Monday, February 22, 2010


This week marks the re-opening of our Fight Fest show Craven Monkey at the Mountain of Fury. To honor this occasion, we’ll be spending the week walking you through some of history’s most notable instances of simian aggression.

The pioneering Victorian primatologist and Oxford professor Peddigrew Alfonse Makebutton, an early supporter of Darwin’s theory of natural selection, once embarked upon one a short-lived and little-known experiment to prove – or so he imagined – the tenability of Darwin’s work. Amassing a large number of assorted baboons snatched from the African wild by a group of paid bush hunters, Makebutton established a colony on the small North Sea island of Morovereen, right off the eastern Scottish coast. With the full cooperation of the university, he dressed his simian charges in human clothing, gave them little cottages and set them to the task of developing, under his guidance, a fully functioning society.

The experiment lasted approximately four hours. Having arranged for all of the necessary accoutrements of proper British living, Makebutton inadvertently created a culture of jealousy among the unsuspecting baboons. His diligence even went as far as mimicking the hairstyles of the day, leading some of the apes to have their faces partly shaved while others were allowed to sport the flowing muttonchops then in style. After a period of mutual wariness, in which they sauntered up and down the village’s central boulevard like well-behaved petit-bourgeois, the shaved monkeys, envious of their fellows’ more demonstrative facial hair, attempted to grab the chops right off each others’ faces. Needless to say, equipping the baboons with small but effective swords was a poor idea. The apes rioted, as can be seen in this contemporary engraving, forcing Makebutton off the island, but not before removing most of his clothing, several pints of blood, part of his left ear, and approximately 98.7% of his dignity.

The baboons continued to mate and quarrel on remote Morovereen Island until the 1950s, when it was chosen as a site for British atomic testing. Whether the nine-foot-tall, preternaturally aggressive mega-baboons that spawned in the radioactive aftermath will one day swim towards the mainland and enact a bloody revenge remains an open question.

Craven Monkey at the Mountain of Fury opens this weekend - don't forget to buy your tickets soon, lest you risk the fate of becoming a latter-day Makebutton.

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