Gone Dark

category: full length
genre: gothic romance
running time: 2 hours
setting: A Swiss Inn, The Woods Surrounding, A Parisian Brothel
period: 1899

characters:
Ned Dalton, a vampire hunter, English
Hermia Fitzgerald, the head of the vampire hunters, Irish
Raymond Capet, a vampire hunter, Creole
Philomenia Webb, a vampire hunter, his ex-wife, American
Jacob Maddock, a vampire hunter, Welsh
Eugene Maddock, an apprentice vampire hunter, his son, Welsh/Chinese
Sylla Kringelien, a young Swiss-German woman, educated abroad
Adolphe Kringelien, her brother, an innkeeper, Swiss-German
Urania, a prostitute, French

story:
In 1899, two men sit in a brothel in Paris, carrying on a cryptic conversation while a french prostitute, Urania, whispers into the darkness. She appears to be attracted to one of the men, Ned, but offers herself to Eugene, the other, who proceeds to stab her once they are alone, revealing himself to be a madman. The girl rises, a vampire, kills Eugene, and reveals Ned to be a vampire hunter, who chases her into the night. Some time later, at an Alpine inn, Sylla and Adolphe mourn the recent death of their father and prepare for the arrival of a dwindling society of vampire hunters headed by Hermia, a recent successor to the children’s father. Hermia’s qualification for the role is questioned by Philomenia, who has just divorced another member of the society, Raymond, but the three put aside their personal squabbles to help Ned when he arrives and reveals that Eugene, who he had been training, is dead. Urania also arrives, having tracked Ned from Paris, and is clearly in love with him. He, in turn, is drawn to her, and when hints that he may have lied to his fellow hunters are revealed he confesses that it’s possible he killed Eugene himself, thinking he was defending a helpless woman. The band goes in search of Urania and instead finds Eugene, also a vampire. Ned kills him, with the help of Urania, but rejects her when she calls for him. She returns to the house where Adolphe, who does not wish to join the hunters, lets her in as a way to draw out Sylla, who is a naturally gifted hunter herself. Urania is killed and Ned takes over Sylla’s training. A final scene reveals that Eugene was turned by his own father, once the greatest of vampire hunters, who remains at large, an enemy the others will one day have to face.

author’s comments:
This play emerged out of a strange, subconscious dream world that first manifested as drawings of the inn, and Sylla, and then as the short “Three Liars”, written my freshman year of college. Though the first draft of the play was completed in my late twenties, I did not return to the play until my mid thirties, when, based on the first act alone, I was offered a production by Otherworld Theatre Company. Over the next couple of months I would churn out several new drafts of the play, cutting a character, focusing the story, fleshing out the world of the play and the details of the society. It was always intended to be a mash-up of an un-apologetic gothic romance and an arch satire of the workplace comedy, but the premiere production took this unusual blend a step further by making it an immersive piece and staging it in five rooms of a beautiful, 19th century church in Chicago. Lead by a lantern wielding guide who was eventually revealed to be the missing Jacob, this first production was a truly unique experience, and I will probably never forget that first moment of walking into the candle-lit brothel, the door held open by Urania in white lace, and feeling like I was about to participate in something truly magical. Otherworld’s production without doubt influenced the final draft of the play, but the play can, of course, be staged as a proscenium show, and I think either way of doing it will have pros and cons, like any play so entrenched in its own world, moving by its own strange music. It is a dark fairy tale and a mystery and a character drama and an office comedy all at once, and I think it is a truly unique piece in my canon: autumnal, poetic, passionate, wry. And possibly due a sequel.

Productions:

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Otherworld Theatre Company, October 31, November 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2015, at Epworth United Methodist Church in Chicago, Illinois. Directed by Tiffany Keane; Assistant Director Shandee Vaughn; Production Manager Mindy Fay Parks; Lighting Design by David Goodman-Edberg; Sound Design by Joe Griffin; Costume Design by Erin Gallagher; Fight Choreography by Justin Verstraete. Cast: Brendan Stallings (Ned); Mary-Kate Arnold (Urania); Kai Young (Eugene); Grace Gimpel (Sylla); Victoria Hines (Hermia); Geno Walker (Raymond); Moira Begale (Philomenia); Justin Verstraete (Adolphe); Christian Isley (Jacob).

Mary-Kate Arnold as Urania in the Otherworld Theatre Company production.
Mary-Kate Arnold as Urania in the Otherworld Theatre Company production.