by Jess Hyslop
part 1 of 2
Mrs. PRUE, 75
A living room, containing a sofa, an armchair, a cabinet, a wastepaper basket and a standing lamp (on) with a floral shade (sunflowers). A matching table lamp (also on) stands upon a coffee table.
The curtains (also matching) are drawn, but in the gaps between them we see that the windows have been completely covered with bin-liners. The stage is lit only by the yellow light of the two lamps.
There are three exits: SR leads to the bedrooms, SL to the kitchen; a doorway USC is covered with a thick, dark green curtain. Beside this doorway is an empty coat-rack. The room is immaculate.
Mrs. PRUE: (offstage, from SR) Rosamond! Rosamond!
Rosamond enters from SL, wearing an apron. She listens, unimpressed and unhurried.
Mrs. PRUE: Rosamond, oh help! Skies of fire!
Rosamond calmly takes off her apron and exits with it SL.
Mrs. PRUE: Skies! Skies of fire! The light’s gone red!
Rosamond re-enters, without apron.
ROSAMOND: There’s no red light.
Rosamond exits SR.
Mrs. PRUE: Hide me, I’m back there, I’m out there. The clouds are burning! Burning red!
Rosamond enters, supporting Mrs. Prue, who is hunched and whimpering.
Mrs. PRUE: The clouds...
ROSAMOND: There’s no fire, Auntie Prue. There’s no red light. It’s yellow, yellow.
Rosamond helps Mrs. Prue to sit in the armchair, in front of the table lamp.
ROSAMOND: (indicating the table lamp) Look, it’s yellow.
Mrs. PRUE: But the skies—
ROSAMOND: It’s not fire, it’s sunflowers. Look, sunflowers. There are no skies.
Mrs. PRUE: There are no sunflowers, not any more.
ROSAMOND: (stubbornly) There are sunflowers here. Look, look. And here. (She indicates the standing lamp) And here. (She moves towards the window to indicate the curtains)
Mrs. PRUE: (cries out) Oh, come away!
ROSAMOND: Ssh, ssh. It’s only sunflowers.
Mrs. PRUE: I’m sorry, Rosamond. I’m trying not to remember.
ROSAMOND: You can’t help remembering.
Mrs. PRUE: You try your best, I know. I’m difficult, I know.
Rosamond doesn’t reply.
Mrs. PRUE: It’s just that, to me, it’s all red and black.
ROSAMOND: It’s in your head.
Mrs. PRUE: My memory.
ROSAMOND: Yes. In your head, in the past. It isn’t now. There’s no red and black.
Mrs. PRUE: But it leaps up. It leaps up at me. Like a tiger. Springs up and sets the clouds on fire—
ROSAMOND: Ssh, ssh. You know it isn’t real. When you think it’s real, you should ask yourself: could there really be a tiger in this room? Could we even fit a tiger in the door?
Mrs. PRUE: I’m a silly, I’m a silly old woman.
ROSAMOND: We couldn’t have a tiger in here. It would scratch the furniture.
Mrs. PRUE: You’re a good girl, Rosamond.
Rosamond looks at her watch.
Mrs. PRUE: Oh, oh! Is it Tuesday already!
ROSAMOND: Yes, Tuesday.
Mrs. PRUE: But I’m here in my night things. I can’t be here in my night things on a Tuesday. What time is it?
Mrs. PRUE: You shouldn’t have let me sleep so late. Now I’m not ready, and there isn’t time!
ROSAMOND: I’ll get your cardigan.
Rosamond exits SR.
Mrs. PRUE: Yes, yes, you’d better get my cardigan. (Calls after her) And my slippers! Bring my slippers!
The doorbell rings.
Mrs. PRUE: Oh! Oh! Rosamond! Rosamond! The doorbell! Rosamond, doorbell!
Rosamond re-enters, with cardigan and slippers.
ROSAMOND: I heard it, Auntie.
Rosamond helps Mrs. Prue on with her cardigan and slippers. The doorbell rings again, more hesitantly.
Mrs. PRUE: You’d better get it. She’ll go away else.
ROSAMOND: I am, Auntie, I am.
Copyright © 2011 by Jess Hyslop