03 May Peter Schaffer

HESTHER: Why not?

DYSART: Because it’s his.

HESTHER: I don’t understand.

DYSART: His pain.  His own.  He made it.

[earnestly] Look… to go through life and call it yours – your life – you first have to get your own pain.  Pain that’s unique to you.  You can’t just dip into the common bin and say ‘That’s enough!’… He’s done that.  All right, he’s sick.  He’s full of misery and fear.  He was dangerous, and could be again, though I doubt it.  But that boy had known a passion more ferocious than I have felt in any second of my life.  And let me tell you something: I envy it.

HESTHER: You can’t.

DYSART: [vehemently] Don’t you see?  That’s the Accusation!  That’s what his stare has been saying to me all the time.  ‘At least I galloped!  When did you?’… [simply]  I’m jealous, Hester.  Jealous of Alan Strang.

HESTHER: That’s absurd.

DYSART: Is it?… I go on about my wife.  That smug woman by the fire.  Have you thought of the fellow on the other side of it?  The finicky, critical husband looking through his art books on mythical Greece.  What worship has he ever known?  Real worship!  Without worship you shrink, it’s as brutal as that…  I shrank my own life.  No one can do it for you.  I settled for being pallid and provincial, out of my own eternal timidity.  That old story of bluster, and do bugger-all… I imply that we can’t have children: but actually, it’s only me.  I had myself tested behind her back.  The lowest sperm count you could find.  And I never told her.  That’s all I need – her sympathy mixed with resentment… I tell everyone Margaret’s the puritan, I’m the pagan.  Some pagan!  Such wild returns I make to the womb of civilization.  Three weeks a year in the Peleponnese, every bed booked in advance, every meal paid for by vouchers, cautious jaunts in hired Fiats, suitcase crammed with Kao-Pectate!  Such a fantastic surrender to the primitive.  And I use that word endlessly: ‘primitive’.  ‘Oh, the primitive world,’ I say.  ‘What instinctual truths were lost with it!’  And while I sit there, baiting a poor unimaginative woman with the word, that freaky boy tries to conjure the reality!  I sit looking at pages of centaurs trampling the soil of Argos – and outside my window he is trying to become one, in a Hampshire field!… I watch that woman knitting – a woman I haven’t kissed in six years – and he stands in the dark for an hour and sucks the sweat off his God’s hairy cheek! [pause] Then in the morning, I put away my books on the cultural shelf, close up the kodachrome snaps of Mount Olympus, touch my reproduction statue of Dionysius for luck – and go off to the hospital to treat him for insanity.  Do you see?