PATRICK MCVAY

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Yet Another Gun Farce

I haven't attended an actual theatrical farce since the late 1980s, when I went to see Joe Orton's "What the Butler Saw," accompanied by a woman with whom I was hopelessly infatuated. My strongest memories of that evening – in the darkness of a tiny theater somewhere on Charles Street in Boston (need to check the facts on that) – are less about the comedy itself than the revelation that we humans spew an incredible amount of saliva when we talk.

The director of this production had backlit the stage, such that every time the actors yelled – especially the balding guy playing the central character of Dr. Prentiss – the audience saw impossibly huge clouds of salivary droplets spewing into the air. It was both comical and disgusting and went on for a couple of hours. At times it was hard to follow the play because I was so awestruck by the bursts of goo coming out of the actors' mouths. It didn't exactly provide the romantic atmosphere I was hoping for that evening.

One day, when I was in grade school – call it fifth grade – a teacher angrily hollered at us for treating English class as a farce, which made me laugh because, as a French Canadian, I had many times eaten a meat stuffing called "farce." Then she yelled "Patrick McVay wipe that smirk off your face now!" I might not remember many of the world's thorniest crises of that era, but I remember her saying "farce" and me laughing about it.

Calling our behavior a farce was, to be honest, inaccurate. It was more of a circus. Farces, to my mind, have a pattern to them. Several doors as well. There was only one door in my fifth-grade English class, and our unruly behavior had no discernable pattern.

I've never written a farce, but I did once claim, in these very pages, that I was going to write one called "Gun Farce." I'm guessing that I posted that blog entry shortly after a mass shooting occurred. I won't even bother to check what mass shooting might have happened around January 13, 2013, because, let's face it, they happen just about every day in these increasingly disunited states.

Sometimes, I feel that penning a play around the general contours of my Gun Farce blog entry would be worth the effort, if nothing else to assuage the guilt I feel for doing otherwise little to combat the conditions that enable teenagers to waltz into gun shops and purchase semi-automatic rifles without a license and use them to murder children in their classrooms en masse. However, I don't think it would end up being terribly funny. It's hard to lighten the mood when a minority of Americans are arming themselves to the hilt. It feels eerily like preparation for war, except the enemy is, apparently, young people in school.

Maybe what I'll do instead is write a farce about the US Senate. After all, the Capitol has lots of doors, the principal characters are mad, and there is a decades-long pattern of defending the purchase and sale of guns at any cost.


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