by Hannah and Ian Keildson
Isis – Act One Scene Four - Courtship
Character and Costume
During the darkness between Scene 1 and Scene 2 the sofa, arm chair and coffee table are removed from the stage. Chiffon veils in pastel hues drop from the flies at the sides and back of the sitting room concealing all but the doorway leading to the elevated dressing table. These veils are lit very dimly by lights from the wings creating a misty, dreamlike atmosphere. A low golden spotlight comes up slowly on the dressing table.
ISIS is sitting at the dressing table with her head resting on her arms in the same position as she was at the end of Act 1 Scene 1. She holds this position for a few moments. Slowly the lighting changes so that the head and torso of the DREAM LOVER appears in the dressing table mirror. As he appears, Isis lifts her head and gazes at him. Slowly, she rises to her feet and begins to dance the dance of her soul. Her movements are shy and restrained at first but as the Dream Lover responds, mirroring her movements exactly, she becomes graceful and confident. As the relationship develops the Dream Lover climbs out of the mirror and they weave their dance of growing infatuation down the steps and into the sitting room. As they descend, the lights grow brighter on the sitting room part of the stage.
Slowly the dance moves towards the inevitable kiss which in turn leads into an empassioned embrace as they sink to the floor to make love. The music subsides until all that can be heard is breathing as their love-making calms into stillness. They lie motionless, still entwined in each others arms. The Dream Lover then stands up slowly and beckons to Isis to follow him. The lighting now reveals that the family are standing on either side of the doorway leading to Isis 's dressing table. They are arranged rather like the figures in a triangular frieze above the doorway to an ancient Greek temple. They are frozen but their gestures and the expressions on their faces show disapproval and judgement. Father looks angry, Mother is upset, Little Sister is sulking.
(MUSIC UNFINISHED. SOON)
Isis stands and starts to follow her Dream Lover towards the doorway leading to her dressing table as if in a trance. Dream Lover starts to climb the stairs but as Isis gets closer to the door the family start to move, just small staggered movements with their heads and hands. Father turns away, Mother shudders as she cries, Little Sister kiddles over on the sides of her feet and clutches her doll. Isis hesitates, moving towards one family group and then the other, trying to pacify them by dancing fragments of their nervous twitches, stroking them, etc. They ignore her. The Dream Lover has reached the dressing table and is urging her to go with him through the mirror but while she will go a little way up the stairs she always runs back down to her family to make another attempt at winning their approval.
Eventually, she wrenches herself free and runs to the dressing table, but it is too late. The Dream Lover has climbed through the mirror and as Isis reaches out her hand to touch the glass the mirror goes dark and blank. Isis stands with her hand against the mirror for a few devastated seconds and then the image of Black Isis appears, mirroring White Isis's gesture, her palm pressed against hers. Black Isis climbs through the mirror and pushes White Isis back down the stairs and into the sitting room. As Black Isis moves through the door the family members form a snake behind her. Black Isis is clearly the representative of the family's collective judgement of White Isis. The snake bears down on White Isis, sometimes coiling about her as if to suffocate her. To defend herself against this tirade of self hatred, White Isis grabs the knife from the table and flails it at the snake. She raises the knife as if to kill the snake but she does not have the courage and instead lets the knife drop from her limp hand. She turns and leaves the house, defeated by guilt and shame. Black Isis picks up the discarded knife and leads the family back to the dining table to pick up where they left off before the Old Woman interrupted them. As the family looks on in approval, she lifts the knife and cuts the cake.
The lights go down.