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THEMES OF ISOLATION IN SASKATCHEWAN RADIO DRAMA - page 100 / 185

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Bodyscape: Isolation, Health, and the Woman’s Voice

94

his only contact, his salvation. While the dinner progresses, Arnie stops singing. His

family bring in his birthday cake only to find Arnie has died. Death becomes his

ultimate isolation.

Not that being in the city is any less dangerous for some patients. According to

Dead Awake by Connie Gault (1988), being in the city is no guarantee of a successful

patient outcome. While the play operates in a darkly comic vein, it still deals with the

familiar issues. A simple case of insomnia turns fatal when it encounters overly-

enthusiastic medical diagnosis and an eagerness to treat with the latest scientific

gadgetry, instead of choosing a more human(e) approach. The play is one conversation

centring on the life and death of Alberto, an insomniac who has committed suicide after

getting no sleep for six years. Three characters are present: Alberto's wife, doctor, and

best friend. Their dialogue is stylized. The actors read in a stilted way that leaves the

impression that they may be saying what is expected of them, but not what they feel.

The script makes use of repetition, with certain repeated phrases lending a chorus-like

feel to the piece. The characters seem to be aware of the weakness of their arguments,

but are unable to acknowledge those weaknesses. By repeating phrases, characters

appear to be attempting to convince themselves that what happened to Alberto was no

one's fault. The following most-repeated lines bear witness to the character's need for

absolution: “Still, he could not sleep” or the elaboration, “They ['we' or 'I'] did all they

could, but still he could not sleep”. Alberto is presented as a man in the grip of forces

bigger and more mysterious than himself. His friends repeatedly intone: “To never

sleep is to never dream” and “Death and sleep are brothers.” These phrases recall

images from James Quandt’s Arctic Landscapes: a woman unable to sleep after losing

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