Thursday, July 2, 2009

On Being Given A Good Gruelling


You may recall some time ago I mentioned that Son of Whirl had landed the role of Fagin in the school production of Oliver!


My original intention had been to provide occasional updates on his progress, as he flowered from fledgling board-treader to stage superstar extraordinaire, but to be quite honest, it’s been such an excrutiatingly painful time sharing the house with him that I’ve nearly been forced to strangle myself several times. To have placed this burden upon you would have been tantamount to turning up on your various doorsteps and giving you a ferocious kicking.

Now the curtain has closed, and I’ve decoupled myself from the liquid Vallium pump, I can happily report on the final performance, which Girly of Whirly and I went along to see last night.

If you’ve ever witnessed a hit broadway musical performed by pre-pubescent 11 year-olds a week before the summer holidays, you’ll know that if you ever get to Heaven and have the opportunity to live your life all over again, this time you’ll be sure to tick the box marked Night Of Passion With Ernest Borgnine or Trampled By Crazed Hippo.

It’s not that the show was unduly appalling or that anyone in the audience slashed their wrists: productionwise, it was actually passable. Okay, so Oliver himself couldn’t hit a note to save his life, but at least the plot was surmountable — which is more than can be said for last year’s production of Alice in Wonderland.

Son of Whirl had the most lines, and during our many rehearsals with me sat on top of him holding a rolling pin to his head, I made the point over and over that to avoid sounding insipid or inaudible, he needed to project his voice. For some odd reason, he took this to mean that he had to rage round the stage shouting like a mortally wounded Ray Winstone. This might have won him some plaudits for a unique take on the scrounging beggar’s typically understated character, but no-one could have foreseen the calamatous show-stopping disaster that was...his hat

You’ll recall that in the film, Fagin is played by Ron Moody, and the costume department of the day decked him out in a dandy wide-brimmed hat. To keep things authentically mock-Dickensian, Son of Whirl was lumbered with what looked to be one of the dinner ladies’ gardening hats. Yes, it had width, but bugger all else of a Faginy nature, and from the moment I beheld it, I knew it spelled TROUBLE. For the whole of Pick A Pocket Or Two, it flopped uneasily about S-o-W’s face like a vampire lettuce on a slug quest before engulfing his entire head in a manner unwitnessed since that Alien foetus thing wrapped itself round John Hurt’s rugged features and passed into cinema legend. So no matter how much he bawled, his words were so muffled you could have shut your eyes and been forgiven for thinking a randy moose had bounded into the hall. And yes, that’s the hall crammed to bursting with a hundred-odd kids, and their mums and dads and teachers — in the 33 degree July heat. By act two, the kids were losing body fluids like marathon runners and the neat lines of audience seats had long since given way to floating plastic islands of the hapless. As for the drinks intended for the interval, let’s just say that halfway through Oom Pah Pah, the stage was consumed by an amber mist of evaporated orangeade.

I have no idea how any of us made it out of that place alive, so to celebrate, we wrang S-o-W out and treated him to fish and chips in a local eaterie. More on surly waitresses in a later post...

11 comments:

Bevie said...

It wouldn't be a true stage production if anything went right, would it?

This makes me wish I was young and doing plays again. It didn't matter the plays were horrible, and I was horrible, or the audience was bored. I was there! I was part of it.

Son-of-Whirl is going to remember this with great joy in years to come.

The play's the thing, you know?

Kiersten said...

Oh, ha, your labels make me laugh, Whirl.

And I'm sure he was simply brilliant and you're just being very humble so we don't feel bad about our own talentless, monstrous-hatless children.

fairyhedgehog said...

You know, I've never enjoyed my kids' school productions but I thought it was a lynching offense to say so.

Whirlochre said...

15p for a soggy wafer biscuit an' all...

Mary said...

What a traumatic experience! I hope S-o-W is not deterred from breaking a leg in the future.

Sadly, costumes seem to be an afterthought in school productions. A couple of years ago, I witnessed my niece in the chorus of Grease. Black leggings all the way...

Whirlochre said...

As long as she wasn't playing Danny, I'll assume she lived...

ril said...

Perhaps your mistake was to base your expectations upon the norms of a professional theatre production? If you actually compare your experience with te norms of a school theatre production, I'd say you pretty much hit the jackpot. I hope you videoed the entire performance so we can see it on Youtube? Any column inches in the local newspaper yet?

In my formative years, I was "old geeer" in the Roses of Eame. It was such a stellar realization of character (save for the cloud of talcum powder that erupted from my "grey" hair when I tapped my head), that the following year I was "old geezer with a dodgy American accent" in Of Mice and Men. With out those valuable life experiences, I would not be who I am today.

Whirlochre said...

Oh, I remember "grey" hair. And "fake" swords...

Scarlet-Blue said...

Ah.. bless 'im! I loved being in school plays... I could always hear my Dad snoring in the audience though.
Sx

Whirlochre said...

Just your Dad? That's talent for you.

Chris Eldin said...

LOL @ "Rage around the stage!"

Love your alliteration and rhyme schemes in this particular piece.
:-)