The poet Heathcote Williams was in the audience in Oxford and wrote this report in his usual sparkling idiom…
“At the request of the Oxford audience, ‘Hansel and Gretel’ was suggested as the theme for the School of Night improvisers, or ‘Seekers’ as they prefer to be known. It was deftly performed in the style of (thanks to more suggestions from the audience) Neil Oram and David Hare and Alan Ayckbourn, sometimes all three at once.
“A member of the audience was then invited to tell a tale of personal heartbreak and so one brave individual stepped onto the stage to recount a sorry saga of his abandonment in Latvia by a Viking damsel he’d discovered on Facebook . This prompted a stunning trilogy of songs about heartbreak in Latvia – expert, and hilarious, pastiches of Thom Yorke, then Tom Waites and then Tom Petty.
“The magical tea cosies were then donned, giving each member of the cast the air of, alternately, High Court judges, Alice in Wonderland footmen and bag-ladies, and just with these tea cosies as props, mirabile dictu, a new Shakespeare play was channelled (from somewhere near where Ken Campbell’s shade was located up above, in the vaulted crimson ceiling of the Playhouse casting a watchful eye on the proceedings) .
” ‘The Local Harlot’ was the title of this– until this evening — undiscovered play — the subject (again chosen by the audience) being the hapless Chris Huhne and Vicky Price, his vengeful wife, fallen from their great social heights.
“Through peculiar contortions of the miming art, the doomed pair appeared as just one character – a kind of risible Shakespearian Chris’n’Vicky ladyboy – both enacted by Frater Senton , I think – or maybe it was Frater Emery – either way poor Chris’n’Vicky’s fate was memorialised (breaking the speed limit for topicality) in ways that the couple were mercifully spared from witnessing – Chris’n’Vicky being in jail of course.
“The audience were quick in picking up all the Shakespeare references – much hilarity over scenes where ‘bacon’ makes ubiquitous appearances (thus proving Francis Bacon’s authorship).
“The School of Night’s production is all improvised, from scratch, with never an anaesthetising ‘um’ or an intrusively hiccupping ‘er’ – it all just flows seamlessly: trains of whimsical thought are ignited like trails of gunpowder; verbal darts and potentising explosions of linguistic tongue-tripping scintillate and flash and then are gone.
“The Bardic tap is unscrewed. The brain is stretched by a cast of four doing relentlessly exhilarating pre-frontal press-ups. Thanks to the School of Night’s ‘Master of Darkness’ who controls these mysterious, inexplicable proceedings, — possibly in spirit form — the owl of Minerva flits regularly across the auditorium gracing each cast member with invaluable insights and fiery, high-flown inspirations. How great it is. HW”
Humble thanks from the fraters.