Stewart Lee's 'dead mouse' routine becomes a requiem | Composer sets comedy material to choral music

Stewart Lee's 'dead mouse' routine becomes a requiem

Composer sets comedy material to choral music

comedyA Stewart Lee routine about a dead mouse has become a choral requiem.

Composer John Pierce O’Reilly set the material from the 2016 series of Comedy Vehicle to music, and entitled it Mus Mea – Latin for ‘my mouse’.

The seven-minute piece was devised for three voices and a string trio and was performed at the University of Manchester last month.

O'Reilly – a writer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist – is finishing his undergraduate degree in music there, and will go on to  study for a master's in musicology at Oxford.

In notes accompanying the score – which can be downloaded here – composer, O’Reilly said: ‘The bass part performs the role of narrator, with the soprano and alto representing a quasi Greek choir, reacting to and echoing what is expressed by the narrator. Thus the work may be staged and performed dramatically, and this decision is left to the performers' discretion.’

Here is the text of the routine:

I think the first time that I learned about death was from the death of my pet mouse which was given to me by my uncle when I was six.

I loved that mouse, I sort of imagined the mouse had some kind of relationship with me.

Every night, after school, I would tell my mouse about my day, my worries, and my concerns.

And he lies on the floor, scratching and eating and making smells, and then he turns his back on me, and goes off and urinates in the corner.

One day I came home from school, and saw that the mouse was obviously dead.

There was blood in the mouse’s mouth and his neck had got twisted as he tried to bite his way through a bar of his cage.

I assumed he had been contented enough.

I mean, he had a wheel.

But it appears my mouse had been so depressed that he had killed himself while trying to escape.

Now I’m older, I wonder is that what gets us all in the end – a slow, creeping realisation of the sheer pointlessness of existence.

Published: 14 Jun 2019

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