Last night Jimmyjane and The Peggy Siegal Companyhosted a screening of Hysteria, a romantic comedy set in Victorian England around the accidental invention of the vibrator. In the interest of politeness we forewent asking the questions whose answers we really wanted (how many sex toys do you have, and what do they look like?), and stuck instead to loftier lines of inquiry. Specifically: invention and innovation.
The film's star, Hugh Dancy, who looked quite dapper, has never invented anything himself, but he was willing to share a little genealogical trivia: "My great-great-great-great-great-great-uncle invented the steam engine," he told us matter-of-factly. "Yeah! His name was Richard Trevithick."
And how did Dancy discover this tidbit? "Well, it's like, when a member of your family invents the steam engine, you get told about it a lot," he said. Fair enough.
"He invented the steam engine, and then all he could think to do with it was build a circular track and charge people like three pence to have a look at it," Dancy went on. "He kind of did this incredible thing and then utterly failed to capitalize on it, went bankrupt and moved to America and died. Yeah, there you go." (Dancy, it should be noted, seemed more amused than perturbed about his ancestor's folly.)
Jonathan Pryce, an actor probably best known for either his Pirates of the Caribbean governorship or his G.I. Joe presidency, had a similarly futile—though perhaps less tragic—stroke-of-genius story. "When I was a drama student, I was plagued with mice, and they were running round the bedroom and I didn't have a mousetrap," Pryce recalled. "And so I invented this system where I had a piece of wood balanced on the edge of a bucket with water in it, and then a piece of cheese at the end of the wood. So the mouse would hopefully go along the plank..."
And did it work?
Pryce laughed. "No!"
We feel comfortable disclosing that the inventors in the film have considerable more success with their creation—which has, since the 1880s, been modified to near-perfection. Guests who joined the stars at the Hotel Chantelle later in the evening could find out for themselves: in addition to supporting the screening, Jimmyjane provided gift bags. Good vibrations, indeed.