The hidden play

 

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