Captain Ahab Harpoons a White Woman
On another occasion I played Captain Ahab from Moby Dick and all I had to say was, "Ahoy matey! Is that the white whale I've been searching for? Out of my way, woman! I'll harpoon that blubbery fish that took me leg!"
I also had to remember to limp – with only one leg Captain Ahab would certainly have had a limp – and deliver my lines with a suitably roguish, nautical accent. Simple enough, surely.
But when I leapt out from the audience and shouted 'Ahoy matey!' things started to unravel. The combination of limping, feigned piratical accent, remembering to face the audience and use the mike, and remembering my lines proved too overwhelming for my overtaxed and panicked brain and in what I clearly recognised as a New Zealand accent I heard myself say, "Is that the white woman that took me leg? Out of my way, matey, I'll harpoon that blubbery beast that I've been searching for!"
In a fog of despair, dimly I saw play director Sanatan standing off stage, glowering at me and my gaffe, and my confused co-actors, reeling with uncertainty, also looking at me in surprise. The audience, too, were unsure as to the identity of the blubbery white woman I wanted to harpoon and how she had managed to take my leg, but finally things rolled on and I was released out of the play and free to escape, crestfallen but relieved, back to the sanctuary of my seat. Captain Ahab had it easy – losing one's dignity is always much, much worse than merely losing a leg.
Incidents like this linger in the minds of other play directors too and suddenly you begin to notice that requests for you to perform in their productions are steadily declining. Mercifully too, since treading the boards is hell for a reticent introvert like me.