Tonight online we played Follow by Ben Robbins using the Show quest. We were a group of boarding house tenants that were putting on a show as a fundraiser to save their home. Our fellowship consists of Clarence, the washed-up former star; Imogene, a delusional wanna-be star; Victor, the insecure costumer; Leena, the amateur make-up artist; and Mark, the pretentious author of the play. While full of spirit and enthusiasm to put this play together, the odds are stacked against the fellowship as they have a very limited budget and no one has real experience putting a play together.
Our story opens with Imogene approaching Mark, as she is rehearsing her lines and has trouble following the plot of the play. Mark insists that the issue is her as she has not immersed herself into the story and that is why she fails to see the link between frogs, light, demonic comas and exorcism that the play revolves around.
Meanwhile, young Victor is sent to speak to Lady Winthrope, a renowned patron of the arts, to procure some funding for the set and for the costumes of the play. Lady Winthrope wants to know more about this production to see if she is interested in sponsoring this endeavor, however Victor, who is very shy and insecure, struggles at explaining what the play is about. Luckily, he does manage to convince her that the play is a very avant-garde performance worth looking into.
Back at the boardinghouse, which happens to be a dilapidated Victorian mansion, Mark and Mickey, the stage hand, are in the living room, trying to figure out how to create a set. Mark is obsessed with having a water element in the middle of the living room, I mean, the stage. He wants something grandiose, reminiscing of the fountains at Lady Winthrope’s garden. Mickey manages to procure a tub and places it as directed, even though he is worried about getting the living room carpet wet and moldy. Mickey also gives some good plot ideas to Mark to give more direction to the play, but Mark dismisses his ideas.
The next day, Clarence, Leena and Mark are going over the lines once more. Clarence is disappointed by the lack of action his character sees during the 4th act. Mark reminds him that that is normal as his character is dead during that whole act and does not resuscitate until the 5th and final act. During the 4th act, he is supposed to only be off screen and howl from the grave at the end of each scene. Leena, who is filling up for Monica, suggests changing Clarence’s make-up during that act so he can be on stage… and she also does a great job at reading the lines, as she understands the game of light and darkness that the script calls for.
The next week, the troupe has to put together a rehearsal for Lady Winthrope as she comes to see the play. She is surprised by the very ‘creative’ decor that has been used to create the stage using drapes, mats and curtains based on what was available at the boarding-house.
Clarence and Imogene start the play with a very fiery scene where Imogene’s character demands more and more light… and Marilla who is backstage, obliges and brings her an ever increasing amount of candles. Clarence starts a monologue centered on darkness. But this is Imogene’s time to shine and she bursts back into the scene walking on a tightrope while holding candles on each hand and on her headband. The scene ends with Imogene falling into the tub, preventing any fire from spreading further.
The play continues with Leena and Clarence doing the awakening from the demonic comma scene. Clarence’s character is using light to awaken Leena’s character. Light, sparks, embers, ILLUMINATION! She awakes! But the darkness has been too much and is no longer herself. The darkness has consumed her soul and can no longer bear the sight of the light. Darkness, shadows, obscurity befall the stage. It turns out that Leena starts improvising her lines instead of reciting Mark’s verbose ones making it more enjoyable and fluid.
In the end Lady Winthrope is not impressed by the show and leaves the mansion as soon as she can as she feels like she wasted part of her life watching this absurdist performance and got her fine silk robes ruined by the splashes from the tub. Mark feels betrayed and leaves the boarding-house, as word got out that the better part of the play was the portion improvised by Leena.
The boarding house closes soon after as its financial situation became untenable and the show without the backing of Lady Winthrope was unable to raise many funds. The fellowship disbands but the members move on. Leena finds herself drawn into proper theater and becomes an acclaimed mainstream theater actress. Victor finds a friendly soul with Marilla, the daughter of the boarding house owner. Imogene joins a traveling circus where she can further develop her acrobatic (and play with fire in a safer environment). Clarence embraces slapstick comedy and creates a public improv troupe. Mark continues working on his masterpiece and is constantly approaching local theaters and troupes to perform his piece.