Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Exit Stage Left

Public transport just can't be beat.

Speaking of, yesterday I saw the most exciting drama I’ve seen in a while. It was great, with lots of twists and reversals of fortune and a solid three act structure. I give it like eight thumbs up.

Absent-minded dad is standing on the 96 tram with cheeky tot on his shoulders. They’re waiting by the doors for the next stop, and he’s pushed the button to signal his intention to disembark. He’s holding a railing with one hand, the other wrapped around cheeky tot’s left ankle. This is important, as it sets up the initial tension of the scene. Cheeky tot’s own arms are waving around playing with the roof and other things, which means that the only means of support her precarious situation is afforded is absent-minded dad’s left hand.

I’m making some assumptions here – I mean that’s the only visible means of support. She might be supported by an Australia Council grant for street theatre or a genetic history of circus families, but for the purposes of this story its just pa’s meaty paw that’s preventing the possibility of a rapid descent.

That’s the opening act, and it establishes the scene pretty quickly. But then comes the complication. Cheeky tot is so named not merely because of the mischievous glint in her eye, but from her willingness to cause TROUBLE. Which is what she does: with one of her hands, she reaches out behind her and grabs one of the hanging straps ordinary, adult-sized commuters use to stabilise themselves while Melbourne’s tram drivers indulge their racing fantasies. Absent-minded dad is unaware that she’s latched onto the strap, and she keeps checking to make sure he hasn’t noticed. Boy, will he be in for a shock when he steps off the tram to find the apple of his eye still dangling amidst the bleary-eyed business crowd not used to such excitement.

Then again, we in the audience can see that absent-minded dad’s loose ankle grip will be enough to pull the kid at an angle not so conducive to laughter, and her own tiny hand doesn’t seem strong enough to maintain a hold of the strap for long.

The tram pulls up at the stop, and we’re only seconds away from disaster.

Then a new player enters the scene at this dramatic climax – a scraggly-haired, long-bearded dude who looks older than he probably is, has worked hard and played hard and lived to tell the tale, steps forward shakily from the audience to prevent the inevitable. As the tram doors open he crosses the few paces between his position and the kid’s and reaches up to catch her. Dad – still absent-minded – steps out the doors as cheeky tot, smiling all the while, lets the strap fall from her hand and is breezily carried by her father out towards whatever adventures await their night.

Scraggly-haired, long-bearded dude is left standing on the crowded tram, hands held out to save an absent child who never needed saving, observers like myself (if there were any others) wondering if we would have had the nerve to step onto the stage and risk what he did. Not the risk of becoming a part of the drama, but the risk of taking that chance and finding ourselves an unnecessary player, the chorus-member who forgot their cue to disappear into the wings.

All in all, a stand-up job from all concerned. Rich performances all round – cheeky tot is one to watch, and scraggly-haired, long-beared dude showed an unexpected commitment to the role – and the piece didn’t outstay its welcome.

I’ve seen some other great shows lately. I’ll try to post capsule reviews in the next few days, but things are pretty hectic around these parts lately.

In fact, I’m a little worried since I’m currently finishing up at my present job (sort of) and tomorrow I’ll be three days away from retirement, and anyone who has ever watched a thriller knows that when you’re three days away from retirement, you might as well be wearing a big fat t-shirt that screams “hey guys, I’m about to get my guts blown up!” I’m glad I don’t have a pregnant wife and/or kid about to graduate from military college, or I’d be a goner. Also, my angry loner lifestyle pretty much means that if the bad guy did decide to take me out tomorrow, there’d be nobody to avenge me, and what sort of dramatic scenario would that be? I’ve been smart that way, see.

But for now – look! It’s a macaque hugging a pigeon. Warning: only click the link if you are ready for extreme AWWWWW-someness.


Jess said...

I loved this post.

Also, last rent's paid. WOOT!


richardwatts said...

Wonderfully observed story, very awwwww-some photo. That said, you, sir, ahve been tagged. You must tell us eight random things about yourself, and tag another eight people with the same meme. Enjoy!