Gazebo

In another Pendragon-related play, Gazebo, two friends, Margaret and Gretchen, with Margaret’s younger brother, Con, carry on conversations that took place between 1912 when the women were seventeen and 1938 when they are forty-three, but much of the play occurs in 1928 when the women were thirty-three and Con was twenty-seven.  Nigro specifies that the actor playing Con should be no older than that and the women should be in their early thirties.  In the darkness we hear a cello version of Faure’s “Sicilienne,” rain falling, and a distant storm.  As in other Nigroscripts, characters sometimes talk to themselves, remembering images of past events, sometimes to each other, and sometimes to the audience.  Gretchen begins the dialogue by speaking of storms, of being unable to sleep, of voices whispering in the gazebo, of something leering at her through rotten trelliswork, of “his hands.”  Margaret matter-of-factly tells the audience that Gretchen has always been her best friend, that they have lived next to each other all their lives and married each other’s brothers.  Gretchen speaks of headlights coming toward her in the rain, and Margaret says that Gretchen saved her from drowning at Grim Lake.  Con speaks of driving in the rain with Violet and May and seeing someone by the side of the road.  Margaret says that three people died in the crash.  Gretchen tells us that Margaret had two brothers, Con, and the one she married.  Margaret says that three witnesses swore there was a fourth person in the car before it crashed.  Con and Gretchen begin talking about the voices Con hears whispering and which Gretchen can’t hear because, according to Con, she closes up and never listens.  Margaret says that all the girls always loved Con.  Gretchen tells Con to stop looking at her, that she doesn’t like it, and as they talk Margaret interjects reminiscences of giving Con baths when he was small and of how he like to fix clocks.  She and Con then talk of clocks and time until Gretchen speaks again of the headlights.  Gretchen tells Con that she has seen him at the lake with Glynis and Jason.  Margaret then asks about her mother who lives with Gretchen and suggests that she and Gretchen could simply change houses, a suggestion that Gretchen rejects.  Con wonders who his father might have been and tells Gretchen that their fathers knew each other out west, that his Dad came back with money and married the Potdorf girl.  Then Gretchen’s Dad showed up, dirt poor, and was given a job as foreman of the cheese factory, and lived in the house next door that Con’s father built for  him.  Con says their parents had secrets and offers to share a secret with Gretchen, but she says she doesn’t have any secrets.  He asks her why she married his brother, tells her that she is beautiful, and asks what she saw at the lake when she spied on them.  She says she saw three naked people and adds that she hates the water.  Margaret speaks of her husband Clyde who disappeared with Gretchen’s husband on a trip to Great Slave Lake.  She says Gretchen’s brother Clyde and Jason Cornish and Jimmy Casey went to war but Con didn’t go because he had a bad heart.  Gretchen says that Harry MacBeth arranged to have Con marry his daughter Glynis who loved Jason.  She tells Con that he compulsively betrays people and Con says that she won’t let her husband touch her.  As Margaret remembers practicing on the cello, Con reminds Gretchen that she used to babysit him.  Margaret remarks that something we believe we hate turns out, after a time, to be something we absolutely cannot do without.  Gretchen mentions the headlights again and Con, now the driver of the car, tells her to get in.  Gretchen remembers blood on her dress, between her legs, something crawling out of her in the rain.  Con, sitting next to Gretchen on the gazebo steps, says that she taught him more than Chinese Checkers.  Margaret remembers the two fathers going up on the roof in a thunderstorm and being struck by lightning as they held on to a lightning rod they were installing.  Gretchen speaks of finding her mother in red water in the bath and remembers seeing her brother kiss Margaret in the gazebo and being filled with fury and later pushing Margaret into the lake where she hit her head on a rock.  Gretchen dove in and pulled Margaret out and revived her.  She says Margaret didn’t remember what had happened but was never the same after her head injury, although her cello playing improved remarkably.  Con and Gretchen then speak lines from the time of the car accident when Con pulled over to pick up Gretchen (apparently pregnant with his child).  Gretchen was furious with Con and clawed his hands off the wheel of the car.  Margaret speaks of a dream she has of driving late at night in a rainstorm and swerving to avoid two red eyes in the dark and then to avoid the oncoming car which spun round and crashed.  She sees the two girls, Violet and May Pelly, and her brother Con, dead.  She says when she can’t sleep she goes out to the ruined gazebo and plays the cello.  Con kisses Gretchen “very tenderly” and Margaret begins to play Faure’s ” Sicilienne” as the lights fade and go out.

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