'King's Ransom' ACT 1

Prologue: (The crypt of Samuel King… September 1846)
Song: ‘The World is a Different Place’

A chink of light breaks into the darkness, as a door is edged open. After a few shoves, Edwin Deeks and Martha Kitson enter the crypt. They are both dwellers in the subterranean world that exists under London. Deeks is the leader of this ‘Under London’ community, and Martha has recently moved down there after being made homeless by her violent and drunken husband.
This crypt, as Deeks explains, is the final resting place of Professor Samuel King, ‘a brilliant and honourable man who is much missed both above and below London’.

‘But why are we here?’ asks Martha.

Deeks replies that he is acting ‘on the advice of wiser people than me: they said it would be beneficial to the soul… a closing, if you will.’
Deeks points out that the Professor played a key role in a great adventure that happened a year previously, when the country was on the brink of disaster.

Martha, having only just joined the ‘Under London’ society, asks what happened. Deeks begins his story… ‘It all began with an invitation!’


King horiz 


Scene 1: (Covent Garden Market… September 1845)
Song: ‘Interesting Times’

In a busy corner of Covent Garden market, a paperboy sells a news supplement… What is wrong with Robert Peel, the prime minister? He hasn’t been seen for several weeks, and suspicions are rising as to his state of health. The people of London are starting to ask questions.
Tom Worthy is there too, playing the con game ‘find the lady’. His previous profession was as a psychic but he had become less and less keen to communicate with ghosts. As he put it, ‘I don’t like to be haunted’.

William Gardelle and Helena Blake are associates of Professor Samuel King. They arrive at Covent Garden and approach Tom: His presence is urgently requested. Tom is not impressed to discover that it is Samuel King that requests it, but he eventually acquiesces and follows William and Helena. Tom and Samuel have history together, and whether Tom likes it or not, the Professor did save his life some years ago.


Scene 2: (Colonel Scovil’s study)
Song: ‘Poison Runs the Course’

Elsewhere in London, Colonel Luther Scovil is standing behind his desk in an inner sanctum of the Pandora Club. He is pleased with progress so far. He talks about his plans to Roza Yakovna. Originally from Russia, she is his trusted and ruthless assistant. When people need to disappear, Scovil always turns to her.

The Colonel has engineered the slow but deadly poisoning of the Prime Minister, which will in turn destabilize the government and leave it vulnerable to his manipulations. He has already earned respect and high standing in British society, so this long-term strategy is proving successful so far. His plan would ultimately lead to the fall of the Empire, which of course would be much welcomed by certain foreign powers for whom he works.


Scene 3: (Under London)
Song: ‘Silent Army’

William and Helena guide Tom Worthy down through the passageways under London. He realises there is a whole community down there… the poor, the homeless, people on the run, people escaping from other lives. These ‘under Londoners’ and their leader, Edwin Deeks, are right now gathering for a meeting in a place they call ‘the Chapel’.


Scene 4: (The Chapel)
Songs: ‘Salvation has a Name’ ‘The Deal is Made’ ‘Legend of the Unicorn Orchid’ ‘A Country on the Brink’ ‘Solitary Man’

Chess‘The Chapel’ is a sunken ruined edifice built by the Romans centuries before, long since covered up and lost to the sunlight - just another part of the complex web that weaves under London.
Deeks is attempting to calm the people down, as they complain to him of the rumours that the government intends to flush them out of ‘Under London’. Deeks chastises everyone for being so easily flustered, and promises that Professor King is right now finding a solution.

The Professor arrives, with Eva Bonaduce at his side, and announces that there is no longer any need to worry. He has made a deal with the ‘highest authority’, and the people of ‘Under London’ will be left alone. As the crowd disperses, King greets Tom Worthy. He explains about the threat to the Prime Minister’s life, and that his deal with the throne involves finding a way to save Robert Peel. He reveals that he has been charged by Queen Victoria herself as the last line of defence for the monarchy and the government.

Dr. Josephine Kendrick enters, and is introduced to Tom. The Professor has given her the responsibility of caring for the ‘Under London’ community. Despite not being allowed to properly qualify as a doctor, King trusts her abilities completely.

The Professor and his friends then continue to explain the predicament they are in. The best doctors have identified poison but they have no idea about a cure, and the man is sinking fast. No known worldly medicine can save him, so King believes they must find something ‘unworldly’. Something he is convinced lies within their grasp.

They tell Tom of the ‘Unicorn Orchid’… a plant with magical properties. According to the researches of Thomas Anzeray (a respected alchemist that King has studied) if a serum is made from the flower, it may be able to cure any known disease, ‘possibly even death itself’. An explorer called Captain Fergus Maunder discovered the orchid, whilst tracking his way through the jungles of Bolivia. He brought the plant back to England but died suddenly in what seemed to be an accident. The plant, however, was never found. King believes this plant to be somewhere in London. If they could find it, they may yet save the Prime Minister.

King entreats Worthy to use his psychic powers to make contact with Captain Maunder and find the location of the orchid. King explains that opening a portal to the dead has proved to be ‘unwise’ in the past, and it nearly cost him, William Gardelle and Eva their lives. He hopes that Tom’s more sympathetic and lighter touch might work more successfully.
Tom is unenthusiastic regarding this request, but accepts that there is a great deal at stake. The country could be on the brink of disaster.
He does, however, point out that he can only communicate with the Captain if he has some personal item that belonged to the man… something that might bear a ‘spiritual vibration’. King believes he knows where they may find such an item. He announces that tonight they will head for the new Madame Tussaud’s Waxwork Exhibition in Baker Street.

Josephine is worried about William’s health, but it is clear that her concerns are more personal. In a quiet moment, Eva points out that a little more patience may pay off… ‘The ice is melting’. He is a damaged man who lost someone dear to him a couple of years ago; he believes he is not destined to be happy again. It just needs time.
In turn, Josephine asks about Eva’s feelings for the Professor… another damaged man who chooses to keep his feelings locked away. Eva is left alone to ponder her emotions.


Scene 5: (The Waxwork Exhibition)
Songs: ‘The Summoning’ ‘Death by Misadventure’ ‘A Fly in the Ointment’

tunnel 2Later that night, the team is in Baker Street. They break into a room that houses the waxworks. There is a display of ‘Heroes and Villains’. King, William, Eva and Tom start looking around and soon find what they are searching for. One of the waxwork ‘heroes’ is Captain Fergus Maunder and the pipe he is holding was actually one of his favourites.

King gives the pipe to Tom who begins to focus on it, but suddenly one of the waxworks ‘comes to life’ and is revealed to be Roza, the assassin! Her poison dart narrowly misses Tom. Having failed to kill him and seeing that she is outnumbered she beats a hasty retreat. After recognising Roza, it is now clear to King that Colonel Luther Scovil is behind ‘this whole dark situation’. It also occurs to him that Scovil may have eyes and ears Under London.

While William and Eva keep watch, Tom focuses again on the pipe and this time successfully summons the ghost of Captain Maunder. The Captain is happy to be back, as he never had a chance to discuss his premature death. In fact he refuses to reveal the location of the orchid until he has been given the chance to explain the cause of his unexpected demise. Once satisfied that his plight has now been made clear and official, Maunder offers to show the location to Tom, but only to Tom. King suggests they meet at the Chapel as soon as the orchid is retrieved.

After Tom and the Captain leave, the Professor warns William and Eva that there must be a spy in their community, a serpent in the grass! As they return to the tunnels under London, he entreats them to be extra vigilant.


Scene 6: (Under London)
Song: ‘Silent Words’

King, William and Eva are returning through the tunnels. They decide that sleep is the best course of action for now, and so they part company.

As he returns to his room, King muses over his inability to declare his true feelings to Eva… Somewhere else under London, Eva, in turn, deliberates on exactly the same problem.


Scene 7: (Colonel Scovil’s study)
Song: ‘Eyes of the Basilisk’

At the Pandora Club, Scovil is holding court. Roza and several of the Colonel’s followers are in attendance. Scovil is not happy with the way things have turned out regarding King’s involvement and he is disappointed that Roza failed to sabotage things at the waxworks, but points out that this won’t make any real difference to their designs.

Another character steps out of the shadows… it is Helena! She agrees with the Colonel, that nothing can stop them now.
Scovil has a new plan to put the odds firmly in his favour and put King in an impossible position. They will kidnap Eva… ‘That should freeze him in his tracks’.


'King's Ransom' ACT 2


Scene 1: (Kew Gardens)
Songs: ‘Haunted’ ‘Nostalgia’

Tom and the Captain arrive at Kew Gardens. They enter a new building called The Orangery. It is a giant greenhouse and building work is still in progress.

Tom is keen to get the orchid and for Maunder to disappear, but Maunder seems to be enjoying his temporary release and has much to say. He also introduces Tom to some of his ghostly friends, which unsettles the psychic even more. 

The ghosts’ eagerness to dwell in the past gives Tom an excuse to lash out, by pointing out to them that nostalgia really is a waste of time. After a while harmony prevails, and Tom is guided to the location of the Unicorn Orchid. He retrieves it and waves goodbye to his spectral friends.


King tunnel 

Scene 2: (The Chapel)
Songs: ‘In Harm’s Way’ ‘Tom Returns’ ‘In the Palm of my Hand’

Back in the Chapel, King and his associates are waiting in tense anticipation for Tom to return with the orchid. When Eva offers to go and search for him, King admits that he is not happy putting her in harm’s way all the time, but Eva is adamant that she prefers to stay close to the Professor.

Eventually Tom returns with the orchid, which King immediately gives to the Doctor. It is time to put Anzeray’s theory into practice. Perhaps the Prime Minister can still be saved. During the excitement over Tom’s return, Helena tells Eva that she needs her help with something. Eva leaves, unaware that she is walking into a trap.

Meanwhile, ignorant of Eva’s predicament, King and William leave for a meeting with Jacob Alderdyce, the Queen’s agent.

After a brief conversation with Deeks, the Doctor ponders on the responsibility she now has. The potential power to cure any known disease, possibly even death itself. Should she even be dabbling with this? She concludes she has no choice, and besides, her curiosity is too great: one of the many traits she seems to have picked up from King! She begins to work on the serum.


Scene 3: (A tunnel under London)
Song: ‘Letting My Demons Go’

King and William are making their way to the meeting in Hyde Park. The Professor jokes with William, noting a more optimistic side that seems to be emerging from his friend. William admits that it may be time to move on from the death of Amelia, and reclaim his life.


Scene 4: (Hyde Park)
Song: ‘Stand Fast’

tunnel greenKing and William meet Jacob Alderdyce, by a pond in Hyde Park. They update him on their quest for the orchid. They are also aware that the perpetrator of this threat to the country is none other than Colonel Luther Scovil. Alderdyce reminds them that without proof they cannot apprehend him, but King urges the agent to hold his nerve a little longer, and they will prevail.

As they make to leave the park, Edwin Deeks arrives and breathlessly reports that Eva has been kidnapped. He hands William a letter, left for them by Colonel Scovil… ‘Bring the serum to me at dawn tomorrow… outside St. Paul’s... That is, if you wish to see Eva alive!’
King walks away, devastated by this news.


Scene 5: (Colonel Scovil’s Study)
Song: ‘Defiant’

From behind his desk, Scovil is pleased with his latest strategy, and congratulates Roza and Helena for their ‘good work’. He taunts Eva, keen to point out that she and her friends have lost this battle. Eva is undaunted by her captors and defiantly refuses to be intimidated. She promises that Scovil and his minions will soon bow down in defeat.


Scene 6: (The Chapel)
Songs: ‘I Should Have Known’ ‘Hold On’ ‘Serpent in the Grass’ ‘The Future will be Ours’ ‘Turning the Tables’ ‘Dare to be Happy’

King is sitting with Deeks and Helena in the Chapel clutching the ransom letter. He berates himself for putting Eva in danger yet again. Deeks and others shake him out of his reverie. They point out that it is still in his hands to save Eva. Throwing aside his fears, King agrees… now is the time to hold on!

William enters, pointing out that he knows the identity of the traitor. That traitor, William announces, is none other than Helena Blake!

Helena pulls a knife and taunts King about the imminent fall of the government and the empire, but she forgets that William is behind her. Her curses of defiance are cut short as she falls to the floor unconscious thanks to a blow to the back of the head from William. Deeks arranges to lock her away until the problems are resolved.

The Doctor returns, holding up two vials. It is time to turn the tables on Scovil.

King sends Tom to the Prime Minister with the serum. He also tells Josephine to find Jacob Alderdyce and arrange for Peel’s death to be announced. Scovil is unaware that there are two vials of the potion, so King can still be at St. Paul’s at dawn with a vial of the ‘Unicorn Serum’. William will go to St. Paul’s with King, and Deeks has his own preparations to make.

William catches up with Josephine before he leaves for St. Paul’s. He shares his feelings with her, and they are united for a brief moment.


Scene 7: (Scovil’s Study, The Chapel and a Tunnel under London)
Song: ‘Set for the Task’

As everyone embarks upon their various errands, King prepares himself for the final meeting with Scovil. At the Pandora Club the same is true for the Colonel, and deep in the tunnels of Under London Deeks steels himself for the storm.


Scene 8: (Outside St. Paul’s Cathedral)

tunnel orchidScovil is waiting for King and William to arrive. Roza is holding on to Eva, and some of the Colonel’s men skulk in the background. When the Professor arrives Scovil takes pleasure in brandishing a new custom-built gun, as well as gloating over the death of Robert Peel.
King gives the serum to the Colonel and demands they release Eva. As the three try to leave, Helena appears, having managed to escape from Under London. She warns Scovil of the double-cross. The Colonel immediately demands death for King and his friends. Suddenly from numerous streets and sewers, Deeks and his Silent Army appear, and easily overpower Scovil and his men. Furious at being outwitted, Scovil takes his last free moment to shoot King… but Eva steps in the way and the bullet slams into her. King holds on to Eva as William retrieves the serum from the now disarmed Scovil. They administer the serum and wait. In seconds, the miracle takes place and Eva is restored to health. However, the celebrations are cut short as King collapses. The bullet went through him as well!
‘Why did you give me the serum?’ cries Eva. ‘What other choice could I possibly have made?’ replies King, as life seeps away from him. He always knew what his last words should be: “Eva, I love you”.

The sun rises over St. Paul’s Cathedral as Professor Samuel King dies.


Epilogue: (The crypt of Samuel King and a Village in Transylvania… September 1846)

Deeks concludes his story with a sigh. Martha asks what then happened to everyone. Deeks says that Scovil and many of his team were hanged for treason. Roza apparently escaped, but things ‘went bad for her in Norway’.

Martha discovers a letter left for Deeks in the crypt, along with three empty vials. The letter is from Samuel King…


Perhaps the story is not over yet...


Artwork by Mark Buckingham