Red Tulips


Nine elderly women. two elderly men, one nurse


An old age care facility— a multi-leveled warren of cubicles, each cubicle just large enough to frame an old person and his/her distinct wooden chair.

Production history

  • Finalist, 2002 Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Conference.
  • Staged reading, Lincoln Center Theatre, directed by Mark Lamos, with Myra Carter, Anne Pitoniak, Helen Stenberg
  • Produced, Seasoned Theater Company, Dallas

The Story

The Tennyson brothers, Sydney, 85, and Robert, 83, have just moved into The Manor, where their mother, Winona, soon to be 105, has lived for almost twenty years. Suddenly surrounded (and pursued) by elderly women, the brothers fend off the amorous Maxine Dewey and her friend Ramona Dumeyer, the confused Mrs. Dornbusch, the suffering Mrs. DelMonte, and the lovely Miss Eloise Bliss, who’s looking for her friend, Charlene Dalloway who has recently died, even though a number of the residents still see her wandering the hallways at night.

The play is structured as a tapestry of voices, and explores with little sentiment, but with humor (dark and light), the issues of aging and friendship, the frailties and fears of old age, the denial of death, and the extraordinary way we construct meanings and mechanisms to survive. The Manor is a hermetic world in which life meets afterlife, the boundaries of which are remarkably porous.

Download full play here

The Dialogue

Mummy didn't want me and then she tried to create what she wanted and then she didn't like what she created and then she hated me and then she hated herself for hating me and then she pretended to love me out of sheer guilt.
It doesn't make any difference any more, Robbie.
She's lying there loving me and hating me right this very minute.
She's lying there hating herself.
She hates you too.
She despises me.
You hate me too.
[Suddenly angered] It was not my idea to move in here, Robert, dear, it was not my idea at all, it was you who wanted to move in here, not I, I was perfectly content, the garden, the deck, the morning walk to the store, and we'd come up here twice a week to see mummy...I was happy, everything was fine, except you, nothing was ever fine for you, was it, everything was always a problem, nothing was right, everything was wrong, and no matter what I did, no matter what I tried.
You hate me.
You wanted security, you got security, this is what security feels like.
This is not security.