Is Shrek complaint really the height of ridiculousness?
Oh, dear. In the current climate of doom and gloom there is surely a surfeit of serious things to grumble about.
So much so, that we are spoilt for choice.
One grumble that grabbed my attention this week as being a grumble too far, was criticism of a six-foot actor playing the diminutive role of evil Lord Farquaad in Shrek. This was not out of aesthetics, but some sense of vertically-challenged outrage.
Perhaps is shouldn’t be surprising.
In a world where people actively seem to seek out reasons to be offended, offence offers its opportunistic head everywhere.
And surely the prize for grabbing it this week must go to an indignant patron of the Theatre Royal Plymouth.
This individual was apparently “appalled” to see “an able-bodied, tall actor” playing the part of a dwarf in the musical. Such was his ire he decided to write a ‘Mr Angry’ letter to the press.
He claimed that taller men and women are being cast instead of dwarfs – because the bigger actors are cheaper. You could argue this point on the fact that there are fewer dwarfs working in the performing arts – and fewer parts available.
He also said, by way of protest, he would not be “attending” the musical.
His loss. Maybe if he saw subscription of the Politically Correct Brigade, would have seen Shrek and ‘got’ the comedy of Lord Farquaad.
Playing the role, Samuel Holmes scuttles around the stage on his knees, creating the illusion of having short little legs.
This is a visual joke – a cartoonesque vision of this irascible, imperious character as he rules his kingdom.
The musical is based on the American computeranimated fantasy comedy film.
In essence the theme is about difference, and celebrating our difference. The characters in Shrek are all outcasts in one way or another. Shrek is a kindly ogre who, beneath his green skin, shares the same emotions as everyone else.
If the letter-writing Mr Angry wishes to see a real dwarf playing the role of a cartoon dwarf I would suggest he should think again.
The silly visual exaggerated leg-crossing gags only work because we know they are dummy legs. And there is the comedy.
This theatrical gag often finds its way into showbiz sketches – creating much opportunity for some hilarious routines with an imaginative choreographer.
It would not work with real dwarfs.
Theatre is all about pretend. The suspension of disbelief. Actors perform, become characters on stage, and make us believe in them.
But you do not need to take role casting literally. In a serious play a dwarf can play any part that is credible. Being vertically challenged is no bar.
And certainly scriptwriters could present more dramatic opportunities.
But I’m less comfortable with shows like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
So where do the PC police draw line? Mr Angry seems too eager to find something to get het-up about. I suggest he takes a chill pill.