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Return To the Forbidden Planet

by Bob Carlton : Based - very loosely on the 1956 film Forbidden Planet which was a sci-fi version of William Shakespeare's The Tempest.

Cambridge Theatre, London - September 18, 1989 (1516 perfs)


On a stormy night way back in the winter of 2009, mad scientist Doctor Prospero worked late in his laboratory, aided only by his wife, Gloria, as he developed the elusive formula with which he would change the world. The apparently faithful Gloria, however, duped him and sent him off into hyper-space in an old spacecraft. Unknown to Gloria, her infant daughter, Miranda, slumbered peacefully in the craft and was now catapulted light years into the future in her father's company. Fifteen years later, a routine survey flight under the command of the chisel-jawed Captain Tempest leaves earth's orbit with a new Science Officer aboard - a hard and bitter woman. As a shower of meteorites hits the ship, the Science Officer flees, and the craft is pulled inexorably towards the plant D'Illyria - the Forbidden Plant. The adventure begins .......

The Story:

Act 1

Scientific Survey Flight Nine takes off.

The Crew headed by Captain Tempest and Bosun Arras are joined by a new Science Officer. To Tempest's discomfort it is a woman. The spacecraft is caught in a violent asteroid storm which damages the ship. Unsure of what to do Tempest sends for the Science Officer. Bosun reveals she has taken the last shuttlecraft and abandoned ship. There is a crash and the ship lands on an unfamiliar planet.

The Navigational Officer identifies it as D'illyria, however it is not marked on the charts. A face appears on the scanner screen, which Captain Tempest recognises as Prospero, a great scientist who fifteen years ago defected to the other side. Prospero rejects this saying he was the victim of a dreadful plot. Just as his great invention was nearing fruition his beloved wife and partner Gloria betrayed him. She bundled him into a rotten satellite and sent him into space with little chance of survival. Unknown to her, their baby daughter was asleep on board. Touched by his tale Tempest welcomes him to feast with him on the ship. A disgruntled Cookie is not impressed as this means more work for him.

The air-lock opens and Prospero enters followed by a robot called Ariel. A beautiful teenage girl follows them. Prospero introduces her as his daughter, Miranda. She has seen no other humans except her father and is immediately struck by tempest's looks, and falls in love with him at first sight. Cookie too is love struck, and asks Bosun how he can win Miranda's love.

Ariel reports that the Science Officer is on her way to the ship. He also confides in Tempest and Bosun the secret of Prospero's great invention. Telegenisis, he explains, is a scientific process that can create matter simply by thought. This was the result of the drug the x factor which Prospero developed in his laboratory and tried himself.

Prospero is reluctant for Ariel to reveal his secrets, and dismayed at Miranda's feelings for Tempest, he tells her she must choose between them. Puzzled at her father's reaction she entreats him to look kindly on the Captain but says if she has to make a choice it will be Tempest. Seething with anger Prospero leaves. Tempest, though deeply attracted to Miranda, is fighting his emotions. When she declares her love for him he tells her that she is too young.

Cookie is beside himself with pain and jealousy. He is desperate to win the love Tempest has spurned. Prospero does not know how to control his anger, images take shape in his mind, he takes a test tube marked X Factor and drinks. He collapses.

A beep appears upon the screen. It is the Science Officer. Another beep is heard, a dreadful monster comes into view - a monster of the mind but tangible created from Prospero's drugged brain. The air-lock opens to admit Gloria pursued by the monster.

Act 2

The fight continues and Gloria is rescued by Ariel who blows fire at the monster which explodes and vanishes. The Science Officer is brought face to face with Prospero, her husband. Prospero confronts her with the enormity of her crime and the destruction of a force which could have rid mankind of conflict, famine and disease. Tempest orders her to be relieved from duty. All are distracted by the Navigational Officer's report of damage
to the craft sustained in the attack. Gloria is left in the custody of Cookie.

Seeing a chance to change her fortunes she promises Cookie that she will show him how to win her daughter's love. He must obtain the secret X Formula. Meanwhile as Cookie consults the Science Officer about love, Captain Tempest seeks Bosun’s advice.

Prospero comes up with the solution to the damaged spacecraft. The crew and passengers undergo reverse polarity procedure. Gloria alone, is tortured by the complexity of her feelings for Prospero, the man she loves but has pledged to destroy.

Ariel enters having repaired the damage to the ship. As he talks to Tempest a sexy vamp appears, to Tempest's horror it is Miranda. Advising her to buy a jar of cleansing cream he exits. Heartbroken Miranda confesses to Ariel that she had thought that as she could not attract the captain with her youthful charms she should try a more obvious approach. Ariel consoles her, comforted Miranda says what she really needs is a Robot man. Cookie enters with the stolen X Factor, he is aghast to see Miranda now kissing Ariel and attacks him. At the end of the fight Ariel has the formula which he eats. The bleeper goes, the monster is heard returning. Gloria enters and confronts Prospero. She tells him he is a man of sin whose force for good has become a force for evil as Prospero's genius brain has created an uncontrollable monster from the Id, man's own subconscious mind.
Forced to recognise the truth of her statement. Recognising the real motive for Gloria's behaviour Prospero, in a heroic gesture of love and sacrifice, goes off to commit galactic suicide.

The crew prepares for take off. Miranda is comforted by Tempest who declares his love for her. As the craft takes off there is a tremendous rumble as the planet below them begins to disintegrate. Ariel explains that just as Prospero could create monsters he could also create great beauty as in D'illyria. With his suicide the Planet created from his imagination must also cease to be.

Principal Characters

(plus Chorus)

Musical Numbers:

  1. Wipeout - Instrumental
  2. Great Balls of Fire (Tempest, Cookie, Crew)
  3. Good Vibrations (Tempest, Ariel, Crew)
  4. I Ain't Gonna Wash for a Week (Cookie)
  5. I'm Gonna Change the World (Captain Tempest, Prospero)
  6. Why Must I Be A Teenager In Love? (Miranda)
  7. Young Girl (Captain Tempest)
  8. She's Not There (Cookie)
  9. All Shook Up (Prospero, Miranda, Cookie)
  10. Gloria (Crew)
  11. 5-4-3-2-1 (Crew)
  12. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood (reprise) (Science Officer)
  13. Who's Sorry Now? (Ariel)
  14. Only the Lonely (Cookie, Bosun Arras)
  15. She's Not There - Instrumental
  16. Tell Her (Science Officer, Cookie)
  17. War Paint (Ariel, Captain Tempest)
  18. Robot Man (Ariel)
  19. Shake, Rattle and Roll (Ariel, Cookie, Crew)
  20. Go Now (Science Officer)
  21. The Young Ones (Captain Tempest, Miranda)
  22. We've Gotta Get Out Of This Place (Ariel)
  23. Wipeout / Telstar (Crew)
  24. Hey, Mr Spaceman (Miranda, Company)
  25. Monster Mash (Prospero, Company)


Details available on request


Original London Cast Recording