‘Toothbrushing Dude’ / The Magician’s Rabbit

I woke from a dream and found a big wasp and a big spider duking it out on the ceiling above my bed. Then I woke from that dream and found I had overslept, the sky outside looked mad, storms thrashing around and heavenly sunshine all at once. I was late for rehearsals.

This was the first play I had been in – it was about a magician who set out to perform a long trick in which she gave birth to a rabbit. I played her flatmate, a character who didn’t really have anything to do with anything. The gimmick was that each time I appeared I was brushing my teeth, which meant all my lines were pretty much incomprehensible – the joke was that I would stumble in, gesticulate wildly and storm off again, frustrated at not being understood. The toothbrush was an electric one and I struggled to hear the other actors over its buzz, meaning I often delivered my ‘lines’ at the wrong time, which the director thought was great anyway. It added to the chaos. I was drunk for most of the performances, most of the rehearsals, dribbling toothpaste all over the place. I had a variety of costumes so that each time I appeared I was dressed differently – once in a tux, then in a wetsuit, at one point dressed as a vicar. As if my character were actually lots of characters. I never worked out what the play was about – I didn’t read the full script or see the other scenes performed. All I knew was that at the end, the magician gave birth to a small child wearing a bunny costume. Later, trying to explain the play and my role in it, I came up with a theory there was a secret plot twist that ‘Toothbrushing Dude’ was actually the father of the magician’s rabbit child.

By then, I was more settled – at nights I went to sleep, dreamt lightly, got up on time, got the children ready for school, dressed sensibly, went to work, produced. Yes, I’ve got the hang of this now, I’ve got this thing tamed.


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