Vireo Episode Ten - Ice on the Sargasso

Episode 10: Ice on the Sargasso

Libretto

Driving to Sweden to join the circus, Vireo is betrayed by Caroline, and they are caught by the doctor and mother. Everyone has a secret agenda.

Featuring 

Kate Campbell, toy piano; Randall Matamoros, hurdy-gurdy; Jennifer Koh, violin; Matthias Bossi, drums; The San Francisco Girls Chorus; Lorelei Ensemble

 

1. Ice on the Sargasso.
1a. Riding To –
(Snowstorm-dark.)

 

CHORUS
Valiant tosses tridents of snow
As they escape across the steppes. They go
To Sweden, to the Circus so
Meanings will trapeze, exchange
And hide them in their show
(Light. Caroline and Vireo drive across the Russian steppes, Caroline at the
wheel. Vireo paints her toenails, feet on the dash.)

 

CAROLINE
You’re gonna paint a seam up your leg if we hit a bump.

 

VIREO
Never mind me.

 

CAROLINE
Work the radio

 

VIREO
Don’t open
The window

 

CAROLINE
Heater’s stuck
Must be ninety

 

VIREO
Good this way
We are not four or three
We are two…
Good this way
(Stretches back.)

 

CAROLINE
Vireo, say
At least one sentence
About you
That’s true and nobody
Will know
But me

 

VIREO
Lately
I’ve
Lived off
Communion wafers
Pasted them to the roof of my mouth
And
Peeled them back slowly
I don’t know
Any secrets
My
Stomach down
To the size of
Of a comma;
I
Think about –

 

VIREO/CAROLINE
Sandwiches
Saffron
American slice
Bread about burnt
Look at the world and
Love it, eat it
Ocher
Amber
Sun-
Flower
Black
(Borealis: drift and play of light. Time passes.)


1b. Betrayal.
(Caroline’s in the passenger seat, asleep. Vireo: asleep at the wheel. The
scream of a reindeer... Vireo jerks awake.)

 

VIREO
Am I driving?


CAROLINE
Yes.


VIREO
I fell…


CAROLINE
Doesn’t matter. There’s no road.


VIREO
Somebody’s out there.


CAROLINE
I don’t see –
(The Doctor and Mother appear in a sleigh drawn by deer; Raphael’s on a small skid, drawn by cats and rabbits.)

 

VIREO
In the rear-view.


CAROLINE
Who would it be?
(Vireo hits the gas. Caroline changes tone.)
Don’t try and get away.
(Pause.)
The faster you gun it the slower it goes
No traction


VIREO
But they’re –


CAROLINE
They’re going to catch us
And then
We’re going to go
To Sweden


VIREO (Realizing.)
Did you leave them a note? That’s how they know?
You knew they were back there all along?


CAROLINE
Yes.


VIREO
You planned it with them? The candle and the sheets?


CAROLINE
We made people die
You and I
That’s real


VIREO
Yes, Caroline.


CAROLINE
I would like to make more people die
To pay for the way I feel


VIREO
I named people.


CAROLINE
Silly names. They knew those people. We have to name strangers.


VIREO
Don’t know a stranger
I was a good
Prisoner


CAROLINE
Silly prison
We go away


VIREO (Quitting.)
Yes, Caroline.


CAROLINE
It will be fun.
(Caroline turns to go to sleep.)


VIREO
I don’t go to sleep
I don’t go away
(Vireo stops driving; sleighs encroach. Light swipes time.)


1c. Valiant.
(Mother and the Doctor are now in the front seat of the Valiant; Doctor drives. Vireo and Caroline lie eyes-closed in the back. The larger sled and its team trail, hitched. Car slides silently; slippery journey. The Doctor adjusts the mirror; checks the runaways.)

 

DOCTOR
They’re asleep.


MOTHER
You’re kind to us, Doctor. You know, Doctor, I almost think I am a hysteric,
sometimes.


DOCTOR
Is that right?


MOTHER
Yes. My throat and shoulder feel so open and thrown back to examiners.


DOCTOR
I love to operate this beautiful machine. Don’t you think so?


MOTHER
Hot in here.


DOCTOR
They think I’m a priest. I think I’m a bad priest.


DOCTOR
No, Doctor, no. You are good. You are a good priest. If you were one, Doctor.


DOCTOR
We’ll see how things go in Sweden. The lecture-demonstration –


MOTHER
No, you have to know now. Look, save me, I’m hysterical.
(Gentle seizure.)
Ahhh!


DOCTOR (Stern; secretly pleased.)
Stop that. You’ll wake the girls.


MOTHER
No, I’m hysterical, you’ll have to save me. Ahhh!


DOCTOR
Dear, small woman.
(Playing along.)
Presto: you’re cured.


MOTHER
No, Doctor, I’m out of control. You’ll have to work harder than that.

 

DOCTOR
Abracadabra! Sneezy science
Stop!

 

MOTHER
Ahhh!
(Thrashing, petit, her face rolls the window. She sees: the figure of the burned witch looking in; the witch wears a black peaked hat. Mother screams; loud.)
Ahhh!


WITCH
Stop.
(Mother stops. The Doctor neither hears nor sees the witch.)


DOCTOR (Pleased.)
I guess I fixed it.

(The witch retreats.)


MOTHER
You did! You did. I –

(Vireo and Caroline are awake.)


DOCTOR
Girls? We’ll be there by morning.
(We see Raphael, who is running/mushing alongside the car in desperate
shape - his fingers are bandaged with rags. Light-swipe.)

Riding in a car across the Swedish steppes on her way to join the circus, Vireo lets her mind wander. She dreams of a chorus of young girls from her school singing a song about the escape. Back in the car, Caroline is still driving and Vireo begins to nod off again. She sees a violinist standing alone in the snow by the side of the road, playing a melancholy melody.

Time passes, and Vireo jerks awake. She finds herself asleep at the wheel. She stops, shaken and suspicious, and, taking a moment to look around, she realizes that they are being followed. Furiously turning on Caroline, she demands an explanation. Caroline reveals that she has deceived Vireo and is in league with the Doctor. The Doctor is taking them to Sweden where Caroline hopes to name more names and cause more death. Vireo slumps in despair and once again loses herself in dreams and sleep. The violinist reappears.

Arriving at the convention center, the Doctor and Raphael prepare Vireo for the demonstration. They drug her with morphine and place her on a gurney before wheeling her to the surgical amphitheater for presentation.

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