It’s not very kind to dramatists, but the lines of the play don’t stay with me. It’s the moments of the physical theatre that remain – the scene, the spectacle, the pictures before you eyes.
I can still see, bright across decades, Ken Campbell’s Company racing madly, all strobe-lit, across the stage at The Roundhouse during Mr. Punch’s Pantomime.
In contrasting mood, I recall the slow silent procession of mothers gathering up their long-lost babies in the National Theatre’s Coram Boy.
Or Gecko’s two actors, Israeli and Arab, cast against race, seemingly plunging in bitter fight over one single orange into an empty hell.
Or the unforgettable stretching of distances, played out along lines and tightropes and trapezes, demonstrating Tristram and Isolde’s tragedy in Kneehigh Theatre’s remarkable production.
No scene was truly realistic, but all were compellingly believable - and even now, it is the “horses” in War Horse that people talk about, highlighting the magic moments so unaccountably powerful that they stay in the mind.
I must have been trying to capture something of such theatrical experiences in my novel, A Boy Called M.O.U.S.E
Although you won’t find the theatre mentioned in the blurb on the back cover - I’m not sure why - the illusory drama lies at the heart of the book, as well as the thumps and bumps behind the glamour.
My young hero Mouse, escaping a dreadful Dickensian school, travels alongside an old Punch and Judy Man before ending up backstage in the famous Albion theatre in Victorian London with his friend Kitty and a host of eccentric characters.
There Mouse becomes a “flyer”, testing out the device that will make that theatre’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream more astounding than any seen before, but bringing danger to Mouse - and more - along with the success.
Intrigued? Want to read A Boy Called M.O.U.S.E? Well, to celebrate the Awfully Big Blog Adventure’s birthday, I have some copies to give away.
To enter, send your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org , putting MOUSE COMP in the subject line. The competition closes at noon on 20th July. UK entries only.
A Boy Called M.O.U.S.E, published by Bloomsbury, will be out in paperback on 1st August.