A fantastic musical play in 3 acts: Book by Mark Ambient, Alexander M.
Thompson; Lyrics by Arthur Wimperis; Music by Lionel Monckton and Howard
Produced at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London, 1909 (809 perfs)
Liberty Theatre, Broadway - 17 January, 1910 (136 perfs)
Who could tell, in the first decade of the twentieth century, what strange adventures might befall those who ventured to travel by the new-fangled aeroplane? A forced landing, perhaps, in some long-forgotten land where time has stood mercifully still. James Smith, of the well-known London catering concern, drops in on Arcadia, where no-one tells lies, or grows older, where money is unheard of and unemployment a permanent attraction. Far from impressed by what Smith tells them of the joys of life in London his hosts despatch him, with missionary zeal and two agelessly beautiful Arcadian nymphs to convert the wretched metropolis. Things do not always go as planned.
Time stands still in Arcadia for one good reason, Old Father Time has all but forgotten it. His appearance in an unspoilt Arcadian glade where the locals laze and acknowledge their joyful lot comes at a time when the lovely Sombra has dreamt of a great serpent arriving from another place called England. That place, so she tells her friends, is peopled by savages who live caged up in brick houses amid fog in a crowded town called London where they do something quite unheard of in Arcadia, they lie. Old Father Time's appearance brings him questions about these savages and he is gently enticed to deliver an example. He leaves to organise the delivery whilst Sombra and her friends contemplate their perfect existence.
The great serpent that Sombra has dreamt of materialises as a plane sent off course by Time. It's pilot, the restaurateur James Smith, makes a dramatic landing in a place he can only believe is the Garden of Eden. He soon finds the Arcadians' values differ from those of home as told by Sombra on whom he uses his devilish ways which inevitably include a couple of untruths. These back-fire on him and he is led and dropped into the Well of Truth from which he is reincarnated a young scantily dressed Arcadian shepherd, sans whiskers, displaying a fine head of curly blond hair. He is re-named Simplicitas and warned that another lie will lose him his newly found looks. Sombra seeing the new Sweet Simplicitas as a victory against evil persuades her friend to join her in a voyage to wicked London with their new convert so as to spread the good word. With Time leading they leave for London.
The scene is now the fashionable social event of Askwood races. Tips
on backing horses are given by young Bobbie, a friend of the handsome,
but not too well off, Jack Meadows who happens to be the owner of a horse
in the main race. The horse is a wild one and the only jockey to be found
is the constant loser, the gloomy Peter Doody. Suddenly Jack has something
else on his mind, he has noticed Eileen, James Smith's nice, and has fallen
love. He manages to meet her and Mrs Smith, and
finds her to be an enchanting Irish girl with a touch of the blarney. Unfortunately, Aunt has her eye on the wealthy horse owner Sir George for the hand of her niece.
A shower followed by thunder and lightning is the cue for the entrance
of the strangely dressed Arcadian trio. The girls take little time in
commencing their crusade but they are taken as a publicity stunt. Mr Smith,
alias Simplieitas, managed to get caught up in a tree on his landing and
it so happens that his wife and Sir George are discussing the possible
between him and Eileen on a seat below it. Simplicitas loses his grip and lands in the arms of Sir George who happens to be a business partner of his. Not surprisingly neither he nor Mrs Smith recognise the young man and he is able to flirt with his own wife. Mrs Smith, with an eye for business, now plans to open an Arcadian Restaurant using this young man's skills. Jack and Eileen have also met again and are falling in love.
Jack's horse has now attacked the faithful Doody and, unless a new jockey can be found, will be out of the race. The beautiful Sombra comes to the rescue - Arcadians can talk to animals - and she can guarantee his winning. A jockey is found in the not over enthusiastic Simplicitas and, as predicted, he wins. Simplicitas is the hero of the hour and Jack is not financially ruined.
The Arcadians Restaurant has opened and is a great success. Bobbie reappears
into the plot and is enchanted with Chrysea who he offers to show around.
The lovers, Eileen and Jack, are re-united and Simplicitas Smith, with
just the one 'little draw-back' that he cannot lie, is having the time
of his life. Jack is unwittingly brought into Simplicitas' game for a
doubting Sombra and is made to agree that although Simplicitas has been
'doing the town' it really was to spread the good news. Convinced, Sombra
gives Jack a peck on the cheek which is misconstrued as love making by
a watching Eileen. Jack, who does not know of Eileen's presence, is more
concerned with having been made an accomplice in hiding the truth and
with Bobbie puts over his view to Simplicitas.
Chrysea has her own problems with advances made by Doddy who now works at the restaurant. She puts them aside, an action which he puts down to his 'to merry and bright' personality and vows to 'try to become more serious'. The misunderstanding between Eileen and Jack is resolved by Sombra and she decides it is time to go home to Arcadia. Sir George having lost the race for Eileen's hand turns on Mrs Jones accusing her of exploiting the Arcadians and he denounces Simplicitas as an impostor. It now begins to dawn on Sombra that Simplicitas has been deceiving her and she reveals how he had fallen into the Well of Truth in Arcadia. It is a relieved Simplicitas Smith who now tells a simple lie and falls back into another well to re-appear - aged, bewiskered but content - re-united with his wife.
Sombra and Chrysea's mission may have failed but they have helped bring together Mr and Mrs Smith and Eileen and Jack. It is indeed a happy ending.
For the Chorus
An abundance of harmonised writing in the fine singable style that distinguishes a Monckton/ Talbot score. The chorus have four worthwhile numbers in Act 3 and are hardly ever off stage in Acts 1 and 2. They appear as Arcadians, Racegoers at Askwood, and staff and customers of The Arcadian Restaurant in London.
- OPENING CHORUS:- Arcadians Are We - Chorus, Amaryllis, Astrophel
- SONG:- Time and Chorus - I Quite Forgot Arcadia
- QUARTETTE:- Sombra, Chrusaea, Astrophel & Strephon - The Joy of Life
- CHORUS OF FEAR
- SONG:- Sombra - The Pipes of Pan
- CHORUS:- All a Lie
6a:- SONG :- Simplicitas - Sweet Simplicitas
- FINALE ACT I:- Sombra, Chrysaea, Strephon, Astrophel and Chorus
- OPENING CHORUS ACT II - Chorus - "That's all over bar the shouting …"
- SONG:- Bobbie and Chorus - Back Your Fancy
- SONG:- Eileen and Men - The Girl With the Brogue
- CHORUS:- Shower Chorus"
- SONG:- Sombra and Chorus - Arcady Is Ever Young
- DUET:- Simplicitus (Solo business and dance with Mrs Smith) - Somewhere
- DUET:- Eileen and Jack - Charming Weather
- FINALE ACT II - Ensemble
- OPENING CHORUS ACT III:- Waitresses, Men-about-Town and Chorus - "Plant your posies, rue and roses … "
- DUET:- Chrysaea and Bobbie - I Like London
- DUET:- Jack and Eileen - Half Past Two
- CHORUS of BELGRAVIANS - Cheer For Simplicitas
- SONG:- Simplicitas - All Down Piccadilly
- QUINTETTE: - Jack, Bobbie, Simplicitas, Percy, Reggie - Truth Is So Beautiful
- SONG:- Doody - My Motter
- SONG:- Sombra - My Heart Flies Home
- FINALE ACT III:- Company - Repeat Chorus of "Piccadilly"
Sombra, Chrysaea and Amaryllis - Arcadians.
Eileen Cavanagh, Smith's niece from Ireland.
Jack Meadows, a racehorse owner
Bobbie, his friend.
Peter Doody, his stable lad.
Astrophel and Strephon, Arcadians.
Mrs Smith, James's wife.
Sir George Paddock, of the racing fraternity.
Daphne and Dryope, Arcadians.
Lady Barclay, Lucy Selwyn, Marion and Beatrice, racegoers.
Damoetas, an Arcadian.
Percy Marsh, Sir Timothy Ryan, Harry Desmond and Reggie, racegoers.
James Withers and Hooten, Jockeys.
- Askwood Racecourse.
- The Arcadian Restaurant. London.
One full-stage set for each Act, with an interval change
1st and 2nd Violins, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Flute, Oboe, 1st and 2nd Clarinets, Bassoon, 2 Horns, 2 Trumpets, Trombone, Drums
Studio Cast Recording - West End Angel 0777 7 89057 2 1