by Chris Chambers and Andy Rapps
A musical journey into the soul of a person who has had his view of
At the opening of Act One the captain of a ship, Don Pedro de Mendez, is reading in his cabin. A compassionate man, he ponders on how difficult it is to find a purpose in life ('Another Way'). His crew return from a desert island carrying a wounded man, strangely dressed and whinnying like a horse. They discover his name is Lemuel Gulliver and Don Pedro determines to help him recover his mind. Gulliver starts to recount his experiences to Don Pedro and the story moves to his family in London, before his travels began. It is 1714. His business has failed and he is forced to leave his wife and children to take up a position as a ship’s surgeon. The voyage is doomed and he is shipwrecked, washed up on a beach.
In the land of Lilliput, a council of war is in progress. The neighbouring country of Blefuscu is poised to attack, their navy anchored a mile offshore. These two great nations are engaged in a bitter conflict over which end of an egg one should crack. A Blefuscan scout has been captured and The Emperor reminds him of the reasons for this war ('The Story of The Egg'). Proceedings are interrupted by news of a giant man found washed up on the beach. There is panic and excitement as they discover Gulliver asleep there, his colossal body stretched across the sand ('Enormous').
The Lilliputian army stake him to the ground and he wakes, unable to move. Council members, Skyresh and Flimnap, discuss what should be done with this giant man. They argue he is dangerous and expensive to keep, but The Empress is very taken with him and tries to convince her husband to free him ('What a Man Like That Could Do'). Once Gulliver’s gigantic pistol is discovered and demonstrated ('The Inventory'), the Emperor agrees to free him if he will use this power against their enemy Blefuscu. If not, they will kill him. Gulliver has no choice but to wade out to sea and drag the enemy ships away ('Fifty Men Of War').
Having conquered The Blefuscan Fleet, Gulliver is awarded the title of Nardac – the highest honour in the land ('Nardac Ceremony'). Jealous of Gulliver’s popularity, Skyresh and Flimnap plot to set fire to the royal palace in a bid to consume him. Gulliver swiftly extinguishes the fire using “natural means”, but unwittingly drenches The Empress in the process. Humiliated and soiled, she turns against him, demanding along with the others that the 'giant man-mountain' be put to death. ('What a Man Like That Could Do' Reprise).
Gulliver wakes from a nightmare in Don Pedro’s cabin and relates how he escaped the Lilliputian’s poisonous intentions and made it back to London, to his wife and family, only to set sail again soon after on an even more astounding and unpredictable voyage.
In the land of Brobdingnag, it is harvest time and a farmer and his wife have sent their young daughter out to work in the fields ('Golden Corn'). She spots a tiny creature in the corn, rescues it and takes it home. Her spiteful parents shake it from the box onto the table and the tiny man revealed before their eyes introduces himself as Dr. Lemuel Gulliver. Seeing the opportunity to exploit this bizarre situation, the farmer and his wife force Gulliver to dance and sing on demand. He very quickly becomes the talk of the town and a lengthy tour show concludes with a command performance at the royal palace ('Happy Day').
The Queen is impressed, but concerned for Gulliver’s physical health. She offers to purchase the tiny man for an agreeable fee and asks that their daughter, Glumdalclitch, stay at the palace to care for him. The farmer and his wife leave significantly richer and Gulliver and Glumdalclitch become great friends ('My Little Man'). Gulliver quickly gains favour at court, mastering the spinet with his feet and chronicling undiscovered insect-life, but he faces terrible danger from The Queen’s Jester, a dwarf, who, jealous of Gulliver’s increasing popularity, follows him to the orchard and sets a shower of apples falling about his tiny head. The Queen rebukes The Dwarf and orders him to apologise, which he sincerely tries to do ('Making Amends'). But his gesture of a sweet cake attracts a swarm of wasps that nearly sting Gulliver to death. The Queen orders The Dwarf’s arrest and her household are quick to find him in the orchard, arguing with Glumdalclitch ('Orchard Sequence').
Cornered, he panics, grabbing the tiny Gulliver from Glumdalclitch and hurling him spontaneously from the cliff-top into the ocean before fleeing the scene. All exit in pursuit of The Dwarf, as The Queen comforts a grieving Glumdalclitch—her best friend, Gulliver, gone forever.
In Act Two Don Pedro has gained Gulliver’s trust and hears how Gulliver left his pregnant wife and family for a third time, taking up a lucrative job as Captain of The Adventure. Unlucky at sea, his captaincy is short-lived and his crew mutiny, setting him adrift in uncharted waters.
On the undiscovered flying island of Laputa, bizarre intellectuals mill around, jabbering to themselves, lost in mathematical conundrums ('How Does The Sun'). These Laputans survive in the air by demanding resources from the lands below, causing untold suffering. One of these lands is Lindalino, home to a passionate but ineffective resistance led by a spirited young woman called Gaia and her grandfather, Munodi. They are determined to gain equality for their people but their petitions are quashed by The King and his Academy - the country’s governing body. Into this land of unrest, Gulliver appears, winched up from the sea onto the flying island at the time of a major eclipse. Gaia interprets this as a heavenly sign and finds the opportunity to tell Gulliver of their sufferings and her plan to discredit the Academy that rules their lives. Gulliver recognises her sincerity and agrees to help. He manages to impress The King and gets permission to view The Academy at work. Gaia’s followers are overjoyed at Gulliver’s progress ('The Music of The Spheres') as is Gaia, whose kiss is recklessly returned by Gulliver, to his shame ... as, back In England, his wife, Mary, has had Gulliver’s third child. Following their unhappy parting she resolves to stand by her husband and wait for his return ('One Last Time').
Gulliver enters The Academy, finding it full of eccentrics, wasting resources on hopeless experiments with no benefit to anyone ('The Academy'). Using this information against Laputa brings Lindalino under attack. As the flying island approaches, Gaia professes her love for Gulliver. He sees how his actions have led her on and tries to make her understand that he cannot be with her. But the death of a key figure in the plan demands his immediate attention. The distraught Gaia runs off into the storm. Minutes later comes a change of fortune as Laputa begins to retreat. The people return triumphantly only to be greeted by Munodi carrying Gaia in his arms. She has been killed. A solemn procession carries her away, to Gulliver’s great distress.
Gulliver comes to his senses on the ship’s deck and Don Pedro tries to comfort him, but the memory of Gaia is too deep a pain.
Houyhnhnmland (pronounced 'Hoo-na-him Land')
Left to his thoughts, Gulliver enters Houyhnhnmland. He is attacked by wild ape-like creatures, until a horse – a sorrel nag – appears, which causes them to flee. The Sorrel Nag beckons him to follow and soon it becomes clear that in this land the horse is the master. Over a period of time, Gulliver learns the Houyhnhnm language and is drawn in to their peace-loving, non-materialistic ways. ('Hnuy Illa Nyha Maiah'). His past starts to blur as he begins to look at life differently. The Assembly has ruled that a Yahoo cannot reside in a Houyhnhnm house and that he will have to leave. Gulliver defends himself, arguing that he is not a Yahoo - that he can reason and create - but The Master Horse is adamant that he must not use their land to escape his troubles, that his purpose lies elsewhere. The Sorrel Nag pleads for Gulliver to stay, to no avail.
Don Pedro finds Gulliver sobbing on deck and his presence signals an angry response from Gulliver, denouncing the weakness and depravity of human beings. But Don Pedro offers an alternative view, of a Spirit in Man, of the power of perseverance and the importance of the quest to find a purpose in life ('Journey On'). Moved by Don Pedro’s compassion, Gulliver returns to the cabin.
Back in England, five years later, Gulliver’s eldest daughter Betty is visiting with a new addition to the family. She hears that her father still spends most of his time in the attic writing or in the stables, talking to the horses. Clearly obsessed by his travels, Gulliver is revealed in the attic writing a letter to his publisher. He opens the book he has written - 'Travels Into Several Remote Nations Of The World In Four Parts'. His imagination takes flight as the characters are freed from the page ('Attic Sequence'). The last figure to appear before him is Don Pedro, who reminds him to honour love in everything and continue to search for a perfect way to live ('Journey On' Reprise).
At the climax of Gulliver’s involvement in this vision, Mary enters the attic. Her distressed husband breaks down and opens up to her, wondering if she can see the figures standing before him. Calming him, she wipes his brow as Don Pedro and Gaia disappear from view. Mary’s quiet dignity, inner strength and understanding touch Gulliver profoundly and they leave the attic together, hand in hand, on the path to a better way.
See also the author's own 'Gulliver's Travels' website.
|1) Another Way||Don Pedro & Company|
|2) The Story Of The Egg||The Emperor & Lilliputian Court|
|3) Enormous||Clefren, Marsi, Skyresh, Gulliver & Company|
|4) What A Man Like That Could Do||Skyresh, Flimnap & Empress|
|5) The Inventory||Clefren, Marsi & Drunhlo|
|6) What A Man Like That Could Do (Reprise)||Emperor|
|7) Fifty Men Of War||Gulliver & Ships Chorus|
|8) One Little Flame||Skyresh & Flimnap|
|9) The Nardac Ceremony||Gulliver & Company|
|10) What A Man Like That Could Do (Reprise)||Skyresh, Flimnap, Emperor & Empress|
|11) Golden Corn||Mary & Betty, Reapers, Country Girls & Glumdalclitch|
|12) Happy Day||Farmer, Farmer’s Wife & Company|
|13) My Little Man||Glumdalclitch & Gulliver|
|14) Making Amends||Dwarf, Maids & Scholars|
|15) Orchard Sequence||Glumdalclitch, Queen, Dwarf & Company|
|~~ Interval ~~|
|17) One Last Time||Mary|
|18) How Does The Sun?||Laputans, Flappers, Gaia & The King|
|19) The Music Of The Spheres||Gaia, Gulliver & Dissenters|
|20) The Academy||Academy Members|
|21) The Music Of The Spheres (Reprise)||Gaia, Gulliver & Dissenters|
|22) Hnuy Nyha Maiah||The Horses|
|23) Hnuy Illa Nyha Maiah / Be Gentle||Sorrel Nag & Gulliver|
|24) Journey On||Gulliver & Don Pedro|
|25) Attic Sequence||Company|
|26) Journey On (Reprise)||Company|
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