Choose your Masks

“Welcome to Tragi-Comic, the world’s first fully interactive Virtual Reality theatrical experience.”

The attendant hands us two masks. Cheryl takes the grinning one and exits left. I attach the purse-lipped tragedy mask firmly to my face and enter a booth on my right.

Suddenly all the world’s a stage. I am assailed and jostled by robed assassins and peacock clothed courtiers. So much action; so much thrust, parry and hurry to new scenes. My fingers look red and I can feel the muscles tense in my arm as I press forwards. Out, damned spot! Out, I say!

The effects are astonishing. Not just the sights and sounds – but smells. Blood, polished metal, horse dung. Once more unto the breach.

Now there are two lovers dead in a church crypt. Then a false king dethroned. A close ally proves treacherous. The battlefield is full of the fallen.
It’s exhausting. I feel I am really living it. I have tasted the fruit of victory but at its core lie sour seeds. I want to spit them out, turn back the clock and unmake the mischief. But I press on although it’s overwhelming. Fellow soldiers, kings, queens, faithless wives and unacknowledged daughters are among those tragically taken.

At last, release back into the lobby.

Cheryl has returned. She removes her mask and I see her eyes are shining and her cheeks are flushed with laughter and happiness.

“Come on, David,” she says, “Take off your mask.”

“I can’t.”

“Stop messing about. Here, I’ll help you.”

She steps closer.

Is this a dagger which I see before me?

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