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!’
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’
‘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’
Later 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’.