"The White Chip" Synopsis


Plot points may be revealed below.

“When I was 13 I had my very first drink.” So begins Sean’s story. A not-so-devout Mormon, the religion thing just doesn’t suit him. So when his buddy offers him a beer while they’re playing computer games, he drinks it.

It’s gross.

He has another.

And life goes on. He grows up, has some mildly traumatic experiences at Mormon summer camp, discovers theatre, drinks Mad Dog with his dorky friends, goes to college. When his theatre career explodes, drinking fits right in—and facilitates some grand escapades: waking up on a boat in the middle of the ocean, having sex on theatre sets. Who’d want to stop?

Then, Sean’s father gets Parkinson’s Disease. It’s tough on Sean: He loves his dad, and can’t stand to watch his walking falter, watch him struggle just to use the bathroom. Sean turns to alcohol for comfort.

Sean gets married. But his drinking creeps in everywhere, slowly dismantling his life. He spends Christmas alone. He drinks at work. Then, the last straw: he drives drunk, and crashes.

It’s a wakeup call, and at his first AA meeting, he gets his White Chip, “the most important chip… for anyone who has 24 hours or a desire to stop drinking,” a symbol of second chances.

Sean manages to stay sober 70 days—then relapses, binge drinking for a week. Again and again, he’ll go 70 days, then relapse, getting another white chip, another chance. When his father dies, the relapses get worse, with seismic consequences. His wife leaves him. He loses his job. He feels completely abandoned…

But in a dream, his father comes and takes his hand: it’ll be okay, he assures him, no matter how bad things get.

Newly determined, Sean checks into rehab. His counselor (an ex-Air force tough-talker named Britt) demands that he find a higher power for help. Ever-wary of religion, Sean puts up a fight; so Britt orders him to seek out a group of Jews.

And the Jews change his world, offering a new perspective on addiction: Science. His brain needs dopamine; if he stops drinking for just 90 days, he’ll get it, and things will be much easier.
This time, he makes it past Day 70—to Day 90—to three years, and counting.

Sean’s friends come flooding back with support. As for Sean, he’s traded in the vodka for mint chip ice cream and coffee—and started looking out for other addicts that need help, overcome with gratitude for all he’s received.

As the play ends, we see Sean’s dream: his father visits him in his bed. “I’m so sorry I screwed everything up,” Sean says.

“My boy,” his father replies, “It’s gonna be okay.”