In this short monologue, Rita, as the show’s title suggests, is Talking to Angie. However, Angie has died, and it is the day of her funeral. Over the next ten minutes, we hear Rita (Ronnie Dorsey) reflect on their lifelong friendship, in a society which for a long time offered no space for them to be the way they truly were.
She describes how Angie married at only 17 after falling pregnant. Her husband was a bit of a lad and more interested in pints with his mates, so it fell to the two women to raise the child. Rita was then by Angie’s side throughout the tragedies that followed; in fact her whole life revolved around the highs and lows of her friend’s life. It seems like Rita never had much of a life of her own at all: she relates how she progressed through work, becoming a manager in a suit, but offers no recollections of a personal life outside of that with her friend, confessing to the fact that her whole life is her job, Angie and Angie’s son.
The staging is very simple: Rita recites her monologue from the stairs of a festive home, the Christmas lights seemingly incongruous with her obvious grief. Her resigned delivery is heart-breaking, and she seems genuinely exhausted, perhaps grateful that the pain of the funeral is over but raw with emotion. Dressed casually, her everyday fleece underscores the normality of her very special relationship.
As the story unfolds it becomes increasingly clear that there was more than just a strong female friendship between these two women, with clues such as “then you met Bill and that ruined everything”. Rita reflects on how they initially didn’t know what their love meant, owing to the context of their upbringing; that they “didn’t know there was such a thing as lesbianism”. It is obvious that the two women felt intense love and loyalty towards each other, more so than in most friendships, but their society did not offer them either the vocabulary or permission to identify their true relationship. Tragically it was only towards the end of Angie’s life that they truly embraced their feelings for each other and became a couple. As Rita reflects towards the end of the monologue, “Eventually we found each other properly.”
Performed and written by Ronnie Dorsey, this short monologue is understated yet moving in its authenticity. I was in the palm of her hand, sitting with Rita and listening to her pour her heart out, saddened that it hadn’t even occurred to the couple that they could be lovers, despite their obvious love for each other and the intertwining of their lives. The play is an astute observation on how social pressures and the opinions of others can impact detrimentally on someone’s fundamental human being, wasting time that is precious. Yet the production ends on a positive note: despite adversity and loss, Rita celebrates the pure love she found, and which remains eternal even, as their time on Earth together ends. There is a message to us all to be true to ourselves.
Written by: Ronnie Dorsey
Produced by: Ronnie Dorsey Productions
Talking to Angie is playing as part of Online@TheSpaceUK Season 2, and will be available free until 31 January. This show, plus many others, can be found on the website below.