A while ago I blamed the stress of an audition for my
utterly failing at missing a day of Nano Poblano.
The audition was for Once Upon a Mattress, and if you’re currently giving that title the side-eye, get your mind out of the gutter because it’s just a retelling of The Princess and the Pea.
The show is a hoot. There’s the requisite princess and the obligatory pea, but there’s also a heavily infantilized prince, his overbearing narcissist mother, a mute king, and an entire realm of people who are antsy because none of them are allowed to tie the knot before
Jocasta’s Queen Aggravain’s precious widdle baby boy is wed to a princess she deems worthy.
The latest princess to show up – after 13 other failures – is the queen’s absolute worst nightmare. She’s spunky, she’s snarky, she doesn’t take shit from anyone, and she’s determined to pass whatever egregiously unjust test Aggravain has schemed up to try and prove she’s not princess enough for the heir to the throne.
I fucking love this princess.
They had me read for her.
I had a chance at being this awesome princess.
Casting notifications went out Thursday.
I am not the princess.
The last time I was a princess was 27 years ago. Had I known my one and only shot at being onstage royalty would occur at the ripe old age of eight, I might have taken the time to savor it more. Alas, I was eight, and thought the world would always be my oyster.
Which, granted, it kind of still is, it’s just the pearls don’t always come from where you might expect, and some of them are a bit wonky and maybe a little marked up and scratched from having been dropped repeatedly and gnawed on by the dog. You still wind up with an interesting necklace in the end, it just doesn’t remotely resemble any of the really perfect-looking ones you’ve seen in stores and you have to learn to be okay with that.
The pearl I received from this audition is not smooth and round and fit for a princess.
Instead it arrived in the shape of a knocked-up lady-in-waiting whose boyfriend is kind of a prick.
Meet Lady Larken. She and her knightly beau Sir Harry did a little spontaneous cookin’ during a sunset tryst, and now she’s got a bun in the oven, making her in desperate need of either a shotgun wedding or a way to hightail it out of town before everyone learns of her disgrace.
But with no one able to marry until the prince does, that shotgun wedding’s not looking so possible.
So Harry, being a semi-decent guy, goes princess hunting to help speed things along and returns with the aforementioned royal badass that I don’t get to play. But not before blaming the couple’s pregnancy predicament entirely on Larken for her “moment of weakness”. See? Kind of a prick.
Larken then proceeds to:
– mistake Princess Winnifred for a servant and be mortified about it
– have a fight with Harry
– unsuccessfully try to run away
– unsuccessfully try to run away again, this time dressed as a boy with the help of the king, the court jester and the minstrel
– have another fight with Harry, who has been unconcernedly passing the time since their first fight by dancing with a pretty French girl whose entire English vocabulary consists of the word “yes”
– have a heart to heart with the princess (who also thinks this is all Larken’s fault, because if Harry didn’t try any funny business with her when he was traveling with her back to the kingdom then obviously he’s a stand up guy who would never knock a gal up one minute and then go get jiggy with a little French trollop the next – note: this is the only thing I don’t like about Winnifred)
– go back to Harry and have one of the most unsatisfying reconciliations imaginable.
So basically, while everyone else at court is drinking and dancing and celebrating Winnifred – or reviling her, if you’re a bitchy queen – I get to be belittled, drag luggage around fruitlessly, and weep.
I mean, okay yeah, I’m still the third most important female character after Winnifred and the queen, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.
But sometimes you just wanna be a goddamn princess.