The Plays:

Sorting Trash. Play by Dan Gordon

Sorting Trash

A farce in two acts

Sample of Dialogue (PDF) | Cast of Characters | Set Requirements


Everyone is chasing something: love, money, warlocks. Sorting Trash is a comedic farce about a family chasing all three.

Emily Barcus is a plain looking, hard working, socially deficient young woman who is struggling to care for her mother, Judy, as Judy dresses in a nun’s habit, sprays everyone with holy water, and stores her trash in the basement; all for the cause of fending off an imaginary warlock. Emily’s only support comes from her neighbor and best friend, Crystal. As a single mother Crystal has her own problems. Her daughter Shannon is behaving like the teenager she is and, as punishment, Crystal has her taking garbage from Emily’s basement and sneaking it out past Judy. Then there’s Emily’s brother, Ryan. A petty crook with a petty brain, Ryan has just been released from jail and has moved back home, bringing both trouble and hope with him. He brings trouble in the form of Joey Almanac. A more unorganized than organized crime boss, Joey launders money through his pizza joint where Ryan now works. Ryan also brings hope in the form of Mark Lorenz, his parole officer. Mark too is socially deficient and has real potential as a match for Emily.

Act one begins as Crystal and Shannon are trying to sneak bags of trash out of the basement past Judy. Ryan arrives home from jail unexpectedly, and unnoticed. Judy, Crystal, Shannon, Emily and Ryan enter and exit the room hiding from and unseen by each other, until Ryan is finely discovered. But before Judy can get Ryan down to the basement to sort his first bag of trash Mark arrives, and a romantic chemistry between he and Emily is quickly established.

Act one scene two takes place one week later as Joey Almanac arrives. It seems that Ryan has been trading coupons for cash at Joey’s Pizza. Now, Ryan has twenty-four hours to pay Joey back or lose a limb. In the mean time Mark invites Emily to dinner, but she’s keeping her date a secret from everyone except Crystal.

Act two scene one begins the next night. Mark and Emily are out on their date. Ryan races in the door with Joey just a few minutes behind. Judy thinks it’s the warlock who’s chasing Ryan and she prepares for the worst. Ryan ducks into the basement as Crystal arrives looking for Emily. Before Crystal can get the scoop from Judy, Joey shows up. Right after Judy sprays Joey in the face with holy water he pulls his gun, locks Judy and Crystal in the closet, and begins to search the house for Ryan. Moments later Mark and Emily arrive home. A fast paced scene of entrances and exits follows. Eventually Mark catches Joey, quite by accident, and both Joey and Ryan are arrested.

Act two scene two takes place a week later. Crystal and Shannon are once again working to clear trash from the basement when they find Emily depressed and moping around. We discover that Emily and Mark have not spoken since the night Joey and Ryan were arrested; in true grade school fashion neither thinks the other likes them. We soon learn that Crystal has set up a scheme to get Emily and Mark back together, but her scheme is in jeopardy as Ryan has been unexpectedly released from jail. Now Crystal has to catch him before he gets to the house. As Mark and Emily stumble through reconciliation, and Crystal binds, gags, and stuffs Ryan behind the couch, Judy chases Shannon through the house trying to spray her with holy water.

Love will triumph, evil will fail, and in the end we’ll find that imaginary warlocks are like imaginary problems. They’ll follow you everywhere but they’ll never catch you. So don’t sweat em’.

Set Requirements:

Single Set: living room
Time: Present

Cast of Characters:

Judy Barcus:

A sixty year old woman suffering from schizophrenia.

Emily Barcus:

Thirty something single woman who lives with and cares for her mother, Judy.

Ryan Barcus:

A petty crook, thirty three year old son of Judy and brother to Emily.


Thirty something friend and neighbor of Emily.

Mark Lorenz:

Thirty to forty year old parole officer and eventual love interest of Emily.

Joey Almanac:

Forty to fifty year old career criminal and organized crime boss.


Sixteen year old daughter of Crystal.

Special thanks to Hali Linn for the custom artwork created for each play!