Red Shirts by Mason Smith


This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent


TRAVIS, an athletically handsome man in his early 30s, dressed in
black pants and boots, and a red shirt similar to the close-fitting
uniforms worn on a certain classic TV space drama.

PAULA, an attractively fit woman, also in her early 30s, wearing black
boots and a form-fitting red mini-dress similar to uniforms worn on
the same classic science fiction show.

GARTH, a monster-ish alien. He could look like a gorilla or a Wookie
from another well-known science fiction franchise, but he must be
wearing a red shirt or uniform of some kind over his fur.

BETTY, an older woman in a red sequined costume including fishnet
stockings and high heels-a costume similar to those worn by
magicians' assistants.

Costumes can be adapted to the company's budget as long as
characters are wearing red shirts.

The alien, GARTH, needs to be hairy with an alien face/head, or his
alien-ness could be suggested by makeup, or maybe a gorilla head worn
over a normal body in a red uniform.

The stage can suggest an outdoor scene on an alien planet. The
lighting for the sky might be green, for example, and some
oddly-shaped bushes or plants can dress the stage. There is a large
boulder at center-stage rear-large enough to hide a standing actor.

There are smaller rocks or logs scattered about. Ambient sound before
curtain might be 1950s-style sci-fi sounds (such as music from a
Theremin, the electronic device that provided the weird sounds on
Forbidden Planet in 1956). Lighting can be soft, suggesting evening or
dawn on the alien planet.

AT RISE: the stage is dark. Sounds of a sci-fi device (like a
transporter beam) occur off stage. The lights come up to show an empty
stage. TRAVIS staggers out from behind the big rock with a stunned
look on his face. He seems dazed for a few moments, trying to get his
bearings, then:

TRAVIS (shouting) Hello? Captain? Lieutenant Hardy? Anybody?
(No answer. He looks right and left, and around the bushes, etc.)
Hey, guys! I'm over here! By the big rock you told me to check out.
(He listens for a few moments. Silence. Then he
continues in a normal voice:)
I'll just give them a quick beep so they can track me. Wait!
Where's my communicator?
(Pats his belt and pants. Looks on ground.)
Where did it go? How could I possibly lose it? I've only been on the
planet for a few minutes. And I've barely moved from here. The
captain's going to be so mad. Those things aren't cheap.
(He's growing more worried. His voice rises with anxiety. He paces
back and forth.)
Guys. Coast is clear. Nothing scary behind the rock. No "stranger
danger" around here.
(A pause while he listens at one area and then moves to another.)
Here's an idea: Let's pack it in, guys! Beam back to the ship. All
of us. No one left behind.
(He waits for an answer, but is still met with silence. Then,
speaking quietly to himself:)
No reason to panic. They wouldn't forget me. The away team knows my
name. Don't they? They wouldn't leave me stranded on an alien
planet. Without any food, water, or protection.
(To convince himself he hasn't been abandoned, he calls out
OK wise guys. I'll play your little hide-and-seek game. Come out,
come out wherever you are!
(No one appears. Travis becomes more unhinged. Talks to himself.)
This is insane! The whole landing party can't just
disappear-can't vanish into thin air! Think Travis. Think. What do
you remember? We'd spread out to collect our biological samples.
Pretty routine. The captain directed me to search by the rock. Typical
order for us red shirts. Then-
(TRAVIS pauses as he checks his surroundings and notices something out
of place.)
Wait a minute. The planet looked more like a jungle. Yeah. That's
right. Heavy plant-growth, vines, trees, some bird-like life forms.
There was a wet fog dripping off of everything. But this-
(TRAVIS sweeps his arms around. Scoops up some sandy soil.)
This place looks like a desert planet. Man, talk about your climate
change. It has to be the same place, though. There's that big rock.
With lots of initials carved on it. Pretty distinctive.
(TRAVIS makes one more quick survey of the area, and heaves a heavy
Looks like I'll have to figure this out on my own. What did they
teach us at the Academy about being abandoned on an alien planet? Wish
I'd paid more attention. Hmmmm. Maybe retrace your steps. Look for
clues. Recall details.
(He inspects the rock more closely.)
Rock seems normal enough. Not sure what the captain expected me to
find behind it. We'd scanned the whole planet before we beamed down.
Nothing unusual detected. But you never know what's prowling around
out there. Under the radar. Ready to pounce.
(TRAVIS leans warily and wearily against the rock. He struggles to
remember details.)
So the last thing I remember, I was standing behind the rock and then
. . . there was a . . . a loud noise . . . yeah . . . like baboom!
Whoa! That's a new memory. I wonder if it's important? Next thing
I know, everyone else is gone and the planet has transformed itself.
Pretty weird stuff!
(He circles the rock, taps it, shakes it. Nothing happens.)
No hidden panels. Trap doors. Or alarms. It's just a big, stupid
rock. Guess I should stick around here, though. In case the landing
party comes looking for me. Seems safe enough.
(Muffled footsteps are heard off-stage. TRAVIS's head jerks up
trying to pinpoint the sound.)
Captain? Lieutenant?
(He ducks behind the rock in case the noisemaker is unfriendly.)
Hey! Who's there? Show yourself. I mean you no harm. But I am ready
to defend myself!
(Curiosity gets the better of him and TRAVIS stealthily exits in
direction of the sound.

Enter PAULA from opposite direction. She is making her way carefully,
almost fearfully, dodging for cover next to the rock, peeking around it.)

Is that you Captain? It's me, Paula. With security. (She pats her
clothes looking for something.)Although I, uh, seem to have misplaced
my weapon. Don't worry. I'm sure it will turn up somewhere. Is
everybody else with you? We kinda got separated.
(She is disappointed not to see anyone, then gets angry when she
notices the big rock.)
There's that stinking rock again. It's gotta be the same one. I
must be walking around in circles.
(She kicks the rock and regrets it as she hops in pain on one foot
before leaning against it.)
Now what do I do? Here I am. Alone. Unarmed. On this hostile planet.
There's at least one horrible hairy creature here. I spotted it on
one of my rounds. But I don't think he's following me. God only
knows what something that size eats. I don't want to be on his menu.
(She looks around-fearfully-sticking close to big rock.)
How much longer before that alien tracks me down? I don't even know
how long I've been wandering around here. Could be minutes. Or
hours. Why don't people wear watches anymore?
(She gathers courage, and steps farther out from the shelter of the
I've got to find the landing party. Or a way to signal the ship that
I'm ready for a lift. They probably have a logical explanation for
all this. But I can't think straight. Everything's fuzzy after I
checked out the rock. Except . . . there was a sound. A loud one. BAM!
Yeah. BAM! Then it was just me. Myself. And I. And the creepy furry
guy. Wherever he might be lurking.
(PAULA stands, hands on hips, a puzzled look creeping across her face.)
Wait a minute. This can't be the original big rock. In fact, this
can't be the planet we beamed down to. Our landing site was on a
seacoast. Rocks and surf. The smell of salt and water. And a stiff sea
breeze. Life-forms as big as whales in the sea. But this . . . this is
desert. Big dif.
(PAULA seems to hear something off stage. She reacts with extreme
fear and dodges for cover next to the rock.)
What was that? I'll bet it's that beast stalking me. He sounds
hungry. And angry. Hangry. I thought I'd given him the slip. How
tough can he be? Our scanners would have detected any major threats.
But how did we miss a super hairy primate-type creature?
(Noises off stage. A growling sound. She jumps up, a look of panic
on her face.)
That's it! I'm not waiting around for the away team. I'm outta
here. (She checks the laces on her boots.) Even though I could
probably outrun that thing, why take chances.
(PAULA suffers a moment of indecision-starting to run this way and
then that way-before finally picking a direction and running off stage.

PAULA exits.

Enter, the alien GARTH, from the opposite side.

GARTH is wringing his hands and muttering, in the middle of a major anxiety attack.)

Helloooooo! Where's everyone? I don't like this. Not one little
bit. Fellas. Come on. Let's beam back to the ship and swap stories.
I'll fix you a tasty prickled pickled porculo. With entrails.
(GARTH paces around, talking to himself.)
A warrior of the Gorgon Space Empire does not get lost. Not on his
first mission. Not when he had to beg the captain to let him tag along
with the landing party. And promised to be useful.
(GARTH reverses direction, still pacing, still fighting panic,
almost chanting.)
Stay calm. Stay calm. Don't freak out. There must be a way to find
the others. If I had my pots I'd cook a delicious stew. One whiff of
that and the team would find me. And maybe the captain would forget my
screw up and not make me clean up after his pet rhinopotomus.
(GARTH stops, and looks up for a few moments. He's had an idea.)
What if the others were attacked? Taken captive? Transported below the
surface? And they're waiting for me to rescue them? I'd be a hero.
I'd be leading away teams in the future. I'd be . . . kidding
myself. I'm no fearless leader. (Sighs.) We're doomed.
(Shakes his hands and arms like a child in panic-mode.)
I can't just sit here and do nothing. But I don't think I can walk
another step. I'm exhausted. My feet are on fire. I must have hiked
miles already in this miserable desert. (Confusion spreads across his
face.) Desert? That's not right. We were in the mountains. Clear
streams. Berries growing wild. Animals grazing nearby.
(GARTH returns to walking, wringing his hands. He is more agitated.)
But here. Just sand. And dumb rocks like this one. (He takes a closer
look at the big rock.) Now this is the only thing that looks the same.
This blasted rock. (He punches the rock and shakes his hand because it
hurts.) Like anything sinister could be hiding behind it. I don't
know why the captain chose me to check it out. Then WHOSH! Like air
being sucked out into space.
(He draws a deep breath, and sits on a nearby rock or log).
What am I going to do now? There's no water, no food, no shelter.
The only life form I've seen on this worthless ball of dirt is that
hideous female humanoid. My Earth history lessons indicate she would
probably try to catch and enslave me. Make me wear silly costumes. And
do tricks.
(He scratches furiously behind his ear like a dog.

Enter TRAVIS from the opposite side.

The two lost space travelers spot each other at the same moment, and both

TRAVIS runs from one bush to another, trying to hide. GARTH falls off of his rock
while he scrambles to get to his feet.

GARTH finally manages to get upright, and spots the ridiculous hiding place TRAVIS has picked out.

He looks around for a weapon, and decides to bluff with a "gun" made out
of his index finger. He points it at TRAVIS.)

Freeze, alien scum, or I will shoot! You are now a prisoner of the
Gorgon Space Empire!

(Reacts with a start, almost puts his hands up until he notices
GARTH's "weapon.")
Not to be rude, but I don't plan to surrender. Especially when
you're unarmed. Admit it. You don't have a weapon. You're simply
trying to fake me out with your finger.

Wrong, alien creature. My weapon may resemble a finger, but in fact it
is a hair-covered space blaster, a legendary weapon which is respected
and feared all over this quadrant of the galaxy.
(He brandishes it with apparent pride.)
And now, sir, you are my prisoner. Do not resist.

A hair-covered space blaster? Seriously? That's the best you can do?
Zero for originality.
(Still, TRAVIS stands with a shrug and raises his hands.)
OK. You win. I'm your prisoner. Happy? Just be careful that thing
doesn't go off accidentally and blow us both to smithereens. (He
tweaks GARTH's finger.) Now, get me off this planet.

GARTH (stunned)

You heard me. I surrender. I'm your prisoner. Call your transporter
chief and let's get outta here.
GARTH (Wavers, uncertain what to do.)
Yes. Well. Not so fast. Such arrangements take time. Careful planning.
Precise calculations. I don't believe off-planet transport would be
wise at the present moment.

Unwise? Really? How did you get here in the first place? Did somebody
dump you and leave? Are your ship and monkey crew as fake as your
space blaster?

GARTH (taking offense)
We are not monkeys. I'm a proud warrior of the Gorgon-

Save it, Sasquatch. Time for some teamwork if we're ever going to
see home again.
(TRAVIS steps forward toward GARTH and extends his right hand.)

My name's Travis. I'm an ensign on the Earth Ship Prince of Wales.
We're conducting a mapping expedition in this star system. A group
of us beamed down an hour ago to collect biological samples. I got
separated somehow. Did you happen to capture my landing party?
GARTH (not quite taking this all in.)
Lucky for them that I have not seen them. Or I would have captured
them. Because I am-

A warrior, blah, blah, blah. I got that part. So we can safely say,
then, that you also have not shot anyone from my crew with your

No. Not yet. But I could.

Sure. If you say so. But it would be a waste of a 'legendary weapon
respected and feared through this quadrant of the galaxy.' We are
not a threat to you. By the way, exactly who are you?
GARTH (slowly lowers his finger "gun.")
My name is Garth. I'm the junior dining services officer of the
Gorgon Starship Goch.

Dining services? Really? You're a cook? A "warrior" cook?

A highly sought after position on my ship. We were searching for fresh
food and water supplies.

We? How many are we? Like a whole bunch more of you Planet-of-the-Ape

My use of the first-person plural indicates myself and the foraging
party of four.

TRAVIS (extends his hand with four fingers raised.)
Four? Only four? Small party. Easy to lose.

GARTH (giving TRAVIS a suspicious look.)
Did I say four? I meant to say forty. Yes, it is a large landing
party. Quite large. Forty troopers at least. Not four. And all of us
heavily armed.

Heavily armed? (He points his own finger gun at GARTH.) You mean
heavily fingered?

Do not jest about such things or-

You must have expected trouble down here. I see you brought your
complete set of two blasters.

GARTH (Looking at his hands, including his two index fingers.)
You will regret testing the patience of a warrior of the-

'-Gorgon Space Empire.' OK. OK. No offense there, Garth. I
apologize. But, seriously, I'm curious about where your landing
party is. The 40-member heavily armed one. Where? Exactly?

GARTH (Pauses.)
Well, uh, actually-I think-that, uh-they're right over there.
(GARTH points to an obviously empty part of the background.)
TRAVIS (looks in that direction)
Oh, really? Over here? Looks like a Gorgon free zone to me. But, hey,
I'm near-sighted and I left my eye glasses on the ship. There could
be a whole army of Gorgons standing in front of me and I wouldn't
notice. But if you say they're there . . .
(TRAVIS pretends to wave and call out.)
Yo, Gorgons. Get your hairy butts over here and pick up your boy,
Garth. He's right here playing with his space blaster.

I have warned you about poking fun at a warrior of-

(Enter PAULA, who backs onto the stage from one side. She carries a
large stick and seems to be expecting someone or something to be following her.
Sensing the two others, she wheels, brandishing the stick, shocked to see TRAVIS, GARTH.)

PAULA and GARTH (react and cry out together.)
Aaahhh! It's you!

GARTH (diving for cover)
Run, it's the monster!

PAULA (swinging club)
Monster! Where? Another monster? I don't see anything.
(She lashes out with the stick, making TRAVIS also seek
shelter-away from her.

PAULA slowly calms down and eyes the two males, especially GARTH.)
Wait, when you said, 'It's a monster?' You meant me?

(GARTH has tried and failed to hide behind a small tree.)

He's a fearless warrior of the Gorgon Space Empire. In charge of
food. Beware of his "blaster."

(TRAVIS makes a finger-gun gesture and rolls his eyes.)

GARTH (From behind a convenient tree or bush.)
You two know each other?

TRAVIS (extending his hand, this time to PAULA.)
Never met the lady before. But sounds like you two have a history. (He
winks at GARTH.) I'm Travis, Ensign, from the Earth starship Price
of Wales. And you are?

Lieutenant Paula Walton, from the Earth Ship Indestructible.

TRAVIS (does a double-take and blinks with disbelief.)
Ah! We must have another jokester in our midst. The inappropriately
named Indestructible went missing in this star system 50 years ago.
You can't be from that ship. So who are you? Really?

What? Missing? No way. We only left Earth six weeks ago. How lost
could we be? Captain Grover Anderson is extremely competent and it's
an honor to serve under his command. Besides, buster, what's this
Prince of Wales nonsense? I've never heard of that ship.

It's a brand new state-of-the-art ship, the pride of the fleet. And
I'm telling you, Anderson's ship and its entire crew have been
M.I.A. for half a century.

I might be a little lost at the moment, but we'll soon connect with
my landing party, and I'll prove to you who I am. I'll be happy to
give you a guided tour of the Indestructible.

I'd love to see the old relic. But I'd be happier to find your
crew mates. When did you lose them?

We got separated hours ago. They were here one minute. And gone the
next. The only life form I've encountered since then has been that
"thing" over there.

(PAULA points at GARTH behind his tree.)

Hello. I'm right here. I can hear you, you know. And, I've got
feelings, too.

Sorry. You can come on out now. I don't think the lieutenant is an
actual monster.

GARTH (looks PAULA up and down with disgust.)
She looks hideous. No wonder the others abandoned her.

Right back at ya, buddy. You're no prize yourself.

She's a typical Earth woman. Everything's in the right place. Some
might even consider her attractive. What are Gorgon women like?

Our females look nothing like that puny thing. We'd be extinct by
now if they did. They'd never shave their faces or hands or be seen
in public with bare-naked skin exposed. It's not decent!
(PAULA raises the big stick again and heads toward GARTH.
OK furball, just so you know, I was chosen Miss Universe when I was
only 21. And my talent was hand-to-hand combat with primates twice
your size. So watch yourself.

(GARTH mumbles under his breath, and crosses his arms.)

Hold on, hold on. I think we're getting a little too personal here.
Nobody's asking you to mate with each other. To each his own taste.
But let's agree not to beat each other senseless. OK?

(The other two back off a few paces, but glare at each other. To PAULA:)

Now, down to business. Paula, how exactly, did you get separated from
the rest of your team? I mean, where were you when you lost track of
your party?
(She looks around and points to the big rock.)

I was part of the re-con party checking things out. I was sent to look
behind that big rock.

The big rock? That big rock? You mean, the one right there?

Yes, that one. How many big rocks are there around here that have been
defaced by vandals?

Right. OK then. Garth, what's your story? What happened to your
crewmates? All 40 of them?

Well, we sent down an away team to this location because our sensors
had detected an unusual energy source, and as soon as we climbed out
of our shuttle, the captain noticed a big rock and-

(Enter BETTY from one side-all in a dither. She clip-clops up to
PAULA, and puts her arm around the younger woman as if they were old friends.)


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