ELECTRICITY: THE CAGED PONY Script Extract
THE STAGE IS SET WITH A TABLE, A CHAIR, A BLACKBOARD, A SCREEN SHOWING WEIRD SLIDES AND MAYBE A COUPLE OF OTHER THINGS.
THE LIGHTS GO DOWN, THERE IS A FLASH OF BLUE AND THEN SUDDENLY A LOT OF LIGHTS AND WEIRDNESS ERUPTS.
GRAMS: HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN KING, OR ROMEO AND JULIET MARCH, OR FLIGHT OF THE VALKYRIES...
BEN ENTERS FROM BACK OF AUDITORIUM READING, NAY, YELLING FROM A BIG BOOK.
BEN: At the moment of this child's birth, they said the heavens stopped.
The earth quaked and belched fire and fury in angry drunken heaves. Mountains were born, valleys died.
In the sky, as dark as a devil's heart, the stars were too timid to come out this night. Black clouds mulled like thugs, threatening to spit on anyone who looked at them twice.
Branches swayed like ugly girls waiting to be asked to dance, then stronger gusts of wind swindled them of their leaves, making them do demented cartwheels through the dark air.
Wolves howled as if they'd seen the face of Hell and had to describe the horror, but, finding no words, could only yell agonies undreamt of before tonight.
The sea crashed onto shore, a cold bully bashing on its favourite prey. Lightning and thunder acted out their electric opera on their blacked out stage.
So...volcanoes burst, storms exploded, beasts bellowed. The fish stopped swimming; birds, forgetting how to fly, fell from the sky; even worms could dig no further.
The baby was being born...all the portents were ripe, this was the child, the one which the whole Earth had been awaiting. This was the child!! I WAS THE CHILD!!!!
LIGHTS SUDDENLY GO UP
BEN: Well, that's what Mummy told me happened. She did tend to exaggerate though...
LIGHTS DOWN THEN UP SUDDENLY TO REVEAL A VERY DIFFERENT BEN, SELF ASSURED, IN CONTROL.
SLIDE: "THE SLEEP OF REASON SEDUCES MONSTERS"
Tracing a family is like looking for a piece of hay in a needlebox. A connection formed in one generation may wither away soon after and the researcher realises that not only is he in the kingdom of the blind, but the one eyed man is sleeping. How are the answers to be reached then? How is the enigma de-nigmaed? How is the riddle me-reed? Certainly Mohammed has to go to the mountain, but does he ring first to make sure the mountain isn't busy?
Let me just explain...
I was working as a dream broker - you've probably seen the adverts in the Sunday papers - Have Interesting Dreams? We Will Buy Your Head! - and things had been quite slow recently. I'd been buying a few dreams of falling and selling them on to abseilers who wanted to take their work home with them when this dream arrived. From someone called Thrane Orberly, it struck me as rather intriguing. Little did I know when I opened the envelope that morning that I was embarking on a chain of events that would lead me here, to this cavern on the edge of town, the bodies of my friends at my feet, me staring into the flame of a cigarette lighter....
So let's take a look at the dream....!
THRANE: I dreamt I was in a church. It was full, one of the busiest Sundays of the year. The priest had just done the sermon and was about to start the Creed, when he collapsed. A doctor rushed up to him, but couldn't revive him. He said was there anybody religious in the house? I had done a bit of altar serving in my time, but nothing this big. I made my way forward, up the aisle, looking at the congregation as I went. I had to get them from here to redemption and it was going to be a choppy ride. I got to the altar, looked down but couldn't recognise anything in front of me - what were all these things for? By now we had got in radio contact with Cardinal Basil Hume in the tower at Westminster Cathedral - he knew it was an emergency and was going to talk me through the trickier stuff. Cardinal Hume said, "Don't look at the congregation, raise your hands, good, keep them steady... now bring them down slowly. Do you hear a bell?" I did. "That's right. Now the bread and wine in front of you should have become Christ's body and blood. Have they?" Yes, I answered. Yes they had. And as I looked up from the altar to see all the relieved worshippers, I woke up.
SLIDE: "YESTERDAY WAS THE LAST DAY OF THE BEST OF MY LIFE"
LOUISIANA ORBERLY SEARCHED FOR LOVE ALSO . . .
All this time, Louisiana was being courted by Bellis Flint, a tap dancing prodigy from Hull. Before the arrival onto the scene of Roy Castle, it was Bellis who held the world land tap dancing speed record at 256 taps per minute. Roy raised the mark to 261 in 1956, Bellis got it back in 1959, only for Roy to nudge it up to the 270 mark in 1963. In 1964, Bellis, now in his 60s decided to make one more try for the record. The location - The Royal Albert Hall, the McWhirter twins, stopwatches and mad right wing beliefs, Roy Castle watched from the back. The shoes were especially designed to cope with the enormous g-forces speed tapping brought on. The first run was magnificent - he was faster then Castle! But for the record to stand he had to match it on a second run with the wind against him. All eyes were on the feet...
FX: TAPE OF TAP DANCING SLOWLY UP...
He starts steadily...200, 230...then speeds up...250, 260...Faster he taps...270... faster and faster yet...290, 300...but what's this? smoke is rising from his foot though! He's tapping too fast...Sparks flying! Flames!..Then the tapping stops, a woman near him (Lousiana?) says "oh no" and Bellis falls to the stage. When the smoke clears, everyone could see what has happened - his foot had disappeared from his leg...it has sheared off at the ankle leaving only a smooth stump... He was tapping so fast, the foot had shifted into hyperspace and warped on a direct line, straight out of the galaxy. Bellis wept as he held the stump. "Why me?" he sobbed. "Why me?"
ETHEL FLINT-ORBERLY WAS A REBELLIOUS YOUNG LADY. . .
While in the theatre group she met a young actor. He had achieved a degree of fame in the early 60s with his three brothers, but now lives in Singapore where he drinks through his days in a haze of bitterness. He is Bang! the now-forgotten 4th Rice Krispie brother
BANG: WITH FUNNY HIGH PITCHED MICROPHONE, YES?
Yeah, I could see what Ethel saw in me. I mean we were on the verge of fame - I thought I was going to be a star, you know? Like Tony the Tiger - we'd seen what Kellogg had done for him, and he didn't have a tenth of our talent, overweight tiger. But I didn't like what the company was doing for us. The others went along with everything they said - wore the silly costumes, did the daft promotions, but I wanted a career as a serious actor as well, you know, and the more I did the commercials, the less good parts I was being offered in the theatre. It all came to a head in 72 - I'd been offered a season at the RSC (the Dream, the Scottish play) but the lads wanted to do a tour of seaside resorts. I couldn't do both, so I told them where to go. Snap, Bang, Crackle and Pop became Snap, Crackle and Pop. They went global, earned millions in royalties and forgot all about me. Wankers...
BEN: In the 60s, Andy Warhol said that in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. I say, Andy who? Bang's story reminds us that if those 15 minutes are, say, between 3.52 and 4.07 in the morning, noone's really going to notice.