“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”
“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”
“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”
“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”
“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘If You’re Desperate and You Know It’!”
[The curtain rises on the set of a nighttime field under a cloudy sky. Wendy Darling-Pan, the enchanted purple rose as voiced by Marion Hood, is planted in a plot of earth, center stage, while beside her, posed in a tableau of surprise, are Allyn-a-Dale as her son, Jack Snow, and Will Scarlet as her semi-estranged husband, Peter “The Woodsman” Pan. All easy British charm, Robin Hood stands opposite. All players who are not a flower turn to address the audience.]
Will/Woodsman: Okay, so hold the phone. Previously in this serial fairytale skit, Jack Snow and I were just about to free my beloved Wendy from her rose enchantment, when who should stroll into the clearing but Benedict freaking Cumberbatch!
Robin/Cumberbatch: Little do they suspect [with a wink ], I’m actually a winged monkey in league with their archenemy, ingeniously disguised with magical trousers it amuses me to think of as “Cumberbritches”.
Allyn/Jack: Meanwhile, the fourth wall appears to have been demolished beyond all repair.
Will/Woodsman: Dar-har. But seriously – back to full story immersion. [turns to Robin ] Benedict, what in the world are you doing here??
Robin/Cumberbatch [moving nonchalantly nearer the group ]: Oh, you know, just passing through, on my way to important, international household name actor things. [smile of endearing self-deprecation ] I do hope I’m not interrupting anything.
Marion/Wendy: Nothing major. Our boy Jack, here, was about to sing up some fireflies to make constellations for us.
Robin/Cumberbatch [with apparent polite interest ]: Is that right? Well, please, no need to stop on my account. Go right on and— [points behind Will and Allyn ] I say, what’s that?
[Will and Allyn’s head and the rose’s blossom turn, seeing nothing, for there’s nothing to see. While they’re still peering into the dimmer corners of the stage and being all, “What? What?” Robin cups his hand behind his mouth and bares his teeth a bit. Lips unmoving, he calls out so that his winged monkey screech seems to come from offstage.]
Marion/Wendy: The Beast’s flying monkey minions!
Will/Woodsman: Blast it all, we can’t let them spoil our spell-breaking ritual! [draws sword ] Stay here, Jack. Get those fireflies and deflower your mother.
Allyn/Jack [pulling a face at the choice of words, but letting it pass in favor of more important matters ]: You’re going to face the monkeys? One man against who knows how many of them?
Will/Woodsman [grimly ]: I only need to hold them long enough for you and Wendy to get away – free, clear, and both human. I don’t know, maybe Cumberbatch can lend a hand. Benny, what do you say to—
[Marion’s earsplitting scream cuts Will off as Robin yanks the enchanted rose out of the ground. The lights go crazy, flashing bright and black, interspersed with epic stroke-inducing strobes. When the lighting settles back down to normal, the rose is gone, and Marion lies gasping on the stage in a pool of blood. With a cry of “MOTHER!” fit to rend your heart, Allyn throws himself to his knees at her side, while Will, sword forgotten, seizes Robin by his shirt front and shakes him.]
Will/Woodsman: What have you done, you psychopath?!
Will/Woodsman: Say a word about actually being a high-functioning sociopath, and I swear I’ll hack you to pieces. Why, Benny?! [voice breaks in an agony of grief ] Why?!
Robin/Cumberbatch: I wasn’t trying to kill her, I swear! I was just going to run off with her, back to the Beast. I didn’t know— [gulps ] Look, murder’s not in my job description, okay? I’m just a deliveryman. …Well, deliverymonkey, without my pants.
Allyn/Jack: Woodsman, help! She’s losing too much blood. She’s gone white as a beluga. What can we do?
Will/Woodsman: I don’t bloody well know! Unless… Clap.
Will/Woodsman: Clap, I say! Hard and fast and enthusiastic as you can. Clap with everything you’ve got! You, too, Benedict Arnold. [releases Robin, but draws a knife ] Clap or die. And you! [turns to the audience again, eyes begging ] Please, I don’t care who looks at you funny for applauding your laptop. Clap, clap, clap!
[Exchanging looks of confusion, Allyn and Robin applaud like this is the serial skit’s grand finale. Will, unable to hold a weapon and clap at the same time, turns his gaze toward the cloudy heavens.]
Will/Woodsman: I do believe in Wendy! I do, I do! I do believe in Wendy! I do! I do!
[With a burst of thunder, the artificial clouds pour rain, drenching the spot where Allyn huddles over Marion, and washing the blood away into the plot of earth. As the downpour lightens, Marion’s eyes flutter open, and she half-sits up.]
Marion/Wendy: I’m all right. [hugs Allyn tight, looks over his shoulder at Will ] By the quick-thought-up miracles that follow you wherever you go, Peter Pan, I’m all right.
Will/Woodsman [visibly dizzy with relief ]: Thank all goodness. But now… [recovers himself and holds his knife to Robin’s throat ] What’s to be done with this one?
“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.
“Thank you to audience members Steven Bourelle and Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘ventriloquism’ and ‘beluga’.”
“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes!”
“Now, before we go,” says Allyn, “hearty congratulations to Miranda McNeff, winner of the signed Emmelea bookmark in this week’s ‘Song Caster’ mini-giveaway!”
“Way to go, Miranda!” Will cheers. “And keep your eyes open, everyone, for further opportunities to win stuff as we near June 24th, launch day for ‘The Song Caster (Book Four of The Wilderhark Tales)’. ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”