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Extended Synopsis

 

ACT I

 

Scene 1: Dr. Raymond’s Laboratory. Dr. Raymond has invited his friend Clarke, a socialite, to his residence to inform him that he has succeeded in achieving an operation that will allow a patient to “see the Great God Pan”. Clarke agrees to witness the operation at Raymond’s request. Raymond has chosen his ward, Mary, to be the recipient of the procedure. As Raymond prepares his lab, Clarke falls asleep and dreams of the Other World, where he hears a strange woman’s voice beckoning to him. He awakens to see that Mary has arrived. Raymond talks Mary through a prepared meditation, and after anesthetizing her, performs the operation. Clarke, queasy from what he observes, passes out and once again sees foreboding visions of the Other World. When he comes back to consciousness, he finds that the operation has been completed, and Mary has become mentally incompetent.

 

Scene 2: Clarke’s Office. Twenty years have passed since the incident at Raymond’s, and during that time, Clarke has been compiling accounts to create his “Memoir to Prove the Existence of the Devil”. He adds a story to the memoir about a young girl, Helen Vaughan, who was brought by a hooded stranger to the Welsh village of Caermaen. As the years pass, Helen reportedly causes a series of mysterious happenings in the town. She is said to have spent all her days in the woods, traumatizes a young boy (Trevor) to the point of death, and brings about the violation and disappearance of her best friend Rachel. It is in reviewing the story that Clarke realizes that an evil force may very well be on Earth.

 

Scene 3: Villiers’ Parlor Room. Villiers, a detective, is playing cards with his confidant Austin, a woman who dresses and lives as a man. They have invited Clarke to Villiers’ house to ask his opinion on several recent strange events. When Clarke arrives, Villiers tells him that he has run into an old friend named Herbert, who has become a vagrant. When asked how he has fallen so low, Herbert tells Villiers of his marriage to a women who has corrupted him in the most disturbing of fashions, leaving him penniless and shunned by society. Austin then tells Clarke about a homicide that happened directly in front of the now-former house where the Herberts were residing. Villiers then tells Clarke that he went to investigate the empty residence, and found many disturbing papers, including a drawing of Mrs. Herbert, who Clarke perceives at first to be Mary. Villiers also tells Clarke that soon after his encounter with Herbert, the beggar was found dead due to starvation. Clarke, disturbed, leaves quickly, warning Villiers and Austin to take no further steps into this investigation, lest they come to certain danger.

 

 

ACT II

 

Scene 1: Ashley Street. Shaken after Clarke’s retreat, Villiers and Austin stroll down Ashley Street and stop in front of the house of a Mrs. Beaumont, the newest toast of London. In that very same house, Mrs. Beaumont is posing for the artist Arthur Meyrick. In his drunken state, Meyrick falls under her charms, and begins to see a world of which the lady has just been describing. His visions of the other world drive him to take his own life. Soon after, London comes under a rash of suicides. In Villiers’ Parlor Room, Austin arrives and tells Villiers of her friend Meyrick’s suicide, and how alarmed she has become of the recent events that are plaguing the city. Austin shows Villiers a sketch of Mrs. Beaumont that she found in Meyrick’s portfolio. That, along with the news that Villiers witnessed another recent suicide victim leaving Mrs. Beaumont’s house the night of his death, leads the duo to the realization that Mrs. Beaumont and Mrs. Herbert are indeed Helen Vaughan.

 

Scene 2: House on Ashley Street. Helen prays to Pan to aid her in her quest to bring paradise to earth, and to help free mankind of the puritanical shackles in which they have been placed. Meanwhile, in Clarke’s Office, Villiers and Austin have come to Clarke with everything they have learned. Villiers has now been reading Clarke’s “Memoir to Prove the Existence of the Devil”, and through what he reads, is now certain of what he has suspected: Helen Vaughan has been the malicious force behind all of these disturbingly tragic events. Villiers, Austin, and Clarke all decide to go to the House on Ashley Street and confront Helen with an ultimatum: kill herself, as all of her victims have, or face being exposed. Helen gives in to their demands and hangs herself.

 

Scene 3: Epilogue. Clarke writes to Dr. Raymond describing Helen’s death, a series of transformations from male to female to beast. He has succeeded in proving the existence of evil, but at what cost? Austin and Villiers recall their journey to Caermaen, the place of Helen’s upbringing, to see the place of the tragic events that they read of in Clarke’s memoir. Once there, they find an old Roman pillar that was found in the woods where Helen cavorted with unseen things. On the pillar, transcribed by Flavius Senilis, was an ode to the Great God Nodens, exalting “the marriage which he saw beneath the shade”. Dr. Raymond then responds to Clarke’s letter, telling him that everything he has told him is not at all a surprise. It was Raymond who was the hooded stranger that abandoned Helen in Caermaen. Raymond then reveals that Helen is Mary’s daughter, the result of Mary’s union with the Great God Pan.

 

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