THE LAST PERFORMANCE of Maurice Blakewater – by John Riley & Valentine Heart.
You know I’m here at the funeral parlour paying my respects to a fellow actor. An actor I’ve played alongside in the early days of rep. He’s many a time driven a stake through my heart, but alas he’s dead and lying in his coffin when once upon a time I would be in said casket and he hamming it up full throttle at my demise, good wins out over evil. Ah well.
Now what a spooky place this funeral parlour reveals itself to be, my word I’ll say my curiosity gets the better of me. I sit alone with the company of empty rows of chairs facing the raised dais, flanked by the deepest plum coloured velvet curtains drawn and tied back revealing centre stage Maurice Blakewater asleep in his coffin.
He would have loved the flower arrangements.
There’s a denseness weighing heavy in this room and stillness so real as to hear it, although I can detect from somewhere the steady ticking of a heavy clock, marking time and adding tension from its low steady weight.
You know there are many moments while sitting here you sense a feeling of not being alone. These other seats left and right of me and the rows behind, these chairs feel taken by ghosts.
This is an audience of ghosts now waiting for the moment, when Maurice rises from the dead, lifts himself from his coffin and takes the applause from the ghostly audience. I find myself clapping along uncontrollably.
“Bravo!” I shout.
“Shhh!” from behind me I nearly had a heart attack.
“You scared the life out of me then…” I bark back, looking upon this cadaverous looking ghost of a man.
“A little more control, Sir.”
His thin smile adding a touch of wickedness to his performance. I know I shouldn’t think such thoughts but really…
Then it happens. The sense of movement from inside the casket. Is that the slow reach of an arm with splayed hand drawing itself to the edge of the casket?
Yes, it is, oh my Gawd! Maurice is alive!
What fiend is this? What abomination is this? Dawkins is beside himself.
“I really must protest…” says Dawkins the funeral director.
“How’s that, Ducky?” Maurice pulling himself up and looking for the small steps to get out of the casket.
“Bravo, I say…” I, calling for an encore.
Dawkins has left us.
Fits perfectly, Valentine, I’ll have this one, put a deposit on it and secure it. Believe it’s last of the line.” Maurice looked over at the flowers.
“Love the flower arrangements…”
entry by Valentine Heart/John Riley