Bryan D. Leys

Fortune and Fate

Two non-religious one-act plays about faith.

Tobin’s Palm


Tobin’s Palm recounts the odyssey of two expatriate Irishmen in search of fortune and fate. Daniel Tobin has left his home in County Sligo to seek his fortune. He has arranged for Katie MaHorner, his sweetheart, to take the proceeds from the sale of his estate and his prize cow and follow him to New York. Now, a month after her expected arrival, Katie has disappeared. Tobin employs his policeman friend, John Malone, to find Katie but Malone comes up dry. In an attempt to cheer up the disconsolate Tobin, Malone suggests an evening trip to Coney Island.

At the garish amusement park, Tobin is attracted to the ramshackle tent of a fortune teller. For the cost of a dime, Madame Zozo foretells that Tobin will meet a dark man and a light woman, both of whom will cause him a loss. She also says Tobin will meet a man with long name and a crooked nose that will bring him luck. Tobin is overjoyed. Malone, the eternal cynic, remains unconvinced. He has stopped believing in God, along with everything else.

Amazingly, the fortune teller’s prophecy starts to come true. Leaving the park, Tobin gets into a brawl with a dark man, and finds himself at a loss of a dollar sixty five. On the ferry back to New York, Tobin tips his hat to a blonde woman and loses it overboard. Finally, arriving back in Manhattan, Tobin and Malone encounter a crooked nosed-writer named Friedenhausman Will Friedenhausman reunite Tobin with his beloved Katie? Will Malone regain his faith? Or will fortune be denied (Fortune’s Fool)? As in all O. Henry stories, the ending is a surprise.

Cast of Characters (in order of their appearance)

Note: If performed with Twilight Star, Tobin’s Palm may be performed with three men and one woman, otherwise, two men and two women.

John Malone A policeman.
Daniel Tobin A stonecutter.
Chorus Madame Zozo, Maximus J. Freidenhausman, bartender, woman in bar, belly dancer, woman with blond hair, dark man, others.

Twilight Star


Twilight Star is a dark comedy that celebrates the frailty and resilience of the human spirit.

In a high-rise apartment on Chicago’s Lakeshore Drive, Joel Ballard, an amateur astronomer and his ex-wife Anne, a science fiction writer, are facing their last evening. A neutron star, billions of light years away, has collapsed into a black hole. A deadly burst of gamma radiation from this cosmic event has crossed space and is headed directly towards Earth.

Neighbors, who were strangers, begin to gather in the apartment to face the fact that all of their hopes as well as all the dreams of mankind have been quickly and casually thrown aside. A mysterious Rabbi makes an appearance and tells them that instead of regrets, they should thank God for the blessing of existence. In the end Joel and Anne re-discover how much of a pair they really are. Together, the neighbors make their peace and find the dignity to face their destiny. But fate may have a final trick up its sleeve.

Cast of Characters (in order of their appearance)

Twilight Star is designed to be act II of Fortune and Fate and to share the same cast with Tobin’s Palm, but each can also be performed separately.

Joel Ballard An astronomer.
Anne Matheson Science fiction writer.
Sam Verne Plumbing engineer in love with Ursula Jones.
Ursula Jones 15B.
Jack Ellison A crazed reporter.
Rabbi Solomon Lewis A young Rabbi on a visit.