Friday, September 16, 2011

Children Who Divorce

Top Chef: Just Desserts celebrated the 40th anniversary of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory this week. And the best part of the episode was without a doubt that the original actors who played the kids in the movie were on hand for the challenge.

We don't see much of these actors today, so it makes you wonder what they've been up to since they made the movie. Well, Brock Clarke imagined how their experiences on the set might have shaped them as adults in his story, "Children Who Divorce" (vol. 4, no. 1). Here's an excerpt:

Before they find Lisa in the river, before the doctor goes to prison, before any of that is just a normal pre-matinee August afternoon, and there we are, five cast members in our costumes, sitting in the room next to the boiler, talking about our divorces; and there he is, the doctor, far away in the eyes, not listening to us, thinking about something else.

"You're not listening to us," we tell him. "You're thinking about something else."

"I'm not," he says, but he is. Maybe he's thinking about the other casts he's doctored on board the Ohio River Lady Queen, a four-story steam powered paddleboat that in the Golden Age of four-story steam powered paddleboats (we're quoting directly from the Ohio River Lady Queen Players' program) hauled its passengers and their steam trunks from Cincinnati to Memphis to New Orleans and then back again. Now, the Ohio River Lady Queen is docked in the port of Cincinnati, where each summer it hosts a nightly dinner theater.

....We were once the cast of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and now we're the cast of Trouble at the Chocolate Factory: Strike! and in between we all got married and then divorced and now we want to talk about it, again, again, and we want the doctor to listen.

...We know soon someone will come downstairs, knock on the door and say, "Five minutes until curtain" and before that happens we need to say what we need to say. About how we fell in love with Gene Wilder when he was our Willy Wonka and we were his fat German, his spoiled heiress, his gum chewer, his gun-crazy American, his goodhearted Charlie Bucket.

Check out the rest of "Children Who Divorce" in our spring/summer 2007 (vol. 4, no. 1) issue.

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