Though I have never been on the screen, I was brought up in pictures.

Curtain rises to reveal a large glass shower under a spotlight (background shrouded in darkness). A deep purple towel has been thrown over the top of the rail. The shower is running, producing large amounts of steam which pours out of the open roof, and interacts with the spotlight to produce a fine glowing mist. Inside, Cedric Idleman, a small bloated figure with a balding pate, is bathing (back to audience) without a care in the world, humming the ‘Academic Festival Overture’ which somehow transforms seamlessly into ‘Bicycle Race.’ Suddenly, a blinding light produced from the back of the stage sends Idleman, after a frightened yelp, scrambling for the towel. The silhouette of a large man can be seen in front of the lights, and a cracked voice breaks out.

Director: [incensed] Cut! Cut! What are you doing, you abortive, rooting hog?

[Idleman turns the water off, finally reaches the towel, and steps out of the shower as the director approaches, muttering to himself.]

Idleman: [utterly bewildered] Whe-

Director: Silence, thou lump of foul deformity! You’ve ruined the scene.

Idleman: Scene?

Director: Look, you have washed all the grease from your forehead. That grease was essential! Where’s Earnest with the back-up grease? Earnest? Algy, where has Earnest got to?

[Takes a few deep breaths, and calms down slightly.]

…Oh, forget about it. We’ll skip to the next scene. Bring in the unattainable ideal!

[The director’s sentiments are echoed by several faded voices back stage. A famous actor, known for playing romantic roles, emerges from the darkness wearing only a towel. A smile is flashed at the director, before the towel is removed and the actor steps into the shower.]

Director: [to Idleman, with a hint of frustration] Well off you go.

[Idleman, cautiously but with visible excitement, steps into the shower, sans towel. The director once again takes his place at the back of the stage.]

Director: Action!

[The actor turns the water on and begins to bathe. Idleman, after waiting few moments for some sort of prompt, leaps to deliver an amorous embrace. The actor appears to become quite nauseated by this.]

Director: [once again riled] CUT!!! What is that poisonous bunch-backed toad doing out there?

[He stomps over, opens the shower door, and turns off the water.]

Director: [struggling to speak clearly, without any trace of anger-induced inflection] You’re supposed to be one of those strange herbivorous human beings, too timid to approach your ideal when it’s right in front of you. Didn’t you read the script?

Idleman: Well, actually…

Director: No excuses. When you see this representation of your innermost desires, fully exposed and finally accessible, you should retreat into a corner, out of the water, cold, alone. You see, any warmth or passion you might have been able to summon has been shrivelled by your own pathetic self-loathing. The presence of this glistening vision so close by just makes you feel worse. Get it?

Idleman: [irritated] But I don’t want…

Director: You have no choice! That is your character! Argh, now you look too hot and bothered. Can someone throw some cold water over this slave of nature? Actually, scratch that. Let’s move on to the scene with the elderly relatives.

Idleman: [resolute, unyielding] I absolutely refuse!

Director: Fine, fine. Let’s fetch the attractive scholars to bring on feelings of inadequacy.

Idleman: Narp.

Director: The tearful masturbation scene?

Idleman: Nooooo.

Director: Of all the damned blood suckers! Which scene would you prefer to perform?

Idleman: Is there any scene in which I can be perfectly content?

Director: There is one very brief scene of that sort. However, you’ll need a great deal of support to prepare for that.

Idleman: Whatever it takes. I want to be happy.

Director: We’ll have to delay production until Estragon’s guy to becomes available. That could be weeks!

Idleman: We’ll just have to wait.

[Stark-naked in front of observers for far too long, Idleman looks down with shame.]

Idleman: [tentatively] Do you mind if I get dressed now?

Director: Oh fine. Now out of my sight, thou dost infect mine eyes!



Martha and Mary Magdalene, by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

1 thought on “Though I have never been on the screen, I was brought up in pictures.”

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