Plays

“The Deluge”

A “masquerade” of story-telling, based on the gothic tale, ‘The Deluge at Norderney’, by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen). Four aristocrats volunteer to face the possibility of death in a farm loft during a flood, so that the family who live there can find room on the little rescue boat. To pass the time until the arrival of dawn when it might be possible for another boat to reach them, they tell each other stories. Although these stories are known only to the teller and often concern events in their own life, the other characters begin to take on roles and enact the stories being told. So the action passes seamlessly from the loft to the locations of the stories, which become like plays within the play, and it feels as if actors and audience have travelled to distant lands, although they never leave the room in which they are imprisoned. The power of story-telling is fully demonstrated, and the two younger characters learn much which may help them in their lives if they survive. The two older characters then allow their masks to fall and their secrets are revealed. One has been living a lie, and the other is not who he says he is, but is unveiled as an anarchist and a murderer. Each has a different reason which made them prepared to allow the flood to carry them away.

“Green Grass Falls”

A woman doctor, who presents a successful TV show, but who leads a barren life with a loveless marriage, is visited by her husband’s young American lover. Once she is allowed into the house she turns the focus of her attention on the doctor herself, pretending to be a lifelong admirer. Although she senses the girl is a fraud, an instinct for self-destruction leads the doctor to become more and more involved with her fantasies, until a lesbian relationship develops between them. It is a dance of love and death. The girl claims not to know who she really is, but that the answer may lie at a place called Green Grass Falls. When they visit Green Grass Falls the doctor slips, or is pushed by the girl, who then steals her identity. After a long recovery involving loss of memory the doctor returns home to find that her husband has died, possibly a victim of the same murderess. While she recovers from this news she discovers that the girl has gained access to her house, armed with a gun. Claiming that she still loves her, the girl insists that they swap identities, and then calls the police. Just as the police arrive she shoots herself as a sacrifice to love, and leaves her traumatised lover to pick up the pieces of her shattered life.

“Kurtz”

The sinister character ‘Kurtz’ from Joseph Conrad’s novella, “Heart of Darkness”, is given the chance to tell his own story. In Conrad’s tale Kurtz is not so much a man as an idea, a powerful but wounded figure totally corrupted by the cruelties of the Ivory trade in the Congo. In a heart-searching monologue Conrad’s archetypal figure is given flesh and bones, and we see just how he fell from being a gifted musician and a man of grand political ideas, to become the monster who is found by the hero of Conrad’s story. Under the all-transforming power of greed and isolation, civilization and savagery are a hair’s breadth apart.

“The Kings Angel”

Told in a series of short plays, after the manner of the mystery plays of medieval times, the drama tells the story of the young king Charles VIII of France, and his invasion of Italy, which he regarded as a pilgrimage, and his secret belief that he may have found an earth-bound angel to guide him. The angel is in fact a goat herd coerced by an ambitious aristocrat. Deluded by adventurers who hope to make a fortune from his mad crusade, the king naively travels into lands where no victory can be won, encountering extreme and baffling characters like St. Francis de Paul, Ludovico il Moro, Savanorola, and Rodrigo and Cesare Borgia along the way. Surrounded by treachery, he and his “angel” carve a path for themselves which is strange and quixotic, but marks a turning point in history, which became known as the “Renaissance”.

“The Wars of Alexander”

A trilogy of three plays, drawn from the medieval romance by the Pearl Poet (?Ralph Strode), author of ‘Pearl’, and ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’. These three plays are “Alexander’s Childhood”, “Alexander and Darius” and “Alexander in Egypt”.

Anectanabus, last Pharaoh of Egypt, wisest of the wise, attempts to save his country from invasion by the use of magic, but his spells fail him. He secretly flees from the power of Artaxerxes and the Persians, disguising himself as an itinerant astrologer, but is determined to raise a son who will take vengeance on the Persian Empire. For a partner he chooses the Queen of Macedon, Olympadas, who is famous for her beauty and strength of will, and whose husband, Philip the Fierce, is always away fighting, if not drunkenly celebrating his victories. Anectanabus uses his magic to persuade Olympadas that she is being visited at night by the god Amun, and in this disguise she willingly accepts his advances, and Alexander is born. By manipulating his dreams, Anectanabus also causes Philip to accept her story, and reluctantly welcome this cuckoo in his nest.

From the first Alexander is determined to protect his mother’s honour. Tragically, fearing that his mother is too much under the influence of her astrologer, and that this very close friendship will give rise to rumours, he kills Anectanabus, and only then, by his mother’s response, does he discover who his true father is. He immediately goes into denial over the murder, and the need to prove himself the son of Amun becomes ever more pressing. When Philip is killed by one of his own generals, Alexander immediately seizes the throne and, armed with the wisdom of his teacher Aristotle, he sets out to conquer the world. He has no choice but to keep proving himself again and again as a child of destiny and the gods, but when he is in India, with the world at his feet, and confronted by the Brahmins and Gymnosophists for whom his conquests have no meaning, he is forced to question the validity of warfare, in which he has placed so much faith. Is he the father of civilization, evangelist of Greek Philosophy, progenitor of great cities, and of the world’s greatest library, or the worst and most destructive monster the world has yet seen?

“The Gothic Game Musical”

For this see the “Music” section, and also under “Gothic Game”.





The Deluge by Karen Blixen
The Deluge



Susannah York in The Deluge by Karen Blixen
The Deluge
 
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