The Farce Awakens

The Knaresborough Mummers' repertoire of plays features many heroes of bygone days, such as Robin Hood and King Arthur. Even when creating an entirely new play in the 1980s, the team looked to the past for inspiration, basing a script on the exploits of Sherlock Holmes. However, the team's leader, John Burrell, saw no reason why a mummers play shouldn't look to the future. Following a workshop at Beverley Folk Festival 1999, where he had encouraged use of this theme in a script writing workshop, he pondered on the idea of a science fiction play for the team. This idea was long in gestation, but around the time of a new Star Wars movie in 2015, it finally took shape, thanks to Mark Ellison, in a play called "The Farce Awakens".

The play is introduced by an orphan lad, Luke Warmwater, who relates that…..well I think it would spoil your enjoyment of it if I told you exactly what happens! Suffice to say, it brings together familiar characters from various well known Sci-Fi productions, together with a couple of special effects, written to follow the familiar themes of heroes, villains, death and resurrection to produce "a mummers play, Jim, but not as we know it!"

The play was first performed at an evening social gathering of Betty Lupton's Ladle Laikers, at the Mother Shipton Inn, Knaresborough on Saturday, 25th April, 2015. It got a second outing at the Vale of Evesham National Morris Weekend on Saturday, 18th June, 2016. Marquee at The Fleece, Bretforton for the Vale of Evesham Morris Weekend evening ceilidh on Saturday, 18th June, 2016.

The Farce cast from l-r: John Burrell, Ted Dodsworth, Andy West, Dave Williams, Mark Ellison and Julian Sharpe.

The play was most recently performed at the national showcase of folk dance and traditions, Dancing England, which took place at Nottingham Playhouse in January 2019.

Saturday, 26th January, 2019 Nottingham Playhouse, Dancing England. The Farce cast from l-r: Dave Williams, Mat Davies, Mark Ellison, Julian Sharpe, Jeff Garner and John Burrell.

Due to time restrictions at Dancing England, the play was slightly edited, and the finale song was trimmed to four verses. It's likely that any future performance would stick with this reduced version, so for posterity's sake, the full posterior of the song is bared here. It's a nautical romp, set to the tune of "The Gallant Frigate Amphitrite":-

The gallant Starship Enterprise, she was all systems go,
With Captain Kirk upon the bridge and Scotty down below.
We revved up to warp factor nine and past the moon did soar.
Our orders were to boldly go where no man's gone before.

When we approached the planet Mars the route was chock-a-block.
"It's gridlocked right past Jupiter,"reported Mr Spock.
"The sat-nav's found a shortcut, Saturn's ringroad we'll avoid.
And all around Uranus is a pile of asteroids."

We anchored next to Neptune where the mermaids swim in shoals.
To hook some bathing beauties we whipped out our fishing poles.
But someone clamped the Enterprise while we were down on shore,
Because we'd put no money in the parking meteor.

We aimed our phasers at the clamp and set our vessel free.
The traffic wardens chased us as we fled for Mercury.
And meanwhile on the poop deck, Kirk was hiding in the bog.
He locked the door and said he must produce the captain's log.

As we were passing Venus we received an SOS.
"Ahoy, me boys" said Captain Kirk. "A damsel in distress!
Prepare to launch the lifeboat and I'll see what I can see.
If any lass is cast adrift, her coxswain I will be."

He went down to the rescue with a cry of "There she blows!"
But shortly Kirk was up the spout and facing his old foes.
They'd lured him with a false alarm, a dirty Klingon trick.
He wailed and blubbered when those fiends harpooned his Moby Dick.

We beamed up our poor captain,
He was in a sorry state. "If that's gone septic," said McCoy, "We'll have to amputate."
We did our best for his crow's nest, and when we'd done at last,
Bold Captain Kirk could hoist his flag, but only at half-mast.

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