Following on with the John Waters theme: the Pope of Trash has been very busy doing a lot of droll interviews lately, but one of our most favourite bon mots comes from an interview in Scotland on Sunday.
Asked how he would like to die, Waters responds:
“Not in my sleep, that’s for pussies. I want an airline crash, my hair on fire, and I’m struggling with the emergency door, having lied about knowing how to open it so I could get a better seat. Plane crashes are always front page.”
It has prompted the Whingers to reflect on how they would like to go (and yes, we know that many out there in theatreland have been thinking along similar lines). And no, it’s not morbid. There are plenty of positive things about dying.
Anyway, Andrew imagines himself the victim of some freak theatrical tragedy involving an errant piece of a set which mysteriously topples onto him as he dozes in the front row of the stalls, slowly crushing the life out of him while various Dames of the British Empire vault from the stage to free him. Maggie and Judi and Imelda (who will be a DBE long before then) struggle to lift the scenery off him with a superhuman strength sucked from the adrenalin coursing through their veins as they respond to the terrible tragedy unfurling before their eyes. But it’s too late and as the last of his admittedly sad and pointless life ebbs away from him, the last thing he feels are the salty tears of said dames dropping onto his face as they cradle him in their bingo wings. In exactly which theatre this takes place is unclear, but given the cast it will certainly not be at the National Theatre
If it HAS to be at the National Theatre, Andrew thinks being trampled to death by the goat from The Rose Tattoo might be unusual. The goat (who is played by Bruce, you will remember) is presumably startled into a panic by one of Phil’s sneezing fits and stampedes through the auditorium cruelly piercing Andrew’s toned abdomen (it’s a fantasy, remember) as it makes its bid for freedom, thrilled at not having to act opposite ZM’s miserable Rose every night. It’s not bad, as freak accidents go, although it has the singular downside of requiring that Andrew sit through at least some of the production again.
Phil would like to be shot by a performer who is fiddling with an on stage firearm which has been deliberately loaded with real bullets by a disgruntled stage hand. He would love to ruin the end of a Hedda Gabler, for instance. He sees his corpse being dragged up on stage and stealing the applause from the other actors at the curtain call. As Divine screamed in Waters’ Female Trouble. “Even the ones who died loved it”.
Failing that, he’d like to get his duffel coat trapped in the sturdy safety curtain of the Lyttelton Theatre as he rushes to leave a Pinter at the interval. The two sections shut tight on his torso high above the auditorium cutting his body in two, his arms and legs ceasing their flailing to the accompaniment of horrified gasps of the audience and cheers of joy from Nicholas Hytner.
A spectacular dive (and Andrew knows a lot about spectacular dives) from the vertiginous gallery of the Novello Theatre would be his third choice, trying desperately to clutch at the jewelry of patrons in the more expensive seats to on the way down.
And if these fail: when he goes, he’s going like Elsie.
The reality will probably be more mundane. It is more likely, for instance, that they will die in a disagreement with the theatre management over drinks prices that will escalate out of hand.
Or die of boredom.
Or that Andrew will nod off yet again, but this time impale himself carelessly on his Dixon Ticonderoga number two.