Turning Off the Morning News Character Profiles
A depressed and cynical man prone to melancholy and violent outbursts. He is unhappy with the way his life has turned out and blames everyone but himself for this fact. He continually fixates on homicidal/suicidal fantasies.
I’m feeling very depressed. I’m thinking of killing myself. Or maybe going to a nearby mall and killing other people, and then killing myself. Maybe I’ll go to a theater and kill people there and then kill myself. You’re lucky I’m in the play, and not in the audience. Talk to you again later.
(Act 1, Scene 1)
A kind, but absent-minded woman. She does her best to encourage her husband, Jimmy. Largely optimistic and nominally religious, she often ignores the clear signs of his growing violent tendencies in lieu of imagining herself in fanciful situations.
I’m a very good swimmer, I could have gone to the Olympics but I could never find the address of how to apply. And so my life hasn’t amounted to too much, but I’m not bitter. I love God even though he made me chatty and had me be the one - or my ancestors - who caused death and sickness. But I think sickness makes you stronger. Or makes you dead. But then you go to heaven. And heaven, oh how I long to get to heaven.
(Act 1, Scene 1)
The thirteen-year-old son of Polly and Jimmy. He is a sane and quiet island in the sea of crazy that are his parents. He is horrified by his father’s words and actions and frustrated with his mother’s refusal to do anything about it. He does not fit in at school and is constantly bullied for accidently introducing himself as Polly.
The teachers don’t call me Polly. Some of the girls don’t. Well they don’t talk to me at all, they sort of whisper to one another. But there’s this one girl, Jessica, and she says hello to me. She says, “Hello Timmy.” And if any of the boys are nearby, she says “Hello, Timmy” really loud, and looks at the boys as if to say “what’s the matter with you?” And then they all say in unison, “Timmy has a girlfriend but it’s only because she feels sorry for him.
(Act 1, Scene 7)
A relatively normal, albeit anxious man who has just moved into the neighborhood across the street from Polly and Jimmy. He listens to classical music and chants daily affirmations to overcome his anxiety and is trying to make a new life after a past personal tragedy.
All is well. All is well. All is well. Everything is getting better. Everything is getting better. Everything is getting better. I need to calm myself a lot. I say “all is well” over and over. Although if it’s a day where “all is well” seems like a great big whopping lie, then I shift to “Everything is getting better.” Maybe also a lie. But it acknowledges that all is not well, but it suggests maybe things will get better. I also have kind of stopped listening to the TV news.
(Act 1, Scene 4)
Clifford’s friend who has just moved to the neighborhood with him in a platonic living arrangement. She is a voice of reason, a calming force for Clifford, and a comparatively sociable individual.
Well no one has been knocking on our doors since we got here, so I had an idea how to meet people, and so I went to the school bus stop near us, and I stood with all the mothers and their children...Well yes people looked at me a bit funny. And there were no other black people at the bus stop, and I had this impulse to say “Does anyone want me to do your laundry?” But then I thought that they might not take it as a joke; so I couldn't figure out how to start a conversation.
(Act 1, Scene 2)
A chatty and eccentric over-sharer who sports a pillowcase on her head to protect her face from the sun’s cancer-causing rays. Though a bit obsessed with a dermatological condition, she generally means well and becomes Salena’s first friend in the neighborhood.
These are new. I went to my dermatologist for a check-up, and he found two more basal cells, and so he took them off. Basal cells don’t grow that fast, so that’s good. Although it’s disconcerting having little marks popping up on your face all the time. And the doctor uses the Mohs surgery to get it off...do you know about that? Well they have to cut off the pimple-like thing on your face, but they try to take off the least amount of the skin underneath. And then you go to the waiting room and in 45 minutes they put what was cut under a microscope and they can tell if they got all the cancer or not. And if they did, you get to go home. And if they didn’t get it all, you go back to the chair, and they cut off some more of it, and then you wait. And each time if it isn’t all gone, they cut a bit more. But that way they’re sure they got everything. The first time I had one, they got it after about two times. And sometimes it’s only been once. Which is a happy day. But then one of the times it went on for 4 cuttings… anyway, I just had no idea I was going to start getting these things every 10 minutes.
(Act 1, Scene 4)