Saturday, October 25, 2008

"He Never Forgot And He Never Forgave"

25 October 2008

I've always been fond of the theatre, and got it into my head to take my seven year old niece to a play sometime. This week I thought I'd take here to the local community theatre, which is performing "The Turn of the Screw" in honour of Halloween, the single greatest day of the year.

But then, last night, I discovered that "Sweeney Todd" is being put on in town. To say that I became ecstatic is most obvious, let alone that I changed my plans.

I was only familiar with the film, but it was the Sonheim musical, so I figured it would be similar. I told the child all about it, and even showed her the trailer to the Johnny Depp/Helena Bonham Carter version. She thought it looked great, and I made plans to take the next night (tonight).

In looking at the website to find directions to the theatre, I saw a small disclaimer at the bottom of the screen. The fine print read "Children under 13 are not advise to attend."

So, I had to make a decision. A command decision.

And, like any commander, I chose not to take her (recognising that there's a considerable difference between thirteen and seven), then went ahead and did the opposite (figuring, as Doc Brown taught us all, "what the hell").

The Castle Theatre, as they're calling it, is at the top of a hill--or more technically, at the very bottom of a mountain--on the property belonging to the only mental institution in town. They used to put on Halloween haunted houses there, and allowed the inmates of the hospital to participate, which always added to the chills of the season. As I drove the child up there, I'd point at anyone visible on the side of the road, asking, "Does that guy look crazy to you?" until she begged me to stop.

I have to admit that I did consider changing my mind back and just taking her home, especially when she was getting freaked out at the thought of "a scary play" and a castle, and escaped insane folk.

But to be honest, I wanted to see it, and wasn't going to let a little thing like inappropriateness ruin my evening. So in we went.

This is no exaggeration: she was literally the only child there.
There were a few older people, but it was mostly college students (probably forced to go to it for a class), and young people on dates (I read about those in a book sometime), but no one even around thirteen, let alone seven years old.

Now, of course I imagined the scornful gazes of the many zoobies noticing me there (and I hope they imagined my obscene gestures in their direction), but I am happy no one dared say anything to me, as I'd be an even worse example to her by shouting obscenities in a public forum.*

The play began, with a chorus of ghostly Victorians dressed in black introducing our story: "Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd, his skin was pale and his eye was odd; He shaved the faces of gentlemen, Who never thereafter were heard of again..." And you know, it was pretty scary, even for me. But we stayed there and watched the play unfold before us.

And wow, it was a lot of fun. The kind of thing I'd go to all the time if I could. I don't know how much a kid could get out of the story, but the songs were catchy and the narrative compelling as hell.

Around the time Signore Pirelli met his demise, my niece was really enjoying herself. She . . .

Look, if I saw it in a movie, I'd roll my eyes, but the kid actually leaned up in the middle of the play and said, "This is awesome! Thanks so much for taking me to this!"

So, there's that.

Rish "Swing Your Razor High" Outfield

*Although on this same babysitting trip, I heard my niece use the F-word for the first time, combined with a rather odd racist remark, when she mentioned "blood fucking sikhs." Odd, we don't really have any Indian people around here, and what else could she have meant?

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