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Theatre / Mrs Hawking

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From Mrs. Hawking part II: Vivat Regina at Arisia 2017. From left to right: featuring Circe Rowan as Mary, Joye Thaller as Mrs. Braun, Cari Keebaugh as Mrs. Hawking, and Jeremiah O'Sullivan as Nathaniel

Mrs. Fairmont: But I had heard...something that women whispered of...that when a lady finds herself in a predicament that she cannot resolve alone...there is someone outside the usual workings of society, who can take extraordinary action to help.
Mrs. Hawking: And that is where I come in.
Mrs. Hawkingnote 

Mrs. Hawking by Phoebe Roberts and Bernie Gabin is the title of the play series, and the first installment thereof, about a Victorian society widow who secretly acts as an agent of justice for otherwise helpless women in London. A mixture of Batman and Sherlock Holmes, the lead character Victoria Hawking is an intense, brooding figure equal parts covert operative, warrior, and detective. Though a powerful force for good to those who have nowhere else to turn, her rage and bitterness toward men and society in general threaten to consume her. She is balanced, however, by her housemaid and eventual assistant Mary Stone, whose world is widened exponentially when she asks to help with Mrs. Hawking's crusade for justice. Together, these two women strengthen and support one another, even as they clash over their differing outlooks and experiences of the world. Eventually they are joined by Nathaniel Hawking, Mrs. Hawking's gentleman nephew, whose original shock at learning of his aunt's work gives way to a fascination that makes him reevaluate his entire worldview in order to be of help to them.


Currently, there are five completed plays in the series. The first is Mrs. Hawking, the second Vivat Regina, the third Base Instruments, and the fourth Gilded Cages, and the fifth Mrs. Frost. The scripts can be read in full on the official website. The plays have seen several staged readings, while Mrs. Hawking's original performance occurred as part of the programming of the science fiction and fantasy convention Arisia 2015, and each subsequent year has seen the debut of the following installment— Vivat Regina premiered at Arisia 2016, Base Instruments in 2017, Gilded Cages in 2018, and Mrs. Frost in 2019.

The first film project for Mrs. Hawking is currently in post-production, a proof of concept for a television series.

The official website for the series is Mrs. Hawking--Lady's Champion of London.


The first play can be seen on Vimeo here, while the second can be seen here, the third here, and the fourth here.

It can also be found on Facebook and on Twitter.


  • Age-Gap Romance: In part four, Gilded Cages, we see Reginald Hawking falls for Victoria Stanton when he is 31 and she is 19. Though not an unusual age gap in the Victorian period, it is made clear that he is an adult and she is still a child— one of many subtle indicators that the match is a bad one.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Subverted with Arthur. He's just about the sweetest, most straightforward guy you could imagine, and he's presented as a romantic and attractive figure for Mary.
    • Zigzagged with Clara, who briefly dated the roguish playboy Justin Hawking before settling down with his more gentlemanly little brother Nathaniel.
  • Alpha Bitch: Invoked by Clara when she deliberately puts on the persona in dealing with Mrs. Frost in part V: Mrs. Frost.
  • Amicable Exes: It is revealed in Base Instruments that Nathaniel's wife Clara and his brother Justin have some sort of romantic history. They have both moved on from it, and Justin clearly wishes his brother and sister-in-law well, though they do still tease one another.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Reginald Hawking, in part four, Gilded Cages. "My God, Victoria. Don't you know?" Poor bastard.
  • The Apprentice: In the second installment Vivat Regina, Mrs. Hawking explicitly tells Mary she wants to make the girl her protege and teach her the ways of being a society avenger, in hopes that one day Mary will carry on in her place.
  • Arranged Marriage: In part one, Mrs. Hawking, Mrs. Hawking declares that her father "sold her like a sheep" to her husband the Colonel. In part four: Gilded Cages, it's revealed that her father, Governor Stanton, agreed to spare a starving village in Singapore from some oppressive policies if she consented to the wedding.
  • Asexuality: Victoria Hawking is an aromantic asexual. This is in direction opposition to how she was obliged to get married.
  • Badass Boast: From the end of Vivat Regina, after Team Hawking successfully entraps their target:
    Mrs. Braun: I cannot believe you did it. It was...impossible.
    Mrs. Hawking: Those are the conditions in which I specialize.
  • Bad Liar: In part IV: Gilded Cages, when Arthur comes by Mary's house and pretends he doesn't know her so she won't get in trouble for having a caller.
  • Batman Cold Open: Part III: Base Instruments opens with the team finishing a case up by beating up a gang of ruffians, in order to lead into the otherwise fairly cerebral plot of the main mystery. Fitting, given how much inspiration the series takes from Batman.
  • Beauty, Brains and Brawn: Loosely, Nathaniel, Mrs. Hawking, and Mary, respectively. Nathaniel uses his charm and good looks to act as faceman, Mrs. Hawking is the mastermind of the operation, and Mary does the hard physical work as well as swings a fireplace poker as her weapon of choice.
    • A slight subversion as the "beauty" is the one man on the team.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: In part four, Gilded Cages, subverted by the First Kiss between Victoria and Reginald. It has all the trappings of one, but it's all wrong as Victoria has no romantic feelings for him.
  • Bluffing the Murderer: At the conclusion of the third installment Base Instruments, they catch the murderer Yulia Sherba by tricking her into think Justin Hawking wants to leave the country with her, thus luring her to meet them with the immigration papers that prove she killed Raisa Sergeyeva in hand.
  • Bound and Gagged: At the end of Gilded Cages, Mary and Nathaniel are captured by Frost's henchman and dragged in with their hands tied.
    • Nathaniel in part V: Mrs. Frost, for some of his time in captivity as a hostage.
  • Break Them by Talking: In Mrs. Frost, what the titular character tries to do after she's captured Nathaniel. She has done enough research to probe all his fears and insecurities.
  • Bury Your Gays: Raisa Sergeyeva of Base Instruments is all but stated to have been in a lesbian relationship with Elena Zakharova ("We live together, we train together..."); Raisa's also been seen publicly with Lord Seacourse, but he later confesses they haven't actually done anything yet. Unfortunately, poor Raisa is the murder victim.
    • Averted with the series's other queer characters (Mrs. Hawking is an aromantic asexual, while Justin Hawking is bisexual).
  • But Not Too Bi: Justin Hawking is canonically bisexual, but in his appearance in part III: Base Instruments he barely interacts with any man who isn't related to him. Apart from a brief flirtatious remark to Lord Seacourse ("Unless you'd like to join us, my lord?") he only has opportunities to demonstrate attraction to women.
  • The Cassandra: In Gilded Cages, Elizabeth is always warning Victoria about the consequences of her reckless actions. She's always right, but still everyone ignores her. This constantly being ignored shapes Elizabeth going forward.
  • Celibate Eccentric Genius / Celibate Hero: The deductive genius titular character Victoria Hawking is an aromantic asexual.
  • Character Development:
    • Nathaniel goes from being shocked when learning of his aunt's work and trying to stop her, to becoming fascinated with it and desperately wanting to help her with it. He starts out as being very much a man of his time and place, believing in the typical ideals you'd expect of a successful middle-class Victorian man, but becomes more and more of a feminist as the story goes on
    • Mrs. Hawking is slow to change in any way, but Mary's influence helps her regain some of her lost perspective, particularly on the value of forming relationships with others.
  • Character Title: The first installment, and the series overall, "Mrs. Hawking".
  • Chekhov's Gun: In Mrs. Hawking, the appointment book is introduced as the place where Mrs. Hawking organizes her plans for her work. It returns at the end when Mary isn't sure where Mrs. Hawking might have gone and remembers the book's existence. It contains a note for her that allows her to show up to the right location to help.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Yulia Sherba in Base Instruments. She is introduced as if she is only there to fall for Justin's charm, but it's actually to seed her for her relevance to the mystery.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In Vivat Regina, Nathaniel mentions that his "military experience" was balancing the company's books in Newcastle. Later, when Team Hawking comes across a logbook, he's able to use his skill in reading that kind of ledger to notice some suspicious entries (namely, the comings and goings of spies, listed as "pineapples" in the records), thus giving Mrs. Hawking and Mary a way to trap the villain.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Justin Hawking. It's so reliable that they end up using that fact to lay a trap for a target.
  • Code Name: Subverted. For all that Mrs. Hawking is basically a superhero whose real identity is a secret—and, in fact, has personal reasons to not feel connected to her legal name—she doesn't seem to have a different name, code or otherwise, as an alternative.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: All over the series.
    • As would be expected of a Victorian widow, Mrs. Hawking wears all black, all the time.
      • In part IV: Gilded Cages, she wears some color in flashbacks, but the black is still there.
    • Mary's color is blue throughout the series.
    • Clara typically appears in green.
    • In part V: Mrs. Frost, the eponymous character always appears in icy blue, not only fitting her name but the feminine high society role into which she's stepped.
    • Though it is not as firm a rule, Nathaniel tends to be associated with the color silver.
      • When his brother Justin appears in Base Instruments, he's in gold to serve as matched pair and counterpart.
  • Commitment Issues: Justin Hawking. In part IV: Gilded Cages, Nathaniel says that Clara broke up with Justin because she tired of his wandering eye.
  • The Cowl: Victoria Hawking, lead character of the Mrs Hawking play series.
    • Also Malaika Shah, in her role as colonial avenger.
  • Creator Thumbprint:
    • Asexuality. A fascination of Roberts's. Expresses in lead character Mrs. Hawking.
      • In Gilded Cages, Mrs. Hawking tries to describe this part of herself, struggling because she has no words for it, when she explains how she didn't understand her eventual husband Reginald Hawking was falling in love with her, and how she could never return his feelings.
    • Complicated feelings about pregnancy and children. Often dead ones. Embodied in Mrs. Hawking's distaste for her pregnancy and her guilt over the child's death.
    • Pintsize Powerhouse women. In fact, Roberts has said Mrs. Hawking is generally a power fantasy for her.
    • Ballet. Mrs. Hawking has a background in ballet, and a ballet dancer is the client in the third installment Base Instruments.
      • In the fourth installment Gilded Cages, Victoria is shown practicing ballet on her own of out book as a nineteen-year-old girl growing up in Singapore. She says she had a teacher once— the wife of an officer who danced in Paris —until the woman's husband was transferred out of the colony.
    • Men with a traditionally masculine gender presentation taking on roles considered traditionally feminine. Nathaniel, despite being in most respects a conventionally-masculine man for his time and place, often performs narrative roles such as the peacemaker and the good face of their operations, which are often coded as typically feminine. Roberts even runs a Tumblr devoted to the concept.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: For Malaika in Gilded Cages, when their plan to feed her starving village fails, Victoria disappears on her, and her entire life is ruined when she is arrested for what they did. She loses all faith in being able to count on others, particular white people or those more privileged.
  • Death Seeker: The Colonel, in later life, with his pursuit of dangerous military missions and increasing drinking habit, is implied to have become this.
  • Distressed Dude: In part V: Mrs. Frost, Nathaniel is taken captive by the villain, and an all-female team of heroes works together to save him.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Colonel Hawking is a thorough deconstruction of the trope. Victoria openly resented and hated him, but he, in her own words, "never stopped loving her." Trouble is, Mrs. Hawking, as an aromantic asexual, was literally incapable of reciprocating either romantically or sexually. The resulting conflict absolutely destroyed the both of them, but the conventions of the time dictated that they couldn't divorce. It's what made Mrs. Hawking such a psychological wreck, and implied to have driven the Colonel to drink and an early death.
  • Does Not Like Men: Mrs. Hawking, due to the state of patriarchy in general and specifically from her treatment at the hands of her father.
    • Elena Zakharova, the client in Base Instruments, gives off an air of this as well.
  • Double Entendre: When Mary comments with amazement on the fact that Nathaniel and Clara fell in love through an correspondence during his short military service, Nathaniel's response is the clearly meaning-laden "Well. I write quite the letter." However, it's unclear whether this is an Unusual Euphemism for something else he does well, or if this is a reference to the now-somewhat-obscure Victorian practice of erotic letter writing.
  • The Dragon: Roland Davies, for the eponymous villain in Mrs. Frost.
  • Dramatic Unmask: In Gilded Cages, when Mrs. Chaudhary finally removes her hijab to reveal herself as Malaika Shah, former friend and servant of young Victoria Stanton.
  • The Dreaded: Mrs. Hawking. Part IV: Gilded Cages confirms it, with Mrs. Frost commenting that criminals are either absolutely terrified of her or doubt her existence.
    • Frost herself is an evil example— Lord Brockton comments that the only reason people know she's alive is "to serve as a warning."
    • Played for Laughs in Part II. Throughout the play, a mysterious figure repeatedly attempts to come to Mrs. Hawking's home, but she keeps shooing that person away. When she's finally cornered, Mrs. Hawking grudgingly tells Mary that she is about to meet "the other Mrs. Hawking." Mary opens the door... and in swoops Clara, cheerily talking a mile a minute and making comments about the house, the state of the pantry, and Victoria herself. In other words, she's a perfectly sunny, pleasant, happy society lady—and thus Mrs. Hawking's worst nightmare.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Justin indulges in this multiple times throughout Base Instruments, first with Mary, then with Yulia Sherba, and even Lord Seacourse.
    • In part IV: Gilded Cages, Mrs. Frost does this very briefly to Nathaniel.
    • She does it a LOT more in part V: Mrs. Frost.
  • Enemy Mine: In Gilded Cages, Mrs. Hawking briefly goes to see Lord Brockton, the blackmailer she ruined in the first play, for information on who might be behind a recent plot. In an interesting take on the trope, Brockton happily shares all he knows—not because he wants to help, but because he believes that the person Mrs. Hawking is after will defeat her, and there's nothing he wants more than to see her fall as revenge for her exposing him.
  • Evil Colonialist: In Gilded Cages, the presence of the English in Singapore is depicted this way.
  • Evil Counterpart: Mrs. Hawking has hers in Mrs. Frost. They are both exceptional and brilliant, and neither one is socially permitted to lead the kind of life she wants. But the former reacts by trying to dismantle the system to free people, while the latter manipulates the system to her own ends at the expense of others.
  • Evil Gloating: In part I: Mrs. Hawking, Lord Brockton starts to, though his monologue is cut short.
  • Evil Nephew: Subverted. In the first installment, it seems that Nathaniel might be this to his aunt when he tries to stop Mrs. Hawking from doing her work. By the end of the play, he realizes the error of his ways and starts trying to help her instead.
  • The Face: Nathaniel's contribution to the team, as it turns out he has a talent for getting people talking and coming up with stories on the fly.
    • Mary occasionally is called upon to do this, such as when she pretended to be the niece of the viceroy of India in Mrs. Hawking, but it is primarily Nathaniel's job.
  • Family Business: The Hawking family's venture capital firm, started by Ambrose Hawking and carried on by his sons Justin and Nathaniel.
    • Mrs. Hawking herself remains independently wealthy due to inheriting her husband's stock in the company after his death.
  • Fair-Play Whodunnit: The plot of the third story Base Instruments is a mystery wherein the audience is provided with sufficient clues to solve it.
  • Feeling Their Age: In Base Instruments Mrs. Hawking's slow recovery from an injury is a harsh reminder of how it's tougher to do superheroing when you're forty than when you're twenty. Her preoccupation with own eventual physical decline is what pushes her to try to mold Mary in her image.
  • Flashback: About a third of installment four, Gilded Cages, takes place in Singapore where Mrs. Hawking grew up, met the Colonel, and made her very first discovery of the injustice of the world.
    • Flashback Echo: Again in Gilded Cages, a combination of Type 3 and Type 4.
      • Nathaniel's resemblance to his uncle the Colonel means the former often makes Mrs. Hawking think of the latter.
      • The failure of Mrs. Hawking's efforts in the past as detailed by the flashback is significant to how the case she's working on in the present time of part IV turns out.
  • Foreshadowing: In Base Instruments, Mrs. Hawking briefly mentions that she was "nursed by those clever than I." We see exactly what she means in Gilded Cages and Mrs. Frost.
  • Freudian Excuse: In this case it's the hero rather than the villain, but Mrs Hawking has harbored bitter resentment towards her father ever since, after ignoring her for most of her life, he forced her to get married whether she wanted to or not. It was a major contributing factor in her present-day inability to trust men.
    • Part V reveals that Mrs. Frost fought tooth and nail to rise above her station (she was a "lowly" governess in young adulthood), and as a result, she's absolutely determined to look like a genteel, well-born lady. Her obsession with maintaining that pretension turns out to be one of her only weaknesses. It also explains her utter hatred of Victoria Hawking— she "had it all [i.e., a wealthy father, servants, marriage to a handsome hero, etc.], and cared for none of it," while Frost herself was constantly ignored and treated like a servant.
  • Functional Addict: Miss Zakharova with her laudanum habit in Base Instruments.
  • Gentleman Snarker: Clara Hawking, though she is a lady, and Justin Hawking as well. Their scenes together are a complete battle of well-bred wits. Nathaniel also becomes more so as the stories go on.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Mrs. Hawking. As Mary puts it in Mrs. Frost, "She's a hero. Not a saint."
  • Gossipy Hens: Subverted somewhat with Clara. In Vivat Regina, it is clear that while Clara does enjoy gossip, she is a sharp, discerning, clever person, nothing like the vacuous babbling persona she puts on to scare Mrs. Hawking away.
  • Great Detective: Mrs. Hawking has a keen deductive mind, even if she may not be quite on the level of a Sherlock Holmes.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: There's an implication in part IV: Gilded Cages that Elizabeth envies Victoria, both for her advantages in life (for which the girl had no appreciation) and the devoted attentions of Captain Hawking (in which she had no interest.)
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Clara briefly helps with the investigation in Base Instruments (and even provides some important clues and perspectives). She rejoins Team Hawking in Mrs. Frost, largely because the titular villain has kidnapped her husband. The same play also sees Arthur assisting the group more actively via Mary, and Madam Malaika as well.
  • Happily Married: Nathaniel and Clara. Averted with Mrs. Hawking and the Colonel.
  • Heartbroken Badass: The Colonel, who devoted himself to some fairly epic military service abroad after coming to the understanding that the wife he loved couldn't stand the sight of him.
  • Heroic Safe Mode: Mrs. Hawking at the end of Gilded Cages, when her opponents Mrs. Chaudhary and Mrs. Frost reveal themselves to be her old friends Malaika and Elizabeth. Her priority is to get her and hers out of there rather than emotionally deal with it.
  • High Concept: What if Sherlock Holmes were a lady Batman?
  • Historical-Domain Character: In Vivat Regina, the client, Mrs. Braun, is a historical figure of the Victorian period under a false name. Though Mrs. Hawking indicates she has figured out her identity and hints at it, it is never explicitly revealed in the text. According to Word of God on the official website, she is Princess Beatrice, the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria.
  • Hoist by Her Own Petard: In both Gilded Cages and Mrs. Frost, Frost happily boasts about how she exploits the patriarchal systems of society for her own gain, at the expense of others. Team Hawking eventually takes her down with the same tactic—they set her up to appear insane after the death of her husband, and a well-meaning but condescending psychiatrist (one of the symbols of the patriarchy, given how easily women were locked up for "hysteria" and other supposed illnesses) arrives to cart her off to an asylum.
  • I Can Still Fight!: Despite her injury in the first scene of Base Instruments and Mary and Nathaniel's concern, Mrs. Hawking insists on going about her usual business as a society avenger.
  • I Can't Do This by Myself: In part V: Mrs. Frost, when Mrs. Hawking asks Madam Malaika for help in defeating their common enemy.
  • I Didn't Tell You Because You'd Be Unhappy: In part IV: Gilded Cages, Mary decides not to tell Mrs. Hawking about Arthur so that she doesn't have to deal with one more upsetting thing.
    • This persists into part V: Mrs. Frost to the point of a serious crisis in the level of trust in their relationship.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: In Gilded Cages, Reginald feels badly about his part in putting down the desperate Indian Rebellion of 1858, but accepts it as a terrible part of the duty he owes to the British Empire.
    • Mrs. Hawking feels this way in Mrs. Frost, when she has no other way to stop the eponymous villain except by engineering her commitment to a mental institution.
  • Incompatible Orientation: A big part of why the Hawking marriage is such a disaster is because Reginald is an alloromantic heterosexual, while Victoria is an aromantic asexual.
  • Instant Seduction: Justin certainly seems to pull one off with Yulia Sherba.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: In Mrs. Frost, Roberts runs Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky", traditionally an Ur-Example of nonsense verse, through the gamut. It's originally presented as a rhyme that Nathaniel's son Reggie is memorizing, but both the whole poem and its individual lines are soon used quite seriously:
    • The entire work becomes a Survival Mantra, as described below.
    • The poem describes a great battle between a young, determined knight and a fearsome monster with "claws that catch" that is ultimately beheaded. Mrs. Hawking (the knight) spends this play chasing Mrs. Frost, remarking that she is the "head" of her many criminal enterprises and has her "claws" in all sorts of illegal business (she also "catches" Nathaniel in those claws). Defeating her— that is, cutting off the monster's head —will cause everything to tumble down. Mrs. Frost is indeed destroyed at the end, too.
    • "He took his vorpal sword in hand, / Longtime the manxome foe he sought...and stood awhile in thought": Mrs. Hawking, a Knife Nut as described below, gradually becomes obsessed with Mrs. Frost, spending all of her time seeking her out. The show even opens with Victoria "standing in thought" before a massive board with all of the information she's gathered on Frost. Similarly, her operations of protecting others are standing still because of her obsession.
    • "And as in uffish thought he stood, / the Jabberwock, with eyes aflame, / Came whiffling through the tulgey wood, / and burbled as it came": Nathaniel is kidnapped by Roland, Mrs. Frost's minion, while pretending to be a member of her gang. Roland says a single phrase before doing so.
    • "One, two! One, two! And through and through / The vorpal blade went snicker-snack! / He left it dead, and with its head, / He went galumphing back...": Nathaniel recites these lines as Roland, Mrs. Frost's personal thug, is beating him senseless ("One more?" he asks right before Nathaniel starts this stanza); Roland then goes for a knife, or blade. As Nathaniel passes out, Mary begins fighting Roland, as if the very battle in the poem is playing out before him.
    • The poem ends with the knight's father asking: "And, hast thou slain the Jabberwock? / Come to my arms, my beamish boy!" After Nathaniel is successfully rescued and Mrs. Frost's criminal organization "beheaded", Clara takes him into her arms and hold him closely.
  • I Should Have Done This Years Ago: In part V: Mrs. Frost, somewhat ironically, when Nathaniel says that if he knew it would win him Mrs. Hawking's affection, he would have let "some brute beat the stuffing out of me" ages ago.
  • It's All About Me: The key difference between Mrs. Hawking and Mrs. Frost. The former is of the mindset that women should help each other by railing against the patriarchal systems that imprison them, while the latter thinks there's no point in trying to change society, and so exploits it for wealth, power, and her own betterment.
  • Jumped at the Call: When Mary learns that Mrs. Hawking is a secret Batman-style crusader for justice, she immediately begs to be allowed to help her in her work.
    • After briefly trying to stop his aunt from her missions, Nathaniel becomes this trope too. Mrs. Hawking is loath to bring him on at first, but eventually realizes that his gifts as The Face are useful.
  • Knife Nut: Mrs. Hawking's preferred weapons are knives of all kinds, from thin sharp letter blades to throwing daggers to a plain sturdy khukri.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In Gilded Cages, when Mary comments that Nathaniel is rooting for her and Arthur's relationship, Arthur responds, "Of course he is. Who wouldn't be?" This has the double meaning for those members of the audience who may be shipping certain characters.
  • Like Brother and Sister: This is Mary and Nathaniel's relationship, as mentioned in True Companions below. While they're extremely close and have a genuine love for each other, it's not romantic in the slightest— Nathaniel is Happily Married to Clara, and Mary has a sweetheart in Arthur Swann. It's part of the play's many subversions of tropes— in the late nineteenth century, the idea of close, platonic male/female relationships was unheard of.
  • Little Old Lady Investigates: Played With in that primary investigator Mrs. Hawking is forty years old and a widow when the story begins, considered outwardly by her society to be something of a strange old lady. But she is dangerous and physically honed, as much a warrior as she is a detective.
  • Love Martyr: The Colonel for Mrs. Hawking.
  • Mandatory Motherhood: Mrs. Hawking has no desire for marriage or children whatsoever. But we learn in the first installment that she was at one point miserably pregnant with a baby she continually wished would just go away. When she finally bore the stillborn child, her husband was devastated and she became wracked with guilt that it was her fault it had died. To this day, she still dislikes hearing or saying the name "Gabriel", the name her husband wanted to give the boy.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Subverted in Gilded Cages. Mrs. Hawking suggests that her husband saw her this way and that she suffered greatly from his effort to box her into that role.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Most of them, really, for some value of significance or other.
    • Animal Theme Naming: Many characters of significance have bird-themed last names: the Hawking family, Arthur Swann, Clara's maiden name of Partridge.
      • Takes on even greater significance in Gilded Cages, which explicitly says that a young Victoria spent all of her time "beating her wings against her cage."
    • Dead Guy Junior: Nathaniel's son is Reginald Prescott Hawking II, in honor of his beloved uncle the Colonel.
  • Meet Cute: In Vivat Regina, Mary and Arthur meet when, while Mary is on a stakeout for a case, she comes across him needing a spot of help subduing a ruffian. She brains the ruffian with her poker, and the two have a conversation that, while nothing overtly romantic happens in that play, definitely hints at a possible affecton developing.
    • Subverted in Gilded Cages. The first time Reginald and Victoria meet, he attempts to save her from what he perceives to be her falling off a roof, but she's so startled by his unnecessary intervention she ends up punching him in the eye.
  • The Mentor: Mrs. Hawking is this to Mary, and to a lesser extent Nathaniel. Though first she has to figure out how to actually teach.
    • In the fourth installment Gilded Cages, Elizabeth is this to young Victoria in serving as her governess and companion, specifically in matters of deduction, analysis, and strategy.
  • Mr. Smith: In Vivat Regina, "Mrs. Johanna Braun"—which translates to "Joan Brown"—is clearly a pseudonym used by the client.
  • Mrs. Robinson: The title character in part V: Mrs. Frost seems to be eyeing Nathaniel, who is twenty years her junior, the entire time he's in her captivity. It may be part of her psyop against him, but we do know she was attracted to his uncle in their youth, a man he strongly resembles.
  • My Greatest Failure: In Gilded Cages, it is suggested that for Mrs. Hawking this is her very first attempt at superheroing, when she tried to help her maid Malaika steal food for her starving village in Singapore. Their attempts resulted in failure, Malaika losing her job and imprisoned, and herself forced to marry the Colonel in exchange for her father providing relief to the village.
  • Ninja Maid: Though maid-of-all-work Mary is not a ninja— that's Mrs. Hawking skill set —she is very able to fight when necessary, usually with her trusty fireplace poker.
  • No Hero to His Valet: Clara Hawking serves this role to the titular character. Most people who know what Mrs. Hawking is capable of are in awe of her, including Clara's husband Nathaniel, but Clara believes that her gifts do not make up for what an unpleasant person she can be.
  • Non-Action Guy: Nathaniel. As Mary puts it in part V: Mrs. Frost, "he's supposed to talk, not fight."
  • Not Helping Your Case: At the end of Mrs. Frost, Team Hawking sets the title villain up to look insane—right in front of a psychiatrist. As he calls in orderlies to take her to an asylum, Frost begins raving that she's the Kingmaker, untouchable, that Mrs. Hawking is the real villain, and various other threats... which only further convinces the doctor of her supposedly shattered mental state.
  • Oblivious to Love: In part IV: Gilded Cages, Victoria does not realize that Reginald is falling in love with her. She explains it many years later to Nathaniel as her own aromantic nature making it hard for her as a young person to see the signs she herself was unfamiliar with.
  • The One Guy: Nathaniel is the only man on the team.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The client in Vivat Regina dons middle-class clothing, affects a German accent, and claims to be "Mrs. Johanna Braun." Mrs. Hawking immediately sees through these pretensions and recognizes that she's actually a member of the royal family (namely Princess Beatrice, youngest child of Queen Victoria), but keeps the secret until they're completely alone and can talk freely.
  • Parental Neglect: In Mrs. Hawking, the titular protagonist says she preferred when she was neglected by her father, because it meant he left her to her own devices and didn't interfere with her. The first time he actually paid attention to her he forced her into a marriage she didn't want.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Mrs. Hawking fits this to a T. She is depicted as five-foot-two and a hundred and fifteen pounds of pure terrifying badass. She is an accomplished martial artist who regularly takes on opponents twice her size.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: Deliberately invoked by Mary and Mrs. Hawking in Part V, Mrs. Frost. They realize that taking down the title character with their typical tactics won't work, and so extend their operations for a multiple-pronged attack: Mrs. Hawking uses her stealth and intimidation, Mary her contacts with Arthur and thus the police force, Clara her position in high society to attack Frost's public persona, and Madam Malika's spying ability and previous work with Frost to get inside her estate. It's implied that it's only because they design an assault like that this that they're able to defeat her.
  • Pregnant Badass: Mrs. Hawking remarks that she continued her crimefighting while pregnant, only giving it up when she was "too damn fat" to maneuver anymore. In a deconstruction of the trope that crosses over with Reality Ensues, she fears that doing such strenuous work while carrying a child might be, and indeed very likely is, the reason for her stillbirth— it could have been a bad fall, a blow from an opponent, or even just the stress she put her body through.
  • Princess for a Day: Mary in Mrs. Hawking when they go undercover at Lord Brockton's ball. They dress Mary in a more beautiful gown than she's ever worn before and pass her off as a fine lady in order for her to act as a diversion.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: Nathaniel, and of course his uncle Reginald upon whom he's modeling himself, though the latter is in many ways a Deconstruction of the trope.
  • Reality Ensues: The opening of Base Instruments sees Mary pinned back by some ruffians, while another rushes forward to punch her stomach. You know what women wore over their stomachs in Victorian England? Rock-hard corsets. The guy howls in pain at his nearly broken hand, and Mary smirks "Whalebone, love."
  • Red Herring: The mystery in Base Instruments has how Elena Zakharova seems to have a motive for the murder, have been perfectly positioned to commit it, and telling lies to conceal her actions.
  • The Reveal: In part IV: Gilded Cages, the crime boss known as the Kingmaker is revealed to be Elizabeth Frost, nee Danvers, Mrs. Hawking's childhood governess and friend.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The mysterious "Kingmaker," the most feared criminal mastermind in all of London, is actually the thrice-married Mrs. Frost, who also happens to be Mrs. Hawking's teacher in the art of crimefighting and former companion.
  • The Scottish Trope: Throughout Vivat Regina, both Mrs. Hawking and "Johanna Braun" repeatedly talk around the name of a mysterious, but powerful, figure. Given that the play ends with Mrs. Hawking's receiving a letter that uses the "royal we" and Nathaniel nearly blurting out the sender's name when he figures it out, Mrs. Braun's outright describing "her mother" turning her into a "mourning toy," and her true identity as Princess Beatrice, it's transparent that the person they're talking about is Queen Victoria.
  • Shadow Archetype: Miss Zakharova to Mrs. Hawking in part III: Base Instruments. Her devotion of her entire being to the work that means everything to her is destroying her body to the point where eventually she won't be able to carry it on, which is Mrs. Hawking's worst fear.
  • She Will Come for Me: In part V: Mrs. Frost, when Nathaniel is taken captive, he insists that Mrs. Hawking will rescue him. He works hard to keep faith as Mrs. Frost chips away at his insecurities in interrogation.
  • Shipper on Deck: Nathaniel roots hard for Mary and Arthur's relationship, and constantly endeavors to get the two together. In Gilded Cages, Arthur comes to the house to give Mary some news, forcing the maid to pretend not to know him. Nathaniel, who's in the parlor with the pair, gets a huge kick out of the two's interaction and teases Mary relentlessly during it.
  • Shout-Out: In part II: Vivat Regina, the German-accented client comes to Mrs. Hawking incognito and introduces herself with "You may address me as Mrs. Johanna Braun", mirroring the way the client enters in the Sherlock Holmes story "A Scandal in Bohemia".
  • Sibling Rivalry: Though it is mostly good-natured, Nathaniel and his older brother Justin are constantly trying to get each other's goat. Justin boasts of his carefree, fun-filled life full of travel and romance, while Nathaniel is the golden boy who always has the approval of everyone else in the family.
  • Spot of Tea: A persistent motif in the series. Mrs. Hawking may not like many things, but tea does make that very short list.
    • In Mrs. Hawking when struggling to think of what use she can put Mary to when she first comes to work for her as a maid, the one thing Mrs. Hawking manages to come up with is seeing to afternoon tea.
  • Stealth Expert: The primary weapon in Mrs. Hawking's crime fighting arsenal is her stealth. She wears a black costume with a hood to pull down over her face to conceal herself in the dark. She regularly climbs into places where she cannot be detected.
  • Steam Punk: In as much as it is more fantastical than your straight-up Victorian historical fiction, as Mrs. Hawking's abilities are somewhat exaggerated beyond what a real human would be able to do.
  • The Stinger: Part V: Mrs. Frost actually does one onstage. The tiny final scene occurs "during the credits" by pausing the curtain call and resuming it after the scene is finished!
  • The Summation: In Base Instruments, in the form of a crime scene reconstruction where Mrs. Hawking, Mary, Nathaniel, and Clara work out what happened and who did it.
  • Superhero: Mrs. Hawking's skills are at least at the peak of human ability, and she uses them to fight injustice. The roles that her allies Mary and Nathaniel play also fit into the style of superhero teams.
  • Superhero Trophy Shelf: The clock shelf in Mrs Hawking’s parlor contains momentos from her previous adventures, including:
Brockton’s gun from Part 1, Queen Victoria’s letter to Mrs Hawking, given to her by Mrs Braun from Part 2, Miss Zakharova’s laudanum bottle from Part 3, a sextant from Victoria’s girlhood that Reginald saved from Part 4, and the ransom note Mrs Frost sent to Mrs. Hawking when she kidnapped Nathaniel in Part 5.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: In Vivat Regina, Nathaniel, desperate to keep the secretary to the German ambassador from entering her offices during a party which Mrs. Hawking is casing, remarks that he's only there to support the classical singer that's being feted. The secretary excitedly asks "You are a devotee of the German opera?" After a moment, Nathaniel declares "Why, yes!" and goes on about Wagner, even though it's clear he's making things up as he goes. It's the first sign of his skills as The Face on the team.
  • Survival Mantra: "Jabberwocky" becomes one of these for Nathaniel in Mrs. Frost.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: This is one of Mrs. Hawking's M.O.s: she hates working with anyone else. Every play except Gilded Cages sees her reluctantly allowing someone into her circle—Mary in Mrs. Hawking, Nathaniel in Vivat Regina, Clara in Base Instruments, and Clara again (plus Madam Malaika) in Mrs. Frost. Mrs. Hawking does eventually come to admit that she needs their help, but her extreme dislike of doing so (and struggles to admit her own weaknesses) are a major source of conflict for everyone involved.
  • Too Clever by Half: Young Victoria, as can be seen in Gilded Cages.
  • True Companions: Mary and Nathaniel. Their experience in the adventure working cases with Mrs. Hawking bonds them closer and closer together.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Nathaniel to his uncle the Colonel. They are supposed to look very strongly alike, and in part IV: Gilded Cages, when both characters appear at roughly the same age at two different points in the timeline, they are designed to be played by the same actor.
  • Undying Loyalty: Nathaniel has the utmost faith in Mrs. Hawking's abilities, and never doubts her for a moment. It's put to the test in Mrs. Frost, when the titular villain kidnaps him and tries to break his spirit. Though he admits to coming close to losing hope, he never gives into despair and remains trusting in Victoria, and is proven right for it.
  • Unwanted Spouse: Colonel Hawking, to his wife Victoria Hawking, the series's protagonist.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Subverted. Nathaniel often pretends to be this, as in the club scene of the first installment Mrs. Hawking and the conversation with Lord Seacourse in Base Instruments, in order to allay the suspicions of enemies. In reality, he is not only not a twit, he's actually a rich middle-class man rather than an upper-class one.
  • Victorian London: The setting of the story.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Oh, good heavens, Nathaniel. He is desperate for everyone to like him, but particularly to get Mrs. Hawking's hard-won approval. It's the single largest driving factor of his character.
    • Mary too is to a certain extent driven by this need for Mrs. Hawking's esteem and affection.
  • Wham Line: In Mrs. Hawking, when Mrs. Hawking asserts that anyone can hide anything if they really want to, Mary's response: "You couldn't hide it from me."
  • What You Are in the Dark: Toward the end of Mrs. Frost, the title character, who's captured Nathaniel and is trying to get him to give her information on Mrs. Hawking, decides to try a new tactic when beatings and imprisonment don't work. She brings out a thick folder full of information— things that Nathaniel fully knows that his aunt will never share, and may not even know —on Colonel Hawking, his personal hero and idol, and tells him that he can "walk out" with all of it if he talks. Even after Mary rescues him and Arthur arrives, Nathaniel has the opportunity to take the folder... and ultimately chooses not to, deciding to make peace with his ignorance rather than betray Mrs. Hawking.
  • White Man's Burden: Deconstructed in part IV: Gilded Cages, where young Victoria Stanton's attempt to ally with the struggles of her maid Malaika Shah have disastrous results due to her not understanding the circumstances, nor the ramifications of her privilege.
  • Widow Woman: Subverted with Mrs. Hawking. Though her husband has passed, she is neither the tragic bereaved left alone in the world widow nor the cackling schemer who was responsible for his death. She feels freer and glad that she no longer has to deal with him, but her complicated feelings of resentment and regret make her unable to be completely at peace with his death.
  • Would Hurt a Child: In part V: Mrs. Frost, the eponymous villain sends one of her men, Joe Quinn, after Nathaniel's children as a tactic to break him in captivity.
  • You Monster!: In part IV: Gilded Cages, Victoria calls her father Governor Stanton this when she discovers he is the one responsible for the policies that are starving the locals in Singapore.

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