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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.
    • 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 Came Back Wrong.
    • 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
  • 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.
  • Came Back Wrong: Pretty much the driving force of the novel. The Dolls go somewhere when they die and being removed from it results in them being near-catatonic even if they are recognizably the people they were before to their loved ones.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Annabel's notes on raising the dead, which Edgar finds in a trunk in the attic.
  • 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.
  • Dystopia: After Act III, New Albion becomes this.
  • 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 finally explodes as one of their cries of mourning triggers a horrifying rash of suicides.
  • 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 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 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, of course, and Edgar as well, to a lesser extent.
  • 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!
  • Revenge:
    • Edgar makes this his life's mission after Fay leaves him. Once he succeeds, Fay vows revenge unto him.
    Edgar: One day, you will learn, and you will burn like my heart burns!
    • Soldier 7285 eventually vows this 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.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Annabel/Annabelle/Annabella.
  • Steampunk: The Dolls of New Albion: A Steampunk Opera.
  • Suicide by Cop: Priscilla sacrifices herself to let Jasper return to the afterlife by doing this.
  • 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.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Annabel struts around New Albion with a life-sized mechanical doll and no one seems to care, probably because there is a lot of weirder stuff going on.
    Narrator: "New Albion today / With bustling streets, machines, cafes / And the nice, the wise, the eccentric and insane"
  • 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


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