The Two Gentlemen of Verona: Actor’s blog 3

Stephen Hyde plays Launce, the servant of the romantic lead Proteus. His toy dog (which he passionately believes is real) is his constant companion. Here, he relates their vacation adventures….

Good greetings, readers of this ‘blog’. How now etc. My name is Stephen – no, that’s wrong – my name is Launce… yes, that’s right; I am not myself – no, I am myself – no, that cannot be so either – yes, it is so, it is so, I am myself and I am Launce. A servant. To Proteus (a vengeance on him!)

Over the Eastertide celebrations, me and Crab – that’s my dog – have had an abundance of expeditions, one in particular which we would fain share with you in this article; though it be, look you, the most shocking ordeal though ever heardest. There ‘tis!

Now, ‘twas the week before Easter and Crab and I were on the terrace, enjoying cups of warm herbal tea and playing a game of cribbage (or ‘crabbage’ as Crab will have it known!), this being our wont of a long sunny afternoon in April. Now, we had not been there – bless the mark! – a pissing while, but the sky started groaning and the wind started howling and the trees started moaning and the dog started growling, and a torrent of rain drove me and my currish companion away from our garden paradise.

Well, we bolted as fast as our six legs could carry us, desperately fleeing the cyclone that pursued us; until we happened upon an old farmhouse owned by an old dame called Daphne and her casual lover, Winston. Now, go I to the old lady who owned the farm: ‘Woman’ quoth I, ‘what dwelling is this that me and my canine comrade have happened upon?’ ‘Me ‘ouse’ quoth she, ‘are you lost?’ ‘Nay’, quoth I, ‘I am Launce, and this is Dog, my crab – nay, nay, this is Crab, ay, and he is my dog’ ‘Ye must join us for some tea, lad’ quoth Winston, who I thought to be the fattest-bodied man that ever lived.

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Well, we conversed on in a similar vein and they gave me liquor and I drank merrily; but as we gaily scoffed and quaffed, friends, Crab thrust himself into the company of a rather vicious breed of dog, called Brandy the Terrier. Well, Crab was so afraid (mark the look of anguish on his furry face) that he could not help but make water in the middle of the carpet!

Nay I’ll be sworn, the laymen and I had not been dining more than a matter of minutes before the whole room smelt him. ‘What the bleedin’ hell?’ says Daphne: ‘****!’ says Winston: ‘I’ll not stand for this!’ he bellowed.

Well, I knew that the sheer weight of Winston standing on Crab was likely to crush him beyond death, so quoth I: ‘’Twas not Crab who has committed this offence, friends, ‘twas I…’ Well, Winston seemed no more contented by this version of events than the first: thence followed a string of offensive dialect I do not wish to recount and he made us no more ado, but chased us from his farm, brandishing the vilest implement thou ever didst see on a farm.

For obvious reasons, the farmer’s lover could not pursue us further than the gate, but Brandy the Terrier bounded after me and Crab, both of us as scared witless as wood women[1]. By now, the rain had ceased, but the ground was wet, and I tripped and fell and Brandy the Terrier fell and tripped, but nimble Crab bounded on, jumped onto a wall, and into the branches of a tree. Well, hours passed, and it seemed that Brandy the Terrier was so exhausted that he had passed out, or was simply dead, but Crab remained in the branches of that indigenous tree, stubbornly clinging on for dear life.

Oh, ‘tis a terrible thing when a cur will not do as he’s bloody well told! ‘Twas not for want of trying that the dog would not come down; see how I chide him! In the end, getting the fiend down involved a ladder, some bate, and a surly neighbour called Derek, who I had to pay several silver coins for his troubles. How many masters would do that for his servant? Markest thou this: my dog Crab is the most fiendish, heartless cur that either breathed air. He always plays the villain, so I always play the fool.

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Stephen Hyde is playing ‘Launce’ in Barbarian Productions’ The Two Gentlemen of Verona, to be performed May 2nd-5th in Christ Church Cathedral Gardens. Tune in soon for more thrilling adventures of cast and crew, for more information about Two Gents visit their website, www.barbarian-productions.com, or follow them on twitter @twogentsox

 


[1] Wood women – ‘women who are insane’ or simply ‘women’