Wednesday, July 4, 2007


This is almost certainly silly. But silliness never deterred me from posting something before, so here it goes--my treatise on why Pelléas et Mélisande reminded me of The Mighty Boosh, or why I'm not really crazy, honest.

The first similarity I noticed was between Golaud and Howard Moon. Both have a tendency to be violent out of frustration. This isn't a particularly unique trait, and it's obviously much more disturbing in Golaud, because he pushes his young son, tosses his pregnant wife around, and eventually murders his brother, whereas Howard just tends to panic and sucker-punch people. Their constant threats of violence are also somewhat similar--Howard is always threating to come at people like a bullet, or put the scissor-punch on them, while Golaud's threats are more subtle. Golaud tells Mélisande that he's not going to hurt her with his sword, but then says something to the effect of "Stop looking at me or I'll close your eyes forever"; instead of outwardly threatening Pelléas, he takes him to a subterranean dungeon/cavern and is vaguely menacing.

Violence also seeps into Golaud's tender moments, like when he's holding Mélisande's hands and muses that he could crush them like flowers. In both cases, the violence and threats of violence are born of insecurity, again not all that unique, and while Howard's threats of violence are also a sort of bravado, he usually seems to genuinely regret some of his outbursts. Golaud, on the other hand, feels justified in his violence and doesn't seem to feel remorse until the last act, and he often brags that he is "made of blood and iron". Golaud spends most of his time hunting, when he's not indulging in domestic violence, and there's no indication that he ever got off with any of the animals he killed.

Anyway, the Pelléas=Vince Noir is less convincing, though both of them are easily distracted by pretty things and enjoy hair (I would've liked to have seen a scene in which Pelléas recommends some root-booster and a cheeky fringe to Mélisande).
Here's a picture of what Pelléas et Mélisande starring Vince Noir and Howard Moon would look like:

Two scenes in particular reminded me of the Boosh. The first was one Golaud caught Pelléas all wrapped up in Mélisande's hair. First, he seems suspicious of them, but then (to Pelléas's visible relief), he says "You're playing like children" in a very disapproving tone. This reminded me of the scene in the first episode of the Boosh radio show, in which Bob Fossil and Vince hire a chopper to catch the Phantom who's been stealing animals from the zoo. Howard looks on in disapproval as Fossil and Vince fly around the zoo, shooting off flares and getting attacked by bats. Now granted, hiring a chopper and flying it around while wearing two eyepatches really isn't a good way of catching a criminal and is definitely much sillier than a brother- and sister-in-law messing with each other's hair. On the other hand, fooling around in a flirtatious way with your brother's (who is clearly in need of a rage dump) wife isn't all that smart either.

The similarity for me comes into play with a certain lack of imagination. Howard does have an imagination, though he's usually very sensible (though it's odd to say that anything to do with The Mighty Boosh is sensible). Howard tends to think in straight lines, which may be why he's not "The One" when it comes to jazz--it would be hard to improvise in jazz if you think in straight lines. In "Charlie", Howard has written a good first sentence for his novel, so he also has some creativity.

Golaud on the other hand is fairly sensible, but he's also overly rigid (his mind, I mean). For him, the world is black and white (or in the case of the ridiculous production, red and white. There are no shades of, er, pink. He definitely thinks in straight lines, but he's unimaginative, so once he gets a thought in his head that makes sense (because it's obvious), he becomes consumed by it. He is so convinced that Pelléas and Mélisande are having an affair that he tries to make his son Yniold tell him just what he suspects and becomes angry when Yniold can only provide evidence of Pelléas and Mélisande's innocence.

Both Golaud and Howard tend to be, not pessimistic exactly, but somewhat mistrustful of happiness. Vince seems to enjoy everything, from romancing lady pandas to shoveling animal poo, whereas Howard even takes some time to be made happy by a poncho. Golaud tells Mélisande that joy isn't an everyday thing and she shouldn't expect it to be.

Another scene in the opera that reminded me of the Boosh was when Golaud takes Pelléas down into the subterranean cavern. Golaud, as mentioned before, is subtly threatening Pelléas, which Pelléas seems oblivious to. When they finally emerge from the cavern, Pelléas gasps for air and then runs around like a speed-freak, pointing out all the beautiful things around them. Golaud, as played by Gerald Finley, just stands there while his younger brother flits around him, staring at Pelléas like he's a nutball and needs some time in the ambient-hutch. It reminded me of Howard's puzzlement at Vince's cheeriness, but in another way it brought to mind the scene in the radio version of "Tundra" in which Howard is trying to get Vince to visualize a bone-chilling meeting with a polar bear. Vince, being a simple man, can't go from zero to polar bear, so Howard kind of leads him through his imagination from a blue clock to Stocky Jesus to a seaweed god on a throne to a polar bear. Once at the polar bear, though, Howard is frustrated when Vince says that he gets on quite well with the polar bear. Golaud, in this scene, seemed baffled that Pelléas couldn't understand what he was hinting at, even though he tried to kind of circuitously lead Pelléas around to "Hey, if you don't leave my wife alone, I'm going to shove you into that stank-ass cavern."

I guess what I'm saying is that this production would've vastly improved if Pelléas and Mélisande had been flying around in a chopper, shooting flares at Yniold for pelting a flock of sheep in the eyes with Smarties. And then a bat could fly into the chopper and get caught in Mélisande's crazy-long hair. And hey! Mélisande would be wearing two eyepatches à la Bob Fossil, which make another oh-so-convenient-and-obvious symbol for blindness. Someone should really pitch this to Stanislas Nordey. I wouldn't have said "Good day, sir!" to seeing Simon Keenlyside in tight little Vince jeans or Gerald Finley in Moonesque short-shorts. Just saying.

Labels: , ,


At December 13, 2008 at 4:49 AM , Blogger Rica said...

during my efforts to find out whether there is a DVD of Pelleas and Melisande with Robert Wilson's direction, I came across your OPERATIC VENGEANCE. Did not find the DVD, but found another Opera fanatic, who happens to hate Wilson's work. I saw his Pelleas in 1997 and loved it. Would be interesting to read your comments. Found out you write about Waltraud Meyer. Would like to read it. Need more time. Rica.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home