The Lost Continent
Set in early 1910, in rural Wigan, the Lost Continent concerns itself with George Fairbank, the son of the Earl of Westhoughton, his love for an unattainable chambermaid, his hatred for the woman his parents have arranged for him to marry and his chance to escape this predicament by traveling with his eccentric Uncle William.
George and many other guests, including his closest confidante Arthur, have gathered for a mediaeval costume ball at the ancestral Fairbank home in celebration of the engagement of George to Elizabeth Huntington, the heiress to the Dukedom of Malton. Whilst waiting for the festivities to begin, George is struck by the sight of a rather pretty chambermaid, Nancy. Separated as they are by the gulf of class, the situation appears to be hopeless, especially since the Earl, by virtue of an ancient feudal right, can force any member of his family to follow his orders on pain of death and he has issued a decree that he is to marry Elizabeth. Bullied into submission, George agrees tentatively to pop the question at the party that evening.
Meanwhile, below stairs, a Marxist insurgent, posing as a footman has infiltrated the staff and together with his henchman, Igor, he is planning to wreak havoc amongst the titled aristocracy by letting the more dangerous creatures in the Earl's private zoo into the house and then locking the doors.
Later, that same evening, during the costume ball, Uncle William arrives with his exploring companions, with the intention of taking George with him on his next expedition as a fourth for bridge. George, faced with the option of death or marriage to Elizabeth, decides that it is for the best if he should go with him. Before he can make good his escape, Lady Elizabeth confronts him with the contract, signed by the Earl which dooms George to marriage. George is naturally despondent, but not quite so dismayed as his Uncle whose first name is also George and therefore the contract applies equally to him.
A chance remark then alerts to the presence of the Marxist footman who is arrested on the spot. His henchman too is discovered before the dreadful deed can be accomplished and they are both sentenced to be kept as pets by two of Lady Huntington's companions. Thus George is free to marry whomever he desires, specifically the chambermaid Nancy. His mother agrees to the union, at the same time revealing that, working below stairs under strict secrecy, Nancy is none other than Lady Blackrod, of noble birth and therefore most suitable. All are thus united, man, woman, henchman, explorer and spy in a glorious happy ever after.
The Lost Continent (TLC) began life in September 2004 as a reaction to having heard G&S's The Grand Duke for the first time, not being totally enamored with the music and finding the plot all but incomprehensible. The title, "The Lost Continent" comes from a song by the Comsat Angels http://www.comsatangels.net and the initial backbone of the piece consisted of a relatively small collection of home grown tunes I had rattling around on my hard drive and a few songs by the aforementioned band.
The libretto and initial story quickly took shape around them and everything in the garden appeared rosy. A couple of original songs, English Country Gent and A Life in Exploration were inflicted on MPO at the summer soiree, to some acclaim and then TLC lay dormant for almost a year before the idea of performing it was tabled.
The initial reaction to various e-mailings of midi files around the place was not altogether friendly. A rather vicious electronic missive from a certain Mr. Bailward proved to be the turning point in TLC's life. Things gathered pace. The initial unveiling of what was described at the time as "a couple of good songs in Act 2 and about two thirds of a first act," took place under cover of darkness in Gillingham, early in 2006. Practically dripping with red pen, particularly bare from the loss of "It's History" and "Pray for Rain", two of the three Comsat Angels tracks, the next three months were fraught with bringing forth six new musical numbers, three heavy modifications and a musical Finale to Act 2.
The first Act underwent a workshop in Henstridge over a couple more bottles of wine and then followed a period of trial by ordeal: the ordeal being the application of A-level harmony, under the direction of Caroline D'Cruz, to some of the more elementary chasms in the arrangement. A further two songs were added, That's the Spirit and Your Mother Knows, before a re-write of Tenderly wrapped up the composition just nine days before the first rehearsal, and therefore about nine days short of two years since life was brought forth on "The Lost Continent (of love)."
Neil Edwards was born in Leigh, Lancashire in 1965. Educated at Bolton School (Boys' Division), Birmingham University and Manchester Polytechnic from which he graduated with a combined honours in Chemistry and Computing in 1989. Moving to Yeovil that same year, a variety of computing jobs have led him to his current position as a Storage Software Specialist for Hewlett Packard.
Neil joined MPO in 2003 and last year played Giuseppe in the Gondoliers. This is the first of his works to be performed.
|Albert Fairbank||EARL of Westhoughton||Geoff Allan|
|ERMINTRUDE Fairbank||his wife||Sarah Bignell|
|GEORGE Fairbank||their son||James Craw|
|ARTHUR Robinson||George's best friend||Andrew Armstrong|
|Sanderson||the head butler||Nick Grundy|
|Mrs. Manion||the Housekeeper||Linda Mumford|
|Nancy Fortesque-Smyth||Chambermaid/Lady Blackrod||Sarah Fraser|
|Richard JARVIS||a footman||Tony White|
|Elizabeth Huntington||heiress to the Duke of Hindsford||Jessie Copper|
|Alice Huntington||her sister||Allison Edwards|
|William Fairbank||the Earl's younger brother||Matthew Baker|
|Roderick Rumworth||explorer with William Fairbank||Nick Presdee|
|Frederick Walkden||explorer with William Fairbank||Trevor John|
|Patrick Kearsley||explorer with William Fairbank||Lloyd Davies|
|Chloe||Elizabeth Huntington's entourage||Charlotte Allan|
|Adele||Elizabeth Huntington's entourage||Katharine Boyd|
|Beatrice||Elizabeth Huntington's entourage||Ellie John|
|Igor||a henchman||Chris Bailward|
|Sir Gayford Jantzen||a guest||John Forrest|
Please conact Neil for any rehearsal files you would like.