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Return of The Giant Sloth

A Short Comedy by Albert Fried-Cassorla




(This play portrays a violation of the Sixth Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbor. It was written as part of a playwriting competition sponsored by the Philadelphia City Paper.)



Helen Midthassel-Kazarnowicz - mother, wife, homebuyer, working
person; sweet, but jaded


Hermione - their twin daughter, age 10

Gingold - their twin son, age 10

Officer Washington - a Philadelphia Police officer, African-American
if possible

Giant Sloth - the arm of an actor in a sloth costume, which includes brown fur and three long, knife-like nails. Also requires off-stage roars, either pre-recorded actual animal's such as a lion's or bear's, or actor imitating animal


The living room of a house in a suburban part of Philadelphia.. There is a sofa and a large, ultra-smiling family picture of the Midthassel-Kazarnowicz family.

A door at Stage Right leads to a kitchen. A door at Stage Left leads to the side yard, from which the sloth will be seen. On a coffee table are a birding book and a pair of binoculars. A broom leans against a wall.


At Rise:

[GINGOLD rushes in excited from Stage Left through the outside door and excitedly calls the police.]

Hello, officer?... I want to report this big, big animal…. I don't know…. I have a science book. It looks like this… a giant three-toed sloth. It's dangerous! .... Yeah. My name is Gingold Midthasssel-Kazarnowicz…. 77 Cherrytree Lane and remember it's big, and it's...

[SFX: a loud roar emanates from Stage Left, such as the sound of a bear or lion. GINGOLD looks with alarm out the window, seeing something frightful. HERMIONE rushes in breathless and scared. GINGOLD cradles the phone against his chest.]

Who's that? The police?


Did you tell 'em it's huge and it's eating our lawn?

GINGOLD (into the phone)
It's humungous and dangerous, officer, and you should come over right now... Yeah!... Bye.

[HERMIONE grabs the broom from a wall near Stage Right, then changes course and heads towards the door at Stage Left.]

I'm gonna swat it! You get Mom and Dad!

[HERMIONE runs out the door. GINGOLD runs to Stage Left, where he runs into HELEN, who is entering from the kitchen.)

And where are YOU running?

Mommy, I think Professor Tannenbaum's got a giant three-toed sloth living next door. Just like Jurassic Park. The thing's huge and scary. Dad should get him!

Dad's at the hardware store. And besides, what do you mean about a sloth. Ha, ha, ha. What an imagination!

GINGOLD (points out the window)
Look -- right there, Mom! I think it's a giant three-toed sloth. Like in my book. Exactly! Mom, I called the police and--

[Commotion is heard outside. Roaring animal sounds. Thwacking, moving backwards, HERMIONE enters and backing up, finally beats off the creature, which roars. HELEN finally looks outside and sees.]

HELEN (screams)
Yahhh!!!! … What the heck IS that?!! Oh my God, what's have you been doing? What's Professor Tannenbaum got living there?

(Officer WASHNGTON knocks.)

Police. Open up!!

(HELEN opens the door and Officer WASHNGTON enters.)

Yes, officer?

I understand there's been a complaint about a rampant sloth.

My brother called you 'cause there's this crazy sloth over there.

Don't we have anti-sloth laws in this town?

One thing at a time... Did you make a complaint, young fellow?

Yes... I said Professor Tannenbaum's got a sloth, and it's thirty feet long, big and nasty.

That's what he said, officer. It's right there! Aren't you going to arrest it?

(WASHINGTON looks out the window,)

Hmm, I see it. But look for yourself, ma'm… What's it doing?

Oh my, it is there, and it's grazing on their lawn now.

That's right. Keeping the grass in check in a way that enhances home values. Young man, you've made a false complaint against your neighbor.

He has?

Yes? How? Give it to me for godsakes!

WASHINGTON (pointing)
That is an industrious creature -- not a sloth at all.

GINGOLD (upset)
But be looks just like this picture in my science book!

(HERMIONE looks out the window, amazed, pleased)

Now he's trimming the Professor's shrubs.

(WASHINGTON pulls out a fold-over pad and begins writing.)

Son, I'm going to have to write you up for bearing false witness against a neighbor.

But that's a biblical sin, not a law!

Lady, I'm a Seventh Day Adventist, and it's all the same to me, lady. This is America.

Officer, can't your write my brother up for something modern?

Yes, that would be wonderfully kind of you. Perhaps malicious slander'? At least that would look better on his record than violating a Biblical injunction!

'Fraid I can't do that.

(WASHINGTON opens the door and addresses the SLOTH with his bullhorn)

Creature! As long as you're out there, can you wash my car?

(They all crane and bend, looking out the window with concern, then disappointment, then pleasure.)

He's doing it!

Young man, I'm letting you off with just a citation.

Thank you so much!

(HELEN kisses WASHINGTON with excessive enthusiasm. The kitchen door opens and the arm of the SLOTH pokes through.)

(WASHINGTON shakes hands with the SLOTH'S arm)

WASHINGTON (to the family)
Just remember -- one man's sloth is another's slovenliness. And in the Kingdom of the Disheveled, the man with a comb is King.

(WASHINGTON combs his hair, dons his cap.)

I've got to go now - but I don't want to hear about any more biblical injunctions being violated here. No making graven images, no nothing. All right?!!

Yes. Thank you, officer.

(Exit WASHINGTON. We hear a large roar and perhaps chewing sounds. Presumably SLOTH is eating officer WASHINGTON. The family looks on in horror.)

What a shame. He was such a nice man.

(seeing an open page in Gingold's science book.)
Oh my, Gingold. Look at your book - the other page. That was no giant there-toed sloth...

You're right! It was a four-toed glutton!!

(All members of the family look at each other in open-mouthed horror and hold hands to their heads.)

How could we!!!??

Fade to black.)