Greenwich Night Pageant (5) Act IV

And so the final act of the biggest Am-Dram Greenwich has ever seen (and will probably ever see.) We’ve sat through Acts One, Two, Three and Four of The Greenwich Night Pageant and now I’m on the edge of my seat for the final, riveting scenes and the Grand Finale. We start with the funeral of Admiral Lord Nelson…

Everyone who hasn’t had a part yet, gets to slum it in this section as the light comes up over a waiting crowd “of the roughest native English type, horse dealers, pickpockets, vendors of milk, buns and every miscellany, even of rat-traps; chimney sweepers and draymen, mingling with the more repurable citizens.” At last the door is flung open and they are allowed to file past Nelson’s coffin.

I’m snuffling away – if the death of General Wolfe hadn’t had me in floods, this would have got me. It gets worse, as, to the strains of Dead March in Saul the funeral procession, led by the Lady Mayoress, walks down to the King’s Steps and away to London. The man behind me hisses at me to shut up. I give him A Look.
Nelson’s barge leaves Greenwich and I give my nose one last blow.

Phew. What I really need after all that is a good shanty to cheer me up. It’s almost as if Arthur Bryant’s heard me as a douty chorus of jolly jack tars sing what has to be every shanty known to seaman. We are treated to Barnacle Bill, Spanish Ladies, Blow the Man Down (complete with blown-down man) Nancy Lee… I join in lustily, feeling much better.

You know, I had assumed that we’d already had the Obligatory Surreal Moment every amateur show produces when you really don’t have a clue what’s going on, so perhaps the next bit, depicting The Great War, is the Obligatory Creepy Moment instead. Amongst ‘ominous flames and shadows’ comes a battalion of Robot Soldiers. Their leader is Death. There is an Unpleasant Moment and then all Hell lets loose…

To be honest there isn’t really a satisfctory ending to this bit – a single figure in Naval uniform stands at the top of the steps and blows a bugle, instantly ceasing the racket of machine gun fire and bombs. It’s all very symbolic; I’m just not sure what it’s symbolic of, given the whole history-thing.

The Grand Finale is a cavalcade of historic figures re-enacting the best bits from each of their scenes, to the tune of Sir Henry Wood’s Fantasy on British Sea Songs, but I can’t really hear any of it, I’m cheering so much. It’s all been fantastic.

A sonorous chord sounds long and loud and we all stand to attention for The King. What a night. What a crowd. And what a coup for Vice Admiral Sir Barry Domville, CB, CMG, President of The Royal Naval College. A shame really, how he turned out. But that’s for another day…

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