© 2000 Paddy Gillard-Bentley with Lindsay Stewart
A fascinating and dark adventure unfolds as Julian's friend, Alex, attempts to cure his insomnia
with hypnosis. The plan goes awry and takes him on the journey of his lives! Julian confronts
the reality of his own demons as he experiences several past life regressions. The characters
emerge, minimal costume, minimal set…all dark and dangerous. But Julian isn’t dangerous…
is he? Struggling actor/poet, Alex discovers too late she does not know him as well as she thinks.
Unable to cope with the intrusion into his mind, and very pissed off that Alex might guess he had
a darker side, Julian begins to demonstrate characteristics that belong in another time and place,
and Alex pays the ultimate price for curiosity.
Once a psychopath always a psychopath? Some bananas should not be peeled.
This play is a psychological thriller. Dark and broody, but not without its jarring moments of humor.
Ideally, this would be ambitiously done as a three hander, but the diversity needed is daunting.
Inside the story, there are many characters.
Received a staged-reading at the Water Street Theatre – Feb. 2000 in an earlier incarnation.
SET FOR A nTHEATRE
COLD READING -
An excerpt from Hunting the Penumbra.
ACT: I ~ SCENE: X
Lights up half.
John, a captured Highway Man from the seventeenth century, is sitting in the middle of an empty stage holding his knees. He is in rags and completely disheveled. He is on the verge of madness.
I have been in years and years. Morning has no light, there is only the door and it remains locked. At the appointed hour the man kicks the door. One crust of bread, the water is brackish in the cup. The floor is damp. Walls are damp. The air stinks. There is death all around. I’ve got sores on my legs. There is no light until the sun passes over the building to the other side. There is nothing to be seen, nothing to be seen at all.
I can smell the river…the stink of bodies.
There are 302 scratches in the wall. I suppose you would have to ask the previous tenant of this place, but I think it would mean that he did not make it to 303.
I feel ill much of the time. The lungs are full of this damp air.
Once, I held 15 gold sovereign in my hand. Now there is just the peeling skin. The guard broke three of my fingers a fortnight ago. It caused me much pain.
He is playing with a coin.
Today, the priest came to visit. He gave me 5p for my confession. I get bread and meat today, for they do not wish me to die before I am hung.
He sneers. He rises to his feet with difficulty
He was one once. You can see it in his eyes. His nose has been broken.
He puts the coin over his eye, glaring like a pirate.
I’ll be hung for robbing the like and he’ll be paid for hanging me. I can feel the pulse beating from my head. There is nothing here but the madness...that same voice in my head. There is no color in this place. My lips have cracked. Every day ‘tis the same. I cannot stand now. They will have to help me to the gallows. I’d hoped to cross this path as a man.
It is time. I can hear them down the hall. Cold stone, shuffling feet. I can smell the incense of the priest. Funny that the last scent in this place of death is not that of death.
I must walk now. God must help me.
It is as if John is being pulled to CS by two guards.
I will take the final once. Commend my soul to God as a sinner.
He walks with difficulty to the edge of the stage. He stares at the audience.
Ah, it's the crowds! Come to see Cut go? Lovely Elspeth will not see this. Her good brother will keep her. It is so strange to see all the colors and the ruddy faces of the people.
I am charged with the murder and betrayal of a good businessman in this Kentish town. God will take my soul to his judgment.
He slips the coin to the imagined hangman. It drops to the floor. He imitates the actions of hanging. His hands, pulled behind his back, he looks up, then tips his head forward as if a noose is being secured around his throat. He turns his head toward the hangman.
Tie fast the knot that I may not linger. God forgive you sir.
He drops to his knees as the lights go out.
~end of Act I ~