Sunday, December 23, 2012

Im Coming Down

G. K. Chesterton has written a two-act play entitled The Surprise, one of only two plays he composed. Its virtually unknown and rarely enacted.

The play is cast in the Middle Ages and opens with a friar wandering through a forest. He sees a large rolling caravan (a trailer with a stage) with handsome life-size puppets lying about on the stage. The puppeteer stands above the structure.

The friar asks where the puppeteer is giving his show for he would like to see it. The puppeteer tells him to sit down and he will give him a private performance.

The man picks up the puppets strings and begins to spin out a romantic tale in which a swashbuckling hero and his friend determine to rescue a fair damsel in distress. They carry it off with a certain amount of panache, and the play ends.

The friar applauds, but the puppeteer confesses that he is very unhappy because he loves his puppets and they cannot reciprocate his love. He can only manipulate them from above. If only they were alive, he muses. The friar falls to his knees and prays that the puppeteers wish will be granted. The curtain falls on the first act.

The second act begins with the puppets lying on the stage amid their loose strings, but then the characters begin to stir on their own. They rise and start reenacting the play.

But this time everything goes wrong. The hero and his friend get drunk and quarrel; they show jealousy over the heroine; they arrive too late to rescue herat which point, the puppet master stands up on the roof of the caravan and shouts, Stop! Im coming down. And he drops down onto the stage to save his puppets from themselves.

The play ends at this point, and Chesterton offers no explanation.[1] 

I leave that to you...


[1] Good metaphors need no explanation. George MacDonald said, “If I draw a picture of a horse and must explain, “This is a horse,” I have not drawn a very good picture of a horse.”

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