|Apr/May 2009 Humor/Satire|
As submitted to Sister Mary's Weekly Bulletin
Brian Phillip Whalen’s staged memoir, Testicle Lost or Oh, That Stubborn Testicle!, is a dramatized account of an endoscopic surgery the playwright underwent when he was six years old. The purpose of the surgery was to search for Mr. Whalen's left testicle, which failed to appropriately descend into Mr. Whalen's scrotum. This is Mr. Whalen's fifth successful play for Sister Mary's. Previous performances include: Honey, I Shrunk the Tabernacle and If It Ain't Baroque, Fix It!. Admission to the play is free of charge, though donations to Sister Mary's Youth Council's "Save Yourself for Jesus" Drive are welcomed and encouraged.
Testicle Lost follows the perspective of Mr. Whalen's right testicle as a team of surgeons work to discover the whereabouts of the missing Left Testicle. Both testicles are played by Mr. Whalen. Other characters take the form of endoscopic tools, regional organs, and voiceovers from different members of the surgical team. These characters serve the duel purpose of representing certain real-life personas from Mr. Whalen's life (below listed). Characters are color-coded, befitting the mood the playwright generally held toward them in childhood. Secondary characters are cast from Sister Mary's Youth Council's "Teach n' Preach" Public Speaking Series and costumes designed by Sister Mary's Youth Council's "Teach a Convict Stitchery!" Outreach Program.
The cast of characters:
Right and Left Testicle
Rectum (mother figure)
Urethra (father figure)
Appendix (School Psychologist)
Endoscope, Clamp, Scalpel (The Holy Trinity)
Surgical Team (Boys' Room Bullies)
Sister Mary's Youth Council's "Committee Governing the Promotion of Church-Related Non-Church Activities" has generously donated the performance space: an area between the pulpit and the choir, beneath the shadow of the Cross. The stage is draped in matching plush-red bed sheets, hung from coat racks mounted with electric candelabras: a breathtaking representation of the inside of a six-year old's scrotum. As the action unfolds, Mr. Whalen's skilled stagehand, Pastor Javier, pulls a cord and tightens the drapery each time a scene takes place outside the sac; when action resumes again inside the scrotum, the cord is dropped and the sheets flair out. But no matter how much space he has, Right Testicle feels the loneliness accompanying the absence of Left Testicle: his promised mate. (For more information about overcoming loneliness, please call the Sister Mary's Youth Council's "Maybe It's Me, or Maybe It's Depression" Hotline.)
The play opens with a lengthy solo by organist and wife, Mrs. Javier. Then Testicle Lost is underway!
Off stage, members of the surgical team make several missing testicle jokes in reference to the card game UNO and the movie The Fugitive. Endoscope is introduced: he performs a breath-taking tap routine before gathering his pals, Clamp and Scalpel, for a romp in the gastric region. Meanwhile, alone in his scrotum, Right Testicle mourns the absence of his anticipated partner. He reads Quixote and he weeps: for what is a Don without his Panza? He composes a sonnet in honor of his missing pal, but can only think of A, C, and E rhymes: the poem, like he, is incomplete. Sinking deeper into melancholy, Right Testicle sings a soporific rendition of "Blue Moon" in the mirror, serenading his reflection as if it were Left Testicle. Act One ends with Right Testicle quoting Theophanes Confessor: "he both bequeathed to me, who was his close friend, the book he had written and provided materials with a view to completing what was missing."
Following The Goonies-like adventures of Endoscope and his entourage, the script takes a decidedly post-modern turn, begging the question: parody, pastiche, or de-ironized hyper-farce? Right Testicle has lost his mind, and spends his time scouring a scrotal graveyard in search of Yorik's testicles. Suddenly, Left Testicle appears as the ghost of Right Testicle's father. Right Testicle arranges for a play to be performed in honor of the incestuous King Urethra; in the play-within-the-play, Endoscope, Clamp, and Scalpel play the parts of King Urethra, Queen Rectum, and the opiate-addicted sister Glutamate (who later drowns herself in a pool of seminal fluid). King Urethra runs off stage after the play-actors feign the murder of Left Testicle: the funneling of potassium nitrate into the vas deferens. Act Two ends with an all-cast restaging of Antonio's death scene in Duchess of Malfi, with Right Testicle weeping Bosola's famous lines: "We are merely the stars' tennis balls, struck and bandied which way please them."
Sulking within his shriveled scrotum, Right Testicle discusses his virginity with Appendix. Appendix remains on the outside looking in, though, as Right Testicle refuses full disclosure. Rectum makes a brief appearance, arguing with Urethra about the discursive gender acts being performed by the lone testicle; Urethra spouts basic Robert Bly-isms while Rectum attempts to differentiate between gender and sex by critically referencing the works of Judith Butler and Eve Kosofky Sedgwick. Right Testicle interrupts, rejecting notions of the individuality of the self by paraphrasing Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's work on the subaltern. The surgical team concludes that no left testicle exists, nor did it ever. Act Three ends with Right Testicle postulating an alternative theory: that Left Testicle perished during a freak occurrence of spontaneous combustion, as in Dicken's Bleak House.
Reenacting Melville's Redburn, Right Testicle ventures out of the scrotum along with Endoscope and Scalpel (Clamp disappears without mention), in search of Left Testicle, referencing an outdated edition of Gray's Anatomy as a map. Employing doubling techniques akin to 19th Century literary style, Act Four parallels the first three acts: this time, however, every scene is played as though Right Testicle were in fact his opposite: Left Testicle. Although the plot remains the same, subtle nuances of personality arise, mirroring the left/right dichotomy of the characteristically bi-lobial mind. In a Fight Club-esque climax, Right Testicle realizes he is both Left and Right Testicle—consubstantial body and spirit. Right Testicle performs a symbolic act of self-immolation, but as the flames rise, his sperm is released: the fire is smothered. There is, it seems, no way out. He turns, finally, to God for help. The play ends as Right Testicle recites the Lord's Prayer and ascends from the scrotum up to heaven, climbing the backs of the secondary characters as they form a human bridge across the stage.
When the candelabras dim, the play comes to a close. Members of the audience are free to weep, cheer, and make their way into the foyer of the church for the regularly scheduled Sister Mary's Youth Council "Frozen Yogurt Social." Audience members may help themselves to scoops of Pastor Javier's wife's famous "tuna loca" casserole. Brownie squares are fifty cents, and proceeds go to Sister Mary's Youth Council's "Stop Unwonted Teenage Frottage at McNally's Drive-In" Drive.
As Director of Sister Mary's Youth Council, Mr. Whalen would like to thank Pastor Javier, Sister Mary's Congregation, and the Sister Mary's Youth Council's "Spelling and Grammar Check" Committee. Testicle Lost will run through Passover, at which time his production of Sister Mary's Youth Council's adaptation Anything Goes...to HEAVEN! will take its place.