AFTERNOON, 3 JANUARY 1835. MARY LAMB'S
ROOM IN WALDEN'S PRIVATE
MADHOUSE. MARY IS 70 AND CHARLES IS 59.
MARY: Right, hair net next ... where are you Miss Hair Net? ... ah ha, I see you lurking ... you’re not getting away this time ...
FX: MARY PULLING ON HAIR NET AND PINNING IT WITH DIFFICULTY. THIS CONTINUES THROUGH SCENE.
CHARLES: A question.
MARY: Yes. CHARLES: You brush your hair.
CHARLES: Then you move on to your broach.
CHARLES: Now you’re back to the hair.
CHARLES: Why don’t you do everything to do with your hair,
together? Brush it, net it, pin it ... then do the next thing –
MARY: Too logical.
CHARLES: But ... you’re one of the most logical –
MARY [interrupting]: Not today ... today I’m like the church
weather vane in a hot wind ... turning, turning, can’t settle on
a direction ...
CHARLES: Well ... I’m going to make you face in one direction ...
MARY: Tyrant ...
CHARLES: We are going to finish this ...
MARY: I said you’re a tyrant.
CHARLES: After you went mad the first time ... and got better, can
you remember what it felt like ... ?
MARY: I felt light, free, able to move again.
MRS WALDEN [off]: Time flows on Miss Lamb.
MARY [calling]: Thank you I know, Mrs Walden.
FX: CLOCK STRIKING TWO.
CHARLES: I also remember that time ... drudging at
East India House ...
writing terrible love poems ... thought I was in love ... knew
nothing about love ... then I saw John Home’s play Douglas
and became certain I was Norval the hero ... I felt like him,
thought like him,
breathed like him ... I was him ... I was that
MARY: I hate hairnets ... why do we wear them?
CHARLES: Don’t know.
MARY: Who invented them?
CHARLES: Don’t know.
MARY: Probably a man ... you’ve forgotten something.
MARY: It was me being sick ... that’s what made you into Norval
and then off you went to a Hoxton madhouse.
CHARLES: And then I got better and came home and what did I
MARY: I know what’s coming ... I dread it.
CHARLES: Say it.
MARY: ... mother paralyzed ... I was washing her, feeding her,
sleeping with her ...
MARY: Our wretched brother ... masonry fell on his foot ... there
was talk of amputation ... he came home to be nursed by me ...
and on top of it all ... I was a working seamstress with an
apprentice ... Amelia James ...
EARLY EVENING, WEDNESDAY, 21 SEPTEMBER
1796. PARLOUR, 7, LITTLE
QUEEN STREET, HOLBORN. JOHN SNR IS 71, ELIZABETH 59, MARY 32,
CHARLES 21 AND AMELIA 18. FX: FIRE BURNING. FX: PARLOUR DOOR
CHARLES: Good evening all, hello Amelia.
AMELIA: Mr Lamb.
ELIZABETH: Thank goodness you are here Charles.
MARY: Regan, Charles.
AMELIA: Miss Mary isn’t well.
CHARLES: Regan ... oh yes, King Lear’s second ungrateful daughter,
yes Mary ... what of her?
MARY: ... who was made ...
CHARLES: Is Mary worse?
AMELIA: Yes ...
MARY: ... of the same ...
CHARLES: Are we doing King Lear Mary?
ELIZABETH: Get her to stop.
MARY: Yes Charles ... hollow metal as her sister ...
CHARLES: Excellent phrasing Mary.
ELIZABETH: We need Dr Pitcairn.
MARY: ... declared ...
AMELIA: I could run to his house.
CHARLES: He’ll not come tonight.
MARY: ... what Goneril ...
ELIZABETH: How will any of us sleep if she’s ranting?
CHARLES: I don’t know.
ELIZABETH: So ... we lie awake all night?
MARY: Are you listening to me?
ELIZABETH: We are ... you are the one not listening Mary.
MARY: I am.
CHARLES: Just stop speaking now.
ELIZABETH: And tomorrow the doctor.
MARY: Dr Pitcairn ... why?
JOHN SNR: Dr Pitcairn’s coming is he?
CHARLES: Because of this talking.
ELIZABETH: ... and you won’t stop ... you are ill ... you are raving.
MARY: I am not.
CHARLES: I am afraid you are ... a bit.
ELIZABETH: A bit ... she doesn’t draw breath for hours at a time,
does she Amelia?
MARY: I am not raving ... but telling a tale the world must hear.
ELIZABETH: You are raving girl.
MARY: Will I go to a madhouse?
CHARLES: First Dr Pitcairn.
JOHN SNR: I like him.
ELIZABETH: But if you do not settle Mary you will go to the madhouse ...
MARY: See, mother said, Mary’s for the madhouse.
CHARLES: She did not say that exactly.
ELIZABETH: Be quiet and you won’t go.
MARY: I speak the truth, and still you would send me away.
CHARLES: Do you know why you need the doctor Mary?
MARY: Regan ... declared ... what Goneril ...
CHARLES: Maybe the answer is to join in.
MARY: ... had spoken came short ...
ELIZABETH: Won’t that encourage her?
MARY: ... of the love, which she professed ...
CHARLES: No, it’ll comfort her.
MARY: ... to bear for his highness ...
ELIZABETH: She’s beyond comfort surely.
CHARLES: Lear blessed himself then bestowed a further third of his
MARY: You know Lear’s story Charles?
CHARLES: Yes, we’ve read it many times together.
ELIZABETH: A miracle ... she’s stopped.
MARY: Did we? Yes, maybe ... long ago.
ELIZABETH: Sit Mary, Amelia pull the chair out.
FX: CHAIR BEING PULLED OUT.
AMELIA: There you are, Miss Mary.
FX: MARY SITTING.
MARY: Go on, go on Charles ... that was lovely.
CHARLES: Lear bestowed a further third of his kingdom upon Regan
and her husband, the duke of Cornwall. Then turning to his
youngest daughter Cordelia ... his joy, he asked what she had
to say ...
CHARLES/MARY [Mary joins Charles, faintly at first then more strongly]:
Cordelia, disgusted with the flattery of her sisters made no other
reply but this –that she loved his majesty according to her duty,
neither more nor less. The plainness of speech, which Lear called
pride, so enraged the old monarch that in a fury of resentment
he retracted the third part of his kingdom, which he had reserved
for Cordelia, and gave it away from her, sharing it equally
between her two sisters.
MARY [applauding and sobbing]:
Yes, bravo. Clap Amelia.
AMELIA [clapping]: I am.
JOHN SNR: Mary’s crying now ... why?
ELIZABETH: Why are you weeping? What is it now?
MARY [sobbing]: It was a terrible thing to do.
CHARLES [gently]: What was so terrible ... exactly?
ELIZABETH: Come on, explain.
MARY [sobbing]: Not to see her love, Lear was blind to it and he
committed a crime, a terrible ... crime.
CHARLES: I agree.
ELIZABETH: For goodness sake it’s just a play.