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The Tangled Skirt

Steve Braunstein

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Full Length Play, Drama

1m, 1f

ISBN: 9780573700996

A Whistle Stop Noir by Steve Braunstein

Two strangers await the last bus out of town, as small talk turns into a deadly game of cat and mouse and both seek advantage, trapped in their own secrets and lies, to be the last one standing. As the bus barrels toward the station, Bailey and Rhonda, torn by passion and greed, must confront each other, and themselves, as fate closes in.

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Full Length Play



90 minutes

Time Period - Present Day

Settings Of Play - A small town bus depot. 12:30am. The play occurs in real time with no intermission.


No intermission


No Special Cautions


Appropriate for all audiences, Adult


College Theatre / Student, Community Theatre, Professional Theatre, Shoestring Budget, Large Stage, Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups


Edgar Award Nomination

Nominee! Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award, Best Play
Breathless from running and staggered by a startling incident, Bailey Bryce dashes into a deserted bus depot in the dead of night desperately clutching a travel bag. He’s glad to be alone; to think fast, to collect himself, to figure things out before it’s too late. But he won’t be alone for long. Enter Rhonda Claire, a stunning stranger tightly gripping her own travel bag and frantically looking over her shoulder. She’s clearly unnerved by Bailey, harmless though he may appear. How can she trust anyone in this God-forsaken place? And sure enough, as both anxiously await the last bus out of town, for their very own different reasons, small talk turns into a deadly game of cat and mouse as both seek advantage, trapped in their own secrets and lies, to be the last one standing when that clunker of a bus finally pulls in. As sirens wail in the distance, Bailey becomes convinced that this woman to die for has committed a terrible crime. And Rhonda, cool as the steel of a pistol, suspects Bailey, so comically naïve at times, has done worse. As the bus barrels toward the station, Bailey and Rhonda, torn by passion and greed, must confront each other, and themselves, as fate closes in.

"All the steam and suspense of a classic film noir. The laws of attraction and survival clash through surprising revelations and dangerous switchbacks neither one - or an audience - could predict" - Broadway World

"Braunstein's taut script - sharply written - offers up plenty of quotable lines, tense, caffeinated energy (and) a sleepless dynamic so on the money for the genre in its night-owl world" - Asbury Park Press

"Noir infused intrigue...steamy...deftly mannered...twists and turns. An elegant homage to the noir genre by Mr. Braunstein." - The New York Times

"Braunstein doesn't parody or plagiarize the genre. His characters, dialogue, and setting smack of originality. The audience is hooked from the start." - Two Rivers Times

"Stylish, hard-boiled pulp fiction. Given that this is a two-character play, it is amazing that there are so many twists, turns, and genuine surprises to which Braunstein delightfully treats us. You are bound to have a really good time." - Talkin' Broadway

"Excellent dialogue that could be Wilder and Chandler, and some wonderfully paradoxical eyebrow-raising lines." - NYTheatre.com

"Steve Braunstein is one of the few playwrights around who can write a cracking good mystery." - Backstage

The Tangled Skirt was first presented at The New Jersey Repertory Company on December 4, 2010.



1m, 1f


Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle), Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)

BAILEY BRYCE – enigmatic, small town denizen; mid 30s-early 40s.
RHONDA CLAIRE – a stranger in town, to die for; in her 30s.
Steve Braunstein

Steve Braunstein

Steve Braunstein has received productions of his plays at theatres across the country. His noir drama The Tangled Skirt was produced at New Jersey Repertory Company and received an Edgar Award Nomination for Best Play from The Mystery Writers of America. It was most recently produced in both England and Ireland. His play The Soul Of An Intruder was produced twice in New York and  optioned for a ... view full profile

Now Playing
TJ Charlson 13/02/2014 16:44
A good read. Nice vehicle for two actors, a director, set and sound designer. A carefully executed production should be compelling for an audience, without being trite.

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