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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.
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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.

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Currently, there are six completed plays in the series:

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, Mrs. Frost in 2019, and Fallen Women in 2020.

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.

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

It can also be found on Facebook and on Twitter.


Tropes:

  • 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.
  • Antagonist Title: Part V: Mrs. Frost
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: In Mrs. Hawking's nightmare as she's bleeding out from being shot by Jack the Ripper, various people from her life appear on stage—but the script specifically says that they are personifications of Mrs. Hawking's phobias and insecurities, rather than the people themselves. Specifically, Mrs. Frost is her regret and shame, the Distinguished Matron is her dislike of the British Empire, Clara is her anger toward society's expectations toward women, Mary Jane Kelly is her desire for freedom and the destruction of society, Nathaniel/Reginald is her relationships with the men in her life, Mary is her fear of growing old and the future, and Malaika Shah is her conscience, telling her what needs to be done to move forward.
  • 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.
  • As You Know: A justified example shows up in Part VI. Arthur angrily talks about the politics of the Jack the Ripper murders, describing how the Home Secretary is interfering in the investigation and creating all manner of problems for the cops involved. This is crucial information for the resolution of the plot, as Roberts postulates that the Royal Family helped cover up the Ripper murders for personal reasons. However, Arthur is telling Team Hawking about this, and they genuinely don't know anything about what he's discussing, so it works in-universe as well as for the audience.
  • 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.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: In a literal example of the trope, Mrs. Hawking ends up shooting Jack the Ripper with his own pistol to kill him. To drive the point home, Victoria mentions earlier in the play that she doesn't like to work with guns, preferring "subtlety and stealth" to their noise; for her to use one, then, is unheard of.
  • 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.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: A rare "realistic" version of the trope. Part VI, Fallen Women, postulates that Jack the Ripper was a Harley Street doctor who secretly performed abortions. His skill in the latter caught the attention of the wealthy and powerful, including the royal family, who utilized him for his "services" and thus deliberately tried to keep the police from solving the murders, as they feared he would talk and bring scandal upon them.
  • Berserk Button: Mrs. Hawking has quite a few dislikes, but nothing enrages her more than dishonesty and secrecy, largely because her entire adult life was built on lies: she was married at nineteen to a man she didn't and, because of her aromantic asexuality, literally couldn't love, and had to put up the facade that everything was fine as long as he was alive. Needless to say, when Mary and Nathaniel start keeping secrets behind her back in Gilded Cages and Mrs. Frost, Victoria absolutely loses it, and her relationship with Mary, who she sees as the one behind the schemes, is all but destroyed.
  • 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.
  • Black and White Insanity: Mrs. Hawking develops a mild case of this in Base Instruments. As mentioned above, she has an exceptional hatred of lying and secrets, so when Elena Zakharova is found to be dishonest, Victoria immediately puts her at the top of the suspect list, despite the fact that Elena invited her to investigate in the first place. In Mrs. Hawking's eyes, Elena is a liar, and ergo she must be guilty of something. It takes Mary and Clara's more grounded viewpoints to snap her out of this perspective.
    • This trope comes back— with much darker implications —in Mrs. Frost. Mrs. Hawking spends over a year focusing on the titular villain's criminal empire, at the exclusion of everything else in her life. Unfortunately, this means that she refuses to take any other cases from the society women she swore to protect, reasoning that Frost's activities are the only thing that matter at the moment. Mary and Nathaniel, unwilling to turn those women away (and also fearful of Mrs. Hawking losing her reputation as a hero to the hopeless), thus take up their problems in secret, operating under her name without telling her.
    • And then, for a third time, the trope returns in Fallen Women—and in the worst way of all. Arthur proposes marriage to Mary; knowing that keeping secrets opened a rift in their relationship, the maid immediately tells Mrs. Hawking about it. Victoria immediately begins claiming that Mary is giving up everything to get married, that Arthur—just like any man—will dominate and control her life, and that she will completely lose all freedom once she puts on a wedding ring. The problem? Arthur explicitly said that he would never do anything like that to Mary, in fact telling her that she would have total agency and even offering not to marry her at all if she didn't think it was possible. Mary tries telling Mrs. Hawking about his kindness, but the older woman won't hear it, insisting that all men are the same. It's that total inflexibility that eventually makes Mary decide to leave the team.
  • 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.
  • Broken Pedestal: At the beginning of the series, Nathaniel hero-worships his uncle, Colonel Reginald Hawking, seeing him as the perfect man and dreaming of becoming just like him someday. As the plays progress, though, he is gradually forced to realize that Reginald wasn't perfect—far from it—and that his adulation was misplaced. A large part of Nathaniel's Character Development is coming to terms with his uncle's faults and becoming his own man, rather than a carbon copy of the Colonel.
  • Bury Your Gays: Raisa Sergeyeva of Base Instruments is all but stated to have been in a lesbian relationship with Elena Zakharova (Elena says that "we live together, we train together" and is about to add something else—apparently more sexual—but cuts herself off before she says too much); 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.
  • The Cameo: Was anyone expecting Malaika Shah to appear in Fallen Women?
  • 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.
    • In a literal example, Mrs. Hawking teaches Nathaniel to shoot in Fallen Women (he does have some basic training thanks to his military service, but is out of practice). She later entrusts him with the gun when he, Arthur, and Mary begin searching for Violet Strallan in Whitechapel. It's subverted when Nathaniel doesn't get to use the gun in his fight with a ruffian...and then Double Subverted with Victoria herself uses a pistol to kill Jack the Ripper.
  • 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. When she marries Arthur in Fallen Women, everyone in the wedding—Nathaniel, Clara, and Arthur himself—wears blue as well.
    • 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 used to run 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.
  • The Dead Have Names: Fallen Women is all about this trope, as it's about Jack the Ripper—and more specifically, his victims. Mary Jane Kelly, who herself was the final victim of the murderer, tells Mrs. Hawking: "They had names, you know. Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes. Don't forget." Those names become a refrain throughout the show.
  • 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.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Throughout Base Instruments, there are three major suspects in the murder of Raisa Sergeyva, lead dancer of the Russian corps de ballet. Was it her patron and public romancer Lord Seacourse, a nobleman who, if denied what he wanted, would take it by force and punish her for it? Kiril Chernovsky, the stage manager of the company who had been covertly stealing from it and would have killed to protect his secret? Or Elena Zakharova, Raisa's best friend (and secret lover) who concocts elaborate lies about the night in question and stood to become the new prima ballerina? The answer is— surprise! —none of the above. The real murderer is none other than...Yulia Sherba, a ballerina who appears in exactly one scene for about two minutes before being outed as the killer. In fairness to Roberts, Yulia's name does come up several times throughout the play, but only in passing, never as a serious contender for the crime.
  • Doomed by Canon: Or "Doomed by History" in this case. In Part VI, Mrs. Hawking encounters a woman named Mary Jane Kelly who is investigating the Jack the Ripper murders. Though Mary Jane does provide some helpful information (namely, a Whitechapel nurse—Violet Strallan—who knew all four of the murdered women), she was also the fifth and final victim of the Ripper, and so cannot survive the events of the play.
  • 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 of young Victoria Stanton.
    • This happens again in Fallen Women, when Arthur removes the mask from the mysterious assassin after Violet Strallan, revealing him as Roland Davies, Mrs. Frost's most loyal henchman.
  • 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.
  • Everyone Has Standards: It's established early on that Mrs. Hawking will do whatever it takes to defeat her foes, from breaking the law to stabbing people to, as revealed in Mrs. Frost, outright murder. There is, though, one tactic she will never entertain: sexual snares. In Vivat Regina, it seems as though she won't be able to capture the villain of the story, a German agricultural attache who raped their client's personal maidservant. Mary, trying to be helpful, suggests that she go undercover and try to tempt the attache into doing the same to her; Mrs. Hawking is absolutely furious and tells Mary to expel any thoughts of that kind immediately. Given that Victoria herself suffered marital rape for decades, it's not hard to see why.
  • 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.
    • Subverted in part VI: Fallen Women. Though the identity and whereabouts of Jack the Ripper is a major issue for the characters, the narrative is less interested in allowing the audience to solve the mystery than in examining what effect the search has on the characters.
  • Family of Choice: Mrs. Hawking, Mary, and Nathaniel.
  • 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.
    • In Fallen Women, Mrs. Hawking is forty-eight and increasingly concerned about being incapacitated by her age, a concern Mrs. Frost heatedly echoes.
  • 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.
      • This trope is taken Up to Eleven during Mrs. Hawking's nightmare as she lays dying from the Ripper's gunshot wound in Fallen Women. Nearly every single line spoken by the characters that surround her are repeats from the first five plays. The only person who gets "new" dialogue is Malaika Shah, as she is the one encouraging Victoria to move forward.
  • Foreshadowing: In part III: Base Instruments, Mrs. Hawking briefly mentions that she was "nursemaided by those cleverer" than herself. We see exactly what she means in part IV: Gilded Cages and part V: Mrs. Frost.
    • In part V: Mrs. Frost, Nathaniel jokes to Clara about how her friendship with alienist Dr. Terrence Enfield would be useful if she wanted someone committed. She teases back with “Don’t tempt me.” But she uses this very connection when the team realizes the only way to neutralize a villain like Mrs. Frost is to put her away in a mental institution.
    • In part VI: Fallen Women, Mrs. Hawking expresses her reluctance to work with Mrs. Frost because of what Frost did to her nephew. Frost responds with “And I should want you dead. After what you did to me.” By the end we see that everything Frost does over the course of the story has actually been to achieving that very desire.
  • 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: Mrs. Frost 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.
  • Friendly Enemies: In Fallen Women, Mrs. Hawking and Mrs. Frost seem to have this relationship: Victoria repeatedly goes to see her in the asylum, and though she claims that it's simply to make sure she isn't scheming, it's clear that she still genuinely considers Elizabeth a friend and respects her. Frost herself seems to feel the same, as she welcomes Mrs. Hawking's visits and chats with her relatively pleasantly. And then it's horribly, horribly subverted when it's revealed that Frost was lying the entire time—she put up a friendly facade just to lull Mrs. Hawking into complacency, then deliberately sent her after Jack the Ripper after warning the serial killer about her. As Elizabeth puts it: "I hope she dies sobbing."
  • Functional Addict: Miss Zakharova with her laudanum habit in part III: Base Instruments.
    • Nurse Violet Strallan is an alcoholic in part VI: Fallen Women. Nathaniel is as well, as his encounter with Mrs. Frost has left him shaken to the core.
    • Subverted with Dawson Frost in part V: Mrs. Frost, who was so much addicted to opium that he no longer had the wherewithal to leave his dressing room.
  • 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.
  • The Ghost: For a long time it seemed like the Colonel was, mentioned in every show but never seen onstage except in the flashback sections of part IV: Gilded Cages.
    • Interestingly, even though Nathaniel’s father Ambrose Hawking never appears, he is actually mentioned in every installment except part V: Mrs. Frost.
    • Dawson Frost, Mrs. Frost’s husband, is spoken of but never seen in both Gilded Cages and Mrs. Frost.
  • 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. Clara plays more of a support role in Fallen Women.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Mary explains this in Part I, Mrs. Hawking. After her parents died in India, her relatives in England offered to take her back in, but she didn't like the idea of simply becoming "funny old Aunt Mary" and instead decided to come to London for work despite knowing no one. It's that desire that endears her to Mrs. Hawking.
    • Nathaniel desperately follows this trope, too, although in his case, he's trying to emulate his Uncle Reginald. He dreams of being a hero like the Colonel was, and sees joining Team Hawking as a great way to do it. It then becomes subverted when he realizes his uncle wasn't the paragon of virtue he originally believed, and comes to fight for the disenfranchised because it's the right thing to do, rather than satisfying his ego.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: This is implied to be one of the major reasons for Colonel Hawking's initial attraction to Victoria. As a major war hero with his career on the rise, beautiful women threw themselves at him all the time, and he was paraded around with great pomp and circumstance— all of which he hated, especially because he did some horrific things to gain that notoriety. Then he met Victoria, who not only didn't make a fuss over his career or looks, but talked to him like a human being and refused to bow to any conventions of the day. Small wonder he fell for the one person who refused to be controlled... and small wonder that made for a horrific marriage.
  • Immoral Journalist: The newspapermen of Fallen Women are described this way: they run sensationalist stories about the Jack the Ripper killings, disregard actual investigative reporting in favor of juicy gossip and rumors, and make up lies about his victims. Mrs. Hawking herself points out that the infamous "From Hell" letters only showed up after the papers started writing about the Ripper, postulating that they aren't from the killer at all; rather, they're the reporters themselves trying to keep interest in the case, and thus sales numbers, up.
  • 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. The end of the play, though, suggests that Yulia allowed herself to be seduced—after murdering Raisa Sergeyva for her immigration papers, she needed to find a man and thus make it seem like she'd fled the company for love as opposed to trying to hide her guilt.
  • Insult Backfire: Shows up twice in Fallen Women:
    • First, when Victoria challenges the Distinguished Matron (or Queen Victoria) and says that she will do everything in her power to "burn down everything [she's] built," the Matron merely rolls her eyes and remarks "You will not be the first to try."
    • Later, when Mary, Nathaniel, and Clara go to visit Mrs. Frost in the insane asylum where she's kept prisoner, Clara and Elizabeth have this exchange:
      Clara: We should have let her kill you when she had the chance.
      Elizabeth: Yes. You should have.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Boy oh boy, is this Mrs. Frost in a nutshell. She's a horrible, selfish person to be sure, but she's almost always right:
    • When she is still Miss Danvers—aka Victoria's governess in Singapore—she suggests that Victoria ask Captain Hawking to intercede on behalf of Malaika Shah's staving village, pointing out that his status as a hero will guarantee that people will do what he wants. Victoria whines about the idea of using "charity" to solve the problem, and Elizabeth rightly points out that Victoria is more concerned with pulling off "a cracking scheme" than actually assisting Malaika's people.
    • Her entire psychological campaign against Nathaniel in Mrs. Frost is based on this; she points out all of the flaws in Nathaniel's life (his withstanding all manner of insults to hear one bit of occasional praise from Mrs. Hawking, the fact that he almost never thinks of his children first, etc.), and furthermore deconstructs Mrs. Hawking's own selfishness and the Colonel's role as a serial marital rapist. Nathaniel himself is forced to admit that everything she says is true.
    • In Fallen Women, she exploits all of Mrs. Hawking's flaws to drive her into the lair of Jack the Ripper alone.
      • Fallen Women also paints the Distinguished Matron, or Queen Victoria, as one. When Mrs. Hawking rants and raves against the older woman, claiming she's a horrible monster who cares nothing for her people, the Matron fires back that the only reason Victoria has been able to operate as she does is because she's a British citizen and thus a member of the most powerful nation in the world; in any other country, she'd likely be dead or imprisoned by now. As the Matron puts it, "Who would you be if you were not a daughter of my Empire?"
  • 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.
  • Laughing Mad: Mrs. Frost ends Fallen Women this way: after happily bragging that she's sent Victoria to certain doom in the lair of Jack the Ripper and defusing Clara's threats against her, she begins to cackle hysterically as she's forcibly dragged away by an orderly in the asylum.
  • 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 a Son to Me: It's revealed that Colonel Hawking thought of Nathaniel, his nephew, this way; towards the end of his life, Nathaniel was the only person who he even spoke to. It's especially poignant because the Colonel's actual son, Gabriel, was stillborn; Nathaniel was the closet thing he ever had to a child.
  • 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.
    • In Fallen Women, Arthur offers to become one to Mary, saying that he's perfectly willing to never follow a "traditional" path (get married, have children, etc.) if she chooses not to.
  • Luxury Prison Suite: Or luxury asylum cell in this case. Though Mrs. Frost is trapped in one, she uses her connections to the outside world and personal wealth to outfit it with luxurious items, including cigarettes, expensive pillows, and even a silk robe. It's heavily implied that she also demands "payment" whenever Mrs. Hawking comes to visit, and Victoria always complies by bringing some object that Elizabeth requests.
  • 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.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: The Distinguished Matron invokes this trope in Fallen Women, claiming that "a few lost souls"—that is, the lower-class victims of Jack the Ripper—are nothing compared to the continued stability and progress of the British Empire. Fitting, as the Matron is Queen Victoria.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: Fallen Women reveals that Mrs. Frost has a grown daughter named Miranda. Downplayed in that Miranda apparently doesn't know about her mother's criminal enterprises; furthermore, Frost herself explains that she made sure that her daughter would want for nothing (good education, an arranged marriage to a wealthy man, etc.) just so Miranda wouldn't need or have a relationship with her as an adult.
  • Morton's Fork: Mrs. Hawking deliberately invokes this trope against the villain of Vivat Regina, who works as an agricultural attache from Germany. She and the rest of the team plant phony government secrets on him, making it look like he is a spy against the Empire. Even though it's common knowledge that Europe's major powers use espionage on each other, none of them can outright admit it— ergo, Germany has to shun the attache entirely and leave him at the mercy of England's justice system, as trying to protect him would be tantamount to a confession of spying.
  • 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.
  • Never Heard That One Before: In Part VI, Mrs. Hawking goes to meet a "Distinguished Matron" (a.k.a. Queen Victoria). The following exchange takes place:
    Mrs. Hawking: My life's work will be to burn down everything you have built.
    Distinguished Matron: You will not be the first to try.
  • Nice Guy: Played more or less straight with Nathaniel and Arthur. Deconstructed with the Colonel, whose decency and good intentions are shown to fail to make up for the harm he did to Mrs. Hawking.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Mrs. Hawking has one in part VI: Fallen Women, as she slips into unconsciousness bleeding out from her fight with the Ripper.
  • 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, often 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." It's then subverted in Part VI, when Mrs. Hawking begins training him in combat to deliberately avoid this trope.
  • Noodle Incident: Much of Mrs. Hawking's past crimefighting career is described in this way, but the trope truly manifests in Mrs. Frost. When discussing how to take down the titular villain, Victoria says that they may have to outright murder her. Clara and Mary, stunned, ask if she's ever gone that far before—and Mrs. Hawking admits that she has, without going into any detail beyond apparently not doing it in a "long time."
    • This trope also applies to the Colonel in both Gilded Cages and Mrs. Frost. He was offered a knighthood of the realm— the highest honor that a British person can receive —by Queen Victoria herself, and, for reasons unknown, turned it down. Exactly why Her Majesty tried to bestow the honor (knighthoods are typically granted for specific actions), and why he refused it, is never stated, much to Nathaniel's frustration— especially because Mrs. Hawking never cared to ask her husband about it.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Roberts does an interesting take on this trope. Nathaniel is in his late twenties and early thirties throughout the series, but Mrs. Hawking (and later Mrs. Frost) always calls him "boy." He does definitely have a boyish streak and puppy-like enthusiasm, but it's still rather odd, especially as he becomes more serious and capable as the plays progress. In Mrs. Frost, Clara finally calls Mrs. Hawking's out for this, pointing out that Nathaniel is not only a grown man with two young children, but the banker who manages Victoria's considerable fortune for her. Mrs. Hawking then admits that, in her own mind, she has to consider Nathaniel a child—because if she treats him like an adult, she'll be forced to admit just how much like Colonel Hawking he has become in both appearance and personality, and she can't bring herself to do that. Notably, though, after Nathaniel's rescue at the end of the play, Victoria praises him with a quiet but powerful "Good man," suggesting that she's finally begun to accept his maturity.
  • 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.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Mary fears this is the case at the end of Mrs. Frost her and Nathaniel lying to Mrs. Hawking about secretly taking on cases in her name, plus Mary keeping her blossoming relationship with Arthur hidden, has shattered Victoria's trust in her. She doesn't know how bad things will get, but she knows it won't be pretty: "The damage has been done."
  • 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.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: In Fallen Women, Henry Matthews, the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom, is described as one, as he seems to be deliberately trying to drown the Jack the Ripper murders in red tape. It turns out those orders are coming directly from Queen Victoria herself, who has used the Ripper's skill as an abortionist to "clean up" her grandchildren's messes and fears that he'll talk if captured.
  • The One Guy: Nathaniel is the only man on the team.
  • Open Secret: Mrs. Hawking describes the major nations of Europe's using spies against each other this way in Vivat Regina. All of their governments know that they're all under covert surveillance from one another—as Victoria puts it, "It's how the game is played"—but none of them will outright admit it, as it's still illegal.
  • Out of Focus: Part VI, Fallen Women, is about the Jack the Ripper murders—but the Ripper himself isn't the focus of the story. Rather, Roberts deliberately chooses to focus on his five victims and delves into their lives, deconstructing the notion that they were all poor prostitutes and making Victoria's mission about avenging them rather than defeating the murderer.
  • 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.
  • Parting Words Regret: In Fallen Women, Mary frets about this with Nathaniel as Mrs. Hawking is lying unconscious after Violet Strallan operated on her gunshot wound. She confesses that the last thing she ever said to Victoria was a wish to never become like her, and how horrible she is to the people around her. Though Mrs. Hawking does recover, Mary's words prove to be the final straw in their relationship, and the maid ends up leaving the team after giving Victoria and Nathaniel a proper goodbye.
  • 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 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."
    • Played for Drama in Base Instruments. The members of the corps de ballet of Russia are put through rigorous, back-breaking training for their art beginning at six years old. While they do become expertly skilled, the arduous work absolutely destroys their bodies and dooms them to impossibly short careers— Elena Zakharova says that she'll be lucky if she's still able to walk in her forties. It also drives many of the corps to laudanum and other drugs, as they're forced to perform despite injury; as Victoria puts it, they "dance themselves into ruin."
      • In the same show, Mrs. Hawking herself experiences this trope when a thug damages her arm during the opening battle scene. She's forty-three, and that kind of damage doesn't heal as quickly as it did when she began her career. Much of the play's internal conflict comes from Victoria's realization that she is very much like the ballerinas, as both are literally giving everything they have, body and soul, to their work.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: A rather popular trope in these plays.
    • The first occurs in Vivat Regina, when Nathaniel calls Mrs. Hawking out for refusing to trust him because of his resemblance to his uncle.
    • In Base Instruments, Clara tears into Mrs. Hawking after Nathaniel tells her all about the secret hero operation he's become a part of.
    • In Mrs. Frost, Clara gets another one as she tells off Victoria about her unbearable behavior and how it's driven Mary and Nathaniel to secrecy. Mary herself echoes similar sentiments in a speech of her own to Mrs. Hawking. And, of course, the titular villain gives several to Nathaniel over the course of his imprisonment in an attempt to break him down.
    • Mary delivers a final one to Mrs. Hawking in Fallen Women, pointing out the older woman's hypocrisy, refusal to accept change, and generally horrible demeanor to others, ending with "I hope to God I never, ever end up like you."
  • 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.
    • The trope returns in Part VI, when Mrs. Hawking actually goes to see the figure mentioned above. Though it's incredibly obvious who she is, the phrase Queen Victoria is never spoken, and even the script never refers to her by name; she is explicitly "A Distinguished Matron."
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Gilded Cages features an extremely dark version of this trope. Throughout the play's flashbacks to young Victoria in Singapore, she engages in all kinds of endeavors and rule-breaking behind her father's back, and he seems totally oblivious to it. When the two have their major confrontation at the end of the sequence, though, Colonel Stanton reveals that he's always known what his daughter's been up to, and was secretly allowing it because he figured it was easier to let her make a bit of mischief than to keep her confined and prompt her to cause any real trouble. Once she does actually make him look bad, though, he comes down terrifyingly hard.
  • Secretly Selfish: Roberts loves this trope.
    • It's all but stated that Nathaniel's original intentions for joining Team Hawking were self-serving—he wanted to be a hero like his uncle Reginald, gain his aunt's trust and love, and generally be more than just a clerk. He does gradually grow out of it, though, as he learns more about the genuine injustices of the world and how deeply flawed Reginald truly was.
    • In Gilded Cages, Victoria starts devising a scheme to help Malaika's starving village. Miss Danvers suggests that she simply ask Captain Hawking to intercede: he'll do anything she asks, and the Empire is enamored of him and would be happy to grant him a favor, especially one that makes them look compassionate. Victoria whines that she doesn't want to use "charity", and Miss Danvers calls her out, saying that she's more interested in "pulling off a cracking scheme" than actually helping anyone.
    • It's heavily implied that Victoria's entire mission is this. As a teenager in Singapore, she dreamed of "doing something that mattered," and while her work as a society avenger certainly does help countless women, it's also a form of therapy for her: she's so enraged at the world, society, and especially men that she'd do anything to help stop the pain. In Gilded Cages, Victoria confesses to Mrs. Chaudhary in that her work "quells the fire", though it can't actual give her peace of mind.
      • We see proof of this theory in Mrs. Frost, when Mrs. Hawking ceases all of her operations to dedicate herself wholly to hunting down the titular villain. She claims that since Frost is the most dangerous person in London, the only way to help anyone is to take her down—but it's clear that the women who come to her for help aren't being affected by Frost; that Victoria's mission against Elizabeth is deeply personal because the mastermind outwitted her; and that Mrs. Hawking could have tried to strike some balance between hunting her and helping others with smaller problems, but never did, all pointing toward this trope in action.
  • Sequel Hook: A rare theatrical version of the trope! At the end of Mrs. Frost, the curtain call is interrupted to show Mrs. Frost in her room at the asylum where Team Hawking trapped her. As she stands and silently rages, we hear the gates creak open... and Victoria enters. The two acknowledge each other, and Mrs. Hawking asks "Now, shall we talk?", foreshadowing that the plot of the next play Fallen Women will involve their relationship.
  • Serial Killer: Part VI: Fallen Women concerns the hunt for Jack the Ripper, one of the most famous historical serial killers of all time.
  • 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.
    • In part VI: Fallen Women, Mary Jane Kelly’s courage and pluck suggest similar potential to what Mary showed when she first came to Mrs. Hawking.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: An absolutely heartwarming one that proves Tropes Are Not Bad. After Nathaniel is captured by the titular villain in Mrs. Frost, she repeatedly warns that, if he doesn't cooperate, she'll send her latest agent—a ruffian named Joe Quinn—to kill his son and daughter. At the play's climax, Nathaniel refuses to break, and Mrs. Frost storms out to summon Quinn for the job. Mary then arrives to rescue Nathaniel, closely followed by Arthur, who'd gone undercover in Frost's gang to gain intel for the police. Nathaniel tells them to leave him and go protect his family from Quinn...at which point Arthur reveals that he doesn't have anything to worry about—"Joe Quinn" was the name Arthur himself gave as an alias, meaning that the Hawking children were never in any danger at all! Notably, the trope only works because the audience isn't privy to the secret—much like Nathaniel, they genuinely believe the children to be at risk throughout the whole play.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: In part VI: Fallen Women, Mary when she comes out in her wedding dress in the final scene.
  • Sherlock Scan: In part I: Mrs. Hawking, Mrs. Hawking deduces that Mary came from India by her dress, and that she has experience caring for an invalid by her skills.
    • In part III: Base Instruments, she asks Miss Zakharova “And how often do you require the laudanum?” immediately upon meeting her.
  • 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.
    • In part VI: Fallen Women, Nathaniel reveals he’s been after Arthur to propose to Mary for months. It's taken Up to Eleven when, after Arthur does so, Nathaniel proceeds to pay for his and Mary's wedding, with Clara doing all of the arrangements.
  • 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".
    • Mrs. Frost has one to Professor Moriarty in part V: Mrs. Frost with “Rest assured, if you attempt to bring destruction down upon me, I shall do the same to you.“
    • And Arthur uses a line of Dr. Watson’s in part VI: Fallen Women: “Because I love you, Mary, as truly as ever a man loved a woman.“
    • In a somewhat meta moment, Fallen Women also features an explicit reference to the Sherlock Holmes stories themselves—Nathaniel mentions reading them ("If only I were clever enough to puzzle everything out from an armchair with a pound of shag tobacco"). Humorously, Mrs. Hawking claims that such heroics are totally unrealistic.
    • During Mary's wedding, Clara remarks "I'd like to say I outdid myself, but truly? I'm always this good," which is a direct lift from Tahani in The Good Place (although Roberts leaves out the end of the line—"So I just did myself").
  • 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.
  • Steampunk: 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.
    • Madam Malaika is more or less on Mrs. Hawking’s level.
  • Superhero Trophy Shelf: The clock shelf in Mrs Hawking’s parlor contains mementos 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
    • 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.
    • The names of the Ripper’s victims for Mrs. Hawking in Fallen Women.
  • 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.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Downplayed with Nathaniel in Part VI. Though he has gained some skill in fighting and even manages to hold his own for a few minutes against an armed ruffian, he's still not good at it, and furthermore is suffering from intense psychological trauma after being captured and tortured in Mrs. Frost.
  • 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.
    • Fallen Women offers a villainous version of this trope. Though many of Mrs. Frost's lieutenants and operatives are going to pieces and betraying her criminal empire, Roland Davies, her right-hand man, remains fiercely loyal to her and even continues to carry out her orders.
  • The Un-Reveal: In Fallen Women, Mrs. Hawking is determined to learn Jack the Ripper's real name, even citing it as one of her major demands when she goes to see Queen Victoria. Though she does learn the secret, the audience doesn't get to—which is fitting, because the play is more concerned with the names and lives of his victims rather than him.
  • 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."
    • Gilded Cages features a few:
      • When Nathaniel accuses Mrs. Hawking of having nothing but disdain and contempt for her late husband, she fires back: "For God's sake, boy, it wasn't that I hated him!" It's the first time she shows any sort of affection toward him, and reveals that there was more to their relationship than Nathaniel—and, by extension, the audience—originally thought.
      • "My God, Victoria. Don't you know?"—spoken by Colonel Hawking to a young Victoria as something of an Anguished Declaration of Love. He then proceeds to forcibly kiss her, signifying the beginning of their "official" relationship, their eventual marriage, and Vi/ctoria's anger toward him.
      • "I believe I can answer that. Hello, Victoria."—Spoken by the Kingmaker, revealing that she's actually Mrs. Frost, the greatest criminal mastermind in London and Victoria's former governess Miss Danvers.
      • "Mrs. Hawking, I'll be handing in me notice"— spoken by Mary at the end of Fallen Women, officially cementing her departure from the group and marking the end of Team Hawking.
  • 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.
  • Worf Had the Flu: The only reason Victoria isn't able to immediately take down Jack the Ripper is that Mrs. Frost warned him that she was coming, allowing the murderer to arm himself with a pistol and shoot her. The trope is then subverted when Victoria is still able to kill him, albeit by breaking her personal code against using firearms (see Batman Grabs a Gun above).
  • 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 Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: During Victoria and Governor Stanton's major fight toward the end of the flashbacks in Gilded Cages, she breaks down and begs for mercy. He's largely impassive until she calls him "Father," invoking their familial relationship for the first and only time in the play. Her saying that is enough to get him talking to her again—not that it helps matters.
  • 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.
    • In part VI: Fallen Women, Clara says it to Mrs. Frost.
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