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Mr Tilly’s Seance

A Vaudeville in 4 scenes

Music by Russell Plows
Duration: 25 minutes
Libretto after the short story by EF Benson

Mr Tilly's Seance

Scoring

10sax0/010/harp/perc/1101

Roles

MR TILLY, c.30 … Baritone
MADAME CUMBERBATCH, c.50 … Mezzo
MISS SOULSBY/MRS TALTON, c.30 … Soprano
MRS MERRIOTT/MRS INGLIS, c.40 … Mezzo
MR MERRIOTT, c.30 … Tenor
COMMANDER PLAICE, c.45 … Bass

Time and Place

1930s London

Synopsis

1 – Famous medium, Madame Cumberbatch, welcomes guests to her swanky parlour for an afternoon sitting including Mr & Mrs Merriott, a fashionable young couple and Commander Plaice a retired naval man. They await the attendance of Miss Soulsby, a beautiful young lady and Mister Tilly, a fussy but pleasant man-about-town.

2 – Mr Tilly has just been run over by a steam engine and a crowd has gathered to watch the aftermath. Mr Tilly laments wasted opportunities and attempts to communicate with Miss Soulsby as she passes by with modest success.

3 – Mr Tilly wills himself home and witnesses his cook and maid gossiping about his death. He is appalled at their impertinence and wills himself to the seance he was due to attend as a living being.

4 – The guests are irritable and impatient and they decide to start the seance without him. As Madame Cumberbatch welcomes her spirit guide, Mr Tilly realizes that she is a fraud and makes himself know to her. Astonished at her abilitites, the medium persuades Mr Tilly to speak to the guests through her and he later produces a star on the ceiling of the room for the benefit of Miss Soulsby. Realizing there is nothing to be gained by staying, Mr Tilly is delighted to discover that Cardinal Newman has come to conduct him to the afterlife. The guests leave and Madame Cumberbatch’s spririt guides watch her as she puts away the tools of her trade.