|Talk about your "Grand Slam Breakfast"!|
Special for you, my beloved blog readers, here's a small taste of Tallyho Tallulah. My contract forbids me excerpting more than 1000 words, so here are 1000 words from Chapter 12, "Midsummer Madness." Enjoy. For the other 79,000 words, you'll have to buy the book.
Thursday’s rehearsal was to be the first rehearsal off-book.
For various reasons, they weren’t beginning the session at the top of the play, but rather were beginning at scene 12, where Baby Jane serves her sister a roasted rat for dinner.
Monica took a seat in the wheelchair, but immediately sprang back out of it.
“What is this rat doing here?” She shrieked, pointing to the prop rat on her chair’s seat.
“Trying to plump itself back up after being squished by your petit-sometime-in-the-future ass, I imagine,” said Tallulah, retrieving the prop and putting it under the cover of the serving dish she would be carrying in on a tray. “I wondered where I’d left this. Hey, Cyril, isn’t there some sort of law against cruelty to fake animals?”
“There’s a law against cruelty to actresses,” Monica snarled.
Tallulah laughed and said, “Yes, and you’re the exception that proves the rule.”
“Places, please. Take it from Baby Jane’s entrance,” said Cyril, “Tallulah, are you ready to do it without script?”
“Absolutely. Unlike some of us,” she shot Monica a look, “I am a professional.”
“Then start the scene please. Very quiet everyone.”
Tallulah entered carrying the dinner tray, set it beside the lunch tray, lifted the cover off the lunch plate, saw the fake dead parakeet, snorted, and covered the plate again. Then she picked up the lunch tray and headed for the door. Monica spoke, “Did you have a nice drive?”
Tallulah bowed her head forward and said, “What are you talking about?”
“Nothing dear,” said Monica, “I was thinking. It’s ever so long since we had a nice talk. You know, a real talk about the future and everything. Jane, I don’t want you to have to worry about the house. We’ll still be together, even after I sell it.”
Tallulah bowed her head again and said, “Blanche, you’re not going to sell this house. Daddy bought this house, and he bought it for me.”
“Head up, Tallulah,” said Cyril.
“You’re wrong, Jane. I bought this house, with money from the studio.”
Tallulah bowed her head again, “Oh, you’re a liar. Baby Jane Hudson made the money that paid for this house, that’s who.”
“Head up please, Tallulah,” snapped Cyril.
“You don’t know what you’re saying,” said Monica.
“I do too. These are the right lines, aren’t they Cyril?” said Tallulah.
“That was Monica’s line,” said Cyril.
“Oh, right. I forgot she knows some of her lines.”
“Monica, again please.”
Monica said, “You don’t know what you’re saying, Jane.”
Tallulah set the tray down, bent her head forward, stared at it, and said, “Blanche, you aren’t ever going to sell this house.” Then she lifted the cover off the plate with the parakeet, and stared into the inside of the cover, adding, “And you aren’t ever going to leave it, either.” Tallulah did the dramatic point-at-Blanche gesture she had been doing at this spot, only now, since she was holding the silver plate cover, she misjudged the difference, and smacked Monica in the forehead with it.
“Tallulah,” asked Cyril, “Why are you holding that dish cover?”
Monica, holding one hand to her bashed forehead, snatched the cover from Tallulah and held it out, “Because she’s got this page of her script taped to the inside!”
Sure enough, there was a page of Tallulah’s script on the inside. The previous page was taped to the tray, beside the plate.
Cyril sighed. He had directed fifteen-year-olds in plays, but it hadn’t prepared him for these two.
“Let’s go on, shall we please?”
Tallulah crossed to the window as Monica said, “Jane, do you remember when I had my accident?”
Tallulah stared out the window and said, “You promised you would never talk about that again.”
Cyril said, “Tallulah, I think it will work better if you look back at Blanche on that line, as you were doing before.”
“No, it won’t,” she replied.
“Yes, it will. Do it again, and this time, look at Blanche when you say your line.”
“But I won’t be able to see my lines taped to the back drop.”
“Just do the scene from memory,” Cyril was so annoyed, his fake British accent was disappearing.
Monica again said, “Jane, do you remember when I had my accident?”
Tallulah turned to her, stared for a moment, and then bellowed out, “Line?”
Iris, holding the script near Cyril, read out, “You promised you would never talk about that again.”
Tallulah said, “You promised...ah...you promised...line?”
Iris said, “You promised you would never talk about that again.”
Tallulah said, “You promised you promised you would never talk about that again.”
“No,” said Iris, “just ‘you promised’ once.”
“No,” said Tallulah, “just you promised once.”
“Stop!” yelled Cyril, “Tallulah, your line is ‘You promised you would never talk about that again.’ Okay?”
“I’m fine. Let’s do it.”
Monica once more said, “Jane, do you remember when I had my accident?”
Tallulah stared at her and said, “You...line?”
Iris inhaled deeply and read, “You promised you would never talk about that again.”
Tallulah stared at Monica and said, “What she said.”
“Just go on please, before I die!” said Cyril.
Monica said, “I know I did, but after all these years, I’m still in this chair. And it’s your fault. You wouldn’t be able to do these awful things to me if I weren’t still in this chair.”
Tallulah gave Jane’s evil smirk and said, “Line?”
Iris read out, “But you are, Blanche. You are in that chair.”
Tallulah said, “But you...line?”
“But you are, Blanche. You are in that chair.”
“But you are...line?”
“Blanche. You are in that chair.”
“You are in that chair..”
“Are in that chair.”
“In that chair.”
Monica said, “Maybe it would be easier if you just taped your script to my face.”
Tallulah replied, “It certainly would be, and you’d look better, too.”
“Why you drunken, unprofessional bitch!”
“Ladies!” called out Cyril, “Let’s just skip the scene for now, and try the musical number it ends with. Butch, music please.”
Butch Miller began playing Phil’s Irving Berlin-knock-off melody and Tallulah and Monica began singing together:
There were never such malicious sisters.”
Tallulah launched into her solo line: “Thought my sister Blanche was looking way too fat. That’s why I made her lunch a rat. Line?”