An Italian Straw Hat

“Perhaps, sir, this might be offered as a definition of energy, in the light of science’s inadequacy on such matters…” JAMES MACNAMARA writes on this week’s ADC late show.

5 stars an italian straw hat james macnamara the tab Theatre

ADC Theatre, 11.00pm, Wed 30th Jan – Sat 2nd Feb, Wed £5/£4, Thu-Sat £6/£5

by Eugène Labiche and Marc Michel

Directed by Edward Eustace

“Energy, my boys! What is energy? Richard Feynman couldn’t work it out, the dolt. Physics hasn’t the foggiest. But I want you, my boys, to tell me. Have a go. Spit it out. Tell me all.”

“Indirectly observed quantity that comes in many forms, a prerequisite for mechanical work, perhaps something that can only be rigorously defined within the mathematical realm of theoretical physics?”

“Good God Brown, you insufferable little swine, that’s taken directly from wikipedia! And less science please! Science doesn’t always have the answer! Tell me what it means to you, my boys!”

Strange bloke thinks I, with a vendetta against science that I can’t help think arises from some kind of religious affiliation, but I think I have an answer he might enjoy. “Sir?”

“Yes, Macnamara, what do you want? Normally during class time you sit there bleary eyed barely drawing breath. I wasn’t entirely sure you were sentient until you spoke just then. Where’s my essay, by the way? Something to say, what?”

“Yes, Sir. Imagine a stage, if you will. It’s late, and the audience is bigger than usual, for whatever reason. A few of them have definitely been at the sauce. A monochrome panel with two doors either side and a hatch in the middle conceals all the articles that are necessary to suggest the presence of, say, 35 different characters – but only five actors to play them. A hat is lost and must be returned to a promiscuous young lady…”

Macnamara you blithering sot!!

“Please, sir, let me finish. A chap called Fadinard rushes around attempting to find the hat, is married along the way, gets mistaken for an Italian tenore and gets on the wrong side of his father-in-law. Now, sir, you must imagine this simple story propelled as it is by complex exchanges of dialogue between more people in the room than are on stage, and a boundless sense of enthusiasm and joy.”

“I see, Macnamara. Perhaps you’re onto something. Continue!”

“Now then sir, imagine having a few yourself and getting wrapped up in all this. Seized by the particulars, and dragged happily away. Perhaps, sir, this might be offered as a definition of energy, in the light of science’s inadequacy on such matters…”

“Hmm. Interesting. What about the details of this energy you felt, boy? Care to define your terms?”

“Yes sir, I would. I propose that Merrimanian energy is a stable form compared to the others, but no less compelling. Peckian is robust form, the utility of which comes mostly through its sense of comic timing. Stubbinian is perhaps less intense than the others, but its bumbling nature allows for effective transducing between the others. Biddlian is least stable of these forms, but the one that aids most efficiently in the mechanics of laughter. Emdenian is a form of energy that makes you fall in love with it every time you review… er, I mean, encounter it. It’s a remarkable bunch of forces, and all held together by a unifying presence I would like to call Eustacian. All hypothetical, sir. But that’s my idea. Evidence for its possible existence is a stage full of actors drenched in sweat and a room full of grinning human beings.”

“Hmm. That had more than a whiff of science about it, boy. But I’m intrigued. Now then all of you, homework for this week is to biff off and experience this energy for yourselves! Class dismissed!”

Ha ha, thinks I, what a result. The old fool forgot about my essay, and I’ve already done the homework he’s just set. And you know what? I was hardly bullshitting at all.