|The Point opened at the Mermaid Theatre, Puddle Dock, Blackfriars,
London on 28th December 1977. As well as the cast, the opening night
party included Harry Nilsson (who wrote it), Bernard Miles (who owned the
theatre) and other guests including Tommy Boyce.
The Mermaid Theatre is unusual in that the stage is at floor level, not raised, and this makes a very personal atmosphere between the cast and the audience.
The Point starts with the orchestra (who remain out of site behind the stage for the whole show) playing the overture, and the cast coming on stage singing "This is the town and we are the people" by way of introduction. Oblio's mother has just had a child, as has the Count's wife, and they appear holding their babies. Both are boys, but there is a difference between them. While the Count's baby has a pointed head - as has everyone else in the town (indicated by everyone wearing a pointed hat) - the other baby has a round head. He is POINTLESS. This situation is the basis for the whole story.
As the opening scene continues, time moves on and the two babies are seen growing up. Oblio and the Count's Kid (David and Micky respectively) appear on stage as children (on their knees to appear smaller than the adults), and eventually they are on their feet like everyone else and the opening song finishes.
The whole town engages in a game of Poli-High, where they throw a triangle and catch it with their points. Oblio starts off excluded from this as he has no point. However, he has a secret weapon - his dog Arrow. This is a blue puppet operated by David Claridge who did a marvellous job and later went on to have his own series with BBC television with a show called "Roland Rat". Arrow is a "pointer" breed (what else!), and helps Oblio win the game. The others all then leave the stage to Oblio and the dog, and he sings Me & My Arrow.
Micky's role as the Count's Kid is the baddy to David's goody. He is jealous of Oblio's popularity and wants him banished to the POINTLESS FOREST. The next scenes are taken up with the Count's Kid trying to persuade the people that Oblio has no place in the town because he has no point. This upsets Oblio's mother and leads to a very poignant scene where Oblio's mother is standing at the side of the stage, singing Remember. Oblio is sitting on the floor by her side, with Arrow resting his head on Oblio's leg and sleeping. Oblio's mother strokes Oblio's hair as she sings. Beautiful scene. (One performance there was a woman sitting right by the side of the stage where this takes place. She kept saying things like "Oh ain't it sad. Doesn't Davy look cute. Look how she's stroking his hair. Hasn't he got a cute bum". This lead to David starting to laugh. Veronica Clifford (who played Oblio's mother) felt his head bobbing up and down with the giggles and it put her off singing. She started to go all over the place with the notes. Arrow noticed this, 'woke up', looked at the audience, looked at Veronica, looked back to the audience and indicated, with a sideways nod of his head 'get a load of this'. The audience were in fits of laughter and it ruined the whole scene. Later, back-stage she screamed at David Claridge for wrecking her big scene. The woman in the audience was MY MUM).
The case of Oblio's point (or lack of) is taken to the king, who has to decide whether the Count's Kid has a case. With the Kid being backed up by his father the King is persuaded, but not after a lot of deliberation, and a song, To Be A King. The Count's Kid is ecstatic, and sings a very celebratory He's Leaving Here This Morning. The townspeople are not very happy but can't do anything about it. As he says his goodbyes Oblio sings Think About Your Troubles, and leaves the town, via the side aisles and up the back of the auditorium. This marks the end of the first half, and as the audience walk out to the foyer for drinks and so on, we are very aware that we are walking where David has just walked.
The second half opens with Oblio re-appearing from the back and calling Arrow. As they reach the stage, dry ice has formed a mist and they have to cross a river. They find a boat (a pretend one!) and Oblio and Arrow cross the river singing Blanket For A Sail, with Oblio holding an imaginary oar and rowing while shuffling his feet along sideways for movement. Falling out of the boat Oblio is next seen suspended by wires from high above the stage and as he slowly descends into the river (surrounded by luminescent fishes) he sings Lifeline. He lands on a boulder and sits there for a minute talking to Arrow about where they are when suddenly the boulder moves, throws Oblio off and starts talking to him. This leads to another song Thursday and a lecture on how you see what you want to see and hear what you want to hear.
Moving on from here Oblio and Arrow next encounter the Pointed Man (actually three actors in one costume). He asks them the way, and they all point in different directions, which leads to the realisation that "a point in every direction is the same as no point at all". Another funny story. On the last night of the show, Arrow cocked his leg up against the Pointed Man as he usually did, but this time the puppeteer had a tube of yellow liquid to make it look more realistic. He dropped the tube and Arrow ran off. Oblio was walking round the Pointed Man talking to all the faces, and he kept treading on the tube, not knowing it or realising that he was spraying the leg of the actors. The audience was again in fits of laughter, only David didn't know why. In the end he turned to the audience and said "I don't know what's going on here. All I know is 'unexpected laughter, check your flies'", which he did. I don't know if he ever found out what the joke was.
The Pointed Man leaves the stage and Oblio and Arrow meet the Leaf Man (Micky in his other role), who sings It's A Jungle Out There. He is just as nasty to Oblio as the Count's Kid was and knocks Oblio about during this song. (More than once Micky was seen pushing David over and David looked back at him as if to say "You were a bit rough there mate", but generally they seemed to get on well during the run of the show).
To counteract the darkness of this scene, the next is a comedy spot that does not do much for the story. Oblio comes across The Balloon Lady, a voluptuous creature who "serenades" Oblio, whilst cuddling him to her ample bosom. This is followed by The New Bird, where Oblio finds a huge egg, from which a bird hatches, thinks Arrow is its mother and runs off stage. All this leads to Oblio sitting in a swing, high above the stage, singing P.O.V.Waltz (P.O.V. standing for Point Of View). During this bit he always pretended to fall and gave the audience heart failure by nearly actually doing it on the last night.
After all this fun, it's time to tone it down. Arrow is tired, and it's night-time. Oblio sits with Arrow resting his head on Oblio's leg, and Oblio sings Are You Sleeping? As the song continues the cast from the town appear on stage. The centre of the stage is a revolving apparatus and the cast appear from one side, wave to Oblio's back, looking sad as they pass, and disappear from the other side.
In the morning Oblio and Arrow find their way back to the town, and tell the people all the lessons they learned about points. They come to the conclusion that you don't have to have a point (on your head) to have a point. This revelation comes as such a shock to the people that as Oblio reveals his own newly pointed head (he's wearing a hat), the points on the peoples heads deflate. Everyone, including the Count's Kid is happy, and the finale of the show is Oblio and the Count's Kid singing Gotta Get Up (with a cute little routine that goes with it and I can remember some of it even now). The show ends with the whole cast coming on for their applause. Micky coming on next to last and David last. David points to the back of the stage, which lowers to reveal the band and they take their applause. The cast leave the stage, and Micky and David come back on by themselves, still in character, Oblio being cute and the Count's Kid giving him one final shove as they leave the stage for the last time.
The show ran for 11 weeks (I think) and was going to be relocated to a West End theatre, but none was available. The next show to run at the Mermaid was Tom Conti in Who's Life Is It Anyway? which had a short season there, after which the theatre closed for refurbishment paid for from the profits from The Point.
During the run David's two daughters Talia and Sarah came to visit and saw the show. David Claridge gave them a miniature Arrow each, and they would be seen running through the foyer with them. It was also about this time that David and Bobby Boyce (nee Wade) started working together. As his secretary she had a good relationship with the fans and got on well with his daughters.
David was originally asked to play the role of Oblio and he said he would only do it if the Count's Kid character (a small role in the original script) were expanded so Micky could appear too. They wanted to keep the momentum of Micky and David's working relationship going. After The Point both Monkees stayed in England. David had just divorced Linda and wanted to relocate to his homeland for a while, and Micky was with Trina and decided to stay and establish himself in directing work in this country. Apart from both appearing in the series Star Games (in different programmes) the two did not work together for some time.
Even twenty something years later, The Point has a special place in people's memories. There are a number of groups of fans who met each other at the Mermaid Theatre and stayed friends since then, and if you meet David and say you saw him in The Point he is very happy and will chat about it. There was something about The Point that was special, and unique. I have seen other shows, and seen both David and Micky in other things, but nothing has that unique feel. Whether it was the script, the cast, the layout of the theatre that allowed such a relationship between the cast and audience to develop I really can't say. I just wish they'd do it again. How about it guys?