“What’s in a name?” asks the Bard.¬† A great deal, according to the appearance and actions of Richard Copperwaite, a welcome import from England.¬†
In Act I we knew him as Robin Oakapple, a gentle, naťĮve, innocent, painfully shy farm lad.¬† But if you recall the Finale of Act I, he was revealed to be Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, the evil baronet of Ruddigore.¬† Thanks to his acting ability and to the skills of Makeup Designer¬†Kacey Marton, it’s hard to believe that he is really the same person.
But you soon sense that underneath the surface he is unchanged – he’s still the same sweet nice guy.¬† He is forced to commit crimes, but is miserable over the fact.¬† There is a wonderful bit of pantomime at the beginning of the act is which he squirms from one position to another in a large wing chair, ending up in an almost fetal position – but unable to attain peace of mind.¬† Because of this inner agony, I’ll continue to call him Robin.
In his own words,
For a week I have fulfilled my accursed doom!¬† I have duly committed a crime a day! Not a great crime, I trust, but still, in the eyes of one as strictly regulated as I used to be, a crime.¬† But will my ghostly ancestors be satisfied with what I have done, or will they regard it as an unworthy subterfuge?
The ghosts are not satisfied.¬† The music takes an ominous tone, there is darkness and a flash of brilliant light, and they have all stepped from their portraits led by Robin’s immediate forbearer, Sir Roderic (Graham Roth).¬† In one of the musical highlights of the opera he sings a rousing ghost song:
When the night wind howls in the chimney cowls, and the bat in the moonlight flies,
And inky clouds, like funeral shrouds, sail over the midnight skies¬†—
When the footpads quail at the night-bird’s wail, and black dogs bay at the moon,
Then is the spectres’ holiday¬†—¬†then is the ghosts’ high-noon!
Then is the ghosts’ high-noon!
Followed by two more verses.
Sir Roderic demands an accounting of what crimes Robin has committed during the past week; it is less than impressive since it consisted of such items as a false income tax return, forging his own will, and disinheriting his own son in advance.¬† The ghosts agree he must do better, starting today by carrying off a lady.¬† Robin balks, whereupon Sir Roderic says,¬† “let the agonies commence.”
At this point the libretto merely says,¬† “Ghosts make passes.¬† Robin begins to writhe in agony.”¬† Producer¬†Michelle Goldring¬†added a vocal element by having them all sing Mabel’s beautiful aria Poor Wandering One¬†from¬†Pirates of Penzance, each in a different key and off-key.¬† Fortunately for the audience it doesn’t take Robin long to capitulate, and the ancestral ghosts return to their picture frames.
Robin sends Adam off to the village to “Go – go to yonder village – carry off a maiden – bring her here at once – any one – I don’t care which.
Well, the maiden Adam brings back, blindfolded, over his shoulder is no tender teenager but the formidable Dame Hannah.¬† As you can see from the above picture, she is more than a match for Robin!
Robin, terrified, calls to Sir Despard for help.¬† Despard helps him up, sends him away as inconsequential, and turns to Hannah:
ROD.¬†¬†This is a strange meeting after so many years!
HAN.¬†¬†Very.¬† I thought you were dead.
ROD.¬†¬†I am.¬† I died ten years ago.
HAN.¬†¬†And are you pretty comfortable?
ROD.¬†¬†Pretty well – that is – yes, pretty well.
They continue with a musically lovely but somewhat irrelevant ballad about “a pretty little flower” and “a great oak tree”.
Their lovemaking is interrupted by Robin who presents the following syllogism: According to the CURSE:
- A Baronet of Ruddigore will die if and only if he refuses to commit his daily crime.
- Therefore, refusal to commit a daily crime is tantamount to suicide.
- But suicide is a crime.
- None of you has died.
- Sir Rupert, the First Baronet still has the title.
- I am not and have never been the Baronet.
“And they all lived happily ever after”
c/o ASSU, Old Union – 1st floor
520 Lasuen Mall, Quad 2, Building 580
Stanford, CA 94305
All photos by Raen Payne
P. S. Attn: All nitpickers and logicians.
Given that in this operatic setting ghosts, witches, and curses are all part of reality, is Robin’s ERGO valid?¬† I’m satisfied; are you?
This review by Philip G Hodge appeared in sanfranciscosplash.com on May 24, 2012.