The town of Chidnight in Surrey was word-renowned for its annual festival of pantomimes. Every April, the kings and queens of dumb show descended on the tiny town for its fortnight festival, as did aficionados of the art form like Byron and Shelley.
This particular year, a company of Venetian mimes were scheduled to present their breakthrough triumph Il Stordimento (The Daze), in which a husband and wife are hypnotized into reversing their household roles, which wreaks havoc with their marriage as well as confusing each one’s secret lover.
“I shall be Watching for their Technique,” Shelley declared, as he read the program’s summary of lazzi.
“I shall be watching for the intrigue,” Byron replied. “The actors playing the husband and wife are married in real life, and rumor has it that the actor playing the wife’s lover has also extended his role into reality.”
Byron’s attention was rewarded when, halfway through the show, the wife’s lover sent the husband into a pratfall that was more malicious than mirthful, and the husband responded with an aria of operatic profanity that shocked every dumb show purist in the audience, many of whom became enraged and began shouting at the actors, none of whom remained inarticulate for very long. Within moments, the shouting turned into fighting, as the outnumbered actors of Il Stordimento defended themselves against the outraged Chidnight audience.
Shelley (being philosophical) and Byron (being practical) managed to escape the pandemonium with only minor injuries, and quickly repaired to a nearby tavern.
“Jesus, The Daze that we have seen!” Shelley declared, over mugs of sherry sack.
“Yes, Master Shelly,” Byron replied. “We have heard the mimes at Chidnight.”
Copyright 2016 by Matthew J Wells