|Gilbert > Plays > The Happy Land > Synopsis
SYNOPSISby Andrew Crowther
As in The Wicked World, the scene is Fairyland, which floats over the earth on the back of a cloud. A group of female fairies looks down on the mortal world, particularly on that part of it where three of their brother fairies are "expressing their detestation of the wickedness of the world in a Parisian quadrille". The watching fairies suspect that their brothers may not hate the wicked world as much as they supposed. They leave.
The three male fairies – Ethais, Phyllon and Lutin – appear and extol the virtues and conveniences of Victorian civilisation, as opposed to the dull existence of Fairyland. The other fairies appear, and complain that they are never allowed down to experience that wonderful, wicked world. The three male fairies refuse to allow them down; but suggest instead that three men be brought up to them. They go off to ask this favour of their Fairy King, and while they are away the others discuss the people who will be brought up – who are, it seems, Englishmen. Selene, the Fairy Queen, explains that England has an advantage over all other nations, in that it is blessed with "A Popular Government". She extols this marvellous thing in a parody of the speech about Love in The Wicked World.
The three mortals arrive – Mr.G., Mr. L., and Mr. A. They look remarkably like three famous politicians from the 1870s. "Oh, we are three most popular men!" they sing, "We want to know who'll turn us out!" They dislike the look of Fairyland to begin with, because of its air of "lavish expenditure", but change their minds on finding themselves surrounded by fairies.
After some satirical dialogue, they decide to introduce "popular government" into Fairyland. The fairies are first divided into Government and Opposition, and the Opposition is immediately told to go off, which they do, with much grumbling. Next, ministerial posts are allocated to those least fitted for them, in accordance with established practice – Selene becoming Prime Minister. The government having been selected at length, they sing a brief Finale.
Fairyland is now slate-coloured. Leila and the other Opposition fairies are in revolt at this state of things. Everything has been given over to penny-pinching and shabbiness.
Selene enters. Everything is turning to disaster. The Emperor of Gozo has torn up their treaty, the Chinese are marching on the capital of Fairyland, the Navy has run aground, and the House of Peers is singing the Marseillaise. Mr. G. assures her that even in this extremity she should not think of resigning or apologising; but Selene at last rejects his horrible ideas, in another parody of The Wicked World. The three statesmen return to earth, and after a short space Lutin, Ethais and Phyllon enter, with great news: their Fairy King has decided to confer on them the great privilege of Popular Government – which Selene rejects, with horror. And with a bitter parody of "Rule Britannia", the play ends.
Page modified 13 August, 2011 Copyright © 2009-11 The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive All Rights Reserved.