“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”
“Every second 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: ‘Tale as Old as Tale-Telling’!”
[The curtain rises on Will Scarlet as the Mad Hatter, lying prone beneath the weighted sky curtain atop the mountain set.]
Will/Hatter [tragically ]: Three acts gone by since I blundered into this position, and no sign of a rescue from Jack Snow and company! Have they all forgotten me? Have they even noticed I’m gone? [dejected sigh ] Am I so easily replaceable that they can’t tell me from a Norse trickster god?
[Speak of the trickster, who should appear from around the sky curtain but Gant-o’-the-Lute, portrayer of Loki.]
Lute/Loki: Less replaceable than you are easily parodied. But how now? [crouches down to something nearer Will’s level ] Still here, Hatter? And doing none too professional a job, either. We’re getting complaints below about the sagging state of the sky.
Will/Hatter: You! Insolent imp, how dare you lead my friends into the Labyrinth without me? Who knows what horrible things they’ll be forced to contend with! Traps! Monsters! Demented knife-wielding lemurs! [struggles beneath the sky curtain ] They’ll be having all the fun! Let me out! Out, I say!
Lute/Loki [patting Will’s cheek ]: Keep your hat on, Wonderlander. They’ve encountered no lemurs, last I looked. [unnerving chuckles ] Just run into an old friend from Fairytale Forest.
Will/Hatter: Oh? Who? That heartbreakingly handsome Woodsman?
Lute/Loki: One better: The Antichristmas Beast.
Will/Hatter: Really? I’d gotten the impression he was the farthest thing from any friend of Jack’s. Not to mention dead. What’s he doing in the Labyrinth?
Lute/Loki [grinning ]: Bargaining for Annabelle.
Will/Hatter [head cocked in puzzlement ]: What would the Beast want with—? Wait. Don’t tell me. He needs her love to break a curse, right?
Lute/Loki: Close, quite close. A tale not old as time, but old as tale-telling. Think, Hatter. What is Annabelle?
Will/Hatter: Single black female in her latter teens; likes fictional hotties and long walks in her imagination. I should ask her out for tea.
Lute/Loki [eyes rolling ]: An author, Hatter. Annabelle is an author. And if you were a character killed off from your tale, what would you want an author for?
Will/Hatter: The prestige. Emotional eating. Tax breaks.
Lute/Loki: You make no sense at all.
Will/Hatter: Hold on, you’ll break my chain of thought. Algebra. The lobster quadrille. A story! He’d want another story!
Lute/Loki: Precisely. Once they leave that Labyrinth, bookish beauty and beast will be off to lands uncharted, plots unplanned, fates unknown. He may actually make it out alive, this time. She may not.
Will/Hatter: Why tell me any of this? I’m trapped helpless beneath the sky. *cough* Thanks to you. *cough*
Lute/Loki: No. [lifts the sky curtain with one hand, pulls Will up to his feet with the other ] You’re coming with me.
Will/Hatter [compliant ]: Brilliant! [contrary ] Like Tulgey Wood I am! [curious ] Coming where?
Lute/Loki [eyes shining ]: To head them off at the pass.
“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.
“Thank you to audience members Tirzah Duncan and Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘demented knife-wielding lemurs’ and ‘The Prestige’.”
“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! ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”