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,
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