by Denise O’Leary
Pandora has everything; her husband, their love, their baby and the surrounding nature. That is until her husband finds a mysterious box. At first they are reluctant to open it, but goaded by their more progressive neighbour, they unleash the power of the “Real Life Box” – a television. Very quickly, it takes over their lives and entices Pandora into the pernicious world of advertising, consumerism, credit and avarice.
Her naïve values and motherly instincts vanish as she embraces the emerging economy. She finds a job, she finds a nursery for her beloved son, she finds ever more boxes to buy and is seduced not only by the neon lit modern world with its “Friends” cigarettes and “Teenypops” drinks, but also by her new employer.
Ultimately, her life collapses. Only then does she realise the insidious temptation of the box. The play is a modern day fable reflecting the war that consumerism wages on everyone – not just Pandora, but all of us, from Shanghai to London.
Pandora, Husband, Neighbour, Sister, Salesman 1 and 2. They are all from the developing world and speak English as if it is a second language.
PANDORA Mid 20’s housewife and mother with simple pleasures
HUSBAND Late 20’s who enjoys a simple life
BABYSON This is a supple doll
NEIGHBOUR 30’s – friend of husband
SISTER Late 20’s sister to Pandora but modern city dweller
STYLIST Male, no specific age
SALESMAN 1 30’s enthusiastic
SALESMAN 2 30’s smarmy, modern, womaniser.
THE BOX The television – American advertising speak.
LIFT Monotone automated message.
MALE &FEMALE Western TV soap opera angry voices (5 lines pre-recorded)
With echoes of Gogol and Beckett, this modern day fable may well make you query your own lifestyle.
Denise O’Leary’s writing is slick – we ultimately realise we are laughing at ourselves. Pandora’s Boxes makes us all question what is really important in our lives, the fundamental message being – not the material things of course, but family, love and the air we breathe …although having silky hair and a good pair of heels as well can’t hurt!
“Denise O’Leary’s script is terrific.”
O’Leary has an acute ear for the absurd, her gently satirical tone exemplified in the advertisements promoting luxury food, cigarettes and cosmetics that Pandora suddenly can’t live without.
O’Leary’s special take on the ancient Greek legend of Pandora, who was entrusted with a sealed box with instructions not to open it but did and released all the evils of the world, is a modern fable that she sets in an unnamed Eastern European country. It encapsulates half a century of so-called progress in our own society, here speeded up, for, as the playwright herself observed when travelling there, when the communist regimes of the eastern bloc were replaced by free market capitalism the same process happened there at breakneck speed.
The effectiveness of O’Leary’s simplistic fable hardly needed spelling out to the older generation brought up to eschew the never-never salesman and without the white goods, televisions, hi-fis, computers and mobiles, car ownership and belief that homes are investments rather than places to live. Perhaps to those who have grown up with them this could make them begin to wonder what they really need.
Preview available here
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