The FOURTH FIGURE
The stage is in darkness. Silence. Then, quiet strains of music.
After a moment, a light comes up to reveal The FOURTH FIGURE center
stage, standing with his back mostly to the audience. He has an
[Ideal: a spot & downlighting that will leave upstage still in shadow]
He is pensive, contemplative, a little weary about the shoulders -
leaning a bit on the umbrella. As the light comes up he straightens,
looks around, pats his pockets Doctorishly, and finally turns toward
down stage. (Does not see or interact with the audience. For all
intents & purposes they are not there - witnessing & participating
only through the mirror, as it were.)
The music softens [segues into Counterpoint tune]. The FOURTH FIGURE
pulls an object from his pocket.
Time, thy favor I must now return,
My span is done, the candle that burned
Bright in thy cause now dims to an end
So weary of war, let me now descend.
(TIME appears upstage right)
Pain, thy guerdon I've bourne & for aye
Dear is the coin I've spent in the fray
But dearer the lives, the smiles & grief
Known on the way - cherished & brief.
(PAIN appears upstage center)
Death, a favor I ask now of thee:
That mine be the life you take as your fee
Cut not off short the strands woven bright
Leave the clocks wound, the candles alight.
(DEATH appears upstage left)
Compassion & mercy I do ye entreat
On all whom I've touched, in small & in great:
Companions & foes, the cross-fire-caught,
Remember their names, & mark what they wrought.
During the first three verses, The FOURTH FIGURE has been moving
some in downstage center/right. When he gets to the fourth verse,
the lights come up a little on the Sisters, and he turns. He knows
they have been there all along (they are *always* there, potential
in the dreamspaces).
The fourth verse has more movement, restrained, but with intensity,
directed toward the Sisters. He ends up mid-center stage.
When he finishes, [the music swells a little, dies back] there is a
(steps forward, skirts rustling, hard, unyielding. The first verse
is delivered with chill, implacable knowledge.)
'tis not the nerves raw agony that makes
my guerdon real, nor the sear of sharpened words:
It's all in how you take them, for true Pain
is in the mind, the soul, the heart.
Sensation is the least of what may wound -
And I know what it takes
to make you scream.
She draws the nails of her left hand (or the rose) down slowly over
his left shoulder. He *does*not*scream*. She turns abruptly from him,
going to down stage left. TIME steps forward a little, and he approaches
her. They interact (something with the butterfly?) during:
[Very quietly, a new strain of music emerges]
(still unrelenting, up)
Time's Champion, you say,
who sacrificed the Jester for the Mage
and lives yet to regret dis-parate choice -
knitting up the frayed and tangled strands,
Encouraging the butterflies, the dancing bees,
Conspiring with spiders spinning webs
While she stands, silent, keeping count -
Inexorable as sand within the glass.
And there are no second chances
where witness makes all real.
DEATH has moved down to center, behind The FOURTH FIGURE, silent,
watching him. There is a frozen, pleading moment when he turns, sees
her, approaches, sinks down. [The music here is only a thread of sound]
(Warmer, with compassion but not relenting)
This choice you've made before
Ishtar knows the taste of that decision,
Huitzilin, Davros, Heaven, Earth & Hel
A list too long to number, yet will not be forgot:
The things you've died to do, prevent, restore -
the peaceful green yet reeks
of blood and chequered choices.
(At the transition between verses The FOURTH FIGURE rises,
proud & despairing, resigned but not defeated (think Logopolis & Caves
of Androzani) determined. He takes a couple of swift steps away from the
tormenting vision, stops. Alone.)
PAIN: (Cooler again)
But, have you had a proper care? Kept in mind
the ones you've left alone, behind?
Thy conscience knows the names of all thy ghosts
(oh John, where is thy Joan?
Not meant to be alone)
Composed of contradiction, light and shade:
You disrespect the architect, yet labour still for Time.
(At the last line, The FOURTH FIGURE looks upstage to TIME.
During the next verse, PAIN, TIME & DEATH spiral around The FOURTH
FIGURE. TIME & DEATH end up back upstage, a little closer together &
to center than they started. PAIN makes another circle, and returns
to upstage center (so the Sisters make a curve, focussed on the
FOURTH FIGURE). [Music is a threnody, a hint of insistence]
Do you think that we don't know just how much
you will allow?
Such curious control you exercise:
You play for Time in earnest,
Bargaining with Death,
Appeasing Pain -
No stranger, you, to sacrifice
Juggling with knives
Playing off the middle 'gainst both ends.
How long can you go on,
Storm-summoned, wind bourne,
grounding out the lightning, causing sparks -
embracing both cacophany and reason?
No comfortable colour marks your eyes,
that see too much and not enough.
The wind blows bright and bitter:
you know her coat will not keep out the cold.
And who is there who might call you by name?
[The music changes] The Sisters are all back upstage, The FOURTH
FIGURE is center, supported by the umbrella. The light on the Sisters
begins very slowly to dim)
(Compassionate, a hint of wonder at the end -- the interaction has
affected her, too)
We none of us know mercy past amusement,
Who but Time can tell?
for yet, despite all desolation -
still there is the sound of children,
[The music gains a hopeful, upturned note] as The FOURTH FIGURE looks
up, and *smiles*.
Lights down, music fades out. All exit.