The Story


The Musical

The curtain rises on a small circus in England in 1916. We meet Victoria, who is cursed with the gift of seeing the future, Roger the Socialist, who is hiding from the police, because DORA, the Defense of the Realm Act, makes it unlawful to be discouraging about the war, Roger the Pacifist whom everyone thinks is a coward instead of just reluctant to kill and be killed, Leah, a trapeze artist who has compelled her partner, Luke, to join the army, and Hilda, from parts unknown, a substitute trapeze artist of uncertain age. The neighborhood Policeman explains that it is necessary for young men to go to war to protect his way of life. Meanwhile, on the midway, the Rogers have a plan for hiding in the circus. They dress as a cowboy and an Indian and will be a Wild West Show. Victoria has her doubts; she explains that circus people must have talents, such as her ability to see the future, although this talent distresses her as she sees war after war for all time. In a puff of smoke, Teddy Roosevelt appears. He has come to England to learn more about the war for which he has been advocating US involvement. Hilda is enthusiastic about the war; she explains the benefits the war has brought to England by uniting its people in a common cause. Victoria argues with her that there is too much war, both now and in the future. Teddy Roosevelt and the Rogers express their admiration, Teddy Roosevelt for Hilda and the Rogers for Victoria. The Rogers decide they have fallen in love with Victoria for her mind and go off to tell her. Victoria finds Teddy Roosevelt alone and tells him that the United States will become an aggressor nation. Teddy Roosevelt is scandalized. When the Policeman arrives to announce that saboteurs have blown up the local munitions factory, Teddy Roosevelt denounces Victoria as the traitor, and the Policeman takes her into custody.

Act 2 opens with the Rogers getting the Policeman drunk and freeing Victoria. On the eve of the Somme offensive. Luke writes how frightened he is and how doubtful he has become about the war. Leah has been equivocal about the war, but Luke’s distress is palpable through his words. In her tent alone, Victoria reflects on the two Rogers who have impressed her in different ways, one with passion for his cause and the other with disrespect for all norms. She wonders which she might be able to love. Leah appears and offers to help Victoria hide from the police. She and Victoria realize they are sisters in a world of crazed, aggressive men. Roger the Socialist proposes that he and Victoria escape to America disguised as Indians. Teddy Roosevelt comes across them and raps that Americans don't like foreigners or Indians and that they should not go. He offers to arrange their passage to Cuba instead if they will meet him at that evening. Leah receives a letter from the front that Luke has been killed. Teddy Roosevelt comes across Hilda, who tries to get away, but not before he declares his love for her. Roger the Socialist and Victoria appear for their appointed meeting with Teddy Roosevelt. It is a trap. The Policeman is there to arrest them, but Roger the Pacifist arrives. He punches Roger the Socialist in the nose and lays claim to Victoria’s love with a kiss. The kiss puts an end to Victoria’s unwelcome ability to see the future, and she is happy to accept Roger the Pacifist’s love. After all, love means being totally unable to see the future. Leah asks Victoria’s permission to take up with Roger the Socialist, a relationship that Luke blesses as he momentarily appears from the dead. Leah and Roger the Pacifist expose Hilda as the German spy who destroyed the munitions plant. The Policeman arrests Hilda but also arrests Roger the Socialist for saying discouraging things about the war, thereby violating DORA. Leah argues that the Crown should not rob her twice in such quick succession of a lover, and the Policeman relents, releasing Roger the Socialist. The Rogers, Luke, and Victoria agree to go together to America, which, now that Victoria cannot see the future, might become a land of peace.

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