The Straits or "I Thought I Was Depressed But Then I Realized I Was Only Broke"
by Alan David Perkins
Copyright © 1993


Full-length drama.


Artie is a member of the Working Poor. He supports a child (from a previous marriage) whom he is not allowed to see, he slaves over a thankless job that pays poorly and he works lousy jobs part time just to eat. His dreams of becoming a working artist are constantly being thwarted by seemingly all the forces around him. And despite his despair, even the Devil won't buy his soul. Presented in a vaudeville style of short vignettes, The Straits follows Artie's futile quest to merely keep his head above water.

Click here for an excerpt (first act) in PDF format.


ARTIE - Our Hero. Male, mid-20's to late 30's.
MALE - Plays: Homeless Man, Mephistopheles, Boss, Host, Policeman.
FEMALE - Plays: Margaret, Wife, Time.


90 - 100 minutes.


The set for The Straits should be small and simple with most everything implied. A small table or desk should be visible and movable. Upstage should sit a free-standing chalkboard. Possibly an easel should be to one side with placards to show the titles of each scene.

The play is in two acts and divided into multiple, short scenes. It takes place in no particular time.


Long, long ago I drew a comic strip for an underground newspaper in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was through that strip that I discovered that depression and poverty can appear to feel very much the same. To this day I am happiest when I have a few bucks in my pocket.

This is a dark show. In writing it I got to address many issues in my mind; such as working yourself silly and still not making a dent in one's debt, or divorce from the man's point of view. I make no bones about how I feel about the business world or present day morals and values in this play. I also get to address a few personal experiences, like being panhandled by someone who has more money.

Structurally this play is a departure from my usual stuff. Each vignette, which ranges from one to four pages, doesn't contain a story or arc within itself.  It's only when they're all laid out together does the play take on its shape. Visually it could be a feast -- having no set and using the chalkboard as a valued prop.

But the play's a downer. A SERIOUS downer. The worthy hero gets nothing but shit upon. He's an undeserving victim. You want to like him and hate everybody in his life and you hope that everything will work out in the end, but it never does.

I revisited this play years after writing it and found it to still echo the fears and reality of the Gen-X society.  I'm hoping someone gives it a chance.


The entire script of The Straits is available upon request from the playwright. No production of this play can take place without permission from the playwright.