Monologue from the play Fragile Novecento
Translation from Italian By Kay McCarthy.
A – The protagonist, a man of about 30
B – Another of the play’s characters. He/she does not speak but simply observes A.
Scene: The protagonist is seated typing on a partable computer which is linked to a cellar phone. The entire system is connected with his body thanks to a harness – somewhat like that used by toddlers – which allows him to move his body in perfect freedom.
He is visibly annoyed with B’s presence.
(this may be recorded or the actor may use his own voice in falsetto)
A – I never invited anyone to come here, stay near me… to engage in conversation… as they say… not even the slightest sign of encouragement… for my likes… like whom, I ask you? Like me? Me like them? All like someone else? It’s had enough as it is to find a way to start, let alone continue. (to B) In other words… and I don’t wish to repeat myself…when I’m in company… (indicating the PC) I -want -to- be -alone.
Friends, business, travel, stories, sex… all here, in my hands. One hundred percent, when and how I like it. I live… burn… shine (smiling). And I don’t need anybody. This is why they hate me, won’t leave me alone. They come, look, criticise, blowing their breath into my face… a delicate… tender… personal… part. I must defend myself, find peace… but it’s such a waste of time… such an effort… I’m no longer what I used to be… I’ve never been that way… right from the start… when I came into this dear, old world (to B) of fucking Peeping Toms.
And I think that even of there were an empty space beyond the reach of imagination, in a deep recess of absolute silence, in darkness, not darkness but absence of light, of sound, of air, of soul… (in a crescendo of anger) it would lurk there waiting for me… goodwill… the voice of goodness… ready to fill paraise with shatter, spitting, drooling, and the way we were and the way we’ll be and what we’ve been and will become and turn that thing off and see a doctor, see a priest, open your heart smile answer look around you look inside yourself look it will be the end of you.
Why don’t you talk? What are you thinking? Don’t think! Think about those who suffer, are woulded, ill, dead, you too will be, you’re no different, you mustn’t, you can’t do without real… company. (pause) I’m patient. Very. I know how difficult words are to use. They come in millions… if there’s nothing to be said. A madding swarm… irate… blood-thirsty… the usual mania for grandeur… nothing serious… nothing bew… But let the words come to me… dear little girls… run off and play… I am here for your sake… sweet, tranquil, almost dead, open-eyes, full of flies… and yet turned towards the heavens… last… loving… homage… to life.
(He jumps to his feet. B backs away)
So, enough. The rations have run out too. (A with clasping his PC to him, performs a series of acrobatic feats, speaking all the time, without an apparent effort, like a robot)
Suddnely I have an absolute need to cross the opposite limit… upla!… upla!… one two one two one two… and there’s no way… to stop the movement… and return… to stillness… before all… the cycle… is… fully… completed… voilà! (he pounces on B, strangles him/her and tosses the corpse into the wings. Soothed, he sits down , dials a number, the digits on the keyboard, smiling as he enters the Net. He continues to talk as he types frenzily).
I love you Samantha. Let me in, my love. Where are you hiding? You want ot drive me mad… but you know I’ll never give in. If I stopped at every obstacle I’d never get anywhere. Someone used to say, perhaps it was my father, I don’t know, I don’t want to place any further blame on him, that there’s no advantage in messing about with all these formulae , all you do is worsen the initial situation, if you get started at all, even once… all hypotheses, never proven. (he hums a love song) I know why you’re hiding. You’re hurt. Is that it? Yesterday… while we were making love. I’m right, true? We were at the climax. We were really at our top. Then I vanished. Suddenly. Black screen. The end. (sigh)
An accident, Samantha. They found our secret hiding-place. I had to let go… and I don’t know anywhere left to go… It began so well, a perfect day, one of those days capable of reconciling you with life… that’s what they say, I think… when you put your head out and get your legs moving… almost painlessly. It was raining cats and dogs , zero visibility, all mammals in a state of lethargy, all the just drowned. That’s how it seemed… Ideal, for a romantic trip to my den among the trees.
I took the path through the woods… not a soul in sight… but I cautiously kept to the grassy edges and walked dragging my feet… an old trick for passing unseen (he signs with relief as he recalls) The storm roared… wind, rain, thunder-claps… but I was there shug and blissful in my nest… talking to you about love until the sun went down.And we made love too. More than once, in eight hours of surfing. The den filled with mud, leaves, debris… oosed with exciting liquids… slightly cold… me, up to my neck in… my trunk rotting in the slushy stuff… absolute peace… and quiet… just the whisper of the water amid the reeds.
(He looks into the void with tear-filled eyes) We were so happy… made plans… the usual dreams… a New Era of universal telepathy, a world of angels, without either machines, or Internet, or hands, or words, or keyboards…
Blessed be the day, Samantha, when they’ll take us for dead and let us live at last… That’s what I dreamed of… with you, in our little channel (stiffening) Then they came… the voice and his dog… crushing, dispising, spraying… The dog pissed in my ear, and thatw as alright, after all I can’t imagine a more attractive place to let go in. He sniffed my face carefully and for a moment I hoped he’d taken me for a vegetable… biological refuse… I smiled at the dear animal adn he filled my face with a pawful of mud… a small gesture of agreement before leaving. A true gentleman.
I shook my hand to wave and that was a mistake… because the voice was there, in ambush, perched among the branches of a tree… (very fast) Ohmygod, sir, what are you doing… your PDA might get ruined with all this mud… just as well I was passing, give it to me, it’s really nice… how much memory? Expandible? Has is an infra-red port? A slot for PC cards? Come out of there, get up, answer me… why won’t you answer?… are you feeling alright?… can you hera me?… shall I call the wardens, the firemen, the scouts, your mother… ohmygod, sir, you’re alive… or are you?
(Slowly) A beautiful rainy day, my den among the trees, we two were talking about love, in our own little world… The voice was far away, on the branches, filling the air with spittle and breath… earnest, untiring, determined to get his way… he couldn’t have known there was so little time left… or maybe he guessed… because towards dawn his words came out in clots… a sign that they were coming to an end… siryoumust absolute lylistento meandcome outoftherebeforeitis toolate… blind words, spurted, broken… until nothing was left… a slight sigh and then silence.
He was beside himself… trembling with rage… he didn’t want to give in… he snatched the computer out of my hands and turned it off (dreamily) Darkness. No more compnay, free descent towards the abyss. Sleep, my baby, close your eyes, the sandman will come and sprinkle them with golden dust… sleep my darling, or the harpies will come to fetch you, small as ants, shiny as snakes, to drag you away to space without return… far, far away… amid forgotten dreams…
I had to abandon my den, that damned voice and his mangy dog, under the leaves of my trees. A golden sepulchre for those swine. But I didn’t stay to look. When I do something properly I never look back… I feel so perfect… so useless… I don’t know what to do anymore… where to do… I await the next move. For days, even. Endless… planless time.
(A sharp whistle from the computer. A grows excited and begins digiting anxiously)
A letter… Samantha, is it you? (smiling) Oh, Samantha…
(Infantile, sweet, petulant) My darling, I’m getting ready for the night, but I knew I wouldn’t sleep. The mere thought of you drievs me crazy, burns me, takes my breath away… leaves me listless, dead. That’s why I shut our channel… I wanted to be alone and think, about the two of us, our wonderful love. And I have reached a decision. I want to meet you, look into your eyes, see your hands, embrace you , hold you tight… In a real place, like real lovers. You want it too, don’t you? So, tell me where and when… I await you on line… and kiss the screen… until I can kiss your mouth. See you soon! Samantha.
(Tense, he fixes the air, expressionless. He unpugs the cellar phone from the PC. He winds the flex up carefully and then throws it away)
I just can’t believe it… she wants to look into my eyes… see my hands… takes for granted that I said all those things… and that I can show them to anyone at the drop of a hat… we were getting on so well… the best days of my life. . that’s what they say, I think… one clssifies before and after… to set one’s conscience right and pretend that something has happened, a movement, the slightest…
(He pulls off the harness connecting him to the computer)
Really… we enjoyed it all… no regrets,after all what’s the use of continuing such a perfect situation. A quick end is the best solution. No ceremony.
(He shuts the PC and places it on the ground)
Meet… like real lovers… impossible, sorry… I’m too busy flying… I can’t stop… I’d be dashed to pieces against… all this reality.
Then I’d have nothing more to say… no… nothing more to say to anyone.
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