King’s English? King of what, I don’t know.
By Gordon Verre, Theater Critic
I once spent a five-hour chunk of an afternoon dislodging some unidentifiable, amorphous mass from the plumbing of my high-rise’s kitchen in the sweltering July heat, sweating so badly I could not hold the wrench. This unsatisfying, uphill effort is the first image that sprang to mind ten minutes into the monumental bore that the Fartham Theater chose to open with. My hands ached with remembered pains as the people on stage (I must call them actors, mustn’t I? ho hum.) went through the motions, dutiful as a gaggle of schoolchildren ordered to celebrate pedagogy.
Newcomer Juliet Tremain managed to be far less theatrically inclined than her first name implied. She seemed to be under the impression that if she were to look at another actor, it would blind them with her brilliance, so she spent much of her time mumbling her lines to her costar’s feet. Not that the veterans escaped the evening unscathed. I must say it is almost refreshing to see a man of Phineas Durban’s age and constitution can still find work in the theatrical world, though sadly not in the janitorial capacity he is infinitely more suited to. James Crump fortunately failed to repeat the exaggerated disdain from last season’s Iago, if only by virtue of sleeping through the performance. Thank heavens for small miracles, as Anna Havermeyer had a stationary surface to bounce her lines off of.
I cannot, however, find too much fault with the actors, as the writing falls far short of adequate. Like many Jacobean stab ‘n soliloquy plays, it suffers from a dearth of memorable characters. For various reasons I could not tell you much about them, for it is far too late to rescue the performance. The basic premise escapes me, which is fine, because it was only trapping for what lay beneath.
Listen…it’s not important anymore. It was a short way into the second act. Such gibberish, can you understand me? The play broke open and spilled out over the audience. Such a beautiful, terrible thing. It was as if I had spent my life understanding, loving, believing in color, only to be told on my deathbed what I had known was only a pale imitation of the real thing, that even my eternal reward or torment would never breach the scope of them. It was as if someone had ripped my child wholesale from the womb, disassembled it, and handed it to me to incubate.
It bit through my mind. The senses twisted together in an orgy of incongruity. The dialogue was the sound of hope vanishing from existence. It smelled sallow. I wept like a tongue and copulated my guttural cries with the rest of the poor souls. Language dissolved in a miasma of inarticulate wailings that communicated both more and less than the phonemes cannibalized to make them. I realized that life had lied to me utterly up until that moment, wanting nothing more than to turn the impetus on back on itself and fracture the idiot-child’s jaw, mocking me with the hollow promise of meaning.
Words…I need new words.
A mask, too perfect and pale for this vale of tears. O God! What a terrible thing/dragged before an audience with the King! I begged penance but earned only contempt. A hand beckons me through yellow curtains, proffering irresistible truths. I am not the Verre who began this article, I am the guttural cry of
Editor’s note: The Fartham Theatre has discontinued showings of “The King in Yellow” until further notice. Gordon Verre’s column has been put on indefinite hiatus.