I Just Called To Say… (The Covid-19 Monologues Volume 2)
Elysium Theatre Company
For its second volume of online monologues, Elysium Theatre has invited writers from the Manchester Arts scene including Malaysian-born actor and writer Rani Moorthy.
I Just Called To Say… is a bittersweet tale of achieving one’s true identity but being unable to reconcile a lingering wrong. Having achieved his true gender / sexuality, an unnamed Son (Alex Townson) confronts over the Internet the father who was physically abusive during his childhood. But his hopes of achieving a grand gesture of forgiveness are frustrated by his father being hospitalised and unable to communicate.
Rani Moorthy describes a relationship which is not simply abusive but rather combative. The father is an obstinate, violent figure prepared to hate a film simply because it is his son’s favourite or to smash up his room. The Son is provocative and may look down on his father—enjoying using words beyond his vocabulary. His motive in reconnecting with his father is not to achieve a reconciliation but, childishly, to show he is the better person being willing magnanimously to forgive past wrongs. The picture emerges of a complex and confused relationship comprising two people incapable of finding common ground living together until the inevitable final confrontation arose.
The script is lyrical with the Son using imagery of an androgynous God—a composite of male and female—to describe his sexuality. For him, the film The Invasion of the Body Snatchers was not fiction—he was aware something fearful could enter his room at night.
Alex Townson captures the Son’s confusion and conflicted state of mind. This is, after all, a character who seems to have a death-wish; leaving home dressed in a way almost intended to provoke morons to violence. Townson’s delivery is determined rather than resentful. Having resolved to confront his father, he has achieved a kind of peace and come to terms with past events, but they continue to nag at him. Townson shows regret, but it is hard to be sure if this is because the Son’s father is ill or because he has been denied his final showdown.
I Just Called To Say… is available on Elysium Theatre’s YouTube channel from Friday 16 April.
Reviewer: David Cunningham