THE STORY: Tormented by the memories of a past love, John comes to Connie, a prostitute, to get her to reenact certain scenes that have etched themselves in his mind and that have become the symbol for all that was ethereal and beautiful in his life. He makes her wear certain clothing. He applies make up to her face, trying to get her to resemble the girl he lost. He feverishly constructs a scene where he first met this girl, in a museum. The action builds until he almost feels the moment is being relived, that Connie is really the other girl. At this moment Connie shatters his illusion by screaming, “I’m not her! I’m me! I’m me!” Shocked, John starts to leave, saying he is sorry, that he only wanted to feel the affection of those lost moments. Connie, shaken, asks him if he wants affection, what does he give in return? Quietly, she tells John what she imagines in this dirty little room while strangers use her. She tells her tale simply. When she finishes speaking, John is ashamed and has learned a simple lesson: that he must give to get, that he cannot erase the identity of another human being to suit his own needs. The play ends with John coming to her, with him becoming what he came to ask her to be.
The Off-Broadway production of this play, as a double bill with EPIPHANY and under the joint title of CAGES, brought overnight recognition to the author. A perceptive, arresting, and deeply revealing study of a prostitute and her unsettling customer, the play probes beneath the apparent tawdriness of their encounter to illuminate the inner reaches of their almost desperate and touching humanity. “Fire a salute! Lewis John Carlino is a writer of intensity and power!” —NY Times. “Off-Broadway has not produced a more wildly inventive mind this season.” -NY World-Telegram & Sun.