Two Cities

Music and Lyrics by Howard Goodall

Book by Joanna Read

Freely based on Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities

 

London & st petersburg, 1913-1917

 A re-imagining of Dickens’ unforgettable, searingly humane story of self-sacrifice, loyalty and love, set during the terror of the Russian Revolution. A young woman finds herself torn between two worlds, two families, two suitors. The choices she makes will inspire one of the men who loves her to an act of phenomenal, selfless courage.

 

TWO CITIES Premièred at the Salisbury Playhouse, September 2006

Directed by Joanne Read

 

Cast: Rosalie Craig, David Ricardo-Pearce, Glyn Kerslake, Ben Goddard, Chris Thatcher, Oliver Beamish, Nicola Sloane, Emily Butterfield, Laura Checkley, Mary Doherty, Paul Kemble, Guy Oliver-Watts, Stefan Bednarczyk, David Ashley, and Chris Grierson.

Musical Director Dane Preece, Designer Sue Houser, Movement Michael Ashcroft

 

“As a composer, Goodall loves to counterpoint the emotional fates of far-flung characters in intricately interwoven duets and he seizes gratefully on the scenario here with songs that are finely delivered” (The Independent)

 

SYNOPSIS

ACT ONE

 

Prologue

On stage at a musical hall on Petticoat Lane in London’s East End. An illusionist is completing his act. Song: On Petticoat Lane

 

Scene One

Outside the same musical hall on Petticoat Lane.

 

Song: Just suppose (I)

Lucy Mannersly is being wooed by Sydney Carton. They are interrupted by the arrival of Lucy’s guardian Peter Stryver who tells her that her father, who has been missing – presumed dead – in Russia for years, having fallen foul of the Tsarist security service, has been found alive in a St Petersburg jail.

Song: Just suppose (II)

 

Scene Two

A Prison in St Petersburg

 

Kralena, a student activist rails at the guards. We hear the story of Dr Manislav’s arrest. Lucy and Stryver arrive to have him released.

Song: One Day/Testimony

 

Scene three

The Docks. St Petersburg

 

Song: Precious Matryoshkas

Wealthy Russians are fleeing the country. One of them is Yevgeny Irtenev, son of the count who arrested Lucy’s father. He and Lucy meet. He has adoped the English name of Edward Ireton since re-settling in Britain. Kralena, released from prison meets his lover, Natalya. Lucy is disturbed by her father’s condition.

Song: Demons and Ghosts (I)

 

Scene Four

On the boat sailing towards Harwich

Encountering difficulty persuading customs officials to let them embark, Stryver, Lucy and Dr Manislav are helped by the intervention of Edward; it dawns on Manislav that ‘Edward’ is in fact Yevgeny Irtenev, son of the aristocrat responsible for his 18-year incarceration.

Song: Let Fortune be our Guide

As the boat approaches the English coast, Lucy tries to calm her troubled father.

Song: Demons & Ghosts (II)

 

Scene Five

A street in London

Song: Unwelcome

Edward/Yevgeny, lonely in his new land, is falsely arrested outside an underground station.

 

Scene Six

St Petersburg and London intercut

Song: Agitators

In Russia, Kralena is inducted into the finer arts of terrorism, whilst in London Lucy secures Carton’s help for Edward’s impending trial. At the trial, Carton is charismatic, idiosyncratic and ultimately brilliantly successful in having the charges against Edward thrown out. Now Lucy has two, very different men in her life.

Song: At the Last Trumpet

 

Scene Seven

Dr Manislav’s house in England/the Irtenev estate outside St Petersburg

Song: Take my hand

In London, Edward reminisces about his youth in Russia. He proposes to Lucy, who weighs up the qualities of Edward and Carton.

Song: Just Suppose (III)

 

Meanwhile, unrest in Russia grows and the situation at Ireton/Irtenev’s childhood home becomes grave and combustible.

 

Scene Eight

At the Manislav home in London, then a church – Southampton Docks -The Irtenev Estate. Song: Bad Blood/Testimony/Carton’s Farewell/Act 1 Finale

During the signing of legal documents allowing Lucy to marry Edward, her father is suddenly taken with fear that he must stop the match and that Edward’s father’s ‘bad blood’ will pass down to him, Lucy and any family they may have.

Despite his misgivings, and the provocative, mildly jealous presence of Carton, the marriage of Lucy and Edward goes ahead. Carton determines to emigrate to Australia. Meanwhile, at the Irtenev estate, the peasants, egged on by Bolshevik agitators, take matters into their own hands, leading to the brutal death of the tyrannical Count Irtenev.

 

ACT TWO

 December 1917, Revolution in St Petersburg, the First World War raging in Flanders.

 

Scene One

The ruins of a church in St Petersburg

Song: A New Russia

Life is chaotic, grim and dangerous. Natalya’s brother has come back from the Eastern Front. Kralena is relishing his new position as senior revolutionary rabble-rouser; In England, despite Lucy and Edward now having a baby and some stability in their lives, he decides he must return to Russia to salvage what’s left of his father’s estate and protect their prior domestic staff.

 

Scene Two

‘Paradise Sands’ seaside resort on the South Coast

Song: On Paradise Sands

Lucy, now a military nurse, visits Stryver, who has been wounded in the trenches.

 

Scene three

On the deck of a supply ship travelling to St Petersburg – a railway carriage in southern England

Song: Home (I)

With Edward on his way home, Lucy has a chance meeting with Carton, now serving in the army in France and home on leave, in a railway carriage. He confesses his feelings for her.

 

Scene Four

The Irtenev Estate near St Petersburg. Five months later.

Song: Capture & Tribunal

Edward has returned home to find the estate in the hands of the Bolsheviks and is arrested, charged for the crimes of his late father, facing execution. Back in London Lucy hears of Carton’s departure to Russia.

 

Scene Six

The British Consulate, St Petersburg

Carton is searching for Edward, hoping to have him released and brought back to England.

 

Scene Seven

A prison in St Petersburg

Edward and Natalya meet, both facing death in the cell.

Song: The Sorrow of my Fate

 

Scene eight

The ruined church St Petersburg

Carton, still searching for Edward, encounters Kralena, now a senior commander in the Bolshevik forces. He is offered the chance to save his former lover, Natalya’s life and refuses it.

Song: Resurrection and Life

 

Scene Nine

Lucy’s house.

Song: Fairytales & Ghosts

Lucy, still awaiting news on Edward’s fate in Russia, questions her father about her childhood in Russia.

 

Scene Ten

The ‘Old Slaughterhouse’ prison in St Petersburg

Carton has located Edward and bribes the guard to let him in to see him. He successfully swaps his clothes for Edward’s, and with the help of his fellow British soldier, manages to get Edward out of the cell, to safety, and on to the troop ship, exchanging himself for the prisoner. He and Natalya spend their last few hours together before execution.

 

Song: Home (II)

 

“I can face my final moments knowing this:

I am proud of what I’ve done, at last

For the bold but feckless thing that I do now

Pays the forfeit on my almost-wasted past.

All my vanity, my trite concerns

Nothing matters now but he returns

Now the man she loves is safe from harm while Russia burns..”

 

ENDS

 

 

Performance licences are available from Faber Music

Two Cities Poster