Charlie and the Siberian Monkey Goddess

In the darkness, as Charlie and the Siberian Monkey Goddess (2w) begins, we hear the sound of an old film moving through a projector and a scratchy recording of “The Oceana Roll,” and then, as flickering lights come up, we see Charlie (Chaplin) in the tramp outfit with mustache, cane, and derby nearby.  We hear Anastasia’s voice and as the film effect and music fade we see Charlie seated on the floor in front of the couch working on the fork and dancing rolls routine on the coffee table.  Anastasia comes into the light asking for his name.  She wants him to spell “Chaplin” and questions his identity.  He says his mother told him stories were powerful but dangerous.  He says she spent time in the madhouse and his father was a drunk.  He tells her how he first appeared on stage and does an imitation of the terrified child he remembers dancing and singing, “The Honeysuckle and the Bee.”  She asks if he has always been more comfortable pretending to be somebody else, but he says he didn’t pretend; he would just turn into that person for a time.  He left the stage because he hated the audience, but he loved the camera right away because you could do as many takes as you wanted and only show the best ones.  He says he became the Little Tramp, the character he created out of scraps of discarded clothing.  He tells Anastasia that she is playing the role of a person whose job it is to find out who’s playing his role, that they are in a movie, that reality is a movie.  She wants him to prove he is Charlie Chaplin and says he knows that Charlie Chaplin is a mask he wears to protect himself.  She says she is a doctor and they are in an institution for the mentally deranged.  Charlie says he is crazy enough to be a genius but not crazy enough to be happy.  He says in making movies he is the dictator.  She says he hasn’t proved that he is Charlie Chaplin and she could say she was the Siberian Monkey Goddess, Empress of all created things, because anybody can claim to be anybody.  She says if he admits he’s not Charlie Chaplin she will admit she’s not the Siberian Monkey Goddess.  She says the only way for her to help him break free from his delusion is to confuse him in a more constructive way.  She says he has assumed a false identity because he doesn’t want to be who he is.  She says he is not, never has been, and never will be Charlie Chaplin.  He says if she is the Siberian Monkey Goddess she should have bananas, and she gets two bananas from the desk.  She explains why he has chosen the Tramp character to hide behind and he tells her she is a patient pretending to be a doctor pretending to be a Siberian Monkey Goddess.  She says they are both claiming false identities, and when she says she is the Grand Duchess Anastasia, he says she is dead.  “So is Charlie Chaplin,” she says.  But since they are not dead, she is not the Grand Duchess and he is not Charlie Chaplin.  When he tries to get away she grabs his coat and shakes him, then notices that he’s got breasts and is not even a man.  Charlie says the only person who gets to decide who he is is “me.”  Anastasia says she accepts his argument and that if he says he is Charlie Chaplin he is a man, and if he is a man then he likes women and finds women attractive.  She drops her dress and sits on the couch with Charlie and takes off her stockings.  She takes off Charlie’s shoes, coat, shirt, and pants.  She says he is a frightened little girl who doesn’t want to remember her seducer and has taken on the role of the little Tramp  who has complete control of his world.  She starts putting on Charlie’s pants, shirt, coat, and shoes.  She puts her hair up and covers it with the hat, then rips off Charlie’s mustache and sticks it on her upper lip, saying that she is Charlie Chaplin.  She twirls the cane and with a Chaplinesque walk starts offstage, singing the lyrics to “The Honeysuckle and the Bee” as she disappears into the upstage darkness.  Charlie huddles on the floor by the sofa, rocking back and forth saying, “I’m nobody,” over and over, then, “This is where I came in.”  We hear the harmonium and clarinet playing the song as the lights fade and go out.

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