Two young men, who couldn’t be more than 20 years old, came bounding onto the stage together. They wore matching black-and-white suits with red rhinestone ties and they were wiggling and jumping and whirling and waving, with their 20cm bleached blonde spiky up-do hair miraculously managing to stay in place. They had identical charming, boyish smiles. One of them carried a boom box.
“Let me start by telling you,” offered Oliver, “that you are definitely in the wrong place. I don’t know what you think you’re auditioning for, but that’s not happening here today. Now go away.”
“We’re totally here to do…” said the one on the left, before the one on the right finished, “a scene from like, King Lear, you know”. “Yeah, cos we can ROCK this show!” “We’ve got a creative vision…” “…that’s gonna blow your hair back!” And then the one on the right mumbled, “If you had hair…”
“Right, GET OFF. Now.” Oliver had never been so insulted.
Tara giggled, “Oh come on, their creative vision is bound to be interesting, this could be an entertaining two minutes?”
Oliver sat with his hand over his mouth for a moment. Then he put his pen down on his clipboard. “Right, so there are two of you. You’re not the first to show up here today as a pair, when these are individual auditions, so we’ll let that slide. But tell me this: which part are you auditioning for, and which one of you is planning on being the other one’s understudy?”
The one on the left started, “Oh no, we’re auditioning for different parts, I’m here to do Edgar…” “…and I’m here to do Edmund…” and they struck complementary poses and chimed, “and together we’re: GARMUND!!!”
“Okay, ignoring the terribleness of mashing those names together and thereby inadvertently inserting a character from Beowulf into King Lear, explain this to me: in the play, Edgar and Edmund are brothers from different mothers.”
Edgar giggled, pinched his brother and said, “He’s my brother…” and Edmund finished, “…from another mother!” They both wiggled, spread their fingers wide and mouthed a silent WOW, heads bobbing from side to side.
“But you don’t look like you’re from different mothers? You’re identical. I don’t see how this could possibly work.”
Edgar pointed out, “We’re not together on stage for most of the play…” and Edmund piped in, “… so as long as we’ve co-ordinated our outfits …” “… him in one colour…” “… and him in another colour…” “… then the audience will be able to tell us apart…” “… like, immediately.”
Oliver looked at Tara. She shrugged her shoulders, “That could work.”
“Okay, let’s entertain this stretch of the imagination for 20 seconds. How do you two propose to stage Act 5, Scene 3, segment C? The duel scene, where Edgar fatally wounds Edmund?”
“You’re going to LOVE this!” squealed Edgar. The two brothers bounced up and down with excitement. Edmund flapped his hands like he was at a Britney Spears concert and shrieked, “CHESS BOXING!!”
Tara started laughing, “Oh, I don’t believe it.”
“Chess boxing?” Oliver was completely flummoxed.
“It’s so cool…” “… like totally amazing…” “We’re gonna come out in different colour satin boxing gowns…” “…with embroidery on the back…” “…but instead of having Mo Chuisle…” “…like Molly in Million Dollar Baby…” they offered their pièce de résistance: “…we’re gonna have our NAMES!!” They jigged from side to side, squealing in stereo enthusiasm.
At this point Oliver was tempted to join in the caterwauling, but for completely different reasons.
“And then we’re gonna sit down…” “… at a chess board…” “… play a one-minute round of chess…” “…and then get up and box a round…” “… and then sit down and play another round of chess…” “… and then we box again…” “… but this time…” “… he punches my lights out!” Proud of themselves and their vision pitch, they folded their arms in front of their chests, smiled broadly and proclaimed their work, “AWESOME!!”
Tara chuckled and said, “I like you boys. I think you’re very entertaining.”
Oliver wasn’t so easily swayed, “I’m not hearing anything in that proposal that reassures me that the characters' speeches are going to be incorporated with the least shred of integrity into this… this… dog and pony show! And to be blunt, given what I’ve seen from you today, I don’t believe that either one of you is capable of delivering as much as a single line without help from the other one. I’m sorry, but I don’t think you have what it takes to do Shakespeare.”
“Oh no,” clarified Edgar, “we’re not going to do the speeches.” Edmund agreed wholeheartedly, “Nobody under 100 wants to hear the speeches.” “They’re in a foreign language anyway.” “And if we cut the speeches, we can do some of our songs!” They both sprang up simultaneously, Edgar hit the play button on the boom box, and they leaped into a hyperactive dance routine, belting out “Aaaargh, Party!! My Bad Behaviour, My Bad Behaviour!! I told you I was trouble with my Bad Behaviour!!”
Tara bopped along to the catchy tune. Oliver sighed, rubbed his temples, then stood up and walked out, forgetting his thermos on the desk.
When the music finally stopped, Tara said, “Boys, I loved loved loved that. You’ve got tons of charm and personality; I can’t remember when last I had this much fun watching young people perform Shakespeare. But I don’t think your artistic vision is going to work for this particular production.”
The boys’ exhilarated smiles melted into puddles of disappointment.
“I’m really sorry, boys. Good luck!”
“That’s okay,” said Edgar. Edmund concurred, “It’s not like we’d really have time to do the rehearsals anyway.” “We’re going to Eurovision!!! Whoohooo!!!” and they rebounded off of the stage the same way they had come.
Oliver ventured back into the theatre and sat down dejectedly next to Tara. “Tell me honestly, am I getting old? Am I past it? Am I nothing more than a relic of a bygone era?”
Tara smiled ruefully, "No." She patted Oliver’s hand. “No, you’re not. You’re a force to be reckoned with. A living legend.”
“Well, can I at least have a nip of my rum and coke now? I think I bloody deserve it after that!”
Tara suppressed a smile and called out, “Next!”