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"They say if you love someone, a part of yourself endures."

....Nicky Bowman, in JEB & DASH

1928, Washington, D.C.: With the Jazz Age in full swing, a group of men and women come together to create a social circle that serves as their extended family. Their de-facto leader, Isador, is a flamboyant bon vivant who presides over nightly dinners. Others include Max, a portrait artist; Hans, from Germany, trying his hand as an actor; Muriel, an art gallery owner; Nicky, whose boyish charm disguises a restless rebel seeking change; Randall, a pompous hanger-on; and Dash, newly arrived from the South. Recording it all is Jeb Alexander, who hopes his diary entries will one day form the basis of stories he will write.




Allies Inn, New York Avenue, Washington, D.C.

Photo: courtesy Truman Adkins

Act I, Part I
Jeb is elated to learn that Dash, whom he had known (and idolized) at college, has moved onto his floor at the YMCA. Over meals at Allies Inn (a nearby cafeteria run by the autocratic waitress, Elsa) and in late-night conversations fueled by bootlegged cocktails, they re-kindle their friendship. But Dash has come to Washington to escape a failed relationship and is not seeking a new one. As they celebrate Jeb's winning a writing competition, Jeb finally seduces Dash, whose only stipulation is that no one else can know they are together.

Part 2
The strain of being in a closeted relationship is taking its toll: Jeb's obsession with Dash has destroyed what little writing discipline he had. Although he continues to insist he is working on stories, his nights are spent drinking and carousing. As Act I closes, Dash discovers the writings Jeb has promised are only daydreams and he ends their relationship.

Act II
One year later, Jeb still sees Dash and the others, but his drinking has taken him on a downward spiral. Hustlers like Earle find him easy prey. After a particularly wild night of drinking causes him to miss seeing Nicky off into the Navy, Dash denounces him as an irresponsible do-nothing who will never complete any stories. Later, after Jeb has begun a novel, the two mend their differences. The play ends on New Year's Eve, as they drink a toast to absent friends.

We learn what became of the characters in later years. Jeb finally understands what Nicky meant when he said, "If you love someone, a part of yourself endures." Although they have gone their separate ways, some never to be seen again, a part of the energy that brought them together as a family still remains... and always will.


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Copyright © 2007 Michael Conley.  All rights reserved.