The play begins with an astonished policeman looking through the window of a house where a group of people are posed in a bizarre, surreal tableau reminiscent of the paintings of René Magritte. Finding this suspicious, he calls in his inspector.
Inside the room, a rational explanation for the tableau gradually becomes apparent. Two ballroom dancers, a man and a woman named Reginald and Thelma Harris, are hurriedly getting ready for an event. A lampshade which had used bullets as a counterweight has broken and a woman crawls on the floor to look for them. The mother plays the tuba.
The inspector arrives and asks about the family's memories of a man they had seen outside of the Tate Gallery where a René Magritte exhibit is being held. He invents an entirely false story, accusing the family of complicity in a crime known as the Crippled Minstrel Caper. As he continues, the stage picture becomes increasingly ridiculous. For instance, the couple offers the inspector a banana as the male dancer stands on one foot. One scene is even performed in total darkness. By the end of the play, the characters are posed in another Magritte-like tableau.
- Stoppard Plays at http://www.doollee.com/PlaywrightsS/stoppard-tom.html
- Absurdist Reviews at http://www.citypaper.com/arts/story.asp?id=4508
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