John is an actor who plays an evil bear in a pantomime. His nemesis in the show, and in life, is the monstrous Wee Jockie. In fact, all the supporting cast are terrified of Wee Jockie, who resembles a deranged Buttons. John and the supporting actors are trapped in the hell that is the pantomime. Their dressing room is a cell. The show is a prison sentence. They dream of escape but they never can. They are doomed to subservience to the demonic Jockie.
Peter Mullan's short film is terrifying. The never-ending pantomime is like The Singing Ringing Tree. Except even more disturbing. John and his fellow actors are unforgettably sinister creations. Unmasked, their lower faces are covered in hideous black face-paint. But the most terrifying creation of all is Wee Jockie. This character, portrayed by Gary Lewis, is one of the most nightmarish creations you could wish to see. He is like an ogre from a childhood nightmare. He bullies, attacks and sexually assaults the cast. They dream of retaliation but, ultimately, they don't have the nerve to topple him. He is the king of his hideous castle. And the pantomime repeats itself, like a recurring nightmare.
Available on the excellent Orphans DVD.
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