“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”
“Back in the day,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon’ trilogy—”
“—Would 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.”
“But we’re pulling out today’s skit to mark a special occasion,” Will declares. “Namely, the launch of our author Danielle E. Shipley’s latest novel, ‘Deathsong of the Deep’ (now or soon to be available in paperback, cuz #TechnicalDifficulties, and in two e-book formats, here and here). So make yourselves comfortable as we now present to you: ‘Release the #KrakenBook’!”
[The curtain rises on a painted backdrop depicting a seascape beneath a twilight sky. Before it stands a makeshift pier, a ship-shaped cutout bobbing behind. Pacing to and fro along the dock is Marion Hood, in a canvas coat and sensible shoes. And sitting upon one of the pier’s posts is the one and only Gant-o’-the-Lute, playing a jaunty, nautical-sounding tune upon a fiddle as he begins the skit’s narration.]
Lute/Narrator: Nineteen-year-old tavern girl Molly Worth needs a way out of the lackluster future she’s sure awaits in her small portside town.
Marion/Molly [brooding ]: My considerable imagination notwithstanding, I am hard put, at the moment, to conceive of a fate worse than a half-inevitable marriage to the ho-hum Caylum Buxby.
[An extra spot of light falls upon the ship cutout, whence comes a voice that sends Marion startling.]
Queen Guinevere/the Jessica: What about a half-inevitable death at sea?
Lute/Narrator: A miraculous living ship needs an ally willing to steal her away from what she’s sure will be her doom.
Marion/Molly: I don’t know about the death part, but a life at sea would be thrilling. Can you really talk?
Guinevere/Jessica: And more.
Marion/Molly: Then let us discuss an arrangement.
Lute/Narrator: It seems like a match ordained by the mystical Sea Queen herself.
[Marion steps from the dock and onto a platform on the Jessica cutout’s far side, while Lute and the pier begin rolling offstage, leaving the little ship and her captain alone ‘on the open sea’.]
Lute/Narrator [sounding his fiddlesong’s last notes just before vanishing into the wings ]: …But the darkest power below has other plans for those who brave the deep.
[The lighting darkens from evening to night, and a new song echoes around the stage – Gant-o’-the-Lute’s voice layered over that of Little John, producing a resonantly high-and-low effect that is as lovely as it is deeply ominous.]
Marion/Molly [in horror and wonder ]: That song…!
[Amidst frenetic flashes of light that may cause seizures in those with photosensitive epilepsy, towering shadows writhe over the backdrop.]
Guinevere/Jessica: Oh, no! It’s…!
[From above, Allyn-a-Dale swoops in on a wire, a mechanical pair of black-feathered wings pumping at his back.]
Allyn/Johnny: Hang on! I’ve got you!
[The deathsong duet howling into an angry finish, Allyn scoops Marion from the cutout ship which sinks beneath the stage via trapdoor.]
Marion/Molly: First of all, thank you. Second, who are you? And third, if I may ask – what are you?
Allyn/Johnny: You’re welcome and Johnny and do you know those ancient Grecian depictions of sirens as birds with women’s heads?
Marion/Molly: Our world doesn’t have Greece, but sure.
Allyn/Johnny: Well, my mother was one.
Marion/Molly: A Greek?
Allyn/Johnny: The other thing.
Marion/Molly: Ah, good. That’s easier believed.
[From the wings – (the stage’s wings, not Johnny’s) – emerges a much larger, sturdier ship set piece than hitherto seen, on the deck of which stands Will Scarlet in a flamboyant embroidered coat and excellent boots. …Also Gant-o’-the-Lute, this time playing accordion.]
Lute/Narrator: Taken under the wing of a creature of myth, and absorbed into the uncommon crew commanded by one rakish Captain Crow…
Will/Crow: Ahoy, Johnny-lad! What have you got there?
Allyn/Johnny [coming to deposit Marion onto the ship next to Will ]: I’ve got a Molly!
Will/Crow: #ThatsCanon. Hey, Molly-babe. Y’wanna join the Painted Lady?
Marion/Molly: I am skeptical of you, but all right.
Lute/Narrator: …Molly begins to make her way toward the life she wants for herself, only to lose it all in an epic venture gone wrong.
Marion/Molly: Well, dang.
Will/Crow: Aw man, is it my fault?
Allyn/Johnny: I mean, probably.
Lute/Narrator [his accordion taking up a reprise of the deathsong duet ]: Now to regain what the monstrous Kraken destroyed requires that she weigh life against life, and life against death with the unnatural creature who sings to her soul.
Will/Crow: Worry not, Molly! True love always finds a way!
Allyn/Johnny: You say that like this is “The Wilderhark Tales”.
Lute/Narrator [shrugging ]: It’s from the same author, for whatever that’s worth.
[From the opposite wings, Eddie Millerson pokes in his head for a cameo appearance as Caylum Buxby.]
Eddie/Caylum [smirking like he thinks he’s funny ]: What is a Molly worth, anyway?
Marion/Molly [pointing ]: And that is why no one is marrying you.
“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.
“Thank you to Danielle E. Shipley and Chelsea de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “the one for writing and publishing ‘Deathsong of the Deep’, and the other for mentioning on multiple occasions how she loved and misses the golden age of Will and Allyn’s Interactive Theatre.”
“Remember, beautiful audience,” says Will, “that ‘Deathsong’ is currently available as an e-book (here and here), and if it’s not already up in paperback, it should be very soon. If you enjoyed yourselves (or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), be sure to purchase your copy or copies today! (And please-and-thank-you leave a review once you’ve finished devouring the masterpiece, okay? Okay.) Also, 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!”