Writer’s notes for The Clinic of Lost Souls

Like Cloud, this show came into being in 2001. Originally titled Self, it was a tricky little thing and had some issues. We wanted it to be mysterious and layered, with revelation upon revelation. We ended up with something indistinct, where it was virtually impossible to find empathy with anyone. Following early readings and feedback, it was shelved for very good reasons. Even though we loved the concept, emerging score and staging possibilities, it just didn't feel right and we didn't know how to rework it yet.

It tickled and it nagged. It dangled its legs over the edge of the shelf, drumming its fingers with impatience. The characters, situations and songs wouldn't leave us alone.

Kaye Tompkins and myself sat down in 2019 and played it through. Not only had the existing score survived the test of time, but felt remarkably fresh. There was still music to compose, some to reinvigorate, and a narrative to simplify and iron out. We retired to think about it, but couldn't resist. For whatever reason, the time had come to rip it up and rearrange the pieces.

As is our habit, we killed off a few characters instantly, allowed others to shine and shook up the plot. We found more humour, albeit dark, and we worked hard on giving our audience the clues they would need to solve the mystery of the goings on at The Prinder Institute. Most importantly, we discovered a heart in our villain and the need for redemption in our hero, and suddenly there were moments to inspire feeling. If we cared about these people, maybe our future cast and audience would too.

We came up with a shortlist of titles and ran a vote with friends and family. The Clinic of Lost Souls won and we submitted the idea to the production committee at Sharnbrook Mill Theatre. Not convinced if this one would fly, we were over the moon when they decided to support our work again. For this we will be forever grateful.

And this is where it all stopped.

Programmed for 2021, the world of theatre met a villain with no heart at all. Covid-19 stopped almost all community and professional theatre in its tracks, as it stopped the world. As I write this, we are all still hoping for release from its grip, but there is hope ahead. As we all begin to emerge, so will the Arts and theatre, although there will be a gradual recovery.

For a while we'll need lighter shows to lift us from this dark time. We need to join together and celebrate what it is to live a shared human experience again. Our musical about medical experimentation may not be the one to open with.

But when everyone's ready, The Clinic of Lost Souls will swing its doors wide.

Beware before you enter...