| "Leg Irons, the Bitch and the Wardrobe" |
by Laura Frankos
|Type of Appearance:||Direct POV|
Cammek son of Orrnun, a prominent theatrical director in the Kingdom of Leffing, was a six-time Combined Kingdoms' Dramatic Festival participant, and the winner of two Perrie Awards. In spite of this resumé, he was unable to turn King Pennilvath's daughter Louizza into an actress suitable for the lead role in Away We Go, Leffing's entry in the CKDF. Rather than tell this to the King in person, he sent a note of resignation by courier and boarded a coach for the border town of Ruspecalton, intending to slip over the border out of Leffing. Within 20 minutes of starting his journey, Cammek was stopped by royal guards and hauled before the King and his tearful daughter. Pennilvath, furious at the slight to Louizza, declared Cammek to be in breach of contract, and ordered him to eight weeks of hard labor. Relieved at the prospect of breaking rocks, Cammek was dismayed to learn that the "hard labor" consisted merely of returning to his job of teaching Louizza to act, but with him doing it while in chains.
While Cammek was in his prison cell, he was visited by Tip-lea-pon, the strong, comely bodyguard of Princess Louizza. She declared that she was interested in theater, and said she would make an offering to the gods in his name at the local temple.
The next day, Cammek had a bad rehearsal. The veteran actors, including Jeclyn and Polsiee, were furious at him for attempting to desert, and Louizza had cried herself into a bad cold. Suddenly, a voice spoke to Cammek, saying "Don't be alarmed, I'm here to help." Looking around, Cammek saw that the voice appeared to be coming from his leg irons. The voice said that Cammek's best course of action was to cancel tonight's rehearsal, and wait until tomorrow, so the Princess would not work herself seriously sick. Cammek took the advice of this apparent magical spirit. Retiring backstage for dinner, Cammek again heard the spirit's voice, now coming from a wardrobe full of costumes. This time, the spirit pointed out that Louizza was quite funny and musical, and not suited for a dramatic lead. Although the play was not an opera, the spirit suggested that incidental musical numbers could be inserted into an otherwise spoken play, a novelty never before seen in Leffing. To take advantage of each actor's best talents, the spirit further suggested reassigning Louizza to the role of the lady-in-waiting, and Polsiee as the baroness. Delighted with this solution to many of his problems, Cammek declared that the invisible spirit was an "angel of music," but then looked up and noticed that the skylight was ajar as if someone had climbed through it, which an angel would not need to do.
The next day, Polsiee was furious at being recast as the baroness. Cammek told her she would have to accept it, or reprise her role in the tawdry women's dungeon drama, but in a real dungeon. She declared the new role would ruin her career, as noone would ever see her as anything but a matron after this. Clim-bor-pon the comedian, by contrast, was delighted with the revised form, and Louizza was thrilled to sing the number "I'm Just a Maid Who Can’t Say Nay" After rehearsal, Cammek told Tip-lea-pon that he had deduced that she was the "angel of music": the music was typical of the western provinces where she was from, western traveling shows often included ventriloquism, the angel knew inside details of the troupe's recent doings, and Tip-lea-pon was in good enough shape to scale the skylight.
The play opened, and King Pennilvath was delighted with his daughter's performance. While the play proceeded, Tip-lea-pon informed Cammek that Polsiee had disappeared, and the understudy was needed to take over. Cammek looked up and saw that an enamled ostrich (emblem of the western provinces) on the ceiling was teetering toward the Princess. Tip-lea-pon (in the role of Sir Borstler) pushed Louizza out of harm's way, and the actors improvised remarks about this to stay in character. Louizza flatly refused to let her understudy take over, and continued performing the next scenes. Cammek had a search for Polsiee carried out, which was fruitless. His mood was not helped by a notice that Creek son of Attkins, Leffing's most unforgiving drama critic, was in the audience.
The play finished without any significant problems, and the audience cheered. Cammek stepped on stage to make a statement, and something whooshed by his head. After Tip-lea-pon shove him to safety, he realized it was a crossbow bolt, one of several in succession. Tip-lea-pon stormed the lighting tower, and subdued the perpetrator, who was of course Polsiee.
As Polsiee was led off in custody, Prince Harrold of the neighboring kingdom praised the play's innovative nature. Even Creek the critic had good things to say. King Pennilvath congratulated Cammek, and Tip-lea-pon produced a key to remove Cammek's leg irons. She admitted that if Pennilvath had ordered Cammek's death, she would have aided his escape and run off with him.
Cammek thought of Polsiee's attempt to kill Louizza with a falling jeweled ostrich, and wondered if a future play could have a scene where a large object falls from the ceiling, perhaps a chandelier - but couldn't think of any motivation in the plot. However, he could think of a motivation to see what other musicals Tip-lea-pon had written, and the two went off together very happily.
Cammek is named after prolific British musical producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh (b. 1946).