ring, you son of a gun.

(Just then the doorbell rings. Doug looks at the cell phone in astonishment. Jim glances around the room.)

Jim: What the hell was that?

Doug: Someone’s at the door?

Jim: Open it. Open it. No, wait. (Jim picks up his own cell phone and holds it to his ear.) OK, now.

Doug: Howdy, stranger.

(The stranger enters. He is wearing a tan leather jacket and jeans. He holds a long black carrying case in his right hand. Slung over his left shoulder is a black carry-on bag. )

Stranger: The Hi-Fi Bar and Grill, I presume?

Doug: Hi-Fi Café, bub. THE Hi-Fi Café.

(Jim looks up from his cell phone).

Jim: Who’s asking? You got something to sell? We’re not buying.

Stranger: You don’t know that yet.

Doug: Oh-oh, a cowboy. Where you from, Tex?

Stranger: You’re very perceptive -- north of the border.

Jim: Foreigners. Paradise is getting full up.

(The stranger offers Doug a handshake.)

Stranger: The name is Le Roi.

Doug: Hi, Lee Roy.

Stranger: Not Lee Roy. Le Roi. That’s French for "the king."

Jim (speaking into the cell phone). Sorry, got to go now. Royalty is here.

(Snaps the cell phone cover.)

Jim: OK, Lee Roy, what have you got for us?

Stranger: Something that will change your life, forever. Here, help me…uh….

Doug: Doug.

Stranger: Dog -- how appropriate.

(The stranger slips the carry-on bag off his shoulder and hands it to Doug. He sets the black case down, adjusts the feet, flips the cover over and pulls up a movie screen. The screen is about six feet square when fully extended. Monica comes out from behind the counter.)

Monica: Oh, look, it stands up by itself.

Stranger: At last, signs of intelligent life. Yes, beautiful lady, the screen is self-supporting.

Doug: That’s more than Jim can say.

Jim: Because I am a river to my people.

Stranger: Now, beautiful lady, if you would be so kind as to bring a small table.

Monica: I like him.

(She clears liquor bottles off a serving cart and wheels it over.)

Stranger: How charming -- and the perfect height, no less.

(He takes the carry-on bag from Doug and unzips it to reveal a tiny video projector, which he places atop the serving cart.)

Doug: You going to show slides?

Stranger: No, I’m going to show a movie. That is, if we can close off some of the light in here.

Jim: No way, Lee Roy. We’re open for business. I’m not closing the curtains.

Stranger: Very well.

(Reaches into the carry-on bag, pulls out a DVD player and cables and hooks up to the projector.)

Jim: I saw a video projector once. It didn’t work in the daytime.

Stranger: This one does. Not perfectly, to be sure, but better than you might imagine.

(Clicks a button, displays a test image on the screen, adjusts focus and colors.)

Doug: Hey, not bad. The brown colors look good and the orange tones aren’t bad either.

Stranger: I’m not done adjusting, yet, you fool.

(Doug starts toward the stranger. Jim holds him back.)

Jim: Watch your mouth, Lee Roy, or you’ll be lined in chalk.

(Off to the side, Monica does a little dance while rapping, "Watch your mouth, Lee Roy, or you’ll be lined in chalk.")

Stranger: You see, I’m doing all the adjusting on screen with the remote control. The projector even has zoom capability, so we don’t have to move anything physically to get a proper screen-filling image.

Jim: Why is zoom important?

Stranger: It’s not, as long as you like to spend an hour moving things back and forth.

(Doug winks at Monica.)

Doug: I like to spend an hour moving things back and forth.

Monica: You are a rude person.

Stranger: Voilà! We’re all set. Ready to watch a movie?

Doug: What have you got?

Stranger: The English Patient. It’s very nice.

Jim: Don’t you have any action flicks.

Doug: Yeah, how about Molly Does Massachusetts.

Jim: Plenty of action there.

Stranger: The English Patient is fine. The beautiful lady will like it.

Monica: I’ll close the curtains.

(The stage darkens.)

Stranger: You see, the colors are deeper with less light in the room.

Doug: Hey, man. That does look good.

Jim: Almost as good as my big RCA.

Stranger: Much better, actually.

Jim: Yeah, but the RCA only cost five grand. What’s the projector sell for -- about ten?

Stranger: Glad you asked. This model is $6500 US retail.

Doug: Does the price include the screen?

Stranger: Silly question. If you sell a pair of loudspeakers, do you give the receiver for free?

Jim: We don’t sell receivers here.

Stranger: You will: surround-sound receivers. Multichannel audio and video, that’s where your business has to go if you hope to survive.

Jim: So how much for the projector, the screen and the DVD player?

Stranger: My friend, I don’t sell players, but you can get them for three or four hundred dollars. What I sell are the projector and screen, which together list for $7500. You can order a bigger screen, if you like. The projector will fill a hundred inches in diagonal.

Doug: The bigger the better. Does this baby have a name?

Stranger: Le Roi. Same as mine.

Monica: I get it. The king of video projectors.

Stranger: Have we met before?

(Doug examines the projector.)

Doug: It says here, "Dream Vision DL500."

Stranger: The brand name and model number.

Doug: Why the French title, then?

Monica: It’s made in France, right?

Stranger: The beautiful lady….

Monica: Monica.

Stranger: Monica is truly a savant. Yes, the Dream Vision DL500 is made in France, using digital-mirror technology developed by Texas Instruments.

Doug: I knew you were from Texas, by the accent.

Stranger: Actually, I am from Quebec, Canada.

Doug: Same thing.

Stranger: I am the Dream Vision North American importer -- my card. We call this model Le Roi because it is truly the king of video projectors, at least in the five-to-ten-thousand-dollar price range.

Jim: The price seems pretty reasonable.

Stranger: I take cash or credit cards. Don’t delay. Save your business this very moment.

Jim: Well, let me think about it.

Monica: Can I watch the movie in the meanwhile?

Stranger: Sorry, Monica, mon amour. But if a brief demonstration doesn’t convince your boss to buy the Dream Vision now, then I must be going. Demand is too great to waste time here.

(The stranger disconnects the equipment, packs it in the bag, lowers the screen into the carrying case, and snaps the case shut.)

Stranger: Think about it, sir, but don’t think too long.

(He leaves. Monica sits down in a pout. Doug rubs his jaw.)

Jim: I didn’t know what to do. I’m not up to speed on video.

Doug: At least it’s electronic, Jim, which is better than selling clothing.

(The doorbell rings. A man in a white suit enters.)

Man: I saw the sign out front. Just wondered if you have any home-theater stuff to sell. You know, video projector, surround-sound receiver -- that sort of thing.

(Jim, Doug and Monica throw up their hands.)


...James Saxon


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