THE UNSEEN WORLD
(formerly "My Blue Heaven")
(c) 2019, Ira Marlowe/Slow Reveal Music (BMI)
Click on song titles to hear preliminary demos and read lyrics.
THE UNSEEN WORLD is a new original musical involving schizophrenia, parallel dimensions, and a mythical invention by Nikola Tesla.
"If Philip K. Dick, Sylvia Plath and Mel Brooks collaborated on a musical,
this is what you might get."
KATIE, a high-strung woman in her twenties, stands before the audience. "What you’re about to see... people keep telling me it didn’t really happen." She's experiencing the early symptoms of schizophrenia but hopes it means her mind, like the universe, is simply expanding. She explains that she's recently returned from the dead.
BLUE LIGHT fills the stage. Enter GODARD, LEE and MORGAN. Wearing blue jumpsuits and police hats, their faces distorted by nylon masks, they sing "COUNT YOURSELF LUCKY": after millennia of lies and distortions, the truth about the afterlife will finally be revealed.
In a San Francisco mental ward we meet BRYCE , a self-impressed classical musician who's flown from New York to check on his younger sister. Dressed in a hospital smock, her nose bandaged, Katie sings "SOMETHING HAPPENED", recounting her recent suicide attempt. Her life was saved by HALO, a mysterious street person who spoke of utopian alternate dimensions -- and a secret machine that can take people there. Katie, who dropped out of a physics program, is fixated on this idea and pleads with Bryce to sign her out. Bryce refuses -- until he learns that one of the voices Katie's been hearing is that of RALPHIE, his former fiancee, killed only two days before.
In a stage awash with BLUE LIGHT we meet salt-of-the-earth Ralphie, confused about a voice mechanically repeating, "Stage One". He sees the audience and asks them what they're all staring at. After he sings "LAST THING I REMEMBER" he's greeted by DIERDRE, a corporate shill who breaks into "BLUE, BLUE HEAVEN", joined by two fellow "Developers". Dierdre congratulates Ralph on escaping the "monumental mess" that is the Earth. Ralphie asks what's next but gets no answer.
Katie and Bryce arrive at the apartment of PEARL, a former bus driver now operating as a psychic. They've been told she has the coveted machine Halo wants to reclaim, but Pearl denies this in "A BRIEF ARGUMENT" . Katie's shares her hunger to visit other realms, while Bryce is hoping to contact Ralphie. Pearl cautions them with "THE UNSEEN WORLD", but finally agrees to hypnotize Katie -- to help her make peace with her disturbing inner voices. "In Africa," Pearl explains, "people like you are revered in their communities". The lighting fades as Katie drifts into a trance.
In BLUE HEAVEN, Ralphie is confronted by the trio of singing cops we met earlier. Reveling in their sadism, they grill Ralph for information in "THE WORST OF THE WORST". But when they move in to finally torture him they're called off by the returning Dierdre, who orders them to escort Ralphie to "Stage Two". As they're leaving, they hear a mysterious voice: Katie, calling to Ralphie -- "leakage" from some other plane. Ralph tries to respond but the cops plug the leak and then drag Ralph off to his mysterious Stage Two.
Back in Pearl's apartment Katie is comatose, Bryce is frantic, while Pearl works at damage control. The lights dim and flicker as she and Bryce trade barbs with the song, "CRACKS". Bryce wants to call 911 but his phone has died. Something strange is clearly going on. We learn that Katie is not Bryce's actual sister, but adopted after a long string of foster homes, obsessed with finding her true mother. After Bryce agrees to wait a bit longer before seeking help, Pearl pulls out some bourbon and says she has something to show him.
We find Katie in THE GREEN ZONE , a world of ugly voices pecking at her every weakness. From somewhere, she hears Ralphie voice -- more leakage. Crying out for him, she's instead meets Halo, outraged she hasn't retrieved the machine from Pearl, which now claims was designed by Nikola Tesla. In SLIPPIN' AROUND he explains why he needs it: to navigate the cosmos and avoid randomly slipping from plane to plane owing to heavy drug use. As the evil voices mount, Halo feels an episode coming on. Katie grabs hold of him and, after a convulsive audio/visual transition, they find themselves in THE PURPLE PLACE. A gushing man approaches them and invites them to a Jello-O party! Halo suspects they've now found the world of pure love and the two walk off with LANCE.
Pearl and Bryce, clearly feeling the effects of the bourbon, toy with a crude antique Pearl bought off the street from a junkie. Sci-fi computer? The thing does not even plug in! But when Bryce absently turns the crank he discovers a pure musical tone. They watch the gadget's lights flash in response to certain notes they sing, experimenting with harmonies until they manage to trigger its power. A wild audio/visual display explodes as they cling to each other in terror, frozen in time. The COPS return to close out the first act with "HEY THERE, WATCHERS!"
Katie talks to the audience about a famous thought experiment, then sings, "SCHRODINGER'S CAT"
Back in BLUE HEAVEN, Developers and Cops share "A TRUE UTOPIAN REALM"--personally designed by God, a Blue Heaven resident they see "on a fairly regular basis". In Blue Heaven, the new dead are carefully sorted, with only the most violent and repugnant being reincarnated. Those who remain get to enjoy the primal show down in "Full Spectrum". "You got no conflict, you got no drama / You got no drama, you got no viewers / But we know who to send to the sewers!" But before "the worst of the worst" can return to the world we know, they must serve a stint in law enforcement.
When we catch up with Pearl and Bryce we find them all alone, lost in an empty RED ZONE. Bryce calls out for Ralphie to know avail. He's convinced this must be hell -- and he so richly deserves it. Singing "GOODNESS", he confesses a recent affair with another player from the Philharmonic. Bryce fears that Ralphie knew of his affair and deliberately stepped in front of a car. Pearl notices the box coming to life in response to Bryce's anguish, so she eggs him on toward greater and greater guilt. Finally the lights and sound go wild and they're transported to Blue Heaven. An alarm quickly sounds and Pearl and Bryce are apprehended by cops, who confiscate the Tesla Box.
Ralphie is being escorted by the cop Morgan -- to stand before his "death panel". They stop en route and Ralphie tries to learn more about the Blue Heaven cops in general, and this one cop in particular. He shares a song expressing his gratitude for A MIRACLE -- his love affair with Bryce. The cop's response is disturbing.
It's a party in The Purple Place! In "the vortex of all that is good", Jell-O is served as a talentless woman croons over an out-of-tune guitar. When the smiley ROD sings, "YOU'RE A PURPLE GIRL NOW", joined by LANCE, their smarmy intentions become clear. Katie is groped from all directions while Halo, eager to join the action, is shunned. As he bitterly complains, his voice grows higher and higher, an indication that he's about to "slip". Katie fights off the sexual tangle and grapples onto Halo as they're transported. Arriving in Blue Heaven, Katie's disgusted with Halo (whom she'd seen as an oddball spirit guide) and with the universe itself, clearly just assorted versions of hell. In the middle of her rant an alarm blares and they're seized by the cops.
Blue Heaven, which for millennia has successfully "moved all their trouble down below," has now been invaded by four living humans! The horror! Developers and Cops sing, "RIGHT WAY / WRONG WAY" expressing their outrage and revealing a drastic solution: the captured invaders will all get The Pump, a machine that not only removes all life force, but any record or memory that their lives ever happened.
Pearl and Bryce are locked in adjoining cells, defined by BLUE LIGHT. Pearl suspects the cops might not be as dangerous as they appear, but Bryce is unconvinced. Enter Godard and Lee singing "LISTEN UP". They want to escape to "full spectrum" and demand that Bryce demonstrate the Tesla Box. Pearl butts in with a clever ruse, insisting the box won't function without Katie's biometrics. Bryce insists they can't leave until they find Ralphie. At gunpoint, Pearl and Bryce are led away.
We find Katie in a cell of her own, beside another that clearly held Halo before his inevitable "slip". Despondent, Katie sings "THIS IS ALL WE GET". She now believes her mother abandoned her out of a kindness--to prepare her for the despair all humans suffer in a meaningless universe. Just as the song ends, she's dragged offstage by cops.
The climactic scene finds Ralphie before the Developers as they size up his entertainment value. He's still singing, "MY LIFE IN ROCK 'N' ROLL" when two cops drag in a defiant Katie, slated for The Pump. When Ralphie learns about this pump he insists they use it on him and not Katie--so his beloved Bryce won't remember him and can move on. Soon Pearl and Bryce join the fray and chaos ensues -- to the point where divine intervention is required. The imperious GOD appears and when Katie confronts her, God responds with the caustic "YOU'RE FREE". But this haughty woman is soon revealed by Pearl to be a fraud -- merely the puppet of some unknown employer. Wait! Enter Halo, now insisting that he is God! He sings, "I'M DONE!" and reveals at that he's obtained the manual to Tesla Box and intends to use it to "re-boot" the entire Universe. Back to zero! A new big bang! Gotta be better, right? Halo tries to enlist the cast to sing the specific notes required. When they refuse, he turns to the audience for help with this monumental re-genesis. Lights go crazy! Sounds go wild! One more surprise is revealed just before it all fades to nothingness.
Katie takes the stage a final time, again wearing a hospital smock. Doctors are saying she's deluded, insisting she never even left the ward. And though she believes there's a dark conspiracy to suppress the truth, it's been explained away with a new take on her illness: paranoid psychosis. In answer, she sings "I GUESS I BELIEVE", gradually joined by the entire company. The song is a plea for wisdom and sanity in an increasingly mad and maddening world.