“I am inspired!” announces Lady B.
Uh-oh. Previous inspirations have included the “a parrot on every perch” political campaign, “Talk Like A Dandy Day” (“Why should pirates have all the fun?” quoth Lady B), and the infamous all-you-can-drink ratafia swigging competition. I have learned to be wary of Lady B’s inspirations.
“Miss Darby’s eloquent essay on adaptations of the works of the Bard….” says Lady B, waving a hand theatrically in the air. ”So inspiring…. Such a reminder of the finer things!” Coming down off Cloud Culture, she says, more prosaically, “I have decided we shall put on a play in the Ballroom.”
“Waiting for Godot?” I suggest.
Lady B’s brow wrinkles. ”Was he that appalling man who was meant to attend our last ball and then appeared late, foxed, and attempted to pinch one of Alfred’s tail feathers? We certainly shan’t wait our rehearsals for him! Now, do try to attend, Miss Willig O for a muse of ratafia!” She makes a sweeping gesture. ”Can one cram within this humble ballroom the vasty fields of–”
“But it’s the second day of fall.” (And what we’ve been telling Lady B is ratafia is really Pumpkin Spice Latte.)
“How critical some o’er other some can be!” Lady B flings her arms into the air, then subjects me to a shrewd scrutiny. ”There’s a short one in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Good. Start memorizing.”
She thrusts a marked script into my hand. Apparently, I am to play Hermia, aka the short one. That Lady B, always at the forefront of textual criticism.
“Why, i’ faith, methinks she’s too low for a high praise….” I murmur to myself.
“Wrong play!” sings out Lady B, without looking up from her script.
I notice, with some trepidation, that she has acquired for herself a chair draped in black velvet with “Director” stenciled across the back.
Lady B holds her pen aloft. ”Miss Noble has those masses of golden hair. She must play Titania. And Miss Darby!” She hails Sabrina as Sabrina attempts to tiptoe past the door. ”You have an impish smile. You may play Puck.”
“Thank you?” says Sabrina. We exchange a look. I wonder if anyone has had a nine months’ enceinte Puck before.
Lady B will probably call it innovative.
“Aren’t we short a few men?” I inquire, hoping the Ballroom spouses aren’t about to be asked to don tights.
“Pish-tosh!” says Lady B eloquently. ”If Shakespeare could perform without women, why can’t we perform without men? Or”– there’s a sly glint in her eye– “mostly without men.”
If I were Monty, I would definitely make plans to go grouse shooting in Scotland, say, in the next five minutes.
“My darling Monty shall play….”
“Demetrius? Lysander?” I can keep on guessing, but the number of characters is finite.
“Bottom,” pronounces Lady B smugly.
Poor Monty! How he is translated, as the Bard would say.
What was the worst role you ever had to play in a theatrical performance? Also, any advice to Monty for how he should escape Lady B’s clutches before he finds himself rendered into an ass?