A Play for Radio by
Commissioned and Broadcast by
BBC Radio 4 on
© Copyright 1996
ACTION OF THE PLAY
POET: A confused romantic poet.
WOLFSKIN: Ella's brother
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.
THE POET IS WRITING using a scratchy quill pen.
HE SITS IN A SMALL BUT COMFORTABLE GARRET ROOM WITH A CRACKLING FIRE FOR WARMTH
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].
Go buzz somewhere else.
ĎThere in that forest did his great love cease;.........í
[FLY BUZZ, SWOT]
THE FLY CONTINUES TO BUZZ.
ĎIt was a vision.----- In the drowsy gloom,
The dull of , 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
ELLAíS BEDROOM. ELLA IS CRYING.
Isabella.... Isabella... .Isabella....
[ELLA STOPS CRYING]
Donít be afraid.
Donít be afraid.
I am here.
At the foot of your bed........
[SLOWLY AS SHE LOOKS AT HIM]
Donít be afraid.
[INTAKE OF BREATH]
Why are you so... Pale?... So... Undone?.... How did you get here? Where have you been?........ Iíve been waiting....... You........
Your grief heaved me from the grave.
Stalked my death..............
You wail so much!
I didnít know where you were...... You just left without........
Why didnít you phone?
I wasnít watching for death..... Murder has no symptoms!
Through the heart..... Itís not only his body he likes piercing....... And now your grief shatters my death.
Your death?...... When you left I was....... Wolfskin said .......
I cannot, this image is transient.
What do you mean?
I lie Underleaf, earthbound.
If you love me donít torment me with riddles!
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.
How will I find you?
The forest holds my boneseed.
I will find you Enzo. I will find you!
I return to my hiding place.
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
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 ]
Where are you going?
SHE TRIES TO GET PAST HIM.
You canít go out there.
I want to find him. My lover..........
I told you heís gone off with a floozy.
He told me youíd ....... Youíd.......
What? What did he tell you?
That he loved me........
He had that wandering man glint.
You hurt me.
Heís gone...... Bury his memory deep.
I need something to bury! Memoryís too cheap.
Itís dangerous out there.... The lift might get stuck, the beggars will eat you. You are safe here.
If I look out on the balcony.
Iíve told you before, you must stay back.
I feel like a princess locked up in a tower.
Go to bed Sleeping Beauty, brother Wolfskin will look after you.
He didnít say good bye.
Go to bed.
THE GARRET. THE POET IS WRITING WITH HIS SCRATCHY QUILL.
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).