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Music & Lyrics by Douglas Hicton
Book by Richard Lawton & Douglas Hicton

Studio demo production, 2010


After the opening music (“INTRODUCTION”) the play opens on a garden bench. An Old Man is telling a younger man (Francis) his troubles. Francis is not listening. Instead, his attention is focused on a young woman (Jane) who walks through the scene. This prompts Francis to interrupt the Old Man and launch into his own story. Setting the scene, he takes us back to his home town (“HOLSTENWALL”). Townspeople enter (“VENDORS”) and soon Oktoberfest is in full swing in Holstenwall (“HOI HOI ZICKY ZACKY”). 

Francis pays a visit to his rebellious, somewhat flamboyant friend Alan, who has a penchant for wearing truly ugly cravats. Alan tells him something of his philosophy of life and personal style (“WINDMILL SONG”), and the two set off for the Oktoberfest celebration.

Jane is standing on a street corner having a forbidden cigarette, when her father Dr Olsen passes by and almost catches her smoking. When Jane leaves, Dr Olsen next meets up with a sinister-looking man in a ratty cape and top hat (Caligari), who asks him the way to the town office, as he has a sideshow at the fair and needs to get a permit. Dr Olsen warns Caligari that the Chief Clerk is in a foul mood because of all the Oktoberfest-related paperwork, and the two exchange cards, or at least try to. Dr Olsen exits. Caligari runs into Francis and Alan—literally—and is knocked flat. An angry Caligari makes his way to the town office and falls prey to the whims of bureaucratic clerks (“WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO?”). 

At the Olsen home, Jane is sitting doing needlework and bemoaning her situation as a free-spirited woman forced into a subservient societal role. She wants to be a doctor like her father, but he pooh-poohs the idea. He suggests that she concentrate on domestic duties and catching a husband, which is absolutely the last thing she wants (“DECISION SONG”). 

Late that evening, the Chief Clerk is murdered and his trussed-up body lands with a thud next to a whore, who is understandably rattled. Caligari has set up his caravan and tents at the fair. A crowd gathers and Caligari sets to work, inviting them in to see his exhibit, a somnambulist in a box who can tell the future (“THE CABINET OF DR CALIGARI”).  

Francis and Alan are among the spectators, and Alan disrupts Caligari’s show. Caligari suggests that Alan ask the somnambulist, Cesare, what the future holds. Alan asks Cesare how long he will live, and Cesare tells Alan that he will die by the next morning. A shaken Alan is escorted out by Francis. On their way back to Alan’s flat, the two encounter Jane, whom they both love. She enthralls them with the simple smoking of a cigarette (“YOU DO THAT VERY WELL”).

Francis and Alan deliver her to her door and go on their way. Once Francis leaves, Alan prepares for bed. As he sleeps, a shadowy figure steals into his bedroom and decapitates Alan with his own cravat, and then runs off with the head. The next morning, Francis pops by to take Alan out for another day of fair-going and makes a gruesome discovery. At his caravan, Caligari congratulates himself on the quick dispatching of Alan. Meanwhile, Francis is having no luck convincing the very lazy police to take their job seriously and track down Alan’s killer. A suspicious-looking man is sneaking through the streets, mouse in hand, calling “Puss puss puss puss puss…” It is the Old Man from the beginning of the play. He goes through an open door and an alarm is raised. He is set upon by an angry crowd who suspect him of being the murderer.

At his caravan the next morning, Caligari revels in his very special relationship with his Man-in-a-Box Cesare (“THIS MERRY, USEFUL LIFE”), also noting that he’s almost out of the potion he uses to keep Cesare dormant. 

They are visited by the Chief Inspector, Dr Olsen, and Francis, who demand to see Cesare and question him about the murders. A villager enters and tells them all that the murderer has been caught. The police are having a high old time torturing the Old Man back at the police station (“WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO?” Reprise). Francis, Dr Olsen, and the Chief Inspector arrive and vouch for the Old Man’s character, and the thugs let him go. Francis is still convinced that Caligari and Cesare are responsible for the murders. 

Jane, troubled by her father’s absence, visits Caligari’s caravan to see if Dr Olsen has been there. Caligari, all honeyed smiles, invites her in for a private viewing of Cesare. As he is at the sideboard, he notices that Cesare is trying to say something to Jane. He grabs her arm and demands to know what Cesare told her, and she runs off in fear.

“THAT NIGHT”, Jane sleeps fitfully because of the events of the past few days. Meanwhile, Francis sits vigil outside Caligari’s caravan, keeping tabs on Cesare’s movements. Peering into the window, he sees Caligari sleeping in a chair while Cesare appears to be laid out in the reclining cabinet. But he’s not in the cabinet. He snakes through the streets before arriving at the Olsen home, having been sent there by Caligari to kill Jane. He enters Jane’s bedroom via the window, and just as he’s about to plunge a knife into her heart, he begins to come out of his stupor. As he looks down on the sleeping beauty, something else stirs in him. He slings Jane over his shoulder and escapes through the broken window. 


An angry mob has assembled to hunt down Cesare, while Francis remains relatively vigilant outside Caligari’s caravan and Cesare, growing rather tired from carrying the unconscious Jane, is desperately looking for a way to escape (“THE CHASE”). Dr Olsen rushes in to where Francis is waiting and tells him that Cesare has kidnapped Jane. Nonsense, says Francis -- Cesare hasn’t budged from the cabinet all night. They knock on the caravan door and demand to see Cesare yet again. Caligari is not happy about this, but they barge in and drag the cabinet outside. They discover that “Cesare” is actually a rather clever dummy. But Caligari has escaped, so Francis gives chase. 

He follows Caligari to a hospital for the insane, where he meets his old school chums, now whitecoats at the asylum, and he fills them in on what has been happening. They insist that they have never encountered a patient called Caligari, but Francis is adamant that he must see the asylum director. Guess what? The director is Caligari, who denies any knowledge of the murders. Francis has to be restrained and removed from Caligari’s office. He insists that the man is Caligari, and tries to get the whitecoats on his side by starting up a chorus of the old “SCHOOL SONG”. A villager rushes on to say they’re very close to finding Cesare. This convinces the whitecoats that Francis is telling the truth, and they promise to help. 

Meanwhile, Cesare has stopped to rest in the forest (“CESARE AND JANE”). He tries to get Jane to wake up, even threatening to bash her head in with a rock. To prove he isn’t bluffing, he lifts the rock over his head with a loud grunt, and Jane, wishing to keep her brains in her head, suddenly admits that she was awake all the time, looking for a chance to escape. Cesare tells her of how for years Caligari has kept him in thrall with a potion rendering him incapable of disobedience, and that he doesn’t remember anything of his evil deeds except for his victims’ echoing screams that crash through his head. Jane takes pity on Cesare and holds him as the angry mob, including Francis, rush on. 

Francis clubs Cesare to death; Jane snaps and refuses ever to have anything to do with Francis from then on. (“NOW I’LL NEVER KNOW”).

That night, in Caligari’s office, Francis and the whitecoats stumble across Caligari’s diary, which explains why Caligari turned out the way he did (“YOU MUST BECOME CALIGARI!”). 

Caligari, caught dead to rights, is confronted by Francis, Dr Olsen, and the others, who present him with the lifeless body of Cesare. Caligari goes mad with grief (“CALIGARI’S LAMENT”), and is straitjacketed and thrown into a cell. Back at the bench, Francis concludes his story to the Old Man, and the two make their way to lunch. The scene widens to show that they are actually in the asylum, surrounded by mad people who populated Francis’s story (“MAD SCENE”). It turns out that Francis and the Old Man are also inmates. Suddenly, the kindly, dapper asylum director enters and Francis goes crazy. Once again, the director is Caligari. Francis is bundled into a straitjacket. Caligari stands over him with a fresh bottle of potion and says to the audience, “I hope Francis hasn’t been too much trouble.” A wicked grin plays across his face as the play ends. 

Book by Ken Mitchell, based on the novel Sarah Binks
, by Paul Hiebert
Music by Douglas Hicton
Lyrics by Paul Hiebert

CBC Radio production, 4 October 2002
Opening/The Farmer Is King 
Sarah's Beginnings 
Gryczlkaeiouc Symphony I 
Gryczlkaeiouc Symphony II 
The Henry Welkin Period I 
The Henry Welkin Period II 
Despond Not 
Fame and Death 

Music & Lyrics by Douglas Hicton
Book by Richard Lawton

1 Overture: MoTel Records 
2 Please 
3 Dead Song 
4 Cry of the Anti-Intellectual 
5 Do I Know You? 
6 Dear Ma 
7 You Are My Idea of a Good Time 
8 Andrea 
9 A House with Too Many Rooms 
10 Tirade 
11 I Can't Do Anything Right 
12 Malaise 
13 Do I Know You? (Reprise) 
14 But to See Her 
15 Excuses 
16 One Day, Maybe 
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