The Dolls Of New Albion: A Steampunk Opera is a 4-Act play composed and written by Paul Shapera. So far, there has only been a workshop performance, but the audio version of the entire play can be found here.
The Steampunk Opera follows four generations of McAlistairs, beginning with the Mad Scientist Annabelle, who is attempting to raise from the dead the love of her life. The story is told by an all-knowing Narrator.
The story is set in the fantastical Steampunk city of New Albion. Each act contains a song sung by the Narrator who describes the history and culture of the city. As each new generation passes, the city grows and evolves too, along with the people in it.
The other two parts of the trilogy, The New Albion Radio Hour and The New Albion Guide To Analogue Consciousness, are available for your listening pleasure. The entire albums are available here and here.
- Abusive Parents:
- Anabelle's overachieving parents raised her with conditional, minimal love and constant pressure to be successful.
- Amelia's father is revealed as abusive by the narrator, and the abrupt interruption of Jasper's broadcast is implied to be him yelling at her.
- All-Knowing Singing Narrator: The narrator for the story operates like this—in addition to providing exposition in the main songs, in between each act is a sung tango describing how New Albion is progressing.
- All Love Is Unrequited:
- The only character with a requited love interest marries her ex-fiancee when he threatens to keep her from her father, whom he just brought back from the dead.
- Also, even though 3/4 of the McAlistairs are strangely in love with Jasper, Priscilla is the only person he truly loves back. It doesn't end well
- And Now You Must Marry Me: Edgar blackmails Fay into marrying him after ruining her fiance by threatening to withhold her recently revived father from her.
- Arc Words:
- "My angel", mostly directed at Jasper.
- "Elysium", for Jasper's, and eventually all Dolls', constant plead for death.
- "All you love does not love you" is the narrator's advice to 3/4 of the McAlistairs.
- Back from the Dead:
- Jasper. After Annabel brings him back and then kills him because he asked her to, Edgar brings him back AGAIN.
- All of the dolls in New Albion are this really.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Jasper, after four generations of begging for death, finally gets his wish—at the cost of Priscilla's life.
- Breather Episode: The Ballad of the Monk and the Gambler is a fun and carnival-esque song separating the (almost) burning of Jasper and the dystopian New Albion of Act 4.
- Broken Bird: Amelia. While she's aware Byron doesn't love her, she would've been content if he at least was a friend to her, which he's not, making her already tough life with an abusive father more difficult. She looks solace in the ecstatic company of the Voodoopunk cult and drugs. Jasper's song about the relief of death is the last push she needs to end it all.
- Chekhov's Gun: Annabel's notes on raising the dead, which Edgar finds in a trunk in the attic.
- Cult: The Voodoopunks.
- Death Seeker: Jasper is one through all four acts. Eventually he gets his wish, but at the cost of Priscilla's life.
- Dysfunctional Family: The McAlistairs.
- Dystopia: After Act III, New Albion becomes this.
- Generational Saga: Each acts follows a new generation in the McAlistair family.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Edgar, big time. Destroyed the home and livelihood of the man his girlfriend left him for in order to make her desperate enough to give in to his blackmail.Edgar: There's a man they call Sillof, and he once stole my girl. I want him destroyed, all he has in this world. His business, his home, and his carriage all crushed. I want him left penniless, face down in the dust!
- Heroic Sacrifice:
- Priscilla sacrifices her life so Jasper can die (again).
- Jasper stays alive despite wishing to return to the afterlife because if he is caught, his entire family will be killed.
- History Repeats:
- The play itself begins with the story of New Albion' founding, which revolves around a never-ending play of cards until one player dies. New Albion's revolutionary movement begins with the death of a card player.
- The McAlistairs tragedy begins and ends with a lonely girl and her possessed doll.
- Incompatible Orientation:
- Amelia to Byron. Have we mentioned All Love Is Unrequited?
- To make this worse for poor Amelia, Byron later does marry a lady for political purposes, as the fourth generation focuses on his daughter Priscilla. Amelia is dead by then and even if she'd been alive, it would unlikely be happy for Byron at least...
- Intellectual Animal: The cat burglars' "pet albatross Simon and a brilliant mouse named Sam."
- Ironic Echo: There's like ten of these. Some of the more obvious examples:
- When Priscilla dies, the Narrator reverses her lines from Annabel Has a Doll.
- Also, Priscilla reverses Annabel's lines back in Annabel Raises the Dead.
- Jasper also mimics the "Be my angel" lines from Annabel, which may be more or less ironic since he actually knew her and heard those lines.
- Lightning Can Do Anything: The exact process Annabel uses to bring Jasper back to life is never said, but the line "With voltage I invoke!" seems to imply this.
- Love Hungry: The entire opera revolves around love-depraved individuals who in their search for it end up hurting those they claim to love. The only one to break the cycle is Priscilla in her Act of True Love.
- Love Makes You Evil: Fay dumping Edgar for someone else does not make him happy.
- Loving a Shadow: The source behind Annabel and Byron's love for Jasper, wanting a submissive partner (or father figure) they can project whatever they want onto for their own emotional problems rather than an actual person. Notably Priscilla is the only McAlistair who learns how to have a conversation with him.
- Mad Scientist: Annabel, of course, and Edgar as well, to a lesser extent.