The Birthday Present
(Included in the volume THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT AND THE GROUND ZERO CLUB)
THE STORY: Wallace Cooper, a put-upon, unpopular child, is celebrating his tenth birthday when his father arrives home with bad news: His medical license has been revoked and he must stand trial on a charge of conducting unauthorized experiments. He tells Wallace that he has a secret birthday present for him and proceeds to inject him with a mysterious substance. Twenty years pass. Wallace, still a loser, is being sued for divorce by his unfaithful wife, and a male infertility epidemic is sweeping the world. Dr. Cooper, having escaped from prison, claims that he has the solution to this international problem, and that the inoculations he gave his son years ago have made him the only fertile man left on earth. Wallace's spirits lift considerably at this point, as he becomes a sudden celebrity and is sought out by women from around the world. In the end, however, Dr. Cooper finds that he cannot recreate his magic serum, and he commits suicide on a TV talk show—leaving his overwhelmed son with the sole and awesome responsibility of fathering the human race of the future.
Written when the author was seventeen, and first presented as part of The Foundation of the Dramatists Guild's Young Playwrights Festival at New York's Circle Repertory Company, this rollicking dark farce focuses on a father's bizarre birthday gift to his son, a gift that ultimately changes the course of human history. "THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT would be called daring if written by an adult; it's even more wonderful as written by a 17-year-old" —NY Times. "…the wild conceit and witty words of Schulman's THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT skyrocketed into the comic atmosphere." —BackStage. "The satire, neatly sustained through two mini-acts, hits many targets, but is not lacking in underlying humanity." —NY Magazine.