The Borage Pigeon Affair - by James Saunders (1969)First performed at the Questors Theatre, Ealing (London, England), on Saturday, 14th June, 1969 -
© 1970 James Saunders
published by Andre Deutsch (London, England), 1970
© 1970 James Saunders
published by Penguin (Harmondsworth, England) 1971
(Four Plays - James Saunders)
also contains Next Time I'll Sing To You + Neighbours + A Scent of Flowers
"Borage, a quiet suburban spot not too many miles from Hyde Park, is a town in trouble. Apart from the usual domestic problems, there's the problem of pigeons. Should the offending birds be exterminated - a solution vigorously proposed by Conservative Councillor Dr Dinsdale Badger - or should they continue to live and multiply (and to befoul the statue of Borage's greatest benefactor)? Opposing Badger is Socialist Councillor Makepeace Garnish, whose two great loves are pigeons and Mabel Badger (Dinsdale's wife), with whom he enjoys clandestine meetings in neighbouring telephone boxes. To this already explosive mixture is added the randy Peter Loathing and the Travesty television team, who have been sent out to investigate - and preferably exacerbate - the problem. What happens to Borage and its all-too-familiar citizens makes this not only one of the funniest plays to have been written for years, but also an abrasive comment on the fatuities and sheer nastiness of so much of our public and private life."
"The play deals with tattiness, shoddiness and squalor. It deals with a society in which hypocrisy, disguised as decency, has become the supreme public virtue, a society in which language has lost its ability to express either thought or action and serves as a cloak or as a vocal tic. It is no business of the actors or the director, however, to comment upon this as if from the outside. The play is not a satire, examining the society objectively from a height, but an example, or rather a sample, existing within this society. It is therefore composed of what it is depiciting. That is to say, it should give an impression in itself of shoddiness, slickness, superficiality, of a structure held together by a shoestring, a machine which continues to run by virtue of its inertia and which, if it stopped for a moment, would disintegrate. The director should think himself no better than Loathing, the actors no better than the characters they are playing. The characters should be considered neither as people nor as caricatures, but as characters it is necessary to play. Any attempt to 'get into' the parts insofar as it supposes both a depth in the character and an integrity in the actor, is wrong. On the whole, the actors are not required to 'be' people but to play parts which involve taking certian stances and mouthing certain lines; they are asked, in fact, to perform the same make-believe as the characters themselves. To put it another way, what is presented in the play is not people but the visual and verbal trappings thay have put on; their reasons and motives for putting them on, or indeed the identity of whoever is putting them on, is no one's business. If anyone wants to get beneath the surface, let them find another play. Any pointing of the fact that there is a discrepancy between the surface depicted and the underlayers, comes of the parallel situation on the stage, of actors playing parts they do not believe in. This means that the actors are aware of themselves, constantly, as performers in a shoddy play; their preoccupations will be with themselves, ultimately. Their aim will be to give us as good an account of themselves, before their friends and enemies in the audience and before their rivals in the cast, as is possible in the circumstances. The methods for doing this will vary from bravura overacting, through a flat throwing away of lines as meaningless slabs of dialogue to an ironic delivery to the audience of lines ostensibly directed at other characters.
There is one section in the play where this plea for superficiality may be ignored. It is the bar-room conversation between Garnish, Sear and the Sandwichboard Man. Here the actors concerned may indulge themselves to theit hearts' delight.
Stage directions refer to the original open stage presentation, and should be adapted as necessary. It should be added, moreover, that to keep in the spirit of the play it should be treated as a vehicle for personal aggrandisement rather than as an art product; that is, it is open to the director to cut it as he thinks fit so as best to enhance his reputation. So long as he doesn't credit the author with any extra lines."
(from Andre Deutsch 1970)