Ariadne, Act One
The company arrives at the down-on-its-luck Ariadne theatre, meets the staff, and starts to experience some unsettling sensations. Emphatically not sponsored by Bovril.
Created and hosted by Matt (@merelymj)
In association with Blackshaw Theatre Company (www.blackshawonline.com)
Matt: Life's a game, the world's a stage and we're all merely players.
You're listening to Merely Roleplayers, a podcast where theatrical people play roleplaying games. My name is Matt, sometimes called M. J. Starling when I'm writing or doing creative stuff, sometimes called Batt Moothman when it's Hallowe’en and people are feeling silly. I'll be setting the scene for our four players who will be bringing the drama, and they'll introduce themselves properly in a minute.
Is everybody ready to play?
Ariadne, Act One
Matt: You find yourselves outside a theatre, the best-kept secret of the West End: the Ariadne. It is located in the little warren of shopping streets around Kingly Court and Carnaby Street, just off Regent Street, in a little courtyard a stone's throw from Oxford Circus station.
You are Blackshaw Theatre, a South London theatre collective who fewer people know are also investigators of inexplicable happenings.
Ellie: Of course.
Vikki: Makes sense.
Vikki: So far makes absolute sense.
Matt: It's about 10:00 in the morning on a Thursday. It is lightly drizzling and you are outside this theatre with a show in suitcases, as is your... You've arrived on the Central Line transporting the set, the costumes, the props, all the stuff you need to get in a show. And you're outside the theatre.
Let's introduce ourselves. So, Ellie, do you want to go first?
Matt: What is your role in Blackshaw?
Ellie: I am the director.
Matt: Okay, and what does that mean when you're getting a show in?
Ellie: When I'm getting a show in, that usually means I'm not just doing the traditional director stuff, I'm probably also coordinating the get-in effort with some kind of very specific spreadsheet action.
Matt: Right, so you're in charge.
Ellie: That's right.
Matt: Yeah. Who else we got?
Strat (flatly): I'm here.
Alex: Said with such vim and vigour.
Vikki: So ominous. Ghost number one, tick.
Matt: You can tell we're learning in public here how to do the actual play podcast thing. Strat, hi.
Strat: Hi, hi Matt.
Matt: What's your role?
Strat: I have several.
Matt: You've got a lot of Blackshaw hats.
Strat: I have a lot of Blackshaw hats. I've done tech stuff, I've written a bunch of things for us, I've built a load of set, so in this situation - I've performed a lot - so in this situation I'm probably here to build something, most likely.
Ellie: If you're at a get-in.
Strat: At a get-in, my primary job is generally: build something.
Ellie: Which doesn't necessarily mean you didn't also write the play.
Strat: I built the world, now I build the scenery.
Matt: I'm gonna say this is part get-in, part sort of ... you've been rehearsing a show and this is the first time you're actually getting into the space.
Vikki: That's pretty normal for us.
Matt. So there'll be some setup, you can probably do the lighting plot and that sort of stuff while you're here.
Ellie: So there might be a full day of tech and dress.
Matt: Alex, we've heard your voice -
Matt: - do you want to introduce yourself?
Alex: My name is Alex and I'm one of the performers in this piece, so I will be, amongst other things, remembering my lines, warming up and helping out with any assorted tasks that need doing.
Ellie: Maybe learning your lines.
Alex: Maybe learning my lines.
Vikki: Alex has left out pratting about.
Alex: I felt kind of went unsaid and it was already understood that that was what I was doing. But yeah, just sort of probably helping Strat hold things whilst he drills them.
Ellie: Alex is very tall, so useful for holding things up high.
Alex: Just mucking in and helping wherever I possibly can.
Strat: With this one-man show that we're staging.
Matt: Maybe you're like the one warm actor body that they - warm prop, as it were - that has been brought along to stand on stage so you can see how well-lit you are.
Vikki: That is another thing you are very good at.
Alex: Yeah, I'm very good at standing in spaces.
Matt: All right, and Vikki, finally.
Vikki: Hi, I am Vikki, and I also have - I see Strat's Blackshaw hats and raise him.
Strat: I think you will, yes.
Vikki: So I have a lot of Blackshaw hats, and if I'm there at a get-in, I am there to be useful in any way that I possibly can be, and that probably means doing a complete variety of tasks, including things such as getting an Uber all the way home again to pick up a thing that we forgot and then coming back to the venue.
Matt: Okay, roll for Uber.
Vikki: So yeah, if a task needs outsourcing, I'm probably the person to have it outsourced to, and I'm also there to be a kind of second brain to Ellie sometimes. But I'm also there to - in this instance, probably also be helping with lifting and carrying, and putting things where they need to go, and helping with building and that sort of thing.
Matt: So you have got this place for a song.
Ellie: Oh good.
Vikki: Classic Blackshaw move.
Matt: It is suspicious, considering the location of this theatre, what a good deal you've got to use the space for this production.
Vikki: And that has happened in the past, actually, as well, where we do spend quite a lot of time being like, “why was it so cheap?”, and then we discover it's because the people who run it…
Ellie: ...are terrible.
Matt: So you’ve - Ellie, presumably, maybe a bit of Vikki, whoever it would be in in this scenario, has been liaising with the owner-manager of this venue, whose name is Tess.
Ellie: Good old Tess.
Matt: You’ve not met in person yet, you've been on email and phone.
Ellie: Yep, sure.
Matt: You are outside the theatre ready to get started. What do you do?
Alex: Well, I'm probably gonna ask where where we need to go, because I've not been to this theatre before. So I'm just gonna ask for directions to what I need to do.
Vikki: And you probably haven't paid attention to the email that Ellie sent out in advance that gave us all of that information, right?
Alex: Again, didn't need to highlight it.
Ellie: Yes, I’ve probably made the assumption that no one actually has read my email.
Vikki: I think that’s fair.
Ellie: Other than Vikki, who probably helped me write the email.
Vikki: That's also probably fair.
Ellie: And so I know probably exactly where we're going.
Matt: Well, what you have in front of you is the public’s entrance, so it's your standard West End theatre, like, sets of double doors in front of you which, it being 10:00 in the morning on a Thursday, are shut.
Ellie: So I would probably have already arranged with Tess that we would go in via the side entrance, also known as the stage door.
Ellie: Or I suppose we could have gone for - there's usually like a scenery entrance to take in big stuff around the back. But if everything's in suitcases we don't need to go that way, so we probably go via the stage door which would be round the side of the building.
Matt: It is indeed. So you find your way down the alley down the side of the building, and the stage door is actually down a set of stairs. It's a bit like the entrance to a dive bar. So it's like, the stage is below ground level. So you find a set of stairs and a stage door with a - not an intercom, just a doorbell.
Ellie: Okay. So I'm gonna ring the doorbell.
Matt: You ring the doorbell. There is a pause … and then the door is opened from inside by someone you presume is Tess, who is - she's wearing a suit, she's got a pink ribbon on one lapel, she has her hair in a very tightly controlled iron-grey bob, she's in her late 50s, early 60s maybe. She looks like she could take all of you in a fight. And she opens the door - and now I have to do a voice. This is me pushing myself slightly outside my comfort zone.
Ellie: Is she Scottish? Very thickly Scottish?
Vikki: Oh no, can she be Welsh?
Matt: This one’s not going to be too taxing, I don’t think. She says:
Matt (as Tess): You must be Ellie.
Ellie (in character): Yes, and you must be Tess.
Matt (as Tess): That's it. Do you want to come in? How much stuff have you got?
Ellie (in character): Just what we're carrying.
Matt: She moves inside.
Ellie: We follow her.
Alex: Absolutely. I'm probably carrying one of the cases. I am just following.
Vikki: We’ve got so much stuff.
Matt: Somewhere among all this luggage, you presumably have a cat carrier as well.
Ellie: I've actually trained my cat, who I've got with me, to just follow on a lead. So I've got the lead clipped to my belt. She's just trotting along beside me.
Matt: Oh, okay. Because she's quite hard to wrestle into a box.
Ellie: She doesn't much like it, no.
Matt: All right. You head inside and you find yourself in the wings. There is a door leading into, presumably, a dressing room or green room sort of situation, and you can see from the wings onto the stage and there is a single light lit upstage, just white, and Tess actually looks at that light and says:
Matt (as Tess): I keep telling her she doesn't need that.
Matt: She turns around and says:
Matt (as Tess): So I suppose you'll be wanting the grand tour? Or can you just show yourselves around?
Alex: Shall I let you take the lead on this or...?
Ellie: Well, I mean I’d probably still be in like “I'm in charge” mode, because I’ve spoken to this person before, but I probably look around and see what faces everyone's making to judge what we want.
Strat: I'm pretty nosy, I’d like to have - yeah, I’d love to have a look around the theatre and see what’s what.
Ellie: On your own? Unsupervised or with her touring us?
Strat: Oh yeah, a tour would be great, just to get a sense of the place.
Ellie: Because she didn't sound like she was keen to give us a tour.
Vikki: But we might need to know where some key things are.
Ellie: Yeah, so I was wondering whether we'd ask her about specific things or if we'd … no, I’d probably say something like:
Ellie (in character): If you could give us a quick tour round, that would be great, just so we know where everything is.
Matt: Okay, she says:
Matt (as Tess): Right, fine. This is the stage, obviously. Stalls, you can see out in the -
Matt: If you come out onto the stage, you can see into the auditorium. There is a stalls area, there is a circle, there is a balcony above that. The house lights are all down at the moment, so it's quite dark and dingy. And she says:
Matt (as Tess): I need to head up to my office, so you might as well follow and I'll point some stuff out on the way, and you can figure it out from there, yeah?
Alex: Thank you very much.
Matt: All right, so she sets off across the stage to the other wing and through a door there, and starts leading you sort of around, and you come out through another staff only door and end up in the corridors that the audience would file in through into the stalls, and up a staircase. And as she leads you across the stage she points out:
Matt (as Tess): The wings, obviously; dressing rooms back there - if you want to put anything in there, that's where you'd be getting ready. There's only one - you'll all be sharing.
Matt: And as she leads you through that corridor - sorry, as she leads you up the stairs, she says:
Matt (as Tess): Foyer’s that way.
Matt: And she’s pointing in a direction that would lead you back round to where you were outside the front doors.
Matt (as Tess): Entrance to the circle.
Matt: So she points out the entrances that would let you into the - you're now back on the ground floor, and this is the floor that the dress circle is on. She points out gents’ and ladies’ - or she points out a gents’ and says that there's a ladies’ on the other side, on a sort of mirror system. And she takes you through another door, staff only, sort of in the same position as the downstairs staff only door was, and into the backstage corridors; points out a kitchen - it's shut at this point - but says:
Matt (as Tess): If you need to make yourself a cuppa, that's where you can do that. If you keep going along this corridor, you'll find the entrance to the gantry where you can get into the flies above the stage. And this is my office.
Matt: ...finds another door that, this one is standing slightly ajar and you can see through the door, there is a desk in there and shelves full of - half full up with like old looking leather ledgers and then with kind of slightly more modern ring binders carrying on from there.
Strat: I thank her and say:
Strat (in character): If we need anything, do you want us to come talk to you or maybe your lighting tech? Whoever...
Matt (as Tess): Yeah, Phoebe's in the tech box. You'll find her upstairs. There's another set of stairs above here. She'll help you out if you need to rig, if you need to patch anything, anything along those lines. That should be all you need. Any questions before I leave you to it?
Ellie: I probably ask what time front of house are arriving.
Ellie: Are we not opening the show tonight?
Matt: There’s not a show tonight.
Alex (in character): Any sort of general housekeeping rules that you have, that we need to know about?
Matt (as Tess): Try not to break anything. I'm not superstitious, so you can whistle all you like for all I care, but you might find Phoebe coming over the tannoy and telling you off for that sort of behaviour.
Alex (in character): Okay. Thanks.
Strat: Looks like an old place. Anywhere we should avoid? Anything … no place we shouldn't go?
Matt (as Tess): Everywhere’s safe, up to health and safety standards. It's a bit dark in the substage - be careful - but there's emergency lighting down there. Are we all - everyone - are we all clear on the paperwork, the contract, the deal?
Ellie (in character): Yep, all done on email.
Matt (as Tess): Good. Then I'll leave you to it.
Ellie (in character): Thanks very much.
Matt (as Tess): I will be in here if you need anything, but I imagine this all … you've done this before.
Ellie (in character): Yeah.
Strat: Cool, I'm gonna head back to the stage.
Alex: Yeah, start taking stuff and…
Strat: I give Alex a bit of a nod and a “let's go get on with it”.
Alex: Yeah, okay. So we head down to start carrying the boxes into the green room and wherever else they need to go, I suppose.
Matt: What are the rest of you doing?
Ellie: So Vikki and I probably go through props and set up the props table and all the backstage stuff, and Alex and Strat will probably be doing building.
Matt: Okay, so you're heading straight down to the stage and into the green room and starting to set things up.
Vikki: Yes, unpack everything.
Matt: Have you got any thoughts on what show you're putting on? Is it a show Blackshaw have done before, or is it…
Ellie: Yeah, I'm wondering if we're doing a revival of “Audience with the Ghost Finder”.
Vikki: Or a transfer.
Ellie: It would make sense for having Alex with us, because he'd be the tallest cast member for all the lighting plots.
Vikki: Yeah, we’d really only need him for a tech, in theory.
Matt: Cool. I didn't want to suggest it - a little bit blowing my own trumpet.
Vikki: It does all fit in boxes as well.
Ellie: Yeah, “Audience with the Ghost Finder”, which is an M. J. Starling special about the adventures of the abnatural investigator, Carnacki.
Alex: Good old Thomas.
Matt: With a bit of thematic resonance.
Alex: Yeah, absolutely. So when when we're in the green room, do we find anything, do we see anything unusual or helpful, or … is there a kettle?
Matt: There's no kettle in the green room, unfortunately.
Alex: Just in the kitchen.
Ellie: That’ll be in the kitchen, yeah.
Matt: You don't find anything particular in - well, in the dressing room you find a dressing table with a mirror, you find a sort of a sewing patch-up kit in a little drawer. It’s otherwise pretty sparse. There's an old sofa in there for crashing out on. It's not huge. It's an old West End theatre.
Ellie: Ooollllld West End theatre!
Matt: After about 10 minutes of you guys pottering about backstage, there's a knock on the dressing-room door.
Strat: I’ll go and open it.
Matt: You find a woman about your age, maybe a couple years younger, sort of late twenties, wearing all black; black cargo pants and black t-shirt, big glasses, hair done up at the back. She’s fairly sort of full-figured. And she says:
Matt (as Phoebe): Oh, er, hi, I'm - I'm Phoebe, I'm the tech manager here. Do you need ... I was just up in the tech box but I realised that you'd arrived - do you need anything? Do you need to start plotting yet?
Strat (in character): I dunno, you’ll have to ask Ellie. We were wanting to set up the good old electric pentagram, so if you could point us in the direction of where the power is and we can plug these in for that on the stage, that'd be good.
Matt (as Phoebe): Yeah, I can help out with that.
Strat (in character): Cool.
Matt (as Phoebe): If you've got a plot, I can start - I can get up to the patch room and start patching.
Strat (in character): Oh, Ellie has that.
Matt (as Phoebe): Okay, where do I - where is Ellie?
Strat (in character): I think she was up on the stage, backstage, in the wings, sorting out props and stuff. If we go up to the stage, we’ll introduce you if you haven’t found her yet.
Matt (as Phoebe): Oh, yeah, that'd be really good, thanks.
Strat (in character): All right.
Strat: So we all wander up.
Matt: Ellie and Vikki, you are approached by this group of three.
Ellie (in character): Hello.
Strat (in character): Hey, this is Phoebe.
Ellie (in character): Hi, Phoebe.
Matt (as Phoebe): Just call me Bee.
Ellie (in character): Okay, Bee. Hi.
Matt (as Bee): I - it's only Tess calls me Phoebe, really. Just checking out your - what tech you need.
Ellie (in character): Oh yeah, okay, so Strat, what's the first thing you want to do in terms of build?
Strat (in character): Oh, we're putting up the pentagram. And I think she was wanting to know about plotting, and we know you have that.
Ellie (in character): Oh, yep yep yep. Hang on, I’ll just grab that from my bag. I’ve got the thingy the lighting people sent me.
Matt: While you're grabbing that from the bag, she's sort of standing there, sort of waiting for stuff to happen, and she says:
Matt (as Bee): So I'm a - I'm a big fan. Love your work.
Ellie (in character): Oh, really? What stuff have you seen?
Matt (as Bee): Oh, um ... I ... not the … I mean, I'm sure your your shows are great and everything. I kind of meant the other work.
Everyone (in character): Oh.
Vikki (in character): We didn't know that people were actually that aware of those other things that we were…
Matt (as Bee): Oh, it’s theatre, you know. People talk.
Alex (in character): Small world. It is a small world. So have you got any, like, interesting things that have happened here? Like any stories? I mean, theatres are notoriously sort of haunted spaces.
Vikki (in character): “Notoriously haunted”? Oh, Alex.
Strat (in character): Silly.
Vikki (in character): Classic.
Strat (in character): Surely there’s plenty of stories about theatres.
Matt (as Bee): Yeah, well I mean you’ve…
Strat (in character): Actual verified sightings…
Vikki (in character): It’s another matter.
Strat (in character): It is another matter.
Alex (in character): Hey, guys. The truth is out there.
Strat (in character): Actually, I've got the truth written down in this notebook.
Ellie (in character): It just says “science”.
Strat (in character): And so far, “verified sightings” is a question mark.
Vikki (in character): Yeah, all right, Mulder, calm down.
Strat: I put my little book away.
Vikki (in character): Just a little banter we have.
Mat (as Bee): Yeah, I mean you, you've - I mean, you've probably heard stories about this place. Like - I can fill in some gaps, but what have you heard about stuff that's happened here?
Vikki (in character): That's interesting, because actually, we hadn't really heard of the theatre before we discovered it. Which was surprising to us, because we consider ourselves pretty well-versed on the available theatre spaces.
Ellie (in character): Yeah, and we tried checking out, sort of, past productions online and there isn't really anything…
Strat (in character): Very little history.
Matt (as Bee): Yeah, I mean the place has been going a long time, but - so the last thing we had - like, if you get up in the flies you'll still see the backdrops up there, we haven't changed them out yet because you're the first new people in here. But we had someone tried to revive “England People Very Nice”, that Richard Bean play? They thought it was quite timely with all the Brexit stuff. But yeah, it closed in previews.
Strat (in character): When was that?
Matt (as Bee): That was like, that was like six months ago now. The place hasn't had a production it for a while.
Vikki (in character): Are you working here full-time?
Matt (as Bee): Yeah, so Tess owns the place - her family owns the place, so she's got some money. Like, I do other stuff when there's no show here.
Alex (in character): What sort of stuff is that?
Matt (as Bee): Just, you know, theatre, stage manager stuff in other companies.
Alex (in character): Okay, I see. Cool.
Strat (in character): So what are these stories?
Matt (as Bee): Well, so, companies come in here and they don't stay.
Alex (in character): Oh, so like, there's a quick turnaround. And by quick you mean too quick.
Matt (as Bee): Yeah. There’ve been some … there's been the odd accident.
Alex (in character): Oh.
Vikki (in character): What kind of accidents?
Matt (as Bee): Well, I mean, since we're on the stage I can show you, like, there's a - like, this is a proper old school theatre, we’ve got a trapdoor.
Alex (in character): Oh wow, really?
Matt (as Bee): Just be careful. I've checked it - I've checked it and checked it and checked it - but people have had accidents with that trapdoor.
Ellie (in character): Oh? Because Tess seemed pretty certain that everything was up to code, so...
Matt (as Bee): Yeah, Tess chalks a lot of this up to theatre people and their superstitions.
Alex (in character): She mentioned about, like, you not being a huge fan of, like, whistling on stage.
Matt (as Bee): Oh yeah, I'd appreciate it if you could refrain.
Alex (in character): Yeah, no, definitely.
Ellie (in character): I assume we shouldn't mention the Scottish play.
Matt (as Bee): Yeah, please. Especially - well, maybe, like, round in the foyer and stuff, but not on the stage, please. And you'll have seen the ghost light? Yeah, I keep that on when there's nobody in here.
Alex (in character): Why?
Matt (as Bee): I mean, it's good practice for health and safety, so nobody walks in and it's dark, but like, it's … you know, it's a tradition! It's fun!
Alex (in character): I've never heard of this before. What's a ghost light?
Ellie (in character): I’ve heard of it before but I can’t remember the whole context.
Matt (as Bee): Oh, yeah, a ghost light’s just, like … you keep one light burning upstage all the time when the theatre’s not - when there’s no one in it.
Strat (in character): You just have a single, like, general stand with an uncovered bulb. And you put those on the stage, that sort of thing.
Alex (in character):Oh, I see. Okay.
Vikki (in character): Because otherwise, it's really really dark on the stage.
Alex (in character): Every day’s a school day for Alex.
Matt (as Bee): I knew you - most of you guys would know your stuff.
Vikki: But the listeners at home might not, so it's helpful to do some explaining for them. That's why Poirot has Captain Hastings.
Ellie: Are you saying Alex is our Captain Hastings?
Vikki: Yeah - there is nothing wrong with that.
Ellie (in character): Okay, well, great. So if you could help the guys with the pentagon setup...
Matt (as Bee): Oh yeah, sure, I'll show you where to plug in.
Alex & Strat (in character): Thank you.
Matt: And so she shows you all the sort of power down the upstage - not downstage, upstage, get my terms right - and you have a little issue with, like, compatibility of plugs with your makeshift electric pentacle and the theatre’s power, but it all goes fairly fine. So at this point you're still - you're all kind of working on the stage, or those of you who are on the stage rather than backstage are working just with this ghost light on and all the house lights down and everything.
Strat: Okay. I'm gonna ask Phoebe if she can put the workers on, because…
Alex: We’re working.
Strat: We're working.
Matt (as Bee): Yeah, sure, I'll head straight up. And when you guys are ready to plot, just come up and I'll take you through it.
Strat (in character): Great.
Vikki: Is there no switch for the workers backstage? Only up in the tech box?
Matt: Would that be normal in a West End theatre? I’ve not -
Ellie: No idea.
Matt: I don’t know. No. Not in this one.
Vikki: Not in this one.
Matt: In this one? No.
Ellie: This doesn’t seem to be a very normal West End theatre.
Vikki: It’s just the fact that we're not in control of the light is starting to become concerning to me.
Matt: So she heads across the stage and through that door that Tess led you through earlier. Who's on the stage and who's backstage? Are you all onstage at this point?
Strat: Alex and I will be on the stage.
Ellie: Yeah, and Vikki and I will be back in the wings with the props table.
Matt: Alright. So you two, the two of you who are on the stage, who are sort of standing there waiting for the worker to come on - you can sort of look up, and over above the circle you can see the window that the tech will look through. And so you're looking out into the dark auditorium and you start to get…
You know when you're on stage and all the lights are shining in your face and you know there's an audience out there, but you can't see them, it's just kind of a black mass out there? Even though there are - like, the lights above the stage aren't on, and they're not shining in your face, and you can kind of, you know, you can see the outlines of the seats and everything, you start to get that feeling.
Alex: Like we're being watched.
Matt: Yeah. Like somewhere out there in the darkness, something is observing.
Alex: I turn to Strat and say:
Alex (in character): Can you feel that?
Strat (in character): Feel what?
Alex (in character): That weird presence. Like we’re being watched.
Strat (in character): Yeah, but, just … we’re on stage, aren’t we.
Alex (in character): Yeah, no, it genuinely feels like someone or something is out there watching us. Like it feels like a full auditorium.
Strat (in character): Not really. It's just - I know what you mean -
Alex (in character): You’re not getting that at all?
Strat (in character): Yeah, but it's just - when the lights go on, it’ll be the same, right? Just looking into blackness, it’s what you're used to.
Alex (in character): Fair enough. It just feels weird, that's all. It just feels weird.
Strat (in character): Mind on the job, Alex, mind on the job.
Alex (in character): Okay, yeah, sorry. Bee, any chance of those lights coming on any sooner?
Matt: The workers come on gradually.
Strat (in character): There you go.
Matt: So you've got a working light on the stage, and the house lights are slightly up on the auditorium, and you can see that there is no one out there in the seats.
Alex: Okay. So we’d probably start building then, wouldn't we?
Strat: Yes, we’ll build the set.
Alex: Building the set - I'm doing very little technical work, I’m just holding things while Strat tells me to do stuff, and I do it.
Strat: Very diligently gaffer taping down all the cables.
Alex: Yep, making sure there's no trip hazards. Have we got appropriate footwear?
Alex: Is our PPE in order? That is the question.
Strat: Is our what in order?
Alex: Our personal protective equipment. PPE.
Strat: Ah, I didn't hear the E on the end there.
Alex: Were the two Ps and the Es a bit too close together?
Strat: There were a little bit, yes. So other than that I’m going to say:
Strat (in character): Alex, hit the switch on the old electric pentacle.
Alex (in character): Let’s put the pentacle on
Strat (in character): Let’s make sure it works, shall we? Flip that switch!
Alex: I flip the switch.
Matt: So you're powering it off a clicky main circuit as opposed to patching it into the lighting board. So you’ll need someone upstage presumably during the production to click that.
Strat: No, I thought it was being plugged into a socket that would be controlled from the board.
Matt: I think that's probably…
Strat: That's what I was expecting.
Matt: Yeah, that's probably wise.
Alex: Okay, fair enough. So it's actually plugged into the main board.
Ellie: So you need to ask Phoebe to turn it on.
Strat: Oh, I thought it had a switch on it that you did as a character. But then I guess it would still be…
Vikki: It’s still controlled by the tech.
Strat: I wasn’t working tech on that show, so -
Vikki: You just don’t know. Where’s Lizzie Cooper when you need her?
Alex: And classic me - I forgot.
Matt: As you get the thing sort of set up and the two of you are sort of looking around for the controls for the light, you hear, over the tannoy coming through the the door towards the dressing room, you hear Phoebe's voice saying:
Matt (as Phoebe): Do you want me to test that pentacle for you? Is it all good?
Strat (in character): Yes, yes, Phoebe.
Alex (in character): That’d be lovely.
Matt (as Phoebe): There's no mics, so I can't actually hear you, so you'll - just give me like a thumbs-up or something.
Alex: We both give thumbs up.
Matt: Okay. The pentacle prop slowly, softly illuminates.
Strat (in character): It’s pretty.
Alex (in character): It looks good, it's working. It's not spitting glass in people's faces, that's always handy.
Matt: Do you think for this you've upgraded the pentacle prop?
Strat: I think we have.
Alex: Almost certainly.
Matt: Is it still a light rope?
Ellie: Especially seeing as we got such a cheap venue.
Strat: We spent all the money on the prop.
Vikki: It's the only expensive bit of kit, really.
Strat: That and his cool box.
Ellie: Yes, which you’ve still got to assemble.
Strat (in character): All right, let's get on with the box.
Alex (in character): Okay.
Strat: I'm just gonna kind of like wave, and just kind of give a thumbs up, and then like gesture for her to turn it off.
Matt: Okay. The light goes down.
Matt: Hi everyone, this is Matt just jumping in here in the middle to say thanks for listening, thanks for taking a chance on a new podcast, and thanks for bearing with any teething problems. I'm realising, listening back and editing this, that it's a slightly slow start to the story here at the the beginning of the episode, but it's gonna pick up, so bear with us. And if there's any audio or level issues, I'm still learning - I will get there, I promise. Let me know if you know the exact thing that I need to be doing better - I'll give you all of the contact details in an mo.
Just a couple of things I wanted to say. First of all, Blackshaw Theatre and all the people who are playing the game are real people, they are a real theatre company, based in South London in the UK. You can find them and their work at blackshawonline.com. They're also on Twitter @blackshawupdate, on Facebook at Blackshaw Online, I think, or Blackshaw Theatre. They're on Instagram ... go to the website, that has all the all the correct links. They do good work - they're quite committed to the scary theatre as well, especially around this sort of time, so they've got a good track record there. This is why I dreamt this up for them.
The play referenced, in case you hadn't worked it out from context, is also a real play, which I wrote. It's called Audience with the Ghost Finder. If you're interested in finding out more, you can download the script as a free ebook in a different formats from my website, which is mjstarling.com. That ebook also has an interview with me that Vikki did, which was great, a foreword by Ellie, and it's also got six of the original stories of Thomas Carnacki by William Hope Hodgson, which I based the play on. So it's a great value for money, especially considering it doesn't cost you any.
If you're enjoying the podcast and you want to either send us some messages or just generally show your support, we're on a couple of different online places. You can find us on Twitter @merelyroleplay - there weren't enough letters to get the whole name of the podcast in there, but you can still find us there - we've also got a Facebook page, which is just called Merely Roleplayers, facebook.com/merelyroleplayers, so find it on there, like us on there, followers on Twitter, get in touch, let us know what you think of the show.
And wherever you found the show, whether that was iTunes, Stitcher, any of those places, any of those podcast directories, if you're enjoying it, it would really help if you could leave us a rating, leave us a review, let people know that it's something that you enjoyed - or if you didn't, don't.
I think that's about it for this one. Maybe as the show grows, I'll be jumping in in the middle here to say more stuff and do more out-of-game commentary and stuff, but I don't know. It's all up in the air at this point. So for now I'll just say thanks again, leave us a review, follow us in various places, and let's get back to the game.
Ariadne, Act One continued
Matt: It's probably getting towards, sort of - I mean, you arrived at 10, so it's getting towards sort of 11, 12, getting towards the middle of the morning, early afternoon at this point.
Alex (in character): Does anyone fancy a cup of tea? Coffee?
Strat (in character): Yes, coffee would be lovely, thank you Alex.
Alex: Where are Ellie and Vikki?
Ellie: We’re in the wings, so we can hear you.
Alex (in character): Ellie, Vikki, do you want a hot beverage?
Vikki (in character): I need some lunch. Or food of some sort.
Ellie: Vikki needs elevenses.
Vikki: Let’s assume Vikki needs to eat.
Alex: So I'll pop to the kitchen then and start making some hot drinks because that's what everyone wants.
Ellie: I don’t want a hot drink.
Vikki: But we do.
Alex: You’re getting a hot drink.
Alex (in character): Would you like a glass of water?
Ellie (in character): Yes please.
Vikki: And then we'll get the snacks out, that we inevitably brought with us.
Ellie: That's the biggest suitcase.
Vikki: Vikki’s snack suitcase.
Alex: So yeah, I pop off to the kitchen and find the kettle.
Matt: So you pop up to the kitchen, you open the door, which was shut when Tess showed it to you, and inside you find a young chap apparently having already just boiled the kettle and doing some bustling about.
He is probably a little - seems a little younger than Phoebe, maybe like mid-twenties rather than rather than late. He has on a faded denim jacket covered in patches, and it's sort of a mixture of kind of like, activism organisation patches, like he's got a rainbow and a Pride thing and that kind of stuff, and like, what you'd call stealth geek. So like a Weyland-Yutani patch, an Institute of Planar Research and Exploration patch, and stuff like that, that is like, referencing geek stuff but it doesn't just say the name of the thing, it’s like an organisation from the thing. He's got - one side of his head is shaved and he's got - the rest of his hair just looks less well maintained and it's just kind of in a big messy sweep over to the other side.
And he's just pouring four - he's pouring a load of mugs full of boiling water at this point. He hasn't noticed that you've come in.
Alex (in character): Sorry, mate.
Matt (as Errol): Whoa!
Alex (in character): I'm Alex. I'm with Blackshaw. We've just come in to do the new show that’s going up tomorrow.
Matt (as Errol): Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, I knew you were coming, yeah. I'm Errol.
Alex (in character): Oh, hi Errol. So what do you do here?
Matt (as Errol): I just, I just do the odd bit and bob. I'm just, I'm just doing a round. Do you wanna… do you wanna cuppa?
Alex (in character): Yeah, absolutely.
Matt (as Errol): I've done - I done four.
Matt: And there's four mugs of steaming black liquid.
Alex: Okay, let's hope some of them are coffee and at least one of them is tea.
Alex (in character): Brilliant. Got any milk?
Matt (as Errol): Oh, yeah, there's a fridge here.
Matt: So you see it's just a little kitchen. So it's got a fridge, it’s got some cupboards, one of which is open and you can see like, a couple of half packets of biscuits in there that look like they might have been in there a while, plates, mugs, glasses, there's a sink.
Alex (in character): So Errol, what were you - do you just use like the local - I say local, are you the in-house handyman?
Matt (as Errol): Sort of, yeah. I just like, help Phoebe out with anything she needs.
Alex (in character): Okay, cool. How long you been working here?
Matt (as Errol): Not long, not long.
Alex (in character): Okay, cool. Well, there's one for you, I just need to get - is there any glasses?
Matt (as Errol): Oh yeah, this - that cupboard there.
Alex: Okay, so I open the cupboard, I get a glass out, go to the tap, fill it up with water. I'm guessing there’s a tray?
Alex: I put the articles, the vessels, onto the tray and I say:
Alex (in character): It’s nice to meet you, Errol. We're gonna be down on stage. If we need anything we'll give you a shout.
Matt (as Errol): Yeah, all right, yeah, I'll be around, yeah.
Alex (in character): Oh perfect, thank you very much.
Matt: He keeps one of the mugs, you take the rest.
Alex: I take the tray back to the stage and then say:
Alex (in character): Oh, I've met Errol, he's like the on-site handyman, he works with Phoebe.
Alex: And then like, dish out drinks and we crack on.
Matt: Who's having drinks?
Alex: Well, there'll be a coffee for me, coffee for Strat, I’m guessing tea - Vicki's having tea, and then -
Vikki: Only if you didn’t put milk in that tea.
Alex: I made it as per your specifications.
Vikki: Thank you very much.
Alex: Your rigid specifications.
Vikki: My rigid but very simple specifications.
Matt: So you've made a tea for Vikki to her rigid specifications, you’ve given Strat one of the coffees Errol made, put milk in one of them for yourself...
Alex: Yeah, there wasn't any lacto-free milk, so you've got black coffee I'm afraid.
Vikki: That’s how he prefers it.
Matt: Vikki, your tea’s fine. You two, when you take your first sip, you realise this is not coffee.
Strat (in character): Where did you get this, Alex?
Alex (in character): Well, Errol said he was making a round of drinks and I assumed it was coffee. What is this?
Strat (in character): Hang on, wait. So you met a bloke who was making a round of drinks and you assumed that he was making drinks for us -
Alex (in character): I didn’t assume he was making drinks for us. He said, “Here's some drinks - would you like them?”
Strat (in character): Yeah, but I'm saying he was obviously making drinks for someone, and what you did was walk into that room and take the drinks that he was making specifically for somebody else.
Ellie: He didn’t really offer them. Did he offer them?
Alex: He did! He did offer them, otherwise I wouldn’t have taken them!
Vikki (in character): Who were the other people that he was making the drinks for at this point?
Ellie (in character): I don’t know. He didn't know how many of us there were, or that I didn't want a hot drink.
Vikki (in character): How many drinks was he making?
Alex (in character): I just saw like, four full cups. I assumed it was him and then the three of us.
Strat (in character): Who he had not met, and didn’t know we were going to want tea or coffee.
Vikki (in character): This is so confusing.
Ellie (in character): But then four doesn't make sense, because that would have been him, Bee and Tess. There’s only three of them.
Vikki (in character): Unless there’s someone else working here we don’t know about. They never mentioned Errol.
Strat (in character): They must have other people. This is a West End theatre, they’ll have other people.
Alex (in character): Okay, okay, okay, I admit that this is a weird situation.
Strat: Anyway, I’m going to sniff the coffee, and I want to see if I can - or the so-called coffee - and I would like to - do I recognise the smell? Do I recognise what is?
Matt: It smells distinctly … beefy.
Vikki: Oh, it’s Bovril!
Strat (in character): Oh, mate! It’s Bovril!
Vikki (in character): I can smell it from here, it’s definitely Bovril.
Strat: I’m gonna take the other Bovril and - giving Alex a look -
Alex (in character): Sorry!
Vikki (in character): I’m so glad I got tea!
Ellie (in character): I’m glad I got water.
Strat (in character): I'm going to go back up to the kitchen, apologise to Errol for stealing his Bovril -
Alex (in character): I didn’t steal the Bovril. I’m pretty sure he did offer it.
Vikki (in character): It does sound like it got offered.
Alex (in character): I wouldn’t just nick someone’s Bovril. That’s awful.
Vikki (in character): Although, interesting that he assumed that we would want Bovril.
Ellie (in character): Errol?
Vikki (in character): Yeah.
Strat (in character): I think he was probably taken aback by some stranger he’d never met, walked into a kitchen, said hello and took all the drinks he’d made.
Alex (in character): I introduced myself.
Ellie (in character): I don't think he could have been making it for us if he was making Bovril.
Vikki (in character): I can’t imagine who he would have been making Bovril for though.
Ellie (in character): Maybe Tess and Bee really like Bovril.
Vikki (in character): Really into Bovril, okay, fair enough.
Strat (in character): We'll have to ask them. I’ve never met a person that likes Bovril.
Ellie (in character): Aren’t you supposed to drink it when you’re ill?
Alex (in character): No, it’s just a warm drink.
Vikki (in character): No, it’s for like, fortifying, right?
Strat (in character): It’s meant to - drink it when you literally have nothing else to possibly drink.
Vikki (in character): The only time I've ever had Bovril is when we used to do swimming galas, and you would sit on the side of the pool and get really cold, and they would give you a hot Ribena or a hot Bovril.
Ellie (in character): Why did you choose the Bovril?!
Vikki (in character): Only if they ran out of hot Ribena.
Strat (in character): No! Not even then! I would literally drink the chlorine in the pool.
Vikki (in character): No, but you’re so cold! That doesn’t warm you up when you’re like, actually turning blue.
Alex (in character): I genuinely didn't realise you had such strong feelings against Bovril.
Vikki (in character): He has very strong feelings.
Strat (in character): Nor did I, Alex.
Vikki (in character): So do I - it is terrible. I mean, you might as well just drink a, like, a bit of like, Bisto gravy.
Ellie (in character): That’d be quite nice.
Alex (in character): Actually, to be honest, drinking gravy’s better than drinking Bovril. I have had Bovril and it's so watery and horrible. You expect it to be more soupy and it’s just not.
Vikki (in character): It’s like gravy but when it hasn't reached the gravy stage.
Ellie (in character): Okay guys, we've got a show to put up.
Vikki (in character): Oh that’s true, yeah, sorry, sorry.
Strat (in character): So I’m taking this Bovril back.
Ellie (in character): This now cold Bovril.
Strat: As I leave the thing I’m just looking at Alex all the way. All the way. Until I pause at the door, give one final look - and sweep away.
Vikki: I feel like Strat’s feeling more strongly about the Bovril because he thought it was going to be coffee and now feels cheated.
Ellie: And he needs a coffee, I think.
Strat: Too right.
Matt: You head back to the kitchen. In there you find Errol, sipping his Bovril.
Strat (in character): Hi, Errol.
Matt (as Errol): Oh ‘ello, yeah, all right?
Strat (in character): I'm Strat. I think you met Alex.
Matt (as Errol): Oh yeah, yeah.
Strat (in character): It seems he took some drinks from you.
Matt (as Errol): Oh yeah, yeah, I was making them for - for everyone, yeah?
Strat (in character): What, for us?
Matt (as Errol): Yeah, for whoever's around.
Strat (in character): Oh, right, What is it?
Matt (as Errol): It's - it was in the cupboard.
Strat (in character): Is it Bovril?
Matt: He opens the cupboard and he takes down a - and it's a Bovril jar, but the label’s come off.
Strat (in character): So who drinks - do you always drink Bovril here?
Matt (as Errol): I don't mind one, yeah. I like a Bovril.
Strat (in character): That’s fine.
Matt (as Errol): Is that what it is? Bovril?
Strat (in character): I think it’s Bovril.
Ellie: Stop saying Bovril!
Strat (in character): I'm gonna give you these Bovrils back, I guess for Phoebe and Tess, and...
Matt (as Errol): Oh yeah, yeah, I'll take ‘em round, yeah.
Ellie: These half drunk Bovrils?!
Strat: No, we didn’t - you think we drank half of it?!
Ellie: You said you drank from it.
Strat: We took a - like - I didn’t even need to taste it.
Alex: A precursorous sip.
Strat: It hit my nose ... So I'm gonna make some -
Matt (as Errol): That one’s got milk in it.
Strat (in character): Yeah, that was Alex … I tell you what.
Vikki: That would be so terrible!
Strat (in character): I'm here to make a couple of coffees, so as I do that I'll remake these Bovrils for you because - on behalf of my colleague, who is some crazed drink thief.
Alex: They weren’t - he’s just - I’m sorry, out of game, out of game, I’m not having this! He said, Errol has just said he was making them for everyone, for anyone who was around. I just stupidly assumed that it was coffee and not Bovril. So before you call me a drink thief, maybe you should check the facts, since you love them so much, fact boy. Outraged.
Strat: That’d be totally reasonable if you had known that they were for everybody.
Alex: Because he said it, and that’s why I took them.
Strat: Anyway, so I'm gonna make some coffee.
Matt (as Errol): All right, yeah yeah yeah, just while you’re here just help yourself to anything that’s in any of the cupboards, yeah.
Strat (in character): Lovely, cheers, thank you very much, thanks. So … you like working here?
Matt (as Errol): Yeah, it's all right, yeah.
Strat (in character): That’s cool. You been here long?
Matt (as Errol): No, not long, not long, no.
Strat (in character): Right. Were you here for the last show?
Matt (as Errol): No, no. What was the last show?
Strat (in character): I don’t know, something about Brexit, apparently. Or not about Brexit, but would have been prescient in this Brexit age in which we now find ourselves.
Ellie: Poor Errol.
Alex: Such a verbose conversation.
Strat: Or something like that.
Matt: He looks a bit spaced by that.
Strat: Yeah, no, I didn't really understand what I was saying either.
Strat (in character): Bovril?
Matt (as Errol): Oh yeah, yeah yeah.
Matt: He finishes his and puts the mug in the sink, and he takes that one and the other one that you brought back and -
Alex: The milky Bovril, or...?
Matt: No no -
Strat: Those have been got, I’ve tipped those.
Matt: Strat’s remade the milky Bovril into a non-milky Bovril. And he says:
Matt (as Errol): Yeah, I'll see you around, yeah?
Strat (in character): Yeah, sure.
Matt (as Errol): Yeah, you just give a yell or anything, yeah?
Strat (in character): Okay, thanks
Matt: And he backs out of the kitchen with his hands full of Bovril.
Strat: How many Bovrils has he got as he leaves?
Matt: He's got two.
Strat: He's got two Bovrils.
Alex: ‘Cause he's finished his, he's got one for Phoebe and Tess.
Strat: No, I'm just thinking that means he's now left a Bovril.
Alex: No, ‘cause he finished his.
Vikki: No, he finished that one and put it in the sink.
Strat: No, but there were four Bovrils.
Ellie: No. Yes.
Strat: Because he made four Bovrils. So he's drank one Bovril; we took two Bovrils; the fourth Bovril, he has left on the thing, so I’m going to pick it up and go:
Strat (in character): Do you need the third - the other Bovril?
Matt: He's already gone.
Alex: That one's for you, Strat.
Strat: I’m going to take this Bovril -
Ellie: - and tip it down the sink.
Strat: Is there a window?
Matt: Nope, no windows.
Vikki: Tip it down the sink, mate.
Strat: I'm gonna tip it down the sink.
Matt: You tip the Bovril down the sink.
Strat (in character): Good riddance!
Strat: ...I say.
Vikki: To yourself?!
Strat: It is a Bovril. If it was my own kitchen, I would have spat at it.
Matt: While Strat’s in the kitchen making coffees and pouring Bovril away, what are the rest of you doing down on the stage?
Alex: I'm still trying to remonstrate with the others and be like:
Alex (in character): Look, he did let me take them. I'm not a drink thief. That's not who I am. You know me…
Ellie: I feel like we’re just letting him -
Vikki: Yeah, we’re just letting him. We’re having a snack.
Alex: God knows I can’t do anything else.
Ellie: We’re snacking and I'm checking my spreadsheet and ticking off the stuff we’ve already done.
Matt: All right.
Alex: I go back up into the kitchen because I'm convinced that there's something in here that can possibly … mean that I don't get done for being a drink thief. So I check the cupboards to see what else is in there.
Matt: So you leave the stage and you go up the stairs onto the ground floor, where the kitchen is, and you emerge into the corridor - and it's dark. Someone's turned the light in the corridor off.
Alex (in character): Oh, for god’s sake.
Alex: Can I see the light switch anywhere?
Matt: You can't see anything. It's pitch black.
Alex: Oh, great. Do I have a mobile phone that has a torch function on it?
Matt: Yeah, if you think you would have a mobile phone on you.
Alex: Yeah, absolutely. I get that out, I turn the torch on my mobile phone, and start looking around for a light switch.
Matt: Okay, you look around. There doesn't seem to be one at this end of the corridor.
Alex (in character): Oh, god.
Matt: You do see the door towards the kitchen.
Alex: So I just use the torch and make my way to the kitchen.
Matt: As you make your way to the kitchen, you feel a sort of … like a prickle on the back of your neck, like there's maybe -
Ellie: Alex looks so sad.
Matt: It's that same feeling you had on the stage, only like, without the context of it being on a stage, where you would normally feel that feeling.
Alex: Right. Okay. I turn the torch in the direction of where I feel like this feeling is emanating from, and I head towards it. Where does this feeling take me?
Matt: So you basically - so it was on the back of your neck, so you basically swing the torch back the way you were coming, and you take a couple of steps, and you realise it still feels like it's on the back of your neck.
Alex: So it's basically where I am. Okay. It's at this point that I - I'm anxious, I'm - I don't like it, it feels uncomfortable, it’s dark, I can't see where I'm going. I think right, okay, I'm just gonna go to the kitchen, because that seems like a safe place, I've been there before. Hopefully the light’s on in there. So I go to the kitchen, open the door -
Matt: You enter the kitchen and you find Strat pouring away a Bovril.
Strat (in character): Come to steal more Bovril, have you?!
Alex (in character): Look, no, I'm just trying to - shut up. Okay. First things first: that weird feeling that we felt on the stage?
Strat (in character): Yep?
Alex (in character): I'm feeling it outside the corridor.
Strat: I look out the corridor and I’m like:
Strat (in character): Well, it’s pitch black out there.
Alex (in character): Yeah!
Matt: You look out of the kitchen door into the dark corridor and - so the light from the kitchen is spilling out through the door into the corridor. You see, just on the very edge of the light, as the light shades into pitch darkness, you catch a glimpse of what might be a humanoid outline. It's like if you gave someone a sheet of black paper and a bit of chalk and got them to do, like - just - so, it's not a full outline, it's just the bits that the light would fall on. And it's just still. But it's hard it's kind of hard to focus on, so you're not sure.
Strat (in character): Funky shadows around here.
Matt: It might be a floater in your eye, you don't know.
Strat: Oh, I have so many of those. It’s so annoying. Stupid floating eye things.
Alex: So what do - do I see this?
Strat: Is the light switch on this side of the…
Matt: The light switch for corridor? No.
Alex: Just for the kitchen.
Matt: There's a light switch inside the door, which you, I guess, assume would turn the kitchen light on and off.
Strat: Okay. But I can't see anything for the corridor.
Strat: Fair enough. Well, I've got the coffees, so I'm gonna take the coffees back. Alex, if you would like to shine the torch so we can see where we're going -
Ellie: So you’re not going to say anything about the…?
Strat: It’s just a shadow, innit.
Vikki: You don’t think it’s a person?
Alex: I tell him to hold on and go - I want to have a look in the cupboards, just because I just want to see what other drinks they’ve - I'm feeling nosy. So I open the cupboards and I'm looking around. What do I find?
Matt: You find, like I said, a couple of half-empty packs of biscuits, you find a net of satsumas, you find mugs, glasses, plates, all mismatched.
Alex: All sorts of regular kitchen accoutrements.
Matt: Yes. It doesn't look like it's very stocked for like, making food. It's mostly just like, the place where a company might come in and stock it themselves.
Alex: Okay. Okay, fine. So there's like, cutlery and stuff as well?
Matt: Yeah, yeah - open the drawers, there's mismatched cutlery in there as well.
Alex: Cool, okay, right, I say:
Alex (in character): Strat, let’s head out.
Strat (in character): Actually, this is yours, so if you want to -
Alex (in character): Oh yeah, I'll hold it.
Alex: Torch in one hand. I'll go in front then, and sort of like, shine the torch between us so we can see the floor.
Strat: That's all right, I'll just get my phone out.
Alex: Oh right, okay, good point, we’ve got two torches. So I turn round and face him. Do I see anything?
Matt: So are you guys in the corridor like, facing each other now?
Strat: No, I think we’re just about to leave the kitchen.
Matt: You're just about to leave the kitchen. Okay. Are you looking for anything or are you just like glancing at Strat?
Alex: I'm not feeling particularly happy because I’ve felt this feeling and it's a bit sort of tense, because Strat’s accused me of being a drink thief, and then on top of that there's this weird sensation in this corridor, and indeed the theatre, it would appear. So I'm sort of - I'm - I don't want to look, but I'm sort of like, catching furtive glances left and right.
Matt: So I guess you're sort of looking outside, out through the kitchen door, and you can't help looking into the darkness. And yeah, you see what looks like the blurry shaded outline, potentially, of a human figure.
Alex: I don't like that.
Matt: But again, it's hard to focus on. Like, if you try and focus on it and like, resolve it in your mind's eye into a figure, it sort of melts and shifts.
Alex: It’s kind of - it's one of those things that you can only really catch out the corner of your eye properly. So I say:
Alex (in character): Strat, can you - can you see that? Can you see that like, blob, but amorphous sort of humanoid blob over there?
Strat (in character): ...Yeah, okay, it looks a bit like a - like it could be … it’s a shadow, it’s all dark, we’re shining lights everywhere.
Alex (in character): How can you have a shadow in the dark? That's not how shadows work.
Strat (in character): We've got light. And we're shining it out there … Look, mate, it’s gonna be, it’s - look, it's just a theatre, it's fine. Just ... come on, let’s go. I'll go first, all right?
Alex (in character): I don’t want to be at the back, though, either.
Strat (in character): How about we walk next to one another?
Alex (in character): Good, that's better.
Alex: Okay, so we walk back towards the theatre.
Strat: And we’ll just shine the light - as we’re going through it, because I want to prove it's just like, a trick of the light or whatever, I'm just gonna turn my torch mode on my phone up to the highest thing and shine it at where we can see this weird thing.
Matt: You’re shining it right at - so…
Strat: Right at the - where this thing is, to try and flood that bit with light.
Matt: You flood that bit with light and there is no sign of anything.
Strat (in character): Look. You put light in there, it goes away.
Alex (in character): Hmm … I don't like it.
Strat (in character): Well it’s all right, just keep a -
Alex (in character): I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
Strat (in character): Keep an eye out for a light switch on the way down and we won’t have this problem again.
Alex (in character): All right.
Matt: Okay, so you're heading out into the corridor?
Alex & Strat: Yes.
Matt: So you head out into the corridor, walking down side by side, mug in one hand, phone torch in the other hand. That feeling of being watched is still coming from behind you, but doesn't seem to be getting any closer.
Strat (in character): I know how you’re feeling. I feel it as well. It's a spooky old building and we're in the dark. It’s always going to fee that way.
Alex (in character): Yeah, but I didn't feel like … It doesn't feel - it feels like there's definitely something here. I think we should tell the others. I think we should tell the others.
Strat (in character): Tell them whatever you like. I’m not going to stop you.
Ellie: Strat’s going to be like “He’s lying! It’s not true!”
Alex: So we go back onto the stage, and I find Ellie and Vikki and I'm like:
Alex (in character): Guys. There's something weird in here. I felt like we were being watched in the corridor, I felt like we were being watched in the auditorium, when the lights were all turned off, this - this - there's a presence here. Have you guys felt anything?
Ellie (in character): No.
Vikki (in character): Not so far.
Ellie: (in character): No so far. But I'd probably ask Bee to put - to sort out the corridor lights.
Vikki: Yeah. And I'd say:
Vikki (in character): Well, the feeling of being watched might have just been, you know, because you were on the stage, and that's what it feels like. But like, maybe -
Strat (in character): That’s what I said.
Vikki (in character): That's a rational explanation. But also, because like, Bee would have been up in the tech box, and there might be even a couple of other people in the theatre. Like, maybe there was just someone up in the corridor. Like, in the dark.
Alex (in character): Then why didn’t they say anything? No, I don’t -
Strat (in character): It's just a shadow. I shined my torch at it.
Ellie: Also, I would probably point out that:
Ellie (in character): The human mind tries to make a human shape out of of any unknown object. Like if you see a dressing-gown on the back of your door at night, you think it's a person standing there.
Strat (in character): Absolutely.
Vikki (in character): Could have been anything. And yeah, like it's a weird old building, like it's pretty quiet, it's empty, so it feeling creepy is - nothing to be ashamed of.
Alex (in character): Thank you for trying to -
Vikki (in character): - nothing to be ashamed of
Alex (in character): - I’m not ashamed! Thank you for being so reassuring in an incredibly passive-aggressive way!
Ellie: Also, neither me nor Vikki have so far been on our own, so like, we've not felt anything weird, but we’ve just been together like, chatting and unloading props.
Alex (in character): But me and Strat felt the same thing.
Ellie (in character): Yeah, but Strat obviously wasn't that worried, because he's not - look at him, he's fine.
Alex (in character): Fine. Look, I just want to highlight it. We know what we've done in the past. We know what we experienced in the past. I just thought I’d flag it.
Strat (in character): But do we know what we've experienced?
Vikki (in character): I mean, I think that like - we know Alex is more in tune with this stuff than the rest of us. Like, that is true. So like, you know, let’s not write it off completely. But also, it's the case that, you know, when you have experienced these things, you do start to kind of see it everywhere, and we are in a building that is ripe for -
Ellie (in character): And we’re staging a ghost story.
Vikki (in character): Exactly. Like - and it's nearly Hallowe’en, and … whatever. It's like, creepy. Creepy all round.
Alex (in character): Okay, okay.
Vikki (in character): Would it make you feel better if we asked Phoebe about some of the other stuff that happened here? Because we did kind of leave that unresolved earlier.
Alex (in character): I think maybe - yeah, that would be a good idea.
Vikki (in character): Is that gonna make you feel better or worse?
Alex (in character): Well, I mean…
Strat (in character): Are you just gonna start seeing the things that she tells you…?
Alex: (in character): Okay, maybe you should speak to her. And I’m just going to sit here by myself -
Vikki (in character): Drinking your coffee.
Alex (in character): Drinking my coffee.
Ellie (in character): Can you also ask her to fix the corridor light, please?
Strat (in character): Absolutely.
Vikki (in character): I'm gonna come with you.