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Curtain Call is an audio drama produced by Big Finish Productions, released in January 2014. Leticia Faye, a music hall singer and psychic, finds herself embroiled with the mysterious showman Joshua King and his new religion.
"I stepped off the stage-and floated towards the heavens..."
Former mind reader Leticia Faye thought her music hall days were behind her - but charismatic preacher Joshua King has other ideas.
With little persuasion, Leticia becomes part of King's act; magic mixed with a rabble-rousing call for revolution.
Leticia enjoys the limelight, but is soon plagued by glimpses of a terrifying future.
Is King's 'gospel' all it seems to be? And what 'role' does he really want her to play?
- The year is 1857, and for Leticia Faye, or rather Leticia Collins, the days of reading minds in music halls are long gone. They are a memory as distant as Collinwood itself. She now lives in New York with Desmond, and all would seem to be well. But, her husband's work takes him away from her for weeks at a time, leaving her adrift on the choppy seas of polite society. And for a woman of her pedigree, appearing respectable is no easy task.
Leticia Faye is having elocution lessons in an attempt to fit in with the lifestyle of her husband, Desmond Collins, who is currently away on business. As Leticia continues to struggle, she experiences vision of a wartorn future, in which she is huddled underground with a child who claimes to be her daughter. In the growing confusion, she loses hold of of the child, much to Leticia's distress.
Having passed out, Leticia is awakened by her teacher. Upon realizing what happened she becomes irritated, rushes off, and ends up amongst a riot. She becomes outranged to find a police officer striking a seemingly innocent young boy. As she strikes the officer back, a man named Joshua King appears on the scene, claiming to be her husband. He swiftly escorts her away, and they end up at locked building, to which they easily gain entry. Inside, he explains about the recent rioting taking place in the area, and mentions the time he spent in London, which sparks Leticia's interest; she realizes they are backstage at a music hall and that Joshua is a preacher turned magician. He will be soon giving his next performance there, and so he invites her to stay and watch.
Initially, the audience jeer Joshua's act as talks boringly about religion, but the theatrics of the performance soon command their attention, which also impresses Leticia. He plays on their sympathies regarding the recent tragedy of SS Central America in which many lives were lost. The crowd begin to whoop and cheer as Joshua speaks of change and revolution. As a demonstration, he calls Leticia to the stage, much to her surprise. He causes her to experience a vision of the future. She marvels at scenes of automobiles, underground tunnels, televisions and airplanes, but becomes disturbed as the little girl appears, who once again claims to be her daughter. Leticia pleads for the vision to end. She faints.
Later, backstage, Joshua congratulates Leticia on her convincing 'performance'. Noticing the lateness of the hour, she decides she must return home as her absence will be noticed. He asks if he can see her again, but she is initially reluctant to continue the acquaintance. As Joshua hails a hansom cab for Leticiae, he tells of how he'll be moving on at the end of the week, giving her his current address should she want to get in contact. Leticia reflects on how she enjoyed being back on stage, but remembers the promise she made to Desmond about how she had left her life in music halls behind.
The next morning, Leticia pays a visit to a Mr. Winegard, an old acquaintance from her music hall days who now owns a high-class theatre. She convinces the man to add Joshua to the playbill. Upon visiting his first performance there, she soon finds herself roped in as part of his act in which she seemingly floats about.
Afterwards, Leticia delights in a successful performance. She and Joshua drink to their partnership, and then head out to celebrate. They end up at a carnival, where he expresses distaste at a freak show. They then take a ride on the carousel, during which Leticia experiences another vision where she lost amongst a busy crowd, a parade is taking place of caged people dressed in rags, and onlookers throw things at them. An airplane flies overhead. Leticia is experiencing the events of the year 1863. The girl claiming to Leticia's daughter appears again, who is getting crushed amongst an overflowing crowd.
Back at the carnival, Joshua awakens Leticia, having fainted again. They share a polite kiss, but she becomes uncomfortable upon the realization that they've been seen together by one of Desmond's gossipy friends, that of Harriet Chesterfield. Leticia decides to return home. As Joshua walks with her, they discuss her husband, her life back in Collinsport, which he claims to be unfamiliar with, and how she is going to deal with the inevitable gossip of being seen out with Joshua.
The next morning, Leticia summons Joshua to her place of residence, much to his surprise, apparently he believed their acquaintance to be at an end. She shows him a newspaper, he reads:
- Noted philanthropist and business man, Arthur Chesterfield, and his wife Harriet died in a fire at their Central Park residence late last night. The couple was believed to be sleeping when the blaze began, and by the time neighbors had alerted the fire department it had engulfed the property.
Leticia suggests Joshua's involvement, but he claims innocence. He continues to read, noting the likely culprit:
- Also found at the scene was the body of a man believed to be a tenant from one of Mr. Chesterfield properties.
Upon learning that Desmond won't be returning for a few more days, Joshua refuses to leave Leticia alone at the mercy of her overbearing housekeeper, and invites her to join him upstate at a friend's rural retreat.
As they set off on their journey, Joshua offers Leticia another alcoholic beverage, which she happily accepts, but notices its potency. He malevolently sniggers as he recalls the vision Leticia experienced of the future, and makes it clear that he is well acquainted with her history as a mentalist, it was no accident that they met when they did. She orders the driver to stop, but starts to feel faint due to sedative he has put in her drink which causes her to pass out.
Joshua wakes Leticia and she cries out for help, but her cries go unheard by all except her captor. Holding her gunpoint, she instantly realizes he has returned her to Collinwood, and that he was responsible for the deaths of the Chesterfield's fearing interference in his scheme to ensnare Leticia. As they approach the mansion, they observe Quentin Collins leaving, who she is unable to call out to.
Once inside, Joshua has Leticia lead him to the Quentin's famed Stairway into Time, which Joshua intends to use to discover the secrets of the future, and return to the present where he can use the knowledge to his own advantage. However, they find the stairway in ruins, as previously destroyed by Desmond, much to Joshua's dismay. Desperately, he forces Leticia to access the path created by the stairway through the power of her visions. She causes a bright swirling portal to open, but finds it difficult to control. The voice of the little girl claiming to be her daughter again calls out to her, but soon, the intensity of the experience causes Leticia to pass out.
Sometime later, Leticia awakens still at the scene of the staircase, however Joshua is nowhere to be found. She immediately journeys back home to New York, where she is greeted by news of Desmond's imminent return. As she makes her way to meet her husband at the docks, she encounters Joshua, now a crotchety old man. She reveals how she deliberately caused him to be sent backwards in time, rather than forwards, by forty years. Promptly, a missionary appears on scene to take the senile Joshua back to the institute from which he has escaped. Joshua vows to return, determined to claim his glorious future.
Leticia reflects on her experience at the stairway, she recalls the dead face of an old acquaintance, one which features prominently in the future, that of Gerard Stiles.
- Nancy Barrett as Leticia Faye
- Peter Brooke as Joshua King
- Sheila Steafel as Henrietta Frobisher
- Greg Patmore as Ned Porter
- Jade Sowersby as Alice Collins
- James Lawrence as Patrick Kincaid
- Barra Collins as James Samuels
- John Chancer as Albert Brown
- Alan Flanagan as William Flannery
- Michael Shon as Norman Wicks
- Joe Johnsey as George Croker
- James Storm as Gerard Stiles
Background information and notes
- This production was recorded in Bakerboys Music, New York, and at RNIB, London.
- After the closing credits, there is a teaser from The Harvest of Souls featuring Kathryn Leigh Scott as Maggie Evans.
- Also included are trailers for The Poisoned Soul, The Fall of the House of Trask and London's Burning.
- James Storm as Gerard Stiles can be heard briefly during the climax of story. At the end of the final track, this dialogue can be heard without sound effects: "Forgive me, I wasn't myself". This character features prominently in Carriage of the Damned.
- The elocution lessons undertaken by Leticia, mirror similar scenes from the George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion in which Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl, takes speech lessons so that she may pass as a well-born lady.
- Harriet Chesterfield is one of Desmond Collins' friends, who Leticia feels ridicules their marriage behind his back. Harriet's husband, Arthur is a slum landlord. It is implied that Harriet is an alcoholic. They were killed on Joshua's orders by one of their disgruntled tenants.
- Leticia hasn't experienced a vision in years.
- Leticia mentions a park that has recently been built in Manhatten, a reference to Central Park which first opened 1857.
- Joshua mentions the newspaper coverage reporting the sinking of the SS Central America, in which over 400 people died. This real word event occurred on September 9, 1857. The ship sank in a hurricane along with 425 people and 30,000 pounds of gold on board, contributing to the Panic of 1857.
- Leticia overbearing housekeeper is known as "Mrs. B".
- James Samuels, the driver of Leticia's hansom cab, is likely to be an ancestor of Matthew Samuels, the train conductor in the year 1973 who previously appeared in The Enemy Within and The Lucifer Gambit. Both roles are played by Barra Collins.
- Leticia gives the address of her New York residence as Upper West Side, Bloomingdale Road.
- James Buchanan is mentioned as being the current President of the United States.
- Leticia has a cousin named Daisy, whose daughters are Pansy, who first appeared in 771, and Rosie, who first appeared in London's Burning. Pansy, possessing the character of Charity Trask, would also be played by Nancy Barrett from 804.
- Joshua mentions the time when Desmond shot Gerard Stiles, which occurred in 1197.
- The stairway into time is discovered to still be in its destroyed state, as seen in 1198. Joshua speculates that an ancient force is connected with its construction.