The Entertainment

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The Entertainment is the second Kentucky Route Zero interlude, released online on November 22, 2013. It takes place between Acts II and III.

The cover for the Entertainment script.

It is also the name of a play directed by James B. Carrington, with adaptation by Joseph Wheattree of two original plays: A Reckoning and A Bar-fly (both written by Lem Doolittle), to be performed simultaneously. The setting was designed by Lula Chamberlain. In the interlude, it is performed in the Lower Depths.

The Entertainment is available for download here.


The bar-fly, the player's point-of-view character, sits at a central table on a stage dressed up as a bar called The Lower Depths. From there, the player can glance forward at the action of the performance of A Reckoning; above at the Hard Times sign for scene notes; at the jukebox for sound cue notes; at the stage director for production notes; at the audience for reviews of the performance; and at their own table to see their own stage directions from A Bar-fly. The scene only moves forward after the action in-front is completed. The audience reviews suggest that the present-day action is actually a student production of The Entertainment from the 1970s.

In A Reckoning, bartender Harry Esperanza and patron Evelyn Hickman discuss the heatwave outside, comparing it to the heat in Texas, a location Evelyn has not been to but whose husband Ted is currently at on a business trip. Evelyn fears that Ted may cheat on her but Harry discourages the thought. She orders a beer but Harry points out that the only drink he carries now is whiskey from Hard Times Distillery. Evelyn asks if Harry's seen the people who work for Hard Times, remarking that they are "strange"; Harry only says that they work hard. Their conversation turns to improvements for the bar that Harry thought of while on recent vacation, then to the currently drunk bar-fly, and then back to Ted before a reflection on living in the moment and enjoying drinks, camaraderie and the upcoming bar entertainment, Junebug, whom is expected to arrive by 8PM.

In the next scene, Pearl Slade enters the bar, apparently earlier than expected. She discusses her job at Ace Jewelry & Loan with Evelyn and Harry. Evelyn buys a whiskey for Pearl, who also notes the strange nature of the workers at Hard Times. After Evelyn eggs on Harry to talk about his vacation, Pearl lets the two know that she has arrived early because she plans to quit her job as she has put in charge of a predatory scheme to coerce other "dark-skinned" people into debt via then-new payday loan advances and is disgusted by being turned into an accomplice. She intends to stop paying her parents' tab at The Lower Depths and to move out West after quitting, something that Harry objects to as Pearl's parents have a large debt of bar tabs with him. Still, he says he will pay for both Pearl and Evelyn's drinks tonight, suggesting that one can ever be sure when debts will be called in to be paid in full. Evelyn again shows interest in waiting for "the entertainment".

Scene III: Sometime later, Pearl's parents, Rosa and Lawrence arrive, excited at Rosa's new promotion as "management material" after 11 years as a supermarket cashier. As they order drinks and remark on how Hard Times uses something strange in their barrel aging process, Harry ominously reminds everyone about their debts and how they will be asked to pay up soon, stating that there will be a reckoning soon. Junebug is late for the 8PM performance time.

In the fourth and final scene, Pearl is back in the bar, soberly chatting with a drunken Evelyn and her inebriated parents. Pearl lets her parents know that she is cutting them off financially. Lawrence gets upset, calling Pearl cruel to cut them off when her mother has received a promotion, but Rosa clarifies that she was only considered by her boss as management material, stating his words that she will "maybe eventually" get the promotion. The sobering moment is interrupted by Evelyn's desire for more alcohol and her once more teasing Harry about his poolside vacation. Harry explodes into rage, saying that he simply closed the bar for a week and never left the city because he has no money at all to afford a vacation. He explains that he couldn't even afford the whiskey from Hard Times without striking up a deal with the distillery. When Pearl presses for clarification on that deal, Harry suggests Pearl leave the bar, as she doesn't deserve what is coming next. She leaves.

Evelyn dreams she was in Ted's place, perhaps taking a young man's offer of love just as she imagines Ted is cheating on her right now. Rosa and Lawrence cling to the hopefulness of Rosa's boss' proclamation of "management material" as they await the arrival of Junebug. Harry dismisses everyone's ability to pay up their debts, saying "they feed on debt" and that "they put it in the whiskey." Asked for clarification by Evelyn, Harry reveals that he has sold the debt he is owed by the bar patrons to the Hard Times distillery, and that someone from there will be at The Lower Depths soon to collect it from all of them. As he apologizes over and over, a glowing skeleton appears behind the bar-fly, in front of the audience. Cut to black.

Development & background[edit]

The game was originally developed for the Oculus Rift headset. This virtual reality version is now unavailable and unsupported, and instructions on its operation have since been amended to direct players on how to instead host a live stage production of the play. The former VR design gave players direct control of the camera, constrained detailed action to happen close to the player character and resulted in the decision to put the player on-stage as an actor, albeit one with no lines.

Cardboard Computer stated in a December 2013 newsletter that the game and one-act play was inspired by modern-era playwrights Eugene O'Neill, Samuel Beckett, and Maxim Gorky.[1] The "brick sandwich" on the Bar-fly's table is in reference to a circumvention of Raines law, a prohibition-era law outlawing the sale of alcohol on Sunday except for in hotels (the setting of both The Entertainment and O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh). Some bar owners would mock the law by serving a clay brick between two slices of bread – as seen in the play – thus satisfying the minimal legal requirement of serving food.

Print version[edit]

The "Paper and Ink" version of the script is printed with a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) of 57-6498, which it shares with a published version of The Iceman Cometh. Of note, the LCCN listed is in a format that was in use before the year 2000. A modern printing would require the LCCN to adhere to the present format, which in this case would be 57006498.

A PDF of the print version can be found here and the sound cues can be downloaded from the ZIP linked in this document (direct link here).

Cast list[edit]

In the world of Kentucky Route Zero, the play was first presented at the Buffalo Street Student Theatre on the evening of November 16, 1973 with the following cast:

Harry Esperanza Edgar Foy
Lawrence Slade Allen Vogel
Pearl Slade Sarah Wakefield
Rosa Slade Sydney Mueller
Evelyn Hickman Paula Graves
Bar-fly Uncredited

Real-life productions[edit]

WordPlay premiere[edit]

The Entertainment debuted at the 2013 edition of WordPlay, a festival hosted by the Hand Eye Society in Toronto, Canada. The event, which took place on November 16, 2013, featured a recreation of the table set where guests could sit and play the VR version of the game.[2][3]

Beta Public performance[edit]

Beta Public, an event series at the Camden People's Theatre in London, hosted a production of The Entertainment on April 21, 2016.[4][5]