Mrs Doubtfire

The first act of The Makropoulos Secret takes place in a lawyer’s office. An almost century-long case is nearing its conclusion. To emphasise the law’s delays, the office is really more of a waiting room, and at the back of the stage sits a line of clients who rise anxiously/eagerly to their feet when their lawyer arrives, only to be waved back to their seats.

Last week, at the end of the act, I nudged D and asked him if he had noticed that one of the women bore a strange resemblance to Mrs Doubtfire, Dustin Hoffman’s Robin Williams’ cross-dressing nanny disguise in Tootsie the film of that title. The young woman to my left but one (who was herself there with a very girly young man with long blond hair which he spent much of the opera flicking off his face) laughed at this: she knew which one I meant. D didn’t get it.

I was only joking: the person in question had a grey wig and the over-large jaw which is the give-away of the drag queen, but there are also women who look like men in drag.

Maybe I thought about it a little more later in the opera, but it was only tonight, going for the second time, that the penny definitively dropped. In the last act, a male-voice chorus sings from the third balconies and echoes EM’s conclusions about life, death and mortality (which are, of course, pretty much all the same thing – as she says). These choristers, together with four children, serve as the non-singing extras in the first act. So “Mrs Doubtfire” wasn’t so wide of the mark: indeed it was truer than I knew. Once I realised this, it was obvious – though made more so by one extra/chorister wearing his wig a little too far back on his head.

I had to laugh. I had seen it, but I hadn’t seen it.

3 Responses to “Mrs Doubtfire”

  1. Anthony Says:

    “Mrs Doubtfire, Dustin Hoffman’s cross-dressing nanny disguise in Tootsie.”

    Don’t you mean “Mrs Doubtfire, Robin Williams’ cross-dressing nanny disguise in Mrs Doubtfire”

    Or “Dorthy Michaels, Dustin Hoffman’s cross-dressing soap star disguise in Tootsie”

  2. marcellous Says:

    Thanks for pointing that out, Anthony. I meant the former. That explains why I thought the movie must be called Mrs Doubtfire, but because I’d got the actor wrong, I then conflated everything. Earlier this year I wrote about the death of Ophelia in Otello, so I’m afraid I have a track record for this.

  3. Sarah Says:

    Yes, it took me more than a few moments to spot the men. I was sitting there thinking “that woman looks awfully….masculine…” then started looking along the line and realised what they’d done.
    I also enjoyed the little pigtailed girl on Anke-night who started cheekily mouthing everybody’s words.

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