Meet The Cast
You may have noticed that I've not updated my journal in a while. It's kinda hard in this post apocalyptic wasteland, to find five minutes to collect your thoughts, let alone write down what happened what seems years ago.
I've been busy, surviving. That's really just an excuse though isn't it, I may as well be honest with you. The Panto season was a very low point in a life full of low points. It kind of depresses me thinking about back then, but at the same time it does make me feel a bit better about the situation I'm in now. Sure it's bad, what with my every waking minute being haunted by my past mistakes and failures, but at least I wasn't doing Panto.
So, I left it where I'd just listened to whatever it was The Directors had told me about their messed up sob story of what had happened to them after The End.
Hagley and I followed the snivelling Pally Arvin through a myriad of corridors before winding up at a rehearsal room.
"Now..." Pally started "I'd like to introduce you to the rest of the cast, be nice now." and with that, he flung open the door to the rehearsal room and in we walked, not sure what to expect. Of course I was pretty sure I'd know 90% of the people here, but I was wrong. I actually knew 100% of the people there, or I did before The End.
Including Pope and myself it was a cast of six people. Leo East, an intelligent and witty chap before the end, was now reduced to being Widow Twanky. I say "being" as he had been acting for The Directors so long that the lines between reality and pantomime had merged into one, as far as Leo was concerned, he was Widow Twanky. The others weren't as obviously effected by The End, but I would learn soon that they had their own issues.
Then the part of the lead male, who was always played by a woman (Panto was messed up before The End!) was being performed by Izzy Book who was a great singer before The End, but that changed believe you me. The villain of the piece was played by a brummy called Ben Orlock, whose skin had turned to stone, along with his personality, and he'd spend hours telling you the same story over and over again.
Finally there was the love interest, who was none other than Hagley's younger sister Jaki. As soon as Hagley saw what was left of her sister, her mind became clear once more and she ran over and embraced her. I think Hagley was there for a whole minute before she noticed that her sister was now part arachnid. Jaki's top half was as it used to be, but her torso went into a horrible spider body complete with eight legs spindly legs.
I still remember with great sadness Hagley and Jaki's reunion. They were both happy and in despair at the same time. Hagley moved away from her sister, a horrified look of dreadful comprehension filled her face, and then Hagley just held her sister even tighter and cooed that "everything will be alright" If only she had of been correct as everything would not be alright.
"Right!" Pally almost sung out these words "It's time for rehearsals!"
As if under mind control, the four others took there places, and waited for us to join them. Hagley looked at me, and I looked at her, both of us wondering the same thing.
"Where's the script?" I asked Pally.
"Well, they used to have a script writer, but The Directors found that each pantomime was exactly the same as the last one, that all the writer had done was change the characters names. This wouldn't do, so they vaporised him and then decided to get the actors to improvise. If it's not funny, or the story doesn't make sense, well, you get vaporised. It's pretty good theatre."
The last time I had been in a pantomime was when I was about eight, and I'd played Polly the Parrot in Robinson Crusoe. The highlight of my performance was sitting at the front of the stage picking a hole in my tights as I was in a world of my own. I'd seen the theatre's pantos over the years due to friends like Ray being in them, but never really paid attention to what happened in it, I was too busy watching that people didn't steal the dog's bone or clamoring for the thrown sweets. But at least we had rehearsals so we could get it practice and come up with something.
"Ok everybody" Pally bellowed "We're going to open this show up with a dance routine, so just follow me."
Pre-End music, as it's called today (Post-End music usually is made from human screams) began playing out of speakers hidden in the room, and Pally began to show us the dance.
I had thought he wasn't a very good dancer, but The End had changed him, or he'd gotten good since I last saw him, and I mean very good. He was the best dancer that has ever lived, but he was a lousy teacher.
He did a string of a thousand moves and then clapped his hands and the music turned off.
"Hope you remember that for opening night!" He chirped
"When's that!?" I replied
"Tonight of course!" was the response, and he walked out the door.
"Come along you two" Leo in his widow Twanky voice cried "We've got to get this spot on or we'll end up like poor old Farren"
With that he pointed to the corner of the room, where a plump kid in Bermuda shorts looked blankly back at me.
"What's a Farren?" Hagley asked.
Jaki's spider legs moved her to her sister as she said "That weird kid, that's Farren. He was supposed to be having tea with the Vicar before The End, but he got roped into doing a panto. He was awful, and The Directors thought he was so bad, that instead of vaporising him, they removed his brain and replaced it with sawdust. He just sits there... staring."
"Jaki" I asked "Why the hell are you a spider"
"Shud up" Orlock pitched in "Weev not got tyme fur all thiss, weev got yan audiance!"
"That handsome man is right of course" Leo as Twanky, interjected "let's make this the best panto ever!"
I couldn't believe, yet again, how my luck had ran out. My thoughts about my wife, family, cats and friends once again resurfaced. I couldn't spend the next who knows how long, doing productions of improvised mania! I needed to get out of there. Izzy Book put her hand on my shoulder and with the deepest voice you've ever heard, told me "Don't worry man, it'll be alright on the night"
Spoiler alert, but very soon, there's a lot of death.