A Tennessee Williams one-act called Talk To Me Like the Rain … And Let Me Listen, included in 27 Wagons Full of Cotton And Other One-Act Plays
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A favorite with actors – it’s a two person play. There are two unnamed characters: Man and Woman. They live in a cold-water flat on the Lower East Side. He is a drunk. She is wasting away to nothing. There is intimacy between them – the intimacy of desperation. He woke up that morning in some random hotel in a bathtub full of ice cubes. No idea how he got there. He found his way home. Meanwhile, she has drunk nothing but water for 3 days. She stares out the window. She is wasting away. On purpose. Actors love this play because both characters have nice long juicy monologues – and also it’s one of those plays where all you need to do is just show up, be honest, be in the moment, and connect to the other actor. It’s a very rich piece of writing. He keeps begging her to talk: “talk to me like the rain … and let me listen …”
I’ve seen this play done where it’s been TERRIBLE. The writing is poetic, heightened, Williams-esque … and when the actors don’t get inside of it, don’t own the language, and also don’t connect to each other – they look like jagoffs. But I have also seen this play done (my friend Jen did it – this is the production I’m talking of) where it is absolutely RIVETING. You are drawn into the world of these two people who … even though they are on their last legs … love each other more than anything.
The play doesn’t “go” anywhere – there is no plot … so I’ll just excerpt a bit from their conversation.
From Talk To Me Like the Rain … And Let Me Listen, by Tennessee Williams
MAN. Can you talk to me, honey? Can you talk to me, now?
MAN. Well, talk to me like the rain and — let me listen, let me lie here and — listen …
WOMAN. I —
MAN. You’ve got to, it’s necessary! I’ve got to know, so talk to me like the rain and I will lie here and listen, I will lie here and —
WOMAN. I want to go away.
MAN. You do?
WOMAN. I want to go away!
MAN. What name?
WOMAN. Anna — Jones … The chambermaid will be a little old lady who has a grandson that she talks about … I’ll sit in the chair while the old lady makes the bed, my arms will hang over the — sides, and — her voice will be — peaceful … She’ll tell me what her grandson had for supper! — tapioca and — cream …
WOMAN. Yes. Rain.
WOMAN. Anxiety will — pass — over!
MAN. Yes …
WOMAN. After a while the little old woman will say, Your bed is made up, Miss, and I’ll say — Thank you … Take a dollar out of my pocketbook. The door will close. And I’ll be alone again. The windows will be tall with long blue shutters and it will be a season of rain — rain — rain … My life will be like the room, cool — shadowy cool and — filled with the murmur of —
WOMAN. I will receive a check in the mail every week that I can count on. The little old lady will cash the checks for me and get me books from a library and pick up — laundry … I’ll always have clean things! — I’ll dress in white. I’ll never be very strong or have much energy left, but have enough after a while to walk on the — esplanade — to walk on the beach without effort … In the evening I’ll walk on the esplanade along the beach. I’ll have a certain beach where I go to sit, a little way from the pavillion where the band plays Victor Herberg selections while it gets dark … I’ll have a big room with shutters on the windows. There will be a season of rain, rain, rain. And I will be so exhausted after my life in the city that I won’t mind just listening to the rain. I’ll be so quiet. The lines will disappear from my face. My eyes won’t be inflamed at all any more. I’ll have no friends. I’ll have no acquaintances even. When I get sleepy, I’ll walk slowly back to the little hotel. The clerk will say, Good evening, Miss Jones, and I’ll just barely smile and take my key. I won’t ever look at a newspaper or hear a radio; I won’t have any idea what’s going on in the world. I will not be conscious of time passing at all … One day I will look in the mirror and I will see that my hair is beginning to turn grey and for the first time I will realize that I have been living in this little hotel under a made-up name without any friends or acquaintances or any kind of connections for twenty-five years. It will surprise me a little bit but it won’t bother me any. I will be glad that time has passed as easily as that. Once in a while I may go out to the movies. I will sit in the back row with all that darkness around me and figures sitting motionless on each side not conscious of me. Watching the screen. Imaginary people. People in stories. I will read long books and the journals of dead writers. I will feel closer to them than I ever felt to people I used to know before I withdrew from the world. It will be sweet and cool this friendship of mine with dead poets, for I won’t have to touch them or answer their questions. They will talk to me and not expect me to answer. And I’ll get sleepy listening to their voices explaining the mysteries to me. I’ll fall asleep with the book still in my fingers, and it will rain. I’ll wake up and hear the rain and go back to sleep. A season of rain, rain, rain … Then one day, when I have closed a book or come home alone from the movies at eleven o’clock at night — I will look in the mirror and see that my hair has turned white. White, absolutely white. As white as the foam on the waves.
MAN. Baby. Come back to bed.
WOMAN. And thinner and thinner and thinner and thinner and thinner!
WOMAN. I want to go away, I want to go away!