TCW Defending Freedom has heard once again from the ‘Jabbing Actor’, Erasmus Demosthenes Hepplewhite, who describes his bravura performance in his latest role.
I AM in such a tizz at the moment. I don’t know how I’ve the time to write this, I really don’t.
Life has been such a whirl for the past three months. Not only have I been delivering half-cooked lukewarm fodder to travellers in quarantine and those still too frightened to leave their homes, but following my successful performance in a government information film as a profoundly deaf person who had the compensating ability to see Covid particles in the air, I was asked to take part in another short piece to promote the booster programme. In it I had to express my joy at receiving the third or fourth jab by dancing across Lambeth Bridge dressed as a panda. Don’t ask me why.
However, and more importantly, I am pleased to report that, inspired by my muses Melpomene and Thalia, I have once more been called to that place where the fates allow those blessed with the gift of Thespis to bestow upon hoi polloi the greatest form of human expression. Yes, I have graciously accepted the role of Grumpy in their updated presentation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Olivier Theatre in Basingstoke.
Of course, in this day and age, it is totally unacceptable to refer to vertically challenged people as dwarfs and Tristram, the director, insisted that the panto should be refashioned to reflect contemporary Britain. Hence, the panto has been reborn as Snow Person and the Seven Jabbers.
My fellow thespians are a motley crew. Snow Person is played by Jan, a rather large trans woman with a prominent Adam’s apple, who sports a plethora of spiders’ web tattoos.
The role of wicked stepmother was given to an Indian lady with an uncanny resemblance to Priti Patel.
The Prince has now become a Pfizer executive and is played by the star of the show, the ageing Nick Wilson, who took the part of a distressed milkman in the first episode of EastEnders.
The other Jabbers include Andrew Neil as Doc; a refugee from Kandahar; a ‘rough sleeper’; a poisoner recently released on licence and a member of the Kilburn Aztec community. When we enter and depart we sing our trademark song:
We jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab in a tent the whole day through
To jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab is what we like to do
It ain’t no trick
To get rich quick
If you jab, jab, and jab
With a needle for the prick
In a tent (In a tent)
In a tent (In a tent)
Where a million vaccines
I have to say that the acting ability of some of my colleagues leaves much to be desired. Darren the ‘rough sleeper’ often lapses into a coma in the jabbing tent. And Netzahualcoyotl, the Kilburn Aztec, has a tendency to disappear to worship his god, Huitzilopochtli, by sacrificing an unfortunate pigeon.
However, I am comforted by the words of dear, dear Dame Judi who said to me when she came to Rada to present the award for the Most Promising Scowl, ‘Dear boy, it is better to be a rose in a bed of nettles than a weed on a well-cut lawn.’
The panto has received mixed reviews. However the Basingstoke Advertiser remarked that ‘the reworking of this popular fairy tale will raise some eyebrows, and with the exception of an adequate Grumpy, the cast lacks the professionalism that has been evident in previous productions.’
That ringing endorsement of my performance will surely lead to greater recognition, and it cannot be long before a blue plaque bearing the inscription ‘Erasmus Demosthenes Hepplewhite, Actor’, is placed on the wall of 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam.