Tom, aged 13
Jack, aged 10
Alex, aged 11
Amy, aged 9
Melissa, aged 12
Librarian (voice of)
Tyr, Watchman of the Grinkengap (voice of)
Johanna (non speaking)
At Frostig (Ice Warrior Maidens):
At Castle Valaholm, Aysgarth:
Wodec, the Great Wizard
Marog, the Raven of Memory
Hurog, the Raven of Knowledge
Oswald, the Apprentice
In the Forest of Alfheim (The Elves):
Trigg, the Elfin King
In the Underground Kingdom of Hadium,
Deorc, Evil Sorcerer
The Old Library
ALEX: I’m bored! Summer holidays are so boring.
AMY: This is a wonderful library. Do come and look at these old books, Alex. The pages are all crispy, yellow and dusty. (She blows the dust off the book she is holding. It blows into Jack’s face and he coughs.)
TOM: Hey, come and look at this book, Jack, it’s all about the history of giants.
JACK: Where? Let me see.
ALEX: Books are really boring!
MELISSA: But giants aren’t real, are they, Tom? How can you have a history book about something that’s not real? (She continues to browse through the books.)
AMY: I’m jolly glad they’re not real. After all, it would be pretty scary to meet a real giant. (Jack has crept round behind Amy and he jumps out at her with a loud roar. She screams.) Oh Jack, please don’t do that. You frightened me.
JACK: It doesn’t take much, does it?
TOM: This book is about folklore; legends of giants from different countries. Look here, for example, “In Scandinavian mythology the troll was a powerful giant that was an enemy of humans. They would rob and eat any travellers foolish enough to stray into their domain after dark”.
AMY: Ooh, that’s really scary. I don’t like trolls.
ALEX: Trolls are boring. Anyway, it’s half past four and we should be getting home for tea. Mother will be cross. JACK I had a troll once – it had blue hair, big, bulging eyes and a bare b…
TOM: That’s quite enough of that, thank you, Jack.
MELISSA: Oh Tom, do look at this won’t you. ‘Myths and Legends from Around the World’. What a wonderful title, don’t you think
TOM: Let me see the index. (Tom snatches the book from her) Myths of Creation, Superhuman Heroes, Shape-Shifters, Unexplained Disappearances…
MELISSA: Unexplained disappearances – that sounds terribly exciting, don’t you think?
ALEX: It sounds terribly boring to me. (She yawns)
LIBRARIAN: (offstage) Five minutes until closing time, children. Please replace your books on the shelf unless you wish to borrow them.
JACK: What does it mean by ‘unexplained disappearances’, Melissa? (Melissa grabs the book back)
MELISSA: Well, let’s read it and find out, shall we? Here’s an example: “In nineteenth century Norway, a peasant girl by the name of Freya Svenson vanished without trace from a Norwegian mountainside. Some friends who were with her gave the most curious explanation for her disappearance.” (Jack creeps unnoticed by the others into the wings. Tom takes the book and continues.)
TOM: ‘Whilst exploring the mountainside near their village, they discovered an enormous boulder known as the Ragna Rock. The boulder was covered with ancient runic inscriptions which the children did not understand’. (Alex begins to show an interest in this) Freya traced the words in the rock with her finger and, on the opposite side, she discovered a sentence in the old Norse language. She did not understand the full meaning of the words but she began to chant them aloud. After the third time there was a huge explosion and Freya disappeared into thin air.”
ALEX: Wow! How is that possible.
MELISSA: It must have been magic.
AMY: That’s very frightening.
MELISSA: Hey, where’s Jack? (They all look around in surprise)
TOM: Jack! Where are you?
ALEX: He’s disappeared ….. into thin air.
AMY: That’s really spooky.
ALEX: What are we going to tell mother? (Jack suddenly leaps out with a lion’s roar. Everyone is startled.)
TOM: Stop it, Jack! You’re frightening the girls. (Tom buries his head in the book again.)
ALEX: I’m not frightened.
AMY: That’s because you’re a tomboy. You’re not dainty, like girls should be.
ALEX: Prissy, you mean. Like precious little Amy with her pretty ribbons and her frilly dresses. You’re just a china doll! (Amy looks as if she is about to cry.)
MELISSA: Stop it, you two! You’ll spoil the fun. Tom, do go on with story. I want to know how it finishes.
TOM: Well that’s just it. No-one knows what happened. It says that the other children were terrified, as you can imagine. Extensive searches of the mountain failed to discover poor Freya. Some people said she had been eaten by a bear, others that she had been kidnapped by trolls. But the most curious thing of all was that the huge boulder disappeared with Freya and it has never been seen since despite extensive searches of the mountain-side.
ALL: Wow! (Melissa takes the book again)
MELISSA: Professor Bjorn Tomson, an expert in Norse Folklore at the university of Helsinki, maintains that the inscription is an ancient Norse magical spell. He says it opens a portal into another world and that is where Freya vanished to. The legend states that before Freya could discover the reverse charm and return, she was set an impossible task by a mysterious person. Look! It even has the words of the chant printed here.
ALEX: (Roughly grabbing the book) Let me see the spell! I want to try it.
AMY: No, Alex you mustn’t! It’s dangerous.
ALEX: Oh, mustn’t I, Miss Prissy. Just watch me. (The others try to grab the book from her but she eludes them and begins chanting, faltering at first.)
þurh blåst ond regn iç gefare in drÿliçan eorþriçe. (spoken three times)
[Through wind and rain into the magical earthly kingdom I go. Old English pronounciation guide: Thurch blast and rayn itch yefare in drewleechun airþreacher.]
TOM: Alex, stop it or you will go home at once.
(On the third time there is a loud bang and a flash as Alex disappears. The others are flung to the floor and stunned into silence for a moment.)
MELISSA: Oh my goodness, what has she done?
AMY: (Distraught) Alex, Alex, do please come back to us, please do. (She starts to cry.)
MELISSA: What are we going to do, Tom? I mean, we can’t just leave Alex, can we?
JACK: Why not? It will be more pleasant without her. (Amy cries harder.)
TOM: Come on, Amy, crying is not going to bring Alex back. Pull yourself together girl.
MELISSA: I’ll just have to follow her, wherever it is she’s gone.
TOM: What! No, Melissa, you can’t. You simply can’t. I’ll go.
AMY: You’re not leaving the rest of us behind to do the explaining. If one of us goes – we all go.
TOM: Oh very well, but we must be quick. Come on, let’s hold hands. Melissa – the book.
JACK: I’m not holding hands with a girl.
TOM: Just do as you’re told, Jack. (Melissa fetches the book and thumbs through to the correct page.) Now, on the count of three we start the chant. Everybody ready?
AMY; Oh Tom, I’m so frightened.
MELISSA: Just hold onto my hand tightly, Amy, and you’ll be alright. (Amy whimpers.)
TOM: One, two, three… ALL þurh blåst ond regn iç gefare in drÿliçan eorþrice. (three times)
[See pronunciation guide.]
There is a loud bang and a flash as they disappear in a brief blackout. The lights come up again briefly onto an empty stage.
The Nethersole School, Polesworth, Staffordshire, England
Act One Beginners, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
Farlingaye High School, Woodbridge, Suffolk, England
East Moonta, Australia