I’m obsessed with Jerusalem cherry: I’m walking the dogs, I see it, I pull it; I’m dancing through the Orange Grove, inhaling its citrus fragrance when I see a certain leaf shape and I stop and pull it — you get the idea. And the thing is, there’s so much of it around that if there’s one, there’s usually his friends nearby (and those friends have their friends nearby, if you knowhumsayin).
So there’s the shape recognition thing going on (I can pick it out from a carpet of green — and I’m talking the non-fruiting plant), and there’s the method of pulling it out (grab it as low as possible to the ground for maximum effect). This weed is an hardy little bastard where if just the stalk is removed, the root will continue to grow.
I’ve come across pockets — goddamned handbags, more like it — where careful pulling on a tiny stalk and leaf reveals a substantial root.
Great characterisation does that, too: a mild-mannered wall-flower of a reporter is also a Son of Krypton with powers beyond imagining; a traumatised warrant officer returns to the planet she warned everyone about is also a natural leader, a resourceful fighter and mother; a taciturn consultant who joins a special task force steals the film right out from under the named lead… and so forth.
I’ve got a one-person theatre project where I’ve got all the first impressions down pat: funny, opinionated, long suffering, and compassionate. But I’m having some difficulty getting across the character’s history without turning the piece into a long recitation of who-done-wrong, how-I-got-here, and variations on My-Cat-Blackie.
I’ve got the stalk and the leaf to tempt the audience with. I just have to come up with the root.