Whether we realise it or not, we all live on:
The Edge of the Otherworld

Friday, 10 June 2016

The Miracle Man

The stage is set with two chairs placed next to each other between centre-stage and up-stage right. Margie, an old woman, sits on one of the chairs, her head in her hands. Jesus enters quietly from stage-left. The other cast members are at the rear of the stage with their backs to the audience. Pat sits, hunched over, in the middle of the line and the rest stand. They turn to face the audience when they are needed.

Jesus (concerned) : Margie?

Margie : Huh? Oh, it's you again. Let me be.

Jesus : Margie, what's wrong?

Margie : I said, 'Let me be.'

Jesus : I can't - you know that. Tell me what's wrong.

Margie : It's hopeless - that's what. It's all so hopeless.

Jesus : It's not hopeless - you just have to be sure of what you hope for.

Margie : I don't understand.

Jesus : Talk to me and perhaps I can explain.

Margie : Explain? I don't want explanations and excuses. It's past that. Oh, never mind. I'm too old and I'm too tired - just let me be.

Jesus : Talk to me, Margie. Tell me what's on your mind; tell me how you feel; tell me a story - anything. Just talk to me.

Margie : You want a story? Ha - there's only ever been one story.

Jesus : Then tell it. Let me hear what you have to say.

Margie : Oh, all right. (She moves to DSL and speaks to the audience. The Miracle Man pulls on a garish coat). My story is about a magician. (The Miracle Man turns to face the audience). He was a miracle man, wandering from place to place, and, everywhere he went, he made dreams come true. (Sheila and George take up position on the chairs and mime a conversation with the Miracle Man). One day he was invited to the home of a middle-aged couple who told him about their life over a polite cup of tea and a slice of fruit cake. Though they had no children, they had worked hard to keep themselves in the manner to which they had become accustomed.

Sheila : Yes, it is a nice house, isn't it? You should have seen it when we moved in, though, and it's murder to heat in the winter. Isn't it dear?

George : Yes, dear.

Sheila : The bills just keep pouring in and my husband is retiring soon. It's not like the neighbourhood is like it used to be, either. There're all sorts of people moving in and I'm afraid to go out at night.

Miracle Man : Yes, yes, this is all very well but what do you want?

George : What do we want?

Miracle Man : Yes... Come on, come on, I don't have all day. I've got people to see, miracles to perform. What do you want? (George and Sheila confer).

George : We want security.

Miracle Man : Right. (He walks away).

Margie : The miracle man left them, preferring to work his magic quietly rather than employ the flashy techniques of some of his more vulgar colleagues. Time passed and the couple forgot about him as they carefully invested their money, installed burglar alarms in their house and picked friends whom they knew would not make a fuss. Their world closed in around them (George and Sheila huddle together and hide their faces), safe and secure, sucking the life from them. And when they died, though they had everything, they had nothing left to lose... (Helen throws a sheet over them). The miracle man moved on until he came to a river with a young woman sitting on its bank, staring into the water. (Star - a teenager - sits down at the front of the stage towards DSL and the Miracle Man walks over to her).

Miracle Man : What's your name?

Star : Star.

Miracle Man (taking the mick) : Call me Miracle. What are you looking for?

Star : Excitement.

Miracle Man : What do you want? You can expand a little this time if you like.

Star : What do I want? I want to ride on the wind. I want to reach up and grab the moon. I want to marry Rob Pattinson. And I want to have fun...

Miracle Man : In this town? Who do you think I am? David Blaine? Oh, I'll see what I can do.

Margie : And so the miracle man left again and Star thought nothing more about him. But, the next day, another man came to visit her beside the river. (Jason stalks over to Star).

Jason (evilly) : Hi there, beautiful. You're looking bored. Want some excitement?

Star : What do you know about excitement?

Jason : More than you, by the looks of it. Do you know the colour of sound? Or the sound of colour? Have you seen places that no one else has ever seen? And have you felt so good that the grass has burst into flower around your feet?

Star : No but I want to. Tell me how. Please.

Jason : Excitement is an expensive thing. You have to buy it by the gram. But, seeing as you're a first time customer, here's a free sample. (He hands her a medicine bottle full of sweets). If you want some more, you know who to find. (He moves off to the edge of the stage).

Margie : Star took the pills and then more... (Star eats the sweets) and more... She saw things that she could only dream about and, in so doing, turned blind to everything but herself. (Star covers her eyes and freezes). The miracle man moved on... (Helen, dressed in a business-like fashion, stands near the front of the stage, on the opposite side from Star). He found another young woman standing by a bus stop and he asked his question.

Miracle Man : What do you want?

Helen : I want to be loved.

Miracle Man : Don't we all. I'll see what I can do.

Margie : The magician left and, minutes later, the woman met a young man. (Jason strides over. Helen and Jason laugh and dance and then Jason gets down on one knee). There was a whirlwind romance. They laughed and danced and they were married within a month.

Helen : Yes.

Margie : Everything went wonderfully and they were happy together. Then the man became obsessive (Jason and Helen embrace passionately but Jason won't let go) and jealous and mean. (Helen tries to break free but doesn't manage it completely).

Helen : This isn't what I wanted.

Miracle Man : Beggars can't be choosers.

Helen : But it isn't fair.

Miracle Man : Who said life was fair? What do you want? Miracles? (Helen and Jason freeze).

Margie : And then the man moved on, having made all their dreams come true. And that's the end of the story. (Depressed pause).

Jesus (moving towards Pat) : You've forgotten one.

Margie : The cripple? (Pat uses her hands to drag herself painfully around to face the audience). What difference does it make?

Jesus : Hope shines brightest in the darkest place. Finish the story.

Margie : If I must. (She clears her throat). Finally, the miracle man arrived at a dirty railway station. A penniless wretch sat there, desperate for any help that passers-by would give her.

Miracle Man : What do you want?

Pat : I want to walk.

Miracle Man (searching his pockets) : Well, sorry, I'm all out of miracles. Better luck next time. If you'd been a bit earlier, I... (He stops as Jesus walks over to Pat, holds out his hand and helps her to her feet so that she stands normally. Everyone stares at her and there is a hushed silence. Jesus leads her a few steps forward).

Jesus : 'The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners (He pulls away the sheet) and recovery of sight for the blind (He removes Star's hands from her eyes), to release the oppressed (He releases Jason's grip), to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.' (Pause). Do you understand now, Margie?

Margie : Yes... No... I don't know. It's not enough. I have so many questions.

Jesus : Well then there's hope yet. Keep talking and I'll see what I can do. (He takes her hand. Freeze).

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