“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”
“Every second Friday,” 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: ‘Hatter’s Happy Place’!”
[The curtain rises on the woodland set of Steampunk Sherwood. Having been shot in the last act, Will Scarlet as the Mad Hatter lies on the floor. Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow, Little John as his archenemy (and Hatter’s shooter) the Antichristmas Beast, and Annabelle Gray and Sir Wilbur Lamb from INSPIRED stare at him aghast. Or, more accurately, they’re staring at the black smoke appearing to billow from his mouth. As the stage lights go eerily dim, an image projects onto the smokescreen – one that looks like little more than cat-like eyes and a massively wide grin, bright as a crescent moon.]
Little John/Beast [with a gasp ]: That’s him. That’s the Shadow!
Sir Wilbur: You mean the mysterious entity that brought you back from death and into the Labyrinth… was Hatter??
Allyn/Jack: But how can that be? We’d left him trapped atop Mount Atlas!
Will/Shadow [giggling horrifically as the smile flies up, down, and around ]: Indeed you did, you did indeed! Poor body of mine, all alone, left behind, crushed beneath the weight of the sky. Criminy, what a crisis! Like a bullet from a Beast! What’s a body to do? How to cope but to crack? Crack a smile and drift away to my happy place!
Little John/Beast: That… is a less-than-normal response to physical trauma.
Allyn/Jack: But, Shadow of Hatter – why return the Antichristmas to life? Why unleash his evil upon the world yet again?
Will/Shadow: Why, oh, why? Why, that would be… MADNESS! [recommences laughing ]
Annabelle [jerking a thumb toward the maniacal smile ]: He is all kinds of crazy.
Sir Wilbur [grimly ]: And all too powerful. Perhaps we’d do best to contain him, before he causes more chaos than Loki.
Will/Shadow: Contain me? Return me to my human cage, before I’m good and ready? And how do you plan to do that, Mr. Lamb, when you’re trapped in a cage of your own?
[The smoke thickens and swirls, briefly obscuring everything onstage. When it clears… everything looks just like it did a moment ago.]
Will/Shadow: Hmm. That doesn’t appear to have done anything.
Annabelle [in Wilbur’s voice ]: It did something.
Sir Wilbur [in Annabelle’s voice ]: Holy snap, did we just switch places? That is so cool! Forget a Wilbur cosplay, I’m wearing his body!
Will/Shadow: Huh. I did not quite intend that. Oh, well – if at first you don’t succeed, blame it on your parents. Shall I try again?
Annabelle/Sir Wilbur: Wait – what’s wrong with the Beast?
[For Little John has begun clutching at his chest in apparent distress, an unhealthy grunt wheezing from his grimacing mouth. The wheeze-grunt mounts into a scream as, in a display reminiscent of the previous serial skit’s finale, the Beast melts away into the floor. ]
Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: Is he… Did he just die? Like, for zero reason??
Annabelle/Sir Wilbur: Hatter’s Shadow, what have you done?!
Allyn/Jack [calmly ]: It would seem he’s saved the day. My enemy is dead. Now I’m free to leave this place for the North Pole – just as soon as the Shadow is returned to its host.
Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: But we don’t know how!
Allyn/Jack [with a smile ]: I do.
“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.
“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Steven Bourelle,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘if at first you don’t succeed, blame it on your parents’ and the Wilbur cosplay photo pictured here.”
“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!”