The Wolves Show: a Melodrama in 38 Instalments
Over the weekend Akela accused me of being melodramatic in my account of the defeat suffered at the hands of Blackpool. Having tried to justify my approach- everyone knows how critical this run-up to Christmas is for the Wolves- I thought about the jibe a little more. I concluded that I had been correct in my assessment of the significance of the match in the context of the Wolves performances to date, while acknowledging Akela`s perception in discerning the proper theatrical analogy.
The New Oxford Dictionary of English (Pearsall, Judy, ed., 2001, Oxford: Oxford U.P., p. 1154) defines a melodrama as, "a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions". Who can deny that this exactly describes the experience of watching the Wolves at the moment?
Melodrama comes in many forms. Would that the fortunes of the Wolves took on the appearance of a fairy story, something like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. After a period of honest toil among these good people - humble and small of stature but industrious and supportive of one another - Snow White meets her prince and moves into a shining new palace. In contrast, the genre currently being enacted on the pitch is pure Grand Guinol, a grisly splatfest.
When the production began in August we, the audience, were led to believe that we were definitely going to watch a fairy story. The programme notes told us so and hadn`t the fairy godmother waved her magic wand, allowing the theatre manager to attract a better class of pixie? Unfortunately, the mood soon turned sombre, only partly caused by the directors of each game interpreting the text in favour of the evil ones. Watching events unfold, we grew more and more confused. So, to avoid any further misunderstanding the owners decreed that every performance should begin with a sign that indicated that we were indeed viewing a horror show.
The action centres on the fate of a fair maiden, Lady Wulfruna (ironically dressed in wolf's clothing), and her plucky band of loyal, diligent but rather bumbling followers, attired in liveries of old gold and black. Her step-father, Sir Jasper McCarthy, runs her affairs. Although outwardly bluff and good-humoured, some of us in the audience think that he dissembles and does not listen to reason. From our vantage point, we can see that he favours his own children and does not always hire suitable replacements whenever a retainer falls sick or grows too old. We even detect some dissention in the ranks: the assistant game-keeper is unhappy, one of the sweepers is anxious to return home and a serf, soon to become a freeman, wants to take up an appointment as a bench-warmer at a larger, more wealthy palace.
The destiny of Lady Wulfruna hangs in the balance, attacked every week, as she is, by gangs of marauders, looking to score. Some of these robber bands come great distances, attracted hither by her great beauty, extolled in messages passed between her acolytes. Her worst enemies, however, live in castles nearby and skirmishes sometimes break out in local watering-holes. Tension mounts as the defences crumble under the barrage. Small-scale forays, occasionally issuing forth out of the narrow postern-gate, fail to inflict much damage on the enemy. The situation is desperate and help is needed ... only it lies many miles away and will not arrive for over a month. Even so, it will still take time to work out the details of the defensive plan and put the fresh troops into position. By then, it may be too late.
Oh, I almost forgot: the Pantomime season will soon be here. At Molineux the show features some players dressed up to give the appearance of someone they`re not and perform pratfalls to amuse the audience, especially those in the visitors` section. But, please: no encore!