Small-Cast One-Act Guide Online

"The Calling"

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Thomalen, E. (American playwright, poet, February 16, 1936- ), "The Calling,"

a 45-minute intellectual/psychological detective drama in English, set in an apartment, spring evening, 1986,


© 1986, script/rights available from E. Thomalen, 7600 Osler Drive, Suite 201, Towson, Maryland, 21204, U.S.A. Cited by playwright via ftp June 30, 1997; Thomalen says,

Dramatis Personae Detective Sergeant (m)

Synopsis "A police detective becomes obsessed with the case of an obscene phone caller. A man works alone at his desk on the delicate removal of imperfections in a photograph. He introduces himself to the audience, first noting his efforts as an amateur photographer then revealing that he is a police detective with twenty years on the force. Made sergeant early on, the man had difficulty working with subordinates and opted to take on a case by himself, responding to an obscene caller complaint. A caller would contact a bride-to-be (who had been identified in the newspaper) and threaten harm to a friend unless she listened to his lewd self-stimulation. Seeing this as an opportunity to raise his esteem in the department as well as the community, the detective pursued the case diligently, tracking all possible clues, though no pattern of victims was discernible. A woman obtained a recording of the caller's voice on her answering machine (part of which the detective plays). The detective kept the case a secret from his own girlfriend and eventually broke off their relationship out of fear that a betrothal would bring harassment for his intended. As years passed, the detective became increasingly confounded by this nemesis, even wondering about his actual existence. He speculates whether a colleague might be playing a vicious prank and wonders at the disruption that fifteen years of phone calls have wreaked upon his life. While the caller's activities are religiously chronicled in stacks of notebooks, the detective's own life passes unnoticed. The detective examines the possibility that he, himself, might be the caller, considering his preoccupation with the case and his ability to recite the caller's dialogue verbatim. He questions the relative damage of the calls, noting similar, innocuous depictions in Shakespeare. He defines the criminal nature of the call in terms of the coercion involved, but counters with the prevalent coercion of international diplomacy. The detective describes a dream he had last night, seeing himself lost in a desert, with no shadow to reveal the direction to refuge. He compares this to his current inability to know either the criminal or the crime and determines to commit the crime himself. As he does so, he places the picture he has been working on in a projector, revealing it as 'a man who has shot himself at his work table.'"

Themes answering machine, bride-to-be, crime, detective, dream, obscenity, obsession, photography, Shakespeare, suicide.

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Small-Cast One-Act Guide Online
complements the print volume

1/2/3/4 for the Show: A Guide to Small-Cast One-Act Plays

by Lewis W. Heniford

(Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1995), ISBN 0-8108-2985-1, $39.50, plus s/h
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