The King and I, or something like that

Opinions - June 1st, 2001
Robert J. Collins

by Robert J. Collins

It’s a musical comedy. Has to be. The thing will virtually write itself.

Okay, it still needs work at this stage. One of several plots must be selected, and a three-act structure must be put in place, but the basic elements are already there.

We have hope, dreams and ambition. We have conflict in the form of sinister characters balled up in the ponderous mass of inertia and resistance to change. Will the bright and shiny prevail over the old and dull?

As for comedy, it abounds. The peculiar son of an equally peculiar (but dear) leader of a neighboring country tries to sneak into Japan to go to Disney­land (or to research computers, or both). His sudden and remarkable presence on the scene immediately tests the mettle of the bright and shiny members of the new regime. Whatever they do, it will be wrong. Brilliant.

Another comical element would reside in a montage of faces following the action. New Cabinet Members would be seat­ed in bleachers behind the bright and shiny main characters. Get this, and to even consider the idea brings tears of laughter to my eyes, those observers are…wide awake!

All right. Calm down. Where were we? Oh, the main charac­ters.

The hero of this work, of course, is the new Prime Minis­ter—The Thin Man With Big Hair (Cool). The heroine is the new Foreign Minister—The Woman With The Voice Of A Crow (Uncool).

(At this point it is important to state that the “hero” and “heroine” in this musical comedy are not interacting protagonists in the sexual arena—with grunts, groans, sweaty flanks, black knit stockings, clothing strewn about the stage, promises, recrimina­tions, panting, mussed hair, Via­gra jokes, songs in B-flat and hand-holding ‘neath the dais— because that would be messy. Besides, breaking waves would roll off the stage and into the front row laps of the audience. Instead, think “buddy flics.”)

Anyway, TTMWBH (Cool) and TWWTVOAC (Uncool) would be supported by, among others, Arch Eyebrows-man (the son of the Governor of Tokyo) and Ms. Ogi (If You Think This Is Uptight Check The Top But­ton On My Blouse). By the way, being a former Takarazuka per­former, IYTTIUCTTBOMB will also choreograph the dance num­bers.

Which brings us to…the dance numbers. Unfortunately, since the only Japanese song in the last 50 years anyone can remember for more than five minutes (including the National Anthem) is “Sukiyaki,” music will be by the Beach Boys.

The chorus line of blue-suit­ed bankers, arms around each others’ shoulders and high-kick­ing in unison as they lip-sync “I Wish They All Could Be Califor­nia Girls,” enters from stage left. The are momentarily stopped in their tracks by the yawking and cackling of TWWTVOAC (Uncool), but they quickly con­tinue when it sinks in that she has absolutely nothing to do with domestic monetary issues.

TTMWBH (Cool) enters from stage right as the song ends and the bankers execute a twirl with every second one dropping to his knee. TTMWBH (Cool) has been visiting Yasukuni Shrine to refresh himself from the rigors of a morning meeting with Japanese textbook experts from Taiwan, China, the Koreas, Sin­gapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, North America, England, Australia and New Zealand. (“What’s the prob­lem?”).

“Hey, hey,” says TTMWBH (Cool), humming a popular ditty as he says this.

Astonished that a Prime Minister knows anything current outside the four walls of the Diet, the crowd falls silent. His new followers, members of the gener­al populace, peek back over their shoulders at him. (They never face him directly—like chimps in the presence of an Alpha male— in case they have to cut and run if his “refreshing new style” goes over the top and becomes seri­ously oddball.)

“The bankers are here,” reports AE-man executing a nifty buck and wing dance.

“Wock, wock,” confirms TWWTVOAC (Uncool) on the last two beats of the dance.

“The bad news,” states the Minister of Economic and Fiscal Policy (The Old Man), “is that for every ¥10 trillion of bad debt we forgive, we will lose 100,000 jobs.”

The stage darkens and thun­der is heard as all performers cir­cle around the stage bowed over at the waist with bent knees— much like Groucho Marx in “A Night At The Opera.”

“But the good news,” states TOM as order is restored, “is that in five years, as Japan ages, we wouldn’t have enough people for jobs anyway. This fixes it.”

Momentary silence. Then the roar of the surf is heard. People grab SCUBA gear secreted around the set and head for the beach. The last scene before Cur­tain is a puzzled TTMWBH (Cool) counting out five years on his fingers.

I agree, the play needs work. But it has to start somewhere. All things do.