House of Pomegranates
Written by Oscar Wilde
Produced by Joe DiDonna
A reading by The Central Florida Theater Alliance
Theater Garage, Orlando
Once upon a time, children heard stories with long words, complex actions, and simple morals. Today, children hear simple stories, 137 scientifically selected words, and ambiguous morals. Even the people reading this antiquity of Oscar Wilde can’t pronounce some of these words in House Of Pomegranates , a collection of children’s stories from the Victorian age. Two of these stories appeared in tonight’s dramatic reading, “The Young King” and “The Fisherman’s soul.”
Young King grows up rude, raised by peasants after his mother loved well, but not wisely. Near death, the Old King retrieves the boy, acknowledges him heir, and impresses him with the jewels and flummery of rank. Obsessed with peacock finery, a series of Dickensian dreams haunts the boy the night before his coronation. In his dreams, Young King observes the misery of those slaving to produce the jewels and baubles. Upon awakening, he rejects these tokens of rank, only to be rejected in turn by his people. “Are not the luxuries of the wealthy food for the poor?” Perhaps. But none the less, Young King holds to his ideals, and takes the throne. Strong words from such a natty dresser.
The Fisherman falls in love, captivated by a mermaid. To win her he must lose his soul, as the merfolk have no souls, nor may they consort with those that do. How to lose one’s soul? So easy today, so hard in the tale. Abhorred by the priest, and rejected by the merchants, a young and beautiful witch tells him the secret of soul divorce. Sent on its own with no heart, the world corrupts poor Soul. After may years and many adventures, the soul connives back into its corpus, and Fisherman must lose his love. What good is this soul? You can’t see it, you don’t know it, and it is nothing to you. Only love is real.
So goes the tales.