Berwick Infirmary became the setting of a moving candlelit vigil last night following the shock collapse of showbiz reporter Simon Duke during a Duns Players production of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross.
Hospital staff are remaining tight-lipped about the journalist’s condition but speculation is rife that Duke — who often attracts parallels to Hollywood friend-to-the-stars, Perez Hilton — is being treated for adjectival dissonance, a disorder widespread in regional journalism but especially affecting theatre reviewers.
Professor Jonty Hardcastle, disorder expert at Newcastle University, explained:
“Adjectival dissonance arises when the language a reporter has at his disposal to write the review conflicts with what he is seeing on stage. So for example, he may have to work from a lexicographical palette of braves, wonderfuls and feel-goods, but will actually be sitting through a range of ghastlies, horrendouses and f***ing-let-me-dies. This creates an aberrant synaptic response within the brain, causing it to shut down.”
However, Dr Daniel Jackson, Council adviser on strategic community theatre, feels a diagnosis of adjectival dissonance is premature.
“Symptoms of adjectival dissonance — sweating, hyperventilation, tugging out clumps of hair and beseeching God — only present once the writing phase is underway. Mr Duke became ill during the show itself, making a diagnosis of early onset post-dramatic schlock disorder more likely.”
He went on to say that PDSD typically manifests in the period immediate to witnessing a show without note, worth or merit that even glitter would fail to improve.
“Speech becomes slurred, motor function impaired and the breath takes on a strong odour of intoxication, hence why PDSD is often misdiagnosed as diabetes. Since 2003, there have been 9.75 PDSD-related fatalities where victims have choked to death on a Mars Bar administered by a well-meaning passerby.”
But several witness reports from the Duns Volunteer Hall fail to support either theory.
“The show is actually very, very good,” complained outraged audience member, Samantha Carter. “I’m bloody fuming. I’d told all my friends how crap it would be. I’m going to look a right tit at dinner parties now.”
Concessionary ticket holder Teal’c Jones agreed. “It’s not what the people of Duns expect or want. We love theatre — especially the classics like your Fawlty Towers, your Vicar of Dibleys and such like — but the Duns Players need to let up on this pursuit of, finger quotes, credibility. They’re making Ed Miliband look laissez-faire.”
Tony Gibbs, Chief Executive of NODA (National Operatic & Dramatic Association), said: “We always encourage amateur companies to go out on a limb and perform material that is well beyond their ability. However, we come down hard on those who actually deliver it. It’s a complete breach of trust between audience and actors, an abuse of the tacit agreement that am-dram should always be a platform for the giving and receiving of acute embarrassment. If reports of competency turn out to be true then we’ll be issuing the Duns Players with some pretty hefty disappointment.”
The amateur acting group — renowned advocates of the “method” — reacted angrily to accusations of culpability.
“I don’t get this,” said cast member John McEwen. “What Duke is hired for is to help us… to help us, not to f**k us up.”
When asked if he had a personal message for the stricken reporter, fellow actor Peter Lerpinière replied:
“Yeah, f**k you. That’s my message to you — f**k you and you can kiss my ass and if you don’t like it, baby, I’m going across the street to Duns Operatic Society, period. F**k you.”
A grim-faced Phil Johnson, editor of the Berwick Advertiser, emerged from the infirmary having delivered a selection of Jessie J CDs and a clean onesie to private rooms where Duke is believed to be staying. He issued a brief statement to the waiting crowd, apologising that he only had five minutes left on his ticket.
“Last Tuesday, Johnston Press demanded that we increase circulation, offering a meal deal at Thistle Do Nicely and a set of fun plastic egg cups as an incentive.”
“But cutbacks have meant that we have too few reporters covering too many stories, all of which revolve around the town’s parking issues.” He frowned before admitting: “Oh, wait. Was there something about the Berwick Maternity Unit? Yeah, that one took us all from behind, to be honest. Seriously, have you tried parking outside? Good luck if your cervix decides to soften between 9:00am and 6:00pm, that’s all I’m saying.”
“So anyway, I believe Simon collapsed due to a massive metaphorical kick in the ballsack, delivered by the realisation that his life runs like an incredibly cheap Mamet play.” He then added: “Talking of which, I like the sound of those egg cups, don’t you?”
Glengarry Glen Ross, Duns Players, Duns Volunteer Hall, tonight and tomorrow (27 & 28 Sept), 7:00pm