TAKE EIGHT! by W Terrrence Gordon


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A CHRISTIE FOR CHRISTMAS

CHARACTERS

SIGMUND FREUD age 69
AGATHA CHRISTIE age 35

SETTING
The play takes place in January 1927 in Freud's clinic, couch and
all, including phallic figurines on a shelf. AGATHA is stretched out
on the couch. FREUD is in his cliché pose, seated cross-legged in an
arm chair positioned so that he is not in her sight line.

AGATHA: Tell me, Dr. Freud, what would possess a man to come to his
wife at the most wondrous and enchanted time of year, the magic of
winter solstice upon us, every snowflake caught in the tranquil light
of morning or evening's candle glow holding the promise of serenity,
peace, joy, and love and just tell her straight out that he's
got a bimbo?

FREUD: (Removing his cigar from his mouth.) Hormones.

AGATHA: He came in, told me her name..

FREUD: What is her name?

AGATHA: Nancy. Told me her name, told me about her not necessary,
I know her told me he has been in love with her since Michaelmas,
told me she has been in love with him, since Michaelmas, and that he
wants to be with her forever.

FREUD: Some men just come and get their toothbrush and shaving kit and
say they are leaving.

AGATHA: This is supposed to make me feel better?

FREUD: You will feel better when we start the analysis. Tell me
everything everything you have been doing since Archieexcuse
me, Mr. Christie, left.

AGATHA: How did you know his name?

FREUD: Come, come, Mrs. Christie, there have been reports in all the
newspapers.

AGATHA: You can't believe everything you read in the papers.

FREUD: Some of them hint that you made a mystery of yourself for ten
days as part of the next mystery you will write.

AGATHA: You can't believe everything you read in the papers.

FREUD: Then tell me if I can believe what I have read. You
disappeared from your home?

AGATHA: Yes.

FREUD: You hid in a hotel in Harrogate?

AGATHA: The Swan Hydropathic.

FREUD: I've had the potted shrimp there. Excellent. (He
refocuses.) You registered under an assumed name?

AGATHA: Yes.

FREUD: What name?

AGATHA does not reply.

FREUD: Under her name?

AGATHA: No.

FREUD: Yes and no. Mrs. Neele, but not Mrs. Nancy Neele. What name
did you use?

AGATHA takes out a small notebook and starts writing in it.

FREUD: What are you doing? I'm supposed to be the one making notes
here.

AGATHA: I'm thinking of writing a work called Witness for the
Prosecution. I'm just reminding myself to make the prosecutor
thunder on the way you are beginning to here.

FREUD: Please, let us focus here. Names tell us so much. They reveal
and they conceal. What name did you use at the hotel?

AGATHA: Mrs. Teresa Neele.

FREUD: And in reality, who is she?

AGATHA: Reality? I am a writer. I create reality.

FREUD: Exactly. You created the fictional Teresa Neele alongside the
real Mrs. Neele, your husband's Nancy.

AGATHA: Oh, the phrase repels.

FREUD: But the relation compels. Your husband wants Mrs. Neele in his
life. Your solution? You recreate yourself as a new Mrs. Neele. A new
other. A new you. That makes you a rival to take him from her as
surely as a woman who steals her sister's beau.

AGATHA: (She begins writing in the notebook again.) What a concept!
She takes him away from her sister. Wait a minute, I don't have
a sister.

FREUD: She is not stealing from the sister you don't have; she is
stealing from her own sister. Nancy is stealing from the Teresa you
created. But you are the new Nancy stealing back what she has stolen
from you.

AGATHA: This is wonderful! (She begins writing again.)

FREUD: You are going to put all this into a new book or perhaps a new
play?

AGATHA: Oh, yes. It feels good already. Writing is a form of
self-therapy.

FREUD: Well, I am giving you quite a bit of help here, so I will still
have to charge you full rate.

AGATHA: Yes, yes, of course. Now, you said names reveal and conceal.
So, I can't be Teresa Neele when I write this character. All the
newspapers gave that out as the name I used when I arrived at
Harrogate still a bit bonkers the first day, at any rate.


FREUD: (He raises an eyebrow.) The first day and then?

AGATHA: (She ignores his question.) I must conceal my identity.
I'll call myselfNan.

FREUD: Perfect! Textbook Freud! With the name of the woman who
wronged you, the new you will take your husband back from her. (Very
pleased with himself) Ha! You can't make this stuff up.

AGATHA: All right, so I've got a new name for the new me, now I need
a new name for the old her. (She starts tapping her pencil against
her notebook. Scribbles down a few names and immediately scratches
them out as Freud lights a fresh cigar.) New name for Nancy Neele, new
name for Nancy NeeleNeeleNell!

FREUD: Textbook Freud again!

AGATHA: (She gets off the couch, takes one of the phallic figurines
off a shelf and returns to the couch. She strikes a much more relaxed
posture and begins rubbing the figurine. Freud notices.)

FREUD: Perhaps we should talk more about Harrogate.

AGATHA: (Dreamy) Mmm.

FREUD: How did you spend your time?

AGATHA: I had the potted shrimp too.

FREUD: That's Monday dinner, as I recall. What about the other nine
days before the police found you?

AGATHA: (Rubbing the figurine more suggestively) I'll have to invent
one more name.

FREUD: Invent or conceal or both?

AGATHA: Well, I certainly can't reveal.

FREUD: Not the name, but be frank about the behavior

AGATHA bristles as he says "frank." FREUD notices her reaction.

FREUD: Be frank about the behavior, even if it's wayward.

AGATHA: (Putting the figurine in her lap and starting to write in the
notebook again.) Frank! It's as if you knew . But I can't
put "Frank." Wayward Frank. I'll make him Jim
Hayward.

FREUD: That's it? So he is ? You and he ?

AGATHA: (She closes the notebook, begins fondling the figurine with
both hands in her lap.) How much do you know about female orgasm, Dr.
Freud?

Freud's cigar falls out of his mouth

[END OF EXTRACT]


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