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Chicken to the Slaughter March 17, 2007

Posted by Tim in Humour, Literary.

While waiting to take a mid-term test this week, I happened to peer into one of the neighbouring lecture halls and noticed the students dressed up and the lecturers watching. It was that time of year…

About the only time I’ve ever had geniune interest in a subject in my years in MMU was during my foundation year, in English III. Every group has to select from a pool of classic short stories, and produce a 20-minute sketch. Other than contributing towards our final grade, the best sketches would also be narrowed down and IIRC a final ten would be invited to present in the Main Hall.

In our case, the story was “Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl – no, he didn’t write only children’s books, he produced quite a few short stories for adults that were appreciated for their dark humour.

For the uninitiated, the story revolves around Mary Maloney, whose husband confesses to an affair. In a fit of rage, she seizes the nearest object at hand – a frozen leg of lamb – and buffets him over the head with it, causing his death. After regaining her composure, she calmly goes to the grocer for peas and potatoes, returns, prepares a supper of roast lamb, and calls the police. Upon their arrival, she feigns grief, the grocer provides her alibi, and the story ends with the police joining her for a supper of roast lamb.

First thing was to replace the “leg of lamb” with a whole chicken from TESCO. Lambs are expensive in Malaysia…
I thought it would be interesting if the whole script rhymed. That took up a lot of effort! But we liked the result.

We had Masami as our prot(or is it ant-?)agonist; she was marvellous. She memorized all her lines in no time, and she had the perfect voice: quiet but reeking of zaniness.

Dear chicken, I feel so for you,
So much we have in common
Though we knew each other not.
Betrayed we have been by the people we adored.

Her then-bf Fu Ken was the two-timing husband, and geez… yes he’s always blur, but still – he had relatively few lines but kept forgetting them all!

Letuka (an international student) was narrator, which suited us well because he had the deepest voice and always sounded half-bored.

This is a story
of Mary and Patrick
of killing and drumsticks
of cunning and slapstick
some parts you may not like
for they’re right morbid in tone
but whether you decide to watch or whine,
please don’t try this at home.

Chin Hau was a natural as Sam the grocer of course: plump and jolly… :P

Thye Shin and I played the inept police officers:

My cunning self perceives
The countenance of a wife bereaved
Tussled hair and reddish eyes
Hidden tears and stifled cries
No clue shall go unseen
No print shall easy dry
Where this keeper of the peace
Doth dart his danger eyes.

I wonder if we’d have done it differently today – spoof House MD and CSI perhaps? It was a lot of fun rehearsing and performing it though. We were the best in our group, but unfortunately our second performance didn’t make the cut for the finals. Thye Shin couldn’t make it and I had to do the lines for both cops, but the judges didn’t notice. They said something about “not enough props and costumes”. Pft, I thought it was an English play! Well in retrospect the guidelines did state “Students should be adorned with proper costumes and prop during the presentation” – but who reads guidelines anyway?

Looking back, it was a little rough around the edges and the meter was off at times, but hey it’s the only script I’ve ever written. I like the ending, anyway.

You know, Mary, this chicken of yours
Far surpasses any I’ve had before
What’s your secret? Pray tell –
Vinegar, lime, a dash of eggshell?

Nay, Sam, nothing much
Just a little human touch.

Sadly, I don’t remember anyone taking pictures. Probably too busy worrying about the lines. But I still have [The script!]



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