Theatre from the cracks in the psyche of culture











 Samuel Taylor Coleridge's


based on the poem CHRISTABEL by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

adapted and re-created for the stage


Joe Woodward

performed at The Canberra Theatre Centre, Courtyard Studio in January 1999

Melinda Donnell (left) and Desiree Bandle in Christabel and Geraldine



(text in inverted commas is the direct text from Coleridge's poem, CHRISTABEL)

DEAMON 1 in the form of some DEATHLY SHAPE, leaps from the dark making a ghastly sound and startles Christabel.

CHRISTABEL: What was that? It gave me such a shock.

But Geraldine doesn't answer. Geraldine reaches out to touch her face Geraldine is aware of two DEATH'S HEAD figures shadowing Christabel.


The DEATH'S HEAD figures take their cue from GERALDINE and disappear.

CHRISTABEL: We must be quiet.

They continue to walk, miming a walk, on stairs upward toward and then slowly past Leo who's eyes remain fixed directly forward.

DAEMONS: "Sweet Christabel her feet doth bare And jealous of the listening air They steal their way from stair to stair Now in glimmer and now in gloom And now they pass the Baron's room As still as death, with stifled breath."

They arrive at Christabel's room.

Scene 4

CHRISTABEL: Here we are. My room.

She mimes the opening of the door and bids Geraldine enter. But Geraldine hesitates. Once again, she swoons, almost fainting on to the floor.

CHRISTABEL: Oh, you are so tired Geraldine.

She helps Geraldine enter sit up on the bed.

CHRISTABEL: (grabbing a glass and decanter) Here: drink this. It's a wild flower wine. My mother used to make it and my father says it has magical powers of healing.

GERALDINE: From wild flowers!

CHRISTABEL: (Pouring some wine) Here, drink some.

GERALDINE: Your mother again!

CHRISTABEL: She died the hour I was born. The old priest said how on her death bed, she said she'd hear bells strike twelve upon my wedding day. Oh I wish you could meet her.

Screams from A SPECTRAL FIGURE and joined by Geraldine

GERALDINE: I wish ... I wish ... I wish (with a changed voice) "Off wandering mother! Peak and pine! I have power to bid thee flee."

CHRISTABEL: (Shocked and calming Geraldine) Geraldine ... shhhhh ...

GERALDINE: (Off the bed and agitated) "Off, woman off! this hour is mine - Though thou her guardian spirit be, off woman off! 'tis given to me."

CHRISTABEL: Geraldine ... Shhhh ... Why are you doing this? Do you see her too? My ... Here ...

She offers more wine.

The Spectral Figure disappears.

GERALDINE: It's over now. More wine.

She drinks. Then offers it back to Christabel who moves in close to her. They both drink and sip in turn from the cup.

CHRISTABEL: I see her. Did you see her?

GERALDINE: Oh sweet Christabel. Sweet, sweet Christabel.

She kisses her gently.

GERALDINE: "All they who live in the upper sky, Do love you, holy Christabel! and you love them, and for their sake And for the good which me befel, Even I in my degree will try, Fair maiden, to requite you well."

She stands. Christabel giggles.

GERALDINE: Get undressed.


GERALDINE: It is time for bed, isn't it. You don't go to bed with your clothes on!

CHRISTABEL: No. Of course not.

GERALDINE: Get undressed.

Christabel rises to face Geraldine. She begins to undress and then turns her back and descends onto the bed where she faces Geraldine.

GERALDINE: You're shy Christabel. In front of me, you are shy!

CHRISTABEL: No. It's just that there are so many thoughts moving to and fro ... I ...

GERALDINE : Leave your thoughts. Just look at me.

Geraldine is intent on Christabel. She loosens her top so that Christabel may see her breasts. Geralding takes Christabel's hand and slowly leads it to her breasts. Christabel is fascinated and tempted. Time stops. The spell is cast. She slowly withdraws her hand. But the spell remains.


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