I should point out that I'm not in a show because I'm talented, although that would be nice. I'm in a show because the Gilbert & Sullivan Society has a non-auditioning chorus, which means that, with little real skill, I get to be in that section of the cast responsible for overreacting to everything in the most dramatic way imaginable.
Confession time: I don't actually know much Gilbert & Sullivan. Before I joined, more or less the extent of my G & S knowledge was being able to say "So, the Pirates of Penzance, right?", and then hoping that no one actually tried to make a conversation out of that, because all I really know about The Pirates of Penzance is that it's a thing. Presumably, a thing with pirates in it. Pirates and a modern major general. And they probably sing.
|And are possibly vegetables.|
I thought this was a fairly normal state of affairs until I discovered that practically everyone else in the society knows the shows well enough to call them by nicknames and debate things like whether Sullivan liked altos (he didn't) and the size of Gilbert's moustache (impressive).
Which means that they, unlike me, had actually heard of The Yeomen of the Guard, this year's main production.
This promotional video actually has nothing to do with the plot, but it does contain delightful silliness, chicken bonnets, and a really fantastic polka dot tea set.
I don't know whether it's because I missed a few rehearsals (owing to illness, Rise Against, and not-having-stopped-crying-yet), or if it's because we've only done the songs, or if it's just that the plot is incredibly silly, but after a term of rehearsals, I haven't quite worked out what the story's about yet. But with the help of the songs, a half-hearted read of the Wiki page, and some helpful fellow society members, I've managed to piece it together.... More or less (but rather less than more).
So here is the plot of The Yeomen of the Guard, as I understand it. Or misunderstand it. Occasionally wilfully.
obsessed with stalking in
love with Colonel Fairfax! You think I’m a main character because I get the
opening solo, but you can more or less forget me after this act. Also, he’s
going to be executed, probably for being TOO DASHING. EVERYTHING IS THE WORST.
obsessed with stalking in
love with Phoebe! You can forget me too! DON’T FORGET ME, PHOEBE! I LOVE YOU FOREVER!
YEOMEN: We’re yeomen! We were cool, but now we’re old! We guard the Tower!
AUDIENCE: WTF is a yeoman?*
DAME CARRUTHERS: Peeeeople getting kiiiilled is preeeeetty greeeeeat.
|In my mind, Fairfax looks something like this. Woof! (Source)|
PHOEBE: Sergeant Dad, you can’t kill Fairfax! He’s TOO DASHING!
SERGEANT MERYLL: I see no way of getting out of this. If only we had someone Fairfax could conveniently pretend to be so he could escape!
ENTER LEONARD MERYLL.
REAL!LEONARD: Hey family! Wait, why are you looking at me like that?
SERGEANT MERYLL AND PHOEBE: OMG.
REAL!LEONARD: I’ll just disappear for the rest of the show, then.
SERGEANT MERYLL AND PHOEBE: We are fine with that.
FAIRFAX: My evil cousin inherits my estate if I die unmarried! I should marry someone!
ENTER POINT AND ELSIE, STROLLING PLAYERS.
CHORUS: Sing us a funny song or we’ll throw you in the river.
POINT: So there once was this guy… Who was sad because this girl didn't love him…
ELSIE: But then she did, so it was fine!
CHORUS: Well, that wasn’t funny at all.
LIEUTENANT: Pssst, poor and vulnerable female, want to marry my mate? It’s totally cool, he’ll be dead soon, and he definitely won’t escape at the last minute.
ELSIE: IDK, I don’t usually marry strange men. But I need the dowry to save my tragically ill mother! So since he’s going to die anyway, I’ll do it!
POINT: But she’s my girlfriend!
LIEUTENANT: Also, for comedy plot reasons, you’ll both be blindfolded.
ELSIE: I see nothing that could possibly go wrong with this plan. Count me in!
PHOEBE: I shall use my feminine wiles to get the keys to Fairfax’s cell!
WILFRED: THIS IS THE BEST THING.
PHOEBE: BRB, boiling self in bleach forever.
SERGEANT MERYLL: Here, Fairfax, put on this Leonard beard.
FAKE!LEONARD: I see nothing that could possibly go wrong with this plan.
YEOMEN: OMG, Leonard Meryll is joining the Yeomen! Do you think he’ll sign my Leonard Meryll t-shirt? This is just like in my Leonard Meryll fanfic! I heard he once ate a lion using only a delicate cake fork.
FAKE!LEONARD: Yeah, why not?
PHOEBE: OMG HI.
FAKE!LEONARD: Let’s proceed to sing a song about what very very close siblings we are. Wink wink.
FAKE!LEONARD: Well, I’d better go and fetch me from my cell for my execution. ...Holy crap! I’m not there!
EVERYONE: NO FREAKING WAY.
ELSIE: I see what could possibly have gone wrong with this plan. FAINT!
EVERYONE: That Fairfax is a tricksy one.
DAME CARRUTHERS: You guys are the worst at being jailers.
YEOMEN: *existential despair*
POINT: I’ll bake you a cake if you say you shot him.
WILFRED: DELICIOUS CAEK!
ELSIE: I’m delirious! The secret’s in the pudding! It was all an inflatable elephant! Flibbertigibbet! Also, I secretly married Fairfax!
DAME CARRUTHERS: NO FREAKING WAY.
|It's all in the beard. (Source)|
WILFRED: He’s dead now! I promise!
POINT: So now will you marry me?
ELSIE: No, Fake!Leonard is much more dashing! What a truly excellent beard!
WILFRED: I totally see what’s going on here! Escape plot! Mind blown!
PHOEBE: I’ll marry you if you don’t tell anyone.
WILFRED: I would be fine with that.
DAME CARRUTHERS: I totally see what’s going on here! Escape plot! Mind blown!
SERGEANT MERYLL: I’ll marry you if you don’t tell anyone.
DAME CARRUTHERS: I would be fine with that.
SERGEANT MERYLL: Gross.
REAL!LEONARD: I'm back! Oh look, Fairfax has been reprieved!
ELSIE: Fake!Leonard is so dashing! I’m going to marry him!
CHORUS: THIS IS THE BEST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ANYONE.
TELEGRAM: Your husband lives stop and he is free stop and comes to claim his bride this very day stop
CHORUS: THIS IS THE WORST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ANYONE.
FAIRFAX: Ahahaha, I am gatecrashing this wedding! You’re married to me!
ELSIE: Have pity!
FAIRFAX: No, mine is a heart of massive rock!
AUDIENCE: Tee hee. “Massive rock”.
ELSIE: I hate this wedding.
FAIRFAX: LOL j/k! I am Fake!Leonard!
ELSIE: And you tell me this secret by making me cry on my wedding day? Dick. Let’s make out!
CHORUS: THIS IS ONCE AGAIN THE BEST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ANYONE.
So if you like your hyperbole hyperbolic... Well, you know what to go and see, don't you? Come along! It'll be the best thing that has ever happened to anyone ever!
More or less.
*I probably should Google what a yeoman is. I suspect it's a type of humorous vegetable, which means that this show is at least partially an episode of Veggie Tales, but with more false beards, which sounds like a pretty fantastic premise for a show to me. For this reason, I refuse to Google what a yeoman is.