Following the drama at the restaurant, competing factions begin to give away their own interest in the script of The Company of Man. More fragments emerge. Intoxicated by its potential, but unsure who they can trust, the cabal prepare another performance while trying to exercise caution and discretion.
Monday 26 September
The group reconvene for last orders at the Rampant Mare. Brooke is brought up to speed about the folio in the glove box after the accident.
- He spends the next couple of days sending out proposals, petitions, tenders and enquiries for work. He wants to raise money to support an auction bid. It’s clear that his heart’s not really in the applications he sends out to publishers.
- He calls Jerome Warren, who seems panicky, but genuinely concerned that Brooke has been robbed. They arrange to meet at Miranda’s on Friday afternoon to settle accounts.
Friday 29 September
Mac starts to feel the effect of the performance.
- There is a strong new connection between him and Amy Bassano. Her mystique is attractive to Mac, who (extraordinarily) establishes her as a Favourite relationship. They start talking to each other in Italian.
- Mac offers her his protection. She and a number of people in the restaurant, including Miranda Riggs, are already primed for this through his speech as the Captain. They all swear fealty, which Mac accepts in exchange for his protection as their True King.
Jason stumbles upon shady dealings outside the Rampant Mare as he makes his way back to the restaurant from the river bank.
- Barriemore clutches a large stuffed envelope he has received from Colman & Son, who are hastily ushered into the pub as Jason arrives outside. He presents an unconvincing series of excuses and falsehoods when queried about both the papers and his own dealings with the workmen.
- While Barriemore is flustered, Jason catches Barry Colman at the bar, noticing that his arms are scratched and cut, and that he has a slightly bloodied bandaged hand.
- The younger Colman evades questions about missing or stolen books from the refit at Miranda’s. Coercing with legal action fails to break his silence, and Barry fobs Jason off with assurances before ducking out the back of the pub.
- Jason fails to hear anything of consequence from the men’s room, where he had hoped to find the older Albert Colman. Attempting to eavesdrop conversations in the garden, he crashes to the ground while balancing precariously on a waste paper bin. He gathers himself in time to hear the silence that follows disturbed voices, before footsteps pad away and a car engine speeds off.
Nicholas arrives shortly before Jason returns to the restaurant, in anticipation of his meeting with Jerome.
- Amy and Nicholas talk at length about the play and the kind of story it tells.
- He evades the question of showing her the manuscript.
- She addresses questions about Meredith’s investigation notes, alluding to the British Library’s extensive network of contacts that led her to Lower Barton and the fallibility of a dyslexic’s transcription that accounts for the misspelt names.
- The restaurant clears as conversation turns to recent unnatural happenings. Nobody seems especially phased by the reports. Nicholas establishes that Amy is more hardened on matters of the Unnatural than he is.
- The conversation proceeds gingerly, as none of the party build enough trust to make direct assertions about using unnatural methods, or their respective interests in the play.
Nicholas uses his Avatar Acquire skill to detect a collectible item in the Library / Theatre Museum. As Jerome has failed to show up, he takes the opportunity to break the stalemate and head onwards to the library.
- As everyone leaves, Amy confides to Mac that the script she seeks had been stolen from the British Library, and insists she must establish whether she is on the right track, or will have to bring the authorities in. Mac persuades her to give him some time.
- When she steps out of the restaurant she sees Jerome Warren with Nicholas Brooke further up the road. They seem to recognise each other. Jerome hastily presses Nicholas to head on, and Amy turns cautiously away to leave the cabal to their business. Their reactions are clocked by Nicholas and Mac respectively.
- As Amy turns, she reminds Mac of his duty to protect. He replies to acknowledge that he understands from her reaction that Jerome is an enemy. “Those are your words,” says Amy, as she disappears around the corner towards the Rampant Mare.
The cabal head to the library office with Jerome, so he can issue a receipt for accounts cleared.
- There is a cagey exchange about what troubles Jerome and Nicholas are having. Nicholas gives nothing away, Jerome laments the impatience and expectations of clients. He confirms he knows Amy and Meredith from the expert work he occasionally does for the British Library.
- Jerome seeks to get a confirmation from the cabal that they have The Company of Man manuscript. Mac in particular is keen to throw him off the scent.
- Nicholas seeks his help with finding historical texts, supposedly for an exhibition with a similar archetypal and apotheosis theme. The closest he can think of are the 20th century parody plays in the Discordian Illuminatus series.
- As a last attempt, Jerome asks directly whether anybody had found a leather folio containing client books that he had inadvertantly left on his last visit, roughly six weeks earlier. It matches the same a he carries today, and is recognised by the cabal as the same sort as the original manuscript excerpts were found in.
- The cabal deny any knowledge of it.
- Jerome leaves, clearly with unfinished business.
Nicholas ducks out to make tea for the cabal members.
- Jason orders extra security for the restaurant, and receives a flurry of TripAdvisor reviews remarking on the restaurants creepy atmosphere, “although the food isn’t bad”.
- Mac gets a message from the British Library’s insurance agent, to arrange collection of the recovered accident vehicle. They assert that the car was signed out to Amy Bassano, and not Meredith Hanson.
- Nicholas uses his avatar Acquire skill to find the collectible text – in this case the first part of the play – which is tucked away on a shelf Alex Diafronte’s office, along with various costume design sketches slipped into the pages, dated and annotated by the recently appointed curator.
- He returns to the office with the text, which he shares with the group, and a view to keep it stored in the library safe rather than his domestic collection after making copies.
- It is well noted by his cabal mates that Nicholas returns without beverages.
Seizing the opportunity, the cabal perform the recovered first part of the play.
- The prologue seems to tell of a journey of discovery of the self-appointed divinity of man, and his evolving role from Fool to Captain to King, and beyond. It is steeped in archetypal imagery, in a way that picks up from where Shakespeare’s play The Tempest left, but then seems to kick the All the World’s a Stage idea into cosmic orbit.
- The blind performance gets off to a shaky start but seems to conclude as satisfactorily as could be imagined, given the abruptness of how the text ends.
As the players come to rest, it feels – at least within the closeted theatre space – as if there has been only the slightest sense of a ripple in the fabric of reality.
* END *