Monday, June 8, 2009

Dilo Dramatics Society #1

As we like to live in harmony with the seasons and shit we’ve just been in a friend's orchard picking cherries; we picked about 5kg each, enough to make jams and pies and stuff, then we had a bar-b-que, and a good time was had by all. (right: One of Romania’s top supermodels kindly took time off from her catwalk duties to do her bit for the country’s Fruit Marketing Board). This occasion also presented the Dilo Dramatics Society with a golden opportunity; so here, using a real orchard, real cherries, and real East European peasants, we present our neo-realist version of Anton Chekhov’s:


The Cast:

Mme. Ranevskaya: Vanessa Redgrave
Honest Serf Toiling in the Imperialistic Cherrytree of Capitalist Exploitation: Michael Elphick or possibly Robin Asquith
Peter Trofimov: Leonardo DiCaprio
Dunyasha: Julie Ege

(SCENE: A Cherry Orchard, obviously)

Mme. Ranevskaya: (enters orchard right) “Ah, my Sunshine, my spring!”

Honest Serf Toiling in the Imperialistic Cherrytree of Capitalist Exploitation: “Hey, Mrs, if you’re coming this way can you bring us that ladder?”

Mme. Ranevskaya: “To think this will soon no longer be in our family!”

Serf: “There’s a lovely bunch of really ripe ones here but I can’t quite reach them.”

Mme. Ranevskaya: “If only dear Leonid were here!!”

Serf: “I don’t see why, he’d be about as much help as you are. If you don’t want to bring the ladder, can you pass me that stick?”

Mme. Ranevskaya: (breaking down in tears) “My love is like a stone tied round my neck; it's dragging me down to the bottom; but I love my stone. I can't live without it.”

Serf: “Ain’t it always the way.”

Mme. Ranevskaya: (Sobs quietly)

Serf: “How about that Dunyasha though? You’d tell her to go up tree first though if you know what I’m saying, hyah hyah hyah!”

Peter Trofimov: (enters orchard left)

Serf: “Oh blimey, another one”

Peter Trofimov: (exits orchard right)

Serf: “Ladder, over there, if... oh forget it”

Mme. Ranevskaya: “If only there was something I could do”

Serf: “Well, you could organise a Workers’ Council which would portion out the orchard to all who work in it...

Mme. Ranevskaya: “If only I hadn’t bought all those hats and that crate of caviar last time I was in Dnepropetrovsk

Serf: “...the leader to be elected by the council on a bi-monthy basis but all rulings to be then ratified by a People’s Subcommittee.”

Mme. Ranevskaya: “Oh, what gay times, but... now I am ready to die."

Serf: “Good for you, Mrs. Try to pick up some of the ones that have fallen on your way out.”

Mme. Ranevskaya: (Looks at the serf for the first time. 3 seconds pass. Somewhere in the distance a magpie is heard)




Gorilla Bananas said...

A very lippy serf, I must say. No wonder no work got done under socialism. Why is the supermodel holding up a cherry by the stalk as if she's plucked someone's testicle?

Madame DeFarge said...

I have visions of a Morecambe and Wise play wot he wrote here. With Glenda Jackson in the lead role and Eric Morecambe as the Honest Serf. Not that I wish to decry your fine cast, but there is a touch of the Ernie Wise at play here.

Lulu LaBonne said...

Did that serf wander in from the The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist by any chance?

Actually I'm with Mme Defarge - distinctly M&W - can you do funny things with your ears?

Gadjo Dilo said...

Mr Bananas, I dunno, I thought he was rather well informed about socialist theory. Plus, don't forget, he's the only one there actually picking cherries.

Madame, a play wot I wrote?? I'll have you know this is Art! But you're right, Eric Morecambe would have been excellent in the role, if we could have found a cherrytree sturdy enough to bear him.

Lulu, I confess I've never seen The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist. I was thinking of it more as a combination of Citizen Smith and Carry On Fruit Picking. I can't do anything remotely funny with my ears, sorry!

Lulu LaBonne said...

Shame about the ears - but now I see you as 'Wolfie' I'm hooked (you're not Sid James are you?).

Gaw said...

There's nothing more pleasurable than plucking a cherry in a sun-dappled orchard, or so my old Dad used to tell me (I'm not a cherry plucker, I'm a cherry plucker's son, see). Though others tell me you can't beat getting your lips around an engorged purple plum. Whatever, it's the fresh air as makes it. 'Hurray, hurray, it's the first of May, outdoor plucking begins today' as Larkin nearly wrote.

Kevin Musgrove said...

This is begging for inclusion in a Coarse Acting Festival.

Kevin Musgrove said...

(and I mean that a complement!)

Gadjo Dilo said...

Lulu, the spirit of Sid James did pass before me at one point, but if it's Wolfie that pulls in the punters then Wolfie I'll be.

Mr Gaw, and you're always cherry plucking 'til the cherry plucking's done (isn't that right?) I don't think Larkin wrote anything as optimistic as that; I suspect he'd have said something like: "From couples' cherry orchard flings, how soon the miserable wedlock begins".

Kevin, taken as one! But I see that they've already beaten me to it with a Chekhovian parady entitled "The Cherry Sisters". Anybody remember "I, an Actor" by Nicholas Craig (actor Nigel Planer) who amongst other things explained how to apply "Method" acting to Restoration comedy?

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

That Chekhov was good in Star Trek, I loved the way he said "Vorp factorrr nine, Kaptain!" in that sexy Russian accent.

Kevin Musgrove said...

I think you'd make a fine double-bill. I've dug out my old copy of "The Coarse Acting Show 2" and The Cherry Sisters begins:

"The three sisters and their brother Footrotski are seated. Basha, the youngest, is playing with a ball made of flowers. Gnasha sometimes sighs. Veruka, the eldest, sits, tragic and sombre. Babushka, an old crone, sits to one side. There is a long silence. Footrotski rises and walks a few paces, revealing that his boots creak appallingly and don't fit. He looks at his watch, winds it, sighs and sits down again. Suddenly there is the grinding noise of a tree falling. Babushka cackles. Everyone else jumps.

Basha: Will we never get to Moscow?
Gnasha: One day, Basha, we will get to Moscow.
Veruka: But how can we get to Moscow, Gnasha? We must stay and look after the estate.
Footrotski: (standing up) Moscow, Moscow, always Moscow. (He sits down)

There is the sound of a tree falling."

The ending involves a dying servant and a leaky samovar and if it's done properly (in deadly earnest) it's hilarious.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Daphers, he was great wasn't he. He must have been the only positive example of a Russian that Americans had during that era. I remember him always saying "Yis Kiptain", but my memory does play tricks on me these days.

Kevin, thanks for your enthusiasm - this sort of play should be done more often! I confess I've never seen the Cherry Orchard, but only Three Sisters. I do feel the mood upon me though to do some more of these, whether or not I've any idea what I'm talking about.

No Good Boyo said...

This is how Chekhov wanted it played. Like Kafka he was an excellent comic writer, but his work has been wrecked by willowy dickheads. No one who has ever been to Moscow can imagine someone pining for the place without having a fit.

Mrs Pouncer said...

Please excuse my recent reticence, but I have been enisled in the village of Moggs Cross, just off the Old Bath Road, the better to concentrate on my poetry (which I sincerely hope you have read c/o Dr Maroon at Cape to Rio. My "Pensees on Susan Boyle" is a triumph of its type). I am working on my latest piece "On Seeing Prince Harry at Chez Gerard, Marlow", as we speak, but I have also written a play. Coincidence, you might think. It is called Suet Blunders and it is Chekhov to a T. I have generously written parts for all, but I am at the centre, in the character of Vita Brevis, a laundress. I have an appalling brother who loafs around in linoleum-soled slip-ons (K. Musgrove). There is also a beautiful Bulgarian gypsy and a horse.
Vita: This is my great uncle's singlet. He wore it the night of the fire.
Troy: You live in the past! What use is the singlet of a dead man to a woman?
Vita: (softly) What use is a withered rose? It holds the past like a song.
Troy (in a reverie): You have no religion.
Vita (sudden flash of temper): You cannot know the secrets of my soul! I am a transrhenanist! One thing is as good as another. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you don't do it.
Troy: Should men wear waistcoats?
As you can already see, it is thrilling. There are also characters called Major Temperely (pronounced Timlee), Norma Stensch, Cosmo Tuck, Adolf Brasch, Miss Dimity Hood, Dr Farragut and Mrs Lotswife.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Pray tell: is there a part for Norrie Enema?

Mrs Pouncer said...

Norrie Enema is to take the role of the Merchant of Omsk. He has a patented wheeled samovar and is searching in vain for a reliable recipe for beetroot trifle. He refers to Vita as "my fig of Smyrna". He should be looking for new worlds to conquer, but he has no vision. Instead, he is seeking new wolds to conquer, starting with Lymeswold. This characterisation is very much a work in progress. I hope you don't mind my blue-sky thinking on your page, Gadj.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Boyo, you probably know more about Mr Chekhov's oeuvre than I. Pining for a place can indeed get out of proportion - remember that Japanese film about ballroom dancing that idealised Blackpool.

Mrs Pouncer, yes, you've been most remiss in commenting on my blog, and in commenting on my comments on your blog, and in commenting on my comments on your comments on.... I could go on.... but I see you're now writing poetry which, as we all know, is a valid excuse for everything. And your play, I can see indeed it is a thrilling piece! And you're so right to choose K. Musgrove in that role: he can do character parts from Stanley Holloway to Peter Ustinov, which is quite a range that also includes Wilfred Hyde-White and Arthur Askey. But what role is left for me?? Is there one that requires (tasteful) nudity?

Now you don't seem to be taking this entirely seriously. Norrie Enema indeed. You're blue-sky thinking is fine, Mrs Pouncer, and I suspect Kevin will be well able to play the cheese-fixated "Wallace" role you're writing for him here, but... now we have to find our Grommit.

I've just thought of a brilliant alternative title for the Chehkovian play wot I wrote: Carry On Losing Your Cherry.

Mrs Pouncer said...

Yes, Gadjo, of course. There is tasteful nudity in every scene, apart from the denouement when there is some distasteful nudity (Scarlet Blue). During the entr'acte in the steam laundry each cast member is divested of some garment or other, and all the men remove their Ushankas with a flourish - nice nod to the Full Monty - whilst I allow Major Temperley (pronounced Timlee) to unbutton my kichka, showing that I can still get away with a goose-quill underbust.

Inky has asked whether I can so showcase his soliloquy "The Age of Folly", but he wants to dress as a Druid. He may have to write his own play.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Count me in, Mrs Pouncer. I was due to do a summer season of Steven Berkoff's adaption of Charlie's Aunt on Eastbourne Pier, but it'll have to wait.

Maybe we are already but walk-on characters in Inky's play.

No Good Boyo said...

"The fig of Smryna".


SnoopyTheGoon said...

Oh, them fresh cherries - you are tearing my small black heart here...

Gadjo Dilo said...

Snoop, the more mature cherries do indeed look like a small, black heart, and so it feels somehow violating to eat one!

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