Where are the revellers high and low?
The clashing swords? The lover's call?
The dancers gleaming row on row?
Into the night go one and all.
~ Ballade of Dead Actors by William Ernest Henley
But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
~ Matthew 8:22 King James Version
|Flamin Skull (by anarkyma deviantart.com)|
The Company of Fools
Libre Theatre Group.
A shabby theatre based in the heart of London.
A London that barely knows it exists.
A ramshackle company of hungry and pretentious actors all desperate for recognition.
And the big time.
The theatre director and ghostly behemoth of Libre Theatre Group.
A Cuban firebrand and a turgid follower of Dostoevsky and a Che Guevara wannabe - reigns supreme.
A ludicrous little man replete with floppy beret, curling moustache and barrel belly.
Agastin is supremely arrogant and oblivious to his many personal short comings.
He also has a penchant for bullying actors and manipulating them to get what he wants.
Eduardo Agastin expects complete obedience and in return the unfortunate actor has the pleasure of his company and the chance to perform in one of his plays.
The fact that the theatre is almost empty most nights does not appear to faze Eduardo Agastin.
And its "Groundhog Day" at Libre again.
"Do it again you silly cow!"Agastin yells at a hapless actress in heavily accented English "You are bloody rubbish!"
His arms spin round like windmills and his face is as red as a ripe tomato.
Attractive bright and ambitious.
Her hazel eyes are always looking for the main chance.
And she is as false as her carefully manicured nails. Unless you can help her career.
Reynolds turns her back to Agastin.
She crosses her bony arms across her skeletal chest as if she is about to explode like a stick of dynamite.
She has been the butt of his tirades all evening.
Today she could only manage a milkshake and several pieces of toast.
A sometime actor who is watching the unfolding drama with a smirk on his face.
He's been trying to look up Reynolds' skirt all evening.
Good looking and Asian with bright black eyes and keen features.
Bhatt is also totally irresponsible, pathologically lazy and a misguided lover-boy.
He arrived late again to the rehearsal after spending the afternoon smoking weed in daddy's luxury Waterloo apartment.
The leading man.
He is absent mindedly strumming on a guitar and pretending not to care.
Boyishly good looking with large brown eyes, dark hair and an impish grin.
Fin Dee is also chronically immature and always desperate to be the centre of attention.
Every now and then he sidles over to Bhatt and whispers something - conspiratorially - into his ear.
Both men giggle like a couple of schoolgirls.
"You are just puppets in my hand!" Agastin spits venomously as Lena forgets her lines again and Vic laughs out loud.
The big earth mother.
An attractive older woman with small wary blue eyes and a mop of blonde hair.
Short but prepossessing - Piaf has been privately coaching a few of the younger actors from her font of wisdom.
She'll have some timely words of advice to impart later from her fast store of acting experience which includes a recurring role as a mental patient in the medical drama Doctors and Nurses.
"My breasts are like the milk jugs of Lebanon ... and my - my hair is like ..." Lena falters nervously.
"Fucking hell!" Eduardo Agastin explodes in a rage again "Can't you do a simple fucking task? Are you really so thick? Are you fucking actors or fucking parrots?"
Everyone stares back bemused at the ranting director.
"I feel sick!" Lena finally wails.
Rake-like thin with a sharp face and piercing green eyes.
Semper stares at Reynolds with disgust.
He is RADA trained and ostentatiously affected.
Semper has been waiting for his cue for over half an hour now and he is not amused.
Inwardly he rages.
"I am a real actor after all and she's just a brainless extra."
"Are you fucking actors or fucking amateurs?" Eduardo Agastin explodes menacingly.
Nobody dares to answer back.
Blond and good looking with clear blue eyes and a ready smile.
He is also painfully shy and self conscious.
He is sitting in the stalls and glancing at his watch again as he has periodically since he arrived.
Its been two long hours since rehearsals began.
|last song (by *bevzavildirim77 deviantart.com)|
Sitting beside James are two obese twins.
Andrew and Andrea.
Forty stone plus between them.
Both have curly brown hair and small black eyes.
They have jovial happy faces and bright rosy cheeks.
They do everything together.
And they both talk in unison for much of the time.
Both are eagerly hoping for the big break.
But for now they will have to settle for playing water nymphs.
Lena Reynolds struggles to remember her lines again.
And Jed Semper finally walks out - slamming the door behind him.
"Fucking bloody hell!" Agastin explodes again "You are all fucking useless!"
Everyone slowly stares at each other.
Mildred Piaf lets out another long sigh from the sidelines.
It's going to be a very long night.
But several days pass too quickly for the beleaguered theatre company.
It's Friday night at Libre.
Most of the seats in the theatre are empty.
But there are several film students and an agent sitting in the stalls.
The agent has already called his assistant to inform him not to expect any new talent tonight.
A reporter snores loudly in the second row.
A few relatives - including an over eager mother - are also in the audience.
The dramatic lighting has had the effect of enticing the audience to sleep.
Lena Reynolds is on stage alone.
A big black wig which has seen better days, completes the look.
Reynolds pretends to be washed up on the shore somewhere in England.
She thrashes about melodramatically on the floor as the sound of lapping waves waft across the airwaves.
The two Japanese technicians have had trouble with the equipment and earlier on they played Radio One for twenty minutes by accident.
Occasional snickers of laughter from the audience cannot faze Lena Reynolds as she feverishly writhes about on the floor.
Lena Reynolds is the classic grasping actress.
And tonight she overacts so much that she actually resembles a mermaid having a seizure.
"My face is as full as the moon ...
My lips are as red as the wines of Sparta ...
I open my legs to the dawn ..."
Several snorts of derision are heard.
Somebody yawns loudly.
An attractive group of students are watching Lena's performance from the third row.
"What a load of crap!" Film student James Mathews snorts with derision.
"Keep your voice down!" Fellow film student Sally Crane replies "It might get better!"
But Crane has already come to the conclusion that coming to the performance of this play was a bad idea.
Her mind flashes back a few evenings ago.
She is sitting in the modest living room of her student apartment.
Crane has been avidly reading a theatre advert in the local newspaper.
"What's the play about again?" James Mathews cries from the kitchen where he is preparing dinner.
"It says its ... an "existential play about the bourgeoisie elite and the struggle for humanity" Crane answers with a shrug.
"Sounds really pretentious!" Mathews exclaims with a laugh "Right up our film school street!"
"Sounds like it should be really interesting!" Sally Crane adds enthusiastically - not very convincingly.
Now they all sit gloomily in the dimly lit theatre twiddling their thumbs.
Sitting next to Sally is would-be writer and student Matt Hayes.
He is watching the production through his fingers.
The script to the play is so bad that he can't believe anyone would want to use it.
She is the lead singer with underground group People Power.
And she is fighting the urge to not to fall asleep for the last fifteen minutes.
But she is fast losing the battle.
Jacobs also laments not spending the evening with her band members working on new tracks
"What the hell is this play about again?'" Hayes enquires miserably to a giggling Sally.
"Its an existential play apparently" Crane answers.
"What a load of shite!" Matt Hayes retorts.
Lena continues to flail violently on the floor.
Vic Bhatt enters dramatically.
He is playing the Greek god Apollo in an ill fitting curly blond wig and Hellenic toga.
Bhatt pretends to catch Reynolds in a big net.
She writhes about before eventually surrendering with a big sigh.
"At last I have found you!" Vic bellows with his hands on his hips.
The couple then proceed to dance to Against All Odds by Phil Collins.
Most of the bemused audience are stunned into shocked awe as the couple twirl around to the classic song.
The couple then disappear into the shadowy wings as the appalling realisation of what they have just seen eventually sinks into the audience.
Barely have they recovered when Andrew and Andrea lurch into view in matching blue gowns.
A crown of plastic laurel leaves are atop their heads.
The obese pair then proceed to simulate swimming through the sea.
James and Sally slowly turn to look at each other.
"Please tell me this is isn't happening ..." James Mathews mutters in disbelief.
"I'm afraid it is!" Matt Hayes cries unable to hide his horror.
Thirty minutes later after a scene in which Mildred Piaf as the goddess Hera eats a fatted calf and Rory James as Hephaestus divorces Aphrodite at the Royal Courts of Justice - and the curtain finally falls down.
It's the end of act one of Feast and Famine.
The atmosphere is tense backstage.
'This is goddamn awful!" Jed Semper wails despairingly slumping back into his chair
Everyone is staring forlornly into space.
Fin Dee grunts sympathetically before burying his head in a newspaper again.
He is playing Zeus, and half of his beard is now hanging off.
Vic is smoking weed on the balcony - as usual.
His blond wig has finally slipped half way down his head.
Mildred Piaf swoons in and stares in the mirror tugging off her wig and plastic tiara.
She is not amused.
Piaf is dressed in a big diaphanous moth eaten gown and brown curly wig.
"This is the worst experience of my life!" Mildred Piaf announces melodramatically to everyone.
A pretty Spanish student with large brown eyes and a mane of black hair.
She is the dresser on the play tonight - but her dissatisfaction is evident as she moodily adjusts Piaf's gown before scuttling out.
"What's up with her?" Dee enquires as soon as Ramirez is gone.
"Apparently Eduardo promised her Lena's part" Semper conspiratorially informs him.
A low murmur breaks out among the company but a sense of pervading doom quickly descends upon them.
"And we all know how trustworthy Agastin's promises are!" Jed Semper adds bitterly.
The morose atmosphere possesses the company as they all secretly assess their woe-begotten situation.
This terrible play could finish their careers before they have even started.
"Come to think of it ... has anyone seen Lena?" Mildred Piaf suddenly enquires.
Everyone slowly turns to look at each other.
"Or Eduardo for that matter?" Piaf adds with mounting consternation.
"Maybe they made up and tripped off into the sunset together!" Vic Bhatt cries from the balcony as he takes another drag from his spliff.
Fin Dee and Jed Semper giggle at the jibe.
"I haven't seen either of them for ages" Rory James asserts as he flings his book aside.
"We haven't seen them!" Andrew and Andrea answer at the same time.
Nobody has seen either Lena Reyonlds or Eduardo Agastin for nearly half an hour.
"But Lena did say she wasn't feeling very well" Mildred Piaf remembers.
"She didn't look well at all" Rory James adds in agreement.
An uneasy silence falls upon the room.
"Come to think of it ..." Jed Semper suddenly concedes wretchedly "I don't feel very well either!"
Everybody slowly turns to look at Semper.
"Shut up!" They all exclaim in unison.
Lola Ramirez is knocking softly on the door of the ladies toilet.
"Miss Renods?" Ramirez calls out.
There is no response.
Only a shifting noise suggests the presence of someone on the other side of the toilet door.
"Hallo ... Miss Renods?" Lola persists "Hallo ... you okay ... Miss Renods?"
Suddenly Lola Ramirez notices that the toilet door is slightly ajar.
She slowly pushes the door open.
And for several moments Ramirez stands rooted to the spot by the horrific scene before her.
Eduardo Agastin lies on the floor with his arms outstretched with his mouth wide open and his blank eyes staring upwards.
His chest has been split open and blood is seeping all over the floor.
Lena Reynolds is hunched over the recumbent body of Eduardo Agastin.
She is completely covered in blood as she feasts on the corpse of the malicious director.
Lola Ramirez throws back her head and screams a guttural cry of terror.
Reynolds instantly looks up and snarls ferociously at the terrified dresser.
The one-time would be actress shows her sharp white fangs.
Lola Ramirez promptly faints where she stands.
Back in the theatre, there is a muted sense of expectation in the air as the heavy curtain finally rises.
"Will this part be just as shit as the last?" James Mathews asks pointedly.
"I've observed more enjoyable autopsies than this!" Lanie Jacobs concedes with contempt.
"I'll give it another fifteen minutes!" Matt Hayes announces quickly glancing at his watch "Then I'm outta here!"
|empty stage (by high jinxx deviantart.com)|
This has been one endurance test that they have all failed tonight.
Sally Crane has nodded off in her chair.
The agent and reporter have long gone.
And most of the relatives are fast asleep and snoring in their chairs.
The stage is empty.
Gradually a dark figure shifts into sight.
It quivers and breaths loudly in a raspy drawl.
Both the Japanese technicians are slumped over the control panel in the lighting and sound booth.
Blood is pouring out of open gashes to their necks where their throats have been torn out.
No audience member is aware of anything.
Nobody knows that the attractive woman serving drinks at the bar is now lying in a pool of blood. Her heart has been ripped out of her body and her entrails are lying beside her.
Nobody has noticed that Jed Semper's severed head is floating in the gents toilet.
Or that the dismembered body parts of the rest of the Libre Theatre Group including the hapless Lola Ramirez are strewn all over the dressing room floor.
It took one-time would be actress and zombie Lena Reynolds twenty minutes to finish them all off.
Although admittedly even she (or it) balked at the challenge of the morbidly obese twins Andrew and Andrea.
Now Reynolds' is alone on the stage.
And her bright eyes are flashing wildly.
Her dark wig is thickly matted with blood.
Sharp white fangs are glistening in her undead mouth.
She growls menacingly as she stares into the audience.
The living dead meets the living dead.
"Now this is more like it!" James Mathews exclaims loudly with excitement.
It's just another day at The Daily Chronicle.
A popular well read newspaper.
The tasteful office resides in the expensive business section of New Acres.
Everything gleams in the modern glass headquarters of The Daily Chronicle.
But it is an ivory tower.
And a graveyard which is haunted by the living dead.
For today you can cut the malice and resentment with a knife.
A bird-like red head who is already on her second Dr Karg cracker.
She has spent the last twenty minutes pretending to be busy but cocking her head slightly to the left so she can hear what is being said in the editors office.
The door is slightly ajar.
Narrowing her eyes, Janice manages another sneer through mouthfuls of cracker.
An attractive older woman with curly brown hair and keen grey eyes.
She shifts her glasses on her nose.
She shuffles some files on her desk.
Stoker pretends - unconvincingly - not to care what is going on around her.
Good-looking and athletic with wavy brown hair and large blue doe eyes.
Nineteen, new and hungry for recognition.
In a minute, he'll ask her if she wants a cup of tea or coffee again.
A sparky Northern brunette.
"Little miss sunshine" Sandford murmurs with disdain under her breath as she vainly pretends to be typing something important.
The dependable older man with a a salt and pepper moustache and greying hair.
Proud grandfather to twins.
Crowley grunts and looks up quickly from his desk before bowing back down again.
He buries his head in paper work.
He is already on his fifth cup of coffee and its only 10.30am.
The atmosphere in the office is as icy as the weather outside.
The grey sky has a cold eerie glow.
A large crow squawks loudly as it flies past a spidery tree.
Back in the office, even the temp's are whispering animatedly to each other over their computers.
A little blonde intern giggles.
"One minute she's tinkering with the fax machine and the next -" Muriel begins indignantly.
"She's virtually running the whole office" Jeff finishes easily for her as he takes a big gulp of coffee.
"Who does she think she is?" Sally asks sourly, "The Queen of Sheba?"
Tall and good looking with two ex-wives and cocaine habit.
Manchester United supporter.
"Comes from nowhere ... and takes it all!" Keating - from sport - mutters bitterly.
He snatches a quick glance before burying his head in his notebook again.
Pretty blonde and vain.
"Walk across your grave, she would" Grace - from fashion - fairly spits in disdain.
She examines her carefully manicured nails before opening her compact and checking her lipstick.
Attractive older man of the world with a penchant for fine dining.
"There's no accounting for taste" Wield declares as he searches for his cigarettes.
Phil Keating leans over and offers Wield a cigarette from his own packet.
Jocular younger man hungry for success.
Dark haired and good looking.
High spirited younger reporter.
Blond and good looking - life-long sci-fi aficionado.
"How's it coming along?" Steel enquires jovially as he hands his friend Steve Riley - from media - a coffee before perching on the edge of the desk in front of him.
"How have you been?!" Steve exclaims jumping out of his chair and vigorously shaking his friends hand
"I'm alright mate" Chris laughs "A little sabbatical, what you up to?"
"Just writing up an interview I did with that actress" Steve answers swallowing a mouthful of warm coffee.
"Okay" Chris cries "What's she called again?"
"Lucretia Bon Bon" Steve replies.
"Never heard of her" Chris shrugs "What's she been in?"
"Stabber" Steve answers.
"Never heard of it" Chris concedes.
Chris nods to the scene ahead.
They both turn to observe the scene ahead.
A smartly dressed woman with immaculately coiffed hair is chatting animatedly with a new intern
Dark haired, urbane and handsome.
He has just moved into the expensive penthouse where Hargreaves resides.
"Melinda Hargreaves?" Chris says in bemusement "What's she up to then?"
A tall and attractive brunette with a penchant for power dressing and Lancôme red lips.
She looks like a vampire in a Chanel suit.
Hargreaves glances quickly at her audience and flashes them a bright smile showing white teeth.
"New editor" Janice snarls contemptuously between mouthfuls of Dr Karg cracker.
"What?!" Exclaims Chris Steel in shock "I'm off for a month ... and the whole world ends!"
Everyone seems to shake their heads.
"She bloody stole that job from under Russell's nose ...look at his face!" Mark exclaims.
"Poor bugger!" Jeff Crowley sneers, slowly shaking his head "One minute he's here and the next ... gone"
"I heard she banged him to death!" Wield says with a sly grin.
"I hate that silly cow!" Muriel hisses as she gnaws on her HB pencil like a little squirrel.
"Never trust a woman who wears too much perfume!" Milly Sandford announces "She's either trying too hard or trying to poison you!"
"And I thought she was one of us!" Phil Keating wails in dismay, suddenly feeling betrayed.
"She doesn't deserve that job!" Sandford rages "She only got it because she's attractive and can wrap men around her little finger"
Silence descends upon the disgruntled defectors again.
"Hey ... you're very quiet today!" Jeff Crowley address the woman two tables down.
|Blood (by Zoeim deviantart.com)|
A pretty brunette with a complicated love life.
She is seemingly oblivious to the goings on around her.
"Oh well ... I'm okay ... just working away here ... meeting the deadline" Tracy answers nervously as she shifts uncomfortably in her chair.
She quickly looks up from her computer and then looks back down again.
Everyone stares intently at Melinda Hargreaves.
They watch her every move and gesture.
Like vultures around a carcass.
Hargreaves shakes Lee's hand as everyone stares in disbelief.
Then her hand brushes lightly between his legs as several people gasp.
"Well, wouldn't you know" Wield remarks with a snort.
"Whore" Sandford sneers venomously.
Dominic Lee turns and smiles broadly at his audience and then briskly exits.
Several mouths are hanging open.
Max Wield throws his pen across the table.
Milly Sandford pulls out a stick of gum from her purse and throws it into her mouth with a snort of derision.
Hargreaves bestows her audience with a broad, winning smile.
"Sebastian Gardner sends you all his love" she declares as all eyes fix upon her "I made sure he got a good send off!"
And with that, Melina Hargreaves sweeps back into her new office leaving a trail of Chanel No.5 behind her.
Another low hush falls upon the office once again.
The only sound is that of muffled voices on telephones and fingers clicking nervously on keyboards.
And the sound of Janice Towers munching on another Dr Karg cracker.
"Wait a minute, somethings wrong here" Muriel Stoker finally announces conspiratorially.
"What do you mean?" Jeff Crowley asks - his interest peaked.
"Tracy!" Muriel exclaims loudly "Is there something we should know?"
"No ... nothing at all ... " Tracy replies anxiously.
"I'm not convinced" Milly Sandford retorts sharply.
She turns to stare intensely at Tracy Peacock.
"Go on!" Steve Riley smiles "Confess Trace!"
The whole office suddenly seems to be staring at Tracey Peacock. With so many eyes upon her - Tracy feels unable to hide any longer.
"Okay ... okay ... Melinda has made me Assistant Editor ... I start on Monday!" Tracy finally reveals.
A piece of Dr Karg cracker fall's out of Janice's open mouth as Chris nearly chokes on his coffee.
"Are you going to fly out of the window like Supergirl as well?" Muriel responds bitterly.
"No ... but I've got the office with the big money plant in it!" Tracy Peacock exclaims triumphantly.
"Would you like tea or coffee Miss Peacock?" Michael Gavin enquires eagerly.
"I'm going to be sick!" Janice Towers finally wails in despair.
"Any other surprises?" Jeff Crowley enquires.
"There is just one" Tracy answers.
"And what's that?" Jeff asks expectantly - his appetite fully whetted.
"You're sacked" Tracy Peacock finishes smoothly with a smile.
Inside her new office, Melinda Hargreaves settles back into her big leather chair.
She takes a long look around her tasteful surroundings and then she smiles to herself.
It took her several hours to finish off Sebastian Gardner.
His dry skin wasn't to her liking but once she had managed to dice him up and added a sauce - he went down very well.
She and Dominic Lee had a fine supper that night.
It's tough being cannibals.
But things were looking up for herself and her flesh eating lover Dominic Lee.
In fact, Melinda Hargreaves is feeling rather peckish.
She picks up her phone.
"Tracy!" Hargreaves says with a broad smile "Would you please come to my office?"
Outside her window, several carian crows have descended upon the branch of a tree and they stare with bright black eyes at Melinda Hargreaves as she waits for her victim to arrive.
|stage door (by bulletingun deviantart.com)|