13 Feb Peter Schaffer

HESTHER:  The boys in pain, Martin.


HESTHER:  And you can take it away.


HESTHER:  Then that has to be enough for you, surely?… In the end!

DYSART:  [crying out]   All right!  I’ll take it away!  He’ll be delivered from madness.  What then? He’ll feel himself acceptable!  What then? Do you think feelings like hs can be simply re-attached, like plasters?  Stuck on to other objects we select?  Look at him!… My desire might be to make this boy an ardent husband – a caring citizen – a worshipper of abstract and unifying God. My achievement, however, is more likely to make a ghost!… Let me tell you exactly what I’m going to do to him!

[He steps out of the square and walks round the upstage end of it, storming at the audience.]

I’ll heal the rash on his body, I’ll erase the welts cut nto his mind by flying manes.  When that’s done, I’ll set him on a nice mini-scooter and send him puttering off into the Normal world where animals are treated properly: made extinct, or put into servitude, or tethered all their lives in dim light, just to feed it!  I’ll give him the good Normal world where we’re tethered beside them – blinking our nights away in a on-stop dreanch of cathode-ray over our shrivelling heads! I’ll take away his Field of Ha Ha and give him Normal places for his ecstasy – multi-lane highways driven through the guts of cities, extinguishing Place altogether, even the idea of Place! He’ll trot on his metal pony tamely through the concrete evening – and one thing I promise you: he will never touch hide again! With any luck his private parts will come to feel as plastic to him as the products of the factory to which he will almost certainly be sent. Who knows? He may even come to find sex funny. Smirky funny. Bit of grunt funny. Trampled and furtive and entirely in control. Hopefully, he’ll feel nothing at his fork but Approved Flesh. I doubt, however, with much passion!… Passion, you see, can be destroyed by a doctor. It cannot be created.

[He addresses ALAN directly, in farewell.]

You won’t gallop any more, Alan. Horses will be quite safe. You’ll save your pennies every week, til you can change that scooter in for a car, and put the odd 50p on the gee-gees, quite forgetting that they were ever anything more to you than bearers of little profits and little losses.  You will, however, be without pain. More or less completely without pain.


He speaks directly to the theater, standing by the motionless body of ALAN STRANG, under the blanket.]

And now for me it never stops: that voice of Equus out of the café – ‘Why Me?… Why Me?… Account for Me?… All right – I surrender! I say it!… In an ultimate sense I cannot know what I do in this place – yet I do ultimate things. Essentially I cannot know what I do – yet I do essential things. Irreversible, terminal things. I stand in the dark with a pick in my hand, striking at heads!

[He moves away from ALAN, back to the downstage bench, and finally sits.]

I need – more desperately than my children need me – a way of seeing in the dark. What way is this?… What dark is this?… I cannot call it ordained of God: I can’t get that far. I will however pay it so much homage. There is now, in my mouth, this sharp chain. And it never comes out.

[A long pause.

DYSART sits staring.]