The Newsletter of
The Council for the Literature of the Fantastic

Volume 1, Number 6 (July 1999) [Updated 3/19/2022]

What's all the Rumpuss? Let's Celebrate Grumpuss!

Review by Evelyn Perry
Copyright 1999 by Evelybn Perry

This Grumpuss performance is now on DVD
Travis Edward Pike (writer, performer, producer)
DVD released by Otherworld Cottage Industries

To view video clips, production notes, 21st century reviews, or order Grumpuss,
visit the Otherworld Cottage Industries production office CD and DVD catalog.
              Its a story within a story: a tale-telling contest to win over the audience and the Queen of the Sidh, for the benefit of the children. The tale told is one of an unlikely day-dreaming knight who must battle the Grumpuss scourging the land.

If the story-line of Travis Edward Pikes Grumpuss doesnt tip you off, the opening of his 1 hour 38 minute video of the performance at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England on 1 November 1997 certainly will; this is classic British fantasy at its best. Reminiscent of Lewis Carroll, C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien, Pikes Grumpuss is, by turns, poignantly true of both the foibles and the triumphs of humankind-a fitting selection for The World Premiere Benefit Performance for Save the Children. Produced, direct, written, scored, and performed by Travis Edward Pike, and reproduced by Otherworld Entertainment Corporation, Pikes Grumpuss wins the day. Indeed, it not only wins the contest but brings back several unfortunate and dispossessed children from the Queen of the Sidh (with the fond familiar folkloric device of a tale being told for the children). Ultimately, Grumpuss is quality family entertainment suitable for unattended viewing as well as being used as a preliminary text to parent-child discussion of social issues.

But then, that should be expected. For Pikes Grumpuss must fit a very tall order. The Queen of the Sidh (played by Anna Scott) and her nimble attending waifs (Yvonne Marie Hill, Aimee Johnson, Rose Meredith) request that Pikes tale include magic, humor, and tempered ghastliness; it should feature a hero and conclude with a happy ending. Written in rhymean imperfect and lively rhyme that does justice to oral artGrumpuss responds to the Queens request with the added attraction of several (rather inarguable, Judeo-Christian) morals.

Our hero, Sir Ellery the day-dreaming knight, imagines many more successful battles than any in which he actually engages. But, having given his courtly oath to the king--swearing to trust, to be just, and to protectSir Ellery must hunt the Grumpuss. Imagine the audiences whimsied distress when it unfolds that Sir Ellerys daydreaming has kept him from attending to the many sage pieces of advice given prior to his departure! And (more whimsical still) imagine our pleasure as we discover that it is Sir Ellerys fantastic imagination that allows him to interact positively with the Grumpussa beast who turns out to be an overgrown housecat crazed by allergies! As Pike describes it:

Had I not lost my weapons, by now one of us might be dead!
Its lucky I fainted, for now were acquainted, weve wound up friends instead.
Its obvious to me that youre friendly (for all your enormous size),
And youve lovely furjust hear how you purr! and just look at those beautiful eyes!

This lesson in understanding and valuing each other is tested throughout Grumpuss, but both beast and human emerge wise and triumphant from the test.

The Grumpuss tale concludes with the issuing of a proclamation that protects beasts and educates humans with the establishing of a preserve (wherein wildlife might thrive evermore, /from the top of the pass/to include the great mass/of the foggy wild western shore). The Grumpuss video concludes with the winning of both contest and childrenand the reminder that there is yet more that human beings are capable of accomplishing. And so it is that, despite some moments of poor focus in camera work, and a musical score that detracts more than it adds to an affirming and charming tale, Travis Edward Pikes performance video is, too, a triumphant success.

The Council for the Literature of the Fantastic is based at the Department of English of the University of Rhode Island. We thank the University and the Department for their support.
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Copyright 1999 Evelyn Perry
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Technological advances dictated that the 1998 VHS release be replaced by a remastered Grumpuss 2020 Premiere Performance on DVD. The live benefit performance at Blenheim Palace for the Save the Children Fund was originally shot digitally, with the result that this new DVD is vastly superior to the earlier VHS release. To view DVD clips, reviews, and production notes, or to place an order, visit the Otherworld Cottage CD and DVD Catalog.