mary magdalene kissed god
both middle aged
All other characters described are seen only by HE and SHE, and not by the audience.
The set consists of:
- the one-dimensional cut-out of a tree, rooted CS
- a roadside guardrail DS
- a large convex mirror above the playing area that reflects particular movement onstage as though through a fish eye lens
Props and costumes suspend from the ceiling on invisible wire.
mary magdalene kissed god
Lights fade up to reveal HE standing still, facing off stage. He’s wearing tuxedo trousers – faded and too short, held up with old fashioned suspenders. Worn-out slippers. A fanny pack.
Over the course of the first movement, until they are ready to leave, he moves on the spot, very minimally at a time, in a counter-clockwise direction, until he has executed a full 360.
SHE is seemingly looking into a mirror, carefully fixing her hair, which remains disheveled nonetheless. She pins a little wedding veil into her hair, covering the back of her head. All of her movements are executed sparsely. Very little air is disturbed. When she finishes with that job, she begins to apply smoky eye shadow, creating a dramatic effect. This is magnified through the large convex mirror above her.
HE: What time is it?
SHE: There’s plenty of time.
HE: You said that last time.
She continues with her shadow until done, and then painstakingly applies mascara, checking her eyes closely after each application. It’s smeared but she doesn’t notice or doesn’t mind.
HE: We’re going to run out of time!
SHE: I just need one more second.
HE: For gods sake!
SHE: There’s lots of time.
HE: So you’re a psychic now are you …?!
Finished with the mascara, she very carefully smears on red lipstick. It’s not an accurate application.
SHE: I’m all ready!
HE: Bloody hell …
She brushes down her dress from top to toe … it’s a tattered old-fashioned wedding gown. Adjusts the hips, the shoulders. Pulls in her stomach. A quick rub of perfume from a sample she tears from an old beauty magazine.
HE: What’s that stink?!
She freezes for an almost imperceptible moment. Then pulls on her satin pumps. They’re dirty, too big for her feet. Steps back to see her self with a stranger’s appraisal.
At first she looks stricken. But then lifts herself taller and puts on a Public face with a wide smile and wide eyes. She plucks his moth eaten tails from a suspended hook and brings them to him.
HE: If we miss him I’ll never forgive you.
She helps him on with the jacket.
HE: Watch it! My shoulder’s acting up oh my god …
SHE: Let’s check your coin purse before we go.
HE: Why would we do that? We both know it’s the exact same as it was when we counted it last night. It’s not like I’ve been down at the pool hall …
She brings him a worn top hat with faded white gloves. There is a pair of mirror sunglasses inside. He puts on his hat and gloves while she waits with the shades. He finishes with the gloves and holds out his hand for the shades. She gives them to him and he puts them on.
She quietly fusses a bit with his shoulders, brushing lint. He swats her off.
HE: Would you stop it!
She’s on the verge of skittering away, but holds her own.
He brushes his own self off. This takes a bit of time.
She silently watches him.
SHE: You never say you love me.
HE: That’s your issue not mine.
She stares at herself in his glasses. Magnified through the convex mirror above.
HE: Alright then. Off we go.
She fixes her Public Face and takes his arm, turning him with her so they may walk.
A change in lighting and sound indicates they have stepped outdoors.
SHE: It’s a gorgeous day. There should be a barbecue or two.
HE: I’m sick of hamburgers.
SHE: Perhaps there’ll be hot dogs.
HE: Keep your eye out for salsa. I’m in the mood for salsa.
They walk carefully forward, arm in arm, HE with grand importance; SHE as though expecting a blow at any moment.
HE: And potato chips.
SHE: Of course.
Street sounds indicate that they are now in public. She heightens the joy on her face, and he pulls himself up with great dignity – well, arrogance – looking straight ahead while she carefully scans the scene. She appears to be clinging to him even as she is directing him forward.
HE: Can you see any sign of him?
She looks ahead.
SHE: No. Nothing.
HE: Are you certain?
HE: We probably missed him.
SHE: We didn’t miss him. It’s too early.
HE: Good. Then we’ll do a little job while we wait, shall we.
She brings them to a halt and lets go of his arm. He grabs her as though to keep her from getting out of reach. Thrusts her forward while he keeps the back of her gown clutched in one hand. He removes his hat and holds it out.
She appears to be dangled in front of him. Looks like she’d rather be hiding under a rock, but gamely keeps adjusting her Public Happy Face. She presents the suggestion of her sexuality a couple of times: a girlish little pointing to her breast; a tongue move that looks more like a child showing her jube jubes than an erotic invitation.
He stares straight ahead while moving the hat occasionally from side to side, thrusting it forward once or twice. No one is putting any money in.
HE: We would thank you … for your generosity.
We would thank you …. (sotto voce) arsehole ….
She startles as she sees something in the distance. Whispers…
SHE: I think that’s him.
HE: Where?! How can you tell?!
SHE: There’s a huge crowd moving around someone.
HE: Where are they?
SHE: Walking toward the fountain.
HE: Well let’s go!
He puts on his hat, extends his arm to her, preparing to step forward. She doesn’t move.
HE: What’s the matter with you?
SHE: Are you sure you want to go?
HE: What are you talking about? I’ve been waiting for this! Go!
SHE: You know it’s all just ridiculous talk. It’s ridiculous. Let’s go find a barbecue instead. I’ll get you a pickle!
HE: A pickle.
A stand off. His fuming simmers. He taps his foot. Slow boil. She’s frozen to the spot, clawed onto his arm.
HE: Just get me over there and then you can go hide under a tree root for all I care.
He yanks her forward. She trips in her big shoes. Steadies. Tries to resume her Happy Face and steps with trepidation into the sound of traffic. Guides them across a busy street.
HE: I know it’s ridiculous.
They continue on their journey.
HE: But what the hell. It’s worth a laugh.
A car almost hits them. Her panic is rising.
HE: (jovial) At least we’ll have a good story to tell.
She has successfully navigated them across the street and the lighting/sound indicates they’re in a park. Containing her panic, she willfully marches them forward, pulling HE along with her. His grandiosity wanes as the crush of people affects him, diminishing his confidence. Sounds of a crowd swells. SHE extricates her arm from his grip and pushes him into the crowd from behind. Then flees to a less congested area – under the tree.
HE: Don’t … What?! …. Don’t let go of me!!! … OH! …
And he’s swept into the crowd and offstage.
She tries to compose herself while watching him get absorbed into the circle of people. As she watches, someone (unseen by audience) approaches her for a cigarette, startling her. She pats her self down looking for one … then …
SHE: Oh! I don’t smoke! I’m so sorry ….
For a couple of minutes she progresses in her anxiety of trying to keep her eyes out for him, heightened by her mounting need for a cigarette. Her need for the cigarette wins. SHE shyly makes one, then another, imperceptible overture for a cigarette. Her third attempt – a frantic pat down of an unsuspecting passerby – is outright obvious, if unsuccessful …
He bursts back onto the stage. Whirls in confusion. She hurriedly takes hold of him.
HE: He spat on me!
HE: He gobbed in my eyes!
SHE: That’s dreadful! I told you he was a quack.
HE: Wipe it off.
HE: I said wipe it off!
SHE: With what?
HE: I don’t care just do it!
She’s clearly sickened by the idea but takes hold of the end of her dress and delicately wipes at his eyes. He puts his shades back on.
SHE: There now lets find something to eat.
She starts to move away but he’s reclaiming his dignity and she’s pulled back. He brushes himself off. Gradually becomes rooted to the spot …
HE: Oh. My. God.
SHE: Now what is it?
A pause while he turns his head from side to side. Then carefully executes a full 360 clockwise turn, on the spot, while she’s trotted along in tandem. He takes off his shades. Squeezes his eyes open and shut.
HE: I can see!
SHE: No you can’t.
Squeezes his eyes again.
HE: Yes. I can.
SHE: No. You can’t. You’re blind.
HE: I’m telling you I can see!
They peer intently into each other’s faces. Magnified in the convex mirror above.
HE: You’re old!
She’s speechless for a moment.
SHE: So are you …!
They examine each other’s faces as though for the first time.
HE: I thought you were beautiful!
SHE: I thought I was too!
His head reels back as the full impact of gaining his sight begins to hit him.
HE: I can see!
He experiments with taking a step on his own. Then another. And another. Now a little skip as the joy sets in.
HE: I’m free!
He’s getting further and further away from her. Her panic is rising as she tries to keep within reach but out of shoving distance.
HE: It’s a miracle!
He begins a little jig.
HE: I got a miracle! I got a miracle! (a childhood taunt ring to it)
Self-importance takes over.
HE: I got a miracle!
He turns to her and views her now as someone who didn’t get a miracle.
HE: I’m going back.
SHE: You can’t go back! You can’t see where you’re going….
He’s already on his way.
HE: Oh yes I can and you can’t stop me …
SHE: Don’t leave me …!
And he’s off with the joy of a child. She is left with her anxiety mounting.