HEAD.

A Play for Radio by Lucy Gough


 
 
 
 

Commissioned and Broadcast by

BBC Radio 4 on 29th October 1996.


 
 

© Copyright 1996 Lucy Gough. All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transcribed in any form or by any means, including, but not limited to electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or other means, without prior written permission of the Author.

THE ACTION OF THE PLAY TAKES PLACE IN A POETíS GARRET AND IN A FLAT IN A HIGH RISE BLOCK. THERE IS NO PARTICULAR TIME-SET BUT OUTSIDE IN THE PASSAGEWAYS AND STAIRWELLS LURK PACKS OF HALF-ANIMAL CANNIBAL BEGGARS.

CHARACTERS:

ELLA:

POET: A confused romantic poet.

WOLFSKIN: Ella's brother

ENZO; GHOST/THE HEAD: Ellaís lover
 
 

Directed by Jonquil Panting.

Isabella - Liza Sadovy

Enzo/The Head - Tom Hollander

Wolfskin - Sean Baker

The Poet - Mark Bonnar
 
 
 
 
 
 

With special thanks:

To Janet Campbell for pointing me at the poem and Hilary Norrish for commissioning it.

To my resident Dramaturg Duncan Gough and to Jonquil Panting for treading this weird landscape with inspiration and patience.

 

SCENE ONE: PRE-CREDITS.

A GARRET.

THE POET IS WRITING using a scratchy quill pen. HE SITS IN A SMALL BUT COMFORTABLE GARRET ROOM WITH A CRACKLING FIRE FOR WARMTH AND A CANDLE FOR LIGHT. THERE IS THE OCCASIONAL SOUND OF A FLY BUZZING.

POET:

[WRITING]

Ď..........Sick and wan

The brothersí faces in the ford did seem,

Lorenzoís flush with love.------- They passíd the water

Into a forest quiet for the slaughter.

There was Lorenzo slain and buried in..................í

[FLY BUZZES IRRITATINGLY, POET TRIES TO SWOT IT].

[SWOT]

Go buzz somewhere else.

[WRITING]

ĎThere in that forest did his great love cease;.........í

[FLY BUZZ, SWOT]

THE FLY CONTINUES TO BUZZ.

[WRITING.]

ĎIt was a vision.----- In the drowsy gloom,

The dull of midnight, at her couchís foot

Lorenzo stood, and wept: the forest tomb...............

Strange sound it was, when the pale shadow spoke.............í

FLY BUZZ. THE SOUND OF THE FLY GETS NEARER AND NEARER AS IF TO LAND ON THE POETíS NOSE.

CREDITS:

SCENE TWO:

ELLAíS BEDROOM. ELLA IS CRYING.

GHOST:

Isabella.... Isabella... .Isabella....

[ELLA STOPS CRYING]

Isabella....

[SLOWLY]

Donít be afraid.

ELLA:

[WHISPERS URGENTLY]

Enzo?

GHOST:

[SLOWLY]

Donít be afraid.

ELLA:

[HOPEFULLY]

Enzo?

GHOST:

I am here.

ELLA:

Where?

GHOST:

At the foot of your bed........

ELLA:

Enzo!

GHOST:

[SLOWLY AS SHE LOOKS AT HIM]

Donít be afraid.

ELLA:

[INTAKE OF BREATH]

Why are you so... Pale?... So... Undone?.... How did you get here? Where have you been?........ Iíve been waiting....... You........

GHOST:

[INTERRUPTS]

Your grief heaved me from the grave.

ELLA:

Grave?

GHOST:

[CONTíG]

Stalked my death..............

ELLA:

Death?

GHOST:

[INDIGNANTLY]

You wail so much!

ELLA:

I didnít know where you were...... You just left without........

[RETORT]

Why didnít you phone?

GHOST:

I wasnít watching for death..... Murder has no symptoms!

ELLA:

[SHOCKED]

Murder!

GHOST:

Your brother.

ELLA:

Wolfskin?

GHOST:

Through the heart..... Itís not only his body he likes piercing....... And now your grief shatters my death.

ELLA:

Your death?...... When you left I was....... Wolfskin said .......

[CRIES OUT]

Hold me!

GHOST:

I cannot, this image is transient.

ELLA:

What do you mean?

GHOST:

I lie Underleaf, earthbound.

ELLA:

[DESPERATE]

If you love me donít torment me with riddles!

GHOST:

The quickening pulse of the soul struggles to free itself. Come find my deathplace. My burying was done in disguise. Mark my mortsafe with this grief which rocks life, mark it forever. Lay your grief in the ground, weep over me and cool my unripe soul.

ELLA:

How will I find you?

GHOST:

The forest holds my boneseed.

ELLA:

I will find you Enzo. I will find you!

GHOST:

I return to my hiding place.

ELLA:

My eyes are covered, go quickly..... ONE TWO THREE FOUR FIVE SIX SEVEN EIGHT NINE TEN.

[SHE OPENS HER EYES, ENZO HAS GONE. GETS UP AND RUNS TO THE DOOR.]

Even If youíve fallen off the earth... Iíll find your carcass.... Iíll tell it I love it, wrap it in softness, hold your smell to my heart. Coming to find you ready or not.

[SHE OPENS THE DOOR ]

WOLFSKIN:

[SUDDENLY, LOUDLY AND FIRMLY]

Where are you going?

ELLA:

[STARTLED]

Wolfskin.... I...

SHE TRIES TO GET PAST HIM.

WOLFSKIN:

[STOPS HER]

You canít go out there.

ELLA:

I want to find him. My lover..........

WOLFSKIN:

I told you heís gone off with a floozy.

ELLA:

He told me youíd ....... Youíd.......

WOLFSKIN:

What? What did he tell you?

ELLA:

[CHANGES HER MIND]

That he loved me........

WOLFSKIN:

He had that wandering man glint.

ELLA:

You hurt me.

WOLFSKIN:

Heís gone...... Bury his memory deep.

ELLA:

I need something to bury! Memoryís too cheap.

WOLFSKIN:

Itís dangerous out there.... The lift might get stuck, the beggars will eat you. You are safe here.

ELLA:

If I look out on the balcony.

WOLFSKIN:

Iíve told you before, you must stay back.

ELLA:

I feel like a princess locked up in a tower.

WOLFSKIN:

[LAUGHS]

Go to bed Sleeping Beauty, brother Wolfskin will look after you.

ELLA:

He didnít say good bye.

WOLFSKIN:

[FIRMLY]

Go to bed.

 

 

SCENE 2a:

THE GARRET. THE POET IS WRITING WITH HIS SCRATCHY QUILL.

POET:

When the full morning came, she had devised

How she might secret to the forest hie;

How she might find the clay, so dearly prized,

And sing it one latest lullaby............

 

 

 

The full text of the play is published by Seren Books in a volume of three plays Crossing The Bar, Head and Our Lady of Shadows (one stage and two radio) (Ref 1-85411-266-X).