The event formed part of the St Patrick's Day Festival in the great city where I reside, and featured a 100-voice choir and the Barabbas Theatre Company.
That in itself should have told me something, but I am not The Fastest Man Alive.
Anyhow, our seats for the performance were located in the right-side balcony overlooking the stage; good seats, but with restricted view if one happened to be an eight-year-old. So my nephew, spotting some seats (a vast expanse) at the back of the auditorium, decided we were going to sit there instead. He went and asked an usher if it was okay, and she told him that if nobody came to sit in those seats by the time the show began, she would come and get us and bring us to them.
Which, shortly thereafter, she did.
Picture, if you will - actually no, permit me to illustrate:
This is the seating chart for the NCH. On the left can be seen the seats we were originally assigned; at the top are the seats we ultimately occupied, thanks to my nephew's need to see 'everything'. The 'Bored Theatre Critic' denoted by the red square was the only other person in the top half of the balcony.
So I think it's safe to say that our position was exposed, to say the least.
Hence my concern when the clowns arrived on stage.
Now, as all know, clowns is bastids. expecially the ones with the complete whiteface (and tattooed tear that shows they've been in a Russian prison).
Anyway, a trio of clowns (red noses, haplessly clumsy) appeared on stage, ostensibly to sweep up before the choir arrived. Whiteface admonished them to stop messing about and get on with it, but of course the choir arrived (all wearing black, it must be said) before they could escape, so they had to make themselves, ah, inconspicuous.
Mitchel was fascinated.
"How are they going to escape?"
"Why doesn't he (Whiteface) have a red nose?
"Why is he being mean?"
"Are they going to sing now?"
You get the idea.
And of course the clowns tried to 'help' by singing, introducing humourous sound effects, etc., while the choir attempted to render a variety of Irish classics.
But for us, the high point was half-time, when the clowns took over and demanded audience participation in the singing of a song which, we were assued, had been part of the National Schools Curriculum of 1984.
Producing a large board upon which appeared the lyrics, we 'learned' the song by repeating each line as it was sung by the clowns, doing the appropriate actions as directed, just as we would have done in school.
And thus it was that we learned the timeless Irish classic, "Amos the Leper".
Here now, for posterity and following five years' worth of extensive research, are the lyrics:
"Amos was a family man
He earned his living from the land;
Many friends had Amos
And a wife and family.
But friends and family left his side
When he became a leper man.
Yes, Amos the leper
Was banished from the land.
So cry Unclean! oh you lonely lonely leper,
Stay away in your cave upon the hill.
Ring your bell oh you sad and lonely leper.
Amos the leper was banished from the land,
Yes, Amos the leper was banished from the land..."
Imagine if you will, therefore, an auditorium filled with families (escept for the yellow balcony which, as I have explained, was something of a cultural desert), being taught this strange little song by red-nosed bastids, and having to do a little jump into the air on the word 'leper', and you'll understand why the place was in absolute tears of laughter*.
As the concert ended (and I honestly couldn't tell you what the choir finished with), and everyone left the hall, all we could hear were people humming or singing Amos the Leper, with the occasional 'lep' by a small child.
Excellent stuff - bring back Barabbas...
*except for the bored theatre critic...