Think of a playhouse that is light on scruple –
a school for actors sharpening their skills,
manoeuvring for leading roles,
engaged in deadly-serious rehearsal.
The playhouse has a stage that’s split in two.
Up-front, uproarious, is pantomime
with shouts of ‘LOOK BEHIND YOU!’ to the Dame,
the Front Stalls roaring out ‘O YES, YOU DO!’
Back-stage a heavy drape conceals
Macbeth from Mother Goose or Peter Pan
Behind that heavy curtain nothing’s seen –
no stabbings, thrusts and parries, bloody brawls –
although from time to time come muffled sounds
of spite and squabble, strangled roars,
and scrapes and scuffling on the boards
as scenes get chopped and actors switched around.
Up-front the pantomime goes cackling on
obscuring what the backstage actors may,
working on the real but hidden play,
amend, omit, and later vote upon.
– David Morphet 2014