City of Churches, Paul Klee

                                Doubleyew Banton

DOUBLEYEW Blind, Braille-literate, Jamaican Londoner. In his 
          sixties, at least.

The instant of performance.

The stage, bare except for a wood lectern with a 1940s microphone.

The opening and closing incantations are culled from The Complete 
Enochian Dictionary: A Dictionary of the Angelic Language as 
Revealed to Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley. “There is no end ... 
jakes” is condensed from Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy. “Sweet 
Swan of Avon ...” and “The fate of all books ...” are from the 
preface to Shakespeare’s First Folio.

How shall I hope to express my selfe to each man’s humour and 
conceipt, or to give satisfaction to all? Some understand too 
little, some too much.
          Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy

                      (DOUBLEYEW, dressed in black, taps 
                      his way in with a white umbrella. 
                      Having found the lectern on which a 
                      Braille folio lies, he raps the mic 
                      before reading aloud.)

Do-o-aip Kwāl 
Za-ka-re od zamran ā-i om 
Odo sik-le kwā 
Bag-le a ko-kazb i kors ka u-nig blior

In the name of the Creator 
Move and show yourselves amongst us 
Open the mysteries of your creation 
For the time is such as requires comfort

Carts and carriages pipe and screech. Miiiiiilk! Miiiiiilk! 
Squealing, howling, barking, bleats. Neighs, shrieks, 
caterwauls; clatter, din and hullabaloo. Knells and peals 
and tolling bells. Posthorns. Knocking at gates; creaking 
of doors, floors, cupboards, shoes; clipping of hair, 
razing of beards; hawking, spitting, coughs and sneezes; 
belching and farts; titters, snorts. Pandemonium of brats, 
racket of beatings; babbles of soap-makers, snips of 
tailors, eruptions of powder-makers, hammers of smiths; 
close crashings by coopers, pewterers, armourers, braziers; 
blind cacophonies from harpers, pipers, fiddlers; alehouse 
hoots, yells, whispers, brawls; knives a grinding, clubs a 
bashing: chitty City bangarang.

Hovering over the Globe
Whistle ’cross the dark water
Are they coming?
Yes, they are coming!

Entered this eighth day of November, in the year of Our 
Lord sixteen hundred and twenty-three, Master William 
Shakespeare his Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies 
published according to the true original copies. Isaac 
Jaggard, and Ed. Blount, printers.

Deliver’d at last. I’ll to the river.

Dear friend, let not thy too natural griefs 
Prompt thee to any deed unnatural.

Fear not, good Blount, I will but walk a spell.

There’s rain toward. Isaac, farewell.


               (Gliding his hand across the page, 
               DOUBLEYEW finds no text. He retraces. 
               Nothing. Sweeps down the page. Blank. 
               Turns page. Same. Flips through a couple 

How carefully he mine ink’d form misreads! 
Albeit spent labours oft net but sapp’d 
Melancholy, to boot a blind father’s 
Fatal visitation, yet stand I sack-
Proof, for clear through London’s siege mine alpha 
Counsels still, his script invisible reveal’d 
By warm remembrance. Glad I am he, faults 
Redeem’d, clasp’d that first folio at last; 
William by Will for aye preserv’d as I
Am my father’s son, my son mine.

1 carefully full of caring concern; ink’d form page of type 
inked ready for printing 2 Albeit ... melancholy Although 
completing a project often only results in depression; 
sapp’d drained, (Military) undermined by digging 3 to boot 
in addition 4 Fatal visitation deadly affliction from God; 
I sack-proof pun on Isaac: to sack is to destroy and 
plunder 5 siege here used metaphorically; alpha first 
letter of Greek alphabet, beginning 7 faults Redeem’d sins 
absolved, e.g. prior copyright infractions 8 William by 
Will William Shakespeare by William Jaggard, or vice versa: 
Isaac took over the business upon his father’s syphilitic 
blindness; also puns on volition, property disposal 9 aye 
Pron. ‘eye’ ever

Will yuh try mi quality, sah? Com let mi seet.
               (Moves hands back up, paraphrases on the 
Blount’s a decent sort, minds his p’s and q’s, but quite 
misspells my sable frame. Granted post-job ennui’s dash 
typical—let alone pater darkly shuffling off—but chin up! 
said original leads on through London’s bloody hassle, fond 
mem’ries heat to secret ink. Delighted he finally held the 
prime edition, misdeeds offset. Our Wills being done, 
reissue as one, twinned ad infinitum.
A suh wi dweet.

‘Sweet Swan of Avon! What a sight it were 
  To see thee in our waters yet appear,
And make those flights upon the banks of Thames 
  That so did take Eliza and our James.’

               (Whistles chorus of ‘L’il Liza Jane’.)

Why, we wherry amphibians who live by oar and skull, what 
need ‘ave we of plays? Dispatcher to the Globe, totus 
mundus plays me the patched fool. Nay, Master Jagged, since 
for this time you sit upon my watery stage, you must be 
content to ‘ear me. There is no end of writing of books, as 
the wise man found of old, and in this scribbling age, 
wherein the number of books is without number, as another 
worthy man saith, your very presses be oppressed, for out 
of an itching ‘umour that every man ‘ath to show himself, 
dolor digitus, ’e will write no matter what and scrape 
together it boots not whence, larding ‘is lean with others’ 
fat to get a paper kingdom. So comes it not only libraries 
and shops are full of putrid papers, but every close-stool 
and jakes; ergo their warblings croak o’er the bottomless 
pit, gone for a melancholy Burton, and Bob’s your only 

But four years hence young Master Isaac Jaggard, son of 
Master William Jaggard late of this parish, will himself up 
sticks. Put a coin upon his tongue for the ferryman.

               (The sound of rain. DOUBLEYEW opens his 

The fate of all books depends on your capacities: and not 
of your heads alone, but of your purses. Whatever you do,
buy now these works offer’d to your view, perfect of 
their limbs as the author himself conceived them.

Niiso, crip ip nidali. Come away, but not your noises. 

                               Fitz & Twitch

GRUB  Woman dressed in man’s 18th century clothing; a drudge of 
the pen; accent north of Watford; head lice, fleas, crabs.

The instant of performance.

The stage, bare except for an overhead projector on a cart.

The handwriting: round hand would be appropriate for the eighteenth 
century, but italic or other cursive script would do.

He was therefore obliged to seek some other means of support, and, 
having no profession, became by necessity, an author.
       Samuel Johnson, An Account of the Life of Mr Richard 
       Savage, Son of the Earl Rivers

                       (The clank of three coins dropping 
                       into an electricity meter precedes 
                       GRUB’s entry to its constant tick. 
                       She switches on an overhead 
                       projector, sole source of light and 
                       heat, focusing it onto the upstage 
                       wall. Her 1780s’ gentleman’s 
                       costume is shabby, her hair in two 
                       short pigtails. Reading aloud, she 
                       re-edits transparencies.)

Fame must not be presumed the principal object of authorial
endeavour; the glare of vulgar attention is anathema to 
temperaments immanently disposed toward the gloom of 
bookish retreat and distillatory meditation. While it may 
yet ^yet^ appear self-evident that general acclaim should 
be the chief purpose and delight of any dedicated 
scribbler/member of the quilled tribe/flock?, collegial 
evaluation and deliverance from intellectual irritants at 
last lastly turned literary pearls rather constitute the 
^those^ consummations most devoutly frequently commonly 
unequivocally craved/desired/preferred.

Consider, then, those incongruous the sundry excruciations

               (The meter stops, the light goes out. GRUB 
               switches off the projector and exits. Pause. 
               Four coins. GRUB, minus some articles of 
               clothing, re-enters, restarts the projector, 
               continues editing.)

notoriety may shall not fail to inflict upon one such 
ingenious solitary. Till yYesterday few were acquainted 
with ^the name of^ Nathaniel Hilton; since he has to my 
knowledge hitherto published but one ^acknowledged^ 
article, this is scarce to be wondered. Whether that essay 
be fictional sufficiently creditable I want qualification 
to assess, for in his ‘Epistle from an Empire of Sighs’ 
Mr. Hilton pretends to have laboured with the Dutch midst 
Japan’s shrouded isles with Dr., during which extravagant 
spell Dr. Samuel Johnson’s magisterial Dictionary was his 
served ^him^ qua as sole anglophone companion. Hilton’s 
^undying^ passion for that stubbornly mysterious 
mysteriously stubborn asiatic land his habitual and,
alas, ill-fated affection of its indigenous garb ^the
keymono? kimoano?^ ^eloquently^ attests; that he consorts
communes still with the spirit of the late Great Cham last 
Thursday’s theatric efflorescence at a certain ^Covent 
Garden^ molly house unequivocally confirms.

               (The meter stops, the light goes out. GRUB 
               switches off the projector and exits. 
               Pause. Five coins. GRUB, minus further articles of 
               clothing, re-enters, restarts the projector. 
               Now she composes on a fresh transparency, 
               editing as she goes, rarely reading aloud.)

Of the good Doctor’s maturity much is known; of his coltish 
years less has been revealed. ‘An Account of the Life of Mr 
Richard Savage, Son of the Earl Rivers’ first

To conceive a play resembling one as written on/by? the 
moon stands contrary to reason; to mount one, preposterous; 
any persuaded by such an an illusion deserve merit then to 
be pronounced the label lunatic; among this absurd company 
I proudly ^brazenly^ ^hereby^ count myself.

Through midnight streets they we wander’d 
Around dark squares they we roved strode 
Pugnacious Sam and courteous Savage 
Wits’ hobbyhorses rode

That the drama was born when one protagonist escaped the 
clutches of fled the choric herd is well attested 
manifestly credible; that he was joined thereafter by a 
second fugitive, the antagonist, is likewise not to be 
impugned; thence proceeds by increments our modern practice 
of legion characters plays teeming with catholic profusion. 
The greater variety of our English this nation’s humours 
doubtless approves its theatrical preeminence; for when 
Thalmia & Melpomene hold up their mirror it they must needs 
reflect what lies before them. To fashionable tastes Be it 
never so ingenious, a curious rambling capriccio of but two 
characters might therefore presage thin gruel though

                (The meter stops, the light goes out. GRUB 
                switches off the projector and exits. Pause. 
                Two coins. GRUB, wrapped in only a bedsheet, 
                re-enters, restarts the projector. In 
                desperate haste, she simply writes.)

Bio ‘rarely well executed’. Sav + J differences/ 
commonalities nicely drawn. Mad for company > sleep.

City pastoral. Scant plot. J ↑ tree, St James Park swim, 
mock duel, St Jas Sq ⥁. Reminiscences anticipations.
Quips!!!! Penury. Cots crammed bulks + glasshouse ashes. 
Paper scraps cadged pens. ’tis gone!

Profound sentiment vs. Drury fustian. Characters true 
speech bare stage unlit. Artless artifice. Dionysus reborn.

Lit. obscurities 
J’s twitches puffs 
stale politics.

But this was London lived, whereof audience never tired

Pending sodomy trial H’s projected Tetty in Bedlam + Pash 
of Sam Enthraled at risk if pilloried, lost if hanged
               (out loud)
Dah! Dangli—
               (The meter stops. The light goes out. GRUB 

My duds and stampers!

                                  Wharton’s Jelly

EFOLIA An only child, terrified yet determined. Cockney.
MITTEN Her father, a widower, godly printer, damned and dogged.

The two actors play all their character’s ages. Only Efolia’s is 
indicated (Child, Teenage, Adult), Mitten’s follows suit. Each age 
corresponds to the appropriate era below.

Civil War (1642-1649)
Commonwealth and Protectorate (1649-1660) 
Restoration (1660; Plague, 1665; Fire, 1666)

Efolia’s memory of the plain dark living room in a London house 
above a print shop near Smithfield Market. Its windows look out on 
gallows in the street below.
The street after the Great Fire.

Wharton's Jelly is a gelatinous substance in the umbilical cord, 
named for the English physician and anatomist Thomas Wharton 
(1614-1673) who first described it.


                        (A London street burned to the 
                        ground in the Great Fire.)

                (The actor playing MITTEN unearths an 
                identically, but more rottenly, costumed 
                skeleton to use as a dummy.)

                       MITTEN’S CORPSE
Who grubs my carcass, bruiting me now in London’s stench 
for popinjays to crow at? Look, from out these sockets the 
very wriggling worms protest. Buboes grab your crotch and 
shake you! Rooting time’s cellar to glut a shallow age, 
snuffling the latrines of hist— What? Already? Shorted 
               (as if mounting scaffold) 
So may my soul ascend.
Easy! Good noose, do your skilful worst. Trusting my              
salvation, I recommit my bowels to abysmal gravity. And 

               (Crash of stool, rattle of bones. Flames 
               crackle, swell, then die.)


                      (The dark table, stool, chair and 
                      chest conjure a plain C17th living 
                      room above a London print shop.)

               (Looking out a window, CHILD EFOLIA 
               furtively sketches while MITTEN writes in 
               a ledger.)

If he’s dead why do his legs twitch so?

Dancing o'er the pit.

Are all hanged damned?
Of the king’s party.

And the beheaded?

Clip to burning.

More merciful then.


               (MITTEN reads. TEENAGE EFOLIA writes in 
               ledger, gazes out the window.)

Remember my first? You said flames licked the man’s legs.


The purgative fires.

What the …?


It stays with a body.


              (ADULT EFOLIA reenacts Child Efolia.) 

Tippy-toe, tapping covert walls. ‘Ware Roundheads, Cavalier.’

‘Hold hard!’
Blank. ‘I’m no babbler.’

The will o’ the child.

               (They chuckle.)


               (To the clicks of typesetting below, CHILD 
               EFOLIA traces her face with her fingers.)


                (CHILD EFOLIA doodles while copying the 
                alphabet. MITTEN slumps into a chair.)

Chatter chatter chatter. Man’s a bald baboon.

Soon’s I read I’ll help. Count too.

Chatter chatter chatter. Silence and bare walls. And books.


              (MITTEN shows CHILD EFOLIA the ledger.)

The will of the Lord is published in profits. ‘By their 
fruits ye shall know them.’

The crab apples of austerity are wiser than the peaches 
of indulgence.

              (ADULT EFOLIA and MITTEN.) 

Think of your gleeful days. The Commonwealth.

Ah, they dig, they rant, they level, they quake. A world 
turned upside down tumbles coin from its pockets. Word will 
out and must be printed, and the printer will be paid. The 
black art’s golden age. What profits it a man if he lose 
his soul?

‘By their fruits.’

We printed today—at your particular prompting—a play.

Think of your gleeful days.


              (CHILD EFOLIA and MITTEN play Hangman.)

Three words? ‘E’.

               (EFOLIA fills in two.)

                      MITTEN (Cont’d)

               (EFOLIA draws the head.)

MITTEN (Cont’d)

               (EFOLIA draws the body.)

MITTEN (Cont’d)
               (EFOLIA fills in three.)

                      MITTEN (Cont’d)

               (EFOLIA draws an arm.)

                      MITTEN (Cont’d)

               (The other arm.)

                      MITTEN (Cont’d)

               (A leg.)

                      MITTEN (Cont’d)

               (EFOLIA fills in one.)

                      MITTEN (Cont’d)

               (EFOLIA draws the final limb.)


What does it spell?

Adam and Eve.

               (Flames crackle, swell, then die.)


               (Looking out a window, CHILD EFOLIA 
               furtively sketches while MITTEN writes in 
               a ledger.)
Are all hanged damned?

Of the king’s party.

And the beheaded?

Clip to burning.

More merciful then.

               (MITTEN grabs the sketch.)

Hanged, drawn, and so,
               (rips sketch)


        (To the clicks of typesetting below, CHILD 
        EFOLIA fingers the alphabet on her face.)



        (CHILD EFOLIA bites an apple.)

It’s maggoty.

This night the people’s Roundhead army starves in muddy 
fields, drenched and bitter cold, faaar from home, while 
cozy round a blazing hearth, the king’s Cavaliers sup on 
soup, eels, carp, pies, beef, mutton, venison, diverse 
cheeses, baked codlings, puddings, dried apricots, black 
walnuts, cakes, ales, sherries, claret and brandies 
plundered all from larders of the godly. Not the spirits.
Our Lord fasted forty days. Finish it.

Merry Christmas, father.


               (TEENAGE EFOLIA reads to a drowsy MITTEN
               from the Book of Judith.)

‘Wherefore thou gavest their rulers to be slain, so that 
they dyed their bed in blood, being deceived, and smotest 
the servants with their lords, and the lords upon their 
thrones; And hast given their wives for a prey, and their 
daughters to be captives, and all their spoils to be 
divided among thy dear children; which were moved with 
thy zeal, and abhorred the pollution of their blood, and 
called upon thee for aid: O God,/ O my God, hear me also
a widow.’

O my God, hear me also a widow.


        (An axe’s swish and thud, a crowd’s groan. 
        CHILD EFOLIA clutches her bleeding 

‘As I was going by Charing Cross,
I saw a black man upon a black horse;
They told me it was King Charles the First— 
Oh dear, my heart was ready to burst!’


        (TEENAGE EFOLIA scrubs her first 
        bloodstained sheets and drawers.)

Hail Queen Mary, full of grace, blessed art thou 
amongst … Hail Queen Mary, full of … The Lord is
with thee and kings come out of thee. Hail Queen Mary, 
full … Oh, let me not be dying. Hail Queen Mary, full 
of grace … And this shall be a covenant between us by 
thy husband’s royal and precious … Hail Queen Mary, 
mother of … How do you get these stains out? Hail Queen 
Mother Mary, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of 
our death. Amen.


         (TEENAGE EFOLIA tosses the liquid contents 
         of a chamber pot out the window.)

               MITTEN (Off)
Christ’s bowels, Efolia! Shan’t a man sniff his proper 

It’s potpourri.

               MITTEN (Off)
Popery is right.

Are you incensed?

               MITTEN (Off)
Clouds the scent of godliness.

         (EFOLIA reaches off to take the bowl of 
         petals from MITTEN, sniffs them, sighs, 
         then tosses them out the window.)


         (Flames crackle, swell, then die.)



… and so,
          (rips CHILD EFOLIA’S sketch)
quartered. Reproduction offends Him!
Sit still, do not breathe, do not blink. Weep not and be 
not comforted; you are not. Ascend to safety. Happy 
birthday. Put away childish things.


           (To the clicks of typesetting below, CHILD 
           EFOLIA fingers her face.)

E.a.r.s. E.y.e.s. N.o.s.e. M.o.u.t.h.

           (Buries head in hands and weeps.)


           (ADULT EFOLIA proffers MITTEN a manuscript.) 

An actor? Whiles I print below he’ll steal through the 

Keep him by you.

Ha! Hooked. Bonk!

He entered the shop, through the door, and asked about the 
printing of a manuscript. I dissuaded him, but said I would 

He may counterfeit any customer, even the godly. I must 
trust none, suspect all.

Would you turn away business?

Show me the thing.
A very speaking sight wherein the age may see its faults 

Actresses? Daughter, confine yourself still to the sober 
fellowship of books.

Times turn, our volume declines.

Bonk! Bonk!


            (ADULT EFOLIA reads to a drowsy MITTEN 
            from the Book of Judith.)

‘And approached to his bed, and took hold of the hair of 
his head, and said, Strengthen me, O Lord God of Israel, 
this day. And she smote twice upon his neck with all her 
might, and she took away his head from him.’

            (Noticing MITTEN nodding asleep, she leafs
            back, becoming CHILD EFOLIA.)

               EFOLIA (Cont’d)
‘And she took sandals upon her feet, and put about her
her bracelets, and her chains, and her rings, and her 
earrings, and all her ornaments, and decked herself 
bravely, to allure the eyes of all men that should see 

            (Pulls stool to the window, kneels on it, 
            gazes out, looking back at MITTEN now and 


            (ADULT EFOLIA looks out the window. Hurries 
            off, then back. Looks out the window. Hurries 
            off. Clip-clops down the stairs. Two sets of 
            footsteps climb.)
               MITTEN (Off)
He wasn’t in.

               EFOLIA (Off)
You should’ve let me go.

            (MITTEN drops a string-tied bundle of scripts on the 

The house was shut.

He was at the theatre. Conceivably. I did offer.

Still prattling against the plague.

I heard.

Godforsaken country needs a proper scourge.

I would’ve gone. I could’ve. If you’d let me.

            (Steps back as though rewinding, sees bundle 
            as if for the first time, picks it up.)

               EFOLIA (Cont’d)
Oh, they’re done. Better late than never. I’ll go. You 
stay. You’re too busy.

Alright, you go.

The plague. Each snared in the fatal air, glanced by a 
common dread, suspect executioners all. Bliss to be knit 
so close.


            (Reverse: As ADULT MITTEN staggers, 
            feverish, toward the chair, CHILD EFOLIA
            pushes him back into the wings. Forward: As 
            MITTEN staggers toward the chair, ADULT 
            EFOLIA supports him.)

To and fro, to and fro. Quick. Untangle the choking cord, 
the umbilical. The choking cord. Quick, quick. What, the 
mother lost? Snuff the infant too then: she has her eyes. 
My rib, gone. Unhang every portrait, let barren walls 
            (stares at EFOLIA)
My spitting joy my curse … water under the … thou shalt not.

            (sketches her father through tears) 
‘Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any
likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is 
in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the 

            (Flames crackle, swell, then die.)


                (A London street burned to the ground 
               in the Great Fire. ADULT EFOLIA 
               contemplates the ruins of her home.)

If he’s dead …

             (She remembers a while. Then, under the 
            charred remains of a printing press, she 
            discovers the damaged, long-hidden 
            portrait of a woman who has her eyes.
            EFOLIA jigs.)


                       The Bowels of Darkness

SISSI          flower seller, street performer, 20s, postpartum 
               and malnourished, capable of surprising intensity
SLACK EDDY     30s, street performer, dreamer 
TWO-STRING     Chinese refugee, er-hu player 
MAGGOT         baby with cholera, a doll
RATS           rag puppets
AUDIENCE       See Notes

Late 1860s

A gallery and a hovel off it on the south bank of the Thames in 
Gustav Doré’s London.

Conceived as an immersive piece, this could also be done by either 
selecting people from the audience to serve as onstage spectators, 
or by using life-size rag dolls.

“… a maze of close, narrow, and muddy streets … tottering house- 
fronts projecting over the pavement, dismantled walls … chimneys 
half crushed half hesitating to fall, windows guarded by rusty iron 
bars that time and dirt have almost eaten away … rooms so small, so 
filthy, so confined, that the air would seem too tainted even for 
the dirt and squalor which they shelter … every repulsive lineament 
of poverty, every loathsome indication of filth, rot, and garbage.”
          Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
                       (Down a rank, rickety, smog-bound 
                       gallery SISSI, in tattered hand-me- 
                       downs, greets the queuing audience 
                       with sprigs of rosemary.)

Gainst the stink, sir? Ma’am? Remembrance? They do say 
that, don’t they, yes. The Venice of drains. This way, 
gentles. Out the dank miasma.

                       (Into a ramshackle sty with bundled 
                       rags for seats. Rotted floorboards 
                       with a sizable hole whiffing of 
                       sewage. Scurry and chatter of RATS 
                       that pop up from time to time.
                       Shadows cast by an oil lamp onto a 
                       suspended sheet silhouette SLACK EDDY 
                       dabbing MAGGOT with a cloth. To one 
                       side, TWO-STRING on er-hu.)

Mind the—
               (Clang! Flattens rat with a frying pan.)
Banging your pardon, gentles. Vermin nibbles our pigmy. 
Don’t suppose …? No? Ah.
               (Presses pan on an audience member.) 
Don’t mind if you do, ma’am/sir. Whack on sight. There!
Gong it! Gong it! Getting the hang of it, are we? Grateful, 
ever so.
               (Serves cups of water.)
Adam’s ale. There. Everybody comfy? Commencing shortly.

               (Retires behind the sheet. TWO-STRING
               changes tune. EDDY shakes his head. 
               SISSI shrugs. EDDY sighs: on with the show.

               Ignoring MAGGOT, who begins to cry and 
               will continue to do so, the couple step 
               from behind the sheet. They accompany 
               their patter with a barrage of quick-fire 
               variety turns which might include: slack 
               rope, dance, acrobatics, juggling, magic,
               escapology, unicycling, knife throwing, 
               fire eating, goldfish swallowing, mime, 
               stilts, puppetry, etc. Assorted African- 
               style props and costumes.)
Boobies, behold the mysteries of aqueous existence! 
Liquid compliments, my wassailing water bags. We shall 
commence with the overture. Haitches and Os, Ebenezers 
and Floes, drops and droplettes, pray hoist a moist 
salute to Middlesex’s miraculous musical mandarin, our 
very own valiant virtuoso on the vertiginous vertical 
violin, maestro Two-String Show-me!

Er, who?

Precisely. Take it away, sifu.
               (TWO-STRING obliges.)
Tonight we shall attain the dark continent’s primeval 
Eden via the infernal entrails of our yet darker 
metropolis, coursing London’s malodorous labyrinth to rest 
at last by Afric’s lacustrine shores, those limpid 
tributaries to mighty father Nile, eternal mother of
mankind. Too far, too late, too much? No, for here in this 
den of dreams, this dispensary of consolation, all time is 
redeemed and singular experience made joint. Let us plunge 
into the bowels of darkness.

Sewers of blood, sewers a-boil, arching, cavernous, ovoid, 
barrel; waste, effluvia, dung; conduits sh-

               (MAGGOT stops crying. Everything stops. 
               EDDY goes back to check. He brings out the 
               corpse. TWO-STRING plays a version of “Waft 
               her, angels” from Handel’s Jephtha. RATS 
               stand up, their front paws pressed in 
               prayer. EDDY and SISSI prepare the body 
               then commit it to the hole. They dip cups 
               into the sewer and drink. MAGGOT ascends, 
               borne aloft by angel RATS.

               As the audience leave, the cast distribute 
               programmes written on discarded proofs. One 
               side has handwritten production details, the 
               reverse, the following printed text.)
The Taiping Rebellion or the Taiping Civil War (Tàipíng 
Tiānguó Yùndòng, literally “Great Peace Heavenly Kingdom 
Movement”) lasted from 1850 to 1864 and was fought 
between the established Manchu-led Qing dynasty and the 
millenarian Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace.

The war was the largest in China since the Qing conquest 
in 1644, and it also ranks as one of the bloodiest wars 
in human history, the bloodiest civil war and the largest 
conflict of the 19th century, with estimates of the war 
dead ranging from 20–70 million to as high as 100 
million, with millions more displaced.