The Bitters End
19 April 2012, 9:55 PM
So. In the only actual plot point in my Big Scene in LWF, I discover the titular fan, which has been carefully left on its mark under and behind the table being used as a bar. We have blocked it so I have returned to the bar to mix myself (yet) another drink; I am exhorting my fellows on the subject of experience, when I discover the fan:
GRAHAM: Experience is the name Tuppy gives to his mistakes, that’s all.
DUMBY: Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
GRAHAM: One shouldn’t commit any.
DUMBY: Life would be very dull without them.
GRAHAM: Of course you are quite faithful to this woman you are in love with, Darlington, to this good woman?
I discover the fan, clearly, between One shouldn’t commit any and Of course, while Col. Dumby has his line. In the script, Oscar Wilde simply has [Sees LADY WINDERMERE’S fan on sofa], but we have changed if from the sofa for reasons the Director presumably finds sufficient. If it were on the sofa, I could imagine spotting the fan as I am saying the line, thus giving it a double meaning, that I have now (as I think) caught Lord Darlington in an error. As it is, with the fan on the floor, I don’t see my way to that—I would have to stoop to pick it up and make sure the audience sees it before getting to the commit part, which would break the rhythm of the bit. What I did come up with is a different double meaning: I am adding ice to my drink as I pronounce my contempt for error, and end with a flourish of the tongs, dropping the chunk of ice to the floor amid general laughter. As I stoop, I see the fan and pop back up with it, holding it, perhaps, behind my back while asking my ingenuous question, only showing it to the audience during Lord Darlington’s interminable and fatuous reply. Nice, isn’t it?
Sadly, while the drop was okayed, the ice was vetoed, as (a) English Gentlemen wouldn’t pollute their whiskey with ice, and (2) an ice bucket is a pain in the ass for the stage manager, even with fake cubes. I cannot disagree with either of these, although I am disappointed. The director has suggested a little bottle of bitters, as gin bitters is a veddy British drink of the period. I acquiesced, mostly because he is the Director, and I didn’t have any better ideas. And it’s not a bad idea, really, only now I have to figure out how to make it work: do I adopt the modern (I think) technique of pinking the glass with the bitters first, before splashing in the gin? Can I do that with a whiskey tumbler rather than a martini glass, or should I pour the gin first and add the bitters to it? Can I drink a pink gin out of a whiskey tumbler at all? Should we change an earlier line about me drinking whiskey, or should I just drink gin on top of whiskey (on top of wine and whatever else I had at the club)? Also, if we have a whiskey decanter and a gin decanter, why would we have the bitters in the recognizable store-bought bottle? Should I drop the whole bottle, or just the cork? Should I drop it drunkenly, or through not looking what I’m doing?
Well, well, well. We have a little time yet to work on these details. I do wish I had at least a sense of the size and weight of the gin bottle, the bitters and the glass I’ll be using so that I could practice all this at home in front of the mirror. But we’ll make it happen.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,