[We normally do not run ads this long, but I have to say, at twelve cents a word, we made quite a bit of money on this one. —JD]
Wanted: A dashing young actor with a long face to play the lead role in The Final Stages, a new play written by the famed Edwin Nathaniel Dowdley and to be produced in Pequod Lake. The play, set in a nameless, generic, and in all other ways stereotypical European city during Christmastime, concerns a young man named Milo Merriwit, who, wandering the streets after his father’s financial collapse and death, and fingering the only coin left to him by his father, chances upon some carolers and merry-makers in the streets. He joins in with them, dancing and singing, until the coin falls through a hole in his pocket. Someone else hears it hit the street, and snatches it up, whereupon Milo chases the young man down and around the circuitous streets, hoping to gain back his money. The thief ducks into a back door. Milo follows him in, and finds himself in the dark, in a huge closet of costumes, by which the audience learns that this building is a theatre. Suddenly a stage-hand shines a candle in his face, grabs him and pushes him onto the brightly lit stage.
There the actors happen to be in the final act of a tragic play called The Gardener of Gloucester, in which the young Sir Clyve, knowing that Sir Ranulf is gaining an edge in their battle for the Lady Sylvia’s affections, switches places with her gardener in order to be near her at all times. The switch is effected very smoothly, for he and the gardener look very much alike. Over the course of weeks, Sir Clyve trims the hedges into elaborate sculptures as secret tokens of his affection, and by and by Sylvia realizes it is he. Meanwhile the gardener is enjoying his newfound power, until Sir Ranulf discovers him by the dirt under his fingernails. A man of intelligence, he remembers the elaborate hedges and realizes what is going on. He throws the gardener in prison, and runs to the fountain at the center of the garden, where he finds the Sir Clyve and the Lady Sylvia talking to each other and holding hands. In a fit of rage he rushes at Clyve with his dagger, but Sylvia thrusts herself in his path and is stabbed unavoidably. Ranulf steps back in horror, but in true stage fashion, slips on some wet stones and is impaled on the fountain statue of an angel bearing a sword. Clyve hears footsteps, and hides behind a hedge just as servants and soldiers arrive. Seeing the tragic scene, they deduce that Clyve killed them both out of jealousy. Grief-stricken, and with no way to clear his name, Sir Clyve remains in hiding as a gardener, and is ironically called upon to arrange the flowers at Sylvia and Ranulf’s double-funeral. He remains a gardener to his dying days, always trimming hedges into intricate sculptures, and the original gardener remains imprisoned in the dungeon for the rest of his life.
At least, that is how the play normally goes, but Milo has now become the starring actor by some strange accident. He saw this play once before and the sad ending left him very depressed and angry. Now, finding himself in the story, something in him snaps. As the final heart-rending chords of the music drone on, he throws off his cap and shouts in a hoarse voice, “Behold! It is I, Sir Clyve!”, rushes to the open coffin, and with great effort hoists the “dead” Sir Ranulf into air, who opens his eyes in alarm as he is heaved into the orchestra pit, right in the middle of the string section. Now fully possessed by a spirit of theatric justice, Milo knocks the dungeon guard out cold and frees the hapless gardener, then lifts Sylvia out of her coffin and gives her a long passionate kiss, just as the theatre manager finally drops the curtain as hard as he can.
From the loud laughter and cheering of the audience, it becomes apparent that the new ending is a stunning success. The laughter and applause grow louder when the theatre manager goes up to inqure if there is a doctor in the house, evidently to treat the unconscious dungeon guard and the badly bruised Sir Ranulf. Sensing an opportunity, he goes to meet Milo backstage, to try convince him to join the company and give repeat performances, but Milo has fled for fear of being arrested or charged with some crime. But one thing Milo cannot flee from: the thought of the actress who played Sylvia on the stage.
Thus ends Act I of The Final Stages. Applicants must possess theatrical bombast and ready wit. Interested actors please notify E. Dowdley, of 212 Outspar Ave.