for Deirdre O’Connell, Focus Theatre

Stage Directions: An old man mutters prayers as he kneels in front of a television set. A Virgin Mary statue is perched on top of the television and is covered over by a blue towel. Underneath the television set is a blue basin.

 

O’COINEEN

Oh aye, blue towel and stone day it was that day, day she came. Sure well I knew by the feel of it, the feel of the day. Blue towel day, when the wan came. And that (Pointing at television). Oh aye, some fella won somethin on Mike Murphy, spin the wheel, fifty thousand, a lad from Offaly, three kids and a wife cryin with joy in the audience, and a Mitsubishi Pajero with the radiator gone on it, and he wanted a new wan, they’re quare dear to fix them Japanese yokes, oh aye, so the lad said, and sure he’d be the boy would know, he had one. Oh aye, and the wife cryin buckets, ‘Oh Mike, oh Mike.e’ Oh aye, cryin nough to fill this basin and another maybe. Oh aye.

Some American thing on after then, didn’t catch it. She came then. Blue towel, like the wan we used to wrap the Baby Jesus in for the May Procession. Virgin on the altar, oh aye, the baby only played a small part that day. Oh aye, sure Virgin was the best of it, and lads taking bets of crisps and them football cards on who’d get to crown her. Oh aye, the nuns always picked somewan who needed to do it, aye, an unworthy wan.

I did it wan year, flower petals fell on me hands, aye, and I was shakin like a weak lamb, reachin up on me tippie toes to put the crown on her head. One of her ears was chipped off, along side with a bit of the veil. Only I saw that, only I was up close enough to her.

But it was a blue towel day alright, day she came, late. They always come late, they say that you know, catch you in. But sure no matter when she came I was waitin fer her, basin and towel ready.

It’s not every day an angel, an angel comes dressed as the television licence wan.

Enter SHEENA, dressed in smart but not flashy trouser suit. She carries a clipboard and handbag.

SHEENA

Hello.

O’COINEEN

Aye.

SHEENA

Mr O’Coineen?

O’COINEEN

Aye.

SHEENA

Mr J. O’Coineen, Scoirt, Balgara?

O’COINEEN

Aye.

SHEENA

I’ve come about—

O’COINEEN

Aye, I’ve been waitin on ya this last while.

SHEENA

It isn’t very often people wait for me.

O’COINEEN

(To audience) Thought she was very young, in the voice, then, you know like, to be an angel sent from God, and at the ould television licence thing as well. Sure what else could she be? She had a light off of her I could feel, a light I could smell like damp heather in a wind. I knew she was the wan. I had waited long enough for her to come and she had.

Mobile phone rings, SHEENA answers it.

SHEENA

Sorry, Mr O’Coineen.

O’COINEEN

Nay bother, go on ahead. Them yokes give ya a hole in yer head, said so in the paper.

SHEENA

Right, thanks, I’ll remember that. (Talking on phone) Hello, Erica, I’m at work, I can’t talk now. I’m in somebody’s house.

O’COINEEN turns away, lights a fag, faces the audience and smokes mutely. SHEENA carries on conversation, O’COINEEN ignores this.

SHEENA

What do you mean you can’t wait till later, you’ll have to. What was he like? He was, he was…

O’COINEEN

(To audience) The only trouble was, what if she didn’t know? What if she hadn’t been informed by Him above, what she was really here for? That was somethin I’d have to sort, oh aye, sure I couldn’t let her leave, not until I was done.

I boiled a kettle, Mammy always did that, boiled a kettle, not so much so as to make the tae like but so as to have the sound of it boilin, it calmed her. Any trouble boil a kettle. Landlord boil a kettle, Daddy drunk boil a kettle, somebody dead boil a kettle, sheep kilt be wild dogs boil a kettle, red cow with scour boil a kettle, potatoes black with frost bruises boil a kettle, hens won’t lay boil a kettle, barren in-laws boil a kettle, priest at the door with brown dues envelope boil a kettle, oh aye, the kettle sure he was a great boy fer the trouble, sort anythin. Only he couldn’t sort it fer me, fillin it fer years, nothin.

That’s what I did though, while I was thinkin and she was talkin, boiled a kettle. I’d have to have some warm water fer her anyways, oh aye.

 

(The Shape received its first public performance at the Focus Theatre in September 2000.)