Composers and their stage works 

The Baikie Charivari or The Seven Prophets

James Bridie

(1952) Two-act miracle play about mortal man's struggle against the devil and his works.

The play has a dual character as it takes on the two planes of reality and fantasy. The inhabitants of the Scottish sea resort Baikie Charivari, in about 1930, are at one and the same time real people and Punch and Judy characters operated by the devil. Sir James MacArthur Pounce-Pellot, representing Punch and Pontius Pilate, who recently retired from a life of civil service in India as Knight Commander of the Indian Empire, has settled here with his conventional wife and adolescent daughter, hoping to adapt himself to the twentieth century in the West. To achieve his aim, he consults various neighbours for guidance. The Reverend Beadle acts as spiritual guide; Mr. Mascara, as modern aesthetics adviser; and Dr. Pothecary, a female psychologist, as an emotional adviser.

Action continues on a supernatural level at intervals throughout the play, with Mrs. Crowe and Dr. Pothecary, modern soothsayers, dancing to a chant dedicated to Satan. Sir James's daughter, Baby, who as a child was saved from drowning by Ketch, a Communist and the town councillor, has been promised magical powers by Mr. Mascara, who has persuaded her to join Satan's group.

The central action of the play is the attempt to save Baby, who ends by marrying an apprentice plumber to escape the theoreticians. Sir James fights off temptation in his quest for the truth, but dialectical interplay between Communist Ketch and the Reverend Beadle leads him to realise he has "sold his God for order." In the end, Punch symbolically kills off all foes with his stick and exorcises the devil with his incantation but still is no closer to truth. However, he can still joke and maintains hope that there is an answer to be found.