May 30, 2007

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Bedtime Thespianism Division


As I recently mentioned, the eldest Llama-ette and I are currently reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third of the Chronicles of Narnia series. Last evening we arrived at the chapter in which we meet the Dufflepuds, at least in their invisible form.

I always try to make my readings as theatrical as possible. As it happens, I was born with a pretty good talent for imitation, so I routinely incorporate voices I've heard from movies, tee vee, CD's or sometimes just personal experience where they seem appropriate. For instance, when we recently read The Silver Chair, I gave Puddleglum the Marshwiggle a Down East accent straight out of Bert & I, much to the satisfaction of the gel.

Coming across the Chief of the Dufflepuds, I was at first a bit stumped. As those of you who've read the book know, the D-P's are wonderfully stupid, somewhat insane, and yet strong enough within their own limited sphere that they cannot be dismissed by the Treader's landing party and ultimately loveable. How to convey this?

Well, my solution was to fall back on, of all things, a favorite John Wayne movie of mine, El Dorado. Specifically, I settled on the voice of Bull Harris, the eccentric, rangy frontiersman sidekick played by character actor Arthur Hunnicutt. His high, gravelly, home-spun and at times warped delivery seems to work out quite well.

I'm pretty sure that ol' C.S. Lewis didn't have half-crazed veteran Injun-fighters in mind when he came up with the D-P's, but I don't think he would have minded too much.

And speaking of such things, one can't get far into the series without having to come up with a voice for everybody's favorite mouse, Reepicheep:


To me, he's always had a Mediterranian accent of some sort, the better to reflect his dashing cavalier style (also, I believe he is addressed as "Signore Mouse" at one point in Prince Caspian).

So where to find one? Well, just to show you what a twisted, jumbled, lumber room of a mind I have, the first time I spoke his part, I found myself thinking back to the Monty Python "Tudor Pornography" sketch. (That oughta bag us some google hits!) There's a little throwaway bit where Michael Palin's Gaskill of Vice Squad, suddenly finding himself to be Sir Philip Sydney, comes across some Spaniards trying to land stacks of lewd magazines on the beach. He confronts one of the Spaniards (played by Terry Jones) thusly:

Cut to the beach. Suspense music. Gaskell strides up to the camera, until he is towering over it. The music reaches crescendo.
Gaskell: Allo allo! What's going on here?
Cut to beached rowing boat piled high with bundles of dirty magazines. Two Spaniards are unloading it.
Spaniard: Ees nothing, Señor, ees just some literature.
Gaskell: I know what literature is, you dago dustbin. I also know what porn is. (pulls out a loose magazine and brandishes it) What's this then eh?
Spaniard: It is one of Lope De Vega's latest play, Señor.
Gaskell: 'Toledo Tit Parade'? What sort of play's that?
Spaniard: It's very visual, Señor.
Gaskell: Right. I'm taking this lot in the name of Her Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
Spaniard: Oh, but Señor.
Gaskell: Don't give me any trouble. Just pile up these baskets of filth and come with me.

In short, Terry Jones' Spaniard impersonation is the voice of my Reepicheep (put to much nobler uses, of course). Warped, I know, but I blame my parents for letting me build all those model airplanes when I was a yoot.

So what do you do when you read the stories aloud?

Posted by Robert at May 30, 2007 10:33 AM | TrackBack

Not too bad. How about Reepicheep as either a Musketeer or Inigo Montoya?


Posted by: Jay Tea at May 30, 2007 04:57 PM

Antonio Banderas' treatment of Puss in Boots from shrek would make a great Reepicheep.

Posted by: Boy Named Sous at May 31, 2007 02:04 AM

I like both the Montoya and the Zorro idea, but remember that he's a mouse, so it has to be a high-pitched Montoya or Zorro.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at May 31, 2007 08:19 AM