a play by
Conrad Bishop & Elizabeth Fuller
based on the novel by Mary Shelley
The play is designed to be performed by three actors, doubling as follows:
Victor Frankenstein — People on the Street
Henry Clerval — The Creature
Elizabeth — Ship Captain — People on the Street — Girl
The original production featured an open playing area of 22 x 22 ft. Black and silver painted curtains ascended on sides and back, forming wings suggesting glaciers or ship’s rigging.
A large table on casters served as Victor’s desk, operating table, ship deck, and glacier precipice. In the rear, just above reach, was a large full moon.
Elizabeth Fuller’s sound score for the original production is available on CD.
Actors must be skilled in physical movement, mime and clowning. At the same time, text and text rhythm are often at the forefront, and performers must be skilled in delivery. Everything must flow from a spare, realistic core.
The Creature is a man of physical beauty, with the mind of a two-year-old but a natural adult voice. No elements of monstrosity. In the original production, only his clothing suggested a patched-together quality.
© 1998 by Conrad Bishop & Elizabeth Fuller. All rights reserved.
For production information, contact WordWorkers, 800-357-6016 or E-mail.
Ominous music. Distant, an actor staggers forward in a rubber Frankenstein mask. He stops, shouts “Bullshit!” and flings the mask away.
VICTOR: That’s not the way it was. Not at all.
This is what I told him. I told the Captain.
Captain appears, distant. He searches with a telescope as his ship rolls. Victor enters into the flow of the movement.
When I went north, and I walked for many weeks, and I was in the Arctic—
VICTOR: Ice moving under me, and the ice broke, and I was adrift—
Victor meets the Captain, collapses into his arms.
VICTOR: There was a ship and I called out to the ship, and then I collapsed and they cared for me.
And the Captain said “What are you doing here?” and I said “What are you doing here?” And he said—
CAPTAIN: I am on my quest!
VICTOR: And I said “So am I.”
I told him my story, and he was amazed.
Captain stiffens, goes off in a stagger.
After that, they made it into a movie. But this is how it happened.
Henry Clerval rushes on, pursued by Elizabeth wearing the monster mask, playing as children. Victor joins in. The monster catches Victor. Tableau. Clerval breaks out of it.
CLERVAL: This is my friend Victor. He’s ten. I’m nine. Elizabeth is eight. She’s Victor’s cousin. She lives with him. She’s an orphan. Her mother’s dead.
We play a lot. We play family.
We play kings and queens.
We play doctor, and we make a monster.
They sculpt Clerval into a monster, he chases them about, catches Victor. Tableau. Elizabeth breaks out.
ELIZABETH: Then I got sick. And Victor’s mother nursed me. “Poor Elizabeth. You’ll get well. Drink your soup.”
But then she got sick and died.
They mime a comic death scene, Victor frantic to revive her. She goes limp. Victor realizes that it’s real.
No response.
Mama? Mama?
Embracing her. Freeze.
CLERVAL: After that, he was way different.
He rises, a stiff-spined, dispassionate adult. For a moment, he holds Elizabeth’s hand, as if in leave-taking, then walks away. She and Clerval wave after him.
Victor at his desk. Elizabeth distant.
ELIZABETH: Dear Victor, I miss you. I hope your studies are going well. Lilacs are out. Please write.
Victor swats at a fly. Swats again. At last he squashes it in a book.
Victor, I miss you. Please write.
Victor opens the pages of the book, pokes at the fly.
Remember we were little, I was dreaming I still had a mother and father, and then I woke up, and remembered, and cried.
And you heard me and came in: “It’s ok, when I’m big I’ll make it so nobody dies.” And then your mother died.
Victor, please write.
Victor scrapes up the fly, puts it on desk. Looks in book. Makes signs over it. Pours something on it. Looks.
But I’ve always felt safe with you. And thinking how life goes on.
There is death, yes. To change that is a childish dream.
But there’s birth. There’s love, and then birth, and life.
He touches the fly. It begins to buzz.
Victor, please.
He is stunned, overjoyed, clapping his hands in glee, then realizes that he’s squashed the fly.
Clerval appears. Victor is plunged into his books.
CLERVAL: Victor, you haven’t written.
VICTOR: I’ve been working.
CLERVAL: Elizabeth is worried.
VICTOR: Elizabeth.
CLERVAL: Your father says hello, and Wilma.
CLERVAL: Wilma. Your sister. Little Wilma.
VICTOR: Wilma.
CLERVAL: Wilma. Well, Victor, I’m glad you dropped in to visit. I didn’t know you were in town. Would you like a drink?
VICTOR: No, thanks. I need to be going, I— What?
He looks around his own study. Realizes Clerval is joking. They laugh.
I’m sorry. It’s my studies.
CLERVAL: Well I’m envious. You in college, being brilliant, and me working for my dad.
VICTOR: Getting rich.
CLERVAL: And keeping Elizabeth cheerful.
It’s disgusting. She speaks to me with passionate longing ... for you.
They all say, “Won’t they make a lovely young couple!” Since you were ten years old.
Where do I fit in?
VICTOR: There was so much time.
Focused on his own inner torment, Victor launches into a vehement speech, all in mime. Clerval gives words to what he’s hearing.
CLERVAL: You came to study science, and all you’d read were old rare books in your father’s study.
Paracelsus ... the divine animation of matter ... the philosopher’s stone ... Albertus Magnus ... the elixir of life.
And your professors laughed themselves silly. You were ridiculed.
Victor in a frenzy of mime.
But you mastered them. You mastered all they had to teach. Your progress became legend. You won every honor.
VICTOR: But it’s farcical! Modern science shows me a banquet of riches. And I’m sick of it. The more I gorge, the more ravenous I am.
I want what those old clowns promised — the alchemists, the magicians.
They promised me life.
CLERVAL: You look alive. Just barely. Victor, what’s really the problem?
CLERVAL: Is it money? Drugs, are you on drugs? You’re in love? You’ve got somebody pregnant?
CLERVAL: No, you’ve thought about suicide. Everybody does. Or cholesterol. Herpes. Armageddon. What is it, Victor? Tell me!
VICTOR: Life. I want there to be no more death.
Music. Victor is transfixed.
Birth brings with it Death.
Your eyes open in blood, bathed in motherblood, and it’s only a matter of years.
We court women, cajole them, and they give us tiny corpses, little slugs that beshit themselves, and it’s only a matter of years.
What if we made birth obsolete? No more spewing seed that flies to the wind. No womb to bleed out the debris, the hopes, illusions, cans and bottles, candy wrappers, kleenex, the litter of loving.
Make our own child, without a woman.
Child of no mother, who cannot die because he has not been born. He is fully formed of our intent.
He rises to meet us, his father, in all his glory, and there is no more mourning. Never.
Henry, I’m very close to creating life.
CLERVAL: Victor, what’s really the problem?
Victor clasps Clerval’s shoulder.
VICTOR: Well ok, you’re too smart for me. It’s— I’m failing math.
But it’s ok. I’m getting medical attention. I’ll be fine.
Clerval embraces him.
Give my love to Elizabeth. Now I have to work.
Clerval, deeply moved, extends his goodbyes, returning to embrace him again and again and again. Finally departs.
The fly animates and buzzes away. Victor is astonished. Black.
Victor lies on the table as a ship’s deck, the Captain above him. Opposite, a Creature stands, covered by a sheet.
VICTOR: It happened on Tuesday.
CAPTAIN: He told me he made a monster. He didn’t say “monster.” He said “creature.”
VICTOR: Yes, and how does he animate dead matter? Just by wishing it?
CAPTAIN: He got stuff from graveyards, and the butcher shop.
VICTOR: And supply houses, and the hospital, and yard sales—
CAPTAIN: And the brain of a baby.
VICTOR: He was two and a half. He died in his sleep. He was blond.
A spasm of delirium.
Where’s the glue? Bizarre to imagine this stinking assemblage of bone, guts and skin could some day, to me, say, “I love you.”
Victor Frankenstein. Hello, I’m Victor Frankenstein.
He presses a button. The Creature’s arm rises, then flops.
We played Creating a Monster. What if you took legs from a tall guy, hands from a bear, muscles from a bull, sausage for a wee-wee—
And we could do it better than mommies could, because they have babies, and babies grow up and die. But if you don’t use mommies, they’ll never die.
It’s time.
CAPTAIN: It’s time?
VICTOR: Eight-thirty.
Yes, and how does he do it then? He studies every two-bit monster movie ever made.
He tries it electro-chemically—
Victor approaches the shrouded Creature. He mimes setting a bank of dials, attaching wires, pushing switches, fomenting electrochemical discharges. At last he pulls the master switch.
Ladies and gentlemen, life!
Looks. Nothing. He gives the switch another feeble waggle. Enraged, he rips away the cables and wires, collapses back onto the ship’s deck.
It’s cold.
CAPTAIN: We sailed on.
VICTOR: He tries it magically—
Again, he approaches the Creature, places a candle, lights it, mumbling under his breath. He cuts his wrist, moves counter-clockwise around the Figure, dribbling a circle of blood while chanting.
The Captain joins the chant and the circle, punctuating phrases with blasts on a bosun’s whistle. They rise to fever pitch.
He claps his hands onto the Creature, quivers as spasms of energy pass through him. Nothing happens.
Victor collapses, staggers back to the ship’s deck.
VICTOR: It’s cold.
CAPTAIN: We sailed on.
VICTOR: Do all that, it’s no more than the lapping of surf. How do we make it happen on Tuesday?
CAPTAIN: He said—
VICTOR: Does life enter, or does death exit?
CAPTAIN: He said—
VICTOR: Life is a set of speculations. The world I conceive is the world that exists. Doubt that? Look at the rampant madness.
My will is for a world I father, where death is undone. I conceive it, it’s born.
CAPTAIN: He said—
VICTOR: I conceive it, it’s already born. We create only the name for what has already slipped from between our thighs.
And then we see it. Why will I startle, gag, vomit in horror at its living face?
Because of the cosmetics? Because I see how it may complicate my schedule?
Because I face my own gaping mouth and see a womb within me that this is the spawn of, and the smoke rising, and I’m appalled?
Questions later. Now it’s time.
You bastard, it’s time. Wake up. Wake up. It’s time. It’s time!
Victor lunges at the Creature, shakes it, begins pumping one arm. The other arm swings, floors him.
He goes to the other arm, pumps it. The Creature lurches in a sharp pirouette, knocks him sprawling.
Victor rises, enraged, runs into an outstretched arm: pratfall. He tries a full nelson.
You bastard... Wake up... It’s time...
The Creature bends at the waist, flipping him over the shoulders. He lies flat on his back, looking up.
CREATURE: Is time?
VICTOR: Eight-thirty...
Stunned. The sheet falls away. The Creature straightens. He is handsome, long-haired, baffled: an adult’s body, the mind of a two-year-old.
CREATURE: Who you?
VICTOR: Victor ... Frankenstein...
Victor and Captain recoil in slow motion. Their responses, from shock to dismay to terror, are broadly melodramatic.
CREATURE: Where’s Mama?
They start to flee. Victor falls to his knees and vomits.
I’m hungry. Where’s Mama?
The Creature reaches to Victor, who flees in slow-motion horror.
Love me? Love me?
Terrified at abandonment:
Where’s Mama?
He moves toward us, pleading.
Mama? Mama? Mama?
The Creature kneels by a brook. He drinks, picks berries from a bush. He hears birds.
He starts walking in place. Figures pass in front of him with one-beat iconic gestures: a couple in a fierce quarrel; a cop directing traffic; a workman with a jackhammer; a kid with a boombox; a streetwalker; an enraged driver; a derelict; a beggar; businessmen on an elevator talking on cellphones; etc.
He mimics their gestures, learning the language of civilization: rage, confusion, despair. Figures disappear.
Creature walks in a circle. Fruitseller appears, miming a pushcart. Creature approaches, reaches toward the fruit.
SELLER: That’s an apple.
SELLER: So you want it? Fifty cents. Two for ninety.
SELLER: Right. So you got money? No money, no apple. You talk?
Creature nods.
Ok, the way it works. You get money from your mommy or your daddy till you’re big and smart, and then you get a job.
Nobody’s got some God-given right to exist just because they want to.
Creature takes the apple. Fruitseller takes it from his hand, holds him by the chin, gives him a small, sharp slap. Goes out. Creature touches the sting.
Creature walks in a circle. Suddenly he is confronted by Kids with rubber clubs.
KIDS: Hi. You wanta play?
He nods.
Hey, we could play monster. You be the monster.
They form him into a monster, teach him to roar. He is overjoyed.
It’s a monster! Kill the monster! You’re dead! Die!
They beat him to his knees. He cries out. They are terrified, run away screaming.
Mommy! Mommy!
Creature walks in a circle. He sees two lovers embracing. He approaches in wonder, slowly reaches out to touch and then embrace them. Suddenly they realize they’re not alone.
MAN: Whatta you doing?
WOMAN: He touched me!
MAN: Don’t you touch me! Freak! Freak!
They retreat, cursing him.
He stands, recapitulating what he’s learned, the gestural language of a world gone mad. It catches him up in its frenzy, building to collapse.
A Girl appears with a basket of dolls. She approaches him.
WILMA: Hello. Wanta play?
No response.
You can play. I’m Wilma.
WILMA: Wilma. See? This is the boy. And this is the girl. And they love each other. See?
She presses two dolls together.
And they look up at the moon.
WILMA: But they’re hungry and poor, and they don’t have food.
WILMA: They live in the woods with the old grandpa—
A large teddy-bear.
And he’s blind.
She picks out its eyes. Creature covers his own eyes, cries out.
But he still could see the moon.
WILMA: But then the monster came. You be the monster.
Creature whimpers.
But he was a good monster, even though he couldn’t talk. He could only say “moon.”
WILMA: And he looked through the window, and he wanted to knock and say, “Hello, can I live here too?” But he looked in the lake—
Holds a mirror flat, as the lake.
And saw what he looked like.
Creature looks, cries out.
And didn’t. But every night he listened to bedtime stories. And learned words.
She makes the dolls read a book.
CREATURE: Good. Bad. Tree. Tickle. Sweet.
WILMA: Where do you live?
WILMA: What did you do today?
CREATURE: Catch fish.
WILMA: Can you tell a joke?
CREATURE: I trip and fall, and they laugh, so that was funny.
WILMA: You talk better now.
CREATURE: And I listen. Words come. I learn all the words—
Gradually his diction changes to fully formed sentences, at first with hesitation, then fluency. He reacts physically to his own words.
The words for saints, for...
I learned the words of poets and saints. Words that dance like stars, and the words of jokers who make us laugh, and words that make babies.
I saw the dance of life, hands reaching out to touch faces they love. I learned how men and women make magic together. I learned eagles in the rising sun, and the moon our mother.
Pause. Then his fingers start forming echoes of the gestural collage.
And then I heard words that dimmed the sun, darkened the moon, ripped eagles out of the sky. Words that broke the lovers’ fingers.
Words began their march, the columns across the horizon, lost in smoke and screaming and crawling back broken, bloody, misspelled. I learned to curse.
I learned the curses of men. Envy, scarcity, cold, the daily sport, the creator who cursed his child, until the words began to bleed out, began to fail.
He reverts to primitive speech.
I forget the words. I start to stop. Think not so hot. Think bad. Think good. No tree. No food. No mama.
WILMA: So he was lonely. And he went to the door when the blind old man was home alone, and knocked.
“Who’s that?”
WILMA: “Who’s you?”
CREATURE: Frankenstein?
WILMA: That’s not your name.
Mimed scene between the Creature and the Grandpa teddy-bear. Touching the face. Feeding the Creature.
WILMA: “Fire.”
WILMA: “Home.”
WILMA: And the boy and girl came home.
Wilma holds up the two dolls.
“It’s a monster! Kill him! Kill the monster!”
She screams, beats the Creature as he sits dumbfounded. He grabs her to make her stop. Victor is seen, reading a letter describing the murder.
You can’t hurt me. I’m Wilma. My big brother is Dr. Frankenstein, and you’ll be sorry.
A long moment.
CREATURE: I’ll be sorry.
He strangles her to death. Victor staggers to the body of Wilma, falls over it. The Creature stands above him, holding the teddy bear and the female doll.
VICTOR: God damn you.
CREATURE: Damn you.
VICTOR: Damn you to hell.
CREATURE: Hell. Hell. Hell.
Black. Music. In the distance, Elizabeth appears, knitting.
ELIZABETH: Dear Victor. The weather is beautiful. I am knitting a sweater for winter.
You must know by now that Justine, who was my nursemaid and little Wilma’s, has been found guilty of the murder.
She made up a crazy story about seeing a monster. She’s going to be hanged.
ELIZABETH: Today. The sun is so bright. The lilacs are out.
She was a mother to me. She said, “Eat your cereal.” She said what it’s like to be with a man. She said, “Bad dreams can be good if you let them.”
VICTOR: I killed Wilma. It was my doing.
ELIZABETH: I’ve got the yarn in a tangle.
VICTOR: You hear me? I was the one. What I created. I take responsibility. Full responsibility. I’ll explain.
ELIZABETH: It’s all in a tangle, Victor.
CREATURE: You tie a knot?
Creature hands him the doll. Victor ties a cord around the doll’s neck.
No need to worry. I accept full responsibility. It’s all in my hands. Trust me.
Hands entangled in the yarn, she screams.
The Creature dangles the doll, hanged by the neck, in front of Victor. He reacts in agony, then controls himself.
VICTOR: Well, mothers die. That’s the problem with mothers.
ELIZABETH: Please write.
Victor stands at his desk, looking directly at us.
VICTOR: Questions?
Waits a moment, listening.
Yes, I suppose I have. I’ve grown from the experience. I have many responsibilities. To care for Elizabeth. We plan to be married, as soon as I ask her.
Yes, I was quite upset. I broke a piece off my molar, grinding my teeth.
No, I’m teaching now. No research. Rather boring. We’ve all had enough excitement.
Do I what? Do I love Elizabeth? Of course. What? Do I care what she’s thinking? That’s a strange question.
The technique? Much simpler than I’d imagined. Comical, almost. I can’t quite recall how the animation transpired. I took copious notes, which seem to be mislaid. But it happened. It opened its mouth. The leftovers are strewn about.
He puts on a top hat and heavy coat.
We have changed, yes. Once we looked up to the mountains. Once the dusk was pink. Once we stared into our mother’s face and asked, “Can we make popcorn?” and she answered, “Yes.”
To the Alps. Just a week, but I need a vacation. I need some time alone.
The table is covered by a sheet. He pinches it in the center, lifts it, forming a miniature mountain.
The Alps.
Victor moves in a circle, journeying. The Creature intersects his path, Victor climbing over him and through him, never seeing him. Elizabeth appears, reading a letter.
ELIZABETH: “The weather is uncommonly fine. The mountains at a distance, as I wound through the valley formed by the river whose course I followed.
“Ruined castles, and lone cottages peeking forth from among the trees. Pallid lightning on the distant Mont Blanc. I was alone.
Victor and the Creature encounter ice ledges, heavy winds. The Creature becomes the wind, lofting Victor’s hat about him, at last replacing it on his head.
“And suddenly, immense masses of rock, precipices jutting out, and the river raging below.
Victor and the Creature pinch the sheet into a mountain, walk their fingers across it, slowly approaching each other.
“Then the glacier. A vast river of ice, more than a mile in width, its surface a frozen turbulence, like the face of my heart. I was alone.
“My heart swells with joy. These caves of ice are cathedrals.”
Their fingers meet.
VICTOR: I expected you.
VICTOR: I hate you.
CREATURE: All men hate the wretched.
Victor seizes the Creature’s hand in his. They rise onto the table, locked in combat.
Give me a name.
VICTOR: I have no name for you.
CREATURE: I would have been Adam.
VICTOR: Had I been God. This is your God!
Victor beats the Creature with his hat until he is exhausted.
ELIZABETH: “A sublime ecstasy fills my soul.”
She dances off, imagining herself in Victor’s arms.
VICTOR: I have appointments. We’ll have lunch together sometime.
You see me as a father. Then I’ll give you a father’s advice: disappear.
Responsibility. Does responsibility require me to live with the consequence of my stupidity? Buy it every toy in the store in a frantic effort to keep it smiling?
That’s not convenient.
Yes, that sounds contemptible. “I will not cross the street to save the bleeding child.”
But where does responsibility end? If my responsibility has no bounds, then it can’t be sensed. So how do I guide myself except by my own convenience?
Is that so strange? I meet a beggar, I give him a quarter, or I don’t. Does either decision change his life?
I give him a quarter because I find it more convenient than to give him ten thousand dollars. My decision is based solely on how, at this moment, it makes me feel.
The Creature hands him a letter.
You’ve learned to write. Sloppy spelling, but no worse than my students.
He reads. Reacts violently.
What? You want— “Give me a wife.” That’s obscene. Obscene.
To create a freak like yourself, a squeezed, scarified, dribbling female to pant after you and breed desolation?
To breed? To breed?
The Creature suspends Victor by the back of his collar out over the precipice.
CREATURE: Give me a wife.
VICTOR: Never.
CREATURE: Gruesome as me.
VICTOR: No way.
CREATURE: Then we go.
VICTOR: Not likely.
CREATURE: Not be seen.
VICTOR: Not a chance.
CREATURE: Love each other. Touch me.
Love me, like mama.
VICTOR: There’s no mama. Never any mama.
The Creature dissolves in agony. Victor breaks free. The Creature bellows.
Control yourself. That’s enough. Big boys don’t cry.
Victor claps his hand over the Creature’s mouth. The cries stop. Release. Bellow. Hand. Stop. Release. Bellow. Hand. Stop. Exhaustion.
Very well. I’m moved by your pain. Or I feel my responsibility. Or I don’t fully realize the implications. Or right now it’s more convenient to do as you ask.
I’ll do it. You’ll say thank you. And leave me. We’ll be in touch.
The Creature reaches out to Victor, who disappears. He drags the cloth from the table, embracing it. Black.
Victor sits distant from a table upon which a prone figure lies, covered by a sheet. He holds a black plastic bag containing a heavy object.
VICTOR: Dear Elizabeth.
I regret to say that again my research requires full attention. I begin next week. First thing next week. Or the week after. Very challenging. The physiology and its implications are complex.
No reason to be concerned. The end is in sight. A matter of weeks, months, perhaps, but then I am truly yours.
I hold you in my heart as I turn a butchered corpse into a bride. And I think of you as I do it. Nauseating!
Delete that.
Be assured of my love. I look to future joys.
He rises, meets Clerval.
CLERVAL: Victor—
VICTOR: Sorry. Bit of a rush.
CLERVAL: Where to?
VICTOR: My lab.
CLERVAL: What’s cooking?
CLERVAL: What’s in the sack?
VICTOR: A young woman’s head, very beautiful, which I’ve purchased from sources that weren’t particular where they acquired it but which I need for my client who has commissioned a wife.
Which may engender a race of demons that murder humans by millions, make a religion of death, a sacrament of desolation, a communion of rape.
((Read the papers! It happens!))
But that hardly matters. It gets me off the hook.
CLERVAL: That’s not very funny.
They part. Victor moves about, giving orders to imaginary people.
VICTOR: Here. This over there. Hammer this down. Staple here. No, it’s a surprise.
Victor approaches the body, performs a farcical mime operation, making incisions, scotch-taping, zippering, funneling blood, etc. Under great strain, he forms breasts, inserts ovaries. Long process of suturing.
He finishes, stands frozen. The Creature appears. He sees the figure of his bride, lets his teddy-bear fall, walks slowly to her, touches her.
CREATURE: Make her live.
The Creature takes her hand, strokes it. It comes alive. He is stunned. Embraces the hand.
Suddenly Victor cries out, gestures, erasing. The Creature lets the hand fall: stiff, dead.
VICTOR: You have your bride. Take her.
The Creature grasps the corpse, lifting it into an embrace.
CREATURE: You kill the last of my love. I will be with you on your wedding night.
The Creature backs out with his bride in his arms.
Victor wipes his hands on his chest, finds his way back to the chair.
VICTOR: I hardly remembered his face, so he must not have been that horrible.
I didn’t really look, I opened the door, and there was a horrible creature standing there. It may have been a mirror. And naked I ran to the night.
Was I playing God? Did God loathe His children? Did He thrust forth His Will, then recoil nauseated, appalled?
Or was the Will achieved? I created life, half-born, the skull wedged at the hip bones, crying out of the womb, screaming for love, then pushed back into its prison.
The world is full of these felons, locked in the womb, half-born. He might have been an angel, for all I know.
But he looked like a man. That was the loathsome thing. He looked perfectly human. He could lug more weight, perhaps, but I had done nothing more than my mother did for me. I created only myself.
I see it now. We must taste our life and let it pass. Create from the roots of desire, fingers dug deep in the earth. Open the channels, ride the crest. Speak into the eyes, the swallowing pupils, and meet them in joy.
If I could only—
A rubber-masked Monster brings in the corpse of Clerval, flops it down over Victor’s lap, goes out. Victor tries to comprehend what he sees.
Henry, my playmate, my friend, my brother. I’ve put you through such torment.
But we’ll grow old together, talk of our foolishness. Let’s go to lunch. I’ll pay.
He looks at Henry. No response.
Henry? Henry, talk to me.
Victor sets him up on his knee. Suppressing desperation, he animates him as a ventriloquist’s dummy.
“Nice weather we’re having.”
Don’t talk about the weather.
“Well I can’t feel much of it.”
How was your day?
“Well I met a monster and he killed me. Other than that, not bad.”
We used to play monsters.
“You made a good one. That’s a joke, Victor. Laugh.”
“Laugh. Huahh. Huaahhhh—”
Stop it!
The corpse, like a mad carnival doll, begins to laugh and gesticulate on its own.
CLERVAL: Huahhhk. Huaaahhhk. Huaaahhhk...
The screaming laughter continues. Victor strangles him into silence. Black.
Lights. Victor and Elizabeth sit at an outdoor restaurant table.
ELIZABETH: It’s good to see you.
VICTOR: I’m back now. To stay.
ELIZABETH: No more journeys?
No response.
The lake is so still. There’s a wonderful hum in the air.
VICTOR: Mosquitoes. We could have an indoor table.
ELIZABETH: I don’t mind.
Creature appears.
VICTOR: Two Chardonnay.
Creature goes to fill the order.
Elizabeth, we’ve talked many times — from childhood even — that some day we might be man and wife.
ELIZABETH: It was a dream. At some point you no longer saw me.
VICTOR: I worship you.
ELIZABETH: You look at me as if I were a book that’s too perplexing to open, so you worship the binding.
VICTOR: I’ve been gone so long, I’ve been in hell, I’ve put myself on trial for murders—
Suddenly he focuses madly, bangs on table.
You are accused of the deaths of your sister Wilma, her nursemaid Justine, your friend Henry, and a large number of people found mutilated in motels and alleyways! How do you plead? Guilty!
To her:
Will you marry me?
He can’t hear her. Creature appears with a bottle of wine.
VICTOR: Remember we used to play together at the stream. Throwing little sticks and flowers, and you cried watching them drift away.
Creature approaches with wine. Victor waves him away.
Thank you. Elizabeth, I want you to be my wife.
ELIZABETH: I will be your wife.
VICTOR: You are my source of creation. Be my wife.
VICTOR: It’s been hard for you. I know I’ve lost your trust.
ELIZABETH: I trust you. I love you.
VICTOR: But if you could believe in me—
VICTOR: If you could say you love me—
ELIZABETH: I love you.
VICTOR: But you can’t, I know.
You don’t see the darkness. A secret so thick I can’t open my eyes. I must tell you.
Banging the table:
Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!
To her:
Are you ready to order?
Breaks down utterly.
Please marry me!!!
He collapses in agony.
ELIZABETH: If my love were conditional, then it would not be love. What you say terrifies me, but no more than aging. That’s what we face.
I need belief as I need water. To bathe in it, drink it, dissolve in its lick. It runs in my veins, flows with the tide. Belief allows my God’s failing, even my God’s monstrosity.
Victor, agonized, pounds the table.
I envy those who make bargains with love. But I live to be possessed, to be flooded, fertile, caught in the dance. To be water, shimmering, crystalline.
I will wed you, Victor, and we will make love, bear children, age and travel and die. I know the current that drives me. Tell me your monstrous secret, yes, the morning after our wedding night.
The Creature laughs helplessly.
VICTOR: You mean it. You’ll be my wife.
They clasp hands in joy. The mosquitoes begin to descend.
VICTOR: Oh yes, yes, we’ll have a home, and parties, candles and music and dancing. They’re getting thick—
And we’ll be happy.
ELIZABETH: We’ll be happy. The days, and the mountains, the rivers, and you’ll tell me all your secrets, every time Victor was a bad boy, and what did Victor do?—
VICTOR: And we’ll be happy— (slapping) Oh sorry— It’ll always be just like it is this moment, looking into your eyes—
ELIZABETH: (slapping) Got’im. So much fullness—
VICTOR: I feel so peaceful—
ELIZABETH: So sweet—
VICTOR: I love you—
ELIZABETH: I love you—
They continue swatting frantically on themselves and each other.
CREATURE: Love... Love... Love!
Victor and Elizabeth stand facing front. They gesture, indicating a ceremony. Several times they murmur “Yes.”
He picks her up in his arms. They enter their house. He puts her down on the table as a bed.
A sound. Victor startles. He circles the bed, the Creature following. He swings around and looks directly at the Creature but doesn’t see him.
Victor returns to the bed. They hold hands. He leans to kiss her. Elizabeth, eyes closed, awaits his lips. The Creature interposes his hand, and Victor kisses the hand passionately.
The Creature cries out. Victor startles. He rises, moves slowly into the dark, threading through a labyrinth.
VICTOR: It’s ok, Elizabeth, we’ll be ok. Elizabeth, you’ll be fine.
ELIZABETH: Victor, you coming soon? I’m waiting. Victor, it’s dark, light a candle.
The Creature touches her. She thinks it’s Victor.
Victor, I had a dream. I feel its eyes.
She sees the Creature, goes mute with horror. He embraces her, breaks her neck. She is limp in his arms, the same as the female corpse. He lays her on the bed.
VICTOR: Elizabeth?
Victor turns, sees them. The Creature comes to Victor, wipes his hands on Victor’s shirt, goes out. Victor approaches Elizabeth.
Elizabeth? Are you sleepy? Would you like a glass of water? I’ve waited so long.
He climbs into the bed, embraces her. Black.
The Creature stands in a fur coat and hat, speaks to us.
CREATURE: No more blood. My father and me.
I walk. He follows.
Sun, cold, and wet, and wind.
We go north.
Victor appears, distant. He pursues the Creature in a circle, the Creature mirroring his movement. It becomes a dance. Tempo builds. Freeze.
VICTOR: It’s more complicated. It’s not just—
They continue. Freeze.
I’m not escaping responsibility, I’m accepting—
They continue. Freeze.
I want there to be no more—
They continue. Freeze.
CREATURE: What my name is—
They continue. The Captain moves in the distance, swaying in the storm.
CAPTAIN: He said, “I pursued him.”
He said, “I saw him across the valley, each on our mountains, by our fires.”
He said, “A vast dark plain, lit by starlight. Black ants on cataracts of ice.”
Circle continues, heavy-footed.
I listened. He died. Or jumped overboard. Whatever. I sailed for home.
Now they move in step to strong rhythm. Victor collapses.
VICTOR: No moon.
Victor is hungry, eats his last scraps. Creature catches food for him, places it. He devours it.
Creature becomes a vulture, swoops onto him, carries him as prey in his claws, tears out his innards.
They wake.
CREATURE: Go north.
They continue the chase. Elizabeth appears.
ELIZABETH: Victor, you coming soon? I’m waiting.
Victor, it’s dark. Light a candle.
Victor, I had a dream. I feel its eyes.
All spiral into the center, begin to dance a memory of the past.
Victor’s mother dies. He animates the Creature, flees from it. The Creature encounters the noise of humans. Wilma beats the creature and is murdered. The female creature animates and dies. Victor and Elizabeth marry. Elizabeth is murdered, the Creature putting their hands together in wedlock.
The memory, dreaming, dissolving.
You feel the dreams interweave?
I dream we flow together, our hands—
Victor screams.
Victor becomes a sled dog, whipped into frenzy by the Creature.
ELIZABETH: There is death, yes. To change that is a childish dream.
But there’s birth. There’s love, and then birth, and life—
Victor is pregnant. The Creature is born between Victor’s legs. They rise and explore each other’s face, eye to eye. The Creature whimpers.
VICTOR: You can sing.
They cling together, then are torn apart by unseen forces.
Now they stride in place, focused forward. Their steps are heavy with ice.
ELIZABETH: Victor, I’m dissolving, forgetting.
You, the furniture, letters, the words. I forget the words.
Your name, I was saying your name. I forget the smell of apples.
Spreading, the heavy tide in the veins, like roots. Wriggle, squirm silly, like roots.
They tickle. Creepy crawlies, they tickle inside.
Victor and the Creature, faced forward, walk side by side. The Creature supports him.
You’re coming. We’re warm. We’re young. I was a girl, one spring. Open to rain.
The Creature lifts Victor on his back and carries him forward.
Laughing, laughter, it’s water, water seeping, trickling, rippling, bubbling, waltzing, dissolving, dissolving, yes.
Give birth. New life. Coming out, out the eyes, the mouth and the mouth of love, and the toes, they tickle, it’s green and the tangle of hair.
Give birth. Birth to living and dying, daughters and sons and birds, the smell of apples.
Birth. I’m a mama. I name it Victor.
The Creature puts Victor onto the ground, looks down at him.
CREATURE: You cry. Ice eyes. No baby. No mama. Be dead.
Victor is on his knees, crawling forward, then on his stomach. The Creature walks beside him, then goes to the ground, crawling forward with Victor.
They twist on their bellies. Now they crawl toward each other with great effort. They reach to one another, nearly touching fingers. Freeze.
ELIZABETH: Sing, Victor.
Sing, we’re alive, alive and we die, give birth—
Give birth to fingers, to flowers.
Give birth to Mama.
Elizabeth turns, walks upward over the frozen figures, her arms outstretched.
Hello Mama.
Mama, it’s sweet.
She embraces the full moon.