A MODERN CRUCIFIXION A Play in Two-Acts by Christina Conrad (Draft) Copyright © 1999 Christina Conrad email: email@example.com C H A R A C T E R S HERA: Obsessed painter in early 50s. Dark, haunted, and magnetic. Long, wild hair. Bare feet. Wears white, paint-spattered trousers and a shirt bound round waist with blood-red cord. Voice like an ancient instrument wells up out of the throat. THEA: Hera’s daughter by first marriage. 24-year-old student. Child-like, petulant, small, yet full bosomed. Blonde hair falls in two plaits. Large green eyes. Short black dress, tight-fitting waist, black leggings, flesh-pink ankle socks. Leg shows between socks & leggings. Feet in brown, ankle boots. JOSEPH: Hera’s first husband. A lawyer in mid-50s. Tall, thin, stooped. Little, sharp teeth. Sandy moustache. Pale, fanatical blue eyes stare behind small, gold- rimmed spectacles. Black, formal suit. Slim, black- leather gloves (never removed), black tie, black Homberg, white shirt, white handkerchief. Large antique silver watch on chain hangs over hollow stomach. Blood-red rose bud in lapel. Carries a black, shiny cane, black attaché case. Feet in tight black shoes. YVES: Hera’s eldest son by second marriage. 17-years-old. His huge black eyes contain the sorrow of the world. Nose like the beak of an eagle. Long red-black hair falls to shoulders. Black top hat, dead white face. Torn, white-silk pajamas. Feet bare. ___________________________________________ SETTING Hera’s two-storey, studio/house. TIME The present ACT ONE SETTING: In a stark, white studio: two, blood-red stairways wind to the left and right of a tall, narrow, glass door with an arched top. This door resembles an upturned coffin. A soft wind blows bits of paint-smeared toilet paper causing seven, long white candles to flame in the crudely carved candelabra hanging by a rope from the ceiling. A tall, metal easel holds at a precarious angle a sculptured painting of a man. His grotesque, over-sized head falls hopelessly on to his chest. The space is furnished with a fat couch clad in crumpled grey-blue velvet. A table with claws, circular and scrubbed. A tall, full-throated, flesh-pink jug (filled with goats’ milk). A bread board, black bread, goats’ cheese. A half-pecked seed bell sits on the edge of the table. AT RISE: Stage dim. HERA’s back is to audience. She fanatically manipulates the papier-mâché head, wet with paint. Big, stiff, mutilated paint tubes writhe in a heap on the floor. Everything is besmirched with paint, like dried blood. THEA appears at top of right stairway. Light distorts her doll-like beauty, transforming her temporarily into a man. THEA (In a harsh, male voice) We dragged them out of their filthy caves, broke them on the wheel, bound them to the stake. Burnt them by the thousands. That stench of burning flesh terrorized the masses. (Beat) The ones who confessed fell to their knees begging to be cleansed. (SHE is shouting) THEA (Continued) The eyes! The eyes gave them away! (Stage lights up) (HERA stops manipulation of head, stares at painting) (THEA comes down stairs) THEA (Continued) (In soft, wheedling, female voice) What happened to that little egg pie you promised me? (Pause) Hera? (Beat) What happened to that little egg pie you said you’d buy me? HERA There are no pies. THEA Which cake shop did you go to? HERA I was transported to the one down by the water. THEA I’m starving! HERA I did not see anything remotely resembling a little egg pie. (Beat) There were some rather brutal white buns. THEA Iced? HERA Naked. (Beat) I took the opportunity to purchase a tube of white lead. THEA Only you could digest that. HERA The throat has a way of enlarging itself. THEA What about the cake shop by the bank? HERA It was dark on the interior. She had gold teeth. THEA Who? HERA The one who takes the money. THEA Why didn’t you buy me one of their meringues? HERA She was hovering over a burial mound of old scones. THEA Scones! I love scones. Those fat white ones with real cream. HERA Artificial cream. (Beat) There’s black bread and goats’ cheese on the table. THEA I only like processed cheese. (HERA continues manipulating the head) THEA (Continued) Daddy used to feed me with little shellfish. He’d prise them off the rocks. HERA Your father was subservient. (Beat) It’s been twenty years since I’ve eaten the flesh of an animal. THEA The perversity of your appetite has deprived me of a mother. I want a mother! HERA I serve a grim apprenticeship to the Self. Ah! See how the blood-red cord pulsates! THEA It was severed at birth. (Glancing sideways at the painting) Your last lover didn’t have such a big head. HERA I have been manipulating it all morning. THEA So you didn’t go out! HERA I went out… of my body. THEA One day you won’t be able to get back into it. HERA When I put my fingers into the empty caverns of his eyes… it’s as if I am being sucked into a vortex. THEA The head’s too big. You’ll never be able to keep it on. HERA There is a slippery element I dare not control. (Beat) He does not endure under my hands. THEA That’s an obvious aspect of your predicament. (Beat) You’re in love with Death. HERA Yes. Fatally. I finger him as I slide between grubby sheets on that voracious bed of Ego. THEA Who is he, anyway? HERA Lucidity. (Pause) Why do you come to haunt me? THEA I’m one of your ghosts. (Beat) THEA (Continued) I dream I’m lying in an open coffin. I call out… where are you? Oh, why did you leave me? HERA I was in the hands of Obsession. THEA Another one of your lovers. HERA I gave up everything for him. Husbands, children, houses, money… reputation. THEA You ruined my father. HERA His curls were wrapt mice. THEA You dropped a bag of white, powdered lead on the prize-winning painting of his mother. HERA There was a hole in the bottom of the bag. THEA You selected my father as your sole audience. HERA He knelt at an illusory altar, licking the gilt of deception. THEA All his teeth fell out. HERA There was no money to have them pulled. THEA He spent it all on paint… for you. (Beat) You never loved him. You ate him away whilst trying to impress your image on his gentle surface. (Beat) Daddy is too kind! HERA He hid me in his house. THEA It’s a wonder they didn’t lock you away. HERA Those who dare to speak the truth shall be taken for the last ride. THEA If only you could drive. HERA I am driven. Driven to the edge. THEA Your rabbit-hutch mentality prevents you from taking part in the world. HERA Yes! On the edge, I conduct the infamous ravings of Ego. THEA Do you think my eyes are too small? (Beat) The beautician said I should draw black lines around them. HERA Black lines drawn around eyes create the impression of one looking out from behind the bars of a cage. (Beat) You have Jewish eyes, like your brother’s. THEA They float on my forehead. If only I could find a way to bring them down. HERA Those who measure with calipers… (The head falls to the floor with a dull thud. HERA picks it up, and slams it back on to the canvas) THEA If only my eyes were bigger. Look at me! I’ve got no hips, no eyebrows; my bosoms are too big. I’ve never had a mother. When you weren’t painting you were lying in bed, weeping over your lovers. HERA I was listening to the droning of the mason bees as they made their nests in the broken knobs of the old brass bed. THEA You gave me nothing. I had to break open my money box to buy a jelly baby. HERA The hair of a rat’s nest shewed through a crack in the ceiling. THEA My stomach aches as if a rat gnaws. HERA Greed deprives. THEA Your black ego deprives me. HERA You have been talking to your father. THEA My father sustains me. HERA (Looking at painting) His head is too slippery. (Beat) How will I ever connect it to his body? THEA Daddy thought you were a genius. God knows why. HERA Your father collected objects… (Pause) He had a face like a wall clock. THEA His punctuality never failed me. HERA It protected him from chaos, the chaos I needed to create with. THEA The only time you ever noticed me was when I drew. HERA You crouched at the table, drawing people with whirlpool eyes, their hands exploding firecrackers. THEA Their hearts hung on their chests. HERA At spring tide, the sea ran up the steps, calling me out of my body. I ate every pill I could find. THEA Save me from the squalor of your past. HERA We are the consequences of the act. THEA You never wanted me. HERA What appears to be cast off returns, not always in the shape one expects. THEA How can you behave so indifferently ? HERA Blinded by oddments of deceit. THEA There are so many of them. HERA Precariously balanced on the hump of the world. (Beat) My paintings are my curséd children. I spill my blood for them. I lift the lid off the top of my head so they can play with inspiration. THEA I’d force-feed you with a bit of reality. HERA Whose reality? THEA The world’s! HERA I trace the full circle with the white stick of the blind. THEA You cast me aside so you could give full vent to your fantasies. HERA I was not acquainted with love. Fear and his brother, Torment, took me at an early age. THEA God! I inherited your phenomenal fear. HERA Fear is the dominating factor in our struggle for union. (Beat) When I had taken too many pills, I’d crawl into your cot. Your father brought me carrot juice with leaves of celery. He said it would soothe my mind. (Beat) It shot up into the arc-shaped chamber, covering it with a milky substance. THEA Everything went wrong after the birth of my brother. HERA They took him away. They would not let me see him. THEA A white, linen suit would give you credibility. HERA My body is hollow for the flame to rise. THEA Gas is dangerous. You could burn off your eyebrows. Why don’t you buy one of those wands with the red handles to light it with. HERA I wear a blood-red cord round my waist. I need more paint! I must cover Lucidity in a coat of white lead. THEA What you need is an agent. HERA No! Don’t let them near me! They must be kept away from the broken limbs of the tortured. (HERA stares as if SHE has seen a ghost) THEA Calm down. For God’s sake, they’re only paintings. HERA They are all my broken loves. (Pause) On the night of your brother’s birth, a huge, dark-blue bird flew into the room. He bore down on me, beating his wings. (Beat) Swords of light shot from his eyes. THEA Daddy… Daddy always knew what to do. HERA He threw a black cloth over the bird. THEA The bird came to take my brother. HERA The black cloth fell off the bird. THEA Daddy is a man of honor. HERA He left us alone with the bird. THEA Daddy wouldn’t have left you. HERA He went out and slammed the door. The baby was screaming, tearing at my hair. The bird circling, beating his body against the walls. (Beat) It was a hot night… a vine, heavy with black plums, pushed against the open window… he opened his eyes… they were gleaming, as if he saw something I could not see. Then he fell back with a rattle. HERA (Continued) (Beat) Gone! Out of his body. THEA I never got any of those plums. They were the black kind. The ones with the thick, juicy flesh. HERA The bird flew out of the window. THEA Everything is a myth. Why can’t you be honest for once? You sent me away. I had to stay with Daddy’s aunt, the one with the fork mark on her nose. HERA Branded by her inheritance. THEA I need sustenance. Give me sustenance! HERA Each life is a death. THEA You are oblivious to my needs. HERA You will find sustenance in the vital body of black bread. THEA I don’t want black bread! It’s only the white sort… HERA I need white paint. White paint! (Pause) (THEA gazes at the painting) THEA Paint is the last thing you need. (Beat) Daddy never let you have too many tubes at a time. HERA He kept them locked in a cupboard. THEA I wouldn’t let you have any paint. HERA Without paint… I cannot live. THEA You’d soon get used to it. HERA No! No! (Touching the head) I have a great body… THEA I see no evidence of this. (Beat) ` Where’s the neck? HERA In this configuration, the neck is not necessary. THEA If only they could be sold. HERA I do not want the destructive eyes. THEA Don’t speak of eyes! (Puts her hands over her eyes) HERA The superfluous eyes shall be wrapt in cotton wool and shut in a black box. THEA And where is the love? The love! HERA A gnawing hunger for love drives me to paint. The act of squeezing tubes causes me to forget Insatiability and his excessive demands. THEA Someone is sure to love me. So many men look at me in the street. HERA You are loved. THEA Not by you. HERA By Love herself. (Beat) Ah! How she claws at the bars of her cage! THEA Why can’t you just tell me? HERA You sound like your father. I cannot declare love on demand. THEA Is that why you never had any milk for me? HERA That is not why. THEA You had milk for your sons. HERA Inspiration flowed. THEA It was the milk I never suckled. HERA I wept milk! (Beat) I was a river of milk! THEA They sucked and sucked. Yves would still be sucking if he were here. Why wasn’t there any for me? HERA The vessel was empty. THEA I need milk. Milk! HERA There’s goats’ milk in the jug. THEA I want real milk! HERA Goats’ milk is the nearest thing to mother’s milk. THEA That’s why you fed me with cow’s milk! HERA It was special babies’ milk. In a tin. THEA I was forced to suck on a rubber tit. HERA I was the sheep who couldn’t feed her lamb. THEA A sheep who popped pills and bleated for my father to buy her cappuccino ice creams. You sent him out in a taxi! HERA I was addicted. THEA If only you’d been addicted to me! HERA I learnt my first lesson from the sheep. THEA Brainless submission. HERA No! The dignity of acceptance. (Beat) In spring, the sheep dragged their swollen bodies over the land. I, too, was pregnant. I could not submit to my fate. (Beat) The sheep lifted their faces to the sky, chewing quietly whilst their lambs suckled. THEA The lambs were taken away from their mothers. HERA Big trucks came to take the sheep away. THEA The lambs bleated all day. HERA The sheep’s throats were cut. The land was drenched in blood and suffering. THEA I was a lamb! HERA I was a sheep. (Pause) Every time the trucks came, I was sick with fear. THEA I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know! HERA We cannot hide from it. In the name of materialism, we take the lives of people and animals. We sell their flesh. (Beat) We devour their flesh. THEA Yes… I remember. I lay under a painting of this. HERA “As the sheep are slaughtered, so shall they be.” THEA It fell off the wall. It nearly killed me. HERA The hook wasn’t big enough. THEA No one bought it. HERA It was not for sale. THEA My nerves were destroyed by a diet of white sugar. HERA I didn’t become a vegetarian until you were four. THEA My fingers were so dry, I had to keep licking them. HERA I licked mine, too. THEA Whilst you lay in bed. HERA As if offered on a swooning plate. THEA Daddy was the sacrifice. HERA Nailed to the vice of Self. THEA You overworked him. He could have been famous. HERA He was mediocre enough. He painted portraits of his mother. (Beat) I was fed on silverbeet juice. THEA That’s probably what gave you your persecution complex. HERA I was stuck between two worlds. THEA Ego mania and child neglect. HERA I wear the continually changing masks of many lives. Under the masks is this old, rotting skull. THEA I can see that. (Beat) I’m starving. HERA Eat bread! THEA I long for Daddy’s moon biscuits. HERA The memory of his moon biscuits overwhelms me. I will not let him set foot in this house. THEA Don’t get paranoid. It took him ten years to recover. (SHE drifts over to the table) HERA I still lie on the crumbs. (THEA picks up an old, half-pecked seed bell) THEA What’s this? HERA (Dreamily) A seed bell. (Beat) All the little seeds clinging to the bell. THEA You should buy one of those fat ones with the big seeds. Daddy… Daddy was telling me… HERA Don’t tell me! (Takes seed bell from THEA) THEA What would you do if you sold some of your paintings? HERA I no longer wish to barter with Death. THEA There is a possibility they might buy one of the more palatable ones. (Beat) If I was a bird, I would peck up all the little seeds. HERA I long for the companionship of a white cockatoo. THEA Isn’t your lover enough? HERA Lucidity, Logic, Torment and his brother, Sorrow… THEA All concocted out of dreams. HERA If I reach out my hand… nothing is solid. THEA You’ve always been afraid of birds. HERA I have a recurring dream… a huge bird… his wings beating… his eye riveted to mine… rips open my heart. THEA Tell me! How will you sustain the apparition of a white cockatoo? HERA (Fondling the seed bell) I will learn to love his white, downy throat… the feel of his beak… his old, enchanted eye. THEA Put it down! It’s too old and shriveled. HERA However old and shriveled, the bell gives sustenance. See how its seeds glitter. They are the eyes of millions… terminated at the seed. Their dual qualities merging into one. THEA I’d throw that old seed bell away. HERA It shall hang in the cypress grove where the trees are green flames. It is there I shall meet the white cockatoo. (THEA snatches the bell out of HERA’s hands, breaking it into little pieces) THEA A cage will be the answer. A cage with a tower. HERA At the sound of his wings I shall be delivered and laid in a cypress grove. THEA Forget it. HERA I cannot forget. I must forge a way through darkness. THEA Everything is your way. What about my way? HERA Unless you can untie the knot that binds, you shall be as pitiless as the rest of us. THEA There are people who lead normal lives. HERA Under the grey scum of normality is the scream we all try to smother. (Beat) The scream has a life of its own. THEA I intend to survive the holocaust of your ideas. HERA They are your inheritance. THEA I am ill without the sustenance of a little egg pie. HERA Raw inspiration sustains. THEA I cannot believe you are my mother! HERA We cannot believe. Caught in the futility of our own reflection, we hold up Ego as if he were a black chalice to drink from. THEA I have come to lay the futility of my life before you… You took everything… even the pearl buttons. HERA Pearl buttons! THEA Daddy’s mother’s. HERA I sucked them on long, dark nights. THEA I have been forced to use zips. HERA So many things get caught in the teeth of zips. THEA One day I’ll stop coming to see you. HERA Yes. I shall remain hidden, hidden by the walls. (Beat) Your brothers ate the stamens of lilies. They ran between the legs of bulls in their diapers. THEA You are responsible for Yves’ mania. When he and Fer got in the way of your painting, you left them like you left me. HERA Yes… I abandoned you all. Took the pearl buttons. Little, fallen moons, stitched to my breast with blood-red thread. THEA I’ll make you go down on your knees. HERA My paintings are my apology. THEA Those lead-based protrusions! HERA That which I called up and gave birth to demands a place to hang. (Beat) My paintings are orphans. THEA I had to force my way out of your womb. HERA You slipped past the sentry waving your rattle. THEA It was all your idea. I never would’ve chosen you for a mother. Your paintings are out of date. HERA Yes! In darkness, I grope, devouring stagnation, manipulating my damned existence. THEA You set my brothers against me. Fer doesn’t want anything to do with you. HERA They love me! THEA Their father is as crazy as you are. (Beat) My father is well-balanced. HERA His lack of passion drove me mad. THEA Anyone who is not like you has no passion. HERA Estranged from life, we grovel before the myth. THEA This gets me nowhere. HERA Only the ambitious get somewhere. They slide up and down the glass mountain, slashing their wrists on its jagged contours. THEA I was unloved before birth and after. HERA A cloak of darkness fell around me, obscuring love in her wicker perambulator. THEA I smothered in your darkness. HERA Someone had taken over my body. THEA It was me! HERA I came to that conclusion. THEA I was stuck in a bloody tunnel. HERA The labyrinth. THEA You wouldn’t push me out. Why didn’t you push me out? HERA I flew out of my body. I looked down. People with masks were tearing me to pieces. THEA I could have died choking on your blood. HERA I lay on a board people ice cakes on. THEA I said, why didn’t you push!? HERA Voices were calling me. The blood-red cord lay writhing between us. (Beat) I died without a name. THEA I looked straight into the blue flame of my father’s eyes. HERA I cradled you in a white shawl. Blood oozed between my legs. THEA I felt for your breasts. There was no milk. I tell you, there was no milk! HERA Through the tortured haze of my mind… THEA I’m a victim of your imagination. There was no milk! Just this blind tit. HERA Past, present, and future were clashing together. The doctor wore the head of a crocodile. THEA I was your whimper. HERA Even before birth we were at cross-purposes. THEA I was a fetus! HERA Do you think that is all you were? THEA Don’t question me! HERA When I last knew you, you were a man. THEA Oh God! This is what I have to deal with. Are you mad? HERA No. Only aware of the multiple complexities of Soul, and the weird division we create between male and female. THEA You chose isolation. HERA Yes! (Beat) It is that curséd womb that cuts across inspiration, that turns an artist into a woman. From birth, she is a flower to be plucked, left to wilt in houses filled with incestuous clutter, whilst the men go out to hunt the mystery of life. THEA You are your own curse… and mine! HERA We are all cursed. In the name of Desire, we call up Life and her lover, Death. THEA I had no choice. HERA We choose! We grasp the fetish! Multiplying in our weakness. We stare into the face of Doom. (Beat) I could not succumb to being a woman. I struggled to give birth to an idea. It was stuck inside me, blinding me in spasms of light. THEA They had to cut you open to let me out. HERA They broke into the labyrinth… they… they… THEA There’s just one of you against the world. HERA Yes. Every way I look, I am confronted with Self. I stare at this huge, gloating creature who goads me into desiring… devouring. (Beat) Who am I? I have pondered this before Life, before Death. Yea, I am viciously spotted; heinous in velvet darkness. I stroke monstrosity. THEA Listen to you! My mother’s a snake with a flaming tongue. Fiendish in her fascination with herself. Shut away in a stone house as if she were her own concubine. (Beat) Pity me in my exposure as your child. HERA I search the labyrinth for an answer, for a way to slay Ego. THEA You wouldn’t be anything without your ego. None of us would… though you’ve gone too far with yours. Built it up disproportionately. HERA In the name of Ego we commit crimes against Self and each other. These crimes are perpetuated through aeons. THEA (In a harsh, male voice) You! You wear the eyes! Heretic’s eyes! (HERA breaks away from THEA’s stare) HERA Memory haunts the Soul. THEA (In a male voice) We will wipe you out. HERA Light awakens Heart. Empties Mind of its paltry assumptions. THEA (Male voice) We will destroy every man, woman, and child. HERA I shall no longer cower under the black shroud of despotism, where Treachery gives birth to Death. THEA (In a male voice) The door of God’s house shall be flung open to receive those sheep who have sinned against divine law. If they swear allegiance to the church, they will be cleansed and forgiven. (Beat) Let us kneel and eat the bread, drink the wine. HERA Never! (Runs up left stairway. THEA follows. HERA stops halfway as THEA clamps her hand down on HERA’s shoulder) THEA (Male voice) Listen child to the voice of God, and you shall be saved! Many rich and powerful men have invested in you. Your strange talents, if used for devotional purposes, shall bloom. THEA (Continued) (Lays her hand on HERA’s arm) It is not too late to shelter under God’s hallowed roof. HERA Your insidious power shall never draw me into that circle of rampant saints. THEA (Male voice) Renounce your diabolic beliefs! HERA Bind me to the stake at one of your mass burnings. I shall never bow before Hypocrisy and Corruption. (Beat) In the name of God, you drain the earth of justice; slaughter the innocent who have vowed not to kill. (There is a loud knock at the door. JOSEPH can be seen through the glass, seemingly magnified, and menacing in his black attire. The knocking becomes louder. Knock after knock… relentless) (HERA clutches frantically at THEA’s arm. THEA throws her off. HERA staggers against the wall) HERA They have come for me! Don’t let them take me! THEA (In a male voice) You have made your choice. (The knocking continues. HERA climbs the stairs to the landing where she crouches in fear) (THEA descends the stairs and opens the door. JOSEPH steps in, puts his briefcase and hat on a chair by the table. HE looks round, zealously) JOSEPH Is she here? THEA (Male voice) Yes, she is here. JOSEPH I intend to take her quietly. THEA (Male voice) She is hysterical. (Beat) If… if we could keep her… hidden… JOSEPH Only the devout are safe. (Beat) I took five hundred heretics this morning. THEA (Male voice) Will they stand trial? JOSEPH They shall burn at midnight under a full moon. (Staring at THEA with zealous eyes, shows his teeth) A spectacle you cannot afford to miss… Agony in a tarred bonnet. THEA (Male voice) A little more time… a little more faith, and we shall bring the Virgin to her knees. JOSEPH I intend to shew no mercy. Whilst wood is dry and abundant, there shall be no obstacle to mass burnings. (Beat) Even our great forests must be sacrificed. THEA (Male voice) Trees… Trees I have cherished… spiritual willows… sustaining oaks… (Beat) I dream of lithe branches. JOSEPH (Showing teeth) In the name of God, they shall fall under the bright blade. THEA (Falling to knees as if to pray) Brother! I implore you… as a prominent member… JOSEPH (Prods her with cane) Get up! You fool! In our quest for Light and Truth we must negate all sense of Self. THEA (Staggers to feet) Together, we nurtured… instructed our little Virgin. JOSEPH Never allow the salacious eyes of the Devil’s children to defile the sacred. You must believe implicitly in the power of the Church. THEA Even after they have been consumed by fire, their disembodied eyes stare, stare at me. As if I am the one who has denied God. JOSEPH (Shows teeth) A clattering tongue earns an unexpected penalty. Remain tacit, or you shall be taken in an instant. (Beat) Quite devoid of Grace. (A loud bang as the papier-mâché head falls off HERA’s painting) (HERA’s shadow falls across the stage as SHE slowly descends the stairs. A spotlight illuminates her face as SHE raises it to the audience) HERA Soul cannot be destroyed by fire. JOSEPH Fire shall burn up the insolence of your tongue. (Turning to THEA) Darling! You look a trifle pale. You may need an iron tonic. THEA Daddy! Not that vile kind in the brown bottle! JOSEPH Please refrain from judging medicinal merit by the color of the bottle. This is the type of thing your mother… THEA She promised to buy me a little egg pie. JOSEPH My darling, your mother does not nurture little egg pies. However, I shall procure some for you in due course. (HERA picks up head, and stares at it) JOSEPH Still nursing dementia, Hera? HERA His forehead is a temple. I must ignite the candle in the arc-shaped chamber. THEA I inherited Daddy’s legs. JOSEPH Your mother never liked my legs. Just as well they have taken refuge in the legal profession. HERA Where they pursue their victims with zeal. JOSEPH May I remind you in your dangerous oblivion, Hera, my calling is to defend the innocent… to expose the guilty. (HERA fumbles with the head, trying to put it back on the painting) HERA I cannot attach his head… JOSEPH Your attention, please, Hera! HERA I will not listen to you. JOSEPH All my life, I have been an audience. I have learnt to subdue my desire, to perform unnaturally. However, through laborious exposure I have earned a right to speak. HERA I have no desire to witness the croak of mediocrity. JOSEPH Please! Decorum is a vital ingredient to the threat of life. HERA I do not wish to know. JOSEPH My dear Hera, your father and I shared the anguish of a grave injustice inflicted by an outrageous daughter and totally callow wife. Together we nursed this injury – oh yes! I, acting as his confidante, solicitous in undying loyalty to the cause. (Pause) HERA My concern is with Lucidity’s head. JOSEPH There comes a time when one must awaken to reality. Your father has passed away. He was most tastefully cremated. He choked on a crumb, Hera. Passing rapidly from these troubled realms, he left himself fully accounted for. HERA I severed all ties with him thirty years ago. JOSEPH He was slowly eaten away by pain and disappointment. THEA I would have thought as one of his heirs… JOSEPH Patience, my sweet. All shall be revealed in the full glory of time. THEA I’m hungry. JOSEPH My darling, one must be careful not to eat when one is excited. THEA I’m not excited. JOSEPH One must be very careful of the type of flesh… THEA I’m tired of being treated like a child! JOSEPH You must learn to wait your turn. Bread and cheese is all you need. (Beat) I was rather efficient at making goats’ cheese in the days when we lived off the land. (Beat) Unfortunately, my legal calling put an end these earthy activities. HERA The head! The head will be the death of me! (Beat) The Soul rises from the body like a sheath from a sword. JOSEPH My dear, you must stay your hand. HERA I must leap through a hoop of white flame. JOSEPH You are endangered by excessive behavior. HERA You are afraid of the Truth! JOSEPH I would not be too quick to judge, my dear. This suit hides faculties that may surprise you. HERA It does not hide them well enough. JOSEPH A little charity may prove helpful. Part of your problem is your complete lack of order. An impediment to your talent. A talent which I am pleased to remind you was discovered and carefully nurtured by me! (Beat) Regard the way you conduct your life. Paintings and people strewn with no regard for love or consequence. THEA (To audience) Every time she didn’t get her own way she threw herself on the floor, banging her head, and screaming. THEA (Continued) (To JOSEPH) You were her nurse. Nothing more. HERA The lid was lifting off the top of my head. A huge bubble fixed itself to one eye. I saw everything double. (Looking at JOSEPH) Someone was manipulating my brain. JOSEPH I functioned at a grave disadvantage. Bowled over by your extraordinary character. I could refuse you nothing, not even the loss of my teeth. No longer able to grind them, what was I to do in the face of my introversion? Yes, Hera, a galling pain, my fusion with you. HERA I cry for paint as I once cried for firewood. My apprenticeship to the invisible blinds me to human need. JOSEPH One must lift oneself… high above degradation. HERA In my obscurity I have willingly worn the hat of the fool. Yet, unexpected help comes from invisible realms. THEA She’s insane. JOSEPH My darling! In the realm of untimely speculation, one must apply caution. If she is willing to submit to God, she will be saved. THEA Before she became obsessed with Lucidity, she painted her lover, only him. Part of him was so big it was all you could see… plus a pair of spectacles. JOSEPH Under guidance, she could show in the best galleries in the world. HERA I shall not submit to the sordid presumptions of the art world. They extol mediocrity; they slay inspiration. (Beat) HERA (Continued) I have given form to dreams. Ruthlessly, I have torn them out of their nebulous state. (Beat) I would rather burn! than hang… in a gallery. JOSEPH Fear is your enemy, Hera. Unadulterated fear of exposure. Take my advice - a public airing would lighten dark thought-patterns. I have influential friends… HERA (Backing towards the left stairway) No, No! Do not bring them near me! JOSEPH They are already here. (HERA begins backing up the stairs. JOSEPH follows her. HE places an authoritative hand on her shoulder) JOSEPH (Continued) Please quieten your vehicles. (HERA shakes uncontrollably) THEA You’re still fascinated by her. JOSEPH When I first saw her, I knew I would have to accommodate her. It was almost as if I owed her something. My hand was forced by an urge I could not control. She was a prize! A dubious prize. She stripped me of my middle-class background, attacking my sense of dignity in the most appalling way. Her view of the world was unreal and precarious. She wanted to hide. She selected me to hide her. Unfortunately, I was dangerously exposed. THEA You couldn’t live without her. JOSEPH (Voice rising to a thin scream) Darling please! I was forced to take restraining measures. THEA I was stuck between the two of you like a mad bolster. JOSEPH I was bound by duty. Compelled to perform! (Beat) I gave you the best, my sweet. THEA I had nothing! I played with a dried seahorse. JOSEPH She hated my hands. THEA You were excited by her repulsion. JOSEPH A worthy vessel does not leak. You must study circumspection, my darling. (JOSEPH goes to the table, pours milk into a goblet, holds it to THEA’s lips) Drink this milk. (SHE sips. JOSEPH tears off a morsel bread) JOSEPH (Continued) Partake of this bread. (SHE gobbles the bread, angrily) THEA All I wanted was a little egg pie. (To the audience) Don’t stare at me! (To JOSEPH) Take them away! JOSEPH My darling, they have paid for their seats. They are the children of God. THEA They don’t look like it. Why do they crouch in the dark? JOSEPH They are here to witness… Truth! … as we perform it. THEA They have eyes… like the eyes in her paintings. JOSEPH Her paintings are shockingly part of her. THEA They stare at people and follow them around. JOSEPH One cannot afford to come too close, or one could be dragged into the void. THEA Some of them are filled with eyes weeping blood. HERA They are the eyes of those who were taken… They float disembodied, eternally staring. JOSEPH The eye is forced to witness the unhealthy relationship between the painter and her creation. THEA Some of them are filled with arms and legs, piled up into weird- looking pyramids. JOSEPH They should be restrained in iron frames. HERA (As if in a dream) Their bodies were broken… (JOSEPH advances towards HERA. HE places his hand on her shoulder) JOSEPH Whose bodies? Hera! HERA (In a child-like voice, cringing) The ones… JOSEPH Speak up, Hera! HERA The ones… the ones… the ones who… who… JOSEPH If you wish to keep the door unlocked you will hold your tongue. HERA Don’t shut me away! Don’t hurt my paintings! (Goes to painting, cradling the head to her bosom) JOSEPH You must be careful not to be taken over. It could lead to the most unpleasant circumstances. Please don’t think I lack sympathy, but I will not tolerate female hysteria. It could rise up and drown me. (Beat) There is something horribly cloying, from the precarious position of my maleness. I advise an oblique approach. THEA You never had eyes for me when she was around. Just the bare essentials, really. You neglected yourself. That’s why your teeth fell out. (Beat) She keeps her’s hidden. Have you noticed mine? (SHE bares her teeth) They’re one of my best assets. (Beat) Of course she’s always primping herself. JOSEPH Darling, please! Consider your audience. Their fulsome body must be fed with economy. You would not like them to tire of you before you have attained their belief. THEA Remember the way she behaved once she became a vegetarian? We were never allowed to eat flesh. Yet she gave full vent to her own proclivities. JOSEPH Darling, where is your sense of dignity? HERA It will be as if we are walking in our sleep. If we wake, we will fall. (HERA cradles the bloody, painted-smeared head of Lucidity in her arms) THEA Don’t think we’re fooled by you. You’re not motherly. (To JOSEPH) You’re afraid of her. HERA He has the hard, blue stare of a canary, pecking an eternal seed bell. JOSEPH Seed bells are very cheap, my dear! THEA I want both of you to realize what you’ve done to me! JOSEPH Darling, please don’t puff yourself up. It could prove repellent. HERA We must all realize the danger of demanding evidence of our existence. THEA You’re not interested in me. JOSEPH But you have me, darling. My heart spills over. HERA Too much spilling has been done already. JOSEPH One must attain temperance of thought, deed and emotion. One must beware of blatancy. (THEA sits down at the table. JOSEPH joins her. THEA angrily punches the bread, flings it down) JOSEPH (Continued) Unfortunately, I didn’t have the mental or physical attributes to satisfy the appetite of an artist. (Beat) She had a taste for fetishes. She fell in love with my best friend. Alas, he was unable to endure her extreme demands. He was compelled to withdraw. (Beat) This gave her the scope to turn him in to a fetish. HERA The sacred proportions of the fetish inspire one to unfold into the nebulous ethers of the dream world. It is here one can realize the abstract potency of the archetype. JOSEPH It was spring when I met her. She was already pregnant. HERA He took me to a back-street abortionist. THEA Daddy rescued you! If only you had loved him, I would’ve had the milk. The milk I was denied! JOSEPH Please! HERA My flesh crept at the sight of him. JOSEPH She had an insurmountable lack of taste. HERA I could not bear the smell of you. THEA What kind of smell was it? HERA Not a physical smell. JOSEPH (Wringing his hands, shrieking) Please! Please! HERA More of a soul smell… a woolen blue clashing with a swollen red. (JOSEPH takes a sip of goats’ milk, and splutters) JOSEPH Really, my dear, this exposure of your fantasies is entirely unnecessary. Your brutal disregard for my person could force me to leave before I divulge the entirety of the news I hold in my black receptacle. JOSEPH (Continued) (To audience) I was foolish enough to lay my modest potential before her so repeatedly it could cause me to blush. Owing to extreme anemia, I am unable to spare the blood. THEA Your anemia is due to your long-term of vegetarianism at the hands of my mother. JOSEPH Darling, I was anemic long before I met your mother. (Takes off spectacles and polishes them with a handkerchief) JOSEPH (Continued) Certain deprivations in early childhood… I find a moderate intake of steamed flesh… the tender breast of a turkey. . . (As JOSEPH finishes, YVES makes the bizarre imitation of a turkey gobbler. They all look up. An eccentric figure – YVES - in shabby, white-silk pajamas and top hat, appears at the top of the left stairway. His hair is long and untidy. He slowly descends the stairs, gobbling spasmodically. THEA stands and rushes to embrace him) THEA . Yves! (YVES steps backwards, hands up as if HE is about to be shot) YVES Don’t touch me! (THEA falls back, frowns) THEA (To JOSEPH) My brother does not allow me to touch him. JOSEPH One must apply caution to one’s approach… to physical contact. A discreet touch is applicable only with permission. (YVES stands as if in a dream. HERA continues to manipulate the head) JOSEPH (Continued) (To audience) Let me introduce you to Hera’s eldest son… of course, I had nothing to do with his conception. YVES My mother was released from your clutches long before the tragedy of my conception… or should I say… my fall. JOSEPH I have had to guard my reputation. THEA She hid my brother from me. HERA I rocked his cradle. His legs lay… ivory bones in his diapers. YVES My cradle rocks on a dead sea of incestuous refuse. My stay here is but transitory. HERA Long time I have awaited your return, vigilant before the memory of your eagle’s beak. YVES Stiff with the curse of memory. I choke on Death’s flower. HERA I have tended thorns. Laid waste to ignorance. YVES In secret groves, I walk amongst ghost trees… ripping their bark with holey teeth. I scream for an answer. JOSEPH I have no time for this hysterical euphemism. The boy must make an appointment with a reputable dentist… I am here strictly on business. I must ask you to conform… YVES I hung on her nipple. Marbled and grim with Life’s blood, I trail the umbilical cord as if it were a bloody toy. HERA A milky sea lapped over us. (THEA leaps up and grasps the jug by the throat) THEA He got all the milk! (SHE bangs the jug down on the table, sits down) YVES I dipped my spoon into a prolific junket. JOSEPH (To THEA) I fed you on warm cow’s milk, my darling. THEA (Staring angrily at YVES) I wanted her milk! JOSEPH Calm down, my dove. THEA She worships men! HERA I have erected too many icons in glittering distance of Love. YVES (To THEA) I dribbled on a velvet bib. HERA I attended the fires of my femaleness. In a parody of Love, I selected the largest logs. Ruthless in the final hour when ideas spill… I drown alone, washed up at the feet of men. THEA She is old and cunning. JOSEPH We must bide our time. THEA (Seizing the bread knife, hacking at the bread) I have waited long enough in the shade of her neglect! HERA I struggled to cast off my womanhood. Fumbling beneath that weird disguise, I discover I am both male and female. I feed off these dual qualities with the forked tongue of a serpent. YVES She left me on my seventh birthday… she took my brother… I could not live without him. THEA She left me when I was seven. (JOSEPH coughs discreetly, polishes spectacles) JOSEPH She left me in my thirty-fourth year. An auspicious year. I won first prize for portraiture. It was a large, flat oil on canvas. THEA Your mother. She was rising out of a kind of black cloud. JOSEPH The cloud depicted her long and chronic illness. YVES I crouched in the pentagonal room where I was born. It smelt of mother’s milk, dripping onto the fleece of a dead animal. THEA Daddy made me a cake. It was white all over. He decorated it with little silver balls. YVES Mercury. JOSEPH Please! They are manufactured out of a type of hardened icing… of course, it is not advisable to… crunch them. YVES She never came back. THEA She didn’t keep Fer for long. She sent him back. YVES It was always cold under the pine trees. We searched for pine cones in the long grass. They felt like warm owls in our hands. The sack had a hole in it. When we reached the house, it was empty. (Beat) The house was her body. The wood was old and mellow. Sunk in dreams, we ran our hands over its satiny surface. THEA It was riddled with worms. JOSEPH Borers, my darling. THEA Daddy had a borer gun. YVES The doorknobs were her breasts. THEA Not those porcelain ones. JOSEPH Darling, decorum, please! THEA They were probably those brown Bakelite ones. They make them out of the husks of peanuts. YVES The house was full of old velvet. We pretended it was her. (Beat) We began to hate the game. We hated her. I stopped going to school. I stayed at home… so I could watch. THEA What did you watch? YVES My life. It appeared before me like a black and white movie. I would get stuck in one scene… images blew up in my mind… I kept watching. Nothing else mattered. JOSEPH I have come strictly on business… YVES I thought if I kept watching, the pain would go away. It got worse. I struck a match. Snakes of flame licked the pink velvet. They leapt into the eyes of her winter portraits. JOSEPH (With a sinister voice) Economy of mind and emotion is the key. The key must fit the lock… We shall watch with a stringent eye, rooting out those marked with profanity. YVES I fell through days, nights, years… my head is lit with tongues of flame. HERA The white flame of inspiration. YVES My father made a sculpture of a blood-red cow. She stood on her hind legs. She wore a skull cap with the twelve astrological symbols engraved on it… He nailed her tail to the floor so she would not fall when we climbed over her. HERA He took over my studio… the gray dust of chiseled stone fell on my paintings. I begged him to leave. YVES He called her an old cow. HERA I seized an axe. YVES My brother and I stood one on each side of her. She chopped the door down. She pushed a huge stone woman on to my father. He threw her off. He pushed her into her painting. She was crying. HERA I fell on to the wet throat of a jug… (To YVES) You were nearly seven. (Beat) The jug was broken. (YVES and HERA move together. THEA and JOSEPH move together) THEA In dreams, I pursue her, touch her. (Beat) She is as cold as Death. HERA Death! Death on a bed of flames! YVES (Agonized, slow, choking) Bring me wet leaves… wet leaves. (HERA moves towards YVES as if in sleep; her voice is long and drawn out) HERA Lift your arms above the flames. (Yves lifts his arms, slowly, painfully. HERA’s and YVES’ eyes are shut, faces anguished) HERA (Continued) Put your head on my shoulder. (YVES’ head slowly falls on to her shoulder. HERA’s head falls to her breast. A smoky light encircles them) (Stage lights dim) JOSEPH The Devil has freed their arms. THEA They cannot run away now. The little flames are dancing. JOSEPH The wood is too wet. THEA Our lovely lady, Venus - the evening star - is partially obscured. JOSEPH They will burn slowly. THEA The ecstasy of anguish plays exquisitely under a fulsome moon. JOSEPH I prefer the cleansing calm of a new moon. The dense body of smoke disappears with a clarity which causes the heart to thump as the flame leaps into heretic eyes, burning up all evidence. THEA It is our task to eradicate darkness. JOSEPH Under the heavenly eye of God all shall be illuminated! (THEA and JOSEPH are in darkness. Light encircles the heads of HERA and YVES) (A black curtain falls) END ACT ONE ACT TWO SETTING: The same studio, as in Act One. AT RISE: YVES paces up and down in his white, silk pajamas, top hat and bare feet. JOSEPH stands mid-stage, beside his black briefcase. HERA stands beside her painting. THEA stands at the table. She fiddles with the throat of the jug. HERA A lake with an azure eye weeps! YVES I drown in this lake of blood! THEA Listen to the frogs croak! HERA Whilst Hypocrisy exposes his dual intentions. JOSEPH It is my duty to reveal… the terms of the will. THEA Daddy was always wiping things down with a dish cloth. JOSEPH My dove! Please respect the man who has performed the most menial duties in the name of father and mother. THEA It was made out of a kind of furry nylon. JOSEPH Imitation velvet, darling. They do not effectively soak up water. The foam rubber ones are considerably more durable. THEA You used them until they were a greyish pink. JOSEPH Please! JOSEPH (Continued) (Beat) The life of a male is fraught with the preconceptions of dangerously presumptuous women. I am afraid denial and misunderstanding inhibit the boldest of men. (HE polishes his spectacles) THEA (To YVES) Daddy teetered from Mummy to law. JOSEPH Too true, my dove. You speak with your mother’s tongue. You will, perhaps, go a long way. (Turning to YVES) Yes, I crave security… and a powerful position. I am one of Life’s contradictions. Hideously reflected in the privacy of a mirror. I dare not scream and turn back. I must edge onwards. THEA Daddy’s got one foot bigger than the other. He has to ease his left one in with a shoe horn. JOSEPH Darling! Why must you persist in exposing the terrifying secrets of a man doing his best to facilitate his own imperfections and other people’s… whilst trying to present a bland exterior? (HE glances at the audience) THEA The shoehorn had a picture on it of a lake with a volcano rising out of it. It was painted on the bit he used to wedge his foot in with. Even when I scratched it with a knife, the picture wouldn’t come off. JOSEPH Darling, your destructive instincts come to the fore far too frequently. (Beat) It was presented to me by a nun from the Home of Compassion. Now, if you will settle down, I shall proceed. (HE takes the will from his briefcase, polishes his spectacles) Hera, your late father… THEA (To HERA) He had the same type of floppy earlobes as you’ve got. He used to let me feel them. HERA I put my head in a gas oven. THEA (To HERA) It was full of crumbs. Daddy had a big, stainless steel, pop- up toaster. HERA I was afraid they would come and take me away. JOSEPH (Staring at HERA with fanatical eyes) Those you have denied shall come back to haunt you. HERA I hid all evidence of my life. What was I to do with the body? YVES Our goat died with a chain around her neck. JOSEPH In grave respect to my late friend… your father… HERA He was not my father! JOSEPH Legally yours, my dear! Legally yours. HERA When I lay in bed at night, I saw an eye pressed to the keyhole. It swelled up. Bursting through the keyhole, it floated, disembodied, around the room. JOSEPH (To YVES) Please ignore this unbalanced emotionalism. Please let me explain: she was sixteen when she ran away from the security of her father’s home! A dangerous and totally-impressionable age. HERA I was afraid of him. JOSEPH He was full of the milk… of human kindness. THEA I never got the milk. JOSEPH A little more control, darling, and we shall be on top of things. HERA I was afraid of them both. JOSEPH Of two, prudent and respectable men? (To Yves) She was inclined to stampede, reminding one of a wild pony. Seemingly untamable. Yet I held the oats… gradually she ate from my hand until… she was quite unable to live without me. HERA That which I had pulled down upon myself and swallowed I vomited up in the shape of apparitions which slid around me, formless yet solid in their cruel consequences. JOSEPH Where is the justice for a man who knelt before you, totally subjugating his own desires? My multiple talents were left to wilt. (HE plucks at his lapel) HERA The hand of justice is deceptively gloved. You pontificate in the coat of a liar. JOSEPH Hand-made, my dear. Please, take some professional advice, the sadly inevitable outcome which you draw towards yourself in such unseemly haste shall not be quite so violent if you were willing to surrender to those people who know what is good for you. (Beat) Now, in regard to the last will and testament. HERA The Will and Ego are fatally entwined. Awesomely erected on a black throne, they demand audience. JOSEPH My dear, you lack reverence for those who have passed on to heavenly regions, and those who live in accordance with JOSEPH (Continued) Light and Truth, quietly applying a tenacious will in the face of those who plot to destroy the Tower of God. (Beat) You shall be forced to face reality. HERA Stripped of reality, I trace the shadow of Death, plunging deeper and deeper into corruption. (Beat) The throat is long and dark… blood-red. JOSEPH The unchaste shall be demolished in the sight of God. THEA Who will love me? HERA Ego! He serves us all! The throat is silvered, ready for the knife to rip, slicing the Soul in half. JOSEPH (To THEA) Darling, I am here for you. HERA Skating on the icy confines that guard realization. THEA Daddy! HERA Slithers in dishonest secretions, insidiously leaking into the sponge of life. (JOSEPH feels in his pocket, takes out a bottle of pills, gobbles a few) JOSEPH Your father was a man… HERA Hidden in the crevices of time, I fondled the pendulum of a grandfather clock… shut inside its mahogany case. I pressed my lips to the glass. JOSEPH You should have been nipped in the bud at an early age. HERA I grasped the pole of a revolving clothes line. Someone with rodent eyes screamed: He is not your father! JOSEPH This disgraceful rejection is… HERA Driven by an ever-sharpening hunger for love, I crouched under the macrocarpa trees. I gnawed on their hard, poisonous nuts. JOSEPH (To THEA) She will pay the full price. HERA Suffocated by the density of universal guilt, I lie at night as a corpse lies. JOSEPH She will be dealt with. HERA I cry out as loss straddles the body, his fingers caught in the fetid fur of the beast. JOSEPH (Polishing spectacles) I will not tolerate this obscene display. HERA I probe the sky with a broken wand, whilst Life peers through a bleary monocle, demanding proof of Death and his properties. JOSEPH Have you no compassion? HERA The man you so mercilessly offer is mine… by law only! JOSEPH Law prevails, my dear. Anything else would prove to be purely speculative. HERA At an early age I tested the unpalatable qualities of his suit… slid down the grey artifice of fatherhood... JOSEPH In the pride of your obstinacy you are both calculating and relentless. (HE feels the rose in his button- hole, then turns to THEA) His last thoughts were for you, my dove. THEA He loved me! (Beat) What happened to his long, black umbrella with the goose’s head? JOSEPH The head cracked years ago, darling. THEA The goose was white and slippery. JOSEPH It was made out of porcelain, my sweet. THEA When the umbrella opened, the goose’s head shot up the handle. JOSEPH (Peers over spectacles) Most unsuitable! (Beat) Darling, he has bequeathed you his house with the red tower. THEA You said I could have the white house! JOSEPH Totally incorrect. (Beat) My little pet is prone to hallucinations - something we may have to work on or she may become the spitting image of her mother. (Beat) He wanted me to possess the big, white house, darling. Owing to its extremely isolated position, he felt it was a suitable JOSEPH (Continued) location for those fallen prey to dark influences. After much soul-searching he perceived I was the one to penetrate his long-accumulated ideals into the light. (Turning towards the audience, his face changes to a fiendish aspect. HE shows his teeth; his eyes stare) All the doors possess double locks. The windows are all well- situated and barred… No, No! Please don’t misunderstand. The bars are charmingly wrought with fruit and flowers… leaves. (YVES looks stunned. HE jumps up and runs towards the left stairway. JOSEPH pursues, puts his hand on his shoulder, turns him to face the audience. YVES is passive) JOSEPH (Continued) I am afraid we shall have to detain you. Please stifle any impulse relating to your immediate departure. (Turning to THEA) Come now, my little sweet! You must try to comprehend the magnitude of your grandfather’s intentions. A valuable house in a harmonious neighborhood, complete with a large, red tower. What more could a girl desire! THEA I hate the red tower! He used to shut… JOSEPH We must not allow our fertile imagination to lead us astray, darling. THEA It’s a creepy, dark red. JOSEPH We can arrange for it to be stripped and sanded, painted a suitable color… a glossy white, perhaps… with a hard finish. THEA There’s a crack where it’s joined to the house. I used to put my finger… JOSEPH A laborer cemented up the crack last spring, darling. Around the time my friend realized his declining health. THEA He had a lump! JOSEPH Darling! I beg you not to stimulate feelings of grief. He was a humble man, prone to partaking of a slice of light Madeira in the late afternoon, with a cup of weak tea balanced on his lap. He would gaze out at the lighthouse. He possessed just the two houses - the house with the red tower, and the majestic white one on the coast in quite an inaccessible position. Many times I have been doused by unruly waves as I picked my way around the rocks. There is something almost heathen about the way one is forced to approach. They say the crumb was most lethally lodged near the uvula, blocking any chance of air. He had set his heart on establishing a house for those deprived of moral fiber. (Shoots a glance at YVES) He felt these unfortunates could be… re-educated. HERA In the sight of dictators who torture and brain-wash those wretches who stumble on Truth, who try to break away from the iron claw of a vicious hierarchy. THEA I hope the silver nutmeg grater is still there. JOSEPH In the campaign for truth we must not allow ourselves to be weighed down by trivia, darling. The nutmeg grater shall be situated in the mahogany spice cupboard. Your grandfather kept it locked for reasons never disputed. HERA Those orphans of love shall be fed on red jelly crystals. JOSEPH The profane shall be disciplined according to a programme suitable to those who willfully stray in impertinent fields. HERA Spotted from birth, they skip the black stones of oblivion. JOSEPH I intend to drain the swampy land where a profusion of bull- rushes grow, quite unsuitably near the house. THEA I have heard people stuff cushions with the fluffy white seeds inside the bull-rushes. They burst out when the bull-rush… JOSEPH Please! The swamp is not congenial to my health, which could deteriorate at the drop of a hat. (Beat) Let us not stray from the path. HERA The path is a wilderness. (Beat) We wander in the multifarious traps Ego has set for soul. JOSEPH Some paths lead to unpleasant places, however we must flee onwards towards our glorious goal. (To THEA) He has left you the red, Morris Oxford, darling. THEA I hate the Morris Oxford! JOSEPH It is an excellent vehicle for a young woman who is not yet able to handle excessive amounts of traffic. The gear box is in spanking order. (Beat) There are just the two cars. I shall take the black Bentley. It is quite a collector’s piece. THEA I used to wipe my hands on the red velvet seats. (Beat) Why should you have the Bentley? You’re not even related to him! JOSEPH The wire wheels shall be replaced with normal wheels. (Beat) My dove, please try to assimilate my connection. I was a mere ex-son-in-law, uncertain of my role. It was the objectivity of a common goal that drew us into brotherhood. United, we knelt before the Cross - shepherds in the grim pastures of Life. HERA I dream of a huge, black cross. It sways in a burnt and ravaged landscape. JOSEPH The Bentley has an impudent horn. THEA It’s a rubber one. When you squeeze it… JOSEPH We do not wish to be served extraneous details. I shall seek a horn that relates to the eardrums… (Beat) He has placed his entire library in my care. THEA I suppose you’re taking everything. JOSEPH On the contrary, darling. (Beat) He possessed a truly riveting collection of rare books. Books fastidiously bound… in blood-red kid. THEA The dye comes off on your tongue. JOSEPH Great books! So heavy with truth they appear to be stone - stone tablets balanced in the hallway of knowledge. So close to the heart, one’s very fingers smolder. These books instruct the reader on the complexities of the Inquisition, the astounding valor, the total commitment of those disciples of God who fought to wipe out the filth of heresy… those infamous recalcitrants who denied the divine hierarchy… these books are kept under lock and key in a black chest. THEA It looks like an upturned coffin. JOSEPH Light falls around this sturdy vehicle. An old tree constantly taps at the crossed window. It has some very unpleasant spots on the trunk. I shall have it hewn down (To THEA) You shew a grievous lack of faith for one who rocked you in the cradle. THEA I’ve got this softish bit on my head where I fell out while you were singing “Pop Goes The Weasel”. JOSEPH Humiliation floods the heart of a hollow-chested, flat… THEA I love you Daddy! JOSEPH Me too, darling! I shall arrange to have the seats in the Morris Oxford re-upholstered. THEA In red, crushed velvet? JOSEPH Plush will suffice. (Beat) However, I can no longer tolerate these constant deviations. Let us now focus on the palpable phenomena of the will. (Pause) He has left a considerable fortune in stocks and bonds. Not to mention extraneous amounts of cash in a variety of world banks. Banks where he secreted jewels quite monumental under a naked eye. (Beat) I once beheld a religious ruby… THEA He kept his jewels in velvet bags. JOSEPH Only the meek shall inherit. THEA I thought it was the discreet. (Beat) He had a gold ring with ruby bits… HERA Those who have eaten shall fall beneath the voracious eye of the ruby! THEA The crust is always hard on the egg pies you get at the shop by the bank. JOSEPH It was a great source of grief that he was never granted an introduction to his grandsons. However, I feel this was most merciful. (Stares at YVES) They do not feature in the will. THEA He always offered me big, sugared nuts out of a red tin. Sometimes the lid got stuck and he’d… JOSEPH You will have to learn to structure your appetite. (To HERA) He has bestowed one million English pounds on our little pet. THEA I’m rich. JOSEPH That is a matter of opinion, darling. There are legal documents yet to be signed before one can grasp those fruits that dangle. THEA I signed them. JOSEPH Come now, darling, your mental vehicles appear to be gravely disordered. There could be a penalty for those who cast a slanderous light… on… THEA But I signed them with his pen. It had a chewed end. He… JOSEPH Purely fictitious! My late friend lost his own vital teeth in a fall prior to an early retirement from a vastly competitive field in criminal law, where he was a fount of strength in the harbor of debauchery. THEA You told me! JOSEPH I told you precisely nothing! (Beat) I would not like to think I have reared a pernicious person. (Beat) JOSEPH (Continued) Now, if you will count to ten whilst taking deep breaths. . . I am sure the truth shall prevail. (SHE puffs indignantly) JOSEPH (Continued) Not like a bullfrog, my sweet! THEA I’ll be rich and famous. (Looks at YVES and HERA) They’ll be forced to stand by and watch. JOSEPH Everything in the fullness of time, my darling! Meanwhile, you must learn to conceal your attributes, however dazzling. (Beat) There are dangerous predators on every corner. THEA Daddy is paranoid. JOSEPH Cautious, my sweet. (Pause) One million English pounds bequeathed to Joseph Cordell. THEA You!? JOSEPH (Coughs, feels rosebud) The man who never let his baby down… not like some people who… HERA Cough up abominations. JOSEPH (To HERA) There are those who say your father was in line to be bestowed the honor of acting as judge in the law courts. (Beat) That was before he folded up. THEA He had thick, white hair. JOSEPH It fell out at the pinnacle of his career. THEA He swallowed dark-red medicine out of a thing you squeeze eye-drops in with. (JOSEPH squeezes THEA’s arm) JOSEPH Come now, darling, our audience must be feeling quite stiff. (To audience) Refreshments will be served later, in the lobby, for those who can afford them… THEA They have Eskimo Pies in long, thin boxes. There’s a kind of cardboard flap you pull… JOSEPH The habitual habit of interrupting is a dubious method of attracting attention. My little pet must learn to harvest her own silence. (Beat) The boy is dangerously quiet. What has become of your tongue, boy? (YVES raises his eyes, stares at JOSEPH as if in a dream) YVES Tongue is weary of wagging in dark interior of mouth. Weary of Treachery. (Beat) Teeth hang at slanderous angles, gnawing on Truth… teasing throat who swallows crumbs with an ease resplendent of Mercury at his most superficial. JOSEPH He has inherited his mother’s salacious tongue. YVES Mania plays leap frog with madness, testing the virility of a white flame trapped in the lower regions of brain. JOSEPH She has wormed her way into your mind. You will have to be re-educated… somewhere solitary. YVES Memory haunts, twists… the stench of your soul wafts familiar… fatalistically fashioned, I hasten to my doom. (Beat) Fatefully fateful… your tick on its ignoble chain. JOSEPH This unfortunate bears the taint of the beast… queerly, his marked orbs flare with a decidedly putrid flame. YVES I am but a strange bird, born in captivity. Would somebody please drape a black cloth over my head. JOSEPH An unwholesome seed. THEA You can buy seeds compressed into a square block with a black loop to hang them from. JOSEPH One must take the state of his economy into account. (To HERA) My dear, you are extraordinarily privileged. A bestowal coming as it were out of a dark corner, late in an unfortunate’s life. HERA Fervidly, he wheedles inheritance as if taunting a slobbering beast. JOSEPH Please don’t deny you have not longed for hard… cash. HERA I have longed for Love! Yet I am fatally bound to falsehood. JOSEPH He was most concerned for the welfare of his daughter. HERA Dilapidated by an endless quest for the golden seed. JOSEPH You must remember… he had not laid his eyes on her for years. HERA Forced to stare at the indecency of Self, whilst parading before Doom. HERA (Continued) (Beat) The world is a bag of dust. JOSEPH My dear, your late father laid aside the respectable sum of four hundred thousand pounds. HERA Give me Solitude to study the universal plight of Greed and Treachery. JOSEPH However, there is a clause that may entail unexpected repercussions. HERA For those who devour the dead moon? JOSEPH He instinctively felt… that a woman of your mentality would be totally incapable of handling… money. Of course, he acted strictly on my advice. HERA Treachery erects his own monument. JOSEPH My dear! These funds shall in no way be legally accessible to you. Your late father fortuitously selected Thea to preside over what may appear as a weighty fortune. THEA I am the Chosen One. I know what she needs! After all, I am her legal daughter. HERA Cut off from the placenta, the festering cord hangs. JOSEPH (To HERA) My dear, you will apply to Thea for whatever you imagine you need. The results of this application shall rest entirely in her hands. HERA Glory tests the flesh of the disinherited. JOSEPH (Feeling the rose in his lapel) He was a sincere man who possessed visionary facilities. We shared uncanny likenesses. HERA You have not yet been cremated. JOSEPH My dear, what on earth gave you the idea he was cremated? (Beat) He was buried in a plot of great depth and magnitude. (Beat) A monument resting upon a cliff… THEA With an iron fence around it. JOSEPH Please! THEA It’s a huge, black-marble cross with blood-red veins. JOSEPH A costly venture. THEA There’s a naked Christ with a bleeding heart nailed on it. JOSEPH Naturally, he left more than enough to cover… the costs. HERA What fiendish depths have I plumbed to attract this mercenary? How shall I cast off the black shroud of the past, the present, the future? Yea, I succumbed to fear… laid out on a black bed. JOSEPH There is a breathtaking view of the ocean. (To HERA) Come now, my dear, we must not deviate from the systematically laid-out boundaries of divine realism. The journey is fraught with danger. There are some who shall never reach God’s pastures. (Beat) We must draw on the sustenance He hath provided. THEA The egg part of the egg pie often sinks to the bottom. JOSEPH A uniform for the fallen is not entirely out of the question… spun from serviceable thread. HERA The green hair of the stinging nettle? THEA (To JOSEPH) You forced me to wear a uniform. JOSEPH Come, come, it was compulsory, darling. Those gentlemen on the school board felt it would neutralize vanity… so unfortunately prominent in the female species. THEA I wanted to wear black leggings, and boots. Boots that laced all the way up… JOSEPH I was forced to resort to punishment! (Beat) Punishment for rebellion. It was entirely for your own good, darling. THEA You never believed in me. JOSEPH A father’s love is indisputable. (Looking at audience) I am sure God’s children. . . THEA Why should you suck up all the limelight? JOSEPH Not lime, darling. Light! Ineffable Light! (To YVES) Do not presume you are forsaken. Just temporarily forgotten by one who is overworked up to his eyeballs. As you know, you do not feature in the Last Will and Testament, although you are irrefutably part of the divine plan. (Shows his teeth, then turns to audience) JOSEPH (Continued) Please, please do not misinterpret. My conscience is as clear as jelly. THEA What happened to that aluminum jelly mould of a hare on his hind legs? JOSEPH (Stares at HERA and YVES, fiendishly) Like attracts like. (Lifting gloved hand) The maladjusted seeds. THEA I’ll have the cypress trees clipped into long, buffy shapes. JOSEPH (To THEA) They grow too close to the tower. I shall have them rooted out. (To HERA) My dear, you must apply to Thea for whatever you imagine you need. HERA Multiplying in vacuous neglect, we suck on our own extremities, scaling up the totem of a worn-out God… JOSEPH (Staring zealously at HERA) Thea may feel sedation is the answer. HERA Perishing on the vicious talons of Ego… JOSEPH (To THEA) I firmly advise tranquilizers… in a conveniently liquid form. So much easier to swallow. We do not wish for a recurrence of foreign matter lodged between the uvula and the... THEA I told you… those long, green and black pills melt instantly. JOSEPH I would not be so sure, darling. You must get this into your little head, that I am the one who shall ultimately take the reins. JOSEPH (Continued) (To HERA) You shall be attended to in a multitude of ways that a woman of your caliber deserves. (Beat) We are totally in the hands of the Almighty. (HE turns to THEA, a movement of his head indicating the door) Darling, if you would be so kind. (THEA goes out, and returns carrying a large, luminous, golden- colored harp. SHE places it in the centre of the room) HERA The harp! JOSEPH Your late father’s harp. HERA My father’s harp! THEA He kept it locked in the tower. JOSEPH He possessed an astounding talent. Latent for many years, it streamed like living water from Heart to fingertips. THEA He gave off a kind of white vapor. JOSEPH He was a private man. THEA He kept it in a black case lined with blood-red velvet. JOSEPH Modest to a fault, he plucked it with a gold fork. THEA His fork flashed. JOSEPH He played like an Angel. Restrained, yet full on those obtuse angles of Life. JOSEPH (Continued) (Beat) I do not intend to dwell upon the sinister, yet there were shocking episodes that he was quite unable to control. The wretched instrument possessed… a voice. THEA You could hear it long after he locked it up in the tower. JOSEPH Blasphemous lamentations that caused the tower to vibrate. THEA He used to grind his teeth. JOSEPH The grinding was a technical issue. The lower plate did not adapt to his jaw. He wept as he plucked… tears appeared as if illuminated on the Instrument’s body. THEA He always admired my teeth. JOSEPH He was most susceptible to beauty. (Beat) He was far too soft. My hands itched to destroy the Instrument. THEA (To JOSEPH) What do you think of my teeth? JOSEPH Far too prominent, my sweet. Perhaps we will have them forced back with a wire brace. To be worn only at night, of course. (Best) We must all apply forbearance. His wife, tragically, passed away whilst giving birth… to Hera. THEA They pulled her out with forceps. JOSEPH I have always thought they squeezed the unfortunate’s head a little too tightly. THEA They had to tie her down in an iron cot. JOSEPH For security reasons only. (Beat) She was subsequently denied mother’s milk. HERA The throat is an ugly receptacle for propaganda. JOSEPH Apparently she was a wonderful wife, possessing a most-angelic soul. Her chances of living were extremely slight. (Beat) He loved her to death. HERA He stole the harp from my father. JOSEPH Really! Who is this mysterious man, my dear? We crave an introduction. HERA He is no longer in his body. JOSEPH An amazing coincidence. HERA Professional vultures siphoned off his power. JOSEPH Do you realize exactly what you are insinuating? A totally professional man steals harp from a totally non-existent man! (Beat) He was a pillar of society! HERA They took everything. JOSEPH Imagination becomes an exceedingly dangerous vice when devoid of logic. HERA You and my false father passed as towers of respectability. You erected falsehood in the form of a serviceable reality. JOSEPH I am afraid the power of institutions… Institutionalization is a very necessary accessory to mental disease, however. Madness is an unfortunate term. I should not like to feel it is contagious on the eve of revelations disturbing to the distortions of some. HERA His moustache served to hide that which could not be revealed. THEA He used a walking stick with a ruby eye. JOSEPH Immediate removal has always been the most effective method. Fully condoned by the Law, of course! (Beat) We might have been twins… THEA The stick was hollow. JOSEPH He was a benevolent man. He wanted his daughter to possess the instrument. (Looks at HERA) As his fingers plucked… so shall yours. THEA He used a fork! JOSEPH I have no desire to continuously expose the tool which he used to draw out the divine music. HERA My father’s voice… was the voice of the harp. THEA He wore a tight waistcoat. HERA His fingers were fire salamanders. JOSEPH Fire has been used most successfully… on many historic occasions. HERA I dreamed life’s bloody thread slipped in a noose around his neck. JOSEPH Passion is an illness. It must be forcibly eliminated. HERA He died in a mental institution. I was twelve-years-old. It was as if he had never existed. (Beat) Yet I saw things. In twisted colors, I perceived the world as a configuration of snakes. Devouring one another, nesting on black eggs that exploded into millions of shards. (Beat) Each shard… a life. THEA He had a big, milky opal. I looked into it… I saw… someone burning. . . yes . . . (To JOSEPH, accusingly) It was me! JOSEPH A total impossibility! THEA I was a really powerful man in high boots. A big gold cross… it hung on my… JOSEPH My sweet, as one of the pillars of the Church you chose the type of death suitable to each individual betrayal. (Beat) One could say burning at the stake was your forte. You condemned millions of Heretics to Death by Fire. THEA Liar! JOSEPH Ah yes, she sacrificed many famous forests… (Beat) Without trial, I might add. THEA You’re a liar! You betrayed me! JOSEPH I cannot stand the odor of female hysteria. Please lower your voice. The ear is too sensitive an organ without ear plugs. (THEA spits at him) THEA You filthy traitor! (JOSEPH takes handkerchief from pocket, wipes his forehead, fussily) JOSEPH Our little pet is well-acquainted with the punishment for Liars. (To HERA and YVES) The jaws are forced open whilst a reasonable amount of soap is carefully placed under the tongue. THEA You threw me into the flames as if I was any old piece of rubbish. JOSEPH She is dangerously mediumistic. THEA My blood-red velvet cloak swept the ground. It was clasped at the breast with real gold claws that held a huge diamond. JOSEPH A bulbous affair - it protruded as if something was secreted behind it, the source of which was never investigated. (To HERA) He went up in flames in a instant. Most inflammable stuff, velvet. THEA Coward! Murderer! JOSEPH My dove! You must not identify with those wretches who became victims of their own treason. (Aside, to audience) The mother is a pernicious influence. THEA I hate you! JOSEPH (To audience) I fed the little pet with goats’ milk… sucked from a teat with a large hole in it. THEA I wanted mother’s milk! JOSEPH (Stretching out arms) Come now! Take sanction beside me and my Piety. THEA Your Piety stinks. JOSEPH All foul and ill-placed thoughts shall be put to rest. (THEA runs towards the right stairway, pursued by JOSEPH. HE puts a gloved hand on her shoulder, leads her back to center stage) JOSEPH (Continued) You shall stay precisely where I choose to put you!. My little pet. HERA All day, he walked up and down on the edge of a precipice. YVES A crowd of people gathered to watch. THEA He hid inside the harp. JOSEPH Please! THEA (To audience) Sometimes they shut me in the tower with the harp. It smelt like someone had died. There was a black box. I tried to prise it open. (Beat) I’d take the harp out of its case. If I spat on its body, then polished it, I could see the face of an old man. One day, I found the key. I unlocked the box. There were some moth- eaten papers in a foreign language, and a photograph of the THEA (Continued) old man. He was cowering against a wall. He had a number on his arm. (Stares at YVES) THEA (Continued) He had eyes like yours! Staring! Like a mad owl. YVES Owl perches in tree of Life and Death. Pecks hollow trunk, watches berries explode into flames. HERA They took him away. They locked him up. YVES (Slowly) I see it all. (Beat) As if it happened to me. JOSEPH The authorities permanently detained him. He was a threat to himself and the community. YVES They put him in a straitjacket. HERA They exploded his brain with bolts of electricity. YVES He no longer played the harp. JOSEPH (To HERA) Your father kindly sheltered the instrument. YVES They took away his voice. (Beat) It was winter; pine needles lay on the ground. JOSEPH (Clears his throat) As a legal man, your father was trained in the formalities of the world. HERA His coat became a skeleton… sleeves rigid, buttons staring. JOSEPH Black vermin crawled over the instrument. Your father was forced to disinfect it at regular intervals. (Beat) The body was horrendously tarnished. (Beat) In time, he was able to siphon off the heavenly music. I advised him to wear gloves. He preferred the fork. I do not think one should presume to tamper with the Fallen or the Fallen’s properties. A swift strike with a flint, and a young flame multiplies, shoots up to gigantic proportions, licking at the unclean. It rapidly devours. (Beat) However, the fate of the instrument is not yet in my hands. (Turns to HERA) I have passed it on to you as your father instructed. (Beat) How could I act otherwise. In the service of Christ, I continuously kneel and pray, thereby renewing Godly power. I wear rubber ear-plugs at night so that the voice of the instrument shall not penetrate… my dreams. THEA His earplugs are a kind of dirty-yellow rubber. JOSEPH Please leave me my modesty. Do not divest me of everything. HERA He cometh as an undertaker in a black suit. YVES He professionally mourns. HERA Concealing the hands… in black gloves. JOSEPH I am elected as the bearer of God’s wisdom. I prefer to keep the hands concealed. They bear signs that could threaten my safety. (HE touches the rosebud on his lapel, looks at THEA, shows teeth in a snarl) JOSEPH (Continued) In the delicate bud of a rose, one can recognize the essence of a virgin. In her purity, she shall be sacrificed to God! THEA (As if calling him) Daddy! Daddy! JOSEPH (To HERA) My path has been infamously crossed by three women. I shall name these women before my audience. . . (Facing audience) They shall bear witness to my extended suffering. (Staring at audience in rapt zeal) The mother…! the wife…! the daughter…! (Pause) Culprits of horrendous cunning, they have all applied the ancient art of smothering divine tendencies to perform before the Father… (Beat) the Son… (Beat) and the Holy Ghost. (Pause) No man of worship would dare to plumb the fathomless depths of this shameless triptych. (Beat) My late father-in-law suffered from a shockingly similar plight. We were predestined to meet on legal grounds… harassed as if by hornets. THEA He had a black, rubber fly swat! JOSEPH I suffer from a modern-type of crucifixion. HERA In sight of love… suckling a donkey. THEA (To HERA) You have slain your own daughter’s dream of a mother. Burnt and branded, you wander terrified of the one you have deserted. (Beat) I am the innocent one! I lick the wounds you have inflicted. My own father is worn to a deranged stick. JOSEPH Please! Only the irreligious dare to expose that which must remain gloriously shaded… on a palm Sunday. The tower must be resurrected. THEA Daddy has been heavily taxed by the demands of the instrument. JOSEPH Once the red paint has been stripped away… and a glossy- surface applied… THEA Daddy is on pills. Not the long, green and black ones. Little pink ones. He could easily take an overdose like my grandfather. JOSEPH Please excuse the little pet. Her mind is seriously impaired by loss. We may be forced to jolt it with the most modern methods possible, so subtly applied the patient need never suspect heavenly hands crushing vice. (Beat) I wear white, kid gloves at night, so essential for perfect performance. My wounds become considerably lighter when the moon slides behind a cloud. (Beat) It is a long and arduous commitment, rigorously seeking in the dead of night for those secretly cloaked in indigo to imitate the night sky. (Beat) Order! I shall create order on earth as it is in heaven! I shall not crush the merest ant as she creeps beneath my feet. THEA He kills cockroaches with his shoehorn. JOSEPH My heart ticks with divine precision. As Christ is merciful, so shall I be. HERA A wall clock affects untimely sainthood. JOSEPH (Stares fanatically at HERA and YVES) They shall land lightly in those fields of divine correction… their punishments shall… HERA Reek of dishonor. JOSEPH The wicked fall… into fathomless darkness. THEA (To audience) Daddy’s got a huge black cloak. He only wears it at night. The hood covers his… JOSEPH The cloak is worn on those official occasions whence I am called to administer the stamp of authority. THEA (To YVES) My father is a highly-educated man. My mother left school when she was fifteen. My brother… YVES Tediously wheedles his spoon, chasing the chalk of calcification, dreadful on the tongue. HERA In the struggle for education, humanity plummets. (Beat) The mind is a book, fatally bound in human skin. Ceaselessly, we turn the pages. THEA (In a man’s voice) My God! She’s a one-off! (To HERA) How do you do it? HERA ` By conducting raw energy as it shoots up into that mysterious vehicle, brain. It is transformed into white flames. These flames burn up all knowledge. THEA She’s got the low forehead of a bushland monkey. HERA I long for dense jungle. JOSEPH There is an unfortunate lack of true intelligence. (Beat) She is unable to recognize the God head! HERA The womb is the throne of emotion. Those who allow Desire to seduce mount the blood-red throne. (Beat) The throne of Life and Death must remain empty. (Beat) The fetus floats in the high-walled tomb. Sweet waters lap, lulling memory. A deadly flash of light awakens Soul. Bursting out of the skin coracle, he pushes his way down the dark labyrinth to light, Imitation light! (Pause) The horror of full materialization is contained in the blood- red moon. The blood-red cord dangles, like a hang-man’s rope. YVES Clothed in flesh, we peddle life on the black market. HERA All my seeds! Doomed, shriveled, violated by the artifice of Ego, bowing before hypocrisy of self-surrender. Like carrion crow, we swoop down on love and her chattels. We must break this curséd chain. Tied to the wheel of Life and Death, our screams echo in the Soul. THEA I’ll get the Morris Oxford hotted-up with mag wheels. They’re really high off the ground. I’m getting the steering wheel covered in blood-red velvet. (Beat) You can do anything with money. There’s a shop in Queen Street… YVES I have lived all my life in empty rooms, screwed by Ego to an unwieldy philosophy. I take ghosts as lovers, unable to come… or go. I hack at the circumference of the circle. Haunted by a thin veneer of Love, I howl with ruby eyes. There is a fly screen over my heart. I burst with the curséd juice of multitudes. (JOSEPH stares fanatically at YVES. YVES stands, head bowed) JOSEPH There is a distinct probability the tongue shall be forcibly removed. In sight of God’s children, a certain economy shall prevail. Of course… I pray for eternal decency. I care for humanity as a whole. A complete whole! THEA I’ll hang blood-red curtains to hide the eyes. I’ll tie them back in the daytime with thick, golden cords. (With a male voice, staring at HERA, who has her head bowed) I was a man in my prime. My task was to break her will. She burnt with the majesty of a tree goddess. JOSEPH She called out God’s name, in vain. A holy flame shot up in the fatal direction of her eyes… THEA (Looking at YVES) His flesh was determined; heavily smoked, the swine would not burn. JOSEPH One of God’s faithful servants stabbed him with a pitchfork! He fell forward into the heart of fire. THEA The moon, fat and bursting in the first night of her fullness, though a fickle cloud brought unwelcome shade. JOSEPH (Feeling rosebud) At the crucial moment she was radiant. We all knelt on the ever-blackening earth, weeping before Divine Love sacrificed on the altar. The Holy Eye gazed down as if upon a miracle. YVES If this is Truth, give it to me inside-out that I might view it with a dead eye. JOSEPH All punishments shall be meted out with a truly charitable hand. (Beat) Fathomless! Fathomless is darkness! YVES Crudely sandwiched between Life and Death, I am wet with the blood of the world. JOSEPH Your request for a black cloth shall be answered. HERA I speak for the sightless, the formless. In the stillness of night I hear the soundless cry of the persecuted… the heart spins slowly, a great wheel beheading flowers. THEA The horn on the Morris Oxford doesn’t work. YVES Bring me the square block of compressed seeds that I may twitter and peck, that I may hang from the black loop. (JOSEPH tears open his bag, takes out a big, black cloth, throws it over YVES’ head. YVES gives a long, bird cry) JOSEPH The servants of God shall not permit light to shine upon heretics. The last will and testament must under no circumstances be lost. (Pause… then to THEA) Please turn out the light. (THEA turns out the light, yet the room remains eerily lit. The figures appear ghostly, as if they are drowning in misty water. A gentle light wavers over their faces) JOSEPH (Continued) (Facing audience) I have always felt under cover of darkness much can be achieved. (Beat) One must never be forced to gaze upon agony undisguised. Subtle is most suitable for the Soul, the Spirit. Subtle on the night’s hidden eye. THEA (A chilling scream) Daddy! JOSEPH Let us kneel. (They all kneel. The black cloth slips off YVES’ head) HERA We have battled with the elements for too long. Weary, dying out from our own cause, thrown from realms shadowing the Soul as long trees divine the night. (A black curtain falls from above) THE END SYNOPSIS A Modern Crucifixion A Modern Crucifixion explores the predicament of an obsessed painter who in the name of inspiration loses everything: children, husbands, lovers, money, reputation. Caught in the act of creation, she is in a dangerous position; the fear of being locked away devours her. Working with forces more potent than herself, she dares to reach into the whirlpool. However, expectations placed upon a woman do not harmonize with raw, creative power. This power, in its unconducted shape, tears through the creator causing her to behave in a manner that appears ruthless. The artist has no choice; she must journey on. Rejecting the past she must seize the present. The blood-red cord unwinds. She must follow it. This play is about a self-induced sentence, about persecution in the name of righteousness, and the slow and terrible realization of the artist who in the act of creation has caused much suffering to her family. The ideas she has given birth to take on a life of their own… a haunting story unfolds. NOTE: This play is a tragic comedy. The act of birthing a play is a seemingly solitary endeavor, where one is drawn to stare at self’s plight in a universal mirror. Into this distorted mirror one stares, eternally reaching out with ghostly hand to touch that which appears out of reach. At last the eye loses sight of self. One calls up characters who speak of truth draped in lies, of justice mounting dishonor, of kindness swathed in cruelty. A rent is torn in the veil. Through this the audience shall stare as if into the heart of desire – at fame and fortune swaddled in hypocrisy, at love and hate falling into the dust of the arena, rising again and again to grasp that which appears as reality.