© Chris Port, 2010
“To the last, I grapple with thee;
From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee;
For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee.”(Herman Melville, Moby Dick)
MARTY: “The song of revenge burns stronger than life.
Turned backs give me strength to return wrong’s knife.”
They’re crucifying me.
O’BRIEN: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do?
MARTY: Luke. Chapter twenty-three, verse thirty-four. To crucify one martyr, Mr O’Brien, may be regarded as a misjudgment; to kill millions looks like callousness.
O’BRIEN: (Flicking through the Koran, the Torah and the Bible simultaneously with practised ease). Here it is. Romans. Chapter twelve, verse nineteen. (He intones). ‘Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” ’
MARTY: Doctor Horquine says that there is no God.
O’BRIEN: Then leave it to justice.
MARTY: My life tells me that there is no justice.
O’BRIEN: Then just leave it.
MARTY: Believe me, I’d like to. But it’s difficult to walk away when they’ve nailed you to a lie. Then they’ll just do it again... to someone else... and that’s just... wrong...
O’BRIEN: That’s just the way of the world, my son. Always has been. Always will be.
MARTY: Has anyone considered changing it?
O’BRIEN: Oh yes. Many have tried. All, predictably, have failed. You can’t change three million years of evolution with a new idea.
MARTY: So I shouldn’t bother trying then?
O’BRIEN: Hold on. (Flicking through Das Kapital). Hmm... Have you ever considered trying opium...?
On Revenge Tragedies and Revenge Musicals
Revenge, clearly, is a torturer’s rat maze for the injured soul. It is the deformed twin of love, just as obsessive and passionate, consuming heart and mind, night and day, right and wrong, wrong-doer and avenger. From Sicilian blood-feuds to Bosnian massacres, from the Oresteia to Get Carter (or Get Marty), revenge is generally acknowledged to be a ‘bad thing’. This does not, however, mean that Revenge Tragedies are a bad thing. The clue is in the word ‘tragedy’. The whole point of a Revenge Tragedy is to act as a warning: this is what happens when grievances get out of hand. So don’t let grievances get out of hand. Try talking (or, at least, not behaving like a complete and utter backstabbing treacherous cowardly lying bastard...) [Enough. Ed.]. The point is not to feel sorry for the body heap of dramatis personae at the end. It is to feel aghast at the relentless stupidity of it all, how avoidable all of this mess would be if people didn’t go around weaving tangled webs of deceit all the time. What is true for Revenge Tragedy is even more so for Revenge Musicals, only with more songs and jokes. So don’t feel sorry for anyone in Marty Gull. Just observe and learn. And laugh. It’s all avoidable if people talk to each other instead of plot against each other. Oh, and Revenge Musicals are also a good way of getting your own back as well...