there's always the Hudson Summary – Spoilers Below
Content transparency: This play contains discussions and depictions of rape, sexual abuse and assault, suicide ideation, profanity, and drug use.
THERE’S ALWAYS THE HUDSON Summary
The play opens on Lola, a Puerto Rican woman in her late twenties living in NYC, paying a visit to her drug dealer, Chase. She surprises him when she says she’s not going to buy anything. Lola asks Chase to sleep with her, stating that she just wants to “feel normal again.” Lola reveals that she hopes to have her first sexual experience in five years, in order to overcome past sexual trauma, which she does not specify. Chase explains to her that he doesn’t sleep with clients and that she may have misconstrued some of his comments. Chase tries to help her expel her inner demons with a barking exercise. Lola then asks him if she can give him a blowjob. He asks if it will help her, and after she answers in the affirmative, he relents. After she blows him, he asks her if she feels better. Lola lies and tells him she does. He offers her a bag of coke, “on the house,” before she leaves. She takes it and does a couple of bumps after she leaves the apartment.
Lola then meets up with her best friend, T. T is a Haitian-American man in his late twenties and is in the same support group for sexual assault survivors as Lola. He is furious that she skipped out on their meeting today and left him waiting by himself. He shares that in Lola’s absence, another member of the support group spoke about the way that Lola, “puts herself in those situations,” behind her back. Lola is furious and forces him to admit which group member said it. Lola is not surprised but still angered to learn that it was a woman named Madeline. After she calms down, T shares that he attempted to have sex with girlfriend, Natasha, and was unable to do it. He is ashamed and disappointed in himself for “failing” Natasha, the only person in his life he likes, apart from Lola. T and Lola then reveal that they made a pact 4 years ago that if they didn’t “feel better” by today’s date, then they would jump off the George Washington bridge together at 4:30 AM. They agree that they don’t feel any better than they did four years ago, and that they will go through with their plans. After this is settled, Lola tells him that she has plans for them tonight. She and T set off on a quest to confront all the people who “have ever fucked with them.” She reveals that she has been keeping a list in her wallet of their names and locations that she started when she was seven. She admits that this plan is crazy, but tells T that “if they’re gonna go out, they’re gonna go out with a bang.”
Their first stop is to confront a bartender named Ernesto. Lola believes that he sexually assaulted her in the bar bathroom ten years ago. Ernesto denies this, stating that she must have the wrong person. The situation escalates when Lola hits his head against the wall, and when he moves to fight back T steps in. They fight until Ernesto pulls a knife on T and puts it to his throat. He tells them he will kill them if he ever sees them again and calls Lola crazy. Lola apologies for putting T in that situation and tells him she got the wrong guy.
T tells her it’s his turn now and his first choice is Rudy, a man who takes advantage of immigrant workers and refused to pay him money from a construction job. They show up at his house with a baseball bat. T and Lola threaten Rudy and force their way into his house. T begins to smash some of Rudy’s belongings until he relents and goes to get the money he owes T. After he secures the check, T gets a little cocky and starts demanding other items from the home, like avocados and a box of office files. Rudy eventually catches T in a headlock, but tells him that fucking people over is what you have to do to get ahead in this country. Rudy then relents and tells T that because he’s a good person, he’s going to let T ride this one out, and lets him go. T immediately hits one of Rudy’s kneecaps with the bat and he and Lola make their escape.
It’s Lola’s turn again to pick their next destination, and she chooses Madeline, the woman from their support group discussed earlier in the play. Lola and T begin to confront Madeline but are then distracted by the extremely unsanitary state of her apartment. The floor is littered with months and months of takeout and fast food boxes. Madeline reveals that she is caring for her dying mother, who is watching TV in another room. Having processed the shock of Madeline’s living situation, Lola again attempts to confront Madeline about the comments she had been making behind her back. Madeline shocks them both, again, when she reveals that she always talks behind Lola’s back and she has never even been sexually assaulted. She explains that she joined the support group because she was lonely and she fabricated all the stories she told in meetings. Lola and T leave her apartment, after declining her invitation to eat KFC with her on the floor, at a complete loss for words.
They next arrive at 7-11 in New Jersey. Lola asks T if he is ready. He has her scan the store looking for a man that fits a description he gives her. She identifies the cashier as the man they’re looking for. He readies himself while Lola attempts to keep his expectations for the encounter realistic. T enters the store and stalls before approaching the cashier, Scott. One he reaches Scott, T quietly says “you raped me.” Scott either can’t hear him or pretends not to. T repeats you raped me in a quiet voice over and over while Scott continues to ask him to speak up until he explodes. He screams at Scott, accusing him of raping him when he was a child, causing a huge scene in the 7-11. Scott denies everything and tells the other customers that T is a crackhead. As T continues to scream his whole story, Scott accuses him trying to steal in attempt to draw attention away from T’s accusations. T continues to scream at Scott until he asks him if he’s “sorry for liking little boys or for liking cock.”
T wakes up in field behind the 7-11 an hour later with Lola. Lola reveals that Scott knocked him, and one of his front teeth, out. Despite these developments, T is elated that he successfully confronted Scott. He tries to make Lola pray with him, she refuses and watches. He asks God to help him perform for Natasha, to give him strength to accept himself if he is also attracted to men. Lola berates him for praying and asks where God was when she needed strength and protection. She continues to tirade, questioning the effectiveness of support groups for every part of her life, stating that she doesn’t want to live her life in a meeting. She calls God a bitch, much to T’s horror, but then makes one request. She asks God to makes sure that T will not go to hell. She prays that he will be able to have sex with Natasha and she gives God one last chance to give her strength to get through what she has to get through the rest of the night. T attempts to apologize to God for her language and behavior. He then tells her that he is going to go have sex with Natasha and that while he’s gone, she should confront her uncle, her abuser. He tells her that she has to break the cycle, and that she isn’t in love with him, that she was just conditioned to be. Lola tells T that he’s right and that she’s not going to fall for her uncle’s usual tricks. She decides that she will confront him, and then never look back. They agree to meet at the Bridge at 4:30.
Lola arrives at her mother’s house to confront her uncle. Before she can speak, he apologizes. He tells her that he knows what he did was wrong and he wishes he could take everything back. He confesses that if he had allowed himself to process what he did to her, and stop he would have killed himself. Lola tries to fight back and say everything she has been waiting to say to him. She tells him about all the ways he messed up her life and that what they experienced wasn’t love, it was a sickness, and that he conditioned her to love him. He argues with her that they are in love and plays a song they used to listen together. Lola is eventually overpowered by the music and her frustration that he isn’t listening. She tells him that this is the last time he is going to see her and that he is going to respect that. She then walks over to him and kisses him.
Lola enters her mother’s room. From her appearance it can be implied that her and her uncle just finished having sex. She wakes her mother up. Her mother, Isabela, is surprised and delighted to see her. She tells her that she missed her. For a moment, they have a happy reunion. Lola apologies for leaving and begins to explain why. Isabela tries to stop her, but Lola is determined. She reveals that she left because she was pregnant with her uncle’s baby and that he had been sexually abusing her since she was seven. Isabela slaps Lola. Lola continues to try to speak while Isabela continues to slap her. Finally, Isabella grabs Lola’s face and Lola asks her if she knew. Isabella only apologies, confirming Lola’s worst fears. She forces Isabella to admit that she knew and Isabella confesses that she didn’t intervene because she didn’t know what do to. She attempts to apologize as Lola leaves. Lola tells her to “have a good life, and get help.”
T and Lola meet on the bridge. T comforts her as she laments over sleeping with her uncle again. However, she resolves to never return to him and her mother’s home again. She admits that she found comfort in the discovery of her mother’s betrayal, because it helped her to realize that she’s always been on her own and she only needs to take care of herself. T then reveals that he successful slept with Natasha, twice, and he has brought the used condoms to prove it. Lola berates him for bringing them and makes him tie them up. T joyfully throws them into the river. Lola and T agree that they don’t want to die. Lola tells T she just wants a fresh start, he reminds her of a former group member who would spout sayings like “the war is never won in one battle.” T starts drinking a can of Coca-Cola while Lola assesses the collection of hickeys now on her chest and neck. T tells her to close her eyes and he begins to wash the hickeys with the Coke. She asks him what he’s doing and he responds “they say it can take the paint off a car.” She takes the Coke from him and pours some on her head. She passes it back and T does the same. In the final moment of the play she throws her list in the river, and, together, drenched in Coke, they watch it float away.