Slings and Arrows

Season 3 Episode 2

Vex Not His Ghost

Aired Unknown Jul 31, 2006 on The Movie Network
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Episode Summary

Vex Not His Ghost
Richard discovers a kindred spirit in Nigel, the talented young writer of East Hastings. With Nigel's encouragement, and a few tips from Geoffrey, Richard takes on Darren's musical dictatorship.
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  • One of the most exemplary episodes in the entire series. The moment in which the plots of "East Hastings: The Musical" and "King Lear" are recounted on the first days of their respective rehearsals says acres about what makes this series so brilliant.moreless

    It's hard in a short review to touch on all the great qualities of this show, but one moment can serve is microcosm for the wonders of "Slings and Arrows." This occurs about 11:25 into "Vex Not His Ghost". The first rehearsals for "King Lear" and "East Hastings: The Musical" occur on the same day. In one of the series' most brilliant moments, the aging Shakespearian actor Charles Kingman (William Hutt) recounts the tale of Lear to the rest of the assembled cast. Intercut with this, we see the young musical composer Nigel play through "East Hastings" for the musical cast. The complexity of "Lear" plays against the sledgehammer simplicity of "East Hastings," which is (in Nigel's words)"the story of a junkie hooker named Lulu, and her fight to kick the horse." Motifs are set against each other. For example, the choice of Cordelia (flatter her father like her other sisters, or risk everything in telling Lear the truth) is set against the choice of Lulu (use the $2,000 parting gift from a caring stockbroker/john to escape East Hastings, or get higher than she's ever been before). At the end of the Lear retelling, Kingman says "the moral? Well, perhaps you can tell me." The finale of the musical, on the other hand, lays the message on with a trowel: "We don't need the needle, we don't need the needle, we don't need the needle to be free!"

    On one level, this is a sharp parody of 'mean streets' musicals like "Rent." That said, one of this series' finest qualities is its ability to avoid blacks and whites. The "East Hastings" plot takes on weight when we learn, in a later episode, that it's based on the story of the Nigel's aunt, a prostitute who died at 42. And if you know the real East Hastings Avenue in Vancouver - a bracingly raw street in one of the world's most beautiful cities - the whole musical plot line carries an extra punch. A microcosm, in these few moments, of what makes "Slings and Arrows" so special. This episode also features Richard's first steps towards becoming a musical producer, as he challenges too-hip director Darren Nichols on Darren's arid approach to directing "East Hastings"; the return of the ghostly Oliver, who starts sitting in on Geoffrey's therapy sessions; and the revelation that Charles Kingman has taken on Lear with Kingman's own mortality weighing heavily upon him. Overall, one of the finest programs in the 18-episode arch of the complete series.moreless

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (6)

    • (Geoffrey is talking to Charles because Charles has been very unfriendly and rude towards the other actors and actresses.)
      Geoffrey Tennant: They are afraid of you. You are very ... intimidating.
      Charles Kingman: Well, that's not my problem.
      Geoffrey Tennant: Yes it is. They haven't been with this play as long as you have. None of us have. You have got to give us some time to catch up.
      Charles Kingman: I don't have time.
      Geoffrey Tennant: Charles, c'mon, we have weeks before we open.
      Charles Kingman: I'm not talking about that. I have cancer, Geoffrey.
      Geoffrey Tennant: You have cancer?
      Charles Kingman: Yes, I have two, three months, so you'll forgive me if my patience is a little strained.

    • Andrew McTeague: Well, you know, quite often work related stress resolves from an unrealistic self-image.
      Geoffrey Tennant and Oliver Wells: (simultaneously) What do you mean?
      Andrew McTeague: Well, you constantly fail to meet your own expectations and it makes for a miserable life.

    • Geoffrey Tennant: You disappeared in the middle of a conversation.
      Oliver Wells: I know, I've been doing that lately, I just fade away but I don't go away, very depressing.
      Geoffrey Tennant: I have a little something that might cheer you up.
      Oliver Wells: What? You found a gun?
      Geoffrey Tennant: No. I need your help with King Lear, I'm having a little trouble.
      Oliver Wells: I don't care.
      Geoffrey Tennant: I beg your pardon?
      Oliver Wells: Theater is pointless, I see that now. It accomplishes nothing. You struggle to put on a play that was cobbled together from four hundred year old fragments. It's full of contradictions and inconsistencies. The actors don't know what the hell they are saying and the audience doesn't know what the hell they're hearing and at the end, what does it get you?

    • Oliver Wells: I wanna die.
      Geoffrey Tennant: Well, apart from the fact that you're already dead, why? Why now?
      Oliver Wells: Because it's my time. It was my time two years ago. I wanna move on. I want my reward.
      Geoffrey Tennant: What if you're not getting a reward? What if what you get is punishment?
      Oliver Wells: This is my punishment, this marginal existence. Why is this happening to me? Was I such a bad person?
      Geoffrey Tennant: Do you really wanna go there?

    • (Geoffrey is mad at Oliver because Oliver has spoiled his therapy meeting.)
      Oliver Wells: Geoffrey, why am I still here? Oh god, I'm depressed.
      Geoffrey Tennant: Oh, I see. So if I'm depressed, you have to be more depressed, is that how it works? Look, I'm the one who is having the crisis here, Oliver, where were you?
      Oliver Wells: Oh, I see, you couldn't find your ghost friend so you had to resort to therapy.

    • Richard Smith-Jones: I wanted to ask you, could you give me some tips about dealing with Darren, because, frankly, he makes me a little nervous.
      Geoffrey Tennant: Yes, Darren, well, Darren is an idiot and like many idiots he's very proud and your best weapon is flattery. Suck up, he'll respond.

  • NOTES (0)