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Audio Play / The Dolls of New Albion

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"Several hundred years before, a Gambler and a Monk embarked..."

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.
    "Annabel no friends, you must be brilliant and the best
    You must be better and industrious, or you are worthless"
    • 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 for Nothing: Frequently happens.
    • The Gambler and the Monk's game. The Gambler dies right before he wins, which is arguably an ending by itself.
    • Annabel successfully figures out how to raise the dead but her Unrequited Love didn't want to be resurrected and wishes to die again.
    • Edgar becomes a millionaire and destroys his rival but only gets Fay's disgust.
    • Byron's attempts to normalize the dolls actually ticks off a massive riot against them.
  • 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
  • All There in the Manual: While never said in the musical proper, the author Paul Shapera revealed in interviews the names of the narrator and Soldier 7285: Kate and Saul/Paul.
  • And I Must Scream: The titular dolls of Albion are the souls of the dead, taken from the eternal paradise of Elysium to be trapped in mechanical dolls that can barely move. As they can't really communicate—save for Jasper, who learned how to manage over his long history as a doll—they are treated like literal objects for their own loved ones to project whatever they want onto, longing to die and return to Elysium but stuck in bodies which don't even age. Act 3 makes it clear that the dolls are suffering.
  • 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 the souls of the dead resurrected and placed in mechanical dolls.
  • 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.
  • City of Adventure: New Albion itself is the main setting of the story and undergoes various upheavals thanks to the McAlistairs. Even aside from that, the opening songs boast of the city having various fantastical and exciting elements completely removed from the main story, such as the drama of the city's mafia family, alchemists who can make pearls out of dreams, and the exploits of two catburglars and their animal companions.
  • Cult: The Voodoopunks are a 19th century Spiritualist-esque society based around the Dolls.
  • 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; Annabel is stated to have been emotionally abused by her parents, when she dies her heartbroken young son Edgar never quite recovers, and an adult Edgar ends up blackmailing his love Fay into marrying him, leading to her hating him and raising their son to hate him as well. "The Old Trunk in the Attic" even goes over various mementos of other, unseen McAlistairs who are implied to have had their own tragedies, from broken hearts to children who died young.
  • Dystopia: After Act III, New Albion becomes a police state ruled by marshal law, where the anti-doll regime is so extreme that people aren't allowed to even keep mementos of their deceased loved ones, and if you're found with a doll you'll be killed on-sight.
  • Fantastic Aesop: Don't raise the dead.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Dolls are initially beloved but because they're immortal, silent, and barely reactive—eventually the public loathes them. This comes to a head when the doll Jasper's broadcast of mourning his fate triggers the suicide of an abused young woman, leading to the dolls being perceived as dangerous.
  • 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).
  • 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 loves Byron, who is confirmed to be homosexual. 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."
  • Irony:
    • Byron McAlistair despises his father and wants to be nothing like him, but his style of singing is the same salesman pitch that Edgar used, and like his father he also forces someone to be with him for his own emotional needs, albeit in his case it's not romantic.
    • Near the end of Act 3 Byron desperately searches New Albion to save Jasper from the bonfire of dolls, blissfully unaware that the only thing Jasper wants is to die.
  • 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: While he clearly does benefit financially from Annabelle's formula for raising the dead, Edgar's crueler actions—namely financially ruining his rival in love and blackmailing Fay into marrying him—are all motivated by wanting Fay back after she dumped him.
  • Loving a Shadow: The source behind Annabel and Byron's love for Jasper is wanting a submissive partner (or father figure) they can project whatever they want onto for their own emotional gratification rather than an actual person. Notably Priscilla is the only McAlistair who learns how to have a conversation with him.
  • Mad Scientist: Annabel is a downplayed version, as her research into resurrecting the dead and her abusive upbringing has left her a social outcast with "problems" going outside her laboratory, but she does have some ethical scruples as she undid the results of her experiment after learning she was causing harm. It's played with in regards to her son Edgar; his being able to replicate Annabel's formula suggests he has some scientific knowledge, but he views it through a businessman lens.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Although initially ecstatic to have her once-dead love Jasper back with her, once Annabel actually listens to the sounds Jasper is broadcasting, she realizes that he hates being alive and was happy in Elysium. Horrified, she destroys the doll with an axe, putting him back to rest, and never tells a soul about her formula for raising the dead.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: At the end of Act 3, Byron gives a speech to try and rally the population back to his side after the song being played by the dolls leads Amelia to kill herself. This involves telling them that they're pushing a doll into the position of Mayor and that their kids are all dancing each night with the dead.
    Narrator: "Kill the dolls! Kill the dolls!" everyone screamed.
    Byron: Now hold on, this isn't at all what we mean!
  • Nostalgic Music Box: "The Old Trunk in the Attic" is a short, slow, kind of somber piano piece where the narrator list down Edgar's family's mementos linked to tragedies, from broken dreams, to family lost to war, to children who died young. Edgar was most likely going to leave his own item (his engagement ring for Fay) when he found his mother's notes on raising the dead.
  • Parental Love Song: "Priscilla and Jasper Play Cards" has Jasper reminiscing about his daughter Fay and how much Priscilla (her granddaughter) reminds her of, and for that reason he decides to sacrifice his chances of dying, no matter how much he wishes to, because he knows that if he's caught Priscilla will be executed a well.
  • Revenge:
    • Edgar makes this his life's mission to get revenge on his romantic rival after Fay leaves him. Once he succeeds, Fay vows revenge unto him, leading her to turn their son Byron against him.
    Edgar: One day, you will learn, and you will burn like my heart burns!
    • Soldier 7285 eventually vows revenge upon the government of New Albion after Priscilla's death.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Essentially, a large part of the narrative is how none of the protagonists get what they want despite achieving great (and terrible) things.
  • Single Line of Descent: All four generations of McAlistairs are only children.
  • Steampunk: The album is itself titled a "steampunk opera" and features a vaguely Victorian-era fantasy setting with alchemists, machinery, clock-inspired instrumentals, and a theme of subversive anarchy in the third act.
  • Suicide by Cop: Priscilla sacrifices herself to let Jasper return to the afterlife by calling new Albion's doll-hunting police to their doorstep. She is killed for harboring a doll, while Jasper is destroyed.
  • Together in Death: Priscilla's song at the very end suggests she expects to see Jasper again in the afterlife after they've both been killed by the police. The third installment in the series shows that this won't happen, as Priscilla repeatedly reincarnates, making this a subversion.
  • Unwanted Revival: From the moment Annabel brings him back, Jasper just wants to be dead again.
  • Villain Song: "Edgar Builds a Business" is a cheerful, carnival-esque tune about Edgar building a massive fortune, and then using it to utterly ruin his romantic rival and extort Fay into getting back together with him.
  • You Are Number 6: Soldier 7285.

Alternative Title(s): The Steampunk Opera