So what exactly does that enigmatic sign ‘ABE’ hanging by six-strap lace suspender belts from the ceiling of the lobby in the theatre formerly known as The Abbey signify ? The ABE, it will be recalled, has an A in red, B in white and E in blue. Apart from those gaunt unfortunates with a Big Want who feel in need of a personal trainer it should, of course, be a no-brainer.
Even the inbred corgi dogs in the streets of Loyalist Liffeyside were barking like mad that it stood, or rather, hung for one who made one of the most theatrical exits ever from the stage of life:
(Meanwhile, the Linguistic Lapdog with a Laptop knows better and so, keeps mum, recognising as he does, as neat a piece of agenda-setting Gaelphobia to the letter, that even he, by gum, could not hope to best. But more of which anon).
The play at which ABE was in attendance that fateful Good Friday in 1865 in the streamlined Ford Lincoln Theatre in Washington, DC was: ‘Our American Cousin‘ by Tom Taylor, a play which had arrived from the West End via Broadway. It was a broad comedy which played for belly-laughs and the most endearing character was a chap called (gulp) Lord Dundreary.
His Dundrearyisms (eg, ‘birds of a feather gather no moss’ ) were a sort of Souper Spoonerism before that second term had been coined: they gained great currency at the time of the Civil Peace in the USA. As indeed did his ‘distinctive bushy sideburns’, which became known as Dundrearies and became quite the vogue among an óige / young gentlemen of both genders.
ABE’s bodyguard, name of John Parker, was a parodoxical plainclothes policeman : a postmodern pre-Beckettian before his time and so, possibly atypical of his profession. One who, being sick of his day job’s obsession with plots and counter plots, liked to relax in the theatre of his imaginaiton with plays that had Not a Lot of Plot. This was a big ask and a well nigh impossible task in the reality of mid 19th century realism.
Finding the bockety, knockabout dialogue and over-intricate plotting of ‘Our American Cousin’ not at all to his taste, he eventually rose from his seat and in a sub rosa sort of way slipped out of the Presidential Box and down to the VIP bar. That’s where he parked his Foggy Bottom-sized butt on a high stool for a quiet scoop, there to ponder in his nut the vagaries of existentialism.
Alert to a cue as ever, John Wilkes Booth, ac-tor, slipped into the vacancy in the Presidential Box, unnoticed, and, waiting for the crucial line which he knew, having viewed the play on numerous occasions beforehand, would let off the loudest guffaw of the evening –
–Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, you sockdologising old man-trap !
- – duly pulled out a single-shot .44 Derringer from his trouser pocket, pointed the gun at the back of the Log Oak Monolith’s head, bigger nor a cabin, and pulled the trigger.
–Sic semper tyrannis ! The South is Revenged !
It is widely reported that the legendary triple-flip backward dive which JW Booth then effected from the Presidential Box on to the stage below was almost identically replicated by the Waking Feminists in the former Abbey Theatre last year. ‘Almost’ is the A-list word here, for two reasons: 1. The triple-flip backward dive taken by the WF’s was on an upwards rather than a downward trajectory, there being no boxes, Presidential or otherwise, in the theatre formerly known as the An Amharclann Náisiúnta ; 2: There were no, repeat no ‘sockdologising old man-traps‘ in evidence on that second fateful night from Dundreary or even Dunleary itself. (Kingstown, perhaps, ach sin scéal eile).
- -Please make it stop !
- -Hark !
A simian voice from behind the Arras. The voice is well rehearsed. Who can it be?
-Please make it stop !
Or is it a voice? No, it is a bark from none other than he, whose celebrated cererbral life has been a high-pitched battle against mere slow-learning, low-earning prattle, none other than the Polonius of Baloney himself aka The Linguistic Lapdog with a Laptop aka FOTUS (Fintan O Toole Uber Shoneen) and he to be hailing this as the death rattle of Anglophobia itself. Pourquoi ?/ Cén fáth?
-Because ABE, in fact, stands, or rather is (gulp) hung up for:
-Anything But Erse.
This is why the theatre formerly known as The Abbey has been snidely changed in these glib, liberated, post-side saddle days to (gulp) The None-ery.
-None of that baring of the Erse down here or hereabouts ! demand the new pure-as-snow Puritans, The Sisters of the Perpetual Sucker who now rule the roost of (gulp) An Amharclann Náisiúnta. (It would be an impertinence to the intelligence of the devoted reader to divulge the identity of the dogcollared Sucker in question).
-Gaelic is for welk-eaters ! shriek the Wilkes Booth-girls. For far too long we in the Free Southern Stateen have been coerced into enduring a cant we can’t abide: out with the Coercion Act involving Compulsory Cant ! Sic semper tyrannis ! The South is Revenged !
-Banríon amháin ! Teanga amháin !
Mind you, in fairness, those deluded ones who jumped to the ABE conclusion as in ‘Our American Cousin‘ may be forgiven, and perhaps, even forgotten. For indeed, while the fírst three letters in SOMME do indeed match the initials of ‘Sockdologising Old Man-trap’, the sad, mad and bad fact of the matter is that there’s nere a wan of them to be found in that disasterpiece: an all-male cast.
So, why no bark, yap or yelp itself from The Lapdog? Simplicity itself: there is an exception to even the most castiron Toole Rule with castration in mind. As this thigh slapper of an excerpt from the theatrical centrepiece of the Centenary (sic) of Commemoration (sicker) and Celebration (sickest) in 2016 will attest: ‘Somme Enchanted Evening’ by the Pride of Buncrana, Frank McGuinnezzzzzzz at the ‘National’ Theatre still called The Abbey.
SOMME ENCHANTED EVENING
– Any word?
-I suppose they’re saying the same thing over there?
-No, in Gaelic.
-Germans don’t speak Gaelic.
- -They all learn it for badness.
- -Dirty bastards. So that’s what they insult you in.
- -Couldn’t watch them. Fenians, Gaelic speakers. They get everywhere. Even in the German army.
- -No way. Not even the Germans would have them. Did you hear about this boy Pearse. The boy who took over a post office because he was short of a few stamps.
- -He did more than take over a post office, the bastard. Shot down our men until he got what he was looking for.
- -Let me finish. He was a Fenian, wasn’t he? No soldier. He took over this big post office in Dublin, kicks all the wee girls serving behind the big counter out on to the streets. When the place is empty, him and his merry men all carrying wooden rifles land outside on the street. Your man reads the proclamation of an Irish Republic. The Irish couldn’t spell republic. Let alone proclaim it.
Hard though they might try, even a triumvirate of supremely witty wags such as SWaG, the Gag Gold Medal Champions of the Century (Spike, Woody and Groucho) couldn’t top the above for a riotous rib-tickler from the heart-wrenching trenches. Not so much the quality of the wit as writ, stratospheric though it be, it’s more the way that every Frank McGuinnezzzzzz character talls ’em. Carsonian in a carcinogenic way, that kinda thingy.
That’s why this disasterpiece is set to be revivied on umpteen ulcerated Ulster occasions on Loyal Royal-welcoming Liffeyside, in front of breathless audiences (no coughers, please, we’re Oirish) in The None-ery thereby swelling the coffers and making even bulkier the swagbag of The Pride of Buncrana, with even a possible tour to Germany in the offing. (This’ll do in Dusselforf when morphed into High German, then?)
-This will be the new normal, Norma.
So, what’s up, oops, what’s ap next in The None-ery ? Why, a show about this Jimmy, a Hall fellow, well met and former farmer:
-Jimmy’s Hall tells the true story of Leitrim farmer Jimmy Gralton, the only Irishman deported from his own country. His crime was to build a dance hall where he encouraged the local community to learn, to argue and to dream, but above all to dance and have fun. As the hall grew in popularity its free-spirited reputation brought it to the attention of the church and politicians who forced Jimmy to flee and the hall to close.
The language then will be more Elton than Altan? No Cúpla Focal so to rap you on the knuckle-o, chucklehead?
-Dong ! Wrong.
Soft you then a word or two before you go and step on that mat which has been placed there like a caveat on the floor on the lobby: the one marked…….. Abe. Shinzo Abe? Same mistake, different head of state of an other country. No, that refers to the Japanese PM. This is Seiza / Suígh Síos Abe and refers to the Japanese way of correctly sitting down: with knees together, back straight and buttocks resting on ankles.
None of that Noh Drama here, so? No, actually, just to show how to put Erse on the floor. Thuig Olly Cromwell sinsheanfhocal Leipreacháin níos fearr ná an choitiantacht:
-Fóireann spallaí do bhallaí chomh maith le clocha móra.
To complement the performances of Jimmy’s Hall, we invited Manchán Magan to perform two of his theatrical installations, Gaeilge Tamagotchi and Arán & Im.
In Gaeilge Tamagotchi, Manchán invites you to adopt an Irish word in order to breathe life into it.
Arán & Im celebrates the Irish language in an engaging, accessible bilingual way, through sourdough bread and home-churned butter.
This extra helping will take place in the lobby before Jimmy’s Hall, to stall the early arrivals and get them to elbow if not lower the bar. The naive traveller from an antique land upon entering The None-ery Theatre for the first time will automatically assume that the Leprechaun Lingo is on the way in to the main auditorium?
Dong ! Wrong.
As a yap of approval from the The Linguistic Lapdog with the Laptop, out of whose wholesome prose the Sun always shines, the one who’s done laps of The Field in training for such a Her-oshima moment in Las Islas de Malfeasance / Oileáin na nAnachan, will soon disabuse the naive traveller. For what he’ll witness will be the neo-Naievty Scene in which all the cribs about compulsion will be stockpiled and (gulp) the First Official Language of The Free Southern Stateen will be deported from Oirland, be the hockey.
The yap will be a yap of approval, for the single-shot Focal Amháin of Japanese which will trump the Focal Amháin of Gaeilge, a dogwhistle to the Bog Oak Monolith with their RC Missals.
Il Duce di Dublino ha gia twitterato:
-Gotcha ! Go and stick that Tamagotchi up your Aran junta !
Tuilleadh le Teacht / To be Continued