MONOLOGUE: Clinging to the Rock Face

by Heather Jeffery

Setting:        A dressing table, with small table mirror and long freestanding mirror are in the room. A white ballet dress is hung over the long mirror.

Time:           A hot summer’s day, evening.

Character:   GERTA, 60’s, beautiful long grey-blond hair, suffering from Alzheimer’s

Gerta is sitting at the dressing table facing a small mirror on a stand.  She is brushing her hair.


(Looking out at the audience.)

She must keep the scaffolding
free from rot for all time.

‘Thou shalt not stare at the overhanging
cliff at any time, day or night’.

So what if he loses his grip.
He cries where he could shout.

All over the purple flowers slip
gradually aching their insides out.

When did he begin to spurn?
They who cause him pain

shall be punished.  He shall take his turn
At hanging from the long chain

swinging to and fro while
She must look over the edge

of the platform to find lost coins
which once they found together.

Every person must wear colours
dictated by the rock face.

(Looking in mirror.)

I know you don’t I?  What’s your name?  No, don’t tell me.  It will come to me…

(Confiding in the ‘woman’.)

I suspect my husband is having an affair.  I think I may have seen her… yesterday… or was it the day before…  She’s got long blonde hair… down to… (sees her own hair).  Her face… her face… well… it’s pretty…  in a former glory, kind of way.  It’s his type—plump, rosy girls with glorious blonde locks.  He used to bring them to the house… students of his.  Lovely they were.   No… no… he wouldn’t… he couldn’t… I’m confident, that they weren’t…

(She brushes her hair.)

There… fifty strokes… that’s better… more like myself.  I can take on the world if I want to.  It feels good.  Like a fresh start.  Or a new day.  Where was I…

(She peers into the mirror.)

That woman’s familiar. I’ve seen her before… a lot… here in my bedroom.  She’s always here in my bedroom.  It’s not really blonde though.  Underneath it’s grey… completely washed out—the colours all gone.

(She starts brushing her hair again in long luxuriating strokes.)

One…  two…  three…

(She get distracted, stands up.)

Shh!  Listen…  Can you hear her?  He’s brought her home.  Why doesn’t he invite her to meet me?  Oh, dear… oh, dear… I’m not really… I’m not really… I should put on my best… the one with the purple flowers… that’s really pretty.

(She calls offstage.)

Thomas!  I’m up here.  Why don’t you bring your woman up to meet me?  I want to see her face.  Thomas?  Thomas?

He’s pretending he’s not there.  I’ll get myself ready.  Now where did I leave my brush.

(She resumes brushing her hair.)

One… two… three… four… five.

(She stops brushing her hair, sits down and looks into the mirror.)

She’s there again.  Thomas… Thomas… don’t have this affair.  Thomas… I’m too old… I can’t endure it… don’t you understand?

I’ve asked him and asked him, who is that woman upstairs?  Are you having an affair?  Why don’t you bring her down to meet me?  She can join us for dinner…. tonight.  Here… .I’ve set a place for her.  Why do you keep her upstairs… all alone… locked away?  It’s cruel.  Thomas…

(She resumes brushing her hair.)

Nine… was it nine?

I think my husband’s having an affair… I’ve seen her… yes, I’m sure I’ve seen her… a lot.  Right here (whispers) in my bedroom… who is that woman?  I’ve asked him and I’ve asked him…  We should invite her to come downstairs and join us for dinner.  It’s polite, it’s good manners.  I’ve set a place for her… she’s really very, very welcome.  Only, let’s not have any more secrets, Thomas.

(She puts the brush down.  She puts on a white ballet dress which no longer fits, and looks at herself in the full length mirror.)

There.  That’s more like it.

(She smashes at the mirror with her fists.)

Oh!  Thomas!  Thomas!  I’ve hurt myself, Thomas.  I’m bleeding. Ohhh!  I’m bleeding… help… help.  Where are you Thomas?  Thomas… it’s dark in here… oh, why won’t you come.  Oh, someone… anyone… anyone… help… help me…

It’s that woman, isn’t it, Thomas?  You’re with her.

(She looks at the mirror.)

Oh… Oh… She’s here.  What’s she doing in here?  What are you doing here?  I said what are you doing here?  You won’t answer me then?  I’ll make you answer.  I’ll get my husband, it’s not right, it’s not right.  My husband is downstairs.  He’ll talk to you… he will… he… he’ll…

(She sits at the dressing table and resumes brushing her hair.)

One… two… three… four… five.

(She lets her hand fall to her lap and she sits there in a state of torpor.)

copyright © 2010 Heather Jeffery. All rights reserved.

Heather Jeffery has recently become a full-time writer.  Prior to this she taught ballet and was choreographer for 22 years.  She has written two dance dramas with dialogue which have been performed at the Bridge House Theatre, Warwick and also has writing published in The Birmingham Journal of Literature and Language.

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