Sunday, December 18, 2011

Little Shop of Horrors

Director John DiDonna staged a lively production of Little Shop of Horrors at the Annie Russell Theater in Rollins College. I love the Annie Russell's fabulous Baroque architectural touches. As the audience filled in, several bums lounged on the stage, occasionally shifting positions to get comfortable. I've always loved the music from this play. I used to blast it while I painted in NYC. I always hoped that someday I'd live somewhere that's green.

Audrey, the plant, was four different sized in the production. I ended up drawing the third largest version. When Audrey was at his largest, he filled the little shop. John took me back stage after the show to see the inner workings of the puppets. A puppeteer had to get inside the plant and bend at the waist to get the plant to talk. I must have been physically exhausting.

On stage right a chair was draped and hidden with fabric. It turned out this was the dentists chair. Today I went to the dentist and discovered I needed four wisdom teeth pulled. I was given Nitrous gas and told to relax. Old x-rays from eight years ago turned out to be from another patient mixed in with my own. As new x-rays were taken the tech told me they were short staffed. An assistant disappeared because of a family emergency. As the dentist worked on my teeth, he kept coaching the assistant so she wasn't in his way as he worked. It seemed like this was her first time applying suction. I suspect she was usually in the reception area but she was excited to learn.

The bright light in my eyes, I saw a large needle and felt a sharp burning sensation in my gums and in my cheeks. I flinched and the doc apologized. He kept the needle in and kept vibrating it pushing hard. He repeated the process on all four quadrants of my gums. The worst pain happened when he stabbed the roof of my mouth. I was fitted with a bright orange clowns nose with two hoses for the gas. My head swam and my legs relaxed. Some sort of wedge was inserted inside my mouth to keep it open.

Before he began, he advised me to take an extra deep inhale of the nitrous. I heard his stomach gurgle. The dentist started prying at my back wisdom tooth and he pushed hard under the roots. I heard a crunching noise, like a tree branch breaking and I felt the tooth give way. For an eternity he continued to pry. There was cracking and crunching as he broke the teeth free. Giant hands and tools invaded my field of vision. "I should be sketching" I thought. When he was done he patted me on the shoulder and said, "Time flies when you're having fun, kind of makes you wish you could have them all out." He loved his work.

I was left reclined in the seat to recover. My whole mouth was numb and I realized I couldn't swallow. My throat felt like it was constricting. I started to panic. I heard shoes ringing on the tile as assistants and dentists rushed from station to station. Would they notice if I stopped breathing? I gasped for air through my mouth and struggled to relax. When I was finally seated upright and the orange nose removed, I breathed a deep sigh of relief. A simple trip to the dentist for a deep cleaning turned into an unexpected horror.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at


Nita Van Zandt said...

My toes curl at your description of how the dentist handling this visit. Mine loves his work, too, and believe me, the treatment he offers patients is so much more sensitive and aware of what the patient is experiencing than your dentist, it's like it's a different profession!

Glad you survived to keep sketching!

Thor said...

Thanks Nita. Thankfully I don't sketch with my teeth.

Robert Burrows said...

I forgot all about this after the show was over, it's nice to finally see it! Excellent job, it makes me wish I had been on stage instead of puppet me.