PASS THE SPOON
He’s a manic depressive alcoholic egg. He has pendulum depression, whereby he swings from joy to despair and back again. And he’s an ingredient – well, he’s actually the waiter, but he turns out to be an ingredient when he’s used as one later. But he’s an alcoholic and depressed before he finds out he’s going to become an ingredient. He does actually die – I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but there you go. You become an ingredient on account of being dead. His depression is neither here nor there thereafter.
He’s a proper opera singer. And he’s an average butcher – he sells meat products, as butchers do. He has a really fine voice, and he has a certain sort of ecclesiastical quality to him. The Butcher’s shop is like a place of worship, which makes him a minister of sorts. The Butcher is a giant in terms of his voice – he’s a got a big, big voice. He’s not as physically big as Mr Granules, who is a medical giant. THE DUNG BEETLE
The Banana is the voice of reason, the sensible character who contextualises some of the other characters’ irrational thoughts and steers them towards more reasoned behaviour. Mr Banana is also an ingredient but the important difference with Mr Egg is he is aware of being an ingredient prior to that, but nevertheless is very pragmatic about his position. MR GRANULES
He’s the sinister character, the dinner guest everyone is cooking a meal for who appears towards the end of the show and everybody is slightly scared of him. For one thing he’s kind of a giant, so he’s a lot bigger than everyone else. He doesn’t really speak as such, he just moans and groans. He’s quite an unpleasant guy who does something mean to June. 26 THE LIST 20 Oct–17 Nov 2011
He’s a little sidekick of the Shit. Like the Root Vegetables, who also appear as characters, the Dung Beetle is a puppet. He has a few lines, but he’s basically a puppet operated by the Shit. THE SHIT
He’s a shit. He’s kind of a metaphysical character if you will, in the sense that he represents some kind of evil – or at least something very unpleasant – which is the consequence of something that happens in the course of the story. He’s called the Shit, and he is a shit. He doesn’t even really have a name, he just is what he is – he lives in a toilet. (As told to Malcolm Jack.) Pass The Spoon, presented by Magnetic North, Tramway, Glasgow, Thu 17–Sat 19 Nov, 7.30pm, £14 (£10). Read director Nick Bone’s introduction at list.co.uk
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David Shrigley is just the latest in a long line of creative types to take a detour into the opera world
STEWART LEE The ‘comedian’s comedian’ took some time out a decade back to dash off Jerry Springer: The Opera, a paean to the trashy US talk show host and his disciples. The show’s eye-wateringly profane libretto, depictions of Biblical figures, including God, Jesus and the Virgin Mary, and dancing Ku Klux Klan members provoked a record 55,000 complaints when it was shown on the BBC.
DAMON ALBARN The Blur frontman is fast becoming an old hand at the opera game, having collaborated on two large-scale works for the Manchester International Festival. Monkey: Journey to the West, staged in 2007, was an adaptation of a 16th century Chinese novel by Albarn’s band Gorillaz and Chinese director Chen Shi-zheng, while 2011’s Doctor Dee was inspired by comic book artist Alan Moore and based around the life of John Dee, physician to Elizabeth I.
ARMANDO IANNUCCI Having conquered the worlds of radio and television satire The Thick of It creator Iannucci teamed
up with composer David Sawer and Opera North to create an opera about cosmetic surgery, playfully entitled Skin Deep. Panned by the critics Iannucci’s efforts at least deserve some kudos for including a ballet of transplant organs called ‘The Dance of the Seven Bandages’. PAUL MCCARTNEY Currently riding a wave of derision for his hook-up with New York City Ballet, Macca’s first high- profile foray into the classical oeuvre was the Liverpool Oratoria, the story of a working class Scouse family, which featured performances from superstars Kiri Te Kanawa and Willard White. While the album topped the classical charts around the world reviews were mixed, the New York Times describing the collaboration with composer Carl Davis as ‘a musically primitive assemblage of material, gussied up through some clever scoring’. Ouch!
JANICE GALLOWAY The Saltcoats-born author of The Trick Is to Keep Breathing and Clara went back to her roots as a classically-trained musician to collaborate with acclaimed contemporary composer Sally Beamish on the libretto for the 2002 opera Monster, a speculative imagining of the events leading up to the creation of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.