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The Adventures of Dick & VJ: “Enthusiasm”


A well-maintained but humble theater with a proscenium stage, which is set and lighted as if for a performance though the audience chamber is empty. The on-stage scene is the main sitting area of the AIRSHIP JACQUES CHAPEAU, the dirigible headquarters of our heroes DICK, VJ and THE DOCTOR. It’s equal parts laboratory, tree house, and rec room. It has a retro-futuristic feel: It’s Victorian, with brass fixtures and velvet, but it’s the Victoriana of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne—with a wacky modern element, as well. Old-fashioned telescopes, astrolabes, globes, taxidermy animals, etc., are paired with oscilloscopes, reel-to-reel machines, lava lamps, a disco ball and obscure blinking consoles.

DICK and VJ enter. Their attire is clearly suggestive of human genitals, though it is not overly costume-like: DICK is wearing a close-fitting tan coverall, large furry boots and a purple crash helmet. The fact that the helmet is visorless allows us to see that he has only one good eye; the other is covered with a patch. VJ is wearing an even tighter pink one-piece with a thin but visible seam from neck to crotch, and a pearl crash helmet, which is visible under the hood of her floor-length jacket of dark brown, wiry fur. They are already in conversation as they come on stage.

VJ: I help with yours. I’m just asking why you won’t help with mine. It might be nice if you help me get it on. And it’d be really nice if you’d help me get it off.

DICK: You’re too tall. It’s too hard to reach. My arm gets tired. And it takes too long.

VJ: You’re always in such a rush.

She pulls her hood back to reveal the pearly helmet.

VJ (CONT’D): Look, there’s not much of a trick to it, if you’re gentle and patient. You just need a little pressure and some rhythm . . .

THE DOCTOR enters. He is dressed in standard professorial/scientist garb: white lab coat over tweedy suit and bow tie.

DOCTOR: Dick! VJ! Welcome back, welcome back!

He hugs them each in turn, but the hugs are as much examination as affection. He pries open DICK’s one good eye. He reaches around him and squeezes. DICK coughs once, reflexively. The DOCTOR parts VJ’s coat, gently. She shivers.

VJ: God, your hands are always so cold.

DOCTOR: So, tell me, tell me how was the adventure?

DICK and VJ speak simultaneously.

DICK: Awesome!

VJ: Eh.

DOCTOR: Anything unusual to report?

VJ: I think we could improve our teamwork.

DICK: Ah, Doc, VJ’s such a slowpoke!

As DICK speaks he is pacing around the HQ, fussing with things on shelves, nearly knocking things over, making odd sound-effects noises, and doing karate moves.

VJ: Maybe there are some books he could read? Or you could prescribe some exercises?

DOCTOR: Oh, Dick is just an enthusiastic young adventurer, VJ. You’re a new team.

THE DOCTOR pats VJ’s arm reassuringly.

DOCTOR (CONT’D): And, yes, there are exercises.

DICK has been sparring with a taxidermy bear, which he knocks over setting off a chain reaction of things collapsing.

DOCTOR (CONT’D): And if those fail a heavy-duty numbing cream.


—John Rodat


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