Thief the Musical

a B Page item by J Nash (Friday November 27th, 2009)

JN says...JN saysFor PC Gamer. Furthering my brilliant plan of each B Page antagonising the Art Ed in an excitingly new way, this one had the logo — a semiquaver using a gold coin with Garrett’s profile — as a tattered and faded theatrical poster background. Entirely by coincidence this meant the entire page could be filled with text, ekeing a 33% increase in words over the physical maximum allowed by law. I squandered this crafty ingenuity on magazine flummery instead of plotting bank robberies, though did successfully adapt The Case-Book Of Mr Sherlock Holmes The PC as a scheme to kill a man.

(Queerest among the Thief 3 mods is almost certainly the stage musical, written in 2004 by three unemployed louts from Exmouth, and a tiny sensation on the midnight rep circuit where the gruellingly haphazard nine-act game adaptation has been running continuously for over 2,000 performances. Resident PCG Thief apologist K Gillen was even invited to appear in the off-off-Broadway tour during E3, a performance described by the New York Times as “rubbish.” We present an abridgement of Act 7 — The Cradle. For the full effect, read in an airless room surrounded by slightly alarming students in full costume singing along badly and clandestinely rifling your pockets. WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS AND BILABIAL ARRHYTHMIA.)

CHORUS (expository): A shadow in moonlight, a window you’d shut
A purse strangely lighter, a belt on the nut
Blags the rich of their prestige, the boss of his stick and his carrot
It’s Garrett.

A whisper on roof tiles, an oddly quenched candle
An incomplete invoice, a gap on the mantel
He’ll take the bill from your cap and the beak of your valuable parrot
Will Garrett.

A boat in a port or a ship in a bottle
If it can be fenced he’ll make off with the lottle
Robs the rich and the poor, there’s no arian thief more egalit
Than Gallett.

GARRETT: Hello, boys and girls!

NARRATOR (spoken): As the white moon bloomed, Garrett found himself in that place of sinister and dextrous dread, the Shalebridge Cradle.

GARRETT (confidence): A job like my one requires nerves of ir-on
I’ve never let my poise or sang-froid lapse
I’m fearless to my foes, I biff bobbies on the nose
I’m cool even when I’ve clipped right through a map
It’s undeniable — I’m statuefiable
(Aside) Is that a steam pipe or somebody kneeling? What was that scuttling in the ceiling? Do ghosties make a racket, is that shadow just a bracket? … Oh, it’s nothing. I knew that.

I’m professionally nerveless, in line of action swerveless
My inner ear and mind are both in balance
Like Hyde without the Jekyll, no qualms keep me from the shekel
Icy skills in hot pursuit of talents
In rookery — I’m textbookery
(Aside) Did that grate move? Is that shelf stacked with specimens? How fierce was the contractual expiry of the regimen? Is this demon midwifery, are there struggles in periphery? … Oh, it’s nothing. I told you I knew that.

NARRATOR: Convincing himself that the noises were simply a couple of boxes toppling over and being brutally smashed up with an axe, Garrett boldly tiptoed up to the attic — home of that wispy urchin, Lauryl.

LAURYL (lament): What is a girl to do when she’s permanently sent up to her room?
After fifty years or so, I-Spy begins to pall
Next time I’m playing hide and seek behind the garden wall
But wait — the angels send a champ in the shape of this brooding tramp
Kind sir, dispel this purgatory
Burn my clothes, flush my blood and swab me from this house’s lingering history
Steal me away me from my doom.

GARRETT: I’m not your maid
I’m not your maid
What do you think this is, some kind of hotel?

LAURYL: Save me from this unliving hell.

GARRETT: I came up here to loot a loft conversion
Not participate in some treasure hunt perversion
I didn’t pencil Mondays to set fire to entombed undies
I’m not your maid — I’m not your maid — I’m not your maid.

LAURYL: Let me put it this way — the building’s full of salvage.

GARRETT: Glinties?

LAURYL: Polished up and minty — more than any ordinary burglar could manage
And as a puff of plasmic karma —

GARRETT: Torchy?

LAURYL: Piercing and scorchy — I could light you up for the zombs to chew off your arm.

GARRETT: I’m made to see your point of view
Your argument is powerful in its creation
A celebration of fair remuneration
Together we’ll tear down this puppet nation
(Beckoning) After you.

NARRATOR: And so our Lauryl and hardy adventurer planned their egress. But they quickly learned they were not alone.

(Ominous flickering lights snap on to reveal zombs on a floodlit stage.)

ZOMBS (glam): We’re the band that rocks the Cradle baby
One night only — but the night lasts forever
Let us introduce ourselves — the players in this groovy endeavour
Are you ready? Yeah! Are you ready? Yeah! Well all right then, count off!

INDIVIDUAL ZOMBS: One! King of the mike, number one with a mullet
Seven! Lead guitar, if there’s a bird I can pull it
Five! Scope the drums, I keep an eye on the beat
Two! Sex and violins, good enough to eat
Four! Bass, ladykiller, so lock up your daughters
Six! Vocals, instant baby, just add water
Three! Hammond organ, wake you up with my chords
Eight! I’m on the mix to shake the floorboards
Nine! I blow the horn and provide the hot licks
Come on everybody, do our dance like this —

ZOMBS: First you give a little shimmy and you give a little twitch
And you let your eyes go swimmy and your feet begin to itch
You can feel your body thirsting as the neurons start a-bursting
And the quivers are a-rising and the serum’s catalysing
Stick your head up a bin and go eldritch —
Everybody do-do-do the Puppet
Thrash and flail and shudder
Everybody do-do-do the Puppet
Drool and wail and judder
Everybody do-do-do the Puppet
Crash around the crowd
Everybody do-do-do the Puppet
Get down! Get back up again! Wig out!
(Instrumental on strings.)
You all know the Puppet Song, come on now and sing along
Mwurgh! Aaarghh! Bleugh! Gargh! Blahhh!

GARRETT (deploying his arsenal): Flash!

ZOMBS: Aaa-ahh! (They disintegrate.)

NARRATOR: With Lauryl phantasmagorically hoovered up to safety, Garrett was almost free. Deftly outjockeying the uncanny hippy black-light staff in a catchy number quasi-disappointingly omitted, he legged it swiftly to the topmost turret.

GARRETT (reflectively): It’s all clear to me now
This twilight of catastrophe had a message passed to me
So clear to me now
When a building’s racking killings and there’s no one round to mug
And the dead refuse to die then danger turns into a drug
The truth in this temporal adventure clearly lies
In Lauryl’s subtle shepherding me up high
The Cradle’s robbed of reason
Laws of reality don’t apply
I can fly — I can fly — I can fly
I CAN FLY.
(Dashes up table, scattering attendants, and dives like an unhooded eagle from the window. Pause, then splintering crash as he lands head-first fifty feet below in the broken fountain.)

(Staff remove masks to reveal guard who sounds very slightly like James Mason and the one who’s obstinately dim.)

GUARDS (satisfaction): That ought to stop his belting nuts, his burglary and fleecing
The lengths you have to go when community policing.

(Humming, the company tapdances gradually off as the lights pull down to leave only the Narrator in view.)

NARRATOR (solemnly): I’ll allow the Shalebridge Cradle is spooky and it’s queasy
But it’s hardly Fatal Frame. Still, that’s not on the PC.

(Entr’acte. Audience reels to bar, wishing it were all over until next month.)