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Theatre / Seven Keys to Baldpate

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Seven Keys to Baldpate is a 1913 play written by George M. Cohan, based on a novel by Earl Derr Biggers. Widely considered to be one of Cohan's best works, the play focuses on a writer named Billy McGee, who has made a bet with the owner of an inn known as Baldpate - wagering over 5,000 dollars that he could write an entire novel within a 24-hour period. In order to complete his work, McGee is given what he believes to be the only key to Baldpate in existence, in order to find complete and total solitude - however, during the evening, several strange characters (all based on Melodrama stereotypes) emerge and get McGee involved in a plot to rob the city of Routon of $200,000, revealing to him that there is, in fact, not one key, but Seven keys to Baldpate.


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  • MacGuffin: The bribe money.
  • Melodrama
  • Play Within a Play: All of the people who come to Baldpate except for McGee are actors, hired by the owner of Baldpate Inn to show McGee how awful his stories would seem if they took place in real life. This is eventually subverted when it's revealed that everything that had happened, including the actors and the hoax, was just part of the novel McGee was writing as part of his wager.
  • Plot Twist: Two of them. At first, it's revealed that everything was a hoax put on by the owner of Baldpate to show McGee how awful his stories would seem if they happened in real life... And then it's revealed that everything, including the hoax, was part of the novel McGee wagered he could write.
  • Running Gag: Each time a person with a new key comes along, they ask McGee: "How did you get in here without THIS key?". This stops with the later (and more serious) "guests".
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