The Rat-Catcher’s Tale

In The Rat-Catcher’s Tale, Nanny, an old woman in a circle of light on a dark stage, speaks to the audience as if they were children, telling them a bedtime story “with a very happy ending.”  She proceeds to narrate the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin who rid the town of rats by playing his pipe and leading all the rats into the river.  But the mayor refused to pay the piper’s fee and at night the piper came back, played his pipe, and led all the children of the town into a mountain cave that was filled with rats.  The people could hear the children screaming as the rats devoured them.  When the people dug into the mountain they found “a great many little piles of bones.”  Nanny wonders if the children liked the “nice” story and tells them (us) that she is not really their Nanny but the Queen of the Rats who, with her subjects, is going to eat the members of the audience.  The actor makes several choking noises and seems to pull the head of a squeaking rat from her mouth.  The lights go to black but we hear the sound of squeaking in the dark.  (Nigro adds a note to the effect that no live rat should ever be used in this production and suggests how the desired effect may be achieved.)

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