by Jacqueline Strawbridge
Setting: bare stage with a series of steps center stage
Character: WOMAN, 30’s, glamorous
The WOMAN descends a series of steps majestically. There is a small tape recorder near the top of the stairs, which she has put on to play an opera aria.
The key to an entrance is to retain a degree of certainty and style. Engaging that element of sympathy with your audience. It is a nonchalance that is entirely natural. Never feigned. I am quite the toast. Devastatingly in demand. And requiring top-notch commitment. From my fans. My public. I like to think I give them back ten-fold for their blind devotion. I remain enticing. Elevated. But with… grace and humility. Nearing the end of entrance, I take a bow.
(The tape recorder emits a short strangled sound. WOMAN goes up and starts the tape again.)
The key to an entrance is to retain a degree of certainty and style. Engaging that element of sympathy for your audience. It is a nonchalance that is entirely unnatural. Never mind. I am quite toast. Devastatingly demanding and requiring top-notch commitment. From my fans. In public. I like to think they are blind with devotion. I remain enticed. Elevated. But with… a fake humility. Nearing the end of entrance I bow out.
(Tape gets chewed up; she goes up, thumps it and starts again.)
The key to an entrance is sympathy. It’s entirely natural to be devastated if you don’t get it. From fans. Anyone. People in public. I like to think devotion is blind. I remain—
(A VOICE interrupts the cheers and applause on the tape.)
VOICE: I don’t know what you think this is.
WOMAN: The gin-clear necessity of facilitating façade at all times. (Panic) Of course, one must have admirers. A sense of being admired.
VOICE: No-one wants the eggshell. People take egg, however cooked.
(WOMAN snaps into a rage, stamps on tape recorder.)
WOMAN: This is my moment! My debut! My comeback! All of that! I am in the hey of my day for Christ’s sake! There has been no road less travelled to triumph!
I have cut, dyed, sculpted, sucked in, pushed out, trimmed, ripped off, stuck on, painted, pouted, poached, primped like a puppet, put up with it, swindled, studied, stolen—all the best do that—exercised, restrained, hid, expressed, dressed, undressed, smiled, grinned, pulled those muscles up, lied—truth be told untruths gaping in their indecency—swiveled, groveled, sniveled, simpered, smirked, laughed all ways, that’s full roar tinny weak smile empty false fake and ingratiated myself even, danced, bodily, like an angel, moved each part on cue, attaining a melodious dream, a song of the Gods, emulating, in homage, fallen, taken like a… a… I suppose acted like a… prostitute—oh whore is such a filthy word—and simply drank, gallons, pickled, ceased, drugged, halted, ate for eating, ate well, stuffed to the gills, fat as a hausfrau, never ate, stopped eating, juice days, bacon days, bread days, stuffed full of pills—all manner of ways to live, red-blooded, gorging, scraping, licking, obsession, a healthy indifference—loved deeply, epics of love, a stark ice heart on a stick—hate, hatred, it follows but credit me, woke up each day without fail, feet placed like trunks on the earth, scrambling for straws, sulking, sleeping, crying all crumpled up, snorting words in their millions I didn’t understand half the time, nested, birth and all of that, married twice, whisked away, one divorce, burnt, built, blew it, beaten, ruined it all, appearances mostly, lost, breathed in and out, in and out, never failing to breathe in and out, a monumental task of respiration to whip my performance to its peak… I am done!
She flounces off. Deafening standing ovation-style applause from broken tape recorder.
copyright © 2006 Jacqueline Strawbridge. All rights reserved. ___________________________________________
Jacqueline Strawbridge is a writer and journalist living in Dublin. She received a Masters in Creative Writing in 2000. Eggshell was first produced in 2006 by Dublin’s Fishamble: A New Play Company as a part of a collection of short plays titled Whereabouts.