The Fool: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum!


This afternoon I took my parents to see a stage performance of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum’ starring the great Geoffrey Rush. Now there’s a King of Wands if ever I saw one. A man completely in charge of his performance. I reckon he could make painting a wall look interesting. Rush played the starring role of a Roman slave called Pseudolus who connives to help his young master win the girl next door in order to become a free man.

Pseudolus has all the hallmarks of The Fool:

He’s prepared to DO ANYTHING to secure his freedom.

He comes across like a babbling idiot simpleton. A know nothing. When in fact he’s the one driving the action.

His every move seems to cause more problems than it solves. And yet despite the strange and twisted path Pseudolus takes he achieves his goals.

He’s prepared to make himself look ridiculous and others too.

There’s a lot of physical comedy. Pratfalls.  A Fool is always ready to take a fall!

He’s hilarious.

Comedy is full of characters like this. Think Lucille Ball, the Three Stooges, Mr Bean. Fools one and all. The Fool makes us laugh because he’s prepared to do anything – look crazy even – when most of us are not. That’s one of the reasons The Fool card is numbered 0 in Life Lesson Tarot. He exists outside the normal parameters of human behaviour.

I think it’s interesting that in this play and in comedy in general The Fool gets what he wants because I think that’s what Tarot says too. The Fool card at the start of Life Lesson Tarot leads to The World card at the other end i.e. If you’re prepared to behave like a Fool, act outside your comfort zone, you can achieve your heart’s desire. It’s what Susan Sarandon was saying in that quote yesterday:

“…I believe that being surprised and being somewhere that’s uncomfortable because it’s unknown is really one of the main rules to live by.”

Who’s your favourite Fool?

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