Electric John

He was fed and nourished from the lives of others having no descernible life of his own. To the cast members of The Rugby Players he was ‘Electric John’, responsible for Lights, Limes and Spots. The Stage Crew called him ‘John’ for some unfathomable reason. Being artistic and believing ourselves blessed with a waspish sense of humour, we felt it terribly witty to use such an adjective on a man possessed of no dynamism whatsoever. Electric’s stories had enough height to clear two-storey buildings, although they were told in such a monotonic drone that people weren’t there at the end.

Rugby Repertory Theatre is hardly London West End, but we’re all professional actors nonetheless Darling. Electric said he was of Jewish extraction. Incongruous as that seemed we nevertheless used him in an advisory capacity during our run of “Fiddler on The Roof”. Marjorie Proups on Props asked Electric for advice on Bagels. Always use two for hunting and never let them inside the house, was the sage reply. And so the legend was born.

“I played Othello to rave reviews at the Adelphi theatre when Jonathan Millar had to pull out with haemorrhoids.”

“I was part of the team which made the first successful ascent of the gully on Mount Everest.”

“I used to date Helen Mirren.”

All this from a six foot two stick insect with a pointed, bald head and a nose for opening beer bottles. Now I may be naive, but it takes a certain amount of charisma to accomplish any one of these notable feats. What I found most admirable however, was the conviction with which Electric made these assertions. I miss him. And you know we never had cause to complain about the lights. An important part of theatre; lights. I only ever remember one faulty lighting-cue. In “Lady Angela’s Bloomers”. Hands still wet from ice-sculpting “The Thinker”, Electric trained the spotlight stage left. An incredible flash of blue light arced through luckless John’s body as Lady Angela’s Bloomers plunged into darkness. Electric John would have been proud of such an exit.

© franciman 2023
critique and comments welcome.
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