The Bed-Sitting Room
"The Bed-Sitting Room" is a satirical play by
Spike Milliganand John Antrobus. It started off as a one-act play which was first produced at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury. This was adapted to a longer play which was first performed in 1963 at London's Mermaid Theatre, it was a critical and commercial hit, and was revived in 1967. A film based on the play was released in 1970, although this was less successful. The film was directed by Richard Lesterand the cast included Ralph Richardson, Arthur Lowe, Rita Tushingham, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Michael Hordern, Marty Feldman, Harry Secombeand Milligan himself. The screenplay was adapted by Charles Wood.
(In Manchester presentation some goons threw paper aeroplanes onto the stage.)
The play is set in a post-apocalyptic London, nine months after World War III ("the Nuclear Misunderstanding"), which lasted for two minutes and twenty eight seconds – "including the signing of the peace treaty".cite web|url=http://www.phespirit.info/comedy/notes/the_bed_sitting_room.htm|title=The Bed Sitting Room (1969)|work=Phespirit |accessdate=2008-07-05] Nuclear fallout is producing strange mutations in people; the title refers to the character Lord Fortnum, who finds himself transforming into a bed-sitting room (other characters turn into a parrot and a wardrobe). The plot concerns the fate of the first child to be born after the war.
The film is set on the third or fourth anniversary of a war which lasted two hours and twenty-eight minutes. Three years after the nuclear holocaust, several survivors wander amidst the debris of London. Penelope is 17 months pregnant and lives with her lover, Alan, and her parents in the remains of the London Underground.
Other survivors include Capt. Bules Martin, who holds a "Defeat of England" medal, as he was unable to save
Buckingham Palacefrom disintegration during the war. Lord Fortnum is fearful that he will mutate into the "bed sitting room" of the title. Mate is a fireguard, except that there is nothing left to burn. Shelter Man serves as a regional "head of government" over a decimated population. Similarly, the "National Health Service" is the name of a male nurse, although overwhelmed by the extent of the past war. Finally, there are two policemen who hover overhead in a balloon and shout "keep moving" to offset the 'danger' of becoming a 'target' in the (unlikely) event of another outbreak of hostilities.
Lord Fortnum travels to 29 Cul de Sac Place and "does" become a bed sitting room. Penelope's mother is provide with a death certificate, after which she turns into a cupboard. Penelope is forced to marry Martin because of his "bright future", despite her love for Alan. Her father is initially selected to become Prime Minister due to his prodigious leg length, but unfortunately, he mutates into a parrot and is cooked and eaten due to the starvation conditions that prevail.
Penelope finally gives birth, but her monstrous mutant progeny dies. It emerges that Martin is impotent, so he yields marriage consummation to Alan. Penelope has a second child, who is normal, and there is an indication of hope for the future amidst the devastation. She, Alan and her child walk off together. A band pays homage to Mrs. Ethel Shroake of 393A High Street,
Leytonstone, the late Queen's former charwoman, and thus closest in succession to the throne.
The absurdity of the film extends even to the settings. One scene is shot besides a pile upon which a British pottery firm had been throwing rejected plates since
World War IIcite encyclopedia
last = Brosnan
first = John
authorlink = John Brosnan
editor = Nicholls, Peter
encyclopedia = The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
title = Bed-Sitting Room, The
accessdate = 2008-07-12
edition = 1st
date = 1979
publisher = Granada
pages = 63–64] (the joke being that an actor is looking for a dish that isn't broken). Another set of the film is a mock triumphal arch made of appliance doors, beneath which a Mrs. Ethel Shroake ("of 393A High Street,
Leytonstone"), the closest in line for the throne, is mounted on a horse. Even the closing credits have a touch of the absurd, listing the cast not by appearance or alphabetically, but by height.
Literary and Dramatic Counterparts
"The Bed-Sitting Room" can be compared with Milligan's previous "Goon Show", but with a savage, cynical and even more surreal edge, and an existential despair; one critic memorably described it as being "like
Samuel Beckett, but with better jokes". It may have been in part, lampooning Aldous Huxley's pessimistic 1948novel, "Ape and Essence".
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
The New York Ripper — Italian theatrical poster Directed by Lucio Fulci Produced by Fab … Wikipedia
The Licked Hand — is an urban legend popular among teenagers. Like all urban legends, The Licked Hand has several versions. The legendA young girl is left home alone with only her dog (often a German shepherd or collie) to protect her. When night approaches, she… … Wikipedia
The Overland — is a passenger train between Melbourne and Adelaide, Australia. The train started in 1887 as the Adelaide Express and was given its current name in 1926. Now operated by private company Great Southern Railway, the train completes three return… … Wikipedia
The Adventure of the Empty House — The Adventure of the Empty House, one of the 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is one of 13 stories in the cycle collected as The Return of Sherlock Holmes .ynopsisContextThis is the first Holmes… … Wikipedia
The Canterville Ghost — is a popular 1887 novella by Oscar Wilde, widely adapted for the screen and stage.Overview“The Canterville Ghost” is a parody featuring a dramatic spirit named Sir Simon and the United States minister (ambassador) to the Court of St. James s,… … Wikipedia
The Hound of Death — Infobox Book | name = The Hound of Death title orig = translator = image caption = Dust jacket illustration of the first UK edition author = Agatha Christie illustrator = cover artist = Dermonay country = United Kingdom language = English series … Wikipedia
Bed-In — During the Vietnam War, in 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono held two week long Bed Ins for Peace in Amsterdam and Montreal, which were their non violent ways of protesting wars and promoting peace.Amsterdam bed inKnowing their March 20 1969… … Wikipedia
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding — infobox Book | name = The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding title orig = translator = image caption = Dust jacket illustration of the first UK edition author = Agatha Christie cover artist = Not known country = United Kingdom language = English… … Wikipedia
The Five People You Meet in Heaven — Infobox Book | name = The Five People You Meet in Heaven title orig = translator = image caption = First edition cover to the novel author = Mitch Albom cover artist = country = United States language = English series = genre = Novel publisher =… … Wikipedia
The Big Boss — This article refers to The Big Boss, a film starring Bruce Lee. For other uses, see Big Boss. Infobox Film name = The Big Boss caption = The Hong Kong movie poster. director = Lo Wei producer = Raymond Chow eproducer = aproducer = writer = Bruce… … Wikipedia