Eve at an eat as much as you like buffet
Tuesday and Wednesday had some of the most moving and thought-provoking scenes that have been on recently. And I think, on balance, the past months have been excellent with many good and emotionally gripping stories. But the tale of Mary and Roy and Hayley and Norris this week was extraordinary.
Tuesday I thought I had my scene when Mary realized that no subterfuge was going to keep Roy in her motorhome overnight. When she realized that all he wanted was to be with Hayley after her dance competition. And was even willing to walk out of the encores for the Elgar performance. Like Anna, we knew what she was trying to do with her chess games and invitations to concerts and maybe booking hotel rooms, maybe not.
Then Hayley, realizing that her suspicions about Mary’s intentions are justified, goes to confront her. Another absolutely beautiful piece of theatre – the two of them in the motorhome, Mary talking about her feelings of invisibility, her longing for someone to think about her as Roy does about Hayley. Hayley’s delight in hearing what she means to Roy from someone else. Nothing could top it. And I don’t know if anything did, but two more scenes on Wednesday matched it.
Mary, tired of losing at love in Weatherfield, decides to leave and tells Norris. Norris, who likes her despite himself and despite her actions, clearly not wanting her to leave but not able to tell her. Mary clearly waiting only for a word, a syllable, a pause at the right moment – anything to show her that he wants her to stay. But he doesn’t give it.
Hayley hears that Mary is leaving and knows it’s because of their talk. Again she goes to the motorhome. The two of them in the front seats, drinking coffee or something, and talking about life and love and relationships. They forge a friendship and quietly do wonders for each other’s self-esteem.
All four of these people are misfits. They have quirks, old-fashioned standards, all are laughed at by many in the street. All have been, or are, desperately lonely. It hasn’t been easy for any of them. Norris with his dreadful ex-wife the late unlamented Angela, Roy with Aspergers or whatever it is, Hayley having started life as Harold, and Mary with her mother and the burden of being Mary. Yet all of them this week had so much to say about loneliness, love and the human condition. The acuity of their observations about themselves and each other spoke to the heart of the need for human contact. And it was polite and with restraint, befitting the personalities of the characters.
It is too bad for Steve and Tracy’s new domestic mess that it was sandwiched in between these other scenes. Without the counterpoint of the Roy-Mary story, they would have been fine. But as it was, for me, they were just dross.