The Great Unknown (short play)
The village features a lake no one sees clearly unless you eat at the window of the Green Lantern.

(Performed spring 2018 in McFarland High School’s “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding” show.)


Story: A young Chicago couple’s car stalls on a McFarland street during a recent late spring night.

Setting props: Two chairs, facing the audience, behind a drawing of the front bumper and steering wheel facsimile. Two iPhones. One flashy patriotic gym suit.

Cast: Two main characters, a young man and woman in their late teens, in a relationship. Also, one female student playing a Siri-like voice on stage in a brief scene. And one loud, husky male for brief appearance.


(Young man and woman, both frustrated and a bit uneasy, sitting in stalled car.)

Young man: “We’re stuck.” (Takes long, loud breath) “No spare tire. Madison Towing  won’t be here for at least an hour or two.”

Young woman: “I saw the sign when we turned off the Beltline. McFarland. Then you pulled off at some road with an ‘S.’ How do you pronounce it?”

Young man: “I spelled it to the dispatcher.”

Young woman: (speaking to her phone) “Where is our current street location?”

Siri-type voice: (standing on the stage at the side): “It’s Sig (face turns puzzled) … Sig … Sig … (pause) Sigglecow. … No, Siggleko. … Wait, it’s Sigg-le-ko. … (turns cheerful) McFarland residents accept all pronunciations!”

Young woman: “Are we safe?”

Young man: “Are we safe?! We’re in the suburbs. And all I saw coming in were these giant, circular gas tanks. From the sky, McFarland must look like a set of Legos.”

Young woman: (looks at her iPhone) “ says, ’McFarland has great schools and low crime. The village features a lake no one sees clearly unless you eat at the window of the Green Lantern. (pause)  And lakeside houses are super expensive, but they’re so close together that if you open a side door it will hit your neighbor’s house.’”

Young man: “You mean this is a bedroom community, a place where people live but there isn’t much here.”

Young woman: “Let’s see. Best restaurant: (laughs) A tie: Culver’s and McDonald’s. Best neighborhood: Uh, something called Secret Places. (pause) Most iconic character: Someone named Sparty.”

Young man: “You mean, Sparky?”

Young woman: “It says Sparty, the high school’s mascot. The school is nicknamed the Spartans. The business guide lists Spartan Pizza, Spartan Bowl, Spartan Animal Hospital …”

Young man: “Is there a big event? How about a chili fest called McFartland? (smiles)

Young woman: Best event: McFarland Family Festival, which sells no alcohol …”

Young man: (rolls his eyes) “And probably has a balloon twister as headline entertainment.”

Young woman: “According to, McFarland is a village that cares about schools and community and is great for families.”

Young man: “Bor-ing.”

Young woman:  “They’re building a new, gigantic indoor swimming pool.”

Young man: “Sports, sports, sports. Jeez, I bet their football field has artificial turf. (pause) I mean, what about the arts? Does McFarland have any soul?”

Young woman: “Wait for this: It says, ‘The 30-year-old auditorium is being replaced by a $16 million theater. (pauses.) For now, they perform musicals at (pause) Stow-ton High School’s auditorium.’ …

(bubbly) “And the most famous person from McFarland is … (loses enthusiasm in voice) Matt Hamilton? (pauses) It says he won a gold medal in curling at the last Olympics. Here’s a picture of him. (She glances at the screen then smiles at the young man with a hint of suggestion) Have you thought of growing a mustache, sweetie?”

Young man: (stroking his upper lip) “Curling! That’s the sport with a broom?!”

Young woman: “Oh, here’s a section about the village’s must-see site: It’s on Facebook and it’s called McFarland Moms and Dads. It’s described as ‘the world’s most passive-aggressive postings anywhere.’

“Current topics include whether newborns should have swim lessons to keep up with Monona Grove’s baby swimmers. (pause) And the biggest debate now is an uncomfortable discussion about whether prom dresses are too risque.’

“Oh, and McFarland doesn’t have a slogan, just these suggestions: ‘Hey, We Forgot About Sidewalks,’  ‘Still Small Enough to Gossip About Everyone,’ … These seem pretty snarky.”

Young man: “How about ‘Try the Flavor of the Day at Culver’s’?”

(sudden fear) “Oh, man, someone’s pulling up behind us!”

Young woman: “I have my pepper spray!” (She grabs an oversized can from her purse.) “And they’ll see our Illinois license plate and our big Chicago Bears’ bumper sticker!”

(A man jumps suddenly from the car behind them. He’s in a flashy, USA jump suit.)

Young man: “What a mustache!”

Young woman: “It’s, it’s … Matt Hamilton!”

Hamilton: (stands by the driver’s window) “I don’t have a tire, but I have something that will work in its place.”

(Hamilton returns to his car behind the couple and slowly tosses a kitchen broom then a custodian’s broom and, finally, a large gold medal – after holding each over his head — haphazardly out of his trunk. Then he grabs a curling stone and places it where the tire was.)

Hamilton: “That should get you to Culver’s. Have the flavor of the day: Cheese Curd Cheesecake! Yum! And you have two great auto repair shops that will help you in McFarland – even if you’re Bears’ fans.”

Young man and woman (together): “Thank you!”

Hamilton: “No problem. This is a community where ‘Friendliness is a way of life.’ Now, let me clear a path for you.” (Hamilton proceeds to quickly sweep in front of the car with a curling broom.)

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