I’ve just done a very agreeable gig with fellow Brit, Richard Lyntton. Chatting aimiably, made me nostalgic …
At this time of year my thoughts naturally turn to a theatrical form which is immensely popular in my native England but doesn’t seem to work either in the land of my extended family, Australia, nor to have caught on in my adopted homeland, the USA. It’s a Victorian invention really, along with trifle and the commercialization of Christmas. Having said that, there are traditions in the form that can be traced to the medieval miracle plays, and to the later broad style of Commedia D’ell Arte. I refer, of course, to pantomime.
I once played a broker’s man by the name of ‘Snachit’, one of the double act, Snachit & Grabbit, first cousins to the law firm, Sue’em, Grabbit ‘n Runne also related to practicing attorneys at law, Woppit, Upham ‘n Gasp.
The Dame (female character) was played by the late, great John Moffatt (Male actor as tradition requires), who was also the author. A man of consummate technique, it was a privilege to watch him turn a line like:
Dame: (Horrified) Sell?! (Appalled) Our cow?! (Heartbroken on the verge of tears) Miranda??? … (Suddenly turning avaricious) How much d’you think we’d get for her?
Panto, as British readers will know, turns on a contra-sexual universe where it seems only the Fairy Queen and the the Demon King keep their given genders. Dames and Ugly Sisters are always played by men, Principal Boys (e.g.; Jack in Jack & the Beanstalk) always by dazzlingly attractive young women.
For non-British readers who may be confused, I recommend a year’s subscription to Private Eye, the British equivalent of the American, Onion newspaper. Private Eye explains much in British life that is puzzling.
But I digress.
I started out to tell you that this year Santa brought me the chance to play a telling cameo in a new (spin-off) TV series. The series has been announced but details are fairly hush hush. To such an extent that I never actually got to read the full script of the episode, and therefore had only the sketchiest idea of my character – who he was and what he had for breakfast – and before you ask, yes, I admit, sometimes it’s like that onstage too.
Fortunately the stars of the show were extremely generous and hospitable and were able to quickly clear up any confusion that I had, actually reversing my understanding of the character, the scene and the show in a few brisk sentences.
These details aside, I am able to report as follows:
xxxxxxxx the man xxxxxxxxxxxx in the xxxxxxxx where xxxxxx and xxx come to xxxxx the xxx
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx my character, xxxxxxxxx in a tryst with, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Then, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx at the climax, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx just when xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx a helicopter xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx and then, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx finally revealing xxxxxxxxxx
Great story, right? – Oh! I forgot to mention …
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx at which point xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to the amazement of xxxxxxxxxx
Well I’m sorry if that’s spoilt the episode for you. Just pretend you never read this blog.
And as you see from this photo, my character looks pretty shifty.
But I don’t think it gives anything away, do you?
Merry Christmas and a