Keeper of the Castle: A Play in One Act


E: Writer. American. Early 30s. Breathtakingly gorgeous.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Pensioner. Early 60s. Italian. Haunts the bar where E goes to write. Scatters outrageous, unsolicited advice like so much birdseed.

MARCO: Policeman. Italian. Mid-40s. MARCO was once one of E’s interview subjects for an article she was planning to write.

FRANCESCO: MARCO’s friend. Italian. Also mid-40s.

DOMENICO: The owner of the bar. Italian. Mid-40s.

MASSIMO: Barista. Italian. Early 20s. Jacked, handsome, painfully shy.

GENOEFFA and CINZIA: Local girls. Italian. Early 20s. In heat.


Bar C, where E goes to write and OLD MAN ANTONIO apparently spends every hour of his retirement. Modern day. Terracina, Italy. E is sitting at her usual table, working on Chapter 28 of her novel and drinking a strawberry-flavored hot chocolate. OLD MAN ANTONIO enters the bar.


E: Ciao, Antonio.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: E, where’s Popeye?

E: Excuse me?

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Popeye, you know.

E: I don’t know where he is.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Are you serious? Are you fucking with me? A woman like you hasn’t found her Popeye? Are all the men in this town gay?!

E: I don’t know.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: If I were 30 years younger, I’d show you the iron muscle.

DOMENICO: Antonio! Leave E alone! Can’t you see she’s working?

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Aoooo, pipe down! E likes it when I come visit her!

[Enter GENOEFFA and CINZIA. GENOEFFA is tall and blonde. CINZIA is small and dark. They sit at their usual table, too – directly facing the bar.]

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Aoooooo! Massimo! Here come the two girls who are always staring at you.

[GENOEFFA and CINZIA are apparently unperturbed but behind the bar, MASSIMO is bright red. He nearly drops a champagne glass.]

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Aooooo! Girls! Have you told him you love him yet?

[GENOEFFA and CINZIA leave the bar. MASSIMO angrily wipes down cappuccino cups.]

DOMENICO: Antonio! Stop embarrassing my staff and my customers!

OLD MAN ANTONIO: What? Love is meant to be out in the open! They’ll all thank me some day.


OLD MAN ANTONIO: Ciao, Marco and Francesco.

FRANCESCO: Ciao, Antonio.

MARCO: Ciao, Antonio.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: What do you two dumbasses have to say for yourselves?

[MARCO and FRANCESCO sit down at the table next to E.]

MARCO: Well, I’m just sitting down right here, next to my girlfriend.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Girlfriend! Hah! Go on, give us another one! E is working, can’t you see?

MARCO: I was just going to ask her if she was busy tonight and if she wanted to accompany me for a stroll.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: You must be joking me!

MARCO: … I’m not.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Well, she doesn’t want to.

MARCO: How do you know she doesn’t want to?

OLD MAN ANTONIO: She’s not for you.

MARCO: How do you know?

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Because you’re a bum! You’re always depressed, you never change! You’re uncouth! This girl do you know why I talk to her all the time? Because she’s intelligent. Because she’s refined. Because the face she shows is different to what’s inside of her. If she were just as she seemed, I wouldn’t waste my time with her. But she’s not.

MARCO: Well, let her decide.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Oh, just stop! You – you’re just a slob! She needs someone refined, someone intelligent, someone to discuss the Etruscans with. You boor, what would you even talk to her about?

MARCO: I don’t know. The mountains, the sea.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: What the fuck does she care about the mountains and the sea?!

MARCO: I don’t know. She’s artistic. Maybe she cares.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: You and your stupid nighttime stroll – what kind of an amateur are you? She’s a woman of class. How about taking her to dinner?

MARCO: I could do that, too.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Oh, yeah? And how would you pick her up?

MARCO: In a Rolls Royce.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Hah! You mean a beat-up Fiat Punto. Why don’t you just leave her alone?

MARCO: Why are you talking for her? She’s a grown woman.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Not as grown as you! Why don’t you call your younger brother or something? Go to the gym. Get rid of the gut. You’re too old and out of shape for E. She’s not for you.

MARCO: Why don’t we let her decide?

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Has she said a word? No! Because she agrees with everything I’m saying! E, am I wrong?

E: Well, I wouldn’t put it quite in those words….

OLD MAN ANTONIO: She agrees with me. She’s just being polite. See how refined and genteel she is? Get out of here. You’re barking up the wrong tree.

[MARCO stands to leave and puts his money down on the table.]

OLD MAN ANTONIO: No, your coffee is on me tonight. Consider it free advice.

MARCO: I’ll come back and ask her when you’re not around.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Go ahead and try it! She’ll just tell you the exact same thing!


OLD MAN ANTONIO: That dumbass.

E: So if not Marco, who?


E: If you know what kind of man I need.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Well, you need someone intelligent, like you. Someone refined, like you. Genteel. Someone you can talk to for hours.

E: Of the men you know, the men my age, do you know anyone like that? Someone who would be good for me?

OLD MAN ANTONIO: I know everything. I know every decent man in this town. I know who’s right for you. I know –

[OLD MAN ANTONIO’s cell phone rings.]

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Excuse me. I have to get this.

[Exeunt OLD MAN ANTONIO. E types at Chapter 28 of her novel. The whirr of the espresso machine. The clinking of metal spoons.]


OLD MAN ANTONIO: This world is full of assholes. Everyone wants to use you. No one cares about anyone but themselves. Do you understand me, E? The world is fucked and we’re all fucked with it. Massimo, give me another espresso. Did you set up a date to sleep with the girls or what?

MASSIMO: You didn’t have to talk to them. I can talk to them myself.

OLD MAN ANTONIO: Hah! Maybe when you finally get some hair on your chest! Now what was I saying to you, E?

E: Nothing.


Translation to English by Me.

14 Replies to “Keeper of the Castle: A Play in One Act”

    1. That’s one way to put it….

      I kid, I kid. I’m actually becoming very fond of Old Man Antonio. I worry if he’s not at the caffe one day, because I’m afraid he’s pissed someone off and sleeping with the fishes.

  1. I love this. That is all.

    1. Me, too, Katja. 🙂 I love my “office”!

    1. You can count on it!

  2. This is amazing. I would read this for hours.

    1. Thanks, Chucky!!! I live this for hours…. every day from 5-8. Who knows what those folks have in store for me today…?

  3. Haha! This is fantastic.

  4. You’re right I didn’t read it *ashamed* but now I did! I DID and I liked it and am amused and now still have two hours left of work to do~ But yay 😀 ♥

  5. I’m so glad you included a picture of him, the yellow glasses are priceless! And I love the part when his cell phone rings right when he’s about to tell you who the man for you is. Adorable and funny and kinda skeezy.

    1. You all know that I usually don’t include recognizable pictures of people, but Old Man Antonio loves having his taken. I’ve written about him for travel articles I’ve had published and he consistently brags to other customers that I took his picture and ‘sent it to America.’ So I knew he wouldn’t mind it if I put his real-life picture on my blog.

  6. Also, the yellow glasses aren’t his. They belonged to another customer. He snatched them off and put them on because they matched his scarf. The other customer was not too pleased, nor was another customer when he tried to put them on him – “Try these on!”

  7. Bravo! Well done! And so rad that I can actually picture some of these characters now. 😉

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